[DW melee] Beginner's Virulent Dervish

Picture with Lethal Assault and Pneumatic Burst up, but no Ascension


Last review: patch

Here’s a beginner version of another popular DW melee build. It is meant as a lower end version of the Dervish based on Vileblade Pact set, more commonly known as mythical Venomblade.

Contrary to some of my other builds it is pretty straightforward in how it is levelled, with little to no detours, respecs and other things.

Grimtools link (click me)

How the build works

    There are two kind of builds – those that scale flat damage and those that scale DoT damage. The way they are built is different, and the vast majority of builds have either strong flat damage and small DoT or vice versa. Dervish is unique because he’s firmly in both realms. The focus is on acid damage, but you’re going to end up with high ticks as well. Naturally, you could either emphasize the flat damage part or poison damage part, this build ended up somewhere in-between though.

    For a general knowledge on how nightblade procs (WPS) work check here.

    For a general knowledge on how DoT builds work check out this thread. It’s outdated about some of the exemplar numbers, but don’t let it bother you.

    The only thing I could add is one particular quirk with Nidalla’s Hidden Hand. Nidalla’s Hidden Hand adds poison to three WPS procs, and that poison would stack from each of them, so the actual impact of NHH on your poison ticks is thrice than what it seems.

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.

    Max means you’d want as much as possible in a given skill up to hard cap. Keep at X means that you need to add or substract skill points based on whether you have some skill bonuses from gear or not.

    Very high priority:

    • Righteous Fervor – max this, main attack skill.
    • Dreeg’s Reproach – you wouldn’t need the above without this.
    • Lethal Assault – max this, an important buff, source of OA, flat acid damage and %acid&poison.

    High priority:

    • Path of the Three – max this, an important buff, source of poison damage and %acid&poison.
    • Celestial Presence – keep at 12, an important source of poison&acid resistance reduction.
    • Scion of Dreeg – needed to unlock the above.
    • Merciless Repertoire – max this, an important passive, source of poison damage and %acid&poison.
    • Night’s Chill – keep at 10, an important source of poison&acid resistance reduction.

    Normal priority:

    • Ascension – max this, that’s something you’d pop when you’re fighting strong enemies. It also helps to deal with reflection enemies.
    • Consecration – keep at 12, an important defensive buff.
    • Shadow Dance – keep at 12, an important defensive buff.

    Weak priority and one-pointers:

    • Amarasta’s Blade Burst – one point to enable Lethal Assault.
    • Dual Blades – keet at 5 for some cheap 5% physical resistance.
    • Nidalla’s Hidden Hand (NHH) – I max this, but it’s not a terribly important skill, it’s very possible to save some points here.
    • Belgothian’s Shears – mostly a conduit for NHH, 5 points would be best.
    • Amarasta’s Quick Cut – mostly a conduit for NHH, 5 points would be best.
    • Belgothian’s Shears – mostly a conduit for NHH, 5 points would be best.
    • Ring of Steel – one point to proc devotion and enable Circle of Slaughter.
    • Circle of Slaughter – keep at 3, more is ok if you have points to spare.
    • Shadow Strike – one point, it’s just a mobility skill here.
    • Nidalla’s Justifiable Ends – one point and make skill bonuses from gear do the rest. It’s useful because it both shortens the cooldown for Shadow Strike and inflicts some extra poison damage.
    • Elemental Awakening – one point, just a bit of extra elemental resistance.
    • Phantasmal Armor – one point, just a bit of extra pierce and crowd control resistance.
    • Summon Guardian of Empyrion – one point just for their Celestial Presence.
    • Resilience – one point, great synergy with Wayward Soul devotion proc.
    • Clarity of Purpose – one point for some extra OA&CC resistances when Ascension is active.
  1. Crossroads (green)
  2. Scorpion (bind Scorpion Sting to Amarasta’s Blade Burst)
  3. Crossroads (red)
  4. Jackal
  5. Manticore (bind Acid Spray to Righteous Fervor)
  6. Crossroads (blue)
  7. Eel
  8. Murmur (bind Rumor to Shadow Strike)
  9. Ghoul (bind Ghoulish Hunger to any aura or buff)
  10. Hawk
  11. Crossroads (purple)
  12. Toad
  13. Chariot of the Dead (bind Wayward Soul to Resilience)
  14. Left side of Abomination (bind Tainted Eruption to Ring of Steel)
  15. Remove Jackal
  16. Rat
  17. Remove Crosssroads (red) and Crossroads (green)
  18. 4 points into Yugol

On Wayward Soul + Resilience – that would guarantee Wayward Soul procs only when you’re in need of healing. Moreover, since Resilience has cooldown, Wayward Soul proc chance would be increased to 100%. There’s also a synergetic effect of DA, %DA, Armor and %physical resistance, which would you make pretty durable once it’s active. I highly recommend this combo.


    Level 1-20:

    Start with Nightblade. Up to about 15 level your main skill will be Amarasta’s Blade Burst, so put it on left mouse button.

    • Level 2 – 1 point into Nightblade bar, 1 point into Amarasta’s Blade Burst, 1 point into Dual Blades
    • Level 3 to 9 – 2 points into Nightblade bar, 1 point into Amarasta’s Blade Burst
    • Free skillpoint from Kasparov’s quest goes into Shadow Strike
    • Level 10 to 13 – 3 points into Lethal Assault
    • Level 14 – 1 points into Pneumatic Burst, 1 point into Breath of Belgothian, 1 into Oathkeeper bar.
    • Level 15 – 1 points into Pneumatic Burst, 2 into Oathkeeper bar
    • Level 16 – 1 points into Pneumatic Burst, 2 into Oathkeeper bar
    • Level 17 – 3 points into Pneumatic Burst
    • Remove 7 points from Amarasta’s Blade Burst, put 4 of them into Righteous Fervor, 1 into Dreeg’s Reproach, and 2 into Oathkeeper bar
    • Level 18 and 19 – 3 into Oathkeeper bar
    • Level 20 – 2 into Oathkeeper bar, 1 into Consecration

    At level 20 my character looked like that:
    Virulent Dervish, level 20

    Level 21-35:

    Since at that points I was fighting some enemies that are very resistant to acid & poison I beelined Night’s Chill to cut their resistances. Other than that get Belgothian’s Shears for some extra AoE, max Righteous Fervor and push Oathkeeper bar.

    Level 20 is about when you’re expected to start using components, my usual early go-to’s are:

    • Vitriolic Gallstone in both weapons. Pretty expensive, since you need 8 Mutagenic Inchor’s to craft them, which you probably won’t have that early if that’s your first character.
    • Wardstone into amulet and medal.
    • Frozen Heart into one ring
    • Silk Swatch in the shoulders.
    • Scaled Hide into pants
    • Antivenom Salve in the belt

    As for the relic craft yourself Sanctuary.

    That’s the bare minimum of what you need by level 35. Ideally you’d also want Ancient Armor Plating into torso and Runestone into the head. Second ring can be Corpse Dust, Soul Shard or another Frozen Heart.

    At level 35 my character looked like that:
    Virulent Dervish, level 35

    Level 36-65:

    First push Oathkeeper mastery to 50, get Path of the Three first, then Celestial Presence. After that push Nightblade mastery to 32 and get Merciless Repertoire. You’d probably get Tainted Eruption devotion proc around 65, get a point into Ring of Steel ready for that. Once you get Tainted Eruption the build’s trash clear capability skyrockets.

    At level 50 my character looked like that:
    Virulent Dervish, level 50

    At level 65 my character looked like that:
    Virulent Dervish, level 65

    Level 65 is when you could buy some of the non-elite faction gear, check out Barrowholm’s faction shop for chest and shoulders. You’d need Respected with them, and depending on your pace it might not happen by 65. If that’s the case do a few bounties or farm some Chthonians.

    Another faction-related thing you should get at 65 is Scorpius Venom augment from Cult of Solael faction. Putting that on both rings and the amulet will boost your damage output dramatically.

    Level 66-90:

    Here you invest into Ascension, Shadow Dance and Consecration.

    This level range is more about updating your gear rather than getting new skills. It is a very common mistake to get used to level 65 faction items or epic (blue) items. While their bonuses may be juicy, their armor rating will get outlevelled by enemies, resulting in you dying a lot. It is especially true for chest and leg armor, but head and shoulders are important too. Gloves and boots you could keep a bit behind, but not too much as well. Remember that even if nothing good seems to drop you can craft gear and check out shops.

    You can buy Wendigo Claw from Barrowholm by level 84 and the rest of faction gear pieces by level 90. Refer to gear section below to check out details.

    My character snapshots:

    Virulent Dervish, level 75
    Virulent Dervish, level 84
    Virulent Dervish, level 90

    Level 91-100:

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

Walkthough and Faction Decisions

    When Emissary appears accept his invitation, and do the quests up to faction selection. Choose Dreeg, since that’ll allow you to buy Emblem of the Riftstalker right then. Put that Emblem upon your medal.

    Then you have a choice between doing the Forgotten Gods campaign or returning to vanilla one. The former is going to be a bit harder, but in turn would reward you with farming grounds for Gannar’vakkar’s Sting and Korvan Gaze – two items that fit the build. For the Stings any with “of Alacrity” is guaranteed to be better than pretty much anything else you could find in that level range. Basically I haven’t used any other weapon, just came at level 40, 55 and 70 to farm an upgraded weapon.

    Faction choices:

    • Death Vigil or Kymon’s Chosen – doesn’t matter, I went with KC.
    • Outcast – doesn’t matter, I didn’t even talk to her. There’s no reason to go hostile on her though.
    • Barrowholm – friends. My setup uses plenty of their faction gear, so I’m not giving you choice here. If you’re so dead set on purging these peaceful villagers then perhaps it would be better to find another build to follow.
    • Cult on Normal – Dreeg. You need Emblem of the Riftstalker.
    • Cult on Elite – doesn’t matter.
    • Cult on Ultimate – doesn’t matter.
Gear notes
    • Weapons: Wendigo Claw – Barrowholm faction item, required level 84.
      Alternative: Gannar’vakkar’s Sting – a monster infrequent that you could farm from Gannar’vakkar (map). There are level 20, 40, 55, 70, 84 and 94 versions.
      Alternative #2: Mad Queen’s Claw. Technically target-farmable, but since Mad Queen is one of the more difficult bosses it’s more of an endgame goal.

    • Chest: Elite Wendigo Vile Chestguard – Barrowholm faction item.

    • Shoulders: Elite Wendigo Vile Spaulders – Barrowholm faction item.

    • Head: Elite Dreeg Venomshroud Hood – Cult of Dreeg faction item.
      Alternative:[/b] Fettan Mask – freebie item dropped near Maw of Einhart (map

    • Rings: Viloth’s Ring – drops from Viloth in the dungeon below Devil’s Crossing. It’s a strong ring on it’s own and pretty easy to farm, only thing it lacks is an affix with resistances and/or OA&DA.
      Alternative: Mythical Widow’s Sting – a very good ring for the build, it’s craftable so you could get a blueprint if you farm Treasure Troves on Ultimate.

    • Amulet: Coven Darkener Pendant – Coven of Ugdenbog faction item.

    • Medal: Mark of Lethal Intents – craftable, recipe could be bought from Coven of Ugdenbog.

    • Belt: Mythical Alchemist Belt – another craftable item, you can get the blueprint while farming Treasure Troves on Ultimate.

    • 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.
      Alternative: Mythical Vilescorn Bracers – random drop.

    • Boots: – basic craftable heavy boots, affixes to fill resistances.
      Alternative: Mythical Vilescorn Greaves – random drop.

    • Pants: – basic craftable pants to fill resistances and/or OA&DA

    • Relic: Blight – cheapest relic that fits the build, it’s only fault is being an Occultist relic.
      Alternative: Nidalla’s Outbreak – high end relic, poison focus
      Alternative #2: Meditation – high end relic, acid focus
      Alternative #3: Slaughter – high end relic, defense focus


    In my final setup I used some of the high end components, best way to farm blueprints for them is to run Treasure Troves on Ultimate. The most convenient route is Darkvale, because you get a free dynamite here. You probably can do the same on Elite, but it would require a location with monsters above level 85, so Ugdenbog / Malmouth / Korvan. I admit I haven’t tested it out, but it should work.

    While doing the above you’ll get plenty of other blueprints, like ones for Mythical Widow’s Sting and Mythical Alchemist’s Belt.

    Blueprints for rare components like Living Armor and Sacred Plating could also be farmed the same way, but they require a level 92 location, so you just can’t get them on Elite that way. And even on Ultimate their chance to drop from Treasure Trove is much lower than blueprints for other components or mythical epics. There’s a high chance to get them dropped from roguelike dungeon’s end chest, but that’s going to be hard w/o a well optimized build in the first place. There’s a cheesy way to get them though – farm shattered realm on normal, try to go up to shards 25-30 and you’ll get your blueprints in a relatively short time.

    • DOOMBABY by dmt. Direct upgrade of my build, Venomblade based.
    • The Realm of Misery by thejabrixone. Skill-wise it is a very similar build to the one above, but uses a completely different set of gear.
    • Dreeg’s Acid Fisting by ya_. Venomblade-based build as well, but with an ABB twist.
    • The Lone Avenger by thejabrixone. It a cold damage build, 100% reliant on it’s amulet to function properly.

Sadly, lost the character on HC just as I was finishing the guide, so my final setup isn’t as fleshed out as I wanted it to be (all what was left is to upgrade a relic and get some skill and attribute points from quests). It didn’t affect the guide much, just the welcoming picture is a bit less pretty. If I’m to level another one I’ll be using this guide as a reference for sure.

Speaking about hardcore, as far as DW builds go Dervish is a good choice, but Blademaster is just much safer and easier to optimize. I’ve got a few ideas how to make Dervish more safe with some tradeoffs, but for now it’s going to be left as is.


Other beginner guides

Guides by myself:

Guides by Nery:

Guides by others:


  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.

This looks like a REAL beginner’s guide. Hell of a job, Stupid Dragon.

Can’t comment much on the items choices since I am a total noob when it comes to such gear, but shouldn’t Revenant be better then Manticore here?

Nice guide as always!
Dervish is one of the most popular classes and certainly this should help all the people trying to level the wonderful end game setups.

I wanted to achieve high poison ticks, so I chose Manticore. Manticore is also super convenient for levelling.


Hi, first of all thank you for your guides!

I am a noob and i want to follow one of your Dw melee builds. You say that blademaster is much safier, so dervish has more damage or QOL?

Yes, in theory you can squeeze much more sheer damage out of Dervish. During my experiments I was looking at almost 130k sheet dps at some point, but the character ended up lacking many core stats, so I had to tone it down a bit.

Dervish also can do dps while kiting due to his ability to stack poison on the enemy.

Honestly, between Blademaster and Dervish I enjoyed Dervish more. When farming as Blademaster I had to often skip trash enemies because my AoE was mediocre, but as Dervish I just Shadow Strike into the crowd, use Ring of Steel with Tainted Eruption, followed by ABB with Scorpion Sting, and move on, most weak enemies will just die from this combo shortly after.

If it isn’t about hardcore then Dervish is a perfectly fine choice to go with. For hardcore Blademaster is a better starting pick, because he’s more durable due to how things aligned. I’m 100% sure Blademaster would had survived that one encounter.

Thanks! I think i’ll go Dervish then :smiley:

Perfect beginner’s guide:cool:


Feel free to link it in your build. :wink:

Sure I will, I’m planning to update me thread with lots of new features including link to your guide:p

Nice acid build! Sorry to hear about you losing the char :confused:

I was wondering if you ever considered this faction weapon https://www.grimtools.com/db/items/11681

By just changing weapons to these in your Grim Tool build, I found a small increase in weapon damage (about 12%) https://www.grimtools.com/calc/r2BzvWw2

Did you just overlook it or did you have other reasons for excluding this weapon? The trap cc resist on the wendigo claw is pretty nice I guess and its proc is more potent than the Dreeg venomweaver

Great job! Pretty good guide for new players! :fire:

No idea how I missed it…

I think I did discover them at some point but somehow decided that wendigo claws are better, and that was somehow latched into memory so when I started to level an actual thing I didn’t even bothered to double check it. Perhaps these daggers were improved at some point.

Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Hi stupid dragon!
Just saw this. Thanks for referencing my build from your guides.

Great guide as usual. Good reads…
Will be really useful for the new players that want to experience the power of Dervish. You guys should also make one for warlord, and other powerful classes.

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Hi, thanks.

I thought the interest in Warlords began to wane after retal was nerfed?

Which other classes you consider powerful?

Warlord still as powerful as ever. RtA is nerfed but should still be strong. The class is just too synergistic, I am sure more hidden warlord build will get discovered in the future, and it will not be limited to RtA.

Current strong classes are vindicator, infiltrator, and pet conjurer. Other oathkeeper variation may also be a top contender, but the build just hasn’t been discovered yet.

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Malawiglenn have two Warlords made,one Forcewave and also EoR one.
I agree about Dervish and WL are strong and they are must for guides.

Infiltrator I could do easily and even want to, but since Nery has one it’s not a priority.
Conjurer got a beginner build written by a pet player.

Vindicator I was asked about already, a primal strike one. But personally I just love the idea of conjurer more. :undecided:

The question about PS 2h Vindy is can you get enough attack speed from Malmouth Greatsword?For ranged Sparkthrower is monster good weapon.

I will add to classes Purifier.Really strong and as beginner you know,you can count on faction gun,that is a great option.

Beginners Templars have Vanquisher set as next goal,you can build Opressor like my guide with Dark one.I have the idea for beginners EoR lightning Archon,but low attack speed,and you have to count on Savagery and devils and they interrupted the flow.Paladin is strong beginners build,Shieldbreaker is probably a option,but DA and resistances problem.Sentinel caster is also in my plans,but wil see…