Invoker Thorns Crusader Guide

Invoker RGK
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Introduction

Thorns of the Invoker Crusader build, as the name implies, utilizes Thorns to deal damage. However, the Thorns of the Invoker (6) Bonus makes sure that 99.7% of your damage comes from Punish, effectively turning this build into Generator Crusader with Thorns itemization.

Bombardment changes in Season 22 Patch made Akkhan/Invoker Bombardment build incredibly overpowered, so Thorns of the Invoker set was adjusted to move even more of its power into the (6) Bonus. Buffed at the same time Norvald's Fervor set was now strong enough to be included into the build and overall Invoker Crusader came out of the whole ordeal stronger than it was before.

Invoker Crusader is quite strong as a Rift Guardian Killer. It's also very consistent and brings a great buff Laws of Valor Critical for your Trash Killer.

In solo this build is also quite strong, but it has some major playstyle issues. This build is purely single target. And when you push high enough there's only one type of enemies worth attacking: yellow Elites. What if there's not enough of them in the rift to summon the boss? Too bad, try again!

Tanky ✔
Great Sustain ✔
Very High Attack Speed ✔
Great Single Target Damage ✔

❌ No AoE
❌ Extremely Boring
❌ Inconsistent Toughness
❌ Very Bad at Speedfarming


Core Setup

Core Item Build

Items

  • Thorns of the Invoker set provides 50% damage reduction, 100% Punish attack speed, 900% increased Thorns, and also lets your Punish deal 675 times your Thorns as damage.
  • Captain Crimson's Trimmings set gives around 65% DPS and 65% damage reduction, as well as 20% Cooldown Reduction.
  • Norvald's Fervor set increases all damage by 400%.
  • Ring of Royal Grandeur allows us to get full bonuses from all the sets.
  • Aquila Cuirass provides 50% damage reduction, that is always active in a Generator build.
  • Endless Walk provides another 100% damage boost.










Season 25 Soul Shards

Soul Shards are powerful socketable items that only drop during Season 25. There are 4 available for Weapons based on the Lesser Evils, with another 3 for Helmets based on the Prime Evils. They drop at Rank 0 and be upgraded three times with the brand new Hellforge Embers to unlock additional powers, or be used in the Kanai's Cube as Augments. Here's how they progress:

  • Rank 0: Soul Shards begin with a unique static Legendary Power. Creates a Rank 50 Augment.
  • Rank 1: Gives all powers from the normal gems. Creates a Rank 75 Augment.
  • Rank 2: Grants one additional powerful stat. Creates a Rank 100 Augment.
  • Rank 3: Unlocks 1 of 3 bonus Legendary Powers unique to that Soul Shard. Creates a Rank 125 Augment.

Warning: Leoric's Crown and Broken Crown do not work with Soul Shards!

Read our Soul Shards Guide for full details on how they work. What you should prioritize on them for Solo Pushing is the following:

  1. The Correct Soul Shard & Rank 3 Power
    The best shards for Solo Pushing are:
    • Helmets: We want to use Sliver of Terror for the massive damage buff from our abilities on cooldown. For the Rank 3 power take the additional Attack Speed and Critical Hit Chance to further boost your character's power.
    • Weapons: We want to use Remnant of Pain for the automatic crits against incapacitated enemies. Unlike normal Crit Chance these crits work with Thorns damage, so we can get another 6x separate multiplier simply by stacking Critical Hit Damage on our gear! For the Rank 3 power take the additional Attack Speed to further power up your character!
  2. The Rank 2 Stat
    The stats that come from the second upgrade are not equal. Here's what we're looking for on them:
    • Helmets: We want either Main Stat for damage or Melee/Ranged Damage Reduction to survive. Avoid Armor and All Resistance as their stat ranges are far too low compared to the other options.
    • Weapons: We want either Physical Damage or Attack Speed to boost our character's power the furthest. Avoid Critical Hit Chance and % Damage because they don't work with Thorns.
  3. The Stat Ranges on the Rank 1 and 2 Powers
    This is just icing on the cake because the ranges will not make or break your build. Still, look for the Soul Shards with the best stat ranges, especially on the offensive stats.

For the other game modes, other Soul Shards can be used. Check the Variants below to see what's used there.

What about extra Soul Shards? Either salvage them for gems, or upgrade and use them in Kanai's Cube for Augments.


Global Stat Priorities

There are no Cooldown Reduction Breakpoints in this build, but you still stack as much CDR as possible for more uptime on defensive buffs, as well as more DPS from Captain Crimson's Trimmings. In terms of Attack Speed, you should aim towards a 9 frames Breakpoint (see here for more information), which is achievable with 7% roll on Flail of the Charge and a total of 3% on Jewelry and Gloves. You should invest heavily into Life per Hit, as it is your only source of Recovery; try to get at least 40k of it. As usual, you stack DPS stats everywhere—Physical Damage, Critical Hit Damage, Elite Damage, Thorns Damage and Strength. Critical Hit Chance and Area Damage do not work with Thorns and should be ignored.

Assembling the Build

1. Do the Challenge Rift for the materials to cube Legendary Powers. You can complete this once a week for additional resources and we always update the guide for you!

2. Gather the full Thorns of the Invoker set. Each piece can be gambled from Kadala for Bloodshards. Do not salvage any duplicate pieces you find! Instead convert them to another part of the set with Recipe 4 in Kanai's Cube. If you have extra materials you can use Recipe 3 to craft the remaining pieces, but this is expensive and not recommended for new players.


3. Gamble from Kadala in this order:

  1. The full Thorns of the Invoker set
  2. Shield of the Steed and Akarat's Awakening
  3. Aquila Cuirass
  4. Belt of the Trove and Goldwrap
  5. Nemesis Bracers

4. Craft using Recipe 3 in Kanai's Cube in this order:

  1. 2-Handed Flails to get Flail of the Charge
  2. Anything from the Gamble list in Step 3 that you haven't already acquired.

5. Do Bounties to acquire several important items for this build:

  • Act 1: Ring of Royal Grandeur
  • Bounty Turn In: Recipe for Captain Crimson's Trimmings

6. At this point you can somewhat comfortably farm Nephalem or Speed Greater Rifts where you can find all the remaining items you need for different variants of the build. It's better to spend your materials improving your set pieces, getting ancient weapon etc.

Item Stat Priorities

SLOTITEMSTAT PRIORITY
Main-HandFlail of the Charge
The Furnace (Cubed)
1. Socket Ramaladni's Gift
2. Attack Speed
3. Cooldown Reduction
4. Elite Damage
5. Life per Hit
6. Strength
Ideally, you want to roll off the Damage Range from Flail of the Charge. Be wary: rerolling Damage Range to Elite Damage requires, on average, 885 attempts. Tread with caution.
Off-HandShield of the Steed
Akarat's Awakening (Cubed)
1. Cooldown Reduction
2. Elite Damage
3. Thorns (Secondary)
4. Block Chance
5. Strength
HelmCrown of the Invoker
Leoric's Crown (Cubed)
1. Socket Flawless Royal Diamond
2. Strength
3. Vitality
4. Life per Hit
5. All Resistance
GlovesPride of the Invoker1. Attack Speed
2. Cooldown Reduction
3. Critical Hit Damage
4. Life per Hit
5. All Resistance
6. Strength
ShouldersBurden of the Invoker1. Cooldown Reduction
2. Resource Cost Reduction
3. Strength
4. All Resistance
5. Vitality
Chest Aquila Cuirass1. Sockets Flawless Royal Diamond
2. Thorns (Secondary)
3. Elite Damage Reduction
4. All Resistance
5. Strength
6. Vitality
PantsRenewal of the Invoker
Captain Crimson's Thrust (Crafted)
1. Sockets Flawless Royal Diamond
2. All Resistance
3. Thorns (Secondary)
4. Strength
5. Vitality
BootsZeal of the Invoker
Captain Crimson's Waders (Crafted)
1. All Resistance
2. Strength
3. Vitality
4. Thorns (Secondary)
5. Armor
Ring 1Ring of Royal Grandeur (A1 Bounties)
Convention of Elements (Cubed)
1. Socket
2. Critical Hit Damage
3. Cooldown Reduction
4. Attack Speed
5. Life per Hit
6. Thorns (Secondary)
Ring 2
The Compass Rose
Justice Lantern
1. Socket
2. Attack Speed
3. Cooldown Reduction
4. Critical Hit Damage
5. Thorns (Secondary)
Bracers
Shackles of the Invoker1. Physical Damage
2. Strength
3. Life per Hit
4. All Resistance
5. Vitality
AmuletThe Travelers Pledge
Squirt's Necklace (Cubed)
1. Socket
2. Critical Hit Damage
3. Physical Damage
4. Thorns (Secondary)
5. Cooldown Reduction
6. Strength
BeltCaptain Crimson's Silk Girdle (Crafted)
Belt of the Trove (Cubed)
1. All Resistance
2. Strength
3. Thorns (Secondary)
4. Vitality
5. Life %
PotionBottomless Potion of AmplificationTo gain extra healing

Gems

  • Boyarsky's Chip is our most powerful DPS gem. It provides more than half of our total Thorns, effectively being an over 100% damage increase.
  • Bane of the Stricken is extra useful on this build. Apart from Rift Guardian, this gem also helps us kill elites in the rift, due to Punish's single target nature.
  • Bane of the Trapped adds extra 60% DPS. This is a melee build, so nothing special needs to be done in order to activate the damage bonus.

Skills

  • Punish Celerity is the main source of DPS, and it also provides a nice boost of 15% Block Chance and Attack Speed.
  • Iron Skin Flash is a very popular skill and for a good reason. Damage reduction, Movement Speed and no collision for only one skill slot. It's a bargain!
  • Akarat's Champion Prophet is a staple in every single crusader build. One skill providing 35% DPS, more than double toughness, CC-immunity, Wrath regeneration and full heal on "death" is just too good to pass up.
  • Laws of Valor Unstoppable Force provides 50% damage reducton and 15% Attack Speed.
  • Provoke Hit Me gives extra Block Chance and taunt, which help us stack Thorns of the Invoker (2) Bonus and proc Akarat's Awakening.
  • Steed Charge Endurance is used for mobility and to activate Norvald's Fervor (2) Bonus.

Passives

  • Heavenly Strength is required to equip Norvald's Fervor set.
  • Finery is the strongest generic crusader passive, which provides about 15% DPS and 12% toughness boost.
  • Iron Maiden increases Thorns, and therefore damage, by 50%.
  • Fanaticism provides 15% multiplicative Attack Speed Increase for Punish.

Paragon Points

CoreOffensiveDefensiveUtility
1. Movement Speed1. Cooldown Reduction 1. All Resistance1. Life per Hit
2. Strength2. Attack Speed 2. Armor2. Resource Cost Reduction
3. Vitality13. Critical Hit Damage 3. Life %3. Pickup Radius
4. Maximum Wrath4. Critical Hit Chance 4. Life Regeneration4. Area Damage

1 Add a bit of Vitality if you feel too squishy (a total of 750,000 Life is recommended).

Follower

Patch 2.7.0 revamped the follower system giving all 3 hirelings new powers and the emanate system. The first thing you should do is read our complete follower guide and remember the key takeaways:

  1. The emanation system allows followers to share certain legendary and set powers with you. The most important ones are: The Flavor of Time, Nemesis Bracers, Avarice Band, Sage’s Journey and Cain’s Destiny. Click the guide above for the full list.
  2. Follower’s powers are based on their main stat (maxed at 25,000, but they have a 2.5x multiplier so you only need 10,000). This means we stack Intelligence on the Enchantress, Dexterity on the Scoundrel and Strength on the Templar.
  3. Followers share 20% of their Experience, Magic and Gold Find stats with you.
  4. Legendary gems do not work on followers, except Esoteric Alteration and Mutilation Guard.
  5. Cooldown Reduction does not work for any follower skill except the Templar’s Heal.
  6. Followers never deal significant damage; you’re on your own to clear the content.

With these in mind, let’s get into our recommendations for this build.

GR Pushing Enchantress

GR Pushing Enchantress

For Greater Rift Pushing we recommend this Enchantress setup for the Slow from Temporal Pulse, Damage Reduction and Armor from Powered Shield, and the Attack Speed from Focused Mind. You can choose between Prophetic Harmony and Amplification depending on how much CDR you have on gear.

Stat Priorities:

Since we have the immortality relic, we do not need to stack survivability on our Enchantress.

Intelligence > Attack Speed.

Key Items:

  • The Flavor of Time: For double duration on Pylons.
  • Nemesis Bracers: For more progression from Elites.
  • Oculus Ring: For 85% increased damage.
  • Unity: For 50% damage reduction if you're also wearing one.
  • Ice Climbers: To make your follower immune to Freeze and Immobilize effects.
  • Mempo of Twilight and Cain's Destiny: For more Attack Speed.

Gameplay

  • Spam Iron Skin and Laws of Valor as much as possible at all times.
  • Akarat's Champion can be spammed as well, but pay attention to your health: if you are about to die, delay your Akarat's Champion so that you can immediately recast it, after the "cheat death" effect procs.
  • You use Punish when you have an elite to kill. Use Steed Charge when the buff falls off or when you need to move.
  • Only use Shield Glare on your Physical Convention of Elements rotation. If you block a lot of attacks and reset the cooldown before Physical is over, use it again.

Hardcore

This build is not very hardcore-friendly; your toughness depends on 3 different buffs, and they only stay up if you block enough attacks. At some point, while running through the rift, you can become unexpectedly squishy. If you play hardcore, swap Finery for Indestructible and also use the Justice Lantern setup. This way you will not only gain about 50% damage reduction, but also extra block chance, which in turn will get you more consistent uptime on your defensive buffs.


Variants

GR Solo Push
Invoker Solo Push

Concept
The solo push version uses Endless Walk set and Convention of Elements to maximize damage. Akarat's Awakening helps us reset cooldowns on all our buffs. We use Belt of the Trove in the cube to activate Thorns of the Invoker (4) Bonus, because we don't have a skill slot for Bombardment.

Gameplay
This build focuses entirely on killing Elites, fighting any kind of trash mobs is not worth your time. If you push high enough, the same becomes true of the blue Elites, and at that point you are only looking for yellows. Still, make sure that you aren't fighting just the Elite; you need to have at least 5-10 mobs on you to feed you enough blocks.

The biggest challenge of Invoker Crusader build is actually clicking on the Elite, and not on one of the surrounding mobs. If the elite is small and there's a lot of mobs around you will lose the target and waste a lot of time. You need to recognize this situation before it actually happens and skip these elites!

In season 25 this build faces an unexpected problem. The secondary effect of Boyarsky's Chip taunts enemies for 2 seconds. This makes them build CC-resistance and as a result your blind will only last 1.8 seconds instead of 4. The best way to deal with it is to only hit the elite during the first rotation. After your Physical ends and you've spent 8 or more seconds stacking Bane of the Stricken, stop hitting the yellow and let its CC-resistance decay. Instead spend your downtime killing a small trash mob to make an Oculus Ring. Then, when next Physical comes, go into oculus, Shield Glare the yellow and kill it using the telekinesis trick described in Mechanics.

When you find a Conduit Pylon, you should avoid killing any yellow Elites with it; focus mostly on blues and high-progress trash.

Setups
If you are lacking toughness you can drop Norvald's Fervor. Instead use Pig Sticker and Akarat's Awakening and cube The Furnace. This setup loses most of its appeal in Season 25 because now we have to interrupt our attacks with Shield Glare. Still it has more CDR and more sustain than ever before, making it a decent defensive option.

At higher Paragon (5,000+) you can play a ranged version of this build that is able to kill yellows in a single Physical rotation. Instead of Bane of the Stricken, equip Zei's Stone of Vengeance and stay 20+ yards away from your target. This way it won't get taunted so your Shield Glare will last the full 4 seconds and you also gain 48% more damage. Since this setup has a very fast-paced playstyle, you don't really have time to let the mobs walk up to you and hit you to proc Akarat's Awakening. Replace it with The Furnace and pick up Indestructible instead of Hold Your Ground. This setup is a lot squishier but you never stay in one spot for too long and elites don't have a lot of opportunities to cast their affixes.

Bombardment Solo Push
Bombardment Invoker Solo Push

Concept
This variant include The Mortal Drama and Bombardment Barrels of Spikes add some AoE to the build. This AoE is really weak, but you still have very good single target damage, so now instead of killing a yellow in 2 rotations, you spend 3 or 4 but you also kill a lot of surrounding trash at the same time. Essentially, you are playing a weaker Akkhan/Invoker Bombardment build but with all the annoying stuff taken out: you don't have to worry about blocks, you can regain life, you can kill elites, you can kill the Rift Guardian quickly.

For this version our stat priorities change. Bombardment Damage and Area Damage become more important than Attack Speed. We also need to stack more CDR (every item + Enchantress) to reach the 16s Bombardment breakpoint.

Gameplay
You always need to fight an elite together with trash, ideally a Rare elite but easily clickable 3-pack Champions will do as well. Your Akarat's Champion cooldown doesn't align with Convention of Elements so you can just spam it. At the start of Lightning, stop moving and attack something with Punish. You get 8/10 Invoker stacks just by attacking so you don't need to get in the middle of the pull, as long as there's a few mobs hitting you, you will get full stacks. 3 seconds into Lightning, activate Iron Skin and cast Bombardment. Use Steed Charge and Shield Glare and start attacking the elite with Punish. If Oculus Ring spawns, move into it and continue hitting the elite (use telekinesis trick described in Mechanics). After the Physical you have 8 seconds of downtime. If you have Akarat's Champion up, spend these 8 seconds glued to the elite to stack Bane of the Stricken on it. If Akarat's Champion is down, use the downtime to move the pull forward and add more mobs to it.

To maximize your damage, sync up your Belt of the Trove and Convention of Elements. For that you need to drink a potion when your current element is about to switch (CoE buff at 12 o'clock). Keep in mind that if you have no enemies around, Belt of the Trove will not fire, it will most likely desync and you'll have to do it again. The same will happen if you drink the potion at the wrong moment, so try to avoid panic potions. Changing zones also resets the internal cooldown of the belt, so you need to do it at the same time (when elements change).

Setups
If you need more toughness, drop Bane of the Stricken for Esoteric Alteration and/or Finery for Indestructible.

GR Group RGK
Invoker RGK

Concept
In RGK version of this build all our equipped items stay the same, only two items the cube change. We drop Akarat's Awakening to get The Furnace. Instead of resetting our cooldowns with blocks, we now just stack as much CDR as possible. Leoric's Crown in the armor slot helps with that. Since we no longer need to block, we drop Provoke for Bombardment to activate Thorns of the Invoker (4) Bonus. We switch the rune on Laws of Valor from Unstoppable Force for Critical to buff the damage of our Trash Killer.

Gameplay
In the rift, use your Laws of Valor Critical on your Trash Killer's DPS rotation. You can also put some damage on the Elites, if you manage to get close to them.
On the boss, you just need hold down Punish and activate your buffs in sync with your Convention of Elements. Iron Skin and Laws of Valor at the start of every Physical and Akarat's Champion at the start of every other Physical.

Setups
If you are struggling to stay alive you have several options: you can give up the Attack Speed roll on the necklace to get Stone Gauntlets in the cube. You can change Finery to Long Arm of the Law and Critical to Unstoppable Force. Finally you can switch to Akarat's Champion Prophet. Each of these changes will cost you 12-25% DPS but hey, it's better than dying!

Consecration Bed of Nails doesn't deal any relevant damage, it's included only to proc Pain Enhancer of your Trash Killer. If that is not needed, use Bathed in Light for extra healing.


Video Guide

Guide Video

Mechanics

Thorns

  • All damage done by Thorns is Physical.
  • Thorns Damage cannot critically strike (except with Envious Blade).
  • Iron Maiden passive provides a separate 1.5 multiplier to your total Thorns.
  • Thorns bonuses from Thorns of the Invoker (2) Bonus and Iron Skin Reflective Skin stack additively with each other.
  • Read the full guide on Thorns Mechanics here.

Thorns of The Invoker

  • Increased Thorns Damage, provided by Thorns of the Invoker (2) Bonus, stacks with itself up to 10 times.
  • Each stack of the buff has a separate 2s timer.
  • Attack Speed from Thorns of the Invoker (6) Bonus stacks multiplicatively with Weapon Attack Speed, Attack Speed Increase from gear and skills, and Fanaticism.
  • Thorns of the Invoker (6) Bonus makes your Punish deal 67500% Throns damage to the first target hit. If you click Punish while hovering over a monster, that monster will always be considered "the first target hit", even if you don't hit it at all. However, Thorns Damage will only be applied to that "first target", if your Punish actually hits something.
  • The above interaction lets you deal damage at range. You need to have an enemy directly in front of you and then you use Force Stand Still + Punish while hovering over your intended target. However, using this technique in solo push is not recommended, because you will be applying Bane of the Stricken stacks to the wrong target.

Summary

  • Stack CDR, AS, LpH, Physical Damage, Elite Damage, and Thorns.
  • Ignore Area Damage and crit stats.
  • Only fight (yellow) Elites.
  • Never let go of your Punish to stay fixated on the target.


Stab, stab, stab!


Credits

Written by Northwar.