[3.20] ShakCentral's Cold DoT Occultist For Everyone

Welcome everyone! This guide covers the overview, leveling, and endgame concepts for playing a Cold Damage over Time (DoT) Occultist, including a Path of Building import for reference and advanced information. This is the first build in a seven-part series (details in the Introduction below) titled Class Builds For Everyone.

I recommend reading the entire guide, but you can reference the Contents for navigation or use the Intro links to join our Discord and Twitch communities. Thanks for reading!

3.20 Updates:

❄️ The Malediction and Profane Bloom ascendancy nodes have been changed. Malediction has been renamed to Unholy Authority and no longer gives increased Curse effect or the Malediction debuff. It still gives +1 Curse and has inherited the "Your Hexes can affect Hexproof Enemies" from Profane Bloom.

There are no build changes due to this update. You will take slightly more damage from the removal of Malediction, but you don't have to worry about Hexproof enemies anymore.



Table Of Contents

❄️ Getting The Most Out Of This Guide
❄️ Changelog

❄️ About the Author
❄️ Class Builds For Everyone
❄️ Content Links

Build Overview
❄️ Path of Building
❄️ Useful Third-Party Links
❄️ Main Build Mechanics
❄️ Passive Masteries
❄️ Keystone Passives
❄️ Class and Ascendancy, Progression, and Playstyle
❄️ Scaling Damage and Defenses
❄️ Videos

❄️ Leveling Preview
❄️ League-Starting vs Mid-League Leveling

❄️ Ascendancy Points, Bandit Reward, and Pantheon Choices
❄️ How to Convert to Chaos Inoculation
❄️ Endgame Item Basics
❄️ Skill Gems and Links

F.A.Q. and Hardcore Tips
❄️ Frequently Asked Questions
❄️ Hardcore Tips

Getting The Most Out Of This Guide

Regardless of your PoE experience, I recommend reading this guide entirely to understand the build's core concepts before importing the Path of Building.

This guide covers the basics to give you a strong knowledge base. Once you've read it, import the PoB. It has leveling and endgame skill trees, labeled gem links, multiple item sets, and a detailed Notes section that expands on many of the concepts discussed here.


The preview (above "Introduction") displays the current guide version. The most recent forum Changelog is in the spoiler below; same-version PoB changes are listed in the PoB Notes.

Previous changelogs can be viewed here: https://bit.ly/shakcb4e



[ Added ] N/A
[ Changed ] "Skill Gems and Links": SSF - Replaced Grace with Tempest Shield
[ Fixed ] N/A
[ Removed ] SSF - Atziri's Step | Trade - Malevolence



About the Author

I've played PoE since open beta in 2013; I played off-and-on for years, but almost exclusively since 2018. I love helping new players get into the game as smoothly as possible.

I enjoy casters and fondly remember endless Dried Lake farming with pre-nerf Vaal Spark.

Class Builds For Everyone

I'm working on a build guide series that will provide a proven, powerful build for each of the game's classes. The guides are focused on helping newer players, but all seven have been tested and are capable of defeating a wide range of endgame bosses and mapping content.

My goal is for each build to be simple to understand, smooth to progress, and powerful to play. Upcoming guides will be listed below, and you can use the links to join me live for the creation process!

❄️ CB4E Ep. 1 - Intro and Leveling: https://youtu.be/Bd6LWrs28_E

❄️ Other Class Build Forum Guides:

🏹 Toxic Rain Raider For Everyone
🔥 Righteous Fire Trapper Inquisitor For Everyone
🛡️ Shield Crush Slayer For Everyone: Coming soon!
Lightning Trap Saboteur For Everyone: Coming soon!
🪓 Earthshatter Berserker For Everyone: Coming soon!
🩸 Phys DoT Ascendant For Everyone: Coming soon!

Content Links

This guide has grown beyond the forums into a helpful, welcoming community. Find us here:

❄️ Click here to join the Discord! This is the best place to be. We have a large group of skilled players, and updates usually hit Discord first.

❄️ I recently became a Twitch Partner and stream Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday around 9pm EST. Click here to catch me live or see the VODs!

❄️ My YouTube has videos on Cold DoT, crafting, SSF progression, and more.

Build Overview


Forum Guide Covers: PoB Import | Main Build Mechanics | Playstyle Preview | Class and Ascendancy Choices | Scaling Damage and Defense | Videos

Path of Building Covers: PoB Setup & Configuration | 3.19 Updates | Wintertide Brand Mechanics | Flask Suffixes | Punishment Curse and DPS Estimation

Path of Building (PoB)

Reminder: this forum guide contains critical build information that the PoB builds upon. Please fully read the forum guide before moving on to Path of Building.


Useful Third-Party Links

❄️ Path of Building allows you to import the pastebin link above and simulate your entire build in a sandbox environment.

❄️ Craft of Exile is a great tool for looking up item mods and "practice" crafting items.

❄️ PoEDB is a powerful database of everything PoE, from modifiers to league mechanics.

❄️ The PoE Wiki is a great place to gain a broader knowledge about many PoE topics.

❄️ The Trade Site lets you trade almost anything in PoE, whether items or currency.

Main Build Mechanics

Cold Damage: PoE has "ailments" associated with each damage type. Cold Damage can chill and freeze, which are non-damaging Ailments that slow or completely stop enemy action speed respectively.

Damage over Time: DoT builds have high "DPS uptime". They often deal damage while moving, making them especially effective at surviving tough situations.

Energy Shield (ES): As you acquire endgame equipment starting in Acts 9 and 10, you'll begin stacking ES instead of Life. ES functions as an extra health pool on top of your life total. It recharges but is bypassed by Chaos damage unless Shavronne's Wrappings is equipped.

Armour: Armour mitigates physical damage from hits, solving an important defensive need. Endgame equipment will prioritize both Armour and ES.

Evasion (SSF only): The SSF version uses Evasion in conjunction with the Ghost Dance keystone below to achieve an extra layer of defense and recovery. The Evasion gives a chance to avoid attacks and with one or two evasion items you can gain a minor amount of Spell Suppression, which halves incoming spell damage.

Curses: We combine two curses that lower enemy resistances (Frostbite and Elemental Weakness) with increased curse effect from our ascendancy to dramatically increase our single target damage.

Passive Masteries

Passive Masteries are a new type of skill point introduced in patch 3.16. Masteries provide niche build benefits in locations across the passive skill tree.

To select a Mastery skill, you must first allocate a Notable skill in the same cluster. In the Path of Building passive trees, take note of any allocated Masteries as these provide many benefits including a Brand Mastery that grants the main "clearspeed" mechanic of the build. Masteries can be visually identified by the bright circles in the center of skill point clusters.

Keystone Passives

Keystones are skills on the passive skill tree. Most keystones alter a game mechanic and have both a benefit and downside. We use the following Keystones:

Chaos Inoculation (CI): CI is taken in the endgame (Act 10 or in maps) after stacking enough Energy Shield to safely replace your Life total. CI sets your Life to 1, but grants immunity to all Chaos Damage.

Pain Attunement: With Shavronne's Wrappings equipped you can remove CI and take Pain Attunement. While 50+% of your life is reserved, it massively boosts your damage.

Zealot's Oath: ZO applies Life Regeneration to ES instead, giving more sustain to CI builds.

Glancing Blows: GB doubles your block chance but causes you to take some blocked damage. This is playable only in combination with "on block" recovery effects.

Divine Shield: This keystone grants ES Regeneration based on the hit damage prevented by your Armour, but requires Armour stacking to avoid its downside.

Runebinder: Runebinder allows a third Wintertide Brand to be attached to an enemy.

Ghost Dance (SSF only): As long as your Evasion is higher than your ES total, Ghost Dance recovers Energy Shield when you get hit, in an amount similar to the ES-on-kill from the Soul Thief notable.

Class and Ascendancy, Progression, and Playstyle

Class and Ascendancy: The Witch is an excellent caster and the Occultist complements and buffs many build aspects including Cold Damage, Energy Shield, and Curses.

Progression: We level as a generic life-based spellcaster with a high degree of flexibility in early skill gem choices and Cold DoT transition timing.

On reaching maps/endgame, we'll acquire appropriate equipment (See Build Mechanics above and Endgame below) and use our free refund points and/or Orbs of Regret to reallocate skill points to the endgame Chaos Inoculation build.

Players can transition to the most powerful build version after acquiring a Shavronne's Wrappings, ES recovery on block (see Shields in the Endgame section below), and changing Chaos Inoculation to Pain Attunement. There are many ways to upgrade the endgame build and many items are not mandatory, giving experienced players leeway for preference.

Playstyle: Wintertide Brand (WTB) is a fantastic clearing skill once you reach a Brand Mastery, allowing it to auto-jump to new enemies. Non-boss gameplay will mostly be just casting WTB and using Brand Recall to keep clearing.

For bosses, WTB pairs with Vortex and utility gems like Frost Bomb and Bane (for applying curses) to both reduce boss danger and boosting our damage.

Scaling Damage and Defenses

Below are some simple ways to scale the build's damage and defenses. This is not a complete or thorough list; it's a broad overview to assist in decisions for item crafting/trading.

Damage : Here are some of the simplest ways in which you can scale up the build's damage:

❄️ Skill gem levels (Mainly Cold DoT skills and their support gems)
❄️ Spell damage
❄️ Cold Damage
❄️ Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
❄️ Damage over Time
❄️ Damage over Time Multiplier
❄️ Brand Damage

Defense : Here are some of the simplest ways in which you can scale up the build's defenses:

❄️ Energy Shield
❄️ ES Recovery on Block and/or Kill
❄️ ES Regeneration
❄️ ES Recharge Rate and/or Faster Start of Energy Shield Recharge
❄️ +% Maximum Elemental Resistance(s)
❄️ Chaos Resistance (For Low-Life Pain Attunement version)
❄️ Elemental Flasks (Ruby / Sapphire / Topaz)
❄️ Chill Effect
❄️ Armour
❄️ Block Chance
❄️ Ailment Immunity (Ignite, Shock, Poison, Bleed, etc)
❄️ Higher Damage

Mistakes To Avoid : Here are some commonly misunderstood modifiers or skill gem aspects that don't actually scale a Cold DoT build:

❄️ "Adds # to # Cold Damage" (Only works for attacks unless followed by "to Spells")
❄️ Increases to Life if you've taken Chaos Inoculation
❄️ Chaos Resistance (ONLY if you've taken Chaos Inoculation)
❄️ Ailment Damage or Increased Effect of Damaging Ailments
❄️ Damage (or Cold Damage) with Hits
❄️ Area Damage and/or Concentrated Effect for Wintertide Brand


(Hopefully) Coming Soon



Forum Guide Covers: Leveling Preview | League-Starting vs Mid-League Leveling

Path of Building Covers: Vendor Recipes | Gems & Links | Leveling Uniques and Starter Mapping Trade Links |

Leveling Preview

Cold DoT leveling is smooth and safe. The Brand Mastery that allows Brands to jump to new enemies can be taken as early as levels 18-20 and there are strong defensive and damage nodes throughout leveling progression.

League-Starting vs Mid-League Leveling

There are no mandatory leveling uniques for the build. The build also scales well with gem levels, allowing for a tested and smooth league start.

If you have existing currency or items, there are several uniques that make the leveling process even much quicker. These include (but are not limited to) Lifesprig, Spine of the First Claimant, Tabula Rasa, Wanderlust, Goldrim, Bated Breath, and Lochtonial Caress.



Forum Guide Covers: Ascendancy Points, Bandit Reward, and Pantheon Choices | How to Convert to Chaos Inoculation | Equipment and Modifier Basics | Skill Gems and Links

Path of Building Covers: General Endgame Notes | SSF (Chaos Inoculation oriented) | Trade (Low-Life oriented) | Crafting

Ascendancy Points, Bandit Reward, and Pantheon Choices

Ascendancy Points

Lab 1: Vile Bastion. Stun immunity and high ES Regen while leveling.

Lab 2: Void Beacon. -20 Cold Res is fairly low value; Not hugely important to "rush".

Lab 3: Frigid Wake. It's a huge damage boost and gives general utility and Freeze/Chill.

Lab 4: Malediction. +1 Curse; socket Elemental Weakness in your Bane links.

❄️ The Profane Bloom ascendancy is a trap for Cold DoT. We don't scale AoE, so the "pops" don't do much, and curse-on-hit rings aren't effective since Wintertide Brand doesn't hit. In addition, Vile Bastion is our solution to being stunned.

Bandit Reward

Kill all Bandits. 2 points are useful, and the other options don't offer as much.

Pantheon Powers

Click here to learn how to upgrade Pantheons or view the Divine Vessel vendor recipe.

Pantheon Choices:

❄️ Solaris / Lunaris are both great for either single target or mapping respectively.
❄️ Abberath / Garukhan both mitigate ailments (Ignite and Shock respectively).


❄️ Upgrades are character-bound, so don't waste extra Vessels on upgrades you won't use.
❄️ They can freely change in town/hideout. Swapping them can be useful.

How to Convert to Chaos Inoculation

Converting from a life-based leveling build to a Chaos Inoculation mapper seems scary, but it's really easy. The process goes like this:

Step 1: Know your goals

❄️ For your starter wand, you just want 2-4 good damage modifiers. See the Scaling section of the Build Overview for desirable mods.

❄️ For your Body Armour, Helmet, Boots, and Gloves, your primary concern is maximizing Energy Shield totals. Being flexible is important, but if possible you're looking for roughly the following amounts: 300+ ES on Body Armour, 125+ on Helmet, and 80+ on Boots and Gloves. Fill them out with as many resistances and/or attributes as possible.

❄️ Your Rings, Amulet, and Belt are "fixer" items. Once you have most of the items above, figure out what you need these items to do. They can roll a ton of helpful mods such as ES or %ES, resists, attributes, cold damage, Armour, etc. Use these items to fill in the gaps.

❄️ Finally, your Shield is a valuable tool that goes beyond the fixer role. It can roll extremely high ES totals, a large amount of damage, or function as a source of many resists and attributes. View this item as a "super fixer" for initial mapping.

Step 2: Find the right bases

For years I've recommended that players farm the Act 10 Ossuary as they prep for CI. You can find nearly all of the item bases you need to set yourself up for mapping. Because the Ossuary is a giant rectangle, it's easy to farm it in a loop and then hop out of the zone, control+click on the entrance, and make a new instance to farm again.

The following item bases are the best for crafting early mapping items.

Wand: Any base; only looking for good modifiers.

Shield: Titanium or Harmonic Spirit Shield for ES, Archon Kite Shield for Armour/ES hybrid.

Body Armour: Vaal Regalia for ES, Saintly Chainmail for hybrid

Helmet: Hubris Circlet or Mind Cage for ES, Praetor Crown for hybrid.

Boots: Arcanist or Sorcerer Boots for ES, Crusader Boots for hybrid.

Gloves: Arcanist or Sorcerer Gloves for ES, Crusader Gloves for hybrid.

Amulet: Citrine for Str/Dex

Rings: Resist rings if needed, Moonstone otherwise

Belt: Heavy Belt. The early Strength is too valuable to lose.

Step 3: Craft items!

Use whatever means are at your disposal to prepare your items for mapping. If the league mechanic gives good items or currency, start there. If not, Essences are incredible crafting materials. If you don't have other alternatives, Alteration spamming is a legitimate method for making early mapping items. Simply look for a good Energy Shield roll and a high resist.

Step 4: Prepare your skill tree!

Don't forget that you can obtain up to 20 free respec points from quests during Acts 1-10. When converting your tree to CI, start by connecting the entire tree from the right side of the Witch starting nodes. This will anchor your skill tree and allow you to remove most of the Life points without any errors.

Good luck!

Endgame Item Basics

This section briefly describes the endgame equipment for both the SSF and Trade versions.

Actual crafting advice and methods are in the PoB Notes.


❄️ Wand: The PoB Notes has a detailed method for crafting the endgame wand.

❄️ Shield: Shaper or Crusader shield with "Recover 3-5% of Energy Shield when you Block".

❄️ Body Armour: Vaal Regalia with as much ES as you can get.

❄️ Helmet: Rime Gaze.

❄️ Boots: Sin Trek or Armour/Evasion Crusader boots.

❄️ Gloves: Hunter Fingerless Silks or Apothecary's with Cold DoT Multiplier and ES.

❄️ Amulet: "Gap filler" - can roll high ES, attributes, resists, or damage mods.

❄️ Ring 1 & 2: Resistances, mana (if needed) and additional "gap filler" items.

❄️ Belt: Shaper or Crusader Crystal belt with multiple ES modifiers.


❄️ Wand: Buy a +2 gems (+1 Cold / +1 Spell) wand, or see the PoB Notes for a powerful, cheaper alternative.

❄️ Shield: Aegis Aurora.

❄️ Body Armour: Shavronne's Wrappings.

❄️ Helmet: Multiple options. Rime Gaze, Crown of the Inward Eye, or see the PoB crafting section for an expensive (15-25ex) but extremely powerful helmet craft.

❄️ Boots: Armour + ES Two-Toned Boots with high defenses.

❄️ Gloves: Hunter Fingerless Silks or Apothecary's with Cold DoT Multiplier and high ES.

❄️ Amulet: Presence of Chayula or +2 gems (+1 Cold / +1 Int) rare.

❄️ Ring 1: Mark of the Shaper.

❄️ Ring 2: Elder influenced ring with high attributes.

❄️ Belt: Crusader Crystal Belt with 2 ES mods + ES Recovery Rate.

❄️ Jewels: A Large Thread of Hope is nearly-mandatory for Glancing Blows and Divine Shield. Watcher's Eye is completely optional, but can give a lot of DPS, defense, or both.

Skill Gems and Links

❄️ Body Armour 6L: Wintertide Brand - Efficacy - Controlled Destruction - Hypothermia - Bonechill - Inspiration

❄️ Helmet: Vortex - Controlled Destruction - Hypothermia - Swift Affliction

❄️ Boots: Bane - Frostbite - Elemental Weakness - Punishment

❄️ Gloves: Vaal Discipline - Determination - Tempest Shield - Clarity

❄️ Wand: Flame Dash - Arcane Surge - Frost Bomb

❄️ Shield: Brand Recall, Cast When Damage Taken + Molten Shell

❄️ Body Armour 6L: Wintertide Brand - Efficacy - Awakened Controlled Destruction - Awakened Elemental Focus - Empower - Inspiration - (Optional Alternate Gem) Hypothermia

Note: Empower 4 is not mandatory. You can run Hypothermia if needed/wanted until then, or run Hypo in place of Elemental Focus if you want to chill at the cost of a little damage.

❄️ Helmet: Vortex - Controlled Destruction - Bonechill - Swift Affliction

❄️ Boots: Bane - Frostbite - Elemental Weakness - Tempest Shield

❄️ Gloves: Cast When Damage Taken + Molten Shell - Vaal Discipline - Clarity

❄️ Wand: Flame Dash - Arcane Surge - Frost Bomb

❄️ Shield: Arrogance - Defiance Banner - Determination

F.A.Q and Hardcore Tips


Frequently Asked Questions

❄️ This section will be populated as I receive repeated build questions!

Hardcore Tips

If I were to play this build in Hardcore, I would lean even harder into Armour stacking and Molten Shell. I'd be careful about my map modifiers, ensure I was fully ailment immune, and I'd likely run Vaal Cold Snap to gain more defensive passive points from the removal of Brand nodes.

Cold DoT For Everyone: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2661120
Last edited by ShakCentral on Dec 4, 2022, 10:32:52 PM
Last bumped on Mar 28, 2023, 11:12:52 PM
Cold DoT For Everyone: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2661120
Last edited by ShakCentral on Feb 2, 2022, 11:20:49 PM
Cold DoT For Everyone: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2661120
Last edited by ShakCentral on Feb 2, 2022, 11:20:39 PM
Reserved comment for the future.
Cold DoT For Everyone: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2661120
Last edited by ShakCentral on Jan 18, 2022, 12:03:53 AM
Still very legal and very cool :)

Thanks for this, I just found my next league starter I think.
LabRat001 wrote:
Still very legal and very cool :)

Thanks for this, I just found my next league starter I think.

I've played PoE for something like 10 league launches, and starting Vortex is by far my favorite. It's absurdly cheap on day 1, but then you somehow find yourself easily downing Uber Elder like 4 days later..
Cold DoT For Everyone: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2661120
Last edited by ShakCentral on Jan 3, 2020, 3:42:21 PM
Looks like a descent build. Can you use HoI to boost clear speed?
any tip for crafting wands?
used tons of fossils and alters but nerver happened to get cold damage over time multiplier + +1 cold skill gem or spell damage.
Playing this build as a CI until I reach lvl 83 and can transition to low-life as a T16 farmer. Should I be using normal Cold Snap or Vaal Cold Snap? Can't find any playstyle mechanics info with regards to how you play the build. I also don't find myself ever using Tempest Shield, can I swap that out for a Portal gem instead?

thanks for redoing it, looking forward to the finished version! :)

I propose you put in paragraph about how EE stops to work if you have added cold damage on the gear, i think (not entirely sure!) your old guide was missing this.
Personally i didnt know that for the longest time and was always wondering why EE seemed to make things harder, and enemies were always listed with the cold resistance...

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