Shield Bash Crusader BiS Gear, Gems, and Paragon Points
Below, we detail the items and gems that you should use for your Shield Bash Crusader in Diablo 3 and why. We also list your paragon points and Kanai's Cube items. Updated for patch 2.6.4 and Season 16.
1. Best in Slot Gear and Alternatives
As a gearing baseline, you will be including all 6 pieces of the Roland's Legacy set, leaving the jewelry to balance between pure offense (with the Bastions of Will set) and defensive utility (via a Hellfire Amulet with a protection passive). In terms of rolls, your set pieces will make good use of skill damage bonuses, which are possible on both Roland's Visage and Roland's Stride. You will be trying to improve the uptime of your longest cooldown, Akarat's Champion, with an investment in Cooldown Reduction on both Roland's Grasp (alongside Crit stats) and Roland's Mantle (alongside Area Damage). The remaining pieces — Roland's Bearing and Roland's Determination — are best left with tanky stats, focusing on high Strength, Vitality and All Resistance rolls.
For Season 16 adjustments, please refer to our dedicated section below.
The armor set piece distribution enables you to include the Bastions of Will set, Focus and Restraint, into the setup. This setup offers the highest damage multiplication possible (2.25x) from your ring slots, as long as you make a point to alternate between a resource generating and a resource spending attack (which you do with Punish and Shield Bash). Your remaining jewelry slot is best filled by a Hellfire Amulet of Strength, ideally adding a complementary passive to the build (i.e. the Indestructible cheat death, or the healing of Wrathful).
You have a bit of freedom in your choice of belts, as there isn't a specific piece necessary for a Shield Bash setup. By default, it is advisable that you take the pure damage option — The Witching Hour — to squeeze the maximum amount of damage from the build possible. While the belt lacks any flashy legendary affixes, it more than makes up for it with its offense stats, Attack Speed and Crit Damage, not found on any other item in the slot. On the other side of the spectrum, you can invest in the heavy melee damage reduction capabilities of String of Ears, easing the survivability strain on this facetanking build. Finally, there is a middle ground option found in Vigilante Belt, whose unique Cooldown Reduction affix will improve the general uptime of your multiple CDs.
The remainder of your item selection is purely focused on improving the performance of Shield Bash itself. Firstly, the dedicated bracers Drakon's Lesson are a necessary inclusion, as they offer massive damage multiplication bonuses to your main damage dealer, as well as a valuable resource cost refund aspect. Either wearing The Final Witness and cubing the craftable Piro Marella or vice versa is a viable route. The Final Witness turns Shield Glare from a cone-shaped shot into fully circular AoE, massively improving the damage potential coming from the equipped Flail of the Ascended. Piro Marella simply reduces the Wrath cost of your main spender, with the potential to halve it with its best rolls.
1.1. Season 16 Adjustments
During Season 16 (and in seasonal play only), you will be getting the benefits of Ring of Royal Grandeur passively, without the need to wear it. For the Shield Bash Crusader, this allows you to add an extra layer of defense to an otherwise glass cannon build.
Shield Bash Crusader builds have always suffered due to the "all-in" nature of their signature skill, as well as its clunky mechanics that make smooth evasion of incoming projectiles and blows impossible. With the inclusion of the free RoRG in Season 16, you are able to shift Leoric's Crown into your worn pieces, replacing Roland's Visage and freeing up the armor Cube slot for another protective legendary. Our recommendation for the slot is String of Ears for its consistent, flat 30% Physical damage reduction — the melee nature of the build all but guarantees that physical attacks are your main threat.
Alternatively, you could bank on high density Greater Rifts during your pushes with the build, and attempt a cubed Aquila Cuirass route — although it inevitably falls off, the Wrath restoration of Shield Glare Zealous Glare will ensure Aquila's unique bonus is up when it matters most: in high density. Aquila Cuirass' damage reduction also applies to elemental attacks, making it more powerful than String of Ears, but far less reliable.
2. Paragon Points
Esoteric Alteration makes for a valuable addition to a facetanking build like a Shield Bash Crusader. This gem improves your elemental resistances with every level, and provides you with a last line of defense against one shots through its level 25 property.
Bane of the Trapped is a potent source of additional damage, as it is its own multiplier in your total damage calculation. As for its crowd control requirement, the gem procs itself with its level 25 property when in melee range, where this build naturally operates.
Bane of the Stricken occupies the third and final jewelry socket during GR progression. Building up your damage multiplicatively in prolonged fights and with a level 25 bonus specifically targeting Rift Guardians, this gem is designed to assist AoE heavy builds in their struggle against single target, high HP enemies; while Shield Bash-based builds do generally better in this regard, Bane of the Stricken is still immensely helpful.
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4. Kanai's Cube
There is some flexibility in your armor Cube slot. We generally recommend Leoric's Crown, as it offers a generic improvement to your cooldown reduction when paired with the Flawless Royal Diamond in your helm. Other options include String of Ears for the melee damage reduction, or even Nemesis Bracers for the extra elites in this assassination-oriented playstyle.
Choices can be made in the jewelry Cube slot as well. By default, for solo Greater Rift progression we recommend using a Unity, which — when paired with another on your follower, plus an immortality relic for him (like Enchanting Favor) — will provide you with 50% damage reduction. If you are grouped up, this slot can be changed into Justice Lantern for a slightly lesser, but follower-independent damage reduction bonus. Last but not least, if you are fishing to push this build to its limits, there will be no better item to assist you than Convention of Elements — at the cost of significantly glassing out.
- 17 Jan. 2019: Added suggestions for the baseline Ring of Royal Grandeur for Seasonal characters.
- 22 Mar. 2018: Added the guide.
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