This Diablo 3 patch 2.4.1 Crusader thorns build combines Invoker’s and Akkhan’s sets to hit Greater Rift 92.
Note: This build was created on the Public Test Realm, where balance changes may still occur. Check back in the future for any updates to this guide in accordance with balance changes.
Check out our other Diablo 3 guides!
Diablo 3‘s upcoming patch 2.4.1 will see some Crusader buffs that are allowing for the emergence of a new kind of thorns build: a mixture of the Invoker and Akkhan’s sets. While Invoker is performing well enough on its own thanks to the current 2.4.1 Public Test Realm buffs, the Akkhan set was a Crusader classic that I’m happy to see return. While this set didn’t receive buffs, Akarat’s Champion did – its extra damage is now multiplicative with other damage modifiers instead of additive. If you don’t know what that means, let’s just say it now deals more damage and leave it at that for today.
This build combines the buffed Invoker’s 2-piece set bonus with the Akkhan’s full 6-piece set bonus to produce a permanent Akarat thorns build that has cleared Greater Rift 92 on the PTR leaderboards.
To run this build, you need two pieces of [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/crown-of-the-invoker’ item=’Invoker’]’s set and five pieces of [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/helm-of-akkhan’ item=’Akkhan’]’s set. With a [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/ring-of-royal-grandeur’ item=’Ring of Royal Grandeur’] in your Kanai’s Cube, you’ll benefit from the 6-piece set bonus. It doesn’t matter how you mix-and-match the equipment slots, so long as you have two pieces of Invoker’s and five of Akkhan’s. That said, your wrists will be Invoker’s and your chest will be Akkhan’s, because there are no alternatives for these two slots.
This build revolves around stacking block chance, and a [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/justice-lantern’ item=’Justice Lantern’] is essential. With this ring, not only do we gain more block chance, but we also gain damage reduction equal to roughly half of our block chance. While the blocking mechanics have a hard cap at 75 percent – that is to say, you can never block more than three out of four hits, no matter how much block chance you’ve stacked – the damage reduction from the Justice Lantern does benefit from numbers above 75 or even 100 percent. Yes, your block chance can exceed 100 percent, because f*** logic.
For your weapon, you’ll need a [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/hack’ item=’Hack’]. Where other Crusader thorns builds opt for different weapons here such as a Pig Sticker in order to put the Hack in the cube, we cannot give up our cube’s weapon slot, which is reserved for [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/akarats-awakening’ item=’Akarats Awakening’]. The rarest crusader shield in the game, Akarat’s Awakening is critical to this build – every blocked attack has a 25 percent chance to reduce all cooldowns by one second. This is what will allow us to maintain permanent Akarat’s Champion.
Your Hack needn’t be ancient. A best-in-slot Hack would be ancient, yes, but thorns builds do not benefit from weapon damage the way other builds do. What’s more important is trying to roll as close to 100 percent thorns damage as possible on its legendary property. You should also roll off the damage property – yes, that’s possible! – in order to gain a free affix.
Now, while your Hack needn’t be ancient, thorns builds benefit much more from having other ancient items. For regular builds, your weapon is your main source of damage. Ancient items roll with stats that are 30 percent higher than normal legendary items, and for a weapon, that means 30 percent more damage. Ancient shoulders will hardly net you more damage, because 30 percent more Strength doesn’t translate into that much more damage. But for a thorns build, your damage is coming from an accumulation of Thorns damage on several pieces of gear. 30 percent more thorns damage on all your gear pieces translate into 30 percent more damage overall.
For your shield, you’ll want the [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/votoyias-spiker’ item=’Votoyias Spiker.’] Note that this is not a Crusader shield – this means that if you want to optimize your chances of gambling this item for blood shards, it would be best to use a Barbarian in order to remove Crusader shields from the loot table. If you want to obtain the item by upgrading rares in your Kanai’s Cube, do remember to upgrade shields and not Crusader shields. The Spiker will be a huge source of added damage that you can maintain considerable uptime on.
The remaining gear choices – while not mandatory – will greatly improve this build. An [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/aquila-cuirass’ item=’Aquila Cuirass’] in your cube will give you constant 50 percent damage reduction, because this build will always be at maximum resource. No spenders, no need to fuss over staying above 90 percent. The [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/the-compass-rose’ item=’Endless Walk’] set will give us damage and toughness when we need it, and a [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/string-of-ears’ item=’String of Ears’] will offer some added toughness in melee.
One critical thing to note: with thorns builds, standard gearing rules do not apply. Critical Hit Chance and Critical Hit Damage are completely useless, as thorns cannot crit. This allows you to stack more defensive stats instead and focus on staying alive. Physical Damage is a must for your amulet and bracers, however, as thorns deals physical damage.
Click through these images for all the gear pieces you want equipped and the optimal stats on each. Wherever possible, get a secondary resistance.
2. Skills[d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/crusader/active/punish’ item=’Punish’] will be your main attack, granting you increased dodge chance when you land a hit. The Celerity rune allows us to stack some attack speed as we block, which in turn allows us to rain down more Punish attacks – it’s a self-buffing skill. Thanks to our Hack, Punish will be our main source of damage. [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/crusader/active/steed-charge’ item=’Steed Charge’] is a great mobility option. It allows for quick escapes, fast travel between enemy packs, and the Draw and Quarter rune lets you drag straggling enemies along with you to the next group of demons waiting to be slain. [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/crusader/active/laws-of-justice’ item=’Laws of Justice’] is a powerful defensive aura, and the Decaying Strength rune will really help you stay alive against Rift Guardians. This build can take a while to bring down these Goliaths, so Decaying Strength really does get to put in its work. [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/crusader/active/iron-skin’ item=’Iron Skin’] is another defensive buff, but the Reflective Skin rune turns it into a massive damage buff that is essential to all thorns builds. [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/crusader/active/provoke’ item=’Provoke’] with the Hit Me rune not only buffs our block chance – which translates into more damage reduction thanks to our Justice Lantern – but it will also double our damage thanks to our shield. [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/crusader/active/akarats-champion’ item=’Akarats Champion’] with the Prophet rune buffs our damage, toughness, and gives us a free revive as long as we can keep it up.
For passives, you’ll want [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/crusader/passive/fervor’ item=’Fervor’], since we’re using a one-handed weapon; [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/crusader/passive/iron-maiden’ item=’Iron Maiden’] since this is a thorns build; [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/crusader/passive/hold-your-ground’ item=’Hold Your Ground’] because we’re stacking block chance, and [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/crusader/passive/renewal’ item=’Renewal’] for the added sustain it grants us.
3. Legendary Gems[d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/bane-of-the-trapped’ item=’Bane of the Trapped’], [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/boyarskys-chip’ item=’Boyarskys Chip’], and [d3=’http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/bane-of-the-stricken’ item=’Bane of the Stricken’].
4. Paragon Points
Start by getting your Move Speed up to 25, including what might be on your boots, then dump everything into Strength. Under Offense, prioritize Attack Speed, then Cooldown Reduction. For Defense, start with All Resist, then then Armor, then Life. For Utility, Area Damage, then Life on Hit.
Playing this build is fairly straight forward: hit things and don’t die. If you’d like more nuanced explanation than that, then do your best to stay in the thick of combat – remember, the more you block, the faster your cooldowns reset. You want to try to stay in Akarat’s form at all times thanks to the massive buffs you receive.
Rain blows upon your foes with Punish, pop Laws of Justice when you anticipate big incoming damage, and use Iron Skin when you want to deal big damage. Provoke has a shorter cooldown than Iron Skin and Laws of Justice and can be used more liberally – try to keep it up during all fights.
CJ Miozzi is a Senior Editor at The Escapist and is also known as Rhykker on Youtube. You can follow his livestreams on Twitch and Tweet to him @Rhykker.