Some Nightblade beginner questions

I did some studying of the game guides, and most of my questions have been answered. Some, however, still remain, and in some cases I would simply appreciate a confirmation that I understood everything correctly.

Most of my questions are centered around the Nightblade mastery.

  1. Does Dual Blades and the following skills in that line (Belgothian Shears to Execution) only enhance and trigger off regular attacks, or do they also work with skills like e.g. Cadence and Fire Strike? If yes to the latter, which such skills are actually a good idea to combine with Dual blades? :slight_smile:

  2. Am I correct in understanding the game guide that in case of multiple ‘Chance to be used’ effects they are not triggered independently but build a hit table of sorts? So at most one of them is used and if their ‘chance to be used’ probabilities add up to at least 100% I am guaranteed exactly one such trigger per attack? The corollary to that would be that it is a bad idea to ever have more than 5 ‘Chance to be used’ skills (maxed out at 20%), since when going over 100% the trigger chance of each would be reduced proportionally and as a result the best ones would trigger less often.

  3. Am I correct in understanding the game guide that for example ‘Converts X% of physical damage to fire damage’ is applied before ‘+Y% fire damage’ and ‘+Z% physical damage’, so having a build that focused on ‘+Y% physical damage’ it would be detrimental to equip an item with ‘Converts X% of physical damage to fire damage’?


  1. They can proc off almost any attack including Firestrike, Cadence etc. The main exception is with is the 3rd Cadence strike as while they can proc on the first 2 charging hits, Cadence will overwrite any proc on the 3rd (powerful) hit. Either are a good choice, it depends on whether you’re going for physical or fire damage on that build. There’s also WPS (weapon proc skills) in the Soldier mastery

  2. Pretty much yes, just not 100% certain on the above 100% in case anything strange goes on there

  3. Someone that understands it a lot better than me can explain that one :stuck_out_tongue:

  1. They work with default attack replacers too. Some combinations i’ve seen are using Execution and converting the cold damage on it to fire and using it with Fire Strike, similarly, converting the cold to lightning and using it with Savagery or just using it and the other WPS like Amarasta’s Quick Cut as fill ins inbetween Shadow Strikes.

  2. Pretty sure this is right. Above 100%, it uses a weighted system so yes, the individual chances for each WPS would suffer to accommodate for new ones.

  3. Yes.

going to focus on question 1). the others were already answered anyway

regarding which skills work well:
i’ve tried several different nightblade dual wield builds and came to the conclusion that saboteur (firestrike with WPS) offers the best synergy of a base attack skill enhanced by the proc skills. between explosive strike (modifier for FS) and the fairly high flat damage of FS (+brimstone), stuff just melts away when the WPS trigger.

the cadence Blademaster also works all right, but the WPS are a bit less useful for him. as far as i know 2 of the skills (shears & quick cut) count as multiple hits, so if you trigger them on the first “normal” swing after a cadence hit, the character skips the 2nd normal swing and uses another cadence hit right away. so there’s also some synergy, but in a different way.

i’ve also run a lightning based trickster using savagery with the nightblade WPS. it didn’t come close to the damage output of the other 2, but i’d say it worked all right.

i also have a witchhunter (guess i’m a nightblade addict :smiley: ) who simply uses amarastas blade burst as LMB skill. ABB doesn’t work with the WPS procs, but the hits in between (when ABB is on cooldown) use default weapon swings, so they can proc the various styles. i didn’t really invest heavily into ABB (only 1 skillpoint + some more ranks from +skill items) and used the skill only to trigger the “lethal assault” buff (from the modifier node).

Thank you for your replies, they have been very helpful so far.

So as a follow up to 1) since I started as physical/piercing based Blademaster, would you recommend to go for Cadence + WPS procs from Dual Blades or to just use Shadow Strike and regular attacks? Apparently there is a bit of dissynergy between Cadence and these procs.

Or just make a saboteur. :slight_smile:

  1. This is true for ‘+Z% physical damage’ not a part of the skill being used.
    For example, Fighting form gives bonus ‘+Z% physical damage’, which would be applied to your phys damage BEFORE converting it to fire. Then global ‘+Y% fire damage’ would further effect it.

Also pay note to which skills apply as part of the skill vs those that give global buffs like Deadly Momentum. Since it is a buff it would apply after the conversion.

as far as i know 2 of the skills (shears & quick cut) count as multiple hits

As I understand it, this was changed. Each attack counts as only one Cadence proc, no matter how many hits were done during that attack.

would you recommend to go for Cadence + WPS procs from Dual Blades

Yes, but the trick is to get at least 4 +All Skills in Nightblade. That way you can put one point in each WPS and get the full 20% proc chance. You will then have the points to max Cadence and Deadly Momentum (Overcap Deadly Momentum as much as possible). The biggest upside
is that Deadly Momentum is a global buff, so once it procs, the bonuses also apply to your WPS as well as your Cadence hits.

So I understood this correctly, when using Cadence every third attack will not proc all those nice WPS skills?

Is that third attack really THAT good to be worth this? :slight_smile:

IMO, no it’s not, but your mileage may vary on this

Cadence is super powerful and can be upgraded to hit up to 3 targets so it’s pretty badass, but it costs skill points and lots of them. You need to max cadence, and if you max cadence you should probably max deadly momentum too, so that’s 28 points plus 1 or 12 for fighting form. Further, cadence only has a chance of using both weapons whereas your dual wield procs and markovian’s advantage always use both weapons.

This is sound advice. One thing I would add is that lower skill modifiers in a line don’t need necessarily to be taken to “unlock” the next step in the chain of passives. You might already know this, so feel free to disregard it. However, this took me an embarrassingly long time to learn, as most ARPGs that have skills connected by a line generally require you to obtain them in order. Here in Grim Dawn, you only need the first skill in the line and from there you can freely move all the way down the line, provided your mastery bar goes that far.

I mention this to you specifically because while you are moving down the dual wield line, you will most certainly want to skip Nidalla’s Hidden Hand altogether. Due to the pierce to acid conversion, and the fact that you’re focusing on pierce, not acid, you’ll actually lose a significant portion of your WPS APS’ DPS. It’d be like UPS w/o GPS. PS, enjoy your build; that is one of my favorites, even though he can require some special care during certain fights, as you’re required to stay in melee range but the lack of shield mitigation options hurts.

  1. Dual Blades’ skills are usually used with either Fire Strike or Savagery (for most, they work magnificently well). Sometimes - with just normal attack ( augmented by Amarasta’s Blade Burst).
  2. Yes.
  3. Yes.

Okay, I have been trying to dig a bit deeper into the mechanics.

As far as I understood it the armor piercing on weapons (most prominantly swords) converts regular physical damage into armor piercing damage.

Now the question is, what hapens when I dual wield? Say I eventually get to the point where I have a Dermapteran Slicer in the main hand, have that nifty Blades of Nadaan constellation but another weapon with less/no armor piercing in the off hand.

Will the slicer + constellation be enough to convert al my physical damage to piercing, or is for the offhand only its own armor piercing value considered, i.e. I’d better get a second Dermapteran Slicer for the off hand?

No it’s not enough, both weapons would need full conversion. One slicer is enough imo. Just use a whetstone if you want more pierce. Although vicious spikes are very good too

The constellation basically doubles the weapon conversion, so the hand with the Dermapteran Slicer would get 100% conversion. If that were the main hand, abilities which use “XX% of main hand damage” would do all piercing and no physical. Abilities with offhand damage or both hands would do less piercing damage, based on the respective weapon conversion plus component. As mentioned previously, components can increase your piercing, and all swords have some pierce, so if you focus on piercing damage you should have a majority of conversion at all times.

This is how it used to be, so barring any major reworking of core mechanics, it still holds true.

But which WPS procs are worth it?

Nidella’s Hidden Hand is out straight away becasue of the Acid conversion.

As I just learned from this thread the WPS proc might actually lower the damage of my Cadence hit. For Belgothian’s Shears, Execution and Markovian’s Advantage that is no issue. Not only do they have more than 100% weapon damage, they are also guaranteed to hit with both weapons as was mentioned previously in this thread.

Amarasta’s Quick Cut is close with 80% weapon damage at lvl 5. The missing 20% might be compensated by the additional flat piercing damage and the fact that it guarantees a hit with both weapons.

Whirling Death, though … seems not so much worth it …

What about Zolhan’s Technique? Does that one always use both weapons like Markovian’s Advantage does?

i think quick cut actually does 3 hits (as indicated by the fluff text). not really sure about that, though. anyway, even if it doesn’t - 80% MH+OH is still better than what you’d get from default swings (roughly 75% MH + OH on average)

WD can be a single target dps loss. could still be worth sticking a point in there, though. if you go for pierce damage, you’ll likely end up dual wielding derp slicers anyway. so you get +4 to quick cut and WD from the weapons alone (and probably some more from other +skill / +NB skill items). i think my blademaster has WD at 10/8 or something despite only putting investing 1 point in it. not strictly required, but it would feel like a huge waste to not drop that single point into a skill that gets so much free points from items without even trying :slight_smile:

also, it’s a decent trigger for crit based devotions you can’t be arsed to bind to some active skill. i think i bound blades of wrath or living shadows to it on my BM. when you SS into the middle of a pack and WD procs, you have a pretty good chance that one of the WD hits will be a crit and trigger the devotion skill.

as for zolhans - i think it either uses the mainhand only or alternates between a random mix of MH/OH or both (like default swings). not really sure, though. never actually tried it since the tooltip shows only MH damage (unlike all the other WPS)

Cadence overrides any WPS on the 3rd attack, so they can’t lower the damage of your Candence hit.

MK1980 is correct, it hits 3 times with each hit dealing the stated damage. It is a straight up benifit, even before we add the bonus +% crit damage.

Because of this you are essentially doing (74%MH + 74%OH + Bonus Damage) vs (75%MH + 75%OH). Well I am with my WD at 9/8. So I get a slight boost thanks to the bonus damage, but I also hit 8 targets.

The main difference between the link you referenced is that they are using fire strike. This means they won’t be using slicers so they won’t get the +4 WD for free. Also they are comparing a modified fire strike. We are comparing a modified default attack.
At 5/8 - you get (63%MH + 63%OH + Bonus Damage) vs (75%MH + 75%OH)
that is a loss of (12%MH + 12%OH) of your fire strike, which isn’t compensated by the Bonus Damage…well that’s how I understand it anyway. Could be wrong.

Belgothian Shears is worth it always (hits with both weapons in a cone), but dont level it above 5 - it isnt worth points as %weapon damage remains the same.

Amarasta’s Quick Cut is the greatest against single target (hits 3 times), i’d say always worth it too.

Whirling Death is a nice AoE skill (hits all enemies around you), but it reduces your single-target damage. Take it if you lack AoE.

Execution is a bit worse version of Amarasta’s Quick Cut (hits once with one weapon). It improves your single-target damage a bit, but not as much, and it isnt worth your points most of the time (cause you should max Mastery to get it). Also, it isnt worth using with Fire Strike.

Markovian’s Advantage hits with both hands, so it’s nice to have at level 5 against single target. Can be maxed for DA reduction, if you dont put points into Blindside, etc.

Zolhan’s Technique acts like default attack while DW - has 33% chance to hit with both hands, 33% with only right, and 33% with only left (and hits 3 targets in a cone). It’s nice for both AoE and single-target, so it’s always worth it.

Nidalla’s Hidden Hand upgrade cant convert pierce damage, that was converted from physical. Still, it should be taken only for non-pierce build, and is useful only for acid/poison build, obviously.

Cadence 3-rd hit overrides any WPS. Since lion’s share of Cadence’s damage “concentrated” in 3-rd hit, having any WPS skills doesnt really matter at this point, so they may be not even worth your skillpoints spend to learn them (past “1-point wonder”).

The biggest reason not to take Zolhan’s Technique would be if that gets the total sum of WPS proc chances over 100%, since in that case the proc chance ofthe ‘better’ WPS skills will go down proportionally. So you really only want the ‘good’ ones as I understood it. And especially Amarasta’s Quick Cut has the nice synergy to ‘accelerate’ the super cadence hit. And yes, I am currently using two Dermapteran Slicers, so the 1-pt wonder route it is. :slight_smile:

In that vein, yet another question. What happens when I bind devotion skills like Falcon Swoop (X% chance on attack) resp. Assassin’s Mark to Cadence or whatever my basic attack replacer is. Will they trigger independently of the WPS skills, or will especially Falcon Swoop reduce the proc chance of the other WPS skills (assuming their total proc chance is more than 100%-X% )?

And lastly, one of my Dermapteran Slicers has the Tyrant’s prefix, including the bit where it says ‘15% reduced target’s damage for 3 seconds’. Do I interpret this correctly as whoever I keep hitting with this sharp and pointy implement will do 15% less total damage? If yes I am assuming it does not stack with other similar effects like the Kymon’s Will augment. It would also mean the Tyrant’s prefix is about the best prefix I can get, right?

It would also mean the Tyrant’s prefix is about the best I can get, right?

The best slicer you can get is “Heart Piercing Dermapteran Slicer of Voracity”. Gives you almost everything you want for the build, really. Lots of pierce, ADCTH, Attack Speed, Bonus on your WPS skills.

WPS procs are only ones, that can AUGMENT your skills (they can affect only “basic attack” skills, like default attack or Savagery). All other procs dont affect the skill or whatever caused them, they simply apply their effect on top of it. And they dont affect WPS skills too, obviously.

You’re right, whoever you hit with your “weapon damage” skill (or default attack), hitting with weapon with Tyrant’s prefix, will deal X% LESS total damage for short time (and some enemies can apply the same debufff to you as well).
Do note, that you should deal 100% or more “weapon damage” for this debuff to have full effect. If you hit for less “weapon damage”, debuff will be weaker accordingly.
Sure, debuffs like “X% reduced damage” dont stack, because they apply the same debuff to enemy (in this case, damage reduction). Sometimes, you can see an enemy applying this debuff to you (it has an icon in latest patch). A general rule in GD - effects from similar debuffs dont stack.

ZT is actually a decent WPS. If play Blademaster, you can skip Execution (because it requires to put extra points into mastery bar) and use ZT. IT deals a bit less damage, but hits 3 targets. However, if you use Cadence, then you shouldnt bother much with WPS skills, as they ALL will be kinda ineffective for damage dealing. You may want to max MA if you lack DA reduction, and maybe have AQC at 5 to get faster Cadence stacks. As for other WPS - just 1 point to them and no more, probably.

BTW, Falcon’s Swoop is great only if you focus on bleed damage. Its direct damage was severely nerfed, and isnt really worth it.

It might be true, but in real world, obtaining an item with TWO rare properties is a VERY hard. And if you want “specific” rare properties on an item, that is drop-only… Well, just consider you’ll never get it.
Usually, you will be using something like “massive … of alacrity” (physical damage + attack speed), or if get more luck, “tyrant’s/relentness/heart piercing … of alacrity”. Tyrant’s prefix is one of the best, true, because it provides solid damage boost in addition to handy debuff. For debuf alone, it isnt worth it - for example, “of Abyss” suffix also provides “X% reduced damage” debuff, but it provides chaos damage boost, so is useful for chaos builds only.