[Warder] Pure RETALIATION, REFLECT, INVINCIBLE, 100k+ DAMAGE, Hardcore Ultimate 100% Done (SF Gear)

[] May I re-introduce to you my lazy Tank/Retaliation & Reflection Oriented Warder - Hetzer, post release update. The no stress, unwaivering, invincible, high damage output, less mainstream build who comfortably completed all quests on all difficulties in hardcore without breaking a sweat using all self found gear. This build was meant for survivability with damage focusing on what’s normally a secondary channel being retaliation and reflect instead of the mainstream weapon/caster builds.

For anyone looking for a safe, less anxious way to advance in hardcore mode on all difficulties with little effort, minimal APS, and no real threat then I would recommend considering this Warder retaliation/reflect build. Plus it’s a great support & tank for multiplayer (though I solo’d from start to finish, not many multi’s on elite, and hardly any on ultimate for hardcore players yet).


Invincible Tank! - Obviously, if you play hardcore, this is a biggy. But this guy simply doesn’t die.

Easy game advancement! - Pioneer higher levels with this guy to get gear for your other crew.

Low End Gear Works! - I beat this game with average gear on ultimate hardcore. Even in these videos it’s still average and because of that there is much improvement to be made.

Low Maintenance! - If you play hardcore than you know you spend a great deal of time watching your health bar and not the game. No need for that with this build!

No Stress! - After you’ve grieved the loss of a high up hardcore character it can be stressful (fun though) playing guys who live on the edge. This guy…is Mr. Safe.

Great Multiplayer Support! - Tank and keep your friends alive! Taunt skills on certain gear keeps the enemy attacking you. I’ve tanked BoC bosses and SoT bosses on Ultimate in Parties of 4. It’s actually easier because their buffs make me stronger and their damage makes it quick work.

Hardcore Ultimate Achievement! - Easy to get with this guy.

Very fast clearing! - Watch horde’s (see linked videos for example) die faster than the normal person can kill them. Why? Because they kill themselves. Other players have to kill all the enemies as fast as they can strike them. This guy kills enemies as fast as they can strike you (which is faster). (Depending on reflect amount, may be some troubles with ranged, see cons).

Lazy Compatible! - Does not require ‘edge-of-chair’ attention. Good for grinding or those easily distracted and multi-taskers. (However, see cons).

Minimal/No Respeccing Needed! - Tank from the start, weapon damage will carry through hardcore veteran. By then you should have some retaliation gear.

Built-in Circuit Breaker! - With Soldier’s Menhir’s Will skill (which requires a shield) you have a built in circuit breaker that heals you when your health drops (as I demonstrated in my fight vs Shar’Zul using subpar gear in the Bastion of Chaos). There are items that grant curcuit breakers like the mercy amulet or alchemist belt and guardian pauldrons. But this way you don’t have to have a dedicated circuit breaker item equipped (though you could for extra protection).

Finally a Use for Those Awkward Items! - Chances are if you have a cool item that doesn’t fit in with the normal builds, it likely belongs here. Not just those that compliment this build, but because this build is so freakin tough you can change a few items out for those weird ones that do weird things and have a laugh (soiled trowsers, gazer man, pretty great pants, etc.)


Feel Like Your Cheating. - This guy is far removed from your normal characters and because he’s invincible and retains high damage through retaliation it’s little to no effort to beat everything in the game (see Royal Hive gameplay video below).

Boring at times. - Take pride in your crafting this build but understand that it’s not very dynamic. Facetanking is your skill. I’ve played chess on my phone while I’ve waited for bosses to die.

Weak vs Ranged (though doesn’t have to be, see tips below). - If you tailor toward more retaliation (which is recommended as 80%+ in this game are melee) you will find a lower reflect means ranged guys who are not damaged by retaliation but only by reflect are slow to die.


Draw near to the enemy - Many ranged enemies will melee you when you’re close (like those bastard skeleton priests and witch doctors).

Get retaliation procs - Items that retaliate (doom bolt, vines, lightning in my build for example, see video) will help kill everyone on the map (not just those in melee range) and compliments your retaliation damage very well.

Collect Retaliation Gear AND Reflect Gear - Retaliation gear is more common and more valuable since 80% of your enemies are melee and retaliation has a much higher average damage output than reflect, but don’t neglect keeping reflect gear. Though more rare, and usually it’s a green item, reflect attributes will make dealing with ranged enemies easier at higher difficulties.

War Cry - If your gear isn’t killing as fast as you’d like. War Cry with it’s 33% reduction to health would be worth 1 point to help speed up the process. Plus this works on ranged.

Have fun! - It’s like going to get your head shave, difficult to screw it up :slight_smile:

Updated Guide! - The next post now has been updated to include a leveling guide.


Hetzer vs Ultimate Hardcore Cronley: https://youtu.be/Q6ughsWNcog

Hetzer vs Ultimate Hardcore Ilgorr (SoT): https://youtu.be/_JEP1efooos

Hetzer vs Ultimate Hardcore Alkamos (SoT Boss): https://youtu.be/-tAQoEmImSU

Hetzer vs Ultimate Hardcore Shar’Zul (BoC Boss): https://youtu.be/zSbDPfPJJS0
(Triggered a circuit breaker here if you want to see how that works).

Hetzer vs Ultimate Hardcore Loxmere Nightmage: https://youtu.be/mt8PMxGmYeQ

Hetzer vs Ultimate Hardcore Loghorrean (End Game Boss): https://youtu.be/KQvqTeyycis

Hetzer vs the Horde (BoC): https://youtu.be/pT9LVbinT-I

Ultimate Hardcore Royal Hive Gameplay: https://youtu.be/_bFZUBBD6i0

Hetzer vs Ranged (Weapon) Gameplay: https://youtu.be/AaWVxMjK5NA (Gear swapped from main gear to reflect gear.)

Hetzer vs Ranged (Caster) Gameplay: https://youtu.be/QYCaU_YfEQM (Gear swapped from main gear to reflect gear.)

Hetzer’s Average Retaliation Gear: https://youtu.be/nwZI-G87wMU

Hetzer’s Average Reflect Gear: https://youtu.be/QYCaU_YfEQM

Hetzer vs Ultimate Hardcore Rashalga, the Mad Queen: https://youtu.be/HFpZK4adB2s



Configuration & Specs:

Stats Page 1 (See stats page 3 with buffs for average damage output through retaliation):

Stats Page 2:

Stats Page 3 (no temp buffs):

Stats Page 3 (with temp buffs):

Skill Mastery 1:

Skill Mastery 2:

Devotion Mastery Part 1:

Devotion Mastery Part 2:

I started this build in Beta and have adapted him with each new patch. More or less he hasn’t changed much and has remained completely viable throughout. Here is the original post from Beta:

This build has plenty of room to be improved on. While I’ve logged a good amount of time, not near as much as some of those on here. All my gear is average but I’ve seen in the item library items that would greatly enhance this build in many ways.

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Skill Progression:

Note: First, this build has a lot of leeway so from levels 1-40 you can pretty much do whatever is fun, at 40 you need to start gearing/respeccing for retaliation/reflect/survival. That said, here is a basic leveling guide should you desire one. This guide is a balance between faster early leveling while still playing it on the safer side.

[Levels 2 - 9] Shaman mastery first and immediately max Devouring Swarm (will be redistributed later, this is for fast leveling) and use it as your primary attack and spam the snot out of it (you’ll need mana potions). You will be amazed at how fast it clears and you won’t likely need to use health potions because of the life steal. You should be able to max this by level 6. From level 6 to 9 level up the Mastery bar of Shaman (remember to never go past Oak Skin [25 points] on the mastery bar).

[Levels 10 - 12] At level 10 choose your soldier mastery. Level up the mastery bar (5 points) to Menhir’s will and put 1 point in it. Remember to keep a shield or a 2 handed weapon equipped or menhir’s will won’t activate as a circuit breaker should you take an unexpected amount of damage. At lvl 12 put 3 more points into menhir’s will, at this point menhir’s will should have a total of 4 points.

Note: Menhir’s will is a circuit breaker. A circuit breaker is an automatic skill that is meant to trigger in the event of something drastic happening, in this case it’s if your health drops to 33% or less. With 4 points in menhir’s will at this stage it will automatically heal you for 30% of your health and offer a nice health regeneration. However, this skill has a long cool down period, if it triggers, GET OUT OF THERE. Wait for the cooldown to reset before engaging in battle again. You never want to face the hordes without your circuit breakers on stand by and ready.

[Levels 13 - 18] Now we are going to switch back to the Shaman line. Level the mastery bar to Heart of the Wild, then put a point in Mogdrogen’s Pact to activate that line, put another point into heart of the wild. Then continue leveling up the mastery bar until you reach Oak Skin. STOP THERE. You cannot regain points that you accidentally put in the master bar so to follow this guide you’ll want to stop at Oak Skin which is 25 points in the Mastery Bar. Put 1 point in Oak Skin and 1 Point in Wendigo Totem. Assign Wendigo Totem to a button you can use frequently and easily.

[Levels 19 - 24] Level up Heart of the Wild and Oak Skin simultaneously until they reach their max rating of 10/10. Oak skin will not only offer armor and pierce resistance but it gives you a very nice retaliation bonus, 108% at max level (This is true in game but grimcalc forgot this attribute of Oak Skin). Heart of the Wild will offer you a generous HP pool of 35%.

Note: Nowhere else in the game will you find such a health % increase as you get with Heart of the Wild. Since Wendigo totem heals based on a percentage, the more HP you have the more it heals you per second!

[Level 25 - 28] Put all points into Wendigo Totem and max it out. Get used to using it when you face tank. Doing so will keep you from ever needing to use potions except maybe in extreme circumstances.

Note: When using Wendigo Totem you and your enemy need to stay near it at the same time. In general I would cast it at the feet of the enemy I was attacking or I would cast it at my own feet for when the horde’s came in. If you and the enemy aren’t simultaneously near the Totem it will not heal you.

[Level 29 - 39] Now we switch back to Soldier to work on the Soldier mastery bar. Level the Soldier mastery bar to 32 points and while you are leveling it, put one point in the following skills as you unlock them. Military Conditioning (if you haven’t already put 1 point in from things such as the skill point quest reward Kasparov in Devil’s crossing gives), Overguard, (use this often when getting swarmed by mobs), Shield Training, Veterancy, Field Command (remember to turn this buff on each time you start your game), Decorated Soldier.

[Level 40] This is a pivotal level. There is a ton of great gear that can be equipped starting at level 40 such as the Perdition set (see Gear section). It’s time to hone in on our retaliation & reflect focus. You’ve probably noticed by this point that Devouring Swarm is not as potent as it was earlier in the game. Take all 16 points out of it and max out your Soldier mastery bar. That should leave you 1 point (assuming you have done the side quest granting the extra skill point), put the extra point into Menhir’s bulwark to unlock it (don’t forget to turn this buff on).

Note: Menhir’s bulwark requires a shield so at this point make sure you have one equipped.

[Level 41 - 44] Max Menhir’s Bulwark. At Max level it gives you a nice 75% Retaliation bonus not to mention 12% damage absorption and some other minor benefits.

[Level 44 - 47] Max Military Conditioning. At Max level it gives you a generous 20% health bonus (on top of the 35% you should have already from Heart of the Wild) and it gives you 18% Physique which adds to your health as well, not only that but it increases your defensive rating which reduces critical attacks against you.

Note: Defensive rating is crucial at higher levels, mainly in Elite and Ultimate. Mine is high enough that I don’t get critical attacked at all from pretty much anything.

[Level 48 - 51] Max Menhir’s Will. Because this heals you based on a percentage, because Oak Skin and Military Conditioning are maxed, this is a huge amount it heals you for! When this circuit breaker activates it virtually heals you completely! For me this means a full 24k health in a time of need. Menhir’s Will at 16/16 points this skill heals you for 65% of your health. Since it activates at 33%, 33% + 65% = 98% health, plus it gives you an insane Health Regeneration per second which will make up the remaining 2% health thus giving you full health when it activates!

Note: By now you are likely in ACT 4 getting close to taking on Loghorrean or the Bastion of Chaos. Before proceeding into either of those I recommend getting your resists up. This is a tanky build and with my resists at 50% I was able to defeat Loghorrean on hardcore veteran without using a single potion. If you can get your resists to 50% you can use potions to bring you to near max resists on everything (see Tips section for more info on resists).

[Level 52 - 64] Evenly distribute points between Field Command, Decorated Soldier, and Scars of Battle until they are maxed. You may decide to start heavier on one than another depending on your resistances need but these three skills greatly increases your armor, defensive rating, elemental resists (fire, ice, lightning), bleed resist, slow resist, stun resist and freeze resist. For 3 skills that’s a lot of beefyness.

[Level 65 - 74] Evenly max Overguard and Shield Training (obviously you need a shield equipped for these to be useful. These two skills greatly increase the effectiveness of your shield blocking a large amount of damage right of the top. Overguard even offers a large health regeneration bonus and damage absorption (on top of the damage absorption Menhir’s bulwark gives you already) so use it often!

[Level 75 - 85] Now for the useful but least important skills of this build, both are focusing on health regeneration. Veterancy and Mogdrogen’s Pact. Max them out but feel free to rob these skills of points if they are needed for other skills (or example, 1 point for savagery and 1 point for graspoing vines) for the sake of proccing devotion and gear skills. I put 1 point into blitz for plowing in and out of crowds.

Devotion Progression:

1.) Crossroads Order (5% health)

2.) Complete Tortoise (Assign Turtle Shell to a permanent buff like Mogdrogen’s Pact)

3.) Crossroads Ascendant (+15 Offensive Ability)

4.) Complete Wolverine

5.) Remove Crossroads Ascendant point (from step 3).

6.) Complete Hound

7.) Complete Messenger of War (Assign Messenger of War to a permanent buff like Field Command)

8.) Complete Crane

9.) Assign 5 points into Targo the Builder, leave 5% armor on leg and Shield Wall skill unchecked.

Note: You may want to get both of these (the 5% armor and Shield Wall skill), especially the skill if you are an active player. Since it only activates on attack and this is my lazy build (meaning I don’t attack) I did not get this skill. I used these two skill points in the lion to get additional health and spirit both of which I desperately needed, health to ensure Menhir’s will would activate and the spirit to allow me to equip top level amulets with high spirit requirements.

Health explained. My health is 24k. Menhir’s will activates at 33%, that means when my health hits 8k Menhir’s will activates and completey heals me. The greatest damage I ever received through the entire game was 7027 by Ultimate Loghorrean. Since 33% of my health is higher than that, I am guaranteed to have Menhir’s will activate and heal me. This is why the higher health pool is needed. For example, if 33% of your health was 6000 and you got down to it and then something 1 shotted you for let’s say, 7000 damage, you would be killed without Menhir’s will ever activating.

10.) Assign 3 points into Scales of Ulcama. This will be the first two that are required that add health, and then the one to the left that adds 6% health.

11.) Complete Ulo the Keeper of the Waters. (Assign Cleansing waters to an attack skill like vines or savagery, can use in harry situations to keep the bad ailements off you since it has 100% chance to activate on attack).

12.) Complete Shieldmaiden

13.) Assign 3 points to Obelisk of Menhir, the bottom middle and the two to the right of that to get the armor and retaliation bonus.

14.) Assign 1 point to crossroads Chaos 5% health and get the first two points in Lion that give health and spirit. (You may want to remove the points from Lion and finish Targo the Builder Instead but see note on #9).

Attribute Points:

[Level 2 - 65] All points in Physique

[Level 66 - 79] All points into Spirit (needed for the best high level Amulets).

[Level 80 - 85] Don’t assign. Keep these available to spend later should you need to meet the requirements of certain equipment (i.e. more spirit or cunning).


This may be the most forgiving, less gear dependant end-game build when it comes to finishing on Ultimate allowing you to fully complete the game even using green and to those who like living on the edge, yellow items.

Your gear priority should be as follows:

1.) Retaliation Damage
2.) Resistances
3.) Armor
4.) Health increase
5.) Reflect
6.) Retaliation Procs
7.) Health Regeneration
8.) Additional Circuit Breakers (Like Menhir’s Will)
9.) +Skills attributes
10.) Shield Damage Blocked and Percentage to Block
11.) Looks cool on your dude
12.) Weapon Damage

Green items will often drop with generous retaliation and reflect attributes so keep an eye out for them. There are also some killer epic and legendary items as well as sets so keep an eye out for them. The perdition set is one of the more notorious epic retaliation sets and you can equip it at level 40. Even two items from this set offer individual acid retaliation attributes as well as a set reward that increases acid retaliation damage. If you have the entire set there is no reason you can’t beat the game on normal veteran.

As far as BiS gear (Best in Slot), it really depends on the synergy between your items. One arguable BiS combo might be the following. Keep in mind I don’t have half of this equipment and I still finished all 100% of all difficulties, map clearing, quests and side quests.

Potential BiS Gear for HC (but not needed, see above):

Chest: Dread Armor of Azragor.
Legs: Thornhide Legguards
Amulet: Avenger of Cairn (better than the completed Dawnbreaker’s set bonus)
Off-hand: Dawnbreaker’s Duty
Main-hand: Dawnbreaker’s Sledge
Shoulder: Dawnbreaker’s Shoulderguard
Belt: Thorn Girdle of the Misty Glade
Medal: Markovian’s Stratagem
Helm: (still searching)
Arms: (still searching)
Boots: (still searching)
Rings: (still searching)
Relic: Menhir’s Bastion


Early on I would get Sanctuary (lvl 25), then Fortress (lvl 35). Make use of the Fortress skill. Then when you get high enough level Citadel (lvl 60), and after that Menhir’s Bastion (lvl 70). Reckoning (lvl 60) offers good retaliation but the survival benefits of the others outweigh the retaliation bonus in this case. Actually I would say Fortress is better than Reckoning, even at higher levels.

The items above might be ideal but I completed 100% of the game on hardcore on all difficulties with less than perfect gear, listed below.

The items are also shown in my gear video above but here are the screenshots.

Main & Off Hands:



The gear above is my primary gear. 80% of your enemies are melee and therefore I have retaliation damage as my primary and reflect as my secondary. Retaliation damage is much more powerful on average than reflect and it has a base damage amount and therefore can be beefed up as you see on my guy here. Reflect is only as powerful as the damage dished out by the enemy. From what I’ve observed it seems the formula to calculate damage reflected back is basically [their damage] x [reflect percentage] - [enemies resistance to that damage]. Where retaliation does a flat amount of damage indicated in your character’s retaliation damage list (character tab 3) and therefore can be beefed up, reflect gear is dependent on the enemy. As you can see reflect clears ranged adequately (even in Ultimate) but not as quickly as retaliation does vs melee. Since 80% of the monsters are melee, I would recommend retaliation being your primary as well. Plus, there are more creative retaliation items in game than reflect and they allow your build to have more options, procs, resistances, armor, etc. I’ve pictured the retaliation gear I used in the images above as it’s my primary. If you wish to see my reflect gear in action view the video listed above under Reflect Gear or click here: https://youtu.be/QYCaU_YfEQM At the end of the video I highlight my gear so you can see each individual item and specs.

1 Like

I am new to the game and world, but a tank build is what I was looking for. It looks like you have done great research. Looking forward to doing this.

Looks great. Ever since 1.04 D2:LoD Thorns buff, I’ve loved retaliation builds. Unfortunately, my first retaliation build for Grim Dawn was a resounding failure. Glad to see it’s actually viable.

Nice one! Saved my crusade :D.

I playing Grim Dawn for some days now and looking forward for a “crusader- build” compared to Diablo 3.

Most of the time I playing thorne crusader build in Diablo 3.

I started with soldier/demolist -> commando ( lvl 30) here in grim dawn.

After some searching I found this new post here.
I give it definitely a shot and start from new now!

I don’t feel very familiar with grim dawn so I try this build in Softcore :slight_smile:

Just reporting about my experience with your build in the future.

Should you go soldier or shaman to start off?

Edit: what I mean is, level wise should I focus on soldier and ramp up being able to tank straight up first or should I go shaman for max ent (yes I know that’s not what it’s called) first then respect afterwards?

Is Shaman absolute must?

Nah Demo is viable too. Temper + BWC(transmuted with agonizing flames maxed for resist reduction) + Blast shield. IMO the highest potential for retaliation damage is a combination of demo and shaman, although the one I have made hits much harder than the one in this thread it can also be killed if you don’t take care.

I love this! I’m going to try it :smiley:

I’m guessing I’ll need to start off with the Shaman Mastery first, as it has the only offensive skill (Savagery) and I’ll need that to kill things in the beginning.

Then I just need to start collecting gear with Retaliation on it.

It doesn’t matter though I would recommend soldier first since menhir’s will is an early skill. It would be good to have that circuit breaker right off the bat especially if playing hardcore.

Actually no. I did this first with night blade/soldier as I liked having blade shield (I abandoned it at lvl 70 when I saw Shaman as a more desirable alternative, the blademaster retal guy is now my legendary item mule lol). Shaman has two primary great features, mogdrogen’s pact which gives great HP and armor not to mention another 108% retaliation damage, the wendigo totem which constantly heals you for a percentage of your health (and since health is high, that’s a lot of healing every second). Demo is a viable alternative and offers retaliation buffs too but HP won’t be as high.

Soldier is the best primary mastery, for a second mastery I think the build is still viable with any but it may not be as tanky though there is equipment to make up for that better than what I’ve found.

Regular attacks hold great until 40 (and maybe after) but at 40 I had parts of the perdition set (lvl 40 requirement) and just 2 of them will offer impressive acid retaliation damage, if you have the entire set or most of it then you will see guys fly up in the air from the amount of damage they take from hitting you.

Have fun!

Aha! I’m glad I checked back. I’ve just started my new character and I was going to choose the Shaman Mastery first, but now I see I should select Soldier.

Just a quick question, what should I spend my attribute points on? Should I pump all points into Physique?

If you’re going to do a build like mine then yep all physique except about 10-15 points though, I put those into spirit. The mastery bar gives you decent cunning but it’s lacking on spirit so I put 15 points into spirit which opened up a large group of items I couldn’t previously equip such as the amulet I’m wearing. I abandoned weapon damage altgether. If you want to do some active damage (a hybrid that’s not full retaliation or reflect), then you may want to spread your points out further. However it lowers your HP and DA. I didn’t show it in my stats but I pretty much don’t get critical hits against this guy because of his high DA.

I was thinking occultist as a secondary class would give the highest clear speed with Fevered rage. Or would that be too dangerous?

If you have the gear to off-set the lower HP than it may be ok. Occ is one of the lowest HP classes (if not the lowest?) but honestly, with the soldier it may be a great combo as you’ll still have the circuit breaker (menhir’s will) in place. It just might trigger more.

I would recommend arcanist over occultist if you want a mage class. Some good reflect and damage absorption there and it still gives you skills to play with to help clearing.

I’m not seeing the retaliation damage on the tool tip in game or on the skill calc.

I’m incredibly lazy (that’s why your build appeals to me :smiley: ). So once my retaliation is high enough, I probably won’t bother to attack things anymore either.

I do have another quick question though, what about components? Is there anything in particular I should use? Is there by chance a component with Retaliation damage?

Cheers Squib (I’ve just hit level 6 and haven’t had to drink a potion yet :smiley: ).

I noticed that too but it is. Here’s the screen of mine:

LOL glad I’m not the only one who enjoys a lazy build.

There is some great retaliation components which I used until I reached ultimate, then I swapped some for those with resistances.

I wasn’t specifically going for a Mage. My thinking is that since our damage mostly comes from them hitting us, the +150% total speed and reduction to their DA might be really good. The concern for danger was in them also getting more OA and total damage…possibly enough to kill us? I don’t have a high level character to test this out on. It’s not an issue in lower levels if you out gear the content though.