Just hit Fresh 70 Crusader? Good job! As you may know the games just beginning! Your immediate goal is the complete your FREE set ASAP! In this guide you’ll learn builds you can use in every step of progression (2/4/6 piece Akkhan – and beyond!)

In S6, the Crusader free set is Armor of Akkhan.

NO Free Set? Go to PAGE 2!

Fresh 70 Crusader: Free set available!No free set!
Build | Play-styleSetting up | Gaining Power! | Bridging to the End-game

Click on the below to reveal the builds you need for each step:

Basic Fresh 70
Akkhan: 2 Piece T2
Akkhan: 4 Set GR20

Video wont fit in the above boxes so putting it here:

The below sets recommendation builds you up for Akkhan’s Thorns. Currently, this is the best setup I know of to help you bridge into higher content. Of course there ARE builds that don’t use Thorns, but I guess I can save that for the actual set guide of Armor of Akkhan.

Fresh 70 Crusader Build: Free Set

Akkhan 6 Fresh 70 Crusader
Skill Rune
Open Open
Steed Charge Spiked Barding
Iron Skin Reflective Skin
Consecration Bed of Nails
Bombardment Barrels of Spikes
Akarat’s Champion Prophet (Rally, Any)
Fervor (or Heavenly Strength) Iron Maiden
Finery Hold Your Ground

No surprises here except for one open skill which is likely going to be a Law. Remember that this page and discussion specifically caters to Fresh 70 Crusaders with the free Akkhan’s set – for a more end-game oriented discussion check the Armor of Akkhan builds guide. quite a bit of any info regarding Akkhan’s Thorns also applies to Invoker.

Playing the Build

Run of the mill Thorns build, made more powerful with Akarat’s Champion. All of your “attacks” have a cooldown (for now), so it’s annoying compared to the usual build.

First, let’s talk about the biggest weakness of the build which is low or no on-demand damage. This is solved later on by the use of Hack (Using Punish-Celerity).

Steed Charge does good damage here! On one hand, it’s great killing guys just passing by, on the other hand, it’s annoying when you have to use this as purely a Mobility skill – then of course some dudes show up, lol. It’s the closest thing you have to a basic attack right now.

Bombardment is your main damaging skill but has a a long CD. Getting Belt of the Trove makes life much easier. Consecration is a weaker version of this, with healing.

Iron Skin is not just a hefty 50% damage reduction – it makes your damage go to astronomic numbers with Reflective Skin! Keep BOTH halves of the skill in mind!

Akarat’s Champion-Prophet is a powerful offensive and defensive steroid! I chose Prophet as the base build as the toughness it provides allows you to push into more difficult content compared to any other rune. Given how strong this skill is, you will need CDR to keep it up 100%.

Inconsistency is the problem with this build. Much more so than other fresh builds I highly recommend you tunnel on hunting down certain legendaries to smooth out the gameplay. While you should be okay running around killing elites only, this can cause problems and loss of speed in Nephs or Bounties. (Lots of re-rolling at the mystic needed, too)

Getting the two items mentioned above: Hack and Belt of the Trove is your priority. While most end-game builds may only focus on one aspect of the build (Either Thorns on-hit or Bombardment), a hybrid isn’t so bad for general purpose play.

As you progress, you may have certain aspects of your build hinder you from going upwards in difficulty – here are some adjustments you can make:

Offense & ResourceDefense & HealingSpeed & Mobility
 More offense or Wrath needed?

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

First of all, Wrath has no purpose in this build – let’s get that out of the way. Also, it’s quite difficult to increase your DPS by traditional build changes. GEAR is the main source of DPS for this build, and legendary affixes…

Finery – is the first thing you want to activate and maximize. That’s going to be the most relevant change you can do in the build to bolster damage.

Punish-Celerity will be used once you get a Hack.

Laws of Valor-Unstoppable Force is a great hybrid of offense and defense.

Akarat’s Champion – 2 runes have a decent offensive use:

  • Rally is a small boost which is more relevant early on.
  • Hasteful is great for later on (Hate to remind you again about Hack)

Well, there’s not much else you can do with the build to increase DPS for now.

 More defense needed?

This build is quite durable. That being said, more doesn’t hurt right?

Laws of Hope-Promise of Faith (any rune) is a solid defensive choice early on in the game for some healing and shields. It scales poorly into late-game, though.

Laws of Justice – is a pretty massive defensive boost that’s better in the late game.

While you don’t have Finery active you can get a temporary defensive passive like Indestructible, personally I prefer Renewal or Divine Fortress early on.

There’s not a lot of high value optimizations for defense in this build either. Keep in mind that Iron Skin isn’t just for Thorns – it has 50% damage reduction!

 More mobility needed?

Mobility and Speed are a luxury as a fresh 70 character, but here it is anyway:

Steed Charge-Spiked Barding is your Mobility (and damaging!) skill. Sadly, there’s not much else this build can change to improve your movement.

Mobility isn’t the strong point of a Crusader, and any changes to facilitate that right now is a bit greedy. Your mobility is locked behind items, so now much we can do… Ultra-speedy setups shouldn’t be your focus as a fresh 70 Crusader.

(See: Speedfarming General, Crusader Speedfarming)

Given how narrow this build can seem, especially if we’re forced to do it early on, I apologize for the rather thin remarks in the boxes above.

Setting up!

I’m sorry but Akkhan’s Thorns takes more setup than usual!

Make sure you have decent yellows in your non-set slots! You want every piece to have STR and Thorns. The problem with Akkhan’s Thorns is you also need a bunch of CDR, too! Just try to make do with what you can…

Cooldown Reduction (CDR): You’re gonna need this in all the slots you can get. The easiest way to get this is to reroll some yellows like this:

  • Amulet: Thorns CDR STR
  • Ring: CDR Thorns STR
  • Ring: CDR Thorns STR
  • Weapon: STR CDR
  • Shield: Thorns STR CDR
  • Using the Fervor passive and slotting a Diamond in helmet.
  • Shoulder and Glove can roll them too (but they’re green so might be hard).

Gems: THIS IS IMPORTANT – Slot the best TOPAZ you have on WEAPON. That gives a huge boost to Thorns! Red (Ruby) Gems go into any other slot!

The above 3 recommendations of “STR+Thorns” “CDR” and “Gems” are 90% of your efficiency! Do not sacrifice too many of those!

Physical%: Get this on bracer if you can. Since Amulet rolls CDR you might want to prioritize that over Phys% (Unless you got a yellow with STR, Thorns and CDR…)

Skill%? Honestly this don’t stress out over this right now. Bombardment% is the only relevant one and even then it may be too much of a hassle to

Followers: Doesn’t really matter which one you choose for this build – but make sure you hire one! Templar’s healing is welcome.

Attack Speed: will be good later on – so don’t dismiss the stat as useless!

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Gaining Power!

From here you want to do a mix of Bounties, Nephs and GR’s.

Unlocking Kanai’s Cube

You should unlock Kanai’s Cube if you haven’t already! Naturally, any legendary talked about in this page is a likely candidate for the cube!

For the Thorns build: Getting a Flawless Royal Topaz on weapon is a huge upgrade. You can use the Kanai’s recipe for gem-changing to get this faster!

Getting your legendary gems

Legendary Gems are the surest way to power up without relying on RNG. Since you have a free set, you can skip some of the filler gems and not really mind.

Early Game: Boyarsky’s Chip > Powerful > Trapped

Boyarsky’s Chip – The ultimate gem for this build, and by far your greatest power boost. Hopefully you get it quickly!

Bane of the Powerful – is an amazing gem that’s good both early and late. You can even keep it at 25 for a while and upgrade your other gems! It will only ever get outclassed by EXTREMELY leveled gems, so this is a good choice right now!

Bane of the Trapped – is your basic DPS gem, you don’t even need a slow since you’ll be in melee range all the time. Nothing fancy here – just good ‘ol DPS.

Bane of the Stricken will be one of your late game gems. So if you can’t upgrade your Trapped or Boyarsky’s – dump the points here. (likely replacing Powerful).

Wreath of Lightning kept at 25 is something every player should own. It’s used in many speed setups. It’s not super with Thorns, but it has its purposes.

Defensive Gems? I don’t think you’d need to think of these right now!

Boon of the Hoarder is great gem to invest in. More so with Goldwrap + Avarice Band.
(See: Speedfarming for any class, Crusader Speedfarming).

Items to look for

Use your resources wisely! Especially with the Thorns build – some legendaries are a MUST HAVE and will massively boost your power.

Blood ShardsDeath's BreathClassics
Using Blood Shards:

Getting 2-Piece Invoker (Bracers + Any other piece) is one of your main goals with blood shards – naturally, you’ll be getting random junk along the way. Here’s the good ones:

Belt: getting Belt of the Trove is one of the largest boosts of power you can get off blood shards. Goldwrap is also quite important early on.

Bracer: getting the Invoker Wrist should be pretty high up in your priorities. There’s not much else in this pile except Nemesis Bracers.

Shoulder: From here you’re gonna want to find another Invoker piece – SHOULDER is chosen since it rolls with a high amount of thorns damage. But any piece is fine really.

After you get the above 3 items (2pc Invoker and Belt of the Trove), you’ve gotten 90% of early game value off your blood shards, grats!

Chest some good cube items here: Heart of Iron and Aquila Cuirass.

Helm: Trusty Leoric’s Crown to further reduce cooldowns.

ShieldsAkarat’s Awakening is VERY good for this build and likely best in slot. This thing is obscenely RARE so dump your extra shards into getting this.

Using Death’s Breath – Rare to legendary:

For Akkhan’s Thorns there is ONE SINGLE WEAPON that you’re gonna need to make life easier – that is the 1h Axe: Hack. While many of the other axes you can get suck – obtaining a hack will vastly improve your gameplay!

Aside from this, there’s a smattering of things you might get spread across many weapon types. I think gunning for Norvald’s Fervor set would be wise.

There’s not much else after the above – here are some odds and ends you’d wanna own:

  • Upgrade 2H Mace for Furnace – one of the FEW ways to increase your DPS.
  • Upgrade 2H Swords for Blood Brother – one of the BiS choices for this build.
  • Upgrade 1H Flail for Swiftmount – a nice little speedfarmy item you’ll be happy to own.

There’s quite a spread of items here isn’t it? In any case, get what you can.

The Classics: General items good for any character to own or cube.

Ring of Royal Grandeur: A MUST for this set. Drops in ACT I bounties.

Accessory Sets: FocusRestraint or Traveler’s Pledge. Any of the 2 piece accessory sets are extremely powerful and provide a decent boost at any stage of the game.

Convention of Elements: Crazy with any thorns build. Line up your Iron Skin to the Physical rotation and do some ridiculous damage.

Unity: 50% damage reduction for 1 item is amazing (well, 2 including your follower).

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

Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac: Hmm… this thorns set really messes up with this classics tab huh? Not too hot for this build but I hope you understand why this is here…

Reaper’s Wraps: Oh boy… yet again thorns ruins this classic legendary tab.

The free sets you can skip the true “early game”. What now? My usual advice is – make a speedfarm build before try harding GR’s! Thankfully we got some guides for that:

Learn more about the Crusader sets! To help you decide what to aim for.

Fresh 70 Crusader: Free set available!No free set!

Build | Play-styleSetting up | Gaining Power! | Bridging to the End-game

Well, there you have it! Your Fresh 70 Crusader with Akkhan won’t get any stronger unless you get online and farm! GL with that! For more D3 updates Like us on Facebook!


  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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