The Dual Wielder’s Handbook 2.2 (UE!)

Demon Hunter
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4/27/2015: Added a new section on UE in 2.2

12/13/2014: Added a new section about dual-wielding with M6 in 2.1.2.

3/21/2014: Updated the Bleed Damage sub-section.

3/15/2014: Updated the Area Damage sub-section and added a link to Amiar's AD guide.

3/3/2014: Updated the Weapon Affixes and Gem sections.

11/14/2013: Updated the section on gems and DW.

8/3/2014: Updated the gearing section and included a subsection on the math behind average damage and hand crossbows.


Long have I trekked the forsaken paths of Sanctuary as a dual wielding hunter. During the course of my journeys, I have picked up a few nuggets of wisdom regarding the intricacies of dual wield and have decided to put them all down for the benefit of those Demon Hunters who are not so well versed in my art.

The topics that I will cover in this guide are:

Dual-Wielding and UE
Dual-Wielding and M6
Dual-Wielding and Weapon Affixes
The Attack Speed Question
Gems and Dual Wielding
Dual Wield Skill Mechanics
Gearing for dual wield

Definition of terms:
  • DWM6 – Dual-wield M6 build
  • UE - Unhallowed Essence
  • N6 - Natalya's Embrace
  • MH – main-hand weapon
  • OH – off-hand weapon
  • Global Stat – a weapon affix that applies the hero independent of the alternating of hands while firing. In all conditions, this affix is in play 100% of the time.
  • Local Stat – a weapon affix that applies only to the weapon that is active/firing. This affix is usually in play 50% of the time.

In which Unhallowed Essence is brought into harmony.

Patch 2.2 introduced two new Demon Hunter sets, Unhallowed Essence (UE) and the reworked Natalya’s (N6). Unlike N6 and M6, UE does not have mechanics associated with it that emphasize main-hand only damage. What this means for the dual-wielding DH is that the straightforward hand crossbow setup of getting 10% Damage on the main-hand and global stats (e.g. RCR, CDR et al) on the offhand is not so straightforward anymore. Why? Because with UE the 10% Damage affix is now only hitting half of the time. If one had 10% Damage affixes rolled on both hand crossbows, then each affix would essentially be competing with each other.

This conflict between paired affixes strikes a discordant note within the hand crossbow pairing because each weapon is trying to do all the work on its own, or sing its own tune. Therefore, to bring both hand crossbows into harmony with each other a suitable replacement for 10% Damage must be found, and that affix is 8% Bonus v. Elites. With this affix, each blow, each bolt carries with it the power off both hand crossbows. They strike as one.

The theory is simple, yet elegant. Instead of using up two valuable slots on local affixes for a 10% DPS gain (both hand crossbows would need the 10% Damage affix to achieve a 10% gain), the dual-wielder should get 8% Bonus V Elites on both weapons thus netting a massive 16% DPS gain against Elites and RGs (a 6% improvement over 10% Damage on both hand crossbows). Look at it this way, if one had to choose between two affixes, 10% Damage and 16% Damage v. Elites for their weapon, which would be more compelling?

As was mentioned earlier, there isn’t a straightforward answer for UE like there is for N6 because while twin 8% Bonus v. Elite weapons certainly does more damage against elites, it suffers against regular mobs. That said, Elite/RG fights are where a DH needs damage the most, and at higher GRs the time spent fighting the RG is not unsubstantial. Furthermore, shorter Elite fights mean said Elites have less time to kill the dual-wielder. One last point regarding the efficacy of forgoing 10% Damage in favor of 8% Bonus v. Elites: When I ran my idea passed Mimir, he commented that in high GR group play, a dual-wielder would help the team more with greater Elite damage because the team could easily pick up what little slack there was in the group DPS again regular mobs.

(Note: A Flat Damage roll on a ring slot would be optimal)
(Note: This strategy only suitable for a build that utilizes no other item with Bonus v. Elites)

Hand Crossbow Pairings

As with M6, the strongest pairing for UE is Calamity and Balefire Caster, and this is the setup an Elite assassin would want:

(damage range)
1000 Dexterity
8% Bonus v. Elites
10% RCR
Socket w/Emerald
12 Max Disciplin

Balefire Caster
(damage range)
1000 Dexterity
20% Fire Damage
8% Bonus v. Elites
Socket w/Emerald
12 Max Disciplin

Skills and Passive for UE

There isn’t much to say here except to reiterate that Night Stalker is a superb passive for UE, one that I was pleased, I guess, to find is considered Meta for Fire UE. Other passives of note are: Cull the Weak, Ballistics, and Awareness.

Regarding Active Skills that have excellent synergy with a dual-wield UE setup are: Caltrops - Bait the Trap (we always need CC), MfD – Contagion/ME.

In which the dual-wielding Marauder is unveiled

The Marauders six piece bonus is our ultimate source of power in GRs at this juncture of the game’s life. Much of the talk surrounding this set has been about the effectiveness of Kridershot or Ancient two-handed crossbows etc. But what about dual-wield, is it viable? The strategies covered in this section will, hopefully, answer this question in the affirmative.

The road to understanding DWM6 begins with the mechanics of sentry itself because it plays a critical role in the selecting of hand crossbows. The base attack of the Sentry calculates its damage from the weapon that is active or, to put it another way, the weapon that is about to fire. If the DH doesn’t fire, then the hands don’t switch and the damage from Sentry will continue to be calculated from the active weapon. As soon as the DH fires, thus switching hands, the Sentry immediately starts calculating its damage from the new active weapon. To put it succinctly, Sentry’s damage is updated dynamically as the DH fires.

Enter M6, the base mechanics of Sentry remain the same, but a new mechanic is introduced, one that functions very differently. Sentry now has the added functionality of firing your spenders when you do, and it does it in a unique way. Rather than updating dynamically like the normal bolts, the spenders fired from a sentry calculate their damage from the MH only. This point is important to keep in mind when selecting hand crossbows.

The Theory behind DWM6

A lot players have the notion that to dual-wield effectively, one must have hand crossbows with similar DPS, which means that both crossbows need to have the 10% Damage affix. Their logic is as follows: the DPS of the two weapons are averaged, thus pairing high DPS with low DPS will yield average DPS. This method of reasoning isn’t incorrect in most cases, but for M6 it is, and here’s why: almost 75% of your damage output is coming from your MH! Let me explain.

A dual-wielder places three sentries on the ground, thereby buffing his damage by 300 percent. For arguments sake, let’s say that the three sentries are perfect copies of the DH, which divides the damage like this:

Sentry = 3 x 1.30 x 100% = 390%
DH = 100% x (1 + 100% x 3 Sentry) = 400%

(1.30 represents the Sentry skill bonus)

Therefore, when examining spender usage, sentry calculates all of its damage from the MH, and the DH calculates half of his damage from the MH. Thus it can be concluded that 75% of the damage output comes from the MH weapon. Of course, there other variables that muddy the waters a bit, such as Sentry bonus on gear and normal bolts etc, however, the point remains that a significant portion of the damage output from DWM6 comes from the MH.

Weapon Selection

With the above information in mind, the dual-wielder can go about selecting hand crossbows that work with, rather than against, each other. When selecting an MH, a weapon with the highest mmd, 10% Damage, DEX, and Socket should be chosen. The OH should merely have high mmd, DEX, and Socket. The one affix that should be avoided is 10% Damage because it is a local stat on the OH and there are other, more valuable affixes like RCR and VIT.

The above affixes are ones that are non-negotiable. This leaves the dual-wielder with one open affix on the MH and two open affixes on the OH. What affixes to get and which bow to get them on are up to the player. The following affixes are some of the strongest contenders: 750 VIT, 10% RCR, 20% Fire Skill Damage, 8% Bonus v Elites (I’m not a fan of IAS on hand crossbows because one would need to use two affixes just to get 7% IAS).

The question may asked, “If there are two flex slots on the OH weapon, why not just use one for 10% Damage?” The answer is: since 10% Damage is not only a local stat, but also one that is really only in play about a quarter of the time, the dual-wielder would be far better served by getting a global stat like 8% bonus v Elites, or 10% RCR, or 750 VIT.

There are two hand crossbows that make for the strongest pairing we have available and they are: Balefire Caster and Calamity. The 20% Fire Damage and MfD combined constitute an incredible damage buff, one that’s so powerful it takes two extra sentries to compete with it!

To date (2/12/2015), I have cleared GR43 in 12 minutes, and have almost made several 44s. While DWM6 isn't the most powerful DH spec out there, it definitely has the potential be extremely powerful; and players who pull it off well, will be able to go further in GRs than a lot of DHs with Bombardier’s Rucksack.

Here’s how I have my dual-wield setup organized:

MH – Calamity
3276.2 DPS
1297-1586 Lightning Damage
10% Damage
870 Dexterity
Reduces all resource costs by 9%
Socket w/Emerald

11 Maximum Discipline
Enemies you hit become Marked for Death.

OH – Balefire Caster
2903.2 DPS
1243-1546 Fire Damage
Fire skills deal 20% more damage.
957 Dexterity
996 Vitality
Socket w/Emerald

11331 Life after Each Kill
10 Maximum Discipline

Skills for DWM6

Rather than say this or that skill is the best, I will simply make a few observations about skills that are exceptionally good with DWM6.

  • Night Stalker - This passive is almost mandatory for running M6 with hand crossbows.
  • Mortal Enemy - The extra hatred per hit scales well with DWM6s high APS.
  • Entangling Shot – With BotT and CtW, this skill is superb. In order to use it effectively, one needs to keep refreshing the old chains, thus the ability to keep up a high rate of fire throughout the duration of a fight is important.
  • Arsenal – This skill is extremely well balanced. It has massive AOE capabilities and the rockets are great for single targets. Furthermore, it has great synergy with Spitfire.
  • Cluster Arrow – Not much needs to be said here.
  • Vengeance – This is a really good skill for DWM6 as it scales with APS and it deals MH only damage. Additionally, Seethe helps pump out a higher volume of spenders.

In which the nature of affixes is made clear

3/3/2014: I have updated this section to reflect the new 4/2 system implemented in patch 2.0. Please read through my original work, now in italics, as the concepts are foundational to my theories regarding the 4/2 system

So, now that you have decided to try your hand at dual wielding hand crossbows like a true son/daughter of Danetta, let us first examine the affixes on those beautiful weapons and find out how they work for the dual wielder.

Unlike with Single Wield and Two Handed bows/crossbows, affixes for dual wielders can be classified into three separate categories based on effectiveness, defined as how often the affix is increasing the Dual Wielder’s real damage, and they are: A) 50% effectiveness, B) xx% effectiveness based on the Dual Wielder’s critical hit chance, and C) 100% effectiveness.

Category A
Elemental Damage
Min/Max (Black) Damage
Minimum Damage*
Maximum Damage*
xx% Weapon Damage
xx% Increased Attack Speed**
Socket w/Ruby

*These are actually separate affixes
**Increases DPS, not damage

This group of affixes is classified as 50% effective because they only increase the damage of the hand crossbow they are on, thus half of the time these affixes will be sitting idle. On a positive note, these affixes, with the exception of IAS, pull double duty in that they increase both White and Yellow damage.

Category B
Critical Hit Damage
Socket w/Emerald

The effectiveness of this category can be said to have a positive correlation to the amount of critical hit chance on the player’s gear. Therefore, as the Dual Wielder’s critical hit chance increases, so, too, does the power of these affixes. For this reason, players starting out leveling a demon hunter from 1-60 will find category A affixes to be more beneficial to them due their high effectiveness relative to the paltry 20% effectiveness of category B at, say, level 45. Additionally, CD differs from the affixes in category A in that it only increases the Yellow damage.

Category C

Dexterity, is unique among the damage affixes, in that it is the only one that increases the damage, White and Yellow, of both hand crossbows, thus earning it an effectiveness rating of 100%. This makes the dexterity roll a truly important affix to consider when choosing a hand crossbow, such as Danetta’s Spite.

With the damage dealing affixes listed, let’s examine them within the context of selecting a hand crossbow. Any good hand crossbow will need to have either an Elemental or Black damage affix and a +xx% weapon damage affix. So getting the necessary damage stats on a hand crossbow takes up two of the six possible affixes. While the first two category A affixes are a must, the third, IAS, isn’t. IAS and dual wield is a separate issue in and of itself, and will be covered in more detail in the following section.

Moving on to categories B and C, this is where the dual wielder needs pay especial attention when selecting hand crossbows. Why? These affixes sort of count as double, in that they not only increase the damage of the weapon they are on but also that of the paired hand crossbow. Therefore, the dual wielder should maximize these affixes (e.g. 19x dex, 9x CD, OS).

In summary, the dual wielder wants a weapon with the following affixes:

Min/Max Damage
+40-50% Damage
IAS/19x Dexterity
9x CD
Optional Affix

As you can see, that’s a pretty tall order. Also, some of you might be wondering which is better, IAS or Dex. Well, that will be discussed in the next section. In the example below, the power of category B and C affixes is on full display; I'll leave it to you to decide which one would demand a higher price at the AH.


1090 DPS Spite
175 Dexterity
75% CD
110% CD emerald

DPS 287,656

1013 DPS Spite
199 Dexterity
98% CD
110% CD emerald

DPS 290,276

*The Spite was paired with a Calamity*

3/3/2014: The 4/2 System

Patch 2.0 introduced a radically new affix system that separates affixes into two groups, Primary affixes and Secondary affixes. Primary affixes are simply pure player power stats, while Secondary affixes are just, “nice to have” stats, like pick-up radius (there is one secondary weapon affix, however, that could be considered a player power affix and it is + Max Discipline). Before I delve further into the details, though, I have provided a list of Bolt Pistol affixes, compiled by KirusAlufras, that can be referred to at the reader’s convenience.

>> Primary (i60)
[610-926] mmd *physical* // [533-810] cold/fire/lightning/etc.
[4.0-7.0]% Weapon+ (+%damage physical)
[3.0-5.0]% Speed+ (+%aps)
[5.0-6.0]% Elite+
[10.0-25.0]% Bleed 300-400% over 5 seconds
Socket (1)
[8.0-15.0]% Splash <-- don't count me on the range
[8.0-10.0]% SCR (skill cost reduction)
[7.0-9.0]% CDR (cooldown reduction)
[330-524] Core (primary/high-end)
[220-349] Core2 (secondary/low-end)
[461-1041] Life per Hit
[1.18-1.33] Hatred/sec (may have [1.35-1.50])

>> Secondary (i60)
[1.0-2.2]% CC+ All (fear/freeze/stun/etc.)
[x] LpK <-- didn't bother recording, but values are 3x of lph
[80-99] Exp+
[2-18] Level Down
[8-10] max Discipline (may have [10-12])

I introduced the concept of splitting the affixes up into separate categories based on their effectiveness in the original post, and its ability to convey my approach to dual-wielding prompted me to update the three groups with the new patch 2.0 affixes, followed by an in depth analysis of a couple of the newer affixes.

Category A – (50% effective)
[610-926] mmd *physical* // [533-810] cold/fire/lightning/etc.
[4.0-7.0]% Weapon+ (+%damage physical)
[3.0-5.0]% Speed+ (+%aps)
[10.0-25.0]% Bleed 300-400% over 5 seconds
Socket (1) w/Ruby

Category B – (x% effective, where x = CC)
Critical Hit Damage
Socket (1) w/Emerald

Category C – (100% effective)
[330-524] Core (Dexterity/high-end)
[220-349] Core2 (secondary/low-end)
[8.0-10.0]% SCR (skill cost reduction)
[7.0-9.0]% CDR (cooldown reduction)
[8.0-15.0?]% Area Damage
[461-1041] Life per Hit
[1.18-1.33] Hatred/sec (may have [1.35-1.50])
Socket (1) w/Diamond (against elites only)

When examining affixes on hand crossbows, I like to start with category A because it contains the affixes that constitute the building blocks of any good weapon, namely +mmd/elemental damage, +% weapon damage, and Socket. Seeing as I have already covered these affixes, including IAS, previously, and they are relatively unchanged in 2.0. I will instead move directly into the new affix: Bleed.


First off, there are some important base mechanics to know about the 2.0 Bleed and they are:

1) It does not benefit from CHD, CC, IAS, or damage buffs from skills*, such as Steady Aim and Wolf et al. Factors that increase the damage of Bleed are: the damage on the weapon, the player's main stat, average damage rolls on jewelry, +x% to Physical Skills, legacy+x% elemental damage, and +x% Bonus Damage vs Elites.

*Marked for Death does increase the damage of Bleed.

2) It does not stack, instead additional applications of bleed will simply reset the timer.

In addition to the base mechanics of Bleed, there are other mechanics that are unique to DW, which are:

1) As noted in the original post, category A affixes are only in play 50% of the time. In other words, Bleed will only have a chance to activate when the weapon it is on is the one that fires the shot proccing it. Consequently, if you have a weapon with a 20% chance to cause Bleed, the real value is half of the affix value, which would be10 percent.

2) Special attention needs to be given as to the crossbow the affix is on, and whether the crossbow is in the MH or OH for the following reasons: Bleed calculates its damage from the weapon it’s on, thus you would necessarily want it on your crossbow with the highest average damage; if you have a Bleed weapon in your OH and FoK or RoV slotted, both of which calculate their damage from the MH only, then they will NEVER proc Bleed, so always make sure to place your Bleed weapon in the MH.

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of Bleed? As an affix, Bleed is tailor made for high average damage 2H weapons because of its damage-over-time aspect (i.e. it doesn’t scale with attack speed) and it only procs from the weapon it’s on. That said, I still believe it to be a compelling affix for DW because: it can be allocated on a crossbow with high average damage; the OH crossbow can be used for Dex and a socket w/emerald (to make up for the CD you lose on the MH); unlike Area Damage, it works well against hard, single targets.

Additional thoughts: running a Bleed weapon with DW seems to benefit the Ruby/Emerald setup, reason being that the MH crossbow has very high average damage. Therefore, if you have a crossbow set with the following:

MH Primary
+10% weapon damage
+25% chance to cause Bleed for 400% weapon damage over 5 secs
+Socket w/Ruby

OH Primary
+ High Dex (Buffs Bleed)
+Socket w/Emerald

You will be making better use of the Bleed affix as opposed to a low DPS Bleed hand crossbow socketed with an emerald.

All of the affixes in category B remain unchanged, so I’ll move directly to category C.
Both cooldown reduction and skill cost reduction (SCR) are pretty straight forward, so my comments will be brief. The main draw I see to SCR for high DW is that it facilitates layering skills, and, in theory, layering skills would work very well with heavy Area damage builds.

Area damage

If Bleed was tailor made for 2H, then Area damage (AD) was Blizzard’s gift to Dual Wielder’s. As stated in the game guide, “dual-wielding aids… abilities that have a chance to trigger on hit,” which is exactly how Area damage works.

Area Damage gives all of the Dual Wielder's attacks a 20% chance (this number is fixed) to deal x% of the damage dealt to the monster proccing AD to all enemies within a 10 yard radius. One thing to note about the damage calculation of AD: It isn't directly affected by a player's attack modifiers such as IAS, CC, and CHD. Rather, it benefits from them indirectly in that faster attacks will proc AD more, and critical hits on mobs that proc AD will necessarily increase the amount of AD dealt to the surrounding mobs. For example, if you have 50% AD and land a crit on a mob for 3,000,000 proccing AD, then all monsters within 10 yards will take 1,500,000 Area Damage.

So, is it all upside and no downside to Area damage? No, there is one significant drawback, Area damage does not damage the target attacked. In other words, if you are engaging a lone mob, he'll never take any AD. As a result, an Area damage build would not be ideal for taking down bosses, such as Diablo.

Finally, remember that you want to be throwing out as much attacks/AOE as possible to proc Area damage as much as possible (e.g. That means skills like Puncturing Arrow, Shatter Shot, and Spray of Teeth would be better than Devouring Arrow and entangling shot).

*If you would like to learn more about Area Damage please read Amiar's AD guide linked below*

Revised on 8/3/2014

Pairing Hand Crossbows in 2.0

I’ll begin by recalling people’s attention to the fact that, as Dual Wielders, we have the problem of competing affixes that DHs with a quiver don’t. When I say “competing affixes,” I’m referring to the fact that some of our primary affixes are only in play 50% of the time because we alternate our hand crossbows when attacking. This presents us with the following question:

What is the best combination of Primary/Secondary affixes on both my Main Hand and Off Hand to accomplish my desired game goals?

This question was, shall we say, a bit easier to answer under the old pre 2.0 itemization regime because players could just about have all the player power affixes they wanted (I say just about because we had an attack speed issue that was hard to get around because the Calamity was so good; I’m glad to say that Loot 2.0 largely fixed this problem). In Loot 2.0, Blizzard has presented us with more options and fewer possible affix rolls to get them. Though, in all honesty, having max Disc as a secondary greatly ameliorates the situation for dual-wielding DHs.

If there are so many options, is there one best combination of affixes to get? I’ll state flat out that there isn’t a “right” way to do it. I will simply say that the method I will present here is simply one way to do it. So, without further ado, I present to the reader my 2xBolt Pistol setup.

Phase I – Skill load-out selection

Before selecting affixes, the Dual Wielder must have an idea about what sort of build he will be running. Why? Because each skill has its own mechanics, and will thus benefit more from one setup than another. My build is utilizes the following skills: HA, Multishot, Sentries, and Vengeance.

Vengeance is a unique DH skill in that is calculates it's damage from the main-hand only (covered in the skills section), thus MH crossbow should have the highest damage possible.

A couple of things before I continue to phase II: 1) I’ll be using a lot of Disc with my defensive skill, Night Bane.

Phase II – Hand Crossbow Selection

With the build selected, I now need to select my crossbows. Let’s start with the MH. First, since I’m using Vengeance, I want to maximize the average damage on this slot, and it just so happens that one of the best DW hand crossbows around, Nat's Slayer, rolls all the affixes one needs. As a bit of an aside, I believe that most DW DHs should consider using Nat's 3PC as the 7% CC is desperately needed to make up for the loss of the quiver.

MH crossbow (Slayer)
2745 DPS
+9% Weapon Damage
+704 DEX
+Socket w/Emerald

+12 Max Disc
+8255 Life on Kill

For Primary affixes I chose the three that are going to buff my weapon’s real damage. Notice I didn’t choose IAS even though I like high APS builds, reason being that this affix is only in play half the time. One would need to use two Primary slots just to increase their APS by 6-7%.

My selections for Secondary affixes are pretty straightforward, Disc increases my ability to cast Night Bane and I have found Life on Kill to be a very nice luxury to have.

So, what about the OH, what is its purpose? The role of the OH, in my build is to buff my entire damage output. Therefore, I use the following:

OH Crossbow (Calamity)
2356 DPS
+734 Dex
+10% RCR
+Socket w/Emerald

+10 Max Disc
+ Enemies you hit become Marked for Death.

While my Calamity has lower DPS, it: a) increases the damage of all my attacks via MfD and 130% CHD, and b) it allows my to cast my big spender more frequently. Given the choice, I would not want 10% damage on my offhand because that affix competes too much the other Hand Crossbow. Sure, I have 10% damage on my MH, but a) it's nice to push the damage range and b) Vengeance benefits from it 100% of the time.

I want to reinforce the point that three out of four Primary affixes are “in play” 100% of the time. Dex increases the damage done by both weapons. My skill costs are always reduced. All of my critical hits will be bigger. Furthermore, after patch 2.1, I plan on rolling my socket to Area Damage thereby increasing the damage of all my attacks even further.

In summary, there are multitudinous ways to outfit your DW hunter, with mine being just one, albeit a compelling one.

In which the attack speed issue is addressed

3/3/2014: Loot 2.0 and has fixed this issue.

Ah yes, my favorite topic regarding the underpowered state of dual wield. So, what is it about IAS and dual wield? First and foremost, IAS rolls increase your characters overall attacks per second, however, when dual wielding, the APS values for each bow are split. Consequently, reaching the same APS point with both crossbows requires two IAS rolls, rather than the one required for the single and two hand wielders. Furthermore, getting IAS on a hand crossbow will mean that there will only be three affixes left for Dexterity, CD, and Socket.

Think of it this way, you can either A) get two bows, each with 11% IAS rolls giving a real increase of just 11%, or B) get two bows, each with 190+ dexterity for a total of 380+ dex. The choice is yours. Therefore, I’m of the opinion that IAS rolls on hand crossbows are less than desirable (Why was the Danetta’s Set designed without IAS rolls anyways?).

That said, I understand that Calamity has a Black damage bug associated with it and thus rolls with more damage than it should, which, coupled with Marked for Death, makes it almost too good for a Dual Wielder to pass up. However, the intent of this section wasn't to tell you not to get crossbows with IAS, but to get you to think about how the IAS affix works with DW and what you might potentially be giving up to get it. Again, I want emphasize the importance of having crossbows with affixes that work with, rather than against each other. The Dual Wielder needs to consider how each crossbow not only performs by itself, but how it also betters the performance of its mate.

In which gems and their uses are discussed

3/3/2014: Loot 2.0 introduced Diamonds into the equation. The effect they grant when socketed into a weapon is +20% bonus damage vs. elites (at the highest tier). I've discussed this with some fellow prime assassins and we surmised that it's a bit lack luster because it's worthless against whites. However, ActionKungFu brought up a the point that if your speed farming at low torments and are over-killing trash mobs, then replacing an emerald with a diamond would possibly increase your clear times by reducing the amount of time spent killing elites.

*Special thanks to ActionKungFu guiding me down this path of discovery.*

The matter of which gem combination a dual wielder should use is an offshoot from the topic of affixes; however, there is a bit of nuance involved that calls for a more detailed analysis. There are two main routes a dual wielder can take: Dual Emerald and Ruby/Emerald.

Dual Emerald

Choosing this option allows the Dual Wielder to obtain stratospheric levels of CD. Consequently, as the amount of CC one has on their gear increases, so, too, does the potency of the dual emeralds. One point to remember when considering gems is this: CD increases the damage of each weapon; however, if the Dual Wielder has 50% CC, then the CD is only applied half of the time.

Ruby/Emerald (aka Super DML)

I’ll start by stating that the Super DML method is just as effective as the dual emerald, yes, even for skill spamming. Why is this? A couple of reasons:

1) While the ruby in the MH is only in play half the time, when it is in play it not only increases the White damage, but also the Yellow damage; therefore, we can say that the ruby is 50% effective, and the emerald is xx% effective (dependent upon the Dual Wielder’s CC).

2) The ruby in the MH benefits from high CD in the offhand. What this does for the Dual Wielder is it raises the top range of Yellow damage a significant amount. In other words, if you thought your damage range was as wide as the Mississippi with 2x Emeralds, the Ruby/Emerald just turned it into the Grand Canyon.

Now that I’ve explained a little about how the ruby and emerald work together, I’m going to use an analogy drawn from Diablo II to help explain the application of the Super DML setup. What elements from D2 could possibly help elucidate a mechanic in D3? Easy, fire and lightning, that’s what. Some of you may remember how these two elements worked in D2, but for those who don’t here’s a quick rundown. Fire had a small damage range of, say 400 – 600, while lightning had a large range, something along the lines of 1-1000; yes, you could do 1 damage to an enemy with some lightning skills. As you can easily calculate, both attacks will do an average of 500 damage over time, they just do it differently. Two scenarios are presented for you to see the advantages and disadvantages of each damage type.

Scenario 1:

Hero with 400-600 fire damage
Fallen with 750 hit points

Our intrepid Hero engages the Fallen and lands a hit for 600 damage. He then follows up with a second blow dealing 400 damage, felling the Fallen.

Scenario 2:

Hero with 1-1000 lightning damage
Fallen with 750 hit points

The Hero strikes the Fallen with 999 lightning damage summarily dispatching the enemy.

The intent of the two scenarios was to show the strengths and weaknesses of each damage type. The Hero with fire will always have to hit the Fallen twice, but he will never have to hit it more than twice. On the other hand, the Hero with lightning damage can kill the Fallen in one hit, something the fire Hero can never do, however, he could end up dealing a paltry 1 damage too!

Bringing the discussion back to Dual Wielding, the Ruby/Emerald setup is akin to lightning damage from D2. It gives the player the chance to land a massive blow and end the fight quickly, with the one caveat being that he could possibly “fumble” the shot, as it were, and do little damage.

But what does it do to my sheet DPS? Honestly, there isn’t much difference (1,500 dps is all) between the two styles with my current gear setup.

In which the dual wield mechanics of skills are revealed

Now that the fundamentals of dual wielding have been covered, it’s time to examine the Demon Hunter’s suite of skills and how they work when dual wielding.

Skills that alternate between main-hand and off-hand

Hungering Arrow
Entangling Shot
Bola Shot

Elemental Arrow
Evasive Fire
Spike Trap
Cluster Arrow

Skills that snapshot the APS of the weapon you’re about to fire:*

Rapid Fire

*Thanks to TastySouP and Nubtro for discovering this.

What this means for the dual wielder is: If you have two differing APS values, say, 2.54/2.38, then when using RF you will be at different BPs depending on which weapon is about to fire. For example, if your 2.38 APS value is displayed, then the 2.54 APS value will be snapshotted and you will channel at the 2.50 BP. However, if the reverse is true, then the 2.38 APS value will be snapshotted causing you to drop a BP. Therefore, it behooves the dual wielder to attain his desired BP with his slowest weapon. Case in point, when running an RF build, my APS with Spite 2.54; consequently, the higher APS on my Calamity is wasted (see section 2).

*Strafe and RF Tick Frequency Mechanics Guide by Nubtro*

Skills that calculate damage from the main-hand only:

Fan of Knives
Rain of Vengeance
Hatred spenders fired from Sentry with M6 bonus

Why is this good to know? A couple of reasons: first, if you have a big disparity in weapon damage between your main-hand and off-hand (e.g. Ruby/Emerald setup), then these two skills are a great way to make maximum use of your high damage main-hand; second, if you have a cold damage weapon as your main-hand (nod to KirusAlufras), then Rain of Vengeance will chill mobs, thus proccing Cull the Weak.

Skills that calculate damage from the weapon that’s about to fire (use of skill does not switch hands):

Caltrops – Jagged Spikes
Smoke Screen – Choking Gas
Vault – Action Shot, Trail of Cinders

Skills that calculate damage from the weapon that’s currently active:


These two skills, when used, do not create a static object that simply calculates damage based on the weapon that was about to fire when it was cast, rather these skills, while active, are constantly rechecking which hand crossbow is currently active, and calculating the damage accordingly (i.e. the damage range of these two skills alternates between your hand crossbows as you shoot; if you stop firing, they continue to deal damage calculated from the weapon that is currently active).

*Hatred spenders fired from Sentry deal MH only damage.

In which the Dual Wielder’s accoutrements are attended to.

3/3/2014: The below information is outdated. I will update it in the future.

Gearing for DW is not much different than it is for SW; but there is some nuance involved that should be pointed out. Before I get to that, however, I will cover some basics on gearing for hand crossbows.

My philosophy on gearing can be summed up by the following statements: each item slot has its own inherent advantages; good items should maximize the advantages from each slot; RNG can allow for some variation in advantages..

What is meant by “inherent advantages” is that each armor slot can only roll affixes from a specific set, and, in some cases, getting one affix will necessarily preclude you from getting another.

As a result of these musings, I have come up with Defensive and Offensive armor slot classifications (see table below). A defensive slot is classified as such for its ability to roll all of the following affixes without adversely affecting the dual-wielder’s DPS: Vitality, Resist All, and Armor. Conversely, offensive slots are those slots in which getting defensive affixes would either reduce an item’s DPS effectiveness or make it prohibitively expensive. To further explain my reasoning, DHs only need about 900-1000 RA, and dual wielders need all the life they can get, thus it makes perfect sense to get All Res from pieces where the affix won’t block out another useful affix (e.g. Vit, CC etc), such as Boots, Shoulders, Pants, and Chest.

Edit 8/3/2014: With the DEX=Armor change in 2.1, Res All is once again a good roll to get on defensive slots.

Defensive – Dexterity, Vitality, RA, and Life %

Shoulders – Aughild's, Marauders (Ideal slot for Area Damage).
Chest – Cindercoat, Marauders, Natalya’s (can roll Max Disc), Garwulf
Pants - Hexing Pants of Mr. Yan, Marauders, 2.1 Depth Diggers.
Boots – Marauders, Nat's (take advantage of the skill bonus).

Offensive – IAS, Average Damage, CC, CHD, Socket

Helm – Andy’s (+Elemental skills, ASI, DEX, Skill bonus)
Belt – Witching Hour (good place for some extra RA or VIT)
Amulet – Can roll 100% CD, 10% CC and socket (don’t worry about IAS on this slot).
Rings – Ring of Royal Grandeur, Stone of Jordan, Unity (one with average damage, sockets in both, CC)

Hybrid - IAS, CC, DEX, VIT, +Elemental Skills, Skill Bonus

Helm - Marauder's, Nat's
Bracers - Aughild's, Reaper's Wraps (These need to have Elemental%, DEX, VIT, and CC).
Gloves – Magefists (I recommend high VIT on gloves for DW).

I mentioned earlier that the game’s RNG can allow for some variations in gearing choices, as the game drops what it drops. Case in point, I crafted a decent pair of gloves with 60 RA and 140 int. This made my otherwise offensive slot, a hybrid, thus affording me enough wiggle room in the RA department to turn my defensive Helm slot (Non-CC Mempo) into an offensive slot (Andy’s with socket).

I will now discuss the main difference between a SW and DW setup, that being the choice of rings. Yes, you heard correctly, the rings make all the difference. Whereas the rest of the armor slots can have BIS items for certain elements (e.g. fire), a BIS SW ring is not a BIS DW ring. Why is this? Well, it all boils down to a build’s innate strengths and weaknesses. The Single Wielder has more CC than he can shake a stick at, what with a 10% CC DML and Archery. However, what is all that CC doing for him if his CD is low? Conversely, the exact opposite is true for the Dual Wielder. For this reason, the Single Wielder gains more by shoring up his weakness and getting CD on his rings, likewise the Dual Wielder by getting CC on his.


With my current setup, 603% CD

Nat’s Reflection 1

30-63 Damage
86 Dexterity
8% ASI
50% CD

DPS 295,056

Nat’s Reflection 2

30-63 Damage
86 Dexterity
8% ASI
6% CC

DPS 302,791

Edit 8/3/2014: The math behind Average Damage and Hand Crossbows.

Editor's note: It appears that the author has forgotten to include the results of one of his previous studies in which he deduced that since dual wielders benefit so much more from CC rings than a single wielder, it necessarily follows that he will likewise benefit more from an SoJ skill bonus that grants additional CC to skills like Multishot and RF. Consequently, it would behoove the dual wielder to use this to his advantage.
good read!
I thought Min and Max Damage count as 2 separate affixes? I know min-max elemental damage is counted as 1 affix.
very nice read, atleast I know how to effectively dual wield now ;)

just need a better offhand ahah

I have a 977 Danetta's spite with 100% chd and a socket, 190 dex and 42% weapon damage
also has 9 discipline on it

Is that really bad as danettas go or is it okay for an offhand?
10/14/2013 11:18 PMPosted by Oble
I thought Min and Max Damage count as 2 separate affixes? I know min-max elemental damage is counted as 1 affix.

It's kind of goofy, but you have min/max rolls, and then you have min and max rolls. They count as separate affixes. For example, I found a 13xx DPS EF one of the reasons the DPS was so high was because it rolled max damage on top of the min/max damage.

That said, I understand that Calamity is bugged and rolls with more damage than it should, which, coupled with Marked for Death, makes it almost too good for a Dual Wielder to pass up. However, the intent of this section wasn't to tell you not to get crossbows with IAS, but to get you to think about how the IAS affix works with DW and what you might potentially be giving up to get it.

Skills that snapshot the APS of the weapon you’re about to fire:*

Rapid Fire

*Thanks to TastySouP and Nubtro for discovering this.

What this means for the dual wielder is: If you have two differing APS values, say, 2.54/2.38, then when using RF you will be at different BPs depending on which weapon is about to fire. For example, if your 2.38 APS value is displayed, then the 2.54 APS value will be snapshotted and you will channel at the 2.50 BP. However, if the reverse is true, then the 2.38 APS value will be snapshotted causing you to drop a BP.

Calamity itself probably is not bugged (black damage is). It does have a chance to roll the normal damage affix instead of the fast damage affix (that rolls for most other 1 hand crossbows, wands and daggers). There are 1 or 2 other low level legendary 1 hand crossbows that can roll normal damage as well, so it's probably a design decision.

Attack speed snapshotting is quite tricky so dualwield is not really the best way when using RF or Strafe with different speed weapons. The current attack speed is snapshot, but the game alternates rapidly between both attack speeds while channeling (think of 1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2 every 15 or 30 frames). When you stop channeling your next attack speed will be the one that you got, when you stopped. It's pretty hard to make sure that you will always use the higher attack speed (you'd basically have to check your sheet every time you start channeling).

Regarding RF, I think I'll need to tweak that section a bit, as my intent was to let people know that straddling a break-point with different APS hand crossbows is less than desirable.

Thanks for pointing that out. :)
Good writeup RedCell. You need to chat with ActionKungFu about DW and Companion, I'm not sure but it may work differently than you describe. I know for sure that Companion will snapshot Attack Speed, Vitality, offensive passives/party buffs and defensive stats/buffs. When dual wielding Companion seems to do too much may be combining the damage from both weapons.
good read/

include the link to the BP's under the section about strafe/RF

note that in general you undervalue weapon_IAS, however one of the main snapshot benefits for 1h's is 5.00aps non bombardment rf, (bp >3.33333). you certainly want to use the 1.776 calamity so that *only* 88%ias is needed.

include the link to the BP's under the section about strafe/RF.


You fill up my senses, you are the wind beneath my wings, and you opened up this game for me 3-fold. Thank you. Time to get grinding to fill that dual-wield order.

One question: What is the break point?

Thanks again for the great read.

You fill up my senses, you are the wind beneath my wings, and you opened up this game for me 3-fold. Thank you. Time to get grinding to fill that dual-wield order.

One question: What is the break point?

Thanks again for the great read.

Hello AcidicTorchd,

To learn more about RF BPs, I'll refer you to Nubtro's guide linked to in the OP.

The RF scenario in the OP shows what happens when your APS differs between hand crossbows with one over and one below the 2.5000 BP). Therefore, roughly 50% of the time RF will dealing damage at 20 ticks per second (2.5000, and for the remaining 50% of the time it will be dealing damage at 15 ticks per second (2.0001 BP).

I will check that out.

Thanks again.
10/15/2013 05:08 AMPosted by RedCell
It's kind of goofy, but you have min/max rolls, and then you have min and max rolls. They count as separate affixes. For example, I found a 13xx DPS EF one of the reasons the DPS was so high was because it rolled max damage on top of the min/max damage.

So you're saying, without counting the additional min or max damage roll, the normal black damage "+xxx min damage; +xxx max damage" affix is actually counted as one affix roll??

Btw, your post came at the right time as I have recently just converted to dual wielding. :D
Thanks so much for posting this guide!

Yes, the damage black damage roll on, say, the Calamity, congress as one affix. Think about all those items you've identified, have you ever seen one with just +250 Max damage?

Back during the beta, blizz changed how this affix was displayed for clarity. Previous to that, it was all on one line.

P.S. By the way, I'm working on a DW gearing section, so check back later. Most of the info will pretty rudimentary, but a useful exercise nonetheless. The most important thing to consider when dual wielding is to maximize crit chance everywhere. Doesn't everyone CC? Not necessarily, single wielders have long understood the efficacy of opting for Avg Dmg, ASI, CD Nat's rings over ones with CC. The dual wielder, however, doesn't really need CD on his rings, and will actually get a lot more DPS from a ring with good Avg Dng, ASI, CC.

Sry for missing your question, and yes, that's a good Spite, upgradable, to be sure, but still good. In fact, I'll hazard a guess and say it's better than some socketed 1000 DPS Spites.

I just thought of a great example that I will include in the OP that will help prove my point.
@TastySouP & Poekel

I edited the comment about the Calamity to remove any ambiguity.
Added a new section on gearing.

Added a compelling example of the power of category B affixes.
Nice post man!

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