[ –] Build Overview - Wrath of Tenebris Deceiver (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

As I was getting very, very close to completing my collection of mastery combinations, I realised a rather alarming fact. I generally tend to go out of my way to explore a wide range of playstyles, regardless of what my preferences are, but when it comes to diversity of damage type, I have a massive, gaping hole (get your mind out of the gutter) in exploration of Chaos damage. Very early on, back in vanilla GD, I set out to capture the flavour of the Bloodsworn on my Witch Hunter. That resulted in two build versions: one full Vitality, the other Vitality/Chaos. And that was it. That was the range of my Chaos builds. One character, and it wasn’t even purely Chaos.

Not that I have anything against the damage type in particular. The issue was more mechanical. Whenever I would set out to create a build, whether it was with a certain skill or playstyle in mind, or whether I was just trying to add a new mastery combo to my collection, I would universally run into the same issue. If I want to go Chaos, I got no filler. Occultist is the perfect example of this. The quintessential Chaos mastery. And what Chaos skills are there? SoC, Doom Bolt. That’s kinda it. Both mix damage types, but that can be converted. But there’s no main attack, no filler. And the same goes across all the masteries. At best you can have filler or a core skill that you can find ways to convert to Chaos or get a mix of damage types with Chaos involved (AAR and FoI are the easiest examples). But native Chaos skills? Not really a thing. It always seemed like for whatever skill I wanted to build around, I would have an easier time going with a different damage type, or at least I would have an easier time supporting that damage type with RR and such (as Chaos has all of 2 native RR skills: WoP and Mines).

So when it came time to make a Deceiver build to add to my class collection, I said enough. If I wasn’t going to make a damn Chaos build on a combo involving the primary Chaos mastery and one of the two masteries with Chaos RR, then when the hell would I? I’ve always wanted a Chaos Knight and goddamnit I’m gonna have me a Chaos Knight even if it kills me. And it nearly did. Cause for a very long time, I went about it the wrong way. Fair warning: a good bit of reading ahead.


The entire idea of the build was essentially centered around a single item: Wrath of Tenebris, a bigass Chaos melee weapon, custom-made for the Deceiver combo. Surely if the devs were advertising 2H melee Chaos Deceiver this loudly as a viable build, I have to be able to make something out of that without too much effort. And, elegantly, it was also going to plug a major gap (come on, stop giggling already! damn teenagers). When I created the aforementioned Witch Hunter, I wanted to make use of all the core skills of the Bloodsworn, those being Curse of Frailty, Sigil of Consumption and Doom Bolt. However, as I refined the build I eventually had to cut Doom Bolt out. With Wrath of Tenebris, I was going to make Doom Bolt a major part of the build, even though I would otherwise be a melee fighter.

Now, having a weapon premade for the combo is all nice and dandy but that doesn’t exactly solve the core problem I’ve had with Chaos builds, does it? Where’s my main attack? Cause I sure as shit ain’t finding it in Occultist or Inquisitor. Wrath of Tenebris is clearly built for attacking, not casting, so no Chaos Flames of Ignaffar, and no Chaos DEE with Conduit. I want to hit things with my scythe and Deceiver isn’t letting me do that.

The way I chose to solve that problem was analogous to the way I solved the same concern on my Belgothian Blademaster, one of my earliest builds. If Belgo could provide the basic attack for Blademaster, why not let Rah’Zin do the same for the Deceiver? That…was a terrible, terrible idea. The reason the Blademaster worked taking that approach was that Blademaster was supplementing its default attack replacer with WPS. Deceiver was doing no such thing. It could have. If I went ranged I could just take those Inquisitor WPS and possibly make that work. But on melee? I had exactly nothing going on that front. Nothing but the proc from Seal of the Void. 16 % chance to have some actual AoE ain’t exactly much.

I tried to solve that problem in many different ways. Initially I was hoping the CoF support on Rah’Zin could help, as even though that was just 60 flat damage, I would also be spreading Eldritch Fire from the devos along with that, and getting some minor damage from low lvl Word of Pain, which I would be using just for its final node anyway. With Wrath of Tenebris, Voidheart and Rah’Zin, a good portion of that elemental damage was getting converted to Chaos, as was the damage from Inquisitor Seal. So maybe I could just let enemies die over time to the assorted damage ticks amplified by all the RR. And, if nothing else, I had the Seal of the Void proc, and I would be using Doom Bolt, which I was supporting both through the weapon and through Covenant of the Three and Riftwarped Grasp to dramatically reduce its cooldown. So I would have some occasional bursts of AoE nukage there as well. That was the idea. And it was all wrong.

The build felt like absolute shit to play. The damage of Touch of Chaos from Rah’Zin was solid. The damage from Doom Bolt was also very nice. And it wasn’t anywhere close to enough to make up for the fact that I was, for the most part, just swinging away at enemies one at a time. The damage from CoF, Inquisitor Seal and WoP may as well not have been there. When Seal of the Void procced it did nice damage but it was very sporadic. And Horn of Gandarr may have been fully converted to Chaos thanks to the WoR mod on Tenebris (which I still have no idea why it’s there) but nobody would call unmodded Horn a good AoE skill.

So, cool, the build sucks, it barely even makes it to SR75. Maybe I’m just going about it the wrong way. Maybe I’m just picking the wrong AoE skills, I thought. Occultist and Inquisitor are both solid caster classes, I’m sure there are options. I…um…there’s definitely… Where the hell’s all the AoE? On Occultist there’s, like, Sigil of Consumption, if you’d even call that an AoE solution. And I guess you could use the Chaos Bloody Pox Conduit…if you weren’t locked out of it by the Rah’Zin amulet. And on Inquisitor? Well, we’re not channelling FoI if we plan to wave Tenebris around, so that’s not an option. And what else is there? I can’t make Rune of Kalastor a Chaos skill with Tenebris in hand. But there is Rune of Hagarrad. And between the Pierce conversion from Tenebris and Cold conversion from the various Rah’Zin pieces, you can get most of the way there on making Chaos RoH. You can do so. But you shouldn’t bother. Cause I’ve tried. Good god is it bad. There’s no modifiers improving the damage, and, in fact, converting it to Chaos makes the skill worse than its baseline cause then the Frostburn’s going to waste. I even resorted to employing what would later become my favourite AoE cheat code and tried slapping on the Korvaak devotion to just petrify everything forever so I have the time to deal with it. And even with these cheat codes enabled, it was fucking unplayable.

I was at a loss. It seemed like Deceiver was just doomed as a melee option because there didn’t seem to be any AoE to be had. I shelved the character for months and complained about it every time Zantai posted a thread asking for suggestions on what people would like to see the next patch. And it was then that my saviour descended from on high and turned everything around. There @tqFan arrived, clad in holy light and bestowed upon me this piece of wisdom: “how 'bout you use Reaping Arc ya fucking scrub?” Not quite the way he formulated it, but, you know, creative license taken for dramatic effect. It would never in a million years have occurred to me to use a Vitality Necromancer relic on a Chaos Occultist/Inquisitor. Actually, back then I think it was even an Aether+Vitality relic. Not only was that a solution that wasn’t even remotely within my view at the time, I’ve also had Uroboruuk’s Reaping slotted in the “cooldown skill” category for so long that when its cooldown was removed I still kept forgetting about it. So I took the suggestion and put the relic on.

And it felt…better. A good bit better. It was a clear move in the right direction, but it wasn’t quite there. Well, of course, how could it be there? I was still wearing the fucking Rah’Zin set, even though I wasn’t even using Touch of Chaos anymore. So I took Rah’Zin, thanked it for all the miserable times we’ve had together and tossed it in the fucking bin. I kept the amulet for now as it had both RR and flat AoE damage, but I replaced the other pieces as best I could. And it still wasn’t there. The AoE was better but not good, the single target was worse without Touch of Chaos, but at least now I wasn’t hitting enemies one at a time. But the general AoE was still sucking, and I had some energy sustain issues because of all the Doom Bolt spamming. After some discussion with @Bananow9393, I did some tinkering with my Doom Bolt setup. I tried, just as an experiment, to drop Covenant of the Three and Riftwarped Grasp and replace them with the Harbinger helmet and gloves. I had tried the gloves alone before but not together with the helmet. When I put those on, two things happened. My Doom Bolt damage per cast went up but my DPS on it went down a lot because of the loss of flat CDR. But my autoattack damage went up. A lot. By more than what I lost on Doom Bolt. And so, the DPS went up overall, my single target was back to about where I was with Touch of Chaos, but now I actually had some close range AoE, and even my energy issues kinda improved as Doom Bolt wasn’t being spammed as much anymore. But it still wasn’t quite there. Then, @tqFan struck again during pre- discussion by mentioning he’s going to try Chaos Word of Pain conduit when I mentioned the build still wasn’t working. He concluded, after some testing, that the build was indeed still awful and an SR65 meme, at least when using the Chaos Inquisitor Seal Conduit. But when I put the WoP Conduit on, I started slowly concluding otherwise. It wasn’t great. But it was getting SR75-80 playable.

Here’s what I ended on after that discussion in 9.7:

1.2 UPDATE: Build gained 4 % absorb from Possession, and a tiiiniest smidge of OA and DA (like, 20-ish each). The addition of Runic Seal transmuter helps the build set up a new safety nest after relocating during combat, which was one of its weaknesses. Take 1 point from Word of Renewal to spec into it. Otherwise, the build has gained a bit of QoL as WoR and BoD now have the exact same cooldown, and both last twice as long, so it’s not such a pain in the ass to keep the buffs up all the time. Build runs 80-81 quite nicely. Could maybe do 85+, but its defenses might start letting it down.

I did some testing with that setup at the time and it was noticably better. Even after the initial change to Reaping Arc the build was now capable of getting to SR75 fairly comfortably, where previously even that was a challenge. After those final changes on amulet (and also deviation away from Korvaak to the full Chaos devo route for better kill speeds), the build started doing SR75-80s with shakiness, but some promise at last. It was fragile, prone to getting overwhelmed, but it was starting to show some strenghts. When I came back to it for this testing in 9.8, I expected much of the same.


(DPS for Reaping Arc with permabuffs, WoR, BoD and Seal up)


I’m not sure what happened. But this does not feel like the same build I left behind in 9.7, despite it not changing at all, to my knowledge. To put things a bit into context, though, I must admit that after the last two builds I’ve overviewed, I’ve forgotten a bit what it’s like to play a build with actual good single target damage. On the other hand, I’ve also forgotten what it’s like to have a build that’s not all AoE all day. So some of what I’ll say may be a bit skewed, as the single target may feel better to me than it actually is because I’ve just played two builds with bad single target, and the AoE may feel worse than it actually is cause I’ve just played two pure AoE builds.

To draw a comparison with what I remember this build feeling like. It was doing great single target, both through autoattacks and through Doom Bolt, but its AoE was still pretty ass. Even with Chaos WoP, fully skilled up, it just wasn’t clearing chaff very well, and the build felt very volatile. It could sit in its Inquisitor Seal and feel mostly safe. I say “mostly” because of its vulnerability to petrify (so Timewarped were an issue) and incomplete stun res. The main issue was, though, that it needed to leave Inquisitor Seal eventually. This is actually the only Inquisitor build I have in my collection that isn’t primarily fighting at range. So, you set up your Seal, sit in it and kill anything that comes close. But there are enemies that just don’t come close. And they’ll pepper you. And in order to get rid of them on this build, you have to leave Seal and get close. And when you do, you get shot to shit. Except now…it’s not as bad as I remember. The Gazer Prime encounter isn’t exactly a joyful experience, but outside of that I’ve not felt many issues with the ranged situation. WoP does tick the trash to death just fine, and it also performs some anti-ranged defensive duties thanks to the attack slow and impaired aim effects, so closing the distance isn’t nearly as dangerous as I remember. And on melee, the build’s not even that bad on survivability outside of Seal. Now, I’ll admit, I have died on it a good number of times across these 10 runs. I believe like 5 at least. Most of those were from truly large groups of heroes rushing the hell out of me and in most cases I was getting blown up almost instantly, rather than worn down over time. And that was mostly inside Seal. But it needed to be some truly nasty hero groups for that to happen. I’ve never died more than once in a run. And the build is fast enough that this did not pose an issue.

Which brings me to the strength of the build. Good lord the single target. You haven’t lived till you’ve had Doom Bolt remove a Hero’s entire HP bar in one cast at SR80. When that thing crits…may god have mercy. Cause this build certainly won’t. It’s not unheard of for this character to remove a whole 1 million HP from a boss with a single Doom Bolt cast. And while those Doom Bolts may not be coming out all that often anymore without Covenant of the Three and Riftwarped Grasp…well, on the plus side there’s also very good DPS happening outside of those Doom Bolts as well. And with Chaos being such a poorly resisted damage type, all this sweet sheet DPS is getting through to the boss health pool very nicely. There’s a grand total of four bosses that even attempt to put up any resistance: Benn’Jahr, Karroz and Lagoth’Ak, all of whom are nothing but a minor speed bump with exactly zero threat. And Reaper of the Lost, who’s a minor speed bump with minor threat. Provided you don’t just stand around as he and his Wraiths absolutely obliterate your resistances, there isn’t really much to talk about there either. Which means entering the boss room is just a brief dummy punching exercise.

Though the build doesn’t feel nearly the way I remembered, there are still, of course, some weak points. As I mentioned, I have died a few times on it. This is in part because the build feels safest in its nest, with Seal up and Horn of Gandarr applied on all nearby enemies. That takes some time to set up and sometimes you get rushed so fast you don’t have the time to get it all up and running, especially since the build’s cast speed is pretty damn low. It’s also not unusual in those hectic situations to accidentally place your Seal just a bit too far forward, in which case you may end up standing your ground amidst all the worst of it thinking you’re safe, while you’re actually eating a ton of preventable damage. The other issue on top of that is that the health pool isn’t quite high enough, so quick bursts of damage from multiple sources can sometimes bring it down too fast for you to react. This is not an issue in 1v1 (like with IM, or Fabius) but against big hero groups with lots of stacking debuffs (looking at you, Gargoyles and Griffins), where Seal should theoretically be doing its best work, the health pool can still let you down. That issue isn’t helped any by the fact the build runs exactly zero circuit breakers (Ghoul, Prismatic Diamond, Turtle) so when that damage starts piling on there’s nothing there to stop it other than your reaction time.

Averaged out the build feels on the faster side because of the excellent single target, but its still limited AoE damage output does tend to slow it down in chunks unless you can maintain a steady stream of Heroes or consistently hunt down Nemeses (Reaper is preferrably avoided, if not for potential threat then even just for timer efficiency). As a result, based on hero density and mutators the build can run SR75-76 at anywhere between 8 to 11 minutes, which is quite the range, and even SR80s can vary by around those 3 minutes. If you keep running into just endless hordes of chaff and no heroes in sight you’ll definitely feel the build slowing down, though as long as the chaff is fragile, Word of Pain can remedy the clear speed decently enough.

Here are the usual SR75-76 and SR80 parts of one of my runs. This is the build I’ve recorded the most footage for, as it was pretty tough to get a good average run in to illustrate the feel of the build. One run I recorded was uncharacteristically slow, another very, very fast but included like 5 near deaths, which was an atypical level of volatility. This one sits just about in the middle, though it has slow mutators bringing it down (partial Chaos res + TDM reduction).

Just 4 more builds to go and I’ll have gone over every class :wink:


A rough as hell guide on how to level this:

Start of with Inquisitor and Word of Pain, and focus on that initially then spec into Occultist and get Vulnerability asap, with Viper being the first devotion you want to aim for. Because once you’ve got Viper you want to re-spec into using either a 1 handed weapon + offhand or a 2 hander gun. As you can use Viper to debuff enemies elemental resistances via shooting them :stuck_out_tongue:

So then you want to add WPS while also getting Solael’s Witchfire line and Blood of Dreeg ASAP and keep pushing Inquisitor mastery bar out to get Inquisitor Seal and Death Sentence node on WoP. You then should push Occultist mastery out to Doom Bolt, which is going to be your main source of damage. Stick Shard of Beronath on your weapon when you can, since that’s going to be your auto attack. As in order to kill stuff, you want to stack as many sources of damage as you can while levelling.

Devotions wise, you should be pushing Solael’s Witchblade and I strongly, strongly recommend going for Ghoul as a stop gap until you hit level 94, otherwise get the south stuff first. Because once you hit level 75 you’re going to be using a Harbinger’s set build, and until then Kraken’s kinda useless.

Speaking of which, once you get to level 75 it’s Harbinger Teim and you should use this set asap and respec mainly into Death Bolt as your nuke with Combustion Band equipped, with the Black Star of Deceit being your go to medal the whole damn way. While using SoB as your auto attack option to pile on the damage/provide AoE

Unfortunately there’s a sad lack of elemental/vitality converted to chaos options early on, but in theory with SoB as your attack + WPS + Doom Bolt with RR from CoF and WoP and Sigil of Consumption for some more sustain while levelling you should be pretty good for Vet/Elite.

Then once you hit level 94 spec into this build and reap your way to success :3

As for where to get the shoulders - SR is your friend, for my testing of builds is drowning me in MI shoulders lawl. Eventually you’ll get a good enough roll, but I recommend going for resistances first, because you will need them for Ultimate. Especially for farming SR75-76, which is unforgiving for low resistances.

Or just GD stash it :3

Congrats on making this build performing so well!

Such a rare bird to get 2h melee chaos working.

Hope new expansion will help in this regard and will give more option for Chaos.

Are You planning any more Chaos builds for the remaining classes?


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Unfortunately not, this is my one and only proper Chaos build to date and will be for the forseeable future. I was planning to start making new builds again after I’m done with the overviews (everything I’m overviewing are builds I’ve already finished between 9.1 and 9.7), I even already have all the builds fully theorycrafted and most of the MIs collected and ready to go. But that was before the expac was announced. No point starting work on getting a second build on each mastery combo when a whole new mastery is coming out in about a year. But to sate your curiosity, several of my theorycrafts were Chaos builds (Rag’Nadar Mines Pyromancer, Obsidian Juggernaut Warlock, Chaos Reap Spirit Spellbinder, Chaos RF Paladin).

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