[2.3] The Grillfriend - closest thing to a VRF build

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2 minute Gorge run!


About the Build

I wanted to create a build that could easily carry me through end game maps while being a blast to play. I've seen plenty of builds that utilized Vaal Righteous Fire, but not many that used it as a main skill, and even fewer that matched my clearspeed. This is the second iteration of my testing (the first being 100% crit assassin) and the build has become such a joy to play. After much procrastination, I have finally gotten around to writing a build guide in response to all the people who thought I was Self-Cast Burning Discharge.

This build uses Flameblast to build up souls in the beginning and to kill stragglers. It then uses a rotation of 3 Vaal Righteous Fire gems to clear through the rest of the map. This is not a cheap build but it is far from an expensive one. The cost of getting a character set-up is probably around 4-5 exalts. VRF only really needs 3-links for 1 player boss kills or 6 player mob clearing. For 6 player bosses, a 5-link is sufficient.

Who is this build for?

  • This build is designed for players who are comfortable leveling a character to ~70-75 before respeccing into energy shield.
  • Players looking for a simple and powerful build that will carry them through end-game maps and bosses.
  • If you want to clear screens with one GIANT explosion as opposed to many small ones.
  • A build that won't get you kicked from parties for lag.
  • If you like silly damage numbers. No really. See calculations below.

What is this build not?

  • A speed clearing build like spark(rip), kinectic blast, vaal molten shell(rip), cast on crit, discharge, or bow skills.
  • Bosses with multiple stages are hard counters (Atziri, Malachai, Daresso).

The Mechanics

Vaal Pact & Chaos Innoculation

Vaal righteous fire consumes all of your health and energy shield and converts it into fire damage. Because it leaves us at 1 health, it is mandatory to take the Vaal Pact keystone for the instant leech so we don't die to a random tick of ignite or a stray hit. We go energy shield instead of life because it's easier to get as a witch and we can reach much higher values of energy shield than life. We take Chaos Innoculation for the boost to energy shield and immunity to chaos damage.

Scaling Burn Damage

Now although VRF does a massive amount of damage upfront, the largest source of damage actually comes from the burn (See Calculations). In order to maximize the total amount of damage output, we focus on damage modifiers that "double-dip", basically modifiers that scale both the initial hit and then come back to scale the burn damage (we'll go into more detail on how this works in the Calculations section). These modifiers (for VRF) are:

  • Damage
  • Fire Damage
  • Elemental Damage
  • Area Damage

100% Chance to Ignite

Another priority we focus on is ignite chance. In order to achieve consistent one-shots we cannot rely on the Elementalist's Shaper of Desolation to ignite bosses (only 20% chance on kill, only lasts 4 seconds, separate boss rooms, some bosses have no surrounding monsters), therefore we need to attain 100% ignite chance independently from our gear, gems, and passives.

Our sources of ignite are:

  • 49% from lvl 20 Chance to Ignite
  • 10% from a Mokou's Embrace with 10% ignite
  • 10% from the fire variant of Doryani's Invitation while using a flask
  • 15% from passives
  • 3% from one of the Elementalist mini nodes
  • 3% from a jewel

This gives us 90% ignite chance. The last 10% comes from running Flammability with Blasphemy Support which gives 14% ignite chance against normal mobs at lvl 20 and 11.2% ignite chance against map bosses once we have 40% increased curse effectiveness.

In curse immune maps or against curse immune bosses (like the totems in Volcano or Olmec's Sanctum) we use another Mokou's Embrace with 10% ignite chance.

Eye of Chayula & Stun Immunity

Stun immunity is essential for this build to work well. Vaal Righteous Fire has a relatively long cast speed (1 second) and getting stunned in the middle of the animation means that VRF will not go off and you'll lose those 32 souls as well as your momentum. Needless to say, this feels bad. Having stun immunity allows us to phase into the middle of giant/dangerous mobs and guarantees that we'll be able to blow everything up.


We choose to go with the Elementalist ascendancy because it makes the build stronger in every way possible.
  • Shaper of Desolation: allows us to ignite every mob we see without needing a Chance to Ignite gem in our AoE setups.
  • Beacon of Ruin: gives us free Elemental Proliferation for all of our damage setups. This proliferation is amazing because it gives our VRF even more AoE and makes it much easier to recharge our VRF gems as leftover monsters run into the proliferation radius. Nowhere is this more apparent and satisfying than in Beyond maps where Beyond bosses will spawn and instantly die to burn (except Tzteosh, Hungering Flame, he's immune to ignite).
  • Liege of the Primordial: this allows us to get huge buffs from our golems. Our flame golem will end up giving us 40% increased fire damage as well as 40% increased damage for a whopping total of 80% increased fire damage. Our lightning golem will give us 18% increased cast speed which helps speed up the build.
  • Pendulum of Destruction: this is purely for the fun factor. We dont need the extra damage at all but the 25% increased AoE is very fun to play with.

Chaos Innoculation vs. Low Life

There is not much damage to be gained from using a Shavronne's Wrappings and picking up the Pain Attunement Keystone. A ~400 ES Shavronne's Wrappings with Pain Attunement's 30% More spell damage works out to be around the same damage as an ~750+ ES armour with Chaos Innoculation's 18% More ES. Going Low-Life allows us to run the Haste aura for a faster clearspeed. Going CI is both much cheaper and gives us the quality of life of being immune to chaos damage (which also makes it easier to gear).

Skill Tree

Leveling Tree

For leveling I recommend leveling as life-based firestorm then flameblast before respeccing around lvl 70 to CI. I recommend following this tree.

We socket an Energy From Within Jewel near the hybrid ES/Life nodes between the witch and shadow for a boost in ES.

In the jewel slot at the Scion slot we socket Intuitive Leap to grab the two 5% increased AoE nodes and the two curse effectiveness nodes (5% and 15%).

Bandit Rewards
  • skillpoint
  • skillpoint
  • skillpoint

Skill Setup

Solo Mapping

  • Flameblast (5/6-link)

  • Single-Target Vaal Righteous Fire (3 link)

Party Mapping

  • Flameblast (3 link)

  • Single-Target Vaal Righteous Fire (5/6-link)

Other Links

  • AoE Vaal Righteous Fire (4-link)

  • Auras (4-link)

  • Utility (4-link)

  • Utility (3-link)


  • Granite Flask of Staunching for physical mitigation and bleed/corrupting blood.
  • Quartz Flask for phasing through mobs for better positioning. (Dousing for ignites, Warding for Academy boss, Grounding for Vinktars, Thawing for curse-immune maps)
  • Quicksilver of Adrenaline for pure movepspeed
  • Silver Flask of Grounding for speed and mitigating shock from Vinktar's
  • Vinktar's for shocking bosses

My Gear

This is my gear right now. I'll have to talk more about it. Currently only running a 5-link without any real plans to upgrade right now. Build doesn't need more damage. I would change my jewel to one with ignite chance and cast speed instead of the one I'm using now.



Now here's what everybody wants to know: how much damage does VRF do?

Before we do the math, let's list out all of the damage modifiers I get from my gear, gems, and passives:

Non-Double-Dipping "Increased" Modifiers:
spell damage = +49%

Double-Dipping "Increased" Modifiers:
elemental damage = +146%
fire damage = +205%
area damage = +50%
golem modifiers = +80%
total = +481%

Non-Double-Dipping "More" Modifiers:
Controlled Destruction: 1.44

Double-Dipping "More" Modifiers:
Elemental Overload: 1.4
Concentrated Effect: 1.59

Other "More" Modifiers:
Vinktar Flask Shock: 1.5

Burn Damage Modifiers:
Increased Burning Damage: +15%
Increased Burn Duration: +40%

Scenario 1

Now let's make a few assumptions about the situation.
  • I have 11,000 ES when I pop VRF
  • the boss is a T13 Wasteland Voll who has +45% base fire resist which is greater than most bosses which sit at +30% fire resist.
  • the map doesnt have +fire res, hexproof, or status effect immunity as its mods
  • I have +40% curse effectiveness from my passive tree and 20 quality Blasphemy gem. This translates into 80% curse effectiveness against bosses
  • I have elemental overload active
  • my Orb of Storms procs Elemental Equilibrium on Voll before and after we pop VRF
  • I run in with Vinktar's active but immediately run away after popping VRF. In this case Vinktar's will only apply to the initial hit

Initial hit calculations:

a level 20 VRF gem consumes all Life and ES, multiplies it by 1.38, and takes that number as the base damage.

Base Damage: 11,000 * 1.38 = 15,180

apply all "increased" modifiers: 15180 * (1 + (49+481)/100) = 95,634

apply all "more" modifiers: 95634 * 1.44 * 1.4 * 1.59 * 1.5 = 459,824

459,824 is the damage assuming zero fire resistance and no fire penetration, curses, or elemental equilibrium.

Voll's fire resistance is +45% - Flammability - Elemental Equilibrium - Fire Penetration
fire resistance: +45% - (0.8 * 44) - 50 - 37 = -77% fire resistance

initial hit: 459,824 * 1.77 = 813,888

So my initial hit with VRF in this scenario is 813,888 fire damage.

Calculating burn damage:
(this is where the real insanity is)

burn damage is calculated as 20% of the initial hit per second for 4 seconds, modified by all double-dipping and burning damage modifiers.

burn damage per second: (0.2 * 813,888) = 162,778

apply double-dipping and burning "increased" modifiers: 162,778 * (1 + (481+15)/100) = 970,154

apply double-dipping "more" modifiers without Vinktar's: 970,154 * 1.4 * 1.59 = 2,159,163

calculate fire resistance (penetration does not apply to damage over time): +45% - (0.8 * 44) - 50 = -40% fire resistance

apply fire resistance: 2,159,163 * 1.4 = 3,023,388

In this scenario my VRF does 3 million fire damage per second.

And we're not done yet. Burn lasts for 4 seconds * 40% increased burn duration: 4 * 1.4 = 5.6 seconds

total burn damage = 3,023,388 * 5.6 = 16,930,975

total damage = 16,930,975 + 813,888 = 17.7 million fire damage over 5.6 seconds

Scenario 2

Okay, what if we want to get even sillier and assume a regular map boss like T14 Palace Dominus who only has +30% fire resistance and we stay near enough to keep him shocked with Vinktar's during the burn?

(11,000 * 1.38) * (1 + (49+481)/100) * 1.44 * 1.4 * 1.59 * 1.5 = 459,824 (same as before)

fire resistance = +30% - (0.8 * 44) - 50 - 37 = -92% fire resistance

initial hit: 459,824 * 1.92 = 882,861

burn damage per second (including Vinktar's now): (0.2 * 882,861) * (1 + (481+15)/100) * 1.4 *1.59 * 1.5 = 3,513,866

fire resistance (no penetration) = +30% - (0.8 * 44) - 50 = -55% fire resistance

burn dps: 3,513,866 * 1.55 = 5,446,492 ~5.4 million dps

total burn damage: 5,446,492 * 5.6 = 30,500,353 ~30.5 million burn

total damage: ~31.3 million fire damage over 5.6 seconds

Scenario 3

Okay, okay. So 5.4 million dps is pretty insane, but what if we really just wanted to say Fuck You to Dominus? What if our support (or ourselves) casts Vaal Discipline? For this scenario, we'll assume Vaal Discipline gets us to 18,000 ES, because I've definitely hit 18,000 ES playing with some supports.

initial hit: = (18,000 * 1.38) * (1 + (49+481)/100) * 1.44 * 1.4 * 1.59 * 1.5 * 1.92 = 1,444,682 fire damage

burn damage per second: (0.2 * 1,444,682) * (1 + (481+15)/100) * 1.4 * 1.59 * 1.5 * 1.55 = 8,912,440 ~8.9 million dps

total burn damage: 8,912,440 * 5.6 = 49,909,667 ~50 million burn

total damage: ~51.4 million fire damage over 5.6 seconds


I will update later with non-ideal scenario calculations

IGN: TheGrillfriend
Last edited by Professor_Tyrael on Jul 14, 2016, 4:14:18 PM
Last bumped on Feb 8, 2018, 9:25:23 PM
Is EE important for this build? It just feels always so clunky for me...
Elemental Equilibrium is not required. It probably even slows down your clearspeed a bit. For the most part if you plan on playing this build solo or with 2-3 other players you can skip EE because you do so much damage already. However EE has a noticeable impact against bosses when playing in full parties, especially in curse immune maps or 80% fire resist maps.

For me, I don't really mind EE in this build, but you can definitely test it yourself and see what you prefer. It will only be a couple regrets orbs!
IGN: TheGrillfriend
Your build looks super fun. I'm goning to test it.
But i have a question: where do you have str to meet requirements of gems?
Last edited by MasywnyKnur on Jun 20, 2016, 5:19:51 AM
Hey, great question. I just updated the skill tree to reflect what I'm running. I ended up taking a 30 strength node as well as grabbing the two str nodes and jewel slot in the templar area. I also just aim for around 114 strength so I can use my lvl 21 fire penetration and I keep warlords mark at level 10.
IGN: TheGrillfriend
Last edited by Professor_Tyrael on Jun 21, 2016, 6:39:23 PM
I have another idea - using Inertia unique jewel in Vaal Pact area means 64 str.
How about that?
And i got 2 more things in mind.
1) Is it good idea to use "Energy from within" unique jewel near the life/es nodes?
That would give us 27% increased es.
2) How about Mastermind of Discord instead of Liege of the Primordial?
We don't have room for Lightning Golem and our Orb of Storms would proc another -25% res.

My witch has 58lvl, so soon I will be able to test more things by myself. Cheers!
You could use the Inertia jewel to grab more strength but I need that slot to use all 3 of my Sacrificial Harvest jewels.

1) Thanks for reminding me. I do use the Energy from within jewel next to the life/es nodes, but I forgot to mention that in the guide. I've updated it now.

2) Right now I'm playing around with CwDT - Immortal Call - Flame Golem - Lightning Golem. The -25% resist from Mastermind of Discord would definitely be a boost in damage, but the 18% cast speed boost from the lightning golem speeds up our clears.

Sounds great. Let me know how it works out for you. My ign in Prophecy is FaultySauna if you want to add me.
IGN: TheGrillfriend
I must write it here:
My Vaal RF Witch is on 90lvl and I can tell that this is the most satysfying build I've ever play in PoE.
One shoting everything gives so much fun. Other pros is uniqness of this character.

@Professor_Tyrael Thank you very much for your amaizing guide!
can this do end game lab runs ?

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