[3.6] [CLEAR][BERSERKER] Smite SSF HC viable



Got another message today by a player asking about how I set my Berserkers and tips for Berserker players, must be like the 10th time in this league that someone messages me about it so I decided to write a little guide about it. Quick and dirty but with lots of reasoning and explainations for new players who wanna play the hard way.

Gonna keep updating this whenever I feel like it. I know that the build is not interesting for the most players due to the fact that not many players play Berserker or HC SSF.

Why Berserker is OK for melee builds in SSF


Berserker is said to be the worst ascendancy class in the moment. Maybe. But in SSF he is not due to the damage and attack speed boost, the instant heal and the abundance of life/mana leech from all sources.

The reasoning behind that is easy: Since the stat stick nerf in 3.5, a lot of melee attack builds need crit in order to deal enough endgame damage for clearing red maps or whatever. Crit needs gear and gear is what people dont have and probably dont get in SSF. EVER.

Berserker offers a solution here for a lot of melee builds by dealing good enough damage due to his 40% more damage multiplier from Aspect of Carnage just with Resolute Techniques or Elemental Overload. Those builds are a lot easier to gear because they dont need tons of crit multiplier and crit chance.

Crit builds also often force a player to do stupid pathing on the skilltree in order to get enough crit chance which ends up with a player being starved of life nodes or not being able to go OP defensive nodes like MoM and/or Dodge, lacking attack speed or other stuff that is making a build rippy or feel slow and dizzy.

People also sometimes play Berserker as League starters even in trade league due to not needing crit gear or anything to deal decent damage with attacks.

Goals and not goals


Goal is a Berserker that clears T15 fast, safe and only with SSF gear. Getting 100 in the holy HC SSF marathon is the goal.

Not goal is to kill Shaper, Elder, Uber Atziri or the Guardians. Its too deadly for HC and we rather sit down at 300-500k dps and just improve the defenses instead of getting the proper dps for that shit.

The prime example Characters


Magic_Hyena_Friend and Hyena_Giggle, you can find both in my profile

Hyena_Giggle is the first and currently only level 100 Berserker in the history of HC SSF and was rank 14 in HC SSF Delve. The char was playing flat ele scaling ground slam 1h+shield MoM Dodge.

Magic_Hyena_Friend died with level 99.6 in an incursion due to the blood architect game crash (was fixed later in 3.5.?). The char was playing flat ele scaling Smite 1h+shield MoM Dodge.

Overall I would say Magic_Hyena_Friend is the better character. He was clear speed wise better due to the overlapping aoe damage thanks to ancestral call, even managed to hold a respectable 6.5-7 mio xp/h at lvl 99 all the time.

I think about improving those chars a lot and will make things differently in 3.6 but in 3.6 I will play Smite as starter build again and stick closely to Magic_Hyena_Friend which this guide will be about.

Stats, Pros and Cons of the Characters


-8500+ ehp
-80% all res (except chaos) thanks to loreweave (that will change in 3.6!)
-easy endurance charge generation thanks to Enduring Cry Spam, long Immortal calls, 12% endurance charges + 15% basalt + 8% lunaris + 6% Gruthkul = 41% phys reduction
-300-700k ish dps fully buffed (hard to say with the overlapping damage or more multiplier for close enemies of Ground Slam. PoB ignores that completely.
-55/45 dodge (with the different strategy that I propose that will be gone)


-Cheap: Just needs a tabula and 2 attacks per second weapon until red maps

-Fast: Thanks to having a fast weapon and a lot of the increased attack speed from the Skilltree, Gear and Berserker, you gonna move very fast which also makes you safer due to faster getting out of stuff like bearers.

-Doesn't need damage flasks: Therefor you can use 5 defensive/utility flasks that protect you against freeze/shock/bleed/poison/curses all the time, which is a HUGE defensive bonus. A single one of those, no matter which would kill a player sooner or later on the road to 100, guaranteed.

-Doesn't need instant heal flask. No more pain in the ass crafting the instant heal flask. Just use Warbringer and instant heal by doing so.

-safe. Your chance to get hit by attacks is like 20% and by spells 55%. If you get hit once here and then then you most likely dont get oneshot due to anticrit.

-ethical :)


-bad phys and chaos mitigation (Trying to fix that later in this thread with a different passive tree)

-needs lots of reskilling during levelling and gear progression (but its manageable even in SSF)

-melee (therefor weak, outdated, undertuned, mimimi random feedback forum rant)

-abyss jewel crafting can be annoying and expensive (isnt a biggie cause the abyss jewels only get important in red maps)

-bad for deep delving due to inconsistent corpse explosions (I have an idea how to fix that with Dyadus + Pyre but I didnt try out that yet)

The Defenses


Defenses are the queen of HC SSF. You only need 300-500k dps to clear red maps with an acceptable 6-7 mio xp/h at lvl 99 and wont get better than that even with double dps. But defenses you can never have enough.

High ehp combined with basic mitigation and high damage avoidance is the doctrine for me.

High ehp is necessary due to the 10% increased damage taken nature of Berserker so at least having 10% more hp than everyone else is a must even more in hardcore. That is really really hard with life stacking thats why we go MoM.

You get 8k ehp fairly easy with MoM while with life stacking it requires moronically much skill tree investment and fancy gear.

But 8k is not enough. 8500 is the bare minimum to somewhat feel safe in 200ish delves and red maps. 9k+ ehp is the dream.

The Char of mine, Hyenaboi, got oneshot with 8k ehp in a tier 11 shaped haunted mansion crit map by a rare kitava elder portal mob with a flat phys aura. Yes that can and will happen sooner or later. There we come to the next point, anti crit:

This item is a must unless there are equivalent synthesize items. Other players and ascendancy classes use that item too for ladder pushing. Even the master ladder pushers, Deadanddoom and Sparrog used it for their Sunder Raider/Gladiator ladder pushers. Dont want to get phys oneshot with lvl 95 like my char Hyenaboi? wear that helmet or get 50% reduced crit damage taken from somewhere else. This stat is a not negotiable must. 50% of it.

Next one is enfeeble. A lvl 1 cwdt with enfeeble does the job. BUT if you want to enfeeble the enemies BEFORE they hit you, which is a pretty good thing to do, there is a shield perfect for flat ele scaler:

It drops often, has OK life/armour/resistance stats and allows you to enfeeble enemies actively and before they hit you. I love this shield, like really. Even made a thread about it.

Damage avoidance:

As melee players, we get hit by the whole screen all the time. Lets build around that.

Those 2 flasks are a good start. We will play 1h + shield, so 25% block chance. Also, Lunaris Pantheon for the little extra dodge/spell dodge and projectile damage avoidance.

Stibnite Blind means enemies in the stibnite cloud have a 50% reduced chance to hit you which is nuts. This thing is going to save our ass so often that we cant count it, combined with the abundance of charges it has we can use it at every single pack we leap slam or shield charge into and also get anti curse on it so curse maps become free item quantity. With an anti curse stibnite all curse maps no matter if yellow or red become free item quantity.

Skilling Ranger Dodge is ... well. I did it and got 100 with it once but NOT TWICE and it might be because it really worsened the phys mitigation due to the 50% less armour. In 3.6 I will not skill Ranger Dodge with my league starter anymore but rather go for the instant warcry and soul of steel.

Spell Dodge is still a must, Bearers and those Sparking obelisks from bloodlines and corpse explosions from delve will tear a player without spell dodge apart. Spell Block is not the way to go since the ""spellblock changes"".

But we do not need to get acrobatics and phase acrobatics to get a reasonable amount of spell dodge (40%+). There is a chest craft that gives 10% spell dodge and Atziri boots give 15% spell dodge. Also an uber lab enchant with 8% dodge/spell dodge if being hit recently which is perfect for us. Farming Uber Lab with Berserker is ez pz anyway due to warbringer heal and endurance charge generation. Get this enchant at all costs if you dont go ranger dodge.

Elemental mitigation will change in 3.6 due to loreweave only giving 78% maximum resistances instead of 80%. So it MIGHT be better to get an Elder Breastplate with tons of ehp by pristine fossil crafting and then mastercraft 10% spelldodge on it. Thats my plan there might be something better due to synthezized mods I dont know yet. But yea back in 3.4 and 3.5 Loreweave was item without any alternative due to the max res and ele res hard cap. Probably its still the best choice in 3.6, dont know yet.

Phys mitigation is the pain in this build because of the low armour if skilling Acrobatics. lvl 1 cwdt with immortal call will do a great job though and thanks to the abundance of endurance charges from enduring cry spam with Warbringer it will shield us from most phys damage But that might not be enough. Sure we could just not go dodge and get OK armour and soul of steel and another endurance charge and the problem would be solved but then ele damage by multiple mobs or bearers might shred us one way or the other. Not quite sure here and yet, I try playing without Ranger Acrobatics in 3.6 and get spell dodge from gear.

Summary: MoM is a must, anti crit is a must, get it with Ahn's Helmet or otherwise, have 5 flasks with defensive stats like Divine heal flask/stibnite/basalt/quartz/sulphite with anti bleed/poison/shock/freeze/curses and spam them. Skill Warbringer and spam enduring cry. Get a lvl 1 cwdt linked with immortal call - inc duration and enfeeble. Get 40+% spell dodge somehow, dont be shy to skill acrobatics if it must be.

The Offenses


Flat elemental damage scaling with abyss jewels and Smite.

Smite is a good skill because it frees a gem slot by not needing Melee splash, has a good damage damage effectiveness of 167% at level 21 and gives us a ton of flat damage by its aura.

Also the Smite animation makes it easily to see if we attack a single target twice thanks to the ancestral call trick or not.

The reasoning behind flat elemental damage scaling I can just copy what I sent another player via a private message. Flat ele scaling is the way to go in SSF HC in 3.6 BUT it will change in 3.7 most probably though.

Damage scaling for melee skills has 2 viable ways:

1. Phys conversion scaling: Your weapon or Facebreakers delivers the damage and you use shaper jewelry, hatred and herald of ash auras and damage flasks with "gain x% of your physical damage as x cold/lightning/fire/chaos damage".

This mode for scaling is costly and not good for SSF because the damage flasks do not have anti freeze/anti curse/anti shock mods on them so you gonna have a real problem with ailments when using damage flasks. Also it requires you to have a good 400-500 pdps weapon which is a pain to get and before that you will run around with a 200-300 pdps weapon which is dealing not enough damage for yellow and red maps. I guess everyone who played HC SSF with phys conversion scaling knows that yellow map gear and weapon hole which is incredibly hard to get out.

2. Flat Elemental damage scaling: Where abyss jewels and other gear delivers the main portion of your base damage and your weapon is just delivering a bit flat ele damage, a perfect attack speed (2 attacks per second at least) and useful stats like ele penetration, attacks cannot miss mod, elemental resistances or whatever.

That is the way to go for SSF because you dont need any damage flasks and there arent any damage flasks for it except wise oak but yea fuck wise oak so you can have 5 utility flasks with anti bleed/poison/shock/freeze/curses instead which improves your survivability by A TON.

No matter what anti ailment mod you dont have, it will kill you sooner or later so make sure to have them all.

You dont need a good weapon or even abyss jewels for flat ele scaling, just a fast one, you get huge base damage from just using the added cold damage and added lightning damage support gems. Also elemental damage does not profing from the dual wield "melee physical damage bonus", so 1h + shield is the way to play it.

Here is an example how it works:

With phys scaling you have a 400 pdps weapon, which has 200 base damage and 2 attacks per second and 2x 1.5 more damage support gems, resulting in 200*2*1.5*1.5 = 900 dps.

With flat ele scaling you would use added cold and added lightning skillgem instead of the 2x 50% more damage skill gems and yea lets say you just a have weapon with 2 aps, and 50 flat added fire damage on it.

Then you have (200+200+50)*2 = 900 dps.

The key realization is that it is a million times easier to get a weapon with 2 attacks per second base and 50 flat ele damage than it is to get a 400 pdps weapon.

Its literally just throw a screaming essence of zeal on a jewelled foil and craft any added fire/cold/lightning damage you like for 3 chaos on it.

Then the abyss jewels come into play an abyss jewel can have up to 100 flat ele damage which is absolutely insane. Its so broken I cant say it. 50 flat ele damage are already worth a jewel slot. The more flat ele damage you get from gear and abyss jewels, the less the "added lightining/cold damage" support gems are doing, so at one point you might throw one of them out and replace it with ruthless.

Lets say you have 600 flat damage from gear and abyss jewels, then the added cold damage support would make you have 800 flat damage instead of 600, which is 800/600 only 33.3% more damage, while ruthless gives (1+1+2.13)/3 = 37% more damage.

There are also weapons that give huge flat damage like Dyadus which are worth thinking about but you might not get them dropped so lets not build around them.

Both Resolute Techniques and Elemental Overload work. Elemental Overloard will deal more damage but is inconsistent, attacks will miss, we will need anti blind and we need to get some crit chance and accuracy to have it on most of the times. Your choice, I will go Elemental Overload in 3.6 and will most likely use a crafted Eternal sword instead of a jewelled foil.



They are the Berserker thing to do. Rallying Cry and Enduring Cry, primairly spam Enduring Cry because it gives 400-500 flat hp regen and endurance charges all the time so your immortal call is up longer than normal and do a rallying cry here and then to get lvl 26 clarity like mana regen and a 20-200% damage boost which is an as big bonus as the adrenaline of champion at its peak if warcried at huge packs, breachers, abyss openings etc.

The 2 prime chars of mine did not use Rallying Cry because I did not know back then that the Rallying Cry and Enduring Cry buffs are not overwriting each other any more. In the good old times Enduring Cry was always overwriting Rallying Cry, making it pointless to use both. But here and now they can and should be used together.

They also instant heal you and generate Rage, theoretically you could play without a life flask thanks to the Warbringer instant heal, having 5 utility flasks.

I did that actually with a lot of my chars but around lvl 95 I get scared about losing the char and rather go safe and just have a life flask to feel safe lol.

The Skilltree


Kill all bandits.

in 3.6 my char aims for that skilltree at lvl 99 (the ele penetration wheel of templar needs 4 skillpoints and isnt updated on the website eventhough its updated in PoB so I left out 1 skill point):




I will not go Acrobatics this time, if you want to go acrobatics then dont skill the instant warcry nodes and just go on the skilltree like Magic_hyena_friend does.

It has only very limited increased ele damage and stuff but thanks to all the ele damage with attacks craft on jewellry and the use of rallying cry it will be no problem.

Instant warcries is important to play a character that does not feel like he is having heart problems when spamming warcries.

5 Abyss jewel slots, good enough, 20% chaos res from the skilltree to meet the new challenges from incursion and betrayal league and lots of attack speed to move fast. GOOD.



Sunder dual wield phys scaling till blood aquaducts. Dont forget about the increased phys damage vendor recipe. 40% more damage first ascendancy choice, then warbringer, then leech, then cloaked in savagery.

The setup: Sunder - Onslaught - melee phys damage - added fire.

First skill the damage of the marauder tree then straight go to templar by going vertically from Born to Fight, skill life and try to get the damage and attack speed from the minion nodes as fast as possible. You gonna reskill that later (around level 80) in favour of more ehp and replace the loss of attack speed with skill Berserking and the loss of damage by the ele damage and penetration wheel of templar.

early levelling skilltree: https://www.pathofexile.com/passive-skill-tree/3.5.4/AAAABAEAAASzC2EQURQgFm8YXRo4Gj4elCSqJy8oKjD4Nuk6xjrYPO89_EVHSp9QR1hjWfNfP2D4YvRmnmebaPJxsnIPd-V7jH7ggpuExIm8i0-Mz5BVl3mYTZ5XogCmrKqprj6vbMBmxq7G2ONq5FHkVe8O8B_yL_ZI-tI=

We will reskill a lot of that if we dont need the resistances and phys damage nodes anymore but its good for early levelling to not have any damage or resistance problems.

At lvl 40 farm chamber of innocence till 48, it gives BY FAR the best xp till blood aquaduct.

Dont use multistrike with Sunder too early, it might kill you when fighting act 5 Kitava.

At Blood Aquaducts we farm a tabula no matter how long it takes.

When we have a tabula, we switch to 1h + shield (chaos spam an acceptable shield with a high +hp and resistances implicit to substitute the loss of the breastplate) and plant in the following the skill gem setup:

Smite - Elemental Damage with Attacks - Added Cold - Added Lightining - Ancestral Call - Multistrike

With that we are served until red maps. Literally. Just need a fancy/jewelled foil when going Resolute Techniques or a good Eternal Sword when going for Elemental Overloard. Roll 20+% attack speed on it, regal it and craft the Betrayal "Damage with this weapon penetrates x% of elemental resistances" or flat ele damage on it and you are done till red maps.

But for red maps its not enough dps we gonna 4-5 good abyss jewels to deal the sweet spot of t15 map clear damage (300-500k). So we craft them. I recommend just starting to craft abyss jewels once you got ilvl 77 abyss jewels due to the life and ele damage mod tiers.

For Abyss jewel crafting we want primairly flat life, flat ele damage for swords, chance for onslaught on kill. Flat ele damage is the most important stat.

Every abyss jewel with more than 50 flat damage is worth to be put into the skilltree.

"Somewhat safe HP thresholds":

Innocence: 1500 hp
Kitava: 1800 hp
Cruel Lab: 2500 hp
Act 8 Doedre: 2700 hp
Solaris & Lunaris: 3000 hp
Act 10 Kitava: 4000 hp

(Mind over Matter after this point)

Merc lab: 5000 ehp (and make sure you got the lvl1 cwdt setup at this point cause the green spray of Izaro can oneshot 5k without it)
white maps: 5500 ehp
yellow maps: 7000 ehp
Uber lab: 7000-7500 ehp
red maps: 8k ehp
Delve 200+: 8500 ehp and 40%ish spell dodge or reliable corpse exploding

Skill the Scion life wheel to have enough HP for the challenges but unskill it once you go MoM for skilling the mana nodes instead. A good time to reskill to MoM is after the tabula rasa farm at blood aquaducts and at maps you can and should have already 6k ehp to be safe. A surprising otherworldly mob pack at a tier 2 map is all that it needs to obliterate a 5k hp pelayer so lets better get MoM sooner than later.

If you go acrobatics, then manage to have all the nodes at lvl 90. If you dont go acrobatics, spell dodge is getting important at red maps and 180+ delves. When you start doing that kind of stuff try to have 40% of it to be safe.



Due to playing SSF we gonna have dogshit gear most of the time or rather all the time.


The perfect weapon is a jewelled foil (because of the huge melee attack range) with:

-16% ele penetration with this weapon
- best flat cold 1h weapon craft
- Attacks cannot miss

-multi craft mod
-27% Maximum Increased attack speed (not crafted but rolled)
-inc crit or an elemental/chaos resistance or accuracy depending on what other gear you have.


Chernobog's Pillar or a rare shield with loads of life (120+ life with pristine fossil), armour, resistances, attack speed.


Loreweave or a good Elder Chest with loads of life (120 flat and +% increased life with pristine fossil and the elder mod) and resistances and spell dodge craft.


Ahn's Helmet


Atziri's Slink Boots (dropped by normal Atziri) or good rare boots with life, mana, movement speed, resistances.

Dodge or Attack speed Uber lab enchant.


Good rare spiked gloves with loads of life, mana, resistances and attack speed or Tombfist.

Due to the tombfist nerf I rather go for the spiked gloves.


Abyss jewel belt with 60+ life, resitances and weapon elemental damage craft.


Rare rings with Life, mana, resistances, weapon elemental damage craft, flat ele damage.


A rare Marble Amulet with life, mana, resistances, flat ele damage and elemental damage with weapon craft.

Movement skills


Either Leap Slam or Shield Charge. Shield Charge is faster but is more sensitive to edges and obstacles, Leap Slam is safer. If you go for shield charge, dont mess around with the necropolis map boss! I will go shield charge this time.

So the movement skil setup up will be: Shield Charge - Faster Attacks - Fortify



Shield charge/Leap Slam in the middle of a pack, press stibnite, then smite them to death.

Against tough stuff like map bosses or elder portals spawn your Vaal Ancestral Warchief setup:

Vaal Ancestral Warchief - added cold - elemental damage with attacks - conc effect

Use Enduring Cry and Rallying Cry here and then and faceroll the flasks to keep the anti ailment buffs up and to get a ton of defensive stats.

Its an ez routine, if you have suddenly huge life loss just press warcries to instant heal.

There is nothing much more to say here.



Try to run as many Elder and Shaper influenced maps as possible due to the higher map drop rate.

We cant run Ele reflect map mods but everything else and thanks to being pure ele and having basic 25%ish ele penetration we do not need to care about the monster defense map mods.

But the damage mods is where it gets complicated.

My rule of thumb is 2x or even 3x added ele damage for mods is a nogo at red maps. It needs a lot of game knowledge, knowing all the map bosses etc to know if you can run a map with boss damage mods without danger or not.

min max resistance map mod is cancer too but without ele damage mods it can be run at maps without bosses that deal huge ele damage. With loreweave this mod becomes free IIQ but yea you must probably get loreweave at 97.5 so thats really nothing to take as granted.

No life reg and reduced life recovery is also bad but this map mod rolls so often on maps that you must run it in order to not run out of currency too fast. Run it.

No leech is bad but can and should be run.

Red crit maps without having Ahn's Helmet and active enfeeble (from Chernobog's for example) are super bad due to phys crit oneshots, dont run them. At yellow and white maps its fine.

Spamming Shaped Toxic Sewer is the way to go in 3.6 I think.

Last edited by The_Human_Tornado on Mar 7, 2019, 11:09:11 AM
Last bumped on Mar 17, 2019, 10:44:31 AM
Hey, thanks for the guide! I'm playing the build (in SC though) and really enjoying it. Leveling has been a breeze SSF, I've used smite the whole way because I've played sunder way too much and it has gone pretty quickly.

Do you find yourself pressing Rallying Cry when you shield charge into the pack for the damage boost or do you hold warcries for when you get chunked? And which would you say is more important if you're crafting on a ring, flat ele or WED? Or is it just sim yourself to see?

Report Forum Post

Report Account:

Report Type

Additional Info