[3.5] The skeleton mage GPU burner !! all mods / shaper viable / cheap league starter


I used to play summoner since a long time now and i really loved skeleton mages gameplay but had some issues with late game so i decided to put interest on it and make a efficient build that i'm gonna share to you. Feel free to comment it and give any question/advice.
I will also try to explain my choices, what i've tested myself etc... ENJOY ! :)


This build is based on skeleton mages that i use with zombies as meatshield below t14 maps. On t14 maps and higher, zombies start to die and become useless that's why i switch my chest for a Kaom's Heart. You can play this build without zombies with no problem.

Easy leveling
Great boss killer
Pretty fast clear
Pretty tanky
Can do all map mods
Good league starter
Really easy untill T14/15 maps even with low gear/5 links

Need a lot of dex from gear
no regen maps are doable but annoying
Can burn your GPU

POB link

Here is my actual setup with revamped tree : https://pastebin.com/GJVJmypy

A godlike geared version with 9.5k life and 200k DPS per mage with bosses configuration : https://pastebin.com/RiW6Tn36

Gems setup

(Gems are placed in priority order so if you have a 5 link just drop the last one)


Here is the gem setup for the staff. The vaal skill is a great dammage boost on bosses. Something you have to know is Vaal summon skeleton have a big boost from level 19 to level 20 so you should try to buy one as soon as you can equip/buy it, else you can level it by yourself.

On bosses you can also switch Greater multiple projectiles for

Some guides recommand to switch with Slower projectile support but your mages will have a chance to miss bosses with many dash/movement speed.


Here's the zombies setup with maim to slow enemies. There are many different way to build it, here is my personnal choice especially for minion speed support which makes your zombies never late in fight. fortify grant them dammage reduction and some dammage.


We use flame dash as movement skill, it's usefull to pass through walls and can save your life sometimes. Desecrate helps us summoning zombies and flesh offering. this last one buff our minion's movement/cast/attack speed. Those 3 skills are good with faster casting support.


Here's the debuff setup using Arc. We use elemental weakness and projectile weakness + curse on hit. Arc fits well with this mechanic because you don't have to focus, just press the skill button. This setup also proc Elemental Equilibrium node from the tree, so if you plan to use another skill don't use a fire one because fire casters are our best minions.


Anger + Generosity support here is a great buff for our caster. In the last two slots i go for CWDT + immortal call for more survivability.I suggest to keep CWDT level 1 and immortal call level 3. I tried to use spectre but i finally prefer the cwdt setup.


Stone golem for HP regen and his taunt ability. Haste buff which gives attack/cast/movement speed, this is a great buff for our minion and us. You also can put vaal haste here and use the skill on bosses for another dammage steroid.

Gems quality

Quality is important on the following gems :

(P.S. : According to PoB, Vaal summon skeleton gem 21/0 is better than 20/20.)


Pledge of hands is by far the best staff for this build. The level 30 spell echo give us a great 7L setup for our mages and let us summon more skeletons at a time. Try to find a 5L one as soon as you can !

A Bone helmet with life and resistances is all you need here, with up to 40% minion dommage this is a really great option for this build.

As mentioned before, i use two chests. For the zombies 6L you can use any rare chest with life and resistances. The switch is a Kaom's heart for the great flat life amount. Be sure to have your resistances capped without chest stats before starting to use a Kaom's heart.

Sidhebreath is a great and cheap amulet for this build, try to find one with all resistances corruption. If you want to improve this slot you can buy a rare amulet with increased minion dommage, life and resistances but this will probably be really expensive.If you have issues to reach needed dexterity or cap your resistances you can go for a cheap rare amulet with those stats.

Here we'll use two unset ring for haste and stone golem. focus on dexterity life and resistances.

Again a rare item with dexterity, life and resistances.

I'd go for a Stygian vise for the extra jewel slot. Try to find one with life and resistances. Put a minion jewem in it or one with life if needed, it's all about you need.

Boots with a great movespeed roll is appreciable, you'll focus again on life and resistances here.

2 Dead reckoning needed for a total of 10 skeleton mages. This item change our skeleton warriors for skeleton mage YOU NEED IT !
Fill all remaining slots with to dust, look for good rolls on minion dammage (max 12%) and skeleton casting speed (max 10%).
If you want more tankyness you can go for some jewels with life and minion dammage.

Passive tree/bandits/pantheon/ascendancy

Final tree

Bandits : Kill all for the two points

Ascendancy : Invoker -> Bone sculptor -> Flesh binder -> Puppet master
(If you want to play without zombies replace Flesh binder with commander of darkness)

Pantheon: Solaris - Garukhan


You can start level 1 with Raise Zombie, add melee splash support and minion dammage support at level 8.
At level 4 you'll start to use summon raging spirit for additional minions. Support them with added fire dammage and melee splash at level 8.
For that you'll need 2 items with 3 links, blue blue red for zombie's setup and blue red red for summon raging spirit one.

You can start using clarity at level 10 for a smoother leveling experience and drop it when you feel ok with your mana regen.

i recommend to equip a vaal summon skeleton gem as soon as you can, for vaal skill on bosses. Personnaly i prefer use raging spirits while leveling.

At level 24 start to use haste aura for movement speed and ofc minion dammage synergies. You'll need the node sovereignty from the tree to start using anger and a decent mana pool.

Level 25 tree

Passive tree around level 35
Then follow again the upper path as indicated in final tree.
You may have noticed that i recommend to take some nodes that aren't in final tree, this is made on purpose and will ease your leveling. This will cost 10 orb of regret at endgame.

Once you start to use Dead reckoning jewels, juste replace raging spirits with skeletons and start to burn your graphic card !

At level 49 you can equip a Sire of shards, this unique staff will perfectly do the job before you can buy a pledge of hands.

3.5 league advancement

Here i'll try to post you some POB links, screenshots, or even videos (if my computer can) of betrayal league advancement with this build! Stay tuned ;)


13.12.18 : Pob with godlike gear added
14.12.18 : added info about vaal summon skeleton gem level/quality in gems section
Last edited by ouapapaladam on Dec 18, 2018, 3:19:18 AM
Last bumped on Apr 11, 2019, 10:57:36 AM
I'll probably be running something similar. Only thing I've done in the past is running Tukohama's Vanguard instead of zombies later on for single target. Other than that it'll be very similar. Can't wait!
I tried those spectres too but with a 4 links only and it didn't look efficient. Feel free to come back and share your experience ;)
ouapapaladam wrote:
I tried those spectres too but with a 4 links only and it didn't look efficient. Feel free to come back and share your experience ;)

They will be in a elder helm that has burning and minion damage, to give it a 6Link :)
Any lab enchants you recommend?
Last edited by lly1953 on Dec 8, 2018, 5:51:00 AM
For Helm we already have minions dammage from bone helmet which count as an enchantment.
For gloves i had commandment of spite last league and it was pretty usefull to freeze enemies.
For the boots i'd see the movement speed enchantment.
Thanks for answer. Got one more question: at what should i start using anger? Im using haste now, got node sovereignty, my mana pool is 980 points (im at 56 lev now). When i pop up those two auras, my mana reserved is 94%, and im stuck with too low mana pool to use skills. So how much mana is considered a decent mana pool?

Here is a nice tool to calculate this.
You'll be fine around 2000 maximum mana.
Currently running this build, and i would like some feedback on this, how about dropping zombies all together? not a huge fan of them, would it be better to just go with spectres 6l in chest.
Well i played this build last week too and the main question is about very late game (guardians/shaper). I really needed the Kaom's heart to clear this content and yes at this level à drop my chest and zombies. (I keep it and still use them in delve).

You'll see that even in t16 maps skeleton mages clear very fast so we don't really need spectres.

I also tried spectres with this build but on a 4L only. I used tukohama vanguard but i'm not 100% that the debuff works for our skeleton mages.

Feel free to try it and leave some feedback here, especially about late game content.

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