[3.12] Archmage Blade Vortex Hierophant | 20k EHP 40m DPS | Depth 2000, #1 Deepest Tank in 3.11

This is an extremely strong build, balancing both very high tankiness with very high DPS. As a result its a very strong deep delver and boss-killer. It also has huge AoE making it a good map clearer (including 100% delirious ones). I delved to depth 2000 with this build, and was ranked #1 among all non-zhp delvers in 3.11

3.12 changes
Spoiler

First impressions: Patch 3.12 has two significant changes for this build.

1. Harvest crafting is gone. Meaning no more perfect Rare items. However since this build derives most of its power from Uniques and not Rares, this change affects this build much less than most other builds. The few rares that we do use will each be somewhat weaker, resulting in slightly lower life, mana and ES totals, and lower crit multi, compared to the high-end version. But the lower budget versions should remain relatively unaffected.

2. Clarity Watcher's Eye mod, Mana as extra ES has been nerfed from a max of 18% to 10%. This results in the build having roughly 1k less ES than before. It may now be worth to skip this mod and pick up one of the offensive Wrath/Precision mods, to go along with the 10% MoM effect from Clarity which remains untouched.


CLIPS

Depth 1970 Aul kill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70PekhwlYSo
Depth 1500 Azurite 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0FHviLeB4E
AL8 Sirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHl3qqD7QrU
Minotaur + Delirium: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0INU2tYlEU

LINKS

My character: FarmersVsArchmages

High-end PoB (lv 100): https://pastebin.com/d38qxNvB --> 20.8k hp, 42.0m dps, estimate 180ex
Midway PoB (lv 90): https://pastebin.com/2iRCyKGr --> 15.4k hp, 14.1m dps, estimate 50ex
Low-end PoB (lv 85): https://pastebin.com/thkS4wX0 --> 11.8k hp, 5.8m dps, estimate 15ex

Absolute starter PoB (lv 69, earliest that this build works): https://pastebin.com/RBvANZ0Y -->
7.1k hp, 1.7m dps, price depends on how far after league start: 6-link Pledge + Indigon + 100 chaos approx

List of high-lvl players currently playing this build, so you can check out any variations that people are trying. Congrats to BAforKM [vanness444] for being rank 1 Hierophant to reach lvl 100 in Heist SC!


CURRENT GEAR
Spoiler


and 7x of these



CONCEPTS - DEFENCE
Spoiler

This is a hybrid build utilizing all 3 of Life, Mana and ES in our hp pool.

We have Mind over Matter with 60% effect.
* 30% effect from MoM from Cloak of Defiance
* 10% effect from Cloak of Defiance
* 10% effect from Hierophant ascendancy
* 10% effect from Clarity Watcher's Eye

We have tons of Energy Shield from converting Life and Mana to ES
* 20% of Mana -> ES from Hierophant ascendancy
* 18% of Mana -> ES from Clarity Watcher's Eye
* 20% of Life -> ES from Corrupted Soul (Timeless jewel keystone)

So in the high-end PoB, our hp pool consists of 5513 life + 8270 mana + 6825 es = 20608 total. Corrupted Soul + MoM guarantees that any (non-chaos) damage is distributed among all three pools, allowing us to leech life, regenerate mana, and leech ES all at the same time.

We have a small chance to generate Endurance Charges while killing mobs from the Hierophant ascendancy, enough to keep us at 3 charges while clearing maps or delving.

We have decent spell block and small attack block chance from Pledge of Hands, and the tree. We have small dodge and spell dodge chance from our boots and pantheon.

Our big HP pool allows us to use a lv 20 CWDT with lv 20 Immortal Call, which lasts 3+ seconds due to our investment in skill duration.

If you prefer running a life flask for emergencies, run a mana flask instead. Since with Indigon, Mana flasks get more than double the value (mana recovery + life recovery + burst life heal).


CONCEPTS - OFFENCE
Spoiler

Our damage comes almost entirely from Archmage Support with the help of Indigon. If you're not familiar with Archmage or Indigon I encourage reading the descriptions for those two carefully. One crucial aspect of Archmage is that the damage it provides updates dynamically depending on your current manacost, rather than what you actually spent the last time you cast the spell.

We have Blade Vortex linked to Unleash (with Thunderous Salvos on tree for +1 seals), and also supported by Greater Spell Echo (GSE) from Pledge of Hands. This means when we cast BV once, we get 7 stacks of blades: 1 stack from the cast, 4 from unleash seals (these take no animation time), and 2 from GSE (these do take normal cast animation time x2). For the purposes of this build, we will not be using the last 2 casts from GSE. To do this, simply left click anywhere to move just after casting BV, this will animation cancel the 2 casts from GSE and prevent us from being self-stunned for about a second. So we get 5 stacks of blades every time we cast BV.

The manacost for one BV cast is 1800 (in the high-end version). So upon casting BV once, this procs Indigon giving us 9 Indigon stacks, which raises our manacost temporarily to 9.4k, just under our total unreserved mana of 9.5k, for the next 4 seconds. This 9.4k manacost makes Archmage give massive amounts of flat added lightning damage to our BV blades. We wait 4 seconds for Indigon's effect to wear off, the manacost drops back to 1800 and we immediately recast BV again. We repeat this process throughout the entire map or boss or delve encounter. Each of our BV stacks last 8.25 secs due to the duration clusters we take on the tree, which just about covers two Indigon cycles of 4 secs each. Since we get 5 BV stacks each cast, we should almost always be at the cap of 10 BV stacks.

So, to achieve maximum damage, we need to recast BV precisely X seconds after the last cast, where 4.00 < X < 4.25 .

Failure case 1: If X < 4.00, this means Indigon's effect from the last cast hasnt worn off. So you end up spending the 9.4k manacost, Indigon gets 47 stacks and your manacost zooms to 44k. This causes Archmage to stop working since it only works when manacost < total unreserved mana. This means you do basically zero damage for the next 4 seconds.

Failure case 2: If X > 4.25, this means our BV stacks from the previous cast will expire before the current Indigon cycle is over. So we will drop to 5 BV stacks instead of 10 for some amount of time, depending on how large X is. At 5 BV stacks we do about 35% of the dmg at 10 stacks. Its not good but its nowhere near as bad as Failure case 1. So always err on the side of recasting BV too late rather than too early.

To achieve this precise timing I highly recommend using Lutbot overlay. You can configure it so that theres a 4sec long colored bar overlaid on your screen whenever you press your BV button. Then you can train yourself to recast BV just after the bar runs out. Play with the configs or the script itself to change the position or thickness of the bar. Example config.

Besides scaling mana for our Archmage - Indigon combo:
* We heavily scale crit chance and crit multiplier, including assassin's mark curse
* Reduce enemy resistances and penetration, including wave of conviction and conductivity curse
* Increase damage taken by enemy: big shocks, unnerve, bottled faith, and cinderswallow urn

The Hierophant ascendancy also provides a total of 125% increased area of effect. With the help of a few more sources of AoE we achieve a large BV radius of 32 units. The in-game BV animation unfortunately doesnt scale beyond a radius of 25 units. So our actual hitbox will be considerably larger than what the BV animation shows.


LEVELLING
Spoiler

The minimum needed items for this build are: 6-linked Pledge of Hands, Indigon, Cloak of Defiance, Atziri's Foible and Essence Worm

League start viability: Pledge and Indigon are not available on day 1 of the league, so this cannot be a day 1 league starter. Indigon and Pledge both fall sharply in price over the first week of the league. So once you obtain enough currency to get these two, 6-link your Pledge, and about 100 chaos extra for the other pieces, you can start levelling this build.

I strongly advise not to attempt this build with a 5-link Pledge. While other builds only lose 30-40% dmg from one missing support, this build loses out in three ways: less dmg from missing support, less dmg due to less manacost, and less dmg due to less Indigon stacks.

The earliest that you can equip all the unique gear pieces is lv 69. So before that you need to level with a different build, and once you hit 69 you can do one big respec of tree and gear. PoB for a very basic lv 69 starter: https://pastebin.com/RBvANZ0Y. The starter is strong enough to carry you into red maps without having to do any gear upgrades.

Before lv 69, theres isn't any one correct way to level a Templar/Hierophant. Any generic caster levelling build is fine, but if you do choose an archmage/MoM build, you will end up saving a ton on Regrets later. Some basic recommendations: selfcast Arc, selfcast Ball Lightning, Storm Brand (all of the above can be combo-ed with Orb of Storms, and can use Archmage), selfcast Purifying Flame, Arc totems, Freezing Pulse totems, Holy Flame totems.


INITIAL MANA COST
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The damage for our build depends very crucially on our pre-Indigon BV mana cost. The way Indigon works, at every multiple of 200 we get a big damage boost due to one more Indigon stack. The ideal endgame breakpoint to hit is 1800 manacost. With 1800 mana spent recently, the math works out so that the post-Indigon manacost rises to 97-99% of your total unreserved mana, which is what we want (remember to divine your Indigon to 60%). We do not ever want to hit the 2000 mana breakpoint since that will very likely put the post-Indigon manacost over our total unreserved mana, and this will cause archmage to stop working.

To hit 1800 manacost, you need roughly 9580 unreserved mana (or 9650 total mana, assuming lv 1 clarity and precision). While you are gearing up you will likely have lower total mana, and will only hit the 1200 or 1400 or 1600 breakpoint instead. This is fine, your damage will be lower but the build still works. But prioritize hitting the next breakpoint if possible.

Make sure to link all your side skills (Flame Dash, Wave of Conviction etc.) to Blood Magic so that they do not interfere with the Indigon balance, apart from the one exception mentioned below (Vortex, with caveats). This also means using Arcane Cloak in this build is an absolute no-go even though we have so much mana.

What if despite your best efforts you are sitting at a pre-Indigon manacost of say 1750? Read below for how to fudge it to 1800 with the help of Vortex.


VORTEX - USES AND CAVEATS
Spoiler

Vortex is a very handy way to Chill, Curse and Cull enemies. Since we can put Vortex on our left click it will be automatically casted on cooldown as you click to move. The Curse and Cull are on hit, and only relevant for bosses and tanky rares in deep delve, since everything else dies too quickly. The chill however is pretty useful, especially for delve nodes where we can cover the entire node in chilled ground thanks to our enormous AoE. Theres two cases to consider here.

1. Vortex linked to Blood Magic. This is the simplest option. Assuming Wave of Conviction, Flame Dash etc. are also linked to Blood Magic, this ensures that no other side skills interfere with the Indigon balance. In this case you should level your vortex to 20 (or 21) for lower cooldown.

2. Vortex not linked to Blood Magic. This not only frees up a gem link, but allows us to pad our 'mana spent recently' to the next higher Indigon breakpoint that you could not reach with BV alone. But this imposes two restrictions on the maximum mana you can spend on Vortex.

* Total mana spent on Vortex alone (post-Indigon) in any 4 sec period, should be less than 200
* Total mana spent on Vortex (post-Indigon) in any 4 sec period, plus BV manacost (pre-Indigon), should be less than 2000

If you fail either of the two above conditions you'll find that sometimes your post-Indigon BV manacost goes above your total mana, and you do zero damage. Fortunately since Vortex has a built-in cooldown, this is easy to ensure. For most cases a lv 12 Vortex is safe, but may have to be lower if you have high multiplier support gems linked to it. If your post-Indigon Vortex manacost is 67 or higher, keep downlevelling Vortex until it isnt.

Example support gems include: Power charge on crit (for power charge generation against solo bosses, ie. Aul), Awakened Unbound Ailments (more chill effect), Bonechill (even more chill effect), Blind (ok vs Aul but unreliable), Arcane Surge (for an alternate version of the build, frees up a slot in our BV 6-link for Awakened Inc AoE / Conc Effect).



FAQS

FAQ 1 - Stun Avoidance
Spoiler

Like many other hybrid builds, getting stunned is an issue since our raw life total is very mediocre. Having non-zero ES means 50% of stuns are ignored but the rest go through.

Solution 1, cheapest: Use Brine King major pantheon. You'll get stunned occasionally but never stun-locked.

Solution 2: Get the Boot enchant "80% chance to Avoid being Stunned if you've Killed Recently" and the Cinderswallow version with "50% Chance to avoid being Stunned during Flask Effect", giving us stun immunity while clearing but not while bossing.

Solution 3: Get one of the two above mods, and make up the rest by jewel implicits from Harvest: "10% chance to Avoid being Stunned". You'll need either 2 or 5 such jewels to go with boot enchant or cinderswallow respectively.

Solution 4, expensive but best: Get 10 jewels with the implicit "10% chance to Avoid being Stunned". This gives us permanent stun immunity while leaving both Boot enchant and Cinderswallow free for other mods.

3.12 Update: With jewel implicits gone, options 3 and 4 are no longer viable, leaving us with option 2.

FAQ 2 - Ignite
Spoiler

Igniting enemies is an important part of our kit but is very easy to overlook it. The ignite serves two purpose:

1. With Cinderswallow, ignited enemies take 10% increased damage, which is roughly a 7-8% more dps multiplier.
2. With the Cremator notable on a medium cluster jewel, igniting allows us to destroy corpses (primarily to avoid porcupine spikes in maps, and unstable weta cold snap in delve).

Since this is a crit build, all we need to ignite is one source of added flat fire damage. The best sources of this are:

1. Abyss jewel (specifically Hypnotic Eye jewels) with any one of these 3 mods
* Adds # to # Fire Damage to Spells
* Adds # to # Fire Damage to Spells while wielding a Two Handed Weapon
* Gain #% of Physical Damage as Extra Fire Damage if you've dealt a Critical Strike Recently

2. Ring with bench-crafted hybrid damage craft
* Adds # to # Fire Damage, Adds # to # Lightning Damage

3. Elder ring with
* Adds # to # Fire Damage to Spells and Attacks

FAQ 3 - Chaos Resistance
Spoiler

My version of the build has -48% chaos res, but there are several ways to get this up.

If you want to level to 99 or 100 in t16 maps, here are my recommendations:
* Get one or preferably two chaos res suffixes on gear with t1 rolls (easy in 3.11 with harvest crafts).
* Stay on Shakari minor pantheon.
* For Hunter maps, switch to Arakaali major pantheon, and swap Bottled Faith for Atziri's Promise

If you are done levelling, you can get rid of the chaos res suffixes on gear. Even without them its very rare to die to chaos dmg in maps with a good playstyle.

Zombie degen in deep delve is another issue entirely, and its a painful one. Here's some tips:
* With -48 chaos res, switching to Arakaali + Shakari + Atziri's Promise will allow you to do zombies till about 800 depth (move fast and dont linger on the degen).
* If you also have the two chaos res suffixes on your gear still, you can do zombies till about 1400 depth.
* Otherwise just avoid Fungal Caverns biome as far as possible.
* If you must do them, do them very slowly and carefully. As soon as you see a zombie pack up ahead, stop in place, drop a flare, and wait for the zombies to walk to the edge of your BV and die.
* If its a short path (one segment), you can try to not cast BV at all, unmap Vortex from left click, and just Quicksilver + Phase Run to the end node.

FAQ 4 - Pantheons
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Pantheons are variable according to situation and personal preference. Some general ideas:

* If not stun immune, use Brine King + Abberath/Shakari
* If stun immune, for general purposes use Lunaris + Abberath/Shakari
* For boss encounters, use Solaris + whichever minor matches the boss best
* For chaos heavy encounters, use Arakaali + Shakari

Remember, pantheons are meant to be changed frequently depending on the encounter you're about to do.

FAQ 5 - Why Pledge of Hands
Spoiler

As stated above in the Offence section, we animation cancel the 2 casts from Greater Spell Echo since we only need 5 BV stacks instead of 7. So the question arises, why use Pledge of Hands at all?

The answer is that Greater Spell Echo carries with itself a fat 150% mana cost multiplier. And our build double dips on that multiplier by getting both 50% more manacost, and 50% more Indigon stacks, resulting in roughly 1.5x * 1.5x = 2.25x damage (not exactly, but thats the general idea).

Besides that, the other two mods on Pledge are also top tier, comparable to or better than t1 flat mana rolls or t1 spell dmg rolls on rare staves.

The closest alternative to Pledge is a rare Shaper 7-link staff with 'supported by lv 1 Arcane Surge', with high tier flat mana, inc spell dmg, and crit suffixes. Then we replace Arcane Surge in our gems with a different high multiplier support gem. Options: Hypothermia (good dmg multiplier, but only 120% manacost multiplier), Awakened Inc Aoe(140% manacost multiplier, but low dmg multiplier), Conc Effect(high manacost and high dmg multiplier, but loss of AoE sucks for clearing, great against bosses though).

FAQ 6 - Watcher's Eye options
Spoiler

The two overall best (defensive) mods are:
* (6-10)% of Damage taken from Mana before Life while affected by Clarity
* Gain (12-18)% of Maximum Mana as Extra Maximum Energy Shield while affected by Clarity
If you can afford only one of these, go for the 10% MoM effect. Remember to divine these as well as you can since its quite significant.

If the above double mod Eye is too expensive, or you just prefer to forego some EHP for even more DPS, then there are several Wrath and Precision mods that you can combo with one of the above mods. In order of value, these are (best to worst):
* Damage Penetrates (10-15)% Lightning Resistance while affected by Wrath
* +(30-50)% to Critical Strike Multiplier while affected by Precision
* (40-60)% increased Lightning Damage while affected by Wrath
* (70-100)% increased Critical Strike Chance while affected by Wrath

Honorable mention: (1-1.5)% of Lightning Damage is Leeched as Energy Shield while affected by Wrath, if you decide to skip ES leech on both the tree and flask suffix.

3.12 update: The mana as extra ES mod has been nerfed significantly, it now rolls between 6-10%. This mod now gives us only 1k ES (compared to the 2k ES before), and hence one of the offensive mods is now much more appealing. The 10% MoM effect is still extremely strong as before, and remains the first priority.

FAQ 7 - Replica Kaom's Heart viability
Spoiler

Replica Kaom's Heart is very good damage-wise, but unfortunately it loses out in so many other areas compared to Cloak of Defiance, that I personally wouldn't use it.

Replica Kaom's pros:
* +2000 net total mana, so roughly 20% more damage potential, assuming you can balance manacost properly.
* +4-5% more damage from the increased lightning dmg mod
* +800 ES from mana -> ES conversion

Replica Kaom's cons:
* -10% MoM effect. This 10% effect contributes half your life pool to your ehp, and is thus worth between 1800-2800 depending on your life total
* -400 ES from Cloak's implicit stats
* -6 sockets losing out on all the utility from Vortex
* -1 skill point for having to allocate MoM on tree
* 191 strength requirement which is hard to meet
Last edited by RudyBaby on Sep 26, 2020, 9:03:35 PM
Last bumped on Sep 28, 2020, 6:17:03 PM
This is intriguing.

Have you tried these combinations?

Small Thread of Hope where you have large cluster jewel (move cluster jewels to west jewel socket)... this would allow you to get Thunderous Salvos, Whispers of Doom, and Serpent Stance without all the small passives, and then add Elemental Weakness to your curse setup.

Get Assassins Mark on ring after you do the above.

Then anoint ammy with Heart of Thunder (~7% more dmg boost).

Then add Arcane Cloak in place of CWDT/Imm Call, along with Second Wind/Inc Duration, and move Arcane Surge here, too.

Then replace Arcane Surge on your BV setup with Awakened Increased Area of Effect for mapping and Conc Effect for bossing.

You'll probably have to drop Forethought to get your mana costs down, but all of the above would take your 40M DPS up to around 70M DPS for bossing. And even upwards of 85M DPS with VRF on.

Not to mention Arcane Cloak would add another 6000 EHP while still proccing level 21 Arcane Surge.


Just some thoughts for ya. At bare minimum, I would add AC, move AS to AC setup and then do the Conc Effect/Increased AoE gem swap in it's place on BV.

Nice build, though. I may try it.
Arcane Cloak simply doesnt work in this build since its fine-tuned to work with Indigon. We need to spend between 1800 - 1999 mana precisely every 4 seconds. Arcane Cloak breaks that balance, and makes our mana cost go way too high so that archmage stops working and we do zero dmg.

Moving Arcane Surge to a secondary setup (in this case Vortex) is a valid approach. But that leads to us having to use a lower level Arcane Surge. With a lv 12 Arcane Surge on Vortex, Awakened Inc Aoe is roughly -10% dps, and Conc Effect is roughly +20% dps.

I've tried that setup and I prefer the Arcane Surge in main 6link for deep delving. Losing 10% dps or losing 30% AoE are both big penalties. That setup also needs other adjustments since inc aoe and conc effect have 140% multiplier as opposed to arcane surge's 130% which breaks the indigon balance.

I have not tried the small Thread of Hope you suggested. Looking at it now, will update.

Last edited by RudyBaby on Aug 3, 2020, 5:45:45 PM
So I tried the Thread of Hope suggested above. It needs 3 additional points which is hard to find. Ended up dropping a 3-pt cobalt jewel for it. Also needs one extra ring affix spot, and 10 extra resists from somewhere.

This is what I ended up with: https://pastebin.com/ik0xVzmn
DPS: 39.6m, EHP: 20.2k

Both figures lower so not worth it. Its a nice idea though. If anyone can find a way to make this work I wanna hear it.
Thank you for sharing this build! I've not gone to deep delves yet but mapping is a breeze with very little chance of dying even on juiced maps + Metamorph/Legions. I don't think I've died since lv95, I'm 97.5 right now and that's from running t14-16 juiced maps.

The BV cast timing is something that I needed to get used to but is no problem at all after a few (~10-15) maps.

Question about vortex - is that a must on deep delves? I don't like the extra casts so I have cwdt on my 6-link armor instead.

2nded on your findings about Thread of Hope - tried it and at best its the same result as your pob numbers dps/ehc wise and with the -resistances. On the +side, Thread of Hope is cheaper than buying the 2x Crit Multi + Mana/HP cobalt jewels.
Last edited by dlaun on Aug 4, 2020, 7:04:45 AM
Vortex is just a handy way to Curse, Chill and Cull, all in one. It only really matters for stuff that doesnt die instantly: Bosses and tanky rares in deep delve. Its fine to skip it if you don't like it. Did you try putting it on left click for autocast? As long as its either linked to Blood Magic or its lvl 12 or lower, it shouldn't fuck up the Indigon Balance.

1 Advantage: If your BV cost is slightly short of an Indigon breakpoint (say BV costs 1750), Vortex manacost can help pad it up to the 1800 breakpoint.

1 Disadvantage: If you fucked up by recasting BV too early, now you must stand still for the next 4 secs, because left clicking to move will cast Vortex which will extend your fuckup period.

Last edited by RudyBaby on Aug 4, 2020, 7:31:46 AM
Sweet - beats me why I never thought of putting vortex on left click. That definitely gets rid of the extra button to press.

An easy cheat for the cast timings is using the Arcane Surge buff as the timer: only cast BV once buff goes down to 1-2 seconds. I had to disable the flask buffs from showing up under the UI to keep the buff icon in one place.

I don't fully understand the indigon breakpoints but that's just something I'll just have to research.
Last edited by dlaun on Aug 4, 2020, 8:27:28 AM
Any quick recommendations for leveling this?
Interesting mechanics, i like that! This is the first league for me where i' trying to delve deeper than 400 (~890 atm). Except for a few really fucked up combinations like onslaught, inc movement speed and "action speed cannot be lowered than default", my poison BV build is still pretty smooth at that depth.

My question: you're playing Aul mechanically very well in your video. I'm way too stupid for that, i always fail during the Knight-phase, either by destroying the crystals or by getting hit by the Knights. Already leveled a RF Juggernaut only for Aul, still failed. Can your tank take a hit or even two, and how is your regen, especially on Aul?

Also, do you think it's possible or even worth it, to integrate a Headhunter into your build? Or would that weaken the defense too much?

Got 160ex to spend (over 300 if i'd sell my Poison BV-gear) and not really much left this league, so i think about maybe trying your build.
"
Any quick recommendations for leveling this?

You can equip all the unique gear for this at lvl 69, so you basically just need some way to get through the 10 acts. I think I did a scuffed selfcast archmage Arc with unleash, to save on regrets later, since you take all the same life and mana nodes. But you are free to try anything else. I've heard Storm Brand, Purifying Flame or Freeze Pulse totems are decent.
Last edited by RudyBaby on Aug 6, 2020, 7:59:39 PM

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