Guide for helping how to choose your build!


One of the most common questions among new players is “Help me choose a build”, Grim Dawn indeed has wide variety of class combinations, styles and other. With them is real challenge to select a proper build for you. My guide is meant to help players choose what they like but also to choose wise!
I will use some terminology, if you are unfamiliar with it, you can ask or check the acronyms list

NOTES: If you want to experience the thrill of self made build,please don’t read the details.So the keys to select builds, according to the synergy!

Topic is revised lastly in

Style of play

It’s good to decide, what kind of style you want to play and choose accordingly. To name them: DW(dual wield) melee, 2Hmelee, DW(dual pistols) ranged,2H(Gun) ranged, S&B(Sword and Board) ,Caster(spells), retalitation and pets.

So, when decide it’s easier to choose a class. Note that some classes are better for one of the styles and average in other, even if they support the specific damage. For example Inquisitor can be used for chaos ranged build, but if you want to support chaos melee, maybe will be bad option.Also Nightblade is almighty in DW melee, but if you have Panetti caster, it’s not the optimal secondary class, you want Inquisitor here.

Ease of Gearing

It’s important not choose some gear dependent build to follow that work only with super rare conversion items. Also leveling option in case of failing is plus. And some rare and unused classes can be harder to play. There are also sets with guaranteed drop chance and drop from specific bosses, named Dark One and Krieg. They can get you going in end game. Pretty versatile sets, but same ideas for combinations are: Krieg-Death Knight and Spellbinder, Dark One: Cabalist or Opressor. Every other sets are either random drop or crafted items with random blueprint drop. Vanquisher or Shattered realm are also semi-targetable ,since SR set is from Shattered realm mode and Vanquisher have 5% drop from dungeons and each part is located in one of the 4 dungeons-Steps of Torment,Bstion of Chaos, Port Valbury or Ancient Grove.

Resist Reduction&Damage

Common term is,that resist reduction is key. Usually to build good character you need RR source from both classes. Some can use one and be fine, but usually two are better. If you both classes don’t have RR,usually build is gonna suck. For example if you want good vitality let’s say Ravenous Earth build, you will choose support class with vitality RR, not universal like Soldier or with some vitality damage,but no RR like Nightblade.

Also is important how easy your RR is unlocked. Curse of Frality has duration and will be applied to enemy with every tick. But there’s even better way, passive proc Inquisitor Aura of Censure will debuff all enemies in radius,so it’s better. Necromancer Spectral Binding have passive RR on hit, it’s useful for melee, but useless for pets.

Damage, same way. Look for common support damage. For example both Demo and Inquisitor have aether RR, but they don’t have basically aether damage, so it will be hard to create aether Purifier. Also it easy to focus on only one damage type, since you have to reduce monster resistances and find gear with same damage support. For example Nightblade can support both pierce and cold damage,but will be hard to use them on same build, since Murmur is constellation for cold RR and Assassin’s mark for pierce. Also Ultos or Elemental storm proc are working only for Elemental damage and not pierce. There are few exceptions from the rule, like cold/lightning Druid or tri-elemetal builds like Arcanor Forcewave.


It’s good if you are inexperience to choose sturdy class and not glass. In general builds with Oatkeeper, Soldier or Inquisitor tends to be more safe ,also vitality casters are beginner friendly as well due to built in life steal.


We want to focus on one main damage skill or two. Also exclusive skill and support and defensive. Spreading points among many offensive skills make the build harder to manage and pilot. Please don’t create skills and pets hybrid, unless you have knack for that.

Note that skills for leveling can be different from end game.

Some examples early leveling :

  • Arcanist - Olexra Flash Freeze+Fireblast from component,Trozan
  • Oathkeeper-Vire’s might+Aegis
  • Nightblade - Veil+Night’s Chill, Amarasta
  • Occultist - Dreeg’s Eye+ Blood of Dreeg
  • Demolitionist - Fireblast,Blackwater cocktail
  • Soldier - Forcewave +Internal Trauma or Blade Arc
  • Shaman - Devouring Swarm, or Wind Devil
  • Inquisitor - Word of Pain+Word of Renewal
  • Necromancer - Ravenous Earth+Spectral Binding


If you are melee you want ghoul as circuit breaker and life steal. For caster you want maybe damage absorb and/or healing procs. You need with any build,good RR form devos.


First, here is list of all character combinations,with build compendium links

So here’s the cherry on top, what classes are good according to all criteria.

NOTE:this is my personal opinion, you are not obligated to support it! Choices are in order, but not in strict sometimes
NOTE 2: May contain spoilers

Physical :muscle:

Good classes are based around Soldier or OK. Warlord is really good, so does Opressor, Death Knight,Witchblade, Sentinel.Tanks, 2h melee and maybe DW melee are good, retal is god, caster is hard to make.

Cold :damage_cold:

For DW melee choices are Infiltrator,Trickster,Blademaster,Dervish.

For 2h melee, similar maybe. For caster I will add Druid and Mage Hunter as solid classes. DW melee recommended, tank or ranged not so much.

Fire :fire:

Good combos are Shieldbreaker, Paladin, Purifier. Basically three classes have excellent support. Occultist and Shaman have RR,but not really skills. Caster can be Mage Hunter, Sorcerer or Elementalist .Recommended are Caster,Tank, Ranged, not really the Melee builds, but there are few decent ones.

Lightning :damage_lightning:

Shaman supports that damage really well, is viable in almost every category. Vindicators are kings of lightning. For non Shaman option is ranged Purifier or Sorcerer/Shieldbreaker caster. Archon is gear dependent,but can be good as EoR build. Also Warder has some qualities.

Vitality :skull:

Many options,really good as caster, some decent 2h melee. DW melee or ranged is really mediocre. Classes are closer, many possible combos. Necromancer have excellent vitality support and is used as Opressor, Ritualist, Cabalist. Phantasmal blades use Nightblade as main class and Necro or Occultist, usually.

Pierce :hocho:

DW melee is blazing quick or ranged. Other options are no that good or require gear.Classes Infiltrator, Blademaster, Tactician, some gear dependent options like Purifier or Trickster.

Acid :skull_and_crossbones:

Dervish…Sentinel or Witch Hunter. DW melee, tank, caster are solid options. Retal can be cheap and reliable build.

Aether :damage_aether:

Spellbinder, Death Knight, Mage Hunter, maybe Apostate.Caster is classic aether build.

Chaos :damage_chaos:

Chaos, usually is under performing damage or gear dependent. Deciever is probably popular. Pyromancer or Witchblade have easier gearing. Ranged chaos is decent, but other are options also.

Bleed :heavy_heart_exclamation:

Choices are DW or 2h Melee.Classes-Trickster, Warder, Archon, Warlord, Witchblade. Very interesting damage, since is full DoT.

Pets :cat: :dog: :bird: :ghost: and other.

Conjurer are tanky, Cabalist deal tons of damage, option is Ritualist. In general you want double pet support classes, instead of single, unless you know what are you doing.

Conclusion of Classes

Some classes fail to have mentions, like Defiler, Warlock or Battlemage. There is reason, they don’t have much synergy outside of specific items or sets, it’s maybe good idea to avoid them.

Some easy classes for starters in order

DW melee-Infiltrator,Blademaster, Dervish, Trickster

2H-Warlord, Death Knight, Vindicator, Witchblade

S&B-Warlord, Death Knight, Paladin, Sentinel, Witchblade

DW ranged-Purifier, Paladin, Tactician, Vindicator

2h Ranged-Vindicator,Purifier,Paladin

Caster(not in order) Cabalist and Opressor (Ravenous earth), Reaper (ravenous earth, then phantasmal blades), Mage Hunter (Words of pain or Olexra flash freeze, later Panneti), Vindicator (storm tottems, Wind Devils, Storm Box, Spellbinder(little tough early levels,later is nice)

Retalitaion-Warlord, Opressor, Sentinel, Paladin, Warder


Subject is open to suggestions,I cherish each player ideas.Have fun!


Oh,the guide is already up!

Thanks for mods fast approval! :smiley:

Vitality: you didn’t mention what classes. For me it’s necro the same way Shaman is the lightning class. 2 of the strongest vit skills in Ravenous Earth and Bone Harvest is in Necro as well as the vit exclusive skill in Harbinger of souls so you want that.

Bleed: you missed Witchblade and Warder :p. Trickster is hot but soldier still got the strongest bleed tick/second in blade arc so pair it with anything with bleed RR.

  • I wonder why you put RR before stype of play. If I was a new player I’d want to know how to play a fierce warrior, a gunslinger or a wizard.
  • Next I would want to know how busy a build will be.
  • You seem to suggest to focus on one damage type. Maybe elaborate and if you cannot use two or more.
  • New players are probably confused about all the dual-class names. Can you add the masteries?
  • Or is your aim to highlight which class is good (i.e. easy for new players) for what purpose? Maybe create a table then.
  • You should introduce terms before you use their abbreviations (DW, S&B).
1 Like

guide looks nice! I have basically the same “critique” / suggestions as x1x1x1x1x1x1x1x1x1 and eisprinz above.

Here is a list of acronyms you can refer to btw GD Acronym and Abbreviation List

EDIT: I added link to this guide in my collection thread

Thanks for suggestions!

I will make edits,to match the conceptions.Will redact the post.

List of updates for the guide

-added Class combos names
-change priorities,style of play and ease of gearing on top
-added explanation about damage type choice
-added style of play terminology and link to acronym list
-added some easy classes for starters and also skills for early leveling
-added more combinations for damage types

If you have anything to add,please write!

I think it will be a lot easier to read if you just make a table where the columns are the damage types and the rows are playstyle, and another table where the columns are mastery combinations and the rows are playstyle. And maybe another table that shows some characteristic of each mastery, like Soldier - tankiness yes, damage no, mobility yes, etc.

In short, make everything into tables, so that a new player eager to know which class is a glass cannon melee, running fast, and chill everything to death, can find what he need in like 5 seconds.

Good offer,but have no idea how to do tables in the forum :blush:

Maybe some other week,when I have more time and if I learn how to do that.But is sound proposition.

Not a bloated clunky wall of text / 10 :frowning:

Solid guide otherwise :yum:


I am not sure about pets,you are the expert,so is my assessment correct.

This is a guide for making tables in discourse forum

Col A Col B Col C
A1 B1 C1
A2 :smile:

Too lazy to do that,at least this week will not be possible.Damn I should start playing with pets :smile:

Yup. For general purposes,

Conjurer = tanky
Cabalist = damage
Ritualist = also damage (but not quite the level of Cabalist)

Going with 2 pet masteries > 1 pet & 1 non pet for new players
And Hybrids are generally a bad idea unless you really want one.

So, everything is spot on :blush:

I made a class table, which has an empty header row - it’s required nevertheless.

source code
|[Mage Hunter](/tags/mage-hunter)|[Purifier](/tags/purifier)|[[color=orchid]Inquisitor[/color]](/tags/inquisitor-build)|||||||
|[Warlock](/tags/warlock)|[Pyromancer](/tags/pyromancer)|[Deceiver](/tags/deceiver)|[Cabalist](/tags/cabalist)|[Witch Hunter](/tags/witch-hunter)|[[color=#80d64d]Occultist[/color]](/tags/occultist-build)||||
|[Battlemage](/tags/battlemage)|[Commando](/tags/commando)|[Tactician](/tags/tactician)|[Death Knight](/tags/death-knight)|[Blademaster](/tags/blademaster)|[Witchblade](/tags/witchblade)|[Warlord](/tags/warlord)|[Warder](/tags/warder)|[[color=#dfaa4c]Soldier[/color]](/tags/soldier-build)|

Thanks, @eisprinzessin next week,when I will have my PC internet and fee time will do that!

Coughing, well I won’t agree with your statement - based on my experience this classes can do well even when they don’t yet reach 100 lvl and end game. :wink:

@Strannik ,my idea is that a lot of players only roll one character and when they start with it,intent to play with all the way.

So if they pick Defiler and level it,probably will disappoint and creating new one will take time.That’s why I don’t recommend these class combos.

Warlock for example has easy start,OFF+Fireblast and Vulnerability will carry you quickly through normal.

I see, makes sense.

Not sure about Defiler, but Warlock and Battlemage builds are easy to start and can deal with high end campaign content on Ultimate.

Battlemage have the luxury of Krieg Set,but not -x resistances in either class is major problem.

Warlock is very good early game,but mid-late game is inferior to Mage Hunter.Also Warlock don’t have much viable options.

Defiler have dual RR aether from both classes,but still is not easy class for starters.Defiler is not excellent in any style or damage type.