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Old 08-17-2017, 01:20 AM
MalVeauX's Avatar
MalVeauX MalVeauX is offline
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Posts: 58
Default [] "Zero to Hero" Storm Totem Warder, a Tank Caster

Hey all,

I really enjoy doing casual builds and playthroughs to test them out, without any requirements or pre-found-equipment. Zero to hero, so to speak.

(Current as of 8/16/2017, Patch

Zero to Hero

The goal is to start with nothing and require nothing. This is to promote play without requiring special gear or anything specific so that literally anyone can take the idea and run with it. The only things used are what is found through the entire play through only on this character. The only exception I made is that if you have access to Writs for faction reputation, use them! And of course, if you already have amazing equipment that would be useful for this kind of build, by all means, use it! The purpose of zero to hero is simply to show that a build can work without anything specific beyond the skills & concept.

Storm Totem Warder, a Tank Caster

To do this first rendition of a zero to hero build in the current Grim Dawn patch ( as of this writing), I selected Storm Totem as the basis of the build. The reason is because it's considered a support skill, and in the past was not very popular. It has been buffed to attack more frequently, and getting lots of lightning damage equipment is easy in the game, along with general synergy within the Shaman and Devotions allows for the potential to carry Storm Totem from support to main skill. This build reflects that.

So, if you're interested in a casual no-requirement Storm Totem Warder (Shaman & Soldier) as a caster tank, this may be worth a little read.


Progression Thread; the Origin of this Build:

While playing through and figuring out the build and play style, I kept a progression log that shows where I was, what the game play looks like, the choices I had to face, the re-spec, skills, devotion ideas, with input from others. This write up will be based on how the character ended up at level 85 after completing the full Ultimate quest line and 150 waves of Crucible for good measure, just to say it was able to do it.

This contains screenshots and game play in general stuff if you're more visually oriented or just interested to see how it all worked out.

My progression thread for records if interested: http://www.grimdawn.com/forums/showthread.php?t=55293

And a big thanks to everyone that commented, helped or had advice along the way: Pyroscar, TZ Tz, Verdict_MJB, Drizzto.


Grim Tools for Final Build:


That link will show my final equipment that I found while playing, components, augments, resistances, life, skills, devotions, etc.

To summarize however, the idea is to focus on lightning damage from the Storm Totem, support damage from Maelstrom (Wind Devils) and Devotion Procs (Tsunami, Spear of Heavens, Reckless Tempest). Mean while, the character is meant to be tank-like so heavy armor, shield, and lots of defenses. A tank caster.

The build is very much like the "Cleric" of D&D's past days, where you had a heavy plate wearing caster that dropped lightning and healed and was a one-man-army. This Warder is essentially that, if you ever enjoyed that approach to the game(s).


Playstyle & Gear Suggestions

The general style of play is to basically drop a Storm Totem, then lock up a mob with Gasping Vines, cast Wind Devil, drop a Grasping Vines again, then drop your 2nd Storm Totem. This is the same for mobs & heros or bosses. Trash mobs melt. If you are facing things with lots of resistances or really high health and you take damage, that's when you use Wendigo Totem to heal and use Overguard to become super durable for a bit.

The Storm Totems do most of the work. Reckless Tempest is attached to Storm Totem and if you push your offensive ability high enough, you will get criticals more often and Tempest will proc. It's another large AOE with duration that deals lots of lightning damage and stuns.

However, Grasping Vines also does a ton of work and can be spammed. I attached Tsunami to Grasping Vines so that not only will it control a mob, deal minor damage, it deals pretty good area damage and will proc every single time in a huge 12 meter AOE dealing main hand damage, cold damage, lightning damage and frostburn. This combination lasted from normal to end of Ultimate and I use it in Crucible. It just does so much of everything that I kept it. It will proc every time with Vines, so every 1.2 seconds this can occur if you wish.

Spear of the Heavens is attached to any passive, and it procs all the time at 50% chance, dropping high damage lightning with stuns and main hand damage on top of that in a smaller AOE; in a trash mob fight, you will see it drop every second.

* Cast Storm Totem
* Cast Vines (Tsunami will proc every time, massive AOE damage to whole mob, slows them, combats regen)
* Cast Wind Devil (if you have it yet)
* Cast Wendigo Totem (if you need to); Use Overguard as needed when really surrounded
* Cast Vines again
* Repeat

Vines will fill in the gap between Storm Totem & Wind Devil casts. Remember Vines is controlling mob movement, but equally important it's procing Tsunami which is doing lots of damage in an AOE every 1.2 seconds if you want, and it really does add up, and it really is still useful all through Ultimate. This is your spam spell.

If you get in a jam, you have a lot of tanking ability with your shield, shield mastery, overguard, menhir's will, turtle shell, wendigo and a big life pool. Nothing should really one shot you as long as you have high resistances and a life pool greater than 9k for the most part.

Hardest Foes:

Your hardest fights will be things that are highly resistant to lightning damage. These are usually Storm Revenants, heroes with Electrified in their name, and bosses in general that are big on lightning attacks or spells. Everything else melts easy to lightning, including the main game bosses. The reality is, if there's a mob you just can't get through due to the resistances, assuming you just haven't gotten lucky on any gear or anything at all, you can just pass them on, and keep playing. But, I killed them all. Overminds are annoying, as are Storm Revs and Electrified heroes. The Aether/Lightning tower monsters are also hard due to being very resistant and summoning big bad minions too (in my progression thread, I took out the Herald in Ultimate, it's doable!). I killed them mostly with Tsunami & Grasping Vines actually, along with pops from the Totems, Maelstrom, and Procs. Having a 2nd damage type is very important to get through some long battles. Most of your fights will be fast and most mobs melt to lightning. But you will have a few with big health pools and high resistances. That's ok! You will still be able to kill them, just takes a little longer.

Gear Suggestions:

For gear you want to pay attention to Kymon's Chosen faction when you get to Homestead. Their gear has lightning damage built into most of it which is great. Everyone can get that. As you find Epics or better, keep everything with lots of lightning damage modifiers or electrocution damage modifiers.

You also want to make sure you're choosing the highest armor values, go for heavy plate. You will want to stack resistances. You want all resistances as high as possible. It's a lot harder to find Aether, Chaos, Bleeding & Vitality in my opinion as resistances on good items that also pertain to lightning damage. So I used components & augments to get there (see my Grim Tools link). Fire, Cold, Lightning are "elemental" and so anything with "elemental resistances" will handle those. Jewelry can be a way to get more lightning damage, and resistances. Obviously favor +life items.

Don't be put off by what I'm wearing on my Grim Tools calc build, that is showing what I found by level 85. I didn't have any of that until mid-Ultimate! You will find all kinds of Epics & Legendaries just playing the game. This is just what I found that had lightning and stuff that pertained to my build. There is no set required stuff. But, that said, Kymon's Chosen has a lot of stuff for you (notice I'm still using their weapon end game!).

You will note I have some items that are not fully finished with components and augments, that's because I didn't need to, my resistances are maxed based on my Devotions and gear. Be flexible. Keep everything, you may need it later.

So again, quick rehash of what to watch for:

* Lightning Damage & Electrocution Damage
* Resistances (especially Aether, Chaos, Bleeding & Vitality)
* + Maximum Resistances
* + Health
* + Offense & Defensive Ability
* + Life / Energy Regeneration & % Regeneration

For current Best in Slot (BiS) gear, look to the Light's Defender set.

Factions & Reputation:

If you have access to Writs from other factions for increased reputation, use them. That speeds things up, but it's not necessary. You likely will be below the level requirement to use the gear if you use the 100% Writs anyways, by the time you can get the stuff. It's just a bonus and doesn't take away from the experience of the play through with needless grinding.

You want to get Revered as fast as possible with all of them to get access to Augments mainly and some gear and blueprints.

Devil's Crossing: Take bounties to kill named bosses in Cronley's highout (his lackey's) and mines. Kill those bosses a few times. It adds up fast.

Rovers: You 100% want to get Honored with the Rovers fast and early in Normal. Why? To get the quest that only unlocks when you're Honored by Rovers to be able to complete the quest to cleanse Mogdrogen's Shrine to get Devotion points in each difficulty to get them all. So focus on this. The fastest way is to clear the Steps of Torment and do those quests that involve that area, as all the mobs & heros/bosses will give you Rover rep.

Homestead: Take the bounty to kill the Queen Ravana (after you've done it as a quest). That hive has at least 3~4 heros and a boss each time you do it. You'll get tons of rep fast.

Kymon's Chosen: I suggest Kymon's because of the gear in the Honored/Revered vendor. You'll use that stuff if you don't find anything better. It's pretty decent too. Easy to get Revered with this bunch if you simply do their quest lines which will take you places that farm it up on its own. If you just get terrible luck with drops through the game, the faction vendor has what you need at level 35, 50 and 70 basically to at least keep pushing on.

Outcasts: Just do the quests for the Witch and the normal game quests. You'll get all the rep just doing that basic stuff while leveling and get it easy. This is probably one of the easiest ones to max out early and has great augments.

Black Legion: Good luck. I am very close to getting Revered with them at the end of Ultimate. Basically you can do bounties, kill bosses, or just clear the Bastion and other areas a few times for the rep if you need it. I've yet to be totally Revered by Black Legion. They're the hardest faction to win over.


Progression Suggestions:

I re-worked the skills & devotions a few times, recorded in my progression thread. However, I will list the final pathway to where I ended up so that it looks like what it did in my Grim Tools Build linked above.

Attribute Points:

Most of your attribute points will go into Physique. The beauty of this build is that you don't need energy really, and will spam your skills, but they have cool downs so you will generally always be ok with energy except in really long hard fights maybe, but that's what a spirit-drink is for and you'll have hundreds by Ultimate. You will need some Spirit points though, to use amulets and rings namely and some other items along the way. Depends on what you find! I ended up putting 20 points into Spirit so that I could have over 500 Spirit late game for use of jewelry. You can get away with less. The rest is all Physique as that's all you need.

Put all your points into Physique early on. Every few levels, drop a point into Spirit. You can do this in a ratio for a few levels if you want. You basically want to have around 1000+ Physique at the end, and around 500 Spirit at the end. I generally put my first 10+ points into Physique and then a point into Spirit and then alternate a little back and forth as I go. There's no real requirement. You may want to alternate a little differently based on what you find, as you may find something with higher requirements of Spirit that you want to use, or Physique, etc.

If that's too much to think about, then just do this:

3 points into Physique then 1 point into Spirit. Keep that rotation.
Do that until you've put 15 to 20 points into Spirit.
The last 7~10 points can be used as you want, to have more Physique or Spirit based on what you need at the end.
Again, you want just enough Spirit to use jewelry late game, in the 500's range perhaps.

I skipped cunning completely. However, you could splash some in if you had a particular item in mind for use, such as a hybrid approach with a ranged weapon or various daggers that all require cunning. That's up to you. Most lightning stuff is mainly physique based, and the jewelry is all spirit.

Skills & Masteries:

Storm Totem comes later, as does Maelstrom and most of the Devotions. So to start the game, I leveled as a Shaman first.

Note, you can start the game vanilla and play through the quest lines. Or you can start the game, get to level 2, then start Crucible and clear 10 waves and get to approximately level 8 or so very quickly so that you can start the game with some skills and attribute points in a briefer period. This is up to you!

To see the entire breakdown of levels 2 through 80 for progression, click the Spoiler icon to reveal it (it's large and long, so it's available if you wish):



This is based on 50 points of Devotions in the current release set. I try to get all the devotions as early as possible in Normal & Elite. That way you can choose to get the easiest ones in Ultimate that do not require a Relic and can be done with combat or common items.

Note that you can totally take other Devotions. I took these based on needing resistances and lightning damage. If you get lucky early on with some great gear finds, you may not need some of these. I wanted Spear of Heavens so I had to work that in by taking some really minor constellations that don't seem great (but they have a lot of little buffs, resistances, etc which are actually great long term). You could go another direction. This is up to you. I found that my gear was lacking early on for damage, so I used constellations to get lightning damage here and there (Wraith & Tempest). I noticed a huge difference late game in Ultimate when I finally got more gear with lightning damage and got my total percentage really high and that came from gear and the two big lightning devotions (Tempest & Spear). Be creative!

To quickly follow up on all Devotions, I use this guide to make sure I get them early and have the right stuff:


Here's the Devotion pathway I ended up with. I needed lightning damage so that is the focus of some of them. The others are for passive resistances and other minor defensive buffs. But mainly it's all about increasing resistances & lightning damage and grabbing some key procs from certain devotions.

1 point into Primordial Crossroad.
5 points into Tsunami Constellation (complete).
Attach Tsunami Proc to Grasping Vines.
Do this one as early as possible.

4 points into Wraith Constellation (complete).

Note Wraith gives you Ascendant points as a bonus. This is important.

4 points into Owl Constellation (complete).

7 points into Tempest Constellation (complete).
Attach Reckless Tempest Proc to Storm Totem.

1 point into Order Crossroad.
5 points into Tortoise Constellation (complete).
Attach Turtle Shell Proc to Mogdrogen's Pact.

Note, if you don't care to take Turtle, feel free to replace this with virtually anything else useful to your build. It's not integral. Just extra insurance, especially for hardcore players or if you're constantly taking tons of damage and need something to proc between Menhir's Will cooldowns.

A great Devotion to replace it with is Rhowan's Crown for it's proc, Elemental Storm, to reduce enemy resistances for increased damage.

4 points into Empty Throne Constellation (complete).

3 points into Eel Constellation (complete).

1 point into Chaos Crossroad.

4 points into Viper Constellation (complete).

5 points into Vulture Constellation (complete).

6 points into Spear of the Heavens Constellation (complete).
Attach Spear of the Heavens Proc to Field Command.

Example of procs that may not be obvious from Grim Tools:


To see examples of game play screenshots, please refer to my progression thread. It's full of screen shots of what it looks like when the lightning is blasting every where.

Unfortunately I cannot do videos due to living in a very rural area with slow internet so I cannot upload big heavy files to YouTube at this time. This build isn't worth recording for that anyways, as I'm not trying to race the clock to kill a Nemesis or something or clear wave 150 on Gladiator in a time limt.

Hardcore: - Friendly to HC players. Notice you have everything being pushed into survival with the skills & devotions and shield builds in general. It's a very tanky build that doesn't have to be in the middle of a mob. It's a heavy plate tanky caster who can kite and still attack without stopping due to the totems lasting 12 seconds. It plays like a tank or a caster, your choice!

Crucible: - I was able to go through 150 waves of the Crucible no problem. I have not pushed through Gladiator yet because I don't have top gear. But the point is, you can farm or level in Crucible if you want. I played Crucible for my last few levels because I beat the game in Ultimate before I was level 85.

I may have made some mistakes or typos, I'm always happy to hear suggestions, criticism and corrections! Thanks!

Very best,

Last edited by MalVeauX; 08-20-2017 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 08-17-2017, 05:01 AM
TZ Tz TZ Tz is offline
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 907

Wow you finally post it !
"Zero to Hero" nice title

Storm Totem Warder, reminds me for early days when I leveling my first Shaman.
Now it's even better, leveling with it, is really fun.
Also reliable for end game damage.

Nice post !

Keep update when you get the better gear
Cool Grim Dawn Videos :
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Old 08-17-2017, 06:10 AM
Devilmc Devilmc is offline
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 4

nice build.
i have a storm totem warder as well. just completed the light defender set have a extra storm totem.
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Old 08-17-2017, 06:34 AM
medea fleecestealer's Avatar
medea fleecestealer medea fleecestealer is online now
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Looks interesting and nice to see a build that doesn't rely on specific gear.

I do have a bit of a problem with your levelling details though:

"Level 6: 1 point into Grasping Vines. 2 points into Briarthorn.
Level 7 through 10: All points into Briarthorn (16).

Vines helps manage crowds and can be cast often. It keeps you and your summon safe. You can auto-attack mobs with range or melee, depends on what you like to do and what you find. Briarthorn will kill everything easily on its own from level 10 to level 40 pretty much. Vines will make a ton of sense and become a staple killing spell when you attach Tsunami Devotion to it.

Level 8: 1 point into Mogdrogen's Pact, 2 points into Grasping Vines.
Levels 9 through 12: All points into Grasping Vines (12).

Level 13: 3 points into Shaman Mastery (now 13).
Level 14: 2 points into Shaman Mastery (now 15), 1 point into Heart of the Wild."

You can't really be putting all points from levels 7 to 10 into Briarthorn when you're basically doing other things in levels 8 to 10. May need a rewrite.
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Old 08-17-2017, 07:17 AM
Verdict_MJB Verdict_MJB is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 30
Default well then!


Great job man, good follow-through from your leveling journal post.

For aesthetics, I would suggest maybe condensing that leveling guide / devotion setup etc into "spoiler" tabs to reduce the massive wall of text.

For gear, its' worth noting that the Stormheart sword is easily attainable if you have access to ultimate through the Diary quest.

Additionally, the empowered essence of Beronath crafted necklace would be a good fit with its' bonuses to attack and cast speed plus elemental damage and +1 to all skills. I forget if the pattern is a "gimme" (aka easy to get).

Also I don't see any harm in pointing out that the Light's Defender set is easily BiS for this build since it will get you close to "Ultimate" cap on Storm Totem. (just in case any folks have one of those set pieces lying around).

I will give Tsunami / vines a try on my lightning warder and see how it goes, he is currently specced into hourglass for popping out multiple shards / totems as fast as possible.

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Old 08-19-2017, 03:06 AM
MalVeauX's Avatar
MalVeauX MalVeauX is offline
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Posts: 58

Thanks all!

Incorporated suggestions and fixes.

Very best,
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Old 08-19-2017, 06:16 AM
Rylocke Rylocke is offline
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 267

I saw a bit of your progression and am glad to see the build come together so well! I have played a couple different variations of totem summoners and loved them, and I'll give this one a try soon.

However, there is one issue that I noticed with your damage output: You're lacking any good sources of resist reduction. Two constellations which are generally viewed as all but mandatory in similar setups include Rhowan's Crown for Elemental Storm and Widow for Arcane Bomb. I personally forego Tsunami for one of the two, but I see that you really like that one. Nonetheless, I would *strongly* suggest doing the following three things (or as many as possible):
  1. Obtain Rhowan's Crown (or put more points in Raging Tempest, but the former is probably easier to pull off) for flat elemental resistance reduction from the storm.
  2. Snag Widow for the flat percentage reduction from Arcane Bomb.
  3. Utilize some sort of weapon damage% skill on tough bosses (even just swing a regular weapon attack every few seconds) to maximize the percentage elemental reduction in Viper.

It might seem like a challenge to fit the constellations in your devotion setup, but sacrificing some lightning damage or a proc like Tsunami will undoubtedly increase your overall output, plus you'll get other devotions to make up for losing one. Plus, watching Elemental Storm shred enemies from your vines will be just as rewarding as the Tsunami, maybe moreso since you can get 3 up at once, and they stay a decent duration.

Of course, the tanky nature of your build means you're not racing a clock to burn down your enemies ASAP, and you're making this build to venture off the beaten path, so I'm sure you're not looking for "here's what everyone else is doing" type things, but at least one or two of those suggestions will increase your kill speed ridiculously, especially against lightning-resistant enemies.

Quick and dirty math (some approximates used for simplicity): Imagine a skill does 100 lightning damage, you have 1500% increased lightning damage, enemy resists 80% lightning. A normal hit would only do 320 (1600 buffed, only 20% gets through).

Then, you sacrifice Tsunami and maybe rearrange some others to get Arcane Bomb (-30% resist) and Elemental Storm (reduced 30 resist), but lose 300% increased lightning damage. The same skill now does 1300 buffed damage, but your target only has 20% lightning resist (80-30-30). Therefore, you end up actually dealing 1040 damage (more than triple).

Even if you can only fit Arcane Bomb but remember to swing your weapon at harder targets, that'll take that 80% enemy down to 38%. Also, a Blessed Steel on your weapon gives Sacred Strike, which reduces your target's elemental resists by 30 (won't stack with Elememtal Storm, but only affects one target). If you don't want to take Rhowan's Crown and have no points to spare for Raging Tempest, that can be used at least on particularly beefy targets.

As you can see, a small sacrifice to a bit of lightning sheet damage and a proc yields you another (two) proc(s) and potentially triples or better your damage (it multiplies it *much* higher against targets with higher resists to start with, effectively removing the only real problem with kill speed in this build. Plus, your tankiness enables you to get in range for a weapon strike or two when needed to refresh resist reduction.
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Old 08-19-2017, 03:05 PM
MalVeauX's Avatar
MalVeauX MalVeauX is offline
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Posts: 58

Interesting thanks, good points! Will take a look into how things can be juggled.

Very best,
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Old 09-05-2017, 07:40 AM
ohador ohador is offline
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 33
Default very nice build!

i want to start the build and i have a nooby question:

vines is bleeding dmg skill, and storm totem is lightning, in which dmg type should i focus?
from what i know most builds use one main dmg type
thanks for the help!
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Old 09-05-2017, 09:40 AM
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Cepheus Cepheus is offline
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Posts: 14

How does the build fare against nemesis, especially Valdaran?!
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