Crusader Leveling and Fresh 70 Guide
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 Seasonal Crusaders, explaining how best to take advantage of the free set from Haedrig's Gifts.
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.
Progression (Seasonal or Not Seasonal)
Your progression on a given character always start with leveling to 70. To help you with that, we have a beginner leveling build that you can access using the link below.
Haedrig Gifts' Season 29 Starter Build
After reaching Level 70, the easiest way to start gearing up and progressing towards the end-game is by using the set given by the Haedrig's Gifts. Haedrig's Gifts are cache-like rewards that drop 2 pieces of a fixed class-specific set after completing chapters II, III, and IV of the Seasonal Journey. Having a full 6-piece set bonus available to you will skyrocket your character's power well in the mid-to-high Torments. This makes the early portion of the Seasonal Journey your first priority upon reaching Level 70.
This Season, Crusaders will find the Thorns of the Invoker set in their Haedrig's Gifts. We have an early progression build for this set, which you can find by clicking the link below.
Other 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.
Gear To Look For
To learn how to gear up quickly and approach a character's progression in general, check out our Beginner Seasonal Guide. It includes advice and tactics related to gambling Blood Shards, doing Bounties, Regular, Greater and Challenge Rifts, and using Kanai's Cube for easy upgrades.
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 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 any 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 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 and Goldwrap. Their powers combined, they can render your character practically invulnerable even in the highest of Torment difficulties.
- 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 Dreams/Nightmares set builds that build their DPS and defense around the use of high utility legendary items. The Legacy of Dreams/Nightmares Bombardment Crusader, a supremely powerful build, makes great use of Illusory Boots — making them very attractive to the class.
- 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, capped at once every 2 seconds. This is 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 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, as the armor Cube slots of their preferred farming specs are flexible enough to fit the item in.
- 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 one-shot 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 is not considered a cache priority.
- 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 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:
- Sets: While the seasonal journey will reward you with a complete set
through Haedrig's Gifts, gambling for armor set pieces still makes sense —
to improve lackluster pieces, or complete class sets other than the gifted one.
The Crusader sets are:
- Thorns of the Invoker: Crown of the Invoker, Burden of the Invoker, Pride of the Invoker, Shackles of the Invoker, Renewal of the Invoker and Zeal of the Invoker;
- Roland's Legacy: Roland's Visage, Roland's Mantle, Roland's Grasp, Roland's Bearing, Roland's Determination, and Roland's Stride;
- Seeker of the Light: Crown of the Light, Mountain of the Light, Will of the Light, Heart of the Light, Towers of the Light and Foundation of the Light;
- Armor of Akkhan: Helm of Akkhan, Pauldrons of Akkhan, Gauntlets of Akkhan, Breastplate of Akkhan, Cuisses of Akkhan and Sabatons of Akkhan;
- Aegis of Valor: Crown of Valor, Spaulders of Valor, Brigandine of Valor, Gauntlets of Valor, Chausses of Valor and Greaves of Valor;
- Norvald's Fervor: Flail of the Charge and Shield of the Steed.
- The weapon is by far the most impactful item on your damage output, putting a priority on the weapon slot as the first to obtain an ancient item for. Due to its higher Blood Shard cost (75 for weapons vs. 25 for armor pieces and off-hands), you should delay weapon gambling — avoiding it at the start of character progression and only considering it when you start perfecting your gear. If you simply need a specific weapon, you will get a much better deal with the Upgrade Rare recipe in Kanai's Cube. The Hope of Cain recipe (1 rare item, 25 Death's Breaths, 50 of white, blue and yellow crafting materials) will only produce the type of item you put in (i.e. flails), cutting out all other weapons from the RNG pool that you would have to deal with through regular gambling at Kadala. Flails are the Crusader-specific one handed weapon you can easily target through upgrading rares, with valuable and build-defining flails such as Swiftmount, Johanna's Argument, Gyrfalcon's Foote, Darklight, Golden Flense, The Mortal Drama, Akkhan's Leniency and Fate of the Fell. Other weapons valuable to the Crusader include the Two-handed Swords Blade of Prophecy and Faithful Memory, as well as In-geom, Messerschmidt's Reaver and The Furnace.
- Shields are almost equally important to their weapon companions, and it is recommended to gamble for them even early on due to their low Blood Shard price. Powerful and build altering off-hands include class-specific Crusader Shields like Akarat's Awakening, Jekangbord, Frydehr's Wrath, Ivory Tower and Shield of Fury, as well as standard Shields like Lidless Wall. Guard of Johanna and Denial deserve special mention in the category, as both shields have a level requirement of 15, meaning they can drop very early on, or be gambled as early as level 1. This enables the gambling strategy of a level 1 Crusader to spend shards on shields, quickly yielding Guard of Johanna and/or Denial from the tiny RNG pool of a starting character. Note that the item's level 1 stats will make it obsolete for endgame, but their bonus is powerful enough to carry you throughout leveling, and can be stored in the Cube as soon as its natural stats fall behind upgrades.
- Jewelry has a huge influence on your DPS, but similarly to weapons it is expensive to gamble (50 shards for rings, 100 for amulets). When searching for specific jewelry rolls, you should consider upgrading rares instead. All three jewelry sets can be utilized by Crusaders, in order of importance: the Endless Walk set, The Compass Rose and The Traveler's Pledge; the Legacy of Nightmares set, Litany of the Undaunted and The Wailing Host; and the Bastions of Will set, Focus and Restraint. Other build-specific Crusader jewelry includes Squirt's Necklace, Justice Lantern, Unity, Convention of Elements and Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac.
- Bracers are a surprisingly important slot for Crusaders, with skill-specific legendaries like Akkhan's Manacles, Bracer of Fury, Gabriel's Vambraces and Drakon's Lesson being a crucial part of their respective builds, as well as cross-class generic bracers like Ancient Parthan Defenders, Strongarm Bracers and Nemesis Bracers all having a solid place in progression or speedfarming builds. The cheap Blood Shard cost of the slot makes bracers very attractive to gamble.
- Crusaders have a few belt pieces to watch out for, all parts of signature Crusader builds — Belt of the Trove for anything Thorns-related, Sacred Harness or The Witching Hour for Blessed Hammer builds, Khassett's Cord of Righteousness for Fist of the Heavens, and even the cross-class Goldwrap for speedfarm.
- Most remaining armor slots only have a few desirable items for Crusaders. In the long run, you will want to find Aquila Cuirass, Heart of Iron and Cindercoat (chest pieces); Hammer Jammers (pants); Leoric's Crown (helm); and Stone Gauntlets and St. Archew's Gage (gloves).
Stats To Strive For
The table below is meant to point you in a general correct direction and is by no means indicative of the exact rolls you want to go for. They can vary greatly from build to build and it is always preferable to refer to our exact guide page. If you simply use the rolls below however, and roll for skill damage on the applicable pieces:
- Blessed Shield, Shield Bash, Phalanx, Blessed Hammer, Fist of the Heavens, Sweep Attack on helms and boots;
- Condemn, Heaven's Fury, Falling Sword, Bombardment on shoulders and chest;
- Justice, Punish, Smite, Slash on belt and pants.
Wherever it says 'Elemental damage', match it to the rune of your damaging skill of choice. You will come out with a functional spec, and probably not too far off from what we would recommend in a dedicated build!
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 — 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 — 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 — synergizing with other farming mainstays like Avarice Band and Goldwrap, this gem will not only keep you rich, but also sped up and safe during normal rift farming.
- Bane of the Powerful — the speedfarm counterpart to Bane of the Stricken, 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 is a vital part of any Thorns setup, of which Crusaders have two — the Legacy of Dreams/Nightmares Thorns Bombardment, and Thorns of the Invoker set builds. Esoteric Alteration is a defensive cornerstone in facetanking builds, protecting you against bursty elemental affixes.
|Torso and Pants||
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, In-geom, Messerschmidt's Reaver, The Mortal Drama, Fate of the Fell, Blade of Prophecy, Faithful Memory, Akarat's Awakening, Frydehr's Wrath, Shield of Fury, Ivory Tower, Jekangbord, Guard of Johanna, Aquila Cuirass, Heart of Iron, Belt of the Trove, Khassett's Cord of Righteousness, Goldwrap, Sacred Harness, Hammer Jammers, Akkhan's Manacles, Bracer of Fury, Gabriel's Vambraces, Nemesis Bracers, Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac, Ring of Royal Grandeur, Unity, Convention of Elements and Avarice Band.
The Kanai's Cube can be used for much more than simply extracting Legendary powers from items. Please refer to our Kanai's Cube guide for more information.
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 Sep. 2023: Reviewed for Season 29.
- 22 Feb. 2023: Reviewed for Season 28.
- 26 Aug. 2022: Reviewed for Season 27.
- 14 Apr. 2022: Reviewed for Season 26.
- 10 Dec. 2021: Revised for Season 25.
- 23 Jul. 2021: Reviewed for Season 24.
- 02 Apr. 2021: Reviewed for Season 23.
- 20 Nov. 2020: Added the Aegis of Valor beginner guide.
- 03 Jul. 2020: Reviewed for Season 21.
- 13 Mar. 2020: Reviewed for Season 20.
- 22 Nov. 2019: Overhauled the guide and updated it for Season 19.
- 23 Aug. 2019: Updated for Season 18.
- 16 May 2019: Updated for Season 17.
- 18 Jan. 2019: Updated for Season 16.
- 20 Sep. 2018: Updated for Season 15.
- 14 Jun. 2018: Updated for Season 14.
- 23 Feb. 2018: Updated for Season 13.
- 08 Nov. 2017: Updated for Season 12.
- 02 Jul. 2017: Updated for Season 11.
- 31 Mar. 2017: Updated the guide with a starter build for the Season 10 free set, Armor of Akkhan.
- 20 Jan. 2017: Added stat priority for shields.
- 05 Jan. 2017: Updated the guide with a starter build for the Season 9 free set, Thorns of the Invoker.
- 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.
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