I just finished playing the Crusader through level 58 on Expert, successfully killing Malthael in the process. I am no Diablo III expert by any means, but playing the new expansion class sure made me feel like a lot more of a badass than I probably am. It was a heck of a lot of fun, and it got me to thinking that the Crusader plays very much like a superhero, with me as his alter ego.

So here are a few tips on playing the Crusader like, well, an Avenger if you will. If you are looking for a guide that min-maxes stats to death, then go elsewhere. This is more to offer a few thoughts and observations on how to have fun with the class as you level the character up, and then continue to play through adventure mode, while feeling super at the same time. As a side note, it helps to have a level 60 or above with lots of gear and gold in your Stash. Each superhero is great on their own, but they can all use a Nick Fury benefactor.

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1) An Agent of Shield: Several of the Crusaders abilities are based on using a shield. Much like Captain America, he can still pull his weight without it, but he is much more of a bad ass when he has one. Abilities such as Shield Bash, Shield Glare and Blessed Shield, with corresponding runes such as Crumble, Emblazoned Shield and Shattering Throw, can often stun and immobilize targets, giving you the extra breathing room to get out of the way or regenerate a bit of health and wrath. It will also make your Avenging Crusader get his Steve Rogers on rather quickly. Having a good shield at all times, while not imperative, is key to keeping your Crusader dishing out — and mitigating — damage on a regular basis.

2) “Hulk Smash”: The Crusader is already fairly powerful in his own right, but if you have been playing Diablo‘s end game prior to the expansion (and since the Loot 2.0 patch), you probably have already collected several legendary weapons. Just some brief adventuring by that maxed out character can lead to top tier gems, which can be added to a low-level Crusader’s gear to make him an unstoppable force. I found a Legendary sword with a socket at level 20, and with a marquis Ruby added, the weapon had me carving through Champions and Elites with ease. That weapon lasted me through level 44, when I finally got a better Legendary.

3) “Whosoever Holds This Hammer …”: Or sword, or mace, or any other weapon for that matter (except bows — sorry Hawkeye fans). The Crusader is talented with almost any weapon, and the Heavenly Strength passive allows the character to wield any two-hander in one hand while still using a shield. When you add in the fact that several of the Crusader’s abilities call down lightning from the Heavens that can spread out among numerous foes, the Crusader bears a striking resemblance to Thor in more ways than one. Blessed Hammer, Justice, Fist of the Heavens and Falling Sword are all abilities I loved using to devastating effect.

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4) “That’s Because It’s a Miniaturized Arc Reactor”: Perhaps one of the Crusader’s coolest abilities before hitting level 60 is Heaven’s Fury, which calls down a beam of light that devastates anything in its path. A rune can also split that beam into three, allowing it to hit more targets. As I progressed toward Malthael and my level 20 Legendary weapon with the bad ass gem started to become merely heroic instead of godlike, this skill was the quickest way to carve up Champions, Elites and even bosses. It’s kinda like crossing Tony Stark with Thor for a few seconds.

5) “Congratulations! You have Created a New Element”: While finding weapons and gear has always been a special part of Diablo, at least before the Auction House ruined it, crafting was always a great way to get better gear if you were having a rotten time with the RNG. Scrapping everything you find and can’t use gives you a tremendous amount of materials, allowing you to craft the same item several times hoping for better stats to improve your damage and/or healing abilities. While a great weapon is essential to strong DPS, getting the most out of your other gear until you can find a better Legendary item is a must. There should never be any reason for your Crusader to have a blue item equipped past level 10, except for rings and an amulet.

6) “We’ve Made Some Modifications to the Suit”: Sometimes you find a piece of gear that is just about perfect, save for one stat. The new Mystic allows you to change that stat to something you might like a bit more. Unfortunately, it’s random, so you may expend materials and gold a couple times before you get the Strength or Vitality your Crusader might desire, but it is definitely worth using on a Legendary or two to twink the character even more.

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7) “So That’s What It Does”: Many Legendary weapons have special abilities. I was lucky enough to find a two-handed sword called Maximus that has the special ability of calling forth a demonic slave bound to my Crusader with Fire Chains. If you’ve ever gone against Champion mobs with that ability at high levels, you know what a pain it can be. Ignoring for a second how odd it is for a Crusader to have a demon minion, just imagine the fun of dragging that fiery chain through large groups of demons and seeing them end up as burning corpses on the ground. Moral of the story: pay attention to the special abilities of Legendary items. Some can be quite fun.

8) “I Have A Very Specific Skill Set”: The Crusader has a lot of skills, especially passive abilities, so don’t be afraid to experiment with all of them. Again, if you are a min-maxer, there will be certain skills and passives that are the best (and would indeed make you more of a superhero). But remember, this is for fun, and in the end — up to level 58, I have the following skills as my regular rotation (with runes in parentheses):

  • Justice (Hammer of Pursuit)
  • Fist of the Heavens (Fissure)
  • Blessed Hammer (Icebound Hammer)
  • Akarat’s Champion (Prophet)
  • Falling Sword (Part the Clouds)
  • Heaven’s Fury (Split Fury)
  • Heavenly Strength (Passive)
  • Indestructible (Passive)
  • Holy Cause (Passive)

Again, nothing more scientific than it was a lot of fun leveling to 58 and killing Malthael.

Share some of your fun tips from playing the Crusader in the comments below (and bonus points if you know the quotes). nad, in case you missed it, check out the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls review as well.

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