[3.6] The Whispering (ice) Shadow - Hand Casting Icestorm

Hello all, first off my apologies for the somewhat edgelord title (it is what I named my character and I am bad at coming up with names).

I always love the stat stacking builds and have played a decent number of Whispering Ice builds using Cast while channeling.

With the changes to the cast speed of Icestorm and various other changes in 3.6, I came up with the following idea.

The purpose of this post is to share my idea and also open up my build to suggestions to optimize it further.

Note this is a work in progress and I will add images and links to items in the coming days. Feel free to ask questions or give suggestions in the meantime.

Overview
This build is fairly simple at a high level, just think self casted firestorm.

We stack Intelligence (int) as per usual with a Whispering Ice build. For those new to the item, The Whispering Ice is a unique staff that grants the skill Icestorm. Icestorm both lasts longer and deals more damage per hit with the more int you have. Additionally, int gives % increased Energy Shield (ES), so it is natural to go CI with the ES scaling.

Often times you will see Whispering Ice builds being played as a Scion for easy stats and some strong ascendancies, or as an Occultist for strong curses.

However, Shaper's Touch gloves give you global % increased evasion based on int, so the recent changes to Trickster make this an ideal pick.


Current Stats
Level = 88 (so lots of room to get even stronger)
Int = 1665
Evasion (no flasks) = 33k
Evasion (with flasks) = 67k
Extra evade chance = 12% (Watcher's Eye and Ghost Dance)
Attack dodge = 15% (Quartz Flask + Pantheon)
Spell dodge = 35% (20% + Quartz Flask + Pantheon)
Reduced damage taken = 15% (Weave the Arcane and Ghost Shrouds)
Additional physical damage reduction = 14-16% (Pantheons)
Additional elemental damage reduction = 18% (Wise Oak + Pantheon
ES = 7995
Shaper DPS = 1.4 million
Cast speed = 0.33 seconds (faster than cast while channeling!)
Base move speed (no flasks, no onslaught, no Queen of the Forest) = 54%
Movement speed with Onslaught and Quicksilver of Adrenaline = 144%!
Movement speed with above plus Queen of the Forest = 194%!


Synergies
As stated above, int gives us global increased evasion via Shaper's Touch gloves (300% increased from gloves alone at 1500 int). We recover ES based on Evasion when hit via the new Ghost Shrouds. It is super easy to get 40k Evasion without flasks, giving us 2,000 ES gained when hit (if we have a Ghost Shroud to expend).

The large mana cost of Icestorm is one of the reasons people used cast while channeling previously (but also because of the 1 second cast time, which was lowered to 0.75 seconds in 3.6, without a damage nerf, granting a huge buff to hand casted dps). However, all the int we stack gives us lots of mana. Furthermore, Trickster gives us even more mana with Weave the Arcane, plus it grants us a chance to recover mana when we use a movement skill (flame dash in our case). Plus the damage reduction after spending 200 mana is super easy to obtain as the mana cost reaches around 130. Lastly, the buff to the Arcane Will notable on the tree gives us a boost to ES because of all our mana.


Pros
Super tanky (haven't found a boss I haven't been able to face tank yet (granted I got a stunted start to the league so I haven't even gotten to red elder yet).

High dps (calculations below).

Much faster than a cast while channeling version.

Can technically run no regen maps (flame dash costs 0 mana and has a chance to recover mana via Weave the Arcane).

Cheap (off meta and only need a 6 socket staff, no links required at all).


Cons
It is not quite as fast as a Soulthirst build (enjoy looking up that build and the videos for it).

Might have trouble with ele reflect maps (I will test this soon, but basically with our spell dodge and our various damage mitigations, we might be able to tank reflect maps).


Current Gear


Uniques
Weapon = Whispering Ice
Amulet = Astramentis
Gloves = Shaper's Touch
Belt = Cyclopean Coil
Jewel 1 = Pure Talent
Jewels 2 and 3 = Fertile Mind

Potential upgrades (%int corrupted belt; lots of Watcher's Eyes options; replace astramentis with an amulet with both ES and even more stats)


Rares
Chest = Shaper chest (hybrid ES and Evasion with %int and flat int)

Boots = Int, ES, Movespeed, res

Helm = Int, ES, double res (eventually want to aim for a fossil crafted helm with -cold res)

Ring 1 = Int, ES, double res

Ring 2 = Int, ES, Evasion, res, all attributes

Jewels 4 and 5 = Int, spell damage, cast speed, res (lots of options to choose from here)

Potential upgrades (better boots, ideally synthesized %int implcit; higher Evasion/ES chest, but keeping the %int)


Flasks
Jade Flask of Reflexes (increased evasion)
Stibnite
Quicksilver
Quartz
Wise Oak (mainly picked because this was the first time I tried to balance my resists because I was super close and was able to do it in about 8 Blessed Orbs and some crafting supplies)

Suffixes: Freeze/chill removal, Bleed removal, Curse Removal.

Note: You don't need ignite or shock removal thanks to Cyclopean Coil (just keep strength higher than dexterity, which can be made easier by slightly changing routing in the tree).

Note: I am tempted, and you may want to, swap Wise Oak with a Basalt Flask. This will reduce your damage but will protect better against physical spells, which are often the scariest. Also, this gives you an extra flask to craft a suffix on, freeing up your Quicksilver to be a quicksilver of Adrenaline. Lastly, if you do use a Basalt Flask, aim for the Chemist's prefix with at least a roll of 23% reduced charges used or higher, this grants you two full uses of the flask.




Gem setups
Note that these setups are my planned final setups. I have yet to do uber lab due to a stunted league start. My uber lab will be Swift Killer (my choice is detailed in the next section). This will give me higher up-time on my Elemental Overload, allowing me to replace my Storm Brand setup. Anyways, into my gem setups.

Icestorm supports
Since the staves are so cheap and only need a 6 socket, why not have a weapon swap for single target. I have been too lazy to do so at this point, and haven't needed to yet (damage is insane).

Single target (in no particular order) = Cold Pen + Increased Duration + Conc Effect + Controlled Destruction + Intensify + Ele Focus

Clearing = Unleash + Intensify + Ele Focus + Controlled Destruction + Increased Duration + Energy Leech (these can be altered based on preference)

Other options for clearing: Spell Cascade (so much ice with Spell Cascade + Unleash), Arcane Surge (for less regen maps or if you are struggling with mana), Faster Casting (making clear speed faster, note we already have 127% increased cast speed without the support, so this will likely cause too much of a diminishing return to be worth it), Onslaught support


Auras
Discipline, Clarity, and both Grace and Vaal Grace


Other
CWDT + Immortal Call + Frost Bomb + Enfeeble (defense and auto frost bomb for exposure debuff)

Vortex + Bonechill + Curse on Hit + Frostbite (damage from curse and more damage taken from Vortex's chill via Bonechill)

Winter Orb + Infused Channeling + Arcane Surge + Flame Dash (Winter Orb only used on bosses to generate charges while channeling, also to give us the Infused Channeling buff which grants more cold damage. Flame Dash for movement. Both skills can grant Arcane Surge, but note that only the initial mana cost of Winter Orb counts towards arcane surge due to how channeled skills work)

You could potentially add Increased Duration to the above setup to increase how long both the infused channeling buff lasts and the arcane surge buff. This could go in a 5 link chest

Other options: Phase Run, Decoy Totem, Vaal RF, Portal




Skill Trees


Pantheons and Bandits
Bandits: Kill all (2 stat points = at least 20 int minimum)

Major God: Soul of Lunaris for clearing and bosses with adds (Soul of Solaris for bosses on their own). Get upgrades (I am working on mine)

Minor God: Soul of Tukohama (some extra encouragement for face-tanking)

Note: Soul of Garukhan may be tempting since it uses the word "Evade" which we use in our build a lot. But note that a savage hit is based on removing 15% of our life, which only happens if we lose 100% of our 1 hit point, hmmm.


Likely questions
This section will be renamed to FAQs once that is an appropriate title. This is my attempt to predict your questions.

Why do you use both Unleash and Intensify?
I saw some people doing this too. It seemed counter intuitive to use one support which wants you to cast frequently (Intensify) and one support which wants you to cast infrequently (Unleash). The reason is that Unleash is amazing for clearing (more casts = more shards = more coverage). And Intensify is just a gift from God (we all know his true name). Intensify is Increased AoE and Conc Effect all in one gem (more coverage while clearing and more dmg and concentrated area for single target.


CI or Hybrid or Low-life?
Hybrid likely gives you a higher effective HP pool. However, being immune to Chaos damage is super nice. Additionally, trying to get good hybrid gear with high ES, Evasion, Life, Int, and resists... good luck. Low life requires a Shavs which would really hurt both the Evasion and ES we get from our chest via the Escape Artist ascendancy.


Swift Killer or Harness the Void
Harness the void is best in a conversion build. First note that we can't use both Cold to Fire and Avatar of Fire (AoF) because AoF prevents us from getting the extra chaos damage from Harness the Void. Pyre is one option, but it is not worth losing the ES and int from a ring.

So this leaves us with only converting half of our cold damage into fire. While the math does push Harness the Void slightly higher, further calculations reveal that if we don't split our damage, we end up doing more via a Cold Penetration gem and/or from the Frost Bomb's exposure debuff.

Lastly, the quality of life from Swift Killer is super super nice. This also lets us add a 1 or 2 link Winter Orb setup to generate charges before a boss.


Vaal Discipline or Vaal Grace or Vaal RF?
Vaal Discipline is not worth it in my opinion both because Ghost Reaver reduces our recharges significantly and also because the instant ES heal when hit (based off of Evasion) is basically a full heal. Vaal Grace helps us bump our Spell Dodge up even more (it also grants us attack dodge, but that is less of a concern due to all our evasion).

So far I haven't had any issues dying with or without Vaal Grace up, so the damage boost of Vaal RF could be nice, but my damage is also ridiculous. Perhaps for bosses I will swap to a Vaal RF. Note that Vaal RF uses a gem slot (but we do have some to spare), whereas we are already using Grace in our build.




Fun chest alternatives


Super tanky with the same if not more damage
This option uses The Perfect Form chest piece.

Quick note: Aim for a high evasion roll but a low % increased dexterity roll (as this can screw up your Cyclopean Coil stat balance, we want strength higher than dexterity).

TLDR: Slightly more evasion, slightly less ES, we lose %int from shaper chest, and we gain free Arctic Armor/Armour (granting both some phys/fire less damage taken and makes us deal about 15% more damage via Bonechill support).

Let's rip the band-aid off and see what we lose. The initial choice I settled on was a %int shaper chest piece with hybrid evasion/ES. You will likely lose some ES here because the rare chests can obtain higher evasion values on the chest which grants ES via the Escape Artist ascendancy. Also, losing the %int will reduce your ES. It will also lower your damage. However, we may make up for all of this.

The chest gives a global % increased evasion based on uncapped cold resistance (the number in parentheses on your character sheet). With all the int we are seeking in gear, it will be hard to have tons of resists, so likely this chest will give us 100% increased evasion. But we already get about 700% increased evasion from the tree and from all the int via Shaper's Touch.

All is not lost. There are two even better benefits of the chest up next. The first being Phase Acro, which grants 30% spell dodge, bringing us up to 65%! This is pretty crazy, we are nearly at the cap which basically no builds obtain, specifically for spell dodge.

The other part is a free Arctic Armor/Armour (AA). But not only does this grant us 13% less physical damage taken and 12% less fire damage taken while stationary (and we love to face tank with all our evasion, dodge, and ES recovered when hit). But, we can replace our Vortex + Bonechill setup with an even stronger one.

Linking Bonechill support to AA does not impact the mana reservation, and when we are hit, AA applies a 30% slow, which means Bonechill makes those enemies take 30% more cold damage (with Vortex it was only about 14% more, since it slows by 10% and Bonechill increases the slow by 44% at level 20).


Speedy Boy (QotF)
Queen of the Forest is a great mid-game option.

I say mid-game (meaning approximately yellow maps), because you need enough evasion (45k) to get the full 50% movement speed buff. It is also an easy source of resistances, which you may struggle with since +int and +resists are both suffixes on gear. Furthermore, this chest is a perfect way to speed up your farming to find or buy upgrades.




Micro-transactions/cosmetics
I haven't made too many build guides, but I have seen GGG mention these before, so why not.

Most importantly I used the Polar Bear Cub and Ice Tiger Pet (adorable animals suited for the cold spells). I went with the Lunaris set as it has a good shade of blue for the build and I like the beam of light from the chest piece. For the remaining slots I used the Essence Wings, the Essence Portal, and the Azure Seraph Weapon Effect.

For skills I used the Soul Nexus aura effect for clarity (which was its original intended aura). I was tempted to use the Force Field aura effect for discipline, but that separates me from my pets. I think I decided to use the Arctic Skull aura effect for Grace as it matches the weapon effect and soul nexus surprisingly well.


Shaper DPS calculation
Note that this is with far from optimized gear (due to a stunted league start due to real life things) and only level 19 support gems (not even 20 quality). I am currently at 1665 int.

My current stats give me 27.2k average hit against Shaper. Icestorm has one impact every 0.1 seconds. My current duration is 3.14 seconds. Let's say an average boss gets hit by half of the ice shards (more for larger bosses). This is approximately 15 hits per cast (rounded down). This yields 467k damage per cast. My cast time is approximately 0.33 seconds (note this is faster than cast while channeling). This ends up with about 1.4 million Shaper dps.

Note that I am currently using Increased Duration. For mobile bosses, you can replace that gem to maintain nearly identical dps. Furthermore, Icestorm can be pre-loaded (much like traps). You can spam cast the spell while Shaper is talking or when you zone into other boss areas.


Updates
2019-03-26:
1. Added reduced damage taken stats to "Current Stats" section
2. Playing around with weapon swap and gem setups (character may look weird online, I'll update guide with major changes after testing)
3. Added skill trees
4. Added flasks
5. Added interesting alternatives (based on chest pieces)
6. Corrected movement speed in "Current Stats" section (missed the extra 10% from Trickster)
7. Added Pantheons
8. Added MTX
Last edited by Deadseeds on Mar 26, 2019, 4:41:36 AM
Last bumped on Mar 31, 2019, 7:09:28 AM
Hi, thinking to switch to this from vortex. Was playing WI a long time ago, I remember going with all uniques approach + perandus signet. Can it be an option?
Hey, about to try out this build. Nearly every league I run a Icestorm build at some point, and yours seemed more fun than most. I'll let you know how it goes.

Would it be possible to get a Path of Building link? No need to min/max it or anything, it's just convenient to have as a tl;dr thing to check.
If this isn't a purely theory crafted build, why isn't your gear linked?

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