AETHER MAN AAR Mage Hunter



Welcome to the Complete Build & Leveling Guide for the AETHER MAN Albrech’s Aether Ray (AAR) Mage Hunter. This build works great as a starting build in the game, can do most content (including a few super bosses) and easily farm Ultimate for set gear with self-found drops. While I would say it’s only hardcore viable for very experienced HC players, it is new player friendly, fun, easy to farm the green best in slot (BiS) items, and scales very well. If you’re looking for a fun starter build that focuses on the recent changes to AAR with a complete leveling guide, this is the place! Note the GrimTools link is at the bottom of the guide.

JAN 2020 UPDATE! Click here to see a detailed announcement by the Guide Creator about the issues he encountered with the Grim Dawn Community, Forum Moderators and why he moved his guides from the Grim Dawn Forums.

With the release of 1.1.2.1, AAR received a major buff where it now pierces all enemies, and the buff is fantastic. The beam melts pretty much everything, only having issues with high aether resist bosses (which have to be kited). Continuing my mission to find solid starter builds to share with the community paired with the interest in AAR, I decided to try multiple variations of AAR; this included 4 different devotion layouts, multiple item combinations, and other class combinations (including Warlock). I found the build presented in this guide to be the best for self-found, solid for leveling and surviving in Ultimate. And yes, AAR is a great leveling skill, and the end-game variations can kill super bosses!

However it’s important to note that moving to a converted lightning variation of AAR is recommended. As such, I’m including a link to this transition with recommended BiS gear.

This build is only hardcore viable for experienced HC players.



I want to extend special thanks to RektByProtoss; he provided great support and information for the end-game variation of this build. He’s also one of the best Grim Dawn streamers out there. I recommend people subscribe to his channel.

I also want to extend thanks to bluewilliama on reddit, who also provided some great support and ideas.



Before we begin, I recommend these mods to anyone playing Grim Dawn, especially new players. Note none of these mods cheat or change the core of the game – they just add quality of life:

GrimInternals (https://forums.crateentertainment.com/t/tool-grim-internals/38773
This is hands down the best mod currently out for Grim Dawn. Automatic component pickup and monster name/labeling with legendary drop Sound FX are just a few reasons why every Grim Dawn player should have this.

GD Item Assistant (https://forums.crateentertainment.com/t/tool-grim-dawn-item-assistant/30491)
This mod allows the player to store an unlimited number of items they find. This is fantastic because it supports “account building” with extending storage to be anything the player feels is important in the future or for another build.

Item Color Filter (https://forums.crateentertainment.com/t/tool-rainbow-filter-item-highlighting/42765
A fantastic visual modifier to the game that shows item prefixes and suffixes in colors based on their damage/resist/skill type. Extremely popular and valuable. Note this is for the WanezGD Tool, which auto-installs and manages the rainbow filter. Download the setup.exe for the Tool.



Resistances are everything in Grim Dawn. If you die, it’s probably because your resists were low. Below is a list of recommended components that are commonly used throughout the leveling process:

Components List

  • 7: Wardstone | 7% Elemental, 15% Bleed Resistance | Amulet & Medal
  • 15: Silk Swatch | 18% Pierce & Bleed Resistance | Shoulder, Chest & Leg Armor
  • 15: Imbued Silver | 20% Chaos Resistance & 15% Bleeding Resistance | Mainhand/Offhand (Toggled Item Skill)
  • 15: Purified Salt | 20% Aether Resistance | Mainhand/Offhand (Toggled Item Skill)
  • 15: Antivenom Salve | 20% Poison & Acid | All Armor
  • 15: Unholy Inscription | 10% Vitality, 15% Bleeding | Hand Armor
  • 20: Runestone | 12% Aether & 12% Elemental Resist | Head Armor
  • 20: Soul Shard | 20% Vitality Resistance | Ring, Amulet, Medal
  • 20: Mark of the Traveler | 8% Movement Speed & 10% Slow Resistance | Boots
  • 24: Sanctified Bone | 18% Vitality, 12% Chaos | Chest & Head
  • 24: Aether Soul | 16% Aether Resistance | Amulet & Medal


Augments are the most important thing for end-game and require honored or revered reputation with a faction to access them. Rule of thumb: as soon as you hit Honored with any faction (which will begin to happen in Elite mode), immediately buy the Writ (for 88,000 iron) that doubles your faction gain. This will help you get to Revered much quicker, and give you access to the necessary augments to help your resists in Ultimate.

Augments List
The factions a player gets Honored and Revered with first are generally: Devil’s Crossing, Rovers, Homestead, Black Legion, Order/Kymon, and Coven of Ugdenbog. I’m listing some of the most popular defensive Augments below for reference, which can greatly help in surviving both Elite and especially Ultimate.

  • 40: Arkovian Rose Powder | 10% Elemental Res | Rings/Amulet | Rovers Honored
  • 40: Slith Venom | 15% Poison, Acid & Bleeding Res | Rings/Amulet | Devil’s Honored
  • 40: Gazer Eye | 10% Aether Res | Rings/Amulet | Devil’s Honored
  • 40: Corpsefiend Tentacle | 10% Vitality Res | Rings/Amulet | Devil’s Honored
  • 40: Divine Flame | 10% Elemental Res | Rings/Amulet | Kymon’s Honored
  • 40: Blessed Ashes | 15% Fire & Lightning Res | Rings/Amulet | Kymon’s Honored
  • 40: Consecrated Silver | 12% Chaos Res | Rings/Amulet | Kymon’s Honored
  • 40: Necrotic Flesh | 15% Bleeding Res | Rings/Amulet | Order Honored
  • 40: Chillheart Powder | 15% Cold & Vitality Res | Rings/Amulet | Order Honored
  • 70: Venomguard Powder | 15% Poison & Acid Res | All Armor | Rovers Revered
  • 70: Nightshade Powder | 7% Pierce & 10% Cold Res | All Armor | Rovers Revered
  • 70: Bladeward Powder | 10% Pierce Res | All Armor | Devil’s Revered
  • 70: Mogdrogan’s Touch | 10% Poison & Acid Res, 7% Vitality Res | All Armor | Devil’s Revered
  • 70: Kymon’s Blessing | 15% Fire Res | All Armor | Kymon’s Revered
  • 70: Kymon’s Conduit | 15% Lightning Res | All Armor | Kymon’s Revered
  • 70: Demonbane Powder | 7% Vitality & Chaos Res | All Armor | Kymon’s Revered
  • 70: Mankind’s Vigil | 7% Aether Res, 7% Chaos Res | All Armor | Black Legion Revered
  • 70: Kingsguard Powder | 7% Pierce Res, 10% Poison/Acid Res | All Armor | Black Legion Revered
  • 70: Flameweave Powder | 7% Pierce Res, 10% Fire Res | All Armor | Homestead Revered
  • 70: Solarstorm Powder | 10% Fire Res, 10% Lightning Res | All Armor | Homestead Revered
  • 70: Wraithtouch Powder | 15% Cold Res | All Armor | Order Revered
  • 70: Spiritguard Powder | 10% Vitality Res | All Armor | Order Revered
  • 70: Spellward Powder | 10% Lightning Res, 7% Aether Res | All Armor | Order Revered
  • 90: Coven Warding Powder | 7% Elemental Res | All Armor | Coven Revered
  • 90: Coven Black Ash | 8% Pierce and Chaos Res | All Armor | Coven Revered


Transmutation
This is a new and critically important feature introduced with Forgotten Gods that allows the player to convert set items to another item of the same setAnd it works with BLUE (non-legendary) set items! The quest to unlock Transmute is given by Kargon in the Conclave of the Three. The quest unlocks after you’ve progressed to the Oasis area. The Tome is found on Canen’s Corpse. It costs 120,000 iron per transmute, and uses 1 Eldrich Essence (which is quite rare, so make each transmute count!). Luckily, a player put together a guide on Farming Eldrich EssenceRemember, if you can craft the helmet of a set, you can transmute those helmets to other pieces. This means you can craft an entire set just from the helmet recipe!

Another technique is to convert a set item to another random set item. This costs 30,000 iron, scrap and crystals (which is a lot cheaper than converting to the same set). A good example of this technique is if you want the Mythical version of a set item (but you have none, and don’t have the recipe to craft the helm), you can take another mythical set item and convert it to a random set item with the possibility of getting a mythical of the set you’re looking for!



Final Level 100 Stat Distribution: 83 Physique, 24 Spirit
Faction of Choice: Kymon

Items

This build is very easy to level but becomes quite gear dependent about half-way through the leveling process. The good news is the core gear is very easy to farm!

An important note on Energy management! This build is VERY energy hungry. You can avoid constantly running out of energy by initially using Ectoplasm in your Rings and Amulet, and later on putting a Focusing Prism (Level 27) in your amulet, and an Arcane Spark (Level 35) in your medal. 

The most important piece is the Pulsing Shard which drops 75% of the time from The Amalgamation, located west of Homestead. Get this as soon as possible; I believe the lowest level variation is level 32. The life leech makes all the difference. 

Crimson’s Arcane Scepter is another BiS item that’s part of the transition to lightning (but also works great as pure aether). This drops from Sister Crimson in the Tomb of Sethan.

Loghorrean’s Corruption Shoulders are also great support for AAR and can be found in Loghorrean’s troves.

Let’s talk Relics right quick. Prior to transitioning to Lightning, I do recommend Haunt. Solid damage and great Aether debuff. 

While leveling, you’ll find these items to be very helpful:

  • 18: Bone Talisman (Relic) Mana Regen
  • 20: Wrathstone (1H Component) Damage
  • 25: Specter (Relic)
  • 27: Focusing Prism (Amulet Component) Regen
  • 30: Twilight’s Veil (1H)
  • 35: Haunt (Relic)
  • 35: Arcane Spark (Medal Component) Regen
  • 40+: Pulsing Shard (OH) BiS (The Amalgamation)
  • 40+: Arcane Scepter (1H) BiS (Sister Crimson)
  • 46: Immaterial Edge (1H)
  • 65: Essence of the Grim Dawn (Amulet) Craftable (Ancient Grove)
  • 70: Agrivix’s Malice (Relic) or Iskandra’s Balance (Relic)
  • 75: Seal of Corruption (Component) Mainhand
  • 90: Aetherbolt Pendant (Amulet) BP from Coven of Ugdenbog
  • 94: Mythical Arcanoweave Cord (Waist)

Skills

Phase I (Arcanist)
Iskandra’s (1) → PRM (1) → Distortion (1) → PRM (Max) → Respec At L10 – Remove all PRM → AAR(1) → Arcane Will (1) → AAR (Max) → Nullification (1) → Elemental Balance (1) → Mirror (1) → Maiven’s Sphere (1) → Mental Alacrity (1) → Fabric of Reality (1) → Disintegration (1) → Reckless Power (1) → Fabric of Reality (Max)

Phase II (Arcanist)
Mental Alacrity (Max) → Reckless Power (Max) → Disintegration (Max) → Maiven’s Sphere (Max) → Conversion (3) → Arcane Will (3) → Iskandra’s (3)

Phase III (Inquisitor)
Word of Pain (1) → Word of Renewal (1) → Deadly Aim (1) → Vigor (1) → Death Sentence (1) → Inquisitor Seal (6) → Word of Renewal (6) → Death Sentence (Max) → Deadly Aim (Max) → Inquisitor Seal (Max) → Word of Renewal (Max) → Steel Resolve (1) → Arcane Empowerment

Distribute the rest as you see fit!

Devotions

Crossroads (Primordial) → Imp (AAR) → Scholar’s Light → Hawk → Widow (Haunt) → Crossroads (Chaos) → Jackal → Viper → Crossroads (Order) → Panther → Solemn Watcher → Ulo (Word of Pain) → Eel → Tree of Life (Reckless Power) → Remove Crossroads (Primordial) → Remove Crossroads (Chaos) → Oklaine’s Lantern Remove Crossroads (Order) → Dryad (1) → Lotus (1)



AAR is quite strong, easily destroys all trash and melts most bosses. This build is quite tanky as long as the damage is flowing outward and you’re standing in a seal. However, physical spike damage (from bosses like Galakros) can quickly kill you (even in your seal) if you’re not careful (and running solid gear). Lining up a dozen or more enemies that fill the screen (including orange bosses) and melting them in a second or two is like a perfect golf swing. AAR is a ton of fun.

Wondering why your Maven’s Sphere of Protection is toggling off? It automatically turns off if you run out of energy!

I found this build goes up and down while leveling; it destroys a lot of content, but when you encounter a problem boss, it can be quite a problem, which is why I don’t think it’s a good HC viable build except for those who have extensive HC experience.

This build is designed to facetank, however blinking away to avoid terminal damage is often required with certain boss fights – but most of the time you’ll just be standing in your seal and manically laughing as you vaporize everything around you.

Survival is dependent on life leech from uninterrupted damage, the Inquisitor Seal, Maiven’s Sphere and the OH GOD NO invulnerability of Mirror from Arcanist. Do more damage and get more leech. It’s that simple. A really strong AAR build often doesn’t even need to use a Seal while farming trash and orange bosses.

Rotation for Trash: AAR. That’s it. It’ll vaporize all trash.

Rotation for Bosses (Kite): Seal, Word of Pain, Haunt, AAR. Use Word of Renewal either for regen or insta-heal (depending on boss) and of course Mirror for the 3-second invulnerability. Nullification is also warranted for certain bosses, but it’s more of a conditional than a norm.



As mentioned this build guide focuses on the full Aether variation of AAR, however the strongest transitional end-game build is conversion to electricity (full). I’m including the initial Aether build below, and also the transitional build for those who want to pursue it.




Below are additional complete build guides you might be interested in!

  1. If I recall, it’s the Arcane Scepter that replaces the Fire with Lightning damage, so it should convert over as soon as you get the Scepter. I hope this helps!

  2. Hey David,
    what about the other factions? Is it unimportant or should I choose a particular faction? For example should I chooses Coven of Ugdenboog or Barrowholm in Ashes of Malmouth.

  3. You always want to side with Barrowholm. I should probably add that to my guides as I forget new players don’t know which one to choose 🙂 For the Forgotten Gods faction, it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. When it comes to the Witch in Fort Ikon, I usually side with the Witch. I hope this helps!

  4. Hey, got a question.

    If i sum the potential x% äther in lightning dmg, i get something like 25 % + 25% for the rings + 30 from the chest. (max roll 36% grimtools) sum between 70 and 86 (depends on chest roll). Where is the missing % to the 100% lightning dmd coming from?

    thx for the guide!
    greetings

  5. Well, the Additive Lightning Modifier damage on the BiS build is 751%, so I’m not entirely sure what you’re asking? The BiS Weapon (Arcane Scepter) alone has 108% Lightning Damage. Could you elaborate on your question?

  6. Thanks for your quick answer.
    what i meant was the time in the endgame when i switch to lightning damage. If I look at the grimtools link I see on the equipment that 100% Fire Dmg is converted to Blitz dmg, but currently only 80% of the ether dmg is converted to lightning dmg on the gear shown in the g.tools link. How do I get the remaining 20%? what am I missing here?

  7. My apologies, but I don’t know offhand; I took a quick look at both of them and couldn’t remember at first glance. I’d have to be in-game and back in the “Grim Dawn” play mode to figure it out. I do know the chest piece plays a big part, but that’s about it. Let me know if you figure it out, and sorry I couldn’t be more help – I haven’t played this build in … a year or so?

  8. I assume you’re referring to the Phase I, Phase II, etc? I just categorize the different phases you distribute the points. I find it makes things easier during the leveling process. Let me know if you have any additional questions!

  9. Ok cool thank you! Also what do you mean on the devotions with binding Widow to Haunt? Can’t find a skill with that name, unless i have completely misread something

  10. So the Widow Devotion has a skill “socket” called Arcane Bomb (as the last node). You assign Haunt to this socket (once unlocked), and every time an enemy is hit with/inflicted by Haunt, there’s a 25% chance Arcane Bomb will be triggered (which places a bomb that explodes at that location). I hope this answers your question!

  11. Thank you for an awesome guide!

    I have a just one question about it, I can’t place devotion point’s to Oklaine’s Lantern because I don’t have enough point’s in Eldritch, missing 3 of ’em.

    Have placed ’em as the guide tell’s but still missing. Has there been some update that has changed things?

  12. in the devotion text, where is says to put a point in “candle”, is that the scholars light you are referring to?

    sorry if it’s a forehead question, very new to this game 🙂

  13. Not played AAR in an age so was looking forward to trying this. One suggestion if you please, your guide has maxing AAR pretty much as soon as you get it. Without decent gear and until you rescue the apprentice, the energy drain is not really sustainable at lower levels. Personally I put some point into AAR and then see how the drain is, if it’s manageable then more points go in, if not I just put points into Arcanist base since you will need 50 anyway and only put further points into AAR when I feel I can sustain it.

    Thanks for the guide.

  14. It’s been quite some time since I played this build, but if I recall with the component list you can sustain the drain to max (Ectoplasm?). If you’re trying this as a “new” build with no twink items and components and encountering an issue, I should probably make a note in the guide – but please confirm first as you’re the first one to mention the sustainability issue. I look forward to hearing back from you!

  15. I often play new builds with no twink items and that is the case here. No ectoplasm rings as I’m level 18 and I’ve not rescued the apprentice yet. It’s no problem, just simply something [for a new player] to be aware of. Quite a change of pace compared to your Sir Crunchybones build which is the other one I am playing (previously played vanilla). 😉

  16. Hi, I’m new and don’t really understand the use of word of pain. Seems like it doesn’t scale with any damage I have, and the 5% attack slow for 1 second doesn’t seem worth it, am I missing something?
    Thanks.

  17. You are correct, the main impact is that of a debuff; it slows down a target’s attack and movement speed – but it also lowers their pierce, aether and chaos resistance by 25% (see Death Sentence) and the final debuff comes from the Devotion Cleansing Waters which slows their movement by 50% for 8 seconds. This works great for fighting tough bosses at end-game.

  18. Could you post a grimtool with say legendary gear for us wanting to push the farming or does this build not handle legendary gearÉ

  19. The build is a bit dated; there may be updates other players have put together since the 1.1.5 release. I recommend checking the forums to see if anyone has posted an updated version; if you find something, let me know!

  20. Good question! You could put 1 point into Storm Box of Elgoloth and use that as a proc spell; or something else that just takes one point solely for proc. Let me know what you decide and what works the best!

  21. I’m trying out Cleansing Waters on Aether Tendril from Aethersteel Bolts on my offhand. It also shreds resists, is on a short cooldown, and it’s nice to have the dispel on a more precise ability. I moved Arcane Bomb to Word of Pain. I’m only 79 atm and things are too easy to tell the impact yet.

  22. Random question: Why Barrowholm over the Coven, specifically? (I’m not yet at Act 5 on either my main (Meltycakes) or my multiplayer account (this build), so no idea why you side Barrowholm.)

  23. Siding with Barrowholm gives access to their vendor, whereas going against them simply opens a dungeon. You get more benefit by being their friend (even though they’re terrible LOL) than being their enemy.

  24. Hi, absolutely love the build! Level 60 and playing with mouse only while i’m browsing my phone with my left hand, absolutely rediculuos :p

    Regarding devotions, if I skip Oklaine’s, Hawk and Scholar’s, and substitute Panther for Lotus and Jackal for Vulture, I can get Aeon and SotH as well as Tree of life for some more dps and cooldown reset, maybe also sub Solemn Watcher for Turtle to go with the Aeon. Also, if I need more sustain, I’m thinking about trading SotH for Dryad.

  25. Im probably missing something but where are we getting life leech from?

    Lvl 56 of this build and feeling a bit squishy

  26. Thanks for the great guide! The builds on the forum site are too complex to understand and put a new player (like me) off of the game. I know you haven’t been playing for a while now but would you recommend anything for 1.1.5 update for this build?

  27. Thanks for the feedback! Unfortunately since I’m not playing the game anymore, I can’t recommend any changes. I recommend asking your quest in the Grim Dawn subreddit – you should get some active feedback there. I hope this helps!

  28. Hi! Great build, I really liked it. But it drains so much energy that I use mana potions each time they off cd and it’s still not enough. Btw you can buy pulsing shard from vendor in port valbury.
    P.s. What do you thing about respec into fire via hexflame?

  29. thanks for these build guides they’re excellent – can you please add a link to a character with gear? Thanks again!

  30. I remember having energy issues until I used the right components mixed with a good crystal; but I can’t remember the details. Great pointer on Port Valbury; thanks! Unfortunately I don’t recall enough to be able to comment on the Hexflame. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

  31. Hello! Wanted to pop in to say that I’ve been enjoying this build quite a lot, I’m currently lvl 76 on Elite at whopping 86k DPS from AAR alone and I have one other item recommendation to look out for: Chosen Robes chest armor which rather conveniently drops in the same place as the Arcane Scepter, is easily farmable for better stats and provides +3 to AAR among other things.

    I’ve read your comment about the build being a bit dated but I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there, since so far it’s been working quite well for me.

    Thanks for the great guide!

  32. Thanks a ton for the support! I honestly don’t know what/if anything major has changed, but if you discover anything that can make the build better, please share. Happy Hunting!

  33. what if i remove the -2 branches tree of life and – 1 lotus and remove jackal to replace with
    +1 light of empyrion +1 scales of ulcama and add crane for resistances?

  34. Give it a shot! I haven’t played the build in quite some time, and I’m sure the changes made to the game in the past 6+ months will allow for more efficient variations of the build – let me know what you find out!

  35. Hello, I am playing this build but don’t get the Devotions setup at all. The screen would be more useful?

  36. I used the text version (based on name) because it was the easiest way to show the progression (doing it visually required a chart of visuals, numbers, etc).

  37. Hey David,

    This guide is a great start for new arcanists, I’ve been enjoying it so far (up to 50). Do you have any more advice on gearing? The guide says its gear-dependenant but Im not totally sure what kind of stats I should be focusing on other than resistances.

  38. Thanks – glad it’s helping! It’s been so long since I ran it I couldn’t really make any recommendations beyond what the guide offers – I would look at the end-game setup and review the stats of the best in slot (BiS) items and that should let you know what to prioritize. I hope this helps! Good luck!

  39. Since I’m starting fresh-fresh. I am unable to get the Arcane Spark component. How significant is the gimp if I am unable to get to it right away? If I need it exactly at level 35 then how do I go about getting Rep with Black Legion effectively?

  40. I wouldn’t worry about it; just play and enjoy. Granted I would recommend either Crunchybones or BloodyDots as a true “first” character, AAR will still work even if you are limited by components. I hope this helps, and Happy Hunting!

  41. Let me rephrase. I see the Arcane Spark is a helpful item, but starting new I cannot get it within a reasonable amount of time. Is it by any means required that I use it? Or do you think I am able to get by with Ectoplasm? I do not wish to sink time into something that cannot progress.

  42. Hi :3

    Thanks for the build! First time ever playing this game.

    I’ve fallen in love with trying to RP an Inquisitor character that uses the arcane has her toolset. So this build has been fitting that well! I will admit I haven’t been 100% following this to a tee (I want to experience the levelling process on my own too!)… Been throwing skills into Inquisitor well ahead of time LOL.

    Trying to play out using this AAR, as well dual-pistols “arcane” style (cause c’mon, you gotta play with pistols if you’re an Inquisitor! – though admittedly I always switch to AAR for bosses).

    Still learning game mechanics, but I am level 50 in and I have been having fun! I am gonna try to bump up the difficulty from normal to veteran to see how I fair… Probably will get face-rolled at a boss, and revisit this guide to follow it more closely!

  43. I huge thank you for publishing such clear and concise guides. My wife and I are long time ARPG fans and decided to give Grim Dawn a shot this past week. Since we have not purchased the expansions, I am using a variant of your AAR build. This has helped me understand the mechanics of the game and how to gear. I have found no other site with this much detail on builds, thanks again!

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