Diablo® III

Thorns Build: In-depth Skill/Gear Guide

Want to make a fun thorns build and this is what I've managed so far... I'd appreciate feedback on my gear/talent choices. Also worth mentioning I know this isn't the most effective; but it's more of a fun build and I want to maximize the effectiveness while still being thematic.

PS: Make sure to read the updates below for any additional notes such as edits and things such as alternative gear suggestions.

Gear

Helm - http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/crown-of-the-invoker
Shoulders - http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/burden-of-the-invoker
Gloves - http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/pride-of-the-invoker
Chest - http://us.battle.net/d3/en/artisan/blacksmith/recipe/demons-marrow
Wrist - http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/sanguinary-vambraces-1385JU
Belt - http://us.battle.net/d3/en/artisan/blacksmith/recipe/demons-restraint
Pants - http://us.battle.net/d3/en/artisan/blacksmith/recipe/captain-crimsons-thrust
Boots - http://us.battle.net/d3/en/artisan/blacksmith/recipe/captain-crimsons-waders

Ring - http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/ring-of-royal-grandeur-3qRFop
Ring 2 - http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/justice-lantern
Ammy - http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/the-flavor-of-time

Weapon - Current WIP
Shield - http://us.battle.net/d3/en/item/akarats-awakening

Gear Choice Explination
A number of things I have going here;

Ring of Royal Grandeur - Using 3 sets here and getting very important set bonuses for all of them.

Justice Lantern - Block Chance is huge with Akarat's Awakening, and the more block chance you have means the lower your cooldowns will be.

Flavor of Time - The cooldown reduction is the main stat here and the movement speed is also great (meaning that you hit your cap sooner and don't have to get it elsewhere); Amulets are really the most free item with this build but the main thing is you want to get as many of your high priority stats (which I'll cover below) as possible.

Sanguinary Vambraces - No explanation needed

Invoker Set - Key for a thorns build, most pieces roll thorns damage and the set bonus grants additional thorns as well as turning thorns into an aoe effect (due to the ring you only need 3 pieces to get the 4 set bonus)

Demon Set - Mostly here for a nice chunk of bonus thorns damage (there really aren't many better choices for a chest piece; so snagging this set bonus doesn't really hurt you at all)

Captain Crimson's Set - This may seem a bit off, but one huge factor to this build being viable is the highest possible upkeep, and the cooldown reduction from the 3 set really helps with this.

Weapon/Shield -
Weapon currently in progress, doing research to find the most efficient weapon for the build since the previous weapon choice doesn't work (although with that being said I don't suggest taking Hack since it does nothing for the build and is more for a build with thorns as opposed to the thorns build I'm trying to achieve).
Akarat's Awakening might seem like another odd choice, given the alternatives (increasing thorn damage by 200% during the duration of provoke namely); however this goes back to how key maximizing the uptime of Iron Skin and Provoke is; while the 200% damage would be nice, having a higher upkeep on your two core abilities is much more important. It's also worth noting that thorns by themselves cannot crit; however they can crit with Iron Skin (which is why it's so important).

Skill choices -

Primary
Punish - Roar; The choice was roar or Retaliate for "pseudo-thorns" and Roar all-in-all seems more effective while still being thematic.

Secondary
Please see second post for details (this is more of a utility slot than anything since your primary damage source is thorns).

Defensive
Iron Skin - Reflective Skin; This is the only reason this build really works at all, since this is an ability, it allows your thorns to crit (which is modified by your crit damage). Having a high cooldown reduction and keeping this up as much as possible will maximize your damage output.

Utility
Provoke - Hit Me; Taunts targets to attack you giving more thorn procs potentially (and give a higher block chance which yields CDR with your shield). Possible change soon since Taunt seems to have a clunky interaction with monsters.

Laws
Laws of Valor - Critical; Not really much to say about this except it gives a nice chunk of damage to your thorns when you have Iron Skin up, cdr and your shield will make even more use of this ability.

Conviction
Akarat's Champion - Rally; This is basically free bonus damage in nearly every way imaginable, and it gives you even more cooldown reduction for it's duration which allows for easier upkeep of your key skills.

Passives
Iron Maiden; Duh?
Hold Your Ground; You want as much block chance as possible, and losing dodge for this is a no brainer
Renewal; A nice chunk of passive regen since you'll be blocking a lot
Divine Fortress; Huge survability boost with your items.
Edited by Ryukurai#1695 on 4/4/2014 11:52 AM PDT
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Cont'd...

Your second slot gives you the most freedom, you generally just want to get the most utility out of this, a few suggestions are just a straight damage ability like Shield Bash (just to have something to do while they break themselves upon your body); or you can go for utility spells like Shield Throw with Divine Aegis, or Sweep Attack with Life on Hit, or pull mobs to you.

Just a small cover of stats and their effect on the build.
Thorns - It is a thorns build after all...
CDR - Huge for the build (If you can afford the Vit loss, put a Diamond in your helm over an Ameth.);again this goes back to a higher upkeep on Iron Skin/Provoke
Crit/Crit Dmg - Thorns normally can't crit but with Iron Skin they can, and they can hit pretty hard.
Str - Modifies your thorn damage

If I think of anything else or if there's any questions or comments I'll update this post to reflect any changes or respond to any questions.

Edit: For those who want a quick link to the skills here you go (although it's worth noting it isn't much without the given context)
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/crusader#aZXdfQ!ThUV!acacbb

Edit 2: Special thanks to Highlander for rune suggestions on Provoke! Initial post updated to reflect this change.

Edit 3: Changing a couple runes (again thanks to Highlander).

Edit 4: Secondary ability notes

Edit 5: Updated weapon selection - will update when I come across something better or anyone suggest something better; removed physical damage %+ from desired skill list.

Edit 6: Special thanks to MhBlis for testing my attack speed theory; I was wrong and this will be updated accordingly!

Edit 7: Alternative gear suggestion ~ Thanks to TeejayMac for suggesting http://us.battle.net/d3/en/artisan/blacksmith/recipe/the-helm-of-rule Currently Sanguinary Vambraces might be bugged and if that is the case taking Helm of Rule and using Invoker Gloves instead might prove a better option

Edit 8: Build Variation suggestion ~ SeraphMeph is currently running a Thorns Build to good effect, and has listed a short skill/gear guide here http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/12372637275?page=4 ; Another update will be soon(tm) ~

Edit 9: Updated to reflect possible change in Utility Skill/Rune Choice; Provoke - Charged Up Tested and confirmed to NOT proc on thorns damage and has been removed; Provoke seemingly has clunky interaction with monsters (more testing required). Updated Skills Link

Edit 10: While I firmly stand by my original point of wanting to make a true thorns build as opposed to a build with thorns; however, as the ideas and variations go I'll gladly give credit where credit is due! Credit to Yanluo for a Hybrid Thorns/Thunder Crusader Build! Gearing/Skill guide can be found at http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/12372637275?page=5
Edited by Ryukurai#1695 on 4/8/2014 10:22 AM PDT
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Do you feel that with the recent changes to how people could farm Ghom using thorns damage (this is no longer possible AFAIK) that this build will suffer because of it?

edit: Do you think that with the hotfix they implemented earlier, that a more serious patch will do a bit of a sweep for this sort of build?
Edited by Noctem#1461 on 4/1/2014 2:30 PM PDT
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Yes, the nerf hit any sort of thorns-centric build pretty hard.

I am not quite sure what you mean by sweep? I assume you mean sweep as in more nerfs essentially destroying the build?

I really don't think they'd nerf it any further than it already is; especially given that with the hotfix they removed the only real broken thing about thorns, and for them to be even remotely effective and viable requires extremely specific gearing.

Edit: To answer your question more directly this build isn't meant to be the most effective way of farming your way through t6 or anything; it's just a fun specific set up meant to match a desired theme (thorns) while being as effective as possible.

Edit 2: Attack speed doesn't affect thorns proc rate ~ updating to reflect this knowledge.
Edited by Ryukurai#1695 on 4/3/2014 6:40 PM PDT
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I would suggest to try the following with your thorn build

1) Punish > Roar : Although retaliate does more weapon damage, it's based on the single target that is hitting you and very contingent on the attacker's attack speed. But with Roar, you're essentially dealing damage all around you. So while one attacker may only hit you once every 2 seconds, another little guy could be hitting you 3 times a second. Additionally, if that one attacker happens to not be blocked by you, you miss out on the return damage, whereas with Roar, as long as you block anyone, the damage affects everything within the radius.

Since the intent is to tank and demolish groups, you essentially get a pretty consistent aoe against everyone banging on you.

2) Provoke > Charged up : Unless your overall block % is fairly low, this should trump the damage output that you get from an additional 50% block, since I think there's a cap on block % at some point. I don't think you can truly block 100%. Correct me if I'm wrong.

But basically, when you activate this and you have Punish/Roar going, every AOE you do, and very thorn dmg you do is now dealing even more damage. When I use this combo pretty much all I end up seeing is a continuous effect of explosions with numbers popping up all over the place, and dead things shortly after. I'd imagine the numbers would be bigger when getting thorns to crit.

Those are my thoughts. It may or may not increase your farming speed.
Edited by Highlander#1740 on 4/1/2014 3:13 PM PDT
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90 Dwarf Paladin
10110
Posts: 165
Thanks for the post. From the moment I learned about Crusaders, I wanted to make a thorns build. I've been awful at it so far, but it's still a fun process. I will definitely benefit from this post.
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*bump
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04/01/2014 03:11 PMPosted by Highlander
I would suggest to try the following with your thorn build

1) Punish > Roar : Although retaliate does more weapon damage, it's based on the single target that is hitting you and very contingent on the attacker's attack speed. But with Roar, you're essentially dealing damage all around you. So while one attacker may only hit you once every 2 seconds, another little guy could be hitting you 3 times a second. Additionally, if that one attacker happens to not be blocked by you, you miss out on the return damage, whereas with Roar, as long as you block anyone, the damage affects everything within the radius.

Since the intent is to tank and demolish groups, you essentially get a pretty consistent aoe against everyone banging on you.

2) Provoke > Charged up : Unless your overall block % is fairly low, this should trump the damage output that you get from an additional 50% block, since I think there's a cap on block % at some point. I don't think you can truly block 100%. Correct me if I'm wrong.

But basically, when you activate this and you have Punish/Roar going, every AOE you do, and very thorn dmg you do is now dealing even more damage. When I use this combo pretty much all I end up seeing is a continuous effect of explosions with numbers popping up all over the place, and dead things shortly after. I'd imagine the numbers would be bigger when getting thorns to crit.

Those are my thoughts. It may or may not increase your farming speed.


Hm the first I can see, I won't argue that at all, the main point of punish is for the additional block chance so the rune isn't that important.

The only thing about provoke is I can see where you're coming from, but since blocking as much as possible to reduce the cooldown and in-turn the uptime on Iron Skin is the key to making the build viable, would you still say charged up over the block rune?
Edited by Ryukurai#1695 on 4/1/2014 3:30 PM PDT
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04/01/2014 03:27 PMPosted by Ryukurai
04/01/2014 03:11 PMPosted by Highlander
I would suggest to try the following with your thorn build

1) Punish > Roar : Although retaliate does more weapon damage, it's based on the single target that is hitting you and very contingent on the attacker's attack speed. But with Roar, you're essentially dealing damage all around you. So while one attacker may only hit you once every 2 seconds, another little guy could be hitting you 3 times a second. Additionally, if that one attacker happens to not be blocked by you, you miss out on the return damage, whereas with Roar, as long as you block anyone, the damage affects everything within the radius.

Since the intent is to tank and demolish groups, you essentially get a pretty consistent aoe against everyone banging on you.

2) Provoke > Charged up : Unless your overall block % is fairly low, this should trump the damage output that you get from an additional 50% block, since I think there's a cap on block % at some point. I don't think you can truly block 100%. Correct me if I'm wrong.

But basically, when you activate this and you have Punish/Roar going, every AOE you do, and very thorn dmg you do is now dealing even more damage. When I use this combo pretty much all I end up seeing is a continuous effect of explosions with numbers popping up all over the place, and dead things shortly after. I'd imagine the numbers would be bigger when getting thorns to crit.

Those are my thoughts. It may or may not increase your farming speed.


Hm the first I can see, I won't argue that at all, the main point of punish is for the additional block chance so the rune isn't that important.

The only thing about provoke is I can see where you're coming from, but since blocking as much as possible to reduce the cooldown and in-turn the uptime on Iron Skin is the key to making the build viable, would you still say charged up over the block rune?


After reviewing the Character sheet in game, I feel you'll get more value from Charge Up, considering the set of gears you listed. I confirmed that 75% is the max block you can have. It's noted on the Character tool tip when you hover over block %.

So when you add that shield that could have upwards of 25% block, + 15% Punish, + 15% Hold you ground, +11% Justice Lantern, you're already at 66% Block. So now "Hit Me" is only giving you about 9% block value worth, out of that 50%.

In that case, I think the added dmg from "Charged Up" would trump the 9% block.

Essentially, it all depends on your block% before Provoke.

Edit:Correction. The wording with "Hit Me" is to add 50% of your current block, not adding 50% block. So in the instance of having 66% block, "Hit Me" would give you an additional 33% block. It's still a waste at that point, but I misread the Rune.
Edited by Highlander#1740 on 4/1/2014 3:52 PM PDT
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Hm you're right, I forgot about the block cap; the extra damage on Charged Up would work nicely with the Invoker set bonus; I'll update the second post to reflect this addition. Thanks!
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04/01/2014 03:59 PMPosted by Ryukurai
Hm you're right, I forgot about the block cap; the extra damage on Charged Up would work nicely with the Invoker set bonus; I'll update the second post to reflect this addition. Thanks!


Awesome. Look forward to see how this Thorn Build evolves as the gear is found!
Edited by Highlander#1740 on 4/1/2014 4:04 PM PDT
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Hopefully RNG will be kind when I attempt to start gearing up... It will take a while, but a few positive things about the gear selection is

1. None of it is class specific so you could technically acquire any of the non-crafted pieces from Blood Shards
2. A large quantity of the gear is crafted, so you can farm it on other characters that are more efficient at farming
3. Some of the gear is cache specific (namely the ring and gloves); so if you're playing with friends just do the bounties on a stronger/better geared character then switch to your crusader to claim the cache.
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The block cap is the passive cap, I'm almost certain that temporary buffs like Punish and the block rune for the taunt can push you over that 75%
Edited by Tildeman#1832 on 4/1/2014 4:11 PM PDT
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04/01/2014 04:11 PMPosted by Tildeman
The block cap is the passive cap, I'm almost certain that temporary buffs like Punish and the block rune for the taunt can push you over that 75%


Well this would be something worth testing, although with the wording on the tooltip in the character sheet really indicates otherwise; and not having a cap would make the CDR on Block shield incredibly OP...
If anyone could confirm or disprove this it would be appreciated (as my crusader is still in the works and has crap for block chance).
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Hi I didn't notice anyone using blessed hammer + thunderstruck with a thorn build. I've been using it and its fantastic. just gather up dudes, hit your abilities and start spamming blessed hammer in the middle of the mobs, everything dies :) my gear is crap but its still grinding stuff to paste
Edited by Sooth#6699 on 4/1/2014 4:33 PM PDT
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04/01/2014 04:20 PMPosted by Ryukurai
04/01/2014 04:11 PMPosted by Tildeman
The block cap is the passive cap, I'm almost certain that temporary buffs like Punish and the block rune for the taunt can push you over that 75%


Well this would be something worth testing, although with the wording on the tooltip in the character sheet really indicates otherwise; and not having a cap would make the CDR on Block shield incredibly OP...
If anyone could confirm or disprove this it would be appreciated (as my crusader is still in the works and has crap for block chance).


Here's what I can tell you.

My Block is at 46% without any active buffs. With Punish and Provoke I brought it up to 91% on the Char sheet.

So the question is, is that char sheet accurate or is there an internal mechanism that really does cap it. For example, in WoW, you can have high dodge or crit %, but there are soft caps and diminishing returns that doesn't show up in the stat sheet.

A good way to test things out is if you can get to 100% block, which I was able to do temporarily with Towering Shield passive, and just let it tick up. Oddly, the block % with Towering shield stopped at 71% for me... might be bugged.

Anyway, using Provoke at that time brings me up to 100%. But trying to test against whether it's true 100% is a bit hard on my end since after the first block it resets the Towering shield, and I already have pretty high block to begin with that I can't be sure if it's really 100% block, or just my 75%. It would be a slow test with something that hits slowly. I may attempt to test against Manglemaw if I have time.

At the very least, I can confirm the Char sheet can show up to 100% Block.
Edited by Highlander#1740 on 4/1/2014 4:56 PM PDT
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Love the idea and love the build. Good explanation on all your choices :) Hope i can get my HC Crusader to finally live for a bit longer so i can test this out hahahaha. Trial and error is the best way to succeed :)
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I was using shield bash for a while but then i though about blessed shield.....not only can it bounce and hit more times than shield bash but it costs less.

Also if you put the divine aegis rune on it ( for the armor and regen stacks) you can get rid of the divine fortress and use something else. I picked wrathful for the extra healing in a higher torment.

The blessed shield also makes the CD refreshing from Akarat's Champion refresh skills a lot faster than just melee swinging and shield bashing.

Just a couple thoughts from me.
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04/01/2014 06:42 PMPosted by Belale
I was using shield bash for a while but then i though about blessed shield.....not only can it bounce and hit more times than shield bash but it costs less.

Also if you put the divine aegis rune on it ( for the armor and regen stacks) you can get rid of the divine fortress and use something else. I picked wrathful for the extra healing in a higher torment.

The blessed shield also makes the CD refreshing from Akarat's Champion refresh skills a lot faster than just melee swinging and shield bashing.

Just a couple thoughts from me.


Hm, an interesting thought... The armor and hp regen would be amazing, but the only thing I don't like is that any time spent at ranged is wasting a huge part of your kit (Invoker 4 set and Sanguinary Vambraces). With that in mind would you still suggest it? Also remember that I want to stick as close to the theme of the build without straying too much for the sake of being more effective in general (rather I want to be as effective as possible while still being true to the heart of the build).
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As a general question to anyone who might have some insight or feedback, I didn't really think about trying Celerity on Punish (15% attack speed on block). What do you think of taking this over roar/punish, given that your thorns can only proc from a single source as fast as your attack speed, thus more attack speed would mean more thorns damage in a shorter amount of time?

Edit: Attack speed doesn't affect thorns proc rates, Celerity not really a viable rune for this build ~
Edited by Ryukurai#1695 on 4/3/2014 6:39 PM PDT
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