[Something Clever About - HOLY CRAP WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS HEALTH?] - Rah'zin's/Harbinger Witchblade. (SR 80, 5.1s mad queen w/ neutral mutators)

Part two of my controller friendly build series: Rah’zin’s/Harbinger Witchblade

7/12/2020: Major Edit: updated for SR80 clear, plus changes to guide format.

updated grimtools link. Get one stun and two physical resist crafting bonuses, or 3 physical resist and put a runebound topaz into combustion band. [I’m actually running 3 armor, but that’s because my luck is awful]

Playstyle: cast Curse of Frailty, cast doom bolt, shoot until you’re in danger, back up and repeat.


After getting frustrated with purifier builds, I started looking for a ranged build that could kite freely - neither relying on inquisitor seal for defense (and offense!), nor thermite/hellfire mines. Not finding one, but seeing the synergy between Rah’zin’s, The Harbinger, and Witchblade, I made this build. Later I found out that there was a deceiver version of this build, but although it looks similar, it actually plays very different: when doing hard content (such as high SR), the deceiver is only strong when it’s inside inquisitor seal. Enemies which are fast and strong will pose a tremendous threat, whereas the Witchblade version can safely kite away, using its health regen and the lifesteal on doom bolts to stay alive in the process. This allows the Witchblade to defeat extremely tough (IE unlucky) enemy combinations, which would simply steamroll a deceiver. And while the witchblade, as shown, only has 71% WPS, it certainly doesn’t ever lack for damage, thanks in part to Rah’zin’s buffs for Zolhan’s Technique.

Performance notes

With good mutators, and with my typical stinginess on consumables, it wasn’t until SR79 (when I got a little careless) that I started to run into trouble and out of time. I never doubted my ability to clear SR80 and unlock the waystone, although it certainly wasn’t pretty. SR85 wouldn’t surprise me, and I may do it someday.
As for Mad Queen, this wasn’t anything special; it was just the first clear with neutral mutators. <5s should be possible.
I don’t do crucible, but I can’t imagine this having trouble with it. This build frequently does 1,000,000 damage in a single frame, thanks to doom bolt.

Video proof of clear

This is, admittedly, only the final part where it went smoothly. Serenity was equipped by accident.

Old Video proof of clear Time wouldn't have been an issue if I didn't die a bunch while testing things out in SR 70-74
Mad Queen
Fight tips
  • Offense: if you’re using a controller, make sure doom bolt goes where you want it to go.

  • Defense: a good doom bolt gives a ton of healing, so don’t underestimate that. Unlike inquisitor ranged builds, you don’t need to stand in inquisitor seal for your defense. That’s what makes this so strong. For survival, the best thing to do is almost always to keep moving and trust your health regen, using doom bolt on cooldown, but only shooting when absolutely safe.


Essential Gear:

  • Rah’Zin’s: core
  • Harbinger: core

Stuff I’m pretty sure is best in slot:

  • Voidheart: Chaos RR, +2 to posession, bleed resist, and up to 30% fire converted to chaos (which affects combustion band and seal of the burning void)
  • Combustion Band: Chaos RR, and much needed attack speed, defensive ability, and elemental resist, and the health and casting speed aren’t bad either.

Other stuff:

  • Black Star of Deceit: my first though was Pyroclasm Mark, but the black star does more single target damage, and gives 6% lifesteal, which is a big deal. Pyroclasm Mark should help with clearing swarms though. It’s a tough choice.
  • Solael’s Decimation: was torn between this, eldritch pact, and serenity. Ultimately the OA was too good to pass up, even with the terrible rolls my Solael’s decimation has. I do carry a serenity around in case I run into trouble. It helps tremendously when you need overcapped resists against monsters with strong RR, and can sometimes make a significant difference. You could actually run it all the time, but this build would be less fun that way. Don’t underestimate the passive ability of Solael’s Decimation though. It helps clear weak trash, which otherwise would take several auto attacks to kill, and is great for applying the rings’ abilities.
  • Demonbone Legplates: has a lot of great stats, and the chaos nova should help clear swarms, which is where this build struggles.
  • Footpads of the Grey Magi: has a bunch of good stats, but anything with trap resist would work. Windshear greaves are tempting for the attack speed buff. That said, trap resist is essential, since this build needs to keep moving to survive.
  • Rune of Murmur’s Kiss: gives damage reduction and OA reduction, so it’s great when your back is (literally) against a wall, espcially during the downtime on War Cry’s debuff.


I had a lot of flexibility here. The big decision was seal of annihilation or seal of ancestry. I tried ancestry, but annihilation proved stronger. Chains of Oleron are for offensive ability, since you want as many doom bolt crits as possible. The enchanted earth is for this kiting focused health regen spec.


There is a ton of room for flexibility in these devotions, but these choices work.

  • Ghoul: pretty much necessary for defense

  • Solael’s witchblade: obvious chaos RR

  • Kraken: necessary for attack speed.

Everything else is optional, but I highly recommend abomination since it gives about a 20% damage boost, and increases health regen.

more questionable choices:

  • Hydra: lifesteal, damage, and slow resist. You could probably get by without this to be honest.

  • lizard and behemoth: I went for health regen to keep me alive while kiting/running for my life, so these are good choices. One could easily go for damage instead through dying god, or by adding attack speed with a 3 points in Jackal and Wendigo. It will hamper your survivability at high SR, but it would be a little faster in easier content.

Leveling tips

I leveled this a while ago, so I don’t remember too many details on how it went.

For devotions, get solael’s witchblade ASAP, and then get Abomination ASAP so you can get to work on leveling it, since it requires so much xp to max.

For skills, you can do pretty well with cadence + zolhan’s + markovian’s, putting points into defenses as necessary

For items, the level 75 harbinger set should be pretty good, but anything with chaos damage will work. Aside from the hydra and kraken devotions, there’s nothing that necessitates using a 2h ranged weapon until you have the harbinger set. If you want to use melee there are a ton of good options, though Servitor’s Corruptor strikes me as particularly strong. If you want a shield, Obsidian Defender stands out. For ranged, Curse of Burrwitch looks like the best 2h option, while Witchstalker and Exterminus look like the best 1h options, with Bloodsworn Repeater an alternative once you have doom bolt.

Final note: If you get a good crucible or SR clear, let me know and I can update the build. Suggestions are welcome.


Great to see such an original build for an older mastery combo. What crossbow could fill in for levelling until you get the BiS version?

Switching Inquisitor to Soldier in an otherwise well known build for questionable benefits doesn’t strike me as very original.

As for levelling it simply doesn’t work without gear. Closest you can get is DW Bloodsworn pistols and Cadence instead of Touch of Chaos.

I’d recommend creating a “controller-friendly” tag to append to such builds. Would make it easier for me to find them and link them when someone asks for builds good for controller.

First we need to define what it actually means.

For example in this build there’s Doom Bolt and I don’t think there’s a way to cast it precisely (if your main enemy is standing behind trash mob etc.). Even Forcewave is not precise with a controller (ie you cannot shoot in between two zombies not standing in a line to hit them both, you have to kill them one by one because of target lock)

Do we say that this build is controller friendly because Doom Bolt is not the main ability, shooting works well with controllers so build does not lose too much if using a controller? And Doom Bolt spammer where it’s the main ability and precise casting is crucial is not controller friendly?

I would say that if he is actually clearing SR75 on a controller with little issue then it is most likely “controller friendly”. Precision with such skills in Grim Dawn comes down more to the player understanding how to properly place themselves for best effect.

Ok but with such definition it would be hard to find builds that are not controller friendly and yet capable of SR75. Which means definition has little use.

Yes I can agree with that. You definitely play differently with a controller. But it means there’s no need for a tag since you can always adjust your gameplay.

It’s not really what I’m going for anyway. Having an easily searchable tag denoting builds a creator deems as “friendly” would be useful to me. I see such request for controller friendly builds on Steam often enough that it would certainly be handy to have a single link I could give showing them the way.

If a builds creator has played and verified a build to be able to do what they claim on controller comfortably then that’s definition enough for me.


Ok I’m fine with that.

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I haven’t tested it myself yet but I made a version of this build with the Oblivion relic for smoother trash clearing: https://www.grimtools.com/calc/O2GqXz5Z

Thinking about building this a few characters in the future but I’m not sure how well it will perform.

That looks pretty good, although I’m concerned about the 0% trap resist, and the low stun resist; this build excels on the move. Overall, if you want to stand still and attack stuff, I think you’re going to be better off with a deceiver. I’m also not sure that the ~10% damage from dying god is worth the defense you’d lose in the process though, since this build hits so hard anyway.
Trash clearing isn’t so much of a problem as boss spawned trash blocking your auto attacks (and doom bolts if using a controler), and I’m not sure if the abilities from enropic coil and eldritch pact will make a big enough difference there. It’s worth trying though.

I’ve seen a lot of builds which either use abilities that are misereable with a controller, like AAR, or that have too many active abilities to use on a controller. With a standard xbox controller, I have 8 buttons available for skills. This build uses 5 of them, so that isn’t an issue. Doom bolt can be a problem, but with practice you can usually get it to land where you want, although sometimes you need to delay its cast, so using a controller doesn’t ruin the build.
Since pretty much every build will be weaker on a controller, I’d say a build is controller friendly if the build itself doesn’t need to be changed to be successful on a controller.

I’m new to this game, so I didn’t know that the deceiver version was well known. I made this build because, after trying out a DW purifier, I wanted a ranged build that didn’t derive any strength from standing still. Anything with inquisitor is going to use inquisitor seal, and anything with demolitionist is going to use thermite mine, so with either of those kiting will always result in a loss of damage and/or defense. Being able to safely output high damage while on the move is a pretty good benefit, worth giving up a little peak damage, in my opinion.

I’ll add a few leveling tips.

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Just an idea: use Harbinger as main weapon when doing ranged and kiting and weapon swap to Wrath of Tenebris to quickly clear trash mobs or face tank the boss. Zolhan’s technique can give you decent aoe damage with melee weapon.

I dont see any aoe damage in this build. I am missing something?

Man I can’t even do SR65 boss room with this build?

Hi may i know ur devotion route pls? Thankyou :slight_smile:

Technically there is Zolhan’s Technique and Deciamation relic as kind of “Aoe” but yeah the build lack AoE. It was 1.1.7 build which is pretty much a year ago ( i think )

It’s available on the grimtools link (click the book near the bottom left of the screen, then click on devotion)