SilverAce99's "Return Fire" Crusader

SilverAce99's "Return Fire" Crusader

The Crusader is a stalwart defender, batting aside endless hordes of demonic and undead foes with their massive signature shields. Foes best beware a Return Fire Crusader, as striking this iron wall isn’t just going to sting—it’s going to burn.

About the Build:

Shields, blocking, and generally being a walking impenetrable bastion are at the heart of the Crusader class. Meeting one of these devout warriors on the battlefield implies a certain kind of story. With an unflinching reaction to just about anything that evil can throw their way, they are just as likely to send a packed punch that pays its dues in droves. It’s divine retribution at its best.

Greater groups mean plentiful procs mean multiplicative massacres.

Intrigued and inspired by the concept of Thorns, SilverAce99#1196 was determined to find a way to embody this form of retaliation. The Return Fire Crusader is the fruit of his efforts, “essentially a fire-based Thorns build that does not use Thorns at all.” The key to achieving this is with the Primary skill Punish (Roar) and pumping your Block Chance through the roof. Enemies will regret the day they chose you as a target, finding themselves on the receiving end of endless punishment.

The Skills:

This robust build focuses on a whole lot of self- (and coincidentally group-) buffing that makes a few commonly overlooked Runes shine.

Active Skills:

  • Punish (Roar)
    • Linchpin of the build
  • Shield Glare (Divine Verdict)
    • Short cooldown crowd control to manage your incoming damage
    • Provides a sizeable damage boost for the entire party
  • Steed Charge (Nightmare)
    • Quick escape should you discover you’re in over your head
    • An additional Fire skill that takes advantage of stats you’ll already be stacking
  • Judgment (Resolved)
    • Short cooldown crowd control to manage your incoming damage
    • Provides a sizeable damage boost for the entire party
  • Laws of Valor (Critical)
    • A straightforward damage boost that synergizes well with Judgment (Resolved)
  • Blessed Shield (Combust)
    • Offers a ranged ability for that one escaping demon
    • Area of Effect rune still provides great close-quarters damage, especially in big groups
    • Serves as only Wrath spender in the build

Passive Skills:

Alternative Skills:

  • Provoke (Hit Me)
    • Replaces Steed Charge (Nightmare) or Judgment (Resolved)
    • Adds an additional boost to Block Chance, increasing the damage dealt from Blessed Shield and chance to proc Punish (Roar)
    • Provides a substantial method of regenerating Wrath in large groups of enemies
  • Fervor
    • Replaces Heavenly Strength
    • Should a one-handed weapon suit your needs best, this passive is a must

The Items:

As previously mentioned, this is a flexible build with a lot of room for variation and customizing to fit your needs. It can equally be tailored to the items you happen to have around, and many of the most beneficial items are easy to come by.

All the basics are here, along with some crafted items to temporarily fill out Demetrius' defense.

Core Items:

  • Coven’s Criterion
    • Accessible via Act II Horadric Caches
    • Guaranteed to roll with +11% Block chance
    • Greatly reduces damage taken when blocking, more so than any other shield
  • The Helm of Rule
    • One of only a few sources of bonus Block chance
    • Easy to obtain via crafting
  • Justice Lantern
    • One of only a few sources of bonus Block chance
    • Common item, relatively easy to acquire

Complementary Items:

  • Magefist
    • Bonus source of +% Fire Damage
  • Cindercoat
    • Bonus source of +% Fire Damage
    • Reduces the cost of Blessed Shield (Combust)
  • Maximus
    • Bonus source of +% Fire Damage
    • With creative positioning, additional damage from the fire chain can be quite impressive
  • Depth Diggers
    • Much your damage will come from the explosion from Punish, a generator
  • String of Ears
    • Melee damage reduction helps lessen the sting in the thick of battle
  • Blackthorne’s Battlegear
    • Solid defensive stats are valuable with this melee-oriented build
    • Acquiring the 4-piece bonus is ideal for superior tankiness
  • Countess Julia’s Cameo
    • Eliminates the threat from one of the most dangerous affixes to this build
    • Turns Arcane Sentries into a welcome sight

Alternate Items

Recommended Legendary Gems:

Recommended Stats:

  • +% Bonus to Block double dips toughness and damage, since the damage from Blessed Shield scales off of Block Chance and Punish (Roar) is triggered off of blocking
  • As a primarily fire-based build, any item that gives you +% bonus to Fire Damage will be more than welcome
  • Defensive stats, like All Resistance, +% Life, and Vitality, should be a priority, because you will get hit (in a way, that's the point); you won't get a chance to dish it out in return if you don't survive the onslaught

Recommended Difficulty and Game Mode:

SilverAce has been experimenting with this build in Torment III and IV, ideal for quick bounties and entry level Nephalem and Greater Rifts. I’ve been running this build easily through Torment VI, and it’s sure to become a staple in my repertoire from the norm as I get a few more appropriate pieces of gear. I’m curious to see just how far I can push its limits.

The nature of this build is risky, and I wouldn’t advise jumping into Hardcore without fair warning. If you’re feeling particularly brazen, though, it could prove a fun (if dangerous) experiment!

Why We Like This Build:

The Return Fire Crusader is a wonderful change of pace. It embodies the concept of this staunch warrior of the Zakarum faith, digs into overlooked skills and items, and makes them work. While this is unlikely to be the build you’re clearing top leaderboards with, it’s a fun diversion and satisfies the craving for sword-and-boarding it. It’s also a style that delivers satisfying results; just stack that Block up and watch them melt!

Hey. Hey. ...Stop hitting yourself.

Getting into some of these terrifying situations and coming out on top is a fantastic feeling. I’ve never been excited as a melee hero to run into a pack with Fire Chains, but the constant procs from Punish (Roar) and the ensuing chaos? Totally worth it.

Tell Us What You Think!

What does your disciple of Akarat embody? Do you take monsters head-on or sling divine fury from across the map? Have you ever experimented with a Block-based build? Let us know in the comments!

The new patch brought a few new toys and tweaks to existing builds as we all anticipate the start of Season 2. Got a new build with 2.1.2? Then send it in! We’ll be back next week with our first Wizard build of 2015.