[WIP] Beginner's Lazy Battlemage Diary


Sup guys, as some of you might know already there’s a community league that begins today, and I decided to participate in the HCSSF part of it so that I could, you know, snap “league starter” on my build, which would be quite badass. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve chosen this Battlemage to be my starter character. Battlemage isn’t a particularly good class and this build is expected to have mediocre single target damage, but as I’m not going to use it to clear high end league achievements it doesn’t matter. It’s simply a build for farming on Hardcore half-asleep – layers upon layers of defense, with playstyle dumbed down to “blitz in, hold a button”.

The diary format is not how I normally do things, but I’d like to promote the community event a bit. You can still sign up!

Grimtools (theorycrafted)


As said in the introduction, test character was levelled as a first, “starter” character in of Grim Dawn HC SSF league. League has some special greenhouse starter conditions (with exp potions and difficulty unlocking merits), and while I did use it to my advantage a bit to save time, I still been mostly keeping up to my normal progression.

The initial game plan was to start on veteran (fool’s difficulty, but I wouldn’t be Stupid Dragon if my builds weren’t foolproof), rush it with classic Soldier Forcewave levelling to the end of Ashes of Malmouth campaign and get Fleshwarped Core there, then switch to Callidor’s Tempest, go Elite and reach Malmouth again in a speed I’m comfortable with, farm Krieg set there. After that it’s just grind levels and reputation.

The considered alternative was levelling early on with Lightning Nova and Empowered Lightning Nova instead of Forcewave. While it has some allure because it’s very similar to Callidor’s Tempest I didn’t like that I’ll have to look for lightning two-hander to make the best out of it (which means visiting Forgotten Gods campaign for Korvan Storm Halberd, which is quite a detour in the original plan. In contrast for Forcewave pretty much any two-hander is good enough, and Obsidian War Cleaver could be commonly found along the way. There’s also that it makes more sense to push Arcanist for Star Pact when playing with Lightning Nova, while the goal - Fleshwarped Core - means I want to push Soldier instead for Menhir’s Bulwark.

In the end I decided that some extra similarity isn’t worth the hassle and it’s better to just use the superior levelling method so that I can play the real deal sooner.

Callidor’s Tempest is unfortunately still an absolutely garbage skill when it comes to early levelling. While it’s available early on it’s energy cost is pointlessly prohibitive until around level 30 at the very least, making it a classic example of a noob trap.

Levels 1-20

Start with Soldier. Early on you can level by just picking a random rifle and shooting everything, but you should prioritize getting the 2H melee weapon and rush Forcewave with Tremor. A good pickup you can do even at level 1 is Hevill’s Greatsword (map, it’s lightning-biased sure, but at this point it doesn’t matter, you just need any two-hander. Suggested by-level path:

2 to 5 1 point into Soldier Mastery Bar, 2 into Forcewave
6 3 points into Soldier
Kasparov Tremor, assuming you’ve already got 2H Melee stick
7 3 points into Forcewave
8 to 11 2 points into Forcewave, 1 point into Soldier
12 1 point into Soldier, 2 points into Rending Force
13 to 17 2 points into Soldier, 1 point into Rending Force
18 3 points into Rending Force
19 2 points into Rending Force, 1 point into Internal Trauma
20 3 points into Soldier

This is an optimal variant tested many times, same one I’ve been using in my Deathknight guides. To rush veteran difficulty I need high AoE damage capable of obliterating enemies, which is why skill progression looks like that. It balances out damage and defense, which comes in the form of health from mastery bar, just right. And when it comes to Forcewave it’s better to focus damage because lack of defense can be easily compensated with piloting techniques, such as stutter step.

There’s a stone golem boss (Ancient Shambler by name) in the Flooded Passage that drops Shambler’s Heart. It boosts Forcewave quite a fair bit. Chance to drop is 50%, so it’s probably a reasonable time investment to farm this one so that the rest of the levelling was more smooth.

Once you rescue the Blacksmith craft a couple of Scaled Hides and Wardstones. Unfortunately there are no weapon buff components for physical damage, so if you’re looking for what to put into your weapon I suggest Purifier Salt.

Levels 21-35

Work your way to 50 points in Soldier’s mastery bar and get Oleron’s Rage maxed. Yes, Oleron’s Rage for now. Menhir’s Bulwark is a totally inferior exclusive skill unless it’s boosted via skill modifiers. After that invest into Field Command. Field Command is an amazing source of stats, especially it’s armor increasing part is very welcome. I don’t want to be keeping a close eye on my gear updates when levelling, the extra armor serves just that.

Level 35 is where you get access to your first faction gear, usually Devil’s Crossing and maybe Rovers. Devil’s Crossing is more or less guaranteed as I’ve never failed to reach Respected by 35, whereas for Rovers it’s possible but will require some detours to ensure, which I don’t think is necessary as Rover’s gloves and boots get outdated really fast.

Overall Devil’s Crossing chest, shoulders and helm are all decent stepping stones if there’s nothing better so far. Devil’s Shoulderguard will provide extra damage via +2 to Forcewave while Devil’s Headguard provides %damage and an interesting proc. As for the chestpiece I usually prefer Devil’s Cuirass because the second half of vanilla campaign is all Chthonic, so chaos resistance is very welcome. Last but not least, a Devil’s Cord blueprint can be bought, craft one for easy +1 to all skills in Soldier. If you have Respected reputation with Rovers already then you should also get the Restless Remains blueprint from them and craft one. It’s very good for Forcewave especially and will serve you well once you switch to Callidor’s Tempest too.

Boosted by Field Command this gear should be enough to get one into late 40’s safely, provided adequate piloting skills.

Levels 36-50

Transition levels, since the first tier of Fleshwarped Core is level 40 and it’s very much possible to reach Malmouth before 50. The most reliable way of getting a Fleshwarped Core is to rescue Hyram and use the shop reset gimmick. You need one with casting speed and preferably non-detrimental prefix.

Open Arcanist and push it to 32. The goal is to have Mental Alacrity by the time you’re switching to Callidor’s Tempest. It’s a very energy hungry skill and Mental Alacrity is de facto one of it’s enablers.

The reason Mental Alacrity is so good is not only -% energy costs helps you directly, which is even more efficient if you use Arcane Lens to get more of it, but extra energy pool also helps you with energy management because you have a larger buffer so to speak, and it also makes your energy potions more efficient since these recover a percentage of your maximum energy.

The respec procedure itself is very simple.

Before After
16 points in Forcewave 16 points in Callidor’s Tempest
12 points in Oleron’s Rage 12 points in Menhir’s Bulwark
12 points in Rending Force 12 points in Inner Focus
  1. Crossroads (blue)
  2. Eel
  3. Remove Crossroads (blue)
  4. Crossroads (green)
  5. Scholar's Light
  6. Kraken
  7. Imp
  8. Hawk
  9. Remove Scholar's Light
  10. Widow
  11. Jackal
  12. Ghoul
  13. Revenant
  14. Sailor's Guide
  15. Spear of the Heaven
  16. Aeon's Hourglass
  17. Dying God (3 points)

An oldschool-ish aether devotion setup, getting Imp because a global 100% fire to aether conversion is just too juicy to pass up. Not completely sold on Hourglass proc because it doesn’t seem to me like this build will need it, but we’ll see, after all the build does have a quite noticeable layer of cdr defence.

Proc bindings:


Endgame Items & Farming

Weapon - Fleshwarped Core (GT Link)

  • By far the easiest way to get it is to shopfarm Hyram using shop reset gimmick.
  • Must have %aether and casting speed. Ideally “of Shattered Reality”.
  • The absolute fantasy version would be Aetherfire Fleshwarped Core of Shattered Reality.

Chest - Krieg’s Chestguard (GT Link)

  • Drops from Fleshweaver Krieg
  • Player must be level 75+
  • Can farm on Elite, Ultimate and maybe Normal as well (didn’t test). Recommended on Elite.
  • Ideally max roll on physical resistance (4%)

Head - Mythical Maw of Despair (GT Link)

  • Craftable, blueprint is a random world drop, farm totems or SR.
  • Budget placeholder is Krieg's Mask
  • The closer to max rolls the better, can recraft for better rolls. Craft with Angrim, probably.

Shoulders - Krieg’s Shoulderguards (GT Link)

  • Drops from Valaxteria
  • Player must be level 75+
  • Can farm on Elite, Ultimate and maybe Normal as well (didn’t test). Recommended on Elite.

Gloves - Krieg’s Grip (GT Link)

  • Drops from Valaxteria
  • Player must be level 75+
  • Can farm on Elite, Ultimate and maybe Normal as well (didn’t test). Recommended on Elite.
  • Ideally max roll physical resistance (4%)

Boots - Krieg’s Boots (GT Link)

  • Drops from Terrnox
  • Player must be level 75+
  • Can farm on Elite, Ultimate and maybe Normal as well (didn’t test). Recommended on Elite.
  • Ideally max roll on physical resistance (4%)

Leg Armor – Mythical Legwraps of the Tranquil Mind (GT Link) or Mythical Arcane Harmony (GT Link) or Mythical Wraithborne Legwraps (GT Link)

  • All of them random drops, all have their pros and cons. Arcane Harmony looks slightly better because the build is short on Defensive Ability a bit, also it's craftable so can be made even better with crafting bonuses.
  • Budget placeholder is Solael-Sect Legguards
  • . Drops from Guardian of Solael.

Belt - Chains of Ygraad (GT Link)

  • Drops from Watcher Ygraad who spawns in [Port Valbury](https://www.grimtools.com/map/markers/bosses/11733)
  • Got nuts farming these. Ideally with Dread Lord's prefix.

Rings - Magelord Signet (GT Link) and Magelord Band (GT Link).

  • They make up a blue set, so you can use Transmuter and provided you have a great deal of Iron (like 3-4 millions) you're pretty much guaranteed with them.
  • Moreover, because that's a two-piece set you can use same-set piece transmutation to convert one into another, until you perfect out the rolls on them. But that procedure is going to be quite a bit more expensive because it requires Eldritch Essence.
  • A more budget alternative would be Malmouth Aetherblaze (GT Link), which is a faction gear piece bought from Malmouth Resistance quartermaster.

Amulet - Malmouth Warped Pendant (GT Link)

  • Faction gear, bought from Malmouth Resistance Quartermaster once you have Honored with them.
  • Mythical Arcane Shard of Agrivix as a less budget alternative.
  • Another alternative is some variant of Conduit of Arcane Whispers, any would be fine as long as it's conversion won't mess up your build.

Medal - Mythical Mark of Anathema (GT Link)

  • Standard CT build medal, is craftable and blueprint is a random drop.
  • Craft with Angrim to make it even better.
  • A budget placeholder would be Wendigo Tainted Mark ([GT Link](https://www.grimtools.com/db/items/7554))

Relic - Agrivix’s Malice (GT Link)

  • Blueprint is a random drop.
  • Completion bonus doesn't matter that much. Ideally the +1 to Overload and Inferno one, but no point to sweat over it.


Once done.


Day 1.

First I’d like to say that I settled on throwing away all the league freebies (mandates, exp potions etc). Freebies are for the weak.

Finished Act 1 Veteran in slightly less than a hour:

Levelling-wise no surprises, decided to take Blitz to speed things up a bit and that’s all.

Technical surprises:

  1. As of now the HCSSF version of a mod simply deletes the items if your inventory is overfilled. This should be fixed soon.
  2. Since the league is happening in a special mod the character is tagged as modded, so Grimtools does not allow to upload it directly. The solution is to make a copy somewhere (I copied into my non-modded save folder) and use GDStash to remove the “in mod” flag from that copy, then it can be uploaded to Grimtools.

Current character: Beginner’s Lazy Battlemage


Cronley in 1 hour 28 minutes

PROTIP: always choose the “keep some of the crystal for yourself” on Hardcore, you never know when you’ll need that aether cluster.

Speak of the Devil…

A harsh reminder that having a dedicated hotkey for heath potion is NOT a good reason not to have it on the skill panel when it comes to HC, because you’ll have little idea whether it’s on cooldown or not.


Battlemage is my favourite HC class. Scars of Battle and Conversion + frozen heart in your rings gives you alot of CC resistance.

It does have a in impressive defense in general, the problem is damage. And Grim Dawn has a sort of balance when having higher damage means shorter fights and better sustain.

I’m kinda betting on procs, spirit dump + racials in my setup.

I agree, I was about to ask you , since you only get -35% Aether RR , let us know how the single target damage is in your conclusion. Would a Haunt relic be better for that -8% Aether RR?

Worth considering actually!
But probably not, Agrivix proc is very strong.


Just get “of the abyss” suffix on the weapon :wink:

Good thing with Haunt relic is that the proc also makes life steal stronger and has some fumble and stuff (or at least used to have?).

Nah, should be “of Shattered Reality”. Prefix doesn’t really matter but “of Shattered Reality” is stupid good hands down.

If it was really that good elitist builders would had used it in their builds nonstop :slight_smile:

You mean Duchy? :scorv:

But Elitist builders does not make Battlemage meme builds :zantai:

Not speaking for Battlemage in particular, after all it’s an Arcanist relic, and for CT builds Agrivix became a staple despite seemingly remarkable active ability of Haunt.

I’m willing to give it a benefit of doubt since it’s a battlemage without RR, but overall I’m sceptical that 8% RR will outweight a 350 flat aether damage proc with low cd that can even hit enemies multiple times.

Just in case anyone is interested in specifics of why I consider early levelling with Callidor’s Tempest to be a silly noob trap.

Skill Damage output Energy Consumption Comparison
Fireblast 20% WD, 56 flat, 42/s DoT 18
CT 2/16 14% WD, 26,5 flat 20 Energy cost parity – twice less flat damage vs Fireblast
CT 5/16 18% WD, 57 flat 32 WD/Flat Damage parity – 50% higher energy cost vs Fireblast
Lightning Nova 22% WD, 70 flat 25
CT 7/16 22% WD, 78 flat 40 Rough damage parity – 60% higher energy cost than Lightning Nova
Greater Fireblast 28% WD, 110 flat, 75/s DoT 32
CT 10/16 28% WD, 109 flat 52 WD/Flat Damage parity – 60% higher energy cost than Greater Fireblast
Empowered Lightning Nova 30% WD, 133 flat 55
CT 12/16 32% WD, 131 flat 62 WD/Flat Damage parity – 12% higher energy cost than Empowered Lightning Nova
Spam Forcewave 16/16 112% WD, 171 flat 15 Good damage while being dirt-cheap to spam
CT 16/16 40% WD, 176 flat 82 Same flat as Forcewave but less WD, 550% higher energy cost

As you can see, Callidor’s Tempest consistently requires more energy for the same damage output as alternatives.

One can argue that, duh, it’s Arcanist, you shouldn’t have any issues with energy. This is bullshit.

For starters that means I have to invest in both my only damage skill and ways to salvage the energy situation, while if I use components the skillpoints basically go into acquiring even more damage, or these skillpoints can go simply into mastery bar, which ironically will make component skills even more cheaper to use, because the bigger your energy pool the more efficient your energy potions become.

Next, Arcanist has three direct ways to improve the energy situation – IEE, Arcane Will and Mental Alacrity.

IEE won’t help you because actually you can’t steal energy from enemies that don’t have it, and with current UI you can’t even tell which enemies have it and which don’t. Moreover, that energy steal is scaled down by %WD, meaning that the impressive 56 energy/s at 12/12 IEE will be 40% of that value at best. Ideally you want to hit multiple energy-leechable targets, but that condition isn’t met more often than it is. And last but not least, such heavy skill investment would mean that you have low energy pool to serve as a buffer, and IEE’s energy reservation will chip at it even more.

This is what playing with 12/12 IEE and 16/16 CT at level 15 looks like:

The only thing that really helps is Mental Alacrity, because not only it cuts the cost a great deal but in also increases your energy pool, meaning you’re less likely to run out of energy mid-fight and your energy potions are more efficient. Moreover, once Ectoplasm comes online the +20% energy pool bonus obviously synergizes remarkably well with Mental Alacrity. But that’s it – with Mental Alacrity requiring 32 points in Arcanist and Ectoplasm not dropping commonly before around level 18-20 the energy cost of CT isn’t something easily manageable. Not like the damage output was worth such hassles too.


A minor setback.

It’s remarkable how even after 4k hours there’s still things that can catch me off guard.


What happened?

Turns out the red crystal that Thall’Nosh summons can twoshot almost any character on veteran if chaos resistance is low. Moreover it’s absolutely non-dodgeable since it’s a homing attack, similar to those aether crystals have. Usually I have at least 50% resistance or so by the time I encounter him, so it caught me completely off guard.


that lession my current - luckily softcore - character also had to learn the hard way [well, 12% chaos res]. My first hardcore experiment ended at a totem (gargantum heros - some kind of ground effect and bone trap) with level 35 …

I had 8%.
For some reason I thought Thall’Nosh is a mostly safe boss as long as I dodge his pools and don’t melee him up. I was wrong. :frowning:

Funny, that makes him a pretty much stat check boss.

Isn’t it same with Zaria? You should have seen the damage from crystals while entering the Darkvale, or you killed her before spawning them?

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I skipped her. :upside_down_face:

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Jump back into the saddle again dragon!

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This will be an interesting read.

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