Build showcase: HC Cadence Blademaster (, 3.2 Cornucopia)


Having noticed the creation of this subforum, I thought I’d get some mod build content started by writing about my characters.
This is a build showcase, not a handholding build guide, so there isn’t a leveling section or how I got my devotions the way they are.
However, if you are so inclined, all the info is there to reverse-engineer the build.
Rather than giving a cooking recipe-style build, this thread is more about why certain things work in GD, and why I made certain choices.
95% of this build can be done in vanilla as well, since the mod isn’t that different from it.

Some background info, feel free to skip:

  1. About me:

ARPGs have been one of my favorite game genres for a long time— I started in Diablo 1 and never stopped since then.
Most of the big titles I’ve played in some way or another, and once I’d worn a game out, I’d look to mods to reinvigorate the experience.
The mods I like are content-expanding, or ones that improve or change the gameplay in some way, preferably to raise the challenge.
I’m not a fan of mods that make the game easier outside of some quality-of-life features, and I rarely use 3rd party programs or cheats since I’m looking to expand my interest in a game, rather than diminish it.

  1. About my builds:

[SPOILER]One of the parts I enjoy the most in these games is to think up builds that I find fun to play and that are also effective. Usually I just play blind and read over the skill descriptions and see where that brings me.
After a few playthroughs I look through skill calculators and available databases to work out any ideas I have. For these reasons, I never follow builds others made, although I do look at build guides and showcases sometimes to see what else is out there.
Since I mostly play solo and I don’t trade with other players, I don’t care much about how competitive my builds are— I just like creating them and (sometimes) to write about them.
To me, it’s more about materializing an idea that I thought seemed interesting and seeing how it works in practice. Some work better than expected, others not as well, but I usually can the truly unfeasible builds at the skill calculator stage, which saves some time.

Typically I will try to squeeze every last drop of performance out of a build by looking up the optimal items in every slot, the best investment-return ratio for skill ranks and their ultimate levels, and so on.
I’ll rarely go for cookie-cutter builds that use the popular sets, although I’ve made some builds using them in the past. I don’t find the sets particularly interesting anymore, since some of them are just too strong.
Plus as a player who doesn’t trade, it’s often hard to get all the parts. So rather than the large sets, I prefer to use a mix of Epics and Legendaries that fit my builds.

As I got bored of the lack of penalties from dying in SC, I switched to HC a couple months back so all of my builds generally feature a balanced ratio of offense and defense. You won’t see any 9K HP builds here.
I might go back to SC later though, when I feel like making some dumb builds with 50+ points in Cunning or Spirit and glass cannon items.[/spoiler]

  1. How this build came to be:
    I had an idea to make a Cadence character of some kind, so it had to be a Soldier.
    When this character was created, the skill had 4 charges in the Cornucopia mod, which meant it triggered every 5th hit.
    This made it immediately obvious that you needed high attack speed to get good damage out of it.
    Another realization I had after some tests, was that Cadence counts attacks that hit multiple times with one click, each as a separate charge.
    So it wasn’t hard to see why the build had to be a dual wield character, which made Nightblade the obvious secondary mastery.

Next I planned which items I wanted to use.
As I recently finished a Saboteur with the Deathmarked set, I didn’t want to go for that again and I wanted to try something else.
Since Cadence scaled pretty well at high levels, I wanted to see how strong a build I could make by aiming to stack as many +Soldier levels as I could get, rather than stacking damage.
The mastery has many passives which get boosted by the +skill levels as well, which is a side-benefit.

Another thing is that most BM builds scale off Piercing damage, so I also tried to see if I could make a build that was based on Physical damage instead.
Cadence, Markovian’s Advantage and Deadly Momentum all have high values of flat Physical damage, so I wanted to leverage those values and trigger them as often as possible with high attack speed.

When hit, Cadence was massively boosted in damage and Cornucopia adopted their version instead. I haven’t done any hard tests, but I feel that the new Cadence is slightly stronger than the 5 hit Cadence they used, so that was good for this build.
However, there were some other changes as well. The sizable Attack Speed bonus from Cornucopia’s DA was removed, so I had to change some things to make up for that. And the Reaver’s Claws I was using had their Piercing ratio increased, plus the Cadence line gained Piercing % bonuses.
Because of the above, I changed the build to be fully Piercing instead.

  1. How this build works:
    It’s Cadence + WPS. But everyone says that sucks, right? Not really, because the WPS provide extra hits, which means you get more Cadence procs in a time period.
    The WPS aren’t the main damage dealer like Execute is in some other BM builds: they are here to improve your Cadence, and to provide some auxiliary damage.
    The build focuses on the high flat damage values many of the Soldier skills have when they are high level, and to trigger them as often as possible through high attack speed.
    As the WPS aren’t as important damage-wise in this build, they aren’t maxed out. And because you simply don’t have the points for it, since it’s a 50/50 mastery build.

Note that every WPS that uses both weapons counts as 2 hits for charging Cadence. So the exceptions are:

  • Zolhan’s Technique, which only uses the main hand. But this is still taken simply because I have so much +skill to Soldier, and the -AS is useful.
  • Amarasta’s Quick Cut, which counts as 3 hits.

The Soldier WPS seem to have slightly slower animations than the NB ones, but at high attack speeds it doesn’t matter that much, and I didn’t have the skill points to invest more in NB. It would’ve been nice to have more points in MA though, since the flat damage and -DA scale very well.
I have exactly 100% chance in my WPS, so every click hits multiple times except for when Zolhan’s procs. That way, Cadence triggers very often, which is what I’m really after.

I also use a Plaguebearer’s weapon in my alternate slot, which I switch to every few seconds to get a bit more -res against bosses.

  1. Offense:

Unbuffed -> all buffs on -> stats (with most buffs) -> damage breakdown

Its tooltip DPS is not particularly high, but the actual damage is higher than it seems because of the charge mechanic.
This build outperforms some of my other builds that had tooltip DPS in the 60-85K range.

The main damage comes from the Cadence line, and since this is used on every hit, I linked Blind Fury to it.

I also have Assassin’s Mark for the -resistances, which is linked to one of the WPS.
The Unknown Soldier cluster is mostly taken for the stats, but since Living Shadow is only one node away, I took it. It’s not that great though, even after its recent buff in the mod.
All these effects are automatic, which makes the build very easy to play for the most part: all you need to do is hold down the button to trigger the above, it rotates between the devotions automatically.

As for the skill distribution, since this build maxes both masteries, the remaining points are spread extremely thin even with a large amount of +skill.
So careful selection had to be made to get the most out of every point:

  • Fighting Form is left at one point, because it doesn’t scale that well compared to others.
  • Deadly Momentum scales very well, so it’s pumped as high as possible for the flat damage.
  • Oleron’s Rage is left at 12, because its ultimate ranks don’t scale that well, surprisingly for an Exclusive skill.
  • On the other hand, Fighting Spirit scales quite well and gains duration and activation chance in the higher ranks. Note that the recharge time begins when the buff wears off, so you can never have 100% uptime on it.
  • Blade Trap is taken to lower enemy DA%. Coupled with the -DA from MA, you can get their values quite low. I only have 4 points in Blade Trap since the scaling gets worse after that.
  • Night’s Chill provides further -res to Piercing.
  • Anatomy of Murder at rank 11, since the 12th point starts to get the worse values.
  • Dual Blades isn’t maxed because there weren’t enough points, and the other abilities give more DPS per point. If you really want to you can take the points from Anatomy to put in this.
  • For the same reason, Shadow Strike doesn’t have its links activated either.
  • Ring of Steel’s link is useful to have for its fumble chance. The transmuter’s petrify disables a bit longer than stun usually, but I’d rather save the skill point.
  1. Defense:
    Since this is a HC build, I made sure to have a decent HP pool and I managed to get all resistances capped.
    However, this build is not a tank. It doesn’t have high armor nor a shield or high Physical resistance, damage absorption, etc.: all the things that make a good tank.
    This build relies on the HP pool plus life steal to survive.
    Which is supplemented by:
  • Decent dodge bonuses from Shadow Dance rank 7 (scaling goes down from there).
  • Health regeneration (Pneumatic Burst transmuter, Judicator rings, Behemoth).
  • Slowing enemy attacks (Nidalla’s Hidden Hand, Veil of Shadow, Zolhan’s Technique).
  • Stun and Fumble from Ring of Steel.
  • Heal from P. Burst.
  • Blade Barrier, although I actually never use this.
  1. Devotions:
    The ones this build aims for are:
  • Oleron: Blind Fury is great and the nodes are unbeatable.
  • Behemoth: ol’ reliable, still good after nerfs.
  • Assassin’s Blade: Assassin’s Mark for -res. This used to be -75%, imagine how broken that was.
  • Blades of Nadaan: Attack Speed, and more importantly: increased Piercing ratio.

The rest that are taken are either to fill the requisites or to pad defenses.

  • Crab: gives 3 purple and the nodes give decent defenses. Elemental Barrier is actually on quite often, and the mod’s version gives a fair amount of HP regen when it is on.

Behemoth and Oleron not displayed.

  1. Items:

I’ll list which items I’m using, and why.
As for Augments, it really depends on your individual choices, I tried to fill my resists as well as possible.

  • [li]Head: Clairvoyant’s Hat— There is no helm that gives +1 to Soldier skills, so this was the only option. Forces the player to get some Spirit but it’s worth it. The Energy regen used to be useful as well, since Cadence was very expensive in the old mod’s version, but vanilla’s is managable. [/li]Component: Sanctified Bone— Resists, bonus damage. Lack of alternatives make this a no brainer, although the mod may change this soon.
    [li]Chest: Divinesteel Hauberk— High armor, good resists and a good aura. Gives +2 to Fighting Spirit too as a bonus. It’s one of the best non-set armors along with E. Fanatic’s Coat.[/li]Component: Chains of Oleron— speaks for itself.
    [li]Weapons: Reaver’s Claw— One of the two 1h weapons with +1 to Soldier skills, and the other one is too slow for this build so the choice was easy. Has a decent AoE proc too.[/li]Components: Blessed Whetstone— Extra Piercing ratio. With these and Nadaan, you get close to 100% Piercing conversion.
  • Offhand weapon: Plaguebearer’s weapon— for -res.
    [li]Shoulders: There aren’t any must-haves since this build doesn’t use a set. I’m just using a green that fills some resists and happened to give Spirit. This item can certainly be improved on though.[/li]Component: Silk Swatch— speaks for itself.
    [li]Gloves: Grasp of Unchained Might— The best DPS glove for physical-based builds, not much to say.[/li]Component: Unholy Inscription— AS, resists, OA. It gives a little of everything which makes for a great allrounder.
    [li]Legs: Pretty Great Pants— Mainly chosen for the Spirit, but the other stats actually aren’t bad. However, it doesn’t give any resists and the proc is annoying. You could put 10 more points in Spirit and use something good instead, such as Wraithborne or Fateweaver’s. Or Hellforged Legplates for +Cadence.[/li]Component: Ancient Armor Plate— strong defenses.
    [li]Feet: Serpentine Wraps— I’m using them mostly to fill the resists, they are actually quite decent. An alternative is Golemborn Greaves as always, Boneshatter Treads for OA/FS, or Elite Harvest Footpads for resists.[/li]Component: Mark of Mogdrogen— HP, MS.
    [li]Belt: Reforged Chains of Oleron— Speaks for itself.[/li]Component: Dense Fur— Mostly because options for belts are limited, but could be anything.
    [li]Amulet: Avenger of Cairn— Very strong defensive amulet and gives +1 to Soldier. I recently found a Peerless Eye too, but I’d rather use this since it’s HC after all.[/li]Component: Dread Skull— the best offensive option for this build.
    [li]Rings: Judicator setthe go-to for almost all my builds. The OA/DA and regen is very powerful and recently it gained AS as well. It lacks resists though. For non-set rings Cronley’s are good, or any green with good stats.[/li]Component: Haunted Steel— Sustainability.
    Component 2: Oleron’s Blood— Some offense, and the skill is useful to reduce enemy damage.
    [li]Medal: Badge of Mastery— Good allround stats, get one with +3 to something useful. +5 to Cadence would be perfect but that’s nearly impossible to get. Mine has +3 to Cadence.[/li]Component: Dread Skull.
    [li]Relic: Oleron’s Wrath— speaks for itself. The completion bonus was recently buffed in the mod, not sure how it works exactly though.[/li]Component: You wish.

  1. Conclusion

This character turned out to be a lot better than I expected— I thought it would be decent since it’s a BM after all, but its damage output surpassed my expectations quite a bit, and more importantly, it still has decent defenses at the same time.

Combined with the capped movement speed and access to the best gap closer, its farming run speed is actually excellent.
Close-range AoE is very good, but builds with better AoE can clear screens faster than it.

All in all I’m really happy with how this character turned out, but after I beat the Avatar and Clone of John B., there really isn’t anything left to do for it.
I could use it as a farmer, but I’d rather make a new character with a different idea.

  1. Miscellanea

Some stats.

And lastly, a gameplay video.

Not cherry picked, I just did one take.

This shows my current standard farming run and some other stuff.
Normally I don’t do Log, but since this build has high mobility I can get there relatively quickly, and it doesn’t need to move to kill Log, so it’s relatively efficient.
Drops-wise it’s not great though, mostly I’m doing it for the above and for variety.

Added a Fabius run at the end but cut out the search. Lucky drops too! (That streamer RNG, eh? ;))
Many times he doesn’t even drop a green post-nerf.

I also managed to beat the Avatar of Mogdrogen with this build.
His high HP pool ended up saving him, as I took over 10K damage nearly instantaneously several times, a normal build would’ve died immediately.

I’d also like to mention the Japanese wiki for GD. It’s extremely up-to-date and even if you can’t read Japanese, you can browse to the skills/devotion section to see the values for the ultimate ranks and such.

I find this site to be more accurate than grimcalc and the English wiki (although both have their uses), so kudos to the people working on maintaining it.

Interesting write up - glad you mentioned this in the other forum or I would never have seen it.

I have played a fair amount of Cadence Blademasters recently (even with the old vanilla version of the skill). The old Cornucopia version and the new standard version have performed really well. I wonder if the latest version might be a little overtuned? I’m not quite sure, I suppose it does take a heavy point investment to get it that way.

I was curious: have you tried dropping the 100% bonus conversation node from Blade of Nadaan (it would be easy for you to test with your devotion setup). Sometimes I’ve noticed that the extra conversion does surprisingly little to my sheet DPS - probably when I’ve had unusually high bonus to physical and not so much to pierce, or weapons with naturally low conversion. But, still, might be worth checking.

I think it’s interesting that despite +6 to Soldier skills that you skipped Counter Strike and War Cry entirely. I think Counter Strike, in particular, is just a terrible skill that desperately needs more reason(s) to be worth taking. Even if it were more niche (specifically for Retaliation builds?) because right now does anyone ever take it for anything? And if they do, ever more than one point?

If you took that final node in assassins blade you wouldn’t need hammer or lion (well you would need the 5% health order node) that would free up 4 devotion points. Could let you take hawk for the oa/crit remove the green crossroads and do 2 into jackle for 6% atk speed.

Also have you tried Belgothian’s Carnage relic instead? Wonder how well itd work reseting the defensive CDs and blade trap. Currently leveling a similar build myself and that was my planned relic.

@riidii: the skill is a lot stronger than it used to be but I don’t think it’s OP, considering how much other stuff there is in the game that’s on the same level or better.

As for the conversion node, I got roughly the same bonus percentages to both Physical and Piercing (~800%) but I get extra -res to Piercing from Night’s Chill.
The % isn’t high compared to some other builds with DM set or similar, but as mentioned, this build stacks +skill levels and attack speed instead of % damage bonuses.
Since I have around 99% conversion to Piercing total, having the node is definitely beneficial.

Counter Strike: It was buffed in the last patch but IMO it’s still useless. With one point and +skills in it, it gives ~2k physical/bleed every 0.9 seconds for me, which is negligible. And it’s only 33% chance to activate at that level too.
Others might consider it free damage and put that one point in it, but the main reason I didn’t take it, is because you need to activate the buff at the start of a game.
Sounds lazy, but when you’re doing many quick runs and resets, that one extra click adds up. :slight_smile:
For that skill to be good, I think it just needs better values or an enticing gimmick. Granted, as mentioned I don’t have the highest % bonuses in either damage type, but even with a build that focuses on those types I think that skill just isn’t worth putting more than 1 point in as it is.

War Cry: I just don’t need the defensive bonuses it gives (and the HP reduction doesn’t work well vs. bosses). I get enemy damage reduction from Oleron’s Might already. As for its links, I would never get the transmuter since I want foes to stay close, and I get -reduced res from my weapon switch.

@Silben: You’re right. Good eye, thank you.
The full Nadaan cluster was a recent change I made for the extra Piercing ratio, but before that I just couldn’t get to 15 purple even with the Crossroads node, and back then that setup fit. I overlooked the possibilities with the unallocated node after I filled in Nadaan.

I ended up removing Hammer and the last 2 nodes in Lion, put them in the purple and yellow nodes in Crossroads, and I got the first nodes in Spider and Assassin.
Overall it’s a small net gain in DPS, OA and HP.

As for Belgothian’s, I haven’t used it on this character but I have it on another one. I don’t think it’s worth it since the +1 Soldier from Oleron’s just works too well for this build (the flat damage bonuses are huge), and this build doesn’t benefit so much from the defensive skills anyway since it doesn’t use Overguard and the other good skills with a sizable CD.

hi, I’m newbie in this game

sorry if my question is stupid

how can you reach the Oleron devotion with 15 Ascendant point?

I need 20 to unlock it

@Sidecolors - you have wandered inot a modding sub form. This is using the Cornicopia mod.

@Weyu - you mention the new relic completion bonus. Ive yet to be able to craft a new mythical relic care to show this new bonus off?

Nice build! I have a couple of questions though, does cadence third hit proc wps? I remember seeing somewhere only the first 2 hits proc wps.

Er, multi-hit WPS giving multiple Cadence charges is nothing new, unless they took that out at some point? I sure don’t remember a beta patch saying so.

Can you do a gimcalc with the base skills without the bonuses?

Found this build via YouTube. I don’t use mods anymore, so I was wondering if this build is viable at all in the standard game? Or if there is a equivalent version? Sorry if this is a stupid question; the build looks like a lot of fun.

I don’t remember exactly, I think they increased the bonuses from +1/+1 to +2/+2. I only made a couple Relics since the change so I haven’t seen that many of the possibilities.

You’re right, Cadence overwrites WPS on the hit it activates, that was what made it less-than-ideal with WPS. But since then, the Cadence line has gotten some significant damage boosts, so this build focuses on that.
It doesn’t invest too heavily in WPS, they are mostly there to speed up the Cadence hits.

It’s not really new, but many people had the notion that WPS and Cadence really mess up each other, which isn’t the case anymore.

Answered on YT + in the initial post.

It’s definitely viable. Blademaster is one of the stronger Mastery combinations out there and Cadence is really strong in this patch.
You just need to make some adjustments with the parts Cornucopia changed. Mostly it’s the Devotion setup, which requires more investment to reach Oleron.

hi new to the game here. found ur vid in youtube. seem interesting n wanna try.

how do u distribute the stats for this build? could u pls screen shot the base skill point distributed?

ty in advance.

I put around 15-20 points in Spirit so I could use Clairvoyant’s Hat, rest in Physique since I was playing HC.
On SC I’d put enough in Phys to wear items and rest in Cunning for free DPS, since dying has no real penalty there at 85.

And Cunning is good with Anatomy of Murder.