I already have another write up of this build as a review, but I want to spend some time revising it to make use of Ethereals in the upcoming Season 24. In the previous build, Norvald’s Fervor is employed. However, Ethereals will be better than Norvald’s Fervor in my view, although the build itself won’t alter too drastically as well as make the play style a little more reliable.
- Thorns of the Invoker (2 pieces)
- Burden of the Invoker (shoulders)
- Shackles of the Invoker (bracers)
- Armor of Akkhan (5 pieces)
- Helm of Akkhan (helmet)
- Breastplate of Akkhan (chest)
- Gauntlets of Akkhan (gloves)
- Sabatons of Akkhan (boots)
- Talisman of Akkhan (amulet)
- Captain’s Crimson Trimmings (2 pieces)
- Captain’s Crimson Silk Girdle (belt)
- Captain’s Crimson’s Thrust (pants)
- Justice Lantern (ring) – Damage reduction based on block chance
- Convention of Elements or Unity (Ring) – depends on how squishy you feel
- Ring of Royal Grandeur (Ring/Cubed) – absolute must have to get this build to work
- Belt of the Trove (Belt/Cubed) – Must have item. Must be cubed
- The Mortal Drama (Weapon/Cubed) – Can be cubed or on the Ethereal legendary affix
- Akarat’s Awakening (Crusader Shield) – Replaces the Shield of the Steed. Provides more cooldown reduction from chance blocks
- The Furnace (Weapon/Cubed) – Elite Damage. Can also appear on the Ethereal
- Blood Brother (Weapon/Cubed) – An alternative to The Furnace. Provides increased block chance, helps reduce damage from blocks and does increased damage on subsequent attacks after a successful block. So it’s a good substitute if your block chance is low and you need a combination of damage mitigation and some damage increase.
Most of the pieces of armor and the amulet slot are non-negotiable. You will want to attempt to roll cooldown reduction where possible such as shoulders, gloves, amulet, rings and shield. I believe the Ethereals come with CDR so this might not be a major problem there.
Unlike most other builds, you do not want critical hit or critical damage on places like your helmet, etc. Instead, you will either want to reroll secondary stats for Thorns damage or more defensive stats if you manage to get it already. For your bracers and amulet, you will want to try and roll physical% damage as your thorns will be doing all physical damage through Bombardment. I believe the goal for this build is to try and hit roughly 59% CDR to keep Akarat’s Champion up 100% of the time.
Block Chance is the big thing here beyond CDR because it’s what will help reduce your CDs due to your shield as well as improve your damage reduction with the aid of a Justice Lantern. I imagine that depending on what those values are, you might be able to play around with a Unity and Convention of Elements to figure out what works best for you here.
In terms of the Ethereal of choice, I’m looking at The Redeemer. Of the three Ethereals for Crusaders, The Redeemer has a few really nice bonus damage affixes against Undead and Demons. The attack speed bonus can be nice when paired with Punish as you’re building up stacks to increase your bonus Thorns damage. Lastly, the Health Globe radius increase should be a good quality of life bonus that works well especially in Greater Rifts.
- Boyarsky’s Chip – Pretty much a must have since you are boosting your thorns damage as high as possible.
- Bane of the Trapped – Your Steed Charge with Drawn and Quartered might trigger the CC effect but you will be in the thick of things so the secondary power will also help invoke the damage property here.
- Bane of the Stricken – Single target damage, mostly for bosses. I would have used an Esoteric Alteration with Norvald’s Fervor since it can be squishy. But the higher uptime on Akkarat’s Champion and increased block chance from various sources make your single target a better choice.
- Punish: Celerity – Used to help bolster up your thorns/bombardment damage from the Invoker’s 2 piece bonus
- Bombardment: Barrels of Spikes – Will get triggered every 4 seconds by the Belt of the Trove and doubled in number through The Mortal Drama power. Pretty much the meat and potatoes of our damage here
- Steed Charge: Drawn and Quarter – Mostly to drag enemies along with you from one section to another while waiting until your Bombardment proc’s again. But you no longer need to habitually use Steed Charge as with using Norvald’s Ferver to gain the bonus damage. So that part will be a huge change in playing this build.
- Provoke: Hit Me – Increases your Block Chance which you want as high as possible with this build to continuously keep all your CDRs up.
- Iron Skin: Reflective Skin – A boost to your thorns damage.
- Akarat’s Champion: Prophet – Keep this up at all times. Should be a LOT easier with this build since you’re focusing on cooldowns with the aid of Akarat’s Awakening acting like an Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac. But you should be able to maintain Akarat’s Champion without problems compared to when using Norvald’s Ferver.
- Fervor – I might be mistaken but I think the Ethereals are all one handers. So you want to take this for even more Cooldown Reduction and removing the damage penalty normally associated from being forced to use a 2-handed flail.
- Lord Commander – Helps to keep your Bombardment that you activate up more frequently. Same with Steed Charge.
- Iron Maiden – Increases your thorns damage.
- Hold Your Ground – You will not be able to dodge but your block chance will increase, which you want to trigger the effect from Akarat’s Awakening. Either way, I found this passive to be the biggest change since you want to block hits to get the benefits from Akarat’s Awakening.
- Finery – More strength from your gem sockets
- Divine Fortress – In case you need more armor. I wouldn’t put it above the other five unless it’s the passive on your Ethereal.
- Renewal – Regeneration. Same with Divine Fortress.
The only follower I think worth taking here is an Enchantress. Improved cooldown reduction, a cheat death and bonus armor does well for a Crusader. The only stigma is getting intelligence on the gear.
Because I did have a chance to try this build out on the PTR, I did find it pretty fun, tanky and still able to do damage. I felt it was better than the Norvald’s Fervor version just because the cooldown reduction aspect felt more reliable. I didn’t have to use a conflicting Gogok of Swiftness where my dodge value would be ignored just to get a few more percentage points of CDR.
Most of all, Akarat’s Champion felt more reliable in general, which is what ends up being the sketchy part of this build. Without enough cooldown, this build falls apart and forces the player to wander around aimlessly until either Bombardment and/or Akarat’s Champion at the very least become active again. Against a Greater Rift Guardian, this issue becomes very apparent.
I did see a few variations on PTR with this build such as the Ivory Tower being used rather than The Furnace. But pretty much the weapon seems to be the only piece that’s capable of some switching as there is very little room for changing things here. Also, the fact that you will need the Captain’s Crimson Trimmings means you will also have to farm bounties just to get the right rolls and to make it ancient (unless you’re supremely lucky).
That said, I prefer this version than Norvald’s Ferver since I’m not trying to activate Steed Charge as much as possible just to keep my bonus damage up. Also, I think Bombardment will be more controllable since Akarat’s Awakening becomes a key part of this build.