[2.5] ESC Solo Support with Spectral Spirits (nope, I don't have a lisp)

https://www.twitch.tv/epicfail42/v/101827014 - unID Maze (T14). 6 minutes total, three Colosseums dropped, and an Essence finally corrupted right for me! First T14 map on this character - and a pretty lucky one.
https://www.twitch.tv/epicfail42/v/101727481 - obligatory Atziri. The first thing I did after GGG fixed the Spectral Spirits.
https://www.twitch.tv/epicfail42/v/101835699 - first of those Colosseums with interesting mods. One sad death - Daresso put the knives on me just as I started to cast Ball Lightning with curses, and by the time the cast ended - I was dead.

Short 2.5 update

If you read the original post below and see the original videos above - you'll find a reasonably good build, well-equipped for dealing with T15 maps alone and supporting friends in any content.

In 2.5 there was a nice change, though - golems were buffed, golem-related jewels added. Anima Stone jewel dropped for me, so I added it and three Primordial Harmony jewels (sadly, Primordial Might didn't drop yet). The golems themselves reside in the 4-link that was used for zombies or SRS totem. Golems are very, very powerful at speed-clearing, so that improved clear speed to the level of current meta.

And then... Then I've bought a cheap white 6L staff, dropped the Essence of Insanity on it to get Spectral Spirits, and put the following gems there:
Animate Weapon - Minion Speed - Melee Splash - Multistrike - Minion Damage - Spell Totem.
Of course, that was way too costly on mana, so I've managed to master-craft the "Socketed Gems are supported by level 1 Blood Magic" on it. Yes, placing a totem costs 896 health. No, that's not a major problem - I have reasonable regen, totems are places fairly infrequently, and drinking some health flask from time to time doesn't feel like a chore.

This produced a fully developed Animated Weapons build (7-linked weapons are pretty good) on top of three Spectral Spirits and three Flame Golems. I still keep five auras (Discipline in a Voideye and four agressive ones with Generosity), two 15-second Vaal Hastes and two curses, so I still consider myself a support for my friends :-)

For those who managed to read down to here - a random Abyss in 2.5: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/117810547. Was a bit scary a couple of times - extra life and damage on the map, and, for some reason, too few weapon drops. Still, good enough as a random example.

Solo Support - WTF?
For those who never played with a support, and/or as a support, I need to say that it's something that's worth trying in PoE at some point, and Breach league that forces you to have super-meta-high DPS is a good moment to try it. There are Guardian builds that give you quite a few thousands of ES just being nearby, there are Necromancer builds with all the existing auras on, some of them at gem levels up to 27.
This build is not a "real support" like that. Yes, last time I've checked, my friends reported 3 to 6 times of their "normal" DPS, yes, I have a couple of max efficiency curses, and yes - I even deliver some pretty nice damage myself, but these days, among the rich and powerful, it's considered a bad form to kill so slowly that you actually have time to curse enemies.
That's the general state of the game - today's support is not really a damage-boosting beast: all the Shaper-hunters already have more than enough damage, and they can manage their curses (if needed) by themselves. They do need extra defenses, though, so "real supports" with their Shavs are very different from what you see here.
Still, I believe there are enough "average" players (mostly playing alone, sometimes with friends, not trading or trading as little as they could) who would benefit from an introduction to the world of "old-style" supports :)
This build, being somewhere between self-found (if you get to drop one or two main uniques - they are not rare) and very-very-very cheap, provides such an opportunity. It also has an extra benefit of being a pretty viable solo build, so leveling does not require you to look for a party if you don't want to. And yet, your friends, if they are not running Shaper and Uber-Atziri non-stop, would be happy to party with you.

This league didn't really go well for me, my first "dopey flower" build (Sire of Shards - Slower Projectiles - Magma Orb) didn't really work because of multiple bugs preventing one Magma Orb hitting the same target multiple times. They are still not fixed by this day.
After making a couple more characters (both in a "mostly failed" category - got to level 90 and decided there is no fun there) I wanted to make a last-ditch effort and try to actually do something with the league-specific things.
Well... In two months and three level 90 characters I had zero exalts drop, zero successful essence corrupts that would drop for me... Just a ton of bad luck and boredom instead of normal league. So, what to do? It needs to be cheap, hipster, and fun to play.
At some point I've noticed a thread on Reddit about "The Public Party Princess" - https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1733728 - pretty extreme support build, with three Corruscating Elixirs supported by Overflowing Chalice. "1hp and no Shavronne's", as the author says.
There are two main kinds of support builds: Guardian and Necromancer, and, for the most part, they both need Shavronne's Wrappings and strongly prefer not to fight at all. But this one... Cheap down to self-found status with some luck, very hipster, and just may allow me to use the new Essence skill, Spectral Spirits, to its maximum.
So, here's my attempt to make a fully solo-viable, very cheap build based on a very simple idea: get a lot of auras and some curses, use any minion skill to win, then use Spectral Spirits to turn it to 11 :) I've replaced the most extreme aspects of the Princess with minion bonuses and some defense.
Well, as I've already said, the league didn't really go well for me. The Essence of Insanity's Spectral Spirits that I've planned to use got bugged at the time when I needed them, and I had to level to 91 (!!!) without them, waiting and waiting for the fix. I did it with SRS (single 4-link totem srs, running 11-12 map tier, OK?)... What a league...
I planned the build for Spectral Spirits, though - so as soon as GGG fixed the bug in 2.4.2 it became a lot of fun to play. They don't really need so much minion speed, like SRS, to reach the enemies faster (they are already there), they are invulnerable, so ignore any kind of enemy AOE and keep on damaging, they seem to have reasonable AI. My job is to - ha-ha - support them.

The Good
You get 5 to 9 powerful auras very close to maximum theoretical effectiveness (depending on your will to reserve some life and main skill setup preference).
Two curses with max effect.
Enough curses and auras to easily do high tier maps solo with any minion skill in 3 link or less :)
Very pleasant Spectral Spirits gameplay, fast but unhurried (they do the hurrying by themselves). OK-ish clear speed (not super-meta, but fairly high).
Can boost most builds' DPS 3 to 6 times just standing there.
Boost them even more by giving level 25 Discipline and max power Vaal Haste (maybe could even fit some extra vaal gems for group support).
Whirling Blades with pretty good speed.
Can be done self-found if you get Victario's Influence and, maybe, Alpha's Howl to drop. Two unique jewels used are quest rewards.
Total price for the best items if you buy them - about half of an Exalted when I bought them (even at the end of the league - still below 1ex total).

The Bad
You are hybrid with less than stellar EHP values - 3000-4000 health, 3000-4000 ES. You may also want to reserve some of this life, so as support with best auras you are down to about 6K EHP.
While you can have reasonable evasion and block, you are far from invincible, hardcore is not recommended.
You are severely limited with your gem slots, and take no minion life in the tree, so no "full summoner" mode is available (with golem, zombies, spectres, etc).
You may, by having all offensive auras, screw up someone's Elemental Equilibrium (and need to switch some auras off or replace them).
Your curses are on Curse on Hit gem, so group members with Blasphemies will overwrite them.

The Ugly
No, you will not be able to do Shaper solo, I think. Bring a DPS friend and boost him.
You have to make a lot of painful choices - get two 1h weapons for 6 spirits? No Prism Guardian for you then, so, you lose three auras on life. Want to use SRS for more boss damage? No zombies at all for you then - so enemies go straight to you.
No gem slots for a lot of nice gems - Vaal Discipline, second Vaal Haste, low-level Clarity to boost Commander of Darkness Ascendancy... Adding each such gem removes something else useful.
Even your "main skills" are 4-links at best (there are options, but they are not cheap and not easy).

Here's my current tree at level 91. From here on - it's, basically, life and/or ES as needed.
I don't think any kind of leveling trees are needed - you start as Witch, grab an SRS gem, and go on collecting first Aura nodes, then, as you reach them, Minion nodes. To level faster - play in parties with friends, your auras are OP.
When you start hurting from lack of mana regen (early enough), put SRS on a totem. By that time your auras start doing enough work, so those few weak skulls will do admirable job. Grab +attributes and +resists nodes as needed, respec later.

Gems and Links
Body: 2L 6S, Haste, Hatred, Wrath, Anger, Whirling Blades-Faster attacks (you need Victario's Influence there).
Head: 4L, Vaal Haste-Flesh Offering-Desecrate-Increased Duration (head only, you need Alpha's Howl there). You may want to replace Desecrate with level 1 Clarity or another Vaal skill - I did.
Gloves or Boots: 4L, Ball Lightning or Arc, Curse on Hit, Temporal Chains, Enfeeble or Elemental Weakness.
Gloves or Boots: 4L, "main skill". Many variations are possible. I'll list a few, try some and decide what you like most.
SRS-Spell Totem-Minion Damage-Melee Splash or Multistrike - most damaging main skill until you can use Spectral Spirits.
Raise Zombie-Summon Stone Golem-Minion Life-Minion and Totem Elemental Resistance or Fortify - meat shield, life regen, almost no damage. Try with Spectral Spirits (my current setup).
Summon Skeletons-Spell Totem-Minion Damage-Multistrike - meat shild and some damage, but needs recasting. Try and see if you like it.
Ring: Discipline in the Voideye ring for +5 levels (if no Voideye - it goes into Alpha's Howl, of course).
Weapon: once again, options, options. Three main choices:
1h+1h, for 6 Spectral Spirits. Minion damage, Melee Splash, Multistrike (my current setup). Maybe one of them could use Culling Strike instead of Multistrike.
1h+Shield, for 3 Spectral Spirits and auras on life in Prism Guardian: same setup in a weapon, 3 Purities in the shield. Probably better overall to put Grace here instead of Purity of Ice.
2h staff, for powerful SRS and 3 Spectral Spirits. Chose your poison: self-cast with some mana problems or totem with mana cost problems. I haven't tried this, but see some numbers in the FAQ below.

Being a summoner, I have no DPS numbers at all :) They are good enough for me, see for yourself in the videos above.

I'm level 91 now, most gems are at level 19, 20% Quality. My defense (in hideout, with auras on and Golem summoned) goes like this:
Dual-wield, no shield: 4150HP+3458ES=7608EHP, 17% chance to evade, 186 life regen, 141/139/147/37 resists, 34% block chance, 32% move speed.
1h+shield, 3 auras on life (Grace, Purity of Fire and Purity of Lightning): 2573HP+3606ES=6179EHP, 40% chance to evade, 186 life regen, 251/176/257/37 resists, 28% block chance, 29% move speed.


First, you need to use the Auras, so you'll need these. Lucky corruption on the helmet could be replaced with almost any Aura-related enchant.

Next, the Spectral Spirits. You have two main options: you use two Sai for its block (my current setup - I have 34% block, up to 37 is possible), or you go for two Jagged Foil for attack speed and faster Whirling Blades.
If you are rich and lucky - go corrupt some weapons like that hoping for built-in Multistrike or Melee Splash. It would be a 5-link then, with better damage.

Amulet is mostly for attributes, to save passive points, but life and ES are nice on everything. The belt, gloves, and boots are also hybrid.

Unique jewels - both available as quest rewards.
Rare jewels - if you are rich, get something like this (this one was a gift from a friend).
If not - this one will do.

Flasks - the sky is the limit: Vinktar, Taste of Hate, Rumi's... I use 4 instant health ones and one mana flask in case an unID map would not have regen. Also, I rolled curse removal on that mana flask to curse Atziri and remove the reflected curses.

Bandits - Oak for health (hybrid build needs any health we can get), kill all, kill all.
Ascendancy - Necromancer, take Mistress of Sacrifice, Commander of Darkness, Spirit Eater, Beacon of Corruption.

Q: What's the best compromise - should I reserve some auras on life? Should I get three or six Spirits? 2*1h, 1h+Shield, 2h?
A: Your choice, of course. Here are your options and reasoning behind them:
I do have enough auras to make even fairly weak Spirit damaging, so for clearing maps it's mostly important to have a big AOE (and more Spirits provide that by flying to different enemies).
Besides, twice as many Spirits means double DPS on bosses. Would it be possible to compensate for this double damage by having extra links?
Let's see: the original setup is Spectral Spirits(in the weapon)-Minion Damage-Melee Splash-Multistrike. In theory, if you are rich, you could corrupt a Melee Splash or Multistrike on the weapon to get a 5-link.
What if you replace this with a 6L staff (hoping to get +levels with your essence)? You would probably add a Spell Totem-SRS-and one more support gem (after all, if you have only three Spectral Spirits, SRS would be more important on bosses, so it makes sense to put them there). You cannot cast them yourself (not enough mana regen), so they go on the totem.
One extra support would, probably, be a Melee Physical Damage or faster attacks, so it would not give that much, certainly it would not fully compensate for 100% more Spirits.
You do get much stronger SRS (SRS-Spell Totem-Minion Damage-Melee Splash-Multistrike-Melee Physical Damage) instead of SRS-Spell Totem-Minion Damage-Melee Splash, but that would be problematic for mana reasons. Instead of 48 mana (of 84 that I have) you'll have to find 120 mana somewhere. If you solve it somehow, you do get an extra 4-link for a nice meatshield or CWDT.
SRS has its own set of problems: they are not always there, so they need to fly to the enemy first. They die from AoE boss attacks. You need to spend tome putting totem down.
So, in short, my bet for solo is on two 1h weapons. When supporting in a party it would, probably, be efficient to grab a Prism Guardian and put 1-3 auras on life, while your 3 Spirits would add some DPS to your group.

Here's a typical result from one of my friends - the tooltip DPS with Mathil's Dreamfeather spectral throw (6L GMP), in hideout, no buffs of any kind:
Without me: 6657
With me, 3 auras on life 28200
With me, no auras on life 20996
With me, one aura (Grace) on life 25410. Other auras (two purities) don't give as much, because his build's DPS heavily depends on Evasion.
I think, for solo play, losing 1/4 of Spirits' DPS is worth it to double their number.
Last edited by EpicFail42 on Jan 27, 2017, 6:21:31 PM
Last bumped on Dec 30, 2016, 12:30:06 PM
EHC attempt 1 - 800HP+400ES not enought for solo.

Starting attempt 2 now.
Pity the emperor who sits alone on his throne.
Last edited by Clinkzss on Nov 20, 2016, 8:51:28 AM
Let me just quote myself from "The Bad" section of the guide :)

You are hybrid with less than stellar EHP values - 3000-4000 health, 3000-4000 ES. You may also want to reserve some of this life, so as support with best auras you are down to about 6K EHP.
While you can have reasonable evasion and block, you are far from invincible, hardcore is not recommended.

In fact, it could, certainly, work, but if you want to stay sane and happy in hardcore with this build - you'll need a defensive Guardian support in your party ;) Team up as two supports - and you will be the rock stars in any party.
Im not complaining dude, I liked your idea, Im tryin it! But Im Hardcore!

PS: You forgot Vaal Skeletons, most OP skill.
Pity the emperor who sits alone on his throne.
May be 2 hand staff will be better?
3 more support gems can easy give more then 100% damage, and i tnink, as for Whispering Ice slots does not need to be linked?
I plan an update for the build based on my 2.5 experience - I'm playing it again, but with flame golems instead of SRS/zombies (only have The Anima Stone, but not Primordial Might, so other kinds of golems would be too lazy, I think).

Right now I feel three 4-linked flame golems (GMP - Spell Echo - Minion Damage) do solve all the speed-clearing problems, but they are, of course, not really for bosses. Thus, by removing the need for SRS, golems open the way for three 6- or 7-linked Spectral Spirits. Sure, you lose the most convenient movement skills, but it may be worth it to try for a staff. I also think it doesn't have to be linked.

It also could be worth it to take a real 6L staff, add Primordial Might jewel, and put melee golems as the final link. The supports would be the same - both melee - and the 4-link that would be freed could house a lot of utility or defense (curses, cwdt, whatever).

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