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Crusader Endgame Thorns Build with The Invoker Set (Patch 2.4.2 / Season 7)

Last updated on Jul 27, 2016 at 13:54 by Deadset 124 comments

Table of Contents

The Thorns of the Invoker set unlocks a powerful, retaliation-based playstyle with what used to be the laughing stock of stats, Thorns. This tanky, utility and cooldown-oriented playstyle is available in both solo progression and speedfarming variations, explained in that order.

The build requires the following set pieces:

1. About the Author

This build is presented to you by Deadset, one of the very few professional Diablo 3 players. Deadset regularly publishes video guides on Youtube, where you can see how this and other builds play out in practice.

2. Builds

Solo Progression Speedruns
Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Punish Icon Punish Celerity Celerity Right Mouse Button Steed Charge Icon Steed Charge Endurance Endurance 1 Laws of Justice Icon Laws of Justice Decaying Strength Decaying Strength 2 Iron Skin Icon Iron Skin Reflective Skin Reflective Skin 3 Provoke Icon Provoke Hit Me Hit Me 4 Akarat's Champion Icon Akarat's Champion Prophet Prophet
Passive Skills
(battle.net link)
Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Punish Icon Punish Celerity Celerity Right Mouse Button Steed Charge Icon Steed Charge Endurance Endurance 1 Laws of Hope Icon Laws of Hope Wings of Angels Wings of Angels 2 Iron Skin Icon Iron Skin Reflective Skin Reflective Skin 3 Provoke Icon Provoke Hit Me Hit Me 4 Akarat's Champion Icon Akarat's Champion Prophet Prophet
Passive Skills
(battle.net link)

3. Rotation

The build promotes a fearless brawling playstyle that does not just endure hits to the face, but relishes in them. You will be running from fight to fight as quickly as possible using Steed Charge Steed Charge. As soon as you find your new target — preferably a large pack of enemies with an elite in their midst — you will draw them in with a Provoke Provoke, plant yourself in place and start cutting through them with Punish Punish. Activate Laws of Justice Laws of Justice when you throw yourself in a bigger fight and anticipate a lot of burst coming your way; Akarat's Champion Akarat's Champion is to be used as soon as it comes off its hefty cooldown. Pay special attention when activating Iron Skin Iron Skin Reflective Skin Reflective Skin — it will provide with a short term burst of damage, so ensure enemies are within reach to take full advantage of its duration. If you time the Iron Skin Iron Skin activation to match a Physical damage proc of Convention of Elements Convention of Elements, the burst will be downright devastating.

4. Skills, Runes and Passives

Punish Punish is the solitary non-cooldown skill in the build, but do not be fooled by its unassuming generator damage — it will serve to amplify your Thorns damage through the Invoker 2-piece bonus, and conveniently dishes it out through the 6-piece bonus.

Iron Skin Iron Skin is a defensive staple of the class, and Thornsaders are no exception; instead of traditional choices like the lengthy Steel Skin Steel Skin or the mobile Flash Flash, you will be taking the niche Reflective Skin Reflective Skin. This powerful rune is the unique take on a nuke in the build, and resetting its cooldown as quickly as possible is a major reason for the implementation of high CDR and Akarat's Awakening Akarat's Awakening.

Provoke Provoke is a triple-purpose cooldown; besides its taunting base function, it also increases block chance by 50% (feeding into the Justice Lantern Justice Lantern damage reduction and Akarat's Awakening Akarat's Awakening cooldown resets) from Hit Me Hit Me, and provides another damage spike with its Vo'Toyias Spiker Vo'Toyias Spiker interaction. Due to their matching durations, it can be timed along with Reflective Skin Reflective Skin for an even bigger burst of damage.

Akarat's Champion Akarat's Champion is the favorite alternate form of the Crusader — seemingly irrespective of build, as the Thorns build implements it as well. While the advantage of the 35% multiplicative damage increase is obvious, the protection from Prophet Prophet's 150% additional armor and second life build the skill up to an undeniable status. Cheating death is especially important, since the build has a hard time fitting Indestructible Indestructible in due to more advantageous passives and a neck slot locked away from a Hellfire Amulet Hellfire Amulet by the necessary The Traveler's Pledge The Traveler's Pledge.

Laws of Justice Laws of Justice is yet another tool in the tanking arsenal of the Invoker set; due to the critless nature of Thorns, Laws of Valor Laws of Valor can only be a consideration in parties. When soloing high Greater Rifts however, the percentage based scaling of Decaying Strength Decaying Strength adds some of the best defense the Crusader has to offer — activating the law in the thick of the fight will cut down incoming damage considerably. When speedfarming, this additional durability will be overkill, so you can safely swap this slot out for the movement speed buffs of Laws of Hope Laws of Hope Wings of Angels Wings of Angels.

Mobility is one of the most important aspects when rifting, and Crusaders have no better movement ability than their trusty Steed Charge Steed Charge. You will be picking up the extended duration from the Endurance Endurance rune, allowing you to reach — or skip — more efficiently.

This concludes the overview of the active skills, now let us look through the passives.

In a spec detached from weapon damage constraints and largely dependent on fast attacks and cooldowns, it is no wonder Fervor Fervor is taken for the outstanding 15% Attack Speed and Cooldown Reduction.

A no-brainer inclusion in the build, Iron Maiden Iron Maiden increases your Thorns damage by 50%.

To maximize the benefits of your Justice Lantern Justice Lantern ring and saturate the procs from your Akarat's Awakening Akarat's Awakening shield, you will be taking the massive 30% block chance increase from Hold Your Ground Hold Your Ground when pushing Greater Rifts. In speedruns where blocking is of lesser concern compared to mobility, you should take Long Arm of the Law Long Arm of the Law for the improved uptime of Laws of Hope Laws of Hope Wings of Angels Wings of Angels.

Finery Finery rounds out your passives with a balanced source of both Damage and Toughness. Increasing Strength by 1.5% for every socket across your gear (weapons and jewelry included), it amounts to a sizable boost with an assumed average of 10 sockets on a well-equipped character.

5. Best in Slot Gear and Alternatives

Strength and Vitality are recommended on all pieces of your gear, as they both feed into your Thorns damage (the former by default, and the latter through the unique affix of Heart of Iron Heart of Iron). Critical Hit Chance and Critical Hit Damage can be safely replaced by survivability and utility stats, as Thorns damage cannot crit.

The build incorporates the full Thorns of the Invoker set, taking all 6 pieces available and leaving the jewelry to balance defense (with Justice Lantern Justice Lantern) and offense (with the Endless Walk set). Rolls-wise, this cooldown and attack speed centric build benefits from CDR on both Burden of the Invoker Burden of the Invoker and Pride of the Invoker Pride of the Invoker, along with an attack speed roll on the latter. Physical damage is recommended on Shackles of the Invoker Shackles of the Invoker, as Thorns has been changed to benefit from the element. The remaining pieces — Crown of the Invoker Crown of the Invoker, Renewal of the Invoker Renewal of the Invoker and Zeal of the Invoker Zeal of the Invoker — can be entirely dedicated to Toughness.

Not skipping on any of the six available set pieces to obtain the full Thorns of the Invoker bonus allows you to balance between offense and defense in the jewelry slots. Reworked in Patch 2.4, the Endless Walk set — The Compass Rose The Compass Rose ring and The Traveler's Pledge The Traveler's Pledge amulet — adds a unique mechanic that slowly increases your damage by up to a 100% if you remain stationary, and drains it away and increases your damage reduction while moving. This balance mirrors the Thorns playstyle, which fights rooted in one spot for extended periods of time, with periodic bursts of movement to the next big brawl.

The remaining ring slot will be taken by Justice Lantern Justice Lantern, whose unique stat Block Chance is now enhanced by a legendary property that reduces incoming damage by up to 55% of your Block Chance. The independence of the damage reduction mechanic from followers and the tie-in with the set bonuses and Akarat's Awakening Akarat's Awakening make it superior to Unity Unity.

You can choose between your better roll of two legendary chest pieces for the torso slot, and cube the other one: the reworked Heart of Iron Heart of Iron or Aquila Cuirass Aquila Cuirass. Heart of Iron Heart of Iron grants you 300% of your Vitality as Thorns, turning this basic Toughness stat into a source of Damage. Aquila Cuirass Aquila Cuirass cuts incoming damage in half if you maintain above 90% of your resource, which is a permanent effect in this no-spender build. When considering their stats, remember that Heart of Iron Heart of Iron has natural Thorns rolled in its secondaries, but has a wider range of the unique property stat; the range on Aquila Cuirass Aquila Cuirass is irrelevant to you and will always be on, but you might have to reroll into Thorns damage as it doesn't roll by default.

A former Season 2 misfit, Belt of the Trove Belt of the Trove, is a flavorful best-in-slot item for the waist slot. With its use, you gain the 50% damage reduction after casting Bombardment Bombardment from the 4-piece set for free, allowing you to slot other synergistic skills and not worry about another long cooldown on your hands.

In Patch 2.4.1 the weapon and shield choices have deservingly shifted into more Thorns-flavorful items. The preferred weapon for the build is Hack Hack: an axe whose unique property applies up to 100% of your Thorns damage to every attack, now properly benefitting from all sources of bonus damage. As Thorns does not take Weapon Damage into account, Hack is a pure stat stick that needs Strength, Cooldown Reduction, Attack Speed, and ideally the damage range gets rerolled into Life per Hit (or one of the missing aforementioned stats).

Receiving similar treatment and now properly dealing Thorns damage with all of its applicable buffs, Vo'Toyias Spiker Vo'Toyias Spiker replaces the former favorite Akarat's Awakening Akarat's Awakening in the shield slot. The fix to this legendary item singlehandedly makes the inclusion of Provoke Provoke worth considering, and completes the image of the Thorns Crusader as a separate identity.

Slot Pieces Stat Priority
Head
  1. Strength
  2. Thorns (Secondary Stat)
  3. Vitality
  4. Socket
  5. All Resist
Shoulders
  1. Strength
  2. Thorns (Secondary Stat)
  3. Vitality
  4. Cooldown Reduction
  5. Area Damage
  6. All Res
Torso
  1. Strength
  2. Thorns (Secondary Stat)
  3. 3 Sockets
  4. Vitality
  5. All Res
  6. Thorns
Wrists
  1. Strength
  2. Thorns (Secondary Stat)
  3. Vitality
  4. Physical damage
  5. Life on Hit
  6. All Resistance
Hands
  1. Strength
  2. Thorns (Secondary Stat)
  3. Vitality
  4. Cooldown Reduction
  5. Attack Speed
  6. All Resistance
Waist
  1. Strength
  2. Thorns (Secondary Stat)
  3. Vitality
  4. All Res
  5. Life %
  6. Thorns
Legs
  1. Strength
  2. Thorns (Secondary Stat)
  3. 2 Sockets
  4. Vitality
  5. All Res
Feet
  1. Strength
  2. Thorns (Secondary Stat)
  3. Vitality
  4. All Resistance
  5. Movement Speed
Amulet
  1. Strength
  2. Physical %
  3. Socket
  4. Thorns (Secondary Stat)
  5. Vitality
Ring #1
  1. Strength
  2. Cooldown Reduction
  3. Socket
  4. Thorns
  5. Life on Hit or Attack Speed
  6. Vitality
Ring #2
  1. Strength
  2. Cooldown Reduction
  3. Socket
  4. Life on Hit or Attack Speed
  5. Vitality
Weapon
  1. Strength
  2. Socket
  3. Cooldown Reduction
  4. Life on Hit
  5. Attack Speed
  6. Vitality
Off-hand
  1. Strength
  2. Thorns (Secondary Stat)
  3. Cooldown Reduction
  4. Block %
  5. Vitality

6. Paragon Points

Slot Paragon Points
Core
  1. Movement Speed up to 25% cap
  2. Strength
  3. Vitality
  4. Maximum Wrath
Offense
  1. Cooldown Reduction
  2. Attack Speed
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  4. Critical Hit Damage
Defense
  1. All Resistance
  2. Life %
  3. Armor
  4. Life Regeneration
Utility
  1. Area Damage
  2. Life on Hit
  3. Gold Find
  4. Resource Cost Reduction

7. Gems

Your three jewelry sockets will be taken up by the legendary gems Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped, Boyarsky's Chip Boyarsky's Chip and Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken (Progression) or Bane of the Powerful Bane of the Powerful (Speedruns).

  • Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped is a potent source of additional damage, as it is its own multiplier in your total damage calculation. The gem procs itself with its level 25 property and matches the set Thorns radius perfectly.
  • Added in Patch 2.4, Boyarsky's Chip Boyarsky's Chip fulfills a simple and straightforward purpose: increasing your Thorns damage. Its level 25 property is useful in sticking enemies to you, trading turns with Provoke Provoke for the same purpose.
  • Introduced in Season 4, Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken occupies the third and final jewelry socket. Building up your damage multiplicatively in prolonged fights and with a level 25 bonus specifically targeting Rift Guardians, this gem is designed to assist during the takedown of the biggest bottleneck in GRs, the scaling HP numbers. When doing speedruns however, health values will be a significantly smaller barrier, diminishing the value of Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken; you would do well to replace it with the well-rounded damage and toughness increase of Bane of the Powerful Bane of the Powerful.
Slot Gems
Jewelry
Helm
Torso and Pants
Weapon

8. Kanai's Cube

The Kanai's Cube recommendations are as follows: Akarat's Awakening Akarat's Awakening (Progression) or In-geom In-geom (Speedfarm) for the weapon slot, Heart of Iron Heart of Iron or Aquila Cuirass Aquila Cuirass for the armor slot, and Convention of Elements Convention of Elements for the jewelry slot.

  • The rarest Crusader shield — Akarat's Awakening Akarat's Awakening — finds a home in the Cube of this block-heavy build, supplying you with a reliable source of cooldown reduction in a build with no CDR-relevant set bonuses. It is worth noting that its places are interchangeable with Vo'Toyias Spiker Vo'Toyias Spiker, but the latter is much easier to perfect due to its natural Thorns roll in the secondary stats. In speedruns however, the pace at which you kill elites facilitates the use of a much more potent source of cooldown reduction — In-geom In-geom. As long as you fuel its power by regularly bursting down elites, it will practically ensure permanent uptime of all of your important cooldowns.
  • As previously mentioned, you can cube your weaker rolled item between the Aquila Cuirass Aquila Cuirass and Heart of Iron Heart of Iron in the armor slot.
  • The jewelry slot in the cube is best taken by Convention of Elements Convention of Elements, squeezing some extra damage in a spec that already excels at survival. Maximize its benefits by keeping in mind the heavy burst from a synced Physical proc and active Iron Skin Iron Skin, and wait out the Lightning proc that precedes it. Awareness of this boost should not lead you to overcommit, and Iron Skin Iron Skin availability should not be wasted in wait — an Akarat's Awakening Akarat's Awakening reset is bound to come soon anyway.

9. Follower

For more information regarding followers, we advise you to read our Follower Guide, which contains detailed advice for choosing the skills and the gear of your follower.

10. ChangeLog

  • 27 Jul. 2016: Updated the guide to include spec changes for speedfarming.
  • 19 Apr. 2016: Revised the build to reflect changes in itemization and skill choices for Patch 2.4.1.
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