The Rapid Fire Demon Hunter

I find Rapid Fire to be one of the most popular skills for Demon Hunters. It’s just fun to shoot out arrows or bolts like a machine gun, however unrealistic it is. Rapid Fire in its launch state did only average damage. With the added limitation of not being able to move while using the skill, players drifted away from Rapid Fire once they got to max level. Luckily, Blizzard increased the skill’s damage. The popular leveling skill became popular at max level.

Strengths

  • Get to have your own personal machine gun to mow down monsters with
  • Great single target damage

Weaknesses

  • Can’t kite monsters with Rapid Fire
  • Not the fastest at killing large groups of monsters

Skills

Mouse Left Click – Bola Shot (Volatile Explosives)

Bola Shot is the trash monster killer. While Rapid Fire can do area damage, its high damage is usually overkill for the weak monsters. Bola Shot will kill them just as fast and also generate Hatred to use Rapid Fire on the high Life targets. The base skill has a pretty good radius, but the Volatile Explosives rune greatly speeds up killing speed of large groups.

Mouse Right Click – Rapid Fire (Bombardment)

Rapid Fire does incredible damage to single targets. You only have to worry about weak monsters getting in the way. The Bombardment rune adds much needed area damage to kill the weak monsters. You just have to make sure the primary hits are on the Elites or other high Life monsters. The Bombardment rune will finish off the rest of the monsters around. When fighting a group of Elites, that area damage will really soften them up when it’s their turn to be Rapid Fired.

Keyboard 1 – Vault (Tumble)

Pretty much every Demon Hunter build has Vault. Its utility is just too good to pass up. Using Vault, you can do some limited kiting with Rapid Fire, but Vault is mainly used to position yourself to do the most damage with Rapid Fire’s area damage. You want to hit the center of the group, not the edges. Hitting the center will maximize the area damage.

Keyboard 2 – Companion (Bat Companion)

Rapid Fire can use up your Hatred while channeling. When fighting Elites, you ideally wouldn’t need to ever stop using the skill. That requires some Hatred regeneration. The Bat Companion can help to overcome the channeling cost.

Keyboard 3 – Preparation (Backup Plan)

This is the fuel for your Shadow Power. Each Preparation gives you 2 Shadow Powers. The Backup Plan rune can increase that higher when you are lucky. I have gotten 3 Preparations back to back before, but 2 is much more common.

Keyboard 4 – Shadow Power (Gloom)

Shadow Power’s lifesteal effect combined with the Gloom rune’s damage reduction, greatly increases survivability. In the ideal situation, your Shadow Power lasts for the entire fight. That depends on how often the Backup Plan rune for Preparation procs and how high your critical hit chance is (see NightStalker below), but you can get to the point where Shadow Power is basically permanent in battle.

Passive 1 – Archery

The bonus you get is dependant on the weapon type you use. The bonus for Bows is best while leveling, but the bonuses for Crossbow and Hand Crossbow are usually better at max level with good gear. I would not suggest using Hand Crossbows due to their very fast attack speed though.

Passive 2 – Perfectionist

This is a defensive passive to help with the limited mobility of Rapid Fire usage. The reduced Discipline costs also synergizes well with the Shadow Power – Preparation combo.

Passive 3 – Night Stalker

This is a nice passive skill for keeping Shadow Power up. Critical hit chance will keep your Discipline globe topped off, so you can use Shadow Power more reliably in every battle. If your critical hit chance is high enough, you might even not need the Preparation skill.

Weapon Type

Because Rapid Fire has a channeling Hatred cost, a Two Hand weapon will do best. This is because the channeling cost increases at the same rate as your attack speed. An attack speed closer to 1.00 will result in a channeling cost closer to the skill description, which is 6 Hatred per second. Both Two Hand Bows and Crossbows will work, but critical hit damage (from Archery with Crossbows) is a bigger bonus when you have high critical chance.

Good Stats

The only possible stat to worry about is Hatred regeneration. You get 3 Hatred regeneration from Bat companion, which covers most of what you need. You can supplement that bonus with the Hatred regeneration affix on Cloaks and Quivers, the Demon Hunter only items. Hand Crossbows can also have Hatred regeneration, but their fast attack speed outweighs the Hatred regeneration they could offer. For general gearing that applies to all characters, check out The Stats You Want in Diablo 3, my quick guide to stats that all characters should have.

Alternatives

  • Rain of Vengeance (Anathema) instead of Preparation (Backup Plan) – If your critical hit chance is high enough, you won’t need Preparation to keep Discipline filled for Shadow Power. Instead, use Rain of Vengeance with the Anathema rune for some nice area damage. It does pretty good damage for a long duration, and will greatly speed up Elite and Boss kills.
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