[3.9] Emperor's Decay Brand Occultist


Hi there! Thanks for dropping by. The guide below is still partially a WIP as I actually try this against the content of Metamorph league and see where further optimizations could be made. The build has already made it to red maps however, and there seem to be no problems.

Build TL;DR:

A Life based Chaos DoT Occultist. Uses Storm Brands that apply Decay and warps around the map as packs explode due to Profane Bloom.

Pushed it to t15/16 maps and it seems to be doing pretty well. Damage feels lacking at times but I'm still on a 4l without awakened supports so that should be fixable.

On a 4l, 3 Watchstones Conquerors were no problem, but 4 watchstone ones are a challenge. (Especially when a certain idiot doesn't bring antifreeze to the redeemer fight.)


I'm trying to get used to Smoke Mine (+ Flame Dash, probably) over Leap Slam. The skill is better even if it means the build loses access to Fortify.

Character Overview:
Basic Concept, Leveling, Playstyle, Pros and Cons:
Its in the name - we use Brands to apply Decay to kill stuff.

The reason we're using Storm Brand is because its more damage multiplier also works on the damage of decay, so at level 20 it's basically a 130% more damage support (which means that even though the base damage of Decay is pretty bad, it can at least somewhat compete with other DoT skills).

While perhaps not optimal, I'm trying to see if this can be done while having the casting of the brands be automated using the cast on skill use craft. In a +gemlevel item and linked with empower, brand recall can hopefully be brought to a reasonably short cooldown.

EDIT: I've stuck to automated casting until red maps and while I still don't know if it's optimal, it definitely doesn't feel too clunky. And that's without factoring in that brand recall still could get a few additional levels yet.
Caustic arrow in a silverbranch and maybe some other skill to supplement single target will get you through the early content easily. From the moment decay becomes available it's possible to swap, though I'd advise to wait until automated casting becomes available.

The moment the craft becomes available, use it and try for an at least 4l setup including Storm Brand and Decay. That's it really.
Use your movement skills to go into and out of packs, Brand recall when surrounded by mobs, move on - maybe use Blight / Vaal Blight. The moment a brand latches onto an enemy you can just run away or fully focus on interacting with the mechanics of the fight, because now that enemy/pack will die eventually. (If not, rince and repeat.)

Blood Rage generates Frenzy Charges for more damage and faster movement while also ensuring that Energy Leech always provides the better multiplier.
- Cheap to get started. I got into red maps on a 4l.
- Map-mod friendly. Deals chaos DoT, after all.
- Can deal damage from the other side of the screen.
- Can clear even while picking up items or just doing nothing.
- Can be played using any other chaos-DoT skill.
- (open to suggestions)

- Currently still feels kinda squishy. Not sure if that will be solved with better gear.
- Playstyle (especially timing Brand Recall) took me some getting used to.
- (open to suggestions)
Gearing and Uniques
There are no required uniques.

On rares, the stats to look out for are resistances, Life, Chaos Damage over time multiplier, Damage over time multiplier, chaos/minion/general damage - in roughly that order of priority.

A Ring that curses enemies with Despair on hit is heavily recommended.

A +2 Honourhome is a cheap way to lower the cooldown on brand recall, and recommended for the QoL.

Current gear (definitely not optimal):

The Build: PoB, Skill Tree, Ascendancy, Gem Links...
PoB / Skilltree (WIP):
- https://pastebin.com/nYbAxYm1

- Occultist (Profane Bloom, Void Beacon, Withering Presence, Malediction)

Gem Links:
Weapon: (Staff, BBBGGG)
- Storm Brand, Decay, (awakened) Void Manipulation, (awakened) Swift Affliction, Efficacy, Energy Leech

Body Armour: (any, BBBGGG)
- Vaal Blight, Infused Channeling, (awakened) Controlled Destruction, (awakened) Void Manipulation, (awakened) Swift Affliction, Efficacy

(swap Blight for Essence Drain and Infused Channeling for Energy Leech if Blight can't be used safely)

Helmet: (+2 Honourhome, (RRBB)
- Brand Recall, Empower, Summon Stone Golem, Arcane Surge (level 6)

(not sure if Chaos Golem is the better pick.)

Boots/Gloves: (any, BBGG):
- Smoke Mine
- Summon Skitterbots (, Bonechill if not using Flame Dash)
- Flame Dash , Culling Strike
- (If not using Flame Dash: Portal, or anything else really)

Gloves/Boots: (any, RGBB)
- Blasphemy, Temporal Chains
- Steelskin
- Malevolence

Ring: G
- Blood Rage
Tested content viability:
Current maximum (solo) Delve Depth: 47 (didn't really delve much yet)

Uber Lab (1 key run): done
Uber Lab (full key run): not tried yet

White maps: done
Yellow maps: done
Red maps: done

Atziri: done
Uber Aziri: not done yet

Crusader: 4 watchstones
Hunter: 4 watchstones
Warlord: 4 watchstones
Redeemer: 4 watchstones

Awakener: not yet done
(Asked for a carry to get me through it during the first time, who proceeded to pretend to be bad to waste my portals.)

Shaper Guardians: not yet done
Shaper: not yet done

Elder Guardians: not yet done
Elder: not yet done
Uber Elder: not yet done
Videos: Feedback and suggestions on how to improve both build and guide would be much appreciated- I'll also try to answer any questions you might have.
Last edited by EmperorIzaro on Dec 27, 2019, 1:17:53 AM
Last bumped on Jan 21, 2020, 5:48:35 PM
I'm currently looking for a build with brands, and your take on it looks very interesting, looking forward to some more input from you end. I'm no pro or anything but if you need someone to help you out testing stuff lemme know i could level one myself and we could try out some different scenarios.

Really interested in your build, good work
Thanks! I'm currently trying to figure out the most ideal single target setup.

Issue atm is that if I weaponswap for ST, the brands vanish - meaning I lose my seeking area covering decay appliers. To fix that I'm now trying out how Blight feels like in a (so far) 4l chestpiece. (As to avoid weaponswap) Also really important is getting hold of a Fenumu's Shroud and Spinnerets for the ES regen, it should help make me feel less unable to take hits (goodbye, exalts I don't even have yet). Maybe swap to full life and/ or MoM and/ or EB, would have to sacrifice some damage in the process but eh.

Another thing on the to-do is looking into getting both ED and Contagion integrated. If at all it has to be both though, since I feel like investing into pierce just for the sake of ED wouldn't be worth it. And as one can see from how much dps I'm willing to sacrifice for automation, I don't really want to have to cast contagion myself. Maybe I can find a setup to automate the whole ED + Contagion deal. I'll have to test how reliable a low level cwdt + contagion setup would be (contagion for dealing with ads bodyblocking the boss and ganging up on me). Should be done testing later today. Will report back once done! (Worst case... I'll have to push one more button, I guess)

In the meantime, I'd very much appreciate if you could help find an optimal setup, so feel free to experiment. The build should be solid regardless, given that I have no real issues (syndicate and stupidity aside) in yellow maps with my current gear.

UPDATE: The devourning Diadem seems like it could be awesome! Freeeeeeeeeeee EB (and ES regen)! So many points saved! And MoM is a single point, so that's pretty nice.

UPDATE 2: The Aylardex is a better option (compared to Impresence, since with Diadem we can afford reserving mana for all our stuff) - also easier to get a +1 curse corruption on!
Last edited by EmperorIzaro on Dec 10, 2018, 6:34:43 AM
UPDATE 3: Updated the PoB
UPDATE 4: More Videos, updated PoB - will be posting more videos as I get material. Purchasing actually good gear aside (and maybe figuring out if ED + contagion is worth it vs another decay brand setup), I'm done.
UPDATE 5: Updated the whole guide.
Hi ive got a question.

which skill gems do you level up and to which level do you level them.
amdrag wrote:
Hi ive got a question.

which skill gems do you level up and to which level do you level them.

Thanks for asking! Guess I wasn't specific about that in the gem links sections. The description has been updated.
Hey you didnt say anything for ascendancies, its my first time playing a occultist so i have no idea on what i should focus first, sound like a great build im excited to get to maps !
Frozen_Goosy wrote:
Hey you didnt say anything for ascendancies, its my first time playing a occultist so i have no idea on what i should focus first, sound like a great build im excited to get to maps !

Thanks for the feedback! Added a working link to the online skilltree, including ascendancies (previous one was bugged for some reason), and also wrote out the ascendancy order. It's in the PoB/Skill Tree/ Ascendancy/ etc. section.
Last edited by EmperorIzaro on Dec 12, 2018, 11:44:15 AM

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