⭐ Top 20 Softcore builds, ft. HC approved section from RektbyProtoss! [1.2.0.5] (An Onion)

Greetings from our builders community!

As some of you might’ve heard, we have been working on a new top20 builds post (you can find the old post here). And after few month of rigorous testing it’s here, the new top20 for softcore, bigger, better, more thoroughly min-maxed tested and now with the hardcore selection approved and tested by mister hardcore himself - @RektbyProtoss! Also this time we decided to cross-check all the green affixes in our builds with our resident loot tables expert @modal and adjust our green items accordingly so builds would be realistic to farm.

The proccess was long and ardous, friendships were made and broken and made during it, new monsters were discovered while some of the old ones became history and in the end this list was born!

More about the process here:

The process

We used the same method as we did last time so I am leaving this @banana_peel 's text as is

*6 people made their personal lists of top 25 builds. Based on each list builds were given 30 points for the first place and all the way to 6 points for the last. Out of those 6 lists the final top20 was made.

First step was the nomination - the list of all possible builds that can be considered for the “contest” of the best builds in the game. Sounds vague but the “we” i’m referring to is a group of veteran endgame players who kept up with the game changes and had sufficient cumulative knowledge to account for all the best performing builds.

Secondly, we wanted to develop an objective scoring system for builds’ performance. But soon we realized that we would not be able to pull off the huge amount of data required for it - both the amount of SR, Crucible and superboss runs for all builds in the contest as well as the sheer amount of people needed to make data entries to shoot for anything objective. So we’ve settled for a compromise: each player makes their tier list of builds and the summary of these lists will be the final list of top builds.

We did, however, made a sort of scoring system that helped with the development of the project, especially for the purpose of filtering out the contestant builds to reduce the amount of grind. The system had 6 scores, each from 0 to 10 with a 0.5 step:

  1. Solo dmg output
  2. AoE/multitarget dmg output
  3. Tankiness vs solo targets
  4. Sustain in the crowded environment, including vulnerabilities to CC and special effects
  5. Convenience - how easy is it to play the build: the amount of active skills, mobility, difference in nature of active skills, how punishing are mistakes you make (had 80% weight in the scoring)
  6. Gear accessibility - how easy is it to farm the items needed, how easy is it to substitute BiS items, is there a viable faction gear variant of the build (rated on the scale of 1 to 5)

We all added our ratings into this amazing Excel sheet made by @eardianm. You can find it here:

In the end we had 5 people who extensively tested the contestant builds against endgame content - SR 75-76, Crucible 150-170 and superbosses - and also several people on top who provided the contestants to test and helped with the discussion.

As for performance guidelines, it went smth like this: every top20 build is able to farm SR 75-76 with ease and finish every SR76 regardless of mutators, rooms and boss selection; every build is capable of finishing Crucible 151-170 within 4:30 in the best run, safely farm it with correct play, finish 151-170 without buffs and banners with safe play; take down Mogdrogen and Ravager with facetanking or minor kiting at worst, Callagadra with kiting by extension.

Disclaimers

  • The list is for softcore, however there are few builds that are suitable for hardcore that were tested by @RektbyProtoss and given his HC Seal of Approval:

:1st_place_medal:
s-tier
:2nd_place_medal:
a-tier
:3rd_place_medal:
b-tier

  • Game version was 1.2.0.5. We are aware than next test patch is bringing the significant changes, however we don’t have the manpower to make the list for every patch. We will try and adjust some builds based on the biggest changes in the game.
  • As the goal was to aim for best performing builds, we tried to take the “fun factor” out of the equation as much as possible. Different people like different builds, no one is in the position to say what is “objectively more fun”.
  • Props to game’s balance, the contest was a very tight race. Even though the absolute best builds were kinda clearly ahead, it is safe to say that the game has over 100 builds that are not far behind the best of the best in terms of performance. So if you don’t personally like any of top 20 builds, there is a huge chance there is a build exactly for you and it will not make you feel handicapped. It’s all about optimization.
  • We have tested the best pet builds and unfortunately they didn’t make our list.
  • Not every single possible build is present in the list because of some extreme simularities. For instance, if you have phys ranged DW Warlord and Paladin that are of the same dmg type and playstyle, have similar stats, play absolutely the same and have a lot of overlapping items, it is unfair to treat them as two separate builds and overbloat the top list making it miss the representation factor.
  • Every build in the list has an author of the exact variant we tested as means of props for the optimization work done. It’s not a copyright label or anything. It is important to mention that the majority of the builds had some degree of community effort in them, whether it was some “meta” adopted by the builder or outright gear and devotion change suggestions from the others.

The most important:

You might look at the list and get instantly confused: “Where is this [best build of all time] in it? What is this travesty?!”

You can be sure that the final list would be somewhat confusing to every one of us individually, have you shown it to us before we tested the builds. A lot of our clear favourites paled in comparison to the builds that are in the final top. Just few examples of the fallen favourites: every cold Infiltrator, almost every aether Spellbinder, almost every fire caster, “the king of sustain” and the go to of the beginners Dark One.

There is always a small chance we missed some strong builds. So if you are adamant we missed smth, do share it in the comments. Just note, we went through A LOT of builds, over and again.


Speaking of “we”. People who played the contestant builds the most and made their final lists of top builds: @Nery , @nofika4u , @mad_lee, @banana_peel, grey-maybe, @romanN1. People who provided and helped with gathering contestants, as well as provided feedback: @afanasenkov26 , @eardianm, Retal_Abuser, @MergosWetNurse.


Top 20

1. Korba Trickster


SR75-76 run by banana
SR75-76 run by roman
Naked Ex Crucible
Callagadra
Ravager
Overview by @RektbyProtoss

AND THE NEW…
That’s right, old king has been de-throned and a new one is this beefy and punchy melee Trickster, re-imagined by banana_peel as a build that could use less Lethal Assault but more passive sustain. Build is quick, tanky has layered defenses and a hell of an offense. Its freezing cc and massive debuffs (build quickly applies both fumbles and impaired aim) make it really resilient against swarms of heroes while its excellent hp pool, physical resist and great leech supported by passive regen will turn any 1on1 fight into a walk in a park.


2. Evoker Saboteur


SR75-76 run by nofika
SR90 run by nofika
Naked Ex Crucible
Ravager
Crate

Another pretender to the throne, this cold melee Nightblade is of a different flavour. While boasting an impressive first layer of defenses, namely that DA number that is reminiscent of a certain meta from years ago, build doesn’t really understand what the phrase “resistant monsters” means. By stacking impressive levels of resist reduction Evoker Sabouter cuts thru any target like a hot knife thru butter. This damage monster, an indigo child, whose custody is shared between @MergosWetNurse, @nofika4u and @banana_peel, is indeed one of the strongest softcore farmers this game has ever seen.


3. Avenger Archon


:2nd_place_medal:by @mad_lee with the help of @romanN1

SR75-76 run by mad_lee
SR75-76 run by roman
Naked Ex Crucible
Callagadra
Ravager
Overview by @RektbyProtoss

Old king, who lost his crown but didn’t lose his battle prowess. Still named as their personal top1 build by few of our testers, it re-emerges in a new form as one of the leaders of a new top20 pantheon. Build still rocks its layered ungodly sustain ability while new devotion map gave this Immortal King Barbarian new Gods to worship and sacrifice his enemies to. Build excels in one-on-one melee combat bludgeoning every Celestial in his way. It’s quick, extremely easy to play and it’s relatively easy to assemble. It can also work pretty well on Hardcore.


4. Chaos Saboteur


by @banana_peel with a bit of @mad_lee and grey-maybe

SR75-76 run by roman
Naked Ex Crucible
Callagadra
Ravager
Crate

Single target damage monster and another melee Sabouter stacking obscene amounts of resist reduction to one of the best damage types in terms of resistant monsters. Relatively easy to assemble this Ember Beast evaporates monsters health bars as soon as it procs Execution. On top of being punchy Chaos Sabouter is relatively tanky, boasting high DA and controlling monsters with the frequent Vindictive Flame procs. And it’s pretty affordable too.


5. Acid RtA Sentinel


Naked Ex Crucible
Ravager
Overview by @RektbyProtoss

This time coming in top20 in one flavour toxic Captain Arcovia still wrecks true havoc on the battlefield. With a press of a button it sends monsters into a bloody frenzy making them viciously attack you till they die of your direct retaliation damage. On top of that, one of the best aoe spells in the game - Aegis of Menhir is spammable here and it hits pretty hard. Unique gameplay and pretty quick SR clears earned Acid RtA Sentinel deserved fifth.


6. Fire N&O Saboteur


Naked Ex Crucible
Ravager

Simple, quick, safe and gorgeous in terms special effects that it brings. While not having the most deadly single target damage it makes up for it with great concetrated aoe damage from procs that clears packs pretty fast. Passive healing from procs plus consistent freezing cc makes Fire N&O Sabouter a very tanky and reliable farmer, that’s not hard to assemble. Its not hard to see why Build won the hearts of many of our testers.


7. Blitz Warlord


SR75-76 run by roman
Callagadra
Ravager
Crate
Overview by @RektbyProtoss

Armored behemoth that solves all problems by repeatedly ramming them with its shield. It can do all content, it’s tanky, it’s cheap, it’s quick to reach any destination. Chains of Anguish’ debuff barely tickles this build as it reaps the full benefits that that belt offers. Blitz WL is rocking new meta devotions with a little twist in a form of Dryad - an additional sustain tool just-in-case. It can easily be your first build, but it can be your last build. All-in-all Blitz WL is a staple of both softcore and hardcore gameplay.


8. Avenger Warder


SR75-76 run by banana
SR75-76 run by grey-maybe
Naked Ex Crucible
Ravager
Overview by @RektbyProtoss

A tankier version of Avenger Archon, iconic for its Hardcore prowess, this Soldier packs a punch while maintaining pretty ridiculous levels of tankiness. Menhir’s Bulwark as an exclusive skill adds both chunky amounts of flat and some unholy levels of health regeneration. You will have to murder poor old Gollus quite a few times before you can put a ring on this one, but the reward is worth it. This undying and unwavering warrior makes a second appearance in our top20 and deservingly scores eighth place.


9. Venomblade Dervish


by grey-maybe

SR75-76 run by undo
Naked Ex Crucible
Callagadra
Ravager
Overview by @RektbyProtoss

A consistently quick farmer that kills crowds of monsters as quickly as it takes down big bosses. Packing a little nuke in its left-hand in a form of Amarasta’s Blade Burst, powered by steroids from gear, this poisonous Nightblade makes whole groups of monsters disappear fast. While rocking respectable passive defenses build has a lot of fail-safes to cycle thru, which is helped by caster’s levels of cooldown reduction Venomblade posseses.


10. Deathmarked Dervish


by grey-maybe with devotions from @banana_peel

SR75-76 run by grey-maybe
Naked Ex Crucible
Callagadra
Ravager

Multiple synergies from gear and class combination make this at first glance generic single mastery set melee build an absolute single target damage champion. It melts single targets extremely fast and has excellent mobility, its tankiness is helped by the use of Conduit and a fat layer of dodge/evade %. And while having its most potent debuff as an extra button takes away a bit of fluidity it also makes life easier against resistant monsters.


11. Markovian Warlord


SR75-76 run by grey-maybe
Ravager
Overview by @RektbyProtoss

A younger brother of Blitz Warlord, this knight in heavy armor possesses a surprisingly high damage output all while being a fortress in terms of defenses. It has high mobility and meditative simple gameplay, a real poster child of sword and board warriors. Bonus: it’s somewhat cheap.


12. Belgothian Infiltrator


SR75-76 run by grey-maybe
Callagadra
Ravager

Not as fluffy as its Blademaster counter-part, but definitely much closer to being super. Very satisfying levels of single target damage and single target tankiness while also having the allure of clean steely feel that Pierce damage provides.


13. Lightning Retaliation Archon


SR75-76 run by mad_lee
Naked Ex Crucible
Ravager
Overview by @RektbyProtoss

Non-toxic Captain Arkovia, this retaliation tank can absorb unholy amounts of damage while maintaining respectable farming speed. This is build’s second appearance in the top20 and itt still beats all content quite comfortably. It also works really well as a Hardcore farmer.


14. Voidsoul Sentinel


SR75-76 run by banana
Ravager
Overview by @RektbyProtoss

A pretty unique way to assemble Voidsoul Sentinel that turned out to be extremely potent. This almost spam Aegis monster is farming both SR and Crucible with remarkable speed and consistency. Watch crowds disappear from a single shield throw while your health always replenishes to full.


15. Lightning CT Druid


Naked Ex Crucible

Didn’t you hear the news? Callidor’s Tempest is the best spam spell. Ever. It can’t be countered by fumbles or impaired aim, CT builds can’t be flanked. Ungodly levels of cooldown reduction make this Druid practically immortal, while its procs are as pretty as they are devastating._____

16. Cold N&O Saboteur


SR75-76 run by mad_lee
SR90 run by nofika
Ravager

Identical in terms of power levels to melee Nightblades above him this is another flashy speed demon. Consistent crowd control and passive healing makes it safe and easy to play, while its damage profile has no weak points as it melts both single targets and crowds like it has somewhere to be.


17. Light’s Defender Purifier


SR75-76 run by banana

Big Seal, Big Armor, Big Single target damage. A no-nonsense Purifier that makes anything and anyone disappear in mere seconds. Reap the rewards of the shotgun effect of Stun Jacks by evaporating targets in point blank range.


18. Ludrigan Druid


:1st_place_medal:by grey-maybe

SR75-76 run by grey-maybe
Callagadra
Ravager
Crate
Overview by @RektbyProtoss

Ever wanted to play a pet build but was too afraid of your cool friends reaction? We got you. Ludrigan Druid is the prime example of stability and safety, named by many to be the hardcore build. You can kite, you can facetank, cortesy of massive health pool, multilayered defences and multiple circuit-breakers. Just place your totems, shoot panetti and watch ramping dot (up to 1.5kk) melt both mobs and celestials alive.


19. Vitality RE Oppressor


SR75-76 run by mad_lee
Naked Ex Crucible
Ravager

Extremely high aoe damage plus respectable single target pop. This build makes another appearance in the top20 this time rocking shiny new toys. A very simple to play “rotation” caster with great levels of sustain and high level of cooldown reduction is extremely fast bothin Crucible and SR.


20. Pyran Shieldbreaker


:1st_place_medal:by grey-maybe

SR75-76 run by grey-maybe
Callagadra
Ravager
Crate
Overview by @RektbyProtoss

Ludrigan’s edgier cousin who sacrifices a bit of stability for massive firepower. Nothing can stand long enough in face of 4 double-dot stacking mortars with high crit. Build still maintains respectable defences and sustain tool, which is very important for build’s damage as well, as mortars, unlike totems, require the target to be somewhat stationary.


Honourable Mentions


Vanquisher Templar

SR75-76 run by nofika
Naked Ex Crucible
Ravager

Got somewhere to be?.. No pocket money to call an Uber? This speedy Arcanist might just be what you need. While zoom-zoom playstyle might not be for everyone, one can’t deny this build’s farming abilities. Very fast and tanky, this (beep-beep) Roadrunner of elite Grim Dawn builds will speedrun any endgame content with ease.


Fire FW Commando

SR75-76 run by mad_lee
Naked Ex Crucible
Ravager
Overview by @RektbyProtoss

Commando that could, this fiery classics was only getting stronger each patch. Layers upon layers of defenses and an impressive arsenal of scorching offensive spells propelled this armored tank into our honorable mentions. It can do all content and is also HC viable (and one of the mister Hardcore - RektbyProtoss - personal favourites).


Vortex of Souls Druid

SR75-76 run by nofika
Naked Ex Crucible

Crucible champion and the most destructive aoe damage in-game is a ranged cold Primal Strike Druid wielding Aether rifle. Sounds reasonable? Barely missing top20 placing this damage fiend cleans any crowd in seconds. Extremely fun to play and to look it this gpu heating Druid takes it rightful place among our honorable mentions selections.


Cyclone Shieldbreaker

image

SR75-76 run by mad_lee
Naked Ex Crucible
Ravager
Overview by @RektbyProtoss

One of the prettiest aoe effects in the game and remarkable sustain abilities make this Cyclone thrive on both softcore and hardcore. And while it’s not the best build to tackle Callagadra with, it’s one of the best to farm both Crucible and Shattered Realm especially if you are feeling nostalgic for D2 Barbarian’s whirlwind and you like your builds easy and safe.


Barrelsmith Sorceress

image

SR75-76 run by mad_lee
Naked Ex Crucible
Ravager
Overview by @RektbyProtoss

Another old guard that somehow lived thru all the nerfs and buffs and different metas to be reborn and min-maxed according to the latest health regen fad. It works really well on Hardcore if you don’t mind a bit of kiting and it possesses the power to absolutely delete monsters, especially if it’s your lucky day and you proc Ulzuin’s Chosen several times in a row.



That took way longer than it should have, but the end result is there. With 1.2.1 big changes to balance (which are partially based on our findings during tests of this top) we will try to update the list, but thats not guaranteed. What is guaranteed, however, is that you’ll hear from us once FoA drops. See you.


Writing: @mad_lee and grey-maybe
Formatting: grey-maybe
Tears: Pet players
Entertainment: Crate
Upd. 23.04.24

70 Likes

THANK YOU @UNDO @Retal_Abuser (i ran into mentions limit while writting the post)

reserved.

8 Likes

We fucking did it!!!11 Thanks to everyone who participated, it was a journey!

inb4 actual pet players’ tears, we did test few very top pet specs. Unfortunately none of them came close except @eardianm Vitality Beastcaller Conjurer, pet build closest to our honorable mentions category.

4 Likes

Time for zantai to drop the patch now that you’ve put all this work in

4 Likes

Incredible work from all who were involved in this certainly extensive project. Thank you for the effort, now to try to level some of those builds…

One thing makes me a little sad - no AA gunners in the list :frowning: They just got clobbered to the ground, it seems. Hope Crate may sneak something to make gunners more competitive into the next patch (the devs evidently made some test changes based on your testing for this list).

Still, thank you all very much for your effort and dedication.

3 Likes

Yes indeed. No build outside of this list is competitive or even playable.

1 Like

Of course they are. It’s just me being an idiot.

2 Likes

If you look in our Grimsheet (link in the op, pretty interesting read too) you will see few gunners that were somewhat close. Problem is that Impaired Aim is overtuned this patch (currently somewhat fixed in the test patch) and then new meta favours melees more cuz they have both more damage and more tank.

3 Likes

I already did look at the grimsheet earlier while you were still getting the thing done. I hoped to see a gunner in the list, but alas. It’s no problem. Will take a look at the grimsheet again.

And thanks for the explanation.

1 Like

I’ll take some heat for that, I spent all my testing time on 1.2 with the furries and ignored my first love of guns. Some big melee fans in the group and they were getting to feast this patch for the first time in awhile

5 Likes

I don’t usually do this, especially with non-pet builds, but… in the spirit of honesty,

11MM11

9 Likes

Love that you guys are factoring in real drop rates for greens to gear scores now! I noticed during the process that was kind of contentious, though. I wonder whether it wouldn’t be useful to have two different parallel scoring systems, one that’s just power and one for gear score. Then people can do their own subjective relative weighting of those two pretty distinct categories.

For now you can maybe look into the provided spreadsheet and remove gear score from the calculation yourself if you want. If I remember correctly, the necessary data should be there.

3 Saboteurs in the top 6?
A Trickster in the top spot?
Markovian set actually being good!?!?

Kudos to another amazing list filled with rigorous testing and deep analysis. The amount of dedication to this game is unreal, and I salute the efforts to drudge through the various nerfs that come your way.

The only pet player tears come from a certain … bird … piloting classless pet builds to SR 75 and actual pet builds to SR 170, meaning pets won’t be receiving buffs anytime soon. :unamused:

6 Likes

Honestly biggest kudos to Z, I didn’t expect to see some of these builds in there, the balancing is real

Thanks a lot for the work !

I’m a sabo/trickster addict I guess this patch is a blessing for me :laughing:.

Sorry for being a noob but how do you try these builds?

I see zip files in each one but when I copy them into where the my other characters are they don’t show up when grim dawn is opened?

Are these all characters from new patch therefore not compatible with current patch yet?

depending on how you unpack the zip files you might need to go a folder deeper to get the actual char folder
but also if you’re using cloud saves (ingame setting) you can’t just copy paste files into the steam cloud save folder location, they need to be imported
but if you’re using local saves (cloud off ingame) then you can just copy paste them in right, provided it’s the right char folder portion

Haven’t played since 1.2 dropped out :person_raising_hand: and I’m just wondering why are there no bleed builds anywhere.

Is bleed weaker this patch, or it’s just that it didn’t happen that one build in particular shone bright enough to make it to the list ?

Idk it may have something to do with the fact you get insta killed if you meet one reflect as a bleed build

1 Like