Hello from me and my fellows from discord server!
For a few months we’ve been working on this small project of determining the best performing builds in the game. Despite limited data collected, i think, we were able to isolate a portion of builds that can be labeled as top.
Few words about the process we went through and a few disclaimers as well.
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:
- Solo dmg output
- AoE/multitarget dmg output
- Tankiness vs solo targets
- Sustain in the crowded environment, including vulnerabilities to CC and special effects
- 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
- 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
I do believe a system of this sort could be further developed and used for objective measures of build performance. But again, we just didn’t have enough manpower to handle it.
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.
Worth noting that all builds in top20 were getting 40 or more out of 60 in that scoring system while the 5 best builds were only reaching 45.
- The list is for sotfcore
- Game version was 184.108.40.206. We tested builds in .9.7 test server, as it seems like there is not a lot of feedback and most changes in the changelog are to stay. And so far there is no changes to the list going into .9.7.
- 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
- None of us can be considered as pet expert in terms of building. We only tried couple of established best pet builds, and they performed worse than the best non-pet builds. But that aside, pet gameplay is almost a different game, and it’s hard to compare pet builds to the others. If you are exclusively a pet player, this list will not help you
- 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, @Retal_Abuser and me. People who provided and helped with gathering contestants, as well as provided feedback: @afanasenkov26 , @eardianm , @grey-maybe , @romanN1 , @supertolik , @x1x1x1x2
Apologies for cutting it a little short (relative to the scale of the title). I was and am currently in the process of relocation from Mordor and don’t have too much time to spend on the game.
Top 20 builds
5 people made their lists of top builds with S-tier, A-tier and B-tier. To combine them in one top lists, a build was awarded 4, 3 and 2 points for making it into S-tier, A-tier and B-tier respectively of any of 5 lists. The summ of the points a build received determined its place in the list. The end result was approved by all the participants
1. Avenger Archon (by mad_lee, score - 20)
The best melee build: fast and consistent farming, easy to play, easy to build, very forgiving.
2. Gutsmasher EoR Warlord (by banana_peel + mad_lee, score - 19)
The best channelling skill boosted by all the perks of the best dmg type, including low cd War Cry.
edit: the last version of the build we tested was this: Warlord, Level 100 (GD 220.127.116.11) - Grim Dawn Build Calculator
it proved to be a little better. it is also the one in the savefile
3. Spellscourge Battlemage (by afanasenkov26, score - 19)
The most sturdy build on the list. Very high sustain through 100% uptime Devastation. Can facetank almost every full bossroom of SR76.
4. Acid RtA Aegis spam Sentinel (by mad_lee, banana_peel, score - 18)
<< GRIMTOOLS >> - full set version (by mad_lee)
Sentinel of the Three.zip (1.2 MB)
<< GRIMTOOLS >> - spam focused version (by banana_peel)
Acid RtA aegis spam focus.zip (1.4 MB)
Acid RtA Sentinel (full set) guide
Retaliation Sentinel vs. SR 75-76 (6:36 run) - YouTube
The strongest retaliation build with good clearspeed, very good tankiness and an option to go even further beyond - turn the game into high-octane monster rave with Fevered Rage.
5. Evoker Vindicator (by eardianm, score - 18)
King of ranged builds with simple and flashy gameplay and devastating solo output.
6. Demonslayer Reaper (by grey-maybe + romanN1, score - 17)
<< GRIMTOOLS >>
Demonslayer Reaper.zip (1.4 MB)
[18.104.22.168] Demonslayer Reaper (SR75-76 6.50 run) - YouTube
[22.214.171.124] Demonslayer Reaper (SR100 Bossroom) - YouTube
 Demonslayer Reaper Naked Ex - YouTube
Nery’s post on nogreen version
Suddenly, the head ministry of vitality is Reaper with a single rr source. One of the best performing builds, but it’s not cheap to make.
7. Physical 2H Forcewave Warlord (by banana_peel, score - 14)
Very strong and consistent farmer with very few vulnerabilities. The only two downsides - not exciting gameplay and expensive to make.
8. Demonslayer Trickster (by grey-maybe, score - 14)
One of the few bleeding builds with good sustain granted by vitality dmg duality. Very versatile due to full kiting potential.
9. Vitality Ravenous Earth Oppressor (by mad_lee + banana_peel, score - 13)
<< GRIMTOOLS >>
Vitality RE Oppressor.zip (1.4 MB)
Vitality Ravenous Earth guide with gear explanation and more videos from deep SR, Ravager, etc.
Vitality RE Oppressor vs. SR 75-76 6:36 run (no short rooms, test patch) - YouTube
Representing the rare breed on the list - rotation caster. Fluid and unique gameplay, exciting dmg in concentrated AoE.
10. Lightning/Acid RtA Grasping Vines Archon (by banana_peel/mad_lee, score - 13)
<< GRIMTOOLS >> - lightning variant (by banana_peel)
Lightning RtA Vines Archon.zip (1.4 MB)
Lightning RtA vines Archon SR75-76 [9.7 test] - 6:18 - YouTube
<< GRIMTOOLS >> - acid variant (by mad_lee) (edited for 9.7)
Nikolay_2.zip (2.2 MB)
Retaliation Vines vs. SR 75-76 5:59 run (new spec, test patch) - YouTube
Acid RtA Vines Crucible 150-170 “naked” extra spawn 5:25 run (no buffs/no banners)
Very sturdy retal build with high leech from modded Vines. Clunky to play, though.
11. Aether Phantasmal Blades Reaper (by nofika4u, score - 12)
Another peculiar Reaper as the leader of aether pack. Unique gameplay with entering the enemy hitbox allows for annihilating solo output.
12. Avenger Warder (by banana_peel, score - 12)
Softcore variation of the staple of hardcore. Competitive dmg and supreme solo tankiness.
13. Harbinger Conjurer (by banana_peel, score - 12)
Strongest chaos set that accidentally found its home at pet class. Highest solo burst dmg and meditative gameplay.
14. Physical 2H Blade Arc Death Knight (by grey-maybe, score - 12)
The fastest shards farmer with simple gameplay. Not cheap, though.
15. Spellscourge Templar (by nofika4u, score - 11)
Faster but a little less sturdy version of Scourge Battlemage.
16. Lightning RtA Aegis spam Archon (by mad_lee, score - 10)
<< GRIMTOOLS >>
Lightning RtA aegis spam Archon.zip (1.4 MB)
Lightning RtA Aegis Archon guide with gear explanation and more videos from deep SR, Ravager, etc.
Aegis spam RTA Archon vs. Callagadra 2:15 facetank kill (test patch) - YouTube
Aegis spam with better dmg type: decent clearspeed and extreme sustain.
17. Physical Blitz Warlord (by banana_peel, score - 10)
The most mobile farmer with satisfying crits. Has by far the strongest faction gear variant.
18. Physical ranged DW RF Warlord (by banana_peel, score - 10)
Crucible record holder that was nerfed several times but is still a worthy top 20 member.
19. Vitality ranged DW Oppressor (by eardianm, score - 10)
Very beefy gunner that can facetank Ravager with no pharma and finish Crucible in 4 mins.
20. Trozan + Cataclysm Druid (by nofika4u, mad_lee, score - 10)
<< GRIMTOOLS >> - nogreen (by nofika4u)
_TrozanCata.zip (1.7 MB)
<< GRIMTOOLS >> - green (by mad_lee)
Trozan+Cataclysm green Druid.zip (1.7 MB)
<< GRIMTOOLS >> - TSS focused (by banana_peel)
Trozan TSS focus Druid.zip (1.7 MB)
Trozan Druid SR 75-76 - YouTube
Trozan/Cata Druid vs. Ravager 1:48 kill
Only the second rotation caster in top 20 barely making it in. Challenging but rewarding gameplay.
Vitality 2H EoR Oppressor (by mad_lee, score - 9)
Sturdy and fast EoR build that struggles a little against resistant enemies.
Physical AAR Templar (by grey-maybe, score - 9)
Best AAR is physical, no wonders. Inferior to the best physical builds but has its strong appeal.
Diviner Spellbinder (by Retal_Abuser, score - 8)
Once the flagman GD class only makes honorable mentions in top 20. The build is very strong and has unique gameplay. But it’s extremely hard to master.
Dunefiend Dervish (by banana_peel, score - 6)
Extremely fast farmer with fluid gameplay. Loses in survivability to the best of the best.
Belgothian Blademaster (by banana_peel, score - 6)
Only honorable mentions for the melee poster boy. One of the best at 1v1. But this game is more about AoE.
Valguur Ritualist (by mad_lee, score - 6)
Resilient caster with a swiss knife of spells. Not easy to play and lacks burst dmg.
Fire FoI Paladin (by grey-maybe, score - 5)
The strongest fire build. Fast farmer with a few survivability issues and some mana management needed.
Dark One Ritualist (by Retal_Abuser, score - 4)
A good set for beginners that falls off in endgame a bit because of limited dmg output and clunky gameplay. Still very much viable.
Warborn Death Knight/Warlord (by mad_lee/banana_peel, score - 4)
<< GRIMTOOLS >> - Death Knight (by mad_lee)
<< GRIMTOOLS >> - Warlord (by banana_peel)
Warborn DW Cadence Warlord SR75-76 [9.6] - 5:49 - YouTube
DW melee needs to go extra mile to compete in GD endgame. Warborn is strong but still a little weaker than physical builds from top 20.
Octavius Paladin (by mad_lee, score - 4)
The build was tested late in the process and might be a little underrated. Has a lot of good traits of phys dmg type and rotation caster.
Pierce RtA Aegis spam Dervish (by banana_peel, score - 2)
Very simple and effective spam caster. Loses to lightning and acid counterparts due to heavy reliance on RtA dmg (direct retal is not converted).
Cold Morgoneth Reaper (by Nery, banana_peel, score - 2)
<< GRIMTOOLS >> - 2H version (by Nery)
<< GRIMTOOLS >> - DW version (by banana_peel)
GD Soulrend Morgo Reaper Ravager no pharma kill - YouTube
A good set held back by dmg type that has too many unpleasant enemies in endgame (and it being a set for one of the weakest skills in the current game - SS).
Vanquisher Templar (by nofika4u, score - 2)
Vroom-vroom. Unique gameplay with good results. Very hard to master and very hard to farm for.
Fire Forcewave Commando (by Retal_Abuser, score - 2)
Best Commando and one of the best fire builds. A lot of complications in gameplay.
Cyclone Archon (by Retal_Abuser, score - 2)
I live, i die, i live again! The subject of meme level of balance changes found its place at the bottom of our list. It’s still here, though!
Honorable mentions are builds outside of top 20 that made any of 5 top lists. There is however a considerable portion of builds that are close or on the same level with these.
I think, that’s about it. Sorry this post misrepresents the amount of work went into compiling the list. But at least it seems like a good summary.
Feel free to add your thoughts, build suggestions, videos, etc.