[3.12] A CI HoP + Spiders Guardian - 70K armour, 1400 ES on block, millions of DPS || My 1st lvl 100
Welcome to my guide, exile!
*** 3.12 notes ***
tl;dr: Glancing Blows nerf, but we're fine, new interesting curses
* Glancing Blows
"The Glancing Blows Keystone now causes you to take 65% of Damage from Blocked Hits (from 50%). It has been moved so as to make it more difficult to acquire via a Thread of Hope jewel."
Yes, that means we'll take more damage, but we'll only feel it on large hits, like Shaper slam or Sirus meteor. Think about it this way: is it a big deal taking 650 damage instead of 500 when you gain 1400 ES back? (and 500 damage is still a pretty large hit). That nerf is, in my opinion, mainly aimed at necros, but won't affect us this much.
As for the placement in the tree, it's still connected to the same node, so no pathing change for us, it's just been moved to be harder to reach with a Thread of Hope.
- No longer causes attack hits to have a chance to Maim cursed enemies.
- No longer causes cursed enemies to take increased physical damage from damage over time.
- Now causes ailments inflicted on cursed enemies to deal damage 20% faster.
That is huge. People are usually focused on HoP's damage in this build, but remember that Spiders deal a large portion of the damage - nearly half of it, and that they need much less investment than HoP does to reach their maximum potential. And half of their DPS is poison. This means that the new Vulnerability will significantly increase their DPS. As for the maim thingy, it's no big deal, since we use the Maim gem on Cyclone in end game, and on HoP before we can get Vuln on hit gloves.
- Now causes cursed enemies to take 50% increased damage while on Low Life at gem level 1, up to 88% increased damage at gem level 20.
- Now causes cursed enemies you hit to be Debilitated for 2 seconds.
- Now causes 10% of Overkill damage from killing blows against cursed enemies to be reflected to other enemies as physical damage.
That's another curse that looks really interesting. Corpse explosion for faster and more satisfying clear, debilitated enemies (they deal less damage), and a lot more damage against low life enemies; which, on top of increasing our average DPS, will be really strong versus end game bosses, who tend to become more powerful near their end or in their last phase (e.g. Sirus, Uber Elder, Izaro), by allowing us to quickly burst their most dangerous phase.
The issue is, we need to find a way to apply the curse. It can't be obtained like Vulnerability, on gloves, so we would need to find another way. Curse on hit on something? Cyclone, but we would need to give up two sockets? a minion, somehow? A spectre that casts it?... Feel free to share your ideas, I'm always open to them :)
This build is created to be rather defense-oriented; it has good clear, great survivability (basically unkillable), and great single target.
Our first source of damage is Herald of Purity, which summons four (or five) minions when we hit or kill, and we use Cyclone to continuously summon them. Since we're incredibly tanky, we can afford to do that all the time without taking any risk.
On top of that, we use the dagger Arakaali’s Fang, which lets you raise spiders on kill. Using the Writhing Jar to summon them, they are effectively always up, even in boss fights, and have a very aggressive AI, which makes them great both for clearing and for bosses.
This build got me to my first level 100 ever! :)
This was in Harvest league. I mostly ran T19 maps (T16 maps with three "+1 lvl of area" watchstones) with Niko missions, and delved as deep as I could. I even carried boss fights like Sirus along the way, since I basically couldn't die. It took a while, of course, but considering how safe it was, it wasn't too bad ^^ I had a lot of fun doing it!
Small disclaimer: I know the quality of the videos (well, those I recorded myself, that is) is really poor, and that the lag is annoying to watch. I'm really sorry about that, but my computer is getting very old, and it's doing its best :') I hope you enjoy the videos anyway!
Cortex fight (3.11)
Awakening level 8 Sirus carry (3.11)
Lvl 83 Mastermind fight (3.11)
Awakening level 5 Sirus fight (3.11)
The Elder (3.11)
Short helpful video: Colouring your helmet to fit Cyclone (3.11)
Bonus: Facetanking Abaxoth in a T16, without molten shell
If you want to contribute to the guide, you can record a video of you killing an end-game boss, and I will add it! :)
+ Good clear
+ Good single target (Uber Elder and A8 Sirus down on a 5L)
+ Great survivability with multiple defensive layers: over 7K ES, over 65K armour, 75% chance to block attacks and spells, 1300 ES gained on block, huge ES regen every five seconds, 10K damage shield with Molten Shell, a lot of reduced effect of curses
+ Can do all map mods (although no regen is more comfortable with a mana flask and less armour/chance to block can be rippy versus strong physical bosses like the Minotaur)
+ The minions we use are immortal, or automatically (re)summoned, so there’s no need to worry about them dying
+ Since this build uses almost only unique items, it’s relatively cheap to min-max
+ I don't play hardcore, but I would assume that this build is definitely HC viable, even though leveling will require some classic HC measures
+/- It's a minion build, which feels clunky to some people and relaxing to some others
- This build is quite bad at handling blighted maps, since it doesn't have screen covering AoE.
- This build is not the best at handling Aul, the Crystal King, since his phases are time based and not %HP-based, and we have less damage than a pure glass cannon. I still manage to kill the Auls I find, but I never went past 500-ish depth, so I don't know about deeper.
Tl;dr: Path of Building
3.12 PoB: https://pastebin.com/7QWvHaqD (includes skill tree progression)
Read the guide and the FAQ (beginning of second post) before asking questions!
I spent a very long time writing and perfecting this guide over the leagues, and while it's understandable to want to skip it, it's rude and inconsiderate to ask questions that have been clearly answered here. I tried my best to make the guide clear, complete, and easy to navigate, so check the section related to your question and the FAQ. That being said, if you have a question that's not answered in the guide, or a suggestion, I would be glad to help you out. :)
Why Guardian? Why Cyclone?
The Guardian ascendancy is a very underestimated one (in my opinion) and fits this build for several reasons.
* This build stacks up a lot of mana and converts it to armour thanks to Memory Vault, and the Guardian ascendancy converts it to Energy Shield (ES), which makes us very tanky.
* Since this build is based on block, fights with lots of damage over time, like Uber Elder, can be tough. The Time of Need ascendancy makes those fights a lot easier by giving us free ES regen every five seconds.
* The Radiant Crusade and Unwavering Crusade ascendancies grant some more damage to our minions, makes them intimidate on hit (applying 10% increased damage taken), grants onslaught, and other very strong buffs.
This build stacks up a lot of defensive layers, and can therefore be in the melee pretty much all the time. We use this freedom to hit enemies in order to summon the Herald of Purity sentinels. In order to do so, we need a skill that’s usable with a dagger (since we use Arakaali’s Fang, see Gear section for more info) and that hits very frequently.
Cyclone is a great candidate for such a skill, and works perfectly, but ultimately, if there is another skill you prefer, feel free to experiment with it!
Build mechanics (please read!)
I know reading a guide might be boring, but this part is very important, so I’ll try my best to keep it short.
We use two kinds of minions: the Herald of Purity sentinels, and Akaraali’s Fang spiders.
The Sentinels spawn when we kill enemies or hit bosses, so we Cyclone into packs and rely on our Culling Cyclone (among other stuff) to spawn them during clear, and just Cyclone on bosses to spawn them during boss fights.
Arakaali’s Fang lets you raise spiders from nearby corpses when you kill an enemy. So in order to summon them, the easiest way is to use Desecrate to create corpses (cast it twice to have enough corpses), then use one of your Writing Jars to spawn writhing worms, and kill them to raise the spiders. They will then follow you around killing everything in a one screen radius. Their AI is already very aggressive, so there is no need to support them with Feeding Frenzy.
I firmly believe Feeding Frenzy is wasted on them if you play like the beefy #nopants Templar you are and rush into packs. However, some people on the thread have enjoyed using it on spiders during clear, so feel free to try if you want.
We curse enemies with Vunerability on hit thanks to our gloves corruption. This has two uses: increasing the physical damage taken, and allowing us and our spiders to inflict bleeding, enabling the use of Bloodlust support on our sentinels.
Finally, we use a Carrion Golem supported by Feeding Frenzy support to grant us the Feeding Frenzy buff, giving us more minion damage, and increased minion movement and attack speed. In order to summon him automatically, we also support it with Cast when Stunned, and don't use stun immunity (see Defensive mechanics for more info).
This build stacks up many defensive layers, so there’s a lot to cover, but once again, I promise I’ll try my best to keep it short.
First, we use Skin of the Loyal, which has two main uses: 1) "+1 to level of socketed gems", granting our HoP sentinels a huge damage boost; and "100% increased global defenses", which means 100% increased global ES and armour.
We get a lot of mana, both from the skill tree and gear, which grants us flat ES thanks to the Guardian Ascendancy, and flat armour thanks to Memory Vault.
On top of this high ES pool, we get a lot of block chance, enough to reach 38% chance to block both attacks and spells. We use the Aegis Aurora shield, which grants a lot of armour and energy shield, and refills our ES by 2% of our armour on block.
We then use the Glancing Blows keystone, which doubles our chance to block attacks and spells, bringing us to 75% chance to block. The downside is that we take 50% of damage from blocked hits, but that is completely countered by the Aegis Aurora’s ES refill, making us virtually unkillable by hits.
Next, we use Fortify support on Cyclone, which means we’re always fortified. For tough fights like Uber Elder, one quick cyclone every 6 seconds is enough to keep fortify up and running. This is important because we always take 50% damage from blocked hits, and fortify helps reduce this damage, effectively increasing the ES refill on block.
With Anointed Flesh, the small nodes leading to it, and the upgraded Soul of the Brine King, we are unaffected by chill, have 50% reduced duration of freeze, can't be chain frozen, and have increased stun and block recovery and can't be chain stunned. We can still be stunned, but for a very short time and once every 4 seconds only, and the build is tanky enough to take it without dying; we also use the occasional stun to automatically summon our Carrion golem.
Finally, we use Molten Shell, which, with the amount of armour we have, can tank 10000 damage in our place, making the Shaper's and Elder's slams and A8 Sirus' meteor so weak they actually heal you. Just activate it before a hit that could get you low, and your ES will be full before you even know it.
There some unique jewels that are necessary for this build, and some that work wonders for it. They are all listed below.
Arakaali's Fang - Explanation
This dagger allows us to raise spiders, one of our two minion types, which have insane damage considering they only require three gem slots. We use it in our main hand.
Harvest craft: Quality -> Accuracy
There is a Harvest crafting recipe which makes the quality of a weapon not apply to the physical damage, but to your accuracy instead. I makes our chance to hit go from 89% to 91%, which is a nice quality of life upgrade. I recommend applying it to your dagger if you find it.
Trade site links
Any Arakaali's Fang (no important rolls)
Aegis Aurora - Explanation
Lots of armour, lots of ES, and very large ES refill on block. I recommend getting one as soon as possible, and playing with spiders only until you do, as this item is the core of the build’s survivability.
Memory Vault - Explanation
This build gets a lot of mana, and Memory Vault converts it to armour, which means less physical damage taken and more ES gained on block.
Astramentis - Explanation
Intelligence grants us ES and mana, and therefore even more ES and armour. And this item is especially strong when used with the following item, Shaper’s Touch. Also, some gems (notably Withering Touch) require a lot of dexterity, which we don’t naturally get as Templar, so since we don’t really need any mod on our amulet, Astramentis also helps us get dexterity.
Note that you can use Intrinsic Catalysts to improve the attributes on the amulet, raising the explicit up to 120!
Anointing your amulet
The notable we ultimately anoint is Potency of Will, which increases the duration of our spiders, of molten shell, and of our offering. You can also anoint Arcane Guarding before you can afford a Blue Nightmare.
Shaper's Touch - Explanation
Those gloves have several uses. First, we naturally have a lot of strength, which means those gloves grant us a lot of mana and ES. Second, we naturally have a lot of intelligence, which means they grant us a lot of accuracy rating, which is essential to spawn our sentinels.
Note that Shaper's Touch with Vulnerability on hit are pretty cheap (compared to uncorrupted Shaper's Touch), and gives our minions a lot of dps, so I recommend checking it out!
Trade site links
Any Shaper's Touch
Shaper's Touch with a good roll
Shaper's Touch with Vulnerability on hit
4L Shaper's Touch with Vulnerability on hit
NB: Corrupted items can have their sockets modified, be it socket number, links, or colours; if you'd need, for instance, 25 chromas to recolour your item if it wasn't corrupted, you'll need 25 chromas + 25 vaal for the corrupted version. It might be more expensive than buying a 4L, but it can be useful to know!
Body armour: Skin of the Loyal
Skin of the Loyal - Explanation
We use Skin of the Loyal to get lots of armour, ES, and +1 to level of all socketed gems.
Note that the Skin of the Loyal's sockets can't be modified, so you need to buy the right colours, even if it's not corrupted.
The colours we will ultimately use are 4R 2B, but if you can't afford it, you can work with 3R 1B and replace Empower or Minion Damage with Vile Toxins before you can afford the right colours and/or the right gem.
Harvest crafting: Quality -> Mana
There is a Harvest craft which makes quality not apply to intrinsic defensive stats (which the Skin doesn't have anyway), and grant mana instead. I recommend getting this if you ever find it.
About Skin of the Lords
Skin of the Loyal has a blessed version, Skin of the Lords, which is basically the same except that you can only socket corrupted gems, and you get a free random Keystone. Once all your gems are corrupted, and you can afford it, you can start looking for a Skin of the Lords with one of the following Keystones:
Call to Arms: Huge quality of life, making Rallying Cry instant.
Resolute Technique: Good quality of life.
Zealot's Oath / Glancing Blows: Saves us one skill point.
Iron Reflexes: A bit more armour.
Avoid Unwavering Stance though! We have good anti stun measures (stun & block recovery, anti chain stun, enough tankiness to survive the occasional stun), and we use the small stuns we take to summon our golem automatically!
Trade site links - Skin of the Loyal
Rainbowstride - Explanation
Those boots are very cheap for what they give: lots of elemental resistances, movement speed, mana, and most importantly, chance to block spells, which gets us to 75%.
Circle of Guilt
Circle of Guilt - Explanation
This ring allows us to use more support gems on our Herald, while also being able to increase the Herald minions' damage if you can afford the right version. It also grants us some flat armour - icing on the cake!
Note that in order to use your 6L Herald, Discipline and Determination, you will need two Circle rings with at least 19% and 20% reduced mana reserved, and apply fertile catalysts applied to them (life and mana) in order to get the "at least 19%" one to 22% reduced mana reservation, and the 20% one to 23%.
Trade site links - Circle of Guilt
Darkness Enthroned - Explanation
This belt is criminally underrated in my opinion. It can grant even more raw mana/ES than a rare belt in total, more resists, and can increase very useful stats like minion movement speed. Also, Harvest introduced belt enchants, and using this belt allows you to keep or buy an enchant and upgrade your jewels inside freely.
Inside the belt: abyss jewels
Here is what we're looking for on jewels in order of (decreasing) priority.
* The elemental resistances we couldn't get elsewhere. Keep in mind the resistances on the jewels will be increased by 75%!
* 2% chance to block spell damage if you've been damaged by a hit recently on one of our jewels. Since we use Glancing Blows, we take 50% of damage from blocked hits, which means that all hits damage us, and the buff will always be active in combat, bringing us to 75% chance to block spells.
* Flat mana, which grants us a lot of ES and armour.
* Flat ES.
* Minion movement speed.
The Harvest league introduced the new belt enchants. There are two of them that are useful to us:
* +300 armour while you have Fortify, which grants us a lot of armour basically permanently.
* Enemies maimed by you take 8% increased physical damage over time, which grants a lot of damage to our spiders, whose DPS largely comes from poison.
One huge pro of the Darkness Enthroned is that you can enchant it as you wish, and upgrade the jewels inside freely. You can also get a spare one to try to get the enchant(s) you want for 1c.
Trade site links
Abyss jewel with any mana roll, and spell block (remember to add the resistances you need!)
Abyss jewel with at least 30 mana, and spell block (remember to add the resistances you need!)
The Writhing Jar
The Writhing Jar - Explanation
We use three of those. We need to kill an enemy to raise spiders, and we use this flask to easily kill an enemy. Be aware that the flask charges used are a roll, and that you can buy a cheap one to start with, but you should aim for a good roll when you start min-maxing.
Trade site links
For other flasks, I recommend using a Quicksilver for movement speed, and a Granite for even more armour for fights with a lot of physical damage and bleed immunity. A mana flask can be swapped in for no regen maps as well.
Jewels and corrupted blood
Damage over time is one of the only things that can kill us, so having a jewel with Corrupted Blood can't be inflicted on you is a really good choice. You can grab a rare jewel with some of the usual stats you want (ES/minion damage/...) with this corruption. One is enough.
Note that Energised Armour is very cheap with corrupted blood immunity, and, socketed below the start of the Templar, grants us the massive amount of 6K armour at the price of 200 ES. This might seem like a bad tradeoff at first, but keep in mind that armour = ES gained on block = effective survivability. You will almost never go below 75% ES, so losing 200 ES really is no big deal - while 6K armour means 120 more ES gained on block, i.e. at almost every hit we receive. Ultimately, you should look for one of the other jewels with the Corrupted Blood corruption and replace this with a Watcher's Eye (see below), but this is a great budget option.
Jewel: the Blue Nightmare
This jewel is what allows us to get such a high spell block chance. We socket it next to the Templar start, which means that in its radius, there is 12% all res in Holy Dominion, 8% all res in Faith and Steel, and 24% in Sanctuary and the small nodes before, for a total of 14% spell block chance, doubled to 28% with Glancing Blows.
Trade site links
The addition of cluster jewels did a lot of good for this build, even though Pure Agony doesn't grant +1 sentinel any more. I recommend getting a 4 or 5 passives medium cluster jewel with the notables Cult Leader and Disciples, where you would socket a 2 passives small cluster jewel with the notable Stalwart Commander.
Trade site links
Jewel: Healthy Mind
We stack up a lot of mana, and Healthy Mind helps us do just that.
Jewel: Fortress Covenant
This jewel grants up to 45% increased minion damage, which is huge. However, it negates all notable in a medium radius, causing them to make our minions take increased damage. But, socketed near Mind over Matter, no notables are in range, which means we only get the hughmongous damage. Hurray!
Last jewel socket: below the Templar start
Since this is the only socket where we don't have to use a non-cheap jewel, the priority should be, at first, to get immunity to corrupted blood, since all other jewels with that mod will be pretty expensive (at least 2ex in general). That being said, I think the following two jewels clearly stand out.
Energised armour: Grants us the insane amount of 6K armour at the price of 200 ES. This might seem like a bad tradeoff, but keep in mind that armour = ES on block = effective survivability. As a matter of fact, 6K armour means 120 ES on block, i.e. on basically every hit we take, even the weakest. It's up to you to make up your choice, but I really think this is an insane jewel for its cost.
Watcher's Eye: This should be your goal once you can afford another jewel with Corrupted Blood immunity. There are several mods that can be very useful for us on a Watcher’s Eye. The most useful ones are +# to armour while affected by Determination and #% additional physical damage reduction while affected by Determination. You can also look for You take #% reduced extra damage from critical strikes while affected by Determination, which makes us even tankier, #% chance to block spells while affected by Discipline, which can help you get spell block before you get a Blue Nightmare, #% of maximum energy shield regenerated per second while affected by Discipline for a bit of extra regen…
About Helmet enchants
It's pretty hard to find Memory Vaults with the right enchants because it's not a very used helmet, so people don't enchant it a lot. However, here are a few enchants that are interesting.
* +1 Sentinel of Purity
1 more Sentinel. What more is there to say? The best enchant for the HoP build, but very pricy.
* Molten Shell buff effect / duration
This enchant is a huge defensive buff, and can help versus really strong physical damage.
Off-colouring your items
Check the FAQ if you need some help with off-colouring your items.
Your Herald of Purity setup should be the following (socketed in body armour):
If you don't have the mana to use HoP, Discipline and Determination yet, take out some HoP gems, not Determination! Check the FAQ for more info.
Your Raise Spider support gems should be the following: (socketed in weapon 1 (Arakaali's Fang))
For hard boss fights, replace Melee Splash with Melee Physical Damage.
In order to summon Sentinels, we use Cyclone. We support it with Culling Strike for an effective 10% more global damage and help with summoning our minions during clear, Fortify to mitigate the damage we take from blocked hits, and Maim to increase the physical damage taken by enemies. (socketed in Helmet; for help on how to off-colour your items, please refer to the Off-colouring your items section in the FAQ)
We use a Carrion Golem for more damage, along with Feeding Frenzy support to make it grant us the Feeding Frenzy buff (10% more minion damage, and 10% increased minion attack, cast, and movement speed). Since we don't invest in minion life regen or leech, it tends to die every minute or so, which is why we use Cast when Stunend to summon it automatically. Since we're CI, we get stunned easily, so it's always up, and we mitigate the danger (and discomfort) of stuns through Soul of the Brine King. (See the Pantheon or Defensive mechanics sections for more info). (Socketed in Weapon 2 (Aegis Aurora))
As auras, we use Discipline and Determination for more ES and armour respectively. We socket them along with our movement skill (I use Shield Charge), and Desecrate to spawn corpses for spiders. (Socketed in Boots)
Finally, there are three useful gems that we socket in our gloves. Rallying Cry grants our minions a nice damage boost, Molten Shell gives us an extra layer of defense, and Spirit Offering gives a great damage boost. Since those three gems are duration-based, we support them with Increased Duration (which is much more important and useful than you might think!). (Socketed in Gloves)
Kill them all.
Easy choice: the only bandit worth helping on some builds is Alira, and since we do not profit from the crit multi, the two skill points are what we go for.
We use Soul of the Brine King to avoid chain stuns/freezes and drastically reduce the chill effect.
The Minor god you use depends on the situation; I like Soul of Abberath to reduce the ignite duration, and ignore burning ground. For long boss fights like Sirus, Soul of Ryslatha allows you to regenerate your flask charges over time. Last, if you plan to run one of those lvl 83 lab, Soul of Ralakesh is useful to avoid bleeding and reduce the damage over time taken from traps.
Last edited by Vatinas on Sep 18, 2020, 2:06:36 PM
Last bumped on Sep 24, 2020, 8:58:06 PM
on Jun 22, 2019, 2:04:06 PM
Skill tree progression
In the skill tree, there is no best way to go about this, but I recommend going for Gravepact, then Sanctuary very early on. That will give you consistent damage and good resistances from the get go. You can also grab Discipline and Training to get some life while levelling, and refund it once you transition to CI/LL.
After that, grab Resolute Technique so you have a good hit chance before Shaper's Touch (and I recommend keeping this node until you get those gloves, or your accuracy will be in the gutter). If you intend to play HoA, you will need to keep Resolute Technique; only refund it if you play HoP.
Then, go for Faith and Steel for a bit of ES and resistances, and Redemption for minion damage and movement speed. You can also grab Righteous Army for some minion regen, and refund it later.
After that comes a bit of boring part, where you have to travel a lot in the skill tree. However, it's really no big deal since you'll easily have the damage and resistances to progress. Go right from near Faith and Steel, and grab Anointed Flesh for more resistances and reduced effect of chill for a bit more safety. Then, go for Discord Artisan to be able to use more supports on your herald, cruel preparation for life and resists, and then go down toward Lord of the Dead, Ravenous Horde, and Heart and Soul. You can then consider going for Holy Dominion, back near the Templar, for more resists.
After that, it's pretty much up to your personal preference. If you need to reserve less mana, grab Sovereignty; if you want more ES, go for Insightfulness, etc.
Remember to go near CI before you actually transition, so you can just allocate it when you want to.
Levelling the build (including as a league starter)
There is a way to play a modified version of this build as a league starter until you can afford the items you need. This league starter version requires no twink gear, is very easily capped in resistances, and can very easily go up to the beginning of yellow maps with a few 1 alch items only - more than enough to start farming your real items!
Once you're done showing Hillock who's the real #nopantslife master, grab Smite as quest reward and buy Raise Zombies from Nessa. Remember to do the Tidal Island quest to get a Quicksilver flask, as well as Ruthless for your Zombies.
Once you've completed the Mud Flats, Nessa will give you Summon Holy Relic, which will deal damage and heal you and your zombies as you hit. After Brutus, get Melee Splash - you don't need it yet, but you will in the future.
If you find the currency for it, and have the required sockets/links, you can also buy the following gems according to your preferences: Flame Dash, Minion Damage / Added Fire Damage for your Zombies.
In terms of items, try to get ES bases with life on them, as well as some resistances. The armour-ES shields are also a good option due to their elemental resistance implicit. Don't waste your precious scrolls of wisdom or transmutes on your weapon though; the Twilight Strand stick does the trick just fine!
After the Chamber of Sins, get Herald of Purity and support it with one or two support gems you might have, like Minion Damage, Added Fire Damage, or Melee Physical Damage once you get it (after killing the big spider in the Western Forest's lair). Be aware though that the more support gems on it, the higher the mana reservation, so I don't recommend using more than two. You will also need to buy Desecrate, after the Chamber of Sins too, so you can summon your Zombies reliably (and your spider later in the game). You might need to get a Jade amulet from Yeena, or allocate a 30 dex node in the skill tree to use it.
After "rescuing" Tolman, grab Discipline from Clarissa, as well as Rallying Cry, which will be a really good damage buff. From the moment you start using the warcry, the base damage of your weapon will start to matter, so try to find one with decent physical damage. Attack speed will also be important later, so start looking out for a weapon with those stats. If you're so stinking rich that the weight of your purse is hurting your back, you can lighten it a bit by buying Determination and socketing it in a second weapon set so it's high level when you start using it.
Level 28 is when the fun starts: you get Dominating Blow. Support it with the Melee Splash you had been levelling, as well as whatever damage support gems you have - this skill should be in your largest link setup. From now on, while clearing, use Dominating Blow, and, versus bosses, use Smite now and then to grant all your minions its lightning damage aura.
After killing Voll, grab a Stone Golem. It will greatly improve your survivability.
After killing the angry bois, aka Kaom and Daresso, let Dialla do her thing and grab Multistrike. Use it on Dominating Blow as soon as you can; the order of priority is Dom Blow > Melee Splash > Multistrike > other damage gems.
At that point, you should be able to run the normal lab very safely. Grab Radiant Crusade first, which will give you some resistances, damage, and more importantly permanent onslaught for you and your minions.
: Nothing in particular, just keep looking out for item upgrades and 4 links.
This is when you can get a lot of useful gems. Once you've cleared the Twilight Strand, talk to Lilly to get Meat Shield, which will make your Zombies taunt. This will change your life more than you think. Minion Life will help them survive, now that they'll be taking most of the hits.
Be sure to use this break to check if you can grab better damage gems than those you have.
From now on, the story is pretty straightforward, as you don't get any new gems.
Acts 7 to 10
Nothing worthy of noting, just run over the story like the pantsless bulldozer you are.
Right before killing act 10 Kitava, I recommend running the cruel lab (before getting the resistance penalty, even though you should still be easily capped) to get Radian Faith and start buffing up your ES.
Once you're done with the story, use the few alchs (or chaos, if you're lucky) to get decent items in as many slots as possible; a bit of life/ES, some resists, and a weapon with a bit of attack speed and decent base physical damage will do the trick. The idea would be to have a 4L for Dom Blow (which you should upgrade to a 5L asap), a 3L for HoP, and a 2L for your Holy Relic (Minion Damage), even though the last 2L is really optional.
You should be very easily capped in resistances, and will have zombies that taunt enemies, so mapping should be very safe. Your damage should also be more than enough. You can run the merciless lab whenever you feel like you have the damage and tankiness to do so. You should very easily get to T5 maps, at which point you should start finding enough currency to slowly transition to the full build.
I recommend keeping a close eye on the price of Arakaali's Fangs, since this is the item that makes your damage go from good to insane. However, it might be a bit expensive early on (if I recall, it was 2ex in the first few days of Delirium, down to 30c after a bit less than a week), but it's important enough that it's worth keeping an eye on anyway. Apart from that, you can look to get a Dream Fragments, which should be a few chaos early on, to get a nice amount of mana and cold res, and chill and freeze immunity. The Aegis Aurora will also be a huge acquisition, but is usually worth between 20c and 1ex in the first few days, and goes down to 10-20c shortly after. Upgrade the rest of the items at your own pace.
Gear progression & upgrading
As you might have noticed, every piece of gear in this build has a unique purpose; we have no slot where we just go "eh just get mana or ES or something". As a result, it's perfectly normal if you feel a bit lost as to what to buy first, and are wondering things like "How do I inflict bleeding before getting "Vulnerability on hit on my Shaper's Touch?". That's perfectly okay, and I'll help you get a roadmap of how to go about things. :)
Quick reference: A few questions you might be asking yourself
I highly recommend reading through this whole part if you're lost, but in case you're asking yourself a quick question, here are a few.
* I can't use Discipline, Determination and HoP yet. Do I drop Determination?
No! :p Determination is crucial. It's normal if you can't use all three at first, since you'll need two Circle rings with catalysts. Before you get those, drop as many supports on HoP as you need. I know it might sound stupid, but it's not; remember HoP is not our only source of damage, we also have the spiders!
* Should I save up for a high roll [insert unique here], or should I just get a low roll for now?
Get a low roll if it saves you a lot of currency! Nearly all uniques in this build are incredibly strong when combined with the others, so having it is going to be very strong by itself, no need for a high roll to achieve that!
The basics: getting started
Let's say you used this build as league starter, and have to start from scratch. The first question you're probably wondering is when to get Chaos Inoculation. In general, the answer to that question is "whenever you feel like you have enough ES and/or are dying often to chaos damage going through your ES", and this build is no exception. Like I said in the Leveling section, it's important that you path toward CI even before taking it, so it only takes one skill point to actually allocate it; but after that, get some ES on your gear, make sure you have your second ascendancy, Radiant Faith, grab the mana nodes you can, and reserve as much mana as you can. That should get you in a comfortable spot to take CI.
During the story, you should have gotten at least one or two alchs; the first priority is to use whatever you might have to cap your resistances. If you can get some ES or mana as well, that's great, but resistances is the main goal. (In case you're starting PoE, remember that running maps without 75%/75%/75% resistances can have you die very quickly). You should also use that occasion to make sure you can get a decent number of links for your skills. The most important ones are 1) Dominating Blow, where you want as many links as possible, and 2) Raise Zombie, where you want to get Meat Shield - Minion Life. For Herald of Purity, you should be careful with the mana reservation; each support gems has a "Mana multiplier", which multiplies the mana reservation of HoP. For instance, Multistrike is very strong on HoP, but has a very high mana multiplier (160%), so you want to avoid it. The ideal would be to use damage gems with a pretty low multiplier - for instance, Ruthless is exceptional. So the links will depend on your mana left for HoP, of the colours of links you get, etc. But also remember that the more mana you reserve, the more ES you get from your Radiant Faith ascendancy!
You can either buy gear that already has enough links if you can afford it, or try to socket + link the items yourself if you have a surplus of jewellers / fusings. (Remember though that getting 5 or 6 links yourself is deceptively hard and shouldn't be attempted at this stage, and that the higher the quality of your gear, the easier it is to get sockets and links)
Before the Fang
After going through those basics, you should be in a spot where you can run white / yellow maps comfortably, which means you can start progressing and saving up currency. Here is what I would advise in terms of "What items should we buy first?".
Some uniques should be very cheap, even in the first days of the league: Rainbowstride are great boots; low-ish ES, but mana, resistances, movement speed, and even some spell block. You should definitely try to get some early one. Darkness Enthroned is also cheap, but it requires you have some abyss jewels to socket in it, which means two extra things to buy. If you have 1 alch to spend, get a rare belt with ES / mana / resistances; but if you have a bit more, it might be interesting to get a Darkness Enthroned along with two cheap abyss jewels with the usual mana / ES / resistances.
Apart from those cheap items, your first priority should be Arakaali's Fang. The spiders are incredibly strong, and reach their peak power with only 3 support gems and no link needed, unlike almost every skill in the game which need 6 linked socket to do so. They will literally carry you alone until the end game. It might be expensive in the first few days (1 or 2 ex, if I recall), so it might be a good idea to check regularly what the current price is, or even setup a live search. It should go down to 70-ish chaos after a week or two.
After the Fang, before getting most uniques
The first thing you'll want to do is to get at least one Writhing Jar, no matter the roll. It will allow you to spawn spiders at the beginning of maps, and before bosses.
Once you have your spiders, you can drop Dominating Blow and start using Cyclone instead. Cyclone only requires four links, and by this point you should have enough currency to get those four links easily. In the PoB, the links I use are Cyclone - Fortify - Culling Strike - Maim, but without Vulnerability on hit on gloves, that won't allow us to make the enemies bleed, which prevents the use of Bloodlust on your HoP sentinels - which is an insane gem, since it has incredibly high damage for a very low mana multiplier. Therefore, you should use Chance to Bleed instead of Maim before you get Vulnerability on hit on your Shaper's Touch.
The socket colours might be hard to get; there is a trick to get them easily, which I talked about in the FAQ and made a video to demonstrate (in the Videos section). However, this requires you to have some crafting recipes, which you get in delve; so, when you want to get socket colours for Cyclone, remember you'll need to delve to get the recipes. Some of them are in the very low depths (even at around depth 1 or 10), while some others ("set an item to four sockets") will require you to go a bit deeper.
Remember to do this process on a item you're not planning to replace soon, so you don't have to do it all again. I usually do it on my Rainbowstride boots.
The next huge unique you want to look for is Aegis Aurora. The heart of the build, the item that's going to make you beefier than the Minotaur in an 8 mod map. It might be a bit expensive in the first few days or week (around 70c, if I recall), but it's worth every chaos you'll spend on it. Don't be afraid to get a low roll at first if it's cheaper!
You should now try to find some decent cluster jewels. For the medium one, 5 passives or less, with at least one of the notables I wrote in the guide; and for the small one, 2 passives, with a notable I talked about as well. The base of the jewel, armour or ES, is up to you or your budget, both are strong (though I, personally, prefer armour).
Now you can start looking at other important uniques, like Healthy Mind, Skin of the Loyal, Memory Vault, Shaper's Touch, Astramentis. All of those will dramatically increase your tankiness - and believe me, with the spiders, you won't need more damage for a while. Note that Memory Vault will increase your armour by an insane amount, but it will increase your mana reserved, so you might need to drop a support or two on your HoP. Do not drop Determination! ;)
If you feel like you die from lack of spell block, you can try to anoint Arcane Guarding before you can afford a Blue Nightmare.
After getting most uniques
By this point, the "skeleton" of the build is complete. You have all the main mechanics in place. You can start getting the last pieces in place at your own pace, and in the order you prefer.
Getting a Darkness Enthroned with two good jewels should be easily affordable by now, so if you haven't done it, you can do it now; and if you already had, check if you can upgrade your jewels.
A Fortress Covenant amounts to a good amount of damage, and shouldn't cost more than 10 or 20c by now.
Two Circles of Guilt with reduced mana reservation of HoP will give you a good amount of armour, and of course allow you to use more supports on HoP. At first, you should ignore the second mod on the rings, the mod that you really want is "reduced mana reservation". That being said, "physical damage reduction" should be cheap and will help you a lot.
Unlike other uniques, you should aim for a good "reduced mana reservation" roll from the start, since they'll probably be a bit expensive and the roll is very important; but you'll replace them later, so don't pay 10 times the first price for a perfect roll either. :)
A Blue Nightmare will cap you in spell block, and will allow you to anoint Potency of Will for more skill duration (applies to spiders, but also to Molten Shell, Spirit Offering, Rallying Cry, the Feeding Frenzy buff...)
Vulnerability on hit Shaper's Touch should start being affordable, and whill give you a nice damage boost, as well as allowing you to replace Chance to Bleed with Maim on Cyclone.
You should be able to afford "perfect" cluster jewels by now, that are exactly as I wrote in the guide earlier. Remember you can look to get a bit of resists on their small passives.
You can get more Writhing Jars. I usually play with two, but if you struggle with flask management or lack practice, feel free to go for three. :)
Finally, getting some level 21 / 20% quality gems is a great upgrade. Not necessarily all gems; for instance, Cyclone is useless to have at level 21. But having HoP at 21/20 is crazy good. Some other gems, like Deathmark, benefit a lot from being level 21. Also, a level 4 empower can be a bit expensive (around 5 or 6 ex), but it's absolutely worth it.
Getting the last uniques
By this point you're nearing the min-maxing phase, so keep in mind that you don't "need" do buy what I mention here, it's really just in case you absolutely love the build and want to keep pushing it, but you should be able to do all content even if you stop here.
The main thing that you want to look for is one, ideally two, Circles of Guilt with enough "reduced mana reserved" + "sentinels deal #% increased damage". This is going to be expensive (around 5 or 6ex in the middle of Harvest league), but it's definitely worth it. If you're patient, you can also set up a live search and look for rings with good synthesised implicits; for instance, you can get resistances, armour, energy shield...
You should also start upgrading the rolls of your items. Astramentis and Memory Vault have perticularly impactful stats, so you should start with those. The Aegis Aurora's armour and ES roll is not as impactful, but still important.
The life regen if you've been hit recently enchant on boots is very strong, you might want to try to buy it, or run a few labs yourself to get it. Remember that the amount of life regenerated depends on the level of the lab run to get it; the Uber lab version (2%) is twice as strong as the Normal lab version (1%)!
You can also look for a Watcher's Eye, with the mods mentioned in the guide.
Finally, getting awakened gems is a natural upgrade that is very strong. Awakened Melee Splash is always very cheap, while Awakened Minion Damage can be around 1 or 2ex, but both at great to have.
By this point, you can consider yourself done. You've got everything, you're good. However, if you're still getting currency and love the build so much that you want to keep pushing, here is what you can do.
A "+1 sentinel" enchant on Memory Vault is a great damage boost, but is really rare, and thus expensive. You should expect at the very least 25ex. Running the lab yourself to get it is usually a bad idea; you can only get it in Uber lab, and with the amount of enchants available... Oof.
A "+1 to level of socketed gems" Skin of the Loyal is probably the single most powerful upgrade you can get. It increases the level of every support gem, plus the level of your main gem, HoP, by one, plus it increases the level of HoP by one more since it increases the level of Empower! I don't want to say a percentage damage increase in case the support gems / numerical values change in the future, but expect around 30% more damage from it.
Finally, it might sound stupid, but getting to a level as high as you have the patience for allows you to grab some very precious passives, like Righteous Army, and is a great way to get even more damage and tankiness without spending the slightest bit of currency. (:
For most bosses, you just cyclone into them and stick to them while facetanking everything they throw at you. ezpz. However, tough bosses like Uber Elder and Uber Atziri can hurt so much that you need to avoid them, and this is where you need some mechanics.
In these cases, cycloning around the bosses almost always does the trick. However, if you're still not safe, feel free to take some distance and let your minions hit by themselves for a bit.
Be sure though to hit the boss once in a while to keep your Fortify buff up at all times, as well as refresh the curse, maim, and sentinels.
For the buffs, Warcry whenever you're trying to DPS the boss. With our setup, it lasts for longer than its cooldown, so it can be up 100% of the time. Spirit Offering is a bit trickier, since it requires corpses, but lasts longer; just desecrate once whenever you are safe, offer the pile of corpses, and you'll be good for 19 seconds.
* I don't have the currency to reserve my 6L HoP, Discipline and Determination yet. Should I drop Determination and only use it when I do?
No! Never drop Determination :p It's the key to our survivability. I'd even argue it's even more crucial than Discipline. What you should do is use Discipline from level 24, when you get it, and Determination as soon as you get your Aegis Aurora. By then, make sure you've grabbed the two mana reservation clusters in the skill tree (Sovereignty and Influence), and use HoP along with whatever support gems allow you to use HoP.
Remember that 1) HoP sentinels aren't our only damage source, so having them on a 2/3/4/5L isn't too big of a deal, and 2) more armour = more ES block = more effective survivability!
* My minions kill my worms before I can. How do I deal with this?
There are easy ways to deal with this, don't worry.
First, remember that your minions will attack enemies, so if you're killing trash mobs, just run close to them so your minions go beat them up, and summon your worms easily.
If you're starting a boss fight and need to refresh your spiders before the fight, the way I socketed the gems means that you can weapon swap twice, and all spiders and the golem will despawn, leaving you with only the sentinels, which die out very quickly. You're then free to resummon fresh spiders.
Finally, if you're too lazy to do any of that and there are still minions (or selfish party members) that kill your worms, it helps to desecrate under your minions, stand on them, start cycloning, pop two flasks and cyclone in a random direction. In 75% of the cases, you'll still get your spiders this way - but it costs at least 2 flask uses, so don't do that versus bosses!
* Isn't it useless to stack that much armour?
No, it's not! :) Remember that raw ES does not grant survivability, sustain does, and we replenish our ES by 2% of our armour on block. Which means that stacking armour = stacking ES on block, and that's how we survive. So yes, we could get higher ES, but we'd be much less tanky with, for instance, 9K ES and 30K armour.
This is also the reason I think using an Energised Armour below the Templar start is a really good choice, but ultimately, it's up to you.
* How do I get off-colour son my items?
There's a trick to do that easily, but it requires the following crafting recipes: two, three and four sockets, and two guaranteed colours. First, set your item to 2 sockets, and guarantee two off-colours. Then, set your item to three sockets. The first two sockets will remain the same, so you will keep your 2 off-colours, only the third socket will be random. If the third socket is not an off-colour, go back to two sockets and try again. When you get an off-colour on your third socket, you do the same for the fourth socket until you get it. It's important to get the off-colours first since it costs less jewellers to go between 2-3-2-3-... sockets than between 3-4-3-4-...
* The spiders' PoB dps seems low, is that normal?
Remember there are 20 spiders, so you have to multiply the dps by 20, and add 4 times the DPS of sentinels.
* Where does our block chance come from?
Remember that we only need to reach 38% chance to block attacks and spelld, since Glancing Blows doubles it. That being, here is PoB being very helpful and listing in detail where we get all our block chance.
Block chance sources
* Why aren't you using the Bastion of Hope ascendancy?
We are already capped in block chance, so we don't profit from the additional chance to block if we've attacked/casted a spell recently. The only benefit of this ascendancy is the stun immunity, and we use the Soul of the Brine King to avoid chain stuns. Since this build is very tanky, we can afford to get stunned once in a while without immediately dying because of it, even in end game fights like Uber Elder.
* Why aren't you using the Harmony of Purpose ascendancy?
The charges are only shared with party members, so our minions don't get them. The only benefit is the attack speed that frenzy charges grant us, and it's not worth it compared to other ascendancy nodes.
* I can't use all auras, I don't have enough mana. Why?
Make sure that:
* You have all the mana reservation nodes that I have
* Your rings have as much reduced herald reservation as mine (including catalysts!)
* There are no "accidental" support gems on Discipline
* You linked an Enlighten to your auras if the current version of the build uses one
* You have the exact same support gems on HoP as I do, as the mana multiplier of the support gems changes the mana reservation.
If you did all this and still can't use all auras, post on a message on this thread with your PoB, and I'll take a look!
I would like to thank everyone who helped me with the guide and with the build itself, especially the following people:
* livejamie, who created a CI version that inspired me to create the one featured in the guide.
* onlyjust5, who beat an A8 Awakener fight and allowed me to use the video for the guide.
* cence, for funding some of my items in order to allow me to update the guide more quickly every league (and for being a very good friend).
* Dobarn, who brought up the idea of using Stalwart Commander as an alternative to Will Shaper.
* TheScalpel, who thought of a good Watcher's Eye mod to add to the list.
* Pathdegilpaf, who recorded an Uber Elder guardian video and allowed me to add it to the guide.
18/09/20: It's Heist time bois and gurls! Updated the PoB with levelling skill trees.
16/09/20: Added the notes for the 3.12 update; small Glancing Blows nerf and two interesting curses. Will update the PoB, the skill tree, and maybe add some levelling skill trees in PoB when the PoB update comes out, if I have the time.
10/09/20: Added a "gear progression" section, which details how you should go about setting up the build bit by bit (what to buy first, how to handle mana reserved, etc.)
08/07/20: Retired the LL and HoA versions, since the CI and HoP versions are overall better and smoother to play. Further improved the build with the use of Vulnerability, Influence, and a Stalwart Commander cluster jewel.
03/07/20: Added several end game videos, including an Awakening 8 Sirus carry for a friend and the Elder fight.
02/07/20: Added an Awakening level 5 Sirus fight video.
01/07/20: Recorded three 3.11 videos: a Cortex fight, a lvl 83 Mastermind fight, and a short crafting tutorial for off-colouring the helmet.
28/06/20: Updated the guide with a few improvements, including a better skill tree pathing, capped spell block without tempest shield, better cluster notable, a golem, and better gems for HoP. From now on, the LL version is to be considered deprecated, and I am planning to retire it in the coming weeks.
18/06/20: Updated the guide for 3.11, and added a new CI version.
3.10 and before
07/01/20: Added gem placement to the PoB and to the guide. Updated the leveling skill trees.
30/12/19: Fixed the gems equipped in the gear featured in the Gear section.
25/12/19: Added a video of a deathless A8 Awakener kill, courtesy of onlyjust5.
20/12/19: Added Tempest Shield, which frees the anointment of our amulet. I recommend getting Soul of Steel if you can afford it, and if you want a cheaper anointment, you can look at Adamant and Inexorable, for instance. I also redrew the picture at the top of the guide to match 3.9 stats and buffs.
25/09/19: Changed the Arcane Guarding anointment to Deflection, making us gain armour and capping attack block on top of spell block.
24/09/19: Added more videos, and replaced Faster Attacks by Culling Strike on Cyclone.
19/09/19: Added Circle of Nostalgia to the build, allowing us to use a 6th HoA link and Aspect of the Spider.
18/09/19: Updated the build for 3.8, Blight league (sorry for doing this so late!)
09/07/19: Added instruction for off-colouring your gloves/boots.
06/07/19: Added trade site links for rare items (ring, belt, abyss jewel).
05/07/19: Added a full Phoenix run to the Videos section, and updated the Boss Mechanics section.
29/06/19: Added a full Minotaur run to the Videos section.
27/06/19: Added a deathless Uber Elder video (yay!), and added the Sorrow of the Divine to the build.
23/06/19: Added leveling skill trees, trade site links, and corrected some typos.
22/06/19: Created the guide. Hello world!
Thanks to everyone who read the guide, I hope you enjoyed it, and if you have any question, feel free to ask on this post or to send me a message :)
I hope you all have a nice day!
Last edited by Vatinas on Sep 18, 2020, 8:27:39 AM
on Jun 22, 2019, 2:42:16 PM
Very nice build,lvl 80 on HCL atm.
just saying thank you for sharing
on Jun 23, 2019, 11:13:41 AM
Hi, I'm glad you like the build! It's also interesting to hear from someone playing HC. I hope all goes well :)
on Jun 23, 2019, 11:35:07 AM
Looking for a tanky mapping/bossing char and found your guide. How is it with legion? How much boss kills on 4/5 emblem fights? Does it release all legion on maps?
on Jun 23, 2019, 7:44:26 PM
In my opinion, this build is a nice compromise of tankiness, mapping and bossing. I can, however, rarely fully release legions when the layout is not open. I haven't tried to run emblem fights, I'll try to run some tomorrow and give an update. :)
on Jun 23, 2019, 8:09:58 PM
coloring a shavs in 3g2r1b will be a nightmare :(
on Jun 24, 2019, 10:59:02 AM
How you generate endurance and frenzy charges ?
on Jun 24, 2019, 2:35:53 PM
Indeed! That's why I told about a few methods to circumvent that problem :)
The screenshot is from a previous version on the build using the Harmony of Purpose ascendancy, which grants changes on hit; I used to think that this would grant my minions frenzy charges, but it only grants them to party members, so I changed the ascendancy to what it is today. :)
Edit: I ran a 4 emblem fight, and the damage of the build is, in my opinion, a bit too low to effectively tackle those fights. I only had the time to kill each general twice. It makes up for it by being unkillable by any general, but if your goal is to farm emblem fights, maybe this build isn't the best. :)
Last edited by Vatinas on Jun 24, 2019, 2:53:10 PM
on Jun 24, 2019, 2:49:01 PM
Kinda of a cool concept and different type of build. Haven't played Guardian in awhile. Was lucky enough to find a 5 link 3G1R1B Shav's for like 90c. Going to have to do a little more currency farming and I'll be able to get the Nightmare and other jewels and be able to start playing.
on Jun 27, 2019, 12:46:25 AM