[Feedback] The Great Ranged Balance Discussion

Channeling the @adoomgod threads from last year as I feel most ranged builds are not in a good spot, and hope to get this in before development grinds to a complete halt. Guns are my favorite aspect of Grim Dawn combat so this is near and dear to my heart.

Problem Statement: The overwhelming amount of ranged autoattack builds that don’t use firestrike or primal strike feel unrewarding to play due to poor AoE and/or low kill times. Even for FS and PS, builds that don’t involve passthrough or a choice selection of mods (darkblaze, gargabol) struggle to reach a comfortable performance bar.

Baseline: For purposes of the thread I’m considering 6:00 or under crucible and/or SR75-76 passable without a million deaths and rage quitting (aka within time limt). While potentially too high of a bar, many of these would struggle even at SR65-66 and can’t complete Crucible currently. I certainly don’t expect every gun to have something top tier, but would love to see the baseline raised without suggesting something silly like “passthrough on all guns”

Caveats: 1.1.8 just hit, so physical cadence will be high on my testing radar now. I also expect the new RF Aether pistols to perform fine and not be a major concern. Please make sure your observations include updates from the patch if relevant.

I’ll add in items links this evening to first two posts for 1handers and 2handers. Focus will be on AA capable guns for now, @mad_lee can own the caster pistol hate feedback if he wants :scorv:


+ above bar, performing well
- below bar
? needs tested

+Stronghold Revolver
Part of set and one of the few strong pistol+shield combos. Haven’t tried myself but @omnitrio has posted good results. Of note is the passthrough and shotgun procs, nice chunk of flat, and generic +1 allowing for flexible use

+Mythical Exterminus
Usual partner to darkblaze set with nice RR proc and good firestrike mods. Can also be used on fire firestrike, was very fragile in 1.1.7 to get full chaos conversion however.

+Mythical Arcanum Sigillis
This was at bar in 1.1.7 for elemental fire strike combo’d with phasebreaker. Survivability should now be buffed and RR changes should help pure elemental builds. Needs retested but expecting fine

+Darkblaze Incinerator
Darkblaze damage performs fine despite no passthrough due to butt loads of flat conversion. Should see a significant survivability buff in 1.1.8 with demo skill changes

+Corruption of Gargabol
Got the dream rework a few patches ago and now rock.

+Mythical Deviltongue
Flexible pistol with great proc. One of the better examples of multi use pistol imo as proc provides good survivability and additional AoE without resorting to passthru

+Dagallon’s Destroyer + Dagallon’s Annihilator
Good damage but made of glass was the consensus, should be more survivable in 1.1.8. Of note is these guns get shoehorned into lots of ranged builds to improve results strictly due to passthru mod.

+Mythical Hagarradian Enforcer
Build by tqFan hitting 5:45, looks like the proc buff last fall pushed it over. Still selfishly would love to see some additional AA support beyond ABB. https://www.grimtools.com/calc/RVvw3jXZ

+Mythical Deathdealer’s Sidearm
Sturdy but very underwhelming damage in 1.1.7 with the strong physical focus, and vitality conversion on reaping strike is usually redundant due to vit -> phys belt choice. Flat was buffed in 1.1.8, prime candidate for testing with cadence and RF with physical/maul changes. moving to + status, can be used on Oppressor for satisfying single target effects. Devos can cover just enough AoE to create solid performance. SR75-76 feasible and mid 5s crucible

+Mythical Morguul’s Mortality
Tested and sees good use paired with gargabol on non-fire strike ranged (RF primarily)

Destroyer of minds everywhere. Have seen it used in some niche firestrike builds (elemental, darkblaze?!?) strictly for the passthrough mod and some failed attempts at passthrough ABB. Interested if the RR change will help this shine as I don’t believe any mod encouraged builds existed. Otherwise this may be a bit too generic? Elemental firestrike needs confirmed testing in 1.1.8

Buffed in 1.1.8, have never seen used for AA before. Needs testing
Previous build from Val that meets performance benchmark, now buffed https://www.grimtools.com/calc/xZyLErKV

Buffed with additional fighting spirit time, worth testing with changes to that skill. Very underwhelming on the paladin side of the build using RF. Low damage either dual wield or with shield, and one handed pistol pierce doesn’t not have nearly the support that 2hander does with valdun set
Special shield callout here as testing seems to have Watcher of Erulan outperforming Wrathguard with this pistol getting oathkeeper benefits for gun and shield. Also I think shattering smash should still work with ranged but get why we’re here.

-Mythical Barrelsmith’s Salvo + Mythical Barrelsmith’s Crossfire
Looking for in game experience with this. I made a lightning fire strike vindi build in GT and the weapon damage was so low I didn’t even bother making in game. Caster mods are great though!

-Ludrigan’s Sidearm
Tried 3 versions of lightning pistol vindicator, with ludrigan, stormserpent set, and mixed gear. All were frustrating to play due to no passthrough on savagery and the usual AoE problems, even with wind devil and storm totem support. The AA side of this weapon/set definitely feels like the weakest link right now

-Mythical Havoc
Buffed indirectly with large tactician and physical changes. Could be in a good spot now. Aided by cadence passthrough on fighting form. Physical allows for oleron that covers arc AoE need, but single target damage still feels a bit low

-Mythical Exonerator
Don’t recall the last time I saw this used. Last time I looked at didn’t have great item support.

-Mythical Anderos’ Amplifier
Questionable, but does have attack speed. Don’t recall it ever showing up in an AA build and doesn’t have skill mods to support sabo


Mythical Soulflayer
Decent gun but had no AA support. Now overshadowed by Rutnick

Mythical Slugger
Maybe of use on some pierce pistol builds but a fat piggie gun. Also it’s claim to fame, ridiculous DR, it somewhat overshadowed now in a 1.1.8 world

Mythical Shadowspine Enforcer
Cold guns are in very bad shape, so I guess this counts as passable for cold pistol cadence.

Mythical Orwell’s Revolver
Didn’t make the cut when I was looking at pistol savagery. Anyone use and can speak to effectiveness of proc? Otherwise it falls into the savagery woes pile

Mythical Oathbreaker
Really surprised this set hasn’t made the forums, on paper it looks like a tanky version of pyro with pistol and shield but I haven’t gotten around to making in game. Expecting this to be effective with proc and firestrike support despite no passthrough as pushing 25-30k weapon damage with a single pistol is lol.

Mythical Burrwitch Peacekeeper
Craftable, better base damage than Havoc, and with unchained might changes should still get full conversion. Worth testing on tacticians

Mythical Aldur’s Inquisition
Niche elemental firestrike? Can’t see it getting use at endgame, better purple choices

Luminari Sidearm
For a blue set probably in the right place, but really depends on the rest of the build

+Rutnick’s Blaster
Early results seem promising, even with firestrike. Le sigh
Looks to meet benchmark with oppressor, paladin coming up short.

Viper Sandspitter
Worth a test in new physical landscape, otherwise don’t remember these being used.


+ above bar, performing well
- below bar
? needs tested

+The Desolator
Passthrough firestrike big booms in good shape

+Mythical Vortex of Souls
PS passthrough glory, also outshines dreadscorcher in aether fire strike. Converting to lightning probably a bit too strong, other versions are passable.

+Mythical Valdun’s Rifle
Had some nerfs but I believe still well above thresholds for this thread

+Mythical Northern Wyrm
Have seen more use on casting side. Has no AA class support, maybe will see action in 1.1.8
Duchy used successfully in cold PS https://www.grimtools.com/calc/JVlw8Xb2

+Mythical Evoker of Elgoloth
Buffed in, moving this to good. Had SR90 successful clear now with a few gearing options. This is basically single target focused ranged with just enough AoE available to cover. Subpar in crucible but it has its niche

?+Mythical Harbinger of Eternal Suffering
Fits in with rah’bringer, arguably in better shape than other non-passthru AA setups due to getting touch of chaos with no skillpoint investment and super doom bolts for AoE.

?Mythical Korvan Wyrm
Felt awful when I tried on archon as attack speed wasn’t saveable. Another more cooldown vs spam PS focus. Physical changes worth a revisit in 1.1.8

?Mythical Hellborne
Retal so I never try. Believe this has at least one posted build?

?Mythical Raka’Jax
Niche for cooldown primal strike or casting, and no one seems to like the former.

?Mythical Silverbolt
Super niche but can be used on some weirdo pierce conversion builds. Considering the +3 flexibility I don’t know where this would go

?Gildor’s Pulverizer
Idk why this has attack speed, unloved on caster side too

-Runebinder’s Spellthrower
Tried this in an Infil AA build converting fully to pierce. This was one of my classic sheet damage and dummy kill times are great, feels awful in SR or Crucible situations due to lack of AoE (blades of wrath was my only savior in any pack). Maybe too big of a conversion hackjob, but haven’t seen anything else trying to primary the AA aspect despite a buff in 1.1.7
tested build in 1.1.7: https://www.grimtools.com/calc/lV7bavB2

-Mythical Soullance
Have not seen used, maybe it’ll see life with the vitality buff. Has low cooldown proc for AoE?

-Mythical Dreadscorcher
Doesn’t appear to be in a good place, outclassed by VoS in it’s own niche. Anyone have a decent build for this? My attempts were underwhelming, doesn’t carry with crazy flat that pushes non-passthrough fire strike to glory

-Mythical Quillthrower of Dreeg
ABB mods and acid gets ABB cooldown support. No experience here

Can’t recall this being used. Is this meant to be acid ABB or RF gun?


well, I can’t pass this thread as it bothers me the same. So, some commentary and thought.

  1. Gargabols - probably the best pistols for now. Best rework I’ve ever seen.
  2. Desolator - good but let’s be honest … it would be even better if you add +2 to Inq instead of Soldier to it. I know that it’s some kind of Commando support but nah, this doesn’t work that way.
  3. Oathbearer - would love to see it changed to support pierce FS. Let’s be honest again. FS is the best ranged AA. So maybe some kind of RR to WoP would be nice. And increased AS.
  4. Phasebreaker - the only good thing is passthrough. Crappy mastery bonuses, almost no skill bonuses or modifiers. Trash. Would like to see it buffed for elemental ranged etc.
  5. Vaster pistols&guns overall - said that before and wanna repeat now. They. Are. Crap.
    Far worse damage than from scepter/dagger and u also need to invest into Cunning to use them, which is useless for casters.
  6. Dreadscorcher - give it +2 to Demo instead of Arcanist, please. But tbh, aether FS is in a bad spot as it doesn’t have enough damage even with 2 RRs and has little support.
  7. M. Adversary - some support of phys casters like Commando would be welcomed. Now the weapon is trash.

This definitely can go faster with polish now


Thanks, will note. That said, any feeling for how much of that is carried by a Pblades nuke vs shard AAing? I’ve always found the latter super underwhelming, but maybe bleed is the ticket.

Also I wanna note that all ranged weapons have rather low base damage, one of the lowest in the whole game. Maybe make it a bit higher?

For more niche/non-passthrough firestrike or PS builds, I could see it helping as there definitely feels like a breaking point between not fast enough and delete button, one of those magic targets where most suddenly trash doesn’t make it to you. However, based on some attempts to stack weapon damage to the moon on savagery ranged, there is still a massive AoE problem that straight flat wouldn’t help. I think looking at the list, it’s primary a combo of good +skills and AoE proc that is helping the middle tier of guns.

this applies to almost all normal AAs like Cadence, Savagery, RF etc when they go ranged. And I actually dunno how to solve this problem.
To delete things fast and w/o passthrough u need to be either Valdun or Gargabols (or any king of Purifier build), otherwise it will be a nightmare.


Overall I love the concept of caster guns (and rifles), it’s not stupid, especially when your “spell” is a massive grenade in the face. Definitely refreshing when all your 20 builds are scepter + off-hand.

Here’s my feedback on the ones I used the most :

  • Barrelsmiths
    Great caster guns, and the reason why I think not all guns are made for AA or Primal Strike. They are strong enough for grenado+canister, however the AA side is weak. If you mix it with the bombs, you don’t even have the points to use savagery, and even then it does no damage cause caster = no weapon damage. Sure you can leech off it, but not a lot, it makes the build so clunky you actually lose dps, and you can survive another way. If you want to purely AA with it, you sacrifice the weapon slots where you could get AA replacer bonuses for some WPS and a build that plays like Dagallon or such, it’s redundant. The guns would be better off with some cast speed to make the bombing smoother but not more OP than it already is.

  • Gildor’s Pulverizer
    I tried a pierce grenado build with a saboteur (in and everything was wrong. Weak damage, horrible itemization (rimetongue is garbage for everything it promises to do), and no other good skill to add as a saboteur (perhaps Fire Strike to use the attack speed but no skill points to do so). I think the gear for pierce grenado is the major issue there.

  • Oathbearer
    Tested on a pierce Gun&Shield purifier and paladin, so not exactly what it’s made for. Not great not terrible, both achieved similar dps which was actually good (unless you’re a crucible enthusiast, then it’s trash cause 6min+). Could use a little bump to AoE somehow.

  • Adversary
    INSANELY good caster rifle for fire grenado, I don’t know about Canister but it seems to be made for physical Canister, which could work well with the new Maul devotion proc. Worth exploring before jumping to conclusions.

The rest is either very good (Darkblaze, Stronghold) or looks so bad I don’t even want to try it (Venomlance).

Edit: forgot to add : buff Wrathguard please ! It’s useless for Gun&Shield because of Watcher of Erulan that is better on every aspect even on purifier, as I demonstrated sooner this year.

I used it on cold PS build. It is good for cold PS. Skill it gives is very nice for freezing trash and hero mobs in SR.

I have just spent the last 2 days testing and theorycrafting around Rutnicks Templar, this is my final build: https://www.grimtools.com/calc/gZww0pnZ

With good spawns I’ve been able to achieve ~ 14 minute 150-170 (Yikes) I believe with optimal play a sub 10 mins is possible.

I’ve clear SR 60 with great ease, ill come back and edit once ive pushed further.

The good - Insanely fun and insanely durable, dashing around while cycling mirror and ascension cooldowns and melting single targets with great ease brings me a ton of joy.

The bad - Lack of RR in the build proper and really pitiful aoe, the only one being bonemongers empowered smite and rutnicks WPS.


Added and will give this a try as well as I haven’t had amazing results on the lightning side with similar damage numbers, but considerably different support classes obviously

Deathdealer’s Sidearm is an extremely poor man’s Havoc, and that’s an underwhelming archetype to begin with. Non-inquisitor WPS have no AoE on ranged, and inquisitor ones interact poorly with physical damage, since only bursting round isn’t multi-projectile. With the update to Unchained Grasp, you could try making some kind of meme Havoc/DS Paladin, but don’t expect much.

I’d actually argue smite is the best ranged wps with big damage and passthrough with guns, so physical oppressor may be the best starting place to test it since you’ll be focusing on vit conversion more anyway. I’ve been reading mixed thoughts on maul changes being enough so far, however, so I’m not getting hyped before I test myself.

@Crittrain was trying out havoc tactician, but haven’t seen his crucible times after some tweaks and I won’t have time to dig into my own testing until Friday.

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RR mod on guardians only work with celestial presence.

Happen to have a GT link handy? Planning to spend most of my weekend testing things called out here if I haven’t already spun them up

The problem with oppressor is that Necromancer has no physical support in the mastery at all. Outside of reaping strike and RR, Necro doesn’t bring enough to make it worth taking. With the boost to War Cry and nerf to Scales/Spectral Binding, Warlord is probably a better pick if you want to dual-wield Deathdealers.

lolwut… I think you got some thing mixed around here @Smitherson

Necro brings everything needed for physical damage, Flat it can convert and 2 wps with more converted flat.

You can convert 50% aether to physical via seal of might :innocent:. Also cold/vit from bone harvest -> physical too. But the lack of Oathkeeper support (+2 smite only) makes it hard to make a viable Opp build. Would be nice if Crate add mod: 30% chance to pass through mobs to RF to this weapon.