[3.12] THE SHARD STORM, Cold Snap / Ice Spear Occultist Build (Algor Mortis)

Cold Snap & Ice Spear

Update for 3.12
I'm not dead and neither is this build! I didn't play this build much last patch so I never really got around to updating the guide, but I should be playing it more in Heist so I'll try and update it soon.

In general this build has only gotten buffed, as some of the Heist replicas have really beneficial alternate stats for the build (such as the Archmage support that adds both Cold and Lightning damage to spells), and the new Unique amulet The Ephemeral Bond that has everything this build wants (mana regen, crit multiplier, and added lightning damage per power charge). Not sure if it's better than Choir of the Storm, but I think both will be strong options about on par with each other. I haven't tested or crunched any numbers yet, but it's also possible that the Pinpoint support will end up just being better for Ice Spear than Greater Multiple Projectiles, but that remains to be seen. Lightning Rune is also an interesting new skill, but one of the advantages of this build is the hit-and-run playstyle and so I'm not sold on it's usefulness

I didn't really dive into it much in the 3.11 short update but Thunderus Salvos being moved to the Skill Tree was a great help, as it now frees up the amulet enchantment for Crusader in order to take advantage of Transfiguration of Mind, or just Heartseeker for more crit multiplier.

Update for 3.11
So the good news is that we're mostly unscathed. Archmage support was nerfed at high gem levels, but not massively so that's fine. Fevered Mind was also nerfed, but I never used it in the build (even though I possibly should) so that's fine too. The good news is that Choir of the Storm was seriously buffed, as the internal cooldown for triggering it has gone from 0.5 to 0.2, which is quite relevent due to the rapid-fire and high crit nature of Ice Spear. Additionally some of the Notables added to the skill tree in 3.11 will be quite good, so overall the effectiveness of the build should actually improve a bunch. Going forward the biggest hurdle will be Algor Mortis becoming harder to get and most likely more expensive, but with it being an off meta unique it shouldn't be that expensive.

Right now the PoB is out of date, but once I'm able too I'll figure out the new tree and paste the link here. There shouldn't be too many changes, but now that Thunderous Salvos is on the tree rather than blight oil exclusive I will try to work that in, as well as testing out the new increased mana cost and spell damage nodes.


Cold Snap has been a long time favorite skill of mine, and because of that I’ve tried to make it work in several leagues, but it never really got off the ground. I had all but given up on the idea, until 3.10 and came around and introduced two things that made me want to give it another try; a combination that solved Cold Snap’s charge generation/cooldown problem (Archmage Support + Forbidden Power), and a brand spanking new Unique that encouraged using chilling areas.

With the introduction of Archmage Support and its interaction with the Occultist’s passive skill Forbidden Power, generating Power Charges to use with Cold Snap’s Winter Bounty threshold gem is something that just happens automatically, so no more fishing for charges with the skill’s own passive! And when combined with Algor Mortis, the added lightning damage from the Archamage Support is increased by the chilling areas made by Cold Snap! So with this combo in tow, I set off to make a build all around it.

...And it didn’t work.

Sadly something was missing, and that was single target DPS. The build was working as intended, but killing bosses was an absolute chore. So I went back to the drawing board and dug up another long ignored cold skill, Ice Spear. I slapped the Archmage Support and an Unleash Support onto that, moved Cold Snap into a supporting roll, and I’ve been blasting and shattering everything in my path ever since.

How It Functions

With the Occultist Ascendancy passive Forbidden Power, we gain a power charge for every 200 mana spent. When socketed with the Winter’s Bounty threshold jewel, Cold Snap’s cooldown can be bypassed by spending a power charge. Therefore all we need to do is make Cold Snap cost 200 or more mana, which Archmage Support helps us accomplish.

Due to how this build evolved, we’re no longer using the support on Cold Snap directly, but the principle is the same. By casting Archmage supported Ice Spears, and the always expensive Arcane Cloak, we can maintain a steady supply of power charges to fuel Cold Snap with.

With Algor Mortis thrown into the mix, Cold snap should be used to create chilling ground under our enemies, before pelting them with a barrage of lightning charged Ice Spears for large chunks of damage.


+ Get to use unloved off-meta skills

+ Use a neat new Unique, Algor Mortis

+ High single target ranged DPS

+ Fast AoE trash clear with Cold Snap

+ Relatively safe due to Arcane cloak, a high freeze and chill chance, and the free Sap that comes from our chilling areas

+ Due to the Frigid Wake Occultist Ascendancy node, we're immune to chills and freezes

+ Normally chaos damage isn't a problem due to The Ivory Tower and all of our mana

+ It's quite intereactive, which is a plus for me after playing a lot of "one button builds"

+ With how the spells look, gameplay is quite clear and easy to see, unlike other builds which can become particle effect bonanzas and thus end up hiding important info


- Enemies getting close to you is real bad, gimps our DPS by quite a bit

- Ice Spear takes some getting used to, and because of the travel time you really need to lead your targets well if you want to hit most of the projectiles

- Can’t do Ele reflect maps (but then again what normal elemental build can?)

- Need to pay attention to mana, since it doubles as both damage and survivability

- Not the cheapest of builds, probably not a league starter

- Due to chaos damage being taken from our mana pool, if you’re not careful high spikes of damage will wipe out your mana pool and leave you vulnerable with no mana to cast skills.

- If mtx skill effects are the sort of things you need, there basically arn't any for this build, so you're stuck with the default appearances (Ice Spear and Cold Snap each only have a single one, and lets be honest they're kinda sub-par compared to effects other skills have)


Just the one video for now, I'm working on some more.

Tier 14 Map clear + fight with Crusader

Skill Tree/PoB

Here’s the Path of Building link. I may update this and tweak it as I fiddle with it. Also be aware that the empty gem slot in the center is only empty on PoB and is actually holding


A Note on Historic Jewels

In terms of luxury items, Militant Faith is a nice historic jewel to have if you can find a good one. If you are looking to get one, "#### new faithful converted by High Templar Dominus" is the desired version because of Inner Conviction, but in all honesty the possible passives are the real reason to get it. For those who haven't used a Militant Faith jewel before, all the passives in a large radius around the jewel slot gain an added property of +5 or +10 Devotion, which then effects how much benefit you get off the Implicit modifiers on the jewel. There are a variety of possible modifiers, and while some are useless to us or downright detrimental, most all of them are wonderful bonuses. The ones to look for are Regenerate 0.6 Mana per Second per 10 Devotion, 4% increased Elemental Damage per 10 Devotion, +2% to all Elemental Resistances per 10 Devotion, 3% increased Effect of non-Damaging Ailments on Enemies per 10 Devotion, and 4% increased Area Damage per 10 Devotion.

(A side note on the other versions of this- As you can see I have the High Templar Avarius version, which grants the passive Power of Purpose; a skill that converts 80% of maximum mana to twice that much armor. The key word there is converts. When I got this I misunderstood how it would work, thinking it would just give a nice large passive bonus to our armor due to all of our mana stacking. But no, instead it straight up removes 80% of our mana to grant the armor bonus, so it's just detrimental to the build.

Gem links

Ice Spear - Archmage - Unleash - Lesser/Greater Multiple Projectiles - Increased Critical Damage - Awakened Chain

Our main bread and butter damage spell. Due to the unleash support and how mana hungry this is, it’s sometimes advantageous to have a bit of a breather between casts. In an ideal world we would put a Mana Leech gem on here, but doing so really hurts our setup. As silly as it since Ice Spear already pierces, the Pierce gem lets the first stage projectile pass through enemies if they're too close, which is insanely useful.

Cold Snap - Bonechill - Efficacy - Empower

With Algor Mortis as part of the build, Cold Snap should be mostly used to buff the damage of Ice Spear or to slow enemies down, but when clearing trash it's often faster to just spam Cold Snap. As a note, I'm not absolutely sure that Empower is the right choice for the fourth slot, but it's what I'm using for now.

Arcane Cloak - Second Wind - Frostblink

Because both of the active skills here are instant cast, neither get a second charge from the support gem, but the cooldown reduction is nice. Be advised when using Arcane Cloak to make sure you have as close to full mana as possible, and be ready to mana flask afterwards so you don't empty your mana pool completely.

Discipline - Blood Magic - Enlighten

This setup is used as a boost to our Energy Shield while not taking up any of our precious precious mana. With the Enlighten support gem attached to it at lvl 2, the gem neatly reserves 65% of our life, placing us at just the right percentage of life to count as "Low on Life" and benefit from the Pain Attunment keystone. And the best part is that since we're using The Ivory Tower, we actually overall gain survievability rather then just trading that reserved health for ES!

Ice Nova (lvl 11) - Cast When Damage Taken (lvl 6) - Elemental Proliferation - Vaal Ice Nova

This gem link setup is probably not necessary, but I’ve liked using it. Being a lower level, only the regular Ice Nova triggers off damage, which acts as a nice AoE freeze to stop enemies who are right on top of you. The Vaal Ice Nova is here just as an extra AoE clearing tool, and can rack up some mean damage numbers if fired off in a large cluster of enemies.


This is here just because we’re massive mana hogs, so every last bit of regen is needed. The reservation amount is quite low tho, so there's no reason not to just use it as normal.

Stone Golem - Meat Shield

Another survivability measure. The regen granted by the golem is nice, and so is the AoE taunt.

Gear Choices

Part of the backbone of this build; Winter's Bounty is one of the key reasons that this works at all. The good news is that it's a cheap jewel to get!

Algor Mortis is important, as it both buffs our damage and reduces enemy damage output.

This is basically 100% mandatory. Lavianga's Spirit recovers a lot of mana, and when it's active spells don't cost mana, so it lets us spam Ice Spear and still regain our mana pool
(Edit: It's possible that while active Ice Spear looses the effectiveness of Archmage support, due to the spell costing zero mana. I haven't confirmed that yet though, so I'll update this when I know more.)
(Edit 2: So it seems that while active the damage bonus of Archmage is indeed lost, but that loss of damage is made up for by the ability to spam Ice Spear as fast as possible, so I still recommend it)

The Sorrow of the Divine is an extremely useful health and energy shield potion. Enough said.

Choir of the Storm is a nice DPS boost, due to Ice Spear gaining a ridonculous 600% increased Critical Strike Chance in the second form. It's not required, but it is highly recommended.

Now I'm not using this one, because I felt with my current gear I needed something in this slot to make me more survivable, but The Tempest's Binding and The Tempest's Libation are good choices for a helmet (if you don't mind being followed around by a ghost of the Blue Man Group). If you do end up using one of them, place the Cold Snap 4-link into it for the Ice Bite and Innervate bonuses.

Crown of the Inward Eye is a good way to gain access to Transfiguration of Mind if you don't want to spend a blight enchantment on it, so it gets a shout out here. I'd still recommend just anointing your amulet with Crusader in order to get Transfiguration of Mind and free up your head for something else, but the option is there for you if you'd prefer.

The Ivory Tower is a useful choice because it let us use Discipline without reserving mana, but I suppose the build could function without it.
(Edit: I am now considering this mandatory if you plan to go far into the endgame. It just offers so much protection and allows us to use Pain attunement effectively. It's also stylish as hell and as we all know you can't fight monsters if you ain't cute)

This isn't 100% necessary either, but the global +2 to Level of all Cold Spell Skill Gems on Taryn's Shiver is nice considering how many we use. It's also a cheap weapon compared to some of the other alternatives.

Speaking of alternatives, Shimmeron is a strong choice of weapon, especially now that I've altered the gem setup so that we don't need another 4-link. If you can offset the damage dealt by having Power Charges and constantly critting, this makes for a strong DPS boost and a nearly (if not over) 100% crit rate for Ice Spear in the second form.

This is here as a potential option if you want to be a bit spicy and mix things up. The passives on Tulfal means that you'll never be on full power charges, but in a combat scenario we cycle through charges so fast it won't terribly matter. I will advise that you run this with an amulet besides Choir of the Storm, because the inability to stay at max charges means that you'll be unable to maintain the absurdly high crit chance you would otherwise be at. Although with that in mind the potential 45% cold damage increase from 3 frenzy charges is kinda lackluster...
You know what forget I said anything- don't run this. Unless maybe you want to run it with Shimmeron in your other hand? That might make it worth it. I'll have to run some tests.

Void Battery is another strong choice for DPS due to our usage of Power Charges, but the build can be strong enough on its own so it's not required if you can't get one.

If you've got the currency for it Call of the Brotherhood is a nice choice for a ring, but is quite pricey (hence why I don't own one to link right now)

While on the subject of rings, Lori's Lantern is a nice ring for leveling, and can be nice when combined with Discipline/Blood Magic. At higher levels well forged rare rings are likely to be better, but until then it's an okay choice if you find one.

And now for the Items that seem like they'd be good but aren't recommended with how the build works right now.

First up is Indigon. When I originally brewed up this build and started messing around with it I tried using it as an additional source of mana scaling that would compliment the Archmage support gem. While it could work in theory, in practice it leads to gigantic mana problems and a kind of feast or famine playstyle that ends up being dangerous if you can't cast spells when you really really need to Frostblink away.

Since we're all about Power Charges and mana, The Aylardex looks good at first glance. Gaining mana regen and a pseudo Mind Over Matter effect based on the number of Power Charges are both great things, but the reduced crit chance is just devastating to the build's damage, so this is a no go.

In a similar vein, Marylene's Fallacy is a nice amulet that has appealing bonuses, but once again the crit chance reduction is a real downside. However unlike The Aylardex, the loss of crit chance here is made up for in terms of DPS by the multiplier increase, and ends up being about neutral in terms of damage. However being net neutral isn't really a benefit, and so I'd recommend Choir of the Storm or a well crafted rare amulet instead.

This one is just here because it's a fun ring but not terribly useful. Mark of the Shaper can be fun to run if you've got it and have an excess of elemental resists so you can waste a slot, but overall not recommended beyond "hehe volatile anomaly go brrrrrr"

Bandits, Enchants, and Clusters

Bandit Choice

I’d recommend Alira because it gives us everything that we want; mana regen and crit multiplier. The elemental resistances are a nice bonus as well. Choosing to kill them all for the two passive points is okay too, but it really doesn't give the same amount of value as Alira.


Labyrinth Enchants

For gloves the desired enchantment is Commandment of Spite, but any of the Spite enchants will do. The higher level ones deal more damage, but the real reason to get it is for the chilling ground, which is the same for all levels of the enchantment.

For the helmet, Ice Spear fires an additional Projectile is the largest bonus to DPS, followed by 300% increased Ice Spear Critical Strike Chance in second form. However, while it won’t show up as a boost on PoB and the like, Ice Spear travels 30% reduced distance before changing forms can actually be the largest DPS increase, due to the ability to hit enemies with the second stage at a closer range. Any of these three are fine, but i’d most likely recommend the distance enchantment because it’s a large quality of life change.

Blight Oils

Now that Thunderous Salvos has been moved to the base skill tree, we're free to take Crusader as our amulet enchantment. With the mana investment that this build has it ends up being about a 60% or so global damage buff, which is nothing to scoff at.

Other good (and cheaper) choices include Heartseeker, Doom Cast, and Storm Weaver.

Cluster Jewel Notables

There's such a large variety and so much randomness that it's hard to rank these or to say any of these are required. Instead I'll just list off and describe some useful notables that you should keep an eye out for.

Clarity of Purpose
15% increased maximum Mana
30% increased Mana Regeneration Rate

Cold Conduction
Enemies Chilled by your Hits are Shocked
Enemies Shocked by your Hits are Chilled

Cold-Blooded Killer
20% increased Cold Damage
Recover 2% of Life on Kill

Corrosive Elements
Fire Skills have a 25% chance to apply Fire Exposure on Hit
Cold Skills have a 25% chance to apply Cold Exposure on Hit
Lightning Skills have a 25% chance to apply Lightning Exposure on Hit
15% increased Elemental Damage

Disorienting Display
25% increased Elemental Damage
10% chance to Blind nearby Enemies when you use an Elemental Skill

8% increased maximum Mana
5% increased Intelligence

Inspired Oppression
10% increased Effect of Non-Damaging Ailments
20% increased Elemental Damage
30% increased Mana Regeneration Rate if you have Frozen an Enemy Recently
30% increased Mana Regeneration Rate if you have Shocked an Enemy Recently

+30 to maximum Mana
20% increased maximum Mana

30% increased Lightning Damage
30% increased Effect of Shock
Your Shocks can increase Damage taken by up to a maximum of 60%

Prismatic Heart
30% increased Elemental Damage
+10% to all Elemental Resistances

+13% to Chaos Resistance
Regenerate 1.2% of Life per second
Regenerate 0.6% of Energy Shield per second
Regenerate 0.3% of Mana per second

15% increased Elemental Damage if you've Chilled an Enemy Recently
25% increased Elemental Damage if you've Shocked an Enemy Recently
20% increased Elemental Damage if you've Ignited an Enemy Recently

Scintillating Idea
20% increased maximum Mana
Damage Penetrates 5% Lightning Resistance

Seal Mender
Skills Supported by Unleash have 30% increased Seal gain frequency

Gain 10% of Lightning Damage as Extra Cold Damage against Chilled Enemies

10% chance to gain a Power Charge when you Shock a Chilled Enemy
25% increased Cold Damage with Hits against Shocked Enemies
25% increased Lightning Damage with Hits against Chilled Enemies

20% increased Lightning Damage
30% increased Critical Strike Chance
Your Critical Strikes Knock Back Shocked Enemies

Will Shaper
Gain 5% of Maximum Mana as Extra Maximum Energy Shield

Leveling Guide

Lvls 1-30 (40 points)

For these levels most points will be going to general utility nodes like Life and Mana nodes. Nothing really fun is available early so there's not much to talk about, but you should prioritize the socket to the lower left of the starting area. Besides sockets being just generally useful, it gives you the option of using the Winter's Bounty jewel and Cold Snap to level with when it becomes available at level 16. Power Charges arn't something that you'll be able to generate at-will yet, but the passive chance to gain a charge when an enemy dies in the AoE makes it somewhat self sustaining; just make sure you have another skill to use in case you run out.

The only other interesting node worth talking about is Dynamo, as Arcane Cloak becomes available at level 16 as well. Your mana pool won't be crazy big yet, but AC is still useful and Dynamo makes it much easier to use.

Additionally at this point we haven't taken any damage specific nodes, so if you wanted to you can use fire skills to level with for now. If you're interested in this build enough to try it I'd imagine you'd prefer to be using Ice Spear and Cold Snap to level with, but feel free to use whatever you feel is faster.


Lvls 31-60 (80 points)

Here's where the fun begins. At level 31 the Archmage Support becomes available, so the primary tool of the build is finally in play. Mana nodes are now directly tied to your damage (and surviveability thanks to Arcane Cloak), so when possible prioritize those.

Unleash Support is available at level 38, so whenever you start using it you should take Thunderous Salvos and the nodes leading to it.

The Ivory Tower is a ways off though, so there's no need to take Pain Attunement and Arcane Vision just yet. On that subject, I would reccomend that you dont link Blood Magic to your Vaal Discipline gem just yet. You can if you feel surviveable enough, but otherwise you're trading your Life for ES at most likely a deficit.

Lvls 61-100 (121 points)

You've reached the endgame! Congratulations! Now just work on filling out the parts of the tree that you haven't taken yet, and once you get your Ivory Tower take the nodes on the right side like Pain Attunement and Arcane Vision that synergize with it.

I didn't mention it before but if you get your hands on a good Cluster Jewel free free to prioritize those nodes, and the same goes for if you manage to get an early Historic Jewel or Watcher's Eye.

I'll post the PoB link here again but this is just the same 121 as the Still Tree section way above.

Ascendancy Passives

The first passive you want to get is Forbidden Power, as it's kinda the backbone of this build. Early on you won't be guaranteed to get a power charge each cast of Cold Snap, but it's still a useful passive to have.

After that the priority is up to you. I would recommend going for Frigid Wake as soon as possible because immunity to freeze is insanely useful, but the ES regen provided by Vile Bastion is also really good so I think it's a choice you have to make yourself.


This is my first ever build guide, so I hope you all liked it! Let me know if you have any comments or suggestions!
Last edited by DireLuck on Oct 9, 2020, 12:36:17 AM
Last bumped on Oct 22, 2020, 1:00:11 PM
Super cool and interesting ! Thanks for sharing :-)
Any chance you got some video of the build in action ?
Not yet, but that is something I'm working on doing. I should have more free time in the next few weeks so hopefully then I can record and edit something. And thanks for checking this out! :)
Definitely need a vid to see the playstyle.

But nice build, always love a true selfcast witch.
Last edited by Dudekroc on May 27, 2020, 3:27:39 PM
Good news! I've edited and uploaded a short video of a map clear and boss fight to show how the build plays. Right now I'm working on a video of the final Redeemer fight, so that'll be uploaded soon. Let me know if I should be doing specific things in the videos to show off the build better.
Last edited by DireLuck on May 29, 2020, 9:47:58 PM
Okay so just a short disclaimer/update note-

Some of the stuff in the build right now is sub-optimal, and I'm working on updating the guide. The main problem was my misunderstanding of Mind over Matter, and how it doesn't reduce damage taken to energy shield. Because of that I was greatly overestimating our survivability, and didn't allocate skill points so great. Long story short, I'm dropping MoM and the Curse on Hit support, and transitioning to a Low Life build by putting Clarity on the Blood Magic support gem as well. I will update the guide up top later today.

EDIT: Okay I've finally gone and updated the guide above. It's all up to date (for now)
Last edited by DireLuck on Jun 11, 2020, 2:28:03 PM
Just a quick thoughts for 3.11 before I add it to the main guide:

It seems my first assumptions were wrong, this build isn't terrible as a league starter. The biggest hurdle is both Cold Snap and Ice Spear kinda sucking till later levels, as well as Archmage support not being available till level 31 (and even then it's not great at that low of a level). Just level with Freezing pulse or any cold spell of your choice and swap em out later. Certain BiS items are expensive as ever, but those aren't needed until super late so you can grind the currency with this build yourself instead of having to use a different toon to farm. (But seriously if you want an ideal Watchers Eye be ready to sell one of your kidneys to pay for it)

Overall the changes to the passive tree only helped us; and after some testing I think Dynamo is the amulet anoint of choice. It's a great passive, but located far enough from anything else we take that it's not worth the investment normally.

Also another thing I've come around to is considering The Ivory Tower as somewhat required. The build works without it, but lacking it makes you so fragile that it's not that viable above white tier maps.

Oh! One last thing is that as a weapon choice Tulfall works fine (sorta)! The inability to stay at max power charges is annoying, but generating them is so easy for us that it's not like there's ever a lack of them to spend on Cold Snap. So overall it's fine if you like that playstyle, but if you're doing that then Choir of the Storm probably isn't as good since you won't be constantly at a 90% or more crit chance.
Last edited by DireLuck on Jun 23, 2020, 3:05:21 PM

The guide is very good, can you show the way through levels in the PoB?

LV 1 to 30 "Early Game" 40 pts skill

LV 31 to 60 "Mid Game" 40 pts skill

LV 61 to 99 "Late Game" 40 pts skill

... And the ascension tree

LV 1 2 pts skill
LV 2 2 pts skill
LV 3 2 pts skill
LV 4 2 pts skill

Note: Skill Points.
Sure! I'll make and post a section on leveling with the build soon. That should be easy to do since I've started the league with this build as one of my mains. Just a note untill I do; if you want to level with this the first thirty or so levels with most likely be with Freezing Pulse, since early on it's a much faster Cold skill to level with.
Hey I'm in the process of updating this for 3.12 but for anyone interested the build is almost entirely the same, and should still perform well. Good hunting Exiles!

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