[ –] Build Overview - Pet Aurabot Fire AAR Warlock (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 previous build was the Aether Blitz DK. I created that build as I was going through the various masteries and checking what skills I had yet to make a build for. In Soldier all I was missing was Blitz, so I made a build around that. And with it, I completed all class combinations for Soldier. That made me wonder: if I’m done with Soldier, how much would it take to make something for all the remaining classes? How far off am I from having at least a single build for every class combo? So I checked. Only 12 builds? I can do that. From that point on, I was in checklist mode. Take a class I haven’t made a build for yet and put something together. Issue was, there was generally a reason why I haven’t made anything for those classes. Either they didn’t gel very naturally together (like, say, Defiler) or I’ve already used up the obvious skills for the given class on another class and didn’t want to do repeats. And so, with a lot of these final builds I made I was occasionally reaching a little so that I’m not just redoing an existing build in a different mastery or damage type. And since this was to be my last opportunity to tinker with builds (at least until I committed to making 2 of each class), I was also keen on going out of my comfort zone and exploring some truly colossal memes. Case in point…

If you’ve been playing since vanilla, this image will have a special place in your heart:

It’s the first thing I saw when I launched what was to become my favourite game of all time. This is the quintessential fantasy of Grim Dawn. And yet looking back at it now…it’s kinda bullshit, ain’t it? A badass-looking, dark Occultist with a deadly spellcasting implement crackling with entropic powers, and a trusty familiar to assist him. That ain’t happening. Either this Occultist will be an utter wuss hiding in the bushes while his bird is the one saving the world, or he’s gonna be the badass chaos spellcaster he looks to be and there ain’t gonna be no effin familiar flying around. But, what if we changed that?

Now, the idea of a hybrid character is nothing new or revolutionary. But hybrids are generally problematic, at least from my understanding, having never played one. The core issue is, if you’re trying to both be an active combatant and a summoner, one half or the other is going to suffer, because there’s not enough overlap on the gear, the skills or the devotions to provide equivalent power to both. And if you’re a full on spellcaster with halfassed pets or a full on summoner with halfassed offense, wouldn’t you be better off just fullassing one or the other? Probably yes. But what if we’re a hybrid…that doesn’t care about the pets doing damage?


I want you to take a look at some of the buffs you can get from the various pets available in the game.

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Aren’t those kinda…good? For a one-node buff that’s a lot of stuff you get. So what if you make a hybrid that doesn’t have to make sacrifices to get the pets to do good DPS because they’re not there to deal damage? They’re just…aurabots. Or healbots, in the case of Familiar. What if you could just focus on getting your damage off the ground, pick up some auxiliary survivability for the pets at minimum cost, and be just a normal character with some extra strong buffs? What if, for once in the history of GD, there’d be a reason to use the Defensive Stance on your pets?


A neat and a possibly unbelievably stupid idea, but how exactly to put it in practice? Well, since I was now going through all the mastery combinations I haven’t done yet, my eye fell on the Warlock. I’ve wanted to make an AAR build for a looong time, ever since I had to cut it from my Spellbinder after AAR was reworked. AAR can be used with a variety of damage types, including a number of elemental options. Since Hellhound and Familiar both have an aura that specifically boosts Elemental or, in the case of Hellhound, Fire, I chose to go with Fire AAR. A channelling build in particular seemed like a good option for this experiment. Since the main thing the build would want to do is just park in place and channel, and it would generally try to use as few skills in between as possible so that it doesn’t have to interrupt the channeling, it was likely that there would be some skill points to spare for the pets. Especially since AAR is only a two-node line and Arcanist lacks an RR skill to invest in.

1.2 UPDATE: The pets have gained a bit of extra health, as has the character. Other than that, no real changes. 5% extra crit damage on AAR. The Raven technically does a better job of healing the player, but the heal has been nerfed in power to compensate, so, not much came of that. Strictly speaking the build beats 80-81, but I wouldn’t recommend running it there. As the enemy health pools and DA numbers keep climbing with higher shards, the build’s lack of damage really starts showing. The lack of proper damage devotions in favour of building up the pet survivability and player defense is one thing but overall it just feels like there isn’t enough damage to be had on Fire AAR. The build uses all the AAR damage items it can and it’s just not much, not for a skill that always has to work off of a single RR mastery. Chaos might get away with it, Fire is another story.

From the get go my goal was to invest in the pets as little as possible. Get the survivability just good enough that I can keep the pets alive in between cooldowns, but try to avoid overinvesting in the pets so that they’re not detrimental to the rest of the build. If I’m taking the pets for their powerful auras, it would be kinda counterproductive to then sacrifice so much damage that the auras are barely even making up for what I’ve lost in the process. And so, when it came to gear I simply focused on building myself up, rather than hunting for pet-related affixes for resists etc. Not that I didn’t try, mind you, but pretty much all of the pet affixes I was getting on the MIs I was looking for were worthless to me, so I ended up skipping them anyway. And since there’s pretty much no overlap between AAR and pet items, I just filled out the inventory as I normally would with the best AAR boosters, sustain providers, % damage and cast speed sources I could think of. As it turned out though, that in itself had its issues.

To sustain off of AAR, it was pretty vital to take Essence of the Grim Dawn. There were also no really good gloves to use so I went for Aethereach to at least get a bit of juice for AAR that way (since the flat Aether damage is converted by the weapon). I also failed to find Log Shoulders that would provide the necessary resists/OA while also having a % Fire roll on them. This means that I was losing % damage on 3 item pieces and I also couldn’t get a heavily fire-focused offhand, as it leans way too heavily into Aether. Even after some solid hours spent vendor-farming it in Valbury the best I walked away with was an Aetherfire prefix. So even without sacrifices in the interest of pets on gear, I was missing out on some decent % damage. Given that some sacrifices for the pets would be necessary on the devo tree, that didn’t bode well.

The crucial decisions on pet survivability would all have to be made on the devos. While I was getting some assistance from Aspect of the Guardian, Storm Spirit, Severed Faith and IEE (Aether res from the latter two), and I invested in Bonds of Bysmiel to get the health up for both pets, that wouldn’t be enough to keep the pets safe from collateral damage. The Familiar would be doing some work to keep the pets topped up, and Blood of Dreeg would periodically help too (the pet heal was the main reason I chose to invest in that more than in Overload, which provides more OA), but I still needed more. And ideally, whatever “more” I get should not just benefit the pets, it should be helping me too. Something like Typhos, for example, does provide some neat resists for the pets but it does nothing for me. Same with Ulo. All defenses, but no damage, and I’m already a bit short because of the gear. This took me to the top right of the devo tree. Since I was working with Fire damage, Empyrion seemed an attractive option. It would get me % damage, boost the pets’ resists, and bring in %DR which I was otherwise missing. That would contribute to both my and the pets’ survivability dramatically. Issue was, going to that side of the tree made it impossible to reach Ulzuin’s Torch as the go-to damage devotion, and even Magi was stretching the points a bit thin. There was also the issue of aggro. AAR has the misfortune of just firing forward in a straight, fairly narrow line. That might be fine for when the enemies are noodling their way to you through a doorway or a narrow corridor, but the moment they reach you, they form a concave. AAR does not deal well with concaves, and the pets don’t particularly enjoy all the AoE damage that comes out while the character is taking its time torching the enemies one by one Since I was already in the area, I decided to solve that by taking Korvaak. Not only was it getting me OA, which I was very much in need of to capitalise on AAR’s massive crit damage, it would contribute additional resistances, boost my damage yet again, and provide crowd control to keep enemies lined up, mitigate incoming damage to both me and the pets, and possibly neutralise dangerous enemy abilities that would cause frequent relocates (Arcane, Diseased etc.). If the enemies were disabled, I would be able to spend more time channelling and both me and my pets would be much safer than if I went for a pure damage-oriented devo like Torch.

There is no denying, however, that I was making the exact type of sacrifices I didn’t want to make when I set out on this journey. I was already bleeding some damage on the gear cause Fire AAR isn’t quite as supported, as, say, Aether by some of the mandatory items. While Empyrion and Korvaak were by no means just pure pet sustain devos, they simply wouldn’t be able to rival something like Torch or even Magi when it comes to damage output, both on the procs and on the % damage. Empyrion provides a miserable 80 % Fire damage, The flat is wasted cause we got no %WD on AAR. Korvaak does a bit better at 130 %, but that’s a far cry from Torch’s 180 % and its more damaging proc. Those pets were going to have to really pull their weight in terms of what support they provide to make up for these shortcomings.


(AAR DPS with permabuffs and pet auras active)



I AM serious, actually. But as usual, it’s just a number. It doesn’t tell the whole story, not by a long shot. So let’s get into the nitty gritty.

As you can see above, on paper the damage looks good enough. But it’s not great. For instance, my Fire FoI Purifier had about 25 % more, on a double RR class, with a full on damage T3 devotion (Torch). So yeah, the damage is just that. Good enough. Good enough to get the job done, good enough to get the build through bosses and hordes alike, after some time, but not good enough to be called just “good” without qualifiers. What’s on paper is pretty much what the build gets, apart from what benefits are there through AAR’s high crit damage (worth noting that Korvaak makes the OA situation much better through the proc, so it yields more damage than it seems). Without a proper damage devo though, the build is holding enemies at bay and keeping the incoming damage under control through Korvaak and Empyrion but to kill anything, the build has to rely entirely on AAR. If AAR ain’t damaging a thing, nothing is, there’s no “secondaries” going on, like Fissures from Magi. And since we’re on a fairly resisted damage type, with a single RR mastery, there’s just no two ways about it: the build is slow. Not the slowest I’ve played, but frankly, I could say that about almost any slow build, given that I’ve tried Vitality Blade Arc. It’s about as slow as my ranged Tri-Elemental Cadence Battlemage, in fact it’s very comparable in general. There’s no place where the builds straight up excel when it comes to damage. Not on single target, not on AoE. They’re just good enough on both.

Where it does excel, again quite similarly to the above-mentioned Battlemage, is in survivability. Between Sphere and Empyrion this build can take a hit. It has a good health pool, a good defensive ability, solid sustain from AAR, plus BoD, plus an absolutely ridiculous heal from the Raven. That thing is just insane, frankly. The one thing holding it back from being borderline broken is that I have zero investment in pet speed, so the Raven actually takes quite some time to cast each Mend Flesh. If it was pumping them out at maximum speed I suspect the build could make do with half the leech it has now. Korvaak also turns out to be an absolutely essential part of the build. Before I included it the build was prone to getting overwhelmed by hordes of heroes or tankier, resistant enemies such as Aetherial Colossi. Korvaak changed everything. Not only did the pets’ survivability improve to a massive extent, basically from barely sustainable to barely getting hurt in hero groups, but the build itself became much more comfortable to play, as Korvaak, tied to a fast hitting skill like AAR, just keeps dangerous hero types locked down. With that, there’s no worry about Diseased, Arcanes, shotgunners or healer heroes, they’re all petrified in place from the moment the build teleports to them to the moment they die. So while the build doesn’t kill stuff super fast, it can at least afford to take that time. Now, one thing you might be eager to point out is, if the damage is bad but survivability is solid, why not shift some points from Physique and go Spirit dumping? The reason is…I tried. It doesn’t go well. While I would absolutely love to shift points to Spirit, especially with how efficient Inner Focus makes that kind of allocation, going down on the DA and health by as little as 18 Physique points had some catastrophic consequences. It’s worth pointing out that every craftable piece of gear on my character has been crafted for % Physique, hence why the DA/HP numbers between the screenshot and the GT link don’t match. While the survivability is quite excellent against heroes, issues arose with bosses, particularly the very hard hitting, aggressive, Fire-resistant types like Fabius and IM. With lower DA and health I was getting shockingly close to one-shots at times. Fabius in particular was extremely nasty in that regard, as with all the aura ticks and Blade Spirit damage going around, it’s pretty much impossible to keep the Hellhound alive. And without the Hellhound, the DA drops. So I had to make sure my tankiness is good enough against Fabius in particular when the Hellhound is dead. As long as I survive with a sliver of health, I’m fine, Raven and AAR top me off very quickly, but I was forced to sac some more damage on the attributes to get to that point.

Put those two aspects together and the end result is a build that’s just steady, but by no means stellar, despite what a score of 9/10 might suggest. Getting it to that level of performance demands quite meticulous and careful play, as though the build is still fast enough to salvage a run after a death, provided you manage to avoid some extra time-consuming bosses or time-waster chunks, it’s not exactly a position the build feels comfortable in. This is definitely not a live-fast, die-fast kind of build, you need to know its limits and you need to know when to just turn around and go elsewhere. While the build is not especially slow on single target, and hence doesn’t actively want to avoid every single Nemesis fight in chunks, there’s still a good number of Nemeses that just aren’t worth fighting. IM takes way too long, Fabius takes a while and is more dangerous cause of all Nemeses he does the best job of secondarily killing your pets, Kaisan takes long and requires cleared kiting space away from his crystals. Interestingly, Grava isn’t half bad. Empyrion and Fabric of Reality provide some anti-Cthonic damage and AAR doesn’t give a crap about fumble or impaired aim, so the build gets to output some nice damage against him. It’s still not a fast fight, but that’s just cause there are no actual fast fights to be found here. But Grava is extremely safe, as you get reliably sustain thanks to no fumble, get to do good damage, have an easy time tanking his swings, and he doesn’t even do much of anything to the pets if you position them right (the same trick works on pretty much all bosses, just order the pets to move behind the boss so any wave attacks or projectile volleys hitting you don’t hit them along the way).

So, is it worth it? Is there a reason to use pets for their auras and support abilities alone? It…actually might be, or at least it might be good enough to break even. But this isn’t the best build for it. As good as the pet auras are, the build still doesn’t get full use out of them, because one of the key things the auras provide aside from % damage is flat. And on this build, AAR has no %WD. I do think, though, there there might be something there on a more WD oriented build. Perhaps Fire CT (Fire cause of Hellfire and Storm Spirit). Not only would Fire CT get good use out of the flat from the auras, it’s also a skill with excellent AoE, which will help clear out hordes of heroes before they become a problem. By not having to get extra control over enemies through the Eye of Korvaak, the build could free up space for Magi (Torch is still too out of the way) to supplement the damage some more. In addition, with CT doing so many different damage types, the build would be able to get even more out of Storm Spirit, as the Lightning on CT, and therefore the flat lightning on Storm Spirit, would be converted over to Fire through items. There could also be something of worth on, say, Witchblade. Fire Cadence, or Fire Forcewave, perhaps. Soldier in particular seems interesting because of Field Command, which would increase the Familiar’s cast speed for Mend Flesh. That would provide a massive amount of sustain. Pyromancer with Fire Strike could also be an option. I definitely think there might be something somewhere, but, to temper all the excitement, I must say that there might be something there that would make this approach decent or at least, fairly good. I do not think there is a sleeper OP build there to be found. The auras would have to be truly dramatically better than their non-pet counterparts for that to be the case or there would have to be more auxiliary pet resist sprinkled around on various random gear or devos so that major detours aren’t required to make pet resists at least passable. As it is, pet auras are better in their effects, but not so much better that the deviations the build needs to make to keep the pets alive make them still an easy pick up. The need to keep the aura-bearer alive exacts enough of a cost that the benefits of the auras are kinda toned down by it. Except for Mend Flesh, which is still kinda ridiculous and saved me in some truly insane situations (running away dispelled at 25 % health, few seconds of running later I was at full without doing anything). At the very least though, this build serves as some evidence that this type of playstyle is at least workable if you’re interested in it, even all the way up to the hardest farmable endgame content. You won’t break the game with it, but at the very least, it’s a path worth exploring for fun, or for the satisfaction of looking at that vanilla load screen and saying to yourself “oh, look, that’s my build!”.

Here are the usual SR75-76 and SR80 parts of one of my runs. This was one of my early attempts so I was perhaps a bit more careful than necessary. Still, even with more practice on the build, choosing your fights wisely is important. While that Kaisan at SR80 would not have been a particularly dangerous fight, it would unnecessarily prolong the run. Better spend a few more seconds running around than commit to a minute long fight you don’t need to take.


This is great! I have spent a bit of time wondering if it was worthwhile an attempt at making a build where Pets are just support and I couldn’t figure out a way to make it work. That’s mainly because my philosophy on hybrid builds is to make Pets into the primary focus with player damage being used for support/utility (clearing weak mobs, applying CC, applying RR, etc). Also, I always look for alternative offensive skills (level 75 components) instead of using ones from the masteries in order to save skill points for Pets.

Mend Flesh is a skill that I always ignore because I never saw much potential in making the Familiar into a heal bot. It also costs a lot of skill points, but this showed me some decent potential in its utility.

Korvaak is kinda overlooked as an option in most Pet builds, but it does provide a lot of support through CC, DA and OA shred and offensive stats. It is usually hard to go for it when the other tier 3 Pet devotions provide better specialization or utility, but Light of Empyrion suffers more in this case. It’s nice to see both being used.

Through my own experience, I can say that Occultist has the worst time going hybrid because of the lack of OA on the player side. It certainly has the best support for Pet tankiness and survivability and can still deal good damage through Pets, but the player side struggles to get a good amount of OA to hit and crit without unrealistic MIs. Using player focused items here does mitigate the issue, but with a Pet focused approach, it gets rough.

Great job and thanks for sharing!


It isn’t. You are essentially making the build weaker by going for a meme concept.
Pets as support on a non pet build is essentially wasting points.

Issue with relying on it for healing is that you are then stuck with a pet that will die to the faintest of whispers on a build where pet stats are basically non existent and the pet itself is just a 1 pointer.

Personally, it is because Pets don’t really suffer from lack of OA/DA and the CC is only really useful against normal enemies since you can’t petrify bosses and such.

You get better options going for mogdrogen.

The High Bird - Lazy Ranged/Pet Hybrid Conjurer (Callagadra Edition) - Cunning Dump got you covered for the most part.

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That’s not quite accurate, The raven hardly ever dies, partly because it keeps its distance from the player, who’s taking all the aggro, partly because if going gets tough it can just heal itself or I can save it with BoD. It’s a reliable heal source that does its job as long as it doesn’t die more often than the skill cooldown, which it doesn’t as shown in the videos. The Raven’s effectiveness is more hampered by the lack of pet cast speed than by its survivability. Between investment in Bonds of Bysmiel and the various auras/buffs the build runs, the pets are not as paper as you would expect. They’re fairly resilient against elemental and good against acid, which are the main sources of AoE that might accidentally knock them out even while they’re staying out of the way. Fabius is pretty much the only exception that reliably keeps killing the pets, though mainly the Hellhound.

It dies plenty in your video though.

Pet cast speed doesn’t matter for Mend Flesh

Let me further illustrate my point that the Pets are mostly irrelevant to your build -

I have time stamped your SR 80 run, right when you get to the boss room. Your Familiar bugged out and is not even there in the room.

You were getting zero heals and not even the Storm Spirit Aura from the Familiar.

The Familiar only comes back after you have killed the first 2 bosses with no issues. And then, it proceeds to get 1 shot whenever something looks at it funny.

Their relevance is relative. Their presence or absence is not breaking the build true. But you could say the same about, I dunno, Flame Touched or other similar auras. Hellfire is pretty much Flame Touched on a body. Storm Spirit is pretty much IEE, with ele resists on top. Mend Flesh is a Wendigo Totem except it follows you around, and heals for more but at slower frequency. The pets were meant to be the support, not the centrepiece of the build so yeah, they’re not carrying the build on their shoulders, but they help when they’re there. That was the whole point of the experiment, after all. To not center around the pets, just have them as a bonus and see if that works.

The bugging out of the Familiar is something I wanted to make a report about, so thanks for the reminder. It didn’t happen that much over the 10 runs, but enough to be annoying.

As for it dying, that’s also a bit about me being lazy. In the Karroz phase 2 part, where it died the most, it’s a matter of me not bothering the reposition the pets out of the chaos pools because I’m in no danger of dying = don’t need the heals, so it’s not a problem if the Raven is down for a bit while it’s on CD. I could counter your example with the SR75 boss room where the Raven died all of 3 times and I was able to resummon it with ease (Eternity helps). From that fight one could conclude the Raven does and is alive plenty, from the SR80 one could conclude it’s completely irrelevant. But all you see here are 9 chunks/3 boss rooms. I’ve done 180 chunks/60 boss rooms with the build just for this overview (actually more cause I was shuffling stuff around beforehand). The pets were alive and well as they were in the SR75 room far more often than they were irrelevant as they mostly were in the SR80.

Even disregarding the fact that none of the statements are true and Warlock won’t be taking Flame Touched or Totem anyway, the issue is - you can remove pets entirely from the setup, get the damage and resistances from elsewhere and the build will only be better, not worse.

I’ll refer you to these statements:

I never argued this is a smart thing to do. The whole point was to find out if at least there’s a way to make a build where you can add support pets and still keep the build playable. And in that I undeniably succeeded. Can you make it actually good? Maybe, but I’ll leave that to someone else to figure out.


Ah, my bad. I only looked at the GT link and the videos.

For you, what are the most fun constructions?

You mean which of my builds I enjoy the most? If I had to make a top 3 favourites list, it’d probably be the Cold ABB Spam Spellbreaker, the Trozan Druid and the Crit/Upheaval Elementalist. I may have some stronger builds than them but they each exceeded my expectations in some way. I didn’t think they would be viable at all and they either turned out to be very good, or just fulfilled that one thing I built them for.