Got your Crusader to Level 70? Now what? Your goal is to get your FREE SET ASAP. In this guide, you’ll learn exactly what to do for each step, ultimately leading to the end-game as your Fresh 70 Crusader.

NO Free Set? Go to PAGE 2!

In S9, the Crusader free set is Thorns of the Invoker. With this godlike set given to you on a platter – your journey into the heavens and heights of GR’s is gonna be without thorn in your side! (You’ll easily be farming Light’s asap! lel)

(Guys, does Physical% increase Punish thorns DPS? I saw somewhere that it does, and somewhere that it doesn’t. I REMEMBER seeing it on some previous season patch notes…)

Fresh 70 Crusader: Free set available! | No free set!
Getting the Free Set | Free Set 70 | Gaining Power | Bridging to the End-game

Fresh 70 Crusader: Getting the Free Set!

Click below to reveal the instructions you need for each step:

IMPORTANT: Setting up!
Help! I can't use those skills because they're from the same category! (Turn On Elective Mode)
Seasonal Journey Chapter 2: Getting 2 piece
Seasonal Journey Chapter 3: Getting 4 piece
Seasonal Journey Chapter 4: Getting 6 piece
Crusader GR 20: 4pc Thorns of the Invoker

Fresh 70 Crusader: 6pc Free Set Build

s9 6pc Thorns of the Invoker FRESH 70
Skill Rune
Punish Celerity
Consecration (!) Bed of Nails
Steed Charge Spiked Barding
Law: Justice (Valor) Immovable Object (Invincible)
Iron Skin Reflective Skin
Bombardment (!) Barrels of Spikes
Iron Maiden Finery
Fervor Hold your Ground (open)

Flexible! (Quick notes) Only Punish, Steed Charge and Iron Skin are NECESSARY to thrive with Invoker! Bombardment *can* be dropped once we get Belt of the Trove. Consecration falls off hard later on, and is not included in the very highest tiers of the build. Provoke goes in if you find Vo’Toyias Spiker. Got room for adjustments!

FROM HERE OUR GOAL IS TO GAIN POWER FAST. The next logical steps are Legendary Gems, and being mindful of the good items you need to find.

Item review before proceeding… Remember these things as you progress!

Non-set pieces: Review

Gaining Power!

Now we have to gain as much power, as quickly as possible. Legendary Gems is the first place we look – and make sure to keep an eye out for key items.

Legendary Gems

This is the easiest way to gain power simply because acquiring them has little to no RNG. Getting 3 of your best gems will increase your power dramatically in a short time span.

Click on the tabs to see Thorns of the Invoker’s “Big 3” gems, and “others”.

Crusader Thorns of the Invoker 6 Fresh 70: Big 3 GemsOther gems?

Get these three to L25 ASAP:

Boyarsky’s Chip: Lol. +Thorns. Nothing to explain here. Dump as many points in this as you can, but make sure to get the L25 bonuses of the next 2 gems.

Bane of the Powerful: Creams elites, helps survive against them and doesn’t scale much past 25? What a great early investment.

Bane of the Trapped: “How do I trigger the slow!?”, easy – get in their face.

These three gems will last until you get into some ridiculously high GR’s. In which case, check the next tab…

Any other gems worth it?

Bane of the Stricken: I don’t know if you’ll ever need this, but when you hit the high 70’s you might consider it. If you find yourself taking more than 1 minute to kill yellow elites – it’s time to switch powerful to this.

Esoteric Alteration (Moratorium): Sometimes you just need a defensive gem. Esoteric is probably better, as Moratorium only shines if you have the Life on Hit with weapon (amulet). Keep in mind that sometimes “speed running” GR’s is sometimes better with a defensive gem for “clear insurance”.

Boon of the Hoarder: You need this for speedfarming.
(See: Speedfarming General, Crusader Speedfarming, Best Crusader Speedfarming Build)

Just get them asap while slowly climbing the GR’s you’re allowed to do. Do neph/GR/neph/GR etc until you get the big 3. Don’t overdo the level, just go for efficient farming and cheap empowering. GR 34 is enough to 25 a gem.

With 3 of your best gems at L25 – try much higher Torment levels (Hell, try VIII+). Now it’s time to find some key items!

As you melt faces and increase difficulty, you start running into the problem of YOUR FACE getting melted, too. Invoker has such a simple and vastly scalable offense that you won’t have problems killing until later on.

Playing the Build & Adjustments

Now that you have the base “power level” of your 6 set and gems, let’s take a break to review How to play & adjust your build. These tips are basic, nothing comprehensive, but helpful nonetheless!

Adjusting your build is a key knowledge point – certain weak spots in your build may appear due to RNG, so it’s in your best interest to address these. Again, with only 3 required skills, there’s a lot of room for creativity.

Here we discuss Playstyle Notes and build Build Adjustments.

Playing Thorns of the Invoker 6 - BasicsOffense & ResourceDefense & HealingSpeed & Mobility

What’s there to say? Plant your feet in front of your target and slug it out.
Align your cooldowns to all come out during Iron Skin!
Hunt down elites like a madman!
That’s 90% of it!

Elites – they’re your best friend. Since our AoE damage is poor (yeah Bombardment owns now, you’ll see how bad it is later on), it makes no sense focusing on whites. If you haven’t played a character wherein elite hunting is your priority, this may feel weird, but try it out!

Align the starsIron Skin is your best skill. It quadruples your damage. Make sure you can use the entire duration, and all your thorny skills are on cooldown! Make it a habit that you HOLD OFF on using, example… Consecration, and wait for Iron Skin to come up. It’s a very bad habit to WAIT for Consecration when Iron Skin is up.

Align the cosmos – It doesn’t stop there. Convention of Elements? Triple our damage on top of that. Provoke + Spiker? Double it again. You get it.

Elites + Aligning – once you actually try it and see how powerful it is, you’ll know why even the hardiest elites in the highest of GR’s will be a juicy target.

So don’t complain about Invokers lack of AoE when clearing rifts. Yeah, it’s a problem and puts a cap on speed at the low end – but you can easily farm higher GR’s as compensation for this. Not every set can do everything.

More offense or Wrath needed?

Offense is usually categorized in Damage or, indirectly, Resource Gain.

Resource gain and Wrath related changes are 100% irrelevant for Thorns of the Invoker, which uses none of it.

Damage? Ahh.. let me count the ways! While there are many ways to improve Thorns damage (many of which are recommended in the base build) let’s run by them.

Thorns: is your bread and butter. Increased by the substat. Strength modifies it. Iron Maiden (Passive) boosts it by 50%. Attack Speed indirectly improves it. CDR is huge for our cooldowns! Blocking improves thorns! There are many vectors to improve thorns (and how it interacts with Invoker), directly or indirectly!

Fervor is great. Attack speed and CDR? Really!? Finery improves strength! Lord Commander is mainly there to reduce the cooldown on Steed Charge. It improves your farming speed greatly. Bombardment CDR is a bonus.

How about ways outside the base build?

Well, now it goes into the territory of “Practical” increases which are worth the trade off. While I can’t advise you what’s worth it or not given that everyone’s setup is slightly different – here are some ideas…

Akarat’s Champion is sick once you’re able to use it consistently. It requires massive CDR, and Akarat’s Awakening to work out, but keep it in mind. Whether you choose Hasteful or Prophet – it’s a significant DPS increase.

Laws of Valor-Invincible is a great hybrid choice. Always keep it in mind. It gives decent attack speed bonuses and its active not only further boosts ASPD but gives a significant Life per Hit bonus.

Fanaticism and Holy Cause are “small” bumps in your DPS.

Lord Commander may be in and out of your build. Again, it’s main upside is SPEED which you can drop sometimes for tryharding GR’s. But, in the “elite killing” game, speed means a lot.

More defense needed?

Defense is usually self-healing and/or damage reduction.

Well, we can’t really talk about ALL the ways Crusaders can increase survivability, can we!? Hell, Iron Skin is our best offensive cooldown, and gives a hefty defensive bonus!

Life per Hit is goes a long way to help you survive. The 6pc attack speed bonus synergizes well with it. While only Laws of Valor-Invincible is the only built-in Crusader source for it, rolling it on weapon (amulet) is a good choice.

Laws of Justice-Immovable Object is the king of hardening.

Hold your Ground is the go-to block talent. Divine Fortress synergizes well with this, but we only have so much space for all the great talents! The true reason we take this is for the later Justice Lantern.

Indestructible is a great passive. It nearly ensures you can kill ANY ELITE every minute. It gives you a second layer of insurance that your mega alignment of cooldowns doesn’t go to waste.

Invoker and thorns doesn’t use Crit as a stat – so your main advantage is that you have so many EXTRA ROLLS for defense! It can be argued that AS and CDR replace these stats… But AS and CDR increases our defenses indirectly! AS gives more life per hit, CDR gives more mobility and usage of cooldowns. Even then, Invoker without AS and CDR is a lot better than a traditional build without Crit stats.

More mobility needed?

Most Crusader mobility is locked behind items.

Lord Commander: say hi again. Reducing Steed Charge cooldown is legit. You can even try using the Endurance rune if you’re hellbent on the anti-elite strategy.

Any other changes for speed at this point is too greedy, and I can’t recommend it.

(See: Speedfarming General, Crusader Speedfarming, Best Crusader Speedfarming)

Items to look for

Okay, now that the easy part of powering up is done, it’s time for the farmy bit. Here, I will be listing all the high-impact items you can pick up, and how to get them (aside from drops).


Blood ShardsDeath's BreathClassics
Using Blood Shards:

Belt: Is the first place I’d dump shards. Belt of the Trove helps us with our AoE clear PASSIVELY (which is relevant in the early game) but more importantly, triggers our Bombardment for free, and gives our 4pc a 100% uptime. Goldwrap and other semi-useful fillers are found here, too.  One you get Trove, you can even remove Bombardment from your bar…

Chest: is next Aquila Cuirass is a free, brainless 50% damage reduction. While Heart of Iron is also in this pile, it’s only considered a filler – the actual thorns damage you get from it is small.

Bracer: We love elites! So we love Nemesis Bracers. It has no effect on our combat stats but it helps farm faster.  (Don’t even think of Sanguinary Vambraces if you find it – the proc is slightly stronger than 1 Punish)

Shield: isn’t a bad place to invest. While the possible pool is huge, Vo’Toyias Spiker and Akarat’s Awakening are no joke. The best place to spend when you’re done getting the above items.

Other filler items? To be honest I don’t think there’s much out there. String of EarsLeoric’s CrownIllusory? Nothing game breaking.

Again reminding you of the bounty rings:
Ring of Royal Grandeur: Act I bounties, to fit all our greed.
Avarice Band: Act III bounties, for speedfarming.

Using Death’s Breath – Rare to legendary:

There isn’t a “right choice” here. If I was to recommend one at gunpoint… it would be upgrading 2H Mace for The Furnace. Why? There are only a few weapons and shields that are even remotely usable by Invoker. Furnace isn’t “that” hard to get, given the small pool of possible results.

Upgrading 2H Flail and Shields to attempt completing Norvald’s Set (Flail of the Charge, Shield of the Steed). This vastly improves our speed. Shields will also yield Vo’Toyias Spiker which is amazing. It works on our Punish-thorns.

Upgrading Axe for Hack ~ meh… it really isn’t as good as it sounds. If you get one randomly, yeah why not – use it or cube it for the meantime.

Daggers for Pig Sticker: while this is the ultimate weapon for Invoker, it only shines when augmenting a “Fully realized build”. Since you can’t improve a turd, our resources are better spent getting us out of turd status.

The Classics: Good for any type of newer character, and even the most battle-hardened of builds.

Ring of Royal Grandeur: “Break” your 6-piece to make space for a good filler item!

Accessory Sets: FocusRestraint or Traveler’s Pledge. Completing any of these 2-sets is a vast power jump. +100%++ is substantial for only 2 slots.

Convention of Elements: Good ‘ol CoE. Wear it, Kanai it, as a filler or till the end of time. Learning to maximize CoE in any build you choose is a turning point for higher GR’s.

Unity: Straight 50% damage reduction in the cube. Too bad you need two of ’em.

Goldwrap + Avarice + Boon of The Hoarder: I don’t care how many times I have to remind you about this combo. Be on the lookout. Avarice drops from ACT III bounties.

Bridging to the End-game

So you skipped a whole chunk of the powering up phase with the free set. Now what? Like I always say, “Speedfarming first before pushing GR’s”. So, convert what you have NOW to be as speedfarmy as possible, first.

Other Crusader Guides:

Check out our D3 Guide Directory for other resources.

Fresh 70 Crusader:Free set available! | No free set!
Getting the Free Set | Free Set 70 | Gaining Power! | Bridging to the End-game

Well, I hope your Fresh 70 Crusader with free Thorns of the Invoker overcomes the spiked barricades ahead! It’s a powerful set, for sure! But for this season, surprisingly – Thorns may not be king!? (Ehem, Lights).

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  1. Used this guide and leveled to 70 in a matter of hours.
    Hit 70 and found a Gyrfalcons Foote to cube, that along with aquila curiass i never spend wrath. Pretty boss right now

    • we’re fixing our site right now to correct the bugs we got after changing our site’s theme… but apparently some pages were reverted to older guides. will fix this in a couple of days. really sorry about this. for now, you can see our build in Dfans/TeamBRG.

  2. From 2.4.2 Patch Notes:

    Thorns of the Invoker

    (6) Set Bonus
    The 800% Thorns damage dealt to the first enemy hit can now benefit from +% Physical Damage

    This should make Doombringer a viable alternative to Pig Sticker.

  3. Amazing build for fresh 70, I couldn’t believe how potent it is with full set of yellow only, I was doing T1 GR, and it felt like a walk in the park, guardian died right away. I was lucky to pick up the Boyarsky’s Chip in that GR, and it’s even more potent now I am sure.

    Thank you so much for writing this guide, it truly is amazing.


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