The Hidden Toxicity of the Grim Dawn Community and Crate Entertainment

The Hidden Toxicity of the Grim Dawn Community and Crate Entertainment

Grim Dawn is a beloved game among the ARPG community, myself included. It is very well designed, fun, has great depth, and replayability. It’s a top-notch product, especially for the size of the small development team. I’ve recommended it for years to players who were looking for a solid ARPG. I enjoyed the game so much, I wrote a dozen detailed build guides for it to support the community, namely new and returning players.

While the game is fantastic, there is a growing problem with the core of the Grim Dawn community, namely from the Forums. While those seeking help and advice often quickly receive responses from a handful of very active players in the Forums, the second anyone starts questioning these individuals and the content they post, things get ugly. Most people just walk away and refuse to deal with it, but there’s a deeper issue that is impacting the community as a whole which not only connects to a collection of narcissistic toxic people who dominate the forums (and in some cases, reddit), but individuals who work for Crate Entertainment.

I have included a complete copy of the correspondence sent to Arthur Bruno, the founder of Crate, who responded to my initial EMail. The document outlines the issues in detail, and there are a number of quotes from these materials presented herein.

Introduction

The number one complaint by new players coming to Grim Dawn is the lack of comprehensive build guides that are easy to understand and follow. This has been an issue for years, and continues to be an issue because the majority of “veteran players” on the forums who post “builds” share an end-game level 100 GrimCalc with all best in slot gear and final skill build-out. The majority of these builds provide no information on how to level a character, and new (or returning) players are left overwhelmed and confused about how to proceed. While the majority of builds fall into the above category, there are some very good build guides available on the forum, but they represent only for a handful of overall builds; and many of them are poorly written.

The reason I’m writing this overview is because the community needs to be aware of what happened (which is covered in detail below). This is important because what happened to me can happen to anyone else as long as things remain the way they are. Additionally, many players and streamers I have spoken with confirmed they avoid the Forums because of the very individuals and problems I encountered.

I love the game, have supported it for years, and have written detailed guides (and even reviews) in support of Grim Dawn, yet I was forced from the forums by a handful of toxic players, berated by the moderators, harassed by the same people on Reddit, and ultimately permanently banned by Crate for not allowing one of my posts to be edited by the moderators with injected nonsense.

I also believe it’s important to hold rotten and/or incompetent/unqualified people accountable for their harmful behavior. It is my hope this post increases awareness of an ongoing problem which has passively (and sometimes actively) hamstrung the Grim Dawn community for years, and continues to do so up to this very day.

Before I continue, I want to acknowledge the growing toxicity that is spreading throughout all aspects of the internet. Online communities with poor moderation have become havens for anti-social narcissistic, neurotic, toxic, and even evil hate-filled people who engage in behavior that would never be accepted in normal society. Unfortunately, the reason for this growing issue is the trend of tolerance of toxicity. There will always be assholes, but it’s the job of the moderators to remove these people from the community. The good news is the actual percentage of people who are “terrible” is quite low, but they cause the majority of issues. When moderators do their job, these people are removed. When they don’t, the community suffers; just as the Grim Dawn community has, and continues to.

I also want to acknowledge that plenty of people have absolutely no problems on the forums, but nearly all people who have only a positive experience on the forums have one thing in common: their interactions are almost always just asking for help and guidance, and rarely do they question anything said by the people who cause most of the issues.

If you want to find out how toxic a community can be, just challenge or question some of the most active posters.

The Story

I’ve been playing Grim Dawn on and off since BETA. When I returned to the game after the release of Forgotten Gods in March of 2019, I decided to try a number of new builds. Due to the complexity of the game and the fact I had been away for so long, I decided to follow build guides I found in the forums. As mentioned above, the problem was most of the build guides did not have proper leveling information, were very obtuse, or so poorly written it became a tedious task to either figure out the optimal way to build a character solely based on a L100 GrimCalc or wade through the bloated writings of some of the most active forum posters.

When I began to ask questions and make recommendations on enhancing guides or commenting that L100 PoBs do not help new or returning players in the Forums, I began to receive pushback, excuses and passive aggressive behavior by a handful of users on the forums (some of which were already known in the community as being “problem people”). When I pushed back in response, the passive aggressive behavior became outright hostility and even harassment.

This whole issue started due to the fact there are very few leveling guides for builds on the forums. The majority of posts are end-game min/max builds that new and returning players can’t make heads or tails of (and honestly don’t know how to level). When I returned to Grim Dawn roughly 6-weeks ago and brought up a lack of proper leveling guides in the forums, I was quickly berated by certain forum members who are some of the most active posters. So, I decided to lead by example. I began creating guides (11 in total now) specifically designed to help new and returning players, and posted them in the Grim Dawn forums. They were well-received, but as I continued to post more, certain toxic members began to berate solely for the purpose of harassment, not for constructive feedback. The attached messages document the events appropriately.

A portion of my EMail to Arthur Bruno, June 2019

When it comes to hostile people online, just like real-life, the best thing to do is just walk away and refuse to deal with them, because they never shut up, always have something so say, usually lie, misrepresent and make things up, and act to engage in drama. Most of these troublemakers are narcissists, and even sociopaths; and dealing with them is extremely difficult.

When things began to heat up on the forums and I pushed for better build guides for new and returning players, somebody (I can’t remember who) recommended if I was so dissatisfied with the builds on the forums that I should make my own guides.

And that’s what I did. Starting in May/June of 2019, I began writing build guides for my favorite builds, and as I completed them, I posted these guides in the forums.

I appreciate your response; as an individual who has administered multiple game communities in the past, I understand the difficulties that can come with your responsibilities.

I am also supportive of making the GD community as inviting and welcoming as possible to any and all players, one reason I created the guides. I hope the work I’ve produced and the way I’ve interacted with the community represents that disposition. I just have absolutely no tolerance for toxic or rotten people. I learned years ago some people will just never shut up, some thrive on drama (which they create), others have to control the content, and a few simply cannot be dealt with (and have traits of a mental disorder). Many of these people are narcissists, others are just rotten. The approach I take is to simply tune them out and ignore them whenever I can. I do think there are a few key people at the root of nearly all of the problems on the forums, and more severe discipline could help address the issue (through private correspondence, preferably). An investigation of private messages (via the GD Forums) of the people in question could also support proper disciplinary action relative to the issues tied to our correspondence.

A portion of my EMail to Medea from June, 2019

As soon as I began posting these guides, I came under hard attack by some of the most active community members (some of who had a history of posting a dozen or more times a day): Malawiglenn, Maya, mad_lee, and Xervous just to name a few. The few times I interacted with these individuals, the conversation turned into a shit-storm of drama and garbage, and they tried to pass their correspondence off as “constructive criticism” when it was an attempt to discredit and bury the guides because it was taking away from their dominance on the forums (and some poorly written guides). I engaged with these individuals just two or three times (even though they wouldn’t stop posting) and it always turned into a drama fest. It quickly became clear who the key troublemakers on the forums were, and many of these individuals had a clearly defined history of drama before these events took place.

It was clear these individuals were hellbent on attacking, discrediting and burying anything I posted, and they did not like the fact my build guides were receiving praise and thanks by new players from the community. As such, they teamed up to attack the guides any way they could; not help make them better, but discredit them. Their behavior was vindictive, spiteful, and intentional; and any qualified moderator could see exactly what was going on.

I reported these problems to the moderators and looked to cite violations of the forum rules only to find out there really weren’t any (which we’ll learn more about shortly).

The core issue is the above-mentioned subforum is monopolized by a handful of elitist narcissistic posters who flood, control, berate and harass; mainly through passive aggressive behavior, but occasionally through overt intentional harassment. This isn’t just my opinion; I’ve spoken with some of the top Twitch Grim Dawn Streamers who have told me they intentionally stay away from the forums because of “certain toxic members”. Not only are the toxic people on the Grim Dawn forums, they also carry their behavior to Reddit as well, where they’re executing their same nefarious and harmful behavior, unimpeded. They seem to stay away from Facebook; probably because they’d lose their anonymous status and quickly be held accountable (it’s been my experience the Facebook Grim Dawn community is the best out of all of them – I’ve only had a positive experience there).

Written to Arthur Bruno in June of 2019

As the problems persisted and the moderators failed to handle the issues appropriately, I began to notice the forum moderators also exhibited the same narcissistic patterns of behavior as the hostile and vindictive people on the forums, with Kamil Marczewski aka “Zantai” (full name included because he’s an actual Crate employee) acting as the lead and Medea trailing behind.

What’s very interesting is people are constantly praising Zantai for posting patch notes. Calling him awesome and saying how great he is … for posting patch notes. Zantai hasn’t done anything for the community except to post patch notes, occasionally show up to answer questions about mechanics, or tell people “don’t be an asshole”. He has absolutely no history of supporting or positively interacting with the community; at all.

When I approached the Moderators, asking about the rules governing the forums, I was told they followed the Wil Wheaton principle of “don’t be an asshole.” Below is a snippet of what I sent to Arthur Bruno:

While there’s no question a handful of people in the forums are causing 95% of the issues, the real reason they are empowered to do what they are doing is because of Zantai and his horrible mismanagement of the forums and culture within the forums. It’s not just my opinion; he actually posts rules that look as if they were written by a fraternity lead, such as “don’t be an asshole”. I was going to link to you the posts he made a week ago that included poorly written rulesets (which included “don’t be an asshole”) but it’s been removed from the new forums (at least I can’t find them). However, this is the “quality” of representation that Zantai brings to the community, and it’s amateur at best. I’ve also had enough correspondence with him to know he has no real ethical or moral standards when it comes to identifying malicious behavior or intent in an online community. He treats good and bad people the same and refuses to categorize their behavior and differentiate people’s intentions. This ensures a complete failure to consider and apply the motives and intent behind somebody’s actions, a critical requirement for an experienced community manager.

Written to Arthur Bruno in June of 2019

When I realized that Zantai (and Medea) didn’t have any interest in dealing with the issue, didn’t have a clue how to properly moderate forums by identifying and removing key troublemakers, and neither of them seemed to have any grasp of online ethics or etiquette (which, in my book, makes them unethical), I decided to pull my guides from the forums and host them on my website. In doing this, I announced to the community why I was doing this with the below entry:

It is with sadness and disappointment that I’ve decided to pull my builds from the Grim Dawn
community forums and move them to a different platform. This is after spending hundreds of hours and more than a month focused on creating numerous detailed build guides for new and returning players. These guides will be hosted on a private website and made available to the public through the new Grim Dawn Builds Subreddit
(https://www.reddit.com/r/GrimDawnBuilds) where constructive feedback and discussion is
welcome, free of any drama or toxic people. My decision is due to a failing community culture in the Grim Dawn Forums that allows and even endorses toxic members to monopolize and harass posters, all without repercussion. This is not an environment I support or want to be a part of. I hope the individuals running Crate take interest in addressing these ongoing problems to build a better future for the Grim Dawn community.

The public post shared on the Grim Dawn forums as I moved my build guides to outside private hosting.

It’s important to bring up the history of the Grim Dawn Forums at this point; they were constantly down, and the community even made jokes about the Grim Dawn team not caring about the forums (for a period of years). The reality is the ongoing problems were a symptom of the simple fact they did not really care about the community or the forums. It was a burden to them that was something to be dealt with when they had time. This mentality is reaffirmed by their terrible moderation standards and unprecedented laziness of quoting an actor for the ruleset rather than writing clearly defined rules that would be enforced.

While the new forums are doing much better, it’s easy to forget that over a period of years, it was very common for the forums to be down an entire day (sometimes longer) as often as every few weeks… over a period of years. The reality is this level of incompetent community management is unprecedented for any commercial grade-game, even for an indie studio. Crate’s lack of interest in the community is reaffirmed by the fact the new forums destroyed all prior online links created over the years without creating a redirection table (which could have been done), and Arthur Bruno has always been MIA when it comes to any sort of community interaction or involvement.

While one could say my choice to leave the forums was voluntary, it really wasn’t. Zantai and Medea guaranteed I was forced out by failing to uphold any reasonable rules of discipline against the trouble makers, and each insinuated I should leave the community. They didn’t want to deal with the real problem, they just wanted it to end. This lazy and unethical stance rots at the core of what the forum culture has become, and Zantai is the root of it.

Written to Arthur Bruno in June of 2019

After I made the announcement about leaving the forums, my post was modified by the moderators (not sure who) to include a statement from Zantai, which really didn’t belong; but the core issue is this violated the cardinal rule of forum moderation – you don’t modify people’s posts. You either delete them or reply to them. That wasn’t good enough; Zantai wanted his statement injected as part of mine. This paints an even broader picture of how far gone he is relative to what is considered proper or even ethical behavior when it comes to forum moderation; especially when that injected content berates the original poster’s content for the purpose of discrediting a valid complaint (which made the moderators look bad; because they were).

Not only did Zantai delete all my build posts but one, he edited and amended my initial post with his berating statement, talking about “ego wars”, etc. To be clear, he actually edited my post to include his statement inside my post. This was rather alarming as it’s common knowledge among community moderators that you do not edit people’s posts. An administrator responds or deletes. For him to have edited my post is another sign he simply doesn’t understand the unspoken rules of administering forums. Note I deleted his edits to my post and returned it to the original state.

Written to Arthur Bruno in June of 2019

After leaving the Grim Dawn Forums, I began to post the build guides on the Grim Dawn subreddit. As soon as I began to do this, I became the target of a downvote campaign. New build guide links to my website were downvoted (sometimes to -10 or lower) “out of the blue”, and each and every post I made in the grim dawn subreddit was target. This is very important to emphasize as it confirmed the outright vindictive and harmful unethical people who were behind the issues I had on the forums – they went out of their way to go to a completely different community and continue their campaign to discredit and cause problems. The campaign was so obvious, other people commented, asking (along the lines of) “what’s going on? That’s a great guide. How come it was downvoted so bad?”

Additionally, because your staff have completely mishandled these issue, I am now under constant harassment on Reddit (in the GrimDawn subreddit) by these individuals as well (note this started only after the 10th build post). I cannot post anything relative to Grim Dawn without being downvoted into the negative, or receiving statements with the sole intent on discrediting and harassing. These individuals are executing a personal vendetta to silence everything I say and do because their behavior goes unhindered. While I understand this particular example is a Reddit issue, the origins come from the mishandling of problems on the Grim Dawn forums. This happened because Zantai did not do a reasonable job of identifying, determining and then properly acting on behavior any rational person would identify as harmful, malicious and/or harassing. As such, these individuals have been taught by Zantai and his staff that their negative, harassing and harmful behavior is allowed. So there’s no reason for them to stop.

Written to Arthur Bruno in June of 2019

What these individuals were doing was a violation of the Reddit Terms of Service. They were reported, and a few weeks later, the campaign stopped. I believe some of them were permanently banned as a few of the accounts went “quiet”. Thank goodness the Reddit moderators enforced their terms of service.

It was at this point I reached out to the founder of Create, Arthur Bruno. While Arthur responded in a concise and professional fashion, it was quickly apparent he was completely disconnected from the community and really had no interest in investigating or understanding the issue to properly resolve it. He even recommended I engage in a “fresh start” and create a new user account to avoid the issues. This reinforced the fact he didn’t have a clue as to what was going on, nor did he understand what accountability was. He basically said “hide under a different user name to avoid these terrible people”. This proposal was simply shameful and absurd.

Your “fresh start” recommendation also shows a complete disconnect from what it really means to be an active member of online communities. Insinuating an individual who has an established user name and account should abandon it and start a new one to avoid people who are engaged in behavior inciting such an abandonment merely misplaces the real problem and responsibility. Failure to identify good from bad, right from wrong, and take action is the root of this problem.

I’ve seen the impact of horrible and toxic people going unchecked online; they spread like a virus and slowly destabilize communities while pushing good people out and spreading misinformation and inciting bad behavior by example. Yes, the size of the active GD forum community is only a fraction of the entire playing (or active) base; however as I mentioned, it should be about quality, not quantity. It’s important to have a positive and supportive environment for the players looking for such a place.

Part of the response to Arthur Bruno in June of 2019

Out of professional courtesy, I am not sharing Arthur’s responses to my correspondence (we had a few EMail exchanges). However, I can say this: Arthur doesn’t care about nor does he want any involvement in the Grim Dawn community. At all. He just wants to work from home to make a game. I also confirmed he has no community-based experience at all (my interpretation was he avoids communities). This reaffirms why an unqualified and ethically void person like Zantai is in charge of the community; Arthur simply doesn’t have the interest or experience to understand what it takes to run an online community properly.

We obviously have differing view on these issues based on our background and experience. All I can say is because your moderators failed to identify and act on bad behavior and malicious intent by a handful of vindictive users, I’m now dealing with regular (often daily) harassment on reddit by the very same people I left the forums to avoid; something I’ve never had to deal with in 11 years as a redditor. These individuals have teamed up with the simple goal to push me out of the Grim Dawn community any way possible, and I have done nothing to interact with them since my last forum engagement – yet they persist because they are narcissistic and vengeful individuals who are going unchecked (thus believing their behavior is acceptable). One of them even said in your forums it was their personal mission to stop me from posting build guides. We’re talking next level crazy. Their behavior violates every rational online rule and qualifies as harassment, vote manipulation (for reddit) and bullying. By doing nothing to stop this behavior, your team has endorsed this behavior. This is completely unethical. Once again, I left the forums because of these people, and they followed me to reddit to continue their deplorable behavior. This is an ongoing problem I now have to deal with almost daily.

Part of the response to Arthur Bruno in June of 2019

Since I began posting my guides in July of 2019, they have become the #1 resource of Grim Dawn build guides outside of the forums. With more than 500,000 unique hits since their posting, I’ve received more than 500 positive comments from players thanking me for the guides, many citing how they couldn’t find anything well-written on the forums.

Over the past few months, I’ve occasionally checked in on the Grim Dawn forums and manually deleted Zentai’s injected statement from my public statement. I did this three or so times over a period of three months.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but as of January, 2020, without any message or warning, I have been permanently banned from the Grim Dawn forums for “Interfering with Moderation”. Apparently they did not like me deleting their injection of Zantai’s ridiculous statement into my post.

Conclusion

The issues with the Grim Dawn community have been around for quite some time, yet are fairly unique in the industry. This is because Crate Entertainment is so small but successful for creating a great product. However, it’s obvious they really don’t care about supporting or interacting with the community; their sole focus is to make a quality product that sells. That’s it. They are also a virtual company where the staff all work from home and their product is sold solely through online digital stores. Arthur Bruno has been successful because he knows how to make a solid game with great mechanics; but he’s an introvert and never interacts with the community.

In the end, refusing to address the issues covered herein encourages abusive behavior and produces a toxic environment that ensures the forum community’s purpose of bringing people together is undermined.

There is an opportunity here. Hiring an experienced and capable community manager would remove the burden of forum administration from Zantai (so he can focus on game design) while also enriching the forums (and community as a whole, including Reddit and the Facebook community) with a dedicated and focused individual who knows how to lay out proper rules, support good, and remove bad behavior. I think such a decision would only enhance the Grim Dawn community and product line.

I hope this correspondence entices some sort of change and/or shift at Crate to make the Grim Dawn community a better and welcoming place for all gamers.

Part of the response to Arthur Bruno in June of 2019

Unfortunately, I’ve lost all interest in playing Grim Dawn anymore. To be banned solely for standing against a handful of vindictive bullies after providing numerous guides to help enrich the community is simply ridiculous; but this isn’t any surprise as the result simply reinforces the real incompetence and unqualified nature of Kamil Marczewski (Zantai) and the rest of the Crate staff haphazardly running the community based on rules uttered by an actor while turning a blind eye to vindictive, toxic and hostile forum members.

I can only hope Crate decides to do something about the ongoing issues in the Forums and Arthur finds an individual who cleans things up and really starts building a solid foundation of supportive players, not only for Grim Dawn, but the next project they release.

  1. Hey David, thanks for all the great guides you do, have not followed the Grim Dawn guides since I lost interest in that game a while ago (played it for years though). Looking for POE guides I found your website and followed it since Incursion league and never had more fun with that game (the poe forums are a pretty mess for new players too).

    So, I hope you don`t get frustrated too much by this mess and continue your great work. Thanks.

  2. Mr. Allen –

    Thank you for your guides. YOU made this game fun for me. I had tried to figure out builds by myself but came uyp lacking. I have three of your builds to level 60 and I am enjoying each one. In fact I think I am about to start build number 4. I stay away from most “forums” because fopr the most part, people hiding behind internet names suck. I played WOW from Beta up to the current exapnsion, all the Diablo games and sledom if ever went to the offical forums for help. Again because people hiding behind internet names are most often a**hol**.

    THNAK YOU for your build guides. They got me back in to Grim Dawn and have me enjoying it.

  3. As a new player to Grim Dawn who has really fallen in love with it, I can say that I literally only use your guides to try new builds because they are understandable and well designed. I have looked at other guides and within 30 seconds I’m in WTF land and I just move on. You are 100% correct about this being a major issue for the community. As a business professional I have often thought about how it would be incredibly easy for Crate to set a standard outline template for build guides or even better, they could build a simply interface to make it easy to create AND understand the guides. Anyway, I agree completely with your thought process on all of this. Thanks for putting the time in.

  4. Thanks for the support Jonathan, I appreciate it! I certainly hope Arthur decides to make some changes to enhance the community for the game; but I’m not holding my breath 🙂

  5. Thanks for the guides and all the work, your guides are literally the only decent build guides for a new player i have found, without them i wouldn’t be playing the game.

    Your hard work is really appreciated

  6. Hi David,

    Thanks for your guide and all the hard work you had put in so that even I, who was new to Grim Dawn, can follow and actually understand the game better. Keep up the good work, and I do look forward to see more cool and interesting builds from you.

  7. Unfortunately not; at this time, I don’t really have any interest in playing Grim Dawn again. I simply cannot support a company that has an unethical Community Lead who is responsible for a rotten community environment (and banning me for no legitimate reason). If Crate removes Zantai and puts somebody else in charge, I might consider it, but we’ll see. I’m not holding my breath 🙂

  8. Sorry, but I just can’t in good faith support a company that has created and endorsed such a toxic community. But I won’t abandon the people who come here and post questions; I’ll continue to support my builds as best as I can, I just won’t be making any new ones.

  9. David, speaking as a new user, I want to sincerely thank you for your guides. Without them, I could not have enjoyed the game to the extent I do now. They are among the best guides I have ever used. Further, I want to thank and applaud you on your efforts to improve the GD community. Bullies need to be faced head on but like most, I would just walk away. It is refreshing to see someone with your moral courage willing to fight the good fight for the rest of us. I am disappointed that Crate is so obviously disinterested in their GD community. Forums and game communities play such a vital role in the overall enjoyment of an ARPG. Let’s acknowledge that such games are complex by their very nature. It’s part of their appeal. That said, to keep frustration levels low (hints, advice etc) and to provide like-minded people the ability to share experiences only heightens a player overall satisfaction of the game. To ignore the community makes very poor business sense. I am saddened that this has ruined your desire to play Grim Dawn. As you have said yourself, it is good game. The community will be lessened by the loss. Rest assured, that the campaign to discredit you by lesser folk has not in any way diminished my opinion of you and I am certain that goes for anyone who has followed you. Bravo.

  10. Thank you for your supportive feedback, Larry. I really appreciate it. The reason I wrote the overview was to make the community aware of what was going on in the hopes that Arthur decides to make some very necessary and positive changes to the community. If that happens, I’ll come back and support the game and community in full. Fingers crossed!

  11. Dear David

    I can not thank you enough for your guides. I had played Grim Dawn a while back then lost interest in it and when I came back with the Forgotten Gods expansion there was so much content it was overwhelming. It has been your guides that kept me playing. I’m sorry the forums are so toxic. I have found through years of playing that even a well-moderated game forum can easily become so and I tend to avoid posting there, although I do read them often. I’m too old to get involved in the drama and ego building that some posters/players subsist on.

    That being said I’m sorry you have had to leave. You have been a bright spot in my gameplay and the game is lessened by your leaving.

  12. Thank you for the kind words and support, Hali. In reality, I didn’t “leave”, I was perma-banned from the Grim Dawn Forums for no reason other than removing Zantai’s injected nonsense in my post. As mentioned in the review, the issue is with a Crate Employee more than the people on the forums that would be quickly banned if Crate had a competent and ethical moderator. Regardless, thanks again for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it!

  13. David,
    Thank you for posting this explanation. I guess the Discord chats are basically an extension of the forums. I don’t know much about how they work, but I mentioned appreciation for one of your guides on GD’s Discord chat and (I guess it was a bot) responded “Requnix is persona non grata in this community” or something like that. It really didn’t make sense, because it’s very clear how excellent your guides are for the game. I understand your decision to quit playing. If you had decided to continue, one other general guide I found helpful that I might have recommended linking to was about using Crucible very early in the game to earn Devotion points and “jump start” a build’s early power. It is in the Steam forums here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=746171720.

    Returning to your critique of poor forum management – I haven’t been involved enough to see the issue you describe first hand, but I can easily believe your experience. If you need an example of a very well moderated forum, the forums related to Traxxas RC trucks are thorough, well organized, and especially, firmly monitored by (mostly volunteer) moderators to maintain a family friendly atmosphere. Just a reference point – I haven’t been involved in them in several years, but when I was they were a very well organized and maintained forum community.

    I also agree with your criticism that it is incredibly unprofessional and _lazy_ of CRATE to simply allow all links to the old forum to become unusable and “die” – an ethical company would take steps to redirect existing links to a new forum site.

    Again, thank you for explaining, and thank you for the build guides you did create. They are very well written and very helpful for new players and even experienced players looking to take their game from “casual” to powerful.

    best of luck

  14. Thanks for the feedback and support Olorin! If I recall some of the key toxic people hang out in the GD Discord, so it wouldn’t surprise me. But I agree; because Crate (Arthur in particular) doesn’t really care about the community, that’s why things are so mismanaged and “lazy” as it relates to anytime associated to the community. It’s sad, because with a bit of community support and cleaning out the Toxic people, I think they could raise the sales of Grim Dawn. Sadly, I don’t think it’ll ever become a priority for them.

  15. David, I’m a casual older player and I’ve only ever used your builds on your site when playing Grim Dawn. Before your site, I did look at Crate’s forum for builds but after reading a few posts under a few builds, I was turned off of their forums. No big deal though because your website had exactly what I needed. I’m not involved with their forum and I don’t have a dog in this fight…but please know that you provide content that the Grim Dawn community needs. Thank you very much for your time creating these builds.

  16. The forums are a place best avoided. The few times I checked it was usually a mix of “git good noob” or some other nonsense to berate players. I made the conscious choice to avoid the forums as much as possible which has worked perfectly.

    Your website combined with grimtools provide me with most of the needed information. Keep up the good work and I enjoy your builds for the same reasons others already listed here. I also enjoy your reviews of NMS and GD, they are much more in depth and detailed compared to the “professional” game press.

  17. When I started playing this game last September I was overwhelmed by the Crate forums and their builds. Nothing seemed to make sense and it all seemed gear for endgame hardcore players, whereas I am a casual “occasionally after work and weekend” type of player. Thank goodness I found your guides which ignited a serious addiction to Grim Dawn. I don’t think I would be playing this game today if it weren’t for this site and your guides.

  18. Hi David,

    First off, thank you for all that you do. I started playing GD around the first of the year and your guides have been very useful. The thing that impressed me the most is your attention to answering questions about your builds. Even as a noob I didn’t understand a lot of what you were saying at the top of your build page, but when I scrolled down, others had similar questions and I’ll be durned if you didn’t answer each and every question that I saw patiently and competently.

    It’s unfortunate that you were banned, and I say that not only for the knowledge and passion that you clearly brought to the game in the past, but also on a personal level. It sucks when you put your heart into something for so long only to get kicked to the curb.

    I think you do great work and will continue to peruse your guides (and encourage my kids to as well, two of them are now playing). When the time comes to move on, there’s a decent chance I’ll see what games you’re throwing your passion into at that point.

    Thank you for your care, Crate could use someone like you.

    Tom

  19. Thanks for the support, Tom. Many people have reached out to me (publicly and privately) in support of what I wrote (also confirming the toxic nature of the forums) that it’s definitely a real issue for the community that has impacted a lot more people than me; but I honestly don’t think Arthur cares. My guess is things will continue as they have for years to come because it works to generate revenue and keeps them in their comfortable positions. The crew at Crate truly seems wholly disinterested in making the community ‘better’ when the game is selling just fine, even though a stronger community would entice better sales. But they just don’t get it. The pros and cons of having a company of only a dozen people pushing out a commercial-grade game. 🙂

  20. I find it funny that it seems as though you feel the GD community is more “toxic” than PoE’s community.

    Any input on that, if you dont mind.

  21. Actually, I never compared the two or commented that I think one is more “toxic” than the other. However, to answer your question, GGG has some very good Community Managers that do a solid job given the scale and scope of the user base, and they have a set of rules that they enforce. I personally find most of the toxicity tied to PoE in the subreddit; where GGG doesn’t have any management authority.

    The fundamental difference is PoE has a community base easily 10x larger than GD, GD has no set of “real rules” they follow or enforce, and Zantai is a toxic narcissist himself (nor is he qualified in any capacity to be a community manager).

    The Grim Dawn community is rotten because of Crate, whereas the PoE community has rotten people because it’s an online game – but it’s managed by some good administrators.

  22. Just wanted to say that your guides (as they are more than just a “build”) are put together extremely well. I’ve gotten several people into Grim Dawn and recommended the guides on this site for their ease of use. Hope to see more of them!

  23. Thank you for the support, Bogdanoff; it’s appreciated! Unfortunately, I won’t be making any more guides as I no longer play nor support Grim Dawn – at least until the community management changes, but I don’t think that’ll happen because Arthur simply does not care about the state and quality of the Grim Dawn community.

  24. Dear Mr.Allen

    I’m from Thailand and I love every build that you create. I understand your feelings because I feel like when I try to translate the game language into Thai. I didn’t get any PM responses. I was ignored for almost a month. I felt like being racist. I regret not seeing your wonderful build anymore. But I understand and ready to support you forever. Sorry for language because I use google translate from Thai to Eng

  25. Hi David,

    I know you no longer support Grim Dawn, but I wanted to say thank you for your hard work putting these guides together. I read through your story here and while I never posted on the forums, I did read through the guides as a new player and what you said about them being confusing were spot on. Posting a max tier character and pretty much saying “figure it out” is not a guide at all.

  26. Thank you Mike, your support is greatly appreciated! And yes, that’s part of the core problem; many of the people who post the end-game builds have a mentally of “figure it out and if you can’t, go away”. These individuals tend to be the narcissists who fester at the heart of the broken forum community and ultimately drive people away. It’s quite unfortunate. I hope it will change in the future, but I’m not holding my breath.

  27. Thanks for all the guides, they’ve helped me enjoy the game immensely. I have tried to follow some of the forum guides but have also found them extremely difficult to navigate. I’ll definitely continue to follow you’re guides here for PoE if you intend to continue posting them. Thanks again!

  28. Thank you for the support! I’ll continue to play and post build guides for PoE, but per the article on Grim Dawn, I won’t be playing it again unless they find a new Community Manager and clean things up.

  29. Well I hope at some point you reconsider coming back to GD. Starter builds are great. Step by step and makes it easy and fun leveling process. After seeing the mess that Wolcen is, one can appreciate how good GD is. There is a mini content patch coming out between now and month’s end that introduce monster totems and legendary item drops tied to those totems for GD.

    Although I didn’t have the experience you did, I can understand your stance. Many of those duckweed’s that cause all the problems on the forums are of praetorian status. Those are the original kick starter backers and some of those have spent thousands if not tens to support Crate. They are also the beta content and feature testers. It’s kind of like a mini cult. It’s the same mentality with their discord.

    I remember long ago I once told a date I wasn’t going to be able to make it, because I was busy arguing on the internet. She said, okay well give me a call when you’re done. I never called. Because you can always find someone to argue with.

    Crate doesn’t have a studio. They are all remote users out of their homes. Introverts basically. They may have great game creation skills, but their people skills suck. Once I figured that out, I let them create. I play and enjoy. I don’t try to have conversations with them.

  30. Thanks for the support; I definitely appreciate it! Sadly, there’s no way I’ll return as long as Zantai is in charge of the community. He’s a rotten person and has no place running the forums. But you are correct, the key troublemakers have been around a LONG time; they’re like a tumor (and as such should be cut out and removed). I agree with your summary the people at Crate lack people skills, but it’s more than that – they endorse toxic behavior, which is unethical and inexcusable. As such, I have no interest in supporting Grim Dawn or Crate. If they make some changes, I might reconsider, but I won’t hold my breath 🙂

  31. I’m really glad to see this. I’ve been playing GD since early access and I eventually stopped posting on the forums altogether because of how toxic its’ gotten. And it wasn’t always like that; hard as it is to believe now, there was a time when the playtesters were active members of the community who developed fun and inventive builds instead of just spamming image macros, the devs would take gameplay concerns seriously if you were cool about how you presented them, and you didn’t get laughed out of the forum for playing a specific class (yes, that really happened to me). I still play GD and follow dev updates but the community is just so depressing these days that I don’t really interact with it anymore.

  32. You are 100% correct about the guides on the Grim Dawn forums, but it’s (imo) been a problem with the genre since Diablo 2. Every guide not only assumes a max-level character, but loads upon loads of meta-knowledge that you are apparently just supposed to know by osmosis and gear that takes 100s of hours to farm or trade for. Oftentimes these builds don’t even function outside of these specific parameters, and nearly ALL of them flat-out ignore the 50-100 hours it takes to GET to end-game. The elitist mindset is pretty much the default stance with ARPG guides of any kind. The POE Vault is hardly any better. I play these type of games almost exclusively, and you guides are probably the ONLY ones I have ever seen that do more than give a cursory nod to the most important part of the game.

  33. Agreed; I remember the community during Beta and Launch. It was a good place. Sadly, what the community is today is exactly what happens when you let toxic people fester and take a community over. But the blame really comes down to Arthur Bruno, who simply doesn’t care about the community. That’s why Zantai is in charge of it.

  34. I agree most ARPG communities have their trolls, but what’s unique about Grim Dawn is the lead community administrator (Zantai, a crate employee) is, himself, toxic, and I believe a narcissist. This has ensured the Grim Dawn community is dominated by rotten people, which is what has happened; and they love berating others who ask questions or challenge the terribly written “guides” that are in the forums. What’s sad is it’s only a dozen or so people – if they were removed, the entire community would change overnight. These people would have been banned from other properly run communities long ago. PoE has great community administrators, and their mods actually care about their player base and will generally remove toxic people from them forums (but they have no control over reddit, where the toxicity really is the worst). Regardless, quite a few people have reached out to me regarding this article sharing their similiar experience and agreeing with the content about the toxicity in the Grim Dawn forum community. Nothing will change as long as Kamil Marczewski (Zantai) is in charge of things, and that won’t change until Arthur Bruno (the CEO of Crate) wakes up and actually cares about the community.

  35. I’ve been following your guides for a while now, having picked up the game a few months ago. I’ve never been to the Crate Forums – I just immediately did a google search for build guides and luckily found yours. Unfortunately, I didn’t find yours first; but I must say they are the BEST guides by far. I’m sorry that you lost your interest in the game due to the way you were treated online. The Facebook Grim Dawn community may be ok; but Facebook as a whole is simply a reflection of who we are becoming and I, as an older person, cannot abide it; therefore I no longer take part in it. I still love the game though and wish you’d have made more guides because now there will be no more. :'(

  36. Thank you very much for the support; I greatly appreciate it! I hear you – the older I get the less tolerant I am of BS, Drama, Liars and Rotten People. One reason I wrote the article 🙂 Sadly, I won’t ever return to Grim Dawn as long as Kamil Marczewski (Zantai) is in charge of the community. The sad part is if he was replaced by a competent good community leader, everything would change overnight and the game would grow in support and popularity. So keeping him there reflects a poor decision by Arthur Bruno, who really doesn’t care about the community at all. We can only hope that changes in the future.

  37. Hey David, I wanted to add my support for your build guides, and I sympathize with your unfortunate experiences in the official forums. I recently came back to GD and found your guides, and I’m having a lot of fun with Sir Bloodydots. I’m a person who’s more interested in looking up good builds than constructing them myself, and your guides are varied, well written, and fun to play.

    Thank you for supporting this great game, and I hope that circumstances in the future will allow you to return some day.

  38. Thanks, Mike; I appreciate the support! I certainly hope Crate does something to address the ongoing community issues, but I’m not very hopeful as the core problem comes from Arthur, the company’s CEO and founder.

  39. I have only read the introduction and a summary of the problem, but I can use a brief description of the whole here:
    Crate Entertainment are a bunch of fascist boors.
    I once had a similar story, but not me first and not last. Grim Dawn developers use fascist methods to silence anyone who doesn’t like them. They delete posts and ban for no reason. Freedom of speech and opinion has no meaning for these people. It also seems that they breed provocateurs and through them gain an excuse to ban someone.
    Registering in their forum and entering into discussions does not make sense. It’s a waste of time.

  40. While I would categorize it a bit differently (but understand your point), there’s no question Arthur Bruno is an introvert and has no interest in the community, and Kamil Marczewski (Zantai) shares the same destructive narcissistic traits as the people who have destroyed the community. Given I was banned without proper reason or any warning, ultimately for correcting something they never should have done in the first place, your assessment seems pretty accurate 🙂

  41. Well this is an eye opener. Shame Zantai is such a terrible human being. I tend to stay away from the forums myself because their builds are poorly written and often flatout wrong. Especially Xervous is someone who likes to pretend he’s an authority on the game while understanding little of it.

    The only guides I take a look at are yours. They’re clearly written, the levelling and endgame makes sense and there’s some room for making your own tweaks. It’s a shame you leave, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my Purefier and Tactician that followed your builds.

  42. As of now there is still on-going unsolicited slander going on towards this good source of information on the subreddit. I’m really getting quite tired of it and just want to mention various guides helped me decide on which classes to play, how to start out and which levelling epics to look out for.

    I do hope you’re currently enjoying whatever game you’re occupied with! The latest GD patch and ones yet to come seem promising enough to not let such trivialities spoil the fun for me just yet.

  43. It’s very unfortunate; if Arthur Bruno would just care for a few moments and make a proper executive decision, everything could change for the Grim Dawn Community. Xervous is one of the most rotten and toxic people in the community. He should have been banned long ago from the Forums and Reddit. Regardless, thank you for your kind words and support; I really appreciate it!

  44. Thanks for the support; and yes, when a community doesn’t remove toxic rotten narcissists, they keep doing their thing and never stop (that’s one of the traits of such individuals; they never shut up and they generally don’t go away, which is why it’s so important to ban them). Sadly, the people running the Grim Dawn subreddit don’t seem to be very ethical either as they allow continual slandering and really don’t care (I reported the slander to the GD subreddit mods multiple times and they ignored it). Proper administration of communities is growing problem throughout the internet as standards are falling lower and lower each year, with rational ethical people left scratching their heads saying “why is this permitted?”. It always falls back to the community managers and their own lack of ethics and accountability. It’s quite unfortunate.

    The best supporters like yourself can do is simply respond and say “this isn’t true, and there’s why” while blocking/ignoring the key problem people. Just be prepared to be attacked for any supportive post; these folks have a deep hatred for anything that challenges their delusions of grandeur.

    I would like to play Grim Dawn again in the future, but it won’t happen unless Arthur finally decides to address the growing community issues.

    Thanks again for the comment, and happy hunting!

  45. Thank you for your excellent guides. I bought GD years ago but never made a decent effort of playing it, found it slow and complicated. I’ve been playing your Purifier and it’s been very smooth. I remember looking at the forum years ago and only finding lvl 100 builds with BiS equipment. It’s one thing the PoE community does better, it’s more welcoming to newcomers.

    Sad to hear about your experience with the forums but as you say it’s not uncommon. I’ve been on quite a niche hobby forums with their ‘rockstars’ and elitist attitude and it doesn’t help anyone. I’ll stick with Grim Dawn as I’ve been enjoying it. I played PoE a fair amount for about 2 years but have pretty much quit now. It’s clearly tuned for people who play it full time and it’s just not an enjoyable casual experience. At least with GD I can play at my own pace.

  46. I agree, the PoE community is much more welcoming, and the build guides on the forums are actual “guides” that new players can start from scratch with. I enjoy playing the new PoE leagues when they come out, but do so casually. I admit, the last league (Metamorph) I only played for 3 or so weeks before moving on. I think POE2 is going to be the big “change” people have been waiting for; we’ll see! I’d love to dive back into Grim Dawn, but just can’t support Crate in its current state. If enough people support a change in the community, I can only hope that Arthur wakes up and removes Zantai and hires an actual community management team that knows what they’re doing. Not holding my breath though 🙂

  47. Well, I have to say it’s nice seeing someone call this one out – I’ve had my own go-arounds with Mad Lee and a few others on the Crate forums – they were neither fun nor welcoming I will say. You’re not wrong about the forum community, it’s pretty much Stepford over there. As long as you fall into line, don’t argue substantively with certain people, etc. it DOES seem pretty welcoming and cool. And then you don’t – and… it isn’t. What’s sad is that there ARE people that do try to be helpful and reasonable – and are in fact both. And then someone like Lee will come along and wreck the living hell out of that with a blitzkrieg of what amounts to, “You’re stupid and wrong and fark you and your little dog too.” I was one of the “Screw this noise walking away now oy vey” people you’re talking about so… yeah. Even disregarding your specific experiences and documentation, even disregarding any other factual information about your issues you were faceplanting into over there, I still quite instantly knew that your basic premise was not even one little bit wrong. Most especially suggesting anything that is not ultimately efficient DPS-wise, uses weird combinations of skills that aren’t super-optimized to work together, etc. WILL get these geniuses barking – even when whatever you’re talking about is clearly labeled as not a min-max/”I play this because it’s fun and does well enough to get by” kind of build.

    I still play sometimes, I cherry-pick build information in some cases as I have played long enough to more or less translate the end-game templates that are posted, but the last thing I want to do is bother to read the comments past that, or post my own. And that’s directly attributable to that cadre of forum whales. Sad, true.

  48. Thanks for the feedback, Hraefn! You are absolutely correct; most people in the forums SEEM nice as long as you fall in line and don’t challenge anything they say. mad_lee is a terrible person and one of the core problem people that would have been banned in any other properly moderated community. Yet he’s still there and continues to have his regular unprovoked attacks and freakouts. He was the one who yelled that I was stealing builds when each build has a “Credit” section at the top, giving full credit as to the origin of the build; and even to this day, people are still propagating his fabricated nonsense. It’s crazy.

    But I agree there are some people on the forums that genuinely want to help; but as mentioned in the article, the problem is Zantai is also a rotten person with no ethical standards, and if you want to see why something is failing, look upwards to see who is in charge. The other consideration is the catalytic effect that a rotten person like mad_lee has on everyone else; when you allow a toxic individual like him to post freely, it puts everyone on guard and in a bad mood and impacts others to behave in a way they normally wouldn’t.

    However, I believe the most dangerous people are the closet narcissists like Maya and Malawiglenn; where mad_lee is in your face toxic, the others intentionally pretend to be helpful and supportive while in reality they are devious, deceptive and vindictive, and will go out of their way to harm others out of vengeance for being challenged and called on their bullshit. Individuals like that are the absolute worst, and sadly, people with their personality disorders seem to be thriving in online communities because administrators either don’t know how to identify the “intent” of their behavior (which is about control and manipulation), don’t understand how harmful they are, or simply don’t care (or lack the ethical standards to hold them accountable).

    Sadly, I don’t see anything changing with the Grim Dawn Community, because as I mentioned above, look upwards to see the source of the problem; it’s really Arthur Bruno, who made it clear to me he simply doesn’t care about the community. It’s quite a shame.

  49. Hey David. Thank you so much for the guides worthy of the name. This article exposes the hidden and ugly truth about toxicity of the GD developers and group of elitist forum dwellers. Unfortunately I’ve fallen a victim of this group by merely suggesting an improvement to the end game and making a mistake of telling Zantai that he misunderstood me. I was banned with the last message being in the general sense of: D3 players and their ideas are not welcome here, and I don’t even play D3. As a DOTA2 player I’ve experienced my share of toxicity but that was a new level – being attacked by both the community and the developer for a mere suggestion. Thank you again and take care.

  50. Thanks a ton for the support, Regus! Sorry to hear that happened, but it doesn’t surprise me. Remember, Kamil Marczewski (Zantai) thinks that Wheaton’s Law (which is just a useless phrase muttered by an ex-actor) of “Don’t be an dick” is the law of the land in the forums. Somebody with such an idiotic and lazy standard (i.e. he won’t even put together a legit set of forum rules because he wants to enforce things his way and not be bound by any rules, which is a red flag to any rational individual) has no place running a community. The only thing that will fix the failed community is if Kamil is removed from the community entirely and replaced with an experienced and capable community manager with ethical standards. Since Arthur doesn’t seem to care about the community in any capacity, the only way that will happen is if the sales of Grim Dawn are directly impacted by Kamil’s mismanagement of the forums and community. Who knows, if these narcissists continue with their behavior and drive more players out, enough people may walk away from the game to have an impact. Then again, that would show Arthur only cares about money, because only an idiot would put Kamil in charge of a community in the first place. 🙂

  51. Hey David,

    i started playing Grim Dawn last year and as every new player i tried to look for a Guide to help me get into the game.
    My Expectations were not high since i experienced low quality Guides in other Games allready but unfortunatly due to these “Guides” (which they were..just not for new players) i stopped playing because i realized my selected Class was not going to be viable for endgame content only if i’d have a high tolerance of failure, which i dont have because after failing several times i get frustrated and lose affection. Only by having an allready viable endgame character i couldve kept going with trading legendaries etc.
    After i got bored of Wolcen i decided to come back to Grim Dawn with a fresh start. I thought: “Hey, let’s see if there is a decent guide now”, and oh boy was i happy to find your collection of well written Guides. Your guides are brilliant compared to what i had to deal with in the past and am now enjoying my adventure through Cairne and hope being able to play for a long time.

    Now for your experience with these narcissistic people. I can completely relate to your thinking and have to honor your professional way of dealing with it. You can’t “win” against these people without a competent moderator because narcissists. period.
    Dont let these people get the best of you and i hope you will keep doing great things even if you dont play Grim Dawn anymore.

    Sincerely Zvenpai

  52. Thanks a ton for the support, Zvenpai! I quit playing Wolcen a few days ago as well; it’s unfortunate the game was released in such a terrible state. I hope it manages to grow and the dev team is able to make it a successful game. You’re absolutely right; there is no “winning” against Narcissistic people except to remove them from online communities. Sadly, our culture has downplayed how outright horrible and destructive they are to everyone they come into contact with. I’ve learned from experience how important it is to remove them entirely from any public communication medium. Sadly, most people haven’t come to the same conclusion. llegitimi non carborundum! 🙂

  53. One would think people would take notice when Maya literally outright said that she had no intention of making it easier for people to understand her builds unless they outright asked for explanations on the forums. As much as she complains about having to repeat herself you’d think making a one stop guide for getting to cap would be a priority.

    Nice work anyhow, I learn a lot more from following your guides since they do not assume you get through the first 96 levels by spamming forcewave. =3

  54. Thanks for the support! Yah, Maya is one of the core rotten people in the Grim Dawn community who smiles and pretends to help others when they are really a closet narcissist who goes crazy when challenged. Maya is also very vindictive; s/he came to Reddit and proceeded to group with Malawiglenn and a few others to downvote everything I posted and harass me; and this was after I left the Grim Dawn forums and had no further interactions with him/her. These were acts of pure malice and spite. When people go out of their way to harm others who are trying to avoid them, there’s something very wrong (hence the narcissistic personality and even sociopathic/psychopathic traits). Sadly, it’s people like this who are given free reign in the forums, and even the Grim Dawn subreddit.

  55. Hi. Recent requests for beginner guides and builds in the GD reddit was not well received, beginners were insulted and attacked, and your guides were referred to as garbage. The forums were given as a solid source of builds. The forums are jumbled and hard to navigate. It was almost impossible to find build guides and many of them are outdated and shown only a final build. So my friends and I decided decided to try your builds guide as we’ve found them very useful for POE. We’ve had a lot of fun. Your guides are easy to follow and make the gaming experience so much more enjoyable and fun. Thank you.

  56. Morning Sajyana! You very accurately represented the current state of not just the forums, but the Grim Dawn subreddit community as well. Sadly, most of the core problem people in the subreddit are the same toxic people from the forums. When I left the forums, a handful of vindictive and evil people (Malwiglenn, Maya, etc.) enticed other toxic people to “come to reddit” solely to harass and downvote my communications there. They didn’t leave, and now the Grim Dawn subreddit exhibits the same unwelcoming elitist narcissistic culture that has destroyed the Grim Dawn forums; all because a handful of toxic (and let’s be honest, mentally ill) people have made it their home. The Grim Dawn subreddit didn’t have this problem a year ago; it fundamentally changed when these terrible people came over and started doing their thing. It’s sad the Moderators don’t realize (or don’t care) what’s happened and haven’t really done anything to address this very real problem. As such, I don’t post in the Grim Dawn subreddit anymore.

    On a positive note, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the guides and greatly appreciate your support. Happy hunting and have a great weekend!

  57. Hi David

    When I tried to use builds from other sources I was completly overwhelmed with the information.
    I now have around 55hrs into GD and even now alot of stuff is very unclear. Sadly as you have stated before you won’t be making anymore new gudies.

    Just wanted to say that your guides really helped me out and I have not found a better source providing even close the level of content that yours do.

    Thank you for your hard work and I sincerly hope you will come back once and create new guides for noobs like me 🙂

    p.s. would you mind sharing your thoughts on guides ppl would post here? (for future reference) or maybe even include them into the website?

  58. You are welcome to ask your questions here; I’ll do the best I can to answer them. Thanks a ton for your support – I appreciate it!

    When you say would I mind sharing my thoughts on guides people post “here”, what do you mean? Not sure I follow.

  59. Keyboard warriors, e-peen, and cliques are not new things. Online society has developed in a way that promotes anonymity, which counteracts a basic human need to seek validation for one’s accomplishments. Hence what you describe as narcissim, with anonymous users defending their work to the hilt even though they cannot profit from it except by reputation.

    I’ve experienced it in other forums, for a strategy board game called Gloomhaven, and like you discovered that the toxicity there actually originated from an attitude fostered by the game’s creator Isaac (AKA god to these people). However I learned one important thing: they don’t own even their own world, just a very small piece of it.

    Boycotting the game feels a little like cutting off your nose to spite your face. I understand that you don’t want to generate additional revenue for Crate by further popularising their game, but so what if you help give the autistic programmers funds to write more games? If you put out more consistently good content than their official forums then people will stop looking to them and continue looking to you (500k hits per guide, right?). Other guide creators will be forced to emulate your helpful style otherwise the praise that they need for breathing oxygen will evaporate and they will die out. Sounds like a no-lose proposition to me.

  60. You have a valid point. If I was dealing with a few rotten folks, that would be one thing, but the key omission is the core toxic people are being supported by Create Employee Kamil Marczewski aka “Zantai”, who is toxic himself; and all of this is going on under the Founder and CEO Arthur Bruno’s leadership and watch (which makes him complacent). Additionally, I was banned from the forums without proper cause and my build guides were intentionally vindictively targeted for removal by the toxic group of people in support of Kamil and Aurthur (by knowing it was taking place, but not doing anything about it). As such, I am ensuring they are held accountable and, because of the amount of effort that went into the guides, the materials are made available to those who are looking. I believe my build guides have become the #1 resource for searching players; at least I have the opportunity to explain the reality of what is going on within the forums and the subreddit in the hopes Arthur does decide to address the problem. Ultimately, I can say Grim Dawn is a very good game, but Crate is a rotten company and the community is dominated by vindictive, toxic narcissistic rats. In the end, I certainly hope people emulate the style of my builds, but it’s coming up on a year and nobody has done it yet. I wouldn’t hold my breath 🙂

  61. Sorry for asking such a scrub question. So these builds are no longer viable/updated? Is that the case? Just got into Grim Dawn and I was looking for a fun pet build.

  62. Actually, I believe all the builds are still just as viable as they were a year ago. I haven’t received feedback that any of them are broken at all.

  63. I really appreciate the effort you put into these guides. When I started playing Grim Dawn last year, I couldn’t find any other build guides that covered the leveling process instead of just showing an endgame build. Trying to use one of those endgame builds as a target didn’t go so well, since I took some skills in the wrong order and ended up with a character that was extremely difficult and not very fun to play. In fact, it went so poorly that I stopped playing entirely for a few months. Eventually a couple of my friends got the game and invited me to play with them. This time I found your build guides and tried the BWC/RoK build. It felt like a completely different game. I was having tons of fun spamming BWC all over the place, lighting all my enemies on fire and watching them die before they could even get close to me.

    So I just wanted to say thanks for making Grim Dawn fun to play. It sucks that the game has been so thoroughly ruined for you, and that even Crate employees were part of the mess. I’ve seen stuff like that happening in other online communities (particularly gaming communities, and ARPGs and MMOs tend to have the worst examples), but only rarely have I seen an issue that was exacerbated by moderators and community managers lacking in professionalism.

    I started playing Grim Dawn mostly because I just couldn’t get into PoE. But then I enjoyed Grim Dawn mostly because of your guides, so maybe I’ll give PoE another shot by following one of your build guides there.

    Also I can definitely confirm that the BWC/RoK build was still viable as of earlier this year. And fun as hell to play, too.

  64. Thanks for the feedback, Ember; I appreciate it! Yes, it is unfortunate, and sadly, GD has been ruined for many people in addition to myself due to the rotting core of the community (as you can see in the comments). Arthur simply does not care, and that will never change unless it begins to affect sales; and even if it does, he will never address the community issues because her cares about making a better community – he will do it only to make more money.

  65. David: I’m sorry your interactions have left a bitter taste in your mouth not just for that community but also the game. Understandable but regrettable. I found your guides by search – Google proves their popularity – and I appreciate the work you’ve put into them. I hope you eventually come around to enjoying the game itself again, but thank you regardless.

  66. Hi David,
    Your Acid Dervish guide checked all the boxes for a new player. After a work travel/holiday/work travel stint I am coming back to top it off soon. Thank you.

  67. A good article highlighting what happens when leadership doesn’t care.

    Also rhymes quite true with what I experienced within my time on the forums even back in 2016 after mod tools were released, and the subsequent weeks I spent on the Discord server around 2017.
    To be fair, the forums back then were quite fine from what I remember, but the Discord wasn’t. So I wonder, was the server the precursor to the events of the forum? Madea always was quite self-righteous, however, so that likely didn’t help.

    Good article with some nice reporting.

  68. I don’t think the Server had anything to do with it; Madea seems to be just a ‘cog’ in the wheel, which is driven by Kamil “Zantai” Marczewski and ignored by Arthur Bruno. Sadly, there is no indication anything will change, and the forums (and now reddit because they migrated there to follow me) are overrun by a handful of rotten controlling narcissistic people. But it’s just a reflection of what Zantai and Art consider to be acceptable behavior; this reflects their own personality disorders. Thanks for the support though! I felt it was important to get the facts out there.

  69. I’ve been coming to this site now for a few weeks to reference some builds but finally noticed the link to this post. So sorry you had to deal with this. Thank you for taking the time to create these builds and post them.

  70. Hey David, just wanted to share my experience getting into this game at this point, might be useful, might not.

    Background: I’ve played through Diablo II and Titan Quest on normal, I don’t have a huge interest in endgame builds because endgame playtime is much less than leveling playtime for me, but I always want to have a build that is endgame viable because otherwise it just feels like you’re going into a dead end.

    So, I picked up this game, and like usual went to the internets to look for ‘beginner’ build ideas. The top google search results are your builds, and stupiddragon’s build compendium on the forum. Also there was a top google search result on reddit pointing to your builds, with some of the forum dwellers you’ve mentioned asserting that your builds shouldn’t be used. So that creates doubt about your builds, so then I check out the forum builds. And, as you mentioned, they are inscrutible and generally poorly written in terms of grammar, so I think “do these guys really know what they’re talking about?” However, in checking out malawiglenn’s vit cabalist guide, he references ‘Nightmare’s Vit Cabalist build’ by ceruleansong as his starting point, so I checked that out, and it was way, way more clear. In particular, the “Item priority” section (which lists the types of buffs you want to focus on from random drops) and “Progression Log” (which marks various milestones in his levelling) were very useful, and rare in newer guides. I also found ceruleansong’s ‘New Player Knowledge Compendium’, which was a godsend. The problem is that both of these are 3 years old, and the game has had an expansion and a bunch of rebalances since then so it’s hard to say how relevant they still are.

    So, long story short, I think the problem is that there are a few people with pretty unclear and non-beginner-friendly guides currently dominating the forum, but I think there are good resources buried in the archives that honestly should be stickied since they are still very relevant despite updates to the game since their writing. I also think guides should have more focus on the rationale behind decisions. Like *why* is X better than Y?

  71. Thank for the feedback, Atreju! You have a valid point about the people dominating the forums; their guides are mediocre at best (which is why I made mine), and they are doing everything they can to steer people away from the guides I created (even today) solely for vindictive purposes. Sadly, as my article outlines, nothing is going to change with Kamil Marczewski (Zantai) running the community. I also agree there are “good” resources archived on the forums, but what it really comes down to is the forums are dominated by controlling manipulative narcissists who will never allow things to change, which is why I will never play Grim Dawn again or support Crate, who knowingly let all of this happen. They don’t care, and as such, the inmates run the asylum.

  72. Hi David, Great site, very clear and informative guides. The issues you had with Crate are part of a broader picture of many companies these days – which is, they just don’t care. Except of course if it affects their bottom line, only then do they care. Apathy and attitudes most times are reflections of those at the top of the food chain and trickle down to the rest of the company. It can be very frustrating when an issue gets personal, but ultimately most of the time we can do little to make change when the ignorant and rude people in charge can’t see the forest for the trees (or dollar bills).
    Crate made a great rpg but other than that are just a bunch of money hungry dicks like many others sadly, so forget about them and concentrate on what’s important :), and keep up the great work here.

    Cheers.

  73. Thanks for the feedback, Jeff! The issue at Crate is actually a bit more serious (and not “personal”) because they have no official rules, and banned an individual who created solid community-supporting content from their forums without any viable reason, all while ignoring the vindictive acts to drive that individual from the community. That and Kamil (Zantai) has signs of being a classic Narcissist himself (which is one of the most destructive personality disorders), all while condoning the behavior of terrible, undermining and vindictive individuals who are dominating the forums and treating other players like garbage. This has ensured the Grim Dawn Community is, and always will be, a rotten place. But you’re correct with your last statement; Arthur and his cohorts are only interested in making money and could care less about the community, which is why it is what it is. Sadly, because I will never support Crate or play Grim Dawn again, there’s really no “keeping up” the work. I just respond to questions to help out when I can 🙂

  74. Just wanted to add my voice and say, it is due to your guides that my partner and I have been enjoying the heck out of Grim Dawn and all of its expansion content. Without your guides, we were struggling from choice paralysis, and never quite being sure if we were “playing it right”. Your guides did exactly that: guided us.

    So for that, thank you. You made the game better for us. I’m sorry you have to deal with the haters who likely just don’t like that you’re helping raise people up, instead of telling them to just ‘git gud’.

  75. I totally agree with you regarding forums, reddit, facebook with various communities and the few members that make newcomers think what is the point. Everyone starts from somewhere and if they are guides to help users to help get the feet of the ground then I’m all for it – they don’t have to be perfect or top notch, but something that a new user can easily adapt to and learn from.

    I have even noticed that on the steam community your builds are still being slated.

    I’ve played POE, Diablo 1-3, Titan Quest, Torchlight, Victor Vran and have been looking at this game for a while and so just got it while on offer – I noticed when searching for an oculist/necromancer build I think yours was at the top of the list, but are they still viable with the latest updates and the expansions.

    I’m currently speccing in raven, hellbound and skeletons and hoping this is a good build to focus on.

  76. >> I have even noticed that on the steam community your builds are still being slated.

    Yup; it’s the same group of roughly a dozen people who spend all their time online and post their garbage nonstop. They never shut up, they act purely out of spite and enact an unfounded self-imposed vendetta. By researching their interactions in other places, it’s easy to see they are miserable rotten narcissists who are just trying to drag others down in order to promote their own delusional self-importance. I’ve dealt with this sort of garbage for years, and sadly this type of mental disorder is all too common online. It’s sad because all they need to be is banned, but most admins simply don’t care or think such behavior is reasonable. That’s even more disturbing than the rotten individuals; of course that’s exactly what happened with Crate and their unethical staff members.

    My two favorite builds are Sir Bloodydots and Crunchybones 🙂 I hope the guides help!

  77. I get ya. This had been going on for quite some time now with similar games as well such as Titan Quest back in the day. Suggest that some builds are “unplayable” (the way TQ was clearly making some mastery combinations very meh) and get flak. I don’t know if the developer was adding more poison to the discussion though because with TQ they weren’t indie but the community could most certainly wage these build wars.

    I understand the mentality at some childish base level. Sure, everybody wants their build to be the better option but if there’s only one good option then the game itself must’ve been poorly designed in this regard, right?

    I can plan some characters well but not all the various kinds GD has to offer. There’s no shame in googling “GAME BUILD_TYPE guide” and frankly it’s very helpful to have a guide that spells out put a point here and here and then here and there with builds you aren’t exactly good at planning. Most certainly for BEGINNERS and that’s exactly what you’re advertising as well. I myself really appreciate step by step Devotions. Thank you.
    While it’s good others found their own way, slapping a screenshot of a dude in end game gear and saying that you need to spam this skill and the rest is up to you isn’t exactly a guide even if the build is hella cool.

    I’d love to see something like Chaos damage dual-dagger Witch Hunter done in the fashion of your guides (Devotions anyway) but I’m sure you’re done and have better things to do and that’s fine all things here considered. Cheers and good luck!

  78. Hi Dave,

    Yeh the builds are helping, I’m doing the Crunchybones build sort of, I had already started with oculist and then necromancer, not sure if there is a difference starting with a particular class to another.

    I’m surprised at how good this build is, even at low level (put up a good fight against a boss in a dangerous dungeon that was about 4 levels higher than my character) so not sure why people are slating it. Its perfect for beginners like me in this game.

    All in all, excellent guides

  79. Thanks, I’m glad the guide is helping! Crunchybones was one of my favorite builds. Sadly, it’s a handful of vindictive narcissists that are doing everything they can to slate the content – the exact same people who have destroyed the Grim Dawn community and should have been banned from the forums and reddit. They are empowered to continue their harmful agenda because administrators will not ban them. It’s a sad state of affairs when people like them are allowed free reign, which is why I left the Grim Dawn community and will never support Crate again. This is a growing issue throughout the internet; behavior that would never have been tolerated a decade ago is now common place. People have lost sense as to what proper behavior and ethics are, which is why online communities are simply getting worse everywhere.

  80. The TQ experience comes as no surprise; when you have a founder/leader (Arthur Bruno) who is obviously ethically void, a rotten community element is guaranteed. I’m glad the builds are helping players, but I have no intention of ever playing Grim Dawn again because Crate empowers vindictive terrible people to dominate the community and harass good people. There’s no question in my mind a large percentage of people stay away from the Grim Dawn community because of these problems. I hoped what I wrote could entice some sort of change, but it’s simply not going to happen. Arthur doesn’t care, and as long as he’s making money, he’ll just keep doing business as usual.

  81. awww, I just started playing Grim Dawn and so love your guides. I really really hope you are not really ‘quitting’ the game. And when and if there are more updates you will continue to help the community that follows YOU with your wonderful guides!!!
    Thank You for all the time and effort you have put into them!!

  82. Thanks for the support, Dawn! Sadly, I quit playing Grim Dawn nearly a year ago. But I’ll keep hosting the guides to help new and returning players, and to set a standard that I hope other players can use as a basis for the next generation of guides. Have a great week!

  83. Played many ARPGs so bought grim dawn way back when it was on sale. The game was a huge letdown (I was bad) and although I could see a lot of depth and complexity to the game I had no clue what I was doing or how to learn. A year or so later I wanted to give the game another try and found your guides. Unfortunately I can’t get past the Dlc’s now since i’m in the process of trying out every single build you’ve posted and having a blast playing each and everyone. Thanks for your guides and I wish you the best!

  84. Thanks for the message, i actually have a friend who’s been helping me as we play with each other. He moves through the game really quick but has slowed down for my sake, whenever he’s not on. Your builds are a great way for me to learn on my own when he’s not around.

  85. Hey David,

    Just wanted to let you know that I’m new to GD and after playing for a couple of hours I realized that I was level 8 and didn’t even have any skills yet. I poked around the UI and realized I totally missed, somehow, picking a class and assigning skill points. Once I started tinkering there, and then went over to the Devotion tab, I had a panic attack. There is so much stuff. Of course, this was to be expected, this being a very mature ARPG.

    So, I decided to go online and look for “grim dawn starter builds 2020”. I found a few unhelpful Reddit posts and eventually ended up on the official forums for the game. I saw some dead links there for “starter builds” and the predominance of end-game builds that were useless to me.

    I went back to google and restarted my search, this time avoiding official forum and Reddit results, and came across this website. I noticed the awesome collection of guides you have, exactly what I was looking for, and am now very eager to follow along and enjoy this game without being paralyzed by all the choices and flexibility. I don’t have 100’s of hours to devote to all the games I play, I expect I’ll probably get through GD once or twice and move on. So guides like yours really let me extract the most value out of my time, and I can’t tell you how much of a valuable service people like you provide to the community.

    Before I jumped into using the guides though, I noticed your link to this post here. I read the whole thing, what a ride. I’m really sorry you had to go through all this, but I just want to, again, let you know how much I appreciate what you’ve done. I’m really glad that you didn’t give up sooner, and I bet there are many individuals who feel the same.

    I wish you well.

    Take care,
    Steve

  86. Thank you for the feedback and support, Steve! My two favorite builds out of all of them are Crunchybones (Skelemancer) and BloodyDots (DoT). I think those two perform the “all around” best for new players. I hope this helps – enjoy!

  87. Hi there! Just wanted to drop a note & say I appreciate the work you put into these guides, their extensive write-ups, as well as keeping them posted, despite the fact you’ve stopped playing. As a super-newbie (bought the game 2 days ago), reading through each build was very interesting, giving me a much better sense of the classes, & highlighted some fantastic combinations. I want to play them all 🙂 Cheers!

  88. David,
    I returned to GD a week ago, searched for guides and yours popped up via google machine.

    I got about 11 hours in or so and found this site and this timeline of events.

    GD is a fantastic game, however, if the founder was happy enough to take my money on Steam, then everything that goes along with that needs to be maintained. I’m good and fair conscience seeing what was done to you and why, I’ll be going back to PoE.

    I’ve had my fair share of issues in forums ( looking directly at you, dark souls 3) and how nuclear waste dump site toxic they are. Who’s the aforementioned title is AAA and GD is technically Indie, they both equally and readily took my money for their products and refer to the forums as a dependable and maintained source of information regarding all things GD.

    This is now proven to be a lie. I know those who you spoke of. I challenged a pet build and asked about midgame armor not end game gear with 2 of them only to get some kind of pre pubescent flame about not knowing how to play the game. This was yesterday. They both got a flying bird salute and I uninstalled the game-before reading your accounts today.

    Your guide was SIGNIFICANTLY easier to understand being a year removed from the game and I’m glad the enjoyment I did have was due solely to your guide and how it was written.

    Thank you man for the hours of fun I had with GD before the closet dwellers decided to speak. I’m not upset or mad, just disappointed that in 2020 a self centered, egotistical void of ethics individual pretends to be a forum moderator and allows the Kickstarter clowncar occupants to run the show.

    Crate won’t get a dime from me until it’s addressed and that’s ok. PoE will take my money equally as fast and their forums are, as you stated, professionally maintained and a plethora of info and easy to follow( mostly )

    Best regards,
    K

  89. That’s for sharing your experience Ken, and sorry to hear what happened. Unfortunately, the rotten people ruining the community are still doing their thing in full force because Arthur doesn’t care, and Kamil Marczewski (Zantai) is a narcissistic unethical person himself. As things stand, nothing will change. It’s OK; PoE is a great game, and Chris Wilson (and his community team) are top notch. Happy Hunting with the new league! 🙂

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