[Pierce Shield] Sword and Board Pierce based Blademaster

This is a fairly easy to figure out build but since it wasn’t very popular i decided to post it to show how good Shield Pierce can be.

Shout-out to veteran blademasters JoV and Superfluff who helped me in my early blademaster days which helped me understand that class combo.

While testing i realized this build works with any number of gearing choices and hence makes it a very newbie friendly build that is tanky and can farm the end game.

There’s a Dual-wield variant right below the first post


Tactician -

Screenshot (with Inquisitor Seal, Deadly Aim and Deadly Momentum)-

GT link - https://www.grimtools.com/calc/mN4wBXlZ


Screenshot (with Shield Wall, Deadly Momentum, Overguard and Pneumatic Burst)-

GT link- https://www.grimtools.com/calc/pZrE941V

New Players-

For new players this is a GrimTool Link that uses only faction gear (except the pants) -
>Tactician - https://www.grimtools.com/calc/m23wRn42
>Blademaster - https://www.grimtools.com/calc/4ZDWlOwV

-The devotion setup for New Players is drastically different than the BiS setup as I personally would recommend defense over offense to new players who are missing a lot of gear. With some decent gear one can and should respec to the BiS setup

  • The devotion route isn’t meant to be followed in early levels and early level devotions depend on your situation. For example if you find yourself dying too much then get Turtle or Dryad. OR if you’re lacking damage then get Falcon Swoop (use two handed weapon).
    When you think you are at a point where you have a good balance between attack and defense then respec into the actual build.

-For leveling tips check this out,

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1i-UuQYF5NV3R0WFVq9jxuiB2wzpbtwYCTWE_0C_bVho/edit (by Edelherb)

-The only item central here is the Dermapteran Slicer, when farming for it look for - %pierce bonus, flat pierce damage

It can be found in Royal Hive, it’s a popular drop so don’t worry. You’ll get it, perfect rolls isn’t necessary.


Why is this build newbie friendly?

The ease in capping resistances, the flexibility in gearing/devotions make this build ideal for new players.

Is there any point in playing the Blademaster if Tactician is better than it?

The Tactician is hands down the better of the two. The tactician manages to get offense while still maintaining a highly defensive devotion setup including heal skills and damage absorption skills.

Since Blademaster cannot compete against that, I decided to add more flavor to the Blademaster playstyle. Tactician playstyle gets boring quickly but the Blademaster has procs that keep things fresh.

So yes, I’d recommend trying both setups.

Which is more newbie friendly among the Blademaster and Tactician setups?

Both are equally newbie friendly but the Tactician’s end game is much more polished than the Blademaster.

Which item is key to this build?

Dermapteran Slicer is a 1h sword that is dropped by the giant insectoids known as Dermapterans.

The most popular place to farm them is The Royal Hive

Now this the central item to this build till you get Mythical Reaver’s Claw.

Unlike most forms of conversion, Physical to Pierce conversion is done through the percentage piercing value (denoted by %armor piercing) on the weapons.
So for a weapon like Derm Slicer which has 50% Armor Piercing it would mean that 50% the Physical Damage will be dealt as Pierce Damage.

The constellation Blades of Nadaan has a unique node that says “Increases Armor Piercing by 100%”. This means the base armor piercing will be increased by 100%.

Since Derm Slicers already have 50%, a 100% increase means we will deal 100% Pierce Damage.
This high Pierce conversion is what makes it central to this build, going for anything with lesser than 50 % base Piercing value would make you end up with some leftover Physical damage.

Is there any reason to be investing in Cunning?

Pierce and Cunning have gone hand in hand before the nerfs. I am trying my best to continue the tradition. While not quite a 100% Cunning build, it still pretty heavy in cunning. Soldier provides us the physique cost reduction to wear heavy armor and direct physique scaling.

Of course that’s not the only reason, Cunning provides us valuable OA which is required for our Crits.

Can the Tactician use the devotion route adopted by the Blademaster?

Yes, it’d require some tweaks to gearing, augments and components. But it’s doable. I won’t recommend it as you’d loose out on defensive procs like Stone Form and Healing Rain. You’d also be trading Shieldmaiden’s valuable shield stats.

Is The Untouchable better than Siegebreaker? Why doesn’t the Tactician use it?

The Untouchable is usable on both the builds. It is in my experience better than Siegebreaker.
The Tactician requires a lot of plus skills so I went with Wrathguard, a little tweaks would allow it to make use of The Untouchable

Why doesn’t the faction setup have Demrapteran Slicer in it?

Because it’s the faction setup meant to show which Faction Weapon will work here.
Do note that while it’s true the build functions with faction gear, I’d still recommend farming the Royal Hive for Dermapteran Slicers as a well rolled Derm Slicer can only be beaten by the Mythical version of Reaver’s Claw

How to grind faction rep?

For faction rep farming always remember to buy Writs of the respective factions (whenever they’re made available to you) to speed up your journey to Revered.
If you have Mandates of the faction from another toon then use the shared stash to pass it your char for even faster faction rep farming.

How flexible is the gearing?

I tested using Valdun set and Markovian set. Both of them gave me solid results. Like I said before the key item here is the weapon’s armor piercing ratio, the rest of the items are very flexible.

Is Menhir’s Bastion better than Oleron’s Wrath?

On this particular build where I am trying to focus mostly on cunning. Menhir’s Bastion is BiS because of the reduced physique requirements. The granted skill is useful in tough situations

Is Assassin better than Oleron?

Undoubtedly the nodes of Oleron are more attractive but the %bonus to Pierce damage and Cunning coupled with the shotgun proc make Assassin the go-to constellation.

In Closing-

Again thanks to JoV and SuperFluff whose guidance in my early Blademaster days, that knowledge from back then eventually helped me plan this build. Also credits to Cepheus for recommending the shield “The Untouchable”.
Lastly, to Edelherb for taking the time to provide leveling tips to new players.

The Dual Wield Variant can be found right below this post.

The build works with almost an entirely different gear setup and the only thing needed is the Slicer, making it one of the least gear dependent builds. The purpose of this guide is to show how well it works.

Just like this build the 2h Physical Forcewave Commando is also newbie friendly due to having tankiness, AoE and decent single target output and can farm the end game.

If anyone is interested in more Pierce builds then check out the Pierce based CDR Shadow Strike guide or Pierce based Phantasmal Blades Caster build

I did have fun working on this and I hope you guys enjoy this.

Dual-Wield Pierce Cadence Blademaster

A weird take on the classic Pierce DW Blademaster.

Grimtools -

*Screenshot with Hungering Void, Lethal Assault, Deadly Momentum and Pneumatic Burst

Blademaster - https://www.grimtools.com/calc/4VxdkdMV


Why not go with Unknown Soldier?

The build’s concept was experimental, I could get both Dying God and Unknown Soldier but doing so would force me to drop something I like.

Have you tried Reforged Chains of Oleron or Bladebreaker Sash?

Yes and it’s a DPS loss, our current belt gives us a lot of flat damage by converting both Elemental and Acid damage sources.

Why not use Warborn Pieces?

Well, the classic Blademaster did not rely on that set. It’s not a pierce set and I wanted to explore other gearing options and arrived at this setup. Also using Warborn is a sheet DPS loss.

Are Dermapteran Slicers usable here?

Usable, yes. BiS, NO.
The Reaver’s Claw beats Dermapteran Slicer hands down

In Closing-

The build is a throwback to the old classic Cadence Blademaster posted by JoV back in vanilla.

This build’s performance was a surprise to me, I like it. I still prefer my Blind Assassin Shadow Striker but this one was fun to pilot.
Hope you guys like it as well


Have you tried using ring of steel as a nuke on this one? Turning shadow strike into one should also be possible, even if its nothing new and special.

Hmm, RoS is for CoS
SS doesn’t work here imo

Guide updated btw

Glad you finally posted it:)

Good dps and damage. Seems Slicer is a solid choice after all:p. What numbers do you get with reaver and blessed whetstone? I only tried with that

Never tried with Reaver, you know back when i used to pm you two about BMs (few months ago?)
I wanted to ask why do you guys use it? It has very low conversion for pierce builds and yet everyone uses it? (honest question)

As for the Slicer i got it after the BM nerfs so had to use it somehow :stuck_out_tongue:

Ring of Steel main skill is supposed to be massive pierce damage dealer. If it can’t pretend for the place of the cooldown skill in the build because cadence casting shadow on it there is something wrong with either one or the other. :wink:

Reaver has +1 soldier and >30% piercing what more do you want? When you do not have double rare MIs.

RoS is good i know but i lack plus skills.
I was taking BB Sash but then went with Oleron cause of RoS

I must be missing it but isn’t Pierce conversion the core of Pierce Builds and 33% seems less to me, even with nadaan i have 66%

Try it with blessed whetstone. +1 skills means more deadly momentum so more pierce. Edit: and maxed cadence

The remaining phys dmg is not a waste since it’s debuffed to some extent.

You will have lower attack speed that’s the only minus

I do not think there are others non-rare swords than Reaver that are potentially useful. Next one closest is emp. duelist sabre. Without any other conversion too

If you go with Blades of Nadaan + blessed whetstone + 2pcs of valdun you can get 92% to pierce conversion, and thats not bad, since getting HP slicer of Voracity is mayor pita :slight_smile:

But I know you are taking warborn for the looks :slight_smile:

Nice build overall but I would take menhirs instead of OR for flat dmg and uber survivalbility, with it you could drop ToL.


-I’ll test reaver and see what you guys mean, i still can’t see how it beats derm slicer :confused:

-Not for the looks, like i mentioned i tested Valdun and mixed setups, they work. Warborn was chosen for AS and flat bonus and cadence + skills (and for the looks)

-Hmm, true. That damage absorption was too tempting for me to give up but i still preferred this one mainly cause it makes different choices than a conventional pierce build or a S&B soldier
Had i gone Menhir, i would have gone with the blademaster devotion setup that DW pierce uses (with some tweaks)
I guess i didn’t want to use that devotion, honestly i can’t remember what the exact reason was

How does this build fare in crucible?

Interesting concept for a build. Thanks for posting. I may be trying this one of these days.

Hi, thanks for sharing.

Related to this, I would love if you could share what you have learnt on the Blademaster. I am a pretty new player to Grim Dawn, I have been playing a Brimstone Pyromancer as my first character and I would like to play something new for the next one. I want to go melee for a change, not sure yet if I want to go 2-handed, dual-wield or sword and shield. Among the class I have been looking at, Blademaster is definitely one option.

So I am desperately looking for some “guidance”,: tips, advice, explanation on the basic principles of a Blademaster. What are the different ways of making one? What are they all about? What are the core skills/devotion/combo which define them? Also, how do you like to level it (low tier skills/devotion which are efficient for this purpose)?

This kind of info are not always easy to gather, they are a bit scattered all around in the forums. And Grim Dawn is not so easy to master, the amount you have to learn first can be a bit overwhelming… I have read the guides on the forum, but you don’t always get how you play it for the first 50 levels, or what are the priority you should focus on when you don’t have enough skill points at the beginning.

I would appreciate any help on this. Sorry if I am going off-topic, if it is a problem, I can start a new post and shift the discussion there.


The real question is how foes my PC fare in the crucible.

I think it’d be extremely lucky if i reach Gladiator on my own PC w/o crashes. Sure there have been times where a 9 hour game session can go with zero crashes but sometimes i crash a lot of times, like sometimes the fucking thing crashes when i open the game :furious:

I don’t attempt the crucible for this very reason, same thing for challenge dungeons (especially Valbury)

But i’d say this build should be crucible friendly. AoE can be covered if the Shield is switched Siegebreaker that grants you another AoE skill. Which is useful when dealing with multiple bosses/nemeses
Petrify, Stun and Knockdown for trash crucible mobs


Also, if anyone is willing to scroll up then in my reply to JoV and in his own post there’s a mention of an alternate devotion/skill setup. That’d be more crucible friendly (due to %damage absorb)
I went with this devo/skill setup cause no one tries it for Pierce Shield

Think of it like, Poison DEE should use Wendigo but if one doesn’t want to take it (cause reasons) then they can opt for different devotion routes. I did it cause it’s different :wink:

Okay so you made this build for Vanilla in mind? I want to make a blade master but am unsure of whether to go this route or go dual wield. Any insight? I would assume this build is tankier with slower kill times but idk

Kill times didn’t feel slow to me :eek:

But should be slower than Dual Wield but tanky as shit

As for Vanilla/Crucible thing, i am fairly certain this thing can do it.
But if you want even better results then tweak it to resemble a physical build using Blind Fury and Targo (credits to Drizzto for mentioning the post-nerf proc is still good)

You’re asking me? :eek:

The Veteran Blademasters are still active, i am fairly certain they’d be much better guides to you

This is my first successful Pierce BM