Hello! To start off I would like to say although I do find some flaws with the way Inferno turned out, I was very pleasantly surprised at how difficult and how fun the bosses can be when not blatantly out-gearing the encounter. Two of these fights in particular, Belial and Azmodan, so far, have been the most challenging and the most rewarding in my opinion, though I have only just entered Act IV.
Keep in mind before reading this guide that this is from my point of view, the most efficient method of defeating Azmodan on Inferno difficulty as a solo play Demon Hunter. That is from my point of view. I'm sure there are more efficient builds and methods to defeat Azmodan, but I felt I would share my experience with Azmodan tonight as it is from the perspective of one who does not out-gear the encounter by any means. There were very minimal, and very cheap purchases made to acquire the gear in order to defeat Azmodan. Let's begin.
I will start by listing the stats I feel deserve mentioning that I had during the encounter.
- Dexterity: 1122
- Resist All: 92-188
- Damage: 25135.10
- Health: 41171
- Discipline: 36
- Life Per Second: 238.00
- Critical Hit Chance: 15.50%
- Critical Hit Damage: 117.00%
With the gear I have on prior to the encounter, I have significantly less life (around 12k), and significantly increased damage (around 38-40k). If using this guide, in order to succeed in the Azmodan encounter, you must purchase or farm Vitality gear in order to achieve between 30-40k life. However, it is crucial you maintain a significant amount of dps (I found 25k was the sweet spot in which the encounter is quite doable, though I am certain you could do it with less) Upon starting the encounter, I had the stats listed above. Closer to my kill, when I became more comfortable with the fight, I dropped my health to around 32k with 27k damage. It is up to you how confident you feel early on, but if you have not done the fight in this manner on prior difficulties, I highly recommend starting with a large amount of health and sacrificing health for damage as you become more comfortable with the encounter.
I will now list the build I used during the encounter along with a short explanation of why I feel it worked most optimally for myself. Keep in mind I went through many different combinations before finding one that really clicked.
The Build: Skills
- Hungering Arrow (Devouring Arrow): A very high source of damage and a great dps ability for when you have only to rely on your map for dps on the boss, as they will seek out the nearest target even if you, yourself, miss the target. As a result, great for studder shooting while kiting. You will likely use this, and only this as your dps ability. The fight is not a dps race so Hatred spenders are not required.
- Elemental Arrow (Nether Tentacles): Not a dps ability I was familiar with until tonight, as I am normally a glass cannon. Personally, I only used this for less than 1% of the total time spent on my attempts tonight, but it is useful for when there are no health globes nearby and you are damaging a minion spawn. However, most of the time you will never be without a health globe nearby unless you accidentally run into them during the pool phase.
- Marked For Death (Death Toll): Another ability I don't frequent, and this is completely optional. It is only really useful when you are close to Azmodan, and you don't want to be very close very often after the first pool phase. Useful as a little extra life after his beam attack if you can manage it and health globes do not heal you fully.
- Preparation (Focused Mind): This is an absolutely essential skill if using this guide. It will give you what you need to very safely get through each pool phase. I may have failed to stress it, but with the discipline pool I have, this gives you exactly what you need to have a Smoke Screen for each pool. It is important you try to enter each pool phase with at least 80% discipline, 100% if you can manage it. If you cannot manage 80% discipline, you may have to hope for a lucky pool and Vault.
- Vault (Tumble): I feel this is also an essential ability. This ability allows you to escape in an emergency situation, as Vault is significantly less discipline than Smoke Screen, especially the Vault following the first. Vault also will allow you to reach minion spawn points quickly and efficiently (if you can spare the discipline) if they are far away. This is also essential if Azmodan casts a rain of corpses on your location. You will either be able to Vault out or Smoke Screen out of this large area of effect circle.
- Smoke Screen (Lingering Fog): The saving grace of this encounter for a Demon Hunter, even in it's nerfed state. I personally never experienced pre nerf Smoke Screen and Preparation, but I still feel it is a must have ability. This will help you escape every single pool, barring a very unlucky pool spawn (which will happen eventually, so don't get discouraged).
- Steady Aim: Best source of damage, as you will never be in melee range of anything -- adds or Azmodan.
- Hot Pursuit: Amazing for this encounter, as you will rarely, if ever, be spending hatred. Movement speed is crucial to succeed here, and 15% is a lot.
- Tactical Advantage: Did I mention movement speed is crucial to success? 60% is a lot more, and you will be using Smoke Screen or Vault every single pool (rarely do you just get to walk out, but it happens -- you will enjoy it or Vault anyways out of fear).
Finally, I will go into the fight in detail with the measures I took to succeed in the Inferno Azmodan encounter. As mentioned a few times, these were my methods and are not likely essential to defeating Azmodan. These are what worked best for me with my current gear. I do not out-gear the encounter.
The fight begins with Azmodan launches his fireball attacks at you. These are slow moving attacks that are easily avoided by studder stepping and firing off your Hungering Arrows to maintain dps. The success of studder stepping is latency dependent, but frankly I succeeded during peak hours with spikes of up to 300ms, when I normally play @ 100ms. Another move you will have to watch out for is Azmodan's rain of corpses. This ability has a large area of effect radius and will kill you very, very quickly if not careful. I'd imagine it would take about two to three ticks based on the damage I took from one tick at times. You will either get lucky and be able to walk out of it (happens more often than not), Vault out, or Smoke Screen out. You may take a tick if attempting to walk out from too great a distance but that is not the end of the world. Do not panic and waste discipline, as that could potentially be devestating. After the first rain of zombies, Azmodan will spawn a minion portal. This will go down very, very quickly even at 24-25k damage with Hungering Arrows. You will need to pay attention to your mini map for the location of the device. It will be very visible on your map or be indicated by a yellow arrow, identical to what would normally be a quest location arrow. If Azmodan is pushed into his pool phase, all minion portals despawn. I found it was unwise to ignore the portal and attempt to push him, although the consequences of releasing one or two minions are not severe by any means.
Shortly after you kill your first minion portal, you will likely be pushing into your first pool phase! This is where the encounter gets really fun. I recommend running towards the outside of the room and then beginning to circle the room when Azmodan yells his pool phase speech. The first pool will be entirely reaction based depending on spawn point. If spawns behind you, trail the outside of the pool and calmly wait approximately 6-8 seconds to pop Smoke Screen and begin to circle the room. You will want to pop Smoke Screen prematurely to avoid taking any damage and simply outrun the pool. If the first pool spawns on top of you, it is up to your reaction time to pop Smoke Screen and make a run for it. If you take a tick of damage and there is no health globe on your route around the room, I advise consuming a health potion as this encounter can always surprise you and you do not want to be low health when it does. Now, once you have popped your Smoke Screen for the first time, trail the edge of the second pool like you did with the first pool. You are now going to count 6-8 seconds again, and Smoke Screen the same as the second pool. However, on your third pool, in sync with popping your Smoke Screen, you are going to pop Preparation. The regeneration rune will allow you to just reach maximum discipline for the remainder of the pools, until the very final two pools which will run you close to dry, or completely dry of discipline. Keep in mind Azmodan will potentially spawn a rain of corpses on your location while you are creating pool spawn points. You may have to blow a little extra discipline on the pool phase, but you should just be able to Vault out of the area of effect. You will know when the pool phase has ended when you really only have enough discipline to Vault, though it may potentially leave you very close if not with enough discipline to manage another Smoke Screen depending on how you managed your discipline during the encounter. Keep in mind, there is always the potential for a pool to spawn in front of you after you have just finished spawning a pool under you late in the pool phase. This will likely result in death, but it is the only real RNG factor of the fight.
Following the first pool phase, Azmodan will gain a new ability. He will now channel a laser that will spawn directly on top of you if he get too close. Try to avoid this ability as long as possible, as you can dps him from a great distance and avoid it for a significant amount of time. You will be forced to deal with this laser when minion portals are spawned, but fear not, it will not kill you if you react accordingly. The moment you see the laser spawns on you (or if you are lucky it will just spawn on your follower), you may Vault if you have not taken a tick, or Smoke Screen out. It is up to you to manage your discipline during the phase in between pool phases, and I highly recommend not wasting discipline, as you may be forced to put off pool phases. Pool phases spawn approximately every 1/6th of Azmodan's health, so you will have to deal with 5 pool phases total. The final pool phase, as far as I know, is a burn phase. I could be wrong on this, but I did not let him continue spawning pools to find out. In your final pool phase, you may just dps him and avoid pools. Do not worry as much about managing your discipline, as Azmodan will die quickly with even 25k damage.
That is virtually all you need to know before entering the Azmodan encounter as a solo play Demon Hunter. Remember though, that you will need to experience the encounter for yourself to get a handle on it and cannot rely entirely on guides.
Overall I would have to say this fight was almost as exhilarating as the Inferno Belial encounter as a solo Demon Hunter, but not quite as difficult, and by no means as much a gear check as Belial.
I would likely to commend Blizzard for making Inferno boss fights a challenge for characters who do not simply out-gear the fight. It was a truly rewarding experience to defeat those two bosses in particular.
I hope my guide has helped Demon Hunters who wish to solo this encounter and are in a similar, or even superior gear state than myself.
Feel free to comment and leave whatever criticism you feel is necessary.
Looking at comments on the Blizzard forums, a lot of people still think this fight is a giant gear check. It's strange to see so many people say the fight is not doable with 33-40k damage. I think the reason a lot of people say;"can't you just spam Nether Tentacles and kill him in twenty seconds?" is due to the fact that no one actually knows how to do the mechanics of the fight. So I'll say it again on here just in case I receive the same comments I did on the Blizzard forums. This guide will help you kill Azmodan on Inferno difficulty without out-gearing the encounter. So to make it clear, if you do not do 100k damage, try to attempt him with help from this guide. This is not a gear check by any means.