Personally, I’m not among the best crucible speed runners there are. I’m more of a fanboy. But after watching and analyzing many runs by the legends of the genre such as Shoot, John_Smith, Sigatrev, Mercymaker, Reymreym, Superfluff, Plasmodermic and others (ofc I’m guilty of omission) as well as, with no false modesty, dabbling in a few record runs myself, I feel qualified to write a few words about it.
If you are an advanced player, a builder or a tester, and you want those sub 6 minute runs on the builds that deserve them, this guide is for you. First, some general advice will be given. Then, all waves from 151 to 170 will be broken down and different strategies will be analyzed in order to assure optimal clears by wasting the least possible time on every action and at every step.
I’m planning on adding a chapter on mutators, too.
SPEEDRUNNING IN A PILL
Speedrunning crucible boils down to five things: 1) having a top-tier build and optimizing it for crucible, 2) optimizing dmg output of your AoE by skillful piloting, 3) optimizing aggro by skillful piloting and 4) having a good PC, 5) RNG - mutators and enemy combos.
Optimizing a build for crucible - despite a common misconception - does not necessarily mean putting everything in offense. Although some builds like old Agrivix allowed for things like 100% spirit dump (and that’s before spirit and cunning gave health) and could easily clear 170 in sub 5-minute times with as low as 2.3 da, this is not the case for most top tier builds. Solid defense is essential not only not to die but to never have to give an inch by being able to facetank everything at all times due to the fact that we’ll be putting ourselves in harm’s way intentionally. With a slight exception of Wind Devil builds and a few others there is no room for a millisecond of kiting in speedrun crucible.
This means skillful manipulating the mobs and prioritizing targets so that you spend most time surrounded by the largest number of enemies possible so that you deal dmg to them all at the same time.
The biggest problem in achieving record times is aggro. Enemies in crucible do not always aggro all at once. Sometimes they get stuck and don’t come out of their spawn zones. Sometimes weird things happen with AI. This is imo the biggest obstacle and the hardest one to overcome. In part, it’s rng. But there are ways to minimize it and even eliminate it entirely. Sadly, it all boils down to knowing all the waves by heart. What really helps with aggro problems is big AoE casts with long range (Blackwater Cocktail, Canister Bomb, Stormfire) - you throw/shoot them at the spawn zone which should aggro everyone inside.
Unfortunately, having decent hardware might be more or less necessary. However, due to some engine issues with core affinities (I’m not very familiar) GD has been known to hiccup even on very good gaming PCs. I recommend lowering the graphics, especially particle density and effects.
Sadly (for speedrunners) GD is an RNG-heavy game. Mutators are everything. With bad mutators you won’t break any records. See this rant thread for a list of the most annoying ones: Petition to tone down mutators. Suffice to say, most speedrunners don’t even bother running with bad mutators with Shattered and resistance boosts to enemies at the top of the list.
Some GENERAL ADVICE
According to rule 2) from the previous paragraph we want to be dealing as much dmg as possible to as many tagets at the same time as possible, and as often as possible. In order to ensure that, we have utilize movement. Not only our own movement but also enemy movement. Thus, our priority targets are:
Ranged targets. Example. In an abstract scenario, you got Janaxxia and Stone Basilisk away from each other. Who to attack first? Janaxxia. Becasue attacking Basilisk first will result in having to kill two targets separately (Janaxxia is ranged so she will not close in by herself). Conversely, attacking Janaxxia first will results in Basilisk joining in and taking AoE dmg. *
Slow targets. Example. In an abstract situation you got Reaper and Moose standing in some distance between each other. Who is it better to attack first? Just as in example 1), it’s better to attack Moose becasue Reaper will join very quickly and take AoE dmg. *
* these are abstract scenarios, in real runs prioritizing targets depends on many factors, not only enemy run speed and being ranged or melee.
Healers. Self explanatory. The only exception is 161 when you sometimes manage to kill Alex before the healers have time to close in and cast.
Targets with strong offensive debuffs. This is mainly Grava’Thul but
When surrounded you also want to prioritize targets. If you’re piloting a melee build or AAR, for example, you’ll be dealing lots of AoE but you still gotta choose your single target that gets most of it. We choose the target with most health/biggest resistance.
Grim Internals is an absolute must imo. You need to see all surrounding enemies hp. However, it’s best not to overdo it on statistics display especially DPS counter - it slows down your PC a lot.
What is a STANDARD CRUCIBLE RUN?
This guide below is for runs that I call STANDARD CRUCIBLE RUNS 3+1 (which fell out of meta somewhere around 126.96.36.199). That means taking 3 blessings: Blessing of Ulo (for better resistance overcaps), Empyrion’s Guidance (for health) and Might of Amatok (for better offense). The 4th blessing - Ulzuin’s Pact - as it’s mostly taken by builds that struggle with energy but it’s also very useful due to its bonuses to core stats. However, using only 3 blessings allows for resetting your tribute counter to 100 after three runs.
It also means taking Vanguard Banner (for better offense) and placing it in the bottom-left corner of the stage. This has been long proved to be the optimal placing of the Vanguard Banner in the Crucible of Death. I had a discussion lately with another player if it is not time to change this to top-right due to the recent changes in FG (read: healers in 163) but, in short, no. Bottom-left still.
EDIT: Currently (188.8.131.52) the most popular way is 4+3 or 3+4 (number of blessings + number of lvl1 Storm Beacons).
This chapter will include a breakdown of noteworthy enemies in each wave and a short description of strategies that will often lead to optimal clears. However, crucible is still rng. There are mutators. AI screws up. 163 can go south even with the best build. Therefore, this is more of a set of guidelines. Top notch piloting requires reacting to changing conditions. There is no guide to that.
Start the wave by rushing to bottom-left to dispose of the Ugdengolems. They move slowly so - unless you got DoTs - it’s best to make sure they’re all dead before moving on. Then, I like to go north to kill the mobs there, make a curve through the middle killing the plants and finish up with the ranged mobs (ghosts) close to the bottom-right banner spot. This is where we want to finish the wave.
Caraxxus Foul/Fleshweaver Krieg from bottom-right.
- Aggro Fleshwiever. 2) Kill the crabs from top-let (they got a nasty skill disruption debuff). 3) Kill the Basilisks from (they got heal on death). 4) As soon as Fleshweaver is in the banner range we jump him and kill him fast. By the time he’s dead everyone else also should be so.
If it’s Caraxxus then either ignore him and kill stuff from top to bottom (he fast so he’ll always follow wherever you go and die of collateral) or kill him fast before disruptive Crabs or healing Basilisks close in.
Stand in the middle and let them come. But we want to make sure everyone aggroes and keep a bit to the left at first rather than right. Top-right and bottom-right spawn zones often produce ranged heroes. We want them moving towards the middle rather than standing there and shooting outside the banner range.
Kuba/Kaisan from bottom-left, Father Kymon/Bloodlord Thalonis from top-left and Gabal’Thun from top-right.
The first “serious” wave. If it’s Bloodlord, stay 3-4m below to the banner and mash Kuba for a while until Bloodlord gets in the banner range. Then blink to Bloodlord. The others are fast so they will follow.
Allostria/Ishtal from top-right and Keeper of Burwitch from top-left.
Go far to bottom-left and clear the trash there, looking at the minimap to see when Allostria is in the banner range. She’s ranged so she won’t move in unless you’re far enough. Then blink her and kill her first form, switch to the Keeper and you’re done. Don’t kill Allostria’s second form. If it’s Ishtal kill his first form fast before he multiplies.
Two coven witches, Larria from bottom and Janaxxia from top-left, and Stone Basilisk from top-right.
The trick is to stay low south to aggro Janaxxia to banner range (she’s ranged so you can’t cross the banner latitude or she’ll not come close enough) but don’t go too far to the left so that she doesn’t go behind the NPC podium wall. Kill Larria, blink to Janaxxia, kill her and the Basilisk and clean up trash.
Also, you try try to find a sweet spot at the edge of banner range to provoke Laria to teleport there.
Strategy similar to 153.
Another trash wave.
You wanna finish the wave close to the bottom-left spawn zone.
Boss wave: Sentinel from bottom-left, Avris Marrowill/Magrus the Rotting from bottom-right, Lunar’Valgoth from top-left, Igorr/Venarius the Backbreaker/Tomb Guardians from top-right and Okaloth the Messenger/Ekket’Zul from the middle.
Here, the strategies differ due to how different the enemy combos can be. I usually mash Sentinel far to the left so that ranged Avris gets in the banner range and blink her as soon as she moves in. The rest should be already on you. Problem is the slow Igorr. As soon as you see him blink him and kill his first form. The remaining bosses are fast so it’s not a huge waste of time to leave them unfinished.
Or you can start from top-left and make a curve along the edge of banner space down to Avris. Killing her last there lets you start the wave close to bottom-left which is where you wanna be.
Alternative strategy (thx to 1x) is to try and start this wave close to top-right in order to be able to quickly dispose of Igorr’s first form, quickly blink back to banner range and make a curve south -> south-west -> west while killing everything. This way we can start nemesis wave 160 near the banner which is where we wanna be.
Nemesis wave: 2 non-vanilla, 1 vanilla and Galakros the Mountain/The Steward.
The strategy in nemesis waves is hard to break down. Generally try to stay near the bottom-left spawn zone and hope that most nemeses are the fast ones. If there’s Moose or Zantarin keep fighting whoever comes near, and as soon as Zant or Moose get close enough change target and jump them instead (so the fast ones folllow).
It’s good to finish the round as close to Lokarr as possible.
Aleksander from bottom-left, Handarroth from bottom-right and healers from top-right.
The correct strategy is to rush to Alex and try to kill him before the healers close in. For some reason since the release of FG, Alex very often gets a weird tankiness buff in this wave. Sometimes he can’t be killed quickly enough even by the most powerful builds. If you see that you can’t finish him up and healers are already in banner range, blink them, kill them, and clean up.
Mad Queen/Amalgation from bottom-right, Ollivioth from top-right. EDIT: since 184.108.40.206 it’s only Mad Queen, no Amalgation.
You wanna start this wave close to bottom-right due to Amalgation being slow and retarted with aggro. In and out to aggro Amalgation. If it’s MQ then great. Move to the middle and AoE everyone.
Be careful with MQ. She can take out the toughest.
The Fucken Trio wave. EDIT: since 220.127.116.11 there are no healers in this wave (but there are Basilisks so strategy is more or less the same - check for Basilisks and try to kill them first)
Strategy here is debatable. There is a big chance that healers spawn from top-right and heal-on-death basilisks from bottom-right. What I do is I check for the healers first. If it’s no healers then I get back to the middle and try to finish the basilisks first, then the Trio. If it’s the healers, then I like to blink beneath the banner trying to dmg anyone while waiting for the healers move in to banner range. Then I blink back, kill them and finish up the Trio. This wave is very important for speed runs.
Also, some top runners prefer to rush to top-right and dispose of whatever comes out of there first in case they are healers. To make it work you gotta finish 162 close to top-right.
Terrnox from top-left and Valaxteria from top-right.
Repeat the strategy from wave 155 (with Allostria): rush to bottom-left spawn zone to aggro ranged Valaxteria to banner range, blink her asap and AoE. Terrnox follows. As soon as Valaxteria is dead everything else should also be so.
Alternative strategy by Shoot: exit banner range and rush Valaxteria first.
Non-vanilla nemesis from bottom-left, vanilla nemesis from bottom-right, Namadea the Screecher/Sister Crimson from top-right and Bargoll/Brother Segarius from top-left.
Strategy depends on the nemeses. Prioritize the slowest one as soon as they are in banner range. Also, if you roll Kymon’s siblings, have them between you and the banner when you fight them so that they don’t disengage far outside banner range (thx to 1x).
Shar’Zul from bottom-left, Commander Lucius/Father Kymon from top-left and Alkamos from top-right.
Aggro Shar’Zul to the banner meridian. This is important becasue if you fight him in his spawn zone, Lucius will aggro to the NPC podium (similarly to two Coven witches from 156). As soon as you see Lucius in banner range leave Shar’Zul and blink Lucius. Alkamos should already be there, too. Kill all three and clean up trash.
Karroz from top-left.
Another trash wave where you aggro top-right and stick to the middle on the leftish side of things.
If you’re pets start the wave as close to Karroz as possible and kill him ASAP. He got mind control. (thx to Maya)
Trash wave that got no love from the owners of slower PCs. Strategy identical to 167 and other trash waves. This one you want to finish close to bottom-left.
Fleshwiever/Dravis from bottom-left, Theodinn/Korvaak from top-left, Anasteria from bottom-right and Rodalgar+Hagalvar from top-right.
The strategy for this wave has been a subject of many discussions even before FG and the introduction of Korvaak.
Some prefer to fight it out in the middle.
I prefer to dispose of Fleshwiever/Dravis fin his spawn zone first (no risk of Theo/Korv getting stuck on the podium), jump to Anasteria and hope it’s not Korvaak. If its Korvaak drop everything and burst him before he transforms. Fatsos die of collateral.
Nemesis wave: non-vanilla from bottom-left and right, vanilla from top-left and right.
The strategy is similar to 160. Because non-vanilla nemeses are usually faster, we stay south at first and dmg them as much as we can and then we jump north to the slow vanilla nemesis and let the fast ones follow. It’s important not to hesitate to leave banner range, even with southern nemeses still unfinished, especially with Zantarin and Moose.
Here is a pretty solid sub 5-minute run that exemplifies most of the above strategies. Note my errors:
In general, I kept underestimating my DoTs. A few times I didn’t have to stay with the enemies as long as I did.
In 165, I delayed jumping Zantarin who was stuck in bottom-right. On this build with very good DoT I didn’t have to stay with Alex to the end.
I didn’t finish 162 close to top-right to do the “healer check.” And in 163, I didn’t kill Basilisks first. I hoped they wouldn’t die and heal the Trio. They did, and twice.
In 170, I stayed with the Reapers too long. I should have moved north as soon as they were 40-50% health.
These errors amounted to the loss of about 10 or more seconds.
I hope this guide helps the aspiring new builders and brings attestation to the noble art of crucible speedrunning. Crucible has always been, is and always will be the ultimate measure of a build’s strength and a pilot’s abilities in Grim Dawn.
If there are any errors in the breakdown of enemies please don’t hesitate to comment. Also, all comments and alternative strategies are welcome. Thank you for reading.