The Attack Speed of a weapon is an item attribute that determines how fast the hero can attack. The faster one can attack, the less time it takes to get a swing in, leading to increased damage per second because of more hits in a shorter amount of time.
Generally, each class has their own set of attack speed bonuses and penalties. The more adept classes such as the Warrior or the Paladin, have a higher attack speed than caster-oriented classes like the Sorcerer.
Attack Speed is represented in its most basic form in Diablo I/Hellfire. One-Handed weapons, Two-Handed Swords and Maces attack at the same rate. Axes swing a frame slower than them, unless the wielder of choice is a Barbarian, and all other forms of attack vary depending on the class of the player.
Generally, however, it comes to no argument that:
- Warriors and Barbarians swing faster than all other classes with Swords
- Barbarians swing faster than all other classes when using Maces or Axes.
- Rogues fire off a Bow faster than all other classes.
- Monks attack faster than all other classes when he is unarmed or uses a Staff.
Weaponry can be enchanted with suffixes↑ that allow a hero to swing a weapon faster than he normally would. From weakest to greatest, they are:
- Readiness: Quick Attack
- Swiftness: Fast Attack
- Speed: Faster Attack
- Haste: Fastest Attack
↑- Ingame, this series of suffixes is bugged. Readiness does nothing but change the gold value of the item, Swiftness affects the hero as Readiness would, Speed affects like Swiftness, and Haste does not offer any better than Speed. Blizzard Entertainment incorrectly claimed they fixed this in patch 1.07 for Diablo I.
Diablo II/Lord of DestructionEdit
Attack Speed is a bit more varying in Diablo II and the expansion set, but classes still retain their bonuses and penalties.
Generally, it comes to no argument that:
- Paladins and Assassins attack faster with most weapons than all other classes
- Barbarians, Amazons, Druids, and Necromancers are slightly behind Paladins and Assassins with One-handed weaponry
- Sorceresses have the hardest time attacking with One-handed weaponry.
- Druids attack faster with Polearms, Two-handed Axes and Mauls/Great Mauls than all other classes
Attack Speed increases are not limited to just Weaponry as they were in Diablo/Hellfire, with Gloves being able to spawn with affixes that increase a hero's Attack Speed, as well as certain skills, like Fanaticism.
Diablo III/Reaper of SoulsEdit
Attack Speed returns in Diablo III, but in a different form compared to the earlier installments. Instead of class bonuses and penalties, each weapon type instead has a set attack speed value. From top to bottom, they are:
- Hand Crossbows: 1.60 Attacks per Second
- Daggers: 1.50 Attacks per Second
- Swords, Bows, Ceremonial Knives, Fist Weapons, Flails, Wands: 1.40 Attacks per Second
- Axes, Mighty Weapons: 1.30 Attacks per Second
- Maces, Spears: 1.20 Attacks per Second
- Two-Handed Flails: 1.15 Attacks per Second
- Two-Handed Swords, Crossbows, Daibo: 1.10 Attacks per Second
- Two-Handed Axes, Two-Handed Mighty Weapons, Staves: 1.00 Attacks per Second
- Polearms: 0.95 Attacks per Second
- Two-Handed Maces: 0.90 Attacks per Second
Attack Speed affixes are a bit more diverse than in the earlier installments, with Weapons, Jewelry, and Gloves being able to roll Attack Speed. And there are certain Legendary/Set Items that are guaranteed to have Attack Speed affixes on them. At level 70, all possible item slots, save for one ring, can offer up to a +7% increase in attack speed.
In addition, certain skills, like the Barbarian's Frenzy, can increase Attack Speed for a short duration. Frenzy Shrines can award +25% Attack Speed for a brief time. Heroes can also gain up to +10% Attack Speed from Paragon level points. There exists a hard cap, however; a hero may not gain more than +100% Attack Speed from more permanent sources, like equipment and/or Paragon levels.
Because of the Life per Hit statistic mechanics (the way it was prior to patch 2.1), Attack Speed is not multiplicative with each other except for a weapon with a bonus to Attack Speed. Regardless of circumstances, a weapon's Attack Speed becomes the base amount, upon which all other bonuses to Attack Speed are calculated.
It should be noted that upon reaching level 61 and above in Reaper of Souls, almost all the melee Two-Handed weaponry available will gain a flat .10 bonus to attack speed, with the exception of Swords, Daibos and Flails. Flails gain no bonus, but Swords and Daibos gain a flat .05 attack speed.
For most builds, stacking Attack Speed is a matter of arguable efficiency (since the total amount of attacks a character can make is usually limited by their resource pools). Exceptions may be found in builds that make heavy use of resource-free and primary skills, rather than resource spenders. These builds may find the tactic of having as much Attack Speed as possible rather effective.
Note that off-hand items for the spellcasting classes (Source and Mojo), along with some rings and amulets, can add a static amount of damage to successful hits. Because the amount does not change amongst weapons, these items are more of an aid to heroes when they wield faster attack speed weapons. Despite this fact, items that add to a hero's critical hit statistics are generally favored. Also note that most skills use a % of raw weapon damage to calculate the total damage, and in some cases, having a more potent, albeit slower, weapon is yielding better results.
Damage Over Time skills and attacks utilize a mechanic called attack period (also known as tick of damage) to determine the damage they are doing, in order to compensate for the "fast weapon vs. powerful weapon" dilemma. A skill stated to deal 100% damage per tick will deliver this damage every 1 / AttackSpeed seconds. For example, with attack speed of 1.0, it delivers 100% damage every 1.00 seconds; with AS 2.0, it will deliver a hit every 0.50 seconds (200% damage per second), and with AS 0.5 it will only deliver 100% damage every 2.00 seconds (that is, 50% damage per second). As slower weapons are usually more powerful, the actual damage output is more or less comparable for different weapon types.
Damage Over Time attacks with fixed duration (such as Blizzard) also benefit from Attack Speed: they increase plain damage per second proportionally to Attack Speed.