[3.8] Scion Zombie Squad | The Baron | Super Tanky, Relatively Cheap, Fight Alongside Your Zombies
This is my first posted build, and I'm not even sure if it's that good (being an off-and-on player, I often miss the meta). Feedback is welcome!
As a slight edgelord, I dislike following build guides to a tee. I often strike out on my own trying to (often foolishly) make something unique or just tweak a build to make it my own. I also don't have a ton of time to play, so this often results in a total fail for an entire league (but I still have fun doing it).
I'm sure there are similar builds out there or just better minion builds, but this one was uniquely powerful compared to most of my other home-grown hare-brained builds and also provided a very fun playstyle for me, so I thought I'd share.
In the days of D2, I always thought it'd be awesome to fight alongside your skellies as a warrior necromancer. That, however, was never an optimal choice (that I was aware of). With this build, not only do you lead your undead army into battle, you're capable of soaking up a ton of damage to help them stay alive.
This build revolves around a few primary things:
* The Baron unique helmet and obtaining a lot of strength, plus a couple other uniques that assist you in your quest to get swoll and have a ton of ES while you're at it (the usual Baron shenanigans)
* Spiritual Command and Spiritual Aid passive nodes to beef yourself up along with your minions
* Guardian Ascendancy and Necromancer Ascendancy combined with lots of auras to buff yourself and your army, providing permanent onslaught and allowing you to Smite along side your undead comrades
* Necromancer Ascendancy and Spirit Offering + Cast When Damage Taken combo, combined with a decent pool of health, to reach stupid ultra tank levels (remember, Spirit Offering keys off of maximum life, which we'll have a good chunk of with lots of strength)
* Path of the Witch to help us reach unnaturally across the tree to obtain both high strength levels and snag some great minion and ES nodes in the witch's area
Pros and Cons
* Super tanky
* Easy yet engaging playstyle
* For a minion build, easy to control your minions (without any of the new gems being necessary)
* Great for blight encounters (who needs towers when you have minions?)
* Potential for disgusting boss DPS (at least, for a scrub like me)
* While not dirt-cheap, I was able to easily pull this off as a league-starter
* A good handful of uniques are need to get the build really cracking, although not all of them are required until late game (summoners are popular this league, so The Baron may be a little pricey for a league starter)
* Clearing isn't as zoom-zoom as I know some people like
* Uber Lab is needed to capstone this build
* Chaos damage spikes can be dangerous
* Not end-game boss vetted yet
Kill them all.
1. ~Level 30:
Use your preferred melee skill through this portion, with optional zombies/SRS/SRS totem (I used static strike). Personally I went straight for Spiritual Aid and Spiritual Command off the bat to help me buff me while I buff my minions, as well as convenient life. Use your preferred movement skill, I usually stick with Flame Dash just because it's a great dodging skill without any links.
2. ~Level 60:
At some point I transitioned into using smite + zombies + carrion golem as my main skills while stacking as many auras as possible (discipline, clarity, war banner, etc.) After cruel lab, make sure to grab the Necromancer ascendancy first and set up a Cast When Damage Taken + Spirit Offering for the most busted tank combo of all time. There are a lot of options at this point, so just do what you can.
Use any Essence of Fear you find to craft a leveling weapon of your choice. Minion damage benefits our damage as well, after all.
If you can grab The Baron this early, do it. The "templar side" of the tree is nearly complete, so save up points so that you can blitz grab a bunch of stuff from the witch's area after merciless lab.
3. ~Level 80+:
Grab Path of the Witch after the merciless lab, then start getting some sweet wtich nodes, most importantly Lord of the Dead. Get Utmost Might and start really pumping up your strength, with the eventual goal of >=1000 (unfortunately this node moved a bit further away from our main tree in 3.8).
When you get uber lab finished, put the last cherry on top with the Guardian ascendancy. Now we're cookin' with fire.
In the end, your 11+ zombies + carnage golem should be tearing ass by your side at this point. You should also be able to easily hit 8k+ EHP, given that (geared out properly, see below) strength will boost your ES and life at the same time, with Spirit Offering spiking this even further and Spirit Offering + The Baron (at 1000 str) providing tons of regen.
4. Other Options:
You can grab Practical Application if you need a bit of a strength and/or dex boost. I've contemplated going for Wicked Ward as well, it would probably be extremely effective and it's not too far. Allocate and deallocate +30 attribute nodes as needed to reach dex requirements and hit your strength goals. There are other minion, ES, and life nodes hanging nearby that might be worth grabbing as well.
* The Baron is required for this build, letting your deadites get swoll while you get swoll. Grab one with as high a +strength value as possible. I put my zombie setup here to take advantage of the added minion gem levels. This was semi-expensive earlier in the league, hopefully prices will or have dropped.
* Alberon's Warpath is standard gear for builds that use Baron. Try to get as high of a +%strength stat as you can. Should be cheap.
* Geofri's Sanctuary, more gear that syngergizes with high strength and adds a ton of ES. Should be cheap unless you go for a 6-link (which you don't really need).
* Shaper's Touch, syngergizes with high strength once again and really pushes your ES to great heights. Should be cheap.
* Rings/Amulet/Belt: Simply grab as much strength as possible while maxing your resistances. Unfortunately with so many uniques it's not super easy to cap resistances, but it's doable. The bulk of your money can easily be spent here.
* Weapon/Shield: Currently I'm using a semi-shitty yellow staff with minion buffs and enough damage and attack speed to feel comfortable and land enough killing blows to charge my War Banner by the time I reach a map boss. A staff provides you with some block and the possibility of a 5 or 6 link, while a one-hander + shield could get you a lot more ES. Whakatutuki o Matua might be an interesting option.
* Inertia not only has a high +strength stat for a jewel, it can turn a pesky dexterity node into strength. I placed one in the socket between the Templar and Marauder starting areas to nab a rogue dex node. This jewel is also very cheap right now.
* Efficient Training is expensive in Blight league at the time of writing this. I haven't coughed up an exalt for one yet, but once I do I'm planning on putting it in the socket east of the Witch's starting area. It's worth noting that I have hit 1000 strength without this, but once I allocate it I will be able to divert passives away for other stuff (Wicked Ward anyone?) and relieve gear pressure.
* Flasks: Beside grabbing standard bleed/poison/ignite/freeze/curse cures, you'll probably want to pack a couple of bubbling/seething life flasks. You won't have any life regen due to Geofri's. I also use a chaos res flask since this build is a little bit susceptible to being bursted down by chaos.
Skills and Links
Note: I'm constantly changing around my links trying stuff out, so these may not be optimal. However, so far, they have worked pretty well. Feel free to tweak. I'm not a PoE expert, so I may be missing some nuance.
Helmet: Raise Zombie - Minion Damage - Fortify / Melee Phyiscal - Minion Speed
I feel the best use of Baron's minion skill level bonus is on zombies. Pushing them passed level 20 gives huge benefits to damage and survivability.
In the past I have had issues with zombies dying during boss fights, which is why Fortify is on there. This may not be a concern this league, so it might be best to go with more damage (or maybe some other gem?)
Any 5-link: Smite - Faster Attacks - Fortify - Curse On Hit - Vulnerability
This is your main attack skill. However, your goal isn't to pump out DPS with this guy. Instead you're:
1. Providing an aura
2. Cursing enemies
3. Charging up War Banner with occasional killing blows
4. Directing your minions
5. Aggroing away from your minions
6. Fortifying yourself
If you're using Leap Slam + Fortify as movement, obviously you'll want to swap Fortify with something else or just use the socket elsewhere.
Any 3-link: Cast When Damage Taken - Spirit Offering - Desecrate
This is your ES dynamo that contributes heavily to your phat tankiness while boosting minion damage and survivability. Keep your CWDT at level 1, and your Spirit Offering will pop off extremely often and replenish your ES (as well as your minions'). Desecrate ensures that corpses are plentiful during boss fights, but may not be 100% necessary. It's also possible to throw Immortal Call or Increased Duration in here.
I've seen builds use this combo before, but always with a skinny Witch with a small health pool. In this case we get a lot more out of it with our decent health pool. The changes to ascendancies in 3.8 have buffed this combo as well.
Any 4-link: Summon Carrion Golem - Minion Damage - Vaal Summon Skeletons - Unleash
This is very much in flux, and I may add Minion Speed if I decide to upgrade my staff to a 5-link. The idea behind unleash is to be able to "plop" 9 skellies on top of a boss for extra DPS very quickly. The vaal portion is just candy.
I toyed with using SRS + totem for a while, but skellies + unleash felt better. It would also be possible to link carrion golem with summon phantasm to get a nice phantasm generator, maybe in a completely different link set. Lots of options.
Auras (Place Anywhere):
* War Banner
Given our Ascendancies, every aura is a buff to our undead warriors. These guys plus Smite provide 6 auras, bestowing physical damage reduction and attack speed along with their normal buffs. Obviously precision doesn't do much for us, but it's a cheap extra aura and is still relevant for your minions.
Ideally your attack will be powerful enough to land occasional killing blows to charge up War Banner, useful for bursting down bosses.
Clarity and precision should be kept at a reasonable level, depending on your current mana supply, to allow you to use your attack and movement skills and possibly to emergency summon fallen zombies.
* Flame Dash
Convocation is necessary for the occasional precision placement, boss moshpit, or bringing your minions over gaps.
I'm lazy and don't care much about zoom-zoom, so I have picked up using a naked Flame Dash for dodging and teleporting purposes. It casts instantly basically as long as it's not chained and is suitable for my needs. You may feel differently.
It's not rocket-surgery. Run around Smite-Cursing your enemies while your minions follow and generally attack what you're attacking (no need for those fancy new minion behavior gems). Occasionally dump your army on top of tough yellows or bosses with convocation.
If you do get scared to get close (or you're lazy, or in the case of area denial stuff), remember that you can shift-click Smite to attack in place and the smite bolt will land near your mouse even if you're not in melee range. You have some pseudo-range with this skill (like all decent melee skills should).
Remember that you are especially tanky. I wouldn't recommend face-tanking a slam on purpose or anything, but don't be afraid to get in there and let your spirit offering pop like a box of firecrackers on new year's eve while diverting aggro away from your army. It's a little nuts how much punishment you can take.
That being said, DoTs don't trigger your spirit offering, so be careful, especially around poison and chaos DoT.
Plop your skellies on top of tough enemies and bosses, or to leave them defending a branch during a blight encounter. Or use your SRS totem if you're into that. Or your skelly totem maybe? The world is your oyster.
Vaal skellies is always a party, highly recommended.
Don't forget to use War Banner on bosses. Or don't. So far it hasn't been very necessary, but it's fun to watch your army take a caffeine hit.
Anyway, thanks for coming to my TED talk. Hopefully this was helpful to someone or at least entertaining. Again, feedback appreciated.
Last edited by wheffle on Sep 16, 2019, 8:14:26 PM
Last bumped on Sep 25, 2019, 12:55:36 AM
on Sep 16, 2019, 8:12:43 PM
Howdy, I like your style!
I've been playing around with scion myself, and usually 'waste' leagues avoiding the meta.
With 3.8 changes, my best synergy was looking like a baron block ascendent, but I got distracted, so here is as far as I went: https://pastebin.com/iThvhqAu
Turns out to be reasonably similar to yours!
I also tested phantasms on a super tanky scion. The defences were immense, but the damage just wasn't good enough so tweaked it a bit to look more like: https://pastebin.com/gYrPqR5U
Anyhow, the key difference is more block, so should be easy to try if it appeals.
on Sep 18, 2019, 10:53:21 AM
That actually looks pretty sick, I hadn't thought of going for Gladiator for the sweet block chances. The free blind on hit would be great for defenses as well. And oh man... I forgot about Soulwrest somehow. Do you think it'd work with CWDT Spirit Offering? I might need to try it, could be glorious.
on Sep 18, 2019, 11:39:34 PM
We may be able to max block and spell block without using bone offering. That would free up spirit for insane tankiness.
Self cast gives a lot better stats (higher gem level) and more reliable uptime, which is one reason the phantasms synergise well: your offense is the same button as your defence.
The thing is, your last 10 points of block/spell block are worth so much, if you can't max block and spell block you lose a lot of EHP. I also don't like relying on potions for any stats, so if you're taking the gladiator nodes, I think bone offering is gonna be a must.
The best thing about scion is the tankiness. You can fit in really high max resists plus high dodge chance with vaal grace. The EHP can be like 120K, compared with 'super tanky' builds that have 50K EHP. I think the secret sauce will be the new femur of the saints: 10% block chance, 6% life regen, 120% mana regen from your damage dealing item!!
on Sep 19, 2019, 9:00:26 AM
Your passive skill tree links are not working.
on Sep 21, 2019, 9:15:48 PM
Just Highlight the link Copy and paste it into the search bar .
on Sep 23, 2019, 6:38:37 AM
on Sep 25, 2019, 12:55:36 AM