Warning It appears that you may be blocking the ads, and we are fine with it (read more here). That said, it would really be awesome if you decided to whitelist our website or make a donation :) You can also send us Bitcoins (1DEkropiHPWBmfJxogFaXQscfzhmdpTti4)!

Crusader Leveling and Fresh 70 Guide (Patch 2.4.2 / Season 8)

Last updated on Oct 19, 2016 at 09:00 by Deadset 13 comments

Table of Contents

The purpose of the beginner Crusader guide is to provide you with a build and item recommendations that will reliably carry you from leveling, through the pre-Torment difficulties and get you into low Torment farming, without requiring specific legendary or set bonuses. The guide also includes a section for Season 8 Crusaders, explaining how best to take advantage of the free set from Haedrig's Gifts.

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. Video Guide

The following video guide was created to accompany the present written guide and demonstrate how to play the build in-game.

3. Why choose the Crusader?

Choose the Crusader if you imagine yourself clad in the heaviest of armors, destroying your enemies with equal parts holy power and raw martial prowess. Descending into battle on a ghostly steed, consecrating the fighting grounds and enfeebling the enemy with resolute judgments, the Crusader proceeds to annihilate the demonic hordes with celestial energy and bombardment volleys. Strengthening your entire party with mighty buffing laws, you are the ultimate tactician in Diablo 3.

4. Leveling and Fresh 70 Build

4.1. Beginner Build

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Blessed Hammer Icon Blessed Hammer Limitless Limitless Right Mouse Button Steed Charge Icon Steed Charge Endurance Endurance 1 Laws of Valor Icon Laws of Valor Unstoppable Force Unstoppable Force 2 Condemn Icon Condemn Vacuum Vacuum 3 Provoke Icon Provoke Too Scared to Run Too Scared to Run 4 Akarat's Champion Icon Akarat's Champion Prophet Prophet
Passive Skills

Note that while the skills and runes recommended in the build are specifically chosen to be available at an early level and remain a solid pick throughout the leveling and early character progression, you will have to temporarily work with other skills as the build gradually unlocks. To familiarize yourself with the class, experimentation is strongly encouraged. If you are unsure of how to slot more than one skill from the same skill tree, enable Elective Mode under Gameplay Options.

4.2. Rotation

The build focuses on the dynamic between Blessed Hammer Blessed Hammer and Condemn Condemn, combining the circular destruction of the former with the vortex effect of the latter. Strive to open fights with Condemn Condemn Vacuum Vacuum, drawing as many enemies as you can on top of you for maximum efficiency per Wrath spent. Then begin the Blessed Hammer Blessed Hammer onslaught, clearing entire screens of enemies with the efficient Limitless Limitless rune. To balance the resource spending of this no-generator setup, you will alternate Laws of Valor Laws of Valor Unstoppable Force Unstoppable Force with Provoke Provoke; the combination of the two should provide enough sustain with the cheapest Crusader spender equipped. Akarat's Champion Akarat's Champion will temporarily boost both your damage and toughness, but with its low uptime in barebones gear setups, it should be limited to important fights. An efficient farming build would be incomplete without mobility, so we also include Steed Charge Steed Charge as the most reliable movement tool of the class.

4.3. Skills, Runes and Passives

The basis of every build lies in its chosen damage dealing skills. As they invariably require resource or cooldown management mechanics of some sort, and such are scarce for low level and less geared characters, you will focus on one damage dealing ability early on. The typical early game build will feature a dominant damage dealer, a mobility skill, buffs and/or shields, and resource generators (either active or passive). The recommended split is:

  • Slot 1 — Damage dealing ability: Reliant on sets and high level legendaries to skyrocket the damage of most of his spenders, the Crusader does best with his cheapest damage dealer early on — Blessed Hammer Blessed Hammer. Until you acquire it at level 12, you will have to make do with Shield Bash Shield Bash (level 2) and Sweep Attack Sweep Attack (level 5), both of which are significantly more taxing on your Wrath reserve. Once the hammers become available, switch to them and add the Burning Wrath Burning Wrath rune at level 18, sticking to it until level 35 where you swap it out for Limitless Limitless. You can safely stay on the latter for the remainder of the leveling process. Blessed Hammer Blessed Hammer becomes especially attractive with some of the gambling strats you can apply, discussed further in the gearing section.
  • Slot 2 — Mobility skill: Crusaders have a single reliable movement tool in the form of Steed Charge Steed Charge; a high-cooldown celestial mount that boosts your speed and removes enemy collision for its duration. It unlocks at level 13, but gains the only relevant upgrade to the role quite further down the line — the Endurance Endurance rune at level 42.
  • Slot 3 — Resource management: As cheap as Blessed Hammer Blessed Hammer is, for a decent chunk of your leveling you will have to include a Wrath generator to replenish some of your reserve. Any of your four primaries — Punish Punish, Slash Slash, Smite Smite or Justice Justice — will do early on. Once you hit level 45 however, you will add the resource management powerhouse Laws of Valor Laws of Valor Unstoppable Force Unstoppable Force, and will never have to resort to a generator again.
  • Slots 4 & 5 — Utility: With the scattershot approach of Blessed Hammer Blessed Hammer, you will do well to include control abilities to reduce whiffed hammers. Provoke Provoke unlocks at level 9, and taunts enemies to beeline straight into your AoE; you will add some healing to it at level 15 through Cleanse Cleanse, but will gain the biggest defensive benefit at level 32 — from the percentage based debuff of Too Scared to Run Too Scared to Run. Provoke Provoke also has considerable Wrath generation utility, which cannot be ignored in a generator-less setup. Condemn Condemn (level 21) will not assist you with Wrath, but will compensate with the best monster pulling ability at the disposal of Crusaders in the face of the Vacuum Vacuum rune, available at level 26.
  • Slot 6 — Supplementary damage: You have considerable freedom for your final active skill slot, with reasonable options like Falling Sword Falling Sword Part the Clouds Part the Clouds (level 28), Phalanx Phalanx Bowmen Bowmen (level 30) or Heaven's Fury Heaven's Fury Ascendancy Ascendancy (level 36). The standard recommendation Akarat's Champion Akarat's Champion becomes available at level 25, and despite its low uptime in a beginner build brings considerable, directly controllable damage increase to the build, along with additional tankyness and a cheat death with the Prophet Prophet rune (level 49).
  • Passives: You should alternate between Heavenly Strength Heavenly Strength and Fervor Fervor according to your currently equipped weapon. You can make temporary additions to the passive setup for defense (Indestructible Indestructible at level 25) or offense (Holy Cause Holy Cause at level 27), but definitely make way for Long Arm of the Law Long Arm of the Law as soon as it unlocks at level 45 — along with Unstoppable Force Unstoppable Force, it will be the basis of your Wrath management. Finery Finery will spike both damage and toughness when it unlocks at level 60, amounting to a hefty boost of toughness and damage with an assumed average of 10 sockets across a well-equipped character. You will solidify your Blessed Hammer Blessed Hammer powers with Blunt Blunt at level 65, adding more than an item's worth of skill % to your build.

4.4. Gear and Stats Priorities

As the leveling process in Diablo 3 is relatively quick, specific legendary recommendations are impossible. During leveling finding upgrades is frequent, so your gear will be swapped in and out within the span of a few minutes. Following the in-game comparison system and the stat priorities outlined in the tables below will result in a solid character throughout the leveling journey.

Note that skill damage and elemental damage recommendations only apply if the majority of your damage is done through that skill or element. For alt characters however, sockets take priority above all other attributes, since you can slot high level gems and benefit massively from their stat increase. For the purposes of an alt character, leveling a Gem of Ease Gem of Ease to level 25 and socketing it in a level 70 weapon will be the single biggest boost you can provide to the leveling process.

5. Season 8 Starter Build

5.1. Haedrig's Gift

Completion of certain seasonal chapters (II, III and IV in Season 8) yields Haedrig's Gifts, a cache-like reward that drops two pieces of a fixed class-specific set. With the completion of these chapters, you will have a full 6-piece set bonus available to you, skyrocketing your character power well into the mid-to-high Torments. This makes the early portion of the Seasonal Journey your first priority upon reaching max level. The Season 8 Haedrig's Gift for Crusaders is the Seeker of the Light set.

5.2. Seeker of the Light Starter Build

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Blessed Hammer Icon Blessed Hammer Limitless Limitless Right Mouse Button Falling Sword Icon Falling Sword Rapid Descent Rapid Descent 1 Laws of Valor Icon Laws of Valor Critical Critical 2 Judgment Icon Judgment Debilitate Debilitate 3 Provoke Icon Provoke Too Scared to Run Too Scared to Run 4 Akarat's Champion Icon Akarat's Champion Prophet Prophet
Passive Skills

The Seeker of the Light starter build is a natural continuation of the leveling and fresh 70 build, as the set itself augments the powers of Blessed Hammer Blessed Hammer. Your main resource tool remains Provoke Provoke, trading turns with Gabriel's Vambraces Gabriel's Vambraces for Wrath management in AoE and single target situations, respectively. With resources taken care of, you are free to swap away Unstoppable Force Unstoppable Force for the additional damage of Critical Critical (useful early on with subpar gear), or to Laws of Hope Laws of Hope Wings of Angels Wings of Angels to speed yourself up. You will be trading the generic leveling choices like Steed Charge Steed Charge and Condemn Condemn for skills that better synergize with your set: Falling Sword Falling Sword Rapid Descent Rapid Descent for mobility and protection, and Judgment Judgment Debilitate Debilitate for crowd control and debuffing. Note that as soon as you obtain a Sacred Harness Sacred Harness, you should swap the latter's rune to the damage-oriented Resolved Resolved. The ubiquitous Akarat's Champion Akarat's Champion remains in the build, as well as all the leveling passives (of course, with an adjustment to Fervor Fervor as soon as you obtain Johanna's Argument Johanna's Argument).

The build above is specifically created not to require any additional sets or legendary items. In order to transition to a late game-oriented spec using the same set, we have a rough list of high priority items to obtain, as well as a link to the build they pertain to.

6. Other Set Starter Builds

While you get a fixed free set at the start of every Season, it is not unreasonable to assume you will attain other sets in quick succession. If you are interested in switching around your playstyle, take a look at the beginner points for other sets below, and note to which endgame builds they point you after.

6.1. Roland's Starter Build

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Sweep Attack Icon Sweep Attack Blazing Sweep Blazing Sweep Right Mouse Button Steed Charge Icon Steed Charge Endurance Endurance 1 Laws of Valor Icon Laws of Valor Unstoppable Force Unstoppable Force 2 Condemn Icon Condemn Vacuum Vacuum 3 Iron Skin Icon Iron Skin Flash Flash 4 Akarat's Champion Icon Akarat's Champion Prophet Prophet
Passive Skills

The Roland's starter build will be fairly similar to the leveling and fresh 70 build, keeping its rotation and general strategy with minor adjustments. You will be swapping out Blessed Hammer Blessed Hammer for one of the Roland centerpieces, Sweep Attack Sweep Attack. Early on, add to it the highest damage dealing rune, Blazing Sweep Blazing Sweep. The 2-piece set bonus will all but guarantee the permanent uptime of your Wrath management law, Unstoppable Force Unstoppable Force. This will free up one of the resource management slots — Provoke Provoke — for a defensive skill in the form of Iron Skin Iron Skin. You can either push further down the defensive path with Steel Skin Steel Skin, or convert it into an excellent mobility tool with Flash Flash. In your passives, you will understandably no longer need Blunt Blunt, and you can freely replace it with the safety of the Indestructible Indestructible cheat death, or the general damage increase of Holy Cause Holy Cause.

The build above is specifically created not to require any additional sets or legendary items. In order to transition to a late game-oriented spec using the same set, we have a rough list of high priority items to obtain, as well as a link to the build they pertain to.

7. Gear To Look For

Certain items can be targeted through the completion of bounties or boss kills. The following is a list of such items, in order of importance for the class.

  • Ring of Royal Grandeur Ring of Royal Grandeur is a legendary from Act I caches that reduces the number of set items required for set bonuses by one. While it might not be immediately useful, obtaining powerful bonuses (such as the 4- and 6-piece set bonuses of the Rolands set) as early as possible for a huge spike in character power is an opportunity you should not pass up. Doing bounties will be inevitable for crafting materials anyway, so optimize your farming time and get this ring as soon as possible.
  • Avarice Band Avarice Band is an Act III cache legendary ring that extends your pickup radius by up to 30 yards as you pick up gold. This unassuming bonus has the potential to turn in the strongest source of defense during normal rifts due to its synergy with Boon of the Hoarder Boon of the Hoarder and Goldwrap Goldwrap. Their powers combined, they can render your character practically invulnerable even in the highest of Torment difficulties.
  • Illusory Boots Illusory Boots are an Act II cache legendary item that removes enemy collision — a staple of support builds in Greater Rifts, but also of Legacy of Nightmares set builds that build their DPS and defense around the use of high utility legendary items. The Legacy of Nightmares Bombardment Bombardment Crusader, a supremely powerful build, makes great use of Illusory Boots Illusory Boots — making them very attractive to the class.
  • Reaper's Wraps Reaper's Wraps are meant to assist classes and builds with resource management problems — which Crusaders unfortunately are, at least early on. These bracers restore up to 30% of your Wrath reserves when you get healed by a health globe — an easy trigger if you keep an eye on the battlefield. Note that these bracers are craftable, and the plan for their creation drops when you kill the Act V boss Malthael on any difficulty.
  • Gloves of Worship Gloves of Worship are an Act II cache legendary that extends the duration of Shrines to 10 minutes, a very decent farming effect that is usually stored in Kanai's Cube. The combined power of Empowered Shrines (doubled resource gain, halved cooldowns), Frenzied Shrines (25% Attack Speed) and Fleeting Shrines (25% increase to Movement Speed and 20 yard pickup radius), often refreshing before their 10-minute duration, is a huge buff during normal rifts. Crusaders are among the classes that can benefit from Gloves of Worship Gloves of Worship, as the armor setup of the commonly preferred LoN Bombardment Bombardment build is flexible enough to fit the item in.
  • Envious Blade Envious Blade is an Act II cache dagger with one of the most powerful speedfarming bonuses in the game — a guaranteed Critical Hit against enemies at full health. A well equipped character using this dagger can oneshot entire screens of enemies in a suitable farming difficulty. Since Crusaders can not dual wield and their weapon slots are frequently taken by more important legendaries, Envious Blade Envious Blade is not considered a cache priority.
  • Pride's Fall Pride's Fall is a helm obtained through Act III cache bounties, whose legendary effect reduces resource costs by 30% after not taking damage for 5 seconds. Almost never fighting at a range that can abuse this power, Crusaders do not consider farming Pride's Fall Pride's Fall a priority.

The majority of the gear will be found by random chance as you farm normally, by killing monsters, opening chests, gambling at Kadala and upgrading rare items at the Cube. While the list below is not exhaustive, these are some of the pieces to seek, spend blood shards on, or upgrade yellows for — in order of priority:

8. Stat Priorities

Slot Stat Priority
  1. Strength
  2. Socket
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  4. Vitality
  1. Strength
  2. Vitality
  3. All Resistance
  4. Life %
  1. Strength
  2. 3 Sockets
  3. Vitality
  4. All Resistance
  1. Strength
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Elemental Damage
  4. Vitality
  1. Strength
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Vitality
  1. Strength
  2. Vitality
  3. All Resistance
  4. Life %
  1. Strength
  2. 2 Sockets
  3. Vitality
  4. All Resistance
  1. Strength
  2. Vitality
  3. Movement Speed
  4. Skill Damage
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Elemental Damage
  5. Strength
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Strength
  1. High Damage Range
  2. Strength
  3. Socket
  4. % Damage

9. Paragon Points

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

10. Gems

Your armor sockets should be taken up by the highest tier Ruby gems you can afford at the time, the weapon — with your highest Emerald, while the helm should be filled by a Diamond to reduce Cooldowns. When you stumble upon jewelry with good primary stats and a socket, you should start dabbling into Legendary Gems. The Legendary Gems to consider for Crusaders are, in order of importance:

  • Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped — staple multiplicative damage increase. Note that the gem is self sufficient, proccing itself when fighting in melee range, where the Crusader fights almost by default.
  • Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken — almost mandatory gem for Greater Rift progression, as it is designed to whittle down the scaling health numbers of monsters with a percentage-based increase on successive attacks.
  • Boon of the Hoarder Boon of the Hoarder — synergizing with other farming mainstays like Avarice Band Avarice Band and Goldwrap Goldwrap, this gem will not only keep you rich, but also sped up and safe during normal rift farming.
  • Bane of the Powerful Bane of the Powerful — the speedfarm counterpart to Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken, Bane of the Powerful Bane of the Powerful offers a solid overall damage and survivability increase as long as your killing speed does not fall behind the timer of the gem.
  • Situational gems — Boyarsky's Chip Boyarsky's Chip is a vital part of any Thorns setup, of which Crusaders have two — the Legacy of Nightmares Thorns Bombardment Bombardment, and Thorns of the Invoker set builds. Esoteric Alteration Esoteric Alteration is a defensive cornerstone in facetanking builds, protecting you against bursty elemental affixes.
Slot Gems
Torso and Pants

11. Kanai's Cube

Kanai's Cube choices are highly build- and content-specific, making them hard to summarize. Generally speaking, Crusaders should store the powers of the following items in the Cube as soon as they have the materials available: The Furnace The Furnace, In-geom In-geom, The Mortal Drama The Mortal Drama, Akarat's Awakening Akarat's Awakening, Aquila Cuirass Aquila Cuirass, Heart of Iron Heart of Iron, Hammer Jammers Hammer Jammers, Nemesis Bracers Nemesis Bracers, Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac, Ring of Royal Grandeur Ring of Royal Grandeur, Unity Unity, Convention of Elements Convention of Elements and Avarice Band Avarice Band.

12. 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.

13. ChangeLog

  • 19 Oct. 2016: Updated the guide with a starter build for the Season 8 free set, Seeker of the Light.
  • 02 Aug. 2016: Updated the guide to include leveling, a better fresh 70 setup and Haedrig's Gift use tips.
Force desktop version
Force mobile version