Slayer reexamined

Hey all,

Former complainer about the current state of Slayer here. Did a bit of testing with Slayer yesterday trying out various weapons and talents, and I think Slayer might actually be pretty good given a specific build.

For about a month now I’ve been pretty upset about the comparison between Slayer and Zealot. However, I was almost solely looking at the Zealot’s strengths versus the Slayer’s weaknesses. It’s true that, in terms of talents and passives, the Zealot outdoes the Slayer by a considerable margin. However, I wasn’t considering a few things that might just propel the Slayer above the Zealot in the hands of a skilled player.

  • The two-handed axe and hammer combo
    Both of these weapons stagger like a beast. On light attacks, the 2h axe can stagger anything that isn’t a chaos warrior, an attacking monk/berserker, or an elite charging a heavy attack. Basically anything that is unstaggerable aside from bombs or FK ult. This makes dealing with patrols and ambient elites a breeze. When a horde comes, you can just switch to 2h hammer and stagger even the thickest of beastman hordes, creating enough room to not get hit.

  • Grimnir’s Focus, actually good
    I used to consider this ability bad but the most effective of the talent row. On other weapons, it’s mediocre, but with two handed weapons it’s up almost all the time. This is an inherent flaw with the talent, but what this translates to with my build is that I’ll be able to take much less damage than others in dangerous situations. Sure, if I make a mistake or get surrounded I’m pretty much dead, but DR does not directly translate to THP or total HP. It’s actually better (THP and total HP are doubled if I take 50% reduced damage).

  • Mobility w/ bounding leap is INSANE
    It takes a bit getting used to, flying around the map and all, but bounding leap is actually insane. It allows you to snipe specials (in melee) quite effectively and gives you the ability to both save teammates and escape certain death through better positioning. I’ve been able to deal with specials on legend quite well in a bot party using this talent, and will continue to use it hopefully to similar effect.

  • Better window of attack than Zealot? Really?
    Yes really when comparing 2h weapons to the axe/falch. Slayer will never be a better generalist than Zealot, but he will always be a better specialist. Due to the effect of stagger, frontline enemies will almost universally be unable to attack Slayer if played correctly. Bardin also attacks insanely fast with 2h weapons with leap and swift slaying, meaning you can stagger to great effect. Altogether, I’ve found I take less damage with Slayer than I do with Zealot.

My build:
Slayer’s fury, Skull-Splitter, Mainstay (or Enhanced Power), Adrenaline Surge, Grimnir’s Focus, Bounding Leap

2h Axe:
5% Crit Chance, 20% Crit Powe
Swift Slaying

2h Hammer:
5% Crit Chance, 5% Attack Speed
Swift Slaying

Let me know about any feedback or advice you want to share, or if you think my post is complete garbage. If you’re going for the latter, please provide a reason why. Overall, my feedback is that Slayer is very good with a specific build, but some love needs to be given to dual axes and dual weapons on bardin in general to compete with his 2h arsenal.


Just did a few more games today, and had similar results. Slayer does extremely well vs hordes, elites, and bosses with this setup. He’s only really lacking in special sniping and dealing with monks/berserkers, but you can deal with both if you need to.

Try using dual wield hammers for hordes and the throwing axes for pretty much everything else. Bonus points if you have a macro for the throwing axes when needed, so you can toss them all in like 0.3 seconds.

Will preface this by making a note that all of my statements that I will post are going to be exclusively from the aspect of Cata with exceptions to Legend explicitly stated as such.

The two handed axe flat out can’t carry itself in hordes by itself. It’s sole use is being the only weapon in our kit that can stun plague monks at any phase of them freaking out. Using lights with this thing in beastmen hordes is asking to get hit. This is less of a problem in legend where you can cave foreheads in with a single bop.

As a specialist weapon it has subpar horde presence, okay boss damage, and is solely unique in its ability to more easily stun plague monks, who are an extreme problem if you don’t have a monk generalist killer with you and are absolutely no problem if any person on your team has good monk control weapons like flag, bust, bane, or a single person who has a shield and knows how to use it
It is only great when paired with 15% and only because you’re carrying the much more useful 2H Hammer

The problem isn’t that Grimnir’s Focus is bad. It’s the best ability in our tree. The problem is that it’s inconsistent and completely forces an entire playstyle. One that incorporates doing nothing but charge attacks nonstop like a tiny gorilla. It does not activate on push attacks meaning that you generally are never allowed to engage with the things unless you’re fine taking full damage to the face on the chance that you get hit. It does not activate with ranged weapons ruining it’s synergy with throwing axes. It is only consistent (as in not guaranteed but still better than this) with charge attacks. A weapon that polarizes what actions you can even safely do is jack all for a trait. And worse still, when you engage with it the way they want you to, it is flat out far more broken than Oblivious to Pain ever could be. With Oblivious to Pain you still took higher damage if the attack didn’t hit that hard. With current Focus you can be completely surrounded and, if you have bark skin, you can take a hell of a lot of punishment. I’ve been in a complete surrounded taking hits left and right and have still gotten out okay because of how broken it is.

It’s an insanely unhealthy ability. Coupled with the fact that Barge allows for absolutely no mistakes ever and Oblivious to Pain is flat out worse and by proxy, useless. The only time that damage reduction will ever kick in is if you’re for some reason using dual axes with it AND you manage to get grabbed.

For Legend? Sure. In that difficulty you can still play like an ape (provided you only play the exact way that FS allows you. Looking at you dual axes x 2) and make it fine. Given that you can play to the assumption that your team is not filled with 10/10 killers, I usually rock this:

Into Legend
2H hammer and dual (or throwing) axes. As generalist as can possibly be as a slayer and rather effective at killing specials. Why would I then take Bounding leap? Because it’s a helpful skill for revives sure but it predominantly is an extremely selfish one. Built upon the assumption that your allies can’t kill specials, will go down from a distance far from you, and given that Specials are more dangerous now, No Escape won’t let you have the consistent mobility to reposition far enough away that a hook rat gives you chance to ready and then toss axes.

But that’s only in Legend.
For Cata I take something like this:

Reasons? Flags are about the only thing I’d consider taking Bounding Leap for into Cata. I’ll take No Escape or Dawi Drop 100% of the time. You don’t get to make assumptions that your team is bad because if they’re bad you’re not clearing regardless, and leaping away from them for any reason whatsoever will get them killed and you disabled if you make a habit out of it. Adrenaline Surge is situational based on what the other parts of the team look like (which also affects what weapons I have to take)

Bounding Leap isn’t awful. It has its niche. But it’s niche is reduced the higher coordinated play improves. It’s a selfish ability with a gimmick rather than a utility and by its very nature requires your team to lose one of their frontliners while you go moonlighting for a rattling or gutter runner that you could have allowed to be killed by making space for your ranged centric careers.

  • Admittedly it is a bit fun when you’re goofing off in Legend and you can just not care about 2 of your team members because all you need is one goon to be alive to get a disabler off of you and damage isn’t so bad that you can’t eventually find your way back over and revive them.

… Slayer’s tankiness only comes from how restrictive and linear yet effective Focus is. I’ve already explained the problems with Focus above. Zealot is a generalist sure to a more limited capacity who gets to have his tankiness built into his kit and AUGMENTED with abilities. Zealot has access to 4 (FOUR) talents that increase his survivability, if you so chose them. Holy Fortitude for outrageous white. Faith or Calloused provides flat DR either for free or on a conditional. And feel Nothing syncs right up there with Holy Fortitude for allowing an extremely busty playstyle. All augmented by having 150 health and getting Heart of Iron. While the value of these abilities (especially calloused with the wrong combination) can be up to question, the fact at all that they exist can not.

Slayer HAS to take a damage reducing DR to be ANY kind of tanky. You need it, your 20% health, your conditional % reduced if you’re not taking stamina and you NEED Focus. Period. I take barge often enough. I like Barge. Barge is awful. Why is the ability I take awful? It takes two consecutive pokes to down you into Cata and these can happen from stacked mobs. You miss one dodge and you go down? Meanwhile the margin for error of Focus is so wide that you can take far far far far far more than 2-3 because it also stacks with your Barkskin and slotted DR. You have only ONE skill realistically for DR and it’s mandatory in order to not die and have mob front line reliability for your team. That’s insane. Oblivious sucks. Barge requires 100% perfect play and only synergizes with light weapons with high effective dodge counts. It’s Focus or nothing.

Now with all that said we’re going to branch this statement into two lines of thought.

  1. Okay we’ve taken Barge. How is the window of attack now?
    • Pretty good!
      Better than Zealot sure. You can remain safe in just about any space you stand in because stray hits mean absolutely nothing that you can’t either soak or dodge and 40, 50, 10 on DR makes you a just fine super tank.
  2. Alright you don’t have Focus how is your window of attack now?
    • Completely awful. You have extremely small windows to chance important objectives (like killing armor or berserkers into a horde) and one mess up while doing any action can and will drop you dead.

It’s that simple.

So is Slayer bad?
No. I’ve made many posts talking about how if you play in a linear unfun way for yourself or others, (excluding Cata) Slayer is fine. And in Cata Slayer is great only due to it being acceptable to play in a reduced capacity to accentuate others strength. (if you want to have a higher than single digit clear rate that is)

  • But half it’s talents are either awful or directly restrict player engagement and build capabilities (Skull, Cuts, Focus, Drop)
  • it’s weapon synergy is out of whack with its specialized exclusive weapon being the outright weakest option it has to engage the game with
  • it’s extremely fragile unless you play with Focus
  • and it has less tools available at any one time to handle a wide variety of situations in high stress environments. (i.e; somebody feel free to post footage of them killing a blightstormer who is max distance with their three throwing axes)

I disagree with this only because it activates on light attacks. W/ 2h axe and 2h hammer it’s up 100% of the time provided you’re light attacking constantly. Plus, the time you’re most likely to take damage is during a horde or vs ambient elites; your Grimnir’s Focus will be up if you’re attacking them.

Overall, I think throwing axes are junk so I never use them anyway. They only have synergy with the 5% crit talent, which is negligible.

I also disagree with this, but that may just be because of my skill level. Legend definitely got harder post WoM, and a lot of the QP teams I play with have difficulty on maps that are relatively easy. You don’t need to play as team/strategy oriented as on cataclysm, but I don’t think you can play like an ape despite going some OP/mechanic abusing build.

Interesting, haven’t experimented with Dawi Drop yet as I thought it was sort of like an inferior shade ult. But now that I think of it, Slayer ult comes up pretty fast so maybe it’s worth. Also Impatience over Adrenaline Surge is interesting. Haven’t tested that talent out either as I love having ult up near 100% of the time during hordes.

Though I have seen a lot of success w/ Bounding Leap, I agree with this. It’s a pretty selfish talent but it enables you to snipe specials if you need to. In bot legend games (which I do a fair bit of) it’s almost necessary as bots tend to have poor decision making.

I disagree with this solely because of 2h hammer and 2h axe stagger capabilities. After playing a build without good staggering weapons (shade w/ dual daggers), I can see just how big of a difference it can make with how safely you can attack. With good stagger, you can actually frontline and not get hit by a thick horde. This is almost impossible with dual daggers. I think this adds to Slayer’s tankiness albeit in an indirect way.

Yes, unfortunately slayer without Grimnir’s Focus is extremely squishy. With 120 health and as a near full melee class you really need DR. Luckily however, we have this talent despite its impact on our playstyle.

yes which is why I included this video.

It can fall off upwards to an entire second on lights. That’s not a short amount of time.
And again. It does not activate on push attacks

And coincidentally I just saw a webm where a Slayer was revving his charge attack and it fell off before the pickaxe dropped

It is up (most) of the time. It flat out can’t be up all the time with lights. And if you take a hit in between them for whatever the reason you get stuffed. The most consistent and safe method is using heavy attacks. Because it “refreshes” no matter where you are in that Charge attack provided your attack hasn’t started.

Raw math and numbers and all that jazz.

Attack speed soothes but does not eliminate this problem. With SS max AS, leap’s AS, and a fast weapon like the dual hammers it can still fall off for ~3 quarters of a second. This is not a small amount. It syncs up roughly every 4 attacks so in 1 to 3 you have a vulnerability period of ~2.25 seconds. ~2.25 seconds where you can be stuffed in a single light chain of your dual hammers. For 2handers this number goes up and is even more unfavorable. This single reason is one of the biggest impairments of axe’s 3rd attack being used to cleave. Because you have to go through a fall off to get there. Or, in the case of it’s push attack, not getting the DR at all.

This is from a flat out sample size of several hundred swings with every single weapon.

The point being. It does not refresh. It has to fall off completely to then be reapplied.
It does not work on 100% of our attacks
This is bad.

Actually look at my links. Look at any link in any of my posts. You can absolutely play as a gorilla on Legend. The wording which I used implied that before where you could field many diverse builds you can only bring several builds and weaker weapons are untenable in carrying a game in Legend and even worse in Cata.

Trying out builds is trying out every single possible one of them. Dawi drop lets you one shot CWs and (assuming a crit) you can Quarter a bosses health. In this setup you no longer have No Escape, which is near mandatory to make up for the movement speed penalties that 2Handers provide. To make up for that I use Impatience as the movement speed you then get translates to flat out avoidance.

The problems I have with Dawi Drop are that only a single (well technically two) weapons get to deal with their functionality and it’s nigh useless for every other weapon. That’s a fairly bad skill to be placed in this tree. It’s a linear ability with linear applications. But as boss mobbing is pretty important and you’re not guaranteed to have a shade or a BH when you quickplay, it does it’s job adequately and eliminates CWs in Cata, which are a sore spot for a lot of finales.

Yes until something unexpected happens, maybe enemies drop and you get tagged once, and because you’re a 100 hp slayer you go down as fast and as hard as a Pyro. Tankability is weighed against it’s ability to remain so in ALL occasions. Everybody gets hit. It’s when these hits come in and how many of them happen. In Cata if you’re hit at all it’s due to a backstab or a surround drop. Or a various configuration of special combinations. These things can and do kill if you don’t have Focus

Mitigation through stagger has the same weight as mitigation through dodge. It works until it doesn’t.
(Note: This has been almost entirely reduced if not outright eliminated with the last patch)

Last but by no means least:

While I would never take them into Cata, I have teammates for Specials, I do take them into Legend, because Legend is essentially a solo that happens to have 3 people who can take care of specials. Even though sometimes they’re less effective at it than a bot.

Secondly, if the axes are bad (which I don’t believe they are), than they need to be buffed which is still a problem.
Either case revolves around them not benefitting from a talent of ours, which is miserable.

I’ll remind you that Ranger Veteran has an ability that procs off of headshots, and it both procs AND refreshes on ALL headshots no matter what type of weapon they come from.

Time for some fun facts!
Throwing axes toss animation can be ignored through “reloading” getting rid of that god awful delay between clicking the button and throwing the axe

Throwing axes have comparable speed (technically slightly faster) to 2H QQ spam through QRQ

Can also throw an axe with no animation delay by adding an extra click and another R in between Qs

Throwing axes trivialize CWs (in Legend) thanks to stagger shenanigans and has your 3rd (technically 4th in a vacuum) highest boss damage for reasons listed above.

One of the safer options for killing a hookrat walking through a horde as well, given that the things pierce.

As I’ve said before. I’d never take them on Cata. For one they lose the ability to 1 shot SV with no power vs and no stacks of Trophy Hunter. For two my teams need me to front line for them in even the most dire situations. But in Legend where it’s basically just a linear arcade game?
Pretty alright.

To Sum up

  • Focus does not apply on all attacks and falls off between lights unless you forcibly slow your attacks down, making doing lights an extremely risky decision
  • Focus, Skull Splitter, A Thousand Cuts, and Dawi Drop completely force you into single builds and eliminates both build diversity and player freedom through expression and, by proxy, eliminates skilled expression through that same growth.
  • Throwing axes are fine on Legend and, depending on your finger dexterity, somewhat usable under extreme circumstances if your team has room for them on Cata

At least for me Dawi Drop is horrible. Current slayer leap makes making hits mid-air extremely inconsistent. I used to jump at smack CW with pickaxe to the head (with deadly results) consistentnly. Now? Sure as hell can’t do that, especially during the end phase pf the jump, when the whole trajectpry suddenly changes.
I wonder if there are people liking the new leap. I sure as hell don’t :slight_smile:

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Nobody likes the new jump physics. Nobody. It’s undeniably better in utility than the old jump because enemies don’t immediately upswing you while you’re doing it. It’s significantly less fun because gravity sucks you in.

Landing Daw Drop timings is nothing more than just grinding out that skill until it becomes muscle memory. Where as old jump was second nature the first time a newcomer even touches Slayer. New Jump is so counterintuitive that you have to force your brain to acclimate to how awful it is.

Having seen what it looks like from an outsider’s perspective, can’t deny it looks cool.


:joy: that poor CW doesn’t even know what hit him, last thing he saw was the corner of that tomb connecting with his face :joy:

Yea, it does look way cooler now. But it’s so much harder to use… I’ve shared that video around on some discords btw, hope you don’t mind xD

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I think another, equally problematic part of the Talent is that it doesn’t work as advertised in the description. According to the description (and giving that it’d still work on light attacks), it should buff your DR while you’re swinging your weapon, at least until the moment of impact (as at that point, it’s not “charging” the attack anymore). This would be consistent and predictable, and would put the off-periods at moments where we’re relatively safe if played well - that is, between strikes. Instead, the Talent applies a buff when you swing that lasts a predefined time (and, as you point out, can’t be refreshed until it’s worn off, but that’d make the ability way too strong), which makes the timings for safety and danger inconsistent with all but a couple of weapons and attacks that coincide with the Talent’s timing, and doesn’t really let us play to the ability. If your timings are unlucky, practically a whole fast swing (and the moment between swings) can go unprotected, and as you said, the Pick’s heavy charge can take long enough for the protection to dissipate, again putting us at risk when it shouldn’t. I think it’d be quite good (if still possibly too strong) if it worked like the description implies; the current form is unreliable. It’s still the best option in the tier, imo.


i think slayer is actually pretty damn strong right now. that 15% power boost from carrying 2 heavy weapons turns the slayer into a real boss killer. THP on kill and smiter has a lot of synergy

Just had a few games where I got to feel the true power of Bounding Leap. Basically, I was the last man standing vs a chaos patrol and horde in the first part of halescourge. I could jump over the entire blob of enemies in order to create more room, and by the time I got cornered or ran out of room, my leap was back up. In situations like this you can more or less infinitely kite.

Pretty strong if you ask me.

Idk about being a boss killer. Given enough time you will deal out a lot of damage.

What the 15% power is invaluable for though is staggering and killing elites quickly. That talent makes you hit like a truck (stagger wise) with the 2h axe and hammer. Pretty nice.

It’s better the worse your team is.

On his topic about being a boss killer. I had started replying to to it with a series of videos I started making about Slayers ability to solo boss but then that degraded into a tangent about how the MInotaur is an awfully designed encounter because it’s moments of vulnerability don’t offer enough time to safely and consistently land a heavy attack from the axe. Rendering it completely invalidated with quite literally it’s only strength for bosses rendered inert.


Still, on legend and even cata how many times can you say you have a “perfect” team that sticks together, snipes specials reliably, and deals with monster/horde combos correctly.

Iʻve only completed 2 cata runs, but even in those games the teams did not play perfectly; there were highly skilled people but the teamwork was lacking at times.

Legend is a whole different story where you have people of varying skills joining up, and iʻd say 50% of the time you have a team that doesnʻt work together. I think the builds you run are made more for pre-made party play. Still this is just my opinion.

I found a build I like. Got me through Dark Omens on Cata as slayer.

The key is use charged attack most of the time with dual hammers and one handed axe. This keeps your 50% damage reduction talent up. And of course use the 10% attack speed talent.

The advantage of dual hammers vs 2 hand hammer is sweeping light attacks. It’s not a life and death necessity to chain charged attacks that get interrupted. Dual hammers charged attacks have impressive stagger, but I suppose less range than 2hh.

Downside is this is basically a stagger build, I didn’t get many kills with it. Slayer shame scoreboard. It makes lots of space for the team. I suppose you could try dual hammers and 2 handed axe or throwers and take the extra crit chance talent, though I enjoy the 10% attack speed.

I go with bounding leap for escape, reposition, save purposes. I tried Dawi Drop and was insta-killed in the air by overheads a few times, I guess baited by teammates. And it’s hard to land the flying strike. It’s probably fun with practice and care though.

Slayer is still fun but they cut his balls off. His power is dwarfed by iron breaker, and we’re forced into rigid play styles. I don’t imagine he’s viable in high-level weaves… or at least IB offers more. But I haven’t done weaves yet.

Most people just overreacted (it seems to be a very popular thing to do in general) when they realized that Slayer actually had to dodge hits now and wasn’t basically invincible anymore.

He is still an absolute machine and every build I put together since WoM felt very solid with him. I initially wanted to use RV to get to lvl 35 but I haven’t stopped playing Slayer ever since I took him out for a spin once after WoM released.

My favorite is probably 2h hammer + throwing axes.
2h hammer does very well against both hordes and armored elites and throwing axes are just fun to use for me. Having to account for the drop and travel time might seem meh to some people at first but it makes it that much more satisfying when you do it right.

Drive by dawri keeping his 30% speed boost up might be my favorite thing to do now.

His new jump felt bad only until I got the increased range talent for it and while the nerf to his dodge range sucks it’s not impossible to adapt to.

Charged attacks don’t get interrupted.
I haven’t played much slayer since WoM but the build in the OP is pretty fun, great dps when using weapon swapping, and also ignores the movement slow at the end of attacks. I remember hearing some people saying the level 10 talents should be reversed but I think it’s better this way because you get to abuse weapon swapping to counter-act the slow weapons and then have 15% more power.

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