Thorns Bombardment Crusader Skills and Runes
On this page, we explain how to choose and use your skills when playing Thorns Bombardment Crusader in Diablo 3. Updated for Patch 2.7.6 and Season 29.
|Punish Celerity Bombardment Barrels of Spikes 1 Phalanx Bowmen 2 Steed Charge Draw and Quarter 3 Iron Skin Reflective Skin 4 Akarat's Champion Prophet|
The build's performance hinges on the alignment of several really strong buffs to the Bombardment damage; most notably, you have to play around the Convention of Elements cycles and time your manual Bombardments with the Physical part of the rotation. This necessitates that you keep track of the CoE buff and whenever Lightning is up — the buff that directly precedes Physical — you have to make sure that you Steed Charge into the thick of a fight, attaining the 5-second Norvald set buff. This simple rotation will ensure that whenever the Physical CoE cycle is up, you will have the optimal amount of buffs to your manually cast Bombardment burst. Summon Phalanx Bowmen on cooldown (you should be at or near perfect overlap with your high amounts of cooldown reduction) to reset the CD on Akarat's Champion with the powers of the Akkhan 4-piece set. Permanent uptime of Akarat's Champion is necessary, since you need to get as much defense up as you can when you dive into the fray — supplemented by Iron Skin whenever you expect spikes of incoming damage. After your damage burst cycle is complete, you should consider the state of the battlefield — if there are only a few stragglers up, even if they are elites, you should drag them along into a bigger fight using Steed Charge Draw and Quarter; you are much stronger when you take advantage of Area Damage.
Skills and Runes
Similarly to the older LoN spec, this Akkhan build focuses on Bombardment as the primary damage dealer of the build, along with the Barrels of Spikes rune that scales off Thorns damage on gear. By wearing Belt of the Trove, you will have a source of automated damage that inherits your selected rune and damage bonuses (see this build's gear page for more information); however, you are still in control of your own cooldown, allowing you precision and buff-syncing for the bulk of your damage.
Punish is the solitary non-cooldown skill in the build, but do not be fooled by its unassuming generator damage. It will serve to stack up your Bane of the Stricken multiplicative damage bonus on single targets, which is especially important against Rift Guardians.
Mobility is a vital aspect of Greater Rifts clears, whether it is for simple movement or more active avoidance or engagement in fights. The Crusader's best tool for the purpose is Steed Charge, and you can add to its utility by adding a monster displacement aspect to it with the rune Draw and Quarter; this way, you have an additional tool to build and distribute monster density in a fight. Note that Steed Charge is especially important in this build, since it uses the Norvald's Fervor set ( Flail of the Charge and Shield of the Steed), whose bonus multiplies your damage while mounted and for 5 seconds after the skill wears off. You need to internalize the duration of this buff and reapply it accordingly, since your DPS hinges on its maintenance.
As an Akkhan-based build, it is only natural to include Akarat's Champion in the setup. Due to the 4-piece set bonus, you will also need to include Phalanx Bowmen to reset this powerful steroid skill, and reach its permanent uptime. The rune of choice is, of course, Prophet — for the additional toughness and cheat death proc.
The traditionally defense-oriented Iron Skin skill sees its role reversed in Thorns builds with the rune Reflective Skin. Aside from using it when endangered by burst, you can also trigger it directly before a Bombardment barrage to skyrocket its damage. Timing this skill becomes even more important if you push this build into Greater Rifts, since you will have to synchronize it with a physical cycle of the Convention of Elements rotation. It should be noted that earlier on in character progression, you can stick to a purely protective rune like Steel Skin here; the loss of DPS is made up for by a relatively easier-to-play build.
Unlike its LoN counterpart, this Thorns Bombardment variant uses Heavenly Strength as a baseline weapon passive, due to the mandatory two-handed Flail of the Charge in your hands. Note that in an early season setup, if you are still farming the Norvalds set, you can freely swap this passive out for Fervor according to your best rolled Thorns weapon.
You have a degree of freedom in your second passive slot, which you can adjust according to your preferences and attempted content. If you feel your defenses lacking (during early season gearing or late GR pushes, for example) or prefer the safety in Hardcore, include the Indestructible cheat death. Our base recommendation however is Finery, which adds 1.5% Strength for every socket across your gear, including weapon and jewelry. Assuming an average of 10 sockets across a well-equipped character, Finery amounts to a decent boost of both damage and toughness.
- 13 Sep. 2023: Skills and passives reviewed for Season 29.
- 22 Feb. 2023: Skills and passives reviewed for Season 28.
- 26 Aug. 2022: Guide revised for Akkhan set changes and S27 theme.
- 13 Apr. 2022: Guide reviewed for Season 26.
- 09 Dec. 2021: Guide revised and added Season 25 Soul Shard recommendations.
- 23 Jul. 2021: No changes required for Season 24.
- 31 Mar. 2021: No changes necessary for Season 23.
- 18 Nov. 2020: Revised the skill section to reflect the build's new GR pushing capabilities in Season 22.
- 30 Jun. 2020: No changes required for Season 21.
- 12 Mar. 2020: No changes necessary for Season 20.
- 19 Nov. 2019: Reviewed for Season 19.
- 22 Aug. 2019: Reviewed for Season 18.
- 15 May 2019: Guide was reviewed and approved for Season 17.
- 17 Jan. 2019: Information was reviewed and approved for Season 16 with no changes required.
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