I’ve been writing some articles about Grim Dawn recently in Fextralife.com , and thought I should be sharing them in official forums for all to see.
First I had some kind of a review of the game (minus giving scores):
Then I proceeded for this small Tips series:
Tips I Wish I Knew Before Playing - Part one (Vanilla 22.214.171.124)
Tips I Wish I Knew Before Playing - Part Two (Vanilla 126.96.36.199)
I’ll be following with more several parts for small tips that generally makes my life easier in Grim Dawn. It’s nothing huge like ForgottenKane’s super amazing guides, but just some treats I like to share.
One: Attributes Aren’t There To Mess With:
The customization in Grim Dawn is immense. You can customize and tweak every aspect about your character, when you first level up, or later. You have the spiritual guide, an NPC who can reset your skill points and devotion points, so you can spend them elsewhere. All of your choices can be changed later in higher difficulties. Be it faction, or some random trader you murdered on the road, you have a second and third chance to rectify your choices.
It’s all designed to give you freedom, and encourage experimentation. Which means you can virtually go crazy and make what you like, and change it all later. And it’s true, but for one small tricky part: Attributes!
The problem: It’s very easy to develop the wrong attributes
You get one precious attribute point each level, which you can spend on Physique, Cunning, or Spirit. Attributes gives small bonus to damage, health, or mana, but their main value is being a requirement for armors and weapons.
That’s where it gets tricky, you are level 20, and you get a nice drop which makes you all excited, but sadly you can’t equip due to lack of Spirit, or Cunning. You level up, you immediately spend your point into Spirit or Cunning. Then it’s enough, so you level some more, and keep spending points this way until you able to wear it.
Then you spend one more hour, and your are level 30. Except now that awesome drop isn’t awesome anymore. By end game, you realize that attributes can’t be refunded and new gear needs different distribution. Regret doesn’t feel good, does it?
The Solution: How to play safe with Attributes?
- Level up your mastery bar first:
Your two classes increase your attributes passively, which get you the points required to equip things. It decreases the need to spread your attributes points around and gives you a better idea of where you really need to spend your points. So don’t rush maxing all skills, but instead increase mastery bar early on.
- Physique is the king in Grim Dawn:
Plain and simple, Physique is the most important attribute. It not only gives flat numbers in health (which can be multiplied by various ways), but the best defensive armor requires so many points spent on Physique – maybe even All points in it.
- Leave some points undecided for end-game:
If you – typically – spent all first 70 points in Physique, it’s probably wise to not spend the rest immediately. Leave the last ten or twenty points free until you get to Max level and have all the equipment you need. You might find a good accessory that needs five more spirit points or something.
- Utilize components as you level up:
Things like “Polished Emerald” , “Spellwoven Thread” , and “Vicious Jawbone” can be a source for some attributes early on. Even if they don’t give direct benefit to your build, using them for the stats is okay. You can see a full list of all components and what they do here.
- Take a look at Devotion Constellations:
Yes, the stars have attributes, and you might not need to go out of your way to get them! On the road to every major proc skill, you will find small boosts in attributes. You will grab these by default on the way, so don’t worry about changing anything for attributes.
Two: Build Up Your Defenses Properly:
No matter what level you are (beyond the first ten or twenty), you always need to prioritize defense. Yes, when I first heard this tip from professional players, I thought it sounded counter-productive, and boring, and that it would make progression slower. But having played this game over 400 hours, I can totally confirm the viability of the method.
The thing is: Grim Dawn is really grim. The enemies can be really weak on normal/Veteran, but become way stronger in Elite, and a total nightmare in Ultimate. Even in normal you can encounter some hard to pass encounters as a glass cannon. And if you can’t stand few hits, you will have to start running to escape, and will stop doing damage. While a good defense allow you to stand your ground for a bit, giving you better chance at finishing enemies before they finish you.
The solution: How to prioritize your defenses
- Max out “Resistances”, that will take care of most damage types. Physical resistance is very hard to come by though.
- Invest in “Health”, health is an all around decent defense against all types of enemies.
- Defensive Abilities. It’s a sure way to not get hit by a crit, and also have enemies miss some hits on you. very important to not get 1 hit by the toughest bosses.
- Don’t let “Armor” fall behind too much. Make sure to replace your low level equipments regularly with something with higher armor and decent stats.
- “Circuit-Breakers” This is a term people use on skills that proc when player Health gets to a certain point (40% for example) and pop up some temporary strong defense buff or shield. Skills like “Blast Shield” from demotionalist , or Gaint’s Blood from Constalltions are very strong defense in tight situation where you can’t do much. I put it further down the list because it’s not mandatory in Normal and Elite. But Max these out by the time you get Ultimate, it will be very useful.
- Over-cap your resistance. That’s a tip for the very end-game top contents, like hunting Nemesis bosses. Some bosses debuff your resistances, so having some extra reserve is always a good thing. Don’t neglect other important defenses to do that though.
- There are many other sources of defense in Grim Dawn, but they are situational, and depends on build. Like Vitality damage builds, and retaliation builds, also solider shield builds are very strong and Crucible viable in general. But these are topics not for this article.
Three: Know What Build You Are Doing
This one sounds basic stuff, but it could get very tricky. Grim Dawn is a rich world, with countless possibilities to replay the game and having different experience. Thus, the majority of the build guides out there are aimed towards experienced players, with long hours into the game, and decent stash of equipment ready to be used. In other words, many builds are gear dependent, which might not be friendly for beginners.
The matter is: If you don’t have the specific gear the build asks for, you either ask the guide writer to suggest you a beginner alternative, or don’t do this build. The drop rates in grim Dawn are very good, and you keep getting good items constantly as you play. But the loot tables are shared among all monsters in the world, meaning that anything can drop anything, and there are no specific spot to farm any item. The exception is some rare items called “Moster infrequents” or “MI”, which are moderately good items dropping from some specific bosses or monsters, and are good for leveling. With proper affixes, the highest levels MIs can be best in slot for some builds, if you can afford the extensive farm for these specific affixes.
Pro & Cons:
It’s good on one side, as it make you keep playing the game, go wherever you like, and enjoy all the content without worrying about the drops, since what you get here would be the same as you got there. But it restrict you from planning top builds without before having the items required. It might be wiser to plan your second character based on what you already have from first playthrough, not on what you wish/expect to have.
This problem extend to the first playthrough, since you have nothing to start with. Well, not “nothing” , since the faction gear can be excellent choices for some builds, best in slot even. These faction gear require some effort to get, but it’s fun and very rewarding to do.
Some beginners-friendly builds suggestions:
- Poison Caster Witchblade (Occultist/Solider)
- Pyromancer fire pets summoner (Occultist/Demotionalist)
- Sword and Board Pierce Blademaster (Nightblade/Solider)
- Two handed lightening Elementalist (Shaman/Demotionalist)
- Strom totem Warder (Shaman/Solider)
- Lightning/Pet Druid (Arcanist/Shaman)
- Dual pistols Sorcerer (Arcanist + Demolitionist)
- Dual Wield Melee Witchhunter (Nightblade + Occultist)
- Bleeding based Conjurer (Occultist + Shaman)
These are some quick concepts of varied basic builds in Vanilla to look forward. But notice that you don’t have to follow any of these suggestions, you can actually start the game and level with one mastery through the normal difficulty, then depends on your taste, decide where to go from there. Adding another mastery depends on your direction, or respec to another build entirely, Grim Dawn is flexible like this. These guidelines are only for those who don’t like to feel overwhelmed by the amount of customizations the game have.
Four: Learn How To Craft, And What To Craft:
And be patient for the recipes as they come one by one. Really, crafting a strong aspect of the game, that keep giving you candy along the way, but only gets to its full potential after hundreds of hours of gameplay. You can craft so many things. For example, consumables, powerful Mythical Relics, parts of legendary items sets and the most important components.
Saving the rare materials required for materials is crucial, as these are drops only, and not sold by any merchant (they can be exchanged for one another in act Four though). Things like Tainted Brain Matter, and Ancient heart and the like are precious little things, so use them wisely.
Don’t be afraid of trying to craft basic gear though; the items with question marks in the default menu of the blacksmith, named Enchanted Mace and Enchanted Boots. These are not strictly “magic” items. The crafting can give you rares and scales up with your level. You can actually get some solid gear from them to cover any weakness your character have. You just need scraps and gold, and some courage to go through the randomization.
Five:Leveling v.s Endgame ~ [NEW]
This concept took me sometime to get around. When I was new player, I used to look at build guides, and when I found no detailed leveling guide, I’d just skip the build or frame it as “unfriendly to beginners” …
Other times, I’d play another build, follow its leveling guide over veteran difficulty, and think: Wow, this build going to be an easiest run…
In both cases, I came out to find that I had false impressions. And what I thought as hard facts, is simply a lack of understanding. Which is totally fine, Grim Dawn have a steep learning curve, as I explained in my review.
The reality is: There are many ways to level a build. Some of them are easier than others, and some are suitable for many builds, with endgame result being different. I’ll try to detail some of these differences between endgame and leveling to give new players the idea of what to expect, and what to not expect.
- Endgame skills might not be the same as leveling skills
- Yes, it’s true you can go Arcanist for first mastery, and pick up one of strongest leveling skills such as Olexra’s Flash Freeze or (OFF) as some call. You focus on it early on, and one hit the entire screen as you go around. or you could pick up Fireblast/Greater Fireblast from components and think like: Wow! This build is so very strong.
- NOPE, the build is not strong, nor weak nor anything yet, you are too early to judge… These skills might not be even in your endgame build, as in Fireblast. Or you might reduce its level to one, as in OFF in a Albercht Aether Ray build.
- So enjoy being Overpowered for the first levels, but be smart about it while leveling. Some skills like “Primal Strike” from “Shaman” have good scaling with “weapon damage” , and some have extensive modifiers like “Panetti’s Replicating Missile” and might be suitable as main skill for endgame, if you build around them. But some other skills are good only for low levels, as fillers until you get your better stuff. So don’t get too attached, and if you are not following step-by-step leveling guide, make sure to ask a lot, and/or experiment around different concepts.
- Offensive priorities differ from early game to endgame
- I’m talking about the famous question: “What bonus to look for on gear and weapon?” … It will differ, sometimes greatly. let’s continue with the “Fireblast” example from previous point. This spell do pure fire damage, so while leveling, picking up “fire damage %” will be the best bonus you can increase damage with. But now you passed 50, and found a good aether weapon, and started to invest in “Albercht Aether Ray” which is Aether/Fire damage. Keeping fire might sound good for few more levels, as it’s a part of the damage anyway. But soon, you better start stacking getting “Convert X damage to Aether” and “Aether resistant reduction” , along with “Aether damage %” . Also “Reduce Energy Cost” , because this skill can drain you dry in no more than couple seconds. See the difference now between endgame and leveling?
- Another example would be a fire pets build, where you might see some meaningful difference from stacking “Pet damage %” early on. But as you level up, things gets quite different, and “+level to Flame Touched” should be your biggest concern. I’ll not explain it here, read DaShiv’s extensive guide if you are interested.
- +levels to all skills, how?
- This part can easily trick new players, as it did to me. As I said before, most builds are easy to play early in the game, and everything is fine. But not all builds can keep up. the reason is: The need for more skill points. It’s a serious concern for builds which needs many skills, some for damage, damage mitigation, resistance reduction, health, armor, procs, DA&OA reduction … etc. All these skills require skill points to max, and then “+ levels to skills” to go over max like 22/12 and 26/16.
- “+ levels to skills” to all skills comes only from gear, and gear are random drops from a huge drop table. You are never sure you will get what you want by endgame (with few exceptions for granted drops). So, know this: If you plan to go something that require so many skills, don’t let the leveling process fool you into believing it would be easy. It will be tough, unless you have the right gear. That’s how a build which’s gear dependent, isn’t very friendly for new players. You might want to shelf this character who lack the gear, go level another character who can do content easily and gain more gear.
- Relics will not level as fast as you do
- You will learn this very soon, so don’t get disappointed. I mean, really, the recipes are random drops, and they are harder to get than gear. And they have a progression system that can hinder you for several playthroughs. Even something as simple as a level 35 relic can be very hard to craft. You finally get the recipe of it, to discover it’s not enough, and you are not ready yet. You still need another few relics, and each needs a recipe, and each needs rare materials you probably used somewhere else. Each needs components as well, which some might need certain faction reputation to get … That’s normal, and you aren’t slacking, and you shouldn’t blame yourself for not having a proper relic yet. Make do with whatever you craft (or trade), and make sure whatever build you are making is not dependent on certain relic (for example some pets are exclusive to relics)
- Resistance Reduction (RR) is mandatory at endgame, but not while leveling.
- That one might not be very obvious, but it’s true for most builds. Whatever damage type you decided to do, you will most likely need to de-buff the enemy, reducing their resistance to that type of damage. It’s good to know that, and plan your devotion path and items according to that knowledge. You will not need them on Normal/Veteran, but you will need them in the end, so never forget.
- Factions reputation are important at endgame, even though they are not mandatory early on.
- Well, the gear these factions provide might be good for your build, or bad, or anything in-between. But what is mandatory from factions are the little flasks that put bonuses on your gear. Again, this is something you might not bother with early on, but when you hit Elite and Ultimate difficulty, you will need to get them on every item. Weapons and accessories ones come at “Respected” and “Honored” faction status. But armor ones, need a revered status, these are crucial to compensate with resistances plenty from difficulty level.
Index for posts with further discussion:
Page 2: More Tips by sir spanksalot