Finding the best Witcher 3 armor sets can be a bit of a funny affair. On the one hand, you likely won’t have to play the game for long before stumbling across a Scavenger Hunt quest for witcher gear. The game certainly isn’t shy about presenting you with the most impressive armor pieces (or at least their diagrams).
However, if you aren’t already committed to a focused build, it can be hard to discern which grandmaster witcher gear is right for you. As something of a companion to our builds article, we’re going to delve into which three sets of grandmaster gear tend to be most successful and briefly touch on which builds and playstyles will complement each set.
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Dressed to Kill With the Best Witcher 3 Armor Sets
Given the expensive, time-consuming process it takes to craft (not to mention how much it makes sense flavor-wise), it’s hardly surprising that the best gear in Wild Hunt is the grandmaster level witcher armor. That said, there are six different witcher schools — it’s a hassle to make all of them, so which ones are worth your time? Generally, the three schools that will give you the most bang for your buck (which conveniently correspond to the three builds we discussed previously) are the Cat, the Griffin, and the Bear.
In terms of raw power, the Cat School gear is your best bet. At first, you’ll probably notice the pretty modest bonuses that come with equipping the full set — fast attack damage increases for five seconds, and attacks to an enemy’s rear do 50% more damage and stun with the use of an action point. Certainly nice to have handy, but the real start of the show is the bonus each piece gives to your overall attack power. Pair it with our Death March! build and the Cat School Techniques ability, and you’ll pump out devastating damage in no time.
If you’re more of a magic-user, then the Griffin set will by far be your most exciting option. Its benefits are something of a reverse to the Cat School. The added sign intensity is a welcome addition to any magic-focused build, but the bonuses are what makes this set great for casting. With the grandmaster level Griffin set, you can cast two signs in rapid succession. This can be transformative in combat — there are plenty of enemies who will simply buckle under a determined assault of Igni signs and heavy attacks.
Additionally, the bonus you receive for a full set significantly improves stamina regeneration, sign intensity, and damage reduction while standing in the radius of your Yrden signs (which has increased in size by 40%). While the Cat School gear is likely more powerful, this is almost certainly the most fun armor set in the game.
But what happens when you want to make your best impression of an Abrams tank? That’s where the Bear School comes in. Now, it’s important to note that using this armor almost necessitates the use of Bear School Techniques. While this is broadly true for the other two sets (for their respective schools, of course), this is where the Bear armor’s primary benefit fits in. The added adrenaline, the chance to replace any broken Quen shield, and additional damage from the Quen sign are all nice, but the Bear armor doesn’t actually provide more armor than the other two sets.
Rather, by taking Bear School Techniques, each piece of heavy armor will add to your maximum vitality, enhancing your tanking abilities. It’s not a flashy set, but if you want to be able to take a sword to the face and laugh it off, you can’t go wrong with the Bear School.
Time for a Scavenger Hunt
Now, once you’ve picked up the quests themselves, I trust that you’ve been using your witcher senses to find X long enough that digging up the diagrams won’t be a problem. That said, if you don’t already have the quests, here’s where to get started. Note that since I finished some of these quests years ago, I’ll be relying on the Witcher Wiki for some of this information — it’s an excellent resource for more detailed walkthroughs of each quest.
Also note that finding one of the diagrams naturally will give you access to the quest and a document that leads to the next item. What follows is a list of merchants who sell maps revealing the locations of each crafting diagram, in order of quest sequences. The first entry for each school accounts for both the base diagrams and the first set of upgrades, with the following merchants covering each subsequent set.
Cat School Diagrams
- Merchant who plays Gwent in Blackbough
- Blacksmith in Blackbough
- Quartermaster at Crow’s Perch
- Blacksmith in Lindenvale
Griffin School Diagrams
- Armorer in Midcopse
- Armorer in Hierarch Square, Novigrad
- Éibhear Hattori in Novigrad
Bear School Diagrams
- Armorer at Kaer Trolde (all maps can be purchased here)
Once you’ve acquired every diagram and upgraded every piece in the set, you’ll need to reach Toussaint (the setting of the Blood and Wine expansion) to acquire the Grandmaster diagrams and finally earn your set bonuses. There, find the grandmaster armorer and blacksmith Lazare Lafargue, who will give you the quest “Master Master Master Master!,” enabling you to find each diagram. Then you’ll need to take them back to him in the city of Beauclair and begin the very expensive process of actually forging the best Armor set Witcher 3.
Actually Forging the Best Witcher 3 Armor Sets
If you haven’t come properly prepared, forging weapons and armor — particularly at grandmaster level — can be astonishingly expensive. Thus, it behooves you to minimize those costs wherever and whenever possible. With this in mind, let’s go over some useful habits and practices to develop during play to make investing in the witchering business more manageable.
Firstly, it helps to smith as you go — that is, to have an armorer craft gear as soon as you can afford it (provided you’re the appropriate level) after acquiring the diagram. This will distribute the financial burden across multiple hours of play, rather than bleeding you dry right at the end, and it will keep your gear up to snuff with the threats you’ll encounter while adventuring.
Secondly, it’s worthwhile to establish a gameplay loop of adventuring, looting, selling, and meditating. Especially after acquiring Corvo Bianco during Blood and Wine, I turned Geralt’s witcher path into a bit more of a 9-5 affair. I’d start the day off with a contract or a quest, maybe clear a few points of interest, gather up as much loot as I could carry — even popping a Fiend Decoction to boost my carrying capacity — and sell off any excess loot before heading home to meditate and replenish my alchemy supplies.
Now, you don’t have to turn your own witchering exploits into a day job, but it’s worth it to note that selling swords and armor is often more lucrative than completing actual witcher contracts. Furthermore, if you prioritize crafting materials (or items that can be dismantled for crafting materials) when looting, you’ll often stock up on key ingredients by the time you get to the forging process. It’s also worth noting that while many weapons and pieces of armor should just be sold, others are worth keeping for dismantling. Dismantling is a great tool for saving money, especially once you get to the grandmaster gear — you’ll require crafting components that are expensive to make and even more to purchase.
On that note, let’s establish some best practices for acquiring ingredients. The cheapest way is to find them out in the wild, but this probably won’t be sufficient to cover any project by itself. From least to most expensive, your methods will be dismantling items made from particular crafting materials, crafting individual components, and purchasing ingredients from relevant merchants. This last option isn’t very cost-effective, so try to do it as little as possible unless the time saved by purchasing outright is worth more than the actual cost.
Finally, it’s generally a good idea to forge the swords as well as the armor. While there are some powerful weapons beyond witcher gear like Aerondight, a silver sword in the Blood and Wine expansion, witcher swords are powerful enough to compete. More importantly, they will provide the full set bonus at grandmaster level. You should also try to loot every monster you manage to slay. This will provide valuable alchemy ingredients and mutagens and provide crafting materials that are often required when forging silver swords.
R & R, G & G
Now that you’ve finally acquired the optimal set of armor for your build, you’ve got options when it comes to upgrading it further. These come in the form of glyphs and glyphwords, and we’ll briefly touch on runes and runewords as well, the equivalents for swords. In terms of the latter, one should generally focus on runes. Individual runes can offer chances to afflict enemies with status effects and stun/stagger them, while runewords rarely offer justification for using up all three slots on one power. Considering how expensive it is to invest in the Runewright and the comparatively small return on said investment, you’re better off sticking to runes as opposed to runewords.
With glyphs and glyphwords, the story is only slightly different. The majority of glyphs are straight upgrades in intensity for specific signs. Equip the greater glyphs for your preferred signs, maybe throwing in a Hearts of Stone DLC glyph (like the Glyph of Warding for greater resistance to elemental damage), and you’ll have some solid upgrades. There is, however, one glyphword that’s useful for pretty much any build. Protection (which only requires level 2 tools) automatically casts Quen at the beginning of a fight, freeing up stamina for a more offensive move like Igni or Whirl.
A more focused option (and decidedly more expensive, requiring level 3 tools) is Eruption, which pairs quite nicely with a signs build, particularly one that favors Igni. Enemies who die from the sign explode, causing splash damage to crowds, not to mention enhancing the gory spectacle of combat. Ultimately, the general trend is that runewords and glyphwords grant a quality-of-life benefit as opposed to the objective numerical benefits of their counterparts.
Best Witcher 3 Armor Sets: Conclusion
In the end, the best Witcher 3 armor sets boil down to personal taste. Hopefully, however, this article has helped provide some direction on which set is best for your build and playstyle. Employing best practices during crafting will save you some money, enabling you to spend the surplus on cosmetics like dyes for your new armor or on display stands in your estate at Corvo Bianco. After all, what’s the point of spending all this money if you can’t show off fancy, ornate armor to your nonexistent guests?
In any event, whether you favor the deadly grace of the Cat, the magical power of the Griffin, or the hulking might of the Bear, there’s a set of armor worthy of a grandmaster witcher waiting for you. And you might as well get started on hunting down their diagrams and crafting them — it’s a damn process. For more guides on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and other games, along with reviews, rankings, and news posts, keep reading here at High Ground Gaming.