[2.2] Flicker Strike Duelist - a detailed guide (new league viable)

As someone who loves Flicker-Strike and spent hundreds of hours trying to create a viable Flicker-Strike build after some heavy nerfs I am happy to welcome you to my guide!

I am not going to explain the mechanics of Flicker-Strike in depth, but here is the tl,dr:

- auto-sustain frenzy-charges (and in best case power-charges too)
- do as much on-hit-dmg as possible to achieve this
- bypass the 4-second cooldown of Flicker-Strike reliable enough so you wont stop
- benefit from a fast clearspeed and a funny gameplay

So how do you achieve this? Obviously going crit. "Crit?!", I hear you ask? "But why are you not starting as a Shadow then?". The answer on this is simple. Because we cant allow ourselves to wear a Tabularasa (in the name of survivability) and in a new league, 6-linked chests are kind of expensive AND the more damage-links you have to Flicker-Strike the better, we need something that adds an additionial link to our setup. You see where this is going right?

The "Impact" node of the ascendancy-skilltree of the slayer-class does exactly that. Effectively a 6L setup in a 5L chest (that are easy to obtain with a little bit of time investment) but im going to explain this further later.

Pro and Con

- fast clearspeed
- funny gameplay
- for a Flicker-Strike build kind of tanky
- possible to build in a new league

- kind of boring to level to around level 50-55
- not hardcore viable
- not (yet) optimized for party-play, but im working on that
- Abyssus

Sustaining frenzy-charges:

The first barrier we have to overcome is bypassing the cooldown of FS. In order to keep flickering with a not mirrored dagger we have to get around 45-55% chance to gain a frenzy charge on kill (you are able to min-max this to around 35-40% but only bloodrage wont be enough to reliably keep them up) To achieve this, we have limited options:

1. Blood Rage and "The Blood Dance" boots:

This method has proven its viability and the negative effect of both blood rage and "The Blood Dance" counter each other (degeneration effect vs. regerneration per frenzycharge, reduced attack speed vs. increased attack speed). A perfectly rolled pair of "The Blood Dance" with 30% chance to gain a frenzy charge on kill will add up with Blood Rage to a sustainable 55%. On top the boots give some extra movementspeed (that we are not reliant on thanks to whirling blades) and sweet 6% increased damage against enemies that are on low-life. Due their lack of life and resistances I would not recommend this option, but its totally viable.

2. Blood Rage and Poachers Mark

Needlessly to say you put the Poachers Mark in a blasphemy setup because you are always in the middle of the enemies because of how FS works. Assuming you have a level 15 gem without quality, you will have a 53% chance to gain a frenzy charge on kill if you add the 25% Blood Rage gives you. With a 20/20 Poachers Mark (40% chance) and the 10% curse-effect of the Blasphemy gem (44% chance), this can be brought up to a point where you can remove Blood Rage from your setup if your dagger is good enough. But for those of you who are not disturbed by the degeneration, I would recommend keeping it up anyways for the life-leech and the attack-speed. On top you get doubled flask charges if you kill a mob (which is really strong), less chance to evade on your enemies (which basically brings you up to a >98% chance to hit) and some life and mana gained on hit (which adds an additional layer of sustaining your mana-pool). Unfortunately this method makes it harder but not impossible to run maps with curse-immune monsters. I used this setup for a long time but I am testing no. 3 at the moment.

3. Blood Rage and Ice Bite

This is the method I switched to recently because it allows you to run curse-immunity maps again because your blasphemy setup will now be assassins mark which only cuts your damage and not counters your build-enabling mechanic. With capped crit you gain full benefit of the chance to gain a frenzy charge for killing frozen enemies (→ Hatred + Crit) which results in a 69% chance to gain a frenzy charge on kill. With Blood Rage is not necessary anymore at this point, but I recommend keeping it up anyways for attack-speed, life-leech and the ability to run resistance/immunity to status ailments maps.

Sustaining power-charges:

The way you sustain your power-charges depends on the way you chose to sustain your frenzy-charges. For possibility 1./2. you will use the power-charge on crit gem. For option 3. you simply switch this gem for Ice Bite and sustain your power-charges with assassins mark.



If you path down to "Art of the Gladiator" through the attack-speed nodes or to "Master of the Arena" through the physical-damage nodes is personal preference (attack speed feels nice, physical damage is technically better). Then you path down and grab "Golem's Blood" and "Cloth and Chain" for both life and hybrid-defenses (because we will go for Iron Reflexes). Pick up the frenzy-charge as well and path upwards to "Sentinal" for more armor-scaling as well as the Scion life-rectangle. Now it goes right into the shadow area and you grab all the dagger-nodes here (From the Shadows, Flaying, Adder's Touch, Nightstalker), the power- and the frenzy-charge for obvious reasons and the mana/life nodes at the right for both your pools and their leech (note that the 0,4% mana-leech from "Mind Drinker" is totally enough).

We do not take Vaal Pact because we need our leech to have a duration (would be 0 with this keystone) to keep up the stun immunity and the life recovery even at full life and for sustaining through boss fights (or to basically every other situation where you have not enough enemies to leech from). Because we will get up to 18,5k armor and the changes to reflect mobs the necessity of this keystone is not given anymore.

I want to direct your attention to the combination of the node "Nullfication" and the jewel-socket right next to it. It will provide you with 25% increased evasion-rating 30% increased armor, 5% increased life and 8% to all elemental resistances with the use of this jewel, with additional 20% increased armor on the jewel itself. Thats a huge point/use-ratio:


The evasion/armor nodes come with "X% to all elemental resistances" in most cases, which adds up to 36% in total. This makes it rather easy to cap our elemental resistances with gear that wont cost you a kidney.

In the ascendancy skilltree of the slayer class you take both Impact and Endless Hunger on the right side. This will provide you with an additional link, almost permanent stun-immunity and increased damage/attack-speed while leeching. These effects will not end when you are at a full HP-pool and leeching. The travel-nodes provide you with some attack-leech (not physical leech, this will also leech from your cold/fire-damage).

If you want to use Acrobatics/Phase-Acrobatics instead, this is your tree. Self explanatory:


Helmet: In order to reach enough damage to keep flickering without a mirrored dagger, you have to wear an Abyssus. After hours and hours trying to work around this I came to the conclusion that I have to live with 40% increased physical damage taken or even more. Damage-wise, the bonuses of this helmet are huge. (Keep in mind: the faster your attack-speed, the more you benefit from the added physical damage. The higher your crit-chance, the more you benefit from the crit-multiplier.)

There are several options here:

Lightning Coil for obviously life, evasion/armor-stats which both boost your armor and the twenty-something percent less physical damage taken (it simply converts a portion of the physical damage you are taking into a damage-type that is easier to mitigate (75% lightning resistancs versus the lower 50-60% phys reduction) to take advantage of this you have to absolutely cap your lightning resistance).

Daressos Defiance for life, dodge, life-leech, evasion/armor-stats and the onslaught-mechanic for a further damage boost (which you dont'really need to be honest).

Cherrubim's Maleficience for the best possible life-roll, also evasion/armor-stats and a whopping 100% increased life leeched per second, which is a blessing for a character that needs fast life recovery and revolves around leeching from his insane amounts of damage. (my personal preference)

The rest of your gear should:

1. most importantly cap your resists
2. provide you with as much life/evasion/armor as possible
3. (optionally) should have crit/accuracy stats for squeezing out damage

unique options are:

Maligaro's Virtuosity, Facebreakers

Blood Dance, Atziri's Step (if you take Acrobatics)

For leveling I would recommend Mightflay and Mark of the Doubting Knight until you got enough currency for a Bino's Kitchen Knife. After that you can upgrade your dagger for relatively cheap in a new league for a 220+ DPS version (keep in mind that base-crit tops attack-speed here in almost every case). I got mine for 40 chaos (roughly 2,5 hours of farming).

As always: take one or two "of staunching" flasks preferably with a "Surgeons" prefix for always keeping them up (especially with the help of Poachers Mark). The new Basalt Flasks with the "experimentors" mod grants almost 8 seconds of 20% physical damage reduction which is a good counter for the Abyssus mechanic. Lion's roar provides you with a good amount of extra damage if needed and the "Granite" base makes it a perfect fit into our defense too.

Gear with evasion-stats gets double-scaled due to Iron Reflexes and therefore has a bigger impact on your defense than armor-based gearpieces.

My own gear:


Gem setups:

Flicker-Strike (Blasphemy/Assassins Mark, current setup):

Flicker-Strike (Blasphemy/Poachers Mark):

Frenzy (to keep power-charges up at bosses that spawn not enough monsters swap added fire damage with power-charge on crit to keep up your power charges too):


Blood Rage:

CWDT (the Immortal call is short without endurance charges but long enough to save you from reflect mobs or spike-on-death-retards):

Whirling Blades:


Flicker-Strike unbuffed: http://i.imgur.com/rxpYBZP.png

Flicker-Strike buffed: http://i.imgur.com/lf41jCl.png (6 frenzy-charges, 4 power-charges, Blood-Rage, Lions Roar... yep 274.800DPS)

Defense unbuffed: http://i.imgur.com/wfUyjFU.png

Defense buffed: http://i.imgur.com/lcesNQY.png (Lions Roar, Basalt Flask)

Videos: (ain't clickbaiting you into that spoiler, they are coming soon)

Special thanks to my friend Boomstick who has that much patience with a guy that desperately tries to revive Flicker-Strike and helped me with hours of theorycrafting!
Last edited by oOStryderOo on Mar 31, 2016, 1:33:09 PM
Last bumped on Apr 6, 2016, 7:34:00 PM
It's funny, i had exactly the same though as you, going crit flicker, but i went to the exact opposite, with a crit staff build with Hegemony Era (But I still got 6 frenzy charges with Acrobatic). Hegemony Era + Increased critical chance and 5 power charges are easy enough to crit cap, and you shouldn't need power charge on crit (meaning you can get fortify or another dps gem like WED)

Also, you should remove the added fire damage and get a Physical to lightning gem.
You lose a few elementary % (14), but you gain 2 majors things:
-Shock, so you get 50% more damage
-The fact you are dealing more elemental damage than physical, which is especially important against reflect while wearing an abyssus.

And for the choice between Ice bite + assassin's mark and Poacher mark, don't forget you lose around
Last edited by Keyen on Mar 24, 2016, 12:52:54 PM
Oro's flciker is amazing as well! Im running that now, I have never had so much fun!
Gladiator is a good alternative to slayer.

Outmatch and outlast gives 25% for frenzy on kill, which combines with blood rage, is enough to sustain FS.

You can then choose to enhance blocking, or if you have a bleeding weapon, extra damage.

There's no impact, so the melee splash gem is required.

To see gladiator bleed flicker in action, see my build, Infernal Combustion
So many strikes within one breath.
But only one strike needed, for certain death.
In case some other newb tries this build, some notes of my experience:

This build was not smooth to level up. I had actually played a nocrit 2h flicker striker a year ago, but this one was even more problematic to get up to speed. Maybe something like a "leveling dagger" exists, but I certainly didn't have one. I needed to get to level 68 for my dagger so up to that point I used a sword. Damage output was lacking with so few passives in support.

Most importantly, and this is something I realized too late: before you get "Impact" by completing cruel lab, you absolutely do need the melee splash gem on your flicker strike. Without it clearing packs is inefficient and stuff like Perandus packs even become dangerous.

I found that with Blood Dance and blood rage, frenzy charges are not a problem, so poacher's mark was not necessary to maintain them. I decided to use enfeeble with blasphemy to try counter the damage taken penalty from Abyssus. High-ish crit multiplier (mine is 560% at this point) seems a must to run any higher tier maps. Things get complicated if damage output is too low to kill the sturdier blue packs, etc.

As I was gearing up bit by bit, I found a diamond flask gave a great deal of offensive power. Later when the crit chance gets close to the cap, it stops being useful. Offensive flasks are great with flicker strike anyway, since a lot can happen during the few seconds a flask is active - usually with the flask being fully reloaded again as a result. A basalt flask might be good for diving into dangerous situations.

Obvious to veterans of the game but as I had not played a crit build in ages, I was at first hindered by low accuracy. A couple of jewelry pieces with >300 +acc helped land crits more consistently.

By chance Cadiro offered me Shadows and Dust gloves, which give rampage + a couple of seconds of unholy might on every rampage tier. This seems to again work very well with flicker strike - when the going is good, packs are cleared and rampage tiers reached so fast that the buff is up most of the time.

To me it seems some bosses are not exactly simple to kill with this build. Izaro seems to be one of them, it can be difficult to avoid the traps in the final arena. I was level 80 when I did merciless lab (solo), and I only just survived the fight. Of course more skillful players might not have any problems. It might be reasonable to get a friend carry the char through cruel lab as early as possible, since impact is so important with this build.

Regarding the skill tree: I found the "sleight of hand" node in shadow's area gave a very nice boost to dps for 2 points.

Ok, that came out fairly long. Even if I had a hard time at first with this character, it definitely did turn out ok in the end. Fun to play, ridiculous clear speed and not very expensive. I paid less than 1 exalt total for 5L Daresso's and the dagger, other stuff bought for few c or self found. Thanks for the guide and maybe someone considering the build gets some use of my ramblings.
Last edited by Calumet on Apr 6, 2016, 7:58:30 PM

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