[3.21] ShakCentral's Cold DoT Elementalist For Everyone

Welcome everyone! This guide covers the overview, leveling, and endgame concepts for playing a Cold Damage over Time (DoT) Elementalist, including a Path of Building import for reference and advanced information. 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!

3.21 Update:

❄️ The big overhaul is obvious to long-time Cold DoT players - we're an Elementalist now! There are a number of reasons, but the main point is that Elementalist is better for the average player. Occultist and Trickster are viable as always.

I've done my best to capture all of the changes in this guide and PoB, but I'm far from perfect. Please let me know in my Discord if/when I missed anything.

❄️ The other big change is in my own investment into the build guide. For anyone who doesn't know, I'm now working in game development for a VR studio. Between my job and my family I'm still playing a lot of PoE, but I have less time for guide work overall. I'm doing my best to keep this as updated as possible, but please understand that updates will be slightly slower than they have been in the past. Thanks!



Table Of Contents

❄️ About the Author
❄️ 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

❄️ 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



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.

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


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 link above and simulate your entire build.

❄️ 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.

Armour & Evasion: Armour mitigates physical damage from hits, while Evasion gives a chance to avoid attacks entirely. Combining these defensive layers means that we take hits less often, and when we do get hit the damage is mitigated.

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. 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 specific game mechanic and have both a benefit and downside. Past Occultist versions have used as many as 7 keystones, but the 3.21 Elementalist version uses 0 by default. The only Keystone I would consider in this version is:

Ghost Dance: 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 spellcaster. The Elementalist ascendancy provides massive DPS increases due to Shaper of Storms and Mastermind of Discord, an self-adapting boost to either single target damage or clearspeed from Heart of Destruction, and both reflect immunity and a nice defensive layer from Bastion of Elements.

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.

One of the strengths of the Elementalist version is its lack of a transition period in the build. You simply progress the skill tree as normal and continue crafting and equipping items which complement the main build concepts. There are many ways to upgrade the endgame build and most items are not mandatory, giving experienced players leeway for preference.

Playstyle: Mapping is simple and smooth, with Vortex cast automatically and Creeping Frost picking off stragglers. For single target, we have 3 damaging skills, and keeping up a rotation of curses via Bane and Frost Bomb for exposure will take down bosses in short order.

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)
❄️ Increased Effect of Non-Damaging Ailments
❄️ Spell damage
❄️ Cold Damage
❄️ Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
❄️ Damage over Time
❄️ Damage over Time Multiplier

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

❄️ Life
❄️ Life Recovery on Block and/or Kill
❄️ Life Regeneration
❄️ +% Maximum Elemental Resistance(s)
❄️ Chaos Resistance
❄️ Elemental Flasks (Ruby / Sapphire / Topaz)
❄️ Chill Effect
❄️ Armour / Evasion
❄️ 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")
❄️ Ailment Damage or Increased Effect of Damaging Ailments
❄️ Damage (or Cold Damage) with Hits



General Leveling

The PoB has 5 leveling trees, listed 2 Acts at a time. The leveling process is extremely simple:
❄️ Early in Act 1 you'll level with Stormblast Mine and Frost Bomb.
❄️ At lvl 12 you'll start leveling Creeping Frost and can use it for clear if desired.
❄️ At 16 you get Cold Snap and can clear with Cold DoT at this point, using Stormblast Mine to supplement DPS for bosses.
❄️ After getting a 4L and Vortex at 28, you can transition to exclusive Cold DoT or keep Stormblast to assist with single target.
❄️ Vortex on left click will kill enough for you to just spring through the remaining Acts as fast as you're comfortable going!

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.



Ascendancy Points, Bandit Reward, and Pantheon Choices

Ascendancy Points

Lab 1: Shaper of Storms. 15% more DPS is great for clearing and even better for bossing.

Lab 2: Mastermind of Discord. Super helpful against bosses and preps for the big upgrade in Lab 3.

Lab 3: Heart of Destruction. Massive for Cold DoT; makes our clearing AoE huge and gives us a large DPS boost for bossing.

Lab 4: Bastion of Elements. Reflect immunity and a nice defensive layer for later maps.

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.

Endgame Item Basics

This section briefly describes the endgame equipment options. In general, rolling life is nearly always good.

❄️ Wand: +1 Cold Gems, Cold DoT multi, high spell dmg. The PoB Notes has a detailed method for crafting the endgame wand.

❄️ Shield: Spirit Shield with damage and defenses. Can go more tanky with non-caster shield if desired.

❄️ Body Armour: Armour/Eva base with high defenses.

❄️ Helmet: Eye of Malice is the default. Devouring Diadem can be used, or a rare with standard defenses.

❄️ Boots: Legacy of Fury helps greatly with clear, but any rare with good movespeed and defenses can be used.

❄️ Gloves: Personal preference - Armour/Eva with high defenses or Apothecary's Gloves will both work.

❄️ Amulet: Can roll +1 cold gems and craft effect of non-damaging ailments.

❄️ Ring 1 & 2: Resistances (especially Chaos, cold damage, mana, etc.

❄️ Belt: Leather Belt or Stygian Vise with high life, resists, and armour.

❄️ Jewels: Life, Cold DoT multi, and Cold Damage are the important mods. Watcher's Eye is completely optional but can give a lot of DPS, defense, or both.

Skill Gems and Links

❄️ Body Armour 6L: Vortex - Creeping Frost - Efficacy - Controlled Destruction - Swift Affliction - Hypothermia/Empower

❄️ Helmet: Determination - Grace - Clarity (lvl ~5-7) - Malevolence

❄️ Boots: Bane - Frostbite - Elemental Weakness - Frost Bomb (unlinked)

❄️ Gloves: Vaal Cold Snap - Bonechill - Swift Affliction - Hypothermia

❄️ Wand: Shield Charge - Faster Attacks - Flame Dash/Frostblink

❄️ Shield: Cast When Damage Taken (lvl 1) - Molten Shell (lvl 10) - Free slot (Golem or any other desired gem)

Cold DoT For Everyone: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2661120
Last edited by ShakCentral on Apr 4, 2023, 1:21:50 PM
Last bumped on May 20, 2024, 3:10:01 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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