[3.12] Wallach's Hierophant Freezing Pulse Totems (Soul Mantle Hotfixed)

Hey folks,

Welcome to my Freezing Pulse Totem guide for the Hierophant! This guide is currently being updated for patch 3.12 (Heist League).

Summary of 3.12 Changes

- Curses have been separated into Hexes and Marks, with alterations to each curse type. When Hexes are self-cast, they will now gain 10 Doom per second up to a maximum of 30, which increases the effect of that curse by 1% per point of Doom. Marks are now curses limited to one target, but have more powerful effects that cannot be resisted by bosses, making them ideal boss-killing curses. We'll be wanting to utilize both in the long run thanks to how powerful Sniper's Mark will be for single target damage, so Whispers of Doom has become our ideal anointment in the long term.

- Curse on Hit support has been changed to Hextouch Support and is restricted to Hexes only. This means we really don't have a reason to utilize this support any longer, as Sniper's Mark is simply much more powerful than a second Hex option if we want to apply more than one curse to a boss.

- Soul Mantle now only applies random Hexes to you when your totems die, which lowers the pool of curses it can select from. There are now only 9 curses we can put on ourselves at a time, which lowers the effectiveness of the Self-Flagellation jewel slightly. We don't often reach this curse cap except for the opening of boss fights where we can spam totems for a while, so it's not going to be a big nerf in practice. It is however going to result in a slightly lower average number of curses on you from Soul Mantle as there are just less curses available for it to pick from.

- The Vengeful Commander cluster jewel notable was reduced to 20% increased effect of Hatred aura. Not a large nerf for us since we are not a physical conversion skill, but still going to cost us around ~1.5% damage for those utilizing cluster jewel setups.

- Glancing Blows was nerfed to where you now take 65% damage of blocked hits rather than 50%. For me, that is enough to not recommend going Glancing Blows anymore with this kind of build (as we simply cannot utilize on-block procs very effectively). As such I am going to be removing all Glancing Blows setup recommendations from this guide.

UPDATE: As of 9/21's first hotfix, Soul Mantle now applies curses with 80% more effect rather than 80% increased effect, so we are now again able to fully neutralize the curses applied by Soul Mantle when reaching 100% reduced curse effect! Bear in mind that since this was done as a server-side hotfix, the item will not reflect this change until the next client patch.

PLEASE NOTE: Map modifiers which apply curses to players now do so with X% increased effect (20%/40%/80% depending on map tier), so these curses are still going to have some effect on you when wearing the Kikazaru & Sanctum of Thought setup. Between the remaining reduced curse effect and Wise Oak flask, the elemental resistance curses are not too meaningful, however curses such as Vulnerability or Temporal Chains can still be annoying and you may want to consider rolling away from those map modifiers unless you are in an Atziri's Reflection setup instead.

Overall, the net result of the 3.12 changes is actually likely to be a slight single target damage increase against bosses due to Sniper's Mark not being reduced in effectiveness, but a slight nerf to our average hit damage while clearing. Since we generally need single target damage more than clear speed in this build (especially at the higher end of gearing), it's really not much of a change overall and could probably just be seen as an upgrade. I would say maybe there is reduced quality of life in that we will be forced to self-cast Sniper's Mark (as there are no curse on hit ring variants that apply this particular mark) and self-cast our Frostbite curse (both for more damage and our main Arcane Surge trigger), but curses have such a high cast speed that I don't think this is a big deal.

Changelog (9/17/2020)

Guide has been updated a bit for initial 3.12 recommendations and the removal of Glancing Blows setups.

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Skill Tree

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This is the basic level 95 skill tree. See the Path of Building import below for more detailed skill tree options, or the guide sections below for cluster jewel recommendations.

Path of Building Import


This Path of Building import contains all of the leveling skill trees, as well as example level 95 trees without clusters and with some basic clusters. See the gear & gem links sections below for recommended gearing (or the leveling tips section for gem links for the Holy Flame Totem setups while leveling).


This is an example of a higher-end investment build that includes items like Atziri's Reflection for those planning to take the build that far (this was simply my own character from the end of Delirium league with a few relevant tweaks for 3.12).



A good Rare helm is your target here. Treat this slot as a defensive piece; you'll want life, mana, and resistances mostly. This is also one of the most ideal places to pick up your main Dexterity bonus.

For your helm enchant, pick up the Freezing Pulse +30% Projectile Speed if you can. Freezing Pulse drops off in damage and freeze chance the further it travels, so the faster you can make the projectile go, the more damage it will do at any given point in its travel path.

If you're looking to invest a bit more into your helmet, getting a Hunter influenced helm will allow you to add some flat elemental damage to spells prefixes to the pool, where Frigid fossils will also help you specifically hit the cold damage to spells prefix. You also have a chance of hitting Shocking Conflux in the suffix pool, but your Frigid and Pristine fossil weightings will make this pretty unlikely to show up. You can also consider a Shaper helm for potential flat cold to spells and/or "nearby enemies take increased Elemental damage" aura, or Warlord helm (which has a fair amount of nice affixes like increased elemental damage or critical strike multiplier, but nothing that will be weighted via Frigid fossils). Redeemer now has the previously Fossil-exclusive "nearby enemies have -9% Cold Resistance" modifier which is another good choice as well.

It's worth noting that all of the previously Fossil-exclusive aura effects (-9% Cold Resistance to Nearby Enemies, Nearby Enemies take 6% Increased Elemental Damage, etc) now require item level 85 bases to even have a chance to roll. Be sure to check what item level your helmet is before you consider using something like a Conqueror Exalted Orb to add influence. Comparatively, the other good Hunter and Warlord mods such as flat damage to spells, increased elemental damage or global critical strike multiplier only require item level 75, so there are still good options to look for with lower item level bases.

Overall there are a lot of good influence options in this slot. Personally I would recommend focusing on the helm enchant first; if you can get an enchanted helmet that already has influence, you can simply roll that helm into something desirable. Otherwise wait until you have more currency to spend and use a conqueror's Exalted Orb to slam influence onto the item before you start Fossil-crafting anything in particular.


Body Armour

This build utilizes the Soul Mantle unique chest piece for two reasons: one it gives us another +1 to maximum totems, and two because we are going to actually make use of the fact that this chest piece applies Curses to us every time a totem dies (which also counts if you summon new totems beyond your maximum, as the oldest totems are destroyed). When we combine this chest piece with two Kikazaru rings and the Sanctum of Thought passive tree notable, we have a full 100% reduced effect of curses on us, meaning we no longer suffer the effects of any Curses applied to us whatsoever (even though they will still apply and appear on our character visually). We'll then turn these Curses into damage buffs via the Self-Flagellation unique Jewel, which grants +20% increased damage for every Curse effect on you. This chest piece is mandatory for this build guide to function properly as written.



Gloves are one of our most flexible armor slots with a lot of interesting options you can consider.

For the baseline affixes, you're generally going to just be looking for things like Dexterity, Life, Mana, and / or good resist totals. On top of that, there are a lot of influence options that can get you some great damage bonuses:

Incursion armor has the Puhuarte suffix, which is a hybrid that grants both T1 cold resistance and up to 35-50% increased damage with hits against chilled enemies, which works with our Freezing Pulse totem strikes. Especially in 3.9, the availability of these type of gloves is pretty high, because Metamorphs fairly frequently have the "drops Incursion armor" reward, which is resulting in a lot of these gloves winding up in the trade pool (or something you can at least target for yourself in SSF).

Hunter influence can add the "chance to Unnerve enemies for 4 seconds on hit" prefix, which is a very powerful debuff that causes enemies to take 10% more spell damage; since this is a debuff, it is multiplied after your final damage is calculated, so assuming no other debuffs in play this is a 10% more damage multiplier essentially. Unfortunately there isn't much else in the Hunter pool that is good for this build and the minimum ilvl required is quite high, so it can be pretty hard to get an ideal set of gloves with this suffix alone. Alteration orb searching for this prefix into Regal -> multimod is probably the best way to isolate this one.

Warlord influence has the "Culling Strike" suffix at ilvl 73, which means any enemy that you hit that has less than 10% health dies instantly - including boss targets. A very good affix to have against fights like Sirus where you want to end the last phase as quickly as possible. The only fight that I know of where Culling Strike doesn't work is against Uber Elder (either boss in this encounter). Against anything else, it is up to a 10% damage increase since it functionally removes the last 10% of an enemy's potential health bar. There are some other decent affixes in this pool on gloves (such as increased spell damage in prefix, or chance to avoid stun in suffix) which make these a better crafting target than Hunter in my opinion. Like Hunter, Alteration orb spam -> multimod is worth considering in my opinion to isolate Culling Strike and craft some very strong gloves.

Shaper influence still remains one of the better glove options for the "socketed gems are supported by Faster Casting" hybrid prefix at ilvl 84, which always comes with a global increased cast speed bonus (and you can slot your self-cast curse here to gain the socketed gems effect, increasing its mana cost for Arcane Surge). You can also get the "socketed gems are supported by Slower Projectiles" prefix (ilvl 83) which comes with an increased projectile damage roll. Shaper influence items are noticeably more rare in 3.9 however, and you don't have the option to Hunter / Warlord Exalted Orb slam a good base that you want to craft into.



Rare boots are my preference here as well; like the helmet slot I treat this mainly as a defensive piece, so life, resists and mana are the focus on top of getting as much movement speed as possible.

For the boot enchant, the best option here is "Damage Penetrates 10% of enemy resistances if you have not killed recently". Since our totems do killing instead of us, we have this effect up permanently. The "120% increased Critical Strike Chance if you haven't crit recently" isn't terrible in a pinch, but we do self-cast Frost Bomb fairly frequently which - even though it will deal no damage due to Ancestral Bond - will still roll its critical strike chance and may disable this bonus sometimes, especially in boss fights.

As far as influence options, it is worth considering a Redeemer or Warlord Exalted Orb slam depending on what you have open on boots. Redeemer has a few good options such as "increased effect of non-damaging ailments" in suffix, which will greatly improve the effect of your chill & freeze (especially powerful if you are running the Cold Conduction medium cluster notable as it improves the effect of your Shock as well), as well as having some good defensive suffixes in case you don't hit that one. Warlord also has a set of less impactful but safe suffixes such as "chance to avoid stun" or "chance to avoid fire/cold/lightning damage", "regenerate 1% life per second", or "additional % physical damage reduction". Hunter could be considered if you are running something like Storm Brand to apply curses, which would allow you to use "you have Tailwind if you have dealt a critical strike recently" more easily, but everything else is a pretty big whiff in Hunter's pool.


Main Hand Weapon

A Rare Sceptre or Wand is generally what you're after here. You're looking for standard "caster" stats - +1 to cold spell skill gems, spell damage, cold damage, global critical strike multiplier, cast speed, cold (or other flat) damage to spells, non-chaos / cold damage as extra chaos, critical strike chance to spells or projectile speed (roughly in that order of priority).

Incursion Temple mods are strong here, in particular the Topotante's or Tacati's prefixes which grant 70-79% increased Spell or Cold damage and come with either flat cold to spells (Topotante's) or non-chaos as extra chaos (Tacati's) in a single prefix. These are great prefixes to build a strong wand around and ones you should be keeping a sharp eye out for (whether in the trade pool or in SSF).

Unfortunately, influence options aren't super exciting for this slot. I would say the most compelling options here are "Hatred has X increased aura effect" or "Spells have X chance to deal double damage" suffixes in the Redeemer pool, or "Chance to Unnerve enemies for 4 seconds on hit" in Hunter. The latter is going to be extremely hard to acquire as the rest of the Hunter influence pool is a total minefield for us, so even considering a Hunter's Exalted Orb on an open suffix would be an enormous gamble unlikely to pay off. I'd be more inclined to find a strong Incursion base with other good T1-T3 rolls that has an open suffix and slamming a Redeemer orb, as you have about a 1/3 chance of hitting one of the desirable suffixes. More realistically, I'd say ignoring influence altogether is probably the better option and just crafting on an Incursion base will be your best bet overall.


Off-Hand Weapon

A Rare Shaper shield is one of the better options here (that we know of so far) for the "+1 to number of maximum summoned totems" affix. This only requires an item level of 70 or higher to appear on Shaper shields, but as of 3.9 with the Shaper and Elder no longer being part of the core Atlas mechanics, this may be significantly harder to acquire than before. If you can choose, I recommend crafting on something like a Fossilised Spirit Shield base for the highest possible Spell Damage implicit bonus. Since patch 3.8 this slot can also roll +1 to all cold spell skill gems like 1-handed weapons, so that would generally be one of the highest priority affixes after +1 to maximum totems. Otherwise, look for either defensive stats where you're currently lacking (life, mana, resists) or general offensive caster stats like cast speed, spell damage, or spell critical strike chance bonuses.

Another good option is to just skip the shield altogether and dual wield a second Rare wand or sceptre with similar stats to your main hand weapon. This generally means you have slightly less access to defensive affixes like life or mana, 1-handed weapons can still roll resists, and your per-totem DPS will be noticeably higher than your average Shaper shield. This is generally close to a wash in terms of total single target DPS since the shield route will give you an entire extra totem to work with, and sticking with 4 stronger totems tends to have a positive impact on your general map clear speed (as you will generally never be setting all your totems down in any one given spot while progressing forward through a map). It'll just generally leave you with slightly less effective health to work with, and possibly trickier resists to balance.



As mentioned in the Body Armour section, this build makes use of two Kikazaru rings to give us 80% reduced effect of Curses on us, with the final 20% coming from the passive skill tree. These rings are required to prevent the Curses that Soul Mantle will be applying to you from actually applying their negative effects. Thankfully, these rings are common and relatively cheap, so they shouldn't be hard to acquire even early into a league.

As expected, Catalysts aren't particularly useful on these since the only thing you can really do is increase either the lightning resist (which you probably won't need more of anyway) or the life / mana recovery affixes (which is incredibly costly relative to what you get out of them). Better to save your Catalysts for other pieces.



A good Rare is my general recommendation here, especially if you are running two unique rings as your resists will be harder to cap. Offensively the most important affix you can get in this slot is global critical strike multiplier as it rolls higher in this slot than any other jewelry slot we have. Life should also be on this slot; beyond that pick up whatever resists you need patched and then grab more offensive caster affixes (critical strike chance, cast speed, spell & cold damage). You should also look for these stats on Jade, Citrine or Turquoise amulet bases, as that will give you some additional Dexterity towards your skill gem requirements.

Influence wise, I think your best bet is probably Redeemer to have a chance at the "+1 to all Cold spell skill gems" prefix, which even at the high end of gear is worth around the same as a 38-40% critical strike multiplier roll. Crafting one of these will be tricky; your best bet is probably Alteration orb spam looking for +1 cold spells and a T1 critical multiplier roll, then trying to Regal into another good T1 roll like life (or search trade for such a base you can multimod). While Hunter also has the "+1 to Intelligence skill gems" - meaning a dual-influence Redeemer / Hunter amulet with both prefixes is a possibility - you are dealing with incredible opportunity cost issues in trying to actually get both prefixes alongside something like T1 critical multiplier, which increases the cost of crafting such an item exponentially. Realistically, it's not really something worth considering unless currency is really no object to you, and you couldn't invest the currency in another slot for a more deterministic upgrade (which is pretty unlikely considering what such an amulet is likely to cost).

The Pandemonius is the other main late-game option that provides a large amount of damage through the cold penetration against chilled enemies and bonus cold damage, and applies blind to enemies when they are chilled for additional safety against attacks. It is also a Jade amulet base so you still get to pick up some Dexterity in this slot for your skill gem requirements. Blind is a bit of a tough thing to evaluate defensively, and much of its value is relative to the content you are most concerned about; for general mapping, Blind is pretty good, especially if you are running maps that make enemies immune to elemental ailments and cannot Freeze them (so you are dealing with vastly more incoming attacks). However, if your main target is endgame boss fights like Uber Elder or Sirus, Blind doesn't serve much purpose here as the actual threats in this encounter simply aren't affected (Sirus in particular has no attacks whatsoever).

You should consider Pandemonius sort of the high-end benchmark; when you're considering the cost of an amulet upgrade, this is the baseline you're weighing against in terms of cost. It can be extremely difficult to justify a rare amulet once you can afford a Pandemonius.



Another Rare slot, but there are a couple good options here: either a Rare Stygian Vise for the ability to socket a strong Abyss Jewel, or a Leather Belt which rolls an additional implicit maximum life bonus.

Treat this like a standard defensive belt slot - as much life as you can get, resists, and flask bonuses. Increased damage from Veiled crafting is another good option for this slot. Fossil crafting with Frigid Fossils will allow you to roll a potential additional 30% Cold Damage affix. As of patch 3.8, we can also roll mana on belts, which gives you some flexibility if you need help balancing your life-to-mana ratio for Mind Over Matter.

In terms of Influence, Redeemer is a strong option - "Increased Cold Damage" and "Damage with Hits against Chilled Enemies" prefixes (both ilvl 80) are able to be weighted with Frigid Fossils, and still has some good suffix options such as "Increased Mana Recovery Rate" (ilvl 75, which increases our total global mana regeneration) or "Remove Chill & Freeze when you use a Flask" (ilvl 75) which can free up a flask suffix for something like Ignite removal or a Catarina veiled flask craft like "increased critical strike chance during flask effect".

Hunter also has a couple good suffixes such as "Increased Cast Speed during any Flask effect" (ilvl 68) or "Increased Movement Speed during any Flask effect" (ilvl 81) which you can consider weighting with a Shuddering Fossil (speed modifiers). You could even consider Pristine + Shuddering fossils here to also weight life and the "Increased Maximum Life %" (ilvl 84)

Catalyst-wise, this is a good target for defensive gains - either the life & mana rolls or resists, depending which you need more of at the time.


First Snow is the first unique jewel in this build, and one of your first priorities in gearing is to unlock your first two jewel slots to equip these as soon as you possibly can. Each of these threshold jewels will add 2 projectiles to Freezing Pulse, which massively improves the amount of enemies the skill can hit per cast. You also get minor damage bonuses in the form of +10% projectile damage and another +25% damage for 4 seconds after you shatter any enemy. These jewels are usually quite cheap, so it is worth trying to track down corrupted versions that have bonus implicits such as You Cannot Be Maimed / Hindered.

Self-Flagellation is the second unique jewel you'll want to have access to, which you can make use of once you have equipped your Soul Mantle body armour and Kikazaru rings. This jewel grants up to +20% increased damage for every Curse effect on you, which thanks to Soul Mantle you will have plenty of pretty much at all times. This is an enormous source of damage for this build, but don't worry about picking this up until you have your Soul Mantle setup equipped.

Clear Mind is the last jewel for this build and simply grants a nice chunk of mana regeneration and spell damage, so long as you are not reserving any of your mana pool. Since we are avoiding mana reservations to make use of our 40% Mind over Matter damage split, this jewel fits nicely into the build. This jewel should come as a last priority after the above three jewels are already in your build, and generally the first jewel to remove if you need to make room for a higher budget option such as Watcher's Eye.

Cluster Jewels

Large Cluster Jewels

Increased Cold Damage - When using any kind of large jewel, the first priority is having a base that only has 8 passive points. The more points you have to waste in minor nodes drops the value of your large cluster significantly. Beyond that, you are mainly looking for a jewel that has the following affixes:

* Blanketed Snow
* Vengeful Commander OR Prismatic Heart / Disorienting Display
* (Any third notable)
* 2 Jewel Sockets

Blanketed Snow is the most important notable for this cluster and is desired both before and after you have an Atziri's Reflection. Vengeful Commander is the next best notable if you are using an Atziri's Reflection and are utilizing Hatred aura; if you are still using Kikazaru rings, take either Prismatic Heart or Disorienting Display here. 2 jewel sockets for jumping out to two different medium clusters from here is optimal.

Finally, you want any other notable occupying the final affix slot. The reason the notable doesn't really matter here is that we won't actually be allocating this notable, but having a notable in the third slot will shape the large cluster such that you will be able to get Blanketed Snow + Vengeful Commander as well as both jewel sockets for only 5 skill points.

When crafting a jewel like this yourself, you want to grab a solid Cold Damage large jewel base (ilvl 68 or higher, 8 passive points), Alteration Orb until you hit either Blanketed Snow or Vengeful Commander (and any secondary affix), then Regal Orb to try and hit whichever notable you did not hit first (Blanketed Snow or Vengeful Commander). Once you have a jewel with those three mods, you can either Exalted Orb slam or T3 Leo bench from Betrayal (Research safehouse) to try and get a third notable. Note that since 3.11, these clusters are much harder to roll, so be prepared to spend a fair amount of currency if you try crafting these large clusters yourself!

If you are still in the Kikazaru version of the build, you may not want to invest a ton of currency into a Large cluster until you can afford one with Blanketed Snow and at least one other notable. This will prevent you from having to invest too many skill points into the cluster to get the most value out of it.

Medium Cluster Jewels

We have a lot of good options in medium clusters. Like large clusters, we want to use as few skill points as possible here, but in this case we can utilize either 4 or 5 point medium clusters (since you can still get 2 notables + 1 jewel socket for 4 skill points on a 5 point medium cluster by pathing to the jewel socket via whichever side does not have the extra minor node).

As far as which medium clusters to use, I think it varies a bit on what your priorities are. In my opinion, there are two clusters that stand out:

Increased Effect of Non-Damaging Ailments - These clusters can roll the notable Cold Conduction, which applies a 15% Shock effect to any enemy that is Chilled by your hits. This does work with your totem hits, and the effect of the Shock can be further amplified by increased effect of non-damaging ailments (which conveniently this cluster jewel offers). I think the best option to pair this with is Astonishing Affliction, which will grant you 20% increased damage, 20% increased effect of non-damaging ailments (improving both all your chills & freezes and the shock effect of Cold Conduction), and 20% increased duration of non-damaging ailments.

Increased Effect of your Curses - These clusters have two extremely powerful notables in Master of Fear and Wish for Death, significantly improving the power of your curses. Master of Fear applies Unnerve to any cursed enemies, causing them to take 10% increased spell damage; since Unnerve is a debuff, this is far more powerful than just "10% increased damage" and is effectively a 10% more multiplier. Wish for Death will grant you and your totems Culling Strike against any cursed enemies, which is great for clipping high health boss targets like Sirus and effectively reducing the health of enemy targets by 10%. Note that these two effects (Culling Strike and Unnerve) are accessible via other means, such as Hunter influenced gloves (Unnerve on Hit chance) or Warlord influenced gloves (Culling Strike) - if you gain access to either effect outside of your clusters, you should replace this medium cluster with one of the damage options listed below. Unfortunately since 3.11, this cluster is also somewhat difficult to roll yourself compared to the Cold Conduction medium, so don't try going for this cluster until you have a Cold Conduction one already available.

Aside from the above two, you can also consider these high-value medium clusters:

Increased Projectile Damage - One of these clusters with the notables Streamlined and Repeater will give you a solid damage boost while also picking up an additional 30% projectile speed. A great cluster for those purely focused on mapping efficiency.

Increased Totem Damage - The Sleepless Sentries notable in this medium will grant you 100% uptime of Onslaught, which will allow you to replace your Silver flask with any other flask of your choosing. I'd recommend pairing this notable with Ancestral Echo for the 10% cast speed, or Ancestral Inspiration if you prefer to automate your Arcane Surge buff (though this is much harder to roll with Sleepless Sentries and will come at some overall DPS loss due to being a rank 1 Arcane Surge).

Increased Critical Strike Chance - A very high raw damage cluster if you can get one with any combination of Precise Commander, Precise Retaliation or Pressure Points.

Small Cluster Jewels

Unlike the Large or Medium cluster jewels, I generally prefer 3 point jewels over 2 point jewels if we're investing points into a cluster jewel chain.

Increased Maximum Life - In general, I think we will always want a jewel with increased life minor nodes. Holistic Health, Fettle and Blessed are all great choices for notables here; I personally prefer Blessed as Chaos Resistance is still highly valuable in the current state of the game.

These small cluster jewels are also a good place to stack up extra effects in the minor nodes. In particular, you can get up to +12-14 Dexterity per minor node on max level cluster jewels, which can make your gear & gem requirements much easier to meet. Otherwise, look for bonuses to resistances (especially Chaos Resistance) or flat life or mana on the minor nodes.

Gem Links

Main Gem Setups

Primary damage links in order of priority:

Freezing Pulse -> Hypothermia -> Controlled Destruction -> Cold Penetration -> Added Cold Damage -> Increased Critical Strikes

Note that if you are not yet using a Soul Mantle you'll need to equip a Spell Totem gem to convert Freezing Pulse into a Totem; the support gems above are listed in order of priority so drop gems as needed to fit your current available links.

Offensive support 4-link:

Frostbite -> Arcane Surge -> Increased Duration -> Spell Cascade

This should be your priority for your first spare 4-link. Remember to level your Arcane Surge gem such that the mana cost of Frostbite is equal or higher than the trigger for Arcane Surge to grant its buff effect. You want Frostbite to grant Arcane Surge every single time it is cast; maximum uptime is worth more than slightly increasing Arcane Surge's buff effect. Spell Cascade allows you to both increase Frostbite's cost (to give you more room for a higher level Arcane Surge) and allows you to blanket a much larger area without increasing Frostbite's cast time.

Remember that your rank of Arcane Surge should be adjusted to account for the mana cost of your Frostbite curse! I personally keep Arcane Surge low enough that a single Frostbite cast will trigger it, but keeping it within two casts of Frostbite is also reasonable.

Offensive support 4-link:

Frost Bomb -> Spell Totem -> Multiple Totems -> Second Wind

This 4-link setup gives us access to Cold Exposure, an additional -25% Cold Resistance penalty that stacks on enemies on top of any other sources of penetration we are using. By linking it to Spell Totem and Multiple Totems, this turns Frost Bomb into a totem that has +2 to maximum number of totems, allowing us to drop an additional 2 totems alongside our Freezing Pulse totems. In turn this grants us stronger effects of our Ritual of Awakening ascendancy bonus, which scales with the number of active totems. Since the totems will have a cooldown inherited by Frost Bomb, adding Second Wind allows us to store 2 charges of the totem, ensuring we can still drop 2 of these totems with one button press (though they will have a brief recharge time before you can drop more). Remember that you want to refresh your Freezing Pulse totems before you attempt to refresh any active Frost Bomb totems, lest you wind up destroying any of your active Freezing Pulse totems (which must still obey their 4 active totem limit). This is generally not an issue since the Frost Bomb totems have a brief cooldown and don't need to be replaced that frequently, but you can play around with this in your hideout so you can see it for yourself.

Utility support 4-link:

Steelskin -> Cast When Damage Taken -> Increased Duration -> (Your Choice)

I've actually started running Steelskin over Immortal call as of late; even though we do generate Endurance Charges in this build, we have a low base amount of physical mitigation, and do not rebuild our Endurance Charges that consistently after Immortal Call consumes them, which can leave us a bit vulnerable to physical damage once Immortal Call wears off if we are not fully out of danger. Steelskin doesn't consume our Endurance Charges when it triggers, so we get to keep the additional physical mitigation at all times. The downside of Steelskin is that it requires a much higher rank of skill gem to really be useful later, so you'll want to level up Steelskin and Cast When Damage Taken to relatively high levels. I personally run a level 17 Cast When Damage Taken and a level 19 Steelskin, which allows Steelskin to absorb up to around 2k damage during its buff effect. Remember that if you want to increase Steelskin to rank 20, your Cast When Damage Taken must be leveled all the way to 20 as well for it to work.

The final link here is yours to decide; Vaal Righteous Fire would be my recommendation as it is a big damage increase when available. Just make sure whatever you slot here is high enough rank that it is not triggered autoamatically by Cast When Damage Taken unless you want it to be. You can also simply break this 4-link into two 2-links on this gear slot, so that your Vaal skill is only linked to Increased Duration; it isn't important for your Steelskin to be linked to Increased Duration as well, and this will prevent your Cast When Damage Taken from triggering anything but Steelskin if the gem levels are misaligned.

Damage support 3-link:

Cold Snap -> Cast When Damage Taken -> Bonechill

I run this 3-link setup in my weapon so that when enemies strike me, it will drop a Cold Snap chilling area under them that increases the cold damage they take thanks to Bonechill support. Enemies that die while in the chilling area will also generate Frenzy charges for us occasionally, which is a nice bonus during map clearing. Keep Cast When Damage Taken at level 1 in this setup (which will allow you up to a level 7 Cold Snap) since we don't care how much damage Cold Snap itself does, so we want this to trigger as often as possible.

Note that using Vaal Cold Snap will also grant you a Vaal version that you can self-cast, which grants you Frenzy charges every second enemies are standing in the chilling ground. Useful for some additional Frenzy charge generation against certain bosses, but requires souls to charge, which isn't possible in some encounters (such as Sirus).

Movement support 3-link:

Flame Dash OR Dash -> Second Wind -> Sniper's Mark

Your main movement skill link. Personally after testing these in 3.10 I prefer Dash to Flame Dash, but this will come down to personal preference. Early game, you may have a easier time using Flame Dash since you are likely to have fairly low access to Dexterity bonuses for higher levels of Dash. The Portal gem is just a luxury, and can be replaced with whatever you prefer if you don't mind picking up Portal Scrolls (Phase Run, Lightning Golem, Lighting Warp, etc).

This is also a good place to fit your Sniper's Mark curse in for bosses. You can also choose to slot it into your Frostbite 4-link setup in place of Spell Cascade, which will allow it to benefit from Increased Duration at the cost of losing Spell Cascade for Frostbite (which will lower Frostbite's mana cost for Arcane Surge purposes). If you choose to do that, you can use the third gem socket here for whatever you prefer!

Awakened Gem Priority

Primary damage links:

Awakened Controlled Destruction, Awakened Added Cold Damage and Awakened Cold Penetration are the three Awakened gem variants we can currently utilize in this build.

In terms of opportunity cost, I'd say your first priority is Awakened Controlled Destruction, because the 10% increased cast speed gain over regular Controlled Destruction comes via the quality bonus, so you can access that boost immediately instead of having to level the gem up to rank 5 to see the benefits. Awakened Added Cold Damage would come in second; even though it provides a larger increase over Added Cold Damage, it doesn't really gain the large jump in damage until rank 5, which takes a massive amount of experience to reach and is a significant time investment. Awakened Cold Penetration would come in last and is a pretty meager increase compared to regular Cold Penetration, though is likely to be the cheapest of the three as well.

Alternate Quality Gems

Here are my recommendations for the alternate quality gems available in Heist, broken down by their respective link setups. Note that most of these are pretty minor upgrades and none of them are necessary at all.

Freezing Pulse: Default
Hypothermia: Any
Increased Critical Strikes: Default or Anomalous
Added Cold Damage: Awakened or Anomalous
Cold Penetration: Awakened
Controlled Destruction: Awakened or Divergent

Frost Bomb: Divergent
Spell Totem: Default
Multiple Totem: Default
Second Wind: Default

Cold Snap: Anomalous
Bonechill: Divergent
Cast When Damage Taken: Anomalous

Frostbite: Default
Spell Cascade: Default
Increased Duration: Default
Arcane Surge: Anomalous or Divergent

Flame Dash: Default or Anomalous
Second Wind: Default or Anomalous
Sniper's Mark: Default

Cast When Damage Taken: Anomalous
Steelskin: Anomalous

Vaal Righteous Fire: Divergent
Increased Duration: Default

Hatred: Anomalous
Zealotry: Anomalous or Divergent


Pursuit of Faith -> Ritual of Awakening -> Conviction of Power -> Divine Guidance

Not much choice here for a totem build. Luckily all four of these nodes are very strong and make Hierophant the standard bearer for totem builds.

I highly recommend that your first 4 points go towards Ritual of Awakening - it is both an immense power boost and enormous quality-of-life change for the totem playstyle, and the most important Ascendancy notable we have access to. Unlocking it should be your top priority. Conviction of Power and Divine Guidance can be taken in whichever order you prefer, with Divine Guidance being a more defensive notable and Conviction of Power being a more balanced split between offense and defense. If you are uncertain, just stick to the order listed above.


Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Staunching - Your first flask slot should always be a life flask to help heal back from any big hits you might take. The ideal suffix here is Staunching so that you have the ability to remove dangerous bleed effects (such as the heavy bleeds put on you by Labyrinth spike traps) on demand. I personally recommend a Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Staunching, which will reduce the overall amount healed but grant some instant healing to help counter spike damage. Some folks prefer Seething prefix for purely instant healing at an even slightly lower value. Use whatever you're comfortable with here so long as it has the Staunching suffix for the bleed removal.

Wise Oak Bismuth Flask - This unique flask will grant us up to 15% Cold Penetration so long as our Cold Resistance is the highest of our three elemental resists. It will also grant some additional damage mitigation against whatever elemental damage type we have the lowest resist of. While quite difficult to do, if you can get all three of your Fire, Cold, and Lightning resists to the exact same number, you will get both of the flask's effect in all three elements (since all three resists will technically be both your lowest and highest elemental resists). Worth doing as a very endgame point of min-maxing, but for the most part you should be concerned only with ensuring your Cold Resistance is highest so that you get the Cold Penetration effect from this flask.

Chemist's Diamond Flask of Heat - Our most vital damage flask, as making your critical strike chance "Lucky" means it rolls twice to attempt to score a critical strike with every hit. This is also a good place for your Heat suffix to allow you a way to escape from being Frozen; you don't want to open any magic or rare strongboxes if you don't have a Heat flask handy, or they can be guaranteed death if they Freeze you upon opening. Chemist's prefix here gives us 2 uses from full charges with 10 charges left over, meaning you will get a 3rd use almost immediately.

Chemist's Silver Flask of Grounding - Another good damage flask that also grants movement speed. We take Grounding here since we don't need Curse removal on flasks with our build setup, and Shock can be dangerous in some situations so its nice to have access to Shock immunity. Chemist's affix will grant us 2 uses from full charges.

Chemist's Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline - This isn't the fastest build around, so a Quicksilver flask is great for improving your mapping speed and general quality of life. Adrenaline affix here gives us even more movement speed than a regular Quicksilver, and Chemist's ensures we get 3 full uses at full charges, with a few charges to spare.

Last edited by Wallach on Oct 22, 2020, 3:28:41 AM
Last bumped on Dec 1, 2020, 8:41:28 AM
Amulet Anointment

Flash Freeze - It doesn't grant as much raw damage as some of the other choices on the tree, but you still get 24% Increased Cold Damage, while also picking 20% Increased Projectile Speed, 10% Chance to Freeze, 10% Increased Effect of Chill. Projectile speed is a particularly good stat for us, both increasing effective range and relative damage. Even though it isn't the highest damage choice on paper, I think this is my personal pick currently for an offensive notable. It's also a much more reasonable anointment cost compared to most of our other good choices in the tree (particularly strong defensive notables like Soul of Steel or Constitution), so it's hard to recommend anything else in terms of opportunity cost until you're ready to upgrade to Whispers of Doom.

Whispers of Doom - With the changes to curses and the new Sniper's Mark, it's become much more desirable to acquire this +1 to maximum curses so that we can apply Sniper's Mark and Frostbite to the same target. Until you have an amulet good enough to justify the cost of this anointment, you can refresh your Arcane Surge buff with Frostbite and then immediately re-apply Sniper's Mark as it is going to be a more powerful curse even at lower ranks of Sniper's Mark (and will get you used to applying both of these curses to the boss when you do upgrade to Whispers of Doom).


(Major) Soul of the Brine King - We don't get any stun immunity in this build, so Brine King helps prevent us from getting totally stunlocked in bad situations. The reduced Chill effect is also good for fights like Uber Elder where your Freeze flask can run out leaving you more vulnerable to Chill.

(Minor) Soul of Ryslatha - Honestly the Minor doesn't make too much of a difference in this build. With patch 3.11, Shakari no longer offers poison immunity once upgraded, but does still offer some protection by reducing poison duration by 50% and preventing you from suffering more than 5 stacks of poison. Ryslatha will improve your ability to heal via your life flask, which is especially potent if you are in the high budget setup since you will always be considered at low life from the Coward's Legacy belt. I would only really avoid using Yugul or Tukohama, as reflected damage is not relevant to this build, and you will almost never be stationary to gain the benefits from Tukohama.


Help Alira (5 Mana Regenerated per second, +20% to Global Critical Strike Multiplier, +15% to all Elemental Resistances)

Especially as a league starter, helping Alira is simply too beneficial to this build to take over 2 passive skill points. The resists and mana regeneration are super useful at the start of the game and remain good bonuses all the way through Uber Elder, while critical strike multiplier is weak early but the strongest offensive stat available to us at endgame. At the high end of things you can only get slightly more damage out of 2 passive skill points; the sacrifice of resistances and mana regeneration generally isn't worth it in my opinion. As of patch 3.11 this bandit choice actually got slightly stronger as it has become harder to gain Critical Strike Multiplier via skill points.

Leveling Tips

Note: As of patch 3.11, I've updated this section to reflect my general recommendation for leveling a spell totem-focused build, which is essentially to level with a Holy Flame Totem setup until you acquire the core unique items (Soul Mantle and two Kikazaru rings) that make switching into a spell totem link more desirable. This plan should easily get you through all story acts and even into early mapping if you still haven't acquired enough early currency to switch by then, and won't require much effort to make the switch into your new setup.

Act 1

After killing Hillock and entering Lioneye's Watch, take Purifying Flame as your first gem reward. This will be our basic damage spell for a while, until we access Wave of Conviction in Act 2. You'll also unlock Freezing Pulse at this point, and while we won't be using it to level, it's not a bad idea to buy at least one and level it in a wand in your weapon swap alternate weapon set.

You will also encounter your first Labyrinth trial in this act, within the Lower Prison. I'd recommend completing Labyrinth trials as you progress through the story rather than going back for them, as they are all very easy, and later trials will contain useful crafting recipes.

Other important gems you want to pick up from quests in this act are:

Mercy Mission (Killing Hailrake): Arcane Surge Support, Infused Channeling Support

Breaking Some Eggs (Opening Submerged Passage): Holy Flame Totem, Frostblink, Steelskin, Dash

The Caged Brute (Upon Entering Prison): Added Fire Damage Support, Combustion Support

The Caged Brute (After Killing Brutus): Flame Dash, Clarity

Frostblink, Flame Dash and Clarity don't need to be linked to anything, so just fit them in wherever you can in your gear. Your damage spells however will want as many gem links as you can find for them (you will find up to 3-link items in this Act):

Purifying Flame ideal links: Arcane Surge Support, Added Fire Damage Support

Holy Flame Totem ideal links: Combustion Support, Infused Channeling Support

Early on, you can craft a wand that has flat damage to spells by vendoring any magic (blue) wand, a single Alteration Orb, and any elemental resistance ring (e.g. Ruby Ring, Sapphire Ring, or Topaz Ring). The rarity of the ring will determine the tier of damage to spells that is crafted onto the resulting wand, though it will increase the level requirement of the wand as well (levels 8, 14 and 20 depending on ring rarity), so make sure to check what wand the vendor is returning to you and make sure you can actually equip it. You can also craft any type of resistance ring if you can't find one by vendoring a white Iron Ring alongside any color of skill gem to create a matching color resistance ring (e.g. Iron Ring + Green Gem will create a Topaz Ring). These weapons can be a big boost to your damage while leveling, so keep an eye out for these components!

You will also encounter your first Labyrinth trial in this act, within the Lower Prison. I'd recommend completing Labyrinth trials as you progress through the story rather than going back for them, as they are all very easy, and later trials will contain useful crafting recipes.

In terms of the passive tree, your primary goal is to head towards the Divine Fury damage notable, picking up all of the notables shown in the passive skill tree such as Light of Divinity and Retribution along the way.

If this character isn't your league starter and you have some currency to splash on leveling gear, here are some uniques that can give you an early game boost:

Tabula Rasa body armour for immediate access to a 6-link
Goldrim helm for a large chunk of elemental resists to get you through the early game
Wanderlust boots for early game movement speed and chill / freeze immunity
Lifesprig wands or Axiom Perpetuum sceptres for damage

Skill point quests in Act 1 that should be completed:

The Marooned Mariner
The Dweller of the Deep
The Way Forward

Act 2

Two more Labyrinth trials are found in Act 2 - one in the Chamber of Sins Level 2, and one in the Crypt Level 1.

Important gems you want to pick up from quests in this act are:

Intruders in Black (After Killing Fidelitas): Herald of Ash, Wave of Conviction

Sharp and Cruel (After Killing The Weaver): Controlled Destruction Support, Elemental Focus Support

Once you get access to Wave of Conviction, drop Purifying Flame and slot Wave of Conviction instead. Herald of Ash does not need to be linked to anything, so just fit it in anywhere you can (though ensure it isn't connected to a spare support gem that might increase its mana reservation). You'll also want to shuffle your ideal links a bit with the new supports available:

Wave of Conviction ideal links: Combustion Support, Arcane Surge Support, Added Fire Damage Support OR Controlled Destruction Support

Holy Flame Totem ideal links: Elemental Focus Support, Infused Channeling Support, Added Fire Damage Support OR Controlled Destruction Support

You usually won't have acccess to 4-links in Act 2, so level your remaining supports in other gear pieces until you can add them to the desired links. Prioritize giving Wave of Conviction your first 4-link if you get lucky enough to find one late in the act.

I highly recommend helping Alira during this act instead of killing all bandits for 2 passive skill points, especially if you are using this build as a league starter. The resists and mana regeneration are very powerful when your gear is at its worst, and the critical strike multiplier is very strong so the Alira choice remains competitive with 2 skill points even at endgame, even just in the context of raw damage.

In terms of the passive tree progrsession, I'd suggest grabbing Divine Fury first, then head up to Purity of Flesh for some additional life & chaos resistance.

Skill point quests in Act 2 that should be completed:

None (unless choosing to kill all bandits instead of helping Alira)

Act 3

Here in Act 3 you'll start finding more 4-link items, including gear pieces from the vendor Hargan in town. Each time you return to town (so long as you gained at least 1 level since the last time you checked the vendor), vendor inventories will refresh, so get in the habit of checking for 4-link armor pieces in town until you have 4-links for Wave of Conviction and Holy Flame Totem.

Three Labyrinth trials are located in Act 3, and you'll want to complete them all so that you can access the Labyrinth for the first time near the end of the Act. The first trial is found in the Crematorium, the second within the Catacombs Level 1 (near the Marketplace waypoint), and the third in the northern corner of the Imperial Gardens. Make sure to check for crafting recipes within each of these trials so you don't have to come back for them.

Once all 6 trials are complete, you can enter the Aspirant's Plaza from within the town of Sarn. The first Labyrinth is level 33, so you may want to wait until you're near that level before you tackle it (generally I either do it right after killing either Piety or Dominus). For your first two Hierophant Ascendancy points you'll want to take Pursuit of Faith so you can pick up Ritual of Awakening after the Cruel Labyrinth.

Important gems you may want to pick up from quests in this act are:

Lost in Love (After Returning Tolman's Bracelet): Flammability,
A Fixture of Fate (Helping Siosa in the Library): Second Wind Support, Hypothermia Support, Cold Penetration Support

Flammability can be slotted without support links, as you really will only cast this on bosses and tough rares for the time being. The Library is an optional area, but it is the earliest opportunity to access the Second Wind support, while also give you access to a massive selection of other gems you can purchase in case you forget a gem and don't remember where it is purchased. If you don't mind waiting on Second Wind, you can skip this quest as you'll get a similar gem vendor further ahead in the Act 6 town. You won't need the Hypothermia or Cold Penetration gems until you switch to Freezing Pulse, but doing the Library quest allows you to buy leveled versions of these gems (including Second Wind) from Clarissa, making it easier to come back and buy them when you're ready to do so later. You can also buy them now and level them in your weapon swap set if you prefer.

Wave of Conviction ideal links: Combustion Support, Arcane Surge Support, Added Fire Damage Support OR Controlled Destruction Support

Holy Flame Totem ideal links: Elemental Focus Support, Infused Channeling Support, Added Fire Damage Support OR Controlled Destruction Support

For your passive tree, after completing the Purity of Flesh wheel your main goal is to grab Avatar of Fire to convert all of your damage to Fire (which will ensure Wave of Conviction always applies Fire Exposure, and will scale your resistance debuffs such as Flammability or Combustion to better effect). After that, pick up Quick Recovery near the Mind Over Matter keystone for more life and life/mana regeneration. You won't need Mind Over Matter just yet, however.

Skill point quests in Act 3 that should be completed:

Victario's Secrets
Piety's Pets

Act 4

No Labyrinth trials are located in Act 4, and only a few more important gems remain to unlock from the story quests:

The Eternal Nightmare (Opening Entrance to Belly of the Beast): Multiple Totems Support, Cast When Damage Taken Support

Once you blast open the Belly of the Beast, you'll have access to Multiple Totems which marks the point where you should consider taking Ancestral Bond and fully embrace the totem way of life. To do this, you'll need to shuffle your gem links around once more:

Wave of Conviction ideal links: Spell Totem Support, Multiple Totems Support, Combustion Support

Holy Flame Totem ideal links: Elemental Focus Support, Infused Channeling Support, Added Fire Damage Support OR Controlled Destruction Support

Flammability ideal links: Arcane Surge Support, Increased Duration Support Spell Cascade Support

Cast When Damage Taken link: Steelskin

You'll note that a couple of the gems listed above (Spell Cascade and Increased Duration) weren't mentioned before as they are not needed until you make this swap into Wave of Conviction totems. Since you'll be moving your Arcane Surge support to Flammability however, you'll want these supports as you can fit them to increase Flammability's mana cost and grant longer Arcane Surge duration. They've all already been unlocked by quests done up to this point, however; Spell Cascade is purchased in Act 1 from Nessa, and Act 3 from Clarissa. Don't stress too much if you can't fit Increased Duration or Spell Cascade onto your Flammability yet due to not having spare links; focus mainly on your Wave of Conviction and Holy Flame Totem links, and add gems to Flammability as you can fit them in. At this point you should have access to all of the gems you'll need for the rest of the game.

The reason we make this adjustment now is the Multiple Totem Support gem - this gem not only allows you to drop 2 totems at once (which we'll get the ability to do innately from our Ascendancy later), but also grants the linked skill (and ONLY the linked skill) +2 to maximum number of totems. What this means is that even after you've dropped up to 3 Holy Flame Totems down (+1 from your Pursuit of Faith Ascendancy node, and +1 from Ancestral Bond), you can still drop 2 more Wave of Conviction totems on top of that for a total of 5 totems. Just remember that only your Wave of Conviction totems can break your totem limit like this; if you drop 2 pairs of Wave of Conviction totems, your Holy Flame Totems will start being destroyed to make room. In practice, this just means that you should drop your Holy Flame Totems first, then drop a single pair of Wave of Conviction totems on the boss (as most targets weaker than that won't need them). So long as you refresh your Holy Flame Totems first, you'll always have room to drop 2 more Wave of Conviction totems. You can play around with it in your hideout to see what I mean if this description is confusing to you, but it will become second nature very quickly.

One other thing to keep in mind that Cast When Damage Taken has a limit in terms of what level of linked gems it can trigger based on its rank; for example at rank 1, Cast When Damage Taken can only trigger gems with a level requirement of 38 or lower. Steelskin is a low level gem at rank 1, which means its level requirement increases faster per rank than Cast When Damage Taken does. A good target for now will be to raise your Cast When Damage Taken to rank 6 (capable of triggering gems up to level requirement 48), and your Steelskin up to rank 13 (which has a level requirement of 48). Just remember that when Steelskin wants to level up, its level requirement will also go up, and you'll want to double check that your Cast When Damage Taken is high enough level to continue to support it. I generally don't level either gem beyond rank 6 / rank 13 until I am done with the campaign and into maps, so that it doesn't take too much incoming damage to trigger Cast When Damage Taken (as your life pool will generally not be that great in your weak leveling gear). One thing you can do is just leave Steelskin on your hotbar, and if you ever see that you are able to cast Steelskin manually, you know that you've leveled Steelskin up too far for your Cast When Damage Taken support to trigger automatically.

In the passive tree your main targets are getting the aforementioned Ancestral Bond keystone to give us +1 to our maximum number of totems, then head towards the Cruel Preparation life notable.

Skill point quests in Act 4 that should be completed:

An Indomitable Spirit

Act 5

Now that we have all of our main gem links sorted (the rest of the campaign can easily be completed on 4-link setups), you can just focus on quests, gear upgrades, and your skill tree progression. No Labyrinth trials are found in Act 5.

For reference, these are the gem links you are shooting for when evaluating gear pieces:

Wave of Conviction ideal links: Spell Totem Support, Multiple Totems Support, Combustion Support

Holy Flame Totem ideal links: Elemental Focus Support, Infused Channeling Support, Added Fire Damage Support OR Controlled Destruction Support

Flammability ideal links: Arcane Surge Support, Increased Duration Support Spell Cascade Support

Cast When Damage Taken link: Steelskin

Your next passive tree steps here will be picking up Cruel Preparation, then heading over through the mana line to Prodigal Perfection as we start to ramp up our mana reserves.

Skill point quests in Act 5 that should be completed:

In Service to Science
Kitava's Torments

Act 6

Once you kill Kitava at the end of Act 5, you are inflicted with a permanent 30% penalty to all of your resistances. This means your first priority in Act 6 is to do what you can to offset this penalty and get yourself back to 75% elemental resistances. Purity of Flesh that we took earlier grants us 20% chaos resistance which is more than enough for that damage type (as it balanced around the assumption you will have little to no chaos resistance on your gear). If you've been picking up crafting recipes along the way during story quests, you can try to craft additional resistances onto any rare gear pieces you have to help get your elemental resistances back to 75%. If you have to choose, I'd prioritize Fire and Cold resistance first as you'll encounter those damage types in Tukohama's areas (as well as Abberath), while Lightning resistance is more necessary a bit later when you face Shavronne in her tower.

Act 6 is also an opportunity to pick up any gems you didn't or couldn't fit in your gear prior to this; Lilly Roth will sell all available gems to you after you complete her initial quest to clear the Twilight Strand of undead. As your gem links expand you can always come back to her to purchase gems you skipped earlier in the game. If you skipped the Library quest in Act 3, this is also the first time you will be able to purchase Added Cold Damage Support and Increased Critical Strikes Support, which are gems you'll use in your Freezing Pulse links after you switch. If you have the sockets for it, consider grabbing these two and tossing them into your weapon swap set to start leveling them in preparation. If you have a friend playing a Shadow, Witch, Ranger or Scion, you can instead ask them to buy the leveled versions of these gems from the Act 1-3 vendors for you when the time comes.

As before, these are the links you're mainly concerned about:

Wave of Conviction ideal links: Spell Totem Support, Multiple Totems Support, Combustion Support

Holy Flame Totem ideal links: Elemental Focus Support, Infused Channeling Support, Added Fire Damage Support OR Controlled Destruction Support

Flammability ideal links: Arcane Surge Support, Increased Duration Support Spell Cascade Support

Cast When Damage Taken link: Steelskin

In terms of your passive skill tree, first pick up Mystic Bulwark, then down towards Arcanist's Dominion, and finally over to Heart and Soul. Mainly we're focused on continuing to ramp up our mana reserves in preparation of taking Mind Over Matter in the next Act.

Skill point quests in Act 6 that should be completed:

The Father of War
The Puppet Mistress
The Cloven One

Act 7

The Labyrinth trials within Act 7 are located in the Crypt Level 1 and the Chamber of Sins Level 2, both of which also contain crafting recipes. Assuming you'vec completed all the trials up to now, you'll have the opportunity to hit the Cruel version of the Labyrinth for 2 more Ascendancy points. Once you complete it, you'll want to take Ritual of Awakening for a huge boost in power for your totems. From this point on the rest of the story should feel pretty easy.

As far as the passive tree is concerned, pick up Deep Wisdom and Arcane Will. From here, go back and pick up the Arcane Capacitor line - this should give you enough mana bonuses that you should be comfortable grabbing Mind Over Matter. You should wind up picking up Mind Over Matter right about level 53 (assuming you've done all the skill point quests up to this point), after which you should feel pretty safe to take on the Cruel Labyrinth.

NOTE: By this point you'll be high enough level to equip a Soul Mantle and a pair of Kikazaru rings if you have access to them. If you are in trade league and already have access to these unique items and want to make the switch into Freezing Pulse totems, see the "Switching to Freezing Pulse Totems" section of the guide, just below the "Leveling Tips" section you're reading right now.

Otherwise, you can continue to just use the Holy Flame Totem setup until you're ready to make the switch. You can easily take this setup all the way into maps as it plenty strong on its own, so there is no pressure to do so until you're ready. This leveling tips section will assume you are continuing on with the Holy Flame Totem setup in terms of passive tree guidance.

Skill point quests in Act 7 that should be completed:

The Master of a Million Faces
Kishara's Star
Queen of Despair

Act 8

Worth pointing out that you can start finding 5-link items at vendors around this level, so you should continue to glance at the vendor when you are in town to see if they happen to be selling a 5-link Armor / Energy Shield chest piece. A pure Energy Shield chest piece can also work, though might be a little harder to get proper socket colors. This is fairly rare and unnecessary, but is definitely a nice boost if you happen to get lucky.

The Labyrinth trial in Act 8 is located within the Bath House (generally in the NW or NE corner); make sure you complete it and grab the crafting recipe within the trial before moving on.

Passive tree progression here will be hitting Nimbleness and then start making your way towards Trickery near the Shadow starting area.

Skill point quests in Act 8 that should be completed:

Reflection of Terror
Love is Dead
The Gemling Legion

Act 9

Make sure to hit the Labyrinth trial in Act 9, which is located in The Tunnel (between the Foothills and the Quarry). As with most Labyrinth trials, there is a crafting recipe to snag within the trial near the exit.

In the passive tree, after you've picked up Trickery, head down into Blood Siphon and then further down to pick up Coordination.

Skill point quests in Act 9 that should be completed:

Queen of the Sands
The Ruler of Highgate

Act 10

Your last goals in the passive tree as you close out this act should just be to grab Shaman's Dominion and Annihilation to start investing into your spell critical chance bonuses. Alternatively, you could go back and pick up the 2 point jewel sockets we've skipped up to now if you know you are about to make the swap into Freezing Pulse totems, as you'll need at least 2 sockets for your threshold jewels.

You'll also find the final Merciless Labyrinth trial in Act 10 within the Bone Pits. I'd recommend trying to complete this before you fight Kitava and finish the campaign; you will get 2 skill points from killing Kitava, but you will also be inflicted with another permanent 30% resistance penalty on top of the one you received in Act 5. It'll likely be easier to defeat Merciless Izaro without that resistance penalty than it will with 2 more skill points, as there are a fair amount of possible elemental damage sources when facing Izaro depending on which version of Labyrinth is active that day. Once you do complete Merciless Labyrinth and receive 2 more Ascendancy points, they should go into Conviction of Power for easy generation of both Power and Endurance charges, as well as a bit more damage and mitigation for generating them.

Once Kitava is dead, grab your 2 skill points from Lani, head northwest in Oriath to grab the crafting recipe you always forget at league start, then talk to Kirac and follow his quest to unlock your map device and head into the endgame!

Skill point quests in Act 10 that should be completed:

Vilenta's Vengeance
An End to Hunger

High Budget Gearing Options

Once you've accumulated fat stacks of currency with this build, you can turn around and invest back into your character to really kick things up to the next level.

The first thing you'll need is the Atziri's Reflection unique shield:

This Prophecy-upgraded version of Atziri's Mirror is extremely rare and pretty costly, though not nearly as expensive as it has been in past leagues (in which this item was nearly Mirror of Kalandra rarity). If you can afford one of these however, it opens up a lot of new scaling options for us, as it has the affix "Unaffected by Curses" which eliminates our need for the Kikazaru rings or the Sanctum of Thought passive tree notable. It does however cost us the +1 to maximum totems our Shaper shield normally provides, so we need to use these options to get that damage back - which we can do and them some.

First off, you'll want to swap one of your rings over to an Essence Worm and slot the Hatred aura gem into it. This will give us up to 19% more Cold damage without reserving any of our mana.

Your other ring slot should probably be used on a Rare ring with some Dexterity and any other defensive stats you might need. Once you're at the point where you don't need either ring to still cover all your resists and have decent eHP, you can consider adding a second Essence Worm with the Zealotry aura socketed for even more spell damage and additional options for your Watcher's Eye:

We can also get a lot more damage out of our belt slot via the Coward's Legacy unique belt:

This belt increases the effect of curses on you by 50%, which is why it isn't an option when using Kikazaru rings (since our 100% reduced effect of curses would get pushed back to 50% with this belt equipped). It also applies a permanent level 20 Vulnerability curse to you so long as it is equipped, but this is no problem with Atziri's Reflection equipped (if anything it is a good thing). The real reason we want this belt is that so long as you are affected by that Vulnerability curse (which is 100% of the time since we are not using any Curse Immunity effects that might temporarily remove it) you are considered at low life, which means we can take the Pain Attunement keystone which grants 30% more spell damage whenever you are at low life. Essentially this results in us gaining a permanent 30% more spell damage boost while wearing this belt!

You can still go even further, however - since you are now using Hatred this opens up the opportunity to utilize the Watcher's Eye unique jewel:

If you can only afford a single-affix Watcher's Eye to start, the added flat cold damage while affected by Hatred will generally be the best option since the buff to 200% damage effectiveness for Freezing Pulse, with cold damage penetration being not too far behind. As always, you can import your character into Path of Building and double check which single affix provides the best DPS increase in your current gear. If you're geared enough to be wearing two Essence Worms and have access to Zealotry as well, you can also look for other good affixes like increased cast speed while affected by Zealotry, giving you more options when buying this expensive jewel. Note that which specific Watcher's Eye affixes are "best in slot" is going to vary based on what your specific gear set offers - if you've switched to a +1 corrupted Soul Mantle and replaced your Increased Critical Strikes gem with Empower level 4 for example, your effective critical strike rate will be lower, increasing the value of the increased critical strike chance Hatred affix on Watcher's Eye. If you're ever unsure, importing your character into Path of Building and trying out the different Watcher's Eye combinations on your exact character is always the safest way to go before making a big purchase!

Since we no longer need the Sanctum of Thought notable to deal with curses, you can freely remove those 4 skill points and use them to pick up Pain Attunement and the jewel socket for the Watcher's Eye without needing any additional skill points or re-routing. I recommend taking the 3-point elemental damage jewel socket between the Templar and Witch areas near the top of the skill tree, just to the right of the Avatar of Fire keystone.

Finally, one of the most expensive but largest DPS upgrades you will be able to manage at this point in gearing is a corrupted 6L Soul Mantle that has the +1 to Socketed Gems or +2 to Socketed Projectile Gems implicits. +1 to Socketed Gems comes out a bit ahead between the two, as it increases the rank of not just Freezing Pulse but the socketed supports as well, allowing you to change Increased Critical Strikes out for Empower (Level 4) to still get +2 to Freezing Pulse on top of the +1 to the other support gems. A double-corrupted Soul Mantle would be the dream, having both +2 projectile gems and +1 all socketed gems.

If you're having issues with meeting Dexterity requirements for your high budget options, you can also consider adding the Brutal Restraint timeless jewel (replacing your Clear Mind):

This jewel when socketed in the northern-most jewel socket (just to the left of Prodigal Perfection) will grant large amounts of Dexterity by adding +2-4 Dexterity to every minor node in radius. In addition, random bonuses will be added to every allocated notable within its' radius, which can add up to be even more damage than the Clear Mind it is replacing, or grant you defensive bonuses like maximum life or movement speed. These bonuses allocated to notables are random however, which means you may need to spend a significant amount of Divine Orbs to reroll the random notable bonuses until you find one good enough to replace your Clear Mind. Note that you do not care what "name" is associated with the jewel; any Brutal Restraint will serve our purposes because we are not using the jewel to transform a keystone.

You can also switch your life flask from Bubbling / Seething to Panicked, since the Coward's Legacy belt leaves us considered "low life" at all times:

Switching to Freezing Pulse Totems

So you've managed to get your hands on a Soul Mantle and a pair of Kikazarus, and you have at least one First Snow jewel you picked up from Act 5. While it's temping to just equip everything immediately, there's a few things you should make sure you have covered:

Check your resistances! Giving up both rings for Kikazarus means you will gain a lot of Lightning Resistance and lose whatever resists you had on your previous rings. You don't want to be walking around with 25% Fire Resistance and 125% Lightning Resistance. This may mean you need to try and craft some Fire and Cold Resistance onto other rare slots, use some Essences on new pieces to try and get ones with different resistances, etc.

Adjust your passive skill tree! You'll want to respec out of Divine Fury, Avatar of Fire, and Fire Walker (which can be switched over to Frost Walker). The 4 points from the Divine Fury line and Avatar of Fire should be used to pick up the 2 jewel sockets for your First Snow threshold jewels. You'll also need to free up 4 more points to pick up Sanctum of Thought to ensure that you reach 100% reduced effect of curses on you. If you skipped the respec point quests, you may want to go back and do a few of them rather than spend Orbs of Regret.

Check your attributes! The Freezing Pulse totem setup requires significantly more Dexterity due to using a number of green gems. You may need to try and fit an extra Dexterity affix onto one or two of your gear pieces, or consider using an extra skill point to allocate the Agility notable (just above Mind Over Matter) for an additional +30 Dexterity. Using a Jade, Citrine, Turqoise or Onyx amulet base makes this easier as they have implicit Dexterity bonuses (Jade being the highest, Onyx lowest).

Dump Herald of Ash! You can't make any use of Herald of Ash with Freezing Pulse, so there's no reason to waste mana reserving it anymore. You may also want to dump Clarity depending on how much mana you have in your new gear setup, though this isn't totally necessary unless you've found a Clear Mind jewel and need to have zero mana reservations.

Adjust your other gem links! Aside from the main Freezing Pulse link in your Soul Mantle replacing Holy Flame Totem, you'll want to dump your entire Wave of Conviction setup for the Frost Bomb setup in the Gem Links section, and your Flammability curse needs to be exchanged for a Frostbite curse. If you don't have all the support gems you need for your Freezing Pulse setup prepared, you can go back to previous acts and purchase them - buying them from the Act 1-3 vendors will allow you to buy gems much closer to your character level than the level 1 gems you can buy in Act 6 (or in the Library from Siosa). Unfortunately Templar does not unlock Added Cold Damage or Increased Critical Strikes naturally, so unless you can get a friend playing a Shadow / Witch / Ranger / Scion to buy leveled versions for you, you'll have to take the level 1 versions instead:

Act 1: Freezing Pulse
Act 3: Hypothermia, Cold Penetration
Act 6 (or Act 3 Library): Added Cold Damage, Increased Critical Strikes

You should have a leveled Controlled Destruction from your Holy Flame Totem / Wave of Conviction setup, so that one shouldn't need to be acquired (though if you lost it somehow, you can buy a leveled one in Act 2).

If you're having a hard time meeting any of the above requirements, consider holding off on making the switch for a bit longer while you work on solving those issues. The Holy Flame Totem setup will be plenty strong enough to carry you through the story and into maps until you are fully prepared.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to stop by my Twitch stream when I'm online if you have any questions about either build, or just want to chat:

Last edited by Wallach on Oct 22, 2020, 1:44:55 AM
Also reserved, just in case.
Cool stuff :-)

Been replaying this in standard to farm Shaper (no Celestial Hideout yet :'(), the feel and damage are both awesome.
Iam waiting for your 3.9 Update. It will definitely my league starter build.

Do you will stream on 13?
Last edited by Jaccob on Dec 5, 2019, 10:29:51 AM
Could i also use a Atziris Reflection instead of the rare shield?

And really fun build!
I m planning this to be my SSF build,
However with lack of 2 jewels and soul mantle (2 rings aswell) im going to do :
- play with brands, including ascendancy then switch it to FP totems when i got build enabler items. (passive tree is quite similar)
- try it with FP totems from the scratch and see how it going.

whats optimal in your opinion?
Wallach wrote:

Thanks for reading! If you want to check out my other Hierophant totem build for Holy Flame Totem, you can find that build thread here:

Thx for your totem builds, going to start league with one of them.
If you play both maybe you can advice which one is more strong and preferred as league starter? Thx!
short question, do i cast frostbite by my self or will it be triggered anyhow?
Jaccob wrote:
Iam waiting for your 3.9 Update. It will definitely my league starter build.

Do you will stream on 13?

Yeah, I'll definitely be streaming on league start.

Shepherd_ArK wrote:
Could i also use a Atziris Reflection instead of the rare shield?

And really fun build!

Definitely, check the high-budget options section of the guide for into on the Reflection setup.

Dyvz wrote:
I m planning this to be my SSF build,
However with lack of 2 jewels and soul mantle (2 rings aswell) im going to do :
- play with brands, including ascendancy then switch it to FP totems when i got build enabler items. (passive tree is quite similar)
- try it with FP totems from the scratch and see how it going.

whats optimal in your opinion?

For SSF I can't see it being optimal to start directly into Freezing Pulse totems. If you want a totem start for SSF I suspect something like Holy Flame Totem is more suited for that, until you get a pair of Kikazaru rings and a Soul Mantle at least.

Old_Hroft wrote:
Thx for your totem builds, going to start league with one of them.
If you play both maybe you can advice which one is more strong and preferred as league starter? Thx!

I prefer Freezing Pulse totems to Holy Flame totems, though as mentioned above if I were league starting in SSF I'd probably use Holy Flame Totems to start instead.

Jaccob wrote:
short question, do i cast frostbite by my self or will it be triggered anyhow?

It's just self-cast in this build.

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