Welcome to the Complete Build & Leveling Guide for the BURN THE WORLD Blackwater Cocktail and Rune of Kalastor Purifier. This build is one of the best starting builds in the game, can do all content (save a few super bosses) and easily farm Ultimate for set gear with self-found drops. It’s hardcore viable, new player friendly, and scales very well. If you’re looking for a fun, powerful and top tier starter build 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.

Blackwater Cocktail (BWC) and Rune of Kalastor (RoK) have been around quite some time, yet I rarely see anyone playing with these skills. In my missions to find Top Starter builds to share with the community, I decided to revisit these old skills, and look out… This build is awesome. It outperformed my Acid Ravenous Earth build (as a starter) in both damage and survival. An additional great factor of this build is you start using BWC right at level 3, which begins the mission of melting all content in the game with ease. It’s truly badass – but more importantly, it’s fun!

This build is hardcore viable and can easily reach 100!

I researched a number of older builds before putting this one together. This includes blingi’s Purifier 150-170 Gladiator Farmer and JoV’s BWC Sorcerer build. Extended thanks to Reinan22 and RektByProtoss for taking the time to chat with me about this and other builds.

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

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: 94 Physique, 11 Spirit
Faction of Choice: Kymon


This build can easily make 100 and faceroll Ultimate up to AoM with self-found gear, so don’t worry about having the BiS complete legendary sets. You only need those for the really tough end-game content. The end-game build of this character uses the 3-piece Justice set of armor, however you can also use the Infernal Knight Armor set, or even a Flame Keeper’s Armor set. Whatever you have the gear for, you can make it work!

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

  • 17: Flamebreaker (Shield)
  • 20: Zarthuzellan’s Codex (Offhand) (BWC MI)
  • 25: Inferno (Relic)
  • 30: Kalastorian Gavel (1H)
  • 35: Conflagration (Relic)
  • 43: Flamebrand (1H)
  • 50: Rune Armor of Ignafarr (Armor)
  • 58: Grim Fate (1H)
  • 58: Empowered Alazra’s Ruby (Neck)
  • 60: Ulzuin’s Pyroclasm (Relic)
  • 65: Empowered Blessed Torch (1H)
  • 68: Justice Armor Set (Armor) DEFENSIVE
  • 70: Annihilation (Relic)
  • 72: Flame Keeper’s Armor (Armor)
  • 75: Infernal Knight Armor Set (Armor) OFFENSIVE
  • 84: Mythical Band of Eternal Pyre (Ring)
  • 90: Korvaak’s Deception (Relic)


Phase I (Demolitionist)
Fire Strike (1) → BWC (Max) → Flame Touched (1) → Vindictive Flame (1) → Explosive Strike (1) → High Potency (1) → Demon Fire (1) → Ulzuin’s Wrath (1) → Agonizing Flames (Max) → Thermite Mine (1) → Blast Shield (1)

Phase II (Inquisitor & Demolitionist)
Deadly Aim (1) → Word of Renewal (Max) → Rune of Kalistor (1) → Vigor (1) → Ignition (Max) → Inquisitor Seal (1) → Steel Resolve (1) → [Demo] Flashbang (1) → [Demo] Searing Light → Aura of Centure (Max) → [Demo] Thermite Mines (6)

Phase III
Deadly Aim (Max) → Temper (1) → Steel Resolve (Max) → Blast Shield (Max) → Flame Touched (Max) → Inquisitor Seal (Max) → Null Field (1)
Distribute the rest as you see fit!


Crossroad (Chaos) → Fiend (BWC/Fire Strike) → Quill → Hawk → Wolverine → Chariot of the Dead (Flame Touched) → Solael’s Witchblade (BWC) → Magi (RoK) → Viper → Ulzuin’s Torch (Flashbang) → Oklaine’s Lantern → REMOVE Quill → Eel → Behemoth (Aura of Centure)

This build is so strong to play while leveling, most of the time you’ll just drop your BWC and run ahead, knowing you leave a trail of burning screams of anguish behind you. Your goal is to stack fire and burn damage any way you can while keeping good resists and health. I recommend the 100 health per level rule (e.g. at level 50, have at least 5000 – and at level 90 have at least 9000).

While this build can facetank later on with great DA, you are a kiter. You run around and avoid taking any damage, and often kill everything (including mini-bosses) before they even have a chance to reach you. If you do get some great DA and health early on, facetanking with Fire Strike is devastating and you’ll kill bosses 2x (or more) faster. You’ll get a feel for what works or not rather quickly.

Survival revolves around a combination of Blast Shield, Word of Renewal, Flashbang and kiting. Synergizing each of these allows you to down most any content in the game (paired with the right equipment). It takes time to get this down, but the good thing is farming up to Ultimate (and even the beginning of Ultimate) is such a cakewalk, you’ll have plenty of time to get it down.

Rotation for Trash: Toss your BWC or RoK when it’s on cooldown… that’s all. Everything will die behind you as you run away, manically laughing.

Rotation for Bosses (Kite): Thermite in area, BWC in controlled area, RoK behind you as you’re being chased, Flashbang when necessary, and WoR. Forget fire strike – too dangerous.

Rotation for Bosses (Facetank): Seal at your feet, Thermite Mines in front of you, BWC at your feet, RoK in front of you, Flashbang, Word of Renewal (WoR), Fire Strike 3-5 times, rinse and repeat.

Grand Priest Zarthuzellan, the boss at the entrance to the Steppes of Torment dungeon, has a 17% chance to drop a great Codex that gives an absolute ton of damage to BWC and is BiS until you need a shield for defense (or switch to Stronghold Defender at 94).

Mythical Warpfire is the ultimate weapon goal for this build (L94), however it’s very rare. However, if you want some ranged kiting fun with Fire Strike, you can use a Stronghold Revolver with your Stronghold Defender. It’ll be less damage, but the ranged proc of Fire Strike could compensate for hitting tough bosses at range. Give it a try!

Below is the recommend end-game goal for this build, however, as mentioned above, you can also use the Infernal Knight armor set. The Justice Armor Set is simply tankier and allows for better survival.

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

  1. Great build! love it so far 🙂 I’m lvl 60 right now and everything melts.
    I noticed that the devotion skills are assigned a bit differently in grimtool. For example BWC is on Magi and not on Solael’s Witchblade. Is there a reason for that?
    Thank you!

  2. My apologies, it’s been so long since I played, I can’t remember – I recommend trying both and see which one seems to work better 🙂 Let me know!

  3. Hi, im super fresh to Grim Dawn (couple days in) so sorry for my potentially dumb questions. I’m about lvl 30-35 currently running this build, just wondering roughly how to damage scales so i can figure out what items i should be aiming for / upgrading with? I have a fair amount of experience in games like PoE and Diablo, so i get the general theory of survivability > dmg.. just wondering what things to prioritise in terms of ‘% fire dmg” or “+lvl to BWC” or “% burning dmg” ect. like would 20% fire dmg trump +2 lvls in BWC? I’ve tried looking up but cant seem to find any sites that go into specifics of how skills effectively scale and if things like weapon dps even matter at all when im technically casting a spell (or throwing a bomb) anyway?
    If anyone has any advice for me or could point me in the right direction to get me started that would be great.

  4. Welcome! And it’s not a dumb question at all. Admittedly it’s been awhile since I ran that build. So to answer this all you need to do is open the GrimTools link and click on the 2nd tab (II) of stats and scroll down to see where the damage is. In this case it focuses on Fire and Burn. You can also look up the items under the Leveling Guide (Flamebreaker, Inferno, Conflagration, etc.) and look at the stats they focus on; that should give you what you need. This build is awesome BTW – the AoE damage and burn is fantastic. Keep at it, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the entire process to 100. I hope this helped answer your question; let me know if you have any others!

  5. Dave I gotta say I love your builds! I used Mr. Zappy and I flew through the levels! Do you know if there’s a decent Sorcerer Build that uses Fire Strike and 2H guns?

  6. Thanks a ton! Unfortunately I’m not familiar with a Demo/Arcanist 2H ranged build, but perhaps somebody in the forums has put one together? If you find one, please let me know!

  7. You mean never really got into “Grim Dawn”? 🙂 Attribute point distribution for this build is right under the “Leveling Guide” section (94 Physique, 11 Spirit). I hope this answers your question!

  8. This is the most enjoyable built for me. I did not try for hardcore yet but for ultimate, it is really fun. I’m pretty dying because I often play with my eyes closing spontaneously. 🙂

    Thanks for the built.

  9. Thanks for the great Build Guide! I enjoyed looking through your other ones and will probably come back to pick another. Very well done and easy to follow – better than just the GT link which is most ‘guides’.

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