1.2.0 /// Hardcore Viable, Self Found Dual Wield Melee Guide (Beginner friendly)

1.3.0 /// Update:

So passive tree changes blah blah, I think on the whole the build is probably slightly stronger now endgame, I will need to relevel this in order to give you a step by step guide again of what to take first and what stats you can expect along the way yada yada. I'm currently saving on Torment to 6 link a number of armours including this one

so I can see how it performs with a fairly decent 6L chest. So I may just wait until A4 is released and I have all the gears and then I'll work out how to make videos and record the leveling process in hardcore, how it works in high level maps with a 6L and pretty decent gears, all that jazz.

For now the guide still works the same but you'll need an updated tree, which is here:

Bandit rewards are: OAK, OAK, OAK

With this tree and the gear linked below


Life 5,294
Mana 570
Armour 7,054
Evasion 8,702
Block 30%

Reave Dps 24k
Dual Strike Dps 28k

If you have any questions just post up :)


20/10/13 : thread oepend, still stuff to add but theres enough here to function for now.





life: 344
Dual Strike: 142
Spec Throw: 27.7
Reave 80






life: 2482
Dual Strike: 6176
Spec Throw: 1171
Reave 3436



Last edited by Snorkle_uk on Apr 25, 2015, 2:30:18 PM
Last bumped on Sep 23, 2016, 1:48:27 AM

Welcome to the solo, self found, dual wield hybrid Duelist beginners guide. The aim of this guide is to describe a solid way to get from lvl1 to lvl80+ completely self found using a fairly standard, bread and butter dual wield melee build. If you are looking for a build to kill Uber Atziri or achieve 300,000 tooltip dps this is not the guide for you. We are building a character that can take advantage of a wide range of items in the game and be viable from Act1 Normal through to endgame maps self found without needing god tier RNG.

There is lots of talk about self found atm, and that is why I have chosen this method, it also works as a way to simulate starting on a fresh server day 1 of a new ladder. There is nothing to stop you doing this build and trading, PoE is a game largely based around an active trade economy and there's nothing wrong with taking part in it.

First Character?


While I say this is a beginner focused guide, I don't advise this as your first character. I think the best way to first experience the game is to just jump in and have fun. Make a char, I think melee is the best way to learn a game like this, get up close with the mobs and find out what hurts. When you have had some fun and made tons of mistakes with you first improvised character come back and read the guide. A lot of the guide is one giant spoiler, I think it's more fun to charge in blind, you only get that opportunity on the first play through. That's my take on it, but do as you please.

Hardcore Viable?


I leveled this character in Hardcore, if you are new to the game I suggest starting in softcore. There's plenty of things that can kill you in the game, I will try to point some of these out but ultimately you will learn more if you actually get to endgame and experience the full development. This build is completely Hardcore viable though and if you are new to Hardcore or looking for a way to get through the horror without dying then you came to the right place. Hopefully. I did this twice in Beyond and Hardcore from fresh starts and had no problems.

Lets start by looking at where all this is going. We are building a dual wield Duelist using Reave, Dual Strike and Spectral Throw for our offensive skills with a hybrid Armour and Evasion defense setup using a decent amount of block chance. The Duelist is a hybrid Strength + Dexterity class, so it fits right in. The ability of the build to use Armour, Evasion and multiple weapon classes will leave us open to use a lot of loot we find.

I'll go through each aspect of the build in detail here for people who want to understand what is going on and why. There's probably too much info here for a new player to digest and much that an older player already knows. It's maybe best to skim through a lot of the guide, pick out the bits that seem immediately important to get started then you can come back and look up specific aspects in detail if and when you need to.




"Attacks a small area in front of you. Each consecutive Reave that hits an enemy increases the area of effect. The Area is reset after a short period without hitting anything. Only works with Daggers, Claws and One Handed Swords."


This is our main 'area of effect' attack skill. We will be using this to mow down packs of mobs while maintaining a small distance for safety. Reave works with daggers, swords and claws which leaves us lots of gearing opportunities.

The 4 link setup for this skill is:

Reave + Faster Attacks + Multistrike + Melee Phsyical Damage

if you manage to obtain a 5 link use

Reave + Faster Attacks + Multistrike + Melee Phsyical Damage + Added Fire Damage

Dual Strike

"Attacks with both weapons, dealing the damage of both in one strike. Dual wield only. Does not work with wands."


This is our high damage 'single target' skill. Dual Strike packs a crazy punch, use it when you need to deal with a single enemy fast like elite mobs, bosses, exiles etc.

This just sits in a 4 link:

Dual Strike + Faster Attacks + Multistrike + Melee Phsyical Damage

Spectral Throw

"Throws a spectral copy of your melee weapon. It flies out and then returns to you, in a spinning attack that strikes enemies in its path."


Spectral Throw is our ranged ability, it's not used much but when you need it, you really need it. This will let you keep a massive distance from a horrible creature, snipe out problematic totems deep within packs of angry critters, go through doors and tight spaces you have a strong feeling you should not stick your character through. It's damage is always going to be lackluster, without speccing into Projectile Speed on the tree we will have you use a Faster Projectiles gem to get the range we want, relegating it to an effective 3 link damage wise. That's fine, it's a utility skill that will be greatly needed at points and largely unused for the vast majority of the time.

Ideally you want a 4 link with:

Spectral Throw + Faster Projectiles + Physical Projectile Attack Damage + Added Fire Damage

I have full armour gear though and until I can chrom GGGR on my gloves Im using Weapon Elemental Damage instead of Phys Proj, thats fine too.

Leap Slam or Whirling Blades


Use one or the other, not both. These are used purely for movement, getting in and out of trouble. Leapslam is slightly more useful because it can cross gaps, but it only works if you have a sword in the main hand. If you have a claw or dagger use whirling blades. We will be using Warp too for boxes so crossing gaps is still possible.

Link with Faster Attacks. I don't level Blades or Slam, just keep it at level 1 where it costs hardly any mana. You can dismiss a gem without leveling it from the right of your screen by right clicking it.


"Casts an aura that grants evasion to you and your allies."


We use 2 auras, the first one is Grace. This provides virtually all the Evasion for our endgame setup. Evasion is essential, see the mechanics section below for more info on it.

Both Auras go in a 3 link with a Reduced Mana support.


"Casts an aura that increases the cold damage of you and your allies."


Hatred is our second aura. The flavor text isn't the best description. What is is doing is adding around 35% of our total physical damage as extra cold damage on top. As we are a physical attack build thats a huge damage buff.

Cast When Damage Taken


Cast When Damage Taken is a support gem that, unsurprisingly, casts supported spells when you take a set amount of damage. It can only cast skill gems of equal or lower level requirement than itself, this means it is important not to over level the spells or they will stop working.

I advise this setup. Pay attention to the gem levels. Enduring Cry will give us Endurance Charges, these help mitigate physical damage, more on that later. Enfeeble is a curse that will make enemies less effective at doing damage in all manner of ways. Lastly Decoy Totem will help draw attention away from us.

Enduring Cry

"Performs a warcry, adding endurance charges proportional to the number of surrounding enemies. Taunts all nearby enemies to attack the caster."


Along with the automated Enduring Cry in our CODT setup above, we will also be using a manual cast Enduring Cry. This will grant us Endurance Charges and allow us to keep them active. Endurance Charges provide 4% physical damage resistance and 4% elemental resistance per charge. By default you have a maximum of 3 Endurance Charges. Keeping these active is going to be a significant amount of physical damage mitigation and you should make an effort to keep them up when in combat with high physical damage monsters.

No links, you don't have room.

Lightning Warp

"Casts a delayed teleport to a target destination. When the teleport occurs, lightning damage is dealt to the area around both where the player was and where they teleported to."


Another movement skill, very useful for opening Ambush Boxes or crossing gaps if you don't have Leapslam. More about Boxes later.

No room for links. Leave at level 1.

Bandit Quests


Normal Difficulty : Oak : +40 Base Life
Cruel Difficulty : Oak : 18% Physical Damage
Merciless Difficulty : Passive/Oak (optional)

In Merciless you have a choice. If you plan to carry on with a full hybrid setup to lvl90+ then you will eventually want the extra Endurance charge from helping Oak. Imo it is only worth it if you are going that far and also speccing the 5th charge on the tree. If you are taking the Lightning Coil route or plan on just taking the character to the 70-85 zone then take the passive point. I took the point, if I get to the stage where I need it I will use the 20 regret orb recipe to buy back the Endurance Charge.

Important Mechanics

Sustaining Life and Mana

In these sections I will detail various game mechanics, passives, items etc that the build utilities, why we use them and where to get them.

2% Physical Attack Damage Leeched As Mana

This is absolutely essential to the build, theres no 2 ways about it you simply must have 2% mana leech for late game. We will be running 2 auras that reserve 60% of our mana each, using Reduced Mana gem we will be able to run both and have 80-100 free mana. This will be ample to sustain attacking 9 times per second + infinitely with 2% mana leech along with a couple of mana/mana regen passives on the tree: Mana Flows, Primal Spirit and Soul Siphon.

Life and Mana leech can roll on rare Rings, Amulet and Gloves. It's so important that you will have to use a piece with it on even if it's the only stat the item gives. There is a node on the tree called Mind Drinker near the Shadow start, we will be going close to it late in the game to get Blood Drinker. This node gives the required 2% Mana Leech, and if worst comes to worst you will have to spend 3 extra points and spec it. While not common, Mana Leech is not a very rare stat though and you should come across a rare or unique item that has this stat. I will post a list of useful unique items later in the guide.

4% Physical Attack Damage Leeched As Life

Not technically as essential as the Mana Leech, but treat it as such all the same. Leeching back life from attacks is a vital part of staying alive as a melee character, get it, get at least 4% for late game. We will be taking Blood Drinker passive near the Shadow start late in the build, this will provide 2% of it. That leaves another 2% you need to find on gear. Really though you want 6%+, if you have the opportunity to get more on gear then get it, but 4% is fine.

+15 Life Gained For Each Enemy Hit By Your Attacks

Life On Hit works differently from leech. Leech is applied over time and does not stack, its effectively like a burst of increased life regeneration. Life On hit is instant life gain for every monster hit. Early game it is godly for surviving combat, and it is still godly late game when combined with a decent amount of leech.

We will be getting our Life On Hit from using at least 1 claw at all times. More about claws later.


Elemental Resistances


Elemental Damage can be a very serious threat in this game if you do not have your elemental resists capped to 75%. Through Normal and the start of Cruel you can get away with slowly building them up, but Merciless onwards you have to have them capped, there's no two ways about it. Do whatever it takes to cap those resists mid to late game.



Armour is our last line of defense against physical damage. The way armour works, against small to medium hits armour mitigates a decent % of the damage, however against a very large physical hit the armours effectiveness is reduced and a far smaller % of the total damage is mitigated. This has caused a lot of people to dismiss it, "armour sucks" is something you see thrown out there as fact all over the forums.

This is a misconception though, armour is an extremely effective form of defense. There are certain mobs in this game designed to hit extremely hard, enough to scare any player. A smash from Vaal Oversoul boss in act2 is meant to either take most of your life or simply kill you. It is hard to balance extreme boss damage when there is high variance in how much different characters mitigate. These hits are supposed to hurt because you are not supposed to get hit by them frequently, certainly not repeatedly.

99% of creatures you face however do levels of damage where armour gives significant physical damage reduction. I only have 3k armour at lvl82 running maps self found. Ideally you want to have 4-5k minimum for endgame, but 3k is fine for maps up to lvl71 where I have been playing. Late game when you can run Grace aura you want to move towards wearing pure armour gear, certainly on the chest and the hat. A really good chest armour will have maybe 1500+ armour, and a good hat 700+ armour, do your best to get as much as you can.



Evasion provides a % chance to Evade enemy attacks. There is a difference in terminology in this game between 'Attacks' and 'Spells', these are 2 separate things and everywhere you see one of these words in the game remember they are refering to 2 different classes of offensive skills. Spells cannot be evaded. Against attacks however Evasion is amazing. The % chance to Evade is not random, it is an entropic system, so if you have 50% chance to Evade an attack and you get hit, the next attack will be weighted so that you Evade it. This will keep in sync with your Evasion %, if you have a 75% chance to Evade you will be hit by 1 attack and then Evade 3 in a row, then it will repeat.

This will stop you taking as many fast bursts of attack damage. If a really hard hitting monster slams you for half your health, he will be sure to miss the next attack. That guaranteed space between damage is going to give you time to pot, to make a run for it, deliver a killing amount of damage, whatever the case may be. A pure armour build like those taking Iron Reflexes passive will have to escape combat when taking massive damaging hits like that or risk dying to 2 or 3 large attacks in rapid succession. This is one reason why hybrid Armour and Evasion is a very strong combination for this type of build.

Evasion on gear is essential while leveling. When you move into endgame you will run Grace and this will provide all the Evasion you need, but until then a mixture of Evasion, hybrid Ev+Ar or pure Armour gear is needed.

Ondar's Guile Keystone


"Doubles chance to Evade Projectile Attacks."

This keystone is immensely powerful. I have 7,385 evasion from Grace with a lot of Evasion passives. This gives us an estimated 40% chance to evade attacks from an average lvl78 mob. A higher chance against the late 60s, early 70s mobs we will face when we start getting in to endgame. This gives us an 80%+ chance to Evade projectile attacks. With this keystone you can focus solely on foes that are within melee range. Rows of archers, devours, titty shooters etc can be lingering on the edge of the screen and you can largely ignore them while you systematically destroy all the closer targets.

It gives you an extreme level of control over when you are in danger and when you are safe, you can exist on the screen comfortably with a lot of mobs, choosing who to confront and when. Imo it's one of the best nodes on the tree for melee characters.

Block Chance


I have specced 38% chance to block attacks, and will spec another 4% on the way to the Swagger node in the coming levels. Block is a purely random chance to block attacks. It's an effective layer of defense to stack, worth the points in my opinion.

When combined with our Evasion and vastly increased Projectile Evasion a further 38% chance to avoid taking any damage is significant, we then have Armour, Endurance Charges and Resists to dampen anything that gets through. This is our layered defense setup, layers are important in this game. Armour by itself is poor when it comes to keeping you alive, so is Evasion, so is Energy Shield, it's only when you invest in multiple layers of complimenting defenses that you begin to feel safely tanky. Be warned though, every setup has its weaknesses, see the monster section later for details of what to be scared of with this setup.


Dual Wield Passives


In this spec we don't take weapon class specific damage nodes. We take Dual Wield damage, 1 Handed Melee Weapon damage etc. This means we are not tied down to 1 type of weapon, ever. Reave works with Claws, Daggers and Swords, this is out most restrictive skill and it still leaves us open to the best (imo) 3 classes of 1 handed weapon. If you are self found, starting in a fresh ladder, trading or leveling from perviously looted gears in your stash, doesn't matter, this approach will make it easier for you to get your hands on effective weapons. This is one of the main reasons we go Dual Wield, just like leveling hybrid Armour and Evasion it lets us make use of a wider variety of items. It's also got serious damage potential with survivability added by our favorite...



We love claws, daggers and swords, but most of all we love claws, esp low to mid level claws. We will level through this game using a vendor crafting recipe to create our own magic physical weapons as we go, there will be more about this process later in the leveling section. While we are open to 3 classes of melee weapon, when given the opportunity we will always fall back to claws, when crafting weapons while leveling it's always claws.

The reason claws are so crazy is the implicit "Life Gain On Hit" stat they come with. Leech isn't really that effective at lower levels, it's ok, but Life On Hit is king early game. With 2 claws we get double the LoH and they are going to keep you alive from lvl2 to lvl80. The highest level Life On Hit claw is a Gut Ripper, and we will do our best to always have a Gut Ripper as our offhand late game.



Despite claws being godly, I have leveled this build twice from fresh starts and both times ended up with a sword in my main hand at some point during late leveling. They just seem the most easy to find well rolled and they're super effective. While they don't have LoH or Leech as an implicit stat, they do get very fast, and the faster you attack the more LoH does for you.



We can use daggers, but they are the worst of the 3 weapon types for us. Generally not fast enough to apply our claws LoH the way we would like, super hard to find a good roll etc. You really want 1.5aps+, preferably 1.6 to 2 attacks per sec. If you find a godly dagger and it gives you more deeps use it, but in all likelihood you will find yourself being a claw + sword build. Crit is not something we spec in to and does little for us.

My Current Setup

My Gear

This is my current self found gear at lvl82, I'll give a rundown of my stats so you can get an idea what to expect with similar stuff at this stage.


Life 4,513
Mana 696
Armour 3,064
Evasion 7,385

Reave Dps 14,144
Dual Strike Dps 19,536
Spectral Throw Dps 3,244

Last edited by Snorkle_uk on Oct 18, 2014, 4:52:46 AM
Last edited by Snorkle_uk on Oct 17, 2014, 9:30:33 AM

I will do this in 2 sections, first I'll list some general information for leveling, then post a semi step by step run through of the leveling process in the next section after. The most important things to read in this first section are the Gems and the Essential Vendor Crafting.



A list of all the gems you need for the final build can be found in the Skills section in the Endgame Overview above.

Getting those gems is another issues though. We need 2x Melee Physical Damage gems and 1x Reduced Mana. GGG, in their wisdom, have decided that being a melee class Duelist should only get 1 Melee Phys Gem from quests, and it's the same quest that we get offered the only Reduced Mana gem. This is Mercy Mission in Cruel difficulty.

If you have already played a character in the league, you probably have these gems anyway. If you trade, you can buy them. If you don't trade, you can still buy them from masters, but it's risky to count on them having them. You can find them, and investing in Gemcutters Strongboxes (see below) will eventually pay off.

When I leveled this character in Beyond I had nothing, and I wanted the gems there as early in the leveling process as possible, so I did what you often have to in PoE which is mule the gems from another character. I played a Marauder through Normal difficulty and took a Phys gem and a Reduced mana.

You will also need Spectral Throw, a Scion gets this gem at the start. If you also want Clarity for leveling, which I advise, then kill Brutus with her for the gem reward. If you haven't unlocked the Scion yet you can use Lightning Strike until you get to the end of Act3 where you unlock her, then go back and get Spec Throw because LS is a poor replacement. As I said at the start, if you haven't played the game through once already go do it.

Multistrike is a quest reward from the Library quest in Act 3 Merciless, getting a second one is going to be down to RNG, either drops, boxes or from a Master, I have multiple spares in Beyond and Hardcore from leveling these characters so they will pop up somewhere.


General Combat Tactics

Faceroll or Broke

Do not get caught in the habit of attempting to faceroll everything toe to toe in this game, it's a sure way to end up dead. If something looks scary, it's probably scary, deal with it appropriately. Thanks to Ondar's Guile you will have the freedom to move around, drag packs apart, cluster them together, kite to the optimal point of attack etc, use that freedom to control the combat and stay in comfortable positions. This game requires you to actually play it, theres more to fighting than holding down the button till everything is dead.

Keep Moving

Aka manual Evasion op. Thanks to Ondar's keystone Projectile Attacks will be the last thing we are worried about. However projectile spells are still a big deal. Monsters can become projectiles, jumping frogs, charging shield guards, rhoas, all manner of crap will get flung at you.

Virtually every long ranged attack or spell in this game has a wind up period though, and this is important to recognise. A monster will aim at you, then there is a small pause before it lets fly and usually the projectile or charge will take time moving through the air. There is enough time there to simply step aside and let it sail past you.

Don't just stand there and let everything hit you. Keep moving, and almost as importantly, keep changing your angle periodically so you zig zag or curve. You will get used to the charge up time of the mobs to keep a steady pace ahead of any danger, theres time to move, stop and attack, then move again, use Reave or Spec Throws range to maintain a distance if needed. If you kite well you will avoid 80%+ of attacks and spells thrown your way and still put out effective damage.

On The Edge Of Reave

Reave attacks a wedge shaped area in front of you, which increases in size as you hit more mobs. The tactic with Reave is to always stay on the edge of a pack of mobs where they are all being hit by the AoE. Don't get in the middle of packs, your damage and LoH will be less effective. If you can, try and circle packs of mobs, close at first to charge up your Reaves area, then gradually get further out as your circle the pack of mobs and use that area to keep a safe distance. Circling the pack will help herd it into a nice ball of bodies to destroy, and as described above, it's going to avoid the majority of ranged damage/chargning mobs being throw out of pack at you. Move, attack a few times, move, attack, keep working the mobs and stay in control.

When In Doubt, Spec Throw

That's what it's there for, use it. If a situation looks out of control, fall back and throw bananas.

Scary Monsters

You'll find a general theme in here which is high physical damage. Without Iron Reflexes it is hard for us to stack a huge amount of armour, we are hard to hit, but when hit hard it is going to hurt. I will list some of the worst offenders to watch out for here. Granite flask is a must, more on flasks later.

Rhoas, Shield Chargers, Jumpers and Frogslammers

These are horrible foe. All hit with large amounts of physical damage. As explained in tactics, keep moving and you will be ok, stand your ground and you will get hurt. Try and tempt them into making their charge, manually dodge it then engage them at point blank where they don't have space to mount another charge.

Large Monsters

If it's big, it probably hits really hard. Be aware of big mobs like Bears and give them an extra bit of respect.

Large Skeletal Monsters

If it's big and made of bones then you can pretty much take it for granted that it hits like a truck. Expect these things to do significantly more damage than their fleshy counterparts. Bone Stalkers, massive skeleton Bears and Rhoas, they're all bad news. Under no circumstances should you allow yourself to be surrounded by 3 or more large blue skeletal creatures, that's when more hits will start coming in than your Evasion and Block can filter. Large yellow Elites should be tackled with care, try and separate them from other mobs and go in hard with Dual Strike and a Granite Flask.

Physical Spells

Nightmare, we can't Block them, can't Evade them. You can however just dodge the area damage of Evangelists, use the flasks, keep moving. Stay on guard when they are around and you will be fine. Be extra careful with any Exiles using Ethereal Knives or Bear Trap.

Extra Physical Damage Aura

This can get painful, especially when combined with the mobs above. Learn to spot it and take extra care, prioritise taking out that aura Elite asap.

Substantial Extra Physical Damage Aura

This is as it says, the same thing as above but substantially worse. This is a very deadly mod for an Elite to have, when combined with big blue skeles etc this is a job for Spec Throw or extremely considered kiting. If this is combined with physical spell mobs again, big big trouble, if you have to fall back and take your time then do it, stay safe.

Diamond Shrine and Crit Aura

Crits are nasty, a Diamond Shrine grants monsters in it's range guaranteed crits every time, cirt aura will increase the crits of mobs, be aware of both and deal with them, preferably from range, before you get in trouble.

Act Bosses

Act 1 - Merveil


Merveil is the first boss you will encounter. They key to Merveil is Cold Resistance, in normal difficulty you should look out for sapphire rings while progressing, try and stack as much cold as possible for the fight. In Cruel and Merciless I strongly advise capping your Cold Res for this fight.

Phase 1

She goes through 2 phases. First phase is arguably the harder for this build. There is 2 spells she casts which you need to be aware of. The first is an Ice Storm spell that will rain cold on your from above. It does a fair bit of damage, esp at higher levels, but it will also chill you and leave chilled ground. This slows you down and leaves you vulnerable to the real danger. The second spell is a barrage of Ice Spears that she shoots at you. If you get hit by this it can chain freeze you, do an awful amount of damage and it could result in death.

The tactic is to not get hit, obviously. If you can get in close enough then Dual Strike her, if she moves in a way that makes you feel she might be about to unleash one of her spells then circle around her until she starts casting it in the wrong place then resume the assault from the side or behind. She signals before she casts, try and tune into it and learn to predict her. In normal shes not too bad, when you face her later in the game she is not so forgiving of mistakes. If you feel like you are losing control up close and she is spawning tons of minions then move away, keep circling her as much as the room allows and use Spectral Throw to keep applying the deeps.

Phase 2

In the second phase she reverts to the usual Sea Witch behavior. She summons columns of water, avoid them, apart from that you can just attack her with any of your methods, keep mobile and take advantage of any window you have to get a bit of dps on her.

Act 2 - Vaal Oversoul


Vaal is a fairly serious fight, he is easy if you play it right but the chance of death if you fumble are real. The most likely thing it will hit you with is Lightning damage, make sure you have good Lightning Resistance for this fight. The main way to deal with him is to use Spec Throw, if you feel up to it and confident you can spot the windows in it's attacks then you are relatively safe to attack it in melee range. This game is online though, net traffic is not instant, be aware of that, it is impossible for this game to play as seamlessly as an offline game on your hard drive. It randomly cycles through different offensive modes...

Spawning Minions

The first thing it does when it rises from the ground is to spawn a bunch of mobs by firing out blue balls in a semicircle around itself. It will then immediately disappear under ground again. When you have killed most of the mobs it will respawn, usually right under your feet, be ready for it and get far out of melee range asap. When Vaal starts to spawn minions during the fight, it will always go underground right after, this means you have a window there where you can get in melee range and Dual Strike it safe in the knowledge it wont slam you. It's a short window though.

Ice Shards

In this mode he fires out a half ring of ice on the floor, it doesn't really damage you but it will chill and slow you, which leaves you open to his other attacks.

The Lasers

This is one of its more deadly moves, it will shoot laser beans at you with pretty serious accuracy. If he hits with one it will hurt a little, but also shock you. If it hits you with a second while you are shocked the damage can be extreme, be warned. When he goes into laser mode circle him at a distance, try and get in tune with the rhythm of his shots and make sure you are moving in a line while he fires. If you try to turn back on yourself at the moment he fires you will get hit.

Falling Rocks

It gets angry and rocks start falling. These can sometimes do a large random spike of damage, be ready for it and hit those life pots, maybe move around a bit.

The Slam

The infamous. It has a big club arm, and if it raises it that means something in its range is about to get smashed into oblivion. Do not get hit by this attack, ever, under any circumstances. If for some reason you are crazy enough to find yourself in melee range of this boss and it starts the big windup to a slam, be aware, you have very little time to react. It will slam down, and actually hit quite a large area in front of the clubber arm. If you run directly away from it, theres a chance you wont get far enough away. A better method is to move sideways out of the slammer and then circle around to behind the monster. But you will never need to use that tactic because you are never going to be in a position where you can get slammed, right? I hope so, don't say I didn't warn you.

Act 3 - Piety


This boss is pretty faceroll for us, she has 3 forms and as the game progresses through the difficulties she actually gets easier as we stack more and more layers of defense against her. Merciless Piety can drop some potent endgame loot and this is a very safe build to farm her with when you get to that point. You want all 3 elemental resists for this fight, cap everything or beware.

First Form

This is just standard Piety stuff. She is completely lightning based, and while you can just Dual Strike her to bits while she is like this you have to watch out for the little shurgs she makes as she casts spells. Learn to read when she has just cast Lightning Warp, there will be a delay and then she will teleport. When that happens anything in melee range of the start of end point will get a firm hit of lightning damage. Lightnings damage fluctuates wildly, sometimes you take no damage, but there are moments when you can randomly lose 50% of your life to that warp. Just spot the warp, move out of the way or be ready on the potion. The main danger is the Lightning Storm she casts, don't stand in it, if it crits you're in trouble. It's a small area and she signals the attack by shouting, when you hear her shout move, don't have to move far, but where you were standing when she signaled is about to get hit.

Fire Form

This is the easiest to deal with. When she enters a red portal she will turn to a fire melee form, just facetank it with Dual Strike, maybe use a Granite Flask, pop a life pot if she hits through your Evasion/Block, easymode. Leave the red portals up, and if you can encourage her to take one then do it.

Ice Form

This is very dangerous early on. If she does into a blue portal she will spawn an Ice Arrow form. Very dangerous, high cold and phys damage, if you see her even go near a blue portal then take cover behind some pillars.

By the time you get to Merciless Piety and are using Grace with Ondars, have capped resists, block and a decent level of life and armour this form will be a joke. If she is extremely lucky she will get 1 shot of Ice Arrow through your defenses before she runs out of blue juice, and it might take 1500 - 2000 life off tops, if she lands one it's impossible for her to land again and you just pot it back. It's so reliable you just keep Dual Strike facetanking her through this form without thinking twice. But don't take my word for it, always treat this form as extreme danger and hide, when you get to the point where you are chain farming merciless Piety with 7k Evasion then test the water so to speak, keep a distance and see what happens if you let her fire at you a bit, once you know it's safe then the entire fight is easymode.

Act 3 - Dominus


another multiphase war, cap all your resists, this is a legit fight as Boo would say. There is a factory line of minions spawning up where Domunis starts, beware, they explode for a lot of damage. They also provide a good source of refilling flasks, remember this and take advantage if needed.

Phase 1

At first you will fight a group of unique guards followed by a string of unique monsters. Each one is potentially dangerous, but alone can be dealt with easily. Don't let them gang up on you, pull them apart and destroy them with Dual Strike, if things get messy fall back and rely on Spec Throw.

Phase 2

This is the most dangerous for a melee class. Dominus will descend and set about throwing all manner of stuff at you. The 3 main things are a teleport, he will essentially flicker strike you, leaving a trail of shocked ground behind him. Having him close is very dangerous, the second and most worrying move is the Touch Of God, a lightning slam of sorts that deals huge damage in an AoE similar to the Vaal Oversoul slam. Do not get hit by this, it's one of the few things in this game that has the potential to one shot you. The third is a barrage of lightning ghosts he channels at you, it can do a lot of damage and stun you, either block line of sight with cover or keep circling him, he wont track fast enough to hit you if you circle.

I would suggest you mainly use Spec Throw, keep nagging him with it and don't let his Energy shield recharge. There are windows where you can Dual Strike him, I would suggest you let them come to you, if you try and close to melee range he can start a slam at any point. Rather, wait till he teleports on top of you, you instantly have a window there to open up with Dual Strike. Be aware, he will attempt to slam or beam you at point blank if you hang around. Be aware of your surroundings, do you have a sure escape route? If not then don't risk it, pass in that window and retreat to Throw distance. If you have space to manually dodge a slam then get the deeps in for a moment and get out again before fate catches up with you.

This phase can be a drawn out battle, sometimes you will just be pinned down to barrages unable to deal damage back. Just ride it out, don't get impatient, play it by the numbers and it wont be too big a deal.

Phase 3

Theres one thing you absolutely must know about phase 3, and that is the need for multiple flasks that have the "removes bleeding" mod. Non negotiable, you simply must have these. Spend whatever it takes, see the flask section for more on this.

The giant monster that spawns looks worse than it is, for our build it's probably the easiest phase of the fight if you play it right. It occasionally spawns a massive bubble over itself while corrupted blood rain falls from the sky. The only way to survive it is to stand inside the bubble, as a melee that's where we want to be anyway.

The main worry is a big cleave attack he uses, if it lands it will do a little damage, but it will also stack corrupted blood charges on you. You can see these as little red balls circling your character, they will drain your life, very rapidly if you have many stacks of it. The way to remove it is to use a "Removes Bleeding" flask. Thankfully as a hybrid Evasion class eventually including block, a lot of his cleaves wont even land. All the same, the tactic is to Dual Strike the monster, if it loos like it might be about to cleave, circle it about 120 degrees and resume attacking, maybe preempt a circle move fairly often just to be safe and keep it on its toes. It lots of minions get in range then switch to Reave or Spec Throw till they are clear. Manage your flasks well, wipe any corrupted blood with 1 flask use only, only use flasks when you need to. If you need to refill flasks, wait till a rain period ends and then do a tour of the monster spawns on the roof, kill some minions, get your charges back before the next rain.

Map Bosses

Will put something in this section at a later date.

Recipes, Gambling and Crafting

Essential Vendor Crafting


Crafting weapons as we go is an essential part of the leveling process. We need good weapons at all stages to progress. Firs though a quick recipe for Movespeed boots.

Movespeed Boots

We want em, if you can't find boots with movespeed there is a recipe to create a blue pair.

A white pair of boots, a Quicksilver Flask and an Orb of Augmentation when sold together to a vendor will give you back a pair of 10% movespeed boots.

Weapon Crafting

Ok this is the serious bit. We can use claws, swords or daggers we find, but to get around the rng of relying on drops we will periodically craft blue weapons through the vendor system as we go. These will always be claws as they are the best weapon base for us.

This is the recipe

A magic or rare Rustic Sash, a Wetstone and a claw. This will give you back a blue claw with % increased physical damage. We are a physical damage build, elemental damage is worthless to us. A magic belt will give you 50 - 69% phys damage, and a rare belt will give us 70 - 89%.

This makes Rustic Sash belts and Wetstones very important to us. Never vendor a yellow Rustic Sash, build up a little stock pile of magic and, hopefully, rare ones as you go. If you need a new weapon and you don't have a yellow belt spare, from a self found perspective I would maybe use an Orb Of Alchemy on a good Rustic base. We are a Phys damage build, Rustic Sash is the best in slot belt for us, so it's win/win. Either you get an awesome belt upgrade, and then use your rubbish old one for the recipe, or you get an awful roll and can make your weapon. Using the Alch on the claw is likely to not give you a good weapon. In late game I am still Alching Rustic belts and saving the bad ones regardless. Try and elect a white rustic with a good roll, like 20%+ phys damage implicit.

Before we use the recipe, if we have enough spare Wetstones, we want to use 4 of them to make the claw 20% quality. It would take 10 to make it 20% when its crafted blue. It is best to select a good claw to start with, ideal world you should look our for one that is the right base, already 3 linked and already has quality. But you make do with what you can gather, and when you have a good base you make the craft by selling the 3 items to a vendor.

So, we have our claw with % phys damage, it still has one slot open where it can roll attack speed or some other nice mods. So we use an Orb Of Augmentation on it to get the second stat. That's it, all we need to keep ourselves tooled up and doing good damage. Worth noting, if we are using blue weapons, and you have the scrolls, start identifying good base blue claws and swords, I've found a few upgrades that way.

Selecting the right claw is important. We don't want to do this recipe with every new tier of claws, and when we use it we want to choose the highest base we have access to. We only want claws that are 1.35 attacks per second or faster, 1.5 is probably preferable early on. Here is a link to GGGs item page, you can look through it to find when the next good claw is available as you go. I will post some claws I used along the way here, and in the step by step guide below I will link my gear after every boss fight so you can see what I was using.


Prefixes and Suffixes

Understanding this helps. Affixes on items in this game are separated into prefixes and suffixes. A magic item can have 1 prefix and 1 suffix, a rare item can have up to 3 of each. We are making physical weapons here, so there are 4 main mods we are looking for, in order...

* #% increased Physical Damage (prefix)

* #% increased Attack Speed (suffix)

* Adds #-# Physical Damage (prefix)

* #% increased Physical Damage + Accuracy (prefix)

that is our perfect weapon.

Taking It Further, Lategame Crafting

Ok, so we have our chain of blue weapons and hopefully some cool rare swords and claws we have looted on our travels. Our journey for one hand though will end with the Gut Ripper claw base. This is the best Life On Hit implicit claw, and we want to keep one forever if possible. So our mission is to create one that will last. For this we are going to need 3 of those 4 ideal stats.

By upgrading a magic claw to a rare claw using a Regal Orb we will gain 1 extra stat. This will then allow us to use Vagans Sharpening Wheel Bench to add a 4th mod. So, we need at least 2 good mods from the 3. Regals are fairly rare, so we can't rely on using many of these. The only way to get it is to Vendor Recipe the % phys and then Augment Attack Speed, which is the only suffix we are looking for.

This was actually my first try with a gut Ripper and I'm still using it in some form. At first any blue Vendored Rpper will do, but for late game when you regal it, you want a decent Attack Speed roll on the blue. Once you have it, the most important 3rd mod is the flat physical damage. Unlikely to hit with 1 regal, but that doesnt matter because you can then use the Bench to add it. Done, you got your offhand sorted. If you get lucky though this happens

you get flat phys on the regal and can then Bench the 4th hybrid phys + accuracy mod. GG. Depending on how your regal supply goes you can reattempt the process a number of times. Later you can loot items with mods that far exceed these

Got trolled with pure accuracy suffix there sadly, but this was from a Merciless Piety run, the potential is there to combine blue item drops, orb crafting, vendor crafting and bench crafting to make formidable weapons. Once you start farming early endgame content and you get a huge pile of Transmutation orbs building up you can start picking up all the good white bases, Gut Rippers, Imperial Claws, Jewelled Foils, Corsair Swords, Helion Paws etc and throwing a transmute on them, see what you get. Either high flat or % phys with attack speed? win. It's not worth wasting Alteration orb spamming, but Transmutes are endless after a while.


Will put something in this section at a later date.

Ambush Boxes

Ambush Boxes give you a chance to gamble a bit of currency in the pursuit of better items. But what boxes should you be rolling and what do you want to roll on them? Well late in the game when you have unlimited Transmutes it's worth making any white box magic except for a Chemists. But there are particular boxes to look out for.

Gemcutters Boxes

These drop gems. The affixes I would roll for are either Gems have 15%+ quality, if it comes up, but most importantly

"contains support gems only"

You need Multistrikes, other things like Empower, Enlighten etc might drop. Once you got all the gems you need, you can roll whatever. Quality is always nice though.

Arcanist Boxes

These are the big currency boxes. They drop all manner of crafting orbs, Alterations, Chaos, Alchemy, Fusing, Exalted etc. There's only 1 sure decent stat on these boxes and that is

"contains x additional items"

Transmute the box and Alt/Aug it for this mod, you want at least 6 additional items, 5 is borderline, if you got a fair bit of spare blue orbs and you haven't spent maybe roll over it for 6 - 8 additional.

Artisans Boxes

These are not quite as important, but are always worth at least Transmuting. These drop all quality related currency, Scraps, Wetstones, GCP and Chisels. You will need Wetstones for your weapon crafting, so if you have spare blue orbs and are running out of Stones then maybe you reroll this sort of box for additional items or quantity, but only when in need.

Jewellers Boxes

Ok this is where it gets interesting and we can make further gambles for potentially bigger payoffs. These boxes drop Rings, Amulets and Belts. Rolling these boxes for

"contains x additional rare items"

can be a strong way of getting jewellery. Good jewellery is so hard to find, any way to keep getting more rolls on jewellery is great. But there is another tactic, involving Vaal Orbs.

If you corrupt a strongbox with a Vaal Orb, it corrupts everything inside the box. When an item is corrupted, it has a chance of turning into a completely random rare item that always comes with the full 6 stats. So, esp in late game, if we have some Vaal Orbs saved up, this is what we do. We roll the Jewellers Box for

"contains 8 additional items"

This is max, 7 will do, maybe 6 if you have to. If you hit 3 additional rare items while trying, take that roll, pop the box and get your 3 rares. If you hit 7 or 8 additional items then use the Vaal Orb on the box. Sometimes it will result in 2 rare items spawning, sometimes you can get 6 rare rings and amulets drop. If you find a rare Jewellers box with "6+ additional items", maybe with "% Quantity" or "Mirrored Items", Vaal it before you open it.

Here are some items I have from Vaaling Jewellers Boxes. They may not look like anything you'd care about in a high level trade environment, but when you are self found a few days in with a completely empty stash they are sorely needed. I use some of these, theyre the best thing I've found for the slot so far.

Orb Management

Will put something in this section at a later date.

Last edited by Snorkle_uk on Oct 18, 2014, 8:57:19 AM
Last edited by Snorkle_uk on Oct 17, 2014, 9:31:02 AM

Ok, so I did this build in Beyond, fresh start, leveled it to 80. I then had the idea for making a guide, and thought it would be good if we could chart how much life and damage we had at the end of each act along with a skill tree for people to measure their progress against. So to do that, I had to do the whole thing again. Beyond had it's fun moments but leveling up was not one of them, it's like a server wide fracture mod. I also had way too much op gear and orbs built up there.

So, I went to standard Hardcore where I have some leftovers from self found ventures. I vendored every item in my stash apart from a Goldrim + gems and we started again, keeping track of life, damage and passives shortly after each boss kill. I managed to 5 link a chest at some stage, I've left the 5th link empty so it's not effecting the dps as that isn't likely to happen while leveling. I've since got about 7 or 8 fivelink items though so they will come for sure.

Sadly it removes the gems from the sockets when I quote my gear like this, but I will talk you through the important links in each section. I will link the Beyond gear at the end of the guide for anyone who's interested.


Act 1 Normal


Level 15

life 344
Dual Strike 142
Spec Throw 27.7
Reave 80


At this point we are running a lvl1 Clarity Aura. Dual Strike, Reave, Spec Throw and Fire Trap are all equipped and unlinked.

Act 2 Normal


Level 27

life 658
Dual Strike 503
Spec Throw 91
Reave 286


Still running lvl 1 Clarity Aura, also have Hatred Aura, not sure if I was running it yet but quite possibly was. Dual Strike and Reave are both linked with Added Fire in the hat.

Act 3 Normal


Level 39

life 1100
Dual Strike 1235
Spec Throw 225
Reave 708


Some changes now. We have Dual Strike and Reave both linked with Melee Physical Damage and Faster Attacks in the boots. Those were just looted white with an existing 4link, speed vendor recipe, auged resist, done.

Slitherpinch dropped at some point, yay. In that we have Reduced Mana, Clarity, Herald Of Ash and Hatred. I presuming Im using all of them at once. Clarity is still lvl 1.

Spectral Throw is linked with Faster Projectiles and Added Fire in the hat.

Whirling Blades and Enduring Cry are being used.

On the tree we have started moving up past Weathered Hunter to the ranger area. We will take a slightly different path later using the quest reward respecs we get, but for now this leaves us on top of resistance, str and int nodes that we may need as we progress.


Act 1 Cruel

Act 3 Cruel


Level 56

life 2,276
Dual Strike 3,693
Spec Throw 829
Reave 2,135


Ok, the big change has happened. We have dropped the aura setup from the gloves, we are now running Grace and Hatred linked with Reduced Mana in the claw. We have Blades and Leapslam socketed.

On the tree we have temporarily specced into Ballistic Mastery above the Ranger start. This means we can drop the Faster Projectiles gem from our Spectral 3 link and replace it with Phys Proj Damage for now. We also have Ondar's Guile, combined with Grace hopefully you are feeling that projectile safety.


Act 1 Merciless


Level 58

life 2,226
Dual Strike 4,726
Spec Throw 884
Reave 2,526


Ok, more changes. The chest has Reave, Faster Attacks, Melee Phys and Added Fire.

Gloves have Dual Strike, Faster Attacks, Melee Phys and Added Fire.

Whirling blades and Leapslam both linked to a Faster Attacks.

Act 3 Merciless

Congratulations, you are at endgame. time to farm Piety for loot, start farming maps, heres an example of my gear at some stage during my Piety farming.

This is my gear and stats now

Level 82

life 4,513
Dual Strike 19,536
Spec Throw 3,244
Reave 14,144


Things to note about this tree. We have dropped the Weathered Hunter section by joining a different path. We have then used the points to spec into cloth and Chain in the bottom left for more armour. Ballistic Mastery above the Ranger is dropped once you can get Spec Throw in a 4 link with Faster Projectiles gem again.

So, you leveled to 80 and can obliterate Merciless boss runs, take down early to mid maps with relative ease, have you had enough? Well, maybe, for a lot of people 80 is about as far as they can be bothered with, for some its 70. Nothing wrong with that, I'd go as far as to say it's pretty normal, takes a certain kind of person to want to soldier on to 90+.

If you are like me though and just OD on this game where do you go next with this character? What options do we have for taking this to level 90 and playing high tiers of maps?

Lightning Coil


No 2 ways about it, Lightning Coil is the best possible chest in the game for this character. If you are self found, you are at the mercy of RNG for this item, if you are a trader in a Hardcore League it's not a cheap thing but it's far from expensive. In a Softcore league this thing is cheap as chips. I have found one so far playing self found in Hardcore for 22 days, my bow Ranger is using it though. Self found players, you want to chance every Desert Brigandine you find trying to get this armour.

So what is the big deal with Coil? The physical mitigation, sending 40% of phys damage to lightning where 75% of it is resisted means we will tank big phys hits as if we have a strong amount of armour. This lets us just go all out on Evasion and take the Acrobatics and Phase Acrobatics nodes to gain Dodge and Spell Dodge. The combination of phys mitigation, high Evasion, Block Chance, Dodge Chance and Spell Dodge is one of the most effective defensive setups in the entire game.

Coil will involve a big general gear change though. You go from having a chest with resists to a chest that drains resist from you. You have to have a serious amount of resist on gear to pull off using this thing. Second, taking Acrobatics will destroy our armour value, so armour gear is wasted on us. Full Evasion gear in every other slot is the priority.

What would good (but realistic) gear and passives look like for this character if we went this route to the early 90s?


Full Hybrid


Taking Hybrid all the way works. It will however require strong armour rolls on gear to perform the way a coil will, and dedicated use of Endurance charges. If you are dead set on going this route and taking it to the early 90s then you will want to take the extra Endurance Charge from Oak in merciless. It can be swapped for 20 regrets though, I've already done some bandit respeccing in HC self found on another character it's not that hard to save up 20 regrets. You might want to link Spell Echo with Enduring Cry, make sure you keep up those 5 Endurance Charges in melee combat, that 20% physical damage reduction is not quite as strong as Coils 30%, but you will have armour on top of it. In some situations it will perform better against phys damage, in some situations worse.

I'll link some items here that will give you an idea of the sort of gear you would be looking for and an early 90s passive tree.


Rerolling is a big part of the game though. I think melee is the best place to start, you'll learn more than you will spamming arrows into packs on the edge of the screen or dropping totems/summons and then hiding in the next room. But try it all, builds I'd recommend on a low/self found budget are Tornado Shot + Puncture Bow Ranger and an Eldritch Battery Arc Witch. If you enjoy hybrid melee builds like this maybe check out Pohx and his Ranger build here http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/829192 The tree may be outdated but he has videos talking things through, he's a great player with a good knowledge of viable builds so check out his stream for more ideas.

For players interested in staying self found it's more about playing to your drops, what can you do with what you have found? I think this is a fun and creative way to play the game, necessity is the mother of invention and what not. I think the key to playing like is taking a build that can level to 80 like this with the minimum of rng involved then farming endgame, farm Piety, 66-72 maps, build up a stock of items to enable further builds. I've been self found in Hardcore for 22 days now, I leveled this char to 80 in about 6 days, rolled a bow ranger, took it to 80 in another 6 days, then rolled a cast on crit dagger thrower whos also lvl80. If you can get into endgame and grind it the drops will come and you'll have options.

Building up to lvl76-78 will take a while self found, both in terms of gear and the maps themselves, I could count the lvl70+ maps I have on 1 hand. So far the Bow Ranger is the only one whos equipped to take on the highest maps but imo, that's the fun of self found, gradual progression and not rushing to the highest tier of gear. This is a game about looting after all and when you get beyond the point where you can find upgrades something in the game dies a little. For those interested in self found viable builds here is the gear and characters built up so far

Last edited by Snorkle_uk on Oct 18, 2014, 6:00:55 AM
Ok the guide is 95% complete, good enough for now, bumping for public consumption.

Hope you enjoy the guide, have fun and good luck people.
awesome guide. really deserves a kudos .ur guide is like a story to read.perfect explanation.
so many awesome tips.hope this guide becomes a bookmark in this forum.hoping to see the map boss section.

post these maps video in these order to take this guide to next level.
1.museum boss
6.torture chamber boss

next time when u craft gears post those videos also.so much care has been given to this guide.appreciate ur hardwork.post more screenshots.
Great guide easy to follow and love the level break down that you did showing your items and what gems your using for each act.
very high quality guide. very impressive layout

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