Diablo® III

Complete Guide to the Bola/Ball Lightning DH

This is my first class build write up, so please be gentle. Cameo has already posted a very similar build guide which can be found here us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/8197741600 , however, I wanted to expand on this build to include lower MP farming because this build is EXTREMELY viable and scales easily to almost any level of gear.

First and foremost, most anyone who has played a DH has a strong opinion about it. They either love it or hate it with a passion that can be described as religious. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground with this class. The usual complaints are lack of survivability at high MP, having to choose between or carefully balance survivability and DPS, lack of build diversity for higher MP, and the list goes on. The true beauty of this build is that if used properly, it can eliminate the vast majority of the negative views of DH. So let's start looking at what makes this build tick.

I know this guide is very long, but it's meant to be comprehensive for anyone who wants to use this build.

1. Skills
2. Gearing
3. Strategy
5. Special Thanks

1. Skills
Hatred Gain: Bola Shot > Imminent Doom
Generate: 3 Hatred
Shoot out an explosive bola that wraps itself around its target. After 1 second, the bola exploses dealing 160% weapon damage as fire to the target and an additional 110% weapon damage as fire to all other targets within 14 yards
Rune Modification: Augment the bola to deal 216% weapon damage as Arcane to the target and 149% weapon damage as Arcane to all other targets within 14 yards, but increases the explosion delay to 2 seconds.

Among the highest damage output skills a DH has available.
High Proc Coefficient (50% for ID rune)
Interesting mechanic that happens when things start to die
Reasonable hatred gain

Delay timer

Optional Skills: None

Optional Runes:
Volatile Explosives is an option for the expanded explosion radius and lower fuse time, however it also has a 25% proc coefficient vs. 50% for Imminent Doom, which plays heavily on LoH and Nightstalker procs. The damage is also significantly lower which reduces the amount of life steal you are receiving from Shadow Power.

Explanation and Usage:
Bola Shot is going to be your heavy hitter for dealing with both elites and large groups of melee range enemies. The usual procedure is to activate Shadow Power, fire bolas, watch the carnage, repeat until most enemies are dead. What makes this skill truly unique is that when an enemy dies, all remaining bolas on that enemy that have not detonated will all detonate AT THE SAME TIME. Stop for a moment and think about this. A group of 25 melee enemies approach and gather around you. You try to focus your bolas on a single enemy in the group, and upon his death every bola you fired that is still spinning goes BOOM in that instant, usually devastating the remaining enemies in a split second. Couple that with the high damage output, AoE radius, amount of life regeneration from Shadow Power, and you have essentially created the immortal DH as long as you have discipline for Shadow Power and a target. The only real complaint about Bola Shot, and especially Imminent Doom is the long delay before explosion. In reality, this is only a minor issue since if you are using the Gloom rune for Shadow Power, incoming damage is being reduced by 35%, allowing you to take a few hits before the bolas start doing their thing.

Hatred Spender: Elemental Arrow > Ball Lightning
Cost: 10 Hatred
Shoot a fire arrow that deals 155% weapon damage as fire to all targets it passes through
Requires a Bow
Rune Modification: Fire a slow-moving arrow that electrocutes enemies along its path for 155% weapon damage as Lightning.

Wide area of effect
Relatively inexpensive to cast
Scales very well with attack speed
Absolutely devastates Missile Dampening elites (Act 2 Keywarden included!)
Works like a dream with Shadow Power
Able to damage enemies that are directly behind you
High Proc Coefficient (25%)

Lower single target damage vs. other hatred spenders
Not great against most elites
Lightning balls move slow

Optional Skills: None

Optional Runes: None (unless they someday restore Nether Tentacles to its former glory)

Explanation and Usage:
Elemental Arrow > Ball Lightning is perhaps the absolute best option for clearing hallways, scattered groups of enemies, enemies that like to kite, and small groups of weaker enemies. The 155% weapon damage indicated in the skill description is extremely deceptive. This number is PER STRIKE, and a lightning ball can strike a single enemy several times, especially those that like to kite and run away, making this a very effective choice for ranged enemies. What makes this skill truly shine is how well it plays together with Shadow Power and Nightstalker. The sheer volume of attacks you can generate by firing just a few lightning balls into a group is astounding. This makes for some very high life regen as well as discipline regen, which when use with Preparation > Punishment can allow you to fire a near endless stream of lightning balls. I consider this skill a "fire and forget" skill due to its slow movement and long range. Another advantage is that due to the speed the lightning balls move and the way they work, you can cause mass carnage easily against missile dampening elites since the lightning balls are essentially stuck in place to continuously strike the surrounding enemies, quickly draining their health with just a few shots, (and yes, this works miracles against the ever-so-frustrating Act 2 Keywarden.) Finally, this skill scales very well with attack speed. Higher attack speed puts more lightning balls in the air at any given time, and don't worry about draining your hatred too quickly. If you are connecting with your shots, the Nightstalker passive has your back.

Now that we have covered your attack skills, let's take a look at utility.

Defensive: Shadow Power > Gloom
Cost: [/b]14 Discipline
Draw in the power of the shadows, gaining 15% of all damage done as life for 5 seconds.
Rune Modification: Reduce incoming damage by 35% while Shadow Power is active.

Extremely high potential for life regen
Damage reduction
Works well with both attacks skills listed above

Slightly expensive
Short duration

Optional Skills: Not a chance

Optional Runes:
Blood Moon: If you have high EHP and don't particularly need the damage reduction from Gloom, this makes an excellent option due to the additional life steal.
Well of Darkness: Reduces the cost to 12 discipline, however you should have very high EHP (500k+) if you want to consider using this rune. Truthfully, the cost reduction from the Perfectionist passive is usually adequate making this rune near obsolete
Night Bane: Again, I recommend very high EHP if you want to use this rune, and only if hatred regeneration is a problem, however there are much better options for recovering hatred such as gear stats, Perfectionist > Punishment, and the bat companion.

Explanation and Usage:
This is by far the most effective survivability skill for the DH. While a bit expensive, it provides the best protection for the resource cost. In most scenarios this skill can make you virtually indestructible as long as you are dealing moderate damage. This skill should almost always be the cornerstone of a DH's defensive strategy. Usage is fairly simple, activate before or during fights to enable God Mode and just blast away to keep the health regeneration going. This is exceptionally effective when fighting melee range elites. Find a good spot to make a stand, activate Shadow Power, and commence to unload bolas until you are surrounded by corpses and loot. The short duration is only a minor hindrance as long as you are regenerating enough discipline from the Nightstalker passive since you can usually keep reactivating during longer fights. Shadow Power also plays well with Ball Lightning due to the volume of damage the attack can do to groups.

Mobility: Vault > Tumble
Cost: 8 Discipline
Tumble acrobatically 35 yards
Rune Modification: After using Vault, your next Vault within 6 seconds has its Discipline cost reduced by 50%.

Can get you out of most sticky situations
Can break jail effect
Cheap to cast
Allows for quick positioning and repositioning before and during a fight
Can allow you to move quickly through long empty areas
Ignores collision detection of enemies

Unable to control distance traveled (Will always be 35 yards)

Optional Skills:
Smoke Screen: While Smoke Screen is able to break all control effects , causes the DH to become invincible for the duration of the skill, offers a small temporary speed increase, and has a de-aggro mechanic when used in group games, I still do not highly recommend this skill simply because the very short duration and the moderately high cost. Also, it still has to play by the rules of enemy collision detection, which means if you are in trouble and completely surrounded, you're likely just delaying the inevitable.
Evasive Fire: While this skill is tempting at first due to the fact you can deal damage while evading enemies, it has too many negative factors to replace Vault. The first of which is the unpredictability of the back flip. This only works if an enemy is close and in front of you. Also, while this skill regenerates hatred and costs less discipline than Vault, it doesn't offer the same mobility since the distance you travel with the back flip is slightly less than half of Vault (15 yards but can be increased to 30 with Displace Rune)

Optional Runes:
Rattling Roll: This rune is actually pretty viable since it will knockback and stun all enemies within 8 yards of where you land, giving you a small window to recover and regroup after vaulting. Not bad for those sticky situations where enemies are scattered and not leaving you many safe places to go.
Trail of Cinders: I was skeptical at first, but while testing I noticed that the fire trail actually does very decent damage (300% weapon damage). While I don't see this as a very effective option for kiting, it's still not a bad option if you want to regenerate life quickly while evading (assuming Shadow Power is active when you vault.)

Explanation and Usage:
This is going to be your go to skill when you need to quickly get the hell out of Dodge. This skill is commonly used to quickly get into an ideal position to attack, and get away and reposition quickly if the enemies turn the tables. Vault is perfect for evading arcane sentries, frozen orbs, desecrator and plague pools, and the beloved "molten martyrdom." Another bonus is that when using the Tumble rune, you can quickly cover a very large amount of real estate due to the reduced cost (50%) of every other vault. For most DH, this will allow you to perform 6 back to back vaults on a full blue tank (and will net you an otherwise difficult to acquire achievement in the process.) Using this skill wisely will keep you quick and agile, and will prevent many untimely deaths.

Resource Regeneration: Preparation > Punishment
Cost: None (25 Discipline with Punishment rune)
Cooldown: 45 seconds
Instantly restore all Discipline
Rune Modification: Restore all Hatred for 25 Discipline. Preparation has no cooldown.

Instant hatred refill and no cooldown when using Punishment rune
Great for resource management
Zero cost for casting (except Punishment rune that consumes 25 Discipline)

Relatively costly when using Punishment rune

Optional Skills: None

Optional Runes:
Battle Scars: Provides a nice emergency heal, but defeats one of the key points of this build which is nearly endless hatred. Only use if you have very high hatred regeneration.
Backup Plan: While a favorite among many DH due to the 30% chance the cooldown won't be triggered, this again defeats the purpose of this build. Only use if you have very high hatred regeneration.

Explanation and Usage:
This skill will allow you to fire a nearly endless stream of lightning balls. When used with Nightstalker to quickly regenerate Discipline this skill can continuously refill your hatred and lay down a serious swathe of destruction. You basically wait until hatred is empty, activate, and continue firing. As long as you are connecting with a fair amount of attacks, the Discipline cost will be quickly recouped and you'll be ready to activate again. The only factor to consider is how you balance the Discipline cost against your other skills such as Shadow Power and Vault, but again, if you are landing attacks, this generally isn't a problem.

Utility: Marked for Death > Contagion
Cost: 3 Discipline
Marks an enemy. The marked enemy will take 12% additional damage for the next 30 seconds.
Rune Modification: When the target is killed, the ability spreads to 2 other nearby targets. This effect can chain repeatedly.

More damage
Low Cost
No Cooldown
Long duration

Can only be on 1 enemy at a time (Exception: The spread effect of the Contagion Rune, area effect of Valley of Death rune, and can stack with MfD effect from Calamity.)

Optional Skills:
Spike Trap > Echoing Blast: After further testing with this build, I have found that Spike Trap is actually excellent for solo play. While MFD will likely be the choice for use in groups, Spike Trap can provide HUGE damage output in a short time. This skill is great for enemies that like to kite as well as the up close "stand and deliver" encounters. I would recommend this rune if you want to crank out insane amounts of damage quickly. Why Echoing Blast? In essence, this bypasses the 3 trap limit that you would normal need Engineering passive to get. Each trap explodes 3 times in quick succession and still counts as 1. Bottom line: You get 9 explosions with 3 casts, all of which happen quickly, especially if you stack all 3 fast, dealing insane amounts of damage with little effort. Truly a powerhouse for solo players.
Companion > Bat Companion: If the extra damage effect isn't your thing, then you can take advantage of a little extra hatred regeneration from the Bat Companion, however there are better options for utility skills.
Companion > Boar Companion: If you want to sacrifice a little damage for more survivability, this would be the way to go. The boar will add 15% resistance to all damage types.

Optional Runes:
Valley of Death: While this rune is capable of smashing out very nice amounts of extra damage, it is limited in use due to the fact that once it's used, the area doesn't move until you cast the skill again. If the marked area was a radius around and moved with the player, this would be a different story. Truly only useful against large groups of melee range enemies.
Grim Reaper: This is an excellent rune compared to Valley of Death since it actually causes damage to enemies surrounding the marked enemy. Depending on your play style, this could very well be a better rune to use than Contagion.
Death Toll: If you're still worried about survivability, then this rune might help that along a little. I will warn that it does look tempting at first, but keeping in mind that only one enemy can be marked at once, and the return is only 1% (scaled by difficulty of course) this means that your actual life returns will be minimal. You're better off relying on a LS weapon and/or Shadow Power.

Explanation and Usage:
This skill is fairly straight forward. Mark and enemy and fire away. With the Contagion rune, marking one enemy and killing said enemy spreads the effect to 2 enemies. Then each of those can spread it to another 2 each, so you can essentially cause a chain reaction. It's very satisfying to watch 1 MfD cast end up cascading through a large group as things die. This also helps quite a bit on illusionist elites since you can cast MfD on one of the clones, which will die easily, and then as all the illusions die, more often than not, every elite in the pack is now marked. This can make life much easier against tougher and extra health elites. Overall, I've seen this rune produce better damage returns, however Grim Reaper may make a better choice depending on play style.

Now let's take a look at passives.

With this build, there are only 3 passives that work well, however, I will explain why some of the most popular choices are not a good fit.

Passive 1: Nightstalker
Critical Hits have a chance to restore 1 Discipline
Discipline is used to fuel many of your tactical and defensive skills.

Explanation and Usage:
This is probably that most important passive for making this build work. Against a large group, the Discipline returns are nothing short of amazing. This allows you to continuously use Vault, Shadow Power, and Preparation. This build is all about smart resource management, and this passive delivers. Next part to consider is that the description says that it has a chance to restore 1 Discipline. This chance is not some mysterious hidden number. It is based on your chosen skill's proc coefficient. Fortunately this build utilizes skills that have a coefficient of 25% or better, which means you should have no problem filling that blue tank after using Discipline hungry skills.

Passive 2: Perfectionist
Reduces the Discipline cost of all skills by 10%. Increases your Life, Armor and all of your resistances by 10%.
Discipline is used to fuel many of your tactical and defensive skills.

Explanation and Usage:
If you can read the skill description, this should be a no brainer. The extra survivability will give you the window you need for your bolas to start detonating enabling the life gains from Shadow Power. This skill is actually 4 fold if you read it properly. The discipline cost reduction allows you to do more with less. Then you get a 10% life increase, which means the higher life you have, the greater the benefit. Next you get a 10% armor increase, so again higher armor means higher benefit. Finally, you also get a 10% boost to All Resist. Instantly turn 500 resists into 550. There's really nothing to not like about this passive.

Passive 3: Archery
Gain a Bonus based on the weapon type of your main hand weapon:
Bow: 15% increased damage
Crossbow: 50% Critical Hit Damage
Hand Crossbow: 10% Critical Hit Chance

Explanation and Usage:
Free damage? Yes please. This offers something for everybody. If you use a Windforce, then you get a 15% raw damage increase. Using a Manticore, or for lower budgets , a Hellrack nets you a 50% Critical Hit Damage increase. Finally, using a Calamity, or for lower budgets a Dawn or one of the Danetta's hand crossbows gives you a 10% Critical Hit Chance boost. I know very few DH that do not use this skill regardless of build.

Skills that didn't make the cut:
Vengeance: Simply put, hatred management is not a problem in this build, so there's no need for this.
Steady Aim: While this gives a very nice damage increase, more often than not enemies will be too close for this to be active.
Sharpshooter: This skill has almost zero use outside of pvp. Can cause massive damage in short spurts, but the downtime between those moments kills any allure this skill might have.
Brooding: If this skill was 2% life steal, it would be amazing, unfortunately, it's not, so 2% life gain per second is hardly worth using a passive slot.

2. Gearing

As I said before, the best thing about this build is that it scales to your gear fairly easily. The reason for this is that no special pieces are needed. As long as you are stacking the primary stats that fuel a demon hunter, then you're usually going to be ok. Your primary focuses are going to be Dex, Vit, CC, CD, Attack Speed, All Resist, Damage reduction, and any items that can add damage to Elemental Arrow and Bola Shot.

Crafted or found Archon Armor: While you can generally get better stats on legendary and set items, crafting an chest from the Archon Armor of Dexterity recipe can produce a very high dex and defensive piece.
Natalya's Embrace: You definitely want to try to get 2 pieces of the Nat's set for the 7% CC boost, and this is a good option for that. Unfortunately, Bola Shot and Elemental Arrow bonuses are not available on this piece. In any case, you want to stack as much dex and vit as possible, with % life and damage reduction being great bonuses. All resist is also desired, but not necessarily required.
Inna's Vast Expanse: While primarily for monks, the 2 piece set bonus for this set is 130 Dex, which is desirable for DH as well. The usual options for this are pants and chest, but if using the chest, you will have to use another piece of Nat's somewhere else to get the 7% CC bonus from that set (usually boots.) The Inna's chest is usually more defensive in nature than the Nat's chest, so if you are going for more survivability, this might be a better option. Essentially, you are going to be looking for the same stats as with the Nat's chest, with a focus more on defensive stats.

Mempo of Twilight: This should be your first choice. A basic Mempo with decent stats is reasonably inexpensive, and provides far more benefit than virtually anything that can be crafted. Dex/Vit and high Resist All are a must. This helm comes with attack speed standard, so just try to shoot for a 9%, but an 8% will be fine. Crit Chance is a huge bonus, but puts this helm out of reach for most budgets.
Andariel's Visage: The Andy Helm could have had so much potential were it not for that pesky "Extra fire damage taken" stat. However, despite this fact, the Andy's can actually be a reasonable option for some DH. The primary reason is budget. You can find a dex/vit, attack speed, and up to 4.5% CC Andy helm for reasonably cheap. The second problem with this helm though, is that you have to choose between Resist All, Vit, % Life, or a socket since none of those two stats can roll on the same helm. If you're running low on cash and need a helm upgrade, this might be a decent option, but I recommend holding out for a Mempo.

Crafted or found Archon Spaulders: Crafted shoulders can very well be Best in Slot with a nice roll. While it will require some luck and persistence in crafting, Archon Spaulders of Dexterity can roll very high vit (300+ without much effort.) Other desirable stats are Vit, All Resist, and % Life.
Vile Ward: This is often the go to shoulders for people who either don't or have bad luck crafting. You basically want to look for the same stats as you would want on crafted shoulders.

Witching Hour: This is really the only reasonable option. No other belt produces the same DPS. Sure, the Inna's belt is a better defensive option, but not when you are sacrificing the very high damage gains the Witching hour offers. Stat rolls are pretty simple. As much dex/vit as you can get, 8/9% attack speed, and as much Crit Damage as you can get.

Inna's Temperance: This is usually be the best option for several reasons: 1) the built in movement speed bonus prevents Lacuni Prowlers from being required to achieve 24% movement speed, 2) are the only endgame pants that provide attack speed, 3) can be very defensive with Armor, Vit, and Resist all, and 4) complete the 2 piece set bonus if you opted for the Inna's chest.
Depth Diggers: Depth Diggers can also be a very good option as long as you get 2 sockets, high dex/vit and good defensive stats, however, this option can get very expensive and you won't get the movement speed and attack speed bonus you get from the Inna's pants, so to recover that loss, you will likely have to use Lacuni Prowlers.

Zunimassa's Trail: Yes, they're Witch Doctor boots. The primary reason these are appealing is the 8/9% poison damage bonus, and if you are using a "black weapon" then this, and any other elemental damage boost, will add to your damage total. Also, these boots can roll with very nice Dex and Vit, as well as rolling intelligence which equates to Resist all on top of being able to roll with Resist All. The movement speed bonus is also a plus.
Natalya's Bloody Footprints: A great option for most builds, as it can complete the 2, or maybe even 3 piece set bonus. If you went with the Inna's Chest, then this will likely be your choice. These boots can roll high dex/vit, are guaranteed to roll with Resist All and Armor, and have the 12% movement speed bonus. Another great feature of these boots is the 5/6% reduced damage from melee bonus which provides some very nice survivability. Overall good choice for boots.
Ice Climbers: The only thing that really sets these boots apart from the rest is the socket. This adds a slight degree of customizability, but really doesn't justify the loss of stats you receive from the other options. If you are adamant about using Ice Climbers for whatever reason, be sure to get top end dex and vit, and as much all resist as you can possibly afford. Since these boots do come with % life as a standard stat, they can be a decent option if you need the defensive stats.

Crafted or found Archon Gauntlets: This is likely going to be your very best option since most all endgame gloves fall very short. Your goal is to of course stack Dex/Vit, and if possible go for a "Trifecta" and get CC, CD and Attack speed. You want to get your stats as close to perfect as you can since gloves can provide a LOT of your DPS. All resist is also a nice bonus to have.
Tasker and Theo: The only reason I mention these is that they're often a low budget solution for decent gloves. These can roll "trifecta" but quickly become very expensive when you start adding the damage stats. The socket adds a little appeal, but doesn't completely sell these gloves since they roll with all 4 basic stats simultaneously, and usually low amounts of each, so the socket is really just a band aid on a knife wound. Defensively these gloves shine a little more than other options due to the fact that Armor rolls standard and Vit and Resist All can be on there at at the same time.

Crafted or found Razorspikes: While the Lacuni Prowlers provide more DPS, these can be far cheaper. Pretty standard stat requirements. Dex/Vit, Resist All, and up to 6% CC. If you are a big crafter, this is often the easiest piece to get best in slot.
Lacuni Prowlers: Honestly, the best option for DPS, but get extremely expensive when going for the top end. The benefits go on for days. Attack Speed, Movement Speed, up to 6% CC, etc. A perfect roll will cost you a fortune, but can provide a large DPS boost. It goes without saying that you are looking for the Dex/Vit variety.
Strongarm Bracers: I just felt a few people cringe, but what these lack in DPS capability (max 4.5% CC) they more than make up for in defensive benefit. The guaranteed Armor and % Life roll, as well as being able to roll over 200 Dex unlike Lacuni Prowlers, put these as great contenders for builds with lower survivability, and are usually pretty cheap as well. You'll want to upgrade as soon as it's convenient, but in the meantime, these can help keep you from getting dead. The knockback stat can be bad juju in group games, but thankfully, the % chance is usually pretty low. If you are running a Windforce build, these actually complement very nicely.

Found Level 60 ring: This is kind of the universal solution. Regular run-of-the mill yellow rings can roll a wide range of helpful stats, and most of them simultaneously. Dex/Vit, CC, CD, Attack Speed, Damage, Resist All, Life on Hit, Damage reduction, Life %, Sockets, Gold and Magic Find, and Pick up Radius can roll on rings, and while getting that perfect ring is a long shot, it can provide the greatest benefit if you ever find it.
Natalya's Reflection: Most DH agree that the Nat's ring is one of the best options out there. They can get pricey at higher DPS ranges, but completing the 2nd or 3rd set bonus usually justifies a lot of that cost. Aside from that, the Nat's ring rolls much like any other ring. The goal is of course to get the rare "quadrafecta" of CC, CD, Attack Speed, and some sort of damage stat (Min damage, Max Damage, or Min-Max Damage), however to buy one, you might be looking at a second mortgage. Essentially, you want to get the best one you can find or afford.
Unity: The Unity rolls just like any other ring with a couple of exceptions. First, a Unity will always have additional damage, CC, and damage bonus vs. elites, and Life on Hit. Second, you can only roll a "trifecta" at best since Attack Speed and CD cannot coexist on the Unity. Despite this disadvantage, it is still an excellent option for increasing DPS, but bring your wallet if you plan on getting a good one.
Stone of Jordan: This Diablo 2 throwback has often been called a "niche" or build specific ring, and that's exactly what it is. However, it may not be a bad choice for your budget since you can get a very sizable damage boost. While this ring doesn't look like much on the surface, the 5/6% elemental damage is a direct damage addition to your "black weapon." Also you can receive damage bonuses to Elemental Arrow and Bola Shot. In addition to the damage boosts, you will get +10 Discipline, and since this build can be very Discipline hungry at times, that can be a big help. Finally, the damage bonus vs. Elites can help out with some of those tougher encounters. Don't discount the SoJ before you consider it.
Hellfire Ring: If you are grinding Paragon levels, the Hellfire Ring can help make that process faster, but you usually end up sacrificing damage or survivability. Some of the lucky ones out there have been able to get a "trifecta" Hellfire, but it's rare, so if you want to go with this option, just choose the best one you've made and toss the rest on your followers.

Found or crafted Level 60 Amulet: With the addition of craftable stat specific amulets, this quickly became the best way to obtain a top end amulet for a reasonable cost. Amulets roll with essentially the same types of stats as rings, but have a higher value range.
Mara's Kaleidoscope: The ONLY reason I mention this amulet is due to the fact that it can roll with very high end basic stats and can add bonus damage to Bola Shot and Elemental Arrow. This amulet always rolls all 4 basic stats simultaneously, and always has Resist All. While probably not the best option since the high end Mara's become very expensive, it's something to consider if you have one laying around that would suit your needs.

Main Hand:
Manticore: The gold standard of reasonably priced DPS for today's Demon Hunter. While being a 2-hander, the DH has the unique ability to equip a quiver as an off hand and still be able to use a 2- hander, making this probably the best of both worlds. High damage, desirable stats, and the ability to roll with 2 sockets make this a great choice for both budget and performance. The only downside to a Manticore is the low attack speed, but if you are making up for it in other places, then this won't be a problem.
Calamity: The Calamity is kind of like the Mac of the DH weapon world. While it can be a high performer, it's price for a good roll usually turns people to PC, erm, I mean Manticore. If you get lucky enough to find a good one, or are willing to bankroll one, this can be your best option for this build. High attack speed, moderate to high damage rating, able to roll with a socket, Hatred regeneration, and the added bonus of having a % chance to target an enemy with Marked for Death make this a favorite of a lot of high end DH. The Calamity is my personal favorite option for this build.
Windforce: There are a lot of mixed feelings about this often dismissed bow, probably due to the fact that in D3, it doesn't live up to the legend it created in D2. Regardless, this weapon is viable in this build, and even effective in a lot of circumstances. While finding that perfect Windforce can be challenging, the high % chance to knock back with this AoE heavy build actually puts it in the running as a contender. The only real downfall is the very low attack speed, but as with the Manticore, that can be made up for elsewhere.

Dead Man's Legacy: This is a no brainer for most, but there are some who still insist on dual wield, and that's OK. As for quivers, there really isn't anything else in the game that compares. DML can roll with 10% CC, 20% Attack Speed, high end Dex/Vit, and Damage bonuses to Bola Shot and Elemental Arrow. It can even roll with a socket for a little extra punch, though any gem socketed into a quiver will follow the same rules as if it were put into armor (Sorry, no extra 110% CD.) Even a low end DML will significantly add to your DPS.
Dual Wield: If you absolutely must dual wield, you still have a few options, however you'll likely still get the best bang for your buck with the DML. Dawn is not horrible if you get it with a high damage roll (1k+) and a socket, however it's very unlikely you will find this easily or cheap. The advantage of the Dawn is the built in LoH roll, so it will add some survivability. Your other option is the Danetta's Creed set. The Set bonus of 130 Dex and 3% bonus damage vs. elites isn't horrible. A high roll of these can actually be formidable. If you will be using only one of the Danetta's crossbows, go with the Danetta's Spite due to the +9/10 Max Discipline boost.

Other Considerations:
Blackthorn's Set: If you are horribly lacking on survivability, then you can consider tossing in a piece or two of Blackthorn's. As far as survivability goes, there's no set that provides more HP than this. I don't recommend overdoing it since you will be sacrificing a lot of DPS to sport pieces of this set, but It's something to look at if you are playing on MP1 and still getting obliterated way too much.

The basic layout of gems are going to be Emeralds or Amethyst for armor depending if you want more DPS or survivability, a Ruby or Emerald for your weapon (I prefer the Marquis Ruby for my Calamity, but many have found great success in mixing 1 Emerald and 1 Ruby in a 2 socket Manticore) and an Amethyst in your helm if you need life or a Ruby if you want more exp. Don't bother with Topaz in a helm since you'll make up for that magic find as you gain Paragon levels.

3. Strategy

I'm not going to sit here and tell you how to play a DH. At this point in the guide, you probably have a pretty good idea of how this build works, however, I will give you some tips and tricks to use when out in the wild.

First off, let's cover Monster Power. The most important thing about any build of any class is never play an MP above your capability. It's not efficient and can end up being very expensive after repair bills. These are the basic requirements for doing MP ranges. These are not set in stone, but what I have found to be the most efficient.

50k DPS
300 All Resist
2500 Armor
30k HP
35% CC
100% CD
35% Dodge

150k DPS
400 All Resist
3000 Armor
45K hp
45% CC
200% CD
40% Dodge

250k DPS
450 All Resist
3000 Armor
50k HP
55% CC
45% Dodge

300k + DPS
500+ All Resists
3500+ Armor
60k+ HP
60%+ CC
300%+ CD
50%+ Dodge

As far as using this build, there's a few things to keep in mind.
1. You can face tank most groups and elites as long as you keep Shadow Power up and running.
2. Use Bola Shot for large groups and Ball Lightning for ranged and scattered groups.
3. Discipline is your most valuable resource, so find a balance of skill usage that works for you and allows you to survive.
4. Don't be afraid to run away for a bit to recharge and regroup. Sometimes the odds are stacked against you and recognizing this and getting out quickly can save you a lot of repair bills.
5. Use position effectively! Sometimes retreating a bit to bottleneck a large group into a smaller area can pay off big.
6. Keep an weathered eye on your Hatred and Discipline. This build is all about resource management, so know where you stand at all times with both resources and respond accordingly.
7. Situational awareness is key. You can take a lot of punishment with Shadow Power, but don't overdo it. Standing in a stacked pool of plague, desecrator with 3 arcane beams coming your way is probably going to spell death no matter how good you think you are. Vault to safety.
8. When you encounter a large group, activate Shadow Power and fire 1-3 Ball Lightning before starting Bola Shot. Remember, Bola Shot > Imminent Doom has a 2 second fuse, so it's important to get some Life Steal going before you start shooting.

For groups of melee range enemies and elites, stand your ground and put them with Bola Shot with Shadow Power active. For elites, just watch out for affixes such as plague, waller, desecrator, arcane, and frozen. These will require you to modify your strategy some.
For groups of ranged and kiting enemies, lay down a nice spread blanket of Ball Lightning to sweep them up. If the group is mixed melee and ranged, take care of the ranged first with Bola Shot then clean up the rest with Ball Lightning.
For Large open areas with slower moving enemies (skeletons, zombies, etc) you can use the stutter step method where you take a few steps, fire a few Lightning Balls, take a few steps, etc. This will allow you to continuously clear a large area quickly and efficiently.
If you start running low on discipline, retreat back to recharge and fire a few lightning balls into the bulk of the group. This should provide enough of a recharge to quickly get back in the fight. The same concept applies to health. Retreat, activate Shadow Power, fire the Lightning Balls and you're back in action.
If you're using Marked for Death > Contagion, mark the weakest enemy in a group and then stack the damage on to that target. Before long, you'll have a large amount of the group marked making your job a lot easier.
For Treasure Goblins, try to clear out as many enemies as you can before you engage, because we all know the little bastard is going to run. As soon as you're ready to engage, mark him and stack as many bolas as you can before he takes off. Once he's on the run, Vault to quickly catch up with him and continue stacking Bolas. If he runs into a group of enemies, switch to using Ball Lightning and try to stay with him.

Templar: Almost useless for this build. The heal is minimal at endgame, and the stun only helps sometimes. The resource regen skill can be nice, but considering you have a lot of options for resource regeneration, this is likely going to be of little benefit.
Enchantress: My personal favorite for this build. Not only can she buff you for 5% armor, but she can also increase your attack speed by 3% making her your offensive and defensive option. Also, if you equip her with an Azurewrath and stack attack speed, she can nearly perma-freeze a single enemy making some encounters more tolerable. The freeze proc also works for her AoE attack, so occasionally, you'll see an entire group get frozen for a brief period.
Scoundrel: A close second to the Enchantress, though the more offensive option. He can either buff your CC by 3% or with Hysteria, and buff your damage 10% for 3 seconds, and he can do this every 5 seconds. Also, when equipped with a nice bow/crossbow, he can do some formidable damage. You just have to put up with his arrogant rambling and his pride in coming from Kinsport, even though he's voluntarily exiled from there.

5. Special Thanks:
It took a lot of experience and research to put this together, so I'd like to thank everyone and everything that helped me though this process.
Vader#1576 for all those long weekends of grinding and farming, and for showing me a few things about the DH I didn't know.
Luke#1537 for being our little up and coming freeze wiz and providing endless entertainment from dying frequently.
boodakai#1787 for being my wingman through the first months after launch back when Inferno was still hard.
Cameo for writing a guide similar to this in which I use for some of my research.
VocaloidNyan for pointing out that Strongarm Bracers can roll higher than normal Dex.
d3up.com for just being awesome and helping me calculate the numbers
TexasStranga for compiling most of the posted DH builds and uploading mine into the list.
diablo3.com for giving me the skill calculator and skill description pages so I didn't have to type everything out manually.
Whoever hacked my account back in Dec 2012 for ultimately bringing me back to the game.
President Obama for screwing up the economy so bad that Boeing had to downsize costing me my job and opening the door for me to start my own business, giving me ample free time and income to write a guide like this.
And for anyone else I missed, I apologize.
TL;DR: Demon Hunters don't suck if you know how to play one!
Edited by Skeeter#1126 on 11/2/2013 1:41 AM PDT
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Why so long? lol

You should add that the strongarm's can go over 200 dex unlike normal bracers from the AH.
Edited by VocaloidNyan#1582 on 9/28/2013 11:14 PM PDT
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Why so long? lol

You should add that the strongarm's can go over 200 dex unlike normal bracers from the AH.

I do apologize for the length, but I wanted to make a built that even people fairly new to DH could follow easily since this build scales easily to low end gear as well.

Very good point about the Strongarms. Really, the only way to roll a higher Dex would be to craft the Razorspikes. I'll add that note to the guide.
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This was my preferred combination before the RF buff. Too bad RF went up so much and left everything else behind
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Just to comment regarding Sharpshooter..

If you have an innately high Crit Chance AND use either WF or Calamity instead of Manti..

ShSh might look a bit more better because of the bursts you can do at the start of monster clashes.

I mean.. you see a bunch of monsters and just wail at them with BL. All the BLs you release before any of it hits a monster will guarantee the crit chance. However it will not go well with ID AFAIK since the first hit Bola does will trigger crit and will nullify ShSh's chance.

That's how they did it pre-NT nerf.

ShSh + NT's slower projectile movement was too good to pass up :)
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Just to comment regarding Sharpshooter..

If you have an innately high Crit Chance AND use either WF or Calamity instead of Manti..

ShSh might look a bit more better because of the bursts you can do at the start of monster clashes.

I mean.. you see a bunch of monsters and just wail at them with BL. All the BLs you release before any of it hits a monster will guarantee the crit chance. However it will not go well with ID AFAIK since the first hit Bola does will trigger crit and will nullify ShSh's chance.

That's how they did it pre-NT nerf.

ShSh + NT's slower projectile movement was too good to pass up :)

Excellent points. The problem with using Sharpshooter is that it takes up a passive slot that needs to be used by something else. I suppose if you have insanely high EHP, you could drop Perfectionist, but I don't know many DH that would be willing to do this once they realize how badass Perfectionist really is. Also, chances of you having enough time between groups to fully recharge CC are minimal, and if you are going that long between groups, then you're either lacking movement speed, not running above MP0 or are just plain doing it wrong. I do an MP7 VORCS run, and there's maybe 8 opportunities for SS to actually charge all the way up, so having to wait for it would kill my grinding efficiency.
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09/29/2013 04:26 PMPosted by aqso
This was my preferred combination before the RF buff. Too bad RF went up so much and left everything else behind

RF is huge now, but for people who want an easier build that's still very effective, this is a great way to go. The biggest problems with RF is having to worry about breakpoints and the price of gear. Since the RF buff, anything with RF CC bonus or solid hatred regen has doubled in price. The vast majority of players don't have hundreds of millions or even billions to gear out a DH.

Don't get me wrong, I tried the sustainable RF build, and love it. I actually did that build with a Calam and a shield, and it worked pretty well. My only holdup was that after a few dozen runs, it just felt boring as hell because you're doing the same drill almost every fight. I guess to each his own.

Thanks for the input!
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09/29/2013 08:24 PMPosted by Skeeter
do an MP7 VORCS run, and there's maybe 8 opportunities for SS to actually charge all the way up, so having to wait for it would kill my grinding efficiency.

Actually.. I don't have much eHP. I still haven't upgraded my gears and I usually run with the GC Standards which was then <400 Resist, <4k Armor, <1.1k Vit.

So.. there's not much eHP there ;)

As for ShSh's "reload" time, you don't really need to wait for it's full potential anyways. But like I said, if you're using Manti, ShSh won't matter as much if you're using "low" damage skills.

For more ShSh fun, look for Kirus ;)
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Updated to reflect the use of Spike Trap > Echoing Blast for solo play.
Added TexasStranga to special thanks section.
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Nyan Nyan <(^^<)

You should try trail of cinders and life on hit!
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I use that build since I got to level 60 with my first DH.

And I also used what Nyan just said = ToC. That time my gear was a little weird in order to get the best life per hit I could so I had 1.2k life on hit wearing Blackthorne's jousting mail + my amulet that rolled 800 life on hit + nat's reflection with life on hit I was wearing tal rasha's chest too LOL.

Here is a video I've made of that gear and build.

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To the OP:

Very descriptive guide! I used a Ball Lightning build very similar to this from about level 30 - 60. I had difficulty killing things beyond MP5, however.

Also - WTB your Calamity! T.T
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I use a similar build. I drop Prep for RF though, I use Bola and Lightning ball on most trash mobs and RF on the elites. I try to alternate 6 shots of Ball lightning with 2 or 3 of bola and whatcha stuff explode and fly off screen. With NS and Veng I stay pretty much full on both hatred/disc at all times. I have never been a fan of Perfectionist.
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I use the similar built. But instead of hatred preparation i use the bat, i can spend my discipline on my main disci spells and i never run out of hatred too. The 34% dmg from the bad helps for close enemies.

Is there anything that i forget to think about? Or why didn't you mention the bat as an alternative skill to preparation?

Thanks for the guide, it helped me a lot.
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For a pure Bola-Ball Lightning build, I think it's better to drop Prep:Punishment for something else that's more useful. At low MP a handful of ball lightning would've cleared a mob pack, while at mid or higher MP you should be using Bola:ID as your main attack anyway and only throw a couple of ball lightnings every now and then to help proc life steal and NS.
On the other hand, slotting Prep:Punishment + RF:Fire Support instead of MfD for elite encounters works quite well as a Bola-Ball Lightning-RF hybrid.
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Yeah i tested this as well. i like bola/rapid its easier if you have not the ultra gear. BUT: why do you use preperation? you will not get out of hatred with bat (+bonus dmg 34%) too. or am i wrong?
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11/12/2013 04:10 AMPosted by Raziel
Yeah i tested this as well. i like bola/rapid its easier if you have not the ultra gear. BUT: why do you use preperation? you will not get out of hatred with bat (+bonus dmg 34%) too. or am i wrong?
I don't have the DPS to mow down elites in one full hatred globe's worth of RF:Fire Support (my favourite RF rune). Prep:Punishment allows me to refresh my hatred globe to continue shooting at elites rather than having to fall back on bola to regenerate my hatred slowly in situations where I'm not forced to move (usually multiple desecrator/plague pools, frozen or close proximity arcane will force me to reposition). At 2.50001 attack speed break point, I burn 20 hatred per second so I'll still run out of hatred even with Bat on elite encounters at MP7 and above.
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Sorry for the delayed replies to everyone's posts. I don't play much anymore, and with my new business still in the startup phases, I work a lot of 16-20 hour days. Not a lot of time for any recreation, much less D3

@VocaloidNyan - Good suggestion, but for the most part life regen should never be a problem with this build if you are playing smart. LS with bola is insane life return, and LoH with both bola and ball lightning's proc coefficients is rather tasty as well.

@Octavian - This build is viable above MP5, but it really starts to become gear intensive at that point. The beauty of this build is that it can farm MP 0-4/5 pretty easily and quickly on budget gear. After that point, you're going to want to start investing in some serious DPS gear while keeping a reasonable EHP. Oh, and U can't haz my calam!

@Badfish - RF actually isn't a bad option as a utility skill, but I didn't mention it because with it being a channelled skill, you need to know a thing or two about break points to get the most out of it, and believe me, with my ADHD, that would have doubled the length of the guide. Also, Perfectionist is a billy badass of passives if you look what it actually does for your overall EHP. Some people have reported showing as much as 25-30% EHP gains by using it. If you have solid defensive gear like a good dex based Blackthorne set, then it might be a little redundant and you can swap it for something more of your liking, but DH seem to naturally gravitate to the "glass cannon syndrome" so this is something that can often balance that EHP issue right out.

@Raziel - Trading Prep for the bat is in my opinion a bad investment for 2 reasons: 1. It takes away a lot of the versatility of this build. The whole point is being able to flip flop your resources back and forth between attacking and preparation so you always have enough of each to do what you need to do. With the Nightstalker passive coupled with the delicious proc coefficients of bola and ball lightning, discipline should almost never be your concern, which leaves only hatred, which preparation takes care of. And 2. The bat doesn't regen as much hatred as most people would like to think. Yes, 3 per second is nice, but if you are rolling "high speed, low drag" through an act, the bat is going to make a very small difference versus the amount you are consuming. I do mention possibly dropping MfD for the bat if you are playing solo since MfD really only sees it's true potential in a party game.
One final note about the bat: It's attack is remarkably weak compared to your main attack skills. While you might see it move the bar a little on MP0/1, when you get up to MP4 or higher, it'll have to peck away at the mob for quite a while to even see an impact.

@Oble - As I stated above, RF is a good utility skill, but I explained just a bit ago why I didn't go into it. If you feel more comfortable having that ace in your back pocket, then by all means rock it like it's cool. The one problem I see with RF is that it kind of sucks with a Calam, but if you are using a nice Manti, then all should be good, and that would be a welcomed focus damage modification for elites/champs.
Edited by Skeeter#1126 on 11/15/2013 4:31 AM PST
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@Skeeter <(^^<)

It is true that the life steal with gloom is really good already, but the idea is that you don't have to use gloom as often. Reserving discipline is important with punishment and vault!
Edited by VocaloidNyan#1582 on 11/15/2013 8:35 AM PST
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While Shadow Power > Gloom is probably the best defensive skill that a DH has, it's not entirely necessary if your gear is defensive based, but I was referring to just the raw LS and LoH returns you get from your attack skills. LS without Shadow Power still works because of it's enormous damage. If you're rocking a 2.5-3% LS weapon Bola will keep you alive in most situations. As far as LoH, both Bola and Ball Lightning have great proc coefficients, so stacking LoH with this build is actually a safe bet as well. I've experimented with both methods, and both tend to work out well in most situations. Shadow Power is just great for those situations where taking a large amount of damage is inevitable, i.e. being cornered by an elite with a couple arcane beams coming your way, or a nice stack of plague pools that cover 3 screens worth of real estate. Also, chances are that if you're using Shadow Power properly, you're probably blasting away at a group when you use it, and therefore your Nightstalker procs should be refilling your Discipline long before it ever becomes an issue.
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