[] Counter Strike - Globally Defensive

In what is undoubtedly the most meme-ridden build I’ve ever put on these forums (and my first build post since last July), I present to you… Counter Strike with a 0.17 second cooldown and Fevered Rage!

Stats with Blood of Dreeg+Deadly Momentum active

Grimtools: https://www.grimtools.com/calc/M2g4AzBV

The build boasts a whopping amount of shield-block potential, overwhelming damage mitigation with War Cry, Overguard+Markovian’s Defense, Menhir’s Bulwark/Menhir’s Bastion, and Stone Form (Obelisk of Menhir), potent levels of health recovery with Dryad’s Blessing, Blood of Dreeg, and Menhir’s Will (as a circuit breaker) and is pushing 85%+ with more than half of its resists (Elemental + Pierce/Bleed). Killing this thing off is very hard to do; in fact, I’d wager that nothing outside of Ravager in the base game even can, and its questionable whether Ravager can do it if you prepare well enough.

The OA, however, seems a little questionable doesn’t it? Worry not; thanks to the grand power of Fevered Rage, we can maintain a 20% Critrate on most bosses in the campaign and even higher than that in the Crucible.

Let’s discuss skill selection and usage before we get into gearing.


Well, Counter Strike, really. Counter Strike is a “retaliatory” buff that releases a PBAoE once in a while whenever you’re hit, on a cooldown. It does not entirely scale with Retaliation Damage (despite giving a minor increase to the type), and instead prominently grants us a flat amount of regular damage. This is great as a quasi-retaliatory build, as it means that ranged enemies obliterate themselves on Counter Strike procs.

There are three ways you can amplify the damage potential of Counter Strike, outside of core stat boosts like % Damage, OA, or RR:

  1. We could increase the chance that Counter Strike activates whenever we’re hit.
  2. We could decrease the cooldown between possible Counter Strike activations.
  3. We could be hit more often to be more likely to activate Counter Strike in a short span of time.

This build employs all three methods. As of this writing, there is no way to get more Counter Strike proc chance from gear, only by increasing the rank of the skill to 26/16 - so we get that done with asap. Decreasing the possible Cooldown of Counter Strike can be done in various ways, be it by the Blood Knight Helmet or the Colossal Fortress MI shield…or the Dawnbreaker’s Oath 4pc set bonus. We employ the former and the latter, cutting down on the ‘expense’ of the build by not needing a particular MI roll. Finally, we need a means to make us be hit more often…how to do that…

Oh, right, Fevered Rage. That one super-dangerous-skill that retaliation tanks love and everyone else hates. Well, we’re kind of a Retaliation tank, but better. So we really love Fevered Rage. We don’t need to be hit by melee attacks, nor do we need to block anything, we just need to be attacked in order to activate Counter Strike. This means that everything under the sun that an enemy can do, even debuffing us, can make us release a massive AoE burst of damage. With Fevered Rage, enemies will be doing a lot more to make us release exorbitantly more instances of Counter Strike.

Of course, because we want to be bashed around in every way possible, we also will want some means to survive that thrashing. So virtually every other skillpoint available to us is spent on bulking up. All said and done, we get to walk around as a more-or-less indestructible ticking time bomb on a very short fuse.

Which items can we use to make our time-bomb even more explosive, and how can we be even sturdier, and can we get any solid metrics on those features?


All things considered, the build is pretty cheap and reasonably beginner-friendly to gear (albeit caters to Veteran game knowledge to use effectively). It requires one MI with no affixes in particular (though you want Chaos res, so Ordered or some other affix combination is desirable). Five of our other slots are blues (Epics):

  • Our rings are 2x Mythical Sentinel’s Seals for all the shield stats they offer as well as the proc.
  • We use the Mythical Sanctus Crest for the shield stats as well as boosting our resists through the roof. I secretly love this item, and if you’re not hurting for OA, I’d recommend considering its use for any build in the game. Craftable.
  • And we use the Mythical Eastern Legguards and Mythical Eastern Gloves for a buttload of OA, Lightning Damage, and resists that this build in particular desperately needs (Vitality). A little known fact about the Eastern Oath set is that the 2-piece set bonus gives us 7% OA, and the pants give us another 4% (base, can roll higher). This bonus is very significant. Mythical Chausses of Barbaros + Mythical Colossal Grasp has been suggested to me a lot, and while this would result in a significant increase in defensive potential, I don’t think this build needs it. The Chausses would result in an OA-loss compared to the 2pc Eastern Oath set.

At the forefront of offensive power for the build are the unique Counter Strike-related items:

  • The Dawnseeker’s Light set is a 4-piece set involving the Mainhand Weapon slot, the Shield slot, the Amulet slot, and the Shoulder slot. It is a Lightning-focused Counter Strike/Shaman-skillset Retaliation-based set. At four pieces, it gives us -0.6 seconds to the cooldown of Counter Strike (-0.1 seconds more than the Colossal Fortress) as well as a bonus to Counter Strike’s radius of damage and a very nice chunk of flat Lightning Damage. For the purposes of this build, there is no reason to use anything less than the 4-piece set bonus of the Dawnseeker’s Light set. The 2-piece and 3-piece bonuses are trash (for all builds, frankly) and I would fondly love for them to be improved.
  • The Mythical Dawnseeker’s Sledge is a 1H Mace that gives us flat Lightning Damage, Phys -> Lightning Conversion, Shield Damage Blocked, % Health, and nonstacking RR. It gives us (for some reason) no % Damage at all. It also gives us a proc which, while it does decent damage, will stun non-boss enemies. This is actually quite bad for our purposes, as we don’t want to CC enemies, we want them to be hitting us! The Sledge is a very mediocre item overall; do not use it without the rest of the Dawnseeker’s Light set.
  • The Mythical Dawnseeker’s Beacon gives us more Phys -> Lightning conversion and a lot of +Maxres. Combined with the aforementioned Mythical Sanctus Crest, this makes us nearly invincible to a good number of damage types in the game. Not a terrible item outside of the set bonuses, but there are alternatives for this slot too if you don’t have it yet.
  • The Mythical Dawnseeker’s Duty is a shield that is by far the best standalone piece of the Dawnseeker’s Light set. With a boatload of flat Health, Phys -> Lightning Conversion, moderate % CDR, +2 to War Cry (freeing up points to be spent elsewhere), and giving us even more flat Lightning Damage to Counter Strike, this item is highly desirable with or without the rest of its set. Take it as soon as you get it, unless you’re sitting on a godly Colossal Fortress. In that case, use the Fortress until you finish the full Dawnseeker’s Light set.
  • The Mythical Dawnseeker’s Shoulderguards give the most ±skills to Counter Strike of any possible shoulder piece. Outside of that, they’re terrible and in dire need of a general buff for other builds. Use only when you finish the rest of the set or unless you have literally nothing else.
  • Finally, we’re using one piece of the Blood Knight’s set, being the Blood Knight’s Visage. It gives us a small amount of % CDR, -0.2 seconds to the base cooldown for Counter Strike, and +1 to all Skills in Soldier. Outside of that, it’s completely irrelevant to our build. Which is kind of nice, actually, because it means that we don’t need a perfect roll of any of the variable stats in order to be satisfied with the item. Craftable.

The very last non-relic item in use is the Mythical Hammerfall Girdle. This is something of a flex slot. You can get away with other alternatives, such as the class belts or well-rolled MIs in Hammerfall’s instead if you so desire. But Hammerfall gives us a fantastic boost to our Armor values, solid resists, and +maxres to Bleeding (not that it matters, because we’re actually immune to Bleed damage with the right procs active). In addition, it gives us a better version of the proc from the Sentinel’s Seals, being on a lower cooldown. Nothing spectacular, but definitely fine in its own right. Craftable.

Our choice of relic is Menhir’s Bastion, and we make use of precisely zero of the completion bonuses the relic can possibly offer, meaning we are free to simply take one with good base stats. If possible, get one with 5% Shield Block chance. It’s doable, but my own one is only at 4%. A travesty. As with almost all relics, Craftable.


If I’m being honest with you, this build is pretty braindead in terms of what you need to do. Anything is gonna die to it eventually. But if you want to expedite that process, you have to know when to use what skills.

Fevered Rage effectively deletes the defenses of every enemy in the game, but makes every enemy in the game hit like a Nemesis, and makes Nemeses hit like something else entirely. Choose wisely when you cast it. The build can facetank pretty much everything in existence with or without Fevered Rage in the campaign, but if you’re not paying attention in Crucible, the wrong cast of FR can kill you. FR on Moosilauke’s first form will see you taking around thirteen thousand damage past a block on his overhead attack. It’s safe to use FR on him in his second form, however. Anasteria is incredibly scary with FR on her, and kind of a pushover without, but both can be facetanked reasonably well.

Overguard is your primary means of getting off as much damage as possible…kind of. With the Markovian’s Defense transmuter, we do suffer a global damage division to our overall dps, which doesn’t really matter against the hordes when we’re being attacked a bunch, but can matter against slower, less attack-heavy bosses or some heroes. If you can get away with not casting Overguard in the presence of a caster boss or hero (Valaxteria, Support/Regen heroes, etc.), don’t use it. They don’t hit you often enough anyways.

Blood of Dreeg and Menhir’s Bastion (the skill, from the same-named relic) are both mostly well-known for their defensiveness, but did you know they both give you Flat Damage, and a lot of it? Keeping them up as often as you can even when you don’t need their defensiveness is advisable to amplify the potential of your non-Counter Strike hits.

Prioritize healers and casters if you can. They tend not to actually attack you much, meaning a one-on-one situation with them is going to be very long and tedious. But if you get up in their face with a bunch of bosses and trash behind you, you can obliterate them in seconds and then eviscerate their more aggressive allies. Summoners are your friends; they make trash mobs for you to get more Counter Strike procs from! Save them for last if they don’t die in the onslaught of AoE damage you’re releasing.

I’m not a Crucible player, but without using any buffs or Banners, I pushed up to wave 166 fairly mindlessly with this build. There’s no doubt in my mind that if you actually use all the things Crucible has to offer you, wave 170 would be a cakewalk for this monster. But, if you happen to run into Valdaran, you have my pity, as that’s around a 2-minute fight unto itself.


I’m not a huge fan of leveling guides inside of build guides because when it comes down to it, there isn’t much to say. When you’re looking at a build like this, for heaven’s sake, don’t level with the point distribution of the final build. Pick an AoE skill and flatten hordes with it. Good contenders in the Witchblade dualclass are Transmuted Dreeg’s Evil Eye, Transmuted Blade Arc, and Untransmuted Forcewave. To that end, take items and use devotions that fit the playstyle of your selected leveling skill.

If you choose to level with Counter Strike as the build’s posted above, you’re going to be in for a bad time regardless of your other choices. So just don’t.

And that’s about it. Questions, comments, or concerns? Let me know in the comments below!

1 Like

This looks difficult to play. Do you think I’d get banned by zantai for using macros with this build?

Probably. You might also suffer from a sarcasm overdose.

I’ve heard you can cure a sarcasm overdose by making 7,364 forum posts here.

A meme build and it’s focused on Counter Strike? I tip my hat to you good sir, best build I’ve seen in a long time.

How about MArk medal for extra memeness?

In campaign lighter areas avenger could be a thing if fevered rage doesn’t overwhelm

This is hands down one of the most unique builds I’ve seen this year.

LOL, came to move thread to “What else are you playing”, left thinking I might have to play this game again sometime soon…maybe when the dual shields version of this build is ready. :smiley:

Dual shields confirmed! :rolleyes:

Definitely one of the most unique build I’ve seen in quite some time. Congrats!

The :rolleyes: means I do not have to worry about you and fake news, right? I just feel like Z is teasing me personnally, but probably everybody feels this way, so who knows who Z is actually teasing.

But it is new mastery related, whatever the sadistic master is hiding.

Sorry for OT @Ceno, contact a mod and get this convo deleted if you like :smiley:

Come on jiaco, you know better than that. Big Z’s teasing all of us. The more the merrier as the saying goes. He definitely wouldn’t get enough fun out of just teasing you. :wink:

Nah, I’ve been pining for dual shields just as long. :smiley:

Glad to see the build is so well-received. It’s a blast to play, even for a retaliation-like build, with or without two shields. :stuck_out_tongue:

Dunno which ‘Mark’ you’re referring to, but now that I look I see a lot of good options:

  • Mythical Markovian’s Stratagem would give us a nice proc while tidying up some shield stats. Resists, even Pierce, would take a hit though.
  • Mythical Mark of Divinity would effectively make us immortal and allow us to cast Fevered Rage on everything under the sun. Same problem with resists, though; the build isn’t especially hurting for Elemental res.
  • Mark of the Voracious One would overcap Overguard and give us some significant self-healing potential on Counter Strike and basic attacks, like a budget Blood Knight.

Avenger is a pretty solid idea for Campaign bulldozing, actually. I’ll have to keep that in mind. Overguard (and Devotion Procs) is (are) enough to handle FR in the campaign on everything I can think of. Bastion is a nicety for Crucible.

Imma give it a 7/10 in Tomo’s meme build scale.

Aaaand another build that I want to try when I get a chance :slight_smile:

Have been eyeing some retaliation builds, this one sounds like all kinds of fun.

But have yet to farm up a collection of high level blues and purples, so will keep plugging away at leveling my DW Purifier.

Saw the link to this build in the “Lazy builds” thread. Always looking for stuff with minimal manual cast skills, because I prefer to play Grim Dawn with a controller, so find it most convenient to have up to about 4 active skills.

Apologize in advance if this gets to be a bit too long :slight_smile:

I just wanted to share my experience with the beginnings of this build, and how I am leveling towards it. Just to share, and in case anyone in the future will be looking to see when and how they might start transitioning into the end game build while leveling.

I had just been playing a 2h forcewave Deathknight, so I did not want to level with forcewave.

I tried Blade Arc for just a little bit, then transmuted Dreeg’s Evil Eye for a bit, but wasn’t feeling it. So then I tried Bloody Pox, and it clicked with me.

To start with, I maxed out Bloody Pox and Wasting, and got the Soldier up to getting 1 point into Blitz.

Something started feeling funky about Bloody Pox, and then I realized that I over-leveled it for the areas I was in, and it was insta-killing the first target, and didn’t have time to transfer to nearby targets. Didn’t help that it was burning through my energy too fast.

So I toned it down to 7 on both the main skill and the support, and it started doing things right for AoE, and the energy problems went away. Also added Curse of Frailty to the mix.

After a while, it became more difficult to kill off bosses in a normal time, so I went higher up in the Occultist tree and picked up Doom Bolt.

At level 40, I had 3 or 4 pieces of the Perdition set sitting in my stash, so I put them all on, to see what retaliation was all about. I also pumped more skillpoints into the Soldier tree, and put some points into the passives and started leveling Counter Strike.

From that point on, I was still mostly killing stuff with an almost maxed out Bloody Pox, Doombolt, and some retaliation thrown in. But my resists were still all over the place, so was still kind of squishy.

At level 55, I was able to equip a Colossal Fortress shield I had previously picked up on another character, but incidentally, I had also just gotten into the Malmouth Outskirts area, so they started dropping naturally too.

I then went and picked up a Fleshwarped Platemail.

This is where I respecced to the endgame version of the build, switching to a 1-point Bloody Pox with transmuter and first passive maxed out, and fully maxed Counter Strike and defensives+curse.

The Void type areas, and inside Malmouth was kind of rough though. I died several times, mostly getting bursted down. And it wasn’t the damage output, at .5 seconds of a cooldown, it does pretty well for Veteran difficulty.

What I realized was that some of my resists were hovering near 0, I was still wearing some low level stuff, and Armor Absorption was not even near being maxed out.

So I went searching through my Stash, and through the different faction vendors, and re-geared away from the random items that had bits and pieces of retaliation damage, into stuff that was up to level, and more resists. Ended up with 85%+ armor absorb, and most resists maxed, a few of them at the 50-60% mark.

Then it got a lot smoother, got through the rest of Malmouth with a much easier time, only having a bit of trouble with a boss or two and an Elite or two, interestingly enough, it was pretty much the opposite ones from the ones that gave me trouble with any of my previous characters.

Now I am making my way through Elite, almost done with Act 2, and everything is just getting better and better with every level and every new little upgrade that I find.

Got myself a couple of Legendaries and Epics with different on-block procs and retaliation type procs, resists are basically maxed (except Chaos), and everything is going great. Barely ever have to even activate Overguard.

Here is what my character looks like at the moment:


Playing with a controller, so pretty much all the buttons are taken up with Blitz, Pox, CoF, Blood of Dreeg, Warcry, and Overguard. Just spamming auto-attacks in between Blitzes.

Thanks for reading :slight_smile:

And if you’ve stuck with me for this long, a couple of questions that I am hoping somebody might give me advice on:

  1. If I don’t have button room for Cadence, and use auto-attacks when Blitz is on cooldown, would it be perhaps a good move to put one or a few points into Markovian’s Advantage, to help with the single target damage on bosses a little bit?

  2. Again, for the lack of easy to use buttons, there isn’t much room for adding any more skills such as Merhin’s Bastion. I AM able to tie it to the pick-up button, that de-activates during combat, and you’re able to bind a skill to it for in-combat, but that might not be as easy to use.
    If I am not planning on running much Crucible, would I be losing too much by using either Citadel or Avenger or some other Relic?

I understand that these are all issues kind of created by the fact that I’m using a controller, but perhaps some would be willing to give a tip or two anyways.

Post is primarily to tag this thread so I can find it later to use as a jumping off point.

Secondly to share https://www.reddit.com/r/Grimdawn/comments/9b07u7/retaliation_reworks/ where on the subject of retaliation damage added to skills Zantai posted

"Skills from the base game and Ashes of Malmouth will receive this treatment where it makes sense.

Counter Strike, for example, will gain this attribute"

Depending on how significant that damage is, scrapping the eastern set, and the green chest for more retaliation focused pieces (gildor, thornhide, blacksteel come to immediate mind) as well as shuffling devotions to squeeze in messenger of war could be fun.

  1. Sure. You’ll be missing the Deadly Momentum buff which kind of sucks, but it won’t be the end of the world. I took Cadence after playing a bunch of Crucible and wondering where to put the remaining few points I had, so it is by no means essential in the first place. It’s just a nicety.

  2. Even more ‘sure’. Actually, for Campaign-only, Avenger is probably better than Menhir’s.

Always appreciate any sort of bump to one of my threads, so thanks! :stuck_out_tongue: I won’t comment on the upcoming ‘stuff’ in FG, but I will confirm that this build remains perfectly viable as-is, even without changing any gear around.

Hope you enjoy the expansion/build!

This, imo, is the most creative usage of Counter Strike I ever seen.
And it should work even better with upcoming Forgotten Gods.
My respect, @Ceno!

Why do you go for the Seal of Sky in the shield? I would have thought better defense and/or retaliation would be more beneficial to the build