[ –] Build Overview - Vitality Word of Pain/Aura of Censure Apostate (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


The fantasy of the “aura build” has probably been around for as long as there have been auras in games. For me, the fascination truly began back in the original DotA with Necrolyte (now Necrophos in Dota 2). The idea that you get to just walk into an army of enemies and your very presence kills them without you having to do anything is just infinitely alluring. Just ask Nurgle fans.

In GD, I’d say the quintessential poster boy of the “damage aura” concept is Aura of Censure (AoC). It does the damage job, while providing a way to boost its own damage and the damage of any other potential auras you might have through RR, while bringing in some tankiness in the form of DR to help you stick around in the middle of it to keep that damage ticking.

Now, the issue of course is, if you’re investing a large portion of the build into damaging auras, how exactly are you staying alive? Auras don’t deal %WD to leech for you, they don’t boost regen, they’re just damage but provide none of the sustain benefits you’d normally be getting from your main damage sources, be they attacks or spells. There is but one exception to that rule: you can get leech on AoC. If you put on the Radaggan set. So that’s what I did.

However, my builds do, unfortunately, have to live up to certain standards. In my eyes, if I make a meme and it claws its way to SR65 and no further, have I really even made a build? Or have I just kinda slapped something together at a thought and then thrown it to the wolves? As much as the idea of making a full on aura build appealed to me, I was trying to be a bit more realistic. Let’s say that I take Vitality AoC as the core of the build. What else? I can do my utmost to boost the skill’s damage, but that’s going to eat up a good bunch of my inventory and is rarely going to come close to what damage I could get if I just put on another damaging skill on top of that. There aren’t really any other Vitality damage auras to pair AoC with anywhere, unless you count Spectral Wrath, I guess, so how exactly is this aura build going to get anything done? If I’m going to face a boss am I just gonna sit there and wait for AoC to tick them down? Same with Heroes and Champions? That doesn’t seem like an actionable plan.

Sticking with the loose inspiration of the “damaging presence”, it seemed like a curse-like skill could serve as a good complement. In essence, the words of the character and the air around them would be so foul, they’d be able to lay waste to armies. Seemed within the flavour at least. And as it so happens, there is a way to turn Inquisitor’s Word of Pain into a Vitality skill, and not just through global Elemental to Vitality conversion. Through direct conversion, one that slaps Vitality RR on that skill, making it so that WoP not only amplifies its own damage (something the abiltiy doesn’t do naturally, as all its RRs are non-elemental) but also amplifies the damage of the core aura.

Before moving on to the setup, I don’t want to be misleading so I’ll make something clear right now: I don’t want you to get the impression that this is an aura build. It’s not. Not anymore, not with the more “realistic” approach that I took. The build started from the inspiration to make an aura build, but has veered off quite a bit. AoC is still an important part of the character, but a true aura build it is not, though I will discuss some ways to make it such below.


1.2 UPDATE: The build has gained on a lot of fronts. OA is up by 50, DA by 100. Phys res is up by 5%, and there’s a few hundred more health. The leech nerf hurts this build a bit though, as its % leech wasn’t high to begin with for a Vitality build. Enemy Vitality resist has gone down globally, though since this build uses the nerfed Signet of the Fallen, it’s not by as much as for some other Vitality builds. On the other hand, the RR mod on Blugrug’s Plagued Edge has gone up by 2 %. So just in general, the build’s damage is more effective, even more so because there are no more - player TDM or + enemy Vit resist mutators to screw the build over. Sunder has had a two-sided effect on this build. The character can’t run the new Runic Seal transmuter, so if it needs to dodge Sunders it’s going to be leaving the safety of the Seal for a bit. But, the build runs Mark of Torment with reduced cooldown (about 9 s downtime), which means it can also exploit Sunders for some more damage by reflecting them back on enemies. Despite all these gains though, this is still a meme build through and through. It can do SR80-81 but all it takes is one death and something like Kubacabra in the boss room and you’re not completing on time, because the bossing is still slow. The build should still probably stick to SR75.

So, what is it that I made, exactly? Well, starting off from the aura concept and expanding it with the addition of Vitality WoP through either Decree of Malmouth or Blugrug’s Plagued Edge I now had two sources of ticking Vitality damage, and with either weapon option, I was also more than halfway towards global Elemental to Vitality conversion (more than halfway thanks to the Radaggan headpiece). That already started me on the right track to find a suitable filler for the build. Either Chain Lightning or Stormfire from their respective Seal components would now be a viable solution to address the single target as they would both be purely Vitality-based.

Between either of the two weapons and the headpiece, I’d be at around 80-90 % conversion on the component skill, while both AoC and WoP would be full Vitality with just one of them. And yet, here I am dual-wielding both of them. Why? Also, why am I bothering with converting a component skill when I have full Vitality Flames of Ignaffar right there on Decree of Malmouth? All good questions.

Rewinding a bit back to the time when I made this build, Radaggan had no total speed on it as it does now. Vitality gloves are also notoriously short on cast speed. Add to that the fact that, for whatever reason, Decree of Malmouth has exactly zero cast speed on it as well, and the idea of doing full Vitality FoI with that weapon seemed like a bad time, not to mention the fact that FoI is extremely points hungry. If I was going to be doing AoC, WoP., FoI and trying to scrounge up some extra Vit support from another mastery (in this case Necromancer as that was one of the three Inquisitor combos I had yet to explore), where exactly would I find the points for crucial things such as defense for this slowly ticking build? I would need Word of Renewal, and ideally Inquisitor’s Seal, since it meshes so nicely with the build’s focus on large hordes. And on the other mastery I’d probably like to take some additional damage and defensive options as well. Where am I going to get all that when I’m trying to do so much on the core of the build already? And, how exactly would I make that viable with, like, 14 % cast speed from gear to my name?

And so, even though I did not commit to the aura aspect of the build, I decided to at least full-send it on the WoP, and doubled down by including Blugrug’s Plagued Edge. Though Blugrug sports less RR and has worse +skills than Decree, it has the distinct advantage of being affixable. That means I can not only potentially get some of that missing cast speed on it, but I can also bring up its flat damage. Which, I forgot to mention, was another major downside of Decree. It has no flat damage on it outside of the WD. Blugrug already exceeds that damage on just the Vitality part of it between the WD and the flat damage roll, but I can get an extra flat Vit damage roll on top of that to make my WD much better. Plus, with the right affix, I can also convert some of that Physical WD into Vitality too. Then I just need to make sure to use Blugrug in the main hand and I’ll put Decree’s damage output to shame. And on the aura side, while neither of the weapons is directly increasing the damage from AoC, they are doing so indirectly by bringing in more Vit RR. In fact, hilariously, between the two weapons and Radaggan, the Inquisitor side of the build is now bringing in 50% Vit RR. On a mastery that doesn’t even support Vitality. That’s Devouring Swarm levels of RR, except it’s across about half the screen, instead of a narrow line.

The decision to dual-wield the weapons did, of course, bring with it the issue of me needing to figure out how to enable dual-wielding. There were only really two options: either I do it on the medal with something like Direwolf Crest or Korvaak’s Brand, or I was going to have to sacrifice the relic slot for one of the Blademaster-line talismans or Slaughter. Unfortunately the one possible belt option in Pack of Deadly Means ran the exact conversion I needed to avoid. If I sacced the relic, I’d be losing on a full mastery’s worth of skill points, plus potential flat and % damage. If I sacced the medal…well, what even were my medal options? There was a number of ways to add more flat damage to AoC or WoP on that slot, but outside of Wendigo Eye, none of them were affixable. They were all legendaries and all had exactly zero to do with Vitality damage. They were mostly in Elemental. Which would mean, I’d be losing % damage not just on the relic but on the medal as well, unless I managed to roll a good Wendigo Eye. A good Vitality roll on a Pierce/Elemental medal…not impossible, but difficult. And so I decided to save myself the hassle and sacced the medal slot. One thing that made that decision easier was the % damage against Beasts on Direwolf Crest. It was fairly obvious that Kubacabra was going to be absolute bitch to kill for this character and having just a straight separate multiplier against her made it feel like I was, in fact, not really sacrificing the slot after all.

With these decisions, there was just this one small problem to address. Between Radaggan, the choices I made to enable DW, the weapon choices to enable full Elemental to Vitality conversion, I have locked out all the slots I could have used to get some actual factual flat damage on AoC or WoP. And so, these two centrepieces of the build boast exactly zero added damage on them apart from, of course, having some decent points in the skills themselves. That…doesn’t sound like a good core of a build does it? The concept was already shaky from the outset since it was just all about ticking enemies down over time rather than bursting, and now even that ticking was going to suck. I sought comfort in two ideas: first, though I was dealing with the most resisted damage type in the game, I was doing a fairly decent job of combatting that status by bringing in a lot of RR. And so, though neither WoP or AoC were sporting any added damage, the damage that they were doing as a baseline was essentially worth more because it was all going to get through. Second, since I saved myself points on trying to get FoI going with Decree, I could allocate the extras I have left over into other ways of boosting my damage. I was already going to be using Inquisitor Seal for defensive purposes, but I could get some extra flat damage for my filler from Arcane Empowerment, and, Seal itself could serve as another bit of ticking damage since it was getting fully converted to Vitality thanks to the weapons. Though Ill Omen’s flat damage was, unfortunately, getting converted through Radaggan to Acid, I could still capitalise on the Vit Decay ticks on it. And thanks to Radaggan and the boots, I would be able to hardcap it quite easily for both max damage and even greater survivability than what AoC would be providing. In addition, I would be getting some damage from the mandatory Spectral Wrath, and I could scrounge up some extra from Siphon Souls as well. Between all these sources, while no individual skill is massively juiced in damage, the assorted RR that I have collected from the weapons and Radaggan would ensure that even these minor skills would contribute, hopefully enough to make those damage ticks worthwhile in aggregate, with occasional extra boosts coming from the Abomination devo and a decently levelled Deadly Aim on Inquisitor.

Since the concept of the build is so damn open, I am by no means saying this is the way to go about it. Hell, I’m not even entirely convinced skipping on FoI is the right call, there could potentially be a decent build right there. With just that part changed, there would be no need to try for full Elemental to Vitality conversion on the weapons, which could open up the offhand slot for something like Scarab Carapace to return to the aura core of the build (though it would probably be tough to a % Vit roll on it and there are exactly zero cast speed affixes for shields, so good luck on that FoI channel). Without the need to enable dual-wielding, the medal would then remain open for one of the WoP or AoC boosting items. Similarly, even if the build doesn’t commit to the FoI route, the door is entirely open to just making use of Reaping Arc from the relic. Even though the build is by no means built for attacking (the attack speed is bad), Blugrug’s Edge delights in rolling attack speed affixes over casting. It’s an axe after all. So that can be fixed. And again, with that, there’s not as much need to convert elemental (the only Elemental left on the build would be Seal), which means, again, the offhand can open up, which opens up the medal. There’s a ton of possibilities, and pretty much all of them would lean towards the original aura concept more than what I ended up doing.



Ugh. Typing that 10/10 felt dirty. How do I keep getting away with this?

I want to absolutely clear. This is NOT a good build. You shouldn’t be setting out to replicate it, or, if you do, you probably should try exploring some of the other aura avenues with it to see if they create something worthwhile. But one thing that can’t be denied about the build is, it’s damn consistent. It’s consistently meh on damage, but it gets the job done and it doesn’t die, which is the main thing that tends to bring performance scores down. This build might take quite a bit longer to get to the finish line, but it’ll get there. It’s actually kinda funny how this mess of a build will consistently outperform both of my Ultos builds, just cause those have issues with survivability and this doesn’t.

When it comes to clearing chunks, the build is solid. Nothing to write home about, in fact it’s probably one of the builds you’d prefer to keep secret from your family for fear of being ostracized. But it gets to capitalise on its strengths there the most and it also kinda gets to abuse a bit of SR mechanics. When you fill the progress bar on an SR chunk to the top, all the enemies on the map get killed, right? Well, any enemies on the map, or at least, any enemies in the vicinity that you’ve damaged but haven’t killed will count towards your timer bonus when the progress bar kills them. So, if you’re just running around the map getting ticks on pretty much all the enemies around the map with AoC and WoP, when the map ends, you’re gonna get a lot of timer. While the build doesn’t actually need all that much timer in the boss room as I’ll explain in a second, it gives the build the comfort of knowing that there’s a bit of wiggle room if it does end up dying. Not that it does that, but if it did, this isn’t a one and done build, because it can incidentally gather up so much timer thanks to its massive AoE. But, to be clear, it’s not that the AoE damage is massive, the AoE itself is massive. WoP covers like third of the screen on cast, so even if individually that damage isn’t all that high (like 30k sheet DPS), it’s happening on A LOT of enemies at the same time, bringing the net damage per cast up a ton. Same with AoC, which covers about half the width of the screen. And, unlike WoP, AoC also brings with it sustain thanks to Radaggan. That means that in large hordes, even if a lot of enemies are pouncing on you, you’re getting frozen or disrupted, there’s a constant stream of healing coming in. And with Inquisitor Seal, taking damage from a lot of different sources is not all that scary, as that damage gets shaved down massively. This makes engagement with large hordes quite comfortable, and a real strength of the build. Mind you, the tankier enemies will still take a bit to tick down, though Chain Lightning helps nudge them in the right direction. But the chaff in the horde will all go down simultaneously over a large area, bringing in a lot of health and reducing the threat.

On single target, while you’d expect the build to be a damn disaster, it’s actually not that bad. I wouldn’t call it good single target by any means, hell, I probably wouldn’t even call it “average” but…well, you won’t be feeling every single cell in your body actively aging as you play, at least, so there’s something. The main reason why is that there’s some mitigating factors that come into play. First, of course, is that you get to bring all of your individual damage ticks to bear in 1v1. Twin Fangs won’t have anything else to shoot, so they’ll just focus on the target, and you can make sure your enemy stands in Seal to take every little tick of that damage. And, second, Seal itself is kinda emblematic of the build’s saving grace: racism. Inquisitor is naturally good at handling Eldritch and Cthonic enemies, of which there are quite a lot in SR. Seal itself then also brings in bonus damage against Aetherials, and I was fortunate enough to get the “of Insanity” suffix on my Blugrug, bringing in an extra generic multiplier against Aetherials for all my damage. Then there’s Direwolf Crest bringing in damage against Beasts and Beastkin, meaning that the only common types of enemies we don’t have any bonus damage against are Undead and Humans. Among Humans there are no enemies particularly resistant to Vitality, though of course we would enjoy being able to take down the traditional PITA duo of IM and Fabius a little bit faster. Undead are a bit of a different story because of Ilgorr, Moosilauke and Zantarin, but all that means is there is a bit of a time tax involved. None of them are actually dangerous. Though the build’s low phys res does mean that Ilgorr’s and Moose’s overheads do get to hit fairly hard, between the assorted DRs, passive and active, and solid health pool, they’re not enough to one-shot the build, which means they’re no threat, as the build recovers health very well. This racism is especially pronounced if an enemy happens to be multi-racial. The Duskreaper, for instance, being both Beast and Eldritch, goes down satisfyingly fast, and even enemies vulnerable to just one type of racial bonus end up taking a lot less time than you’d expect. Grava, for example, is not only a very comfortably tankable enemy thanks to Seal, but also doesn’t make for nearly as long of a duel as you’d expect from a build with poor single target.

All that, of course, doesn’t change the fact that the build is just slow. It’s just not as slow as you’d expect. In chunks it makes not just nice timer but also generally just ok time by wiping out massive hordes of white mobs with just a cast and a few ticks of its aura, and also gets to deal quite nicely with larger groups of heroes, as even though damage against each individual hero isn’t great, even when focused by Chain Lightning, the total damage dealt per second over an area is solid, so all the heroes tick down simultaneously as the fight goes on without you even having to focus on them. Against bosses the damage is heavily contingent on enemy typing and resistances. Kuba might be the right type of enemy to take bonus damage but is also resistant enough that it’s a bit of a slower fight, and if both resistance and enemy type align to your disadvantage, the fight’s gonna take a while. But, because the build is just so consistently survivable in both hordes and 1v1, it can take all the time it needs, and even with two time-waster chunks it just isn’t that much of a slog in the boss room to be in danger of running out of time, even if the boss lineup ends up being on the slow side. And, since a good number of those highly resistant enemies aren’t even all that dangerous (Illgor, Zantarin, Moose) thanks to the build’s generally solid survivability despite the low phys res and DA, you can also shortcut the boss killing process by pulling multiple of those weaker bosses together, since pretty much all the damage the build does gets applied over a wider area, or chains between enemies. The damage output against each boss is therefore pretty much the same whether they’re fought individually or in pairs.

Here are the usual SR75-76 and SR80 parts of one of my runs. You even get to relish in the experience that is fighting Kuba on this build :slight_smile: Oh joy!


I fucking loled :rofl: :+1: