[3.6] Brittleknee’s SRS Necromancer - All Content! Check Synthesis Update Section!

[3.6] Brittleknee’s SRS Necromancer - All content! A reliable, beginner friendly build!

Greetings, Exiles! I’m Brittleknee!

I started playing Path of Exile back in Harbinger League, and have really grown to love this game. I initially started playing as LL SRS, but eventually settled on a Life-based version of the build that was done by Huy.

Back in January 2018, I took about two weeks to rework Huy’s guide, to extend and clarify the various sections, create a leveling section, and to round out the information provided as a whole. As such, a lot of the information here may look a bit familiar as a result.

In the past two leagues, there have been many changes to the base build Huy released in Harbinger, from the nerf of MoM in 3.1, to the ascendency changes in 3.2 and beyond. As such, I’ve taken the many things I’ve learned during this time, and I’m dedicated to continuing to offer a updated and playable SRS build so that everyone who is interested in SRS has the opportunity to fall in love with the spell as much as I did.

Catch me Streaming on Twitch or in game as @Brittleknee!

The YT Video for the build is Live! Check it out here!
Slightly outdated, but beginner friendly and goes into a lot of detail on mechanics!

The extensive written leveling guide is Live! Check it out here!
A downloadable PDF version will be found in the leveling section!

Synthesis League Update

3.6 Synthesis League Update

Hey, everyone!

I am working hard to finally bring this build guide up to date. My initial estimate of when I'd have the reworked guide done was a bit off. When I heard of the initial proposed increased mana cost, I started gutting large portions of the guide in lieu of simplicity. They then rolled back the mana cost and added increased accuracy, and now I have 2x the work I thought I was going to have. This means I will have to sort this out over the coming days the best I can.

I have been working mostly on an extensive Leveling guide as it was something that was requested, and it has been a huge undertaking (17+ pages). I am doing everything I can to finish it so I can move back to this guide and finish it as well.

If you're wanting to play SRS this league, then use the PoB below. The tree is far different than its predecessors.

Bear with me, the PoB link below was a test build I worked out once I thought there was going to be an increased mana cost. It's in average gear and I'm looking for a +1 Covenant and other things to fully optimize. It was smooth, and felt as tanky as the old Belly Variant, and I think it has a lot to offer for the future of the build. There is far more flexibility to it than previous builds, and I look forward to optimizing it further for delving, etc. Test runs on Shaper, Guardians, etc all felt.

I hope this will temporarily suffice! At the time of this posting the changes to SRS's accuracy increase has not been added to PoB to the numbers may look a bit low until then. Theoretically we should be able to get away with not needing Command of the Pit or Lycosidae. Worst case scenario is we add War banner to the mix. Best case scenario, SRS becomes the most playable it ever has been now freed from one of its biggest downsides.


<3 BK

Path of Building Link (3.6 Ready):

Covenant - 4.7M Shaper DPS:

1.0. Introduction

1.1. Pros & Cons

This build can do all content. Every bit of it. Bosses, Mapping, Labs, MF, you name it.
  • Bosser - Has cleared all Boss content including Red Elder, Shaper, Uber Atziri and Uber Elder.
  • Mapper - No ‘Dead Mods’ to speak of. You can run anything. Reflect, no regen, no problem!
  • Magic Find - Achieves ~60%IIQ with 6k HP, capable of farming up up to T15s comfortably.
  • League Starter - While some necessary uniques are costly, with patience this build is a viable leaguestarter.

This build does have some weaknesses that should be addressed.
  • Mana Management - Definitely a problem after MoM nerf, and this guide will offer several workarounds.
  • Damage Halts - Bosses with powerful AoE (Phoenix, Shaper) can wipe out your SRS with a single ability and thus halt your damage. This is especially true if you favor Ruthless over Empower. It then takes time to get the rolling wave of skulls going again.
  • Ramp-Up Time - It does take time to build up 20 skulls, especially after the nerf to Mistress of Sacrifice. Sources of cast speed plus the increased duration of SRS makes this a bit smoother.

1.2. Playstyle

As an all-inclusive build, capable of all content with just minor tweaks to gear/passives here and there, this is the perfect build for those who like to focus on just one character at a time. With experience with new league markets, its possible for this to be a strong league starter as well.

Primarily a high-speed clear build, but can be played both as offensively or defensively as you are comfortable with. The goal is to get a ‘rolling wave’ of SRS by casting a few skulls, using a movement skill, then casting a few more. Over time you’ll master the ‘feel’ of sustaining the SRS wave, as well as have a better grasp of the aggro range of the skulls and how to best chain them through packs.

Like other summoner builds, you do not want to be ‘in’ on the action. Apply EE, maintain Fortify, and then keep your distance. High movement speed allows for easy evasion of mechanics and a high-ish health pool in end-game gear (~7.3-7.5k) allows you to live through the stray hit here and there.

1.3. Grouping

With group support, this powerful build gets even better. An aurabot can run both of your primary auras, Haste and Hatred, which allows you to comfortably pick up MoM since your mana will no longer be reserved. In addition, you can get some pretty ridiculous eHP with a Mana Guardian, due to the combined ES, HP and MoM sources.

When playing with non-supports, remember that EE is global and will negatively affect your party’s damage if they do lightning damage instead of cold or fire. However, applying EE for non-EE cold/fire builds can be quite the damage boost. Also, since the build can run with any mods, you can help your party by carrying reflect maps or no regen maps comfortably.

1.4. Origins

This build was born in Harbinger, and was Huy’s first build guide. His inspiration for creating the build was the vision of a character that could do everything in the game. I picked up the build at the end of Harbinger, and have played it as my main every league since. After Huy was not able to return for both Abyss and Bestiary, I wanted to make sure the guide remained updated and relevant. Like I mentioned above, a lot of this guide will seem familiar because I’m using a lot of what I’ve already written.

As Bestiary started, I was encouraged to start streaming by a friend. Since I had a decent bit of fun recording boss kill videos for Huy’s guide, I gave it a shot and it’s been a blast. It’s made me think more about the build, do more research and of course, testing.

A lot changed in 3.2 with the Ascendency re-works. Things that I couldn’t have foreseen without actually playing the character through the gearing process. This guide is my attempt to share with you all everything that I’ve learned so far, some of the problems I’ve run into, and how I decided to solve them.

I also decided to test out different passive configurations, as well as gear. Which I will share my thoughts/opinions on down below.

2.0. Leveling & Howto

I am currently working on a youtube video explaining the leveling process. This will be for the Base Build using Belly of the Beast/Covenant (See build configurations below). For Shavronne’s build, I’ll do my best to include a leveling subsection in its respective section at a later time.

There are two ways to level with this build in ‘ez mode’ - Red Covenant or Poet’s Pens.

Red Covenant allows SRS to stay on a 4-Link with a significant damage buff, with reduced total skulls. This is amazing early on without any Elreon jewelry, and these helmets are niche and shouldn’t be more than an alch or chaos at Leaguestart. You can also use them on this 4-Link well into early mapping if farming for a Tab isn’t your jam. Don’t forget to use an Aurumvorax as your weapon since you won’t be able to wear Goldrim for resists!

Poets Pens are of course, the fastest way to level in the game, period. You can pretty much ignore everything and get all the way to blood aqueducts with minimal gear, minimal life and all the memes. Fastest way to level is of course, the Volatile Dead Setup of Pen A - Volatile Dead, Concentrated Effect, Controlled Destruction and Pen B - Unearth, LMP/GMP, Bodyswap. Howeeeever you can spice up your memes by making it an automated SRS build with Pen A - SRS, Minion Damage, Melee Splash (swap with Melee Damage when on bosses) and Pen B - Unearth, LMP/GMP, Flesh Offering.

2.1. Ascendancy - Necromancer

The choice of ascendancy class is a simple one: The Necromancer.

Ascendancy Skills
While leveling, pick the Ascendancy skills:
  • Commander of Darkness (The Labyrinth)
  • Mistress of Sacrifice (The Cruel Labyrinth)
  • Puppet Master (The Merciless Labyrinth)
  • Invoker (The Eternal Labyrinth)

Above is a recommended order, but Mistress of Sacrifice and Puppet Master can be interchanged based on preference.

2.2. Leveling & Skill Tree Options

Recommended Leveling Tree

This is the generic leveling tree for this build. Following this will get you to level 81.


Recommended Leveling Uniques

There’s a variety of useful uniques beyond the Tabula Rasa that this build can benefit from while leveling. However, none of these are required. These will only facilitate a smoother leveling process.

Each unique is linked to the corresponding Wiki article.

If Leaguestart or SSF, then a 4-Linked +1 to level of socketed minion helmet is great for leveling. You get this by vendoring a minion life flask and a magic helmet of your choice.



If Leaguestart or SSF, don’t forget that you can craft a nice starter +1 Fire Gem Wand or Sceptre. You get one by vendoring a Magic Weapon, Orb of Alteration and a Ruby Ring.





Body Armor

Gem Setups for Leveling

As soon as you can afford to, when starting a league, you should buy two wands or wand/shield with three blue sockets each to use in your swapped weapons. Then, when you can afford to, buy 6 more SRS Gems and seat all six in your swapped gear. This will come in handy later, as you can then trade them in with a gemcutter’s prism to get a 20% Quality SRS. Level these again and then corrupt them for your 21/20% SRS. If you’re lucky with corruptions, your time will pay off in several exalts.

Alternatively, once leveled, Haku will sell a %Quality to Gems weapon. If you can afford your Empower early on or find one make sure you seat it in Haku’s weapon as it will just help it level faster.

Don’t like Empower? See below for my Ruthless vs. Empower down in the FAQ

SRS Links

3 Link SRS - BRB
  • SRS + Melee Splash (Swap w/ Melee Phys for Bosses) + Minion Dmg

4 Link SRS - BRBR
  • SRS + Melee Phys + Minion Dmg + Melee Splash (Swap with Elemental Damage with Attacks for Single target/Bosses.)

5 Link SRS - BBBRR
  • SRS + Melee Phys + Minion Dmg + Minion Speed (Swap w/ Elemental Focus for Bosses) + Melee Splash (Swap with Elemental Damage with Attacks for Bosses)

  • Trash/AoE: SRS + Minion Damage + Melee Phys + Empower (at least Lv3, if not, go with Ruthless + Minion Speed + Melee Splash
    Boss: SRS + Minion Damage + Melee Phys + Empower (at least Lv3, if not, go with Ruthless + Elemental Focus + Elemental Damage With Attacks

Other Required Gems

Feel free to use zombies/spectres/skellies as you level to fill in gem slots until you can get the gems you’ll need for end game set-up. Zombies synergize the best with the leveling process, as you will take both Puppet Master and Herd of the Flock which make them pretty tough, even on their own and linked to nothing.

The following is a list of the other gems used in the build and their minimum equip level. Note that some of these will be offered as quest rewards. Others, you will have to buy from other players or wait until you can purchase them from Siosa in the Library (Act 3) or Lily in Lion’s Eye Watch (Act 6).

Shield Charge Link:
Shield Charge - 10
Fortify Support - 31
Faster Attacks Support - 18

Cast When Damage Taken Link:
CWDT Support - 38 (Note: Do not level this gem, keep at L1.)
Immortal Call - 34 (Note: Level this gem to L3 only.)
Enfeeble - 24 (Note: Level this gem to L5 only.)
Increased Duration Support - 31

Vaal Spell Link:
Vaal Haste - 24
Increased Duration Support - 31
Vaal Lightning Trap - 12
Vaal Clarity - 10

Flesh Offering Link:
Orb of Storms - 4
Flesh Offering - 12
Faster Casting Support - 18
Desecrate - 16

Hatred - 24
Generosity Support - 31
Summon Stone Golem - 34
*Remember to only link Generosity to Hatred.

2.3. Pantheons

  • Soul of the Brine King - Make sure you get the bonus effects from the Divine Vessels.
  • Solaris is also acceptable.

  • Soul of Ryslatha - Life Flask Nodes from Tree gives 50% total increased healing from life flask. When on low life with pantheon, + another 60% increased healing = 110%. This is nice for survivability but becomes insane when coupled with Blood of the Karui.

2.4. Bandits

In Act 2, Kill ALL THREE Bandits to receive two passive points from Eramir.

2.5. Build Keystones and Explanations

Elemental Equilibrium
Elemental Equilibrium is an amazing damage boost for this build. SRS uses physical and fire damage, and we add additional cold damage through Hatred. This leaves lightning as the remaining element to proc the effect, and this build includes three different ways to do so. EE lasts 5 seconds at a time and can be refreshed as needed to keep 100% uptime.

You will know when EE has been properly applied to an enemy by the Pink/Purple/Blueish spell affect at their feet, which is seen below:

You will also see a written confirmation that EE is both active and attuned to the correct element when you see “Vulnerable to Fire, Vulnerable to Cold” listed on the mob’s affixes. With trash this may be hard to see, but with rares and bosses, you should be able to see this on mouseover targeting. It will look like this:

The first way we apply EE is through Orb of Storms, which can be taken very early on in the levelling process, allowing players to start dealing tremendous amounts of damage early on. Orb of Storms is a Cast-at-Player lightning skill, which leaves an area of lightning damage which will continually apply both EE and Shock to mobs within its effect.

The second is through Shield Charge, which takes advantage of the ‘Adds x to x lightning damage on Attacks’ affix found on jewelry, or which can be enchanted on jewelry by Elreon when he reaches level 6. Shield Charge will deal Area of Effect damage at the end animation of the charge in a circle in front of the player. This AoE damage will apply EE to any mob affected by the AoE damage it causes, therefore allowing you to blanket a tightly packed mob group with EE all at once.

The third is through Vaal Lightning Trap, which applies EE when the trap is triggered. It should be noted that Vaal Lightning Trap will NOT refresh EE in the same way Orb of Storm Does. Vaal Lightning trap does not cause any further damage after being triggered, instead leaving shocking ground which debuffs the mobs affected by it.

Necromantic Aegis
Necromantic Aegis is the other passive skill this build utilizes. It removes all bonuses provided by modifiers on the equipped shield and applies those modifiers to the player’s minions instead. This includes implicit modifiers such as armor rating, chance to block. In the case of Lycosidae, the ‘Hits Cannot Be Evaded’ passes directly to minions, thus negating any accuracy requirement whatsoever. In Path of Building this was shown to be an absolutely astronomical increase to DPS, far more than any other shield available, including Victario’s Charity.

Check me out on Twitch! http://www.twitch.tv/brittleknee
Last edited by brittleknee on Mar 9, 2019, 11:23:19 PM
Last bumped on Mar 19, 2019, 1:02:54 PM

3.0. Main Build and Build Variants

Due to the changes in 3.0 to Mind over Matter, a new problem for the build emerged: Mana Problems. This build became mana starved in ways it hadn’t previously. Choosing MoM often led to frustrating lockdowns when faced with ailments such as poisons, ignites, or desecrated ground. Trying to use Lavianga’s as the original build recommended was super frustrating and situational because of having a smaller unreserved mana pool. Stacking total mana on the passive tree felt equally bad, as it removed a lot of the freedom of changing a few passives here and there for certain situations.

I came up with three possible outcomes, each having their own strengths/weaknesses. I, of course, recommend Belly of the Beast because I still do think it is the best body armor choice. However, both The Covenant and Shavronne’s have the ability to solve the same problems. I’d rather you find a version of SRS that works for you personally, than make everyone conform to what I personally think is best.

3.1. Belly of the Beast

This is the core, tried and true base configuration for this build. This is the version of the build I run, and that I enjoy the most. There are certainly downsides which I’ll get into towards the end.

3.1a - Required Uniques

Belly of the Beast

This body armor is the cornerstone to survivability. The huge percentage to maximum life, when combined with jewels makes it so that this build can reach 7k health and beyond. It is also uniquely synergistic with the Blood of the Karui health flask, the Profane Chemistry notable passive, and the Soul of Ryslatha minor god from the Pantheon. While other body armors may offer higher damage potential, Belly is a staple for the build and should be acquired as soon as possible.


This shield is the cornerstone to damage. By removing the accuracy requirement for SRS via Necromantic Aegis, this shield provides the highest damage possible over any other shield in the game. Unfortunately this shield, due to its implicit, was widely popular in a number of builds beyond this one, and in 3.1 GGG nerfed the drop rate by a substantial amount.

The Scourge

This weapon is another cornerstone to damage. As long as you proc it correctly, by shield charging (and hitting something) at least once every four seconds, you gain a massive 70% minion damage. This weapon also grants both you and your minions attack speed (10-15%) which is certainly nice. After the 3.0 nerf to double dipping, The Scourge became the clear winner in choice of weapon. Remember to put your shield charge set up in the claw, as this will grant the spectral wolves both fortify and faster attacks.
The wolves can only be risen from you, yourself, killing an enemy, and not minion damage. Displaying enemy health bars and shield charging lower-life mobs aids in this, but should not take precedence over keeping your SRS, EE and Fortify up. Rampage damage from Bisco’s Leash, can also proc the wolves as well.

Grip of the Council

These gloves are best in slot for damage, due to the fact that they are in essence, a mini-hatred buff. By equipping these, your minions deal an additional 20% damage as cold. Unlike some uniques, they also offer a balance of other stats, including modest life, cold resist, and some strength. While these can be very expensive at the start of a league, they quickly fall in price and are easily obtainable within a few weeks for more frugal players.

Blood of the Karui

This potion is extremely powerful when combined with Belly, Ryslatha’s Pantheon, and passive tree nodes. It has the ability, when at low life, to heal you 8410hp over 1.67 seconds. This provides a tremendous amount of survivability, plus the instant heal to full life at the completion of flask effect is quite nice.

3.1b - End-Game Gem Setup

  • Trash/AoE: SRS + Minion Damage + Melee Phys + Empower (at least Lv3, if not, go with Ruthless) + Minion Speed + Melee Splash

  • Boss: SRS + Minion Damage + Melee Phys + Empower (at least Lv3, if not, go with Ruthless) + Elemental Focus + Elemental Damage With Attacks

  • Cast When Damage Taken (L1) + Immortal Call (L3) + Increased Duration (L20) + Enfeeble (L5).

  • Faster Casting + Flesh Offering + Orb of Storms + Desecrate

  • Increased Duration + Vaal Lightning Trap + Vaal Haste + Vaal Clarity

Main Hand:
  • Shield Charge + Faster Attacks + Fortify

  • Hatred + Generosity (Two-link, only),
    Stone Golem

3.1c - Flasks

The Chemist’s prefix is highly recommended due to its interaction with Arcane Chemistry's 15% Reduced Flask Charges Used Modifier, allowing you to hit breakpoints that allow 1-2 extra uses of each flasks (especially when coupled with a >19% Reduced Flask Charges Used Belt).

3.1d - Jewels

Since we’re using Belly, the flat life on Abyss Jewels provides the most health. They also provide far more damage than their cobalt counterparts.

Your priorities for stats on Abyss Jewels should be:
  • 1. + Life (40 or Greater)
  • 2. Minions deal x to x Physical Damage (converts better than Fire)
  • 3. Minions Deal x% Damage when using a Minion Skill
  • 4. Resists or Attack/Cast Speed

Here are some sample Abyss Jewels:

3.1e - Strengths/Weaknesses

You have two ways to go about solving your mana issues. One, is to stack enough mana regen on your rings/ammy that you can regen your mana about as fast as your spend it to sustain SRS. While relatively easy to achieve, it can get a bit pricey. It can also be very difficult to find adequate jewelry to cover other important things such as resists, due to mana regeneration also being a suffix. However, this frees up a mana flask for an extra utility flask and could be really nice if done correctly.

The other way around it, is to have no mana regeneration at all aside from what comes naturally from the passive tree. Combined with a Saturated Sanctified Mana Flask, you’ll end up refilling your mana at the exact rate that you’re depleting it by casting SRS. This effectively works like Lavianga’s used to for the build, giving you (at 20% quality on the flask) 20.9 seconds of ‘free casting.’ This makes certain things like ‘no regen’ maps a breeze, but it does require careful flask management. If you are a flask spammer, then it may be best to go with the above solution to the mana problem.

All the way around, I feel like Belly is the best choice. The synergy between passives + Blood of the Karui + Belly healing is just too amazing to pass up. So many times I can get myself into quite the jam and live through it due to all the combined healing. As a non-leech build, I feel like its really, really important to get the most out of your life flasks.

You’ll have the largest life pool using the Belly, as its a 40% multiplier versus a 10% on Covenant. The 15% All Res is also very, very nice.

3.2. The Covenant

Not a lot changes from the Belly Setup for the Covenant in terms of gear. Only some minor passive tree changes differentiate them as well. This solves the overall issue of mana by using blood magic. This could also be considered a budget option for the SRS builds, as it takes some time for the Belly prices to fall in a league. As far as I know, not too many builds use The Covenant, so getting a 5 or 6 link early on in the league may be an option over a Belly.

3.2a - Required Uniques

The Covenant

This chestpiece completely solves the mana issue, once and for all by having ‘Socketed Gems are Supported by Blood Magic.’ So, instead of using mana to cast SRS, you use life, and with good ‘ol Stone Golem plus what life regen is build into the passive tree, this is easily sustainable. You trade 40% Life from Belly for only 10% Life on the Covenant, but its not without reason. You may lose overall HP but you will gain in damage through the Level 15 Added Chaos Damage effect. That’s 94-148 base chaos damage to the SRS’ attacks. It’s certainly nothing to sneer at. You also get to free up a gem slot since you won’t need Clarity.

3.2b - End-Game Gem Setup

  • Trash/AoE: SRS + Minion Damage + Melee Phys + Empower (at least Lv3, if not, go with Ruthless) + Minion Speed + Melee Splash

  • Boss: SRS + Minion Damage + Melee Phys + Empower (at least Lv3, if not, go with Ruthless) + Elemental Focus + Elemental Damage With Attacks

  • Cast When Damage Taken (L1) + Immortal Call (L3) + Increased Duration (L20) + Enfeeble (L5).

  • Faster Casting + Flesh Offering + Orb of Storms + Desecrate

  • Hatred + Generosity (Two-link, only). Stone Golem, Free Gem Slot!

Main Hand:
  • Shield Charge + Faster Attacks + Fortify

  • Increased Duration + Vaal Lightning Trap + Vaal Haste

3.2c - Flasks

No need for a mana flask! Use whichever other Utility flask you prefer, such as a Basalt, Stibnite or Granite!

3.2d - Jewels

Since The Covenant has a lower maximum life multiplier on it than the Belly for jewels, you can likely mix and match original and abyss jewels. That being said, abyss jewels are still by and far the best for damage, hands down.

3.2e - Strengths/Weaknesses

There are definitely some major draws to using this chestpiece. For one, the cost difference will be appealing to many. In addition, the additional chaos damage explicit means that for some where a +1 Belly isn’t something that can be achieved, this may be a good alternative for getting that extra damage to finish some content.

It allows a bit more gem freedom, since you won’t be needing Vaal Clarity outside of a No-Regen map. You can run one additional aura, such as a particular purity, or purity elements to round out your resists. This makes getting other helpful stats such as attack and cast speed on items a bit easier since you won’t need ever single free suffix for a resist of some sort.

Or, you could go back to the basics, and return to using MoM for extra toughness, just remember to use a mana pot or stack mana regen if you do!

The downside to using this chestpiece over the Belly is that you’re losing out on a lot of total life, but in addition to that you’re losing out on a lot of the synergistic healing that happens when everything lines up with + healing from life flasks. Since we have no leech, having extremely potent life flasks is where a lot of our survivability comes from. When I was testing out the covenant on my leftover Necro from Abyss League, I did notice the difference. I am not the best player out there, I don’t have Mathil-level reaction times, so I will always prefer the stuff that keeps me alive over what does more damage, but that’s strictly my opinion. If this playstyle works for you, you should definitely pursue it!

3.3 - Shavronne’s Wrappings

This is a Theory-Crafted Build, and has not been field tested.

If your idea of fixing a pothole is filling it with gold bars, then I’ve got a solution for you! I first started out as LL SRS so this is kind of a rehash of that build using what I’ve learned over the past year.

I’ll likely put together and test this build in standard as time and currency allows. If anyone would like to test this build and has the gear laying around, please contact me and I’ll see what I can do to help, and I can tell you the sort of information I will need.

The PANTHEON and TALENT TREE are vastly different.
Soul of Solaris is a a great Major, since Presence of Chayula grants stun immunity. For minor god, its your preference, since you won’t need to regenerate your health flasks.

Finished Talent Tree (at about 95) is here!
Leveling Tree for LL SRS is here!

3.3a - Required Uniques

The items that will remain the same are Grip of the Council, Lycosidae and Scourge.
Everything else that’s different will be listed below:

Shavronne’s Wrappings

Shavronne’s Wrappings is a staple for most ES builds, so par for the course here. Since we’re LL and NOT CI, the ‘chaos cannot bypass energy shield’ is a requirement. Since this build uses a combination of blood magic and mana reservation, its nice that the armor has a nice chunk of ES as well as a decent amount of lightning resistance. These are incredibly expensive body armor, and a +1 version will be far more than a +1 Belly.

Presence of Chayula

While expensive, this is a necessary investment for LL ES builds. With less than 100 life, you will be stunned with every single bit of damage that comes in, so having the stun immunity is extremely important. If you’re putting the build together from scratch and getting the Presence is a far-off goal, I’ve purposefully left a free ring slot with this build. You can fill it with Valyrian to at least switch your Stun threshold to be based off of your ES if you’ve gone LL already. Otherwise, if you’ve stayed life based, and aren’t going make the switch, you can keep Brine King Major god until then.

Elder Boots

This build requires Eldered Sorcerer’s boots with Increased Duration on them. This is so we can seat both Vaal Discipline and Vaal Haste in the boots, and support them with Enlighten, Blood Magic (for the reserves of the normal skill) and then Increased duration for the Vaal version. I haven’t crafted a pair yet to link, but I’ll try and work on that somewhat soon.

3.3b - End-Game Gem Setup

  • Trash/AoE: SRS + Minion Damage + Melee Phys + Empower (at least Lv3, if not, go with Ruthless) + Minion Speed + Melee Splash

  • Boss: SRS + Minion Damage + Melee Phys + Empower (at least Lv3, if not, go with Ruthless) + Elemental Focus + Elemental Damage With Attacks

  • Cast When Damage Taken (L1) + Immortal Call (L3) + Increased Duration (L20) + Enfeeble (L5).

  • Faster Casting + Flesh Offering + Orb of Storms + Desecrate

  • Vaal Haste + Blood Magic + Enlighten (4) + Vaal Discipline

Main Hand:
  • Shield Charge + Faster Attacks + Fortify

  • Generosity + Hatred, Summon Stone Golem (unlinked)

3.3c - Flasks

Coming Soon!

3.2d - Jewels

Abyss jewels will still reign supreme here. With +247% ES modifiers, flat ES will go a long way. I’ve also left the jewels open to interpretation. With a nice ES watcher’s eye, you could easily drop some of the ES% from the tree in lieu of other jewel slots for more DPS. But, just like the life versions of the abyss jewels, you could focus on the following stats:

  • 1. +Energy Shield (40 or Greater)
  • 2. Minions deal x to x Physical Damage (converts better than Fire)
  • 3. Minions Deal x% Damage when using a Minion Skill
  • 4. Strength, Dexterity, Resists, Attack or Cast Speed.

3.2e - Strengths/Weaknesses

As I said in the opening remarks, this is an extremely expensive method of solving a fairly simple problem. I only see this being fiddled around with in Standard, as trying to league on this would, quite frankly, be silly. Its cost prohibitive and the damage is nowhere near its life-based companions. This is more or less for the die-hard energy shield fans who love for every build they run to be ES based. It was also a way for me to revisit the original build I ever played in Path, and rework it to what I think may work a little better.

There are some ways to improve the damage. There’s enough mana leftover to run aspect of the Avian if you can find a decent ES crafted item left over from Bestiary on standard. You can also run an ES watchers eye to free up some passives. Baseline though, I went for more ES survivability because I really wanted to see where the total ES would end up. I come from pre-3.0 ES nerfs. This build in super GG gear (as you can see in the PoB) can top out with over 9k ES. That seems pretty good for a non-occultist.

I will likely revisit this during the time spent in standard after Incursion, and see what I can do with it.

4.0. Magic Find & Gear Swaps

4.1. Magic Find

With this build (or at least the life versions, have not tested ES MF) you can get around 60% IIQ with using Distillate. You also will end up with around 5.5-6.0k life, so farming T14-16 is extremely viable.

I don’t know how you’d work in Distillate with The Covenant, but it easy enough with the Belly. You might want to couple it with a 10% Shaper Quant ammy with just a touch of Mana Regen if you went the Saturated Sanctified route like I typically do.

Remember you can’t use Sadima’s Touch as it will mess up EE.

4.2. Normal Mapping

Most normal mapping swaps are completely optional, since they simply add speed to normal map farming.

The most obvious is, of course, flipping Elemental Focus and Elemental Damage for Minion Speed and Melee Splash, but that is covered above in the gem links.

Rampage is fantastic for clear speed since it adds damage and speed the higher number of stacks you get. You don’t have to reconfigure your gear at all to get the benefit from it, just swap in one of the two items start killing, then swap back to your normal item, and just keep killing to maintain stacks.

The Belt is probably the most common, but it does require fairly quick clicking. I find it cumbersome since I am not a quick clicker. Once you level or buy your L4 Empower, then a Haku’s will not be necessary unless you level and sell those gems for profit. You can 6 socket a Dancing dervish and level gems in that. Then, to start your Rampage chain, you only have to weapon swap briefly. I find it to be more comfortable than the belt swap.

4.3. Hall of the Grand Masters

For the most part, this build does great in Hall of the Grand Masters, with one caveat. There are a few Max Blocker exiles mixed in, and these can present a problem for the build. ‘Blockers’ refer to full aegis/regen/immortal block builds, which means that they can sustain their eHP when they get hit by quick attacks. Fast-hitting SRS will not be able to kill them. In this case, you simply swap in the Scorching Ray Setup to melt them down (since it does not ‘hit’), then switch back to SRS. The easiest way to accomplish this is to have a spare chestpiece so swapping can be done quickly, as the gems do differ and you may not be able to swap so many so quickly without dying.

Scorching Ray Links for HotGM:
Scorching Ray + Controlled Destruction + Elemental Focus + Empower + Burning Damage + Swift Affliction

4.4 Uber Elder

Uber Elder is a fight that CAN be done with this build, but it will take significant investment into your gear. Even with the best gear, it is still an incredibly difficult fight.

The Uber-Elder fight is a difficult one, as it should be since it is the pinnacle of current end-game content. It absolutely requires an intimate knowledge of both Elder and Shaper's mechanics, and quick thinking to dodge both incoming attacks. This makes it very hard to sustain high numbers of SRS due to the sheer amount of movement you must do. As a non-regen/non-leech build, it is imperative to be able to dodge as much as possible. You also have to be very precise with your shield charge, as going too far or too short will get you killed as well.

The encounter also highlights some of the build's weaknesses. Problems mentioned above about full-damage stops and ramp up times are so punishing in this encounter. If you die towards the end of the fight when there are many anomalies down, plus phys degen from the squids, dodging incoming attacks, keeping your feet clean and summoning your SRS is very difficult. Once you die, it is extremely difficult to go back in, dodge attacks, and get your SRS back up and going.

I ended up having to switch a lot of my passives around to make my SRS more hearty, taking both Puppet Master and Herd of the Flock after dropping them earlier on. Since the minions have to fly over the degen/anomalies, and since you are limited in how many you can summon, it is important that the ones you do summon last as long as possible and hit as hard as possible.

I had to acquire a +1 Corrupted Skin of the Loyal to complete this encounter. I consider myself a decent player, but being honest I know I am not very good at movement skill placement and total screen awareness, which is what is needed. I believe a person who is good at these things will not need a +1 Skin, and a +1 Belly will be more than enough.

Here is my PoB of the gear I wore when I killed him.

5.0. Crafting & Gearing

If there is one thing to learn early on, is that essence crafting is both very useful, and can be profitable. While not 100% necessary, crafting your Rings, Amulet, and Helmet can result in huge quality of life improvements when leveling, mapping and killing bosses.

The main Essence you will use is Essence of Fear. This is used for multiple items. The other is Essence of Loathing, which can be used to craft a helm with mana reserve reduction. While the added affixes are more powerful when you use higher-level essences, some players may not have the currency available to craft with Deafening Essences. The information in this section works regardless of what level essence you use, but I would recommended to at least craft with Screaming Essences as they are a great starting point for both gearing purposes and low-investment profiting.

5.1. Tabula Rasa

When playing at the beginning of a league, or playing SSF, getting your hands on a Tabula early on makes all the difference. Tabs can go for quite a bit of currency in the first week of a new league, and acquiring the currency to buy one outright can be daunting unless you’re familiar with early league markets and trading. The good news is that Tab is 100% farmable, and will cost you nothing but time. While levelling, you can farm The Aqueduct (The First Area of Act 4) or The Blood Aqueduct (The First Area of Act 9) for Humility Divination Cards. A set of nine cards can be exchanged for a Tab.

With some time, and some effort, you can acquire your own Tab, and wear it into early to mid mapping. It’s time well invested.

5.2. Crafting a Weapon

If you have a Tabula or 6L, unique weapons like Reverberation Rod and Nycta’s Lantern are no longer useful. A Severed in Sleep at the beginning of a league or in SSF isn’t exactly budget-friendly/acquirable. Brightbeak, while still a solid option before obtaining The Scourge, doesn’t offer any direct damage, though it is awfully fun to zoom around with.. However, using a Screaming Essence of Fear on a weapon will provide a nice 19-22% damage for your SRS. Higher tier essences provide a higher percent minion damage. Claws are a nice choice to craft, since the DPS of the weapon does not affect SRS damage, and Claws can often roll with helpful affixes such as Dexterity, Mana Regeneration, and Resists.

An example is:

5.3. Crafting Jewelry

Using a Essence of Fear on a ring or amulet will result in a minion movement speed affix. This is a huge quality of life improvement and works several ways synergistically with the build. It first helps by allowing your minions to chain between packs of mobs more easily, as this seems to lengthen their aggro radius since they can cover more distance. This contributes to the ‘rolling wave’ playstyle by limiting your need to resummon once you arrive at a new pack, allowing you to supplement your existing SRS as you go, rather than having to rebuild your SRS between packs. Furthermore, since this is a all-in-one build, faster minion speed means faster farming. It also means faster arrival time for your SRS to bosses which change positions during a fight, resulting in a higher DPS uptime.

Ideally, you’ll want high life (70+), a resist or two, and maybe a helpful stat such a Dexterity for a ring or amulet to be ‘good.’ But there are plenty of other combinations of stats which can also be useful, such as Mana Regen, + Mana, or even Rarity. A Screaming Essence of Fear will net you 19-22% minion movement speed per jewelry item.

Some examples are:

5.4. Crafting a Helmet

While crafting a helmet with an Essence of Loathing is not remotely required, freeing up some of your mana from reserve due to the recent nerfs to MoM can provide some wiggle room in talents, allowing you to skip some Total Mana % nodes in lieu of damage, or simply provide a larger mana pool in which to cast SRS and take hits.
Screaming Essence of Loathing results in a 3% mana reserve reduction, and scales up to Deafening, which provides 5% mana reserve reduction. Craft with what you can afford. A bone helmet with this essence can be an excellent starting helmet until the helmet enchant from Uber Labs can be acquired.

Some examples are:

Check me out on Twitch! http://www.twitch.tv/brittleknee
Last edited by brittleknee on Jun 16, 2018, 12:39:31 PM

6.0. Frequently Asked Questions

6.1. Frequently Asked Questions

Empower vs. Ruthless

The Ruthless plus Empower debate was a common one on Huy’s guide and I wanted to just take a few moments to write a bit about it. Yes, when you plug it all Path of Building it is more damage. If what you want to focus on is the most amount of damage, then by all means use Ruthless.

Since we’re pure SRS, some thought should be given to their survivability. If you go Ruthless and drop Herald of the Flock and Puppet Master in lieu of more gem sockets, you will end up with SRS that die very quickly. Even with both passives, Ruthless without a +1 can mean your SRS can be wiped out instantly by any powerful AoE.

Here’s an example from a T14 Plateau after changing out to Ruthless EVEN WITH a +1 Belly. Watch how fast the AoE drops the skulls:
Shaped Plateau

So, it shouldn’t be much of a stretch to see that losing the extra health from the SRS losing total level could complicate things. Without Empower there’s no way to really move to the ‘final’ tree with the 8 jewel slots for maximum damage. Things like Shaper and U-Elder wouldn’t be possible due to how fast the SRS would be taken out by AoE damage.

Either way, you can choose for yourself what works best, but that’s my official 2 cents. To me, I’ll take the hit in damage for better minion survivability.

Belly vs. Covenant

I covered this a bit above already, but in case people skip right here for the explanation, I’ll re-cover the point I made above.

Much like the Ruthless v. Empower comparison above, the Belly vs. Covenant comparison is very similar. It’s very much a survivability versus damage debate with a splash of convenience.

There’s nothing wrong with using either Chestpiece, both have their merits, so obviously choose the one you’re more comfortable with. Belly offers a higher max-end HP as well as some resists. The 50% increased healing from health potions synergizes with the Profane and Arcane chemistry passives as well as Soul of Ryslatha. Blood of the Karui ends up healing for 8410 HP over 1.67 seconds when proc’d at low life (less than 35%), which is absolutely amazing. There has been plenty of times I’ve lived just because of the raw healing power from Blood + Seething together. I am comfortable with my flask management and don’t mind using a mana flask, so going with Belly is comfortable for me. I, personally, like to balance survivability with damage.

Covenant offers blood magic SRS casting which removes a lot of the mana problems from the build. What mana regen exists in the passive tree is more than enough to sustain shield charge and casting orb of storms. There’s the benefit of added damage, too, with the Level 15 Added Chaos damage, so for those who don’t mind giving up total HP, resists and healing from flasks. On a 6L and a +1 it may end up being a more affordable option for some over a 6L Belly for some, which is perfectly fine as well. You can also run another aura since you don’t need nearly as much mana with Covenant as well. Any 35% reserve will work.

Scourge vs. United in Dream

They’re both fine minion weapons, but since the 3.0 nerf in double dipping, the Scourge adds far more damage in the end as long as you are routinely proc’ing it by hitting every 4 seconds. In PoB, its 11+% damage loss to use UiD. Plus, free puppies!

6.2 Troubleshooting


With the ability to exceed 7.8k eHP fully geared, this build has the potential to take some hits. While being somewhat ‘tanky’ you should never put yourself directly in harm’s way. This build is meant to live through spike damage and rapidly replenish lost life through our life flasks.

There are a few things to remember when playing to maximize your survivability:
  • Life. When purchasing rares, remember +Life is very important, as the higher the base +Life, the more you get out of all your various multipliers, from your passive tree, to jewels, to Belly.
  • Resists. Cap your resists, and get chaos at least to 0%
  • Fortify.Ensure 100% uptime on Fortify. All you have to do is hit. Aim for outliers to the pack. Charge quickly to the boss, then through them to their backside. Shield charge + Faster Attacks + Flesh Offering gives you plenty of mobility. With finesse you can maintain your fortify and minimize the danger you put yourself in to do so.
  • Flask. If you’re pushing into higher content and are having a difficult time, work in a Basalt Flask and use it accordingly. Keep a Basalt of each element type (Heat, Dousing, Grounding) to use depending on boss damage or map mods. Even Dabble with a Rumi’s if you’d like. Find what works for you.
  • Jewels. Yes, perfect jewels will cost anywhere from 2-6 ex. However, don’t be afraid to, early on, if your damage is good but you’re dying, to invest in some resist and life% jewels without the minion damage. You can potentially get two resists and max life %. These are usually substantially cheaper and can be a good placeholder until you can save up for or craft a gem you’re looking for. Likewise a high health, resist, and %minion damage Abyss Jewels will be substantially cheaper than the Life, x to x phys, %minion damage jewels.

Affording End-Game Gear

There were a lot of questions on Huy’s guide to the tune of ‘Where do you get off calling this build ‘Budget Viable’? Yes, a lot of the items cost quite a bit of currency, but there are multiple work-arounds which have been discussed at length in the gearing and crafting sections. Will you be able to down Shaper in all Rares? No, of course not. You can, however, reliably start content and farm Red-Tier maps in mostly rares, certainly if you follow some of the crafting recommendations above. Up to T14 is viable with just a 5L.

The first key to affording end-game gear is to prioritize what you feel like your build lacks, plus a basic understanding of the market. At league start Kalisa’s Grace (comes with Faster Casting built in, allowing you to add an increased duration to the glove links thus prolonging Flesh Offering duration) goes for 1-4 chaos, whereas Grip of the Council starts at about 30-50 chaos, just because they are hard to acquire in the beginning. The market then tanks on the gloves as more people complete the prophecy chain. Knowing this sort of information can really help you make informed decisions in early gearing.

Otherwise, aggressively pursue your Chaos Vendor turn-ins, whether you chose to ID or UNID is up to preference. Some do ID turn-ins simply so they don’t miss potentially valuable jewelry rolls. Other prefer to churn out as many chaos as possible, opting for UNID. There is not right or wrong answer here.

Flasks are a great place to start making currency. Utility flasks will generally fetch a better price than Divine Life Flasks. The more popular utility flasks are Sulphur, Diamond, Silver, Quicksilver, and Stibnite. Don’t forget to chance Sapphire Flasks for a possible ‘Taste of Hate’ which sell handsomely.

Corrupting Unique Jewels that are quest rewards can also potentially have a large payout, depending on what they either get as an implicit, or what they corrupt into. Even when they ‘brick’ down into a rare, there’s the potential that they could roll something more valuable than the 1 Alchemy it had been worth prior.

PoE Trade Macro is your best friend. It can really help expedite the selling process by giving you a reference of how much something is worth.

You can find it here.
A Great Video Guide for it is here.

Lastly, convert your Chaos to Exalted Orbs as you can spare them if it is early on in the league. Exalts are an investment, one that matures, just like a savings bond. Given time for the market to mature, you can double your initial chaos investment.

7.0 Media & Gifs

8.0. Credits, Updates, Changelog


People who have made this dream possible are:
  • iHuy - Of course, for creating the original build guide, for answering all my questions about the build when I was a newer player, for talking through some ideas and theorycrafting when I was more experienced, and for wishing me good luck on this journey of mine to strike out on my own.
  • Touchnova - Of course, for pointing me in Huy’s direction to begin with, and for all of the hours of helping me with my design work. From my logo to my twitch emotes, his work has been professional and super clean. I cannot recommend him enough for any and all graphic design needs.

I’d also like to thank all of my followers as well as subscribers, in addition to those of you in-game on the forums who have helped me work on this build and recommend things to try and content to write. You’re all legends!


Updates of Past Leagues are here!

Delve League Update

3.4 Delve League Update
Holy Minion Updates!

This is going to take me a considerable amount of time to fully update this guide in lieu of the changes. We now have options and choices for what shield we can use. Lyco is no longer a 100% requirement.

In the updated tree there's 150% Bonus to Minion Accuracy, and when combined with Command of the Pit's +1000 Accuracy rating, you are up to 92% hit chance on Minions without any further gear or talents on Shaper. Now, we know that Delve monsters will scale beyond ilvl 84, and late Delve spelunking may require a swap back to Lyco, but for a majority of players it is now a choice, not a requirement.

As for the Fate of Necromantic Aegis, it remains to be seen. For now I have continued to use it with Victario's Charity for generating Frenzy charges. For Hardcore players, you can drop it entirely and spend some time picking up extra life and utilizing a more Tanky shield to protect yourself.

The thing that actually makes me the most excited is that the changes to minion playstyle actually even out the playing field between the three body armors. In their PoB's, they all do around the same damage, or close to it, which means its finally and TRULY a playstyle decision when it comes to picking which one. Of course, a +1 Corrupted Skin is still the end all for damage, and always will be.

I will roll out full updates on the guide as soon as I am able, but for now I've changed the Path of Building Links below. I'll update this again when I finish updating the leveling sections, etc.

Happy Delving, Exiles!
<3 BK

Incursion League Update

3.3 Incursion League Update

So, this league is pretty fun! Nothing major outside of the vaal gem reworks affect this setup. Damage should hopefully and potentially be better with the constant regeneration of vaal skills, plus the introduction of using aforementioned vaal skills during the U-Elder fight will make that fight MUCH easier and require less gear swaps.

The consolidation of the vaal skills into a single gem with their equivalent uncorrupted skill gem will free up a few gem slots. I’ve updated the guide as well to reflect this. What to do with these suddenly free slots is up to you! As of now, I have no official recommendations, but this will likely change as I get into the league and test things out!

There is also a POWERFUL minion enchant on rares which come from the temple, which alone, outweigh the 70% The Scourge can give us. I’m thinking they will be great weapons to use until you can use The Scourge. To my knowledge the new rares can only have one "temple affix" so the attack speed + damage on the Scourge nets more damage than the temple rare, even with all that extra damage (there's a reason we use the Flesh Offering enchant rather than the SRS ones!).

<3 BK


Jun 10 2018 - Build Guide is Live!
Aug 29 2018 - Preliminary Delve Update Done. PoB Updated.

Check me out on Twitch! http://www.twitch.tv/brittleknee
Last edited by brittleknee on Dec 6, 2018, 5:24:42 PM
Great build guide. Thanks!
Hi Brittleknee,

Thank you so much for this guide! I'm following it now to some success (though i'm still only level 60) - would love some more videos if at all you get the opportunity to make them :)

Kidkanevil wrote:
Hi Brittleknee,

Thank you so much for this guide! I'm following it now to some success (though i'm still only level 60) - would love some more videos if at all you get the opportunity to make them :)


It's definitely on the ever-growing list of things to do!

I'm hoping to have the following videos soon:

Overall Build Guide
Leveling & Gearing
Boss Strategies
Check me out on Twitch! http://www.twitch.tv/brittleknee
Sounds great, look forward to them! :)
Interesting thanks
Kidkanevil wrote:
Sounds great, look forward to them! :)

Here's the first!

Check me out on Twitch! http://www.twitch.tv/brittleknee
Uber Elder isn't too difficult using the Covenant setup.

I switch in Kaom's Roots and run 4 life flasks + onslaught flask. Also dropped lvl4 Empower for Ruthless.

Granted this is my standard character but I don't believe there is anything that cannot be acquired from Incursion.
Last edited by Eathb on Jul 7, 2018, 9:34:27 PM

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