[] Beginner's Fire Sword & Board Shieldbreaker - First char suitable, SR viable Update
  • Final Build updated. Note it does contain specific rare affixes, however those are high value affix. The damage of the build is good enough that you just need to cap you resistances off and have 1 slow and stun res affix.

  • The shield must have durable affix as phys res is low without it. Update
  • The final build has been updated: Righteous Fervor, Consecration and Ascension are dropped. Skill points have been adjusted to max Vindictive Flame for attack speed instead.

  • Investing stats into spirit is quite greedy. Do so if you wish. Changes
  • Fleshwarped Defender has finally been fixed (and buffed). Damage reduction is great and allows for another Arcane Heart powder on the amulet augment. Flashbang has been replaced. Colossal Defender is still much easier to obtain however, but Judgment providing instant AoE damage reduction is superior (and it procs Eldritch Fire better than Charge, so no need to spam that anymore :smiley: ).

  • Balthazar’s Crest is a great medal that can be used instead of whatever else you have. Good damage if you get a res affix.

  • As Flashbang is eventually replaced. The pants are weaker, up to you if you prefer a green MI with slow res affix instead e.g Grava Pants.

Thought I would share a fun shield build for farming as a first character. It is nice and easy to get sufficient levels of power in just greens/faction for Rogue dungeons, Monster Totems and quite high SR.


FG finally gave us auto-attacks which use the shield in the Oathkeeper mastery, and they are great skills.

This beginner build utilises Righteous Fervor, Smite and Shattering Smash with great success. A hefty amount of power comes from devotions however, with Fissure and Meteor Shower pulling great dps in AoE. This build is nice in multiplayer too, thanks to high level buffs and debuffs.

The gameplay is pretty simple too. Charge in, lay Thermite Mines, Judgment (or Flashbang if using Colossal Defender) and whack away. The hotbar has plenty of room for additional consumables, which greatly help to do SR this untwinked.

The Beginner Build (Easy to acquire Colossal Defender): GRIMTOOLS

The Beginner Build (After farming Felshwarped Defender (better than above)): GRIMTOOLS

The Final Build after farming: Shieldbreaker, Level 100 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator

SR 50-51

Fleshwarped Defender Farming
Beware the orange tint on the MI can only be seen from certain angles. If you move too quickly you might miss it. Just kill them all :wink:.

Port Valbury has a vendor which sells this MI. The vendor can be reset by zoning and waiting ~10 seconds before returning. The dungeon itself is nice for farming Legendaries. Farming the dungeon vendor may be the quickest method but spamming Rotting Croplands over and over works too, and there is also a high chance of seeing a monster totem each time too.

I farmed for around 20 minutes to test this out and the route I use is below (red circles are a crude eyeball of potential spawn sites, smaller the size the less probable the spawn):


Demolitionist (faster start): Put all skill points into Stun Jacks until rank 11, afterwards put a few into the mastery bar then wait for level 8. At 8, re-spec out of Stun Jacks and put 1 into Fire Strike and then max Explosive Strike.

Oathkeeper: put 1 into Aegis of Menhir, then 4 points into the second node. Invest more into Aegis for damage or carry on with Avenging Shield for AoE. Respec at level 8 and put all skill point into Vire’s Might.


Carry on with Explosive Strike, start investing in Flame touched. If Oathkeeper, invest in VM.

At level 15 spec out of all skills (feel free to keep/put 1 in Vire’s Might for movement), if Demolitionist re-spec mastery down to 1. Invest up to 20 in Oathkeeper, put 9 into Shattering Smash, 9 into smite, 1 into Consecration and then all remaining into Righteous Fervor.

Put 1 into Safeguard, Ascension, Resilience, Presence of Virtue and Haven then proceed to max RF.


Max Safeguard and Ascension, do this in whichever order you like. Ascension provides defence and a damage boost, but Safeguard more damage and armour.


Take Oathkeeper to 50, 1 into Guardians of Empyrion, 1 into Divine Mandate, any spare into Celestial Presence.


Max Celestial Presence. Invest into Demolitionist, 1 into Flame touched and Vindictive Flame. Invest all into mastery.


Proceed to unlock Blast shield and Thermite Mines. Blast Shield to ~4-6 then take Thermite Mines to 10.


Invest into Consecration and Flame Touched. Top up Blast shield as and when needed.

I recommend to start using Flashbang for Searing Light Fumble around lvl 84+ (unless low armour it should not be needed until then). Only 1 in Flashbang and ~3 into Searing Light.

Lastly put more into Divine Mandate, Presence of Virtue and Vindictive Flame.


Finish off everything else, any remaining points take Searing Light to 6, and Flashbang to 12.

Suggested Levelling Devotions

Initially you could take movement speed, or imp if you want some AoE, until the points for Magi’s fissure are acquired.
I recommend:

  • 1 into red crossroads
  • 2 into Jackal
  • 1 into green crossroads
  • 2 into Spider (take attack speed)
  • 1 into blue crossroads
  • 3 into Sailor’s Guide (take movement speed for 3rd node)

As soon as 14 devotions have been acquired I recommend to spec out of Jackal, Sailor’s Guide and red+blue crossroads. Put 3 in Hawk and then 5 into Magi for Fissure. It is very good for AoE.

After this it is straightforward with only re-specs of crossroads.
I then recommend Eldritch Fire for RR, Jackal, Ghoul, Viper, Empty Throne, Rhowan’s Crown, Revenant and then Ulzuin’s Torch.

Levelling gear and components

Focus on resistances, attack speed, and armour. In that order. Thanks to ascension and safeguard, you won’t need too worry about armour for a while.

Some nice early affix on gear:

  • “of Zeal” belt and amulet
  • “Durable” shields, as well as others that provide physical resistance.
  • “of alacrity” on fast weapons and hands
  • “of haste” boots

The Charge movement rune from Cult of Dreeg is needed to proc Eldritch Fire. Can be acquired after Act 1 in the conclave of the Three.

Useful components: Enchanted Flint x2, Scaled Hide x2 (shoulder + Leg), Antivenom Salve (Waist + Feet (if needed)), Silk Swatch on Chest, Restless Remains on Hands, Wardstone x2, Corpse Dust x2, Runestone.

Relic: Recommended to use Bone/Ivory/Sacred Talisman by keeping the quest item given by the elder.

Build Enabling Monster Infrequent: As level 40 is approached damage will wane as most of RF is physical damage rather than fire. Servitor’s Cleaver should be farmed either in Void’s Edge or Lone Watch/Mourndale. Both kinds of Servitor enemies (healer or chaos bolt thrower) drop it.

Endgame farming shield, strong defensive option (Use until good Fleshwarped Defender is found) : Colossal Defender with a high roll durable affix is recommended (~28%+ ideal, 33% is max). After rescuing Hyram in Steelcap, you can powershop (either exit to main menu or check multiple other vendors to reset inventory) a high durable roll. This shield has fire damage bonus and innate physical resistance.

Offensive & Defensive option, use Colossal Defender until you find a durable one: Fleshwarped Defender, a high damage fire shield with bonus to Smite. Monsters around Homestead, in Ikon and the Necropolis can wear this. However it is recommended to farm either Rotting Croplands or whilst doing Port Valbury (Agarrad Vendor here can sell the shield, as well as the loot being good). Take Aetherward oils from Malmouth Faction if you need extra Aether res for Port Valbury.

Endgame Oathkeeper Belt: Gargoyle girdle belt can be farmed in the Astral Fields or Basalt Crags from Gargoyles. Res are the primary priority, but OA is useful.

Fettan mask: Only needed at late level when it provides +1 all skills. Acquired in the secret area very close to the Korvan sands rift (at: Grim Dawn World Map).

Balthazar’s Crest: If you want even more damage you can take this. It is great even at End Game if you farm good affix.

Kymon badge: This badge is bought from the secret vendor Benevald in the Blood Grove, you can powershop a res affix by checking 2 homestead vendors and taking the homestead rift back.

Gargabol’s Ring: This is an extreme luxury item, as getting two with decent rolls will be a nightmare (drops from last boss in the AoM Rogue Dungeon). It is far from necessary as it is not in the final build, but if you have everything else you want first they can take Righteous Fervor to rank 24.

Faction choices and gear

Side with Kymon and do the quests for reputation, the jewellery augment for damage reduction is needed.

Assist Barrowholm and do the quests for reputation, the Ravager fire weapon augments are great.

Malmouth Resistance at revered reputation will provide our faction armour and jewellery for endgame.

Endgame Consumables

Given the free hotbar buttons available I recommend Hungerer Oil from Barrowholm faction vendor, as well as Homestead’s Courageous Tincture. These are on the very first faction page and hardly require any reputation at all.

Long lasting pots like Royal Jelly Essence also help.

Final Builds Explained

Only switch to Fire Strike when the Legendary Dagger is obtained as this item converts physical damage into fire.

Optimal crafting completion bonus is CC resistance from Kaylon at Steelcap. You want stun res near 40 without Ascension as a minimum. After stun res, it is your choice, more CC res vs Angrim bonus.

If you want more Green gear Balthazar’s Crest is a great option, and Grava Pants could be a nice alternative (provided you get slow res affix).

As for affixes.
Weapon Prefix: “Aggressive” would give nice OA. “Searing” or “Superior” give flat damage. “Hellfire” gives fire damage and OA.
Weapon Suffix: Attack speed on the weapon is best, so “of Alacrity” or from “of Wildfire”,. Durable on the shield. Other useful stats include OA and fire damage.

Shield Prefix: “Durable” is best defensive option. “Infernal” provides smaller defence but comes with attack speed and fire bonus.
Shield Suffix: “Of Attack” for more OA (We have respectable +% crit damage), “Of Readiness”, “Of Wildfire”, “Of Valor”, “Of Redoubt”, quite a few good options (depends what drops for you)

Tips and suggestions

Acquiring Annihilation, Bloodied Crystal and Prismatic Diamond are what may take the longest to acquire. Blueprints can be farmed from vendors in the AoM and FG Rogue dungeons, treasure troves are good for component blueprints and I hear Monster Totems are worth completing for these too.

SR 50 is not necessary, and most likely not time efficient (you will have to pull back from time to time). 40-41 may well be be best. Rune of Blazing Ends might require SR 50, but it is best to wait until you find more powerful gear if you have troubles with it.

Much of the gear choices are flexible. I used random pants, hands and feet. The medal merely has nice innate resistance, so if you find something better use that. Hopefully you will find better epics or legendary items to use instead. Ones with physical resistance will be superior.

It is not often necessary to farm or powershop new copies of MI as damage is high on this build. Farm the weapon at level 40 and then once more before 94 (whenever you want, I got the 55 weapon), the item mod is increased in strength at level 55 and above.

Level 65 Malmouth Faction gear can last you until level 90 and beyond, make sure you have a physical resistance shield to survive higher levels.


Cool to have more beginner’s builds, thanks for posting it! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Yeah. There is also an acid variant as well, but I’ll have to get around that at a later date.

Hi! Thanks for the build. Im 17 lvl now, testing your leveling part. And i highly recommend to take vire’s might at 15 lvl after respec, because its hard to killing ranged monsters without any ranged or mobility skills. Also it is good for movement upstairs/downstairs.

Thanks. I added that in, typically I don’t bother as Cult of Dreeg’s movement rune is accessible early on.

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Solid guide.

May I suggest my melee Shielbreaker as an alternative alternative final build.

For sure. There is no requirement to stay with a shield in the final build.

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So, IMHO, leveling part must be reworked, cause it is really hard to play with that build, i can not recommend this to beginners.
Don’t want to seem impolite, author made big work and this build is cool at high lvls, my opinion is only about leveling part.

https://www.grimtools.com/calc/w26LzYKZ here’s my char for now, im trying to keep resistances (y i know it can be better) but im still dying :slight_smile: Its VERY HARD to finish the steps of torment for example. Also, aoe dmg area is too low for effective cleaning, even with Magi’s fissure.

Imho, melee classes in this game can be usefull only at high lvls, leveling is much easier as a ranged/mage, im still noob in this game, but i tried some caster classes from Nery’s noob guides, about 40-60 lvls and they were MUCH easier to play.

So, i think, its better to level-up as a ranged demolitionist.

OR, maybe, im doing something wrong. Comment please :slight_smile:
Btw im playing on normal/Veteran

Well, the components you are using are not great. I can provide advice for that I guess. If you are playing Veteran this is very important. Powershopping a phys res shield is advised too.

However, you are in the weird phase before Servitor’s Cleaver is available. Damage is sufficient for reasonable clear, but not spectacular.

So doing Steps of Torment would not be recommended. Progressing toward Ashes of Malmouth is ideal to get that Servitor’s Cleaver asap. After that you can do what you want.

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Thanks for reply! Advice would be great. Btw, what does “powershopping” means?
What type of dmg i must max for now? physical? fire? or something else?

Ideally you should be using x2 Enchanted Flint components by now. It vastly increases fissure damage. You’ll do mostly Fire damage.

Powershop means reset vendors. Regular vendors reset after you examine 2 other vendors, or you can exit to the main menu of the game to resent vendor inventory. It’s only needed if you didn’t find any durable/phys res shields yet.

When I was levelling the build I only have impassable and it was fine (but I play on normal).

Edit: btw, I cleared wave 150 on crucible with this build at your level (https://youtu.be/VxKjafMRcRg?t=10039), so it is very good. GD is a skill-based game so practice makes perfect.

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So, something wrong with my items then :slight_smile: will try to fix it. Just got enchanted flints

Just one other tip. Resilience increases your potion potency by 20%.

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Big Up’s my guy for this build! I was gonna make a post looking for a Tanky Fire based build untill i saw your post. About to roll a new toon now and level him up.

nice build.

https://www.grimtools.com/calc/62aM7Wx2 look here. Me right now. Elite Warden died in 4seconds. LOL

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Good guide, level 26 so far, enjoying it.

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Is the mi info true?

What i know is this: you will see the monster holding the mi.
And only mobs showing the monster infrequent will drop it. 100%. And thats how i farmed my mi. Running around and looking for the shield model on the mobs. (Same with the firedmg gun if you want one).

https://www.grimtools.com/calc/p25L090N a lot of nice MIs you can farm

my route now:
Dreeg Guardian legguards
Solael guadian ancient heart
astral fields gargoyle belt
arkovian foothills medal flametouched
nicholas balthazar dynamite
homestead fleshwarped defender
port valbury entrance tainted brain
Flooded passage Shamblers heart
shambler Totems
Lone watch rift seal of … crafting material / totems
Cinder waste
Fringes of sanity blood of cthun
lunal Valgoth servitor cleaver

I couldn’t replicate my experience, so I think it may well have been an issue of me going too fast. The orange colour can only be seen from certain angles. Updated the text.

This is indeed a better option. I guess it should be included, I was just hesitant of going overboard on MI. x2 Gargabol Ring would be BiS as well for rank 24+ Righteous Fervor, but painful to get decent roll. I felt that is a bit much. I’ll put the rings as an optional luxury so people can farm whatever content they like.