[ –] Build Overview - DW Acid Righteous Fervor Dervish (SR75-80+)


(this section will repeat between my build overviews; you can skip to Build Concept if you’ve read one of my overviews before and are familiar with my rating system and test criteria)

Patch 9.8 brought, among other things, major changes to the Shattered Realm. Given that SR is where I do my endgame build testing, with the release of the patch I decided to redo all the testing for all my builds. And since I’d be putting in the time and noting down all my results anyway, I thought I might as well post the builds and their scores publicly for others. Who knows, maybe you’ve been thinking of trying something similar and are curious if it even works. Or maybe you’re just morbidly curious and like that tickly feeling in your brainhole when you see someone play something utterly stupid.

Now, what exactly does this testing entail? Each character has to do 10 SR75-80 runs (I used to do 5 runs but I’m expanding it to 10 for this second wave). Every run completed within timer counts as a success. It takes 6 successes (over 50 % success rate) for me to consider a build complete. If a build keeps failing to meet that quota, I keep improving it till it works. Ergo, no build I post here will have a lower score than 6/10, because if it doesn’t have over 50 % success rate, I’m not done improving it and it doesn’t get posted.

Three rules were followed to make the results more representative:

  1. no consumables other than healing and energy elixirs can be used;
  2. no shrines can be taken; if a build has bad resists, it’ll have to make do with bad resists, Rattosh isn’t gonna be saving its ass;
  3. no mutator hunting; if I get shitty mutators, I’ll have to succeed with shitty mutators.

Other than that, it doesn’t matter in what manner the runs are completed. If a build takes twice as long to finish a run than others do, that’s perfectly fine as long as it successfully finishes. Doesn’t matter whether the build has to dodge Nemeses in shards like the plague or whether it hunts them for sport, doesn’t matter if it has to kite like crazy or stands its ground with ease, doesn’t matter if it completes the runs deathless or not. Only thing that affects the score is completion within timer. Generally, a weaker build that is slow, fragile, hard to play etc. will end up with a lower score regardless because its shortcomings will affect its reliability across the 10 runs.

Now, two final things before we get to the build itself:

  1. As mentioned in the title, this is a build overview, not a build guide. What’s the difference? Well, a build guide says “this is the way you should build this type of character”. What I’m saying is rather “this is what I did, here’s why I did it this way, here’s how it turned out”. It’s more of a documentary, a post-mortem, rather than an example to be followed. “Wait, that’s just a fancy way of saying you make shit builds,” you might say. No, not exactly. I try to make a strong character without deviating from the concept of the build. But the concept of the build might not necessarily be something one should even be doing in the first place :smiley: While my build concept and the in-game support will often align to create a reasonably predictable, almost cookie cutter build, just as often I’ll just be doing something abundantly demented for my own reasons. I’ll always endeavour to explain in the Build Concept section why I chose to do a thing a certain way, but I don’t want you to get the impression that what I’m presenting is a thing you should necessarily be doing.

  2. I’m also by no means hyperfocused on optimising the crap out of a build once it’s in a workable state. There will almost always be things to optimise on my characters, but frankly, I prefer spending an hour theorycrafting a new character rather than shuffling an existing character’s devo tree, gear, component and augment setup just to squeeze 5 % more damage out of it. I don’t care that much.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the build itself.

Build Concept


My first ever dual-wield build in GD was the Pierce Blademaster. However, going for Pierce damage was not my first instinct for that build. Dunno how the entertainment industry managed to build up that association in my brainhole, but when the thought of cloak’n’dagger stabby-stabbies pops into my mind, poison is my immediate go-to. Not that it makes any sense. If you’re stabbing someone between the ribs with a dagger, who gives a shit that the dagger’s poisoned. There’s a dagger. Between their ribs. But there you have it.

In vanilla GD, though, I didn’t have any clear idea how to make that work. Nightblade was the obvious starting point, with it’s DW support and acid leanings through stuff like Nidalla’s Hidden Hand, but it wasn’t offering an acid-based auto-attack to use those with. The only other mastery meddling with acid in base GD was the Occultist, which didn’t help in that regard either. So I laid that idea to rest and made my first DW build Piece-based. When Forgotten Gods came out and brought in the Oathkeeper with its Dreeg-leaning shenanigans, I immediately knew exactly what to do with it. Though this wasn’t the first build I played when FG released (that one’s coming up next), it was the first one I put on paper as a thing I absolutely, definitely want to do.


Now in this section I’m gonna be overlapping a bit with the Performance section but I promise it’ll make sense.

Though this was the first FG build I put on paper, it is far, far, far, far from the first build I took to SR for testing. In fact, this is one of the last builds I finished for endgame. Like a patch ago at the time of writing (in 9.7). Not because I wasn’t interested in playing it and testing it, but because equipping this motherfucker took a while. Despite being a massive fan of ARPGs, I’m not a fan of farming. The way I prefer to collect gear for my characters is by just plaing through the game. Since I tend to make a lot of characters in ARPGs, I’ll usually just play so much I’ll collect the gear I’m looking for naturally. For this one, I needed some very specific things.

1.2 UPDATE: The build has received no real changes. The only improvement in the patch has been increased duration on Lethal Assault and some extra %WD on the WPS. On the downside, Benn just got a bit more dangerous. I managed to find decent Grava Legguards to replace the Nidalla’s, but both will work fine. The build is SR80-81 viable, probably could go higher but haven’t tried, survivability might become an issue.

The skills at the core of the build were rather obvious. With the addition of Oathkeeper I finally had the auto-attack I need to put the (partially) Acid-converted Nightblade WPS to use, so let’s juice that autoattack to the moon. Eh, why stop at the moon, let’s go straight to Pluto (you’re still a planet in my heart). So I’m gonna be taking whatever item modifiers for Righteous Fervor I can get. And then I’m gonna slap Lethal Assault from ABB on top of that, to get even more damage.

Now, there’s a lot of tools to help build up that RF. There’s Korvan Gaze on the helmet slot, which is uncontested. On the medal there’s Mark of the Forbidden, which is also uncontested. On the amulet there’s Gulgazor’s Heart, which on a Dervish is a bit of a joke with its grand total of 8% WD item mod, so this piece is replaceable. And then on the weapon there are three options for DW: Misery, Venomlash and Gannar’Vakkar’s Sting. Misery provides +1 to both masteries. That’s about all the good I can say about it. Its RF mod is lowest of the three, it has low attack speed % (though high attack speed base) and middling base weapon damage. Venomlash has the highest RF mod, the highest base attack speed, a high attack speed bonus and a high % damage bonus. But its base damage is pathetic because it’s purely Acid. This build doesn’t care about having a pure Acid weapon, the Dreeg’s Reproach transmuter on RF will convert the base phys damage of the weapon fully to Acid for us. In addition, Venomlash deals its additional flat damage in the form of Poison, not Acid, so it won’t scale with attack speed at all. And then there’s Gannar’Vakkar’s Sting, with massive weapon damage, affixability, and points to both RF and Lethal Assault, which will be the main autoattack juicers. With dual-wielded Gannar’Vakkars, and the right affixes, I could hardcap Lethal Assault. Now it’s just a matter of getting them. With either the Venomfang prefix or the Venomclaw suffix and an attack speed affix. But since I don’t like farming, all I was getting was 1 shot at dropping the right Sting per Ultimate playthrough. So, it took a while.

By the time I had everything I needed to put the build together for endgame, it was patch 9.7. I didn’t mind, I levelled like 20 builds along he way and tested some 30-ish builds for endgame. But with 9.7 came the news of what changes are planned for 9.8. Among those changes were major SR adjustments to humanoid hero mobs, healers and, eventually, boss encounters. I saw little point in testing the build in SR in 9.7, when in 9.8 I was going to be doing this new wave of testing anyway. Therefore, I just finished Ultimate with the build, took it to SR75-80 just to see whether the build’s at least in the right ballpark (the 1 run I did with it I completed) and then I set it aside. And so, when it was time to test this build, for the first time in all my overviews to date I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into. I knew the build could do SR75-80 but I didn’t know what its reliability was at all. Spoiler alert: IT WAS SHIT!!

In terms of damage the build felt pretty damn nice. Like driving at 240 miles per hour in a Mustang…with no brakes. It’s fun, but ends quickly and not the way you’d like. The slow and steady may not win the race but at least it doesn’t end up splattered on the walls. The build’s health was going all over the damn place and it was going squish with alarming ease. But I managed to complete the first two runs. Then I failed the next three. Badly. So at best the build would be a 7/10 IF I didn’t fail a single run from the remaining five. My experiences over the past five runs indicated that wasn’t going to happen. “I can do better than that!” So I scrapped those runs and started making adjustments.

The original setup was, item-wise, identical to the one posted above. There were no better rings with flat Acid damage to swap around, the chest, boots, belt, medal, helmet, shoulders and gloves were all fixed. I would have preferred a better suffix on the amulet but I would have to settle for what I had cause at least it was covering the Ele res I needed and the cc resistances from Kaisan were crucial. On the pants I would have vastly preferred Grava’s Legguards for the skill bonuses but I would have needed them to roll some pretty specific things (chaos res, health, acid damage) and that just wasn’t happening for me. There were, however, differences in components, augments and devos between what I was using at the time and what’s linked above. I was using Sacred Plating on the head, Vitriolic Gallstones on the weapons, Spellscorched Platings on the boots and pants. That left the resist situation good enough that I could have Wendigo Lifescent Powders on almost all armor pieces, bringing my health to around 19k. On the devos I didn’t have Turtle, Fox and Spider, instead I ran Wretch, Eye of the Guardian, Raven and Hawk. In the first adjustments after those five runs I changed to the devo path linked above, but kept the old components except for the Gallstones on the weapons, those I swapped for the Seals of Might. Through these adjustments, I lost about 100 OA but I gained Turtle, had more base leech (though no Guardian’s Gaze) and gained 12 % physical resistance. Surely, Turtle and 12 % extra phys res is going to noticably improve that squishiness problem and salvage this thing.

Nope. In the second round I did 4 runs with that setup. Failed all but one. And even that one was on the verge of collapse several times. I was really at a loss as to what else I could possibly do. With 33 % phys res, 20+% evasion, various fumble sources, good damage, nearly 2900 DA (cause of Rumor/Veil of Shadows OA shred) and 19k health this build was getting absolutely mulched. It would start a fight and oh, would you look at that, there goes the Ghoul proc already! And we’re only 1.5 s into the fight. Better end this in the next 5 seconds before Resilience and Ghoul drop off. In a last, desperate attempt to not let this build turn into a 6/10 or, worse, get scrapped completely, I decided to fix the only obvious problem I could identify and knew how to fix: without Ascension up, the stun res was only around 45 %. I was also missing 5 % armor absorb and had below-cap movement speed. It was beyond me how fixing any of those things could possibly change the fact that the character’s limbs seemed to fly off in the four cardinal directions at the slightest insinuation of violence, but it was all I had. I changed to the component setup linked above (helmet, boot and pant component change). which forced me to drop most of the Lifescent Powders and lose over 1.2k health. On a build that was exploding. Weeeell, shit! I dropped 3 points from Path of the Three to max out Haven to get any bit of extra health I could get, and hoped for the best.

(There was actually one final, minor change I made after this point. In all the setups I described, I was running twin Poisoned Gannar’Vakkar’s Stings of the Venomclaw. About third of the way through the third set of runs I swapped one for Venomfang of Alacrity, which let me shift some more stats from Spirit into Physique and veeeery slightly bumped up my sheet DPS. How that matches up with the real DPS is hard to say cause there’s so much DoT going around to screw with the numbers. It’s possible I lost DPS but the slight gain in attack speed probably does shift the DPS up. I made that change after I recorded the footage below, so you’ll notice a slight difference in HP between the screenshot and the videos.)


(DPS for Righteous Fervor with permabuffs, Pneumatic Burst and Lethal Assault up)


Fucking finally. Could have been done with this overview two days earlier if the build wasn’t being such a diva.

So, the changes worked. Fuck me if I know why, but they worked. The build stopped exploding under a gentle breeze. Don’t know how fixing the stun res, getting 5 % more armor absorb or 15 % more slow res prevents the build from going from full health to dead in 0.2 seconds randomly, but it does. You could say the improved stun res let me leech more reliably mid-combat so I stopped exploding but no, the build was previously exploding even with Ascension up. And Ascension was fixing the stun res. So… Goes to show what I know about the game, I guess :man_shrugging: I fixed something and don’t even know how.

But all the above yapping goes to illustrate how deceptive numbers can be. Cause this may be a 9/10 build. Now. With this specific gear, component and devo setup, with these specific affixes. But as you can see, it’s this far away :pinching_hand: from being an absolute fucking disaster. It now, suddenly, inexplicably, after changing all of 3 components and a few augments, plays pretty well. Its health still flies around a good bit more than I would like but it performs. Move any of these pieces in the wrong direction, though, and you might be right down to a 6/10 build or, possibly, even a build that isn’t worth running to SR80 (if running SR80 was a thing worth doing in the first place).

So let’s get down to brass tacks. I can’t tell you why the build stopped getting its health absolutely nuked, but I can tell you why it was getting nuked in the first place. It may look tanky, but it isn’t. It has a nice healthpool for sure but that health can vanish at the speed of light. There’s no % absorb anywhere to protect that health. The only %DR is from the Yugol devotion, which, while reliable, applies in a fairly small area. If you’re fighting a larger group of enemies, with a lot of melee attackers trying to surround and with midrange casters and long range shooters in the mix, chances are a good 70 % of those enemies are dealing their full damage to you cause the blood pools aren’t radiating their DR that far. The build is also very, very melee. There’s no leechable reach beyond Scorpion Sting from the devo, Eye of Shuroth from the ring and Venomspines from the boots, so if a thing isn’t in your immediate melee range, you’re not really damaging it, at least not through your %WD component, so you’re not leeching from it. Anything you really mean to kill you need to get close to. If you can’t tank a boss, you’re done. In terms of AoE, while pretty much every devo proc is doing something to help on that front, the only real horde clearing capabilities come from the random procs of Belgo Shears, Whirling Death and Smite.

Through this combination of mostly unprotected health pool (barring the phys res, evasion and fumble from boots and medal) and limited reach, the build takes an absolute beating on its health. The two saving graces are that, as mentioned, the health pool is pretty solid, so at least you have some health to lose. And, second, the damage. Even without the Gallstones it’s pretty damn respectable. Even Acid resistant enemies don’t feel like they’re taking particularly long to kill, in stark contrast to my previous Acid build, the Cabalist. The issue of “lacking freebies” that I mentioned in that build doesn’t feel nearly as pronounced here. Yes, it would be nice if Benn and Zantarin were the easy peasy fights they are for most other builds but they’re not a nightmare either. Zantarin in particular is much less scary because the build is sporting hardly any projectiles for his shield to be a major threat. Not that Zantarin is a comfortable fight mind you, cause the limited attack reach forces the build to jump around a lot to leech off of the various skellies and reduce incoming damage. But it’s not as bad as it would be on an Acid projectile caster, like the Cabalist. Of all Nemesis bosses the worst one by far is Grava. Cause of course he is. He might not be resistant but his fumbles and DR do a real number on the damage output and his own damage is high enough that the full facetanking the build needs to do is a dangerous proposition with such a vulnerable health pool. Beyond that, the Nemeses are fine, even hard hitters like IM and Fabius are pretty damn unconcerning. They die fast, are easy to leech from and don’t do quite enough damage to one-shot. You’d have to look to some of the other, thankfully rarer, culprits such as Theodin, Rashalga, Gargabol or Korvaak for those. If Gargabol overheads you, you can easily go down to a thousand health or less. Theodin has oneshot me once in his second phase at SR79 through Afflicted. But since these harder encounters are fairly rare and the build is fast in chunks, deaths of this kind will be sufficiently infrequent that the build’s reliability won’t feel particularly impacted.

It’s not the bosses that are the problem. Unfortunately, the problem is what SR is all about. Bigger hordes of enemies, hero groups, things you’ll be dealing with on the regular. The incoming damage can very easily become too much, the limited reach can become insufficient to sustain the vanishing health pool and the character can potentially die so quickly there’s little time to react. With the current version of the build, as linked above and shown in the videos below, it’s manageable, if sometimes a bit uncomfortable, what with the health being occasionally just a smidge off of zero. But if just a few of the pieces aren’t in place, things can turn bad really quickly, and the build can go from volatile but workable to just volatile and dead, as it did in its first 2 iterations. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you can roll good Grava pants and get a better suffix on the amulet, I imagine the build could just get that little bump to make it feel actually quite stellar, especially if you didn’t have my early experience with the build that sours your perspective on it. If I started with the final version of the build right away I wager my impression of the build would be considerably more positive than it is now despite the final score. Without that early struggle marring the outlook, this would probably feel like a very nice realisation of the cloak and dagger assassin it was meant to be. Some volatility is very much expected there, after all. Kill fast or be killed fast.

Here are the usual SR75-76 and SR80 snippets of one of my runs. Note the mutators. Three slows, Brutal, Cruel, increased enemy attack speed…the only way things could be any worse is if the Armored mutator was Afflicted, reduced DA or extra enemy Acid res. This build completed this monstrosity deathless. Then it failed in a meticulously cleared Gazer room at SR79 in a run with much better mutators :man_facepalming::