[3.8] Dominating Blow Staff Guardian [HC][SSF][League Start]
Welcome everyone to another guide! This time around, we're taking a look at a Dominating Blow Guardian.
This guide in its current form is a viable build for 3.7. Once we get the required information, it's being updated to 3.8. The likeliest changes are the use of the new minion supports in our two main links, as well as substituting Stone Golem for Carrion Golem.
Please note that this guide is meant for HCSSF play. It assumes that you have no unique items, that you will not get any particular unique items, and that you intend to never die. That said, many uniques are perfectly viable or even good for the build, evaluate them on a case by case basis as they drop for you. This particular build has a goal unique for slightly easier bossing, but it is by no means required.
This build is not targeted at the best of the best players. If you casually reach 100 in every HC league, this guide is not for you. I'm a strong opponent of the idea that HCSSF is something that only highly skilled and experienced players should even attempt, and my guides are an attempt at giving people resources with which to progress in PoE. This particular build is very tanky, and while it's far from the fastest build around, it plays like an unstoppable force that plows through content with no sweat.
Do you stream?
Yes! Sort of. I'm not a professional streamer. I'm not even a hobbyist streamer. The main reason that I even set up streaming software was so that I could easily share with one or two friends what I was doing, I didn't intend to build a community.
I don't generally talk on stream. I don't have a camera. It's basically just a window into my current gameplay session, with the added benefit of me interacting in chat about what I'm doing. In this case, it'll let you see how my build is performing, because I'll be playing it nonstop for a while.
Link to my shitty stream
Pros and Cons
+ Very Tanky
+ HC Viable
+ Built for SSF
+ Good league starter
+ Decent clear and boss killing all in one package
+ Not too many buttons
- Can't do Physical Reflect maps.
- Not the fastest build out there.
Bash things with staff, summon dudes that bash things with staffs, repeat.
Path of Building
Dominating blow is a slow attacking skill that summons minions when things die with the debuff applied to them. The debuff is short, so it'll only really summon things from things you just attacked. Things you summon keep their affixes and such, so you can benefit from auras from rare enemies. Old minions are instantly replaced by new ones, so if you summon a new rare sentinel, the old one is overwritten and its aura lost. This functions as a mini-headhunter, but is far weaker.
Note that support gems affect both you and your minions. Gems like Minion Damage will increase the damage your minions do, but not the damage you do. As such, we pick gems that benefit both sides of the equation.
Herald of Purity gives you increased physical damage for Dominating Blow, and summons minions in a very similar manner to Dominating Blow. This produces an army of sentinels that murders everything in their path.
War Banner reserves a small amount of mana while giving your minions increased accuracy while nearby enemies take increased physical damage.
Flesh Offering gives your minions increased attack speed and movement speed.
Intimidate from Guardian increases the damage enemies take.
Maim from Flesh and Stone increases physical damage taken.
This guide is written for HCSSF. What this means is that the goal is to have no deaths whatsoever. As such, rather than aim for "good enough" defenses, we kind of go a bit crazy.
The more Life you have, the less you die. Shocking, I know.
Armour is a strong way to mitigate physical damage taken. It's kind of like resistance but for physical damage. Since we're using mostly red gems, it works great for us. It is less effective against big hits, but we're covering that in another way. We're expecting 15-20k armour with decent end game gear.
Molten Shell allows us to press a button to take far less damage from hits, the max amount scaled by our armour. This allows us on demand mitigation of big hits.
Block is a strong way to mitigate damage from hits. Thanks to Guardian and using staffs, we sit nicely at 36% block and 10% spell block. If we cast a spell every 4 seconds, we get up to 20% spell block. If we attack once every 4 seconds, we're at 46% block. For 2 seconds every 5 seconds, we get +50% block, which brings us up to cap. Since it's got about 40% uptime, on average that means we're sitting at roughly 66% block.
Fortify gives us a great boost to survivability. We're sacrificing a bit of damage for it, but it's worth it. If we get a staff that grants us this as a seventh link, no damage is lost!
Regeneration: While not massive, Holy Relic grants us regen. Guardian then grants us even more, and a periodic massive boost.
Curse and Elemental Ailment Removal: Every 5 seconds, all curses and elemental ailments are removed.
Reduced Curse Effect: From Guardian and Sanctum of Thought, we get 45% reduced curse effect. Curses are half as effective, and are automatically removed every 5 seconds.
Reduced Extra Damage taken from Critical Strikes gives us 20% less extra damage taken. It's great.
Increased max resistances: We get +2 max fire resistance and +1 cold and lightning resistance. THat's 8%/4% less damage taken of those elements.
Blind makes enemies have a 50% chance to miss you. We're getting it from the Holy Relic, as well as from Flesh and Stone while in sand stance if we can fit it in.
Meat Shield Zombies taunt for you, they block projectiles, and give you permanent onslaught. What's not to love?
These are all one link, but are listed in order of importance.
4L: Dominating Blow - Melee Splash - Faster Attacks - Melee Physical Damage
5L: Fortify/Endurance Charge on Melee Stun
7L: Culling Strike
If you have an elder staff with either Endurance Charge on Melee Stun or Fortify, that will adjust these links. Endurance Charge on Melee Stun is not needed if you have a Warlord's Mark ring.
Herald of Purity
4L: Herald of Purity - Melee Physical Damage - Deathmark - Minion Damage
Holy Relic and Golem
3L: Summon Holy Relic - Increased AoE - Blind
1L: Summon Carríon Golem
Leap Slam and Zombies
4L: Leap Slam - Faster Attacks - Raise Zombie - Meat Shield
2L: Vaal Molten Shell - Increased Duration
1L: War Banner
1L: Flesh Offering
Optional Flesh and Stone
Flesh and Stone is a nice addition to the build, but something you'll struggle to fit in with mana reservation if you also have a 6L Herald of Purity. In Sand Stance, this will give you blind to nearby enemies and less damage taken from range, which is strong. In blood stance you'll get free maim.
Linking Maim to Flesh and Stone makes the maim from blood stance even stronger. It also increases the mana reservation. If you are in sand stance, this does nothing.
Flesh and Stone - (Optionally) Maim
You want to prioritize the herald and war banner as your reservations. Experiment with flesh and stone to see if you can fit it in without your mana dropping so low you can't reliably attack.
Desecrate can be used to get easier access to corpses for Flesh Offering and Zombies. Can be slotted into our weapon swap.
Radiant Crusade - Unwavering Crusade(damage) or Bastion of Hope(tankiness) - Time of Need
Lab1 - Normal Lab - The first choice will always be Radiant crusade. Lots more damage.
Lab2 - Cruel Lab - Unwavering Crusade gets you increased damage for your allies, increased attack speed, increased AoE for their now native crusade slam, and intimidate which makes enemies take more damage. Bastion of Hope gives you a ton of block chance, helping with survivability. I usually go for Unwavering Crusade.
Lab3 - Merciless Lab - Whichever you didn't pick in Cruel Lab.
Lab4 - Endless Lab - Time of Need gets us reduced curse effectiveness, some more regen, and curse/ailment removal. We'll likely want some ailment removal on flasks, but this does help limit the need for it. Curse removal won't be needed at all, since we get 45% total reduced effectiveness of curses, and they will never last more than 5 seconds.
What we didn't get and why:
Radiant Faith is a strong node, but it relies on stacking large amounts of mana to achieve the ridiculous energy shield levels it's famous for. In SSF, we can't reliably achieve that. For similar reasons we are not reserving life, due to the risky nature of it without large amounts of ES. Unwavering Faith is not a particularly interesting node for a solo Guardian, as minions do not benefit much from it.
Harmony of Purpose is very powerful, but ultimately not worth losing the defenses of either of the nodes we'd replace for it. We don't hit often enough to reliably proc the 10% chance.
Guardian promotes a hybrid playstyle between melee and summoner. While the changes in 3.8 diminished that a bit, the new stuff is quite good still! Permanent onslaught, free resists, and more damage done. Bastion of Hope provides us with great block, while Time of Need nets us curse resistance and ailment removal. While the ascendancy is no longer required for dominating blow + herald of purity, it's still quite good for it.
Major: Soul of Lunaris. All effects are lovely for survivability.
Minor: Soul of Shakari or Ralakesh.
Shakari reduces our chaos damage taken and makes us immune to poison after capturing a soul. Chaos damage is a concern, as we're using energy shield on top of our health rather than getting Chaos Inoculation for chaos immunity.
Ralakesh reduces physical damage taken over time, which armour does not help with. This is wonderful for the labyrinth, as it makes most traps do less damage. Combined with our regen, it allows us to almost ignore the traps and just run straight through.
As this build is made with a pure SSF playstyle in mind, none of the gear in this section is mandatory. The only unique we're aiming for is a nice thing to have for bossfights, but is by no means mandatory for the build to work.
NOTE: The gear that is linked in each section is not strictly optimal. Treat them as a guideline, with the text acting as the optimal goal. The gear is going to improve as I get better gear.
Assume that every slot wants Life. Armour is a lower priority.
We want to use a block staff. The use of Resolute Technique means that the crit staffs don't do anything for us. If possible, get an elder staff with either Fortify or Endurance Charge on Melee Stun as modifiers. This is however not something to focus on until you've gotten the rest of your gear sorted.
Mods to look for:
(If elder) Socketed gems supported by Fortify/Endurance Charge on Melee Stun
+1 to socketed gems/+2 to socketed melee gems
High Physical Damage
Reduced enemy stun threshold/increased stun duration on enemies.
The stun mods are the least important, but are not useless particularly when combined with the endurance charge support gem.
Bone Helmet for the minion damage, which affects both you and your minions.
Mods to look for:
+2 to socketed minion gems
Use this slot for your Golem and Holy Relic.
Enchant: Either Herald of Purity enchant could work, as does all Dominating Blow enchants.
Astral plate if you can get it to make gearing easier for resists, otherwise a regular high armour base. The Coming Calamity is a unique option that's quite strong.
Mods to look for:
(If shaper) +1 level of socketed active skill gems/Socketed gems are supported by Item Rarity
(If elder) +1 level of socketed support gems
Spiked Gloves for the melee damage or Titan Gauntlets for the armour.
Mods to look for:
Physical damage added to attacks
(If elder) Socketed gems supported by Blind
Mods to look for:
MOVEMENT SPEED (as high as you can go)
Enchant: Attack speed, Movement speed, or life regen.
Any amulet with dexterity and/or intelligence.
Mods to look for:
Add physical damage to attacks
(If shaper) Reduced mana reserved
(If elder) Attack speed
(If elder) Additional physical damage reduction
Anointment: Tribal Fury (Opalescent Oil + Silver Oil + Golden Oil) for the increased coverage of Dominating Blow.
Steel/Iron rings, or resistance rings if required.
Mods to look for:
Add physical damage to attacks
(If elder) Curse enemies with Warlord's Mark on hit
(If elder) Increased melee damage
Stygian Vise or Leather Belt.
Mods to look for:
Increased stun duration on enemies
(If shaper) Reduced damage taken from crits
(If elder) Enduring Cry (more reliable endurance charges)
(If elder) Increased attack speed during any flask effect
Seething/Bubbling Divine Life FLask of Staunching
Ample/Chemists Granite Flask of Iron Skin
Ample/Chemists Basalt Flask of Curing/Heat
Ample/Chemists Silver Flask of Curing/Heat
Alchemist's Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline
Substitute the Silver flask for The Writhing Jar if you have it, for easier bossing.
Violent Dead from killing Innocence in Act 5
Life, minion damage, physical damage, resists otherwise.
While leveling, the base type of items is less important. Use what gives you the best modifiers and sockets.
Base type: Armour, except the Bone Helmet. Armour/Energy Shield is an acceptable secondary option if you get a really good drop. Avoid non-armour bases.
Stat priorities: Always prioritize defenses. Potential damage pales in comparison. Aim to overcap your resists by 34% to be safe from elemental weakness curses. This means you want each resist to be at 109% or more.
-Resists to cap
-Resists to overcap
-Minion Stats (damage/attack speed)
-Personal Stats (damage/attack speed)
Potentially useful uniques
This is an SSF build. Don't use uniques.
I said don't use uniques.
Alright fine, here are a few that would work.
The Blood Thorn - Early levelling
Disintegrator - Good end game item, don't use Brutality with this
Tabula Rasa - Useful until you get a 5L
Goldrim - Good for levelling
Le Heup of All - Good for levelling
Wanderlust - Good for levelling
Ambu's Charge - Decent enough chest armour
The Coming Calamity - Good chest armour
General answer: Kill all.
Alira can be chosen for resistances, but generally speaking we're not hurting for it.
Start with Smite + Zombies + Holy Relic. Use Frostblink as early movement before Leap Slam. War Banner is available early on. Get Herald of Purity at level 16, Dominating Blow at level 28.
What if I want to play SC?: Then play SC. This build is perfectly SC viable. It's viable for trade league as well. The build contains multiple goal items that you can trade for. It's not as convenient as having uniques, but the gear section says what mods to look for. The gear section also contains a list of potentially useful uniques.
Last edited by Lilyliciously on Sep 6, 2019, 11:24:07 AM
Last bumped on Dec 12, 2019, 2:56:59 PM
on Sep 1, 2019, 2:55:56 PM
on Sep 1, 2019, 2:56:04 PM
really good, really interesting, since last league im starting with dominating blow for league starter, ofc, me end goal is full support (aurabot etc) but i really enjoyed starting as dominating blow then transitioning to full sup, i always play SC, probably your build can handle sc at ease.
Ty, nice build, well done and written.
on Sep 3, 2019, 9:40:22 PM
Looking forward as league starter.
Any 3.8 update soon?
Bayern des samma mia
on Sep 4, 2019, 6:52:12 AM
I'm expecting to write up the initial 3.8 update in the next 24 hours somewhere. Main differences after patch notes is that I'm fitting in an unlinked or two linked raise zombie somewhere and using Carrion Golem. Passive pathing is basically unchanged, though I'm likely picking up the minion wheel underneath templar start.
on Sep 4, 2019, 2:40:58 PM
Thank you for posting this build. I enjoy SSF the most in PoE. Most builds that claim SSF are still loaded with rares. Your build and concept make it clear that your philosophy toward SSF and HC are reasonable, viable and fun! Thank you.
I look forward to using your guide as my league start. I am also looking forward to using a Staff! Never had a reason to before.
One question about the PoB file. There are two passives selected at the starting point that are orphaned. When should these be taken, at the beginning or the end?
Last edited by Schnoodlez on Sep 5, 2019, 12:55:05 AM
on Sep 5, 2019, 12:52:39 AM
ssf hc league starter for me as well.
i really like the new increased minion speed guardians get.
also looking forward to see how the new minion supports fit in.
dominating blow will dominate!
on Sep 5, 2019, 6:51:45 AM
I'd generally pick the first node at level 2 in HC, and possibly in SC too. The second orphaned node is taken whenever you want a bit more life but you aren't close to any other nodes that give it.
on Sep 5, 2019, 3:04:37 PM
Thanks for the info.
Now that all the 3.8 info has been released, any thoughts about possible changes or experiments you might be interested in doing with this build?
on Sep 5, 2019, 5:32:06 PM
We're definitely using meat shield zombies to help proc our permanent onslaught. Other than that, we want to use the strike notable Tribal Fury (Opalescent Oil + Silver Oil + Golden Oil) on our amulet. That's about it.
Updating the guide now!
on Sep 6, 2019, 10:40:35 AM