I followed a build

Yes, I did and it was like a bad dream.
I wanted to check out version 1.2 and thought that for a change I would stick to a build from forum to see what it’s like to play this way. As you all know, I never do that otherwise. I started on Ultimate this time, because I expected to quickly grow in power. Other than that, I tried playing normally, but here is what I observed instead.

  • All the time I knew I was on the right track. Spending skill points and choosing items has never been easier. I was simply ticking items off a checklist. Peace of mind, no thinking, no doubts.
  • I didn’t even read what exactly the picked skills did, because I didn’t need to know the details. Somebody else did for me.
  • I skipped quests, monsters, areas, everything that I knew wouldn’t bring me closer to the target build. Even if I found a better item, I didn’t want to deviate, because that would force me to think.
  • I actually needed specific components and therefore materials, because build told me so. Normally I would settle for something I already had, but this time it felt like I either had the desired item or nothing.
  • Items that dropped fell into 2 categories: ones that I wanted and “useless”. This led to disappointment when I didn’t get what I came for. Time felt wasted. I only cared about a specific outcome.
  • I farmed. Items and reputation. I finished the game and some optional challenges, but character wasn’t done, so winning didn’t matter. Grinding felt like a normal part of game at that point. Not having fun, just spending time.
  • Even though I didn’t use augments and only had half of desired items, the character already felt very powerful. I could facetank where no man should. Many bosses died without posing a threat. They were reduced to insignificance. I understood why players complained about animations between phases. The build I followed probably isn’t even a top performer. I can’t comprehend how game can be balanced around this kind of power.
  • Despite all this strength, playing this character isn’t very satisfying, more like I’m testing a product. It simply delivered what was written on the package. I knew what it could do before even starting. I didn’t discover anything. No surprise, no achievement. Many played it before or have an exact copy.
  • When I did die, it was more irritating, because hey, this wasn’t part of the smooth plan I was following. I wasn’t having that much fun, so repeating anything felt like wasting time.
  • I was disappointed how easily I found some items. We need new words, because “legendary” and “mythical” fell victim to global inflation.

As you can see, this experience was like joining the dark side. At least now I can see where some complaints come from. And people buy games to play like this. I prefer kiting to survive, rage-quitting at Kymon or taking 15 minutes to finally kill Morgoneth after 10 failed attempts, all of which I did with my first character. To fail & try again, but keep memorable moments. It’s a game after all.

tl;dr Don’t follow builds.

In case you wonder which build it was, this one. I picked it, because I like @fordprefect and it features my 2 least favourite masteries. I didn’t worry about wasting them on this test.


To provide a different perspective…

I originally got the game way back before any DLCs were even announced or teased. I picked Occultist and paired with Soldier, went with a 2handed rifle and a pet hellhound. I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t follow any builds or guides and got my butt handed to me because I was trying to make a hybrid pet build work without any knowledge on how to do so.

I certainly could have spent countless hours with the trial and error method, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong and what I should be doing instead. But, I simply ended up uninstalling the game out of frustration, writing it off as a terrible diablo clone made as a crashgrab attempt by people trying to ride on diablo’s fame.

Then, after forgetting about GD’s existence for a good while, someone got me into it again a long time after Ashes of Malmouth’s release. This time I followed written builds and looked up guides and had a much better experience. But, the playstyles of those builds were not always what I wanted and so, I set out to learn about how they were made, what made them work and how to put my own spin on them to make the builds work the way I wanted.
It was easier than starting from scratch, since most of the work was already done by others. I just needed to figure out the details and how to change things without making the entire build come crumbling down.

Eventually that led to years worth of playtime on a game I now consider to be one of the best I have played.

So, my TL;DR would be this – Following builds is fine since Grim Dawn is not the most simple or straightforward game when it comes to mechanics and interactions. There is not much of a point in going in blind just to frustrate yourself. Once you understand how stuff works, then you can start doing your own thing.

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Not sure if I can resonate with most of your points, but this

pretty much sums up why I don’t follow any builds either. Only ever did it 2 times I think… One was some DW melee Tactician that I got from the forums around the time AoM came out, the other was a Panetti Magehunter not long after that. I remember playing the Tactician for a short while to farm some Nems, but I never played the Magehunter again after reaching lvl 100. Both characters still exist, I didn’t even bother respeccing.
I think that time is better spent starting a fresh run and figuring out my own build as I level up. After all, I play the game for the same reason why all the forum builders play it: to be creative with what the game offers, and discovering all that by myself has always been more fun to me than following a build.

While I try to avoid the builds section of this forum, I’m still grateful for all the work the build makers put into it. I would lie if I said I never learned a thing or two from looking at other player’s builds, if only for some inspiration.

I think it’s a matter of what people expect from the game. Journey or entertainment sort of things?

Anyway I tried follow build twice or trice.

Ofc every time ended following build on the first interesting drop for different skill or damage type…


IDK, I like looking up and following builds. They show concepts and what’s generally possible to do with the game. Show items I never even saw as drops.

There is a certain allure in making your own builds, that is true, but with 1.5 builds I made myself it devolved into blind rush into endgame. Because I didn’t know beforehand whether they will work or not and really wanted to test them. And there’s always that hanging uncertainty, because if the build fails at some point - well, playing and leveling and growing attached to the playstile was a massive waste of time. 5 years later, I still lament my failed aether AAR mage hunter, even though by now I have a spellbinder in his place, and hunter turned into quite fun trielemental Mageslayer. Like, I had fashion set up for him, and the whole headcanon that he’s still possessed and fighting the aetherial influence. Nope, not viable, GG.

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Most people would like to beat the difficult content / have limited time for this game and wouldn’t be able to do it without reading any guides.


If that “some point” is somewhere in endgame, I don’t consider the time wasted as long as I had fun leveling. If a certain skill turns out to sucks for leveling (there are plenty where I gave up in Act 1 already), I take one of my older builds that sucks in endgame, spec into that skill instead and try to make the best of it. That way nothing is wasted.
Also I like unconventional builds, doesn’t matter how they turn out in endgame. Of course it can be disappointing if my idea falls apart but it’s always a learning experience so I don’t really feel bad about it.

yeah and the good thing is, the game can fulfill a plethora of different expectations. It got something for everyone, player diversity is probably larger than build diversity :wink: