Blainie

Thorns Crusader (Patch 2.6.4)

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I think heart of iron is not as good as it seems, all top crusaders go aquilla cuirass and cube nems, which seems like a good idea, because when in rift my biggest problem is lack of elite enemies xD

In general I've seen few variants of thorns build. I like it because there is some freedom and you can always tweak it up a little bit to your own liking in contrary to other builds. Also gearing is much easier and much more fun in my opinion.

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Sounds like thorns is upgraded by strength to the same tune as the rest of a crusaders or barbarians damages. So the heart of iron is great, still better than the nemesis bracers I'm sure.  But it is likely best left as an added bonus, not a change in build style. 
Let the added bonus of thorns come naturally from the vitality you add for survive-ability as you progress. And strength for dmg/armour otherwise. 
But maybe that depends, maybe me on hardcore being around 10K Vitality, the 30,000 thorns ( from Hoi)makes a great difference. Maybe on softcore people build glass cannons with all of 3 or 4K Vitality and then 9 or 12 thousand thorns is less of a big deal than the strength bonus from going full strength, almost certainly is, and nemesis extra elites is just gravy... But I'm not sure, I wonder how often they'd die and whether that time wasted re spawning is worth it.  Armour from strength is huge, so maybe they die less than I'd think. 
If they have 3 times less vitality, and 5 times less life, but have 2 or 3 times the armour, due to not bothering with life% rolls since they become less important the less vitality you have, so I could turn those into armour, and they have almost twice the strength.... So instead of balancing Strength, Vitality, Armour and Life%, they just have a bit of Vitality, and tonnes of strength and armour, paragon all into strength not any Vitality.... Hmmm.... I shouldn't roll the dice with that on hardcore. But it sounds about right, dmg and grift speed wise... only if they don't die so often that the re spawning takes up too much time. Before you laugh at my Life% plan that no one ever uses, keep in mind it's the most powerful toughness buff once your Vitality is really high. So on hardcore it's great. 
So yeah sounds right for maxing your solo Grift lvls. Using the nemesis and aquilla C. But of course Heart of Iron is still a bonus, no matter how little, so if in a group that someone else can wear the nemesis bracers instead, it's still the better option. And if in a great GR with tonnes of elites to the point you don't need Nem B's it's still better too, which is random and rare, I know. 

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Heart of iron is good at start but becomes obsolete pretty fast leaving up space for better item combinations. Sanguinary vambraces are super extra horrible choice for this build and you should always go with lacuni prowlers (which have guaranteed ias and thorns btw). This build is elite hunting build, you don't need sang vambraces with their random proc to aoe with thorns, faster attack is much better.

Heart of thorns will give you around 17k-18k thorns end game if you are well geared. It seems to be much, but it really isn't. Wearing AC, cubing nems and getting rid heart of iron is much better option. Heart of iron is good to start with this build, but I am almost sure anyone will want to make the switch at some point.

I switched over from the icy veins variant of this build to the top push and cannot complain, much better play now.

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Yeah that sounds fair. I'm at 10K Vitality though, so it's actually Like 30K thorns. I assumed that for top GR leaderboard pushing you can't be on hardcore at all, you need to go for more offence at the expense of defence. So I'd imagine you are right, maybe they'll make a note of that as an option, but I just meant for me it's a no go. I need lots of vitality so the bonus becomes better for HoIron. 
Also keep in mind for groups, only one person needs the Nemesis bracers just make sure they grab the pylons, and only a small bonus is still a bonus, so if someone else has the bracers you might as well take your HoIron bonus. 

But yeah, wasn't so much disagreeing with you, sounds right for solo Grift maxing. I only chimed in to answer the strength question and strength/ vitality question... Started thinking out loud about it's application to me after that sorry. Could always wear the Nemesis bracers too though. Especially in the new season. 

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Even on hardcore you might benefit more from ditching the HoI and wearing AC. If you don't want nems you could cube the belt and use witching hour for extra ias or cube the stacking life/second boots for survivability. From what I've noticed the biggest survivability and damage buff in this build are given by upgrading boyarsky's chip (direct damage upgrade) and attack speed (damage from more iron maiden stacks and surv from LoH). So even if you have a lot of vit it is still better to make some changes in order to hit as fast as possible instead of relying on that little little +thorns buff HoI gives you for stacking vit as extra stacks from iron maiden will give you more damage than that. I don't know what variant you play on hc now, but with laws switched to laws of valor - invincible and swapping consecration for provoke - hit me I feel pretty much indestructible, and this is with gemming all res instead of vit, I think I don't even reach 800k hp, that's how not optimal my items are.

In the end, I only play WD on hc, so no idea how those changes would work out for your crusader, but still, using both builds I am quite confident I do more damage and have better survivability after making the changes.

And don't worry about providing input as long as you do it in a polite manner, I think it is a good thing to have a discussion about different variants and playstyles, so anyone who reads those messages can be aware of different possibilities that are viable to play it.

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Yeah was just browsing the hardcore leaderboards, I didn't know existed, and most of all classes use only 5k or so Vitality. I should look for a thorns somewhere on there. I'd be a ways away, not enough time on any characters to start perfecting, maxing out caldessan recipe's and climbing GR lvls anywhere near that high. Switch between 7 classes, died a few times, don't play everyday, but plan on getting there with all of them in the next year or so. Been playing about a year probably more.  Paragon 950 ish. 
It does look I'll have to eventually transition the build to lower vitality in favour of max offence and cooldown, and just play smarter. It relies on the defensive buffs I'll have to pay more attention to and get more often.  Really should to be able to almost constantly iron skin for offence as well. Akarats obviously. 
Yeah strength, attack speed and thorns are everything for the offence on this build, so other toughness stats and cool down are easy to sprinkle in on the gear even if I max those 3 offensive stats. 
Looks like I'll have to transition all my builds from vitality, once trying to really push higher. 

I also use provoke, blocking everything helps the defence a lot. I was only at like GR 86 playing co op. The toughness is still great, but I guess I'm assuming it gets much worse quickly, and has already started being noticeable that with more levels soon I'll be vulnerable if stupid. Being a tank has made me lazy. Don't want to worry about my minimum toughness, and rely on buffs, fully buffed I'm definitely still a tank. But getting the Akarat cooldown shield and more cooldown will mean I can dip in and out while buffed like a smart person.  

Vitality and life percentage go so well together but technically that just means I can take more hits, not as awesome as being buffed more often, since buffed is unreasonably great dmg reduction. I'll wait til my co op buddy has one ready to go further, and I have the shield though. Using the provoke shield for now which is not entirely useless. Need to perfect my gear, I'll avoid vitality caldessans and work towards less vitality slowly for now. Until I do have great cooldown, I'd rather be able to just stand there hitting for the most part to keep helping. My down time would be to much right now, so I need the vitality to stand in there all day even when not buffed. I still have dmg range on my weapon even. Lots of improving to go. 
 

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