[2.5] SC/HC Trickster Essence Drain Progression - Life to CI to LL
There are a ton of Essence Drain builds and guides out there, but all of them look so slow and clunky to me. Since most people use Consuming Dark for their ED builds, it is natural to use whirling blades with that as well. Personally I dislike whirling blades with Consuming Dark, since you have poor control over distance, and the attack/movement speed is very poor. This becomes more of a problem for Essence Drain, and especially the Low Life versions of the build, as we have so few gem slots available to us. Personally I feel that this version of the build is vastly superior to some of the other ED builds when it comes to Uber Lab farm, as well as being very powerful for other content.
My version of a fast ED char therefore utilizes more pots and flame dash to keep the speed up. I will link my gear and a few videos showing off how the build plays. Hopefully this will give you guys some ideas on different ways to play ED (Also 70k tooltip). Have fun!
This is also a great build for the start of a league. It can be played self found up to red maps easily, and has an extremely high damage potential as you convert to Low Life.
ED in Breach leagues
As always I rolled ED as my league starter. I am still playing Trickster as it has amazing survivability, but considering playing Occultist more and more for the higher damage output but slower pace (which could be compensated for by grabbing some cast speed in the tree). I ripped 2 times while leveling. Once to a breach due to uncapped resists, once to a one shot from Uul-Netol as I was getting ready for my CI transition, and the final time to Quay double boss corpse explosion. I decided to stick to CI this time around and not go Low Life at all. I got terrified by a Chayula breach, and Decided that I did not want to go Low Life before I could get the upgraded Chayula neck. I never got that far however. Gonna play around with other builds for the remainder of the league, but I will keep updating and helping people in this thread as questions arise. Below is both my higher level rips and my gear on the third rip.
An average breach in a tier 14 map. Including "allies cannot die" and Haast.
Quay Boss Instagib
For more in depth information on ES based ED, check out Nat's guide.
Leveling - Bandits and Ascendancies
While leveling you most likely want to help Oak in Normal, then respec this to passive point as you go into CI/LL.
Cruel you can kill all (my choice) or help Alira for some cast speed, which works very well with our frenzy charges.
In merciless you help Kraityn for another frenzy charge.
While leveling, the Patient Reaper is amazing to help manage mana while also giving you some damage, so I would go Patient Reaper > Swift Killer > Ghost Dance > Shade Form.
The last two are mostly focused on energy shield, so there is no rush to take them before you start accumulating a healthy ES pool. You might even want to take one of the last two nodes after your merciless lab, and then use 10 regrets to take Ghost Dance and Shade Form after you have gotten all 8 points.
How I leveled and progressed in the Essence HC league + RIP video
This section might be useful for those starting an Essence Drainer in a fresh league, or for those who are simply curious to see how I choose to play the build.
At the very start, I usually pick up freezing pulse or Etheral Knives to level with. EK is quite effective, as we start out grabbing some physical damage nodes in the tree. In the essence league, we get a lot of "Woe" essences in normal, so I quickly crafted 2 rather good rare wands to dual wield. at level 12, or when you reach Merveil's cavern, you get Essence Drain. I opted to level with ED, although it is EXTREMELY slow and clunky at this stage. Kill Merveil using ED, EK, Flame Dash burns and tears before you get to act 2 to get some support gems from Weaver. After Weaver is dead, you start to require more links than most early builds, which for me is the biggest headache when your stash consists of 4 Chromatic Orbs and half an Orb of Alchemy.
Links for level 18:
Essence Drain > Void Manipulation > Controlled destruction
Contagion > faster Casting
Wither > Spell Totem > Faster Casting
At this stage, the build starts working reasonably well, but the tiny AoE is still an issue. I ended up helping oak in normal for the extra 40 life, just to be safe. Spam Quicksilvers, find big packs to kill and run to the library quest in act 3 as fast as you can. After the library quest, we get two key gems. Poison and Blasphemy. Use Poison as your 4th link on ED, and run Blasphemy + Temporal Chains, Arctic Armour and optionally Clarity for auras. We can now nuke bosses with poison stacks, but our DPS is still horrible, so you should grab a bleed flask for Dominus just in case. When I was farming Dried Lake some, my tree looked something like this:
Passive tree 40 points
Go for the boss where you have the best resist first, good fire resist is Kaom first, good cold resist is Daresso first. I managed to hit level 38 just before I killed both of them, so now you need even more gems and links.
(My) links for level 38:
Essence Drain > Void Manipulation > Controlled destruction > Poison
Contagion > faster Casting > Increased Area of Effect > Abyssal Cry
Wither > Spell Totem > Faster Casting
Flame Dash > faster Casting
Blasphemy > Temporal Chains > Arctic Armour > Clarity
Lightning Golem > Blind - This is a very useful setup for bosses, as the Orb of Storms he uses blinds the bosses a lot.
In Cruel, the build actually starts working, and the speed drastically increases my priorities here was to max out my resists, start thinking about merciless resists, and consider how much travel I could get away with in my tree while still maintaining an ok clear speed. I opted to get dual curses as soon as I could, and swapped out Arctic Armour for Enfeeble. In Cruel, I also swapped out my Dual Wield wand setup for a shield. I killed all the bandits on cruel, although I would respec Alira to cast speed somewhere around lvl 95+. I usually run normal labyrinth once I get an instant flask on the Hallowed life flask base.
Passive Tree 71 points
At this stage, there is not much travel left to do in the tree, but both dexterity and strength starts to become an issue. You can get this from jewelry or the 30 str/dex nodes in the passive tree for the time being. These issues will go away as we start our way down towards ranger in the passive tree.
I was lucky with a few drops, and was over 50% on all my resists as I entered Merciless. If that is not the case, you might want to consider swapping out Enfeeble for Purity of Elements for a little while. On my way to Merveil in Merciless, I stumbled across a Drillneck, which I then traded for a Consuming Dark. They were roughly the same price, and nobody had enough currency to buy either. With a Consuming Dark in hand, I swapped out Poison for Rapid Decay, and cried tears of joy. I then ran cruel labyrinth once I had some good Divine flasks in my belt. Time to grind Dried Lake.
By now my passive tree looked something like this:
Passive tree level 70, 91 points
At this stage, it is time to find Zana, start exploring the Atlas and get a 5-link. to make it as cost effective as possible, you should look for an evasion or evasion/energy shield base, as you want 2 blue and 3 green sockets. Any merciless+ base that is ilvl 72+ will do at this stage. throw 2-3 alch/scours on it and pray for a good life roll, a resist and maybe even some extra evasion/ES. A Tabula Rasa is not a bad choice, but I usually stay away from it.
Flasks are also getting more relevant, as we finally have some flask nodes. I opted for 2x Divine Life flasks, Basalt, Jade and Quicksilver at this stage. Freeze/chill immune on Quicksilver, curse immune on Jade, reduced charges used and % evasion on Basalt, bleed/poison immune on life.
As I was progressing through maps, I started disliking the hybrid life/eva/es setup more and more, and was itching to go CI. I decided I had enough currency to transition at level 85, so I prioritized the gear for the transition like this:
Eye of Chayula > 5L ilvl 72+ Vaal Regalia for a tier 6 Woe essence > Shield with 350+ ES > Heavy Belt with reduced flask charges used to sustain flasks and the strength requirement > 25%+ movement speed boots/gloves/helmet with ok ES
I transitioned to CI and went to respec my life from Oak to a passive point.
Passive tree after CI transition, 106 points, level 86
I now started running Blasphemy > Temporal Chains > Enfeeble > Discipline as my aura setup, which left me with very little mana unreserved. I was very lucky in my Merciless lab run, and got leech on my boots, so on map clearing, mana was not an issue, and most bosses I managed to kill before the leech ran out. Once I was CI, I started grinding money for my Low Life setup.
As CI we no longer need life flasks, and the sweet, sweet life of 5 utility flasks can start. At this point you have two options: running an armour/block based setup, or pure evasion. In hindsight, having a Rumi's might have saved me when I ripped, but that would still have been a very slim chance. I prefer pure evasion:
Stibnite Flask with bleed immunity + prefix of your choice
Basalt Flask with reduced charges used + % evasion
Jade Flask with longer duration/reduced charges used + curse immunity
Quartz Flask with reduced charges used + movement speed
Quicksilver Flask with reduced charges/prefix of your choice + freeze/chill immunity
I used to use a Silver Flask instead of the Quartz - and still do for Uber Lab, but the Quartz flask is amazing for clearing maps, killing porcupines, dealing with pesky "allies cannot die" packs due to our lack of 100% pierce, and making us look great.
As CI with 10k+ ES, Atziri, Vinktar Square and Uber Lab all becomes a walk in the park. However, the dps isn't quite there to do the hardest 4 key run mods in Uber Lab before you go Low Life. After a couple of Vinktars, I was able to get my Heretic's Veil and upgrade some of my worse gear. At the end of day 3, I had bought my Shav's. I had hardly used any jews/fus at this stage, and was hoping for a quick 6S5L. 400 jews and 30 fus later, i had a 6L, and got GGGRBB colours in just 250 chroms (I know, I hated my luck as well). However, this being day 3 of the league, there were no empowers around, so I started using a Reduced Mana as my 6th link, and continued progression in the Atlas.
This video is from day 5 I think, when we had a pretty good Uber Lab layout. I was still on my 5L+ Reduced Mana at this stage.
Uber Lab farm, Essence HC
My offslot empowers were leveling, and on the second lvl 2 empower corrupt, I hit a level 3. Then I managed to get hold of a +1 maximum curse Eye of Chayula, and swapped in Witchfire Brew instead of my Stibnite Flask. Then I died:
RIP Essence HC, 5th on the ladder, 2% off level 95
Gear when I ripped
I vaaled my Shav's once I got to standard. It is now yellow.
Main link: Essence Drain > Void Manipulation > Controlled Destruction > Rapid Decay > Pierce/Slower Projectiles > Empower/Slower Projectiles/Pierce
Use Pierce or Slower Projectiles depending on what kind of utility you want. Slower projectiles gives you 10% more DPS, but Pierce adds some nice utility.
Wither: Wither = Spell Totem > Faster Casting > (Increased Duration)
Contagion: Contagion > Increased Area of Effect > Faster Casting > (Flame Dash/Abyssal Cry)
Curses: Blasphemy = Temporal Chains > Enfeeble > (Vulnerability)
With the introduction of Witchfire Brew, you can drop the third curse from your blasphemy setup and get it from the flask instead. Note that the uptime for bosses will be reduced, and you still need +1 curse from your gear to utilize all 3 at the same time.
As life based you have 2 3-links (or 1 4L if you have Wither totem in a 3L), and as Low Life you have 1 3-Link and some unlinked sockets avalible, so I made the list below so that you can pick whatever you like for the last utility sockets. There are more options, but these are the ones I like the most.
Abyssal Cry > Increased Area of Effect
Flame Dash > Faster Casting
Cast When Damage Taken = Immortal Call > Increased Duration
Vaal Lightning Trap
Vaal Haste/Discipline/Grace > Increased Duration
Keep Silver and Quicksilver flask up as you run from pack to pack. As you stop to cast, pop defensive flasks. You want to use Contagion first, then ED. On packs with high health and porcupines, flamedash into the pack after contagion, apply Abyssal Cry, dash out, throw an ED into the pack, get screen freeze.
On bosses you apply Essence Drain, throw down Wither Totem, place a Vaal Lightning trap, and then spam Essence Drain or kite as needed. The kiting bit usually is not needed as everything dies after a few seconds.
There are a lot of options on the Life version of the tree, but I usually prepare for CI quite early, and prefer to play hybrid life/ES. If you opt to stay hybrid, I would play as an Occultist instead. Occultists can regen life and ES at the same time, while also having a lot of other handy utility from their ascendancies.
This is the base line Low Life tree. I usually expand this to roughly match the CI version, but there are several valid options to choose between. Grabbing Amplify will be nice for AoE clear and ranger projectile nodes are amazing for single target damage. Build your character according to whatever content you wish to focus on.
One of the most interesting parts of an Essence Drain character is the weapon setups. We have quite a few setups to choose between, and all of them provides excellent utility or damage for what we use them for.
First I will mention the possibility of using a bow and the Soulstrike quiver. By using a bow it is quite easy to get both decay and +1 to socketed gems. This will result in the highest dps tooltip we can get within a reasonable budget. I do not have or like to use the bow setup, since it means you are locked to the bow (The bow will be your Essence Drain 6L, and you have to recolour your chest every time you want to swap to a different kind of setup).
When it comes to one handed weapons, we have a lot of choice. There are two interesting effects we can apply on hit; decay and poison. Decay is a flat 750 DPS DoT that lasts for 10 seconds. Like Essence Drain, this effect does not stack. By comparison, our Essence Drain does 809 DPS at level 20, effectively doubling our DPS on enemies that we hit with our ED projectile. Poison on the other hand applies a very small DoT that lasts 2 seconds and deals 8% of the initial hit of Essence Drain per second. This effect does stack, and it "double dips" with our damage bonuses. This means that at low gear/gem levels, poison is pretty bad compared to decay, but as your gear improves, poison starts to catch up in terms of DPS. After I have gone through the different weapon types, I will get back to the poison and decay scaling.
I will try to highlight the strong points of each kind of base item or unique item below and show the setups that I like to use:
Bases you can use Essence of Delirium on:
Since we don't care about crit, we want the Sai base when we are looking at daggers. The Sai gives us 6% block, and more defense is good regardless of intent. The benefit of using a dagger is that you can use both Whirling Blades and Shield Charge with it depending on your offhand. Due to these two reasons, a Sai is the most versatile weapon you can choose. Even a bad Sai is a good Sai:
There are no implicit rolls on sceptres that we care about. The only reason to use a sceptre over a dagger is the possibility of getting cast speed when you use your Essence of Delirium. Sceptres are only used as an offhand to Consuming Dark or as a main hand when you move with Shield Charge. Example of a sceptre:
If you are like me and prefer to run and use Flame Dash to get over obstacles, the wand is your friend. Opal Wands can get up to 42% spell damage as an implicit roll, and all wands can roll stats we want like cast speed and projectile speed in addition to spell damage and mana regeneration. Example wand:
The Consuming Dark dagger has always been a favourite for ED characters. It has high intelligence and spell damage, as well as a "free" 7th link by letting chaos damage poison on hit. This is the best way for us to get poison. You should always try to get a Consuming Dark for your character, even though you will most likely use Decay most of the time.
Breath of the Council:
This weapon is only used as an offhand, since it provides neither poison nor decay on it's own. Most players will opt for a shield instead of a BotC, but there are situations where it is highly desirable. It gives up to 80% increased chaos damage and 10% increased area of effect, which is nice on it's own. More importantly, it gives us 40% increased chaos skill effect duration, which increases the duration of everything we do. This is most relevant when it comes to stacking poison on harder bosses, and enables an ED character to pack a quite significant punch.
There are other uniques that can be nice as well, but for end game it is these two that are most relevant. If you have a poor economy, a Divinarius might be a good choice for offhand before you can get a BotC.
When you are choosing your weapon at the start of a league or while leveling a new character, the Consuming Dark is a natural choice. It provides good stats and effectively adds another link to your ED setup. While leveling and gearing up through maps, this dagger is significantly worse than a decay weapon, as you don't have enough increased damage to make the "double dipping" quite worth it. We still get it since it is relatively cheap compared to a decay weapon, and works well until you can get a substitute. Once you get hold of a decay weapon, you are able to spread your decay much more effectively, and might be able to rely less on abyssal cry to clear packs.
This changes again when you get to the ultra end-game. When you have your 6L Shav's and level 4 empower, you should have so high increased damage that the poison DoT that Consuming Dark provides is half that of decay. Your damage should also be so high that you really don't care about DPS for anything else than map bosses, and poison stacking is interesting once again. It is here that you can try different kind of setups, whether it is dual wielding CD and BotC, CD or a decay weapon, or just a decay wand or a high ES shield. The latter is my favourite, and I use it for everything except Shaper. For Shaper, decay alone starts to get quite lackluster, and I opt to focus solely on stacking poison.
Gear and Jewels
The characters are on standard now. The hybrid gear section is my gear from Prophecy HC, and my Low Life gear is a mix from the ED characters I played in Talisman HC, Perandus HC and Essence HC.
The ONLY mandatory part is Shavronne's Wrappings for the Low Life version of the build. For CI you swap it out with any high ES body armour.
When it comes to jewels, you want anything that gives a lot of spell damage, projectile damage or chaos damage. % Increased Energy shield and faster casting are also nice stats.
Low Life/CI gear
I usually run with Decay wand and a shield, but swapping for sceptre/consuming dark when I need to nuke:
Comments on Decay weapons if you have one available
Obviously, not moving is not an option, so Decay beats poison in almost all situations. A wand or dagger with 0 useful stats on it + decay will be better than Consuming Dark. Although the math in this section is outdated as of 2.5, decay weapons are still very strong, and should be used over Consuming Dark in most situations.
So I spent all the currency I had left on some deliriums, and crafted some Imbued and Opal wands and a couple of Ambushers.
This was the best I could come up with, plus some other stuff with potential if i had a lot of exalts for master crafts. The decay wand adds a little bit to my tooltip, and obviously the decay damage is awesome. With level 21 ED + level 4 Empower, the ED DoT is 1227.6. Decay simply adds to this, which gives us 2227.6 base damage on the DoT. My current ED tooltip is at 65k fully buffed, so my actual DoT damage is around 100k DPS before shock, wither and vulnerability. With a single application, Decay is way stronger than poison. Since Decay cannot stack (and with my current cast speed, I can apply about 6 stacks of poison by nuking), poison will still be stronger if you are able to sustain the mana and not have to move.
Now, the scaling on Decay. We already know that it scales with damage over time, and chaos damage from passives. I decided to go test a level 1 Essence Drain (about 200 tooltip dps) on Voll. Unlinked, it tickled a bit, and in my 6L it killed/almost killed him. So we know it scales with the chaos damage and damage over time from our gem setup. I then added my Controlled Destruction Support to the unlinked level 1 ED, and shot Voll again. The increase in damage was consistent with the more spell damage modifier on the support gem.
In conclusion, Decay scales with everything. Both passives and linked gems to skill used for the hit that applies it. It also scales with whatever tags the skill that delivers it is supported by, in this case Spell and Projectile.
This leaves us with the question if Empower is still the way to go for our sixth link. Level 21 ED + decay gives us 1898.7 base DPS, and a level 24 gives us 2227.6. If we were to use Slower Projectiles instead, we would get (assuming gem level 21) 2468.3 base DPS. I will probably still opt for the Empower, as I hate to play with projectiles you can easily out run yourself, but for the DPS horny, the option is very much viable.
We could also gem poison as our sixth link, again opening the possibility to nuke targets. A second option is to dual wield a dagger or sceptre and Consuming dark. I would advice against this for HC characters.
Poison VS. Empower math
To make the math as easy as possible, I only include numbers that double dips to poison, while keeping everything else at base value.
Assuming level 21 ED, our average initial hit is 323.5 chaos damage.
Poison applies a DoT that deals 8% of this damage every second for two seconds.
Poison by it self has an average base DoT of 25.88 DPS.
My damage that double dips:
My current passive tree has a total of 463% increased
Gear gives 93% increased
Link gives 30% increased and 20% + 40% + 45% more.
Ignoring potions, damage from poison support, jewels (forgot)
25.88 x 5.86 x 1.2 x 1.4 x 1.45 = 369.44 (lolwhat)
level 24 + decay = 2227.6
level 21 + decay + slower proj = 2468.3
level 21 + decay + 1 stack of poison = 2268.14
Slower proj > poison > empower for single application on single target dps WITH MY CURRENT LINKS/GEAR. If your gear is better/more dps oriented than mine, you will benefit more from poison.
Here are some fights with this build. Most of the guardians are recordings from my first or second kill, so there are a lot of room for improvement when it comes to maximizing DPS. Some of these fights are from 2.4 and some from 2.5. The decay nerf decreases our DPS by about 10-15%, so I did not bother to re-record some of the fights (I also don't have the maps).
Minotaur full clear - Poison only
Phoenix full clear - Decay
Shaper Deathless - Decay + Poison
Shaper Deathless, no portals used - Poison only
Overgrown Ruin - temp chains, no regen, -16% maxres, turbo, tripple added elemental, power charges
I am also including a Waterways clear where i play with righteous fire, just as a proof of concept for the tooltip warriors (15-20 points respec from the Low Life tree)
4 key run in Uber Lab, Conduits, Portals and golden key. 8 min.
Colloseum full clear. 4 min.
Waterways as LL RF ED
Gorge clear, 17 remaining. 2 min.
ED tooltips 2.3
Last edited by Nedieth on Jan 15, 2017 8:34:44 AM
Last bumped on Jan 18, 2017 8:31:41 AM
on Sep 1, 2016 9:40:30 AM
What about bandits?
on Sep 1, 2016 3:57:14 PM
Bandits is kill all, kill all, Kraityn if you want to save currency.
Oak, kill, kraityn if you plan on sticking around on life for a while.
Cast speed from Alira (Cruel) is nice, but I generally choose go get cast speed on jewelry if I feel like I need it.
on Sep 1, 2016 5:57:15 PM
on Sep 1, 2016 6:57:15 PM
great guide! can you post the node order for ascendancy?
on Sep 1, 2016 7:29:58 PM
Added a section for bandit reasoning and ascendancy order
on Sep 1, 2016 7:52:15 PM
I don't understand why all CI/LL ED/C builds that plan on taking 3 curses don't take Skittering Runes. 20% increased curse effect is pretty powerful.
And perhaps even better is Hex Master for 20% (!!!) increased AoE on curses AND +10% curse effect.
I understand these builds are rather point started to begin with, but perhaps someone could explain why these two nodes are never taken?
Last edited by sikker on Sep 2, 2016 3:27:13 AM
on Sep 2, 2016 3:26:54 AM
I guess you can totally them but you need to move 7 pts. And the curse got hit pretty hard with the new patch
"The exodus of humanity in search of a new home? It is like spreading a virus in the healthy space."
on Sep 2, 2016 4:36:22 AM
Btw Nedieth you re the only one i found not going for pierce pts on the tree(and im not agree when you say to cast first ed and then contagion, the mob will die too fast! ), actually i like it because you can save a lot of points, whats your pov about that? I never played ED so i tested your tree CI with trickster in std and seems ok but dunno if with 100% pierce is way better or what
"The exodus of humanity in search of a new home? It is like spreading a virus in the healthy space."
on Sep 2, 2016 6:17:33 AM
Am I missing something? Do you not Triple Curse Blasphemy when life-based? You get +1 curse from the tree and +1 from Cospri's, but no reduced reservation, it seems like. What gives?
on Sep 2, 2016 8:02:59 AM