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The Ultimate Diablo 4 Druid Build Guide: Earthen Bulwark Detonation Endgame Build (Season 1)

Introduction

Are you in search of a powerful endgame push build for your Druid in Diablo 4? Look no further! The Earthen Bulwark Detonation build is exactly what you need. It excels in clearing even the highest Nightmare Dungeons efficiently and competes well in PvP environments. With explosive damage numbers and layers of Damage Reduction and Barrier, this build guarantees satisfaction while keeping you safe.

This build revolves around amplifying the detonation power of Innate Earthen Bulwark, dealing incredible damage. By combining the Key Passive Nature’s Fury with the Legendary Aspect Symbiotic Aspect, you can reset your Earthen Bulwark constantly, resulting in a barrage of explosions. In this guide, we will cover the essentials of the build and provide in-depth explanations of its mechanics. We will also offer alternative skills, boons, and gearing considerations to customize the build according to your preferences.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Before we dive deeper into the build, let’s take a look at its strengths and weaknesses. For an overview of how this build stacks up against others, refer to our build tier list.

Build Requirements

To fully embrace this build’s potential in its endgame state, you will need a high-rolled non-codex Symbiotic Aspect. Without it, you won’t be able to chain together your Innate Earthen Bulwark detonations. We recommend continuing to farm for it using your existing build or exploring our other Druid builds.

While the build defaults to using the Greatstaff of the Crone, it is still playable without any unique items. Without the Greatstaff of the Crone, you can trigger a reasonable amount of Symbiotic Aspect events by either using a Claw with non-codex Aspect of Nature’s Savagery or using Storm Strike as your builder.

Variants

This build offers different playstyles to suit your preferences. The two main variant playstyles are as follows:

  1. Damage Reduction while Injured Variant: This variant focuses on maximizing Damage Reduction Gear Affix multipliers to have the highest Effective Health and Effective Barrier for tackling the hardest hitting content.

  2. Lightning Damage Variant: This variant adds additional sources of damage to clear PvE content faster or break through an opponent’s defense in PvP by incorporating lightning damage.

Season of the Malignant

For general information about the upcoming season, head over to our Season 1 Hub.

Season 1 Patch Updates

Patch 1.1

Several balance changes have been made that directly affect this build:

  • Masochistic Boon now also requires a Lucky Hit chance of 75%.
  • Bolster Boon Fortify increased from 10% to 15% of Maximum Life.
  • Enhanced Claw Attack Speed bonus increased from 10% to 15%.
  • Storm Strike Damage Reduction reduced from 25% to 15%.
  • Aspect of Disobedience maximum stacks reduced from 100 to 60, decreasing maximum Bonus Armor % from 25-50% to 15-30%.
  • Symbiotic Aspect Cooldown reduction reduced from 4-8 to 3-5.
  • Several Gear Affix Scaling including Damage Reductions, Cooldown Reduction, Critical Strike Damage, and Vulnerable damage have been reduced.

Although the Symbiotic Aspect Cooldown Reduction has changed, this build remains competitive and capable.

Patch 1.1.1

No significant changes related to this build have been made.

Malignant Hearts

For general information about the seasonal affix Malignant Hearts, check out our Malignant Hearts Guide. Here are the recommended Malignant Hearts in order of importance:

  1. Revenge (Brutal, Defensive-World Tier III): 10-20% of incoming damage is instead suppressed. When you use a Defensive, Subterfuge, or a Macabre skill, all suppressed damage is amplified by 250% and explodes, dealing up to 1360-2040 Fire damage to nearby enemies.

  2. Inexorable Force (Devious, Utility): Up to 30-50 distant enemies are pulled toward you while you have an Ultimate Skill active.

  3. The Barber (Wrathful, Super-World Tier III): Critical Strikes and all subsequent damage within 2.0-4.0 seconds are absorbed by your target. Then, the absorbed damage erupts onto surrounding enemies. Stored damage is increased by 10% per second. This can be a valuable asset in any farm or speed content, but it is especially useful in endgame push scenarios.

  4. The Lionheart (Brutal, Defensive): You gain 10% Barrier Generation. You heal 3-7 Life per second while you have an active Barrier. Avoid using this with the Injured Variant Playstyle as it may interfere with your controlled source of healing.

  5. The Malignant Pact (Wrathful, Super): Cycle through a Malignant bonus every 20 kills:

    • Vicious: Gain 20% Attack Speed.
    • Devious: Core and Basic Skills have a 15% chance to fully restore your Primary Resource.
    • Brutal: Every 21 seconds, gain a Barrier absorbing 85-102 damage.

    Although not all aspects of The Malignant Pact are optimal, it is worth mentioning for encounters with Bosses and Uber bosses. You can cycle your buff to the 20% attack speed before engaging in the fight. For example, in the fight against Uber Lilith, you won’t encounter enough enemies throughout the battle to trigger a cycle before its completion.

Skill Tree Points and Skill Bar

Here are the priority skills for your build:

Priority Skills Cluster

Alternative Skills

Below are the Skill options available to tailor your build according to your needs. For Active Skills:

  • Poison Creeper: Provides Critical Strike Chance and applies AoE Immobilize and Poison with the Brutal Poison Creeper passive.
  • Cyclone Armor: Offers passive magical defense and allows direct casts of Earthen Bulwark through Nature’s Fury. In these Skill Slots, you can also consider the following alternatives:
    • Blood Howl: Increases attack speed or enhances group play if you choose Nighthowler’s Aspect.
    • Debilitating Roar: Serves as a potent tempo Defensive Skill.
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For the Ultimate Skill slot, Petrify is the default choice due to its frequent Stun and additional Critical Strike Damage, further enhancing the damage output of your Earthen Bulwark. However, in PvP, Cataclysm can be more valuable, as enemy players are often Unstoppable.

Keep in mind that the maximum amount of Barrier for Earthen Bulwark is based on base life. Therefore, if you have sufficient Barrier Generation, you can allocate Skill Points away from Earthen Bulwark.

As with most builds, you have the flexibility to redistribute Passive Skill Points based on your needs. Here are some examples:

  • If your Fortify generation is sufficient, you can reallocate points from Safeguard.
  • For efficient farming or pursuing other players, Digitigrade Gait can be helpful.

Spirit Boons – The Druid Class Specialization

Druids unlock powerful Spirit Boon passives by offering offerings to animal spirits and receiving their blessings. Once fully unlocked, you can activate the final Boon by Spirit Bonding with one of the four animal spirits and gain two passives from that row.

Boon Name Animal Effect

Alternative Boons

Consider the following alternative boons based on your specific build options:

  • If you haven’t chosen Poison Creeper, swap Packleader to the Snake’s Calm before the Storm to increase the number of Ultimate Skill casts.
  • For build options like the Injured Variant Playstyle that don’t benefit from an uncontrolled source of self-healing, swap Masochistic to Calm before the Storm for additional Ultimate Skill casts.
  • If you opt for both of the above changes, also take Wolf’s Calamity for a longer Ultimate Skill duration.

Paragon

The Paragon Board is a progression system that unlocks at Level 50, offering players power through Common stat Nodes, Magic affix Nodes, Rare leveled Glyphs, and Legendary board-exclusive Nodes. To make the most of this build, follow the preferred Glyphs, Boards, and pathing mentioned below. Note that all Glyphs should be placed as if they are at maximum radius (Level 15+).

While leveling, prioritize placing the Shapeshifter, Territorial, and Werewolf glyphs, as these offer the best damage. The Rare Glyphs in the Paragon progression system are often the strongest player power and should be placed in the Glyph Sockets of each Board. Each board has only one Glyph Socket. We cover a total of six Boards to maximize the number of Rare Glyphs to slot.

Paragon Board

Starter Board

  1. Path left and up towards the Glyph Socket, taking Tenacity.
  2. Place Werewolf into the Glyph Socket, taking nearby Willpower nodes.
  3. Take the Resolve, Prime, and Impel rare nodes.
  4. From Impel, go up to attach the Inner Beast board, with the Glyph Socket below the Legendary Node.

Inner Beast (2nd Board)

  1. Go up towards the Glyph Socket.
  2. Place Territorial into the Glyph Socket, filling in nearby Dexterity nodes.
  3. Take Determination, then go up and right to take Tenacity and nearby Armor Magic Nodes.
  4. From the Glyph Socket, go left and up to take Nimble and all Attack Speed Magic Nodes.
  5. Go left to attach the Heightened Malice board, rotating the board clockwise 3 times, with the Glyph Socket on the bottom right.

Heightened Malice (3rd Board)

  1. Head down and left towards the Glyph Socket, taking Sinking Fangs and Nature-Born on the way.
  2. Place Earth and Sky into the Glyph Socket, then go left from Sinking Fangs to complete the necessary Willpower nodes to activate the Additional Bonus.
  3. Go left and up, taking Poisoned Condition along the way toward the Legendary Node.
  4. Continue up and left to take the Heightened Malice Legendary Node.

Earthen Devastation (4th Board)

  1. From the south gate of the Heightened Malice Board, attach the Earthen Devastation board, rotating the board clockwise 2 times, with the Glyph Socket up and left from the Legendary Node.
  2. Head down towards the Glyph Socket.
  3. Place Fang and Claw in the Glyph Socket and take Resolve and Earthen Power.
  4. Take the nearby Magic Nodes for Critical Strike Damage with Earth Skills.
  5. Take the Willpower nodes toward Crushing Earth to activate the Fang and Claw Additional Bonus.
  6. Go up and left to take Crushing Earth.
  7. Backtrack to go right from Earthen Power to take the Earthen Devastation Legendary Node.

Lust for Carnage (5th Board)

  1. From the left gate of the Heightened Malice board, attach the Lust for Carnage board, with the Glyph Socket above the Legendary Node.
  2. Go left and down, taking Wild’s Call and nearby Attack Speed Magic Nodes.
  3. Backtrack, going up and left toward the Glyph Socket. Place Undaunted, filling in nearby Intelligence Nodes.

Thunderstruck (6th Board)

  1. From the left gate of the Earthen Devastation Board, go left from the Glyph Socket to attach the Thunderstruck board, with the Glyph Socket in the top right.
  2. Go up and right towards the Glyph Socket.
  3. Place Shapeshifter in the Glyph Socket, take Hubris, and take all Damage Reduction from Vulnerable Enemies Magic Nodes, filling in nearby Dexterity Nodes.
  4. Continue left and down to take Deluge and all 5 nearby Magic Nodes.

Earth and Sky is the flexible Rare Glyph. For more Damage, choose Exploit and change Willpower nodes to Dexterity. For more Damage Reduction, choose Protector and change Willpower nodes to Intelligence.

Legendary Aspects and Gearing Affixes

Here are the recommended Legendary Aspects and Gear Affixes for each slot of the Earthen Bulwark Detonation build. Gear Affixes in Bold are the ideal Affixes, but we have provided alternates as well.

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Legendary Aspects and Gearing Affixes

High Damage Reduction while Injured is essential on all three available slots: Pants, Boots, and Amulet to utilize the Injured Variant Playstyle effectively.

Refer to our Legendary Aspect and Codex of Power Guide to see which slots can have which Legendary Aspects. Keep in mind that the effectiveness of the Aspect is not affected by the slot it occupies. For example, Defensive Aspects like Aspect of Might will function identically whether they are on the helm, chest, or pants.

Remember to pick up and check all Rare items you find, as there are many combinations of Gear Affix rolls possible. Amulets, in particular, have over 45 Gear Affixes for the Druid! By optimizing your build through affix rolls, you can compete in the highest content.

Alternative Legendary Aspects

Depending on your available gear, Legendary Aspects, skill choices, or content, you may consider alternative options. Here are a few:

  • Offensive Aspect options:

    • Crashstone Aspect, Aspect of Natural Balance: These are crit-related flex powers that you can swap situationally.
    • Conceited Aspect, Edgemaster’s Aspect, Aspect of Retaliation: Non-crit based damage throughput options.
    • Nighthowler’s Aspect: Useful for group play.
    • Overcharged Aspect, Runeworker’s Conduit Aspect: Adds an additional elemental damage source for the Lightning Damage Variant Playstyle.
  • Defensive Aspects option:

    • Aspect of Mending Stone: Extends the duration of your Earthen Bulwark for travel between packs or as a quality of life improvement over Vigorous Aspect.

Unique Items

The following unique items play important roles in this build:

  1. Greatstaff of the Crone:

    • Unique Effect: Claw is now a Storm Skill and also casts Storm Strike at [120 – 150]% normal damage.
    • The Greatstaff of the Crone allows for higher event casts for Nature’s Fury Resets. With Claw being the default Basic Skill on our Skill Bar, it provides more attack volume than Storm Strike due to the effects of Enhanced Claw and Wild Claw.
    • Each cast of Claw triggers a Storm Strike, adding a strong source of Damage Reduction, Vulnerable, and potentially serving as a second event for Nature’s Fury.
  2. Tempest Roar:

    • Unique Effect – Lucky Hit: Storm Skills have up to a [15 – 25]% chance to grant 4 Spirit. Your base Storm Skills are now also Werewolf Skills.
    • Tempest Roar is a usable alternative or addition to the Greatstaff of the Crone. This item gives your Storm Skills the Werewolf modifier and allows skills like Hurricane to apply poison and trigger Boon Masochist for additional self-healing. This reduces the reliance on Poison Creeper’s poison application. With this item, you can also skip the Wolf’s Packleader boon in favor of the Snake’s Calm before the Storm. If you choose to use a 1-handed weapon and totem setup instead of the Greatstaff of the Crone, you should use Storm Strike as your Basic Skill.

Mechanics and Playstyle

Rotation

To maximize your damage output, follow this rotation:

  1. If necessary, pre-build Fortify and defensive boosts like Vigilance with Earthen Bulwark.
  2. Cast Hurricane for Damage Reduction, AoE slow, and, if taken, Calm Before the Storm events.
  3. Apply Poison effects using Claw for single target or Poison Creeper for multitarget/AoE damage.
  4. Cast Earthen Bulwark on cooldown to deal significant damage and maintain defensive capabilities.
  5. Use Claw to trigger Nature’s Fury Symbiotic Aspect and reset Earthen Bulwark.

Tip! Abilities do not need to hit a target to trigger Nature’s Fury. If you need a reset, you can safely stand and cast your Basic Skill. For example, you can pre-build Fortify via the Wolf’s Bolster Boon, cast Earthen Bulwark to generate Fortify, use your Basic Skill into the air to reset Earthen Bulwark, and repeat until you have the desired amount of Fortify to engage enemies.

Use Cyclone Armor actively only when necessary. This build is primarily melee/close-range focused, and Cyclone Armor is chosen for its passive defense.

Tip! On the controller, you can cast your Basic Skill while moving!

Keep in mind that Storm Strike doesn’t need to be on your Skill Bar to receive its Damage Reduction or apply Vulnerable to enemies. Your Claw attacks with the Greatstaff of the Crone take care of that for you!

Earthen Bulwark

The main source of damage in the Earthen Bulwark Detonation build is triggering Innate Earthen Bulwark detonations consistently. Consider the following factors:

  • Recasting Earthen Bulwark while it is active refreshes your Barrier and triggers a detonation.
  • Innate Earthen Bulwark has a high Base Damage, benefiting from multipliers like Critical Strike, Critical Strike Damage, Crowd Control and Poison boosts, and Earth or Nature-based boosts and Critical Strike Damage. Additionally, damage is boosted by Barrier Generation, providing an extra multiplier.
  • Earthen Bulwark is an active skill, and the detonation damage benefits from Willpower and Quickshift.
  • Innate Earthen Bulwark does not interact with aspects like Earthguard Aspect or Weapon DPS. When searching for a suitable Greatstaff of the Crone, Gear Affixes are more important than weapon damage.
  • Skill ranks in Earthen Bulwark do not affect Innate Earthen Bulwark damage.
  • The maximum amount of Barrier for Earthen Bulwark is based on base life, allowing for the possibility of overcommitting Skill Points. If you generate enough Barrier, you can reallocate Skill Points from Earthen Bulwark.

Variant Min-Max Playstyles

Damage Reduction while Injured

One variant min-max option involves playing while Injured to maximize Damage Reduction, Effective Health, and Effective Barrier. The Injured state refers to having health below 35% of its maximum.

All damage reductions are multiplicative within their category, determining your defense. They are also multiplicative against all other Damage Reduction Categories. The Damage Reduction while Injured Gear Affix category is the strongest available. It can roll on Pants, Boots, and Amulet with up to 43.3% on each at the highest Item Power threshold. If these slots are well rolled, they can offer a total of up to 81% Damage Reduction within their category, surpassing any other Damage Reduction category.

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Barriers are applied post-mitigation, so higher Damage Reductions result in a higher Effective Barrier. Due to the constant refresh of your Earthen Bulwark, your health bar remains protected.

This variant plays similarly to the standard build, but with a few notable changes:

  • Ghostwalker Aspect will always be active.
  • Masochistic Boon will not be taken to prevent uncontrolled healing.
  • “While Healthy” boosts will not be active.
  • You will need to pre-Injure yourself before engaging in content. If your health drops too low, you can keep an item with Skinwalker’s Aspect in your inventory to adjust your health level.

Tip! Damage Reduction categories are not dynamic! Damage Reduction while Injured only functions when in the Injured state. A single hit that reduces your health from above the 35% threshold to 0% will not be mitigated by Damage Reduction While Injured. Therefore, it is crucial to pre-Injure yourself.

Lightning Damage

After optimizing your defense, you may want to incorporate additional sources of damage to clear PvE content faster or break through an opponent’s defense in PvP. The Lightning Damage min-max variant focuses on this aspect. To achieve the most lightning damage while maintaining the Earthen Bulwark build, you need to introduce Lightning Damage Events or damage boosts such as:

  • Storm Strike: Already a part of the base build, it is triggered when attacking with Claw and the Greatstaff of the Crone.
  • Cataclysm: Use this instead of Petrify to trigger more Nature’s Fury resets on your Earthen Bulwark during Storm events.
  • Calm Before the Storm boon: Reset Cataclysm more frequently.
  • Drop the Crushing Earth skill cluster and take Endless Tempest level 3 and Electric Shock level 3 for additional lightning damage events and multipliers. Spare points can be allocated to fill the rest of the cluster, but they are not essential except for pathing.
  • Lightning Damage Gear Affixes, such as those found on a Ring.

There may be more possible Paragon path combinations to further optimize damage output. The Thunderstruck board offers more Lightning damage multipliers. You can allocate points from the Heightened Malice Paragon Node path or the Earthen Devastation Paragon Node and Crushing Earth paths to invest in Thunderstruck.

Remember that high Base Damage on Overcharged Aspect is more important than the Lucky Hit chance. Having high Base Damage ensures that all multipliers work to their full potential. Prioritize Overcharged Aspect over Runeworker’s Conduit Aspect due to its higher Base Damage.

Tip! Willpower only boosts Skill damage and does not impact damage from Legendary Aspects or Passive Skills.

PvP

The Earthen Bulwark Detonation build has the potential to be one of the strongest and most competitive PvP builds. Its defensive capabilities, such as high mitigations and constant Earthen Bulwark refresh, make it exceptionally hard to kill. Offensively, the build’s high multipliers on Innate Earthen Bulwark and other damage sources can devastate enemies. Both the Injured and Lightning Variants can be used to gain an additional defensive or offensive edge.

Changes in PvP vs PvE

In a PvP environment, several factors should be considered, which may influence your playstyle or gear choices to ensure victory. Here are a few key points:

  • Petrify’s effectiveness against Unstoppable players is reduced. Consider using Cataclysm to trigger more events and reset Earthen Bulwark.
  • The AoE Poison application from Poison Creeper may not be necessary. This opens up alternative Skill options, and you can skip the Packleader Boon.
  • Armor’s Damage Reduction is capped at 85% (despite the Armor tooltip indicating otherwise) and scales against opponent level. When facing level 100 players, you will need less armor compared to level 154 opponents in level 100 Nightmare Dungeons. If you have sufficient Total Armor, Armor while in Werewolf form, or Armor sources through Gear and Paragon, you can swap Aspect of Disobedience for an Alternative Legendary Aspect like Aspect of Mending Stone to extend the duration of your Earthen Bulwark while chasing down your enemies.
  • As this build is primarily melee-focused, you may opt for movement options like Digitigrade Gait or Shred to close gaps and chase down enemies. Additional Movement Speed can be obtained from Boots or Amulets, Cursed Scrolls, and Legendary Aspects like Ghostwalker Aspect.
  • Players have reduced Elemental Resistance in higher World Tiers, making the Lightning Damage variant essential when you need that extra damage to eliminate opponents.
  • Many stats are less effective in PvP content. For example, Critical Strike Damage loses effectiveness after reaching 200%, and any Unstoppable player will not be affected by Crowd Control-based boosts. This makes aspects like Aspect of Natural Balance less effective.
  • Considerations like pre-building Fortify and applying Debuffs become essential in PvP combat.
  • Most importantly, remember to keep your Earthen Bulwark up at all times!

Gems

To enhance your build, socket the following gems into your gear:

  • Weapon: Royal Emerald for Critical Strike Damage to Vulnerable Enemies.
  • Armor:
    • Defensively, use Royal Sapphire for Damage Reduction while Fortified.
    • Offensively, use Royal Diamond for Barrier Generation to amplify your Innate Earthen Bulwark damage.
  • Jewelry: Malignant Hearts are prioritized in the shortlist. Malignant Hearts scale higher than Skulls in Armor and grant unique powers. If you are on the Eternal Realm, use Royal Skull for Armor.

Elixirs, Incense, and Health Potions

The Alchemist offers helpful Elixirs and Incense, crafted using foraged materials found throughout Sanctuary. Craft the highest Assault Elixir available for Attack Speed bonuses.

While Incenses can be costly to craft and may not be ideal for a farming lifestyle, they can be valuable in push content. Chorus of War is recommended for Stats and Critical Strike Damage. In a group setting, consider Spirit Dance for increased Dodge Chance for each nearby player.

Upgrade your Health Potion regularly to increase its instant healing. Be sure to visit the Alchemist frequently to stay up to date with potions.

Changelog

  • August 8th, 2023: Added a section for Patch 1.1.1 and reviewed the guide for accuracy.
  • July 25th, 2023: Restructured the Introduction section.
  • July 23rd, 2023: Referenced Malignant Hearts in the Gems section.
  • July 19th, 2023: Updated the guide for Season 1 and 1.1 balance changes.

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