[] Balance in all Things | Cold Dual-Wield Nex & Ortus Saboteur | Clear Lategame-contet with ease

Balance in all Things | Nex & Ortus Saboteur

Grimtools for the impatient:

As was pointed out correctly, softcaping Veil of shadows is very strong, mistake on my side. Feel free to remove 1 point to get 1 % RR back from thermite mines.


Saboteur, Level 100 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator


This is my personal all-time favorite build. I optimized a lot here, and obviously the build in the GT link has a lot of very good gear. Everything you see in the Performance section further down is with very well rolled purples, BIS MI’s double rares, sometimes even triple rares, BUT this build is very beginner-friendly (as friendly as Nightblades can be) and to have a good experience with the build you don’t need that level of optimization. If the demand for an LVL 1 to Lokarr guide exists, I will work on that but right now this is only an Endgame showcase, I hope you enjoy!


The idea i simple, Cold dual-wield (DW) night blades are very mobile and can dish out a lot of damage quickly, while struggling with taking damage. Since Nightblades, in particular Auto-Attack (AA) bases DW Nightblades got buffed heavily in damage (and convenience) this patch, I wanted to see how far I could push my favorite build in 1.2.

Build Concept

The concept is also rather simple, we want our Fire Strike from the Demolitionist side to deal as much damage as possible. For that we equip the main stars of the build, the purple set swords Nex & Ortus.
Together with very strong Monster Infrequents (MI’s) that are tailor-made for an cold damage based Saboteur, we want as much flat Cold damage applied to Fire strike as possible while converting all flat Fire damage added to Fire Strike we get to cold and a good chunk of acid damage too. We unfortunately cannot convert flat pierce to cold, and the damage that gets converted into Fire damage stays Fire damage, but as you will see it doesn’t really matter :wink:.

Ingame Stats:

Gear Breakdown:

Nex & Ortus:

Let us talk about what makes these swords so good, because understanding these makes the understanding of everything else much easier.

  1. First the Obvious: + 1 to all skills, 110 offensive ability (OA), % Weapon damage to Fire strike and a lot of other very nice stuff for a Cold / Fire build
  2. We convert all Acid damage to Fire (2/3) and Cold (1/3) on Fire Strike. The split is unfortunate, but otherwise the build would be even stronger as it is, which would be insane.
  3. Sacred Balance this is the main selling point, adding 26 flat Resistance Reduction (RR) for 3 seconds with a 1-second Cooldown (CD), means it’s not only up all the time (if we crit of course), but also that we can skip a flat RR devotion, letting us be way more versatile there. You need High OA to keep this procing.
  4. Both the healing light proc for Ortus and the Shadow bolt for Nex provide a nice sustain boost.

Because Nex deal more damage and the proc has a lot less CD, put Nex in your offhand, so Amarasta’s Blade Burst (ABB) uses Nex.

For Ortus take the one with the highest amounts of flat Fire damage, attack speed, health and Chaos resistance, While for Nex the same applies, just that the % Cold Damage is more important than the Aether resistance.


Head: Namadeas Horns, these are absolutely essential and need an Overseer prefix. Up to + 18 % physical resistance, global Fire - > Cold, flat Cold to Pneumatic Burst these are just amazing!

Necklace: Ellena’s Necklace, also absolute top tier, Physical → Cold, innate flat cold, + 1 Nightblade, just amazing. Try to get a decent triple rare here, its actually quite easy. Chilled is extra flat Cold but good rare affixes provide a lot of resistances which you then don’t need to fix anymore.

Medal: Galeslice’s Mark, also absolute BIS. Flat Cold and + 3 to Flame touched, and global Fire and Chaos conversion makes this absolutely amazing. This is also very easy to farm, try to get a decent one.

Shoulders: Fabius’ Plauderon / Zantarin’s Shoulderguard, both are amazing. I personally like Fabius more due to hardcapping Fire strike (the 22nd point is the by far the strongest Point/Damage) and giving Belgothian’s Shear more points which is actually a good Weapon pool skill (WPS) thus patch. Zantarins give up to 736 health, making it the tankier option but choose by preference.

Legs: Kubacabra’s Chausses, These are only necessary if you go for Fabius Shoulder to hardcap Lethal assault. If you go Zantarin’s, you have options. Kubas require you to pump physique, which you want anyway for health and DA (not a meme stat anymore on melee, especially Nightblades)


Let’s make this quick,

Chest: Frostdread Cuirass, insane amount of flat cold, just amazing and + up to 9 % health

Belt: Chains of Nightfire, the conversion is not needed but up to 792 health, very high 108 armor and stun res making this BIS in my opinion

Feet: Amatok’s Step, BIS try get 5 % phys res

Hands: Icescorn Talons, + 2 Lethal assult, BIS, try get % Armor for completion

Blues & Relic

Rings: Rubi & Sapphire of Elemental Balance, these are made for this build. Perfect stats + bonuses and very cool aesthetic on the proc, try get % Armor here too.

Relic: Nidalla’s Outbreak, +1 Nightblade high % Cold damage, Aether res, high DA just a very solid relic, try to get +1 to Night’s Chill if lethal assault is maxed, if not, well you know…

Because we are a Squishy Class combination, we need defenses that cover this weakness. The high Physical resistance from the Gear, skills and devotions is very strong but that + getting our Armor as high as we can makes this Build surprisingly tanky.

Key Devotions

Yugol: 16 % Damage reduction + high flat cold damage and leech, making this the best of the cold tier 3 Devotions

Murmur: RR

Crab: Nice shield + 15 flat elemental, very good

Hyrian: 5 points (we don’t need the proc), 18 % Armor, 10 % healing effectiveness, which scales leech, a lot of health and % elemental damage and the big one 16 flat elemental

Viper: RR

The rest aims at getting more OA, leech, tankiness and affinity.


You are a melee DW Nightblade, meaning the skill floor is higher on this than on most other archetypes because you are a squishy class in melee. You need to know basically 3 things:

  • What Fights can you take
  • How long can you take them
  • What is your priority target

All of these come with game knowledge + being familiar with your build. The general strategy is keeping lethal assault up 100 % of the time and Ring of Steeling (RoS) the dangerous enemies for the Fumble. Place Thermite Mine below your priority target and go ham with Fire strike.


Updates in the Replies

Before You ask, yes i leveled 3 separate Sabo’s for the Ravager kills :smiley:

Lokarr in 12 seconds


Mogdrogen in 2 min 16 seconds


Ravager of Flesh in 54 seconds


Ravager of Minds in 1 min 25 seconds


Ravager of Souls in 1 min 37 seconds


Callagadra in 1 min 43 seconds


SR 75 - 76 in 5 min 10 seconds (Good SR)


SR 85 - 86 in 9 min 42 seconds, 1 Death in the 85 Boss room due to an piloting error


And the Ultimate Flex :muscle:



With the Embers Calling Set you can pull of a Fire / Chaos damage-based Fire strike Sabo, but it honestly does look weaker on paper than the cold version.

Closing statement

Thank you very much if you read all this, it took a while. I hope I inspired you to pick this build up and try it out for yourself, and maybe, who knows, it will become your new favorite build too :slight_smile: .


I have been doing this build since forever:

Your build seems to be doing a lot of the things similiarly with some slight variations.

What I would recommend is swapping RoS for Flashbang but most importantly soft capping Veil of Shadow. You really need that radius to your RR because a lot of your damage are procs that damage foes in the vicinity and to support that you need to extend your Veil of Shadow as much as possible.

I see few builds posted here that have VoS at 4 or 5 and that is a mistake, soft cap is extremely valuable on it (not just for RR but also for effective DA and some slow).

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Hey, yeah i saw your build, thats where I got the varriatons form in the gear discussion :slight_smile:

Flashbang vs RoS: I playtested both extensivley, Flashbang is objectivley the better choice, but in general RoS feels smoother and has the same amout of fumble. I did some off camera Celestial kills / SR runs with flashband and it wasnt quicker or felt noticably better so i decided to go for the smooth option.

Veil of Shadow: Yeah an blunder on my part you are 100 % correct. My Frostdread rolled low on freeze res so i kinda over valued it on phantasmal armor, GT will be updated.

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Another advantage of Flashbang is a bit of a DA shred which synergizes nicely with Nex and Ortus since it needs to crit as often as possible to proc swords set’s proc. Also extra confuse cc is never bad in SR. But RoS can also be really potent and even deal a bit of aoe damage. However I would always recommend taking a transmuter on RoS, even on non cold build (unless RoS is your main source of damage there), since it has amazing freeze cc.

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Yeah without the DA shred, i think RoS would be better in all cases, but my build has good OA already and as you said the AoE from RoS is very handy to have. Yeah the Transmuter is very good and on builds that have points left over i would also recomend it, but this build is very point hungry and if i had more points to spent i would actually pump phantasmal armor first, because a) i need the freeze :smiley: and b) im trying to get my armor as high as i can, thus the flat armor would be also very strong. Thanks for the suggestions!

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Performance Updates with better Gear:

Ravager of Minds in 1min 10 sec.:

Ravager of Minds

Callagadra in 1 min 6 sec.;


SR 75 - 76 in 4 min 52 sec.:

Shattered Realm

Nice pic od the char. Is IT AI generated?

Also I like this build archetype first provided by mad_lee. Would try some day my own take for HC :slight_smile:

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Yep its AI :smiley:

I tried this on HC already and farmed lokarr set with it. Like every DW melee Nightblade its quite squshy and definetly not the best HC choice but i love the build.