A Comprehensive Guide to Phoenix Strike, by maxicek and jiansonz.
1.2 Phoenix Strike Overview
5. Sample Builds
- 5.1 Natalya's Set
- 5.2 Ghost Striker
- 5.3 Weapon / Shield Phoenix Striker
- 5.4 Hardcore Untwinked
6.2 List of Abbreviations
6.3 Version History
Whilst not one of the most popular assassin skills, Phoenix Strike is one of the most versatile and most fun. Phoenix Strikers are not really characters that you will use for doing area or boss runs. You could run the Pits or Pindle with one, but it won't be very efficient - there are many other builds that are better choices for that. They are however great characters to play through the game solo with, and that is the main focus of the guide.
This mighty skill allows the Assassin trained in its arts to prepare an attack that gives off powerful elemental energies.
Actually this is a bit misleading. None of the attacks are remotely as powerful as other elemental heavy hitters like sorcs, javazons or even trappers. But Phoenix Strikers are perfectly Hell viable, even untwinked. Their greatest strength is their flexibility. You can use a variety of weapons, decent gear can all be shopped or gambled. The build also has a number of spare skill points for further customisation. Of course as an assassin you also have some of the best crowd control skills in the game and the option of a castable tank.
This guide is intended to cover all aspects of Phoenix Strike, from the popular Natalya's Set build to more eclectic equipment selections and even untwinked hardcore play.
How To Use This Guide
As this guide covers all aspects of PS, you are going to need to do a bit of work yourself. This isn't paint by numbers.
1. Read the whole guide to get a flavour of what is possible.
2. Choose an equipment setup
3. Decide if you are using Fade or Burst of Speed
4. Work out how much which attack breakpoints you want to hit and how much IAS you will need.
5. Plan how you will allocate your skill points.
Obviously if you are going untwinked, all this upfront planning isn't really possible, but you can get an idea of what targets are feasible to determine how you allocate skill or stat points.
Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.
- Bruce Lee, The Tao of Jeet Kune Do
1.2 Phoenix Strike Overview
Phoenix Strike itself is a charge-up skill. When you make a successful hit, a small globe of light begins to orbit the assassin. You can charge up to three charges of PS, then you release them with a finishing move. You can make more than three hits when charging up, but the charge will remain at three. As of v1.13, charges will remain for 15 seconds if you do not hit anything (it was 9 seconds in earlier game versions). Note that you do actually need to hit something to charge, so attack rating is important for a Phoenix Striker.
Releasing the first charge drops a Meteor on your enemies, similar to the sorceress spell. The second charge is Chaos Lightning, surely one of the prettiest skills in the game. It releases swirling arcs of lightning damaging opponents in a circular pattern centered on the assassin. The final charge is Chaos Ice Bolts. This looks like the bolts released when a Frozen Orb explodes. Unlike all the other charge up attacks, successive hits do not increase the power of the skill. Instead they are selective, allowing you to add fire, lightning or cold damage depending on if you release the first, second or third charges.
High Level Synergised Damage
The table below shows the high level damage for each of the three charges when fully synergised.
Phoenix Strike receives synergy bonuses from:
Fists of Fire: +10% Fire Damage Per Level, +6% Average Fire Damage Per Second Per Level
Claws of Thunder: +13% Lightning Damage Per Level
Blades of Ice: +10% Cold Damage Per Level
Code:Level 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 Mana Cost 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 Attack Rating +%: 148 183 218 253 288 323 358 Charge 1: Meteor Damage 1074-1230 1590-1806 2208-2484 2898-3234 3588-3984 4278-4734 4968-5484 Fire damage per second 317-330 486-513 702-746 961-1021 1219-1296 1478-1571 1734-1846 Charge 2: Chaos Lightning Damage 4-2664 4-3960 4-5544 4-7344 4-9144 4-10944 4-12744 Charge 3: Chaos Ice Bolt Damage 468-528 720-795 1068-1158 1488-1593 1908-2028 2328-2463 2748-2898
Charge 1: Meteor
The main difference from the Sorceress spell is that it has no timer between casts, although there is still that small delay before the first meteor arrives. So you can drop meteors as quickly as you can hit - every 14 frames (0.56 seconds) at the quickest. This is the most damaging of the charges. Whilst the average damage is slightly lower than the Chaos lightning, if you consider you only have to charge it once and the effect of the residual fire damage (the fires burns for far longer than the Sorceress variant), this works out higher. This will be one of your main killing attacks throughout the game and the charge you use to kill bosses. Like other skills that leave burning flames on the ground (Fire Wall, Blaze, etc.) this skill is more effective the bigger (wider) the monster is, because big monsters will be burned by several fire patches at the same time. So it will really shine against act bosses, Thrashers and similar monsters but will be less devastating against 'narrow' monsters like flayers, vampires and cows.
Charge 2: Chaos Lightning
The average damage is a bit higher than Meteor, but as with all lightning attacks there is a huge damage range. It also requires an extra charge up, so the delivery speed is about 50% longer than the first charge, including the finishing move. It does however have a big area of effect. If the lightning arcs donīt hit a wall, they will nearly always come back and hit the monster you released it on a second time. Unless you are using PS as a backup attack it isn't really a question of "Do I use charge 1 or charge 2?" In practice you will need to use both as you will often encounter FI or LI enemies. Sometimes you will be fighting a mixed immunity pack and need to alternate the charges. It can also take a bit of practice to consistently release this one. You will often find yourself under- or overcharging and releasing meteors or ice bolts instead. The charge covers a large area, so can be used as you default PS charge. Plus of course the fact it looks so damn cool.
Charge 3: Chaos Ice Bolts
The damage for the third charge isn't that great compared to the other two, but it does freeze quite well, even in hell difficulty. When you consider the attack speed is approximately 100% more than that of the first charge and 33% more than the second, the damage is even worse. If you want to make a build around it, it could be viable with enough plus skills, but mostly the third charge is used to freeze enemies whilst you kill them with a meteor or lightning.
Both the second and third charges of PS are affected by a 4 frame next delay. What this means is that when you release the charge, no other missile damage will have any effect on the target for another 4 frames. In practical terms for this build it is simple. Just stick to Phoenix Strike. Don't think that by getting three charges of Claws of Thunder (also affected by next delay) and two charges of Phoenix Strike you will be doing more damage. You won't, you are much better off charging just PS twice and then releasing, then charging again. It is the same number of hits and will be much more damage.
Phoenix Strike is probably the most flexible of the martial arts as you do not need dual claws or elite boots to make it work. It will work with two claws, a claw and shield, weapon and shield or even a two handed setup. You should decide what setup you will use first, as equipment choice will have an influence on skill and stat point distribution.
This is probably the default setting for most players as it allows you to get the most +skills on your assassin, and therefore the most Phoenix Strike damage. It also allows you to use Weapon Block, more on that later. Note that when charging, only the primary claw will hit, although the second claw will hit if you finish with Dragon Claw.
Claw + Shield
A C/S setup is one frame quicker than a W/S setup at 7FPA maximum, but if you really want to use a shield, you should also review the W/S options as the available weapons may make it a better choice. Of course if you have some godly rare +5 PS fools claw you may still want to go this route - but surely you would just go dual claw? Whatever you decide, this is still a perfectly viable setup.
Weapon + Shield
Not a PS setup you see that often, but it does have some nice advantages. Blocking, resists and damage reduction from a shield, ctc static field, crushing blow and other nice juicy mods from the weapon. W/S setups attack at a maximum of 8FPA and you can't get as many +skills as you do with a C/C setup, but there are some interesting possibilities here.
At first using a two handed weapon seems like a ridiculous setup. You are limited to a 10 frame attack (13 frame with 2h Swords and Spears) and can't get as many +skills to increase your PS damage. But it does have some advantages. As you charge up, you only do physical damage. Depending on which charge you execute, charging up is 50% to 75% of your attack sequence. So a high damage weapon can help you leech back life and mana between delivering the PS damage. It is viable, but may be better suited to a backup attack on Tiger Strike builds rather than a pure Phoenix Striker.