[] Budget Physical Cadence-Blitz S&B Witchblade


After levelling already a Battlemage ([] Budget S&B Physical Battlemage) and Warlord ([ -] Budget Physical Cadence S&B Warlord) S&B character - it was time to level a S&B Witchblade (Soldier, Occultist).

For endgame Witchblades see Build Compendium X (Forgotten Gods) - #36 by Stupid_Dragon, for other budget / beginners builds check Beginner build guides Compendium (for AoM + FG expansions). For another S&B Blitz orientated levelling guide (Warlord), see Blitz Krieg - A SSF, HC-Viable, New-Player-Friendly Warlord.

A Shielded Life - Part 3

To have some difference between my three S&B levelling guides, the focus of this build is a bit more defense orientated and it ends as a full Cadence / Blitz hybrid. Health Regen was planed as one key substain feature - which resulted in a much less damage orientated devotion setup. This choice also lead to the specific class selected - Witchblade - the Occultist mastery as support mastery provides easy to apply Resist Reduction (RR), as well as a Health Regen bonus and additional Physical Resistance.

The build relies on certain Monster Infrequents to function, for the Blitz aspect it is Milton’s Casque and Warden’s Fortress, for the Cadence aspect it is the Aetherwarped Cleaver. Deadly Momentum is maximized to incease Blitz and Cadence damage. Blindside is only maxed in the final build to avoid suicide strikes against enemies with damage reflection (as reflected damage reduction is rather low without Titan Plating). Initially, the build was planed as a low cooldown Blitz attacker, but as with its change to Bloodbriar’s Thorn (“Bloodbriar’s Thorn: replaced Physical damage modifier for Blitz with -1s Cooldown modifier and increased its % Crit damage modifier to 35%.”) was not published so far, a more classical Cadence / Blitz combination is used. However, even so, Blitz only has a 2.5 seconds cooldown.

Early on, Blitz will be the main damage source and Energy might be an issue (Elixirs of Spirit are your friend), Deadly Momemtum is maxed rather quick to increase the Blitz damage as well as the in between normal strikes. This strong importance of Blitz for the damage output will stay for a rather long time, Cadence will only become rather late an “equal” partner. The usage of an Aetherwarped Cleaver allows to have a multi-target Cadence without heavy investment in Fighting Form, however, getting a good one early in the levelling phase might be an issue. The Occultist mastery as support mastery, as well as certain gear choices (Physical Resistance affixes for the shield) allow for a rather strong defensive setup, Health Regen is at the end well above 1000 (at max over 3000), Physical Resistance of the final build is 50 and armor well above 3000, but all three values are typical above average (for a budget build) for most of the time.

The final damage is a bit lower compared to other builds, but sufficent for campaign and certain enemies (see Performance section). Area of Effect damage is sometimes a bit low, but Blitz together with the proc of Light of Empyrion makes it acceptable - later a Rush like Movement Rune will also help. The final build can finish all challenge dungeons, finish shard 65/66 in the Shattered Realm and kill Lokarr in Ultimate as well kill Ravager (of Flesh) with pharma in Elite. So the build has some farming abilities. As my own mini challenge, I did not used any attribute points until finishing all three campaigns (main and both DLC) and reaching shard 25 in the Shattered Realm in Ultimate. Most challenge dungeons were finished with this “unfinished” build, the sole exception is Tomb of the Heretic which was only played with the final build. To keep the build realistic self found, also higher level components were only used in the post campaign final build, for the campaign a still rather “poor” setup was used, see the Character Snapshots section for details.

Self Found?

Only self-found equipment and self-found crafting materials were used while levelling. Also, no mandates were transferred, writs were bought as soon as possible. However, all necessary blueprints were already found with earlier characters. The character was played solely in

Current Character

Grimtools of the current character. Most attribute points are invested in Cunning to increase the offensive ability (OA) and damage. The bare minimum is invested in Spirit to meet the gear requirements.

[Cadence, all permanent buffs and Deadly Momemtum]

Using the same components and nacked gear, it is already possible to cap all resistances skeleton character (= without affixes), however, attributes and the OA is rather low, so the gear must mainly support this aspects. Attribute points are therefore also invested differently to match the requirements of the gear. Keep in mind that increasing Cunning will help to increase the OA and the damage here, therefore the almost complete investment in cunning in the final build. For a more defensive setup (e.g. Hardcore), some points should likely be invested in Physics to increase the defense even more.

Performance The full campaign (softcore) with both expansions was finished in all three difficulties (Veteran, Elite, Ultimate). Monster totems were activated on sight - after cleaning the surrounding area. Deaths happened, but were rather rare (and caused by a reckless - and sometimes stupid - gameplay). Attribute points were only invested after finishing the main campaign and both expansions in Ultimate as well as reaching shard 25, so the character should be rather stable playing the game without this self-imposed mini challenge.

All challenge dungeons were finished in Ultimate relatively painless. Shard 25 was reached in the Shattered Realm in Ultimate for the additional skill points. Shard 65/66 can be finished (however, the way from shard 25 to 65 was not tested - a waystone was used as shortcut to shard 65). The following nemesis were slain in Ultimate: Moosilauke, Kubacabra, Valdaran, Benn’Jahr and Kaisan (with support - as the area was not empty).

Additionally, because the character is rather defense orientated, the ability to kill other bosses was tested with the final build. Clones and Lokarr are relative easy to kill in Ultimate, Ravager (of Flesh) was tested (not in Ultimate - it is a budget build after all) in Elite with pharma and was proved killable.

Levelling / Skills As this is the third S&B Cadence plus Blitz levelling guide, I will keep this section a bit shorter. The character starts as soldier and rushes towards Blitz as early main damage skill. With the first level up, invest two points in the Soldier mastery bar and one in Cadence, than raise the mastery bar to 10/50, invest one point in Blitz and Shield Training (to be able to profit from Milton's Casque - get a reasonable good one as soon as you reach the area). Increase the mastery bar to 15/50 and invest one point in Fighting Form (for the additional Cadence target), than invest with each level up two points in Blitz and one point in the mastery bar. If Blitz is maxed, raise the mastery bar to 32/50 and invest one point in Blindside (for the additional targets). At this time, with the strong Blitz investment but still rather low energy regen, the build has some energy issues, so just use Elixirs of Spirit if necessary. The energy issues can be reduced by using certain components (e.g. Mark of Illusions). Afterwards, invest two points in Cadence and one in the mastery bar with each level up until reaching 40/50 in the mastery bar. After reaching 40/50 in the mastery bar, max Deadly Momentum. For this, reduce Cadence to 1/16, invest the necessary points in Deadly Momentum and invest the remaining skill points in the mastery bar. Max the Soldier mastery bar, after reaching 50/50, max Menhir's Bulwark (for its flat damage, Damage Reduction and Health Regen).

At this time, you should also have a good Warden’s Fortress. With reaching level 35 and the necessary faction rank, craft the Devil’s Crossing +1 to all skills in Soldier mastery belt, the Gluttony Relic was crafted to have one and its Attack damage converted to health (and it is a Devil’s Crossing blueprint, so available for everyone). After Menhir’s Bulwark is maxed, max Field Command as well as Squad Tactics, followed by one-pointing the Soldier mastery passives (Military Conditioning, Veterancy, Decorated Soldier, Scars of Battle, Menhir’s Will and Fighting Spirit). Than, bring Cadence to 14/16 and raise Veterancy to 10/10 and Military Conditioning to 8/10 (all without gear). Veterancy (and Menhir’s Bulwark) provides a nice Health Regen boni and is therefore maxed here. Get a reasonable Mogara’s Fangs amulett as soon as you reach the area.

After finishing this steps, take Occultist as second mastery, invest one point in the mastery bar and one point in Curse of Frailty with each level up. After Curse of Frailty is maxed, raise the Occultist mastery bar to 15/50, than with each level up, invest one point in the Occultist mastery bar and one in Blood of Dreeg. At this time, the main cmapaign should be finished (even if playing Veteran), start Elite to farm a new Milton’s Casque and Warden’s Fortress and to get the additional devotions points from the early shrines. After reaching level 65, the level 65 versions of Coven Combatant’s Chestguard and Malmouth Vanguard Pauldrons might be good gear alternatives. A Juggernaut relic was crafted after reaching Malmouth as one vendor can sell the blueprint. After Blood of Dreeg is maxed, raise the Occultist mastery bar to 32/50 and max Aspect of the Guardian.

The next 10 skill points went into Fighting Spirit (11/12 without gear, for later usage in Blindside). For the build without spend attribute points it was also the option to increase the OA at this point to be able to proc Assassin’s Mark from time to time, but it should be in general a not so bad temporary investment. The final skill points are used to max Decorated Soldier, invest one point in Markovian Advantage and Zohlan’s Technqiue each, and one point in Overguard (panic button - Overguard also increases Health Regen). After reaching level 90, shift to the proposed final faction gear (rings, chest and shoulder armor). With the shift to the final gear and component / augment setup, Fighting Spirit was reduced to 1/12 (without gear) and Blindside was maxed using this skill points. Also Cadence was maxed and two additional points were invested in Overguard (so 3/12).

The general gameplay is: Blitz into a group of enemies and if necessary cast Curse of Frailty and make Cadence strikes to get Deadly Momentum up, than Blitz again if ready. For stronger enemies (or groups of heros) were facetanking is not possible (e.g. early Gargabol or Slathsarr Aethergaze), a Blitz and run tactic can be used. Blitz the enemy (optional, make some normal strikes to get Deadly Momentum up) - move away - and Blitz again. This tactic is safer - but obviously needs a bit more time, but the strong Health Regen aspect of the build also support such a gameplay. Use Overguard as instrument to increase your Health Regen if needed. The strong Health Regen also makes visiting areas with damaging ground effects much more relaxed, as the Health Regen at least partially covers the damage from the ground effect - and as Port Valbury must be often visited to get a good Aetherwarped Cleaver, it is a really nice to have feature.

War Cry (one of the best skills, imho) is not used for this build - the Resist Reduction is partially compensated by Scales of Ulcama, the enemy damage reduction by Light of Empyrion (and the Tyrant affix on the final cleaver). There were simply not enough skill points there to have War Cry and the strong Health Regen focus togehter with the investment in Blitz and Cadence. Also, because of the usage of Milton’s Casque, War Cry could not be up 24/7. So I consider it as an acceptable loss.

Factionwise, the character sided for thematic reason with the Order of Death’s Vigil (Occultist is the secondary mastery and Kymon is a former Inquisitor) but this decision is not really important - so side with the faction you prefer. Barrowholm was kept friendly to be able to fight Ravager. Cult of Bysmiel and Cult of Solael were selected in Veteran and Elite to get the reputation up as quick as possible as their augments are later used. For Ultimate, select the Cult whose quest offers the movement rune as a reward that best suits your needs.

With another amulett option will be Bloodbriar’s Thorn and its stronger low cooldown Blitz focus.

Other changes so far are (2021-10-15):

  • “Aetherwarped Cleaver: increased bonus Physical damage to 22-36 and increased % Physical damage modifier for Cadence to 150%”
  • “Milton’s Casque: increased bonuses to Blitz and Overguard to +3”
  • “Mogara’s Fangs: increased Physical damage to 21”
  • “Gutworm’s Mark: increased Bleed damage modifier for Cadence to 166 / 2s”

So one skill point will become free - e.g. usable to increase Overguard even more.

Character Snapshots

level 10: Soldier, Level 10 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator

level 20: Soldier, Level 20 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator

level 30: Soldier, Level 30 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator

level 40: Soldier, Level 40 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator

level 50: Soldier, Level 50 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator

level 60: Witchblade, Level 60 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator

level 70: Witchblade, Level 70 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator

level 80: Witchblade, Level 80 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator

level 90: Witchblade, Level 90 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator

level 100: Witchblade, Level 100 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator (reaching level 100 - used for finishing the main campaign in Ultimate)

level 100: Witchblade, Level 100 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator (update after finishing the main campaign in Ultimate)

level 100: Witchblade, Level 100 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator (current status)

  1. Crossroads yellow
  2. Assassins Blade
  3. remove Crossroads yellow
  4. Crossroads blue
  5. Lizard
  6. remove Crossroads blue
  7. Sailor’s Guide
  8. Panther
  9. Solemn Watcher
  10. Harvestman’s Scythe
  11. Dire Bear
  12. Lion
  13. Scales of Ulcama
  14. remove Lion
  15. Light of Empyrion
  16. Crossroads blue
  17. Center 4 Nodes of Tree of Life
  18. Last 4 devotions points: do whatever you want - here:
    18.a. right three nodes of Obelisk of Menhir (+5%DA)
    18.b. first node of Empty Throne (slow resistance)

The devotion setup is rather defensive instead of damage oriented. Quite some devotions were selected to increase Health Regen (Lizard, Harvestman’s Scythe, Scales of Ulcama, Tree of Live - Giant was a bit to far). Assassin’s Blade and Scales of Ulcama also provide resist reduction, Light of Empyrion is used for the damage reduction (Scales and Empyrion are the replacement for War Cry). Defense is further increased by Solemn Watcher and the nodes taken from Obelisk of Menhir. Damage boost is mainly provided by Light of Empyrion and Dire Bear.

see Grimtools

Gear This build relies on specific Monster Infrequent items. Core items are Milton's Casque and Warden's Fortress (Blitz), as well Aetherwarped Cleaver (Cadence). In some cases, it is important to farm suitable version more than once. However, while levelling, acceptable ones will be good enough, as they must be exchanged later by higher level versions. This is especially true for the weapon which only drops from one specific enemy in a challange dungeon - and early in the game skeleton keys are still rather rare. In case of amulett and medal, a good rolled lower level version might be better than a not so good rolled higher level version. For the boots slot random non faction drops or Epic / Legendary items might provide better stats, as gloves a not so rare Epic item is used for this build (the gloves are not imperative: there is also a general faction gear alternative or other physical damage + attack speed gloves are usable).

Monster Infrequents:


head: Milton’s Casque - Blitz and physical damage, can be farmed from Milton Hart
shield: Warden’s Fortress - Blitz, can be farmed from Warden Krieg
weapon: Aetherwarped Cleaver - Cadence, can be farmed from Aetherwarped Cleaver
amulett: Mogara’s Fangs - +1 to all skills in Soldier, can be farmed from Mogara, the Prime Matriarch
medal: Gutworm’s Mark - +3 to Deadly Momentum, can be farmed from Gutworm, the Maneater
pants: Solael-Sect Legguard - Adcth, resistances, can be farmed from Guardian of Solael
girdle: Ugdenbog Gridle - +1 to all skills in Soldier, can be replaced with Wendigo Warder Girdle

Faction Gear:

chest: Coven Combatant’s Chestguard - +3 to Deadly Momentum
shoulder: Malmouth Vanguard Pauldrons - +3 to Cadence and Blitz
rings: Coven Storm Seal - faction physical damage rings, with bonus to DA, attack speed and +2 to Field Command
boots: Elite Legion Greaves - physical resistance faction boots, can be replaces by better random drop or craft

Epic items

gloves: Mythical Turin’s Grips - physical damage gloves with attack speed and bonus to Markovian’ Advantage, alternative faction gear: Elite Rhowari Grips


Juggernaut - +1 to all skills in Soldier, OA and proc (health regen)

What Else / What Now

Go Farming: The character is able to farm totems, challenge dungeons and nemesis and in the Shattered Realm in Ultimate relatively safe. Stronger enemies are possible like Ravager (of Flesh) in Elite.

Unfortunately, there is currently only one older S&B Witchblade (Markovian) in Build Compendium X (Forgotten Gods) - #36 by Stupid_Dragon. So you either have to respec to one of the other builds there or move to your own S&B Witchblade endgame build. Some rough sketches of potential S&B ideas are [none of them was tested in game]: Witchblade, Level 100 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator (Warborn, Resist Reduction focus), Witchblade, Level 100 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator (Markovian) or Witchblade, Level 100 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator (1.5 sec Blitz in v.


Great build guide with very good results. SR65 on a budget build is quite impressive.

Interesting that you decided to focus on regen to make the best out of Blood of Dreeg. The build looks really tanky. I am just not sure about not picking up Solael’s Witchfire since you are missing out on 15% attack speed. Since you only have 139% attack speed, that extra 15% would mean 10,79% more dps for your Cadence.

However, looking at your components, I also understand that your idea was to prioritize tankyness over damage.

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One of the reasons is that I sticked (perhaps a bit too strong) to the original idea and beside having a rather strong defense focus, also have a rather strong Blitz focus as well - so Cadence was mainly considered as filler attack and mean to get Deadly Momentum up. So I have not really favoured attack speed here.

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Oh, I see. If cadence is only a filler than it makes perfect sense. Anyway, those are great results and it is a very beginner friendly build indeed. I remember my first character was a melee witchblade, so it would have helped me to see a guide like this back then.

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from the 3 shield builds you posted? whats the strongest?

All three have its pro and contra, but as they are mostly Soldiers with another mastery, they are also to a certain degree similar. However, each mastery combination has its own resulting synergie and the three budget builds also have a slightly different focus, my Witchblade and Battlemage are more defensive orientated, while Warlord has a more offensive setup. Warlord and Witchblade are likely also a bit easier to play as the battlemage uses as gimmick more offensive skills. Both are likely also a bit stronger. The Witchblade and its stronger defense focus might be a bit more forgiving (and therefore beginner friendly) - the Warlord should have the even easier gameplay. However, the likely currently ( strongest S&B budget build should be a Blade Arc Warlord.

Another factor you should consider is however also the intented target build, and in this regard Battlemage is often considered as weaker class (single resist reduction (RR) - but there is a specific legendary set supporting physical overguard S&B gameplay allowing not so bad results (Spellscourge)). Witchblade can us RR from both masteries (not used for the budget build) and Warlord (also RR in both masteries) is certainly the most flexible and natural class for S&B gameplay.

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First of all, sorry for necroing the thread but I couldn’t find a way to send a private message to The_Coyote.

I’ve been following your guide and build and I must say I had a blast with it although I’m totally a noob and don’t own expansions I managed to do most content in Veteran with a few core items.

The issue at hands is Elite and my lack of resistances in general. Since I can’t properly follow your guidelines for itemization I wanted to ask you if you could do a similar build for base game owners only or if you could provide me some tips as to where to go or focus to get better items for the purpose of beating Elite.

Honestly, I’m totally lost, so much that after finishing the campaign I realized that many items were farmable on the base game although the links to grimtools obviously had them labbelled as “Ashes of Malmouth” because lvl 94.

In any case the idea of soldier, Cadence and Blitz sounds excellent and even a pure Soldier would fit my playstyle (tanky melee). I’m open to all suggestions.

Once again, sorry and thanks a lot and in advance for asking you so much.

The only suggestion is to buy both expansions and enjoy the game at full. It does not cost much and it will greatly enhance your game experience, nobody will right the guides for base game at this stage, i think.


Some quick made theory craft - I hope that I don’t have added stuff which needs one of the expansions. It is surely harder to cap all resistances, but with a bit of farming (reputation, but also gear - as certain affixes are needed to fix the holes) it should be possible. Just don’t try to get the exact same affixes as in the theorycraft- just find a combo that is usable (keep some of everything). The Monster Infrequent shoulder (Fleshwarped Pauldrons) is of course an alternative to the faction gear.

and the thread is exactely the right place to ask such questions.

Thank you a lot for putting this specific build together. I really appreciate your effort and I can’t thank you enough for this.

You surely didn’t need to bother to do something just for people without the expansions but you did so again, that speaks a lot about you.

I have to admit, I really like your beginner builds. I also like how you theorycraft with a defensive purpose on mind which is kind of similar to my personal mindset.