[3.8] Brittleknee’s Soulwrest Necromancer - Skellies/Phantasms - All content - Blight Ready!

[3.8] Brittleknee’s Soulwrest Necromancer - Skellies/Phantasms - All content!

Greetings, Exiles! I’m Brittleknee!

When the Soulwrest Staff was announced back in Delve, I couldn’t have been more excited. This build went through a lot of iterations before I landed on the current configuration. I first started with a zoo build, hoping to work out a Zombie/Phantasm/SRS Baron build but it was super gear restrictive. From there I tried an SRS/Phantasm combination but it just didn’t feel right. I ended up settling with Phantasm/Skelly, and realized that I’d essentially found something that plays similarly to my most beloved D3 build, Rathma’s Necromancer.

I dusted off my original Delve build just recently in Legion, and after automating a lot of my SRS build, returning to this build felt cumbersome and clunky. I wanted to automate the build but not in the typical way of using Bubonic Trail boots, because let’s face it, that's been done to death. Something I’ve also focused on in my past few builds is the use of secondary defenses in order to provide more survivability. Together with these two goals, I present this build for your consideration.

Remember, Most of the “boss” damage will be coming from the Skeletons, and a lot of the “clear” damage will be coming from the Phantasms. You can gem swap off GMP for more damage effectiveness, but I generally just left it on.

Check out the media section below for videos of bosses/gameplay!

Catch me Streaming on Twitch or in game as @Brittleknee!

Blight League Update

3.8 Blight League Update

I’m excited to release this build to you all! Though the changes to the Necromancer Ascendancy and the skill gem reworks threw some minor wrenches into the plan to publish this build, it turns out some of the immediate problems were relatively easy to plan around.

Overall, it’s a fairly substantial buff to damage across the board. The new behavior gems are something else, too. Since they are not in PoB yet and I wanted to get this guide out sooner, rather than later, make sure you play around with them in both minion setups and get a feel for what you may like.

Even though Melee League is officially over, the chestpiece used in this build should be relatively easy to find and/or craft.

Have a great league, exiles!
<3 BK

Path of Building Link (Ready for 3.8):

Rathma Skelly/Phantasms:

1.0. Introduction

1.1. Pros & Cons

This build can do all content. Every bit of it. Bosses, Mapping, Labs, Delve, you name it.
  • Bosser - Has cleared all Boss content including Red Elder, Shaper, Uber Atziri and Uber Elder. Significantly less gear investment requirement to clear all content than SRS build.
  • Mapper - No ‘Dead Mods’ to speak of. You can run anything. Reflect, no regen, no problem! Some mods are just slightly uncomfortable.
  • Actually Tanky - You have multiple defensive layers at work here in a fully geared version of this build. First is your life pool, which can easily hit 7k+. Secondly, you have both Flesh and Stone and Spider Aura. Third, you have a moderate amount of block from Soulwrest, Passive Allocation, and Rumi’s. Last, you have huge Life Gain on Hit capabilities from a combination of Shaper Jewelry and a Watcher’s Eye with a fast-hitting spell - Storm Burst.
  • League Starter - If you are comfortable with starting on a SRS, Spectre or Skelly build and transitioning later on, this build can be a viable leaguestarter. However this requires a bit more knowledge of minion builds in general, and the ability to put together currency early on in the league as Soulwrest will be pricey early on.

  • Damage Halts - Bosses with powerful AoE (Phoenix, Shaper) can wipe out your minions with a single ability and thus halt your damage. Skeletons and Phantasms are not the most tanky minions and high AoE damage means full minion wipes are completely possible. Luckily the build has high cast speed for quickly replenishing Skeletons and the automated casting of Phantasms is easy to manage.
  • Socket Starved - This build utilizes two unset rings in order to include all needed auras/abilities and have enough sockets.

1.2. Playstyle and Origins

As another all-inclusive build, capable of all content with just minor tweaks to gear/passives here and there, this is the perfect build for those who like to focus on just one character at a time. Since the main part of the build, the Soulwrest staff, comes from Delve League, this is not a recommended League Starter unless you don’t mind spending the first bit of the league playing SRS & Skellies until you can afford or obtain your Soulwrest.

I played this build originally in Delve when the staff was announced, then essentially forgot about it for a while.

In Legion I leveled a Witch to 100, and I took the opportunity to revisit the build. With the Betrayal crafts largely automating the Desecrate, Flesh Offering and EE buffing and debuffing for my other Minion Builds, playing the original iteration of this build felt clunky.

There were existing versions of the build that automated the phantasms by using the Bubonic Trail, and I didn’t want to just fall in line. I wanted to automate the Desecrate, Flesh Offering, Phantasm cycle, but then I realized I could channel it. Upon realizing I could channel it, I realized I could also control which channel spells, and storm burst immediately came to mind. It hits extremely frequently, making it suitable for life gain on hit shenanigans. So not only do we debuff for EE while CWC Desecrate/Flesh Offering, that entire process summons the Phantasms and is Defensive, due to LGOH. It’s a win, win, win. The other really cool thing about it, is that the phantasms will actually follow your cursor rather than being leashed to you, which is just really quite cool.

2.0. Skill Trees, Ascendancy, and Leveling

Here’s everything you need to get started! Remember, you cannot equip Soulwrest until level 60 so plan accordingly!

2.1. Ascendancy Choices

Ascendancy Skills
While leveling, pick the Ascendancy skills:
  • Mindless Aggression(The Labyrinth)
  • Unnatural Strength (The Cruel Labyrinth)
  • Mistress of Sacrifice (The Merciless Labyrinth)
  • Bone Barrier (The Eternal Labyrinth)

2.2. Leveling Toolkit

If you would like to level this build from scratch as a Summoner, I recommend loosely following the leveling guide I wrote for my Pure-DPS SRS. You’ll want to level something until you can equip Soulwrest, and skeletons aren’t exactly the speedrunners of PoE. :)

Leveling Trees

Skill Gem Links

  • 3 Link: Summon Skeleton, Minion Damage, Melee Splash

  • 4 Link: Summon Skeleton, Minion Damage, Melee Physical Damage, Ruthless

  • 5 Link: Summon Skeleton, Minion Damage, Melee Physical Damage, Ruthless, Maim

  • 6 Link: Summon Skeleton, Minion Damage, Melee Physical Damage, Ruthless, Maim, Empower

  • 5 Sockets: Summon Phantasm on Kill, Added Fire Damage, Greater Multiple Projectiles, Controlled Destruction, Minion Damage

  • 6 Sockets: Summon Phantasm on Kill, Added Fire Damage, Greater Multiple Projectiles, Controlled Destruction, Minion Damage, Faster Projectiles

2.3. Pantheons

  • Soul of the Brine King - Make sure you get the bonus effects from the Divine Vessels.

  • Soul of Ryslatha - Life Flask Nodes from Tree gives 20% total increased healing from life flask. When on low life combined with the added from the pantheon, flasks will heal for significantly more. This is nice for instant-flask recovery in regards to survivability but becomes insane when coupled with Blood of the Karui.
  • Soul of Yugul can be useful on Uber Elder if your flask management is great and you don’t panic-spam your life flasks like I do.

2.4. Bandits

You will kill all bandits for Eramir and take 2 skill points.

2.5. Build Overview & Keystone Explanations

Elemental Equilibrium
Elemental Equilibrium is an amazing damage boost for this build. Skellies/Phantasms use physical, fire damage, and cold damage. This leaves lightning as the remaining element to proc the effect, and this build relies on Orb of Storms to do so. EE lasts 5 seconds at a time and can be refreshed as needed to keep 100% uptime.

You will know when EE has been properly applied to an enemy by the Pink/Purple/Blueish spell affect at their feet, which is seen below:

You will also see a written confirmation that EE is both active and attuned to the correct element when you see “Vulnerable to Fire, Vulnerable to Cold” listed on the mob’s affixes. With trash this may be hard to see, but with rares and bosses, you should be able to see this on mouseover targeting. It will look like this:

The way we apply EE is through Orb of Storms, which can be taken very early on in the levelling process, allowing players to start dealing tremendous amounts of damage early on. Orb of Storms is a Cast-at-Player lightning skill, which leaves an area of lightning damage which will continually apply both EE and Shock to mobs within its effect.

Check me out on Twitch! http://www.twitch.tv/brittleknee
Last edited by brittleknee on Sep 28, 2019, 2:37:58 PM
Last bumped on Jan 16, 2020, 4:20:10 AM

3.0. Early Gearing & Budget Setup

3.1. Required Uniques

The main engine for the build, allowing phantasms to be summoned from each corpse destroyed. The large amount of cast speed on the staff provides other benefits as well, from not needing to link Flame Dash to Faster Casting, all the way to Storm Burst hitting more frequently. Remember, this item need not be linked, only socketed.

Grip of the Council
These gloves are best in slot for damage, due to the fact that they are in essence, a mini-hatred buff. By equipping these, your minions deal an additional 20% damage as cold. While these can be very expensive at the start of a league, they quickly fall in price and are easily obtainable within a few weeks for more frugal players.

Rumi’s Concoction
Another important part in the equation that helps mitigate incoming damage. This augments some of the block we already take from the passive tree, as well as providing a bit more armor.

Blood of the Karui
This potion is extremely powerful when combined with Ryslatha’s Pantheon, and passive tree nodes. It has the ability, when at low life, to heal you 8410hp over 1.67 seconds. This provides a tremendous amount of survivability, plus the instant heal to full life at the completion of flask effect is quite nice.

Careful Planning
Easily solve the Dexterity requirement most Summoners face with one simple jewel. Careful planning, when socketed in the jewel socket west of the witch starting area, provides a total of 114 Dexterity if it is a +24 Roll.

Watcher’s Eye
Don’t worry, you don’t need an expensive one. You’re just looking for Life Gain on Hit While Affected by Vitality. Anything beyond that is nice, but not necessary. Remember, no Watcher’s Eyes (yet) affect Minions, so do not pay multiple exalts for a Hatred watcher’s eye.

3.2. End-Game Gem Setup

Armor (Skeletons)
Vaal Summon Skeleton, Minion Damage, Ruthless, Melee Physical, Fortify, Empower

Staff (Phantasms)
Summon Phantasm, Greater Multiple Projectiles, Controlled Destruction, Added Fire, Minion Damage, Faster Projectile

Utility and Auras
Cast when Damage Taken, Steelskin/Molten Shell. Hatred, Generosity.

Storm Burst, Desecrate, Flesh Offering, Cast When Channeling

Storm Brand, Curse On Hit, Vulnerability, Vitality

Flame Dash, Flesh and Stone

3.3. Flasks

You can be as defensive as you'd like on these flasks, or offensive, your choice!

3.4. Jewels

Your priorities for stats on Abyss Jewels should be:
  • 1. + Life (40 or Greater)
  • 2. Minions deal x to x Physical Damage (converts better than Fire)
  • 3. Minions Deal x% Damage when using a Minion Skill
  • 4. Resists or Attack/Cast Speed

3.5. Crafting

Crafting a Helmet

While crafting a helmet with an Essence of Loathing is not remotely required, freeing up some of your mana from reserve due to the recent nerfs to MoM can provide some wiggle room in talents, allowing you to skip some Total Mana % nodes in lieu of damage, or simply provide a larger mana pool in which to cast SRS and take hits.
Screaming Essence of Loathing results in a 3% mana reserve reduction, and scales up to Deafening, which provides 5% mana reserve reduction. Craft with what you can afford. A bone helmet with this essence can be an excellent starting helmet until the helmet enchant from Uber Labs can be acquired, either on a different Bone helmet, or until you are lucky enough to get the Enchant yourself on a bone helmet.

Some examples are:

5.0. End Game

5.1. Final Build Gear

5.2. Improving Further

Spectres back on the menu?
With the changes to the Spectre gem, adding the Frenzy/Power Charge Monkey spectres back into the equation could very well be possible. I originally removed them because I like doing the Uber Elder encounter, and they would always die in that fight, and I hated going through the whole damn process of getting new ones each time. Running them may take investment in a -Mana Reserve Helmet that also has +2 or +3 Minion Gems, and might also take an Empower 3 or 4 in addition to Blood Magic and Minion Life. Either way, if investments can be made and they can actually survive the encounter with the new changes, then you should absolutely do so if you love the build. Having Frenzy and Power charges is a gigantic boost in DPS. Dual Curse was my way of trying to make up for the fact that the spectres wouldn’t live. You can drop the curse nodes and distribute them out for more Minion Damage, Life, and Resists. You’d then want Vulnerability or Elemental Weakness on Hit gloves, but there’s no harm in keeping Temporal Chains, either if you like the defense while mapping.

Check me out on Twitch! http://www.twitch.tv/brittleknee
Last edited by brittleknee on Sep 6, 2019, 1:57:46 AM

6.0. Frequently Asked Questions

6.1. Frequently Asked Questions

I’ll compile this information after there are a few pages of replies.

6.2. Troubleshooting Common Issues

I’ll compile this information after there are a few pages of replies.

7.0. Media

7.1. Videos, Gifs, Clips


This is accurate until you're ready to add in the Watcher's Eye and Vitality, then you'll need to have Mana Reduction Helm & Amulet, plus The Vitality Reserve Reduction Labyrinth Enchant. As far as the minion behavior, I hadn't played a golem build, didn't realize they would follow attacks, too, so its not as special as I thought, but definitely a useful behavior, nonetheless.


8.0. Credits, Updates, Changelog


I’d like to thank all of my followers as well as subscribers, in addition to those of you in-game on the forums who have helped me work on this build and recommend things to try and content to write. You’re all legends!


Archived updates posted at the top of the guide at the beginning of a new league will be moved here at the league’s conclusion.


6 Sept 2019 Build Published

Check me out on Twitch! http://www.twitch.tv/brittleknee
Last edited by brittleknee on Sep 15, 2019, 3:48:52 PM
Been about a year since I last tried a Necromancer so I'm looking forward to this one!

Any speculation on what the new gems might bring to the table that could work nicely with this build? I'll probably be experimenting anyway (an inevitable part of playing SSF) but I'm interested to know your thoughts on which ones to keep an eye out for.
Bk老虎 wrote:
Been about a year since I last tried a Necromancer so I'm looking forward to this one!

Any speculation on what the new gems might bring to the table that could work nicely with this build? I'll probably be experimenting anyway (an inevitable part of playing SSF) but I'm interested to know your thoughts on which ones to keep an eye out for.

I think the Carrion Golem is worth fitting into the build, but we are quite socket starved and already using 2 Unset Rings.

The phantasms by themselves have a good clear behavior, I'm not sure they need to have that altered. Its just the usual spray have the screen in projectiles tactic similar to Solar Guards and others.

However instead of GMP you could give them Deathmark to be able to allow them to focus on what your skeletons are fighting, or send them off to specifically kill certain things in an encounter (Like keeping Skeletons on Shaper/Elder and sending the Phantasms off to fight the Elder Squid adds in the U-Elder encounter).
Check me out on Twitch! http://www.twitch.tv/brittleknee
I plan on doing this. Just so you know for leveling I have been doing 2 link zombies and 3 link srs and everything is melting.
Great build looking forward to seeing how it works out for endgame. Currently levelling with zombies > summon phantasm > gmp > minion speed with skeletons as a single target dmg boost.
I'm glad you're enjoying it so far! :)
Check me out on Twitch! http://www.twitch.tv/brittleknee
weapon is 2 ex and gloves are 1 ex...feelsbadman
Exxxiled665 wrote:
weapon is 2 ex and gloves are 1 ex...feelsbadman

Gloves will come down in price. They are always rare at the beginning of the league as they are a rare drop at the end of a prophecy chain.

With the league mechanic having similar prophecy drops as Legion did, more people will have access to this prophecy, and more and more will enter the market.

The gloves have been a chase unique for years for minion builds. I've often paid 40-50C for them on day 1 or 2, which is about an ex, so this isn't necessarily surprising.

My advice would be to get decent rare gloves for now and prioritize saving the muns for Soulwrest.
Check me out on Twitch! http://www.twitch.tv/brittleknee

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