[3.13] Archmage Blade Vortex Hierophant | 20k EHP 40m DPS | Depth 2000 Delve Tank

This is a strong build, balancing both very high tankiness with very high DPS. As a result its a very strong boss-killer and tank delver. It also has large AoE making it a decent map clearer (including 100% delirious ones). I delved to depth 2000 with this build, and was ranked #1 among all non-zhp delvers in 3.11

3.14 changes: Its All Nerfs

So, BIG nerfs.

1. Dmg effectiveness 25% -> 20%: This is straight up a 20% less dmg nerf.

2. AoE -2 to base radius: With inc AoE taken into account this results in net radius going from 30 -> 27. Big QoL nerf.

3. Base Duration from 5 -> 4 seconds. Which means that without additional investment you'll lose a large amount of dmg uptime (>40%) on 10 blades. One of the changes below is mandatory, and even then you're gonna lose 10-20% dmg uptime depending on how accurate your BV timing is.
* Skip Unnatural Instinct and pickup the entire Potency of Will cluster. This incurs the cost of losing some AoE, and other minor stats.
* Use Unnatural Instinct as normal, but also use a Very Large Radius Thread of Hope in the jewel socket above EE, and use that to grab Potency of Will and Anointed Flesh.
* Use Indigon with BV duration enchant instead of the crit enchant.
If you manage to grab both the duration enchant and Potency of Will then you've negated the duration nerf.

4. Harvest crafting nerfed significantly. This one actually does not hurt this build as much. Most of our power comes from Unique items, and the rare items are by and large non-influenced statsticks with life + mana + resists (or crit multi in case of jewels). Compared to other builds that want multiple influenced mods in each slot, this build is relatively untouched.

Overall, this is still a strong build, but significantly less so than before. I will update the PoBs and the guide in due course, but no promises when its gonna happen.

3.13.1e: Echo Abuse no longer works

Echo abuse and Plume crit, which gave us tons of free damage, have been nerfed mid-league and no longer work (except for still giving free AoE). The echo abuse section below is kept as is for posterity.

Depth 1970 Aul kill
Depth 1500 Azurite 3
AL8 Sirus
Minotaur + Delirium

More videos from other players:
The Feared (Plume crit setup, courtesy u/HecklerCope)
The Feared, 2player HP (Plume crit setup, courtesy u/zZDeathAngelZz)
Juiced T15 100% delirious (HH setup, courtesy u/zZDeathAngelZz)
Depth 2800 Azurite 3 (Plume crit + Anom Archmage freeze setup, courtesy u/HecklerCope)


My character: FarmersVsArchmages

High-end PoB (lv 100): https://pastebin.com/3pHR0yA0 --> 20.0k hp, 42.1m dps, estimate 200ex
Midway PoB (lv 90): https://pastebin.com/GhBG4etp --> 15.3k hp, 14.6m dps, estimate 60ex
Low-end PoB (lv 85): https://pastebin.com/SWmnBCVp --> 11.6k hp, 5.9m dps, estimate 20ex

Absolute starter PoB (lv 69, earliest that this build works): https://pastebin.com/7aTW3KUH -->
7.1k hp, 1.7m dps, price depends on how far after league start: 6-link Pledge + Indigon + 100 chaos approx

List of high-lvl players currently playing this build, so you can check out any variations that people are trying.

List of high-lvl players who played this build in Heist league. Congrats to BAforKM for being rank 1 Hierophant to reach lvl 100 in Heist SC! Also shoutout to both Heist_FlooPy and HecklerCopenhagen for crossing 2000 delve depth.

EXAMPLE GEAR [from my original character]

and 7x of these


This is a hybrid build utilizing all 3 of Life, Mana and ES in our hp pool.

We have Mind over Matter with 60% effect.
* 30% effect from MoM from Cloak of Defiance
* 10% effect from Cloak of Defiance
* 10% effect from Hierophant ascendancy
* 10% effect from Clarity Watcher's Eye

We have tons of Energy Shield from converting Life and Mana to ES
* 20% of Mana -> ES from Hierophant ascendancy
* 10% of Mana -> ES from Clarity Watcher's Eye
* 20% of Life -> ES from Corrupted Soul (Timeless jewel keystone)

So in the high-end PoB, our hp pool consists of 5629 life + 8444 mana + 5960 es = 20033 total. Corrupted Soul + MoM guarantees that any (non-chaos) damage is distributed among all three pools, allowing us to leech life, regenerate mana, and leech ES all at the same time.

We have 4 minimum endurance charges from the Ascendancy. We have decent spell block and small attack block chance from Pledge of Hands, and the tree. We can get a small amount of dodge and spell dodge chance from our boots and pantheon.

We have naturally high mana regen from having high total mana. Life leech is something that we have to invest in: either Anomalous Blade Vortex gem, Doryani's Lesson cluster jewel, Vitality watcher's eye, or Incursion jewellery with lightning leeched as life.

Our big HP pool allows us to use a lv 20 CWDT with lv 20 Immortal Call, which lasts almost 3 seconds due to our investment in skill duration.

If you prefer running a life flask for emergencies, run a mana flask instead. Since with Indigon, Mana flasks get more than double the value (mana recovery + life recovery + burst life heal).


Our damage comes almost entirely from Archmage Support with the help of Indigon. If you're not familiar with Archmage or Indigon I encourage reading the descriptions for those two carefully. One crucial aspect of Archmage is that the damage it provides updates dynamically depending on your current manacost, rather than what you actually spent the last time you cast the spell.

We have Blade Vortex linked to Unleash (with Thunderous Salvos on tree for +1 seals), and also supported by Greater Spell Echo (GSE) from Pledge of Hands. This means when we cast BV once, we get 7 stacks of blades: 1 stack from the cast, 4 from unleash seals (these take no animation time), and 2 from GSE (these do take normal cast animation time x2). For the purposes of this build, we will not be using the last 2 casts from GSE. To do this, simply left click anywhere to move just after casting BV, this will animation cancel the 2 casts from GSE and prevent us from being self-stunned for about a second. So we get 5 stacks of blades every time we cast BV.

The manacost for one BV cast is 1800 (in the high-end version). So upon casting BV once, this procs Indigon giving us 9 Indigon stacks, which raises our manacost temporarily to 9.4k, just under our total unreserved mana of 9.5k, for the next 4 seconds. This 9.4k manacost makes Archmage give massive amounts of flat added lightning damage to our BV blades. We wait 4 seconds for Indigon's effect to wear off, the manacost drops back to 1800 and we immediately recast BV again. We repeat this process throughout the entire map or boss or delve encounter. Each of our BV stacks last 8.25 secs due to the duration clusters we take on the tree, which just about covers two Indigon cycles of 4 secs each. Since we get 5 BV stacks each cast, we should almost always be at the cap of 10 BV stacks.

So, to achieve maximum damage, we need to recast BV precisely X seconds after the last cast, where 4.00 < X < 4.25 .

Failure case 1: If X < 4.00, this means Indigon's effect from the last cast hasnt worn off. So you end up spending the 9.4k manacost, Indigon gets 47 stacks and your manacost zooms to 44k. This causes Archmage to stop working since it only works when manacost < total unreserved mana. This means you do basically zero damage for the next 4 seconds.

Failure case 2: If X > 4.25, this means our BV stacks from the previous cast will expire before the current Indigon cycle is over. So we will drop to 5 BV stacks instead of 10 for some amount of time, depending on how large X is. At 5 BV stacks we do about 35% of the dmg at 10 stacks. Its not good but its nowhere near as bad as Failure case 1. Eg. if you recast 0.50 sec too late, you still only lose out on 0.50 secs of dmg uptime, but if you recast even 0.01 sec too early, you lost out on 4 secs of dmg uptime. So always err on the side of recasting BV too late rather than too early.

To achieve this precise timing I highly recommend using Lutbot overlay.
You can configure it so that theres a 4sec long colored bar overlaid on your screen whenever you press your BV button. Then you can train yourself to recast BV just after the bar runs out. Play with the configs or the script itself to change the position or thickness of the bar.

Example config.

Workaround to make the bars thicker. Open the heavy.ahk file and search for the section called ;Cooldown Overlay. For each of the bars, change them from h10 to h20. And also change the y-offsets to multiples of 20, from y0, y10, y20 ... to y0, y20, y40 ... .

Update: Workaround to use BV on your right-click. Open the settings.ini file in the folder containing the heavy.ahk file. Edit the line with cooldown 1 to:
Example. Make sure to reload the script after making this change.

Besides scaling mana for our Archmage - Indigon combo:
* We heavily scale crit chance and crit multiplier
* Reduce enemy resistances and penetration, including wave of conviction and conductivity + elemental weakness curses
* Increase damage taken by enemy: big shocks, unnerve, bottled faith, and cinderswallow urn

The Hierophant ascendancy also provides 100% increased area of effect. With the help of a few more sources of AoE we achieve a large BV radius of 30 units (36 units if using Echo Abuse). The in-game BV animation unfortunately doesnt represent the real radius accurately. If your BV radius is 33 or higher it will show the outermost blade at 33 radius. If your BV radius is between 28 and 32, it will show the outermost blade at 28 radius.

3.12 update Assassin's Mark is no longer applicable using Awakened Hextouch support. Use Elemental Weakness as your 2nd curse instead, which is a bit lower dps. Manually casting Assassin's Mark on bosses is still an option and is the best for dps.


The minimum needed items for this build are: 6-linked Pledge of Hands, Indigon, Cloak of Defiance, Atziri's Foible and Essence Worm

League start viability: Pledge and Indigon are not available on day 1 of the league, so this cannot be a day 1 league starter. Indigon and Pledge both fall sharply in price over the first week of the league. So once you obtain enough currency to get these two, 6-link your Pledge, and about 100 chaos extra for the other pieces, you can start levelling this build.

I strongly advise not to attempt this build with a 5-link Pledge. While other builds only lose 30-40% dmg from one missing support, this build loses out in three ways: less dmg from missing support, less dmg due to less manacost, and less dmg due to less Indigon stacks.

The earliest that you can equip all the unique gear pieces is lv 69. So before that you need to level with a different build, and once you hit 69 you can do one big respec of tree and gear. PoB for a very basic lv 69 starter: https://pastebin.com/7aTW3KUH. The starter is strong enough to carry you into red maps without having to do any gear upgrades.

Before lv 69, theres isn't any one correct way to level a Templar/Hierophant. Any generic caster levelling build is fine, but if you do choose an archmage/MoM build, you will end up saving a ton on Regrets later. Some basic recommendations: selfcast Arc, selfcast Ball Lightning, Storm Brand (all of the above can be combo-ed with Orb of Storms, and can use Archmage), selfcast Purifying Flame, Arc totems, Freezing Pulse totems, Holy Flame totems.

Ascendancy Order:
This will depend on how you're levelling early, but here's one good plan for archmage style lvling builds:

Lab1: Divine Guidance
Lab2: Conviction of Power
Lab3: Once you've hit lv 69 and ready to switch over to this build, do Lab3 BEFORE switching, grab Sanctuary of Thought, and then respec into this build. This works around the fact that Sanctuary is bad for your lvling archmage build, but crucial for this build.
Lab4: Arcane Blessing


The damage for our build depends very crucially on our pre-Indigon BV mana cost. The way Indigon works, at every multiple of 200 we get a big damage boost due to one more Indigon stack. The ideal endgame breakpoint to hit is 1800 manacost. With 1800 mana spent recently, the math works out so that the post-Indigon manacost rises to 97-99% of your total unreserved mana, which is what we want (remember to divine your Indigon to 60%). We do not ever want to hit the 2000 mana breakpoint since that will very likely put the post-Indigon manacost over our total unreserved mana, and this will cause archmage to stop working.

To hit 1800 manacost, you need roughly 9625 unreserved mana (or 9690 total mana, assuming lv 1 clarity and precision). While you are gearing up you will likely have lower total mana, and will only hit the 1200 or 1400 or 1600 breakpoint instead. This is fine, your damage will be lower but the build still works. But prioritize hitting the next breakpoint if close to it.

Make sure to link all your side skills (Flame Dash, Wave of Conviction etc.) to Blood Magic so that they do not interfere with the Indigon balance, apart from the one exception mentioned below (Vortex, with caveats). This also means using Arcane Cloak in this build is an absolute no-go even though we have so much mana.

What if despite your best efforts you are sitting at a pre-Indigon manacost of say 1720? Read below for how to fudge it to 1800 with the help of Vortex.


Vortex is a very handy way to Chill, Curse and Cull enemies. Since we can put Vortex on our left click it will be automatically casted on cooldown as you click to move. The Curse and Cull are on hit, and only relevant for bosses and tanky rares in deep delve, since everything else dies too quickly. The chill however is pretty useful, especially for delve nodes where we can cover the entire node in chilled ground thanks to our enormous AoE. Theres two cases to consider here.

1. Vortex linked to Blood Magic. This is the simplest option. Assuming Wave of Conviction, Flame Dash etc. are also linked to Blood Magic, this ensures that no other side skills interfere with the Indigon balance. In this case you should level your vortex to 20 (or 21) for lower cooldown.

2. Vortex not linked to Blood Magic. This not only frees up a gem link, but allows us to pad our 'mana spent recently' to the next higher Indigon breakpoint that you could not reach with BV alone. But this imposes two crucial restrictions on the maximum mana you can spend on Vortex.

* Total mana spent on Vortex alone (post-Indigon) in any 4 sec period, should be less than 200
* Total mana spent on Vortex (post-Indigon) in any 4 sec period, plus BV manacost (pre-Indigon), should be less than 2000

If you fail either of the two above conditions you'll find that sometimes your post-Indigon BV manacost goes above your total mana, and you do zero damage. Fortunately since Vortex has a built-in cooldown, this is easy to ensure. For most cases a lv 9 Vortex is safe, but may have to be lower if you have several high multiplier support gems linked to it. If your post-Indigon Vortex manacost is 67 or higher, then you need to de-level Vortex further. Its possible to use a higher level Vortex in certain cases, but only do so if you understand the math behind it, and/or if you manually activate vortex instead of putting it on left click.

Apart from Hextouch + Curses, viable support gems include: Culling Strike (cull bosses at 10% life), Power charge on crit (for power charge generation if you skipped Conviction of Power), Awakened Unbound Ailments (more chill effect), Bonechill (even more chill effect), Blind (useless vs Sirus, ok vs Aul but unreliable), Increased Area of Effect (bigger coverage), Arcane Surge (for an alternate version of the build, frees up a slot in our BV 6-link for Awakened Inc AoE / Conc Effect).


This is a rough priority order in which to get the more expensive upgrades for this build. This order is not set in stone, feel free to deviate from it.

* Glorious Vanity with Corrupted Soul
* MoM effect Watcher's Eye (divining to 10% effect is crucial)
* Unnatural Instinct
* Fertile Catalyst all your jewellery
* Awakened Hextouch Support (note that its useless before it hits lvl 5)
* Bottled Faith
* Awakened Controlled Destruction and Awakened Lightning Penetration
* Cluster Jewel setup (reminder to get flat added fire dmg for Cremator, read FAQ 3 - Ignite)
* Elder/Hunter Stygian Vise with T1 % max life mod
* Indigon with a BV enchantment
* Double mod Watcher's Eye
* Rare amulet to replace Atziri's Foible (will also need Dex rebalancing)
* Unnerve Gloves
* Glorious Vanity divining (for good mods on small passives and possibly a nearby notable).
* Gem corruptions where applicable
* Cloak of Defiance double corruption
* Wise Oak resist rebalancing
* Triple mod Watcher's Eye

Meanwhile in parallel, you should also continually try to get more mana and more life on gear and tree, and more crit multi on jewels. Especially prioritize life over mana, unless you're very close to the next Indigon breakpoint. With 60% MoM, for every 100 life points you gain, you add 250 points to your EHP pool.

ECHO ABUSE [obsolete - does not work]

[UPDATE] This interaction was nerfed mid-league in 3.13, and it DOES NOT WORK any longer. The only thing that works is that it still gives us +100% AoE (+150% if swapping spell echo), but no dmg. This section is kept only for posterity.


This part of the guide details a trick that gives the build 70% more damage, and 100% increased AoE. Makes our DPS hit absurd levels (~70m) and raises BV radius from 32 to 37.

The way Blade Vortex works, when you create the first stack of blades, any attributes from that first cast are now set on your Blade Vortex. Any future casts of BV only add to the stack counter, but do not reset whatever attributes are already set on your BV. This is the reason why Unleash's less damage multiplier, or Greater Spell Echo's more damage multiplier do not normally apply to BV. Because the first cast is neither an "Unleash Reoccurence" nor a "Spell Echo Repeat", your entire BV stack counts as not a Reoccurrence nor a Repeat. Even though some of the later stacks did indeed come from a Reoccurence or a Repeat.

Recall that Pledge's Greater Spell Echo (GSE) gives "35% more damage per Repeat" and "50% increased Area of Effect per Repeat". So what happens when your *first* stack of blades comes from the 2nd Repeat of GSE? You get 70% more damage and 100% increased AoE for your entire stack of BV. Permanently, as long as you never let your BV stacks drop to zero.

So how do we guarantee that our first BV stack comes from the 2nd repeat of GSE? There are several ways. The following is IMO the most reliable and convenient:

* Have Blade Blast linked with High-Impact Mine Support (Blastchain Mine Support works too) in your gem setup.
* At the start of the map (or whenever you enter a new instance) perform this initial setup.
* Cast Blade Blast near your feet, it will lay down a mine. You can also lay down 2-3 mines instead, this may make the timing for the next step somewhat easier.
* Cast your BV, and immediately after (0.2-0.4s later), press your Detonate Mine hotkey. Detonate Mine is an instant skill so it shouldn't interrupt your BV cast followed by your Unleash stacks followed by your GSE repeats. Do not interrupt your GSE repeats by moving like you'd normally do.
* If you got the timing right, you should be left with ONE single stack of BV. Blade Blast should have detonated all your earlier blades away. Your setup is now done, proceed to the last step.
* If you got zero stacks left, you detonated too late. Wait 4 secs for Indigon to reset, and retry the setup again.
* If you got 2 (or more) BV stacks, you detonated too early. In this case, recast Blade Blast followed by detonate to wipe away all your BV stacks, wait 4 secs for Indigon to reset, and retry the setup again.
* Once the setup is done, you can resume your normal cycle of casting BV every 4.25secs as you move through the map. Take special care to not let your BV stacks ever drop to zero, in which case you have to perform the initial setup again.

While all this may sound convoluted at first glance, its really pretty simple with a bit of practice. All it takes is < 10s at the start of a map and then you're set. Its up to you whether to use this trick always or only for big bosses or skip it altogether. Other alternatives for the setup are, using Arcanist Brand with Brand Recall, or freezing yourself.

If you're confident with the above process, you can get even sweatier to abuse this.
more advanced stuff

* You can use Spell Echo Support (any level, any quality, Divergent doesnt matter) during the setup instead of Unleash, then swap it out for Unleash after the setup is done. This does not inherit any dmg multipliers from the Spell Echo gem, but it does make Pledge's repeat bonus give 105% more dmg and 150% AoE (instead of 70% dmg and 100% AoE), since we are now using the 3rd repeat instead of 2nd. This step is effectively a 2.05/1.70 = 1.205 or a FREE 20.5% more dmg multiplier, and a bit more AoE.

* Alternatively, Divergent Spell Echo is a decent support that you can use permanently (no swapping in and out). It give generic 30% less dmg, 60% more dmg for final repeat, and you use the 3rd Repeat instead of the 2nd. The net damage multiplier is: 0.7 * 1.6 * (2.05/1.70) = 1.35, so its a 35% more dmg multiplier combined with 50% increased AoE. It also has a premium 140% manacost multiplier, compared to Arcane Surge's 130%, so its viable to use Div Spell Echo in the main setup, and a lower lvl Arcane Surge in the Vortex (non Blood Magic) setup. This helps in reaching the 1800 breakpoint easier, but otherwise its not that much more dmg than just using Lv 21 Arcane Surge.

* Plume of Pursuit is an unique Helmet that gives guranteed Critical Strikes on Final Repeat. So you can perform the initial setup while using Plume of Pursuit, then take it off and put on your Indigon, and your BV will still retain the property of always dealing Critical Strikes.

* If you do use Plume, Marylene's Fallacy becomes a very good amulet alternative for dps, since it gives a huge 240% to crit multiplier without the downside of less critical chance. It will hovever not provide any mana or life, like Foible or a crafted rare amulet would.

[IMPORTANT] If you're using both Plume swap, and Spell Echo swap, its vital that after the setup, you first swap out Spell Echo, then swap out Plume. If you do it the other way (swap out Plume, then swap out Spell Echo), this will break the guranteed crit and you'll do far less dps.

So the full setup for maximum dps looks like this:
- Wear Marylene's Fallacy (permanently)
- Swap in Plume of Pursuit helmet instead of Indigon
- Swap in Spell Echo support instead of Unleash
- Do the setup with blade blast mine (I've found laying down 2-3 mines really helps here).
- Swap in Unleash instead of Spell Echo
- Swap in Indigon instead of Plume or Pursuit.

Note that this trick will not update the tooltip DPS in-game, or the AoE in the character sheet. Visually, if your BV radius normally was 32 or lower, now you'll notice a slightly larger visual with the outermost blade at 33 units. However if your BV radius was already 33 or higher you'll see no difference visually since BV animation radius seems to be capped at 33 units. But your actual hitbox will indeed increase by roughly 5 units.


Replica Kaom's Heart

Replica Kaom's Heart is very good damage-wise, but unfortunately it does lose out in several other areas compared to Cloak of Defiance.

Replica Kaom's pros:
* +2000 net total mana, so roughly 20% more damage potential, assuming you can balance manacost properly.
* +4-5% more damage from the increased lightning dmg mod
* +800 ES from mana -> ES conversion
* Cheap alternative when you are low levelled and gearing up, to bump your mana cost up a couple breakpoints
* Skipping Vortex entirely allows consistent use of Phase Run

Replica Kaom's cons:
* -10% MoM effect. This 10% effect contributes half your life pool to your ehp, and is thus worth between 1800-2800 depending on your life total
* -400 ES from Cloak's implicit stats
* -6 sockets losing out on all the utility from Vortex, including Curses.
* -1 skill point for having to allocate MoM on tree
* 191 strength requirement which is hard to meet, even with Atziri's Foible discount.

Aul's Uprising

Instead of using Essence Worm to avoid Wrath's mana reservation, one can instead use an Aul's Uprising amulet with 'Wrath reserves no mana' mod. Then we replace Essence Worm with another rare ring with Life + Mana + Elder/Warlord crit multi + resists/attributes etc.

Aul's Uprising has upto 70 life + 50% increased crit chance which Essence worm doesnt have.

Mana and crit mods on rare rings have lower rolls than on amulets (including no incursion %mana mod).

Overall, with a perfectly rolled rare ring as replacement, you get roughly 7% more EHP but 4% less DPS. Its not a clear winner in any sense, but its a variant that you can experiment with.

Asenath's Gentle Touch

Asenath's is an explodey gloves that fits quite well with this build.

* It gives much more consistent corpse removal than Cremator notable
* Even though we do not convert the explodey physical dmg to elemental for easy scaling, it still does significant amounts of dmg in a big AoE (thanks to Transfiguration of Mind, and all our AoE investment)
* It has premium life and mana stats
* Temp Chains on hit is a good defensive curse

* No resists on the gloves, so capping res elsewhere needs a lot more effort
* No dex on the gloves, so meeting dex requirement elsewhere needs a lot more effort
* One less offensive curse since we're using Temp Chains
* No Unnerve on the gloves

With the Cremator medium cluster no longer necessary, the best replacement for that seems to be a Curse Effect cluster with Master of Fear + Evil Eye. That gives a net of 15% increased dmg taken on enemies + Blind.

Algor Mortis

Algor Mortis are some underused gloves from Delirium that apply some very strong debuffs on enemies, making it a strong candidate for boss-killing.

* Enemies in your Chilling Areas take (25-35)% increased Lightning Damage: With our playstyle naturally applying Vortex to chill, this is an enormous amount of damage increase. Assuming you already had roughly 45% increased dmg taken on enemies (10% bottled faith, 10% cinderswallow, 10% unnerve, 15% shock), a further 35% inc dmg taken is a 24% MORE dmg multiplier.
* (20-30)% chance to Sap Enemies in Chilling Areas. While the exact numbers for Sap are not known, it is supposed to have lower thresholds than chill/shock, so its a safe assumption that you're sapping endgame bosses for at least 15%. Which makes this a 17% MORE EHP multiplier.
* Can be cheaply corrupted for a decent implicit (+spell crit, % max life, curse on hit).

* No life on the gloves. Will result in lower EHP against enemies that you haven't Sapped yet.
* No mana on the gloves. Will likely result in you having to settle at the 1600 mana breakpoint instead of 1800.
* No dex on the gloves. So capping dex elsewhere needs a lot more effort.
* Mediocre amount of resists on the gloves.

Replica Shroud of the Lightless

Replica Shroud of the Lightless gives us 6 Abyssal Sockets, making this a good choice if you have the currency to invest in 6 great abyssal jewels. Shoutout to Mondraig who brought this up, his character here.

* Very high added flat life and flat mana totals.
* High additional crit multiplier
* Other utility affixes: phasing on kill, onslaught on kill etc.

* You lose your 10% MoM which is a big loss in EHP, but is almost made up for, by the ~200 flat life from jewels that Cloak didnt have.
* -1 skillpoint for MoM on tree.

Rare Chest Armour

With Harvest crafting available, going for a rare chest is now feasible.

There are 4 high-value prefixes to go for:
* High Life roll
* High Mana roll
* 10% MoM effect (shaper)
* Explodey (crusader)
And some tier 2 prefixes:
* Phys taken as fire/cold/lightning (warlord/redeemer/crusader)
* % Max Mana (shaper)

Which 3 you want to go for is your personal preference. IMO best defensive option is Life + Mana + MoM, and best offensive option is Mana + Explodey + %Mana.

For suffixes, Frenzy charge on hit (redeemer) is by far the highest value, followed by +Spell crit (hunter) or just fill it up with Dex/Resists etc.


1. Fortify

There are a few options for getting the Fortify buff.

* You can have Vigilant Strike - Ancestral Call with Vigil jewel for 30s Fortify, buts its actually hard to land a strike because most enemies die too quickly. Its easy enough on bosses though.

* Instead of attacking yourself, you can use Vigilant Strike - Generals Cry with Vigil jewel which may be more convenient. You need Desecrate to generate corpses in boss encounters (or always, if you shatter/explode corpses) for this to work. Note that against trash mobs the General's Cry warriors often fail to land a hit if you kill its target too quickly.

* Anoint Hardened Scars, and run a Hybrid Flask with either Foreboding or Enduring prefix. Foreboding flask Fortify lasts for full 5 secs, but the life and mana recovery is almost surely wasted. Enduring's downside is that it lasts only 3.5s, but the upside is that the mana recovery (and hence life recovery through Indigon) continues at full mana, and gives you a constant regen-like effect. This however means you have to path to Thunderous Salvos since that node is very crucial for 10 blade uptime.

* Use Leap Slam with Fortify support. Not recommended since our attack speed is pathetic.

* Instead of Vortex as your secondary setup, instead use something like Cyclone - Fortify - Hextouch - Curses. Not very convenient, but if you can get into the rhythm of Cycloning for a second within every Indigon cycle that should keep up Fortify.

2. Block

The standard version gets the following.
* Pledge of Hands gives us 20% spell block because luckily its on the best staff base.
* Whirling Barrier on the way to Counterweight gives us +10/10% block chance
* 5% attack block from Serpent Stance and 8% spell block from Mystic Bulwark

You can augment it with the following.
* Enigmatic Defence cluster for +7/+7% block.
* Rumi's Concoction for +20/+10% block.
* Pathing to Steelwood Stance is an option but I wouldn't recommend it, unless you're forgoing crit for EO and thus have spare points.
If you do all of the above (except for Steelwood Stance), you end up at a respectable 37/55% attack and spell block chance.

3. Sigil of Power

Apart from boosting your manacost, at max stages, enemies within the Sigil area deal 19% less damage (20% less at lv 21). This is equivalent to a 2nd Fortify-like buff in encounters that take place in a fixed area (eg. Aul, Rituals, Delve nodes, various other bossfights including Maven invitations and Sirus to some extent).

* Be careful that casting BV on Sigil does not raise your manacost so much that it bricks your archmage.
* Sigil unfortunately gains only one stage from one spellcast no matter how much mana it costs. It starts with one stage by default, so you need 3 casts of BV to get the debuff on enemies. If you use Anomalous Sigil instead, it has a max stage of 3, so you only need 2 BV casts which takes less than 5 secs to setup.

If you have the sockets, my recommendation would be the following setup:
Anomalous Sigil (lv 21) - Increased Area Support - Intensify Support - Increased Duration Support

4. Freeze

Anomalous Archmage grants a portion of its damage as cold instead of lightning, and with Plume or crit investment, this means you'll freeze every mob you hit and also shatter them (negating the need to get corpse removal elsewhere). This usually came with a big DPS loss, because of 2 reasons:
* Difficulty of scaling both lightning and cold penetration/resist reduction, and
* Losing the normal Archmage quality bonus likely means you have to settle at 1600 breakpoint instead of 1800.

However the introduction of Trinity support in Ritual has helped make up a lot of the difference. Assuming the cold and lightning portions of your dmg are roughly equal in value, this should give resonance of all 3 elements (due to natural dmg variance), thus maxing out Trinity on its own. If you do this, then you need to either replace your Wrath aura with Zealotry, or (my preference) forego Essence Worm altogether and run a 2nd rare ring.

Correctly balancing the two elements might be a bit tricky. I was using a lvl 20, 19 quality Anomalous Archmage but feel free to experiment. Things that can affect the balance:
* Flat lightning damage from Archmage support gem
* Flat lightning damage from Sigil or Power
* Lightning or cold specific scaling on the tree (especially on your cluster jewels)
* Curses that you're using
* Exposure that you're applying
* Enemies having naturally imbalanced resists.

If you want to see all these defensive layers together in action, take a look at my Ritual HC char: Rudy_ManaAddiction.

The character was exceptionally strong for HC and was rank #1 delve on Ritual HC ladder for a long time before I died from not paying attention to zombie degen (through +75 chaos res). The build is a somewhat different version; it skips Indigon (and therefore Sanctuary) to go for a more defensive helmet, since we already get so much damage from Echo Abuse and Plume crit (note that Plume crit has since been nerfed).

FAQS [recommended reading]

FAQ 0 - Is this build hard to play?

I won't deny that this build is harder to play than most other builds, due to the precise timing needed. You'll make mistakes for sure when starting out, but after playing with the timer for 10-20 hrs you get real comfortable with it and make way fewer mistakes. The difficulty of execution is the trade-off for what is otherwise a ridiculously strong build.

But don't let this discourage you from trying the build. Most people seem to agree that the timing becomes second nature to you the longer you play it.

FAQ 1 - Life Leech

Since the shuffle of the Hierophant ascendancy in 3.13 we don't get Life Leech from it anymore by default. Having at least one source of Life Leech is highly recommended especially in bossfights where Cinderswallow recovery doesnt work. If you're just starting out, consider allocating Illuminated Devotion instead of Conviction of Power in the ascendancy. Otherwise choose one of the options below.

* Anomalous Blade Vortex gem
* Doryani's Lesson cluster jewel notable
* Vitality watcher's eye with generic life leech, and a lvl 1 Vitality
* Incursion jewellery with lightning leeched as life

FAQ 2 - Stun Avoidance

Like many other hybrid builds, getting stunned is an issue since our raw life total is very mediocre. Having non-zero ES means 50% of stuns are ignored but the rest go through.

Solution 1, cheapest: Use Brine King major pantheon. You'll get stunned occasionally but never stun-locked.

Solution 2: Get the Boot enchant "80% chance to Avoid being Stunned if you've Killed Recently" and the Cinderswallow version with "50% Chance to avoid being Stunned during Flask Effect", giving us stun immunity while clearing but not while bossing.

Solution 3: Get one of the two above mods, and make up the rest by jewel implicits from Harvest: "10% chance to Avoid being Stunned". You'll need either 2 or 5 such jewels to go with boot enchant or cinderswallow respectively.

Solution 4, expensive but best: Get 10 jewels with the implicit "10% chance to Avoid being Stunned". This gives us permanent stun immunity while leaving both Boot enchant and Cinderswallow free for other mods.

Solution 5 (new in Heist): Get a synthesized boot with Unwavering Stance as implicit. Very convenient permanent stun immunity, but this likely means you have to craft the boot yourself.

FAQ 3 - Ignite

Igniting enemies is an important part of our kit but is very easy to overlook it. The ignite serves two purpose:

1. With Cinderswallow, ignited enemies take 10% increased damage, which is roughly a 7-8% more dps multiplier.
2. With the Cremator notable on a medium cluster jewel, igniting allows us to destroy corpses (primarily to avoid porcupine spikes in maps, and unstable weta cold snap in delve).

Since this is a crit build, all we need to ignite is one source of added flat fire damage. The best sources of this are:

1. Abyss jewel (specifically Hypnotic Eye jewels) with any one of these 3 mods
* Adds # to # Fire Damage to Spells
* Adds # to # Fire Damage to Spells while wielding a Two Handed Weapon
* Gain #% of Physical Damage as Extra Fire Damage if you've dealt a Critical Strike Recently

2. Ring with bench-crafted hybrid damage craft
* Adds # to # Fire Damage, Adds # to # Lightning Damage

3. Elder ring with
* Adds # to # Fire Damage to Spells and Attacks

FAQ 4 - Chaos Resistance

My version of the build has -48% chaos res, but there are several ways to get this up.

If you want to level to 99 or 100 in t16 maps, here are my recommendations:
* Get one or preferably two chaos res suffixes on gear with t1 rolls (easy in 3.11 with harvest crafts).
* Stay on Shakari minor pantheon.
* For Hunter maps, switch to Arakaali major pantheon, and swap Bottled Faith for Atziri's Promise

If you are done levelling, you can get rid of the chaos res suffixes on gear. Even without them its very rare to die to chaos dmg in maps with a good playstyle.

Zombie degen in deep delve is another issue entirely, and its a painful one. Here's some tips:
* With -48 chaos res, switching to Arakaali + Shakari + Atziri's Promise will allow you to do zombies till about 800 depth (move fast and dont linger on the degen).
* If you also have the two chaos res suffixes on your gear still, you can do zombies till about 1400 depth.
* Otherwise just avoid Fungal Caverns biome as far as possible.
* If you must do them, do them very slowly and carefully. As soon as you see a zombie pack up ahead, stop in place, drop a flare, and wait for the zombies to walk to the edge of your BV and die.
* If its a short path (one segment), you can try to not cast BV at all, unmap Vortex from left click, and just Quicksilver + Phase Run to the end node.

FAQ 5 - Pantheons

Pantheons are variable according to situation and personal preference. Some general ideas:

* If not stun immune, use Brine King + Abberath/Shakari
* If stun immune, for general purposes use Lunaris + Abberath/Shakari
* For boss encounters, use Solaris + whichever minor matches the boss best
* For chaos heavy encounters, use Arakaali + Shakari

Remember, pantheons are meant to be changed frequently depending on the encounter you're about to do.

FAQ 6 - Why Pledge of Hands

As stated above in the Offence section, we animation cancel the 2 casts from Greater Spell Echo since we only need 5 BV stacks instead of 7. So the question arises, why use Pledge of Hands at all?

The answer is that Greater Spell Echo carries with itself a fat 150% mana cost multiplier. And our build double dips on that multiplier by getting both 50% more manacost, and 50% more Indigon stacks, resulting in roughly 1.5x * 1.5x = 2.25x damage (not exactly, but thats the general idea).

Besides that, the other two mods on Pledge are also top tier, comparable to or better than t1 flat mana rolls or t1 spell dmg rolls on rare staves.

The closest alternative to Pledge is a rare Shaper 7-link staff with 'supported by lv 1 Arcane Surge', with high tier flat mana, inc spell dmg, and crit suffixes. Then we replace Arcane Surge in our gems with a different high multiplier support gem. Options: Hypothermia (good dmg multiplier, but only 120% manacost multiplier), Awakened Inc Aoe(140% manacost multiplier, but low dmg multiplier), Conc Effect(high manacost and high dmg multiplier, but loss of AoE sucks for clearing, great against bosses though).

FAQ 7 - Watcher's Eye options

The two overall best (defensive) mods are:
* (6-10)% of Damage taken from Mana before Life while affected by Clarity
* Gain (6-10)% of Maximum Mana as Extra Maximum Energy Shield while affected by Clarity
Of these two, the 10% MoM effect is far more valuable. Remember to divine these as well as you can since its quite significant.

If the above double mod Eye is too expensive, or you just prefer to forego some EHP for even more DPS, then there are several Wrath and Precision mods that you can combo with one of the above mods. In order of value, these are (best to worst):
* Damage Penetrates (10-15)% Lightning Resistance while affected by Wrath
* +(20-30)% to Critical Strike Multiplier while affected by Precision
* (40-60)% increased Lightning Damage while affected by Wrath
* (70-100)% increased Critical Strike Chance while affected by Wrath

Honorable mention: (1-1.5)% of Lightning Damage is Leeched as Energy Shield while affected by Wrath, if you decide to skip ES leech on both the tree and flask suffix.

3.12 update: The mana as extra ES mod has been nerfed significantly, it now rolls between 6-10% (as opposed to 12-18%). This mod now gives us only 1k ES (compared to the 2k ES before), and hence one of the offensive mods is now much more appealing. The 10% MoM effect is still extremely strong as before, and remains the first priority.

FAQ 8 - Righteous Fire

We NEVER use Righteous Fire in this build, we only pop Vaal Righteous Fire for bosses and such.

Some people have had issues with RF getting popped because it is linked to Cast when dmg taken. You should de-level CWDT (and Immortal Call with it) so that RF is at a higher lvl requirement than CWDT. We still want RF to be in the same link setup so that Vaal RF benefits from Increased Duration the same as Immortal Call.

So you can have either have (as shown in the guide PoBs):
* Vaal RF (lv 20) + CWDT (lv 19) + Immortal Call (lv 19) + Inc Duration (lv 20), or
* Vaal RF (lv 21) + CWDT (lv 20) + Immortal Call (lv 20) + Inc Duration (lv 20)

FAQ 9 - Phase Run

Phase Run gets immediately cancelled by Vortex on left click, so why have use it at all? The answer is that we dont use it for the most part.

Phase Run is useful only in a couple very specific scenarios: Sulphite Rotas, and running Fungal Caverns paths in deep delve without killing anything (to avoid zombie degen). In both cases Vortex needs to be unmapped from left-click. For the other 99% of the game, Phase Run is not used.

3.12 update: People have reported that Phase Run is quite handy when escaping from Heists, since it is another scenario where DPS is not a high priority while movespeed is.

Also, if you're using Replica Kaom's and completely skipping Vortex, then Phase Run is very good value. Since you can just pop Phase Run immediately after each BV cast and then run around for 4 secs at high speed.

FAQ 10 - ES Leech

Earlier versions of the build grab one small ES leech node on the tree, while pathing near the Thunderous Salvos cluster.

Later versions of the build anoint Thunderous Salvos instead, and get their ES leech from a flask with suffix 'Of Draining'. This version is recommended for most players.

Even later versions of the build completely skip ES leech, instead relying on Cinderswallow and ES Recharge for ES recovery. ONLY do this if you know and understand what you are doing. For example this is pretty bad against bosses that have a lot of random area damage or degens.

Also note that ES leech by default is only 10% of ES/sec, so its weaker than life leech (which is 20% life/sec).

3.12 update: With synthesis implicits from Heist, one can now get jewels with the implicit: Spell Damage leeched as ES, which is very convenient. The only downside is that you have to craft the jewel for good mods yourself.

FAQ 11 - When to switch to Cluster Jewels

The primary value the cluster jewels provide is in:
* Corpse removal
* 2 normal jewel sockets
* And just overall efficient DPS nodes

So in order to switch to the Cluster jewel setup, you need:

* 2 good jewels in addition to the ones already socketed in "cheap" jewel sockets (cheap as in the sockets that need 1 or 2 skill points, and the 3-pointer above Sentinel since that gives resists). Usually this will be your 4th and 5th non-unique jewel that you want to socket in the tree.

* Enough skill points, that you can "complete" the Cluster Jewel package. Usually this happens by level 93-96 when you skip the tree section near Shadow start, and move your Glorious Vanity near Supreme Ego instead. Fully completing the cluster package needs 16 skill points. If you have only 15 spare points, you should skip picking up Eye of the Storm. If you only have 14 spare, you should also skip Magnifier. If you have even fewer spare points, you shouldn't be switching yet.

FAQ 12 - Why Sanctuary of Thought

For most normal Archmage builds, Sanctuary of Thought on the Hierophant ascendancy is a bad node since it cuts your manacost (and hence your dmg) in half.

However, unlike most other archmage builds, this build uses Indigon to boost the manacost. Sanctuary's 50% less manacost is very crucial to this build, so that we spend the correct amount of mana to get the correct number of Indigon stacks, and we end up at a manacost thats roughly 98% of our total available mana. Without Sanctuary the mana cost after Indigon buff would be way higher than our total mana and archmage would do zero damage.

This is one of the key tricks behind this build: not only do we benefit from the amazing AoE and ES that Sanctuary of Thought provides, we turn its downside into an upside.

Last edited by RudyBaby on Apr 15, 2021, 12:05:31 AM
Last bumped on Apr 21, 2021, 1:26:03 PM
This is intriguing.

Have you tried these combinations?

Small Thread of Hope where you have large cluster jewel (move cluster jewels to west jewel socket)... this would allow you to get Thunderous Salvos, Whispers of Doom, and Serpent Stance without all the small passives, and then add Elemental Weakness to your curse setup.

Get Assassins Mark on ring after you do the above.

Then anoint ammy with Heart of Thunder (~7% more dmg boost).

Then add Arcane Cloak in place of CWDT/Imm Call, along with Second Wind/Inc Duration, and move Arcane Surge here, too.

Then replace Arcane Surge on your BV setup with Awakened Increased Area of Effect for mapping and Conc Effect for bossing.

You'll probably have to drop Forethought to get your mana costs down, but all of the above would take your 40M DPS up to around 70M DPS for bossing. And even upwards of 85M DPS with VRF on.

Not to mention Arcane Cloak would add another 6000 EHP while still proccing level 21 Arcane Surge.

Just some thoughts for ya. At bare minimum, I would add AC, move AS to AC setup and then do the Conc Effect/Increased AoE gem swap in it's place on BV.

Nice build, though. I may try it.
Arcane Cloak simply doesnt work in this build since its fine-tuned to work with Indigon. We need to spend between 1800 - 1999 mana precisely every 4 seconds. Arcane Cloak breaks that balance, and makes our mana cost go way too high so that archmage stops working and we do zero dmg.

Moving Arcane Surge to a secondary setup (in this case Vortex) is a valid approach. But that leads to us having to use a lower level Arcane Surge. With a lv 12 Arcane Surge on Vortex, Awakened Inc Aoe is roughly -10% dps, and Conc Effect is roughly +20% dps.

I've tried that setup and I prefer the Arcane Surge in main 6link for deep delving. Losing 10% dps or losing 30% AoE are both big penalties. That setup also needs other adjustments since inc aoe and conc effect have 140% multiplier as opposed to arcane surge's 130% which breaks the indigon balance.

I have not tried the small Thread of Hope you suggested. Looking at it now, will update.

Last edited by RudyBaby on Aug 3, 2020, 1:45:45 PM
So I tried the Thread of Hope suggested above. It needs 3 additional points which is hard to find. Ended up dropping a 3-pt cobalt jewel for it. Also needs one extra ring affix spot, and 10 extra resists from somewhere.

This is what I ended up with: https://pastebin.com/ik0xVzmn
DPS: 39.6m, EHP: 20.2k

Both figures lower so not worth it. Its a nice idea though. If anyone can find a way to make this work I wanna hear it.
Thank you for sharing this build! I've not gone to deep delves yet but mapping is a breeze with very little chance of dying even on juiced maps + Metamorph/Legions. I don't think I've died since lv95, I'm 97.5 right now and that's from running t14-16 juiced maps.

The BV cast timing is something that I needed to get used to but is no problem at all after a few (~10-15) maps.

Question about vortex - is that a must on deep delves? I don't like the extra casts so I have cwdt on my 6-link armor instead.

2nded on your findings about Thread of Hope - tried it and at best its the same result as your pob numbers dps/ehc wise and with the -resistances. On the +side, Thread of Hope is cheaper than buying the 2x Crit Multi + Mana/HP cobalt jewels.
Last edited by dlaun on Aug 4, 2020, 3:04:45 AM
Vortex is just a handy way to Curse, Chill and Cull, all in one. It only really matters for stuff that doesnt die instantly: Bosses and tanky rares in deep delve. Its fine to skip it if you don't like it. Did you try putting it on left click for autocast? As long as its either linked to Blood Magic or its lvl 12 or lower, it shouldn't fuck up the Indigon Balance.

1 Advantage: If your BV cost is slightly short of an Indigon breakpoint (say BV costs 1750), Vortex manacost can help pad it up to the 1800 breakpoint.

1 Disadvantage: If you fucked up by recasting BV too early, now you must stand still for the next 4 secs, because left clicking to move will cast Vortex which will extend your fuckup period.

Last edited by RudyBaby on Aug 4, 2020, 3:31:46 AM
Sweet - beats me why I never thought of putting vortex on left click. That definitely gets rid of the extra button to press.

An easy cheat for the cast timings is using the Arcane Surge buff as the timer: only cast BV once buff goes down to 1-2 seconds. I had to disable the flask buffs from showing up under the UI to keep the buff icon in one place.

I don't fully understand the indigon breakpoints but that's just something I'll just have to research.
Last edited by dlaun on Aug 4, 2020, 4:27:28 AM
Any quick recommendations for leveling this?
Interesting mechanics, i like that! This is the first league for me where i' trying to delve deeper than 400 (~890 atm). Except for a few really fucked up combinations like onslaught, inc movement speed and "action speed cannot be lowered than default", my poison BV build is still pretty smooth at that depth.

My question: you're playing Aul mechanically very well in your video. I'm way too stupid for that, i always fail during the Knight-phase, either by destroying the crystals or by getting hit by the Knights. Already leveled a RF Juggernaut only for Aul, still failed. Can your tank take a hit or even two, and how is your regen, especially on Aul?

Also, do you think it's possible or even worth it, to integrate a Headhunter into your build? Or would that weaken the defense too much?

Got 160ex to spend (over 300 if i'd sell my Poison BV-gear) and not really much left this league, so i think about maybe trying your build.
Any quick recommendations for leveling this?

You can equip all the unique gear for this at lvl 69, so you basically just need some way to get through the 10 acts. I think I did a scuffed selfcast archmage Arc with unleash, to save on regrets later, since you take all the same life and mana nodes. But you are free to try anything else. I've heard Storm Brand, Purifying Flame or Freeze Pulse totems are decent.
Last edited by RudyBaby on Aug 6, 2020, 3:59:39 PM

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