(1.3.0) Three Dragons, Three Heralds - a Lightning freeze build

First off, the goodies:
http://youtu.be/nePwm_kjM8c - Dark Forest map
http://youtu.be/ZG96q4JPHhM - Piety run, just for funsies (horribly overgeared faceroll!)
http://youtu.be/OVJoYmhkjoA - A proper Gorge run!
http://youtu.be/JsmTb2j_uRI - Underground River run

Introduction

I started this build with three goals:
1) To offload a lot of my damage away from my links and onto mana reservation. I do this using all three heralds, each with multiple support gems to enhance their capability
2) To play a freeze build. I love crowd-control builds, and my previous build (pure lightning static striker) just didn't "click" the way a stun, freeze, or minion build does. Some of the most fun I've ever had in this game was with my Ambush Glacial Hammer Duelist.
3) To play a build that dual-wields Doryani's Catalyst. I feel like the nerf is coming, so I wanted to have at least one build that took advantage of this powerful item to the fullest extent.


So how does it work?
Through a 30% chance to freeze off the passive tree and the Three Dragons unique helm, all my lightning damage has a really high chance to freeze, and my fire damage a 25% chance to shock. I use Herald of Thunder and Elemental Proliferation to freeze the entire screen, and Herald of Ash and Herald of Ice to clear packs.



My main AOE skill I chose is Cyclone, chosen mostly because I haven't built a Cyclone character before and I like the idea of being able to move while attacking. Everything else seems like a variation of "move to a pack, stop, attack until they die, go back to moving".


My main single-target skill I chose is Static Strike. Combined with Physical to Lightning, it gives a really high amount of lightning damage, enough to freeze most map bosses which makes dealing with them much easier.


My vaal skill is Vaal Call Lightning. It is really good at clearing dangerous groups, and can be used for additional DPS against bosses.

Pros/Cons:

+ Insanely fast at clearing packs
+ Really good crowd-control, as long as there are mobs the screen will be frozen
+ No 5-link or 6-link required, though a 5-link really helps against bosses.
+ Virtually immune to troublesome mobs like ambushers, leapers, and chargers.

- No big tooltip DPS numbers to brag about :(
- Build is kind of weak until you get the more expensive items (dual Doryani's, corrupted gloves)
- No strength-based items and lots of red sockets. Tough to color.
- Low max life - 4,000 at level 83 with life rolls on all rares.
- Build has trouble with numerous bosses
- Not very good for large parties - After around two other players it becomes difficult to trigger your Herald.

To summarize, the build is rather fragile, but at the same time that's only an issue when the screen isn't frozen.

Passive tree

Passive tree can be found HERE

Some things to note:
- AOE passives are really important to this build. If your AOE isn't large enough, then Herald of Ice and Ash won't do a lot of work against most packs. With my current setup (AOE is pretty much as high as it gets), the heralds can catch most variations of pack spread patterns.

- I know the increased skill duration passives kind of suck with Static Strike, but they're basically damage multipliers for Vaal Call Lightning, and that skill is really strong in this build. It also helps keep your Herald of Thunder lightning storm active while you move between packs.

- I spent a lot of points on reduced cost to get Cyclone's mana to a manageable place. If you were to choose a skill other than Cyclone, you could probably free up your tree considerably.

- As for leveling, I went for the life last, and once I got Three Dragons and 30% freeze chance, I did fine despite being at less than 3,000 life through most of Merciless.

Gear

There are three core items to this build, and another four that could be replaced with other items if you absolutely cannot handle how unique-heavy this build is.

Core Items:



Three dragons is really the backbone of the build item-wise. It allows your Herald of Thunder to freeze, as well as giving you a pretty good shot at freezing enemies with just about any physical attack thanks to the Melee to Lightning support gem.

The two Doryani's are necessary to boost your elemental damage. This is what sets this build apart from other Cyclone or spell-focused builds: the insanely high increased elemental damage granted by dual wielding Catalysts. You could swap one of them out for a Soul Taker and really ramp up the Cyclone damage, for example, but your heralds will lose so much damage you're now just playing an elemental cyclone build. It's important to note that Elemental Damage is the best available way to boost your Herald damage; they're not spells so that doesn't work and all the more specific modifiers (burning, DoT, AoE) don't come in nearly as much bulk as Elemental does.

Secondary Items:



Pyre is actually not crazy-important here and I could understand valuing the ~200 life a good 80 life ring could get higher. It does a few important things however: It destroys corpses of enemies that weren't frozen, it allows you to ignore cold resist map mods, and it shocks enemies from the Herald of Ice explosions, allowing it to better chain and often times one-shotting tough enemies like Rogue Exiles or bosses who are surrounded by a tight grouping of mobs. Oh, and the added cold from Herald of Ice also helps shock enemies with things like your single-target link.

I mentioned this earlier but it bears repeating: You can never have enough AOE radius. So Carcass Jack is a pretty obvious inclusion. It's not all that bad of an item either, it's just not exactly at the Belly of the Beast tier of "must-have item".

Curse-on-hit gloves are always worthwhile for pure-elemental or pure-physical builds. I cringe every time I see someone posting a build with uncorrupted gloves. They're just so strong, get it through your heads people! I chose Asenath's Gentle Touch because the temporal chains on hit also extends the duration of freezes, meaning enemies seldom thaw out. Also helps with freezelocking bosses, since the build can deal enough damage to consistently freeze them, just not for very long. Rare gloves could be replaced, or if you want a much stronger Cyclone, you could even use my old friend Hrimsorrow.

Elreon jewelry is recommended. You don't need a full set, I got along just fine with a -6 ring, but the more expensive Cyclone is, the more difficult it is to control. Thankfully most of the uniques listed have plenty of resists (gogo Three Dragons!) so you don't need to get a 90 resist ring that also has life. It should be pretty easy to just buy a three-mod or two-mod ring for some chaos and craft your own mods on it if necessary. I crafted this ring myself.

Rashkaldor's Patience is a new addition to this build, and it works really well. Using it cost me around three passive points (to get the Precision and Sentinel notables to make up for the stats I lost from a rare amulet), so I wouldn't recommend it if your level is low enough that you're still filling out life nodes. At level 87 though each point I get is just gravy anyways so I might as well spend the points on some better gear. Anyway, the largest benefit from this item comes from being better at freezing bosses, though it also helps against blue packs as you're less likely to shatter the only proliferating mob when you cyclone into them. Overall a solid item.

Rare gear



This leaves you with your boots, belt, and whichever piece of jewelry you're not using Elreon mods on.

It shouldn't be too difficult to cap your resists while getting 80+ life from each, but there is one additional thing you should really worry about: You need around 50 dexterity from gear. This can make gearing pretty difficult (especially if you want to put at least the bare minimum of effort into evasion), but all my rares were under 20c so it's more an issue of finding the right gear.

Skills and links

Since the heralds are the star of the show, I'll list them first:

37-38% reservation:
-Herald of Thunder
-Elemental Proliferation (from the Catalyst)
-Lightning Penetration
-Reduced Mana

Lightning penetration could be swapped out for a 20q Added Cold gem if you want more chance to freeze, but I find 30% is plenty. I can't really think of any other significant way to increase the damage here (and this skill needs it's damage boosted the most)

26-27% reservation x2:
-Herald of Ice
-Herald of Ash
-Increased Area of Effect (20q)
-Reduced Mana

One possible way to improve defenses is to drop Herald of Ash in favor of a defensive Aura. The only problem is, the one that would be most useful (Grace) has a really high dex requirement, and so is probably not all that worthwhile. I suppose another possibility would be to use Discipline for the massive boost to regen, and try a high-ish level Arctic Armor. The burn damage from the herald isn't useful all the time, but it is very helpful when fighting special enemies with lots of health (bosses, exiles, stuff like that).

Vaal link:
-Vaal Storm Call
-Elemental Proliferation (From the Catalyst)
-Lightning Penetration
-Spell Echo

This skill just melts rooms. At at only 16 souls you could probably clear most of a map using this skill alone. I find it most useful when my thunderstorm isn't active and I see a blue pack of dangerous mobs (quillbeasts, leapfrogs, charging knights), or when I need to freeze the screen and there's a vaal totem keeping me from triggering my herald. It's also a safe and hilarious way to prep for ambush boxes; even if I'm frozen and there's a rogue exile, by the time the storm finishes the exile is at 10% life.

AOE attack link:
-Cyclone (20q)
-Concentrated Effect (20q)
-Physical to Lightning
-Added Fire

You might find this link to be a little odd looking, but it works pretty damn well, let me tell you. First off, because it's Cyclone off mana, the goal here is to get a working four-link that costs very little mana. This one clocks in at 18 mana per use, including the -6 from my Elreon ring. That's why Concentrated Effect is used, even though I mentioned earlier you can never have enough AOE (it's a huge DPS boost with only adding one or two mana to the total cost). Physical to Lightning is a pretty obvious choice; the build benefits the most from elemental damage, and lightning freezes enemies to boot. Added fire is used to improve my ability to shock enemies, and also because it has a cheap mana multiplier, again, really important for running Cyclone off mana.

Single-target link:
-Static Strike
-Physical to Lightning
-Lightning Penetration
-Weapon Elemental Damage
-Faster Attacks (optional)
-Melee Physical Damage (optional)

This link really serves one purpose and one purpose only: to freeze and kill bosses. I chose Static Strike over Lightning Strike because the second hit also has a chance to freeze, it has a higher combined effective damage, and the AOE helps keep my immediate area of any non-frozen adds the boss might spawn (after the initial group gets wiped out by Vaal Storm Call). Yeah it's a bit of a non-bo with the Increased Duration nodes, but it's not all that relevant actually since the only time you actually use this skill is if you're against an enemy with a high enough time-to-kill that they'll be taking the shockwaves anyway. As for why I chose lightning skills over something like Glacial Hammer, I feel getting a single-element attack with penetration is super important to kill bosses, since they all have high resists and elemental weakness is less effective against them.

Corrupted Gloves link:
-Whatever the hell you can fit on it.

Since we're using corrupted gloves, you can't really expect to have a four-link in the colors you need. I got lucky and have a R-R link (on an int item no less!) so I'm using the typical Enduring Cry - Cast When Damage Taken setup. Once I get Vorici to level 8 I'll probably nuke a bunch of currency to try to get a RRBG link on it so I can move one of my other links over, so I can nuke even more currency on the non-corrupted item to get a RRRR link for the full Immortal Call setup.

Map mods

Map mods can vary from extremely flexible (if you're skipping the boss), to very narrow and rigid (if you're doing a tough boss).

+ Fracturing is really fun with this build. If you normally skip Fracturing because it's too much of a pain in the ass to get through, this build will be extra-satisfying for you.
+ 50% regen is a little tough but not a deal-breaker like it can be for other builds. It also depends on how well you're geared, for me it's just a slight inconvenience
+ Cold resist is free IIQ if you use Pyre.

~ Monster Resist, extra life, curse-immune, extra damage, reduced resists, vulnerability and eleweakness can either be no problem or a deal-breaker, depending on the map boss and whether you decide to do the boss or not. If you skip the boss, then sure do as much as you want 'cause you're not going to even come close to death. If it's an easy boss, I'd be reluctant to stack on too many damage mods. If you're doing a tough boss like Necropolis Merveil, I'd avoid all these mods completely.

- No regen is a no-go for this build. Though I suppose you could just clear the map with Static Strike and use a second Elreon ring to make it's cost 0. Might be worth having around if you like doing vaaled or unid'ed maps.
- Blood Magic is also a no-go unless it's a really easy map you don't mind taking forever to clear. Does this even spawn anymore? I haven't seen one in ages.
- Elemental Reflect is not going to immediately kill you like it does for some crit builds, but I'd say it's too dangerous to run on a full XP bar. Especially if the map contains minion-spawning mobs like bugs or sea witches. Vaal totems are also problematic. I'd auto-reroll if this spawned with ele weakness or reduced max resists.

Q&A

Q: Atziri?
A: I doubt it would be as effective as a dedicated Atziri build, but you could possibly modify the build without touching the tree by moving around some gems and using different skills.

Q: What about Reflect?
A: Reflect is a problem of course, but not nearly as bad as you think it would be. The only times I've been one-shot by reflect was when I killed a vaal totem while a reflect mob wandered into the area - basically every mob dealt Herald of Ice explosion damage to every other mob in range as they all died at the exact same time. As long as you're not asleep at the wheel, you can avoid taking too much damage from reflect, and if you want to be extra cautious you can just turn off Herald of Ice when you see a reflect pack. Killing a single pack with reflect is not enough damage to one-shot you though.
IGN: Ikimashouka, Tsukiyattekudasai, DontCallMeMrFroyo
Last edited by gilrad on Feb 12, 2015 4:59:55 AM
Updated, added a Piety run. I'm massively overgeared, but it's rather fun watching enemies explode before I even get in range to cyclone them :)
IGN: Ikimashouka, Tsukiyattekudasai, DontCallMeMrFroyo
Added a Gorge run! Watch me give zero fucks about extra damage rhoas and devourers!
IGN: Ikimashouka, Tsukiyattekudasai, DontCallMeMrFroyo
The new unique Rashkaldor's Patience (I'll add a link when it's in the wiki) looks like a great inclusion for the build. Either to save seven passive points at the cost of 5% chance to freeze and no more chills (since your only way to chill is through Fingers of Frost), or to supercharge your freezes and make freezelocking bosses easier.

My current plan is to spend some passive points to grab Faith and Steel, plus Precision (both in the templar start area) to compensate for the stats I would lose by dropping my current amulet. Hopefully losing 55% mana regen won't hurt too much and those four passive points are all I would need to spend to use this item.
IGN: Ikimashouka, Tsukiyattekudasai, DontCallMeMrFroyo
Just wanted to throw my two cents in. Respeced a templar into this build just cause it looked fun in the video. Still working on getting some gem exp before I dive into some more serious mapping, but it is a fun build for sure.
Thanks for trying the build out! Please let me know how it works for you!

This build is my second character of the league, and by the time I got to level 75 I already had 90% of the build's items ready so I don't really know how well it works with different gear than what I have.
IGN: Ikimashouka, Tsukiyattekudasai, DontCallMeMrFroyo
So far so good, my templar is only lvl 82 and pretty much none of the gems I have are quality (besides a few that I've found). But I have no complaints, I just was able to buy a doryani's mace, so that helps a lot.

If I had a 6L carcass jack to try with this build I would LOVE to try out using that 4L cyclone with a Cast on Melee Kill + regular Storm Call. I really think that would mesh well.
Yeah I considered using Cyclone as my primary attack link. If I were to go that route, I would most definitely go for the Hrimsorrow gloves, as they can boost your DPS by quite a lot (both by giving you more elemental damage to increase through Doryani's, and by giving you more elemental damage to boost through cursing). I'd probably try using Stun + endurance charge on melee stun if I has a 6-link, and combine that with self-cast Immortal Call to help against bosses. I probably wouldn't bother with cast on melee kill, since a simple four-link Cyclone gives all the damage needed to mob as it is, I feel adding more would just be overkill.

Static Strike works really well as a boss-killer though. With a 5-link I can freeze almost all map bosses consistently enough to avoid the majority of their attacks as long as I'm not being greedy. With a six-link adding melee physical and that new necklace, I'm pretty confident I could perma-freeze or near-perma freeze Palace Dominus, which basically leaves freeze-immune bosses as the only content beyond the scope of the build.
IGN: Ikimashouka, Tsukiyattekudasai, DontCallMeMrFroyo
I wanted to say too, those are some killer gloves. I've been trying to get some slitherpinch corrupted with temp chains, but I just end up with cast on stun support over and over it seems like. I need the dex from Slitherpinch or I'd be aimming for some gloves like yours.

I was wondering too, are you aimming to take the Inner Force cluster for Herald buffs? That is where I was thinking of heading. My tree is a bit different from yours now, I didn't take the dual curse nodes (since at least for now I don't need them). Instead I took Shaper with the idea of taking Inner Force. That would be a 21% buff to all three heralds, I would think that would be pretty nice.

I've really been tempted on that new amulet, but do you think loosing the 12-24 phys dmg on my current amulet would be worth it? Maybe if I switched to dual wielding catalysts instead of using a shield that wouldn't be very noticeable?
The gloves are pretty good, as I said in the OP curse-on-hit is really strong and should be an end-game gear goal for most builds.

Inner Force actually doesn't do a whole lot for this build. The only things it buffs is the added elemental damage and the lightning storm duration. The added damage buff won't be very noticeable since we already have buckets of increase elemental damage already buffing it - I think I'm at somewhere around 240-250% increased elemental damage, going to 275% won't be worth the 5-6 passive points. I believe Inner force also increases durations on buffs, but a much more effective route (which is what I'm actually aiming for) would be to get all the increased duration nodes, since they also buff Vaal Call Lightning, which is really good additional DPS against bosses and only gets better with duration.

I think the loss of damage will be noticeable, since Doryani's only has okay-ish base damage, but when you're mobbing it won't really matter because they're going to vaporize anyway, and against bosses, being able to freeze-lock them is much more valuable than killing them a little bit faster.
IGN: Ikimashouka, Tsukiyattekudasai, DontCallMeMrFroyo

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