[DW melee] Beginner's Forgotten Blademaster

Picture with all permanent buffs + Ulzaad’s Decree active


Last review: patch

It came to my attention that many beginner players are interested in Blademaster. The class is actually not that simple – it requires some extra knowledge of gameplay mechanics to build efficiently. Furthermore, the way Blademaster is commonly built in high-end is reliant on particular enabling gear pieces, so attempting to translate that way to lower levels will likely fail miserably.

This build of mine is a successor to the old, forgotten way to build the Blademaster, but with modern gear, devotions and meta in mind. It is a pierce damage dual wield build that uses Cadence as an auto-attack.

Grimtools link (click me)

How the build works

    The build converts flat physical damage from Cadence and Deadly Momentum into pierce damage, which together with flat pierce from Dual Blades make up the core damage potential of the build.

    Conversion of physical damage to pierce is done via Armor Pierce Ratio of the used weapon. E.g. if used weapon got 50% pierce ratio then 50% of physical damage it does is converted to pierce. This rule affects not only the base damage of the weapon, but all buffs (like Deadly Momentum), sources of flat from gear or devotions, as well as extra damage a skill does (Cadence). There’s but one exception – a skill needs to do weapon damage for that to take effect. Cadence does weapon damage so that’s okay.

    Then, 50% pierce ratio doesn’t sound so great since the rest of physical damage is basically wasted. But there’s a bonus called “Increase Armor Piercing by X%”. This bonus is multiplicative, so 50% pierce ratio increased by 100% means 100% physical damage converted to pierce.

    What does that mean in practice?

  1. You take swords with high pierce ratio, like Dermapteran Slicers.
  2. You take Blades of Nadaan constellation that has Increased Armor Piercing by 100%
  3. Congratulations, you’ve succeeded in building a pierce blademaster.

Then there are WPS (weapon pool system) procs like Markovian’s Advantage, Amarasta’s Quick Cut, Whirling Death and Execution. It’s a pretty complex system, and it’s interaction with dual wield Cadence is even more complex than it is in general. I’m not going to explain it here in detail, if you want to go down that rabbit hole check here for starters. Practical advice is WPS are worth it, but not all of them and you shouldn’t over-invest in them.

Skill Priorities

    This section is for determining skill priorities in the general case. Early game the Levelling section below takes priority, later in the game whenever you don’t know which skills you should improve you come back here.

    Very high priority:

    • Deadly Momentum – max this, super important flat damage source
    • Dual Blades – max this, super important flat damage source
    • Oleron’s Rage – keep at 12/12, important buff but doesn’t scale that well past that point.

    Fairly high priority:

    • Warcry – keep at 12/12, important AOE debuff for your survival
    • Cadence – max this, your main damage skill. Not very important to have it early.
    • Night’s Chill – keep at 10/10, your resistance reduction skill

    Normal priority:

    • Breath of Belgothian – a transmuter that cuts cooldown of Pneumatic Breath by half if you’re dual wielding.
    • Shadow Dance – keep at 12/12, a pretty high-value node that becomes better the more you invest, but you should stop at 12 since that’s where it’s scaling slows down. Having more than 12 here is ok though if there are points to spare.
    • Field Command – keep at 12/12, another high-value node. Having more than 12 here is ok if you have points to spare.
    • Circle of Slaughter – here it’s taken for it’s fumble debuff. 3 points are a must, more if you have some to spare.

    Weak priority:

    • Anatomy of Murder – strong passive, I recommend to keep it at 11/12.
    • Military Conditioning – keep at 10/10
    • Amarasta’s Quick Cut – 5 points minimum, but you’ll probably have plenty just from +skills
    • Execution – 5 points minimum, more is a waste
    • Whirling Death – 5 points minimum, more is unnecessary
    • Markovian’s Advantage – ideally 9 points, but less will do as well

    One pointers & expendables:

    • Pneumatic Burst – it’s actually important to get it early since it’s a very useful healing skill, but how much points you place here isn’t set in stone. I recommend either 6 or 10 due to how this skill scales.
    • Veil of Shadow – it’s main value is enabling Night’s Chill. It’s a good debuff on it’s own, but the opportunity cost is just too high, so don’t over-invest here.
    • Shadow Strike – one point for mobility.
    • Elemental Awakening – one point, it’s just here for some extra elemental resistance overcap.
    • Ring of Steel – one point. I really like this skill, but opportunity cost is just too high. It’s main use here is to enable Circle of Slaughter.
    • Break Morale – one point. It’s here mostly for skill disruption, which helps against certain enemies, especially healers.
    • Squad Tactics – one point, more if got some to spare.
    • Fighting Form – one point for some extra targets, more is a waste
    • Fighting Spirit – one point for some extra OA, more is a waste
    • Decorated Soldier – have it at least at 3 for some cheap %slow resistance
    • Scars of Battle – have it at least at 5 for some extra CC resistance. It is worth putting your hard skill points here.
    • Phantasmal Armor – one point and let +skills to do the rest. It’s here for some extra CC resistances, but it’s scaling is generally inferior to Scars of Battle.
    • Blade Spirit – 1 hard point.

    The key constellation for the build is Blades of Nadaan. Other core constellations Assasin’s Blade, Ulzaad, Azrakaa, Revenant and Ghoul. The rest of constellations either serve as means to get core constellations or completely optional stat cherrypicks.

    Suggested path:

  1. Crossroads (purple)
  2. Harpy
  3. Empty Throne
  4. Blades of Nadaan
  5. Crossroads (blue)
  6. Eel
  7. Ulzaad (bind proc to Shadow Strike)
  8. Panther
  9. Remove Crossroads (blue)
  10. Lion
  11. Azrakaa (bind proc to Cadence)
  12. Crossroads (red)
  13. Mantis
  14. Remove Empty Throne
  15. Ghoul
  16. Remove Crossroads (red)
  17. Assasin’s Blade (see below about proc)
  18. Remove Lion
  19. Jackal
  20. Revenant (bind proc to Ring of Steel)
  21. Remove Harpy
  22. Harp
  23. Remove Panther
  24. 4 into Targo the Builder

You don’t have to follow it exactly (I myself used a slightly different path with more situative devotion picks), but if you’re not feeling confident then just stick to this one.

On Assasin’s Blade proc (called Assasin’s Mark). It is best to bind it to Cadence, but then you’d have to rebind Azrakaa’s proc (Shifting Sands) to something else, and there aren’t many good options for that, except maybe Blade Spirit which you’d get fairly late. So at start leave Shifting Sands bound to Cadence and bind Assasin’s Mark to anything else (I had it bound on Amarasta’s Quick Cut) so that it at least gets experience. The reason for that is you won’t really need Assasin’s Mark until later in the game, while Shifting Sands provide good crowd clear.


    Before anything else, there’s one thing pointed out. The build needs 4 things to start working properly:

  1. Dual Blades
  2. Deadly Momentum
  3. Blades of Nadaan constellation
  4. Optionally Dermapteran Slicers as well

Numbers 2 to 4 are going to become available around level 35, so until then you’ll be playing a slightly different build that is intended for comfortable levelling, and then past 35 we’ll respec it.

Stat Distribution: you need barely enough Spirit to satisfy requiremenets for Jewelry and the rest of points goes into Physique and Cunning in roughly equal proportion (my goal was to have 1k Physique and 1k Cunning by level 100 :)). Early on you’ll be putting more into physique because ideally you should be wearing a level-appropriate heavy armor, and you’ll need much physique for that. While levelling always keep at least 5 stat points free for adjustments.

Level 1-20:

Your main skill will be Amarasta’s Blade Burst. Put it on left mouse button instead of basic attack.

  • Level 2 – 1 point into Nightblade bar, 1 point into Amarasta’s Blade Burst, 1 point into Dual Blades
  • Level 3 – 2 points into Nightblade bar, 1 point into Amarasta’s Blade Burst
  • Level 4 – 2 points into Nightblade bar, 1 point into Amarasta’s Blade Burst
  • Level 5 – 2 points into Nightblade bar, 1 point into Amarasta’s Blade Burst
  • Level 6 – 2 points into Nightblade bar, 1 point into Amarasta’s Blade Burst
  • Level 7 – 1 points into Nightblade bar, 1 point into Shadow Strike, 1 point into Phantasmal Armor
  • Level 8 – 2 points into Nightblade bar, 1 point into Amarasta’s Blade Burst
  • Level 9 – 2 points into Nightblade bar, 1 point into Amarasta’s Blade Burst
  • Level 10 - 1 points into Nightblade bar, 2 point into Amarasta’s Blade Burst
  • Level 11 – 3 points into Lethal Assault
  • Level 12 – 3 points into Lethal Assault
  • Level 13 – 3 points into Lethal Assault
  • Level 14 – 3 points into Lethal Assault
  • Level 15 – 3 points into Nightblade bar
  • Level 16 – 2 points into Nightblade bar, 1 point into Ring of Steel
  • Level 17 – 2 points into Nightblade bar, 1 point into Ring of Steel
  • Level 18 – 2 points into Nightblade bar, 1 point into Ring of Steel
  • Level 19 – 1 points into Nightblade bar, 2 points into Ring of Steel
  • Level 20 – 2 points into Ring of Steel, 1 point into Ring of Frost

By level 20 my character looked like that:
Forgotten Blademaster, level 20

Note that I didn’t went the devotion route I suggest and picked some other constellations. It is because the build at this point is a cold/acid/frostburn nightblade rather than pierce blademaster. If it’s confusing then stick the proposed devotion route, it doesn’t really matter.

Level 21-35:

First you should get Pneumatic Burst, the amount of points invested is pretty arbitrary, but I think 6 is a good number. Get 1 point into Breath of Belgothian.

Then, there isn’t any serious difference in how you’d spend your points, because you’re going to respec in the end. You can just start throwing them into Soldier so that you had less to respec later, or you can get creative and invest into Merciless Repertoire to improve your damage at the moment.

Gear-wise early 20’s is where you should start using components. My early go-to:

  • Serrated Spike or Vicious Spike in weapons.
  • Wardstone into amulet and medal.
  • Corpse Dust, or later Soul Shard into rings. If vitality resistance is somehow okay use Mark of Illusion instead.
  • Silk Swatch in the shoulders.
  • Scaled Hide into pants
  • Whatever seems good into torso & head. Later on Runestone in the head & Ancient Armor Plating or Sanctified Bone in the torso.
  • Unholy Inscription into hands. Technically a rare drop, but pretty common past level 20 in fact.
  • Mark of the Traveller into boots
  • Antivenom Salve in the belt

If you find a blueprint for Guile craft yourself one. It’s pretty damn useful.

Then at level 35 you’d probably satisfy the conditions for respec. You take points out of Amarasta’s Blade Burst and Lethal Assault and invest them into Soldier. Then you start to remove points from Nightblade mastery bar, if there are skills that don’t let you then you remove them first. The goal is to have Cadence at about 8 at least (an arbitrary number that works well for me) and Deadly Momentum maxed. Use my blademaster’s state by level 35 as the role model:
Forgotten Blademaster, level 35

Also before you start to respec make sure you’ve got a good amount of Iron saved, since it would suck if you get stuck mid-respec because you’ve runned out of Iron. About 20k should be enough with great margin.

If you experimented with devotions like I suggested then respec them too and go with the suggested path from now on.

Level 36-50:

Past that point you’re playing a real deal. When omitted, look into Skill Priorities section to determine what you should get.

For now your priorities is to get Oleron’s Rage and Dual Blades maxed, then get some Field Command for that sweet OA/DA/%armor. Shadow Dance is also a decent investment at this point. I personally went for Night’s Chill because I decided to venture on Elite early, but if you’re staying on Normal it’s not a priority skill.

By level 50 my character looked like that:
Forgotten Blademaster, level 50

Level 51-65:

Nothing much to say, basically push Nightblade mastery bar for stats, occasionally invest in skills. At that point I still didn’t had Warcry, while perhaps I should’ve had. My build by level 65 looked like that:
Forgotten Blademaster, level 65

Most notable thing here is that at 65 you get access to non-Elite versions of Coven faction gear, and you’ll probably have their faction standing at Respected by level 65. Definitely make use of it!

Level 66-75:

Skill-wise nothing to comment. You should get Warcry at that level range for sure, then proceed to pick up various skills/buffs according to the Skill Priorities section. Push Nightblade bar to 40 for stats.

My character looked like that at 76:
Forgotten Blademaster, level 76

Level 76-90:

From level 75 onwards you’ve got the backbone of the build already and you won’t feel like you’re growing stronger from your skills. Instead the gear you use will begin to matter more and more, so pay more attention to it.

My build at level 80:
Forgotten Blademaster, level 80

My build at level 90:
Forgotten Blademaster, level 90

At level 90 buy yourself upgraded faction gear pieces (see Gear Notes section below).

Level 91-100:

You shouldn’t need any of my help by that point.

Walkthough and factions

    When Emissary appears accept his invitation and proceed through quests until up to faction choice. Pick a faction and leave Forgotten Gods campain for now. The reason for that is to get a free mobility skill from their faction shop, available at level 15. Pick Dreeg first and buy Emblem of the Riftstalker, put it on your medal.

    Then proceed with main campaign, then AoM campaign up to Coven and Barrowholm to get their faction revealed. Here I’d go onto Elite, because neither the second part of AoM nor FG felt safe enough to me on Veteran (I play hardcore). You may opt to push through it instead.

    Also speaking about Veteran, it’s perfectly okay to switch to Normal instead if you feel the game isn’t smooth enough for you. Enemies get stronger on Veteran for little to no extra benefit.

    On Elite you also go through main campaign first, if you’ve left unfinished campaigns on Normal go back and do them, otherwise do them on Elite. If you’re playing for the first time it’s good to do all of the content because you’d need faction reputation to buy your endgame gear.

    Faction choices are as follow:

    • Death Vigil or Kymon’s Chosen – doesn’t matter, I went with DV and just ignored them. As of now it’s a completely irrelevant faction.
    • Outcast – doesn’t matter, but there’s no reason to go hostile on her.
    • Barrowholm – better friends. The suggested setup doesn’t explicitly use any of their faction stuff, but you can never know if you need their augments later or not.
    • Cult on Normal – Dreeg. You need Emblem of the Riftstalker.
    • Cult on Elite – better Solael. The build uses their augments, so it’s good to get them sooner.
    • Cult on Ultimate – doesn’t matter.
Gear notes
    • Weapons: Dermapteran Slicers – a very easy to farm Monster Infrequent. Aim for at least “Puncturing”/”Superior” and “of Alacrity”. You can farm for better affixes but it isn’t necessary.
    • Chest: Elite Coven Combatant’s Chestguard – Coven of Ugdenbog faction item.
    • Shoulders: Elite Coven Combatant’s Spaulders – Coven of Ugdenbog faction item.
    • Head: Elite Dreeg Combatant Casque – Cult of Dreeg faction item.
      Alternative: Fettan Mask – freebie item dropped near Maw of Einhart
    • Rings: Malmouth Blade Seal – Malmouth Resistance faction item
      Alternative: Mythical Blackwatch Seal – random drop
    • Amulet: Empowered Essense of Beronath – craftable, blueprint is a random drop. See farming section.
    • Belt: Malmouth Bladed Girdle – Craftable, recipe bought from Malmouth faction shop. Ideally “of Attack” or “of Readiness”.
    • Gloves: – basic craftable heavy gloves, definitely should have an attack speed suffix (cheapest is “of Alacrity”). Prefix ideally something that’ll cover your resistances, like Stonehine, Tempest, Renegate, etc.
    • Boots: – basic craftable heavy boots, affixes to fill resistances. “of Arcane Winds” would be best.
    • Pants: – basic craftable pants to fill resistances and/or OA&DA
      Alternative: Mythical Bladeguard Leggings – decent blue pants for the build.
      Alternative #2: Kubacabra’s Chausses – that +3 to Deadly Momentum is pretty sweet. Farmable with this build on Elite at least.
      Alternative #3: Dreeg-Sect Legguards or Solael-Sect Legguards - less interesting than Kuba’s Chausses but a viable alternative.
    • Relic: Belgothian’s Carnage – just the right relic for the build.
      Alternative: Slaughter – a cheaper replacement.

    While this is a Beginner build that uses faction gear, there’s still some farming to do.

    The blueprint for Empowered Essence of Beronath highly likely can’t be farmed on Ultimate because it’s level requirement is 75. You can farm it if you go back on Elite and do quick Bastion of Chaos runs, since the end chest got a high chance to drop a recipe and the dungeon level doesn’t scale past 75 on Elite. This run will also net you level 50 mobility skill rune blueprints, I grinded my Glyph of Spontaneous Blades here.

    Blueprints for components like Bloodied Crystal, Seal of Blades and Ugdenbog Leather are very difficult to farm on Elite, since they require locations with level 85 to drop, while very few locations scale on Elite up to these levels. To get them go on Ultimate and farm Treasure Troves that have a modest chance to get a recipe. My favourite spot is Darkvale, since you get a free dynamite too. It is also a great way to get some decent initial stockpile of rare crafting materials. Don’t expect all of the recipes to drop ASAP – it’ll take some time to grind through the recipe pool. It’s still relatively easy and fast compared to alternatives. Doing that on Elite may be possible with Gloomwald treasure troves, but I didn’t try.

    Blueprints for rare components like Living Armor, Sacred Plating, etc are in fact very rare. They require locations of level 92 at least so farming them on Elite is a hopeless enterprise. And while they can technically drop from troves on Ultimate, the reality is I didn’t get a single recipe that way. They have a high chance to drop from roguelike dungeon end chests, but that could be quite difficult. I found an alternative though – they also drop from SR, and while farming Ultimate SR would be asking too much out of this build, it can easily tear apart SR on normal, so you can venture pretty deep to get higher quality chests and therefore improve your chances to get a recipe. I was most comfortable farming shard 25. To farm SR you need to do at least two shards before caching out to get loot. So start at say 25, do 25 & 26 and then cache out.


    SoT run. Forgot to turn off non-MI greens so ended up derping a lot for loot. Quite a few minor mistakes as well.

I’d like to credit Superfluff for consulting me briefly, which helped me to improve the final version of the build. Thank you!

Out of all beginner guides I’ve done so far this is probably the best by far. To ensure quality of content I levelled the character in the self-found mode (no farmed blueprints, no stashed hundreds of components, no exp potions, not even faction mandates). I farmed everything. I’ve done it on hardcore and I even lost one character at level 50-ish, so I had to redo the early levelling from scratch. Don’t think I’ll ever to something to this extent again.

And ofcourse, I also took into account all of the feedback on my previous guides. Enjoy!

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  1. Please do not send me pm’s with questions about the guide, post them in this thread instead. Don’t worry, I won’t miss your post - I’d get a e-mail notification.
  2. Do not expect me to answer questions about the game that are not related to the guide.

I’m not a fan of this, but I don’t have time to personally monitor your progress through the game and consult you tet-a-tet.


Nice dude! That means I do not have to make a guide myself :stuck_out_tongue:

I had planned to make a guide with this https://www.grimtools.com/calc/gZweqYq2 and mention the faction helm, fettan mask and Derp slicers as alternetive gear

EDIT: and I did not knew about the flat RR added in patch to revenant and scales.


That’s good alternative swords, but their low armor pierce pissed me off greatly. You tried to solve that with Whetstones, but in my opinion the opportunity cost of not using Seal of Blades is pretty high.

Can be somewhat alleviated with good gargoyle belt.

I plan on the DW Dervish next.

Yeah the swords are not optimal but they are “easy” to get and gives decent allround stats and +skills.

I’ve got 350 hours in the game, but I’m still going make a BM and follow your guide, just because you did such a great job on it. :smiley: Thank you for your work.

Small nitpick/question: You use the term “opportunity cost” a lot. I’m not native in english and not sure if you are, but what does that mean exactly? Maybe a translation mistake? Edit: I know what you’re trying to say, just struck me as odd, is all. :wink:

My hats down to you again for making this build. I love stuff like this that makes the most out of faction items.

If I may, I’d even link your build to mine since people ask me all the time how to level and I just say a few words about Slicers, Cadence DM, Oleron and Belgo shears :smiley:

Hello. While I admit I’m not a native english speaker, it’s not a translation mistake. I don’t do machine translations.

Opportunity cost is a term from economics. You can perfectly google it. The general meaning I put in it is that X looks reasonable, but because you’ll have to give up Y if you go with X it needs to be considered carefully. Basically the cost of using X is the missed opportunity of using Y.

I won’t mind, in fact I’d welcome that. You totally should. :stuck_out_tongue:

gg, well written leveling guide :smiley:

Sorry, I didn’t want to imply, that you use machine translation. Thanks for the explanation, sorry for being lazy and not googling it myself. :wink:

You don’t have to be sorry, I’m not really offended by something like that. Just explaining how it is since you asked.

Nicely written and very thorough guide!Slicers really have high chance to drop,going in the hive area will almost always net you something useful like puncturing of alacrity.Malmouth redemption is nice weapon,faction Bp,but 30% armor piercing is so low.If were 40% you can correct them easily by MI or blue belt.Whetstones feel like waste.

Guns and rifles are very hard in general to get 100% armor piercing since there is not equivalent of blades of nadaan devotion, not even equivalent of whetstones :confused:


any way to fit Unknown Soldier into the devotions? Or is it not worth it for the points required?

just noticed a small mistake in the first part of leveling, i followed the level by level guide for skill points and at level 20, the number of points in ring of steel and amarastas blade burst are different than the level 20 grimtools link.

Hello. Good question. I briefly considered it before but my guts told me it’s going to be shit, so I stopped. But since it’s not very convincing, I decided to make a proper analysis.

With the constraint of keeping all key constellations (Azrakaa, Assasin’s Blade, Blades of Nadaan, Ulzaad, Revenant) it is possible to get up to 5 points in Unknown Soldier like that. The cost is picking a useless Nighttalon instead of very useful Ghoul. There’s also dropping Eel (which is good for Nightblades because they have high baseline dodge/avoid with Shadow Dance) for either Stag or Scarab. In the end it’s down to if these 5 points in Unknown Soldier are worth losing Ghoul’s proc. I for one think they aren’t, and pretty sure many experienced buildiers will agree with me.

Then, if we start tearing apart key constellations, then the obvious one to get rid of will be Revenant. Revenant is here for it’s useful stats (life steal, attack speed, %vitality resistance), racial damage/defense, but one of the main points is after the most recent patch ( Revenant skeletons have flat resistance reduction. If we’re getting rid of Revenant then we need another source of that. The options are Manticore, Bonds of Bysmiel and Scales of Ulcama.

Bonds of Bysmiel I didn’t even consider seriously because that’s a pet on 30 second cooldown. Using pets on non-pet builds for buffs or debuffs typically fails miserably, because they’ll just die too fast.

Manticore is what I would had been using if not the most recent patch. If we’re dropping Revenant there’s no need for other Red constellations except Ghoul, which would give us access to Manticore. Then you need 3 more Green (the last one will come from completed Manticore). Since we lost lifesteal from revenant it makes sense to grab Toad, but then you’ll end up with excess purple and lack of yellow - it can be resolved but won’t end up pretty and you’ll only have 4 points to spend in Unknown Soldier. The alternative is to get Lotus instead of Toad, then it would look better but still only 4 points to spend in Unknown Soldier.

The last option is Scales of Ulcama, which is super well aligned, but the proc has a 1.5 sec cooldown, single target, and what makes it even more ridiculous it’s 20% chance on being hit. While I admit I haven’t tried it, I just don’t see how could it end up working reliably.

So, out of three non-revenant setups I’m only confident in Manticore one, but even then you won’t have points to get the proc in Unknown Soldier, and if that’s so there’s little reason to get it. And if we simply consider node quality value of Revenant vs Unknown Soldier, the gap won’t be that huge. Revenant has great nodes for a T2 constellation, while Unknown Soldier has below mediocre nodes for a T3 constellation.

To cut the long story short - yes, it’s not worth it.

oh yeah, if you look at other people’s blademaster builds you’d see they easily get Unknown Soldier. But the reason for that is they use Mythical Grasp of Unchained Might to add flat RR to Ring of Steel, so with that there’s no need to get neither Manticore nor Revenant.

1 Like

Amazing guide and build, Dual wield nightblade is definitely one of the most fun builds. Thanks for doing this.

yep. THX. never played a dw blademaster. will try it

what is the best guadian mi leg armor for this build? the one with lifesteal? or the one with OA?

The build has enough lifesteal but more OA would be welcome.