Grim Dawn masteries class guide
With early access finally over and the full product now available to ARPG fans everywhere (read our review here), it's time to get down into the nitty gritty of Grim Dawn class builds.
The expected skill trees are there, allowing you to advance your character down various branches that on different elements. But where Grim Dawn differs from other games is in allowing you to choose two separate classes.
While it's perfectly acceptable to run a pure single class (focusing on the mastery bar and fully upgrading specific skills), frankly it's more fun to try to find a dual class that works by meshing together opposing skill combinations.
If you find specific skills aren't working with your build or your want to try a different path down the skill trees, don't forget you can un-learn skills at a spirit guide (in Devil's Crossing, the spirit guide Sadhina is found in the top corner of the prison area).
While the front-line fighters tend to do very well in ARPGs, my first class of choice is always the dedicated spellcaster. That's what you get with the Arcanist, who begins the skill tree with a D&D style magic missile spell named Panetti's Replicating Missile.
As you'd expect, the Arcanist otherwise focuses on elemental attacks (primarily ice and lightning). Going down the middle path of the skill tree focuses on these types of spells, but you also have two other options available. The top of the skill tree focuses on empowering your physical weapons and deflecting attacks, while the bottom is all about utility, offering effects that increase your stats, reduce skill cool down times, or slow enemies.
Battlemage (Arcanist + Soldier)
This is the first dual class build I went with, and it offers a lot of combat possibilities, since you'll be effective both at ranged elemental spells and up close combat. There are really two routes to take here: you can either throw in a few of the Soldier's buffing abilities while then focusing mostly on increasing Arcanist spells, or do the exact opposite and throw in a few of the Arcanist's buffing abilities and focus on Soldier attacks.
Menhir's Will and Markovian's Advantage are two great options on the Soldier side for keeping yourself alive during sticky close combat so you can then lob Sky Shards or Supercharged Missiles from the Arcanist skill list. Don't forget about Military Conditioning either, as that's extra health a spellcaster will need.
Sorcerer (Arcanist + Demolitionist)
If you like to make things burn and explode, this is the class combo for you! To get the most out of the class, put all your points into Elemental Balance on the Arcanist side to greatly increase your flaming attacks, with leftover points either going to Inner Focus for the basic advances or Maiven's Sphere Of Protection for the defense.
The vast majority of your skill points should be focused on the Demolitionist side, with the obvious choices being Flame Touched and then the entire Fire Strike through Brimstone path. Taking this route will result in large amounts of fire damage with your normal weapon attack. Flashbang is also a solid utility skill to take for breaking up crowds and debuffing enemies.
The fire counterpart to the Arcanist's ice, the Demolitionist is actually less of a spellcaster and more focused on dealing fire damage with ranged or melee weapon attacks. For good measure, he also has some stunning capabilities and area of effect fire bomb attacks.
Saboteur (Demolitionist + Nightblade)
This is a fun class for combining the fiery mayhem of the Demolitionist with the fast paced, two-weapon style of the Nightblade. If you want to keep the flavor of the Nightblade, of course focus on the Dual Blades, Belgothian's Shears, and Amarasta's Quick Cut skills, as those let you deal loads of damage with two weapons.
Here's where the Demolitonist flavor comes in: pump a full 12 skill points into Vindictive Flame, and toggle it on whenever possible. This not only increases your already impressive speed, but also heals you while you deal extra fire damage. You will be an absolute whirlwind of flaming blades, scything through hordes of enemies.
Pyromancer (Demolitionist + Occultist)
While the Occultist has great debuffs – and you should pick up some of those – the real draw here is combining the Solael's Witchfire skill (which deals bonus chaos damage and increases your attack speed) with the Demolitonist's Fire Strike attack. The Occultist's Frailty skill works very well in tandem with the Demoltionist's fire-based attacks as well, since Frailty reduces an enemy's elemental resistances.
For dual-wielding enthusiasts, this is the class you want to pick first. He can become an absolute blur of motion across the screen, and adding a second class means you'll be augmenting your double melee strikes with additional status effects or elemental damage.
Witchhunter (Nightblade + Occultist)
There are several distinctly different directions to take this combo class, but one that offers some interesting opportunities earlier on is to focus on bleeding damage. Taking Phantasmal Blades and Anatomy Of Murder on the Nightblade side will see you doing impressive bleed damage to enemies, while the Occultist's Vulnerability skill reduces bleed resistance and slows enemies down.
Trickster (Shaman + Nightblade)
At first glance these classes are a bit at odds, since the Nightblade is all about dual-wielding, while the Shaman is all about two-handed weapons, but there are some synergies to be found here if you look hard enough. You'll obviously want to avoid the Brute Force and Primal Strike skill trees on the Shaman side altogether if you are going for a dual-wielder.
Savagery is an absolute must, however, since it lets you build up bleed and lightning damage with every basic melee attack – and you get a lot of them as a Nightblade. When you finally get high enough level, next focus the Shaman side entirely on the Wendigo Totem, which drains life from enemies and heals you and allies. Your Nightblade half, meanwhile, should probably focus entirely on dual-wielding skills and Pneumatic Burst, which increases your speed and offers some extra healing.
Master of hexes and curses, the occultist not only excels at negatively effecting enemies, but also at dealing additional poison, acid, and chaos damage in the right circumstances.
Conjurer (Occultist + Shaman)
Here we are going to actually ignore the debuffing side of the Occultist and instead focus entirely on summoning creatures to fight for us. To get this build started, focus on Summon Hellhound from the Occultist side and Summon Briarthorn from the Shaman side, then pump all your points into any skills that enhance your pets, like Emboldening Roar, Primal Bond, Bonds of Bysmiel, and Ember Claw.
Witchblade (Occultist + Soldier)
This build focuses on two opposing sides, augmenting the Soldier's weapon attacks with the Occultist's unique skills. Solael's Witchfire is an excellent choice, as it will buff your vitality and chaos damage while increasing speed.
Sigil Of Consumption and Destruction are two excellent choices on the Occultist side as well so you have some area effect abilities to bring out. Mixing in the Soldier's Cadence skill will further increase the ability of your regular attacks, and then focusing on Military Conditioning will make you a tank that stays alive much longer.
A catch-all combat class, the Soldier offers everything battle-related that isn't focused on dual-wielding or two-handed weapons. While he has loads of excellent skills, many of his best abilities are focused just on making regular attacks more formidable.
Blademaster (Soldier + Nightblade)
The ultimate melee class, mixing the Soldier's Cadence skill with the Nightblade's ability to dual wield will see you hitting hard and frequently. Zolhan's Technique works well with all the Nightblade's many melee weapon attacks, and from there you can decide whether to focus on burst/area effect skills or more defensive options to tank up and keep your health high.
Commando (Soldier + Demolitionist)
This is another class combo with loads of possibilities depending on where you focus your skills. One interesting option is to go with a pistol / shield mashup. Focus your Soldier skills on Overguard, Shield Training, and Military Conditioning for the strong defense. Then for the Demolitionist choose Fire Strike, Cannister Bomb, and Vindictive Flame, which lets you kill from a distance but stay alive when enemies break through to engage in melee.
A double-purpose class, the Shaman can both serve as a front-line fighter wielding massive two-handed weapons, or serve as a summoner and backup spellcaster.
Warder (Shaman + Solider)
This is one of the few combos where we won't choose Cadence on the Soldier side. Instead the Shaman's Savagery skill will take its place, and it should be maxed out as soon as possible.
To focus on the two-handed weapon aspect, Brute Force and Feral Hunger are excellent options, and at the end of the skill tree, Primal Bond is a great choice for further enhancing yourself. On the Soldier side, Military Conditioning is always a plus for the extra health, while Zolhan's Technique will increase your offensive capabilities when using regular two-handed weapon attacks.
Druid (Shaman + Arcanist)
While you can pull out Summon Briarthorn to make this a mage class with a familiar that fights for you, don't neglect the Shaman's melee combat possibilities. Adding in two-handed fighting to an Arcanist's ranged spells is a killer combination. On the Shaman side, Brute Force, Primal Strike, and Storm Totem work well in tandem with the Arcanist's abilities Maiven's Sphere Of Protection and and Inner Focus.
There are of course many other combos available, and more possible builds even within these combos we presented,. So let us know what you picked and what your ultimate class build looks like!
Still not sure what combo you want to go with? You can use this nifty class mastery calculator to see exactly what any given dual class combination will look like. Stay tuned for more Grim Dawn coverage, with a full rundown of the hidden shrine locations coming up next!