[2.6] The Curse Whisperer - Tri-Curse CI Whispering Ice Berserker - Viable for Everything

2017-03-02: Updated for 2.6. Replaced the nerfed Pyre and 1 gem with Cold To Fire, Avatar of Fire and a good ring.

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This is the Marauder version of my Tri-Curse CI Whispering Ice build. The other versions:
Witch
Scion
Templar

The power level of all versions is pretty close and the differences are only in the Ascendancy perks specific for each class. The Berserker can leech much more ES than the other versions and has higher movement and attack speed than the other classes. It comes at the price of lower defenses. The original idea for using WI with this class was proposed by @Black_Gun (although I tweaked it a lot).

This build can do everything in Path of Exile. No boss is too hard for it, most are too easy. Watch the videos below to see how it performs against all the hard stuff.

Featured video: Deathless Shaper kill

In ordinary mapping it's so flexible and safe that you can use MF gems while routinely clearing top tier maps with most of the random mod combinations.

Videos


Stats
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2.5 Breach league, after 3 weeks:
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Defense (with Discipline and Chaos Golem)
260q5pz

Icestorm tooltip in hideout
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Icestorm stats in combat (with Elemental Overload and Pain Reaver)
2qkusrm

Standard league:
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Build Theory
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This build is based on Intelligence which provides both offense (Icestorm damage) and defense (ES, leech amount). Converting cold damage to fire maximizes the offensive and defensive power.

Offense
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The Whispering Ice grants you a unique skill - Icestorm - that scales with your Intelligence stat and uses any support gems in the staff without the need to link them (a free 7-link).

The initial cold damage is converted to fire. This lets us take advantage of both Fire and Cold damage modifiers.

More details
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Icestorm is a high DPS skill. Its true DPS is hard to calculate, and it can vary depending on too many things, so the game only shows average damage per hit. Icestorm hits 10 times per second by producing a small AoE explosion in a random spot within the area of attack. What makes this build really shine is resistance penetration (see below). Resistant enemies, including all serious bosses, take a much larger percentage of our damage than they do from most other builds.

We use Ascendancy and several support gems that increase the damage multiplicatively:

Aspect of Carnage is 40% MORE damage.

Fire Penetration is equivalent to 38-152% MORE damage depending on the enemy resists. It can make the target's resists negative, so against an enemy with no Fire resistance it makes their resistance go to -38% resulting in 38% MORE damage. An enemy with max Fire resistance (hard capped at 75%) would take only 25% of incoming fire damage without penetration. But this gem penetrates 38% of it and makes them take 25+38=63% damage dealt, or 152% MORE.

Concentrated Effect is 55% MORE plus 10% increased damage. Reduced area of effect is increased back by the Blast Radius and Amplify nodes.

Cold To Fire is similar to 30% MORE plus 20% increased damage.

Cast while Channelling is 10% MORE plus 10% increased. And it sets the casting speed of Icestorm to 0.35 sec which is much faster than it could be cast directly.

Scorching Ray is used to cast Icestorm (via Cast while Channelling) while also doing its own burning damage and applying up to -24% fire resistance debuff on the target which stacks with Fire Penetration.

Because this build is not a crit one, we use a secondary skill to trigger Elemental Overload's 40% MORE damage buff. Orb of Storms works the best because it can benefit from the increased AoE and skill duration.

Warlord's Mark causes everything that's not a boss or hexproof to be stun locked by Icestorm.



Defense
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CI and high Intelligence provide a very large amount of ES from just 4 items (body armor, gloves, boots, belt), Discipline aura and a few ES nodes in the tree. 1500 Int = 300% increased ES. Compared to that, all tree nodes that grant increased ES are insignificant and can be ignored.

Pain Reaver, Ghost Reaver, Vaal Pact, Life Leech and Warlord's Mark combine for very efficient ES and mana leeching.

CI makes you immune to all forms of Chaos damage including poison.

Rite of Ruin grants immunity to stun as long as you keep killing.

Arctic Armor, Fortify, Enfeeble, Chaos Golem, Rite of Ruin reduce incoming damage (but Aspect of Carnage slightly increases it). Temporal Chains, Arctic Armor and the chilled ground created by Icestorm greatly slow all enemies. Warlord's Mark stun locks almost everything. Immortal Call protects against damage spikes. Golem distracts the toughest enemies and takes a lot of hits for you.

More details
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Pain Reaver leeches 1% of the Icestorm damage as ES and mana. You get another 2% ES and mana leech on top of that while you keep killing things.

Life Leech adds another 2% ES leech.

Warlord's Mark adds another 2.4% ES and mana leech (with 20q Blasphemy and curse effect nodes). However, it doesn't work on Curse Immune enemies and its effect is reduced to 1.2% leech against bosses. Also, Warlord's Mark makes killed enemies give you endurance charges reducing incoming physical damage and increasing the duration of Immortal Call. And it lowers most enemies' stun threshold to where they get permanently stunned by Icestorm and unable to deal any damage to you.

Enchanted boots add another 0.4-0.6% ES and mana leech as long as you keep killing something.

Enfeeble makes the enemies deal 36% LESS damage (15% LESS if boss). Enchanted helmet (with a lot of luck) can take that to 45% LESS (18% LESS if boss).

Rite of Ruin reduces incoming damage by 6% if you've killed recently.

Fortify reduces incoming damage by 20% for all hits.

Arctic Armor makes you take 13% LESS damage from fire and physical hits, including reflected fire damage.

Chaos Golem reduces incoming physical damage by 4%.

Fortify/Golem/Ruin/Carnage, Arctic Armor and Enfeeble combine multiplicatively as they are applied on different stages of the hit damage calculation. For example, an Enfeebled monster landing a physical hit on you will deal only (1-0.36) * (1-0.20-0.04-0.06+0.10) * (1-0.13) = 0.45, or 45% of the damage it would deal without those defenses, i.e they hit you for 55% LESS damage. For bosses (60% less effect of curses) this number is 0.57, or 43% LESS damage.

Arctic Armor, Fortify, Rite of Ruin and Aspect of Carnage also apply to reflected elemental damage. Elemental reflect causes you to hit yourself for a portion of the fire damage you deal to the enemy. But this build takes 27% LESS ((1-0.20-0.06+0.10) * (1-0.13) = 0.73) reflected damage and can outleech it easily.

High level CWDT + Immortal Call + Inc Duration + duration nodes in the tree make you immune to physical damage for extended periods of time when you take a serious hit while ignoring small hits.

A character with no Life from gear or the tree would normally get stunned very often by high level enemies. Rite of Ruin you immune to stun as long as you keep killing.



Utility
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Crave the Slaughter grants 15% increased movement speed out of combat.

This build does not rely on flasks and can take advantage of any flasks you want to bring to the particular situation for the best performance.

Very high Intelligence means very large mana pool. Pain Reaver and Warlord's Mark leech mana faster than it can be spent. This allows us to reserve almost all of the mana and still not run out of it while constantly casting, even in no regen maps.



Gear
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Important: Always 20q your staff and chest armor before attempting to 6S them (and linking the armor). Quality improves your roll by a lot. You can do it a lot cheaper than Vorici with average luck, as long as it's 20q.

Mandatory uniques
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Duh!

Keep in mind that 6S requires ilvl 50 or higher. A lower ilvl staff is OK for leveling but you will want 6S eventually.


Astramentis solves all stat requirement issues and provides a huge amount of damage and ES via its high Intelligence (which is also boosted by the staff and helmet). Some amulets from the Talisman league can do better but they are very rare and expensive.

The implicit mod can be easily rolled to 16 with a few Blessed Orbs. A low explicit roll (below 90) can be turned into a high roll (over 90) with a Divine orb or two.

Recommended uniques
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Black Sun Crest boosts your Int. +1 gem level bonus is nice too. Look for at least 13% increased Int.

This helmet also makes it easier to obtain a good enchantment (see the Enchantment section). You can use more than one Black Sun Crest with different socket colors and enchantments and swap them depending on the target.


Doedre's Damning allows you to use 3 curses.


Perandus Signet adds a lot of Int at high levels. A really good rare Opal ring with a lot of Int and other useful mods can work well too.


Standard league only. The legacy Pyre with 100% conversion lets you drop Avatar of Fire for 2 skill points, use a higher DPS gem (Elemental Focus or Controlled Destruction) instead of Cold to Fire, and helps with resists. Don't use the new (40%) version of this ring, it's not good.

Rare armor/gloves/boots
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Int is the main stat to look for. Try to get at least 40 Int on the rare armor/gloves/boots, ideally 50 or better. Int is more important than raw ES because Int gives you ES and DPS. Moderately decent amount of ES on the item is fine as long as Int is very high.

Body Armor is the primary source of ES, look for one with very high ES (700+), 40 Int or better, and a resist mod.

Gloves and boots have to provide resists. Look for ones with high Int, at least 120-150 ES and decent resists. For the boots you want 30% (or at least 20%) movement speed. For the gloves, the new Fingerless Silk base is the best because it has an implicit damage mod. But it's a small bonus compared to all the MORE modifiers we use, it's worth about the same as 10-15 Int.

You can add 30 Int or 30% any resist via crafting if the item has less than 3 suffixes.

Belt
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Int Crystal Belt

Essence crafting introduced in 2.4 added this fantastic option: a belt with high Int, ES, resists and extra movement speed. You need an Essence of Spite to craft a belt with Int.

Auxium

This is the 2nd best option after the essence-crafted Crystal belts. Protection against freeze and chill is nice.

Other belts

These are all viable options with various benefits but they are nowhere as good as the Int Crystal belts, and not worth giving up Auxium either (IMO).

Jewels
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You will need 2x Brute Force Solution and 2x Fertile Mind to convert Str and Dex nodes on the way to important things to Int, with their own Int on top of that. Izaro's Turmoil is the perfect DPS jewel for this build. Rare jewels with good mods can be even better. Resist/damage jewels can also be used if you are struggling to balance the resists.

The following mods are good on rare jewels:
+12-16 to Intelligence
14-16% Increased Spell damage while wielding a staff
14-16% Increased Fire damage
14-16% Increased Cold damage
10-12% Increased Spell damage
10-12% Increased Area damage


To calculate the value of a jewel, simply look at the sum of the values of these mods on it. Int is better than the same amount of Increased damage. Int will increase Icestorm damage by almost the same amount as a damage mod, but it also increases ES.

Jewel placement
35i6iaq

Enchantment
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Helmet
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Helmet enchantments are the most useful, but also hardest to get. There are 360 of them. What's worse, you have to replace your previous enchantment with a totally random new one, so if you get something even remotely useful you have to think twice before losing it in hopes of getting a better one. However, using a unique helmet (Black Sun Crest) lets you eliminate the risk: bring a second helmet to enchant instead of the one you are using and switch them whenever you find a better enchantment than the one you have. Ideally you want to have multiple helmets with different enchantments to use against different targets.

Helmet enchantments that are good for this build:

30% increased Enfeeble Curse Effect = cursed enemies deal 9% LESS damage
30% increased Temporal Chains Curse Effect = cursed enemies are 12% slower
30% increased Warlord's Mark Curse Effect = +0.6% extra ES and mana leech from WM
36% increased Arctic Armour Buff Effect = 4.5% LESS damage from fire and physical hits

Boots
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There are 15 different boot enchantments, so it's a lot easier to get the one you want compared to the helmet enchantment lottery. One of them is very good for this build. 'Recently' means in the last 4 seconds.

0.6% of Damage Leeched as Life and Mana if you've Killed Recently

Gloves
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There are 13 different glove enchantments and only one of them is useful good for this build:

Cast Commandment of Reflection when Hit - a temporary clone to distract the enemy

However, if you have Fingerless Silk gloves, enchanting them is a bad idea because you lose the increased damage implicit mod.

Enchant your boots first, then gloves (if not Fingerless), then start playing the helmet lottery.

Do the Endgame Labyrinth to get the strongest version of the enchantments, especially the helmet one. In lower difficulties they are much weaker.


My gear
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2.5 Breech league, after 3 weeks:
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Standard league:
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Gems
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Arctic Armour lv 20, ideally 21
Ball Lightning lv 4
Blasphemy 20/20, ideally 20/23
Cast while Channelling 20/20, ideally 21/20
Cold To Fire 20/20, ideally 21/20
Concentrated Effect 20/20, ideally 21/20
Curse on Hit 20/20, ideally 20/23
CWDT lv 1
CWDT lv 20
Discipline lv 20, ideally 21
Enfeeble 20/20, ideally 21/20
Faster Attacks 20/20
Fire Penetration 20/20, ideally 21/20
Fortify any level, ideally 20q
Immortal Call lv 20
Increased Duration 20/20, ideally 20/23
Leap Slam any level
Life Leech any level
Orb of Storms lv 17 or better
Scorching Ray 20/20, ideally 21/20
Summon Chaos Golem 20/20
Temporal Chains 20/20, ideally 20/23
Warlord's Mark any level, ideally 21/20

Optional:
Elemental Focus 20/20, ideally 21/20
Item Rarity 20/20, ideally 20/23
Culling Strike 20/20

Recommended priority of adding quality:
- Faster Attacks
- Blasphemy
- Curse on Hit
- DPS gems: CtF, CwC, Fire Penetration, Concentrated Effect
- Fortify
- Temporal Chains
- Enfeeble
- Inc Duration
- Golem
- Scorching Ray
- Warlord's Mark

Uber Lab farming is the best way to add quality to your gems. You can often find treasure chests filled with random quality gems to vendor for the GCP recipe.

If you are not into Uber Lab farming, then:
- for all gems except the DPS ones, level the gem to 20 or buy an uncorrupted 20/0 gem, vendor the gem + Gemcutter Prism to get a 1/20 gem, and then level that one. You can get them to lv 17-18 in no time, and that is enough for them to be efficient;
- for the DPS gems, level 2 copies at the same time (or buy 20/0) and then vendor one copy with GCP and re-level it in the swap weapons.


Links
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Weapon RRRBBB: Life Leech, Cold To Fire, Fire Penetration, Scorching Ray - Cast While Channelling, Concentrated Effect (or Elemental Focus).

Scorching Ray must be linked to CwC. No other links are required, Icestorm automatically uses all support gems in the staff.

The 6th socket:
- Concentrated Effect for max DPS against bosses
- Elemental Focus for slightly lower DPS but larger AoE for map clearing
- Item Rarity for better loot, if the map is easy enough

In the Standard league, you can also swap Fire Penetration for Item Quantity.

For the top bosses, a swap staff for MF culling can be quite useful. RRRBBG: LL, CtF, FP/IQ, SR - CwC, IR, Culling Strike. Swap to it when the boss is at 10% life or less.

In some endgame content (Labyrinth, Atziri/Uber) the extra leech is not needed but extra DPS is very useful. A second staff with 4B2R and Elemental Focus instead of Life Leech is good to have.

Chest 5L: CWDT (lv 1) - Ball Lightning (lv 4) - Curse of Hit (20/20) - Enfeeble (lv 20) - Temporal Chains (lv 20).
Important: CWDT needs to be lv 1 and BL must be lv 4 or lower, do not level these gems! CoH can be any level, 20/20 is highly recommended. Enfeeble and TC must be lv 6 or higher, do level them. This setup will not work with low level curse gems or high level CWDT/BL.

Your body armor doesn't need to be 6L or even 6S. If/when you get a 6L chest, move Orb of Storms to the 6th socket for more curse application or add Enhance for more curse effect.

4L: CWDT - Immortal Call - Increased Duration - Summon Chaos Golem.

3L: Leap Slam - Faster Attacks - Fortify.

2L: Blasphemy - Warlord's Mark.

Remaining sockets: Discipline, Arctic Armor, Orb of Storms, and a gem of your choice (e.g. Enlighten for more free mana, Enhance for stronger curses (6L chest), Vaal Discipline, Vaal Lightning Trap, Lightning Warp, Portal, etc).

Other than having to put the 5L into the body armor, the rest can be placed depending on the sockets you have. You will have to off-color 3 sockets in at least one item, so be prepared to spend 200-300 chromatic orbs. If you want the optimal setup, you will have to off-color all 3 items, and 2 of them will be in that 200-300 chrom range:

Helm BBR+any (use Vorici 1B or 2B): Blasphemy - Warlord's Mark - Discipline - gem of your choice.
Gloves/boots RRRB (use Vorici 2R or 3R): CWDT - Immortal Call - Inc Duration - Summon Chaos Golem.
Gloves/boots RRGB (use Vorici 1R): Leap Slam - Faster Attacks - Fortify - Orb of Storms.

The final curse comes in at lv 77. Until then you can put Enfeeble into 3L with CWDT-IC, summon the golem manually, and the body armor links are not even needed. You can use the body armor to get around the coloring issues until you are higher level and doing high tier maps.

You can also place the Leap Slam link into the Black Sun Crest wasting its +1 gem level bonus, until you get enough chroms to color everything for the optimal setup.


Skill tree
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Lv 88 tree

This build is fully functional as early as lv 69, and fully safe at lv 77 (see the Leveling section). After that you just add Int/damage/ES upgrades every 1-3 levels and go as high as you want.


Bandits
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Kraityn - Kill - Kill

30% total resists for 1 skill point is a very good deal. It lets you use items with lower resists and higher Int/ES. Once your gear gets so good that you overcap your resist by 10% or more, you can always respec Kraityn into a skill point.


Ascendancy
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Berserker

Berserker get really nice bonuses as long as he keeps killing something. The minor nodes in the Ascendancy tree are mostly wasted as they grant melee-oriented things, but extra attack speed is useful for Leap Slam which becomes significantly less clunky compared to the other versions of the build.

Pain Reaver leeches 1% damage as ES and mana always, plus another 2% if you have killed recently.

Rite of Ruin reduces incoming damage by 6% and makes you immune to stun if you've killed recently. And it grants 25% increased attack speed if you haven't killed recently, to get Fortify in boss fights faster via Leap Slam.

Crave the Slaughter adds another 25% attack speed if you've been hit recently, increasing the speed of Leap Slam (Fortify!) even more in combat. And it grants 15% increased movement speed if you haven't been hit recently which is really nice for clear speed.

Aspect of Carnage adds 40% MORE damage dealt at the price of 10% increased damage taken. That's a great bargain since the MORE modifier is multiplicative (all your damage is simply multiplied by 1.4) while the Increased modifier is additive and only affects the sum of the Increased and Reduced damage (such as Fortify, Chaos Golem and Rite of Ruin).


Play style
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- Run around, see a pack of mobs, hit them with Scorching Ray + Icestorm.
- If they are not dead yet, Leap Slam into the middle of the pack, pop Orb of Storms and keep channelling Scorching Ray.
- Don't be afraid to tank. This build is VERY tanky. Moreover, you want everything you hit to be in the Warlord's Mark aura.
- You never run out of mana and can pre-cast Icestorm on triggered bosses.
- Warlord's Mark aura covers most of the screen and provides ES and mana leech and endurance charges, plus it makes Icestorm stun lock almost everything.
- Anything that manages to hit you gets chilled, Enfeebled and Temp Chained and can't really hurt you anymore.
- Whenever you take enough damage to notice it, Immortal Call triggers and makes you immune to physical hits (that's most of them) for up to 3-4 sec.
- Your golem pops automatically when you take damage and distracts the enemy.
- Leap Slam to obtain Fortify, hop across the terrain and over Labyrinth traps.
- Be careful, of course. While you can faceroll almost everything, this build still cannot survive the attacks that are meant to 1-shot, such as Atziri's Gigantic Flameblast, Malachai's Teleport Slam, etc. Facetanking high DPS bosses should be done with caution. Use Leap Slam often to get Fortify when it expires. Depending on the map mods, you should be wary of elemental or physical damage that is not a problem without those mods.


Flasks
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This build doesn't depend on flasks to function, so the choice is entirely up to you. All flasks have to be utility ones, because life flasks don't work with CI and mana flasks won't work because you leech mana faster than you spend it and you are almost always at full mana.

I currently use these flasks for most of my mapping in high tiers:

Ruby flask of Staunching protects against bleeding and reflect. Anti-freeze and anti-shock flasks are always a good idea. Quicksilver flasks for faster clearing.

For the very few boss fights where stun is an issue and you may not get adds to get stun immunity (Chimera, Rigwald, some versions of Merveil) use this to trigger Rite of Ruin:



Dealing with map mods
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This build can do any map mods and almost any combinations of them.

Mods that grant monsters extra damage, speed, projectiles, AoE: this build is very tanky and can take a lot of punishment. Just be more careful. The same goes for the curses on you and lowered max resists.

Mods that grant monsters more life or resistances: they die a little slower, makes no difference otherwise. You have huge DPS and resist penetration.

Elemental reflect: this build easily outleeches even the top reflect mod, as long as you stay near the mobs you are hitting (i.e. they are covered by the WM aura; avoid range-killing in reflect maps). Because all our damage is fire, we enjoy the 13% LESS incoming fire damage benefit of Arctic Armor, and that works with reflect. Bring a Ruby flask for bosses and rares with additional reflect. Do not combine ele reflect with leech immunity, lowered max resists and Elemental Weakness (unless your fire resist is overcapped). Beware of Necromancers: they can cast Flammability and Elemental Weakness. Have an anti-curse flask with you and don't combine ele reflect with 'inhabited by undead'. Take out Doedre's Damning and put Sibyl's Lament in the left ring slot:


Leech immunity: without the ability to leech you cannot tank well and have to range kill everything; be very careful and avoid reflective rares like plague. Do not combine this with ele reflect.

Hexproof: without the curses you are much more vulnerable to attacks and lose a big source of ES/mana leech. Swap Blasphemy and Warlord's Mark for a Purity aura most helpful for that paricular map.

The % reduced regen mods are not a problem at all, you will not even notice them most of the time. No Regen is fine as long as there is no leech immunity. Pain Reaver leech is more than enough as long as you hit anything. Pop Orb of Storms before Scorching Ray, and stop casting just before the last enemy dies. Or click off Arctic Armour to have more room for error.


Dealing with specific bosses
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See the Boss Guide (moved to a separate post instead of posting a copy for each version of the build; it works the same for all versions)


Troubleshooting
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Problem: It's hard to stay alive after switching to CI.
Cause: You are either not using WM+Blasphemy aura or trying to range kill everything instead of getting close, or you are not using Int+ES items.
Solution: Use WM+Blasphemy and keep everything within your aura. Use the recommended items (see Leveling).

Problem: Not enough mana for WM+Blasphemy aura while leveling.
Cause: You are using Clarity.
Solution: Stop using Clarity. Your two auras should be Discipline and WM+Blasphemy.

Problem: Not leeching enough to stay alive while leveling, even with all mobs in the Blasphemy+WM aura.
Cause: Your DPS is too low, because your Int is too low and/or you are using wrong gems in the staff.
Solution: Use the recommended gear and gems. Make sure you don't neglect to take the jewel sockets as per the Leveling guide, they make a lot of difference while leveling. With appropriate DPS you will easily outleech everything in the storyline content. You MUST use gear with Int AND ES. Re-read the Leveling section starting from "Reaching lv 39" in case you overlooked or forgot something.

Problem: Running out of mana while leveling.
Cause: You are either not using WM+Blasphemy aura, or staying too far away from the enemy, or not using Scorching Ray+CwC.
Solution: Use Scorching Ray+CwC and WM+Blasphemy, keep everything within your aura.

Problem: Getting perma-frozen or stun-locked.
Cause: You don't have protection against freeze and stun yet.
Solution: Until you get Rite of Ruin, don't leap into mob packs. Just cast Scorching Ray/Icestorm and get close enough to leech from them. Carry an anti-freeze flask.

Problem: Leap Slam is very slow.
Cause: Your Faster Attacks gem is too low level or has no quality. You haven't completed your Ascendancy yet.
Solution: Level the Faster Attacks gem and add quality to it. Do the Lab. Leap Slam will get a lot faster.


Q & A
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1. Which version is the build is the best?
It really depends on your goals and personal preferences. The Witch is very powerful all around and almost immune to reflect, I usually recommend trying the Witch first if you haven't played this build yet. The Templar is very good at boss killing and has nice party support perks. The Marauder is very tanky, fast, good for clearing and running the Lab. The Scion has the fastest clear speed and the most ES, although that class is in need of a buff.

2. Is this build HC viable?
Yes, if you are careful. Although the Marauder version is not as safe as the Witch or the Templar. I would recommend one of those two for HC.

3. What map mods should I avoid?
You don't have to avoid any mods, but if you don't want to take risks, avoid these:
- Leech immunity. Without the ability to leech you have to range kill everything, and a random reflective rare means trouble. You can do this mod, but only if you really have to.
- Combinations of elemental reflect with curse immunity, Elemental Weakness or -max res.
- If you are trying to level above 94 or playing in HC, avoid ele reflect and curse immunity to be safe.

Everything else is fine.

4. Can I play this as Low Life with Shavs?
You can but it will be not very good. You will have much less ES, chaos/poison damage will be a thing, and you won't be able to survive the top encounters. The extra auras from reserving life will not compensate for losing so much ES and Int. The 30% MORE damage from Pain Attunement is absolutely not worth the pain. We already use several multiplicative (MORE) damage modifiers.

5. What about Skyforth?
Too expensive, no Int, low ES, no resists and you are already immune to stun most of the time. You can buy amazing body armor, gloves and boots, plus all the required uniques, i.e. your whole set of gear, for less than the price of Skyforth.

6. Can I play this as another class?
Yes. You can play as Witch, Templar, Scion, or perhaps Ranger (I haven't tried that yet).

7. Can I MF with this build?
Yes, even in the highest tiers. This build has much more power than you need to clear most maps with most mods. You can always trade some of that power for more/better drops. Swap Concentrated Effect for Item Rarity (+70% IIR). If you are in the Standard league, swap Fire Penetration for Item Quantity (+44% IIQ). This will only lower your DPS without making you any less safe against most enemies. You can even swap out Life Leech if the map is easy enough. Against the top bosses you can use a swap staff with MF gems and Culling Strike. You can go even further by using items with inferior stats/resists that have MF, depending on how easy the map is for you.

8. Isn't leveling as CI hard?
Not for a build that does tons of AoE damage and leeches ES. The combination of WM+Blasphemy aura with Life Leech makes sure your ES is always replenished. Just don't play a range attacker. Get close to the mobs you are killing. See the Leveling section.

9. Is it hard without Unwavering Stance?
No. Rite of Ruin makes you immune to stun as long as you are killing, i.e. you become immune to stun moments after casting SR/Icestorm and the leech from it is enough to keep you alive even if you get stunned immediately. Most bosses either spawn adds or don't stun you often enough to worry about it. For the select few bosses where stun can be an issue, bring

a.k.a stun immunity in a jar.

10. What about Hyporthermia?
Hypothermia is weaker than the weakest DPS support gem we use (Elemental Focus) and does not work on chill immune targets. All current endgame bosses are immune to chill.

11. What about Heretic's Veil?
No Int, losing 15% Int bonus from Black Sun Crest will hurt. Still won't have enough mana to run all curses as auras. Lv 22 Blasphemy is just more radius but it would lose 20q on Blasphemy (additional 10% curse efficiency). Not worth the sacrifice.

12. What does Orb of Storms do?
It triggers Elemental Overload. Orb of Storms crits per hit, i.e. very, very often. In some endgame boss fights Orb is also used to curse the enemy (see the Boss Guide).

13. Why convert the damage to fire?
Adding fire damage mods on top of the cold damage ones is good for DPS. Dealing with elemental reflect is a lot easier when it's fire because of Arctic Armour. See Build Theory for more details on the offensive and defensive bonuses of the damage conversion. It also makes it much easier to find good jewels.
Last edited by Kelvynn on Mar 3, 2017 7:14:49 PM
Last bumped on Jun 22, 2017 6:11:25 AM
Leveling Guide
Spoiler

Leveling with the Whispering Ice is a blast. You can start using it at lv 33 and switch to CI at the same level, although it makes more sense to switch at lv 39. This way you get used to the play style and feel very comfortable by the time you graduate from the storyline content into the maps.

Video: Leveling as CI with the Whispering Ice (Templar version)

Don't listen to the people who say that leveling as CI is hard. It is for other builds, but not for this one, as long as you use the recommended items and take tree nodes in the recommended order.

It does not get any harder at higher levels and diffculties, as long as you do the recommended upgrade in A4C.

Other than the staff (that may cost 1-5c depending on the league), all other items used for leveling from 39 to 70 can almost always be found on poe.trade for 1 alc or less (with a total budget of 10-12 alc plus the staff). Some of the items for leveling can be easily crafted with minimal currency investment.

Before starting

This build is based on The Whispering Ice. You must have the staff before proceeding past lv 39 with this guide. If you don't have the staff, you can level any way you know how, but this guide will not work after lv 39 without Icestorm. Other skills such as Firestorm will not have enough dps/leech for safe and fun leveling as CI.

It is highly recommended to obtain Pyre before lv 39 (or at least before A4C), although a ring with high Int and some resists can work too. If you already have Astramentis, it will make everything trivial.

And the first three jewels. One must be Fertile Mind and one Brute Force Solution, any +Int will do. The last one ideally Izaro's Turmoil, but those can be expensive early in a new league, so a cheap jewel with 2 useful mods (see Gear-Jewels) will do until later.

The following items, or similar, must be obtained before lv 39:
Spoiler



Everything before lv 39 is way too easy and you can use any self-found gear to get there.

Useful twink items for trivializing lv 1-39:
Spoiler




Don't skip quests that give skill or respec points:
Spoiler
Act 1: A Dirty Job (+2 respec), The Dweller of the Deep (+ skill), The Marooned Mariner (+1 skill), The Way Forward (+1 skill)
Act 2: Deal with the Bandits (+1 skill), Through Sacred Ground (+2 respec)
Act 3: Victario's Secrets (+1 skill, +2 respec), Piety's Pets (+2 skill)
Act 4: An Indomitable Spirit (+1 skill, +2 respec)


Start

Your starting skill is Heavy Strike. Use it to kill Hillock and throw it away. Take ground Slam as your reward from Tarkleigh. If you already have twink gear - great. If not - you'll still do fine. Use a two-handed mace or staff with the most damage you can find.

You will be leveling as a regular life/armor Marauder until lv 39. Any self-found gear with life and armor will do.

Lv 2: Buy a Paua amulet from Nessa for mana regen.

In the skill tree, go up via the Str nodes and head to Shaper:
Your first 11 skill points (lv 11)

Submerged Passage: Go to town and take Ancestral Protector to help you kill rares and bosses.

The Climb: Rescue Navali. Get prophecies from her any time you find silver coins. They can be extremely helpful. Save crafting prophecies for lv 39.

Axiom Prison: Go to town, take Added Fire Damage as your reward from Nyssa, buy another copy from her, support Ground Slam and Ancestral Protector (or just have them all in a 3L until later).

Killed Brutus: Take Rallying Cry as your quest reward and start using it. Buy Leap Slam to leap over obstacles.

Keep moving right, through Foresight, to Harrier:
Lv 18 Tree

Cavern of Wrath: Take Sunder as your reward from Nessa and start using it. From here to lv 39 just annihilate everything in front of you with Sunder and use the totem to help with the bosses.

Act 2: Go West, open the passage, finish The Way Forward, kill Alira, kill The Weaver, take Melee Physical Damage as your reward from Silk.

Lv 18: Support Sunder and Ancestral Protector with Melee Physical Damage. Go East, kill Fidelitas, take Herald of Ash as your reward, start using it.

Lv 20: Equip Astramentis if you have it and say good-bye to stat requirement woes. Help Kraityn.

After Harrier you just prepare for the switch to CI and the Whispering Ice. Take 3 jewels sockets, Vaal Pact, Ghost Reaver, Snowforged:
Lv 35 tree

You can put any jewels that help Sunder (physical, melee, area damage) into those sockets temporarily. You will replace them with the jewels prepared for the Whispering Ice mentioned above.

Finished Crematorium: Take Warlord's Mark as your reward from Maramoa. Do not level this gem if you don't have Astramentis, because you won't have enough Str to use it after converting your Str nodes to Int at lv 39.

Lv 24: Buy Discipline (from another class, Marauder doesn't get this gem) and start leveling it. You don't need to actually use it yet, just put it into a socket and level it.

Lv 31: Help Siosa in the Library, take Fortify as your reward and support Sunder with it (4L).

Killed Voll: Take Summon Chaos Golem as your reward from Oyun and start using it.

Lv 36-38: Save these 3 skill points.

Lv 38: If you have Astramentis, you can start using CWDT - Immortal Call - Inc Duration.

Reaching lv 39 is the turning point of your experience: you can equip your Whispering Ice and spec into CI! Do it! Use the saved points to take CI and Infused Shield:
Lv 39: A4 Normal

Put the prepared jewels into the sockets: Brute Force above the start, Fertile Mind near Vaal pact, and the DPS jewel near Harrier. This will convert your Str and Dex nodes to Int.

You need 59 Str to equip the staff. If you don't have Astramentis, you need an amulet with as much Int as possible and some Str. Look for a rare amulet that has Int or Int+Str implicit, Int explicit and optionally All Stats and extra Str. Example:


Stop using the twink gear. From now on, you must be wearing gear with as much Int and ES as you can find. Your armor, helmet, gloves and boots must have Int AND ES. No need to buy the top rolls this early, just look for cheap items with Int, ES and some resists.

Special mentions:

Shavronne's Pace is by far the best boots for leveling all the way to 70. They are very cheap and common and give you 35% inc movement speed (you are always on full life with CI). Get them.

Icetomb is very common and cheap. It has good Int and ES, takes care of your cold resist and makes you immune to chill.


Doedre's Scorn is another cheap unique great for leveling, and it gives you extra damage for cursing the enemy too. This helmet is good until you reach 1200-1300 Int, somewhere around lv 80-85. After that Black Sun Crest will become the top option.

You can craft your own armor easily with no budget at all. You must have met Haku and Catarina by now. Don't ignore them. Helping them once or twice gets them to lv 2, and you can invite them to your hideout or just place their crafting benches there (type: /claim_crafting_benches).

All you need from the armor at this point is a level-appropriate amount of ES (example: see the wiki for ES gloves; at lv 39 you want Embroidered or Silk gloves) and 20+ Int. Pick up the drops of those types. If you happen to find a magic or rare drop with 20+ Int and extra ES - that's great. If not, you have options:
- if you have a rare drop that already has 20+ Int: craft increased %ES on it (Haku)
- if you have a rare drop without Int: craft Int on it (Catarina)
- if you have a white drop: use a transmutation orb and hope for Int or ES, then use an augmentation orb.

Use the belt slot to get as much resistance as you can.

Your staff should be at least 4S / 2L and have these gems in it, in the order of importance: Scorching Ray, Cast while Channelling, Life Leech, Elemental Focus, Controlled Destruction (5S), Cold To Fire (6S). SR must be linked with CwC. No other links required, all support gems in the staff apply to Icestorm automatically.

Of the staff gems, only Life Leech, Fire Penetration and CwC are available to Marauder, the rest have to be obtained from other classes.

Your two auras must be Discipline and Blasphemy+Warlord's Mark.

From that point on, you will be steamrolling everything on your way through the game. Use Quicksilver flasks to move fast, with various useful mods such as anti-freeze, anti-bleed, extra resists, etc.

Important: If you try to range kill everything, you lose the massive advantage of the WM aura. Don't be afraid to get close to the enemy! Very few enemies can really hurt you through that leech, stun and chill. The radius of the aura is very small at first, but it will grow substantially as you level the gem and take Blast Radius.

Once you get used to this new play style, you can do the Normal Labyrinth. Dodge Izaro, don't tank him. Take Pain Reaver for its awesome leech.

Next:
- Arcane Focus
- Deep Wisdom
- Blast Radius
- Occultist's Dominion
- Fire and Frost Walker
- Elemental Overload
- Avatar of Fire
Lv 55 tree

A4 Cruel: Upgrade your gloves, belt and non-unique jewelry before facing Cruel Daresso and Malachai. Get more Int, ES, and start looking for resists for Merciless.

Elemental Overload: Start using Orb of Storms to trigger it.

Avatar of Fire: Convert your damage to fire for the double-dipping bonuses and resist penetration. Your staff must have Cold to Fire now. Gems: Life Leech, Cold To Fire, SR - CwC, Fire Penetration (5S), Elemental Focus (6S).

Lv 58-59: Close the tree loop by taking the Int nodes down from EO. Refund Foresight and the two ES nodes next to it. You don't need them. 750 Int = 150% increased ES. This build's ES is based almost entirely on Int, not those tiny +%ES nodes. Take Potency of Will.
Lv 59 tree

Next:
- jewel socket between Witch and Templar (Izaro's Turmoil or rare)
- Coldhearted Calculation (Shadow area)
and head to the Templar area:
- Light of Divinity
- Retribution
- Amplify
- Elementalist
Lv 69 tree

Finish the storyline content if you care about it, or grind to lv 73 quickly in the Lake. Don't forget to free Deshret. Grab the final resist/ES nodes:
- Faith and Steel (Templar area)
- Nullification (Shadow area)

Lv 73: Wear your endgame gear and do the Cruel and Merciless Labyrinth. Take Rite of Ruin, then Crave the Slaughter.

You can grind to lv 80 in the Lake easily or work on completing maps for the Atlas bonus. You should be safe enough in low- and mid-tier maps. Keep upgrading your gear.

Get the 3rd curse next:
- Whispers of Doom
Lv 77: Safe and Sound

By then your staff really should be 6S. Gems: Scorching Ray - Cast while Channelling, Life Leech, Cold to Fire, Fire Penetration.
The 6th socket:
- Concentrated Effect for tough bosses
- Elemental Focus for map clearing
- Item Rarity for MF'ing
SR has to be linked with CwC and optionally with EF for more damage. CE, FP and LL never need to be linked.

You are good to go for all content in PoE! Do the Endgame Labyrinth and take Aspect of Carnage. Farm Uber Lab for xp, currency, maps, sellable frags and uniques, random quality gems for the GCP recipe. Get the leech enchantment for your boots, then start enchanting the helmet. And keep working your way through the Atlas.

Video: Uber Lab farm run

Then just add more and more power:
- Lv 79: Templar area jewel socket (Brute Force Solution)
- Lv 81: Witch area jewel socket (Izaro's Turmoil or rare)
- Lv 85: Shadow area jewel socket (Izaro's Turmoil or rare)
- Lv 88: Jewel socket between the Scion start and Vaal Pact (Fertile Mind; a Dex node nearby is converted twice!)
Lv 88: The build is complete

At this level you can comfortably farm T16 and the Shaper once your gear is good enough to survive them.

And for the final levels, should you decide to go that far, a few choices:
- (1 point) replace the useless Curse Cast Speed node near Whispers of Doom with the two Curse Effect nodes (+10% curse efficiency)
- (2 points) Ancestral Knowledge
- (3 points) Trickery
- (3 points) Catalyse, Thief's Craft or Ballistic Mastery (they are all equal and give 40 Int)
- (4 points) jewel socket near Whispers of Doom: Fertile Mind plus Agility, or Brute Force Solution plus Might
You can switch between these options every time you level up. Refund something smaller, grab something bigger.

If/when you manage to overcap your resists with great items, you can drop Nullification, Faith and Steel and eventually even Kraityn and use those points to get more Int/DPS. Do not worry about losing ES nodes, your ES comes from Int.
Last edited by Kelvynn on Apr 8, 2017 3:03:18 PM
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Looks interesting, gonna try this on my old unused marauders.
Hi, how does this build compare to templar and witch in survivability and damage? Shouldn't the leech be better defense, and aspect of carnage better than other damage mods?
So far it is the most fun build out of your all WI builds. Leech is great, like Scion before nerf and it is quick between groups. So far so good. Great builds.
"
Hi, how does this build compare to templar and witch in survivability and damage? Shouldn't the leech be better defense, and aspect of carnage better than other damage mods?

Survivability vs most bosses is very good, probably higher than the other versions, because of the extra leech. You just need to be prepared for a couple of exceptions that can kill you quickly without stun immunity. Chimera's fog phase is one (in the video). Merveil in whatever maps she is now - is another (her steam geysers chain stun). And Rigwald is the 3rd one I found (not Rigwald himself but some kind of a totem that pops in one of his arenas). Bring flasks for those bosses (options: The Writhing Jar, Kiara's Determination, Granite/Basalt/Sapphire with stun recovery).

The main danger is not the bosses but random trash combinations with map mods. Volatile bloods with -maxres, hard hitters with +crit and extra dmg, things that you may not think about when rolling a map with lots of mods for high IIQ/IIR. Berserker's main defenses kick in when he starts killing, but he is vulnerable at the very start of the fight, before there are Icestorms going on and things are dying. No elemental defenses and increased damage taken can hurt when you are not leeching yet. And more things can 1-shot the Berserker than the classes that get reduced ele damage, i.e. more safety cushion. So far in this league I've died more to non-bosses than to bosses.

As for the damage, even the safe and reliable 'main' version with Life Leech is producing DPS comparable to the Elementalist and Inquisitor. Aspect of Carnage makes up for the absence of ele dmg Ascendancies. But this version has a lot more damage potential because it can function without WM and/or LL. I'm going to try Flammability aura instead of WM and another gem instead of LL for the places where the amount of leech is not critical.
Last edited by Kelvynn on Dec 27, 2016 3:03:21 PM
ok thanks for the in depth explanation. Let us know how the curse and leech change work.
It's cool to see that you're trying out different class variants for WI. Berserker definitely looks good.
Have you tried playing without Warlord's Mark? It seems like it's not as important as in other variants.
By the way, Raider definitely looks interesting for a future project.
IGN: NNQQ, Sporkay, Rands_

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