Ultimate Hardcore Spellbreaker- Ice Cold Scoundrel

Build Intro:

Built to embrace the concept of ‘Glass Canon’ to its core. Sacrificing optimal defense for crushing offense, with the aim to break the opposition before they break you. The Ice Cold Scoundrel operates best at medium range where Veil of Shadow can steadily wilt away the lifeforce of foes with its icy embrace. In an instant, the spellbreaker can swoop in with a devastating Shadow Strike to violently assault hardier enemies, while nightfall saps the life of lesser beings- Leaving a stack of bodies to pile up in the wake of the onslaught- as the scoundrel displaces himself out of harm’s way; ready to leap into the fray again within mere seconds, to repeat his violent deeds. Even the strongest foe will fall eventually as they dance the waltz of death with this ice cold assassin ; His superior mobility ensures that he is always seconds away from striking a decisive blow or staying one step ahead of his targets.

Pros & Cons


  1. Excellent and consistent Single Target damage
  2. Excellent Crowd Clearing damage
  3. Significant DoT damage with high frostburn modifier
  4. One of the most mobile class combinations in the game
  5. Engages from all distances: Ice Spikes or Chill Spikes mid - long range / Nightblade skills at melee
  6. Great farming speed and is able to output high damage numbers even at low levels
  7. Satisfying ‘High Risk, High Reward’ playstyle


  1. Operates with a bare minimum of Defensive Ability (24k - 25k range), Low Armor Rating & HP
  2. Mostly Manually activated Circuit Breaker Skills (Mirror of Ereoctes, Blade Barrier)
  3. ‘Glass Canon’ class combo. Tied with most ranged/caster classes in terms of fragility
  4. Requires heavy piloting skill. Live and Die by your own inputs, especially on Hardcore
  5. Cannot ‘Tank and Spank’ for the most part. Hit and Run, or you will die in an instant
  6. Requires some a few high level items to function well even for a budget build
  7. Not recommended as a first character, especially without certain blueprints
  8. Is moderately energy hungry due to heavy skill rotation + chill spikes]

Build attack Combos
  1. Shadow Strike + Displacement (Rift Tear from ‘Emblem of the Riftstalker’ at low levels): Basic hit and run combo. High mobility and high damage.

  2. Shadow Strike + Ring of Steel + Displacement / Rift Tear: Great for Mobbing and leveling at all stages of the game. Situational vs boss fights/heroic monsters, since they can get a free hit as Ring of Steel goes off.

  3. Chill Spikes (Ice Spike from Chilled Steel before level 75) + Veil of Shadow: When it is too risky for a melee engagement, the spellbreaker can ‘dance’ or kite within the effective radius of Veil of Shadow and keep lobbing Chill Spikes / Ice Spikes. Throw in a few Shadow Strike + Displacement combo whenever possible. Useful to note that you can ‘shotgun’ larger enemies with all five chill spikes if you get close enough for substantial damage.

  4. Amarasta’s Blade Burst + Ring Of Steel: The least damaging combo. Reserved for cutting through extremely weak enemies to ensure that your energy levels don’t get too low. Keep moving back and forth / kiting or using displacement / Rift tear to reposition as needed.]


NOTE: Skill point allocation as outlined below corresponds to build number 1. Builds number 2 & 3 were based off respecced skills/attribute points after completion of mandatory story content.


Dual Blades- 1
Amarasta’s Blade Burst- 1
Veil Of Shadow- 10
Pneumatic Burst- 9
Shadow Strike- 16
Breath Of Belgotian- 1
Phantasmal Armor- 1
Shadow Dance- 5
Night’s Chill- 10
Ring of Steel- 7
Blade Barrier- 1
Anatomy of Murder- 1
Ring of Frost- 1
Nidalla’s justifiable Ends- 7
Elemental Awakening- 9
Merciless Repertoire- 9
Circle of Slaughter- 5
Execution- 1
Blade Spirit - 1
Nightfall- 10


Iskandra’s Elemental Exchange- 1
Inner Focus- 10
Overload- 1
Mirror of Ereoctes- 2
Maiven’s Sphere of Protection- 7
Arcane Will-1
Elemental Balance- 1
Conversion- 5
Star Pact- 12

*Skills in BOLD should be increased to the values as stated at the earliest possible opportunity. The earlier you can hit their target values, the better.

*Veil Of Shadow, Night’s Chill, Nightfall & Star pact are four other major skills, so start working on them once the Skills in BOLD have been adequately leveled.

*All other skills can be placed at will. Just take note that Mirror of Ereoctes & Blade barriers are your circuit breaker skills, so pick them up when you get to them.

*Your Spellbreaker WILL be energy starved by following this build pattern, so I suggest using a minimum of two Ectoplasm components. Three if the drain is still quite high. Feel free to go for four if you’d like

Level 2 - 50 Skill Point Allocation

The path I follow. I generally allocate 1 point to a mastery bar and 1 point to a skill from level 51 onwards, then 1 point each to two separate skills after mastery bars for both classes have been maxxed.

Level 2- NB Mastery, Dual Blade, Amatasta’s Blade Burst
Level 3- NB Mastery, NB Mastery, Veil Of Shadow
Level 4- NB Mastery, NB Mastery, Veil Of Shadow
Level 5- NB Mastery, Pneumatic Burst, Veil Of Shadow
Level 6- NB Mastery, Pneumatic Burst, Veil Of Shadow
Level 7- NB Mastery, Pneumatic Burst, Veil Of Shadow
Level 8- NB Mastery, Pneumatic Burst, Veil Of Shadow
Level 9- NB Mastery, Shadow Strike, Veil Of Shadow
Level 10- Breath Of Belgothian, Phantasmal Armor, Shadow Strike
Level 11- Shadow Strike, Shadow Strike, Veil Of Shadow
Level 12- Shadow Strike, Shadow Strike, Veil Of Shadow
Level 13- Shadow Strike, Shadow Strike, Veil Of Shadow
Level 14- NB Mastery, Pneumatic Burst, Shadow Strike
Level 15- NB Mastery, Pneumatic Burst, Shadow Strike
Level 16- NB Mastery, Shadow Strike, Shadow Strike
Level 17- NB Mastery, Shadow Strike, Shadow Strike
Level 18- NB Mastery, Shadow Strike, Night’s Chill
Level 19- Shadow Strike, Shadow Dance, Night’s Chill
Level 20- NB Mastery, NB Mastery, Night’s Chill
Level 21- NB Mastery, NB Mastery, Night’s Chill
Level 22- NB Mastery, Ring Of Steel, Night’s Chill
Level 23- Blade Barrier, Anatomy Of Murder, Night’s Chill
Level 24- NB Mastery, Night’s Chill, Ring Of Steel
Level 25- NB Mastery, Night’s Chill, Ring Of Steel
Level 26- NB Mastery, Night’s Chill, Ring Of Steel
Level 27- NB Mastery, Night’s Chill, Ring Of Steel
Level 28- NB Mastery, Ring Of Steel, Ring Of Frost
Level 29- NB Mastery, Ring Of Steel, Nidalla’s Justifiable Ends
Level 30- NB Mastery, NB Mastery, Nidalla’s Justifiable Ends
Level 31- NB Mastery, NB Mastery, Nidalla’s Justifiable Ends
Level 32- NB Mastery, NB Mastery, Nidalla’s Justifiable Ends
Level 33- Nidalla’s Justifiable Ends, Elemental Awakening, Merciless Reprtoire
Level 34- NB Mastery, NB Mastery, Nidalla’s Justifiable Ends
Level 35- NB Mastery, NB Mastery, Nidalla’s Justifiable Ends
Level 36- NB Mastery, Arcanist Mastery, Iskandra’s Elemental Exchange
Level 37- NB Mastery, Arcanist Mastery, Inner Focus
Level 38- NB Mastery, Arcanist Mastery, Inner Focus
Level 39- NB Mastery, Arcanist Mastery, Circle Of Slaughter
Level 40- NB Mastery, Arcanist Mastery, Circle Of Slaughter
Level 41- NB Mastery, Arcanist Mastery, Circle Of Slaughter
Level 42- NB Mastery, Arcanist Mastery, Circle Of Slaughter
Level 43- NB Mastery, Arcanist Mastery, Circle Of Slaughter
Level 44- NB Mastery, Arcanist Mastery, Inner Focus
Level 45- NB Mastery, Arcanist Mastery, Mirror Of Ereoctes
Level 46- NB Mastery, Arcanist Mastery, Overload
Level 47- NB Mastery, Arcanist Mastery, Inner Focus
Level 48- NB Mastery, Arcanist Mastery, Inner Focus
Level 49- NB Mastery, Blade Spirit, Nightfall
Level 50- Arcanist Mastery. Execution, Nightfall

Constellation Path
  1. Blue Crossroads
  2. Tsunami (Bind to Ring of Steel)
  3. Green Crossroads
  4. Bat (Bind Twin Fangs to Ice spikes / Chill spikes)
  5. Quill
  6. Viper
  7. Murmur (Bind Rumour to Shadow Strike)
  8. Purple Crossroads
  9. Rhowan’s Crown (3 nodes only, bind Elemental Storm to Blade Spirit)
  10. Wraith
  11. Get rid of Blue Crossroads, Get rid of Purple Crossroads
  12. Yellow Crossroads
  13. Lion
  14. Crab (3 nodes only, bind Arcane Barrier to Maiven’s Sphere)
  15. Ghoul (4 nodes only, bind Ghoulish Hunger to Arcane Will)
  16. Amatok (Bind Blizzard to Amarasta’s Blade Burst)
  17. Ultos (4 nodes only)

ONE BONUS POINT (Put it into Rhowan’s Crown for Additional elemental resist OR put it into Crab for Additional Pierce resist)

  1. Spellbreaker, Level 100 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator : The Budget Build
    Attribute points- Physique/97 Cunning/10 Spirit/0

End  2

Build Summary: The go to build you’d be aiming for to finish the main content. Significantly more durable for increased survivability and able to conquer all act bosses even on Ultimate Hardcore. A lot easier to equip item wise, as it relies mainly on faction items. This build is also suitable for Legendary/blueprint Farming on Normal Hardcore Difficulty Shattered Realms, Shard 65 - 66. But if that is too risky, then do Totem Farming on Ultimate Hardcore for legendaries instead.

Build Considerations / tips:

*Slot in Chilled Steel Component into one weapon at Level 5 or above, Bind Ice Spike to RMB. Use this as your ranged ability until Level 75

*Slot in Coldstone Component into the other weapon at Level 20

*Equip Deathchill Relic at Level 35

*Craft Seal of Ancestry Component at Level 75

*Craft Seal Of Night at Level 75. Replace Chilled Steel Component, Bind Chillspikes to RMB

*At Character Level 20, Farm spined cove for two Spectral Longswords. Acceptable Prefixes are Chilled, Superior & Puncturing. Suffix is Frostbite only.

*At Character Levels 50 & 70 seek out secret vendor Benevald in the Blood Grove. Keep resetting (vendor farming) his inventory until you find two suitable Spectral Longswords. Acceptable Prefixes are Chilled, Superior & Puncturing. Suffix is Frostbite only.

*At Character Level 90, vendor farm Benevald for two suitable Spectral Longswords. Keep resetting his inventory until you find two with the prefixes ‘Rimefrost’ or ‘Glacial’. Acceptable Suffixes are frostbite or shattering

  1. Spellbreaker, Level 100 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator : The Endgame Build
    Attribute points- Physique/48 Cunning/59 Spirit/0


Build Summary: The Final ‘Glass Canon Form’. It is highly recommended to use GDStash (Or some editing tool) to make a softcore version of this character if you intend to try out Shattered Realms, Crucible, go Nemesis hunting or fight the Celestial superbosses.

SR SOFTCORE PERFORMANCE- I’ve managed to take this build to SR 76 on Ultimate softcore. Maxed Shadow Strike + Nightfall will make short work of mobs. Playstyle is very mobile and aggressive, particularly with 10 stacks of shattered souls. You’ll be at the mercy of mutators, spawns and map layouts however as this is not a particularly durable build. Good piloting skills is required for this build and positioning/kiting matters, so this is more suited to veteren players.

On a positive note, SR 65 & SR75 feels relatively easy on Normal/Elite, so this is a pretty good class for SR farming.

Shard 76 on Ultimate is as far as I am willing to go due to all the RNG aspects. Look at the link below for fordprefect’s build if you want to try pushing up to SR90

CRUCIBLE SOFTCORE PERFORMANCE- Drastically better performance than SR game mode. Completed Gladiator waves 150 - 169 in 15 minutes. Wave 170 was cleared in only 2:10 minutes. Shadow Strike + Nightfall offers extreme damage, large AoE radius clear, life steal & agile repositioning in one neat package. You can absolutely kite and afford dangerous plays with this setup.

As long as you keep moving around the arena, mobs will be caught up playing tag with you perpetually, Aleksander will miss his meteor all the time if you are alert, and you’ll be able to snipe healers. This build essentially evens out the challenge by allowing you to engage on favorable terms, while escaping disadvantages scenarios with ease.

Tribute allocation follows the 3 + 1 formula (1 maxed out beacon/banner and 3 blessings). I opted for Ultos, Empyrion, and Amatok as buffs & built a fully upgraded stonewall banner.

While I’m missing out some sweet cooldown by not opting for Ulzin’s buff, stonewall banner more than pays for its price with a hearty increase to Defensive ability and a periodic heal which happens frequently enough to offer multiple clutch saves. Fighting Fabius, Korvak or any other tankier foes within banner range will almost always ensure that you have the upper hand.

  1. Spellbreaker, Level 100 (GD - Grim Dawn Build Calculator : PENDING BUILD- The Morgoneth Set Attribute points- Physique /77 Cunning /30 Spirit /0

Summary: A build that is currently WIP ; Potentially superior to build 2 above due to additional damage conversions and resist reductions to Shadow Strike. Will update further once tested.

Mandatory Blueprints/Item checklist

1.Saviour’s Merit (From shared stash. Use an existing character who completed the game to purchase them)

2.Potion of Clarity (From shared stash. Use an existing character to purchase them)

3.Faction Mandates (From shared stash. Again, use another existing character to purchase them)

4.Serenity (Mythical Relic)

5.Deathchill (Transcendent Relic)

6.Seal Of Ancestry

7.Seal Of The Night


9.Antivenom Salve

10.Runebound Topaz

11.Silk Swatch

12.Ugdenbog Leather

13.Enchanted Earth

Optional Blueprints/Item checklist

1.Resistance Ointments

2.Royal Jelly Balm

3.Royal Jelly Salve

4.Royal Jelly Ointment

5.Royal Jelly Essence

6.Ugden Salve

7.Ugden Juice

8.Miss Gazer Man Chest Armor

9.Wretched Necessity Ring (Level 45 version is enough)

10.Ring of Leovinus

11.Explorer Set

Leveling/Survival Tips (Level 1 - 90)
  1. It is very important to use a mandate for each in-game faction along with a Saviour’s Merit for optimal progression

  2. Remember to keep topping up your potion of clarity for best experience gains. Equip Miss Gazer armor (I picked up mine while running Shattered Realms, Normal Difficulty Shard 65 - 66) & Ring of Leovinus at the start if you have it. Look out for suitable +xp medals.

  3. Prioritize Resistances when picking up armor pieces. Damage types and skill bonuses on armor do NOT matter before level 90. Aim to raise all resistances to a bare minimum of 65% in Elite. Stun resist is optional in normal difficulty and can be kept relatively low even on Elite.

  4. Miss Gazer Armor can be used throughout leveling from level 1 - 90 due to its resistance bonuses. As mentioned above, resists matter A LOT. Armor ratings are not so important as this build does not facetank mobs.

  5. By using only Potions of Clarity, you should finish normal mode at around level 70 by doing all side quests and following the main questlines (You should be close to level 80 if you have +xp items). Challenge dungeons can be skipped (Save your skeleton keys for when enemies start dropping level 94 items).

  6. It is not mandatory to complete elite mode. Instead, use this difficulty to level from 70 - 90 in whatever manner you please. Main Quests and Side Quests are most efficient.

  7. Once you hit Level 90, equip items as shown in the link above (The Budget Build) and switch to Ultimate.

  8. It is highly recommended to do only the main objectives in ultimate mode to avoid an untimely death. Kill only when necessary.

  9. Kymon is perhaps the most challenging boss you will face. The fires in his boss room has a certain pattern to it. Use a softcore character (or use GDstash to create a dummy character) and practice taking on Kymon until you are confident enough to fight him on HC.

  10. All three tiers of the royal jelly consumables are stackable with the two Ugdenbloom potions. Use these items together with resistance ointments before tackling bosses to maximize your survival chances.

Post Game Content

This section is for The Endgame Build as outlined above. I repeat again that you strongly should consider using GDStash (Or some editing tool) to make a softcore version of this character if you intend to keep playing.

As of now, I haven’t had the time to test my character for the following gameplay modes:

  1. Elite / Ultimate Shattered Realms (DONE)- 76 Ultimate SR. Doable, but very challenging and torturous. Pray to RN Jesus for favourable layouts, spawns and mutators

  2. Crucible (DONE) (All Difficulties)- Gladiator waves 150 - 169 in 15 minutes / Wave 170 in only 2:10 minutes. This build is not the best in this regards, but it will dominate the arena. See the builds section above for more info.

  3. Celestial Superbosses

  4. Nemesis Hunting- Generally Valdaran is your punching bag, Ben’Jhar is a pushover and I always hunt for Kubra when I can. I tend to avoid the other Nemesis. I have bested Kaisan a few times, but you’d want to do it in a wide open area or somewhere with plenty of room to fall back on,

  5. Roguelike Dungeons-I’ve only really been doing Steps of Torment close to 200 times for the Alkamos rings. Cleared ancient grove once on ultimate and that is about it. Terrible vs Morgoneth in Tomb of the Heretic though, since my piloting isn’t good enough. He slays me more times than I have bested him.

Therefore, please feel free to mess around with a softcore version of the character. Feedback is welcome, as I’m relatively inexperienced with anything past the main story content.

Final Words

It was a fun (but exhausting ride) trying to optimize a Spellbreaker that could clear the story content on all three difficulties without dying once. Overall, I’m very satisfied with my progress and will try out other playstyles for the most part. However, I will continue to mess around occasionally with a softcore version of this character for all the optional content and I might add on to that knowledge here. Anyone is more than welcome to test my build and provide constructive criticisms in the comments section below.

Also, I understand that my decision to sink so many points into the spirit attribute goes against the established meta of the game. But the decision stems from over a thousand hours worth of playtesting I’ve conducted and from these two conclusions:

  1. Spellbreakers are always lacking in defense even when built with more survivability
  2. The skill points invested to dramatically increase defense takes away so much from offense, which initially caused me to think that the spellbreaker was too severely nerfed

Taking these two points into account, the realization hit me that I should absolutely embrace the risks of the ‘glass canon’ playstyle, and make my character the best at what he does; Which is absolutely murdering the living daylights out of everything in the shortest time possible.

Again, Grim Dawn at its core, requires all players to tread a fine line when building their characters. There needs to be enough defense at least…. enough for even a fragile character such as mine to take some hits at melee range. Therefore, if anyone disagrees with my skill allocation or thinks that he needs a survivability buff, then please feel free to tinker around with my build and share your opinions in the comments- After all, Grim Dawn is a deep game with layers of complexity surrounding its mechanics. Even with well over 2000 hours sunk into it, I’m still learning each day, so please offer any suggestions if it might help to perfect the build in any way.

Until then, stay safe and happy hunting fellow Taken!

Other Links:

Morgoneth Cold Shadow Strike Breaker (RektbyProtoss)- Probably the most popular build that was referred to me. I’m no fan of Morgoneth set since the bonuses feel rather lackluster for a cold-focus Spellbreaker, but I guess most might like it (Also, Morgoneth is an absolute B*tch to farm safely on HC ultimate if you only like glass canon characters like me, so I’m pretty much open to alternatives.)

Beginner’s Shadow Strike Infiltrator (banana_peel)- Yes, this is an Infiltrator but I think that it has a lot in common with a Shadow Strike Spellbreaker. The Loxmere Daggers are another set of interesting weapon choices. Personally, I prefer bigger SS damage with Spectral Longswords since I am prone to over-extending myself if the cooldown gets too low and I tend to play Defensively, but I’m putting this as an option here for anyone who wants a more aggressive playstyle.

([] No Set DW Spectral Longsword Cold SS Spellbreaker. SR 90(ish)) (fordprefect)- A good jump off point to further optimize the build for post end game content. A reminder that anything past the main campaign + expansions (eg. crucible, Shattered Realms, Celestial Superbosses) should be done with a softcore character.


Amarasta’s Blade Burst isn’t the core of the build. It’s more of a quick AoE to throw out and fall back. It also seems to proc Blizzard pretty well. I don’t think it justifies the 4 seconds worth of extra damage since my character doesn’t stay up in front for that long.

Also, I had a lack of skill points to work with and other options just had better damage scaling.

Is it worth at least one point though?

:thinking: I’m not sure if Veil of Shadow or Pneumatic Burst are particularly useful when you start leveling, I’d focus on some skills that give you more damage personally. Or maybe you’re using fast leveling strat when you are 20 level instantly and early level point distribution doesn’t apply here.

Should be good, Normal SR is easier than Ultimate Campaign, for real. I find it a good source of blueprints / items when you want to strengthen your character for Ultimate Forgotten Gods for example. And new players have to grind SR anyway to unlock all waypoints so it’s not a waste of time.

I feel like Ice Spike very quickly does no damage not sure if I’d bother at higher levels.

You made me realize I unnecessarily farmed Marris Kas in SoT which is considerably slower because you have to go back to the previous floor on foot and cannot just teleport as in case of Benevald :man_facepalming:

Lol, progress your character faster than they can kill you.

Thanks for sharing your build.

I am also building around this two longswords but my take is a lot different in the departament of Night Blade. Have a look, maybe it will help you improving your own build on the NB side:

Take Care! :vulcan_salute:

ps. I’ve choosen Infiltrator but I will go the same NB route on Spellbreaker. Note that my char is solo self found HC Char, so not every piece of equipement might be optimal… yet :slight_smile:

I did use that build as a reference.

Kind of branched out from it since I kind of put my own spin on things. But I’ll strongly consider testing based on your suggestions. Maybe after a lot more testing on the end game content, and I’ll start switching things around.

Or I’ll just compile the suggestions and lump it into another part for pointers on how to build.

Veil of Shadow + Nightchill is actually pretty important if you rush it imo. Just running about in place pre level 30 is enough to delete mobs especially while your energy regen is not so great at that point.

Ice Spike is actually a pretty good stand in for chillspikes before level 75, since I really can’t find anything better before that level. It’s surprisingly spammable even if I invested nothing into my energy regen. But yes, you’d better not be using this after level 75 since the damage scaling drops off so far :slight_smile:

And as for the final point, Forgotten Gods actually has some heroics I won’t challenge on one life if I could. Heck, even the Sentinel in the base game seems pretty dicey without purples. If you’re going for the budget build I outlined, then picking your battles is the wise thing to do since this character is a scoundrel after all; it is his sthick to engage only with an advantage and back off when there’s no gain from it.

But you don’t have Night’s Chill a first, I’m talking straight up having just Veil of Shadow and Pneumatic Burst :wink: It takes you quite a lot of time to have Night’s Chill:


Dual Blades- 1
Amarasta’s Blade Burst- 1
Veil Of Shadow- 7
Pneumatic Burst- 9
Shadow Strike- 16
Breath Of Belgotian- 1
Phantasmal Armor- 1
Shadow Dance- 1
Night’s Chill- 10

Best of luck in your journey!

I admit, it is tough and I did have quite a lot of wipes in the past, but I’ve taken the budget build through hardcore ultimate on three sperate times for stress testing. I’m pretty damn sure it is solid if I could get three consecutive clears.

All you really need to do is survive to 90 for the faction gear to be unlocked and secure that serenity relic ( you can do without it, but it’ll be double as risky).

If needed then I can craft it for you if you have the materials :slight_smile:

Good point. Maybe my perception was kind of skewed since I did us eXP% increasing items with this character.

To be fair though, I did state that this shouldn’t be a first character in the Cons section so most people would already have accumulated some trinkets of their own at this point.

I mean, I’m all for people trying out my build, but to whomever planning to making this their first and reading this- Please go to the compendium and pick out a beginner build to farm the items outlined in my checklist.

1 Like