[3.4] Storm Call Crit Totem Hierophant (or any other AOE spell) SSF / League Starter


Again, very little has changed, just a buff to AOE nodes on the tree, giving us 8% increased AOE in total. This is pretty good for all aspects of the build other than fully stationary bosses. It will improve overlap, clear speed etc. However if you were using Shimmeron, this has been nerfed.

Will this build be good for delving?

From what I have seen so far, health regen and good range will both be big assets in the delve, and these our the main strengths of the build. I am pretty sure Mind over matter is taken into account with delve degen, so we should be fairly survivable, however if the degen gets so high that you cant cast spells, this could be a problem for all MOM builds perhaps? You may need to use a mana flask or unique flask like Lavianga. Our totems also can leech and have good regen too, so that shouldn't be a problem.

On the negative side, the nature of delves is that you are in a confined space of light, as well as corridors from the small amount of footage I have seen. This could make positioning difficult and make off screening difficult also, which are parts of this build's play style. This could be troublesome.

Overall I think this build will be pretty good in delves.


Welcome to my guide for Storm Call Totem Hierophant, although as it stands the ascendancy can carry most spell totem builds right now, so this can used as a framework for any AOE spell. I played this build to level 89 in SSF Bestiary, and I can strongly recommend it as a leaguestarter, as I found it very strong all the way to red maps, with self found gear. In red maps my damage was fine, but I had to be a little careful positioning as I felt a little squishy, but mind over matter and the great regen from ascendancy provides a strong enough defense if you are careful.


Since I play in SSF, there is little point planning for 'perfect' items and uniques, as I will have to work with what drops for me. As a result I have not included any very specific gear choices, more of a guide on what stats to look out for on rares, and some different options for different playstyles. This build was theorycrafted on very mediocre rares, and in practice performed very well in SSF. I am comparing the performance of the build against builds I have played pre-3.2 and while I think Hierophant is extremely strong now, I cannot compare it to other newly buffed ascendancies that I have not played.



+ Hierophant buffed! Now much more damage, survivabilty, quality of life and smoother gameplay. The old version pales in comparison. Extremely high totem placement speed means you can keep up 4 totems with no problem whatsoever. These buffs mean that you can make a working build with very basic gear at the moment, making it a great choice of leaguestarter.
+ Totems are very safe playstyle, and the range of Storm Call make them even more so. If you have access to Call of the Brotherhood unique ring, you will be able to chill and freeze for more safety.
+ Great range and coverage, even with Concentrated Effect. Storm call can hit the next screen with ease, and with 4 totems you can achieve high overlap damage in one spot fairly reliably, or spread the totems out for huge coverage.
+ Good Damage on bosses. I found bossing very easy and safe with this build, with the exception of a few boss mechanics that do not let you offscreen reliably. Totems also let you do damage and move at the same time, which can make you quite a bit safer. However bosses that move around a lot or kill your totems very quickly can be troublesome.
+ Can do any map mod, however no mana regen feels horrible and you need to have some mana flasks to run these if you choose to.
+ Really nice Regen, both mana and HP, as long as your totems are up.
+ Uberlab viable. I dont often play uberlab, but this was by far the easiest character I have played in this content. The regen from your totems makes traps do very little damage (just make sure you keep your totems up) and Izaro was no problem the few times I ran it last league. There are many better builds for this content, but this one is well suited to run uberlab.


- Finding good gear in SSF might be tricky for a crit build. Particularly crit multiplier stats on good items. Also finding a good dagger/sceptre/kite shield is difficult, sometimes leaving you stuck with a wand and flame dash as a movement skill. However this bothered me less during play than I thought it would, as you often can position well behind your totems and 30% movement speed is enough for pretty good map clear, as totem builds can move while they do damage.
- Slight delay between cast and damage, as totems slow down the first cast slightly, and have lower cast speed in general, and Storm Call has an inbuilt delay also. Some players who like to play very fast may notice it, however the storms cast twice per second, per totem, so this was not a problem for me personally.
- Low HP, even with MoM and any other defenses we stack, this is not a 'tanky' build. It is designed to push out some nice dps, and you can safely position yourself out of danger. However some tight areas can be dangerous, if you are forced into a small arena and you can't offscreen the boss then you will feel a little squishy, but I think the defenses are adequate for these situations. I have included some tanky trees at the end of the guide if you want to build for more life and survivability.


Positioning: You can offscreen anything, as long as you have the space to do so. Use this to stay out of harms way in more difficult content. Totems also let you move while you DPS, so you can dodge and reposition without losing damage uptime.

Totems can Block & Tank: Totems do a fair ammount of tanking for you, especially in doorways and 'initial contact' where they will draw the initial stack of damage from a large group of mobs. I found this especially useful for clearing a room containing an elder portal, where stepping into a confined space would normally be very dangerous. They will also block projectiles for you.

Life: 152% from the tree, and try to get a good roll on every piece of gear you can. The tankier builds below usually focus on getting more life instead of crit on the tree

Life Regen: Ascendancy gives us very good mana and Life regeneration. It is a nice stat on gear too.

Mind Over Matter: this keystone will net us another 2k+ effective life, and very good mana regen on top. You can add to this with Divine Guidance ascendancy if you want to be more tanky.

Enfeeble: most of the time I found Conductivity to be unnecessary, even for yellow map bossing and enfeeble can easily be swapped out.

Fortify: Once you aquire a decent shield & dagger / sceptre you can apply Fortify for -20% damage from hits.

Armour/ES/Evasion are probably fairly negligible. Self found gear does not need perfect sockets to be effective, will need to worry about stats more, then socket availability and finally Armour type.


My current character / gear at lvl 89 using the dps tree

Includes levelling trees inside POB at bottom left of tree panel.



Templar / Hierophant

Crit/DPS Passive Tree


The new Hierophant Ascendancy (yummy):

https://i.imgur.com/3Urj6br.jpg bigger image

Pursuit of Faith & Ritual of Awakening are mandatory, the other 2 are your choice depending if you want more damage, tankiness or quality of life. You can take these nodes in any order you like, these are just my suggestions.

Normal: Pursuit of Faith

It will be nice to grab a third totem for levelling, and the damage boosts are ok

Cruel: CHOOSE Conviction of Power OR Ritual of Awakening

I don't think that 4 totems will be needed before maps, as you generally just drop one and run, but the placement speed and the regen will make playing feel much better. I will be taking Conviction of Power just for the easy Power and Endurance Charges.

Merc: CHOOSE Conviction of Power OR Ritual of Awakening

whichever is left :)

Uber: Illuminated Devotion (DPS)

This will just give us some more damage, AOE and make our totems a little more tanky to deal with red maps.

or Divine Guidance (Damage Mitigation)

If you really don't want to play around Arcane Surge at all, you can take Divine Guidance to become more tanky. That is an option.

Some other options:

You have to make your decision on which to pick of these sexy nodes. Sadly we can't have all of them. If you want to drop the Power Charge generation you can take Arcane Reverence instead of Conviction of Power. Whichever you pick, you will have to use either Arcane Surge or Power Charge on Crit skill gems with Orb of Storms to do the other part. I think it will depend on whether you are on softcore or hardcore that will decide the best choice. On softcore Conviction of Power seems a better choice since you will value the 5% penetration and being able to map fast with charges up. On hardcore shock and freeze could kill you, so perhaps you will want Arcane Reverence, and this will give you much better uptime on the Illuminated Devotion bonuses. It is worth noting that you only get a lvl 1 arcane surge from this ascendancy though.

I will be taking Conviction of Power and Illuminated Devotion as my other 2 ascendancy points.


Alira - resists will make gearing in SSF much easier, crit multi is always good for crit builds, and mana regen synergises well with MoM and high totem cost.


Kill all - there are lots of great passives around the tree that we need to skip, the 2 points will always be useful, probably for more life nodes. I recommend Alira for my build, but you may adapt it, and 2 points might be better in that case.


There are no threshold jewels for this build so just look for life and damage stats such as Totem damage, crit multi, lightning damage, area damage etc


I suggest farming a Tabula Rasa in Blood Aqueducts (act9) for SSF unless you have another option of a good chestpiece.

stats you will need on gear:

life & resists obviously
Mana for MoM (effective life)
move speed on boots
DEX for faster attacks and Vaal Haste, I needed a fair bit of extra dex on gear.
attack speed on gloves is ok for movement skill

Amulet: Life + % spell/lightning dmg, crit & multi, cast speed, mana regen, all resist are good things to look out for

Rings: (Call of the Brotherhood if possible)
Diamond rings: Life + % lightning dmg, crit & multi, cast speed, mana regen, all resist. maybe attack speed for map clear speed

Weapons: This build is built around dagger + shield/spirit shield, using whirling blades as movement skill, because I am hoping for a nice crit dagger. However in SSF you often do not have this luxury and have to work with what you find or can craft.

Stats to look for on daggers: % Spell dmg, % Lightning dmg, flat Lightning dmg to spells, crit chance for spells (normal crit suffix applies to attacks only), Crit multi, attack speed

Stats to look for on spirit shields: Life & resists, % Spell dmg, % Lightning dmg, crit chance for spells, mana & regen, cast speed, chance to block / spells

Stats to look for on kite shields: Life & resists, % Spell dmg, % Elemental dmg, mana & regen, cast speed, chance to block / spells

You can also use:

Mace + kite shield (Armour/ES) and shield charge for movement, or Wands (usually dual wield or spirit shield, if you find a great wand & spirit shield you might have to resort to flame dash as your main movement skill)

Stats to look for on wands: % Spell dmg, % Lightning dmg, flat Lightning dmg to spells, crit chance for spells (normal crit suffix applies to attacks only), Crit multi, attack speed

Staff: Personally I have found that getting a good staff drop is close to impossible in SSF, and you will probably not want to waste fusings on linking a mediocre staff when you can farm tabula or craft life with alts/essenses on a 5L chest, which are common enough. However if you do find a 5L or better white staff you can craft a +2 lightning gems or a +1 all gems without too much trouble, either with essense or alterations. There is also a divination card that gives a 5L staff. I also do not like the movement skill options with staff, but the upside is you can take the staff nodes at the top of the tree (Serpent Stance & Blunt Trauma) for some nice crit scaling.

Stats to look for on Staves: +2 Lightning gems, +1 socketed gems, Spell dmg, % Lightning dmg, flat Lightning dmg to spells, crit chance for spells (normal crit suffix applies to attacks only), Crit multi, (mana & regen and chance to shock are ok I guess)


Main DPS Setup

Storm Call
Spell Totem
Added Lightning Damage
Less Duration
Concentrated Effect (inc AOE could be swapped in for maps, but with 71% AOE on tree it is not really needed and the extra damage is better for breaches / abysses etc)
Controlled Destruction (at lower crit chance you can use Increased Critical Strikes or another damage support in this slot)

You might also want to level up:

Lightning Penetration
Increased Critical Damage

I found that Added Lightning Damage was always more DPS, but in certain situations these might be better.

CWDT Setup

Cast When Damage Taken lvl6
Immortal Call lvl8
Summon Golem lvl8 any golem you prefer
Increased Duration

Enfeeble is nice for mapping if you do not want to self cast curse, for bossing you will probably want to self cast conductivity, so golem is better.

Mobility Setup

you have some choice here depending on your weapon setups

whirling blades + faster attacks + fortify
shield charge + faster attacks + fortify

flame dash for gaps


lightning warp + faster casting + less duration for staff or wand users if you want another movement skill.

Aura Setup

Clarity fully levelled Vaal Clarity in 3.3 should be upgrade if it works?

there is not much else to add, and MoM benefits from larger mana pool, but you could use:

Wrath: for DPS it is our best option, with the obvious disadvantage of losing mana pool to tank hits. Use when you need dps, remove when you want to be more tanky. If you find an Essense Worm Ring (as I did in SSF) that is a nice option to get the best of both worlds.

Curse & Arcane Surge setup

(choice of curse)Enfeeble or Conductivity
increased AOE or Spell Cascade
Increased Duration
Arcane Surge (level 15/16 recommended)

The support gems can be added to up the mana cost making Arcane Surge more reliable.

If you want Arcane Surge to activate on every curse cast you can use a level 12 Arcane Surge from around the time you enter maps, and you may be able to push it a little further as you fully level your curse gem. For one surge every 2 casts, you should be easily able to maintain a level 15/16 Surge. However casting 3-4 curses over 6 seconds to maintain a level 20/21 Surge is doable as a totem build if you really want want to push it.

I will recommend level 15/16 Arcane Surge.

Other Gems

Vaal Lightning Trap
Vaal Haste
Increased Duration
Searing Bond

Quality of life gems, for more boss damage and clear speed respectively. You can craft these by vaaling the base gems in SSF, but it is quite expensive at the start of the league.

It may be worth farming aqueducts (act 4) or blood aqueduct (act 9) for humility cards, and the vaal side areas contained within for vaal gems to make the vaal orb vendor recipe (7x Vaal skill gems & 1x Sacrifice Vaal Fragment = 1 vaal orb)

Searing Bond gives us some more totem bonuses from ascendancy.


Drop totems, run fast, stay underlevelled for your zone. Not much more to say.

I will stress something for new players or slower players, your leveling speed through acts 1-10 has very little to do with how many monsters you kill. This seems strange in a game all about killing thousands of monsters, but your exp can effectively be measured by where your feet are on the ground. That is to say that if you are over-leveled in any way, the time it takes you to kill the monsters is time you have wasted. Totems actually suffer less from this, as you can often just drop 1 totem and keep running and waste very little time. Try to keep an eye on what level the zone is and stay under that if you can. Look for movement speed on boots, from vendors or buy them from other players, and do not be afraid to just skip lots of monsters, particularly annoying ones! Do you hate killing crabs in submerged passage? Just run past and let those poor suckers live.

If you are struggling on bosses because you are used to over-leveling them, try this little tip (if you are in normal league, not in SSF) look in the group finder for people doing that boss, or if you know the maps leading up to it and you see a group close, jump in the party. Often you will get a portal right to the boss and a quick kill from some over-geared or over-leveled people :)


If you want some alternative passive trees with more life/defenses at the expense of damage check the spoiler below.


Tanky Tree

Tanky levelling trees:

Passive Tree (26 Passives)

Rush that 2nd Totem!

Passive Tree (60 Passives)

From here on in bear in mind you can do things a little differently if you want, but this seemed like the best progression for me.

Take Jewel Sockets whenever you have something to fill them with. I have taken 1 out of 2 at the start since you often will not have anything good this early in SSF or league starter.

Mind Over Matter: there is no correct time to take this, it is strong early, but can drain your mana leading to you being unable to cast in a bad moment which might kill you. The rule of thumb is to take it when you feel that your mana regen is good, and you want some more defense. It really depends on your gear, and if you like to use mana pots.

Passive Tree (84 Passives)

Take life nodes from the scion wheel as and when you need them, I put 2 just to demonstrate this.

Passive Tree (109 Passives)

Hybrid Tree 1

-Some extra Lightning Damage
-Some different life nodes to accommodate this
-One less jewel socket (might be better for SSF if you don't find any jewels)

Hybrid Tree 2

-Some extra Crit multi nodes, this will probably be better with good crit gear
-Some extra Lightning Damage
-Some different life nodes to accommodate this, melding nodes are a bit underwhelming
-One less jewel socket


Thanks to MoarPizza for the template https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1651524

Last edited by dookleeto on Aug 31, 2018, 10:54:51 AM
Last bumped on Aug 31, 2018, 10:44:09 AM
Nice!, I'm going SSF too and will follow your guide, gonna try dark pact, thanks!
yakkittu99 wrote:
Nice!, I'm going SSF too and will follow your guide, gonna try dark pact, thanks!

Good luck :) The spell leech and the life regen to totems should be great for dark pact.
Last edited by dookleeto on Feb 26, 2018, 4:18:06 PM
Reserved for start league
What I must change for Dark pact?
GGG, сделайте уже торговлю автоматизированной-хватит лениться.Блевать тянет с торговли.Скоро кто-нибудь переплюнет выпуск реюзабельного контента каждые 3 месяца/на 2 недели игры.
What I must change for Dark pact?

There shouldn't be any changes for the tree, but obviously anything related to lightning damage in the guide is moot.

I haven't played Dark Pact but I imagine links would be something like:

Dark Pact
Spell Totem
Added Chaos Damage
Void Manipulation
Concentrated Effect
Controlled Destruction

You may also want a way of summoning skeletons if the totems kill themselves too fast, but perhaps the leech and life regen from ascendancy will make that unnecessary. Vaal Summon Skeletons might also be good.

You probably also want to use Wither alongside Despair Curse for bossing.

These extra links might put some stress on your socket availability, so I suggest you build it yourself in Path of Building to get everything set up correctly. Path of Building seems to be updated with the new ascendancy changes now.
Updated to focus on Storm Call totems.
This is a hard build to review for the listing. You are kinda PA about most of it, and I can tell you put a ton of time and energy into it... the result is a lot of ambivalent, 'if you want to' type generalized advice while not actually making solid recommendations. You have a tanky and dps version of the skill tree, but you don't actually specify which you recommend players use. Your PoB appears to be the DPS version. Have you played the tanky version?

The PoB was nice enough to include a ton of leveling trees within it, which is awesome and most people don't even realize to look for them. But you never even mentioned that you did this, and many players would not have seen it. You should definitely specify that in your PoB section, for people who want to level as storm call totems.

You claimed that your tanky version can reach 9k effective eHP, but it comes in at 5256 life and 1636 es. With only 568 evasion and 744 armour, I don't follow the math. Can you specify what was meant by that statement, and show how that eHP is reached? The level 86 tree is at 4344 hp and 1749 es, some people may find that a bit low. I don't see a lot of opportunity for you to improve that in your setup however. Seems like a reasonable caveat. You did mention this in your cons section as 'might be a bit squishy' but you might want to expand on those numbers, for example if players cannot get a decent helm with 100+ life on it, 78 life diamond ring, or Tier 2 life with 30% movespeed boots. 152% is really borderline, is all.

I was curious why you only leveled the increased duration to 4 for your CwDT setup, as you have plenty of strength to keep going and it will always improve the duration of the supported spell Immortal Call without causing it not to trigger with your level 1 CwDT. Also... Flame Surge + Fortify?

ICS in your main 6-link versus CD, since you're choosing to always have a diamond flask up, seems like a lot of wasted damage. Sure, you might think 'I always want the highest possible crit chance!', but 67%~ is more than enough for consistent and constantly near-max critical hits. I would be curious if to hear if you've tested both configurations side-by-side and what your thoughts are on it. I assume that ICS is not really more damage on the targets that matter, i.e. bossing. Also, how is bossing when the bosses have a tendency to move?

Any thoughts on getting added fire or cold damage on attacks, and replacing your wand with a sceptre or dagger, picking up EE, and causing your targets to have -50 resistance to lightning damage? It seems like it could be easy to do, and you could actually have a working fortify.

In your leveling section, you specifically state that you can't be bothered with writing any guide for it... but you previously did write leveling guide components, and then you also go into details to help people leveling..... again, a lot of this reads really PA. This may be intentional, or you may not have realized.

Looks good, and I really like SSF guides as they are always useful to a variety of players, even those that don't intend to play SSF. I will add it to the listing once you've considered some of the points that make parts of the guide incongruent with it's claims. I personally like it and hope I can add it soon.

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