[3.21] Animate Weapon FIRE Guardian - Minion Starter - Low Budget, High DPS [outdated]

For a build that can clear the entire game on zero starting budget, look no further.

Patch 3.22 Update: the ascendancy overhaul to Guardian makes this guide outdated. Animate Weapon is still very good but Fire conversion might not be the optimal choice any more. I'm leaving the guide up in it's current form so people can still read it, all the leveling advice is still good, but you should experiment with different end-game setups to make use of new Guardian bonuses.

Patch Changes to Animate Weapon: Background

A quick history recap.

Patch 3.10 was the first overhaul of the Animate Weapon skill in many years, which moved it from terrible / meme-tier to "very solid, if you can tolerate the playstyle and some QOL issues." I played Animate Weapon every. single. league. for quite some time.

In Patch 3.19, Animate Weapon took several big nerfs: lower minion HP, higher mana cost, and worse damage (frenzy and power charges on minions became quite bad). There were still viable versions of the skill, but not really for doing it at low budget with elemental conversion. I basically stopped playing.

NOW, in 3.21, there are BIG BUFFS.

From the patch notes:

  • Animated Weapons no longer randomly pause when moving or attacking. As a result of this change we've adjusted the attack speed and damage provided by the Animate Weapon Gem, this should be a net neutral change in terms of damage dealt but result in more consistent damage and clearing.
  • Animate Weapon got a small attack speed and damage nerf of about 10% less benefit from gem levels, but this is no big deal - it's already very easy to stack DPS. The biggest issue for the gem was clunky playstyle, and that just got better.
  • new Vaal Skill Gem for Animate Weapon! Wow.

To complete this history lesson, if you're curious about the last time they buffed Animate Weapon in 3.10... take a look.

This guide was previously located on the Witch forum. I believe Guardian is now the best way to build for Animate Weapon, so I've overhauled the guide and revived it here in the Templar section. Lots of new stuff!

I've played for a long time, but I'm a casual. I want a build that levels easily, scales quickly, and doesn't require pro-gamer reflexes or exhaustive game knowledge in order to kill bosses. I personally have limited time to play in each league, so doing uber-pinnacle boss content is not the priority (although Animate Weapon is viable for that). I just want a chill experience with a build I can play from the start until whenever my goals are accomplished.

If that sounds like you, perhaps you'll enjoy this guide!

Questions? Please ask in the comments so other people can see the answers too. (I won't respond to private DMs or in-game messages). Your feedback is very much appreciated and helps to make this guide better!

Table of Contents

  • 1. Videos
  • 2. Summary and Pros/Cons
  • 3. Detailed Animate Weapon Mechanics
  • 4. Custom Loot Filter
  • 5. Passive Tree
  • 6. Leveling Guide
  • 7. Gem Links
  • 8. Gear & Jewels
  • 9. Animate Guardian Gear
  • 10. Conclusion

1. Videos

If you want some gameplay footage and commentary on past versions of the build, this is a place to look.

Outdated Video Guides, made in prior leagues for Witch.

3.10: Build Guide Video. Big picture overview of build, gem setup, passive tree. (Parts have become outdated, refer to the written guide when in doubt.)

3.11: Video Update. Includes patch changes, comparing physical and cold versions of the skill, tips for a smooth playstyle plus gameplay of Red Maps, Shaper Guardians, Shaper, Delve.

3.12: Agnostic Mana-based Defenses update for a late game version of build in Heist league.

- Tier 16 Maps and Baran. Well-geared, zoom-zoom!
- Red Map Delirium encounters (pre-nerf) tiers 12-14.
- Yellow Maps and Conquerors with some rippy Delirium mods.
- Early Maps with Cheap Gear before full cold conversion, using a 5-link.
- Leveling Tips: Vendor Recipes and Passive Tree. Some of the passive tree advice is now out of date.

Pre-3.10 Commentary for PoE history nerds:
- Why is Animate Weapon worth playing?
- GGG Teaser & Thoughts on Scaling Animate Weapon

2. Short Summary

TLDR: Use Triad Grip gloves to convert all minion damage to Fire. Animate Weapon kills everything.

For newer players there is a highly detailed description of all build mechanics, without any jargon, in the very next section!

Pros and Cons:
+ Safe playstyle with minions that taunt and distract enemies.
+ Fantastic boss killer on a budget.
+ Low budget to get started, but scales easily into end game.
+ Can get high HP and armor plus spell block for late-game defenses.
+ / - More active playstyle than other summoners.
- Entering into a new zone, you have to spend a few seconds to summon weapons.
- If you die in the middle of a tough boss fight it can be difficult to jump back in with zero weapons.
- Dexterity is needed on gear to meet gem requirements.

*** FAQs ***

"Should I league start with Animate Weapon?"

A summoner playstyle doesn't depend heavily on gear, making it very easy to start a new league with. You get access to the Animate Weapon gem right at the start of the game, so leveling is simple. (Note, as Templar you will have to mule the gem from a Witch or Scion after doing the Breaking Some Eggs quest.)

"I'm new to Path of Exile. Can I try this build?"

Sure. This guide is comprehensive and intended to be accessible for players with all levels of experience. You don't need to know anything about PoE to make it work!

That being said, if you're brand new to the game, you may find it easier to start as a Witch (which I also have a guide for) because it gets up and running faster. The Templar version is better for players who expect to play until end-game level 80+, because it optimizes more at high levels.

"Solo self found (SSF) and budget friendly?"

Mostly. There is only one "highly recommended" unique, Triad Grip Mesh Gloves. This drops frequently in maps. Even without finding them right away, you can easily progress without them. Aside from that one unique, every needed item can be found or crafted.

"Hardcore Viable?"

This guide is written for a SC perspective but with small adjustments, more defensive options are available. You would probably go down into the Marauder section of the tree for more life nodes. There are multiple defensive layers, so it should be possible. But I don't play HC, so what do I know?

"I want to avoid a lot of clicking. Is this hard to play, mechanically?"

While leveling, Ethereal Knives or Bladefall generate "ammunition" for Animate Weapon. It's a one-two skill usage, a bit like Essence Drain/Contagion, but weapons have a long duration so recasting isn't required all the time. Once you are running through a level, just raise weapons as you go from the items that drop. Flasks are only used defensively, so no "piano flasking" to keep up DPS. It is not a "one button build", but really, it's quite easy to play.

"How about Cast While Channeling / Spellslinger / other clever gearing setups to trigger Animate Weapon?"

I fully researched various automation methods, and the conclusion I reached was Not Worth It. Huge loss of DPS for very small added convenience, and gem slots are in short supply as it is. Link an Unleash Support to Animate Weapon to summon them more quickly. For a fully automated build, look into Chains of Command with a Scion instead.

"Now that you mention it, does your build work with Chains of Command?"

Chains of Command has a very different playstyle, which some prefer - later on you can convert over to CoC pretty easily if you want to in the end game. But that's not what this guide is about.

"Which Raised Spectres does the build use?"

The classic choices are Stygian Silverback (frenzy charges) and Host Chieftain (power charges) both of which can be found in Riverways of Act 6.

In the late game, you can use Xoph's Favoured, which spawns in Xoph's Breachstone map. (It looks like a fire hellion, and gives phys as extra fire damage).

"Why does my damage feel low in the late game?"

After reviewing many people's builds, a DPS problem is almost always one of a few things. (1) Not using the recommended gem setup; (2) Not using well-rolled Jewels and Cluster jewels; or (3) not having an Animated Guardian. Double-check those areas if you're having problems.

If you have other questions, please leave a comment!

3. Detailed Introduction to Animate Weapon

If you have little experience playing summoner builds or are new to Path of Exile, this section will get you up to speed.

Animate Weapon: the Basics

The Animate Weapon skill turns an identified melee weapon on the ground into a flying minion which chases down and slays your enemies. And you can summon a lot of them!

If you've played other summoning skills in Path of Exile, think of Animate Weapon as the cross between Raise Zombie and Raging Spirit. Like a Zombie, the Weapon must be raised from something on the ground - a dropped weapon, rather than a corpse. And, like a Raging Spirit, the Animated Weapon flies and has fixed duration before expiring. (Unlike Raging Spirits, Animated Weapons will be targeted by enemies so their health pool does matter).

Weapons you can animate are either dropped by enemies, or left in the ground as Lingering Blades by Ethereal Knives or Bladefall. Either animate the items that monsters leave behind, or if those aren't available, cast some knives and animate those instead!

How Animate Weapon Calculates Damage

When you cast Animate Weapon it inherits the damage, crit chance, attack speed etc. of the identified item on the ground which you targeted. This includes any magic, rare, or unique modifiers (though be aware, you won’t get that weapon back!) Then the skill adds its own modifiers to base damage, attack speed, and so on to the minion which flies around and hits things until it dies or the duration expires.

When a weapon is summoned from a Lingering Blade the process is slightly different. Blades have base stats roughly equal to a Glass Shank. Then, Animate Weapon adds an additional damage bonus based on its own skill level to the created minion if it is from a lingering blade. This boost is substantial!

What it means to you: the level of Bladefall you use, or any supports attached to that skill, don’t matter for your DPS. All that counts is the level of your Animate Weapon.

Minion Mechanics for New Players

For those completely new to this type of build, here are the mechanics that matter.

An Animate Weapon skill gem has the tags Duration, Minion, Spell, Physical attached to it so let's unpack those first.

Each animated weapon lasts for either 40 seconds duration or until it has zero hitpoints. We increase that duration with the passive tree so that we don't need to recast as often.

Minions count as Allies (but are not Party Members, which is only other players - this distinction matters). In order to improve our minions' damage with gear or the passive tree, the modifier must explicitly say "minions have..." or "allies get..." otherwise it has no effect!

For example, although an Animated Weapon attacks with physical damage, a passive node saying "15% increased physical damage" will not benefit it, because that is only for the player and not Minions.

Casting Animate Weapon is a Spell, and is improved by Cast Speed. However, as the Animated Weapon is a Minion, increases to spell damage do not help its damage. If you add Spell bonuses or supports, it will support the spell which animates the weapon, but won't affect the weapon's damage when it attacks enemies.

The reason these tags matter is that a support gem usually has to match a tag on the skill it supports. In addition to Duration, Minion, Physical and Spell, Animate Weapon's damage can also be supported with Melee and Attack tags.

The damage our minions deal with attacks can be Physical, Elemental (Cold, Fire, Lightning), or Chaos. The type of damage matters because monsters can resist attacks by having resistance to Cold/Fire/Lightning/Chaos, or armor against Physical. Bosses especially have significant amounts of armor and resistances.

Animate Weapon deals physical damage by default (so increased physical damage benefits us) but eventually, we want to convert all that damage to an element with the Triad Grip gloves.

*** Why Convert Damage to Fire? ***

Physical damage gets reduced by armor which blocks a flat amount of physical damage from each hit (rather than a percentage as resistances do), making it most effective against small hits. Animated Weapons attack with a lot of fast hits so bosses with high armor won't take as much physical damage. Fully converting to elemental will ignore monster armor, and we have lots of ways to break through resistances.

Fire damage in particular has many good ways to reduce monster resistances:
  • The Combustion Support Gem, linked to a secondary minion in order to ignite enemies for -10% fire resist.
  • A dual-curse setup on our Animate Guardian, applying both Flammability and Elemental Weakness (not possible to do with the other elements)
  • Scorch
  • Exposure from the Elemental Army support.

Altogether, we should be able to get bosses to less than zero fire resistance, making our minion damage very effective against them.

4. Loot Filter

To enjoy playing with Animate Weapon, a custom loot filter is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED!

Normal rarity weapons we might want to animate will be hidden by default for most loot filters. I'd recommend a custom filter because the pace of play is much better when you animate weapons off the ground instead of trying to generate all weapons yourself with Bladefall.
To make your own filter which includes weapons to animate, follow these steps.

1. Go to http://filterblade.xyz/.

2. On the first page, select the Strictness of filter that you want (for example, in late game, Very Strict).

3. Under the “Customize” tab, scroll down to Miscellaneous >>> Optional Filter Modules >>> Animate Weapon Mode. Enable it.

4. Make any other changes you want to customize your loot filter, then either (a) download the text file, put it in the correct folder and load it in Path of Exile, or (b) sync it to your PoE profile using the Filterblade instructions.

5. Passive Tree

PoE Planner Link

Final Passive Tree

Path of Building (POB)

Sample POB: https://pastebin.com/g5dpYxpv
- Level 94. 3.8 million Shaper DPS. No gear except Triad Grip, Jewels, and Animate Guardian.
(For New Players) What is Path of Building?

It's a very useful tool which allows you to tweak a build and see all the different options before you start to play it.

To download, go here: https://pathofbuilding.community/

After you update Path of Building to the newest version, follow these steps to load a build from a URL:
- Click "New" (top middle) for a new build
- "Import/Export build" at top left
- "Import from Pastebin", paste the URL given, and click "Import".

Explanation of PoB Configuration settings

- Minions have power/frenzy charges from Raised Spectres on Silverbacks/Chieftains in A6 Riverways
- For Elemental Army, check the box in Configuration and pick the correct element for exposure.
(Any buffs from Animate Guardian equipment not included, you can add those manually.)

(For Nerds) Proper Animate Weapon DPS in PoB

This is not intuitive (or even really necessary, for most people) but if you care a lot about accuracy in PoB follow these instructions.

1. In the "Items" tab, go to the top for Item Set, click "Manage"

2. Click "New", name the new item set something (like "shank") and then set that as your active equipment set.

3. Still in the Items tab, go to the right side and click "Create custom..."

4. In the dropdown, select "Normal", and then type
Glass Shank

5. Change your active equipment set back to Default, for the gear you're actually using.

6. On the left side of the screen where you see Main Skill (Animate Weapon), there is a dropdown which may read Default Item Set. Instead select "shank" (or whatever you named your custom item set with the custom Glass Shank in it)

7. Under Configuration settings, check the box which says "Are you Animating Lingering Blades."

Done! You should now see an accurate estimate of your minion's DPS. Multiply by the number of Weapons you can summon to estimate your boss DPS.

Ascendancy Choices

Recommended Order:

1. Radiant Crusade - Gives resists and Onslaught for greater speed and damage. Jam through the campaign!

2. Unwavering Crusade - jacks up damage to the next level, and movement speed for Animated Weapons is fantastic QOL.

3. Time of Need - the extra life regen is very helpful when you go to do the Eternal Labyrinth.

4. Bastion of Hope - extra block chance is nice, immunity to stun is FANTASTIC. Also improves your minions survival in the late game.

Bandits & Pantheon

Kill all the Bandits for skill points.

When fully upgraded the Soul of Lunaris lets us avoid chained projectiles, which are otherwise very dangerous to a summoner. Lunaris also has some helpful damage reductions, making this the favored choice.

As a minor god, I'd suggest Gruthkul (more phys reduction) or Shakari (poison defense if you lack Chaos Resistance). Optional: switch to Ryslatha for going through Labyrinth.

Cluster Jewels

How cluster jewels work: These special jewels may only be socketed in jewel nodes on the outer edge of the passive tree, and will have varying numbers of small passives, notables, and implicits within them.

Try to get a cluster jewel with the minimum number of passives on it to save on points - for large, the minimum will be 8 passives. On a medium, 4 or 5 are equally efficient.

With a large cluster jewel that has 8 passives, you can spend 7 points for 3 excellent notables plus two jewel sockets to place medium cluster jewels in.

Large Cluster Notables (small passives: minions have increased damage):
  • Raze and Pillage: Minions gain 6% of Physical Damage as Extra Fire Damage; Minions have 20% chance to Ignite; Minions deal 20% increased Damage with Hits and Ailments against Ignited Enemies.
    One of the best reasons to be in fire minions, this is big DPS!
  • Renewal: Minions Regenerate 1% of Life per second; Minions have 5% chance to deal Double Damage while they are on Full Life.
    Great DPS boost - high priority.
  • Renewal: Minions Regenerate 1% of Life per second; Minions have 5% chance to deal Double Damage while they are on Full Life.
    Great DPS boost - high priority.
  • Vicious Bite: Minions have 30% increased Critical Strike Chance and +15% to Critical Strike Multiplier.
    Animated Blades have good base crit making this very strong.
  • Call to the Slaughter: Minions deal 15% increased Damage; Minions created Recently have 10% increased Attack and Cast Speed, and 30% increased Movement Speed.
    Not as useful as it looks because minions last much more than 4 seconds (recently)
  • Feasting Fiends: Minions have 10% increased maximum Life; Minions deal 10% increased Damage; Minions Leech 0.4% of Damage as Life.
    Allows you to drop minion life leech nodes from the passive tree
  • Primordial Bond: 10% increased Damage per Summoned Golem; 40% increased Effect of Buffs granted by your Golems; Golems have 25% increased Maximum Life
    Increased Carrion Golem buff helps damage.

Medium Cluster Notables (small passives: minions have increased life):
  • Feasting Fiends. (See above)
  • Renewal. (See above)
  • Life from Death: Minions have 15% increased maximum Life; Regenerate 2% of Life per second if a Minion has Died Recently; Minions Recover 4% of Life on Minion Death.
    Keeps animated weapons alive, as minion duration expiring counts as "dying recently"! High priority.
  • Dread March: Minions have- 10% increased maximum Life, 10% increased Movement Speed, 10% additional Physical Damage Reduction and +10% to Chaos Resistance.
    Excellent for minion survivability.

Small Cluster Jewels sockets are best used to place regular or Abyssal jewels into. Note that radius effects are disabled within cluster jewels, making these slots ideal for placing Fortress Covenant and Quickening Covenant. If you use these unique jewels, they must go into the Cluster sockets.

"Enduring Composure" notable on an Armor small jewel to generate Endurance charges is recommended.

6. Leveling Guide

I personally like to level with Animate Weapon and I recommend you do that too. There's some muscle memory / rhythm required to make the skill feel good to play.

You COULD level with whatever other meta-skill for speed to get through the campaign and then switch to Animate Weapon later, but at that exact moment you'll probably be feeling "WTF, this is so clunky" when that feeling can easily be overcome by having some practice in the early parts of the game.

Get an Animate Weapon Gem

Templar does not get Animate Weapon naturally in the campaign. You'll have to quickly make a Witch.

After killing Hillock, take Raise Zombie.

Play up until the the Mud Flats quest "Breaking Some Eggs", then go back to town and buy the Animate Weapon & Ethereal Knives gems. Save whatever else you've picked up in your stash, and then make a new character as Templar. Witch's job is done!

Acts 1 to 2

Item goals:
  • 3-linked item with G B R colors.
  • Pick up and sell unidentified magic items for Transmute shards (needed to buy skill gems).
  • Boots with Increased Movement Speed (check vendors)
  • Jade Amulet for Dexterity requirements.

Act 1. After Hillock, take Purifying Flame. You'll only need it for a few short levels.

Enter Submerged Passage, take Holy Flame Totem and Frostblink. Those will give some extra damage and movement while Animate Weapon does the heavy lifting.

Jump back to the waypoint at Tidal Island, complete the quest and take Quicksilver Flask plus Ruthless Support linked to Animate Weapon.

After Brutus, take Added Fire and Flame Dash, drop Frostblink. Buy Minion Damage, Combustion and Melee Splash.

Before Merveil, get Flesh Offering.

Act 1 Gem Links:
- Animate Weapon - Minion Damage - Melee Splash (swap in Added Fire, for bosses)
- Ethereal Knives - Arcane Surge, Flame Dash.
- Raise Zombie - Ruthless.
- Flesh Offering.

Act 2. Intruders in Black: None of the rewards are useful. Buy Desecrate.

The Weaver (Sharp and Cruel): take Elemental Damage with Attacks, buy Minion Speed.

Dexterity stat will be an issue, pathing into the Precision passive node by Templar can make leveling much smoother with added cast rate (re-spec out of this later).
Passive Tree: End of Act 2

Acts 3 to 5

Act 3.

Tolman: take Flammability, buy Convocation and Anger. Big DPS and speed improvements! Use Convocation so that minions keep up with you and cluster onto enemies.

Ribbon Spool: take a Jade Amulet to help with dexterity requirements.

Gravicius: skip him, no relevant quest rewards.

Fixture of Fate (Siosa, optional - wait to get these gems in Act 6 if you're a speedy person): take Feeding Frenzy, buy Generosity, Raise Spectre, and Bladefall. Leave Bladefall at level 1 (don't level up the gem) in order to keep Dexterity requirements down.

Act 4. Pick Summon Carrion Golem after opening the mines. More damage!

After Kaom and Daresso, you can take Multistrike and/or Unleash.

Gem links will depend on items found so far, but the goal is to have:

  • Animate Weapon in a 4-link including some of Minion Speed, Melee Splash, Added Fire and/or Minion Damage.
  • Bladefall - Arcane Surge
  • Carrion Golem - Feeding Frenzy - Combustion
  • Auras: Anger - Generosity and (optional) Clarity
  • Flesh Offering, Desecrate and Convocation un-linked.

Do first Labyrinth before entering Act 5.
Passive Tree: End of Act 5

Acts 6 to 10

Item Goals: Capped (75%) resistances.

Act 6. After clearing Twilight Strand for Lilly, purchase some gems to level up or use: Anything mentioned above you don't have yet, plus Animate Guardian, and Elemental Army.

SSF Tip: Buy as many copies of Animate Weapon as you can fit in off-hand weapon slots (6), and begin leveling them. [Once these eventually reach Level 20, you can attempt to corrupt them with a Vaal Orb to acquire a Level 21 gem, or use the vendor recipe (L20 Gem + Gemcutters Prism = 20 Quality gem) to get a quality Animate Weapon.]

Acts 7 to 8. Item Goals: acquire defensive utility flasks.

Silver Locket: take Granite Flask.

Act 9. As soon as a Divine Life Flask drops, upgrade its quality to 20% and roll an Instant Recovery prefix onto it with Alteration Orbs, then use Einhar's Menagerie to craft Bleed Immunity (of Sealing) onto it. You can use that flask for the whole game!

Act 10. Safe Passage quest reward: take Quartz Flask (very useful for Delve).

Complete Cruel and Merciless Labyrinth at some point before entering maps.

Common Issues in Early Maps

Going into maps you'll be about Level 66-70 and your resistances might be bad. However, you should still be able to progress. Problems? Here's answers.

"I'm dying a lot."

Probably your resistances are not capped. Use the Crafting Bench to add resists to your gear and get each element up to 75%.

"I run Out of Mana all the time!"

Take the nodes near Templar which give extra mana and reduced mana cost, and re-allocate them later. Use Clarity aura. Get an Eternal Mana flask with the "Enduring" prefix.

"My Minions die a Lot!"

Early on you can trade for a Skullhead helmet and it will keep your minions alive.

By default, minions have no life regen. Minion leech on the tree or a jewel is the best way to sustain their HP. Taking more minion life and defense nodes will help. Animated Weapons gain a significant amount of HP with more gem levels so in the very late game you can re-spec out of some minion life nodes that you took early on.

"Animate Weapon AI is crap!"

The main problem early on is they're slow. Faster minions track enemies farther and are more aggressive. A 20% quality gem helps. Use Minion Speed Support. Heavily prioritize getting minion speed crafted on rings/amulet with an open suffix, or on a wand in the late game.

Last edited by ThanatoZGaming on Aug 17, 2023, 5:42:36 PM
Last bumped on Aug 17, 2023, 5:43:50 PM
*** 7. End Game Gem Links ***

Fire Conversion - Animate Weapon Supports (5L/6L)

Choose 3 or 4 damage supports (roughly in order of importance):
  • Immolate
  • Elemental Damage with Attacks (Only once you have Triad Grip gloves to convert all minion damage to elemental)
  • Minion Damage (Awakened) (this reduces minion HP, switch it out if they are dying too much)
  • Fire Penetration (Awakened)
  • Melee Splash for clear speed, and then switch in Multistrike for difficult bosses.

Optional QOL Links:
- Unleash - when going through area with a lot of new zones (Delve, Labyrinth) this allows you to summon multiple weapons at once - very convenient!
- Minion Speed is most useful early on before you can stack minion speed on gear/passives. It makes Animated Weapons more aggressive.

Utility Skills

Support Minions (in Helmet):

Raise Spectre - Animate Guardian - Elemental Army, and Convocation.

Elemental Army will cause utility minions to apply Exposure to Fire on hit (-10 Fire Resistance), and also keep them alive. For spectres we summon a Stygian Silverback plus a Host Chieftain from Act 6 Riverways to give Frenzy/Power charges to our minions.

Golem: Summon Carrion Golem - Feeding Frenzy - Combustion.

Weapon: Desecrate - Flesh Offering - Lifetap.

Weapon has crafted "Trigger Socketed Spells when using a Skill" (requires open suffix). This will automatically cast the Flesh Offering buff as you use other skills. Lifetap is optional. If you're having no issues with mana, that can become a flex socket instead.

Gloves (4 Red Triad Grip):
Two separate 2-links: Anger - Generosity and
Vitality - Arrogance or Cast When Damage Taken - Steelskin.

Reserving some of both life and mana lets a Reservation Mastery give us +1 to all maximum resistances. Vitality does not have to be leveled up all the way, in order to not reserve too much life.

Alternately, you can use a CWDT setup here. I suggest leveling it not all the way up. Molten Shell is another option here, but I personally like that Steelskin grants bleed immunity, taking care of that dangerous ailment.

Socketed Anywhere, Unlinked: Determination, Tempest Shield, Bladefall, Flame Dash.

8. Choosing Gear

As a general rule when picking between rares, Armor is the best defensive stat as it’s the one most scaled by the passive tree. Energy Shield is useful, and Evasion is worthless.

All rare items should have at least +50 Maximum Life, or hopefully better (80+), in order to be considered really good.

We must find approximately +70 Dexterity from gear to reach gem requirements. Best sources for Dexterity are Rings, Amulet, Boots, or Jewels.

Most of the gear is very flexible. Just get the stats you need, max out resistances, and get minion stats on the Shield, Rings, and Helmet where possible.

Gloves: Triad Grip (4 Red Sockets).

Body Armor

Defense: Belly of the Beast for a massive HP and armour boost.Bloodbond is similar but less strong because it has Evasion rather than Armor. (budget option).

DPS: Skin of the Loyal. Can be found early in a league if lucky with socket colors. For best outcome, have corrupted with +2 to Duration Skill Gems.

Clear Speed: Saqawal's Nest. Aspect of the Avian is powerful buff to damage and move speed. May require you to shift around your auras/passive tree a bit to accommodate. Look for a good roll on “reduced mana reserved” on this item if you get it. Defensively weak.

Rare Armor: useful stats on influenced rare armor include...
  • +1 to Level of Socketed Active Skill Gems (prefix, Shaper or Warlord)
  • #% increased effect of Non-Curse Auras from your Skills (suffix, Redeemer)
  • #% increased effect of Offerings (suffix, Hunter)

Honorable Mention: Cloak of Tawm'r Isley. Having magic items drop identified is designed for this build, and gives you a higher quality of minion if you are bothering to click on dropped weapons. Downside is this item is a very rare drop so it’s expensive, and getting red or green socket colors is difficult.

Helmet Enchants

Roughly in order of how good they are:
  • 24% chance to create an additional Animate Weapon copy (Highly recommended for QOL)
  • Flesh Offering grants 21% increased Attack Speed.
  • 150% increased Effect of the Buff granted by your Carrion Golems.
  • Increased Animate Weapon damage.
  • 30% increased Animate Weapon Duration.

Weapon Vendor Recipe: Normal rarity Caster Weapon + gems with the "Physical" tag adding up to total of 40 gem quality --> Weapon with "+1 to physical spell skill gems." This is useful for SSF.
Amulet Enchant

- more minion defenses: Decay Ward (minion block, cheap anoint and very good for their survival)

- your own defenses: Soul of Steel, Prismatic Skin (increase max res, expensive) or Arcane Guarding (helps max out spell block, cheap).


The passive tree puts high priority on jewel sockets because a ton of our final DPS comes from well-rolled jewels. If playing in SSF, dedicate some effort toward crafting them.

Ghastly Eye Abyssal Jewels are the best rare jewels for bonuses to life and damage. If your DPS feels lacking, this is an area for upgrades!

Desirable prefixes:
  • +# Maximum Life
  • Minions deal (15–17) to (22–26) additional Physical Damage
  • Minions deal # to # additional Fire Damage

Desirable suffixes:
  • Minions deal 15-20% increased Damage if you've used a Minion Skill Recently
  • Minions have #% increased Attack Speed / Cast Speed
  • Minions have (6–8)% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you or your Minions have Killed Recently (weaker)
  • # to Dexterity or All Attributes (if needed for gear stats)
  • Minions have (6–8)% chance to Taunt on Hit with Attacks (On at least one jewel).
  • Minions have (5–6)% chance to Blind on Hit with Attacks (On at least one jewel).

Unique Jewels: Fortress Covenant and Quickening Covenant are very good for minions. ONLY place these in Cluster jewel-sockets, to avoid the negative effect on passives in radius! (Cluster jewel sockets have no radius).

Watcher's Eye: most mods will only boost the player and not minions so there are almost no benefits to be gained here.


This build has room for a lot of defensive flasks because they're not needed for extra damage.

You should always have:
- Seething/Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Staunching (bleed removal)
- (Some prefix) Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline or Warding (move speed or curse removal).

Along with your choice of defensive utility flasks. I would always carry a Quartz Flask to gain phasing - good to avoid being cornered by mobs and prevent desync, especially in Delve).

Have an Enduring Eternal Mana Flask available for no regen maps, or in case you have mana problems while summoning a bunch of weapons.

Only a few Unique Flasks are worth considering. Rumi's Concoction is good defensively. Bottled Faith is the only flask good for DPS, but it's expensive!

9. Animate Guardian Gear

Animate Guardian gives extremely useful DPS and survivability boosts, and can fill in areas where you otherwise may feel weak.

Its items will persist even after logging out of the game (as long as the Guardian doesn't die). Keeping it alive is pretty easy: the Minion Mastery "minions recover 5% of life on minion death" is a very strong source of healing because it triggers whenever a weapon expires. But, you still need to think about getting enough resistances for your Animate Guardian on its gear, so that it doesn't get tapped out by a boss before you can react.

Dual Cursing with Animate Guardian

We can have Animate Guardian automatically apply two curses on bosses.


Dreadarc Cleaver for Flammability, plus Gloves with a corrupted implicit to apply Elemental Weakness.

(As a second weapon, I prefer Sign of the Sin Eater as it will cause our AG to soak up all the nasty nearby ailments, making us almost immune).

We also need to have a source of "Can Apply an Additional Curse" somewhere on the AG's gear.

Cheap Setup

- Cospri's Will Body Armor
- Leer Cast Helmet
- any corrupted gloves for Elemental Weakness, any boots.

Fancy Setup

- Garb of the Ephemeral Body Armor
- Rare Influenced Helmet with "Nearby enemies have -9% to fire resistance"
- Vixen's Entrapment Gloves corrupted with Elemental Weakness on hit
- Legacy of Fury Boots for Scorch debuff.

10. Conclusion

Thank you for reading this far! Please leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions for the build.
Last edited by ThanatoZGaming on Apr 22, 2023, 10:06:08 AM
WHERE is the pob.
brunogoru wrote:
WHERE is the pob.

Last edited by ThanatoZGaming on Apr 3, 2023, 5:39:27 PM
I played the previous cold version a couple of times previously. Welcome back!
Gonna be real neat to see how vaal anime wep scales apparently it spawns unique weapons from the glass shards.
Last edited by Themasterofw on Apr 2, 2023, 8:00:19 PM
Your pob link doesnt work, i tried it on my client and a friends and nothing. I think maybe the new update bricked it.
irgoto wrote:
Your pob link doesnt work, i tried it on my client and a friends and nothing. I think maybe the new update bricked it.

Thanks for letting me know - I've fixed it, with updated 3.21 tree.

Thanks for fixing it bud, can you explain why your going fire this time. I followed your build a few times for the pure cold conversion animate, I'm curious on why you decided to switch ?

NM i found the section
Last edited by irgoto on Apr 3, 2023, 7:39:03 PM
irgoto wrote:
Thanks for fixing it bud, can you explain why your going fire this time. I followed your build a few times for the pure cold conversion animate, I'm curious on why you decided to switch ?

NM i found the section

Yeah, so Cold is still fine, but a few things I like about fire conversion (in addition to what's written in that guide section):

- less socket pressure so we can run a CWDT or Vitality setup, because 4G Triad Grip are sort of awkward while 4R is useful

- 3.20 made curses on bosses better, and fire gets an easy double-curse setup

- Raze and Pillage cluster notable is very good

- Immolate Support is better than the Added Cold support

- sources of aura effect keep getting nerfed, and Hatred aura effect scaling was a big part of what made cold conversion better in the past

- Skitterbots/Bonechill were great for cold's DPS, but with needing at least one defensive aura these days, can't usually afford that much extra reservation anymore

All that being said, Cold conversion is still fine, and if your character goal was "I have infinite budget and want to make the absolutely highest DPS possible with insane gear" then Cold probably gets you there more than Fire. BUT, Fire conversion has more QOL features, and once you hit about 10m-15m boss DPS the higher numbers start to matter less, in my experience.
Last edited by ThanatoZGaming on Apr 3, 2023, 7:56:05 PM

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