New player, Dervish -vs- Shieldbreaker

So I’m new and am trying to figure out which is going to end up working better for me… and could use some down-to-earth help from those who have played through so I don’t end up at level 80 or 100 and not able to play how I want.

Basically I’ve narrowed down what I want to play as either a Dervish (Oathbreaker/Nightblade) or Shieldbreaker (Oathbreaker/Demolitionist). Sword/Shield build because I don’t have a stockpile of amazing gear and I don’t want to instantly explode when something hits me after I reach ultimate.

What I really had in mind though was sword/shield using Vire’s Might to charge in, Eye of Reckoning on groups, Righteous Ferver attacks on single targets, and Aegis as a way to deal ranged damage (and trigger a devotion ability). Dervish would be acid-based, Shieldbreaker would be fire-based.

Dervish is appealing because Veil of Shadow/Night’s Chill seems like it would be really useful to slow enemies in melee and reduce their acid resistance. I don’t want to have to spam something to cause RR, so this is a passive way of doing it. Basically I would probably only end up with like 30-40 points in Nightblade (besides the 50/50) and the rest in Oathbreaker.

Shieldbreaker on the other hand has the advantage of benefiting from the Viper constellation for passive RR. It gets Blast Shield which looks useful for a newer player to not die so much. It also has Vindictive Flame and Thermite Mine, which I’m not sure if those would be worthwhile. If I’m using Shieldbreaker should I be using Fire Strike or Righteous Fervor?

So between those two: Which would be more new-player-friendly (I’m a reasonably good player with experience in similar games, but new at this game)? Is one going to be a nightmare to gear? Does one have obviously better devotion builds than the other? Is there one where the conversion items to acid or to fire is more available than the other? Which of these two builds am I not going to regret at level 80-100?

Thanks for any help!

Did you look at the “Builds for beginners” here? Build Compendium X (Forgotten Gods)

There are dual wielding melee builds there: blademaster, dervish, infiltrator, trickster
as well as: sword and Shield builds: Aegis Paladin, Aegis Sentinel, spin2win warlord, Cadence Death Knight
And also a skater build: Shield breaker (+ a more advanced but still budget sentinel)

Your idea “What I really had in mind though was sword/shield using Vire’s Might to charge in, Eye of Reckoning on groups, Righteous Ferver attacks on single targets, and Aegis as a way to deal ranged damage” will require 1) too many skill points and 2) too many buttons to push (you still need debuff and movement skills)

Both classes are good.But you need to figure the style of play you want to use and choose your skills accordingly.

Dervish is very good as Dual wield melee,cause you can utilize Nightblade bonuses and skills.

Shieldbreaker as shielded build can be focused around Aegis and Vire.SB is super versatile class,can be also ranged or caster for example.

I did read the beginner builds. There were some similar, but I didn’t really find an “Acid vs. Fire” breakdown for Oathbreakers.

How many skills should I be using? I’ve played through all the Diablo games where you basically use 2 skills most of the time and played other similar games where you’re using many more.

I was using:

Left Click: Righteous Fervor
Right Click: Eye of Reckoning
Ability 1: Vire’s Might
Ability 2: Aegis
Ability 3: Ascension
Abliity 4: Could be Pneumonic Burst?

This doesn’t seem like a ton of skills, but should I be using less?

As far as ability points go: Aegis could really be a 1 point. I wasn’t really looking for damage there as much as I was a reliable way to trigger devotions. Because it does weapon damage it would trigger Viper’s passive, and because of it’s cooldown it could be tied to one of the celestial abilities like Magi/Murmur/Witchblade/etc… as a reliable way to trigger it on an exact location with high reliability.

I was playing with Grimtools and came up with this for skillpoints only (devotions/gear not included). I don’t feel married to any particular one thing about it and I wasn’t too concerned with the exact breakdown of ability points because they’re easy to respec, but just as my general though process for each build. I guess I’m also maybe not sure if I should either be going 1 point into skills that are utility or max… or if it is viable to leave skills at like 8/12.


you will deal like 0 damage for the skills that you have 1 skill points into. What are you gonna kill with 1 point Aegis of Menhir for instace? Most debuff skills can trigger devotions.

I know its fun to make your own builds, but there is reason why I made my beginner friendly build they way there are, i.e. focused. It is better to have a few strong attack skills and debuffs than skills distributed all around. Even fully geared end-game builds play with this “philosophy”: either you do a ranged build, a melee tank, and AoE build, or a skater, or a caster.

You are not using basically any skill points into the passive skills either.

Viper’s rr is not that fantastic actually since it will not be the first rr mechanic to get added to monster: (WIP) 🤯 malawiglenn’s guide on game mechanics for beginners

Suggestion: start my fire paladin or shieldbreaker and/or Stupid Dragons Dervish. You will not regret that.

Thanks for the help, for the advice, and for the links (to all of you). I’ll chase down the links provided and probably go with the shieldbreaker build… as well as read a bit about how to build passives vs. actives, number of skills, etc…

Question about “1 point skills”: I was under the impression that there is some value in 1 point into certain skills when you don’t care about their damage but instead use them for utility. I’m getting the feeling from this thread that I need to re-evaluate that thought process?

yes of course some skills can just be used as utility. But let’s take your choice of using Righteous fervor. Are you gonna go and melee attack just to cast a devotion? You also spend 14 points into WPS. And why 5 points in Retribution?

You could instead just have taken Judgment + its first modifier for radius, pull in and DA shred.

Grim Dawn is very similar to Diablo II since each skill and “synergy” require invested skill points, as opposed to Diablo III where all skills and runes are “free for all”. Thus you can’t really spend points all around the place, especially not when you are low on +skills from gear.

I was thinking Eye of Reckoning for AOE if there are many enemies, and Righteous Fervor (and the WPS) for single targets. Mainly it seems like Eye of Reckoning isn’t very good against a single target, so I was trying to come up with a solution where I could be effective against single targets.

So Vire’s Might to charge in, Eye of Reckoning if enemies = multiple, Righteous Ferver/WPS if enemies = single tough.

Retribution was for the Acid build because it would be much heavier on retaliation damage, so it would feed a % of that damage into my Righteous Fervor attacks. I have, probably obviously, not gotten there yet, so I’m not sure if the skills would actually be best spent there. The entire Righteous Fervor line and WPS skills is just so I have a more viable way of dealing with single tough targets.

I guess an obvious question at this point would be: Do I need a better way of dealing with single targets other than Eye of Retribution, or would it be better to focus all the points into Eye of Reckoning and abilities that support that and forgo the entire Righteous Fervor/WPS skills completely?

I get the D2 vs. D3 philosophy difference. I guess my build in general is a bit too scattered. I’m reading through all the stuff you posted now, and am leaning more towards Shieldbreaker. I can always fix the skills, devotions, attribute mistakes I make. I’m really at the point where I need to pick up my second mastery and am trying not to make a poor choice considering that masteries are really the one thing I cannot change.

EoR is fine for single target, at least damage wise. Might take some time ot get used to playing it though.

Most of the time, there will be one hero/boss with multiple trash mobs that your devotions/whatever takes care of.

If you are gonna use retaliation damage to attacks, is basically same recipe as for everything: basically go all in or don’t use it.

All the builds I linked to have basically 2 main attacks, and they do fine in basic endgame farming, on single targets and multiple targets. I have played my builds for dussins of hours each.

You can’t really mess up a build that has Oathkeeper :stuck_out_tongue: It such strong class

Thanks a million. I think you have me pretty well sorted out. I’ll go Shieldbreaker and rebuild my planned build to focus more on Vire’s Might and Eye of Reckoning and skip the different abilities for single/multiple enemies.

Planning on Sword/Shield, but it shouldn’t be too terrible with this build to switch to two-hander if my survivability is over-the-top and damage too low.

Something like this:

If I end up going two-hander I’ll rebuild a bit I suppose, but I think I’m (closer to being) on the right track now.

you won’t need EoR on “my” shieldbreaker. All your bombs and procs will leave the entire screen burning. Damage is everything but “too low”. Shields are kinda overrated in Grim Dawn.

Unless you decide to throw them around :stuck_out_tongue:

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This is the stuff new players expect from GD but rarely ever happens in a build that reaches ultimate. You can usually only build around 1 or 2 skills in the endgame, which you’re targeting. And fervor+eye don’t really work well together. Just follow glenn and Nery’s advices and you’ll be good to go.

Thanks, I’m kind of messing around with different Shieldbreaker builds to see what I like. I think I’ve settled on Shieldbreaker though. Also given the lesser amount of skills and the “shields are overrated” bit, I’m maybe ditching the shield for fire two-handed and going with Eye of Reckoning and Vire’s Might as the skills to max out.

I think I’ve got it better figured out, and I definitely have the one part I can’t fix later (the masteries) sorted out.

I didn’t read all the comments so sorry if I’m repeating someone else’s advice.

  1. From your post I take it you didn’t have a chance to learn that building in GD is a game of SPECIALIZATION. You need to be good at one thing or you won’t be good at anything. If you want an EoR build you can’t have a Fervor build. Maxed EoR will deal more dmg even to single target than half-assed Fervor. Conversely, if you focus on Fervor you won’t be able to max EoR, and spinning with half-assed EoR is just a waste of time.

If you focus on EoR, you won’t have points to max Vire, either. Vire is almost always only 1 point in the nodes, and it’s only for mobility, unless you build a dedicated Vire build like Vanquisher (then you got no points for EoR, etc.)

  1. Currently, S&B (shielded) builds are good at neither EoR or Fervor (with exception of retaliation focus in Fervor). If you want a good sturdy S&B go for warlord. Soldier mastery has the best support for shields.

  2. As for shieldbreaker vs dervish, once you go dual wield autoattack dervish is much better (but it’s best at acid). For fire EoR shieldbreaker is ok. The only problem is that demo casts are very slow so you will spend less time spinning = deal less dmg. Paladin is best for fire EoR.

Strange, my S&B beginner spinner is one my the highest damage beginner builds I have made.
But I get it, you are comparing with BiS geared toons, I am comparing with toons that just plays in faction gear and random yellow items :stuck_out_tongue:

Same with EoR paladin vs shieldbreaker. Without specific gear, my own tests showed me that shieldbraeker is better and I was gonna do a guide for beginners on fire EoR but decided to make Aegis Paladin and the beginner spinner warlord instead for the sake of variation :stuck_out_tongue:

For my concerns, I aim to make builds that are “good” with crap gear - and not “this is how the char will look like and perform after 300 hours of farming”.

Interesting insight. Why would a shieldbreaker be better than paladin?

Probably because inquisitor is so point heavy that without BiS gear it’s almost impossible to get all the inq goodies, while thermites only need 40 mastery points which also allows you to get stats in mandate that won’t be present in non BiS gear.

Yeah, I forgot about the Mandate-Censure conflict.

Plus hard(er) to get attack speed as melee char with Inq. Demo has vindictive flame.

You also have pretty decent not super rare Leg in Mythical Infernal Brimstone for 2H spin2win Shieldbreaker +2 all skills demo & oathk that can roll with huge attack speed etc.