⬆ How to level top 20 (softcore) builds in Grim Dawn topic


After the initial topic was posted here :star: Top 20 Softcore builds in Grim Dawn (An Opinion) - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum, there were few comments in both forum’s thread and on Reddit. People asked if it’s possible to include tips for beginners regarding these builds. Some of the classes already have similar starter guides, some don’t have, and few are really impossible to be leveled in same way as their end game versions. In this thread I want to link existing guides to matching builds, add tips and maybe in future budget versions of builds. I would appreciate any help in this endeavour. But for now, it’s my pet project (no pun intended). I hope this topic can help starting players or people who will start GD after time and see the other thread.

Top 20 builds

1. Avenger Archon

This is build focused around Avenger set, which deals physical damage and uses the set own’s 2H weapon. For leveling/budget setup your core item is Troll’s Bonecrusher, farmed from the giant troll enemies (you can’t miss them). The weapon converts lightning damage to physical to Savagery skill. Also, mod to Feral Hunger, which will grant you the much-needed AoE damage.

Skill-wise after farming weapon, you should max Savagery, Feral Hunger, Might of Boar and eventually max Brute Force (flat damage would convert to physical to Savagery after all). But it would be really helpful if you progress in Oathkeeper’s mastery bar and reach the end of it, so you can grab Divine Mandate exclusive skill and Celestial Presence for - resitance reduction. 1 point in Vire and second node with help with movement/procing.

Devotion: start with Assassin’s Mark and put it on Savagery. After that work your way to Kraken and Dire Bear (maul).

Here’s the excellent guide by The Coyote.

[ -] Budget Physical Two-Handed Melee Savagery Archon - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum

2. Gutsmasher EoR Warlord

Since this build uses random drop weapon - Gutsmasher and end game set Warborn, it’s not that easy to gear up. But if you want to replicate it, you can level up with any 2H physical weapon (with no conversion to x or armor piercing) and focus around native physical part of EoR and weapon damage. Finding MI items with elemental to physical conversion would be beneficial. I would also look for ways to increase attack speed for such build with gear, devotions and Squad Tactics. Devotions priorities are similar to the Archon.

Here’s level 100 budget DW physical EoR by tqFan.

You can also check beginner’s compendium for Warlord class guides, using different skill.

3. Spellscourge Battlemage

This one is a bit tricky. Physical Devastation is supported only by the set shield and off-hand version would be extremely weak and inefficient. I would instead focus on the other main skill - Blade Arc. BA is excellent leveling skill and is supported by number of MI items, like Korvan casque helmet, Sandclaw Slicer weapon, Kalis’Ka shield and even Cronley ring. Leveling with shield would be truer to the original build but you can also opt to use 2H melee weapon instead.

Skills: Max Blade Arc and Laceration and focus early on Soldier bar, Oleron Rage is nice exclusive skill, also Field Command and Squad Tactics and without the set, you should take Break Morale for flat resistance reduction.

Devotions: Assassin’s Mark is absolutely top priority. After that you can take Turtle and Dire Bear and start a zoo.

*Disclaimer: without Spellscourge set as end game target, it makes little to no sense to play physical Battlemage, since Arcanist won’t contribute much.

You can also check The Coyote’s guide with shield, using Cadence/Forcewave and Blitz.

[] Budget S&B Physical Battlemage - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum

4. Acid RtA Aegis Spam Sentinel

Key items for this build are: Sentinel of three set (on Sentinel class if you can believe that) and conduit of Divine Whispers with Aegis mod, which removes the cooldown and makes the skill spamable. If you want to stay close to this build (since it’s impossible to level with spam Aegis) you can focus on acid Aegis or even Acid retal Aegis. There are few green MI items with mods: Ravna’s Claw weapon, Ronaprix’s sting amulet and Basilisk Fang medal. Basically kill spider, bee and serpent bosses and you can gear up nice Aegis Sentinel.

[] [caster] Beginner’s/budget acid Sentinel - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum

[] SSF Dreeg’s Evil Eye Sentinel - leveling and beginner build - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum

These are the two acid beginner guides on the forum. Mine uses Aegis but it’s pretty old. TqFan’s is using Dreeg’s. Mine is pretty outdated sadly. If you want to level with retal added to attack use the devotions from the end game setup.

Also you can check Rektbyprotoss and acid retal using Perdition set. Sentinel - Perdition acid retalitaion - YouTube

5. Evoker Vindicator

Lightning build focused around that Evoker weapon. Since it’s purple L94 weapon, you can’t level with it. The 2H green weapon is Sparkthrower but it boosts Primal Strike and not Savagery. You can level with PS or simply use the weapon (preferably with attack speed suffix) and still use Savagery combined with WPS skill, which can’t be used with Primal Strike btw.

Devotions: Widow/Kraken/Hydra is your deadly trio of devotions for taking early/mid game, also Revenant. For defense you can take Turtle and/or Ghoul. Finally you have options for lightning based devotions. In his end game setup Eard took Tempest and Korvaak.

Also check my Vindicator (caster) guide with outdated 2H PS version at the bottom.

[] Beginner’s Lightning Vindicator caster - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum

6. Demonslayer vitality PB Reaper

Vitality Phantasmal Blade Reaper is pretty cool. And finally, a build which can be played the same way from the beginning till the end with superb guide written by Stupid Dragon!

[] Beginner’s Vitality Reaper - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum

7. Physical FW 2h Warlord

Since the end game uses MI weapon - Obsidian Cleaver, it’s easy to play self-found and use the build for leveling the same way as end game setup. Link to the great guide by The Coyote.

[] Budget physical Forcewave Warlord - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum

8. Demonslayer Trickster

This is vitality/bleeding hybrid, instead of pre vitality like the Reaper. You can still level it as pure vitality with Spectral Arbalest and using the Stupid Dragon’s Reaper guide. But you can also level with bleeding Blades with Packla’s Visage helmet, Viper Hemorrhager ranged weapon and add vitality mod with Groble Death Effigy.

You can also check this link for tips from Stupid Dragon for leveling bleeding trickster with same shield as the end game build.

[] Bleed Me a River: 4:30 Crucible Gladiator 150-170, Shard 100, Ravager facetank, All Celestials bleeding hybrid Trickster by mad_lee [vid][g4][everything+] - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum

And video playlist as well.
Beginner SSF Trickster - Bleed Spirits - YouTube

9. Vitality Ravenous Earth Oppressor

You can check my guide:

[] Beginner’s vitality Ravenous Earth Oppressor with leveling guide - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum

Think it’s written pre-Magi Visage was added mod to Ravenous Earth. But with this helmet and Bonespike it’s pretty easy to gear cheap, yet powerful vitality caster. I recommend using devotions from Lee’s end game setup. For any vitality caster you should take Bat>Wendigo>Scales>Rattosh>Dying God devotions (recommended in this order).

10. Lightning/Acid RtA Grasping Vines Archon

And we hit the first bump on the road. And it’s major one. The needed items with skill modifiers are only end game items. Actually, the only MI item with Vines skill mods is Groble Sand Effigy, which is for vitality/bleeding damage builds. Furthermore, leveling with retal characters isn’t optimal, so I wouldn’t recommend Vines without the end game skill modifiers. For leveling with Vines, I suggest combining it with Swarm for vitality/bleeding caster.

11. Aether Phantasmal Blades Reaper

This build is powered by Nightblade conduit, which converts phantasmal blades damage to aether. You can level with vitality blades using the posted guide above for Reaper. If you want to level with aether you can still use Blaze Heral weapons, although you don’t have spamming skills (PB would be weak with no conversion and mods) but you have few options. Rotation caster with Ravenous Earth or melee using Theodin weapon for instance and 1x Blaze Herald weapon.

12. Avenger 2H physical Warder

The baby brother of the Avenger Archon. You can still use Savagery with the Troll Bonecrusher but there’s also more interesting option.
Voldrak’s weapon boosts Cadence skill, have mod to Mogdrogen’s pact and health regen, like the Avenger’s set.

In forum there’s guide with this weapon by Ulvar1: [] Voldrakia : budget Two-Handed Cadence Warder from scratch (SR65+) - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum

13. Harbinger Conjurer

Big swing and miss. This build is only possible for end game setup. You need the conduit, which converts Savagery damage to chaos and full Harbinger set. For leveling/budget setup you don’t have any natural synergy at all. You can level with alternative methods if you have the necessary gear like vitality caster or pets. Or you can level with ranged Savagery but lightning damage. For leveling with chaos gun, you can check this sketch for vitality/chaos PS and Sigils from tqFna.
Conjurer, Level 100 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator (grimtools.com)

14. 2H physical Blade Arc Death Knight

One of the easiest to gear budget setup. You have Korvan Halberd weapon, Mogara amulet, Balthazar’s medal and Cronley’s rings green target farmable items. There’s guide for this exact build by Stupid Dragon.

[] Beginner’s Apex Death Knight - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum

15.Spellscourge Templar

Build focused on physical Devastation. Unfortunately you need set’s shield and can’t level in similar fashion. For physical build you can use Sandclaw Slicers. There’s guide for Oppressor posted, you can adjust it to Templar and take basic support from Arcanist like Mirror, Maiven, Inner Focus, etc.

[] Budget Physical Melee Dual-Wield Righteous Fervor Oppressor - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum

16.Lightning RtA Aegis Archon

It’s again only end game possible build. You need the build defining Conduit of Divine Whispers, removing the cooldown from Aegis. And also Skybreach shield, Scion of Burning Vengeance pistol and Dawnshard’s helmet. For leveling it’s hard to recommend leveling with lightning retal, although for Archon is possible. It’s possible to level with fire damage (with some retal) using Colossal Defender MI shield but it would still be different build.

17.Phyiscal Blitz S&B Warlord

One of the more beginner-friendly builds on this chart, since the core items are target farmable monster infrequent (MI) items. This includes the Warden Krieg’s Fortress shield, Milton casque helmet, Bloodbriar’s amulet, Wendigo Glare’s medal and Bargoll’s Root weapon. If I am about to start as beginner, it would be one of my two top choices alongside Ravenous Earth. You can check the following guides:

Ceno’s Blitz Warlord: Blitz Krieg - A SSF, HC-Viable, New-Player-Friendly Warlord - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum

Rekt’s playlist Beginner SSF Warlord - Physical Blitz - YouTube

And Coyote’s guide for Cadence/Blitz Witchblade and make minor adjustments for the Warlord class.
Beginner SSF Warlord - Physical Blitz - YouTube

18. Physical DW Ranged RF Warlord

This excellent ranged Warlord using 2x Viper Sandpitter pistols, which are target farmable and can be used for leveling. If you want to dual-wield pistols you need item to enable that. Early items are Gunslinger Talisman relic and Gunslinger Jacket chest.

You can also check the end game version for excellent devotion map. For every physical build, you need to start with Assassin’s devotion. You also should take Hydra for ranged characters. Turtle and Ghoul are early devotions, extremely useful. Also maul for shredding armor and extra sustain and Scales for flat resistance reduction.

You can also check the gear I’ve used for my budget DW pistols Paladin with same weapons.

Paladin, Level 100 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator (grimtools.com)

19. Vitality DW Ranged RF Oppressor

Build using 2x purple Gargabol’s pistols. Target farmable weapons but low chance to drop and you need two of them. The other key item is Crown of Revenant King.

For leveling you can use Bloodsworn repeater pistol and later Udgenbog Howler but both are not really suitable for DW ranged auto-attacker. Bolvar’s amulet and Namadea medal are used in the end game version and are pretty good for leveling as well.

Extra information about leveling this build and gunslingers in general, please check this detailed explanation by Gaurhoth here. :arrow_up: How to level top 20 (softcore) builds in Grim Dawn topic - WiP - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum

20. Trozan Druid/s

Trozan Druid is one of all-time classics in GD. For experienced self-found players Nofika’s version is excellent, cause it doesn’t contain any green items and doesn’t demand specific affixes. For any beginner you want farmable items though. Luckily you can use Rolderathis off-hand.

For guides, you can check Monceaux Trozan Warlock and adjust it to Druid. From Shaman side, you just need Wind Devils nodes and Mogdrogen’s Pact skill line. [][Guide] Trozan’s Ice Shards - A cold Warlock Beginner Guide - Grim Dawn / Classes, Skills and Builds - Crate Entertainment Forum

- Honorable Mentions -

Additional resources


Main suggestion, a preface, hidden behind one of the fancy drop down thingys :: Links and basic information that underly the foundations of ANY new player’s journey ::

  • Have fun, explore, play, kill, it is your game!
  • GT, GI, Rainbow, IA (steer them away from GDStash, some people cannot handle it) & NX’s Discord
  • A link to the Carnival since pets got left out from the top 20, but has everything I mention (mostly) and more for any aspiring petmancer
  • Components exist!
  • For true first toons, a mention of Hevill, Francis, Olman, and Ghavlin (maybe too much detail, just ‘Open Everything, Blow up Everything!’
  • Augments are 40 / 65 rings/weapons (Honored), 70 / 90 All slots (Revered), for altaholics, Clarity too
  • Pick a damage type and stick with it (or change 100% if you do not like it)
  • Side quests give Faction
  • Only Masteries are set in stone (how / where to respec, and the basics of self sustaining devotions, removing stepping stone devotions, Crossroads, etc.)
  • Basics of attributes :: most first toons will be 80+ Physique, mention of Cunning / Spirit dump if any of the top 20 utilize it
  • RR is your friend (lesson 1) :: basics of skills and devotions, not the whole spiel, but not to ignore skills that do no damage but lower resists
  • Resists, and the cheapest ways to get them (Silk Swatch, Soul Shard, Antivenom Salve, Wardstone, Black Tallow, Aether Shard)
  • The importance of Faction (and Faction gear), and that neither the Cult, nor DV/KC will really ‘break’ the game (particularly the cults), no need to start a new toon
  • How blueprints work and how to search for what you want, e.g., you can search for resistance or damage
  • Crafting (lesson 1) :: smith crafting bonuses (Angrim!), and the general value of crafted items, +2-4% armor or physique can make a huge difference, and if you have a piece of gear you cannot upgrade, check the blacksmith
  • Stealing from the rovers in chapter 2 (250 faction, bah for a Level 18 relic with Mana Infusion)
  • How Writs work (right click them, and stop trying to buy Mandates at Revered and using them)
  • Dynamite is craftable (guilty of that myself occasionally when I take a break)
  • Gear is transitory until at least 50, when you might start getting things that last 10+ levels
  • Honored faction quests (go back for a juicy quest when you hit Honored)

Advanced topics at level 75-94 ::

  • Knowing what items to use for patching resists (never sell pants with good resists - does not break sets)
  • Transmuting (how to farm an entire set from the blueprint)
  • Late Game Blacksmiths :: Necropolis (recommended) and Tyrant’s hold / Tomb of Herald Mathis (not recommended)
  • Crafting (lesson 2) :: Always check if an item is craftable even if it drops (some Helms, Windshear, etc.), target farm the right blacksmith bonus for what your build needs (and beyond the scope of the Top 20, when weighing two options that are ~equal, but one is craftable, consider that)
  • Links to the farming route guide, Trove farming, Totem routes, etc. for mid-late game blueprint / rare component / item farming before endgame
  • RR is your friend (lesson 2) :: links to the RR order / calculation
  • Links to the defense in depth calculation, value of Phys Resist / Damage Absorb
  • SR / Cruci and what they can do for you (cost you your job due to a deep addiction)
  • Vendor farming (particularly SK dungeons… and how Benevald you can just teleport away, visit another vendor, teleport back… doh)


I want to thank @tqFan for his massive help for this guide. Also credit to @The_Coyote and their links and to @Gaurhoth for their detailed information regarding ranged characters. Massive gratitude to all forum members posting the guides, I’ve linked and to @banana_peel for writing top 20 (softcore) builds thread. And finally, thanks for people reading this topic!


Where pets?

Great initiative!



. I was asked to post this in a letter written on the back of an Ice cream wrapper, delivered by a sea gull.

2-hand physical melee Archon - I have this guide here - should likely add the top build as potential end-game build now

Physical S&B Battlemage - obviouly a bit different from the Spellscourge Set build (Blade Arc vs Cadence - no Devastation) - but sturdy and some relevant devotions would maxed when reaching lvl 100 (another plus - this interpretation of the S&B Cadence soldier uses more skills - so at least some kind of skill rotation is part of the leveling phase)

That’s a good initiative.

  • (2) EoR Warlord - I should finish my guide in a week or two. I’m 99 level already.

  • (11) Aether PB Reaper - we definitely need a leveling guide around this dagger, would be really cool

  • Fire FoI Paladin - @TomoDaK is making a Fire Foi guide but I don’t know when he will finish it

  • Cyclone Archon, I’m planning some leveling to this, my message from Discord:

    • On the Fire → Lightning off-hand though - Ive just made some budget Lighting EoR (EoR + Soulfire maxed) sketch Archon, Level 100 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator and it’s all fine and dandy until you realize that I don’t have DW enabled :frowning_face_with_open_mouth: I know from experience that DW legendary medal doesn’t drop so I have to

      • lose Eye of the Storm and and equip some crappy DW relic
      • lose Stormheart and perhaps equip the Fire → Lightning off-hand?

    In that way this would resemble Cyclone because it uses off-hand so maybe that’s the way to go, what do you think guys?


this would get my vote :slight_smile:


@tqFan @The_Coyote appreciate your comments, wow I missed few of these builds.

Later tonight will add the other entries.

Btw which build might benefit from new guide, in your opinion?

1 Like

as we have only rather few ranged builds guides - my vote would have the Vindicator

1 Like

Yes, that’s good idea, since I really liked Eard’s Evoker Vindicator. From the test patch was perhaps my favourite build (even though I am not fan of ranged chars).

Sparkthrower now also have mods to Box, so Savagery+WPS, Box and Devils can make decent budget build.


You’re a legend Nery! I’m sure this will be helpful to a lot of new players!


I’ve done Vitality RF Oppressors more than once, and while I’ve never actually done a Physical RF Warlord, I’ve done many similar enough characters, so I’m going to put quick leveling guides to both in this comment.

These are numbers 18 and 19 on the list.

Generic RF gunslinger early leveling (applies to both):

Since you’re starting as an Oathkeeper, dual-wielding pistols will have to wait until at least level 20, maybe level 25 (a gunslinger talisman can be made by level 25 for any character, even on a brand new account, with no lucky drops). You can start off with pistol/shield or a 2H ranged weapon until then.

I prefer to go pistol/shield, since that lets you equip 2 components. For early leveling, you’re especially interested in components that add flat damage: serrated spike (level 5, pierce), vicious spikes (level 15, pierce), or hell’s bane ammo (level 20, lightning). Serrated spikes drop directly and can be bought from vendors in town, vicious spikes can be crafted from 3 serrated spikes each. Hollowed Fangs are also good components, especially for vitality damage.

You can equip 2 components that give copies of the same flat damage aura, and both auras apply to both pistols. This can add up to a lot of damage in the early game, especially once you can dual wield and fire both pistols at once. Also keep in mind that wps skills force both pistols to fire.

Your primary goal in the very early game is to ramp up your AOE as rapidly as possible. Therefore, after putting 1 point in RF, immediately go to Smite and then dump all your points in it. You want to get about a 25% chance to Smite, as that is adequate AOE, so get 8-10 points in it before worrying about other things.

The next thing to worry about is points in RF. At 9 points, RF gains another charge level, which is a significant boost to damage. You get another charge level at 16 points, but this takes long enough that you can justify putting the second one off for a little bit.

Vitality Oppressor:

I’ve done many Vitality RF gunslinger Oppressors, so this leveling guide is solid advice.

Farmable leveling gear:

For Namadea’s Eye and optimal farming of Ugdenbog Howlers, go hostile with Barrowholm. You could go hostile on normal/elite and friendly on ultimate or just farm these things with another character, if you want to fight Ravager. Ugdenbog Howlers are vitality pistols that are guaranteed drops from 2 ladies in Barrowholm, near the entrance to town, so they can be farmed there rapidly and easily. Namadea’s Eye is both in the final build and is a great leveling item.

If you have a gunslinger’s belt, freeing up your relic slot, Guile (flat physical) and Deathchill (flat vitality and cold) are good. Guile is lower level and runs out of steam faster. Deathchill is quite good, and is solid all the way to endgame, especially if you convert 100% of cold/elemental → vitality. Otherwise, use a gunslinger’s/marauder’s/plunderer’s talisman.

In act 7, several bits of equipment drop from the same group of monsters which are good for this character. They are found mostly in the Temple of Osyr and by the Cairan Docks. A set of shoulders, the Korvan Pauldrons, convert 24-36% elemental → vitality. There are two hats, the Korvan Helm, which gives big bonuses to Reaping Strike, and the Korvan Gaze, which gives +15% attack speed to RF and a +3 to Consecration, which also gives attack speed to RF. Korvan Gaze is better overall for this character, but both are useful leveling gear.

Bolvar’s Pendant can be farmed in the Blood Grove. It should be used anytime after you’ve (1) reached the Blood Grove and (2) have at least 1 point in Celestial Presence.

Bysmiel’s Handcannon is a good vitality pistol purchasable at Bysmiel’s vendor at level 84, and if you have a (Mythical) Morguul’s Mortality, those can be used while you wait for Corruptions of Gargabol. As pointed out in the video of the build in the other thread, for high vit resist monsters, 1 Morguul’s + 1 Corruption beats 2 Corruptions, so Mythical Morguul’s Mortality is a solid choice for the final build as well.

There are 2 belts dropped by Lunal’Valgoth. One, in the final build, gives +1 Necro skills. The other gives 40-60% elemental → vitality. Both are good for leveling, and the combination of this belt + the Korvan shoulders + Namadea’s Eye can easily get you 100% elemental → vitality conversion. Elemental conversion is not totally necessary, but Deathchill (if you’re using it), Soul Harvest (if you have points in it yet), Smite, and Necrotic Edge all do elemental damage which can be converted.

For pistol augments, I recommend at least 1 Essence of Ch’thon. The final build has none of these, and as far as I can tell, it has no other % RR source, so I think this is actually a flaw in the final build, but even if I am missing something, these are quite strong augments for leveling.


Toad → Bat → Hydra

Hydra is a very strong constellation for any gunslinger, so we want to get there as quickly as possible. Next we want to get Rattosh for RR. I normally get there with Jackal and Crane, but those aren’t in the final build’s map. We can pick up Jackal and Crane temporarily, then drop them later, or we can stay within the final map more and reduce respecs like this:

Eel → Wendigo

Lion → Lotus → Rattosh

I’d prefer Rattosh early and Wendigo late, as you already have plenty of leech and you’re more in need of RR, but the other way around also works. And finally:

Revenant → Spider → Abomination

Skill Tree:

After following the section above on generic early game RF leveling, you should have 2 pistols, the ability to dual wield them, components in both (ideally vicious spikes or hollowed fangs), 8-10 points in Smite, and 9+ points in RF.

The first thing to decide is when to stop putting points in Oathkeeper and switch to Necromancer. You want the Necro wps skills for leech and AOE and the exclusive skill for leech and attack speed more than you want any of the things high in the Oathkeeper tree.

There are 3 sensible stopping points: 5 (for Smite), 10 (for Vire’s Might), and 15 (for Consecration). After this, put 1 point in Reaping Strike, Spectral Binding, and Spectral Wrath, and dump points in Necrotic Edge like you did with Smite. Necrotic Edge now has passthrough, and when you can dump points into it, your AOE will rapidly get much stronger.

It’s worth noting that Viloth’s ring now has +3 to Necrotic Edge. Two of these will turn a single point in Necrotic Edge into 7. It’s probably not worth farming Viloth with a low level character just to do that, but it is worth keeping Viloth’s ring if it drops for you, and it may be worth a couple of runs to get one of them. It is also worth using low-level versions of this ring if you have some laying around in your stash.

After getting Necrotic Edge up to a decent level, finish RF, and proceed to Harbinger of Souls, which you will want to max pretty quickly. Finally, proceed to Guardians of Empyrion, take the modifier, and put at least 1 point in Celestial Presence. After that, it makes relatively little difference which points you put in first.

To sum up: 1 point in RF, 8-10 points in Smite, 9 points in RF, 1 point in Reaping Strike and the Spectral stuff, 8-10 points in Necrotic Edge, max RF, max Harbinger of Souls, Guardians.

You can grab one-point wonders along the way, and you can invest early in Bone Harvest, but you can also avoid Bone Harvest until endgame. Also, feel free to dump several points in Spectral Wrath for better RR before going through the rift to Malmouth in normal, as some of the monsters in that rift have annoyingly high vitality resistance, and this and other measures to reduce their resistance are highly effective.

Physical Warlord:

This is not a character that I’ve played personally, but it greatly resembles a number of other characters I have played, so while it may not be perfect and you should take it with a grain of salt, it will be good enough to level with reasonably effectively.

Farmable leveling gear:

Viper Sandspitters drop from Korvan Vipers. These spawn mostly in the Korvan Sands, Korvan Plateau, and Sunbane Oasis. The Korvan Plateau has the most spawn locations, and the spawns at the Sunbane Oasis are concentrated in the area with the river that looks like a smiley face. When I farm for these, I clear these two areas, then reset.

When evaluating Sandspitters that drop, reject anything with physical → anything else conversion, and prioritize anything with alacrity. Don’t bother worrying about the elemental → physical conversion numbers at all.

Sandspitters grant large quantities of extra trauma duration, especially to RF. The grimtools link reports +196% duration, and that’s without the +150% duration that each pistol applies to RF. 3 seconds duration turns into 18, and 5 seconds turns into 30. Thus defenses against reflected damage are necessary.

It appears that the primary defense is not applying too much trauma damage, alongside Rebuke with +skills, followed by the Turtle constellation, a low level Ascension, and about 22% physical resist. The primary defense against reflected physical appears to be armor and armor absorption. Some caution around reflect monsters might also be needed.

The final build doesn’t use augments with reflect reduction, but Kymon’s Chosen sell augments with 10% reflect reduction and +30% physical damage, which could make good leveling augments. Also, there is a Titan Plating component available at level 75 which does 33%, usable in head and chest armor. These may not be necessary for this build, but could come in handy prior to the availability of the final gear, or for a more trauma-focused version of the same thing. The Owl and Crane constellations aren’t used in this build, but could be used in a variant.

Oleron’s Blood components and their proc could be useful as leveling components, but may require more caution with respect to reflected damage, especially when using their proc.

Korvan Spaulders, with 24-36% elemental → physical, drop from the Temple of Osyr and the Cairan Docks. Any roll on these plus any 2 rolls on Viper Sandspitters will guarantee more than 100%. Since affix rolls on Sandspitters are hard enough to get, just use these shoulders and don’t worry about the elemental → physical roll on anything.

Korvan Gaze gives big bonuses to attack speed for RF, and drops in the same areas.

All of these things are farmable from act 7, some from as low a level as 20, however, at least on Veteran, while it’s possible to do these areas at level 20, it’s rough, and very slow going. I don’t know how it is on Normal, but that’s probably slow too. I’d wait until level 40 or so to start farming these things.

Guile is usable at lower levels, and Deathchill is usable for this build, too, once you have the elemental → physical damage conversion going. Since you’re only using one part of Deathchill’s flat damage, it’s probably not going to be useable all the way to endgame, though, so it would be more straightforward to just use gunslinger’s/marauder’s/plunderer’s talismans until you reach endgame. A gunslinger’s talisman will take you all the way to level 94 (so you can equip a Mythical Korvaak’s Brand), if you want to avoid spending extra materials.


Assassin’s Knife → Turtle → Empty Throne → Stag → Ulzaad

We want the Knife and Turtle early to get their procs leveling as much as possible, Empty Throne next for various crowd control and damage resists, and Stag is on the way to Ulzaad. This is partly to get Ulzaad and its proc, but also Ulzaad is part of what Hydra is relying on for green affinity.

Next, Rat → Hydra → (remove Rat)

I hate to leave Hydra so late for a gunslinger, but this wastes fewer points on respecs. You could shift it earlier with Toad → Rat → Hydra → (remove Rat) → (all the Ulzaad stuff) → (remove Toad), but I’m not sure that’s worth it.

Lion → Scales of Ulcama → (remove Lion)

Then the following 2 things in either order:

Dire Bear → Azrakaa


Ghoul could also be shifted earlier, anytime after Hydra would make sense.

Skill Tree:

After following the section above on generic early game RF leveling, you should have 2 pistols, the ability to dual wield them, components in both (ideally vicious spikes), 8-10 points in Smite, and 9+ points in RF.

Next we will grab 8-10 points in Zolhan’s Technique for the AOE, then finish Oathkeeper, then grab the rest of the stuff in Soldier. Since it’s only a short detour in Soldier to get the AOE, it doesn’t matter where we stop in Oathkeeper, so just grab Zolhan’s Technique as soon as possible after hitting level 10 and getting a second mastery. Put a point in Markovian’s Advantage along the way.

Put a point in Ascension as soon as you reach it.

After this, max RF.

Next, max Rebuke for the reflect reduction, followed by Consecration, Divine Mandate, and Celestial Presence, in whatever order you like. Other points probably don’t matter too much when they’re chosen, but if you find that reflected damage hits are becoming a problem, prioritize Consecration and Field Command to buff your armor, and check to make sure you have at least 98% armor absorption and decent amounts of armor in your gear. Scars of Battle does buff armor absorption, but it can wait until later in the game, as 2 Scaled Hide components will get you to 98%.

If you find reflected trauma is a problem, delay points in Presence of Virtue and Retribution, and if you have the reputation and levels, get the augments from Kymon’s Chosen.

Again, the physical warlord leveling guide is based on my knowledge of this kind of build, rather than this specific build. So if you see that the OP has included a link to a better leveling guide, or someone who has played this specific build says something different, pay attention to that advice instead. In the absence of something better, however, this should be adequate.


Topic is updated with rest of top 20 builds and honorable mentions. If something is posted at later point, I will add it to the thread.


I propose this budget Chaos Sigil + Chaos / Vitality Primal Strike Conjurer
Both the weapon and the medal can be farmed in Blood Grove so not too bad for Chaos builds.
Devotion matches the endgame build. 3 Sigils can be stacked on top of a boss.

  • 4 greens don’t have affixes
  • there are no armor augments

so what’s missing should be easily fixable (Health, DA, resistances) depending on what affixes you get.


I think number 13, the Harbinger Conjurer, can be played as itself from the start of the game.

I haven’t actually done that, however, I was working on a Chaos Druid for the missing builds thread. Someone else ended up filling the Chaos Druid slot, however I got to level 65 before I stopped, and the damage was quite strong.

My endgame plan for the Chaos Druid was very similar to the Harbinger Conjurer, as it was also going to use the Harbinger set and that same Conduit. The primary differences between the Conjurer and Druid are that (1) the Druid was designed to be tanky, not to dish out high damage, (2) the Druid uses Arcanist, with little support for Chaos, while the Conjurer uses Occultist, with very strong support for Chaos.

The Druid has strong damage with less support for that damage than the Conjurer. So the Conjurer should be pretty smooth to level.

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On what difficulty level did you finish? :thinking: Just Savagery without Chaos mods looked a bit sketchy to me that’s why I tried to use some MIs and supported skills by them. While keeping the theme of 2h shooter of course.

But I may be wrong and maybe these are not mandatory. Also Vit Savagery from Packla’s Skins with target build devo could be something to consider.

[edit] oh I forgot the build in question uses Doom Bolt as well not only Savagery. That will definitely help. Could also level using Doom Bolt guns just like here

just Savagery instead of Cadence.


I stopped on elite, right before the mission to take out the aetherial under Fort Icon. I went and did that mission real quick to refresh my memory about how strong the damage was before the post above. I can remember the character screen dps number, too, because it was so odd: 21,212.

That’s a good idea. There’s no good low level lightning → chaos conversion for this character, so lightning → vit should be a substantial improvement.

That’s a good idea, too. For a Conjurer gunslinger I’d be a bit worried about AOE, but doom bolt can fix whatever gunslinger’s talisman can’t. 2H ranged Conjurer would have plenty of AOE with Feral Hunger. AOE wouldn’t be a problem for any build past level 75, due to Seal of the Void.

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Well, as this topic has stagnated, and as I took personal affront to #10 being a roadblock, I decided to try it Solo Self Found ::

Archon, Level 20 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
Archon, Level 30 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
Archon, Level 40 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
Archon, Level 50 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
Archon, Level 60 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
Archon, Level 70 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
Archon, Level 80 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
Archon, Level 90 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator

At level 94, I opened my stash and abandoned SSF. It is a strong build, and probably better with the aiming ability of a mouse, for all the reasons controller players know. The goal was minimum respec on Devotions (5 points, Falcon) and never deviating from the Skill Points of the build.

Levels up to 30 were a trial, using Wind Devils as primary damage. The build found itself around 50 with Crown and Raging Tempest (maxed). Elemental autoattack (used Spectral Hatchet for 20 levels?) with WD debuffing. At 27 I took some lunatic runs on Balegor to prove I could get Mistborn (that took a few health potions and some running / leashing). 50-75 was a walk in the park. In Elite Act VII… do not wear Golemborn with no reflect reduction. (oops?)

I do not sign off on this for HC - but managed SC (Deaths = 0). I upgraded Movement Rune at 80 and 90… your mileage may vary, based on drops (quoting a famous builder). I could pontificate on when I raised certain skills, but 1-20 is nothing, and from there it should be clear.

Devos ::

Add Purple
Finish Falcon
Finish Hawk
Finish Rhowan
Add Yellow
Finish (in any order) Stag / Tortoise (I went Tortoise first)
Finish Alladrah
Remove Falcon
Add Widow, Shieldmaiden, Messenger, Targo :: as you prefer
Finally Obelisk


does anyone know devotion path to warlord eor gutsmasher mad lee and banana peel build. I have problems with setting devotions up same as the end game one which is published as second best

thanks in advance


It’s important to know that constellations can support themselves, then it’s a matter of removing the ones you needed to take to unlock the ones you want and reinvesting the points.

There’s a number of ways to get there but this will work:
Green Crossroads
Scholar’s Light
Blue Crossroads
White Crossroads
Assassin’s Blade
Ulzaad, Herald of Korvaak
Dire Bear
Remove White & Green Crossroads
Remove Scholar’s LIght
Remove Eel
Azrakaa, The Eternal Sands

This assumes you already have all 55 devotion points. If you’re leveling, unlock the skills from devotions first so they can start leveling up, too. This will require more respecing than the version I posted but once you get the hang of replacing constellations with self sustaining ones, it’s worth it.

Sorry, work has been busy, but I saw that #16 was also unlevelable. So I felt obliged. Unfortunately RNG did not bless me with a SINGLE Lightning Retaliation shield, so most of the game was Perdition, until I went piecemeal around 70. Again, no deviations from Devotions or skills, other than what was required for Devotions. Build is done, zero deaths, Softcore. With full Revered, I can now use any augment I choose to farm the last 4 levels (already at overcap in Ultimate).

SSF. Yes, I forgot level 60!

Oathkeeper, Level 20 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
Archon, Level 30 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
Archon, Level 40 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
Archon, Level 50 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
Archon, Level 70 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
Archon, Level 80 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
No, I did not go to elite and fix my augments before taking a snapshot, this is 89.99 basically.
Archon, Level 90 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator

Yes, I occasionally crafted components, but without dismal luck, all should drop in a reasonable time. Note :: no level 75 components, ever, and I have over 80 Ugdenblooms.

0-30 was difficult, with no attack replacer, use Aegis as your default. I used Mistborn for a while, but did not go with Beronath as the game decided I was playing Poison Retal, and as the % chance of 0% CD on Aegis gets higher, it overshadowed Beronath. I frankly should have leveled Reprisal more and gone back to Aegis, but waited till later for relic crafting, which can be difficult.

The Devotions are defensive, so I played it defensive. Closest to death was Morgoneth in Elite. Calla (even in Normal) was a risk (worth taking) and took what felt like 30 minutes, but was probably 10.

These builds are playable, and anyone who looks down their noses and says ‘It’s a different build’ I do not agree. This is a path to an endgame build, visiting Sahdina only once.

It may be HC Viable, but I did SC for a reason. Movement rune was upgraded after Elite FG, then downgraded when Scion of Vengeance dropped (had to use Normal difficulty rune for non-melee weapon) [Tear for Glyph of Dreeg’s Vector]. By 80, I hope you have the Eye of the Storm BP (all Mats except a few were easy, but Trove farming exists).

At some points I had up to 30 SP to spend, so it is not difficult, nor point starved. I have and am playing defensively to 94, so the last test will be SR 50 for the SPs (and IF I get around to it, The Other You).

climbs on soapbox
Level your Factions, it makes things 10x easier.
climbs down

Faction Breakdown ::

Normal ::
Revered all but DC, Cults, and Barrowholm
Elite ::

Devos ::

Add Green
Finish Quill
Add Yellow
Finish (in any order) Stag / Panther (I went Stag first)
Finish (in any order) Hawk, Alladrah, Targo, Autumn Boar…
Hawk > Alladrah > Autumn Boar lets you drop Quill fastest, but Targo is more Retal
Drop Quill after Autumn Boar
Finish Widow
Finish Messenger of War / Shield Maiden (get the proc on Messenger ASAP for leveling)
Finally Obelisk

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