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Testic's PvP Kicksin Guide

June 2011 (1.13) Version 1


This guide centers around a build for a dragon talon using assassin ("kicksin") that I have been using myself for a few years, it is primarily a weapon/shield (w/s) build that I have found to be very effective and diverse, though its main strength being killing soft targets (such as sorceresses).


This kicksin has the following aims:
  • Have good stacked res with the option for huge stacked res.
  • Have flexibilty of equipment to allow changes to be made vs various opponents.
  • Maintain reasonable IAS at all times whilst not relying on burst of speed (BoS).
  • Have at least 48% FHR.
  • Have at least 65% FCR with an option for 102% FCR.
  • Have at least 1 source of open wounds at all times.
  • To save as many points in strength and dexterity as possible to put them all into vitality.

----About Dragon Talon

--------General Dragon Talon Notes

The "kick" skill uses damage from the boots rather than from other sources such as the wielded weapon, though the range from the weapon is used.

Attack rating from the weapon is applied but does not show on the character screen. Applies elemental damage (such as venom) but this does not show on the character screen

--------What Does and Does Not Work With Dragon Talon

The following things do not apply to kicks:
  • Weapon % Enhanced Damage.
  • + Min/Maximum Damage and +damage.
  • +% Damage to Demons/Undead.
  • Claw Mastery.
  • Critical Strike or Deadly Strike.

The following things do apply to kicks:
  • Life Leech
  • Mana Leech
  • Elemental Damage
  • Magical Damage
  • Chance to cast X on striking
  • Crushing Blow
  • Open Wounds
  • Prevent Monster Heal
  • Ignore Target Defense
  • Hit Blinds Target
  • Hit Causes Monster to Flee
  • Hit Freezes target
  • Hit Slows Target

--------Dragon Talon Attack Speed

The attack speed formula for dragon talon is as follows:

EIAS = ((120*IAS)/(120+IAS)) + skill_IAS – WSM

IAS counts from any source except off-hand weapon.
WSM is averaged between claws when dual wielding.
Skill_IAS is any bonus derived from sources such as burst of speed and fanatacism.
Note that lower WSM number are faster.

--------Attack Speed Breakpoints

Note that due to technical reasons what is commonly described as the "initial kick" is actually the last kick in the series; follow-up kicks are actually applied first.

Breakpoints for initial kick speed:
EIAS Frames
0    12
9    11
19   10
31   9
45   8
63   7

Breakpoints for follow-up kicks:
EIAS Frames
0    4
25   3
67   2 (this frame cannot be reached)

--------Number of Kicks per Volley

As the skill level of dragon talon increases the number of kicks increases also in a fashion similar to that of the zeal skill, this means that there are certain breakpoints centered around this number.

The kicks per volley breakpoints are:
Slvl #Kicks
1    1
6    3
12   3
18   4
24   5
30   6
36   7
42   8
48   9
54   10
60   11

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----About Venom

The venom skill adds poison damage to the assassin's attacks, it has a fixed duration of 0.4 seconds (actually, nightmare and hell penalties apply, increasing duration to 0.6 and 0.8 seconds respectively) and once cast ignores the poison duration from other items, this means that the effect of poison from other sources is greatly reduced so don't use any other sources of poison. Technically the behaviour is slightly different for certain class skills, but these aren't things we will be using so it is irrelevant to describe them here.

Venom damage does not show as being added to the dragon talon skill in the character screen but it does apply in reality (see General Dragon Talon Notes above).

Poison skill bonuses apply twice, once when you cast venom, and again when venom is applied (as long as bonus giving equipment is still being worn).

----About Assassins

--------Faster Cast Rate Breakpoints

FCR  Frames
0    16
8    15
16   14
27   13
42   12
65   11
102  10
174  9

--------Faster Block Rate Breakpoints

FBR  Frames
0    5
13   4
32   3
86   2
600  1

--------Faster Hit Recovery Breakpoints

FHR  Frames
0    9
7    8
15   7
27   6
48   5
86   4
200  3


Generally the usual rule applies:
Strength - Minimum to wear equipment.
Dexterity - Enough for max block
Vitality - Everything else
Energy - none.

Depending on exactly what equipment you choose you will find that you spend very few points in strength at all, dexterity will need quite a lot in order to reach max block.


This section details which skills you need to use, the number in parantheses is the number of points to invest. The skill allocation allows for a fair amount of flexibility so you can choose to adjust the balance between certain skills (for example you might want to save a few points from mindblast in order to boost weapon block).

  • Dragon Talon (?)
    This is the main skill you will be using and there are a few things about it that you will need to know. Firstly, the higher the skill level the higher the damage and AR bonuses are, and also the greater the number of kicks per volley (see Kick per Volley breakpoint table above). An important consideration is just what level you want your dragon talon to be, and it is a trade-off between damage/AR and how long you spend actually performing the volley of kicks. This is important because your opponent may move away while you are performing your kicks meaning that they can launch an attack on you. Exactly what skill level you choose is a matter of taste, I personally find that 4 kicks works best for me, and certainly no more than 5. So whichever number of kicks you choose ensure you have the highest skill level (whilst wearing the equipment with the largest amount of +skills) you can without reaching the next breakpoint in order to maximise your damage and AR bonuses.

  • Venom (20)
    This will be a major source of damage for you, so ensure you max it for the greatest effect. For more information about this skill see the About Venom section above.

  • Shadow Master (10+)
    The shadow master fills the usual roles of any summoned helper; it acts as a meat shield and may cause some damage to your opponents. The shadow master has certain extra interesting features though: It has some chance to become immune to elements, this seems to depend on the slvl of the shadow and possibly the equipment it happens to spawn with. It can also cast assassin skills, even those that the main character doesn't have any points in. It seems that the higher the slvl of a given skill the higher the chance the shadow has of casting it. You should consider maxing this skill.

  • Mind Blast (10+)
    Mind blast stuns your opponents and knocks them back as well as inflicting a small amount of physical damage. The stun from mind blast works well in conjunction with the wake of fire skill (described below) to cause your opponents to be put into recovery when wake of fire hits them, this will be a major tactic that you employ. The higher the slvl of mindblast the longer the stun duration and the greater the inflicted damage, you should consider maxing this skill.

  • Wake of Fire (1)
    Used purely to lock opponents in conjuction with mind blast (see above), the fire damage of this skill is pathetic, but don't let that worry you as we don't really care about the raw damage. Certainly only put 1 point here, and don't feel tempted to put points in its synergies in an attempt to boost the damage.

  • Cloak of Shadows (1)
    Gives a defense bonus to your kicksin and lowers the defence of opponents, certainly worthwhile casting against high defence opponents or agianst those where you would benefit from a bonus yourself. This skill does not suffer from diminishing returns, though the bonuses recieved don't make it worthwhile maxing, so stick to 1 point here.

  • Fade (20)
    Gives a resistance (+70 all resist at slvl 35) and DR% bonuses (1% DR per slvl), reduces the length of curses (including positive curses such as shrines). This skill is mutually exclusive with burst of speed (BoS); you cannot have both active at the same time. When using a c/c setup this skill provides you with the bulk of your DR% and resistances. Interstingly you can prevent fade from reducing the duration of mana recharge shrines (for example) by activating BoS, taking the shrine, and then re-activating fade.

  • Blade Shield (1)
    Creates some spinning blades that surround your character that apply some physical damage as well as venom. This is certainly worth a point as it has several small uses including killing enemy minions (such as wolves) and inflicting damage to hard-to-catch opponents (such as a defensive sorceress). Just 1 point here will do.

  • Blade Fury (1)
    Allows you to throw projectiles inflicting physical damage as well as venom. This can be useful in situations where you have your opponent stunned in traps but you would rather not teleport onto them to use dragon talon (such as a blizzard sorceress standing in a blizzard).

  • Claw Mastery (1+)
    This is only any use when you use a c/c setup and it is a matter of taste how many points you put in here.

  • Weapon Block (1+)
    Also only of use when using c/c. With 1 point here the final slvl will give you around 57% chance to block with claws which is enough for most purposes.
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For each equipment item several choices will be listed.

  • Enigma
    This is the only armour to use for general purpose duelling. You need the +1 teleport and the strength bonus.

Only 2 possible boots, both of which have the highest kick damage.
  • Shadow dancer. The dexterity and FHR bonuses are really what you want. If your looking to trade for a pair favour dexterity over shadow skill bonus.
  • Gore Rider (upped). Only use upped gores to have the highest kick damage. Use these when you need some extra open wounds or when you tweak your equipment and don't have the strength to wear shadows.

  • Ravenfrost
    When there is any chance of being frozen you need to wear a ravenfrost for the cannot be frozen attribute. Since this will be 95% of the time you should invest in a good one with 20 dexterity and high AR.
  • Angelic
    For the AR bonus in conjunction with angelic amulet.
  • BM abs rings (dwarf, wisp, second raven) for those inevitable occasions when you need them.

  • Angelic
    For the AR bonus when used with 1 or more angelic rings.
  • Highlord's
    For when you need a little extra lightning resist or IAS.
  • Nokozan Relic
    Since you can't wear hotspur (due to poor kick damage) this will be your alternative when you need extra fire resist.
  • Rising Sun
    For use against stacked auradins.

  • Thundergod's
    This will be your main belt with the w/s setup primarily for the strength bonus, but the extra max lightning resist is very useful too.
  • Arachnid Mesh
    Used for FCR with the c/c setup.
  • Bugbelt
    If you're on the Europe NL realm this would make a very nice belt to have, and would possibly change the build dynamics entirely. Since I don't own one I can't comment on it.

  • Stormshield
    Great blocking bonus and some resists. Socket it with an eld rune to give a further bonus to blocking thus saving you some dexterity points.
  • Spirit
    For your BO switch. As long as it has 32FCR any is fine, make sure it is non-eth as you may be using it as your main shield, and you have enough strength to wear it anyway.

  • Wizardspike
    We want this for the FCR, the resists and the reasonable WSM (-20).

This build really revolves around using wizardspike as the main weapon though there are other alternatives to consider, such as fleshripper and death's web.
  • Chaos
    Used for +1 whirlwind in c/c setup. Be careful what base weapon your chaos is made in: slow WSM helps with trap laying due to the WSM bug, but slow WSM will slow down your dragon talon. Exactly what the acceptable WSM is depends on your second claw and your other equipment. Use this as your primary claw.
  • Bartuc's
    While it's not an exciting weapon gives nice bonuses which save you a lot of points in strength and dexterity.
  • Fools Claw
    If you can use a nice fools claw then use that, just be cautious of the weapon speed, both WSM and IAS.
  • Malice
    A nice cheap runeword that gives 100% open wounds.
  • Jade talon
    Has a source of resistances.

  • Andariel's Visage
    We really need a helm with some IAS and this is it. Don't forget the +2 skills and the great strength bonus (you don't actually need the maximum strength). The poison resist bonuses render all poison damage opponents laughable. Make sure you socket it with a 30 fire resist / 15IAS jewel to counter the -30 fire resist on the helm and to enable you to reach a suitable IAS breakpoint.
  • Kira's
    Sometimes you jut need a resistance boost and this is a good way to get it. Make sure you socket it with a strength jewel since you won't be getting the strength bonus from andariel's, using a jewel with a dexterity bonus as well would be nice since kira's has cannot be frozen it can free you from using a ravenfrost.
  • Griffon's
    Used for FCR in the c/c setup. Socket it with a 15IAS jewel to ensure your kick speeds are high when using fade, and probably get 15 res as well.

  • Trang Oul's Pincers
    We want the FCR, the poison damage, and the cold res. Use nothing else.

In your stash you can keep the usual BM res/abs equipment and bits and pieces that you may find useful.
  • Venom Pre-Buff
    If you like you can keep equipment for prebuffing venom, personally I don't bother.
  • Widowmaker
    Is very useful for inflicting venom and open wounds against opponents that play too defensively, also works well in a team. Socket it with an um rune for open wounds.
  • Res monarch
    You can use these if you like, though you would probably lack the strength to wear shadow dancers as well, so be careful.

  • Shadow skillers
    Do not use any other type of skiller as most of your useful skills are in the shadow skills tree. Try to get them with as much life as possible.
  • FHR small charms
    You should keep 4 small charms with 5% FHR in order to maintain the 48% FHR breakpoint with the 30% FHR from shadow dancer (in the w/s setup) and bartuc's (in the c/c setup).
  • Torch and annihilus
  • Apart from that use any small charms that you can get. Life/res are my favourites, but don't forget that +max damage bonus do not apply to dragon talon so don't waste max/AR/life charms on your kicksin, though AR/life charms are good.

----Example Builds

Please note that the equipment listed in this section is an example that is suitable for general purpose use, there is an array of equipment switches available for different circumstances as detailed in the sections above.


General Purpose
Equipment: Wizardspike, andariel's, enigma, stormshield, ravenfrost, angelic ring and amulet, trang gloves, shadow dancer, thundergod's


General Purpose
Equipment: Chaos (suwuyyah), bartuc's, griffon's, enigma, ravenfrost, angelic ring and amulet, arachnid mesh, upped gore rider, trang gloves.

--------Some Screenshots

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--------General Strategies and Techniques

  • A main technique you will want to employ is to keep your opponent stunned using WoF and mindblast. To this end is it a good idea to try to cast mindblast on your opponent whenever you have the chance so that you can be more effective at trapping them with WoF. Against some builds you can right-click namelock them and alternate between WoF and mindblast for maximum stun ability.

  • Keep your shadow up! He casts mindblast (as well as being a meatchield), this can be great at getting tricky opponents stunned. Not only this but your shadow casts blade shield on itself which means you can cause extra damage when you teleport onto an opponent. The only exception to this tip is vs smiters who can trigger lifetap on your shadow and use it to heal themselves.

  • Don't be afraid to spam mindblast on people, with maxed mindblast and 65/102FCR you can cause a reasonable amount of damage with it, and against some opponents you can even kill them fairly quickly with mindblast alone. But the main thing is that spamming mindblast will cause your opponent to play more offensively (think jodering hammerdins here).

  • Mindblast causes your shadow to attack the target.

  • For some extra FCR against opponents where you don't need so much blocking swap your stormshield and spirit to attain the 102FCR and 86FHR breakpoints. The mana bonus from this is also huge which makes it a great tip to use against sorceresses whom you may find yourself having to chase a lot.

  • Most sources of poison won't actually kill an opponent, they will leave them with 1HP until some other damage is applied. When this happens feel free to kill them with an application of mindblast.

--------Specific Tips

  • Sorceress - Any (easy peasy)
    These are your bread and butter and the strategy is the same for them all (more or less). Weak ones you can just jump and kick, though often you will have to stun them with WoF. With your enormous stacked resistances you don't need to worry about them 90% of the time, even against an infinity wielding lightning sorceress your resistances will stand up well, and even if they don't you can use kira's and HL for some extra stack.

    There is very little difference between ES/vita and block/non-block, they all go down very quickly.

  • Druid - Elemental (easy)
    Elemental druids are very succeptible to being stunned in WoF, so use this to your advantage. Be aware of them jumping you as you can quickly become overwhelmed with tornados and wolves. If they prove to be a bit tricky then be happy to land a volley of kicks on them and retreat slightly to let open wounds do its work. You will probably find that the c/c setup works best due to the claw block, but it isn't really necasary.

  • Druid - Rabies (easy)
    With your 85 poison resist and massive poison stack you don't really need to worry about their rabies. You will find their general tactic is to trigger rabies and then walk away from you to let their poison do its work, so even if you do get struck with rabies you can kill them before the rabies kills you (I find that even high rabies damage isn't enough to kill my kicksin in 1 go). Be cautious of using your shadow as rabies inflicted on your shadow can be passed onto you. Consider using your teleport ability to your advantage by using hit-and-run methods.

  • Druid - Fury (medium)
    Make sure you keep them stunned with mindblast and WoF and you will be able to out-tank most of them. Keep your shadow up in order for it to take some of the hits. Cast cloak of shadows. When your WoF runs out teleport out of their namelock range and start again.

  • Druid - Rabies/fury hybrid (easy-hard)
    This can be a very interesting duel as you won't be able to take your time and relax as you can vs rabies. Once you have been hit woth the rabies keep your shadow up, and use hit-and-run.

  • Druid - Fire (fireclaws and fissure etc) (easy peasy lemon squeezy)
    Use these to practice against.

  • Amazon - Bow (easy)
    Without a shield amazons are really easy to hit, even with dodge/avoid skills. Approach them using a non-direct path (eg. don't rush straight towards them) and keep your shadow up for it to take some arrows, though with your max block, fast blocking and max DR% the arrows won't bother you too much. Keep them trapper, keep them moving and keep them namelocked. If they desync away then mindblast them. If they abuse WSG then you can simply chainlock them without attacking and your shadow + blade shield will do a lot of damage.

  • Amazon - Java (easy - medium)
    Make sure you keep them stunned, cast cloak of shadow to counter their blocking as much as you cant. If they manage to hit you enough to make you stunned then mindblast them away. See tips for amazon - bow.

  • Necromancer - Poison (easy)
    Another poison based character that is no sweat for you, just jump them.

  • Necromancer - Bone (easy - hard)
    These chaps are very tricky to kill with your w/s setup as you tend to get spammed with spirits, so consider using your c/c setup. Use BoS instead of fade, you don't need the res here and BoS will counter slowing effects from the clay golem. Make sure you avoid spirit trains, and work towards getting them stunned, once a necro is trapped with WoF and mindblast then you can just jump right in. Make sure you keep your shadow up for the meatshield effect.

  • Assassin - Trapper (easy - hard)
    Duelling vs a lightning sentry trapper can be tricky depending on how they play. Often they jump around in the vicinity of their traps making them hard to catch so your first priority is to get them mindblasted, onec this is done you can work to get them stunned in WoF. Once a trapper is stationary you are free to jump and kick them. Make sure you keep your shadow up, it will eat some of the traps and may be lightning immune as well. You will possibly find it better to use your c/c setup here for the weapon block, just make sure you have enough lightning resist.

  • Assassin - Whirlwind (or hybrid) (easy - hard)
    A dedicated whirlwind assassin will be able to beat your part-time whirlwind build, though those that spend a lot of points in their traps will be easier to beat. Use your maxed mindblast to your advantage, and be prepared to hit-and-run.

  • Paladin - FoH (easy)
    You have huge stacked resists so the conviction aura will mean nothing to you, maybe you will want to wear a wisp, that is your choice. Keep your shadow up to take some hits for you, and just play offensively, there should be no problem for you here. If they desynch excessively then spam them with mindblast, this will damage them and break their charge.

  • Paladin - Smiter (hard)
    No matter what equipment you wear smite will always beat any other melee attack in a toe-to-toe match. You will find most success using your c/s setup and just use whirlwind, though it is possible to beat even fairly good smiters purely with kicks it is not a pleasant experience.

  • Paladin V/T
    Same as smiter.

  • Paladin - Hammer (easy - hard)
    Things are a lot easier with claw block, you become like a cat with 8 extra lives. If they are standing in their hammer field then you can blindspot them with ease. If they abuse desync then spam them with mindblast. If they jump you then make sure you are in the blindspot (either WW or walk south slightly). Keep your shadow up to eat a hammer or 2 due to minion stack. Widowmaker can be handy in this matchup. Be careful for those hammer who sometimes use smite, the smite won't hurt you but can knock you back into the hammers.

  • Barbarian - Zerk/conc (easy)
    Keep them stunned, keep your shadow up, cast cloak of shadows. You should have no difficulty.

  • Barbarian - Whirlwind (medium - hard)
    Use your w/s setup as max block is better than weapon block. Try to keep them stunned, and dance around a lot in order to use hit-and-run. Keep your shadow up for minion stack. Your lack of range will be a problem here.
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Jun 6 2011 01:57pm
gg guild :]
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Jun 6 2011 02:01pm
Should tell us why you didn't go with flesh ripper
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Jun 6 2011 02:44pm
nicely formatted and written guide
dont agree with everything 100% but dont wanna nitpick at the moment may post later
things that scream out in my head after reading this:
needs maxed mindblast
needs 1 ls

I like 65fcr non-wizzy setups for w/s but what you have is cute and workable. keep at it. improvement from your last guide for sure. keep habing fun at it.

edit: also mention jade is wsm buggable for c/c fade res stacking and keeping easy bps
editet: srsly cats eye > highlords, keep both stashed if in doubt

This post was edited by Ziecheik on Jun 6 2011 02:45pm
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Jun 6 2011 02:47pm
Quote (Ziecheik @ 6 Jun 2011 22:44)
nicely formatted and written guide
dont agree with everything 100% but dont wanna nitpick at the moment may post later
things that scream out in my head after reading this:
needs maxed mindblast
needs 1 ls

I like 65fcr non-wizzy setups for w/s but what you have is cute and workable. keep at it. improvement from your last guide for sure. keep habing fun at it.

maxing mindblast = more Physical dmg + bit more pvp stun! sounds good in my eyes!
WoF is better for fhr locks, True! but good melee is better stun'd with ls :P

:thumbsup: Nice guide you wrote there!
Rly nice to read ;)
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Jun 6 2011 02:51pm

This post was edited by Szabortusz on Jun 6 2011 02:52pm
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Jun 6 2011 03:19pm
Quote (tinhajj @ 6 Jun 2011 21:01)
Should tell us why you didn't go with flesh ripper

The reason is that then other equipment would have to be changed around in order to maintain the FCR breakpoint, maybe I should have made that clear in the guide.

Quote (Ziecheik @ 6 Jun 2011 21:44)
nicely formatted and written guide
dont agree with everything 100% but dont wanna nitpick at the moment may post later
things that scream out in my head after reading this:
needs maxed mindblast
needs 1 ls

I like 65fcr non-wizzy setups for w/s but what you have is cute and workable. keep at it. improvement from your last guide for sure. keep habing fun at it.

edit: also mention jade is wsm buggable for c/c fade res stacking and keeping easy bps
editet: srsly cats eye > highlords, keep both stashed if in doubt

Thank you, you;re right, this one is more of a guide!

I do indeed max mind blast, and suggest others do the same.

I disagree about LS.

I think you're right about keeping cat's eye stashed, after all it's only a single slot. But overall I prefer HL due to the res!
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