After patch 1.0.0 (PoE release) my old build got nerfed significantly. It required quite a lot of changes to be viable again and just didn’t have the same flavor. Nevertheless I decided to stick with it as pretty much every other build is boring to play for me. The old goals of the build are still the same: making a strong melee character with high survivability who is able to solo any content in the game. Despite strong nerfs the build still manages to do plenty of DPS and is even stronger than before in terms of survivability, but does require more expensive equipment to work as well.
I based the build on the Duelist class, but you can also adapt the skill tree slightly to work with Marauders, Templars, Scions and even Rangers.
- Why Dual Strike
- Build Strengths
- Build Weaknesses
- Passive Skill Tree
- Skill Gems
- Recommended Equipment
- Bandit Quest Rewards
- Gameplay Videos
- Closing Thoughts
Pre-release Cleave was my main damaging ability, but it got nerfed significantly and Dual Strike used with Melee Splash came out on top as the best replacement. Dual Strike deals massive single-target damage, and linked with Melee Splash even in a cheap 5-linked item deals over 10k AoE damage. This setup doesn’t necessarily even need a 6-linked chest early on to be effective, so you can farm your way through lower level maps until you’re ready to purchase one.
The Shredder build used to be a lot stronger before 1.0.0 patch but it’s still viable if you want a physical dual wielder. It gets increasingly powerful as you obtain better gear (duh!) and it does enable you to solo almost any content in the game.
As a side note, other AoE abilities don’t work as well for this build. Cleave, Lightning Strike, Reave, or any other 1-hand skill linked with Melee Splash gem doesn’t deal the same damage. Cyclone is just as good, but it causes huge desync (lag) issues so I stay away from it.
- Not extremely dependent on gear: you don’t need any specific expensive unique items to make this build work. There are a couple that help greatly but they aren’t necessary to make the build viable, and you can start farming endgame maps with average rare items.
- High survivability: with just a few health points in the skill tree you can easily reach 4,000 health and more. Paired with high armor, lifesteal, life regeneration and Endurance Charges you’re unstoppable.
- Great mobility: using Leap Slam and overall having lots of movement speed helps you get into fights quickly, and if necessary jump out of harms way even faster.
- Can’t get stunned or frozen: by using my skill tree and one fairly cheap unique item you’re completely immune to stuns and freeze, making sure you’re always dishing out damage regardless of who you’re fighting against.
- Adaptable: skill tree is designed in such a way that you can easily pick up extra health or resistances if needed, and easily overcome the lack of defenses on your gear with just a few points.
- Versatility: you can do any kind of maps; you are virtually unaffected by reflect which is the bane of many other builds. Blood Magic + double Reflect + Multiple Projectiles + Vulnerability… bring it on! Even Chaos damage doesn’t hurt you nearly as much as it does other builds.
- Fun to play: obviously everyone enjoys different things, but dying constantly isn’t fun for me which is why I prefer this build. Also shredding everything in your path with over 8 attacks per second is unbelievably entertaining to watch.
- Needs high health and resist gear: fortunately these are the only two stats you need to focus on. If you desperately need a specific resistance you can always put one or two points into the skill tree.
- Needs one mana leech item: you will need gloves, belt, ring or amulet with 2% mana leech. It’s not hard to get but you may have to sacrifice more useful stats because of it.
- Half regen maps: you might have somewhat decreased DPS in half-regen maps due to the inability to leech mana at a normal rate (funnily enough “no regeneneration” maps can be done without issues).
- Low IIQ/IIR: it’s hard to get Increased Item Rarity and Quantity on equipment for this build, but then again nearly every build except dual Spark totem or summoner has the same issue.
- Best gear is expensive: to be the most efficient it does require a 6 linked chest, Alpha’s Howl and preferably a Soul Taker.
The build is not updated for Forsaken Masters expansion, so the links below are broken. Here’s a screenshot of the old build if you need a starting point.
My current build: 109 points (level 90). It’s optimized for my own equipment based on my resistances, health and weapon types. If you’re lazy you can use it as-is, but it will work best if you adapt it to your own gear. As such, remove sword and axe damage nodes if you don’t use those weapons, remove bonus resistances if you’re already over-capped, and add some extra life nodes if your life is low.
- Why 5% reduced mana reserved: because then I can reserve 99% of my mana and use three auras: unless you have a Soul Taker (and Alpha’s Howl) it won’t be possible, so feel free to redistribute those points elsewhere.
- Why no Blood Drinker: I have plenty of life leech on equipment. When leveling you’ll probably want to have a point in Blood Drinker at all times.
- Why +6 to all elemental resistances: very efficient point and just enough to push me over the cap.
- Why no Bloodless: 8% more health is great, but I can’t afford the extra points.
- Why no Fencing: efficient node, but don’t have enough points for it.
- Is 2% to maximum resistances worth it? Yes.
- For other questions, see FAQ below.
My own build is provided just to give you an example how you can adapt it. Unless you have the identical items as I do, use the build below.
Recommended endgame build: 110 points (level 87-90).
This is a generic build designed to work the a variety of different equipment, and can easily be adapted to overcome any lack of stats on your gear: extra dexterity or intelligence is just 1 point away, as is extra health or resistances. If you lack certain elemental resistances (which is common for new players) simply remove a couple of points from damage nodes. Spending a few Orbs of Regret is better than not having your resistances maxed!
You’ll notice the build goes from Duelist to Marauder starting points and can be used by either class. Scion or Ranger classes can work as well, only 3-4 points need to be redistributed which I’m sure you can figure out by yourself (in other words I’m too lazy to create builds for those classes, besides it’s pointless: just connect the build in shortest way possible).
Skill Tree Progression
- Duelist: 10 points (Leather and Steel), 16 points (Water Dancing for +dex, Steel Skin), 26 points (Blood Drinker), 32 points (Resolute Technique), 43 points (Warrior’s Blood), 55 points (Iron Reflexes, Unwavering Stance), 66 points (Thick Skin, Finesse), 70 points (Weapon Artistry, Aspect of the Panther). Keep taking health, resists or damage as needed, possibly in that order.
- Marauder: 12 points (Diamond Skin), 24 points (Blood Drinker, Resolute Technique), 36 points (Master of the Arena; you might need to pick up Quickness for extra dexterity along the way), 43 points (Water Dancing, Leather and Steel), 52 points (Iron Reflexes, Unwavering Stance), 60 points (Thick Skin, Finesse), 74 points (Weapon Artistry, Aspect of the Panther, Berserking, Sentinel). Fill out other nodes as needed, focus on resistances and health first, not damage.
Don’t bother planning your skill tree with 120 points, you’ll never have that many! With other classes, just follow the starting points and connect to one of the skill trees provided above in the closest way possible, and work your way to important keystones and notable passives that give you most bang for your buck.
There’s no clear benefit to playing either of these classes early as each one has its own advantages: Marauder can get to resistances and Resolute Technique earlier, Duelist can pick up more damage and some much needed early +dexterity. I recommend you play whatever class you prefer, you can get to most important skill points early enough to enable the build to work well with either one. These builds are also made for softcore leagues: if you play on hardcore you will surely want to pick more health nodes earlier to be on the safe side.
Note that the skill point progression is more of a suggestion or a guideline rather than set in stone. If you need extra health or resistances while leveling don’t be afraid to go for it, it’s always just a couple of points away. If you need extra Intellect you can also pick up Hard Knocks or Wisdom of the Glade earlier, and you can always remove the points if you don’t need them later on. A huge upside to this build is its flexibility, and you will get about 15 respec points throughout leveling from quests which will be more than enough to fiddle around with a few points as you see fit.
- Iron Reflexes: converts all your evasion rating into armour. It maximizes the benefits you get from both armor and evasion on gear, passive skill points that further increase it and Grace aura. Your physical damage reduction won’t be under 50% even with the worst of gear. I mainly prefer armor over evasion due to its consistency: it’s better to get hit for low damage than for high damage every other time. You can always react with flasks, Molten Shell or just run away if you’re taking too much damage, while with evasion you’re typically dead if you don’t dodge several times in a row. Don’t take it too early.
- Unwavering Stance: with this point you can no longer be stunned, and if you have Alpha’s Howl (pictured below with equipment) you can’t get frozen either. You’re literally unstoppable. Do not take it before you get Iron Reflexes!
- Resolute Technique: there’s no point in worrying about +accuracy and +critical on your equipment or worse in your passive skill tree. It’s a waste of stat, and potential damage you lose from not being able to critically strike is more than made up for by never missing attacks. Try to get to RT as fast as possible, it’s definitely worth it. It also makes sure your mana leech is consistent.
- You may need extra Dexterity or Intelligence for certain weapons or skill gems. +30 nodes are usually just a couple of points away so don’t be afraid to take them.
- Why no Blood Magic? Because we can’t run auras with it. Plus it’s not necessary as Mana Leech covers all ability costs.
- Unless you suffer from frequent stuns, don’t pick up Unwavering Stance and Iron Reflexes too early. Usually you’ll want to take it in late Cruel or early Merciless.
Why Resolute Technique? Why go Unwavering Stance? Why no Endurance Charges? Why no Vaal Pact? Why this, why that… If you feel any of the keystones are or are not useful, then do or don’t pick them up. I provided the full build I use which suits my play style, and after playing it for a year I’m sure it works — for me. It’s by no means the best or only build you can make! Experiment and decide for yourself.
|Your main damaging ability. You don’t need +quality since it only increases your critical strike chance which you have 0% due to taking Resolute Technique in the passive skill tree.
Support gems: Multistrike*, Melee Splash, Melee Physical Damage. In a 6-linked chest add Faster Attacks and Reduced Mana, and if you happen to have a Soul Taker switch Reduced Mana with Added Fire Damage. +Quality is useful on all of these gems, but not mandatory.
|Since it scales with attack speed you can jump around the map extremely fast. I find it very useful in many situations especially as an escape tool if things get rough, but you’ll also be able to leap over some ledges or jump to pick up your loot quickly.
Support gems: I usually use Faster Attacks, but none are required. Blood Magic is preferred so you don’t need to worry about the cost. No +quality required (adds stun duration).
|Helpful when you run out of health and want to regen quicker. Quality adds increased totem life, helpful but by no means necessary. Monsters also attack it so it can serve as a good distraction in larger groups, or even on boss fights.
Support gems: none required, you can use Blood Magic or Faster Casting if you wish.
Alternative: Decoy Totem.
|Shield absorbing over 2000 damage at max rank? Yes please. It also adds 1000 additional armor, further increased by your passive skill tree. When you expect damage, walk into tons of melee mobs or fight against particular bosses it helps prevent a lot of damage and might just save your life. +Quality only adds chance to ignite monsters so don’t bother with it. You can also use it with a high level Cast When Damage Taken gem for added survivability.
Support gems: none required, I use Blood Magic. Faster Casting is also a good choice. No quality necessary.
|Adds over 2000 additional evasion rating at max rank, further scaled by multiple points in your passive skill tree. Incredibly helpful as it increases your armor substantially. +Quality only adds radius so feel free to skip it.
Support gems: Reduced Mana. +Quality on Reduced Mana gem does not work on auras (intended).
Alternative: Purity (increases your elemental resistances).
|You can use it as soon as you get your Alpha’s Howl, or before if you don’t need Grace. +Quality only adds increased radius therefore not necessary. Be careful about Intelligence requirements: you might not want to level this gem past level 10 (it has miniscule DPS increase anyway).
Support gems: Reduced Mana. No +quality needed.
|You should constantly have endurance charges from Enduring Cry on Cast on Damage Taken gem, so when necessary you can pop Immortal Call to become completely invulnerable to physical damage for up to 2 seconds.
Support gems: Increased Duration, Faster Casting or Blood Magic.
* Multistrike is not a frequent skill gem drop and you may have to purchase it (typically around 3 Chaos Orbs). As an alternative you can use Added Fire Damage until you can obtain Multistrike.
Gem rewards from quests
|Dual Strike||Enemy at the Gate (Act 1 Normal)||Enemy at the Gate (Act 1 Normal), Mercy Mission (Act 1 Normal)|
|Leap Slam||The Caged Brute (Act 1 Normal), Intruders in Black (Act 2 Normal)||The Caged Brute (Act 1 Normal), Intruders in Black (Act 2 Normal)|
|Rejuvenation Totem||Lost in Love (Act 3 Normal), Enemy at the Gate (Act 1 Cruel)||Lost in Love (Act 3 Normal), Enemy at the Gate (Act 1 Cruel)|
|Molten Shell||None.||The Caged Brute (Act 1 Normal)|
|Grace||Enemy at the Gate (Act I Cruel), The Caged Brute (Act 1 Cruel), Lost in Love (Act 3 Cruel)||Enemy at the Gate (Act I Cruel)|
|Determination||Enemy at the Gate (Act 1 Cruel)||Enemy at the Gate (Act 1 Cruel), The Caged Brute (Act 1 Cruel), Lost in Love (Act 3 Cruel)|
|Hatred||The Caged Brute (Act 1 Normal), Intruders in Black (Act 2 Normal)||Intruders in Black (Act 2 Normal), Lost in Love (Act 3 Normal)|
|Faster Attacks||The Siren’s Last Cadence (Act 1 Cruel & Merciless), Sharp and Cruel (Act 2 Cruel and Merciless), Sever the Right Hand (Act 3 Cruel and Merciless)||Mercy Mission (Act 1 Merciless), The Siren’s Last Cadence (Act 1 Merciless), Sever the Right Hand (Act 3 Merciless)|
|Melee Physical Damage||Mercy Mission (Act 1 Cruel)||Mercy Mission (Act 1 Cruel & Merciless), The Siren’s Last Cadence (Act 1 Cruel & Merciless), Sharp and Cruel (Act 2 Cruel & Merciless), Sever the Right Hand (Act 3 Merciless)|
|Reduced Mana||None.||Sharp and Cruel (Act 2 Cruel & Merciless), Sever the Right Hand (Act 2 Cruel & Merciless), Mercy Mission (Act 1 Merciless), The Siren’s Last Cadence (Act 1 Merciless)|
|Added Fire Damage (x1)||The Siren’s Last Cadence (Act 1 Normal)||The Siren’s Last Cadence (Act 1 Normal & Merciless), Sharp and Cruel (Act 2 Normal & Cruel), Sever the Right Hand (Act 3 Normal & Merciless), Mercy Mission (Act 1 Cruel)|
|Blood Magic||Mercy Mission (Act 1 Merciless), Sharp and Cruel (Act 2 Merciless)||Mercy Mission (Act 1 Cruel & Merciless), The Siren’s Last Cadence (Act 1 Cruel & Merciless), Sever the Right Hand (Act 3 Cruel & Merciless)|
|Cast When Damage Taken||A Fixture of Fate (Act 3 Merciless)||A Fixture of Fate (Act 3 Merciless)|
|Multistrike||A Fixture of Fate (Act 3 Merciless)||A Fixture of Fate (Act 3 Merciless)|
Some quest rewards were slightly changed in patch 1.0.0, so the table may not yet be 100% accurate.
Marauders have easier access to most skill gems you need so you may want to try my build with Marauders rather than Duelists. I hope the table helps you plan your quest rewards and figure out which gems to take. However none of these skill gems are expensive and you could buy everything you need for just a few Chaos Orbs.
Multistrike and Cast When Damage Taken are only rewarded at the end of Act III in Merciless difficulty, so you may want to purchase them from players earlier. Multistrike costs about 2-3 Chaos Orbs, Cast When Damage Taken (not really required early on) up to 10 Chaos.
- If you’re running a 6 linked chest you can use Added Fire Damage as an additional support gem, or even as an alternative to Multistrike if you for some reason prefer. AFD deals less damage than Multistrike but only slightly.
- If needed you can run Clarity aura for increased mana regeneration if you have problems sustaining your ability costs in half-regen maps. Keep it at level 10 or below, and you can even link it with Blood Magic gem since it uses a flat amount of mana/health rather than a percentage.
Cast When Damage Taken
This support gem has a lot of potential to add variety and survivability to your builds. You should typically just keep the gem on level 1, since leveling it further just increases the damage you need to take in order to activate skills. I recommend some of the following spells:
- Molten Shell – auto-casting Molten Shell means you constantly have additional armor and damage absorption, without the hassle of casting it yourself.
- Enfeeble – depending on the intelligence requirements you may not want to level this gem fully or at all, but even a level 1 Enfeeble curse reduces the damage of anything hitting you by 25%. Definitely a noticeable difference!
- Enduring Cry – gives you endurance charges without having to cast the skill yourself. Makes you even more durable, and it’s especially useful for hard-hitting bosses since every endurance charge provides a fixed 4% physical damage reduction.
Alternatively, Rejuvenation or Decoy Totems are also very helpful. And in case you want to be extra annoying in groups, add Portal. Worth mentioning because I was asked many times, spells linked to CWDT don’t require or consume mana when cast.
Level 1 Cast When Damage Taken, linked with level 5 Enduring Cry and Enfeeble is easiest and probably best for beginners to use. You can also add Increased Duration if you have a 4th socket available. If your sockets allow later on you can also add another high level (15-20) CWDT and link it with Molten Shell and/or Immortal Call, or even add another Enduring Cry.
Rejuvenation Totem and Molten Shell are definitely not mandatory in this build, especially once you start using Cast on Damage Taken. If necessary you can consider using some of the following curses:
- Enfeeble – affected monsters have reduced Accuracy, Critical and Damage. Even a rank 1 Enfeeble reduces monster damage by 25% so if you have trouble surviving in some situations or against particular bosses feel free to consider it.
- Vulnerability – increases your physical damage by 25%-34%. Be careful about leveling it fully as level 20 Vulnerability requires 151 Intelligence.
- Warlord’s Mark – you gain increased life and mana leech on affected monsters: 3%-7% life leech and 1-3% mana leech depending on gem level. You can easily level it to 20 as it only requires Strength. If you need extra life leech or can’t get mana leech any other way consider using Warlord’s Mark, although you should typically avoid having to resort to it.
Where to put all those gems?
Below is an example of how you want your skill gems set up in your gear. Socket colors are important, but you don’t necessarily need to use all of these skills or support gems to achieve the same effect.
You still end up with a few leftover sockets, enough to make all of these abilities work just fine.
With my old build the item requirements were even less important. Now, the build can basically work well with just Alpha’s Howl, but a decent 6-linked chest and later on a Soul Taker are very recommended if you intend to tackle highest level content. Previously the build was extremely cheap, but now you can gear up any other build for the same price so take that into consideration.
Overall your main focus is to get elemental resistances and health on most equipment. One item is required with 2% mana leech, it’s not too hard to get but you may need to sacrifice more useful stats because of it. Avoid using a Mana Leech gem because you will find it much better to have an additional damage increasing skill gem link to your Dual Strike.
One item that’s almost mandatory for this build is Alpha’s Howl. Having a 6L chest helps greatly as well, but there is a fairly cheap alternative. Lastly a Soul Taker is recommended once you obtain riches beyond imagination.
The biggest upside to Alpha’s Howl is the freeze immunity. Getting frozen by bunch of caster skeletons is the number one reason why I died before getting this headpiece so set your goals towards obtaining this: it costs 3-4 Exalted Orbs with a maxed roll, but it’s priceless for this build.
Although it seems like a minor buff, the 8% reduced mana reserve cost is just enough to enable you to use a second aura on mana. You’ll be able to use Grace for additional defense or Hatred for a damage increase, and either of those will help greatly. As if that wasn’t enough, your auras will also get +2 additional gem levels and be slightly more powerful.
I definitely recommend you save any currency you have and try to purchase Alpha’s as soon as you can.
6-linked chests don’t come cheap, but they do enable you to get extra damage on your Dual Strike. As a sidenote it makes no difference if you have a 4-link item for Dual Strike or a 5-link one: you can’t sustain Dual Strike + Melee Splash in a 5-link item with 3 damaging support gems without also adding Reduced Mana.
If you can afford the price and more importantly loss of stats on your chest piece, consider getting Tabula Rasa. It costs about 2-3 Exalted Orbs and will enable you to add Faster Attacks + Reduced Mana to your Dual Strike, thus increasing its DPS by about 25-30%. It’s up to you to figure out if you can play without armor, resistances and health provided by normal chests — it mostly depends on the quality of the rest of your gear.
Decent 6-linked rare chests are pretty expensive: the one pictured costs about 20 Exalted, and it’s far from being the best one. If you want to buy ANY 6-linked chest you’re probably not going to find one priced below 8 Ex.
Not necessary by any means, but it does open up additional opportunities. By having this unique axe you can remove the Reduced Mana gem in your chest and add Added Fire Damage, further improving your damage to likely well over 20k (depending on your weapons).
Legacy Soul Takers are insanely expensive so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get your hands on one any time soon, but a new nerfed one should cost you about 50 Exalted and it’s still decent. You’re buying it because of its “insufficient mana” effect, not because of the DPS. Soul Taker also enables you to reserve your entire mana pool, allowing you to use a 3rd aura.
Either way leave it as the last item to go for, and set your goals towards it. You can do without it, but can never improve your DPS substantially without one.
If you want to level up a bit faster you might want to consider getting one of these two items: Wurm’s Molt or Slitherpinch. They will help sustain your ability costs early on and are really, really cheap. If you’re just starting in the game you probably won’t even be able to afford these immediately, but generally they cost about 1 Chaos Orb.
I might be able to hook you up with these (on Standard league), just PM me in game (info below), or join my guild.
- Normal: help Oak and get +40 health
- Cruel: help Oak for +18% physical damage
- Merciless: kill them all (+1 skill point)
I prefer using a setup of 2 health flasks, 1 hybrid (for cases if I run out of mana), 1 Granite and 1 Amethyst. You can see the flasks that I currently use below:
They aren’t perfect rolls (except the Hybrid one) but they serve the purpose. I think it’s very important to have one “instant recovery when on low life” flask for situations when you suddenly drop near death. You can never have enough Chaos resist so I recommend having an Amethyst Flask in case it’s needed: try to get one with increased armor or evasion on use so you can use it against physical damage as well. Hybrid Flask helps in case you happen to run out of mana and need to Leap Slam or use a Rejuvenation Totem, or in some instances when you can’t sustain Dual Strike on single-target monsters. Once you get Soul Taker you can switch Hybrid to Quicksilver or even another Granite Flask.
I prefer all my flasks to have either bonus Armour or Evasion on use which is further scaled with the passive skill tree. Doubling your armor for nearly 5 seconds with a Granite Flask is crucial to surviving hard-hitting abilities and enemies like Vaal or Kole.
Plenty of players often use Quicksilver Flasks, but there’s no reason to with my build. You have plenty of mobility to get away or run towards someone faster, and if you really feel the need for speed you can get a bonus movement speed mod on any other flask.
The video embedded below is a short and incomplete Jungle Valley, level 72 map run. The map doesn’t have any mods to increase its difficulty, but it does demonstrate how well the build works in high level content. Weaver/Spinner of False Hope boss fight shown in the end of the video is considered one of the most challenging ones, but as you can see this build doesn’t really struggle with it.
I didn’t even use Endurance Charges and the flasks used are more as a precaution rather than a necessity. If you have any specific map or boss fight requests let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to record them.
Shredder is a very versatile build that has little weaknesses. It used to be much, much stronger but it’s still viable for grouping or even soloing endgame maps, however it does come with a steep price tag if you’re dabbling in highest level content without a group. To get the most out of this build you will need some pretty expensive items, and with the same amount of currency spent you’re able to make many other builds work just as well if not better.
But, if you like the gameplay of a physical damage dual-wield character, this is it! There are some other dual-wield builds but none of them that I like playing nearly as much as this one. The Shredder is great for beginners as well since it’s extremely easy to play, but be warned you will have to farm intensively if you ever want to get over 20k tooltip DPS. Even with the best of items Shredder is somewhat weak DPS-wise compared to many other builds, so take that into consideration if you intend to choose it.
You’re welcome to discuss the build or ask me anything about it in the comments below.