Shadow Impale Demon Hunter Skills and Runes
On this page, we explain how to choose and use your skills when playing Shadow Impale Demon Hunter in Diablo 3. Updated for Patch 2.7.6 and Season 29.
|Impale Overpenetration Companion Wolf Companion 1 Vengeance Dark Heart 2 Fan of Knives Bladed Armor 3 Vault Rattling Roll 4 Shadow Power Gloom|
The Shadow Impale playstyle is quite different from other Demon Hunter builds, almost exclusively pursuing Elite enemies to take advantage of its massive single target potential, and skipping many disadvantageous trash fights. When in need of immediate crowd control, or simply to move through the rift at an efficient pace, do not forget to pre-cast Impale — this will make Vault free for 2 seconds with the power of Chain of Shadows. When you come across an elite that you consider killable, focus it down with carefully positioned Impale spam to maximize the Holy Point Shot shotgun effect and your Endless Walk set benefits. Position and manage your resources with the cycles of Convention of Elements and the damage increase of Wolf Companion in mind, as the two buffs active at the same time make up your big burst window. Shadow Power needs to be activated only once per run, but you will have to manually reapply your other two defensive buffs — Vengeance and Fan of Knives Bladed Armor — as soon as they are off cooldown.
Skills and Runes
Impale is the primary damage dealer of the build, augmented by the Shadow set 6-piece bonus to inflict massively boosted damage on the first target hit, resulting in the signature assassination playstyle. For the current guide, we are taking the cold rune Overpenetration due to its superior AoE potential. Note that the Fire-based Chemical Burn is also quite viable, and focuses on the build's single target potential instead; should you choose to go this route, change all elemental rolls on gear to Fire.
The Swiss knife Companion skill takes on a role of a damage buff by taking the Wolf Companion rune, providing you with a sizable multiplicative damage increase. While the Wolf Companion buff sports a generous 10-second uptime, this build runs a moderate amount of Cooldown Reduction on gear — so try to reserve the Companion active for key moments (preferably your chosen Convention of Elements cycle).
During solo GR pushes Vault is quite necessary in order to find, navigate or simply skip fights; as for the rune, you can either go with the cheap Tumble (saving yourself some Chain of Shadows interplay when inconvenient), or with the crowd control of Rattling Roll. Always keep in mind the power of the Chain of Shadows belt (see this build's gear page for more information), allowing you to negate the Discipline cost of Vault for a 2-second window after using Impale, allowing you to cover significant ground for free.
Unsurprisingly, Shadow Power is a major part of a Shadow set playstyle, as the 4-piece set bonus grants you the effects of all the runes and makes the skill last forever. This makes the rune choice purely cosmetic, since they produce differently colored wings. You should activate Shadow Power immediately upon entering the rift to passively enjoy its damage reduction bonuses, movement speed increase, and increased Life per Hit that notably scales with your Life on Kill from gear. Remember that the benefits of Night Bane will still only apply for the listed 5 seconds, so you can use Shadow Power as a situational 8 Discipline active skill to proc Bane of the Trapped, Cull the Weak and Numbing Traps.
The class staple Vengeance reinforces dominance in yet another build, favored by Impale Demon Hunters for the 50% damage reduction of the Dark Heart rune. Its crowd control immunization properties will also allow you to run the strong protection of Stone Gauntlets in the Cube, while negating the item's considerable downsides. Note that early on in character progression, as you are still getting used to the build, you can run the Seethe rune in this slot and use Visage of Gunes in the Cube. This will allow you to manage your resources more freely, while still retaining the considerable protection necessary for endgame content.
You can adjust your final active skill slot according to content. In solo Greater Rift pushes, consider taking Fan of Knives for the toughness boost of Bladed Armor — you can make it permanent with a minor CDR investment, and it offers perfect synergy with Numbing Traps and Cull the Weak. Another strong, but considerably glassier option for high-end GR pushing is Marked for Death Contagion for cheap source of extra damage versus afflicted enemies. Last but not least, you can introduce a generator to the build — i.e. Grenade Cold Grenade for an easy Cull the Weak proc — so you can use a more offense-oriented jewelry combo like Focus and Restraint during GR speed farming.
Demon Hunters are notoriously frail, and the Shadow Hunter playstyle has the odds stacked against it with its daredevil dive in, dive out gameplay. Awareness is our default recommendation, serving as a cheat death on a standard 60-second cooldown. Alternatively, you could play with Leech to a source of great health sustain in the build.
Cull the Weak is taken in both solo and group GR progression for the 20% multiplicative damage increase against Slowed or Chilled enemies. In groups, said crowd control will be applied by support party members. When soloing, it needs to be applied passively in point blank range from the 15-yard Bane of the Trapped slow, and active use of Fan of Knives and Shadow Power.
While you solo push and farm, Ambush will be a great addition against single target, higher health enemies like Champions and Rift Guardians. Its 40% bonus damage against the first 25% of the target health pool is multiplicative in nature, allowing you to chew through the first quarter of the fight very efficiently.
Your final passive slot will vary according to content. In solo GR progression, it is recommended you take Numbing Traps for the consistent 25% damage reduction from surrounding enemies. During GR speed farm, you would take Tactical Advantage in this slot for the speed boost.
- 13 Sep. 2023: Skills and passives reviewed for Season 29.
- 22 Feb. 2023: Skills and passives reviewed for Season 28.
- 26 Aug. 2022: Skills and passives reviewed for Season 27.
- 13 Apr. 2022: Guide reviewed for Season 26.
- 09 Dec. 2021: Guide revised for Season 25.
- 21 Jul. 2021: No changes required for Season 24.
- 01 Apr. 2021: No changes required for Season 23.
- 18 Nov. 2020: No changes required for Season 22.
- 06 Jul. 2020: Reverted guide recommendation back to the lightning version of the build; included additional clarifications for variant playstyles of the build.
- 30 Jun. 2020: No changes required for Season 21.
- 12 Mar. 2020: No changes necessary for Season 20.
- 21 Nov. 2019: Changed default run for Vault.
- 23 Aug. 2019: Reviewed for Season 18.
- 16 May 2019: Guide was reviewed and approved for Season 17.
- 17 Jan. 2019: Updated for Season 16.
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