Ok here I decided to write a racing guide for dualwielding duelist after the conversation about dualwield duelists last week, and complaints about how inactive this board is. With this build I have usually managed to reach level 25+ in 3h races almost every time, finishing in top 5 duelists every time, also winning a demigod once. in the 2h solo race I finished lvl 23 and second Duelist, with only 6k exp difference. No data for 2h party race because I died in the prison (desynced, stuck in a doorway, shotgunned to death by 5 cold mages in the blink of an eye). Got very lucky on my second run and finished 4th Duelist in the end.
The path I take in the passive tree is a mixture of offense in the form of weapon damage and attack speed, and survivability in the form of life and life regen. Focus on life is chosen because it’s pretty much gear independent. Using two Coral Rings and a Leather Belt grants enough life to survive most areas, and any life mods on other gear is a bonus.
The build at different parts of the race:
I try to hit lvl 9 before Brutus as that life regen helps immensely in the battle for conserving flasks (more on boss tactics later). You could take the left path from the start as well if you wanted but I think +12% dmg and +14% ias is better than +26% dmg and +8% ias. Also, the +30 Dex helps you more early on by allowing you to use better weapons, namely Whalebone Rapiers.
Not much to say here. The Dex and Str nodes allow me to use all one handed weapons available up to this point which is a good reason to take both, even if you took the left path.
Taking the Golem’s Blood Cluster adds a lot of survivability which is very much needed when fighting Weaver and Fidelitas. It also brings you closer to your final destination which is:
The important node for this battle is Diamond Skin for +15% resist all which is very much needed for this battle. Following this path I get it just in time for Vaal. After this the race gets easy and only dps nodes are picked up.
lvl 30 build for swords (replace the sword nodes with something else if using axes)
The list of skills I take from each quest. If I find more, so be it, something like Ground Slam can be good find to diversify your weapon options or Decoy Totem for boss battles. If nothing else they can be used to craft rings or an onyx amulet. Other than these core skills, nothing else is needed:
Twilight Strand: Cleave (duh!)
Hillock: Dual Strike
Glyph Wall: Viper Strike
Medicine Chest: Phase Run
Merveil: Added Cold/Added Fire (depending if you have phys or ele weapons)
Fidelitas: Enduring Cry
Weaver: Added Cold/Added Fire, whichever you didnt pick from Merveil
Main skills for farming are Cleave and Dual Strike for groups/single targets. Phase Run is a necessity for racing. Viper Strike is your boss killer. Hatred and supports add more dmg and Enduring Crys used for one battle (Vaal).
Gear can be white. The only items that need good mods are weapons and boots for move speed. Everything else is optional. If you don’t have something needed you should keep your eyes open while travelling. In the guide I have mentioned the areas these items first start appearing.
-Two high damage swords/rapiers/axes for Dual Strike and Cleave,
-a fast sword (Sabre!) and Kite Shield in weapon swap, put Viper Strike here
-Good armor or armor/eva chest. If it has life and resists even better.
-Any headgear with good mods, usually this slot is used for sockets
-Any gloves with good mods, attack speed and ele dmg is best
-Boots with movespeed, check vendor from time to time if you got transmutes and alts
-Any amulet you find, Onyx/Amber is best
-Two Coral rings, replaced with resistance rings for several boss battles
-if you get lucky and find a topaz flask, using that for Fidelitas/Vaal can be helpful
Good mods are: life, resists, increased armor/eva, attspeed, elem dmg, movespeed. Orbs are used on weapon upgrades trying to get something good (+dmg mods, +%phys dmg, attspeed) beginning near the end of act 1 depending on how many orbs I got.
Here is a guide for how I approach different areas and quests in the game, as well as level targets for each area. More detailed guide inside the spoilers.
The upper limits for important time and level goals in the race for me are as follows:
Reach town with mule: 1 min lvl 1 (more on this in spoiler)
Reach towm with main: 3 min lvl 1
Reach Submerged passage: 6 min lvl 2
Reach the Ledge: 10 min lvl 4
Kill Brutus: 30 min lvl 9
Kill Merveil: 1h lvl 12
Reach act 2 town: 1h 5 min lvl 13
Reach Western Forest: 1h 20 min lvl 16
Kill Vaal: 2h 10 min lvl 22
Reach Cruel Ledge: 2h 25 min lvl 24
Of course i try to be faster than this. These are just upper limits. If I don’t reach these goals something has gone wrong in the race.
Normal act 1
1. Twilight Strand (lvl 1)
Run your Shadow to Hillock, kill him, enter town and pick Freezing Pulse as your quest reward. But wait, this guide was about Duelists? Yes indeed, we will get to our Duelist in a minute but using this one and a half minutes for a mule character has several benefits like I stated them in another thread:
2) I get a full belt of flasks from the get go and don’t need to rely on random drops.
3) 3 Scrolls can be used to buy an extra Coral/Iron Ring at the start which helps a lot in early bosses (Dweller/Hailrake/Brutus).
4) I get an extra loot drop from Hillock. With some luck this nets me first Hillock kill too (this will never happen if I start Duelist). Keep an eye out for swords/axes, coral/iron rings and movespeed boots
Stash all the stuff from your Shadow. So, despite “wasting” 1,5 min here, it will actually save time in the long run.
2. Twilight Strand (lvl 1)
Run your Duelist to Hillock, kill him with basic attacks, enter town, pick Dual Strike and empty your stash. Buy 2 rings from Nessa, either Coral/Iron or 2 Corals. If you didn’t get a second sword/axe from Hillock, buy a Rusted Hatchet instead of a 2nd ring from Tarkleigh.
3. Terraces/Mud Flats(lvl 1-2)
Don’t bother killing mobs, they’re nto worth much experience and can be tedious battles. Only kill if you attract a large mob of scavengers in Terraces. They can be dispatched quickly with a few cleaves. In flats find the glyphs and only kill some Rhoas as needed. Ignore Fire Fury, Tidal Islad and Oozeback Bloom, those are too dangerous for a lvl 1/2 Duelist. You might get to lvl 2 in these areas but don’t worry if not.
4. Submerged Passage(lvl 4)
This area has mobs that are worth killing. The squids come in large packs and often try to surround you, a perfect position to use cleave. Run through the areas, skip Flooded Depths (the skill point is not needed for this build), everytime a large pack is following you, turn around and cleave them for some juicy exp. Avoid the large ice breathing squids, getting frozen results in a quick death. In terms of gear, keep a lookout for Copper Swords, Jade Hatchets and any gear with green sockets (you will need those a lot soon). Try to get lvl 4 before the next area.
5. Ledge/Tidal Island(lvl 5)
Once you find the ledge, your experience will skyrocket. The skeletons fall very quickly to cleave (take out the archers first). As long as you don’t get hit by too many archers you will do fine. Once you find the waypoint, take it to town, get Viper Strike from Tarkleigh and take Wp to Mud Flats, then go to Tidal Island. Ignore the mobs and go straight to Hailrake. Clean the mobs nearby, dodge the Ice spears and apply some Viper Charges to him(?), then finish him with Dual Strike. Pick up the Medicine Chest and other goodies dropped (hope for movespeed boots), then logout and login again, turn in the quest, get a flask (hope for resist or dispel frozen) and Phase Run.
6. Ledge (lvl 8)
Now you need to gather a few levels for boss battles. Luckily the Ledge is quick leveling. Run the Ledge a couple of times until you reach level 8 and about halfway to 9. Skip Kuduku (duh!). Try to find a good chestpiece (Brigandine/Chestplate/Chainmail Tunic is best), a Leather Belt and some Whalebone Rapiers. Don’t equip chest though, it slows you down. Also pick up a kite shield if one drops and equip it in weapon swap (this is important later). Once satisfied with levels, head forward.
7. Rocky Climb/Prison/Brutus (lvl 9)
Skip most mobs, too dangerous. It is worth it to kill some isolated mobs of skele archers/hellions for exp, the more you fight here the less you need to in Prison Gate and Graveyard. Upper Prison is a total skip due to Enfeeble Curse and cold mages.
Brutus is relatively simple battle with this build. Equip your chestpiece for added armor. Kite him by running circles to avoid the hook and engage him in melee. Apply 4 viper charges then retreat. Now you need to just dodge his attacks while attacking him with viper strike every few seconds. If you can keep him at 4 viper charges all the time the battle is over in just over a minute. If you dare and have some good weapons you can toss a few dual strikes in the mix but don’t try this if you’re low on flasks. I have though about using a shield for extra defense vs Brutus but by my experience dual wield is better for the attack speed boost since your main defense is kiting his attacks.
Once Brutus is dead loot him and logout/login, pick up Hatred from Tarkleigh and head forward via Wp. At this point I’m usually about 30 min into the race.
8. Prisoner’s Gate/Ship Graveyard (lvl 10)
These two areas are dangerous so you don’t want to fight too much. If you killed some mobs in the previous areas you should be quite close to lvl 10 which you want to reach before the Coves. Kill isolated packs of spitters and ghosts. If you get cursed, run.
9. The Coves (lvl 11)
This is a good area to farm. The only really dangerous enemies are the vulnerability crabs (equip chest here to be safe). Don’t kill if surrounded, you don’t want to get stuck in the tar and hit by vulnerability at the same time. Use Cleave to deal with mobs, Dual Strike for singles, Viper for rares and lone zombies (to avoid the tar). Pick up any resist rings, Sabres, Boarding Axes and Basket Rapiers. If you have a lot of transmutation orbs, using them on weapons at this point starts to be worth it. Also, toss an extra sword in weapon swap slot (sabre is best)
10. Cavern of Wrath/Anger and Merveil(lvl 12)
When you enter the Cavern head to town, get the support gem and craft a Sapphire ring. If you don’t have Iron Rings and the vendor is not selling them, stash your scrolls and quickly login with your mule to buy them. Merveil is doable with one Sapphire Ring but two is more optimal.
Cavern of Wrath is pretty easy exp, just watch out the Puncture archers (might want to use chest). Cavern of Anger is more dangerous with the exploding guys so you want to run through this area and skip any mobs that are not regular squids. Especially skip both Merveil’s Daughters. You should hit 12 before Merveil.
Against Merveil equip your Sapphire Ring(s) and engage with your weapon swap setup. Put Viper Strike in use for this set. Engage her and apply Viper charges. If you have two sapphires you might be able to face tank her so after applying charges hit weapon swap, dual strike twice, weapon swap, viper once, rince and repeat. If you can’t tank her, you need to kite her attacks and use the same tactic as vs Brutus: apply a new viper charge every few seconds.
Once her first form is down, cleave down the squid spawn and use the same tactic, except this one is much easier. Loot her and proceed to act 2. I usually reach this point in less than an hour, usually at around 50 mins.
Normal act 2
1. The Forest (lvl 13)
The monkeys are easy kills with cleave, just avoid getting swarmed (equipping chest is helpful here). Hit lvl 13 here and enter town.Optional: If no one has entered the Old Fields yet, grabbing first Cave clear can be a good idea. The area is quite easy with this build: cleave monkeys/spiders, viper golems/bears. Grabbing the Crossroads Wp is a good idea in this case.
2. River Crossings/Dark Forest (lvl 16)
These areas are semi simple, just cleave through large mobs, beginning with archers/snakes. Watch out for puncture mobs. Get both waypoints, look for gear upgrades, if you find Weaver’s Chambers set up a portal outside. Head for Western Forest and try to get lvl 16 before going there.
3. Western Forest(lvl 18-19)
This is a good spot to grab some levels. If you have a Ruby Ring it helps here. If not, then be careful with the exploders. The same strategy of cleaving large mobs works. Farm until at least lvl 18 here, 19 is more optimal (you want to get Golem’s Blood at least). Keep an eye out for War Swords, Jagged Foils and Broad Axes. You also want to get a decent chestpiece and your other equipment might also need some upgrades. Don’t forget to open the passage. Once done, find the Wp, head to act 1 town, get the skillpoint, head to act 2 and take your portal to Weaver (or go by Dark Forest Wp if yo didn’t find it yet).
4. Weaver’s Chambers (lvl 19-20)
Equip a good armor chest. You want to kill the mobs here since they can be quite dangerous if you don’t. This will most likely grant a level up. The same trick of Viper-weapon swap-Dual-Dual-weapon swap-Viper pattern works on Weaver, except it takes a bit longer because of chaos resistance. You want to clear the mobs around Weaver before fighting it (Decoy totem would be good here but alas). Grab the spike, get a support from Silk, craft two Topaz Rings (use one of your support gems if nothing else) and head east.
5. Old Fields/Crossroads/Broken Bridge (lvl 20)
Skip mobs in Fields/Crossroads, only cleave if you get surrounded. I like to run through Broken Bridge now since the area gives some nice exp and Kraityn is an easy kill. Kill bandit mobs, ignore Bears and Golems. Versus Kraityn kill the archers first with cleave, then melee bandits and use the same Viper-Dual combo as before. When he is dead, head to Crossroads and proceed to.
6. Chamber of Sins (lvl 20)
this place is obviously dangerous which is why we just want run through it. Only kill isolated spider mobs. Fidelitad can be tough. Equip two topaz rings and try to lure him to you alone, without any other mobs. Kite him and take him down with Viper charges, throwing in some dual strikes. Grab the gem and get Enduring Cry from Greust.
7. Western Forest (lvl 21)
This is a good spot to kill Alira. Equip a Ruby ring if you got one, if not go with 2 Corals. Same as Kraityn, kill her minions first, beginning with archers, then Viper/Dual Strike her to death. Because you’re here this is also a nice opportunity to grab some experience. Once satisfied head along on your way.
8. Vaal Ruins/Pools and Streams/Waterfall Cave (lvl 22)
Find the Vaal ruins in River Crossings, Poison the tree, move along, only kill spider mobs here, hit the Seal, find your way out, skip more mobs in Pools, help Oak and grap the Apex, find Waterfall, skip mobs in level 1 (large squid mobs can be worth it), find level 2. This is a good spot to get your final level before Vaal so run the part between the entrance and pyramid until level 22. Grab Diamond Skin and head along.
9. Ancient Pyramid (lvl 22)
Skip all mobs here, they are too dangerous for the hassle. Head to the top and face Vaal. Equip gear for maximum lightning resistance, life and fire resistance. I have found Viper to be not so useful here: Vaal is chaos resistant and there is rarely a chance to keep 4 charges up for a long time. So, use Dual Strike on Vaal (hope you crafted some nice weapons) and Cleave the minions as soon as they appear (begin with the small constructs). Approach him when he uses the ice/rock attacks and kite his lasers and melee slam (it is useful to run zig-zag towards him during the lasers so you can continue attacking as soon as he is finished). Also use Enduring Cry during the battle for extra resistances. He takes a few minutes to beat if you take it safe.
I usually kill Vaal in about 2 hours.
Cruel act 1
1. Twilight Strand (lvl 22)
Just run to Hillock and go for the kill. The rewards are not useful so just head out to terraces.2. Terraces/Mud Flats(lvl 23)
Do kill some mobs. You get some nice bonus experience for being underleveled and the mobs are easy. If you have 2 Sapphires grabbing first Cruel Medicine chest can be a possibility if no one else did it yet.
3. Submerged Passage(lvl 23-24)
Easy kills before the Ledge, just cleave away. Again going for first dweller can be an option if no one else did that, as long as you got sapphires.
This is where the guide ends, just kill mobs until time is finished. Take off your chest armor for faster movement. Ignore Kuduku. If you fell too dangerous near to him equip a Topaz Ring. Loot and craft only weapons. Stop looting anything when less than 20 min left.
The build has high aoe and single target dps so farming is pretty quick. Hardest part is the beginning. Hailrake can be a challenge for a beginning Duelist with no life nodes (which is why I do it after reaching Ledge) and the areas around the Prison are tough. Coves and Merveil’s Cavern are also not the cakewalks they are for many other builds (*cough!*Marauders*cough!*). In act 2 this build is pretty strong, especially once some decent weapons are found.
Cruel Ledge farming is quite fast with this build. Skeleton mobs fall quickly to dualwield cleave.
Phew, that was it. If you got any comments and questions go ahead and ask.