I'm playing Grim Dawn using a Shaman/Soldier classes. I'm using Primal Strike and Thunderous Strike (so I get lightning strikes on every attack).

I also had points in:

  • Brute Force
  • Feral Hunger
  • Upheaval

But someone pointed out to me that I'm wasting my points in Feral Hunger and Upheaval, because they only work in conjunction with "default weapon attacks", and Thunderous Strike isn't a default weapon attack.

Up till now I had assumed that any passive skill (marked with a circle) works with any active skill (marked with a square), but that seems not to be the case. When I'm choosing skills, is there a way I can tell whether given passive and active skills will work together?

I did find this page...


...which seems to indicate that there are almost no primary weapon skills with which I can use these passive skills. Is that right? If so, how can I best tailor my character to use passive skills (or avoid them if they'll be useless)?

  • 1
    Consider to link skills, using calculator, where you highlight skills in question. It would be easier to answer. And btw, try to mouseover Thunderous Strike (in calculator or in game), you will be suprised.
    – user135338
    May 11, 2020 at 15:29
  • I feel like it's very easy to put points in a lot of skills without realizing that some of them will never trigger. I'm looking for an answer that explains how this works and gives examples of attacks that aren't "default weapon attack" and skills that wouldn't work with them, vs. attacks that are "default weapon attack" that can be combined with these passive skills that only trigger on default weapon attacks. Some Google searching reveals that I'm far from the only one who finds this confusing.
    – Kyralessa
    May 12, 2020 at 8:17
  • 1
    You can avoid this situation if use one of proven to work builds. It's anyway more efficient time-wise (consider how much time you need to play yourself until you are able to combine all this knowledges regarding skills synergies, gear and other stuff) and is guaranteed to work in the end-game. Game is unlikely to be balanced so that any skill will do.
    – user135338
    May 12, 2020 at 10:47
  • Given that I can respec at any time (albeit with a cost), I'd rather invent my own strategies than just play the way somebody else tells me to play. If I want to do that, I can just watch a stream or something. I just want to understand this game mechanic.
    – Kyralessa
    May 12, 2020 at 10:49
  • I gather any skill that can be assigned to the left or right button is not a "default weapon attack" unless the description specifically says that it counts as a default weapon attack?
    – Kyralessa
    May 18, 2020 at 15:24

2 Answers 2


The type of skill you're looking for is called a Default Attack Replacer (DAR). You can tell if a skill is a DAR by checking its description tooltip - if it's a DAR, it will include the phrase "When used as your default weapon attack..."

The full list of DARs in the game (not including your character's default attack) is:

Only DARs (and default attack) can trigger Weapon Pool Skills (WPS), attack modifiers that proc off of autoattacks. You can tell if a skill is a WPS via its tooltip as well; WPS will include the phrase "X% Chance to be Used."

Note that most procs on items (phrased "X% Chance on Attack") are not WPS, though they look similar. For instance, the Direwolf Claw skill on Mythical Direwolf Crest is a WPS, while the Bear Claw skill on Mythical Sigil of the Bear King is not.

You can read more detail on how these two skill types interact in this guide.

  • Is Cadence always a DAR, or only on every 3rd hit when it triggers?
    – Kyralessa
    Dec 31, 2022 at 11:31
  • @Kyralessa It is a DAR except on every 3rd hit when it triggers. That is, the "charge-up" attacks can proc WPS, but the big "payoff" hit cannot.
    – A_S00
    Dec 31, 2022 at 20:11
  • "The full list of DARs in the game"...shouldn't Thunderous Strike (or Primal Strike + Thunderous Strike) be in the list?
    – Kyralessa
    Jan 21, 2023 at 17:39
  • Or is the idea that a DAR is something that can be used with those skills such as Feral Hunger? But if so, what (instead of "DAR") are skills like Thunderous Strike called?
    – Kyralessa
    Jan 21, 2023 at 17:44
  • 1
    That's all basically correct. The only quibble is that I'd consider (b) to be just a special case of (a), because what's actually going on with cases like Clean Sweep is that if you put a skill with a cooldown (any cooldown skill, its properties and status as an "attack" don't matter) on your left click, and try to use the skill while it's on cooldown, your character will perform a default attack instead. That default attack will behave like any other default attack, including triggering WPS.
    – A_S00
    Jan 27, 2023 at 1:33

As comments are ephemeral, I wanted to add my own summary answer from the discussion above:

The question is when weapon pool skills can be triggered. Examples of weapon pool skills are Markovian's Advantage, Zolhan's Technique, Belgothian's Shears, and Feral Hunger. These all have text indicating that they activate off of default weapon attacks.

Weapon pool skills can only be triggered in these cases:

  • You attack with the default attack.
  • You attack with a default attack replacer (see the list in the other answer).
  • You attack during the cooldown while using a skill with a cooldown, such as Forcewave, or Primal Strike without Thunderous Strike, or Blade Arc with Clean Sweep.
  • You attack during a non-triggering hit using a skill that for other reasons doesn't trigger every time. For example, Cadence only triggers on every third hit. The first and second "non-Cadence" hits will trigger weapon pool skills.

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