[2.4] Hysteria Vortex - a story of Fire Burst and an Elementalist

I have to preface this build with an important thing to understand if you want to follow it. The goal of this character was not to clear the hardest endgame content as quickly as possible. There are ways out there to accomplish every single boss kill this character has achieved, faster (*cough* Pathfinder BV *cough*). Instead, this build was aimed to take a specific spell and work around it, taking it as far as it can get. The spell in question? Fire Burst

TL;DR - Videos
Coutyard clear on Enfeeble map - https://youtu.be/WJhPpN-kBak
Quick Voll kill using Blade Flurry with makeshift gear - https://youtu.be/Inhs9L3xI60

1. The Fire Burst, what and how
Fire Burst is an innate property of any rare weapon created by applying the Essence of Hysteria onto it. It is a powerful but small explosion, doing purely fire damage. I am unaware of the base damage of this spell, as there is no "pure" gem to extract and look at in the vacuum. What I can tell you though, is that it does a lot of base damage

Above you can see the direct comparison of damage values of a lv19 Vortex, and an unsupported Fire Burst. Even despite all of my fire damage scaling on the tree, Vortex does less than half the damage of the latter. This leads me to believe that it's a skill with a very high "alpha" punch, and will be important when talking about scaling. Another interesting thing to note is that an added 4 to 87 lightning damage on a dummy staff I have used to display these values gets scaled much better in the Vortex instance, indicating that for whatever reason Fire Burst has a low damage efficiency.

With all of that in mind, we have a high amount of base fire damage, that scales poorly with flat damage added to spells and a very small aoe - the last of which I have no real way of showing, so you'll have to believe my word on it. However before we begin scaling the damage, we must first consider how to deliver it in the first place

2. Delivery - skills and weapons
So far I have neglected to mention that the explosion has only 10% chance to be triggered on hit, per weapon. Therefore if you dual wield 2 items with Hysteria mod on them, you will get 2 rolls effectively doubling your proc chance. Great, you might think. Let's just dual wield wands then, and use a massive Kinetic Blast to hit all the enemies on the screen multiple times, creating at least 5 explosions per pack. But here comes the hidden caveat - Fire Burst almost certainly has cooldown. We do not know this for sure, but from multiple people's testing it definitely showed a high resistance to multiple casts in a small amount of time. So you want a large number of hits, distributed over time. There are multiple skills that can achieve this, ranging from Spectral Throw, through Lightning Arrow all the way to Firestorm. Some of them are more reliable than others. Some of them are more convenient than others. From my testing though, a clear favourite has arrived. And unfortunately, it's the most "boring" and meta one. Blade Vortex.

Multiple stacks of Blade Vortex going on around you are the fastest way to trigger your Fire Burst, while also not rooting you in place like an Incinerate would. You are free to run around, if you have some stacks going beforehand. Maybe something like Lightning Arrow would be faster on packs, while also giving you more range, but from my experience a level 1 BV gem ended up being the perfect solution. I do not say however that it is the only solution. There are other ways to play this, and if you chose to ignore me in that regard you may find that another skill works better for you. Notable other performers for me would be Ball Lightning, Firestorm, Lightning Tendrils or even Bladefall.

If you do want to use attacks (no, Blade Flurry is not an attack for the purpose of this) however, be warned that using things like bows will have dire consequences when it comes to colouring. Rolling 4b2r on a dex base item is not something for the feint of heart.

But if you do go with spells, then your best bet is probably either dual-wielded daggers, or a staff. Daggers give you a benefit of doubled proc chance, as well as their innate crit chance. They do suffer however from less support gems you are able to socket into them. You probably would get stuck at Inc. Critical Strikes - Inc. Critical Damage - Elemental Proliferation/Increased AoE. It is possible to play this way, especially if you do pick an Elementalist for the free prolif. I however found it inferior to staves, as the extra sockets allow you to enhance your burns immensely, as well as fitting in a Fire Penetration and a Life Leech gem, for the extra utility. It also justified taking an Elemental Overload, since I opted to not go for crits in that instance.

The tl;dr is - use daggers if you want to crit, use a staff if you don't. Deliver hits with Blade Vortex or Blade Flurry

3. Damage scaling
I've already talked a bit about some of the properties of Fire Burst. High fire damage, poor AoE, poor damage effectiveness. While the last bit is kind of irrelevant for us, the lack of good AoE is problematic. So much so that I have devoted my ascendancy choice to solving that.

I went with Elementalist. The reason for that is simply the focus on ignites, with are then proliferated for free onto nearby monsters. The addition of guaranteed ignite from Conflux is largely irrelevent, as I have managed to reach 59% chance to ignite as base. This means that whenever I encounter a pack, and the explosion will be triggered, at least one of the affected monsters will be ignited, spreading the damage onto the rest. In the end, I only end up hitting about 4 enemies, but destroying whole packs regardless. This, on the top of both Witch and Templar AoE clusters (as well as the use of an Increased AoE gem when convenient) solves the issues with killing multiple enemies. In fact, I end up having the easiest time with packs, since the large number of enemies guarantees a rapid explosion, which in turn burns them all down.

With that in mind, as well as allocating the Elemental Overload, the choice of support gems is somewhat limited and therefore streamlined. My current primary setup (as you can see on the top of this guide) is the following:

The use of Conc Effect is made possible thanks to the aforementioned spread of ignites. I did run an increased AoE for a good while when leveling, and I do not hate it now either. You can use it either instead of Conc Effect, or instead of Life Leech if you do not feel the need for that utility. In fact, here are some of the gems I use in more niche situations:

Increased Area of Effect - When I'm more concerned with clearing larger areas of monsters than putting large dents into tougher monsters. Also useful with "no status alimetns" maps.
Elemental Focus - Also used on mobs resistant to Ignites. It lowers your damage versus other monsters
Iron Will - Extremly margnal boost to damage, that is nevertheless better than having Inc. Burning Damage versus immune monsters.

With those gems and a Fire Golem up, I am able to reach the following tooltip:

With that I have rather comfortably taken on the things like Uber Izaro or t13 maps

4. Skill tree - putting it together

My current passive tree is this: www.poeurl.com/Pzd

It's a fairly standard mix of CI defences with spell/fire/area damage. It's pretty much what you would see on a Flameblaster that uses CI. Not all the pathing is entirely optimised, and I am mid-transition to energy surge, but the core of it shouldn't differ at all.

I took all passives for my bandits rewards, but cast speed on cruel is a possibility if you want.

Ascendancy-wise you should get Beacon of Ruin by cruel, and take anti-reflect and golem notables as you see fit. Former is defensive, latter offensive.

You can level this as a generic fire spellcaster, probably using Flameblast. I personally took Blade Vortex with no scaling on the tree because I'm weird.

Proposed leveling tree:

5. Defences and gear
As my main source of defence I play softcore.

In all seriousness, this was my first real character that was using Chaos Innoculation. Some fun was had, a lot of mistakes were made. As you well know however, CI is "the meta" of the current game. I travel mostly northern side of the passive tree, so I got access to most if not all primary ES nodes. On top of that, I have access to dual curses, which can be (and were in my case) Temp. Chains and Enfeeble. All this combined allows me to power through most of the content that I have access to, that being Uber Lab, normal Atziri and maps up to t13. I am confident that in the hands of a more experienced player, this could take down Shaper. While it does not facetank like certain other builds do, it has access to a very forgiving health pool (or shield pool I suppose), that only scales better with wealth.

There is only 1 required item. A weapon with the Hysteria enchant. In the case of my approach, a staff (preferably one of the 18% block bases). It's a gigantic roller-coaster, and if you can get anything like increased fire damage, increased spell damage, hybrid increased spell damage, you are lucky. God tier scenario would be getting high inc. fire damage, and a good hybrid spell damage, so that you can craft the basic spell damage onto it. So far though, the best I got is simply this:

(5 link is completely irrelevant)

My remaining current gear is far from t1 mind you. It looks something like this:

Save for the lucky enchant on my pair of Steppan, it's eh to ok tier. The helmet is self found, the rest costed me about 70 chaos. You do not need it though, it's just a matter of how far you can take your ES pool. I believe I had about 7500 ES on garbage 10c gear. The bottom line is, you don't need anything special to make this work.

None of the other gem setups are particularly relevant. Generic aura item, 2 golems, flame dash and a CWS linked to Vortex and Glacial Cascade, for both chill and more chances to proc Fire Burst. With the use of anti-stun boot enchant though, I rarely notice it. Mostly useful against bosses

6. So does it work?
I've seen a lot of people being sceptic about the Fire Burst, downright dismissing it as not viable. They seem to claim that you can only use this as an secondary damage boost, and that the main dps must come from a "normal" skill.

I disagree. The following is a video of Courtyard, a fairly unremarkable T10 map. It has been modded with Enfeeble, turbo monsters, power charges and 40% less recovery. It's not supposed to showcase my skill at the game (though it probably does, which is sad), but merely to show that you can clear mid to high level content using only Fire Burst. And do so reliably.

(pardon the skype spook)

I cannot really record much higher tier content at the moment, as I've given away my t10+ maps and most of my currency to a friend, since I am mostly done with Essence. But it should show you that it's possible to take this happy little staff very far, if done properly.

The only map mod that prohibits you from attempting it is blood magic. Everything else can be worked around, when not stacked too hard. No regen maps require disabling 1 curse and a mana flask. Reflect is doable thanks to Elementalist ascendancy. No status aliments are a pain, but if you swap some gems around it should go fairly quickly. Eveything else is simply a matter of knowing your limits with your given ES pool and curse(s) up.

7. Conclusion
Fire Burst is a neat little skill. It's not going to become meta anytime soon, as the unreliability of it prevents facetanking heavy content, and reliance on ignites limits your potential vs certain enemies. But it's certainly fun thing to use. You will see groups of enemies instantly going up in flames around you as you dash around. It's like having a live grenade on a rope, and whirling it around you. Sometimes it misses. But when it goes off, so does the neighbourhood.

8. Changelog
The 2.4.2 update added a new Earthquake it seems. But this time around, the Blade Flurry works surprisingly well with the Fire Burst. It has much higher range than Blade Vortex, and thus a safer playstyle. It has comparable clearspeed, but suffers in single target department. Also obviously only works with a dagger (and probably it's not worth it to dual wield this then)
Here is a very quick Voll kill - https://youtu.be/Inhs9L3xI60
Last edited by Sleelan on Nov 19, 2016, 6:26:29 PM
Last bumped on Dec 22, 2016, 8:22:10 PM
Interesting. Thanks for sharing.
Added a new video with Blade Flurry as the trigger skill - works surprisingly well on a character with no attack speed. The nature of the skill lends itself neatly to this build, especially if you go crit (making daggers more appealing)
This deserves more attention in my opinion. At the moment I am trying something very similar. I crafted a nice Staff with 1.59 attacks/sec and spell damage. So my approach is using Cyclone as my trigger skill. It works fine on my berserker, but I am looking for better alternatives.

I came up with the idea of going crit. So a Trickster with:
5/6L - Cyclone, coc, inc crit, firestorm, BV, (inc duration)
6S: - <Fire Burst> elemental focus, inc crit, inc crit multi, inc AoE fire pen, life leech
4L - cwdt lvl 1, bv, firestorm, inc duration.

I am trying to figure out some things, especially if I should go CI or not...


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