[3.10] Essence Drain: BEASTMODE || SSF Build Guide || ALL Content || Updated PoB

If you wanna get in touch with me it's best to reach me on Discord or live on Twitch.

Discord: https://discord.gg/DNG9VZX
Twitch: https://twitch.tv/artcrusader


Hi guys, I am playing this game since late Harbinger league. Started out in trade-league and got bored by it during Betrayal. Since then, I am playing SSF-only and have been building all my characters myself.

I felt the need to write this build guide for Essence Drain after one of our guild members who is still learning the ropes complained the ED guides she saw required certain uniques without offering alternatives. I'll try to be as detailed as possible and explain my itemization choices so you understand them as well.

The sections are rather expansive and thus put into spoilers. If you feel there's something missing, just ask me and I just might add it next time I update the thread. As I am very much committed to this type of character I'll be playing variations of it in the coming leagues and thus update the thread for every new patch.

Why should you listen to me?
- Top 18 Trickster on SSF Legion XP-wise
- Top 8 Trickster on SSF Legion DPS-wise
- Tons of general knowledge about the game
- Guide is always up to date

Enjoy and feel free to ask questions in the comment section!

0....... About
I....... Gear Overview
II...... Gem Setup
III..... Gear Explanation
IV...... Labyrinth Enchantments
V....... Bow Crafting
VI...... Flasks
VII..... Jewels
VIII.... Pantheon & Bandits
IX...... Oils from Blight League
X....... Path of Building
XI...... Leveling Section
XII..... Video Section

Essence Drain is the best build for starting a new league hands down. Once you get used to the 1-2 playstyle of using Contagion and Essence Drain, you'll find out just how amazing and consistent it is.

What are the cons?

- Needs some getting used to
- Won't reach ridiculous damage numbers (but 1-2 million Shaper DPS quite comfortably)
- Not for lazy people who only want to press one button

What are the pros?

- Insane clear speed
- Doesn't rely on specific uniques
- Consistent performance throughout early to endgame
- Easy to build in SSF, cheap to build in trade
- Very tanky hybrid character with tons of regen
- Can do any map mod; no regen requires you to turn off an aura and can be tricky, but doable
- Inarguably the best skill for Monoliths


This is what the endgame gear can look like. I'll break down the individual choices later on in the guide. Right now my character is level 97 with 7.4k life + 3.7k ES.

Before you go around asking me why I am not using Cane of Unravelling, here's a quick screenshot from my Path of Building showing the difference:

You can see that our DPS is about 23% higher with the bow. We also get the benefit of a quiver slot which can serve many purposes like extra life, movement speed, area of effect and fixing missing resistances. You can use Cane of Unravelling of course, but you'll have to 6-link it. Since this guide is aimed mostly at SSF, I prefer using the easier methods of acquiring 6-links like Chains that Bind or Porcupine card sets.[/quote]

6L - Essence Drain:

Essence Drain benefits from modifiers to Spell Damage, Damage over Time, Chaos Damage and regular Damage. Skill Effect Duration is nice as well since the DoT will have more uptime. If you play SSF or are low on money, Decay can be a decent single-target option for the 6th link.

4L - Auras:

This character uses the unique amulet Solstice Vigil that drops from the Shaper. If you do not have access to that you can scrap Flesh and Stone and use either Temporal Chains or Enfeeble. TC is great with the Hinder from Blight or Wither. You won't be hit that often, but it has much less usability against tough bosses. Enfeeble makes sure that when you do get hit you get hit for less and crit less often.

Malevolence on the other hand provides you 20% more DoT and Skill Effect Duration. If you can get a Watcher's Eye with Non-Ailment Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier it'll be a major DPS improvement.

4L - Blight

Blight gives you an easy way to procc Infused Channeling, providing 10% more Chaos Damage and less Chaos Damage taken. With Spreading Rot (unique jewel you can get from a quest during the story) you apply stacks of Wither which further improves your DPS.

If you can get a level 21 Vaal Blight that's a huge asset as it provides good clear, applies extra Wither stacks and adds a lot of damage over time. Quality is a nice QoL but not at all necessary.

3L - Contagion:

The combo of Increased Area of Effect + Intensify boosts the AoE of Contagion to 35. Contagion doesn't provide damage but instead repeats when an enemy dies and spread Essence Drain with it while it does. This is how we clear screens and Monoliths in seconds.

3L - CWDT Steelskin

Basic CWDT setup. Try and keep the CWDT on a level that triggers after being hit for about 20% of your Life + ES combined.

4L - Travelling Skills + Golem:

Withering Step is a trusty travelling skill, providing movements speed, dodge chance and Wither stacks. Use Flame Dash to traverse gaps and ledges.

1L - Stone and Flesh

Stone and Flesh is a very interesting Aura. We primarily want to use it for its effect in Sand Stance which blinds nearby enemies. If the enemy is not nearby he'll deal ~10% less damage to you. Since we mostly rely on our high Evasion rating, the blind adds a ton of survivability.

If you are not running Solstice Vigil this (and therefore the Unset Ring) can be cut out.


Bows are the highest DPS option for Essence Drain. With ED level 21 + Empower level 4 we get a level 28 Essence Drain and level 24 support gems. About half of our damage is coming from this weapon combo. How this type of gear can be crafted will be explained later in this guide.


You are looking for T1 Non-Ailment Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier, Chaos Damage and DoT. Can be easily multi-modded like mine.

Quivers are very flexible in that you can craft loads of different things on them. I wanted to increase the speed at which I clear maps and crafted one with T1 Movement Speed and Onslaught on Kill. Both are Shaped Mods. Prioritise life and resistances otherwise.

Soulstrike on the other hand makes your Energy Shield recharge 80% sooner which can be quite beneficial for boss fights. I'd suggest you test different alternatives and decide what you like best.

If you are crafting a Quiver yourself, make sure you use an ilvl 80+ base. The best base in this case is the Penetrating Arrow Quiver. Essence of Misery of any level gives additional Pierce, which helps hitting totems with the Nearby Allies Cannot Die aura. This is however not necessary. Most important quiver stats are:

- Life
- Movement Speed
- Onslaught on Kill

Any extra elemental resistances are more than welcome.


A shield with high ES and life adds a lot of eHP to your character. You'll want to pick Arcane Guarding (go the 3-node way) and Arcane Swiftness (also 3-node way) in that case since they provide loads of spell damage and ES.

Your chest slot provides 1 Energy Shield for every 6 Evasion Rating on your Body Armour. Prioritise high Evasion Rating and Life and fill in some resistances here. You can also get +1 Curses from this slot and get rid of Whispers of Doom on the passive tree.

If you are using a bow, go with two 3-links, otherwise with a 6-link obviously.

Want easier colouring? Take a hybrid base with Evasion and Energy Shield.

A discussion on unique chests:

Perfect Form: interesting option that gives us free Arctic Armour and the Phase Acrobatics keystone (30% spell dodge). However, you can get a lot more Life, Evasion and ES as well as other useful stats like resistances and veiled mods.

Cherrubim's Maleficence: provides loads of DPS, decent life and good Evasion Rating. However, we do not get much out of it apart from that since the chaos leech only applies to hits and not to debuffs like ED.

Carcass Jack: good for mapping thanks to the increased Area of Effect (Contagion: 35 Aoe -> 39 AoE). Easy to colour since it's a hybrid Eva / ES chest, but low defenses. More of a mid-game option, but can be argued for.

On your helmet slot you are looking mainly for a high ES roll since Escape Artist provides 5 Evasion Rating per 1 Energy Shield (200 ES = 1k Evasion Rating). Other useful stats are a high life roll and resistances.

Alternative: Heretic's Veil

Doesn't provide any life and thus isn't the BEST option. However, it allows you to scrap the Unset Ring and move Flesh and Stone to your helmet setup. It has decent ES and could allow you to run an extra curse instead of Flesh and Stone if you craft +1 Curses on your Body Armour.

Looking for decent ES and high life roll. Fill in Resistances and stat requirements as necessary. Ideally, we want Gloves like the first example. Ilvl 80+ Gloves can roll up to 16% non-ailment chaos damage over time multiplier, which means a lot for the build. If you are trying to maximise DPS, Elder Gloves are the way to go.

Alternative: Allelopathy

Good option for a higher DPS Blight. Removes the option to go for Vaal Blight but regular self-cast will have much higher damage. If you pick this, add Efficacy to the setup. Do note that this is much less defensive.

We'll be running a lot so prioritise 30%+ movement speed. A high life roll is always good. Resistances are secondary since we have other gear slots to fill them in. The more the merrier, though. ;-)

Alternative: Sin Treks provide a mid-game option with decent ES and 30% movement speed. Nothing special, though. As soon as you can, you want to switch in a rare piece of boots.

High life and resistances are most important. You can try and use Aberrant Fossils + Pristine to get a high Life roll with up to 30% Chaos Damage, but that's just luxury.

Abyss jewel: Onslaught if you don't have a Quiver with that mod and high life roll.

For Leather Belts it is best to search for 130+ Life and at least 80% total resistances. Flask Duration is great. Elder-base can grant life recovery rate which boosts our life regeneration a lot, not our leech tho.

Solstice Vigil does a lot for us. Longer flask duration, free Temporal Chains aura with Blasphemy and decent life for an amulet. For me, this amulet defines this build. However, if you want more DPS you can always get a Chaos Impresence with free Despair aura. If you do that, get rid of Witchfire Brew in favor of another magic flask or Rumi's Concoction.

If you are playing SSF and don't have either yet or you play trade and don't have the currency to buy it, use a rare amulet with preferably a high life roll, some resistances and necessary attributes. There's a Delve mod for Chaos Damage (Aberrant Fossil). There's also an Essence Mod from Essence of Envy. Both can go up to 30% increased Chaos Damage. Otherwise, a good Spell Damage roll is good as well and can go up to 26%.

In terms of Talisman upgrades through Betrayal we have the following options:
-Chrysalis (up to 30% Spell Damage)
-Deadhand (up to 31% Chaos Damage)
-Rotfeather (up to 35% Damage)
-Fangjaw (up to 12% Life)

Prioritise high life rolls and resistances here. Nothing special to say about rings. +3 to level of socketed gems for the Unset Ring doesn't do much and is absolutely unnecessary. All that would do is give 1% less damage taken from enemies not nearby.

Here we have a couple interesting options to customize the character a little better to suit your needs.

40% increased Essence Drain Damage: gives us about 5.6% more DPS on the DoT (for me: 800k -> 845k DPS on ED)
30% increased Essence Drain Duration: this enchant is better than you might think. Base duration for Essence Drain is 3.8 seconds. 30% longer ED pushes it to 5 seconds before increments from Skill Effect Duration (Malevolence, Efficacy, Trickster Ascendancy)
35% increased Temporal Chains Curse Effect: pretty underrated Enchantment in my opinion. More time before being hit is quite valuable!

Commandment of Light: when you're critically hit you'll generate Consecrated Ground, regenerating 6% of your Maximum Life per second (7k life = 420 life per second)
Commandment of Reflection: creates a clone of you (10 seconds cooldown). Your clone will take aggro for you, so can be quite handy.

Regenerate 2% of your Maximum Life and Mana per second: this is the best option by far. All life regeneration we have is amplified by Trickster's Life Recovery Rate bonus.
10% Movement Speed: really awesome for going faster than light. We already have loads of Movement Speed, but the more the better.

Attack / Spell Dodge can be good, but imo they're too situational and unreliable for me to recommend them. If it floats your boat, go for it. In any other case, the above 2 are best.


So the above is the final goal for the character. But how do we get there?

1) We want a base bow for this. The best is to gather The Porcupine cards. If you are playing SSF, the cards drop from Gardens, Plaza, Terrace (maps) and High Gardens (story). The result is a 6-linked white Short Bow with ilvl 50.

2) Now we want to get the colours right first. For this, we want to use the 1B Vorici bench craft. The average number of tries is 20, so we don't need many Chromatic Orbs. Target colours are 3 Blue, 2 Green and 1 Red. If you are using a different 6-linked bow as a base like me, get Reduced Attribute Requirements on it first to make the colouring less arduous.

3) Next step is to get the +1 to Level of Socketed Gems. This can appear on any bow from ilvl 50 onwards, which we have. This can take anywhere between 10 to 500 Alteration Orbs.

4) We want to use a Regal Orb on it. This turns the item into a rare and will stay this way even if we remove mods again. The best suffix to hit is DoT Multiplier. Attention: if you regal the bow and now have 1 Prefix and 2 Suffixes, Step 5 can be skipped!

5) We use an Orb of Annulment on it. This removes one mod randomly from the weapon. We want to have only +1 gems as a prefix and do not care about potential suffixes on the item. Repeat as necessary or go back to rolling +1 gems if you remove that mod.

6) Did you get the +1 to Level of Socketed Gems singled out on a rare? Great! Now we want to use the crafting option "Can have multiple crafted modifiers" on it which we get from the Pale Council (prophecy chains).

7) Add the "non-ailment chaos damage over time multiplier" craft to it. Try to use Divine Orbs till we get as close to 40% as possible since this is the highest damage modifier besides the + Levels to gems we can get.

8) Add the +2 to level of socketed support gems

And we're done! You now hold the most powerful DPS tool for an Essence Drain Trickster in your very hands. Congratulations!

This crafting method costs you a couple hundred Alteration Orbs as well as 4 Exalted Orbs (Multimod & +2 Supports) and however many tries you need with Annulment Orbs (3 for me). If you don't have the currency or crafts yet, it's enough to get +1 Gems, Regal it and craft T3 Non-ailment chaos damage over time multiplier (4 Chaos) and get the rest later. This way you'll already have an actual 6-link and great DPS.


Life Flask: we use a Catalysed Eternal Life Flask of Staunching. At 20% quality it will regenerate 2500 life over 2.7 seconds (927 hp/s). With so much effective life an instant Divine Flask just doesn't do the cut.

Quicksilver Flask: we use an Alchemist's Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline for covering lots of distance in a short time. This guarantees we'll be right in front of the next pack in as little time as possible. Provides about 85% MS with these rolls.

Granite Flask: we do not have much Armour to note, so a Granite Flask provides a bigger defensive boost than a Basalt Flask (about 20%). Duration + Freeze / Curse Immunity are best.

Jade Flask: Ghost Shrouds give us 5% of our Evasion Rating as ES back when hit. With a Jade Flask with increased Effect and the 100% increased Evasion Rating from the Witchfire Brew we have about 27k Evasion Rating which translates to ~1350 ES. That's why we'll often not even notice we're hit.

Witchfire Brew: extra Damage over Time and level 21 Despair aura gives us so much DPS actually. About 19% of our DPS and 27% of our total Evasion Rating come from here. If you are running a Chaos Impresence instead of Solstice Vigil, use a magic Stibnite Flask with 90%+ increased Evasion Rating suffix for even more Evasion Rating.


Spreading Rot: socketed in the top middle Witch part of the tree (next to the Power Charge). Makes Blight add stacks of Wither and increases the length of the Hinder duration.

Glorious Vanity: socketed below Mind over Matter. We use it for the Doriyani keystone "Corrupted Soul" which provides us with 20% of Maximum Life as Extra Energy Shield. This alone is huge, but it also comes with the "downside" of 50% of non-chaos damage bypassing Energy Shield. Since we're a hybrid leeching life all the time with Essence Drain, this keystone boosts our defenses so much, I wouldn't want to play without it. Mine gives me some useful stuff like 30% Chaos Damage, some % max life, max lightning resistance and Area of Effect. Play around with them to find one fitting your needs.

The Keystone alone provides me about 2,000 flat ES.

Watcher's Eye: we're mainly looking for Non-Ailment Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier since it's a sort of more multiplier for chaos DoTs. About 10% more DPS come from this. Can be replaced with a rare jewel of course. It is an excellent luxury item, though!

Rares: look for Maximum Life, Damage over Time and Non-Ailment Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier

Bandits: there is no benefit from any of the bandits for us, so we kill them all.

Small Pantheon: Garukhan for the 6% increased Movement Speed for mapping, Ralakesh for uber lab

Big Pantheon: Lunaris for general mapping, Solaris for big bosses like Shaper or Elder

Make sure to capture all the relevant souls since they enhance the Pantheons massively. Especially Gorgon on Solaris (8% reduced elemental damage) and Sebbert (5% dodge of spells and attacks) are important.

In this section I show you some notables from the passive tree and what they do and how to get them from your amulet slot:

Hunter's Gambit: (Clear/Verdant/Silver)
10% Skill Effect Duration, 10% Chaos Damage Over Time Multiplier
Dirty Techniques: (Amber/Amber/Silver)
About 5% more DPS
Disciple of the Slaughter: (Amber/Verdant/Golden)
About 5% more DPS, 1 Minimum Frenzy Charge and FC on kill chance
Spiritual Aid: (Silver/Silver/Golden)
About 4% more DPS and option to craft Minion Damage on your Gloves for extra damage

Prodigal Perfection: (Clear/Azure/Azure)
10% Spell Damage, 15% Max Mana, 2% Spell Damage per 100 Max Mana
Heart of Oak: (Verdant/Crimson/Golden)
8% Maximum Life, 20% Chance to Avoid Stuns, some Life Regen
Golem's Blood: (Teal/Golden/Golden)
10% Maximum Life, good Life Regen
Devotion: (Crimson/Crimson/Silver)
8% Maximum Life, +20 STR, non-Curse Aura Effect

Please note that Silver and Golden Oils are more difficult to acquire. If you want to stay on a budget, avoid these crafts. Can be fine without!

Availability of Skill Gems while leveling:

Essence Drain (Level 12): reward for Shadows after The Siren's Cadence (Act 1)
Blight (Level 1): reward for Shadows after Enemy at the Gate (Act 1)
Frostblink (Level 4): reward for Breaking some Eggs (Act 1)
Wither (Level 10): reward for Shadows after The Caged Brute (Act 1)
Contagion (Level 4): reward for Shadows after Breaking some Eggs (Act 1)
Steelskin (Level 4): reward for Breaking some Eggs (Act 1)
Temporal Chains (Level 24): reward for Lost in Love (Act 3)
Malevolence (Level 24): reward for Lost in Love (Act 3)
Flesh and Stone (Level 16): reward for Fallen from Grace (Act 6), can be acquired in Act 3 by doing the Siosa quest in the Library

In general: if you are able to get one skill gem from a quest but not all of them they'll be available for purchase from the skill gem vendor after quest completion.

Early on the best advice is to use Freezing Pulse (available from Enemy at the Gate, Act 1) until you can get your Essence Drain + Contagion combo running.

Before 3.8 it was possible to sell a blue / magic wand + any chaos skill gem for a wand with +1 to chaos gems. That has changed and will probably yield a wand with chaos damage now. Still worth trying the recipe.

Most important links while leveling are:

4-link (3B1G) Essence Drain + Void Manipulation + Efficacy + Controlled Destruction

2-link (1B1R) Spell Totem + Wither

2-link (2B) Blight + Infused Channeling (Act 1, Mercy Mission (Quicksilver Flask quest))

2-link (2B) Frostblink + Arcane Surge

2-link (2B) Contagion + Increased Area of Effect


Ascendancy Order:
1) Patient Reaper
2) Ghost Dance
3) Escape Artist
4) Prolonged Pain

This PoB-link includes all the mods from my Glorious Vanity and my endgame setup.

The PoB also includes leveling trees for the different labs. To change the tree you're looking at, change it in the Tree options on the bottom left in Path of Building.

Tier 16 Hydra: ......................... https://youtu.be/nx5-QWll4js
UElder Guardian (Purifier): ........ https://youtu.be/triSp-HCL_8
UElder Guardian (Constrictor): ... https://youtu.be/guIAi-muY8Q
UElder Guardian (Enslaver): ...... https://youtu.be/rguxRrM2i-M
UElder Guardian (Eradicator): .... https://youtu.be/poIDv2A8_jQ
UElder Kill #23: ....................... https://youtu.be/oL_5qiqa1WE

More videos will be added soon!
My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/DarkCrusade3
My Twitch: https://twitch.tv/artcrusader
ED Beastmode-Guide: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2606026
Dominating Blow Guardian: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2780644
Last edited by ArtCrusade on Mar 12, 2020, 7:52:47 AM
Last bumped on Apr 7, 2020, 5:50:37 PM
Planned sections and TODO:

- Videos of Endgame bosses (DONE)
- Leveling trees, alternative pathing discussion (DONE)
- Skill mechanic breakdown / advanced playstyle / map mods
- Pantheon and Bandits (DONE)
- Lab Enchantments to look out for (DONE)
- Actual skill gems instead of writing the names out for Gem Setup section (DONE)

Added Table of Content, made the guide more readable overall and added a bow crafting section as well as leveling trees.
My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/DarkCrusade3
My Twitch: https://twitch.tv/artcrusader
ED Beastmode-Guide: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2606026
Dominating Blow Guardian: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2780644
Last edited by ArtCrusade on Aug 16, 2019, 12:56:04 PM
Awesome guide! Love the layout and detailed explanation of the gems and gear. :)
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCohOcaCm7l6ex2to0QZ5Cgg

Twitch: https://go.twitch.tv/wheeze_dk
Thanks for the guide. I want to go SSF with this build as soon as you post leveling trees. Please hurry lol.
Thanks for the guide. I want to go SSF with this build as soon as you post leveling trees. Please hurry lol.

Just added the leveling trees. Thanks for the reminder! Hope you have a good start in SSF! :-)
My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/DarkCrusade3
My Twitch: https://twitch.tv/artcrusader
ED Beastmode-Guide: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2606026
Dominating Blow Guardian: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2780644
Hi. I really like your guide. But i was wondering about the Bow craft guide, are you gonna add that ?
RunRonnie wrote:
Hi. I really like your guide. But i was wondering about the Bow craft guide, are you gonna add that ?

Done! Added it right after Gear Explanation section! :)
My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/DarkCrusade3
My Twitch: https://twitch.tv/artcrusader
ED Beastmode-Guide: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2606026
Dominating Blow Guardian: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2780644
ArtCrusade wrote:
RunRonnie wrote:
Hi. I really like your guide. But i was wondering about the Bow craft guide, are you gonna add that ?

Done! Added it right after Gear Explanation section! :)

Excellent :-) THX
Added a section for Labyrinth Enchantments! More to follow soon.
My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/DarkCrusade3
My Twitch: https://twitch.tv/artcrusader
ED Beastmode-Guide: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2606026
Dominating Blow Guardian: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2780644

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