Diablo® III

Strafe: Synergizing stats, skills, & tactics

I've recently seen some statements about Strafe that are not entirely accurate. There are a lot of misconceptions on what stats are "good" or "bad", how much of them you really need, and the notion that it is a skill that is only viable in low MP because it is not a good damage dealer. I would like to address this and show that depending on how you want to use Strafe dictates the stats that you need and that it is a viable MP10 skill. This can be said of quite a few of our skills- like Ball Lightning or Sharp Shooter, but I'm not here to talk about them.

I believe the image problem Strafe has comes from the "Perma-Strafe" builds- whether depending on Vengance + Health Globes, Prep-Punishment, Bat, M4D, SP, or SS to return Hatred rather than including a Hatred generator in the build. That is a tough route to go and tends to break down when you can't kill quickly or don't have mobs around. Gear requirements are at the godly end of the spectrum if you want to do high MP, and the build still does not put out as much damage as some alternatives. This is why it is considered a "Low MP" skill. Now with a ring that says "Strafe costs no Hatred" I could slot Ball Lightning in place of either Prep-Punishment or Bola, but unfortunately those don't exist (yet).

So here are the false statements that have been perpetuated about what you need for a Strafe build:
Attack speed is bad for Strafe. False. Attack Speed does affect Hatred drain with Strafe, but is only problematic if you are using Prep-Punishment for your Hatred generator. If you slot Bola, Hungering Arrow, Grenades, or Entangling Shot a higher APS will generate Hatred much faster when you are using them, and you should be using something that can target a specific enemy while standing still in many situations IMO.

You need over 60% ChC for Night Stalker. You need lots of Max Discipline. False. This depends on your Discipline usage. If you're burning 25 Discipline on Punishment and you still want to use Shadow Power, Smoke Screen, or Caltrops then this is true, however if you eliminate Punishment and use a generator instead you only need about 45% ChC and no Max Discipline. Not that either of these stats are "bad", more of either is helpful. It is just not required.

You need +Pickup Radius. False. This is a matter of preference and play style. If you rely on health globes for survival or resources, yes +PR can be very helpful. If you have other means of generating hatred or sustaining your health then you do not need +PR. I prefer very little to none so I can more precisely control when I grab a globe.

You need at least 2/3 of the following: Shadow Power, Smoke Screen, or Vault. False. You only need one. Pick one to suit your needs. All 3 have more than one useful rune too.

Part 1) APS>2.51 and ChC=46% with +8 Max Disc.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrLjYX2cThE

Part 2) The Windforce build optimized for Sentry.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjWiCR_hlOw

Part 3) The Manticore build. Note how fast the Fallen Maniac runs and that it keeps agro even when I hit smoke. I dodged the explosion but thought I died, the next one gets me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tU97BXExstI

Part 4) Punishing Spikes: Uses Prep-Punishment to fuel Hatred. Note how long it takes to kill.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGy-nNbQtow

Part 5) Punishing Bait: Puts Bait the Trap in place of Jagged Spikes. The extra ChC really helps out for the damage output of Chakram and Strafe, as well as increased Discipline return.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nq6hxM6GrvY

Part 6) Hardcore: This is where I learned to Strafe. I started out with both Shadow Power and Smoke Screen in my setup, but once I accumulated the right pieces I was able to drop SP and rely solely on Smoke for my oh crap button. Early on when I was still farming low MP I would get up close to mobs more often and used globes to fuel near perma-Strafe via Vengeance and use SP to mitigate the damage. These days I try to stay back a bit, out of the danger zone, even if I can still take the hits without Gloom.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIcM5CTfXf4

So to sum it up, Strafe is good- not really by itself for high MP but it is viable. The stats and skills you need to compliment Strafe depend on your play style, your intended usage, and how quickly you can/need to kill things. The builds and gearing options I showed are but a tiny sample of what is possible, it's just what I've been doing with it. YMMV.
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I've become very fond of Strafe as a filler while I'm waiting for Imminent Doom bola to explode, and if you are using a Windy... your knocking back the critter that your caught with your bola into his buddies making your use of skill much more effective.

another way to get more punch out of your Strafe is to use an Evasive fire, with tactical passive.

the boost in speed for those few seconds really ups your eDPS, if you want to throw the hammer down and add in drifting shadow smoke screen and your dealing with nearly 100% + movement speed.

i'm not brainy enough to figure out how many more tick from strafe you get at that point but its devastating, and fun as hell to flip around and spin around everything.

i've got some + disc and i've got no issue @ 40ish% Crit chance.
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I used to believe that Strafe is only varaible for low mp too. Recently, my friend ask me to power-level and I went with Strafe, after that I am hooked with the play style.

Now I am using Strafe-Drifting Arrow in MP10 with Bola/Trap build to aggro mobs and kill them once with Bola/Trap.

I agree that we don't need Vault, as the time that Strafe aggro mob is as fast as using Vault/Tactical-Advantage to aggro mobs around.

This is my build & skill rotation: RF user can easily switch Trap for RF. Quite similar concept to Monk's TR/Bell's play style.
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/demon-hunter#WSgeQV!Xbf!cZYcaZ

- Cast Shadow Power/Shuriken Cloud for LS snapshot
- Aggro mobs with Strafe-Drifting Arrow until all hatred drain out.
- Cast Punishment for full hatred
- Cast Shadow Power and reactivate every 5 secs
- Spam Bola & 3 Traps
- Strafe around to gather health globes
- Repeat Bola/Trap & Strafe to gather health globes.
- When clear a set of mobs, continue to Strafe for more aggro
- On hard elite pack, chain more mob for bigger LS & bigger supply for health globes (similar method to Barb WW/RLTW build)
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<(^^<)
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I compensate with the relatively low damage of strafe with AoE generator like grenades and big hitters like RoV and FoK.

I agree that focusing on perma strafe is not ideal. It is much better to mix it up with a solid generator.

That being said, It's OK to look at breakpoints and try to be hitting breakpoints efficiently.

My favorite strafe:
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/demon-hunter#USTldg!ZXb!aYbaba

For legacy nat, replace nightstalker with Archery or Perfectionists

For using strafe: demolition, replace grenades with hungering arrow or bola
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Good to see some Strafers coming out of the woodwork to back me up on this. That was the point of my post afterall- promote discussion of how Strafe can be good.

@Flail, I was really liking that build you were running yesterday with Evasive Fire and Spike Traps. I think that will be a really good one to run with dual wielding. Thanks for the idea on the Danetta's Revenge...I ganked a good one for 75K.

On movement speed and tick frequency: I don't think that MS increases the tick rate of Strafe, but it sure does feel like it. I think that perhaps (with Demolition) MS improves targeting and fewer grenades miss. I could be wrong.

@vaansteer, I used to use Strafe in a similar manner to pull agro and drag mobs back to my party, good tactic but risky in HC. I still do it with my multibox setup since those DHs use Shadow Power. Nice build BTW, like Flail- I like the inclusion of Spike Traps.

@DinoBSC, some good ideas and tips- nice inclusion of the Legacy DH. One of these days I'll don the LN4 again and come up with something new. I use Cluster Grenades in A2 as they are much safer than Bola or Hungering Arrow. I use Bola mostly specifically for the delay. With ID I can stack 5 bolas for one big boom, and I know I'll be stealing life for a short time after I quit firing it off. I tried using HA, but the no delay really put a hurting on how I run. I like FoK, but hate that has both high hatred cost AND long cool down....20 hatred and 10 seconds> are you kidding me? I hope FoK gets an overhaul.
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I flirted with Bola:ID/Strafe:Demo for a while and quite liked it with Calamity at 2.73+ APS breakpoint. 6 ticks per second at 0.5 proc coefficient per tick = better than preparation at refilling discipline while still doing AOE damage. I can see myself going back to Strafe when my DW+LoH build and gears come together.
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Strafe is still my favorite build of DH to play.

All the other "I shall stand here and shoot everything until everything dies" builds are plain boring.

Trolling the content at MP 5 and just doing drive bys at the content and able to clear areas in half the time compared to the "stand here and shoot" builds was what encouraged me to return to playing DHs after giving up on them a year ago.

Although I feel that going MP 5 with XP gear (good HF ring and ruby in helm + HF ring on merc) instead to tackling the higher MPs with the Strafe build is a bit of a cop-out, I feel at least its fun to me.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Strafe DH is its so customizable. You can go dual wield, calamity + DML or Manticore + DML, all are viable and you don't need very OTT gear to farm lower MPs, just need to understand how to kit out your skills and passives to make your DH work.
Edited by Dezzo#1143 on 10/10/2013 9:32 PM PDT
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i fell in love with strafe ever since i got power leveled by a DH who used it the whole time. my problem is mainly with elites. i can do mp0-3 no problem but at 4+ it starts to slow down and i die more often. any advice on my gear or skills? i want to increase dps without cutting my defensive stats if possible. also is SoJ really worth it? i lose 20k dps with it equipped
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10/10/2013 10:38 PMPosted by sil3n7TRILL
i fell in love with strafe ever since i got power leveled by a DH who used it the whole time. my problem is mainly with elites. i can do mp0-3 no problem but at 4+ it starts to slow down and i die more often. any advice on my gear or skills? i want to increase dps without cutting my defensive stats if possible. also is SoJ really worth it? i lose 20k dps with it equipped
Well, the not dying part- your gear lacks any substantial form of HP return- no LoH or LS and very little regen. That leaves you with using Shadow Power or living on globes. Drop the turret for Shadow Power for a quick and free fix, you can pick any rune, they are all useful. If you get enough LoH, or some LS I'd recommend using Chakram/Cloud over the turret with a Manticore. If you're giving up the turret, Custom Engineering makes less sense for you as a passive- you might be able to get more out of something else.

On SoJ: well let's do the math! Yay! I love math!

Your DPS=183K, so w/ SoJ that's 163K. But with a 14% skill bonus, that skill does 184.82K. Also with 30% fighting elites your 14% buffed skill is now 240K, while your other skills are 211K. 240>211>184.82>183K. This does not include if your using a cold SoJ + CoTW. If you took my advice above, you just freed up a passive slot, CoTW synergizes well with your build, even w/o an SoJ. So yea, it's worth it.
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I'll give Strafe a chance again since I'm going to be reducing my APS. Meaning.. getting to the breakpoints that won't deplete my Hatred so fast will be attainable.

Because.. Strafe and 3APS doesn't really bode well.
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the skill selection i have now was just a trial to see how it would work and quickly realized that i have no life regen. i usually run a setup like vaansteer does with SP and SC. as for LoH and LS, what items are they commonly found on at reasonable prices without losing too much AR or vit? i do like my defense
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Attack speed is bad for Strafe. False. Attack Speed does affect Hatred drain with Strafe, but is only problematic if you are using Prep-Punishment for your Hatred generator.

Sorry but it is an issue. It´s eating 22.5 Hatred per second at >1.67 aps (21.67 if Bombardment) and that is probably the lowest breakpoint people will run.

Don´t you think it would be cool if the cost would scale with aps similar to how Whirlwind behaves? Higher aps means lower Fury cost per tick.

That being said, I´m going to watch your vids and comment later. Strafe and its synergy is a very dear issue for me as I´ve tested a lot of combinations in hopes to achieve something similar to WW/RLTW/OPKS/Rend.

EDIT 1: In video 1, with those stats and WF, your relative Sentry damage is 90.07% weapon damage if you want to compare it with other skills. This is without taking aps into account. This value is pretty good, actually. The relative damage output of Sentry gets worse the higher your crit chance and crit damage values become as Sentry itself doesn´t crit.

OK honestly vid 1 doesn´t really count as you´re mostly Bola Shooting.

Here´s my favourite Strafe build but I spend my resources very quickly.
http://eu.battle.net/d3/en/profile/Nubtro-2147/hero/6325658

I also combine Bola with Strafing but I´m more offense orriented with Strafe which I use to get in the middle of packs to improve my eDPS with Jagged, Shuriken and Knives.

Well, higher MP (>6) just doesn´t feel right though, I can´t stand taking long to kill stuff.
Edited by Nubtro#2147 on 10/11/2013 12:12 PM PDT
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@Nubtro- I do wish it worked like WW, and I think it's hatred cost needs to be addressed, which I think they are in a number of fashions in loot/paragon 2.0 and RoS.

For something like a WW barb with lots of Hatred regen:
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/demon-hunter#WSgXeY!cXb!Zcabcb

Running fast and furious isn't really my thing. I don't want to plow through the maps downing elites in 20-30 seconds (or less even). OK, that IS fun once in a while, but I'm more of a defensive oriented player. We're using the skill for different reasons. Like I said, YMMV in how you use the skill- I seem to have enough hatred to get where I need to over the 2.51 break point. Pushing up to near 3.01 the distance I can strafe gets real short, but then again I generate hatred quicker when not strafing and firing off bolas.

10/11/2013 08:44 AMPosted by sil3n7TRILL
the skill selection i have now was just a trial to see how it would work and quickly realized that i have no life regen. i usually run a setup like vaansteer does with SP and SC. as for LoH and LS, what items are they commonly found on at reasonable prices without losing too much AR or vit? i do like my defense
I'm the wrong guy to ask about "reasonably" priced gear. Rings, amulets, weapons...Hellcat Waist... but getting DPS and eHP in the same slot for a DH can be real spendy for sure.
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When RoS hits, WW Barbs might become obsolete for some time due to Battle Rage-Into The Fray's crappy nerf/change.

Then we can say that Strafe is "better" ;)
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let me add some strafing tips

when I play I don't just strafe stop gain hatred and shot, and repeat when hatred is full
I go
strafe - bola - strafe - bola ...
hold right-mouse, then click left-mouse... click... click... click...
^this is why I need high aps (run at 2.50+)
Until they die or when I run out of hatred. Try gather mobs as much as possible to one spot and unleash Rain of Vengeance. This way strafe is my primary attack, but you all know bola does the exact same damage as strafe, so strafe just add another layer of damage and mobility when I wait for the explosion.
Edited by KirusAlufras#1739 on 10/11/2013 5:43 PM PDT
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