[3.20 HC] Hierophant Black Cane Storm Burst Totems--Pinnacle Bosses down (Videos)

Well POE, it's been a couple leagues since I felt like I had anything worth posting. But here we are.


Something about black cane caught my attention and just has not let it go. I've spent probably the past 3-4 full leagues (with a couple characters off for good behavior) iterating on it with various ascendancies, always coming back to storm burst as the best (that I have found) way to make use of it. I had previously been attached to the self cast raider version, but that one was deeply flawed for a league in which standing still creates even more failure than usual. And so I've been working on a Hierophant totem version, and I think I've finally got it close enough to right that I am ready to post.

If you spend enough currency, there are plenty of builds out there that are stronger both offensively and defensively. I suspect that there are few that will give you as much of both on a budget of next to nothing. The Black Cane (which runs 1-5c right now depending on rolls) is literally the only absolute requirement until well into red maps. Everything else can be farmed up and added later. Given moderate investment, the build will scale to making Sirus & company a relative cakewalk. Best of all for 3.20, with only modest investment the build offers north of 2M totem dps and a up to a ~70% movement speed bonus, making it ideal for running Sanctum.

As far as notable achievements: The build has been easily farming T20 Abysses, doing complete sanctum runs, and has down Eater and Sirus. My technical skills on exarch and Maven are poor, but I expect someone competent should be able to do them with little trouble. I can confirm on the Sirus run that the conquerors melted quickly and that Sirus himself did not feel particularly dangerous in a relatively short fight.

12/23/22 (morning): Can now add lvl83 Cat, the Elderslayers and the Formed to the list.
12/23/22 (evening): Can now confirm that the build can help someone as bad at the fight as me get the exarch done--very excited. So much so that I forgot to get video this go-round, but maybe next time.
12/25/22 Experimental version in the works (currently lvl 94) that can reach nearly double the damage at the cost of some defenses and with much more expense. POB for this one also provided now.
12/28/22 Post HC rip (from trying to chat with someone during a map--dont do this thing) Still feeling victorious--Maven, Uber Atziri, and Uber Elder all down. Videos below.


Basic version (Determination/Purity of Elements):
1. T16 Toxic Sewer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TF-4Lyzldeo
2. T20 Abyss https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRrnvbTpZQ4
3. T16 Catarina https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceyHYPbzDdE
4. The Formed https://youtu.be/ABDH4hdSfCs

Wrath/Determination/Tempest Shield version:
1. Sirus https://youtu.be/NgxjdXFJnXs
2. The Twisted https://youtu.be/QvI8cw_m4TA
3. Maven https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivw7TaRkpsk
4. Uber Atziri https://youtu.be/22Vi7fNUToo
5. Uber Elder https://youtu.be/VBLxAjI4IHo

Build Overview:
If you are not familiar with the Black Cane, it is a relatively inexpensive unique that grants the phantasmal might buff for each summoned phantasm. Phantasmal might grants added physical damage to spells based on the level of the phantasm summoned. At level 20, phantasmal might grants 43-64 added physical damage per phantasm for up to 10 phantasms. If one can maintain 10 phantasms, this nearly doubles the base damage of a level 20 stormburst. Stormburst synergizes well with this mechanic for a few reasons: First, it is a phys converted to lightning spell, so any effort we put in to convert the base spell to lightning also automatically applies to the phantasmal might buff. Even more importantly though, stormburst scales its damage significantly via increased duration and cast speed. Increased duration and cast speed also make it dramatically easier to maintain phantasms.

Explanation of offense

Three separate Storm burst set ups:

The first is storm burst>Spell totem>Multiple totems>Summon Phantasm>Cull>[Inc duration]. These totems maintain our phantasms (and hence a large chunk of our base phys stormburst damage) and add some extra clear speed and damage. We socket this one in our body armour.

The second is our main damage source: Storm Burst>Spell totem>Physical to Lightning>Increased Duration. By midgame, we socket these in an Insanity Essence Crafted helm for an additional 50% more phys as lightning (which, since both stormburst and phantasmal might are phys based, is a true 50% more multiplier). For endgame, we will use insanity essences on an Elder helm looking to roll Supported by Conc Effect. Per Craft of Exile, you should succeed roughly 1 time in 12. The endgame helm is, essentially, a 6.5 link.

The third is self-cast stormburst>Infused Channelling(20Q asap)>Increased duration. Because we go Ancestral bond, this setup does 0 damage. However, once fully leveled and once we have the duration part of our tree complete, it takes only 0.6 seconds of channeling to gain infusion, which then lasts 15 seconds. Because stormburst carries both phys and lightning tags, infusion provides a 20% more damage multiplier. Just for holding down a button slightly longer than half a second once per 15.

The next components are our curse+arcane surge

Self cast conductivity>Arcane Surge (lvl10)>Inc Duration provides another 24% more damage multiplier (From arcane surge buffed by the Arcane Blessing Ascendancy) and the necessary lightning res reduction for bosses and resistant rares.

Then any rare glove with the eater of worlds implicit providing lightning exposure on hit

If the level of lightning exposure provided by the gloves is the minimum (11%) we will get the elemental mastery that changes it automatically to 18%.

For our endgame, we will spam the gloves with lesser exarch ichor until we hit chance to unnerve enemies. This is an additional 10% damage taken with close to 100% uptime because of our very high hit rate.

Next, mostly permanent 2x effective onslaught:
Through the sleepless sentries keystone (craftable by alt spamming any medium cluster totem damage jewel ilvl 68+) we have more or less permanent onslaught, doubled in effectiveness by Daresso's Defiance to give 40% cast speed and 40% movespeed.

Late endgame, once rezzes are better fixed, we supplement with up to three permanent frenzy charges (crafted on rings and amulet). a +1 or +2 amulet will also provide a small bonus to damage (roughly 5% or 10%).

Experimental high cost version:

In the experimental version we will add in a wrath and a wrath watchers eye that gives lightning pen, phys added as lightning or both.

Explanation of Defense:

At full build we will have a life pool of ~5k with 40-50k armour (20-30k w/out flasks), 50/50 block/spell block, 4 permanent endurance charges, full ailment immunity, rezzes of 78 or better, ~600-800 life regen, Divine shield, totems that instantly pull aggro as soon as they are summoned (via the totem taunt mastery, which plays much better than it reads), and ~70% bonus movespeed.

AND (arguably most importantly)
A 10k+ molten shell with a ~10 second uptime and 2.86 second cooldown timer
A 10k+ Vaal molten shell that lasts almost 30 full seconds.
When the cooldown timer is running, we are still very tough to kill.
When either of our Molten shells is up, we are almost impossible to kill unless we are actually standing still in a large DOT or take one of the pinnacle boss windup slams to the face (in which case I'm not sure).

Experimental version sacrifices top end ele res and divine shield, imposes some more expensive additional gear requirements in service of damage. May have trouble being fully ailment immune. For example, in my current run I am mitigating chills via flask.

Recommended Links:
Ordinary Version

Chest: Stormburst>Spell Totem>Multiple Totems>Summon Phantasm>Culling Strike>Inc Duration

Helm (Insanity essence crafted): Stormburst>Spell totem>Phys to lightning>Inc Duration (20q) >(Conc effect via elder helm, lategame)

3L:Stormburst>Infused Channelling (20q)>Inc Duration

3L:Stone Golem>Minion Life>Meat Shield (Or other utility set up of your choice)

4L:Vaal Molten Shell>Conductivity>Arcane Surge (lvl 10)>Inc Duration

4S: Determination, Purity of Elements, 2L FLame dash>Lifetap

Wrath Version:
In the 4S, Remove lifetap and sub in Wrath.
I am also experimenting with keeping the chest a 5L/6S and adding phase run. I have been enjoying this so far.

Recommended gear:

Gear List

Main Hand: Black Cane

Offhand: Early: Anything
Late :+1 Totems shield w/ +attack block

Chest: Early: Anything
Late: Daresso's Defiance (Recommend 5L+)

Gloves: Early: any w/ Eater implicit for lightning exposure
Late: Add Exarch implicit for unnerve on hit

Or, in experimental version, find freeze and/or Chill immunity here.

Rings: Early: 1 Bone w/ Minion elemental resistance totalling at least 30 between implicit and explicit. Other: Any
Late: Same, but both with crafted +1 minimum frenzy charge

Amulet Early: Any, anoint Ironwood
Amulet Late: +1/+2 lightning or physical, anoint soul of steel (Or spiritual aid in experimental version)

Jewels early: medium totem cluster w/ Sleepless sentries
Late: Replica reckless defense or two if necessary, Watchers eye w/ +chaos res for purity of elements. (Experimental version trades reckless defense out for a chaos res small cluster)

Belt: Life and resists (Good place for chaos res)
Or, in experimental version, solve ignite immunity here. Belt is crafted by spamming shrieking essences of anguish on a stygian vise.

Example Set of Late Game Gear:

Watchers eye and reckless defense jewels not shown.

Example set of Gear for Version using Wrath/Determination/Tempet shield:


Kill all


Solaris / Ralakesh

Asendancies in order:

1. Pursuit of Faith
2. Ritual of Awakening
3. Conviction of Power
4. Arcane Blessing

Brief Leveling advice:

Choose either frostblades or smite linked to ancestral call and any two other meaningful supports. Add a 4 link Ancetral protector. Add 2 blackheart rings and you are set through lvl 35.

After your first ascendancy, switch over to the three stormburst setup, but dont worry too much about using anything but the damage dealing one until lvl 50. Any useful wand or sceptre is fine at this stage.

At lvl 50 equip black cane, add all three stormbursts, and you are rolling.

Suggested trees are provided in the pastebin section.



NOTE--pastebin will show our self-cast stormburst as linking summon phantasms. We do not actually use this gem in the self-cast setup. It is there because that is the only way to get POB to recognize the extra damage from the phantasms (and I don't know why).

Tree at 33: https://pastebin.com/VbcMRMbN
Tree at 40 around time of transition to totems: https://pastebin.com/gu8k9v7T
Tree at 54 w/ Black Cane & Sleepless Sentries: https://pastebin.com/E2ffrxmb
Suggested Tree at 72: https://pastebin.com/ZQxbjGME
Suggested Tree at 91: https://pastebin.com/WZQmEzrY
Suggested Tree at 100: https://pastebin.com/1J3besuw

Experimental Lvl 100 Tree: https://pastebin.com/Bjiu7WuA

Changes include swapping in Tempest shield and Wrath for Purity of Elements (which requires taking the nearby reservation efficiency cluster) and gaining efficiency in pathing by annointing spiritual aid. This is a tree that you can swap to with many regrets after you have sufficient currency for all of the gear requirements, if you desire to try it.

Cons: No Divine shield, ele resses=75, More expensive gear requirements. Not fully immune to all ailments.

Pros: Nearly double the overall bossing damage (over 4.5M Pinnacle boss dps including cull)

Anyway, I hope that some of you find enjoyment or inspiration with this build. I will try to be around to provide clarifications and answers to questions, and I will see if I can get some playstyle videos up in the next week or so.

Last edited by Orion72 on Dec 29, 2022, 2:00:38 AM
Last bumped on Apr 30, 2023, 12:32:14 PM
Playstyle videos added in video section showing build in action vs.

T16 Toxic Sewers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TF-4Lyzldeo&t=2s

T20 Abyss. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRrnvbTpZQ4&t=2s

Hope to post more when I get a chance.

Long time fan of your builds. Thanks for posting.

What do you feel is the benefit of going Black Cane over just straight Storm Burst totems?

The Black cane provides a ridiculous amount of added flat physical spell damage. We are literally starting from a base of roughly double ordinary stormburst totems, as long as we maintain the phantasms.

Last edited by Orion72 on Dec 24, 2022, 7:23:32 PM
I am going to try this on my Level 89 Hiero, been sitting there unplayed for a year. Thank you, I've seen the build showcase videos vs the T20 Abyss and I like it!
Hoping you enjoy it! Do please let us know how it goes.

Orion72 wrote:
Hoping you enjoy it! Do please let us know how it goes.


Thanks! I'm actually playing this in softcore and it's doing great so far up to tier 6 maps. This is my equipment for now (still need to anoint amulet + get jewels AND ring):


What should I focus on to min-max gear-wise? Thanks!
Atosmosius wrote:
Orion72 wrote:
Hoping you enjoy it! Do please let us know how it goes.


Thanks! I'm actually playing this in softcore and it's doing great so far up to tier 6 maps. This is my equipment for now (still need to anoint amulet + get jewels AND ring):


What should I focus on to min-max gear-wise? Thanks!

Glad you are having fun so far. Here's what I notice right off:

1. I don't see the second minion-summoning setup that should be in your Datesso's
2. Your primary Storm burst is only lvl 10-get it to lvl 20/21 asap. Same with support gems.
3. Quality up your increased durations and your phys to lightning at least.
4. Can't see the second ring--it should be bone with around 30 total minion ele res at a minimum. Life roll would be nice on the first ring.
5. Endgame belt.
6. Life roll on the shield--can be tough to find along with + totems and block.

Good luck!
Last edited by Orion72 on Dec 25, 2022, 1:06:58 PM
Here is the gear for the experimental variant I am running now. Currently up to lvl 91. POB valid through lvl 100 has been added in the Pastebin section of the guide.

1. Swapped Purity of Elements for Tempest shield, took some reservation nodes, fit in Wrath.
2. Different solve for chaos res.
3. Different block nodes
4. Kaom's roots (for stuns & Freezes
5. Wrath/Determination Watchers eye

Not immune to ignite--managing it via flask (edit: Later fixed this with combo stygian vise and abyss jewel totalling 100% ignite avoidance)
Only 75 ele resses
No Divine Shield
Slower moving

A little more block (edit: Later dropped this and went back to versatile combatant for greater efficiency)
Nearly double the damage (4.5M overall Pinnacle boss dps, including cull)

Last edited by Orion72 on Dec 28, 2022, 11:24:52 PM
What I've found that helps is Life regeneration. Get at least 400-500 life regen, and playstyle is much safer this way and tankier.

I anointed the amulet with Combat Stamina,

and I crafted this belt with 100+ life regen

Last edited by Atosmosius on Dec 25, 2022, 8:22:57 PM

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