The Shadow is the Intelligence-Dexterity aligned class in Path of Exile. He’s an agile, spell-slinging trapper. Playing as one will require quite a bit of skill as he is rather fragile—similar to both the Witch and Ranger. He uses weapons like claws and daggers. His armor consists mostly of masks, jackets, coats, raiment, garbs, mitts, boots, and spiked shields. To understand how you can branch out his passive skills, remember that he starts out in the upper right area of the skill tree, between the Ranger and Witch.
His Ascendancy Classes are Assassin, Saboteur, and Trickster.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Being a hybrid class, Shadow shares most of the Witch’s and Ranger’s strengths and weaknesses. He can make good use of dexterity’s increased projectile damage for his intelligence-augmented spells. While not exactly big on physical damage, strategic use of attacks, spells, and traps is very rewarding. Several of his skill nodes exploit any critical hit he deals, though his normal attacks won’t be nearly as strong.
His natural evasion and ease at keeping up an energy shield add to his overall survivability. However, he is far from many of the HP-boosting or regen nodes, making him quite vulnerable at times. If his evasion fails and his shield breaks, he’s only one lucky hit away from getting squished like a bug.
The Assassin focuses on dealing critical strikes and enhancing Power Charges. He may also use poison to augment his critical and normal damage. Of the three Shadow Ascendancy Classes, he is the one who relies on hit-and-run tactics the most. Two notable skills of his are Unstable Infusion along with the Ambush & Assassinate.
Unstable Infusion increases the change to gain a Power Charge on critical by 10%. It also gives a 20% chance to gain the same on non-critical hits. The skill Ambush and Assassinate give different bonuses depending on whether or not the enemy is on full HP. It gives 30% increased damage on low-HP enemies. On full HP enemies, it adds 40% to the critical strike multiplier. It also doubles the critical strike chance on enemies that are on either side of the HP spectrum.
Lastly, it gives a Culling Strike effect on every critical strike.
The Saboteur is the expert trapper. His skills enhance his trap and mine-laying skills. He has other utility bonuses as well, such as synergy with the blind ailment, area of effect bonuses, regeneration, and ailment immunities. His notable skills are ‘Born in the Shadows’ and Perfect Crime.
The first gives the Saboteur immunity to blindness. Not only that, it blinds nearby enemies and reduces damage taken from them by 10%. It also makes his strikes have a 25% chance to blind more enemies, and even increases the damage of his hits or ailments by 30%. The second reduces the cooldown time of throwing traps. It increases damage by 8% for each trap and gives a 20% chance for traps to trigger once more.
The Trickster is a versatile damage-over-time class. Some of his skills add to his survivability. Others enhance his Power and Frenzy Charges. He has the speed and maneuverability to slip through attacks while dealing his own. Some of his notable skills are Escape Artist and Prolonged Pain.
The former gives +5 to the evasion rating per 1 maximum energy shield on helmet. It also gives a +1 to maximum Energy Shield per 6 evasion rating on armor. In addition to that, he cannot be stunned if he hasn’t been hit recently and takes 8% less damage as well. The latter increases skill duration effect by 20%, and reduces damage taken over time by 10%. It also increases Poison duration by 20% and damage over time by 15%.
The Shadow is probably the hardest of all PoE characters to play. He needs quite a bit of thought and strategy to be effective. In short, he isn’t a straightforward character. If hit-and-run tactics are your thing though, he just may be the perfect class for you. His strength is in burst damage in critical hits and damage over time with status ailments. Do note, however, that he’s practically wet tissue paper when his shield’s down and his evasion fails him. Sure, this could be mitigated with certain PoE items, but that often proves to be an expensive prospect. It’s highly recommended that you do a significant amount of research before playing the guile Shadow.
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