[3.5] The Blizz Sorc - Icestorm CI Occultist - Viable For Everything

2018-12-11: Adjusted the tree (switched one jewel socket). The build is now complete at lv 91. Added a note about Blood Rage.
2018-12-09: Added a video for Uber Lab and a PoB snapshot for lv 72. Updated the leveling guide a little.



This is the new experimental version of my Whispering Ice Ascendant build. See that build's thread for the detailed explanations and videos of what it can do. No boss is too hard for it, most are too easy. All maps with most any mods are a joke. I've been using this build to do 40/40 challenges on my own merit in many leagues, this is my go-to build to get things done.

Video: Occultist Pre-flight Check

This version was inspired by the new skills introduced in 3.5 and the buffs to Occultist. It uses Cold damage and aspires to be even tankier than the Ascendant version without trading too much damage for it.

More details will be added to this guide as I play it in the Betrayal league.

Videos
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[3.5] Uber Lab at lv 72

New videos will be made for 3.5. See the Ascendant version for the videos from the previous leagues.


Build Theory
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coming soon


Skill tree
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Here's the current idea that looked the best in testing:
Lv 91 tree


Bandits
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Kill them all
None of the bandit rewards are worth 2 skill points for this build.


Ascendancy
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1. Void Beacon
2. Frigid Wake
3. Wicked Ward
4. Vile Bastion


Pantheon
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Major: Arakaali + Queen of the Great Tangle
50% increased ES recovery is awesome for tanking.

Minor: Gruthkul, Ralakesh, Yugul
Yugul is for the top cold-based bosses (Hydra, Shaper, Elder, Uber Elder, Aul) and elemental reflect maps. Tukohama for physical hard hitters. Gruthkul or Ralakesh for everything else.


Gear
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Mandatory uniques
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The build is based on this item.

Keep in mind that rolling 6S manually with jeweller orbs requires ilvl 50 or higher. Crafting bench 6 can force 6 sockets on any ilvl staff.

Only one link is required in the staff (Winter Orb - CwC). Icestorm automatically uses all support gems in the staff without the need to link them.

Important: Always 20q your staff before attempting to 6S it. Quality improves your roll by a lot. You can do it a lot cheaper than via the crafting bench with average luck, as long as it's 20q.


Recommended uniques
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Astramentis solves all stat requirement issues and provides a huge amount of damage via its high Intelligence (which is also boosted by the staff and belt). 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.

Some Talismans or Shaped amulets can do better but they are very rare and expensive.


Cyclopean Coil provides a lot of Int while making you immune to shock and ignite (your stats will normally end up in this hierarchy: Int > Str > Dex). It also adds 1% Increased damage per 5 of your lowest stat. With Astramentis your lowest stat is usually about 150 Dex, so that's 30% Increased damage right there.


Gloves, boots, helmet, chest
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Use rares. The most important stat is Int, followed by ES and resists.


Rings
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Rare rings with 50+ Int and as much ES and resistance as you can find. Ideally it should be corrupted with %Increased Int (see Corruption).


Jewels
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You will need 4x Fertile Mind and 1x Brute Force Solution to convert Dex and Str nodes on the way to important things to Int, with their own Int on top of that. See the Leveling Guide for where to place them.

And 3-4 rare jewels with good mods. Resist/damage jewels can also be used if you are struggling to max 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 Cold damage
10-12% Increased Spell damage
10-12% Increased Area damage


Watcher's Eye has 2-3 random mods that add extra effects to various auras. The mods useful to this build are:

+(20-30) Energy Shield gained for each Enemy Hit while affected by Discipline - a powerful supplement to the capped ES leech, especially for clearing maps with nasty mods. It works wonders against packs of dangerous enemies that could do more damage than 40% of your ES per second (the leech cap).

(20-30)% increased Energy Shield Recovery Rate while affected by Discipline - extra leech (it increases the leech cap!) is very useful against bosses.

(1-1.5)% of Damage leeched as Life while affected by Vitality - high DPS option at the price of some tankability. This lets you replace Life Leech with another DPS gem such as Controlled Destruction and run Vitality instead of Arctic Armour or Herald of Ice.

Gain (12-18)% of Maximum Mana as Extra Maximum Energy Shield while affected by Clarity - a lot of extra ES. Run lv 1 Clarity for 34 mana instead of Ancestral Call.

If you can find a jewel with more than one of these mods, it's awesome. However, such a jewel can cost more than the rest of the gear combined, and it's not really necessary for anything.

Note: Watcher's Eye is optional! It's not required for the build to function, but very nice to have.


Enchantment
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This build does not need any enchantments, they are all optional. If you get something useful - great, but you'll do just fine without any of this.

Useful enchantments:

Helmet
30% increased Enfeeble Curse Effect = cursed enemies deal 9% LESS damage

Gloves
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.

Boots
0.6% of Damage Leeched as Life and Mana if you've Killed Recently = extra ES leech + mana leech
Damage Penetrates 10% of Enemy Elemental Resistances if you haven't Killed Recently = extra DPS against bosses
Adds 45 to 68 Cold Damage if you've been Hit Recently = extra DPS against bosses


Corruption
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Rings, amulets and belts can get %Increased Int (+Str or Dex).
Jewels can get extra damage or immunity to Maim, Silence, Hinder or Corrupting Blood.

Do not corrupt the staff. 18% block is an excellent defensive mod, and there are no good Vaal mods for staves that would help this build.



Gems
Spoiler

Ancestral Call any level, ideally 20q
Arcane Surge lv 1-4 (match the mana cost of Frost Bomb)
Arctic Armour lv 20, ideally lv 21
Ball Lightning lv 4
Blind 20/20
Blood Rage lv 1
Cast while Channelling 20/20, ideally 21/20
Cold Penetration 20/20, ideally 21/20
Concentrated Effect 20/20, ideally 21/20
Curse on Hit 20/20, ideally 20/23
Cast When Damage Taken lv 1
Cast When Damage Taken lv 20
Discipline lv 20, ideally lv 21
Enfeeble 20/20, ideally 21/20
Flame Dash lv 20
Frost Bomb lv 20
Herald of Ice 20/20, ideally 21/20
Hypothermia lv 20, ideally lv 21
Immortal Call any level
Life Leech 20/20, ideally 21/20
Spell Cascade 20/20, ideally 21/20
Summon Chaos Golem lv 20
Vigilant Strike 20/20
Winter Orb lv 20, ideally lv 21

Optional:
Purity of Fire lv 20
Purity of Ice lv 20
Purity of Lightning lv 20
Purity of Elements lv 20
Vaal Discipline lv 20
Vaal Righteous Fire lv 20

Recommended priority of adding quality:
- DPS gems: CwC, Concentrated Effect, Cold Penetration, Spell Cascade
- Curse on Hit
- Enfeeble
- Herald of Ice
- Life Leech
- Vigilant Strike
- Ancestral Call

Uber Lab farming is a good 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 non-DPS gems, 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 weapon.


Sockets
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No link higher than 4L is required for any targets. However, 5L chest is very nice to have.

Weapon
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6S RGGBBB: Life Leech, Hypothermia, Cold Penetration, Winter Orb - Cast While Channelling, Spell Cascade. It can work even with 4S (without CP and SC) during leveling, but at lower damage.

Winter Orb must be linked to CwC. No other links are required, Icestorm automatically uses all support gems in the staff. You can, however, link Winter Orb to Hypothermia and Cold Penetration if you want.

For bosses swap Spell Cascade for Concentrated Effect.

If you have the leech boot enchantment or a Watcher's Eye with ES gain on hit, you don't need Life Leech for trash clearing. You can carry 2 staves: one with Spell Cascade for trash clearing and one with Life Leech for the bosses.


Gloves, boots, helmet, chest
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4L: CWDT (lv 1) - Ball Lightning (lv 4) - Curse of Hit (20/20) - Enfeeble (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 must be lv 6 or higher, do level it. This setup will not work with low level curse gems or high level CWDT/BL. You want this link to trigger as often as possible, so CWDT must stay at lv 1. BL higher than lv 4 will be too high level for it to trigger. Enfeeble lower than lv 6 will get triggered by CWDT directly instead of getting procced by BL, and will thus only target a small area and lose the increased effect from CoH.

Optional: If you have a 5L chest, add Blind to that CWDT link.

4L: CWDT lv 20 - Blood Rage lv 1 - Immortal Call any lv - Summon Chaos Golem lv 20.
Important: Blood Rage should be between CWDT and IC. They trigger in that order, and that's important. Do not insert Blood Rage until you upgrade Arakaali. Read the section 'About Blood Rage'.

3L: Frost Bomb - Arcane Surge - Flame Dash. Level Arcane Surge to trigger on Frost Bomb (not higher than its mana cost).

2L: Vigilant Strike - Ancestral Call.

Place in any free sockets:
Discipline or Vaal Discipline
Arctic Armour
Herald of Ice
- but make sure not to link them with Arcane Surge (it increases mana reservation).

Optional: Vaal Righteous Fire instead of Ancestral Call. This is an extra DPS option, it gives you a 39% MORE damage boost for 5 sec when you need to kill something quickly. However, Vigilant Strike requires a much more precise targeting without Ancestral Call.


How to off-color sockets?
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To be updated for 3.5 when the locations of these recipes become known.

The easiest way to get 3 or all 4 R/G sockets in the Int gear is to use Jewellers instead of Chromatics. Using the crafting bench, keep adding a new socket and removing it until you get the color you want. Adding a socket doesn't change the colors of the existing sockets.





Auras
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Discipline, Arctic Armour, Herald of Ice.

Purity auras (of Fire, Ice, Lightning or Elements) can be used when necessary instead of HoI for Elemental Weakness maps, +ele dmg maps, or bosses that deal extreme amounts of damage of a particular element.


Flasks
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This build doesn't depend on flasks to function, so the choice is entirely up to you. However, a Staunching flask is highly recommended for mapping, Quicksilver is really nice for clear speed, and Atziri's Promise is useful against bosses.


Play style and clear speed
Spoiler

Run around at high speed with Quicksilver flasks and Flame Dash. Use other flasks as needed.

See a pack of mobs, hit them with Winter Orb + Icestorm. If they are not instantly dead, drop Storm Brand and Frost Bomb on them and cast more Icestorms. If they are nasty, hit something with Vigilant Strike to get a 12 sec Fortify and tank them.

While tanking, move as little as possible. Arctic Armour only works while stationary. But dodge potential 1-shots unless you are confident that you can survive them.

If you need to kill trash faster, you can swap Enfeeble for Frostbite and trade a bit of safety for damage.

Another option is swapping Life Leech for Concentrated Effect. This further increases clear speed while lowering you tankability. ONLY if you have the leech enchantment on your boots and a swap staff with different colors for it. And ONLY for trash clearing. Do not take Life Leech out of your boss setup.

This is not a 'clear speed' build, it's a 'do everything' build. It's designed primarily for facerolling the endgame content. It can't use fast movement skills or do damage just by moving. But it can clear any maps with virtually any mods reasonably fast, very safely and without skipping or leaving any mobs behind. Constantly mapping in high tiers with massive item quantity and pack size eliminates the map drop issue, the pool of red maps always grows.

Clear speed with this build is achieved by using 30% ms boots, high speed Quicksilver flasks and gem swaps.


About Blood Rage
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The link CWDT - Blood Rage - Immortal Call is used with Arakaali pantheon to greatly increase the leech power and survivability against bosses, deep delves, the Syndicate, etc. as well as increase clear speed.

How it works: you receive a big hit, CWDT triggers Blood Rage that gives you a physical degen and the immediately triggers Immortal Call that stops all physical damage. This triggers 50% increased ES recovery from Arakaali for 4 sec. Blood Rage (even lv 1) lasts longer than Immortal Call and the degen remains on you for a few more seconds. If you are hitting anything and leeching, you won't notice it.

Things that can help mitigate the degen:
- Ralakesh pantheon: 25% reduced phys degen while moving
- Basalt flask
- Warlord's Mark: endurance charges make IC last longer

However, it's not suitable for some other situations, such as:
- Atziri (herself): can hit you hard and go invulnerable
- Lab and trials: hit you but there is nothing to leech from
- Maps with Vulnerability: greatly increases the degen
- Elemental degen such as burning ground: IC won't stop it, Arakaali won't trigger
Unlike life-based builds, you can't use a flask to repair the damage. It's easier to just take out Blood Rage for these situations.


Dealing with map mods
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coming soon


My stats and items in the Betrayal league
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Last edited by Kelvynn on Dec 11, 2018, 1:31:58 PM
Last bumped on Dec 15, 2018, 2:22:00 AM
Leveling guide
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Leveling with the Whispering Ice is a blast. You can start using it as early as lv 33 with some inconvenience, or at lv 39 where it starts really kicking ass.

However, if you don't have the staff yet and don't think you will get it early enough, then your leveling experiences may vary. This guide is specifically designed for Icestorm.

Remember to complete side quests that give +skill points.
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A1: Dweller of the Deep ('the Granddaddy crab')
A1: The Marooned Mariner (Fairgraves)
A1-2: The Way Forward (the seal in Western Forest)
A3: Victario's Secrets (platinum busts)
A4: An Indomitable Spirit (Deshret)
A5: In Service to Science (the Miasmeter)
A5: Kitava's Torments (the Reliquary)
A6: The Cloven One (Aberrath)
A6: The Puppet Mistress (Ryslatha)
A7: Queen of Despair (Gruthkul)
A7: Kishara's Star (the Causeway)
A8: Love is Dead (Tolman)
A8: The Gemling Legion (the Grain Gate)
A8: Reflection of Terror (Yugul)
A9: Queen of the Sands (Shakari)
A9: The Ruler of Highgate (Garukhan)
A10: Vilenta's Vengeance (Vilenta)


Uniques to trivialize leveling
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Lv 1-39
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Wear any self-found gear with Life and Armour. Use dual wands or wand + spirit shield for max spell damage.

Start
Take Arcane Surge from the chest in Twilight Strand. Kill Hillock and take Freezing Pulse as your reward from Tarkleigh. You will be using Freezing Pulse until lv 28. Support it with Arcane Surge. Buy a Paua amulet from Nessa for mana regen.

In the skill tree:
- Arcanist's Dominion
- Frost Walker
- Heart and Soul
- Cruel Preparation
First 16 skill points

Medicine Chest
Take Spell Cascade as your reward from Nessa and start leveling it in any free socket (don't link it to anything, just level).

Submerged Passage
Take Frost Bomb as your reward from Tarkleigh and use it together with Freezing Pulse, it's awesome at low levels.

Axiom Prison
Go to town, take Added Lightning Damage as your reward from Nessa and support Freezing Pulse with it. If you have a 3L, keep Arcane Surge too.

Skill tree:
- Snowforged
- Harrier
- Reflexes
- down to the Duelist area
- socket between Scion and Duelist
- Wisdom of the Glade
Lv 38 tree
(if you don't know when you are going to get the staff - see the lv 39 note)

Act 2
Go East, and kill Fidelitas. Take Herald of Ice as your reward from Greust.

Go West and kill Alira. Open the passage and claim your skill point reward from Bestel. Kill the Weaver. Take Concentrated Effect as your reward from Silk. Kill Kraityn and Oak and claim your skill point reward from Eramir.

Lv 18
Start using Herald of Ice. If you have a Tabula Rasa, buy Controlled Destruction and Faster Casting from Yeena and add to Freezing Pulse. Start leveling Concentrated Effect in any free socket.

Act 3
After completing the Crematorium quest, take Discipline as your reward from Maramoa and start leveling it (don't use it yet).

If you find a 4L item (and don't have Tabula Rasa), support Freezing Pulse with Added Cold Damage or Controlled Destruction.

Help Siosa in the Library. He will sell you any gems you need.

Act 4
Take the Chaos Golem as your reward from Oyun for killing Voll. Don't forget to free Deshret.

Lv 33
If you already have the staff and are able to equip it, you can start using it already. Self-cast Icestorm is already very strong at this point, especially if you have a Fertile Mind jewel for the socket leading to the Duelist area.

Run a Blasphemy + Warlord's Mark aura. Support gems in the staff: Concentrated Effect, Spell Cascade, Life Leech (3S), Controlled Destruction (4S), Hypothermia or Cold Penetration (5S). You will need some Str and Dex (from amulet and ring). Mana may be a bit tight, bring some mana flasks.

Or you can continue with Freezing Pulse until lv 39.

When you kill Kaom and Daresso, you will be able to buy Cast While Channelling, CWDT and Enfeeble from Petarus and Vanya.

If you still don't have the staff by the time you hit lv 39:
Spoiler

Keep going with Freezing Pulse until you get the staff. Links: Winter Orb - CwC - Freezing Pulse - GMP.

If you know that you are not going to have the staff at these levels, skip the lower branch of the skill tree (leading to Vaal Pact) and go with whatever makes FP more powerful.

Once you reach Act 6, you can farm The Incantation card in A6 Western Forest.


The Big Switch (lv 39)
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Take Vaal Pact. Put Fertile Mind into the socket between Scion and Duelist. Int is very important for Icestorm. If you don't convert the Dex nodes to Int with Fertile Mind, your damage will be much lower than you'd like and you'll be about 6 levels behind the good schedule.

Your staff should be at least 4S (RBBB): Winter Orb - CwC, Life Leech, Spell Cascade (or Concentrated Effect for bosses). Only WO - CwC need to be linked. Linking WO with support gems is completely optional. If you have a 5S staff, use both SC and CE. For 6S add Hypothermia or Cold Penetration.

If you don't have Astramentis, get a rare amulet with 50+ total Int between different mods. Use Int rings with resists. You will need some Str and Dex. Without Astramentis, you can either find them on the jewelry or take +30 Str/Dex nodes near Snowforged (refund them later when you get those stats elsewhere). Chest/gloves/boots/helmet with Int, Life and maybe some resists and AR (not necessary but nice). It is VERY important to have Int on everything! Your damage and leech amount scales from Int.

Cheap uniques good for leveling with WI:


Buy CWDT lv 1 and DO NOT LEVEL THIS GEM. Link it with Enfeeble and level that to lv 5. After that, if you have a 4L item, use CWDT lv 1 - Ball Lightning lv 4 - Curse on Hit (level it) - Enfeeble (level it). But if you don't have a 4L then keep Enfeeble at lv 5 and linked with CWDT lv 1. See the Sockets section for the explanation why these levels.

Auras: Discipline, Herald of Ice, Arctic Armour.

Link Arcane Surge with Frost Bomb and keep it at the level where it gets triggered by its the mana cost.

Another useful link is Vigilant Strike - Ancestral Call.


From that point on, the rest of the Acts will be a cakewalk.

Lv 39-70
Spoiler

- Vaal Pact (if you have the staff)
- jewel socket between Witch and Shadow (it you have a rare jewel for it)
- Elemental Overload
- Exceptional Performance
- Sentinel
- Witch area jewel socket (a rare jewel)
- Heart of Ice
- Breath of Rime
69 point tree

Do the Normal and Cruel lab whenever you unlock it. Take Void Beacon and Frigid Wake.

At the end of Act 5 your resists will be permanently lowered by 30%. You may need to upgrade some of your items to stay at max resists.

- Deep Wisdom
- into the Templar area
- Holy Dominion
- Light of Divinity
- Discipline and Training
- Faith & Steel
- into the Shadow area
- Coldhearted Calculation
- Nullification
89 point tree

It's a good idea to level to 70 before you kill Kitava and lose another 30% resistances. This way you can switch to CI gear right there.


Lv 70-91
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As soon as you are able to use endgame gear, switch to CI:
- refund Life nodes: Cruel Preparation, Heart and Soul, Discipline and Training
- take 2 Int nodes to the left of the start
- refund 4 spell damage nodes between the start and Arcanist's Dominion
- take Chaos Inoculation
- Ghost Reaver
- Arcane Focus
- Foresight

Wear your Int/ES gear. Do the Merciless lab (take Wicked Ward). Head into the maps and work on the final tree:
- Path of the Savant
- socket near Harrier (Fertile Mind)
- socket between Shadow and Ranger (Fertile Mind)
- socket below the Scion start (Fertile Mind)
- Templar area socket (Brute Force Solution)
- socket between Witch and Templar (rare)
- Shadow area socket (rare)
Lv 91 tree

Whenever you do the Uber Lab (it's possible even at lv 70 with semi-decent gear), take Vile Bastion.

The build is complete at lv 91 and is capable of killing everything in the game, as long as you are geared appropriately.

High level options
Spoiler

tba

Last edited by Kelvynn on Dec 11, 2018, 2:05:04 AM
(reserved for boss guide)
(reserved just because)
hype!
Yeeess hypppee, hopefully it will work with winter orb ;O
Hype train is real!
Hey Kelvynn,

I wish you all the best for this new evolution of your always wonderfully explained Whispering Ice builds !

I'll be sure to hang around and read carefully your ideas/comments !
Thank you also for all our discussion previously.

Have a nice and fun Betrayal League guys !
Yes! I've never played an Occultist before and now I will!
Shavronne wrapped Kaom's waist,
with her gilded purple boots.
"You want my sockets?"
Thanks Kelvynn! I miss playing whispering ice, winter orb seems a nice channeling skill for Icestorm! i go with this for start build i hope damage delivers! Bonechill i suppose is descarted because its not really DOTS, but you have any theory about GMP to the mix?

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