[0.9.13] Arc and Flame Witch

Overview

This Witch build revolves around dealing damage with Arc and supporting it with Flame Totem for Elemental Equilibrium and curses, while getting the required mana from Eldritch Battery. Build is designed for Default League for PvM purposes. While it might work on Hardcore and PvP with little tweaking, that is not discussed in this guide. The build is designed to be able to cope with most endgame map modifiers and layouts, while some may require more careful or entirely different approach.


Pros

Works in every situation
Spoiler
Freezing Pulse requires melee range to be effective, Ice Spear requires distance, Spark only works optimally indoors or in melee range while shotgunning, Firestorm is complicated against moving targets, Ethereal Knives sucks against single targets... Arc on the other hand doesn't require anything special. Works well indoors, outdoors, against single target, against multiple targets, against distant targets, against monsters that are hugging you or your totem... You name it! I think having universally powerful damage dealer is very important to cope with the endgame variety that map system presents.

Gear independent
Spoiler
From base armor stats, we are only interested in Energy Shield. Unlike most CI builds which solemnly rely on ES to survive, we use ES for mana. While Arc with 5 supports costs a ton, endgame Eldritch Battery gives a FUCKTON even with nowhere near massive Energy Shield numbers. Thus we don't need to roll with absolutely obscene ES from our gear. We also get huge resists from Purity and only require a little from gear to max them. All this means that we don't need godly gear to stay alive. In the end we can focus on gearing towards damage, a luxury only shared by few builds.

Useful in parties
Spoiler
Unlike one would expect from build that uses Elemental Equilibrium, this build works great in parties. Since both of our elemental damage skills are dual element, we never increase any monster resistances. Also other players using Elemental Equilibrium won't affect the performance of this build because our Elemental Equilibrium provider has obscenely fast application rate. We provide ridiculous amounts of Shock stacks and 2 curses that can become handy. Also due to the nature of Eldritch Battery, we can support more auras without hurting ourselves if the team benefits from them.

Avoids major cliches to create something new
Spoiler
No CI? Check. No minions? Check. No overused actives (Spark, FP)? Check. No overused passives (Spell Totem, Fork/Chain/GMP/LMP)? Check. By avoiding overused and popular options, we are not prone to balance changes that will affect those aspects eventually.


Cons

Damage output
Spoiler
Arc's DPS is definitely it's downside. While you may not oneshot everything without proper setup, this build is focused around boosting Arc in every possible way, ultimately making it a very potential spell. Although your DPS numbers might seem depressing, remember that it's faster to throw two Arcs at a monster on the edge of your screen than it is to run next to it and cast a Freezing Pulse.

Requires meticulous timing for survivability against physical and chaos damage
Spoiler
While Arc is no doubt the easiest spell to use in the entire game, in difficult situations the build's survivability is in the hands of Flame Totem and Granite Flasks. We have great resistances and lots of life, but no armor or Energy Shield so physical damage can easily rip us apart. When played properly with good latency, dying should never be an issue.



Active and support skills

6 link:
Arc - Added Cold Damage - Lightning Penetration - Elemental Proliferation - Faster Casting - Iron Will
Spoiler
Arc is our main damage dealer and the skill we spam to kill monsters, and thus gets a dedicated 6 link to work optimally.
Added Cold Damage is the most important support, and needs to be used when specced to Elemental Equilibrium. More of how EE works in Passive skill tree chapter.
Lightning Penetration is simple enough, damage increase through lowering resistances.
Elemental Proliferation works better at little higher difficulty levels, when Arc doesn't necessarily oneshot anymore and monster packs are larger. With Arc's inherent chaining and massive 40% chance to cause Shock, Elemental Proliferation is mainly used to get maximum of 3 Shock stacks on all monsters as fast as possible.
Faster casting is another no-brainier, a rather significant DPS increase since mana is never an issue because of Eldritch Battery.
Iron Will is an endgame support, picking numerous Fitness and Might passives yields a lot of Strength. Even without 6 link, you should have this on gear to level it. It will likely have 15+ levels before you'll even have 6 link and enough strength, negating most of the casting speed penalty.

4 link: Flame Totem - Added Cold Damage - Faster Casting - Fire Penetration
Spoiler
Flame Totem is gotten to provide steady Elemental Equilibrium, function as a tank and deal fair damage. It deals damage every 0.08 seconds without any Increased Casting Speed. Damage is dealt to the monster that the totem targets, and any monsters behind that. Because of this inherent piercing, it doesn't work with Chain or Fork. It will work with Greater Multiple Projectiles or Lesser Multiple Projectiles, but the projectiles stack so this can't be used to make the totem shoot at more targets.
Added Cold Damage is used for Elemental Equilibrium.
Faster Casting will slightly boost DPS of the totem, but is mainly used to cast the totem faster.
Fire Penetration will increase the DPS as usual.

4 link: Elemental Weakness - Conductivity - Faster Casting - Increased Area of Effect
Spoiler
The two curses that the build uses are Elemental Weakness and Conductivity. Both are used to lower monsters' Lightning Resistance as one would expect. Conductivity also increases chance to cause Shock by 10-14%. For ease of use, they are supported by Faster Casting and Increased Area of Effect for obvious reasons.

4 link: Clarity - Discipline - Purity - Reduced Mana
Spoiler
The build uses 5 auras, of which 3 are here. Clarity increases mana regeneration with integer mana cost, allowing to get by with less Energy Shield or Mana Regen from gear.
Discipline increases our mana pool rather than granting Energy Shield. With integer mana cost, it's useful from level 1 and gets far better later on.
Purity is our only percentage mana cost aura, and helps with resistances.
All of these are supported by Reduced Mana, allowing more mana pool.

3 link: Grace - Haste - Reduced Mana
Spoiler
Grace increases Evasion. The build doesn't rely on it, but because of it's integer mana cost, it's very cheap way to gain more survivability.
Haste is our final aura. It will likely be buffed in Open Beta, currently it gives hefty Cast Speed bonus.
Reduced Mana is self explanatory.

Other skills:
Lightning Warp and Phase Run (until it gets removed) for added mobility.


Passive skill tree progression

Normal
Spoiler
Start with the usual spell damage and mana regeneration, don't touch Lightning Damage yet because you'll be using Freezing Pulse until you get Arc. While going straight to Eldritch Battery might sound odd, it actually works very well even with low Energy Shield gear due to how differently Mana and Energy Shield are itemized. Even with extremely low level Energy Shield gear, this will completely negate our mana concerns right off the bat. Finally take Lightning Damage as you get Arc so you're ready to face Vaal Oversoul and carry on to Cruel.

Cruel
Spoiler
Your target in Cruel is to get more HP and Shock chance. Do NOT take Elemental Equilibrium until you get hold of Flame Totem and can support both Arc and Flame Totem with Added Cold Damage. Getting a single 30 Dex node helps to obtain the Dex requirement for Added Cold Damage. Finally aim for Double Totem node and get ready for Ruthless.

Ruthless
Spoiler
Your trip through Ruthless will yield HP and damage. We also expand a bit to different direction, taking casting speed near CI and more Dex to be able to use Haste and Grace. Finally dump points to Inner Force ring to gain even more from auras.

Merciless
Spoiler
Merciless sees an expansion into Templar starting area, granting Mana Regen, damage and Life.

Endgame
Spoiler
Endgame build takes rest of the Strength and damage nodes nearby and treks to the middle of the tree for even more damage.



Itemization

This build is relatively item independent as mentioned above. Only mandatory item is +1 Curse Ring or Boots, and you don't need that until starting to do serious maps. I prefer the boots over the ring because I think they're better itemized for us, your Flame Totem sockets are easily rolled to them and you lose less important stats than getting the Ring.

Other than that, get enough Energy Shield and mana regen to sustain Arc spamming. Get enough life to not get oneshot. You don't need massive amounts, I had 900 when I finished Merciless. More on this in Gameplay section below. Get some resistances. Get as much damage in form of Spell Damage, Elemental Damage and Cast Speed. For flasks, you don't need any mana flasks whatsoever. I use 3 Life of which one is Seething, 1 Granite when you need to tank and 1 Topaz for Elemental Reflect.


Gameplay

Arc is best used when there are at least 2 monsters, as it can bounce back to the same target. Although it's damage potential caps at 3 targets, your damage potential doesn't because of Elemental Proliferation. More monsters are clumped together, faster they get the maximum of 3 Shocks and when they do, they die very fast. When fighting against bosses, always have totems up or try to find out more monsters to surround it with.

For easy content like Fellshrine, you don't need to worry much about totems. They have quite long cast time and stuff should die without them so you're better off spamming Arc with curse support for Blue/Yellow monsters. Lightning Resistant monsters that are alone are your worst enemy (like the Golems here), not so much because they'll kill you but because they take so long to kill. Getting them surrounded or outright ignoring them when they're alone is probably faster than laying totems and killing them.

In maps while soloing, your totems are your best friends. When progressing in difficult area, always cast totems ahead to scout. When your totems are tanking, keep your eye on when one of them dies. You can then resummon it. Always have at least one totem active or be ready to tank with Granite Flask.

Map difficulty

Using this list, I'll comment on each affix and how they affect this build when soloing maps. Difficulty ratings go from 0-5, with 0 being something that doesn't affect this build at all to 5 making map nigh impossible.

Name - Description - Difficulty Rating

Armored - Increases monster physical resistance - 0
Spoiler
This build doesn't deal physical damage.

Burning - Monsters deal extra damage as fire - 2
Spoiler
Your totems die faster, if you have low life you'll probably die if you get hit in melee. Watch out for large caster or archer groups more than usual.

Capricious - Area is inhabited by Goatmen - 3
Spoiler
Goatmen, like any leaping or flickering mob is painful. Using totems is necessary but overall, they shouldn't be too much of an issue if you don't get reckless. Note that goatmen can be in a map without this affix too.

Ceremonial - Area contains many totems - 1
Spoiler
By many totems, it means many kinds of totems. From Skeleton summoning to making your enemies have permanent Diamond Flask effect. Depending on a totem and group accompanied with it, this can be either a pushover or pretty brutal. I haven't had any issues with this mod personally.

Deadly - Increase monster damage - 2
Spoiler
See Burning, it's basically the same for us.

Enraged - Monsters gain Frenzy charges every 30 seconds - 1
Spoiler
They basically just do more DPS, so same as Burning except not as severe.

Fecund - Increased monster life - 1
Spoiler
Apart from making the run slower, this is not an issue. The difference is barely noticable. Just hold your Arc button a little longer.

Fleet - Increased Attack, Casting and Movement Speed - 3
Spoiler
Can be nasty with already fast monsters. The issue here is movement speed, since if they kill your totems, they might reach you until you can recast totems. Not a massive issue unless you're reckless they have other nasty mods and you run out of Granite Flasks.

Freezing - Monsters deal extra damage as cold - 2
Spoiler
See Burning.

Incombustible - Monsters have extra fire resistance - 1
Spoiler
Sure your totems do less damage, but they still inflict Elemental Equilibrium and tank just fine.

Labyrinthe - Area is a Maze - -1
Spoiler
Fun times.

Mirrored - Monsters reflect Elemental Damage - 4
Spoiler
Ouch. Basically every monster has Elemental Reflect aura. Unless you have massive Lightning Resistance gear, don't bother. If you do however, it becomes far less of an issue, but it still slows you down a lot.

Molten - monsters have extra cold resistance - 0
Spoiler
Lowers the damage of your Added Cold Damage. Elemental Equilibrium still works. You won't notice this.

Multifarious - Area has increased monster variety - 0
Spoiler
Personally I haven't actually noticed any effect with this mod. Sometimes there are many different monsters, sometimes not. Either way, this build is designed around flexibility, there's no single monster type that is too hard for us.

Overlord's - Boss deals extra damage and attacks faster - 1
Spoiler
Depends on the boss obviously. Doesn't affect movement speed so kiting is always an option.

Punishing - Monsters reflect physical damage - 0
Spoiler
This build doesn't deal physical damage.

Shocking - Monsters deal extra damage as lightning - 2
Spoiler
See Burning.

Slithering - Area is inhabited by Sea Witches and their Spawn - 1
Spoiler
Seriously, I've seen more Sea Witches on maps that don't have this mod than the maps that have it. Either way, Sea Witches never posed any real problem to me and since they emerge in a big clump, they're extremely susceptible to Shocks. If you have low cold resistance, I can see them perhaps being an issue.

Splitting - Monsters fire additional Projectiles - 1
Spoiler
These projectiles can hit you and your totems at the same time. Generally archers are not that big of a problem, their damage tends to be quite low. I can see this being an issue with Spark casting witches on indoor maps, but I don't think I've ever seen one personally.

Twinned - Area contains two unique bosses - *
Spoiler
Very boss dependent. Some are horrible, others are more loot. For this build however, it's generally favorable modifier since having two targets for your Arc means they die faster.

Undead - Area is inhabited by Undead - 0
Spoiler
Same as Sea Witches. I don't know if this modifier works, there are undead on every map. It doesn't even guarantee necros either.

Unwavering - Monster cannot be stunned - 0
Spoiler
This build doesn't rely on stuns.


of Balance - Players have Elemental Equilibrium - 0
Spoiler
Cool, thanks!

of Champions - More magic monsters - 0
Spoiler
Any time lost killing them is gained by more experience and loot. This build doesn't have problem with magical monsters.

of Commanders - More rare monsters - 1
Spoiler
While you might get unlucky with some nasty aura combos, it's usually just a matter of more experience and loot.

of Elemental Weakness - Players are cursed with Elemental Weakness - 1
Spoiler
Totems remain unaffected, and you shouldn't get hit much in the first place.

of Enfeeblement - Players are cursed with Enfeeble - 1
Spoiler
See Fecund, it's basically the same but in reverse.

of Exposure - Reduced maximum player resistances
Spoiler
See "of Elemental Weakness".

of Flames - Area has patches of burning ground - 1
Spoiler
Generally they don't hurt much, you just need to be careful where you're stood. Totems are unaffected by these too so you don't need to consider them when placing your totems.

of Hemomancy - Players have Blood Magic - 4
Spoiler
Arc costs tons of mana, you have tons of mana regen to counter this. With Blood Magic it costs tons of life, you don't have tons of Life Regen to counter this. Unless you have leveled Vitality to swap in place of Haste, don't bother. I know I won't.

of Hordes - Increased monster pack size - 1
Spoiler
More monsters equals more Shocks. Can be an issue with difficult monsters that kill your totem too fast like Flicker Spiders but shouldn't pose a serious threat. And your efforts will be rewarded.

of Smothering - Life, Mana and Energy Shield recovers at half rate - 3
Spoiler
You can't spam Arc with this, unless you've gone completely mental with Energy Shield and Mana Regen. It will slow you down and might be a problem with big packs. Always prioritize your mana so you have totems up first and foremost.

of Stasis - Players cannot regenerate Life or Mana - 5
Spoiler
Oh man. Just don't bother with this, it's next to impossible for us. If you're going to bother, deactivate Clarity and one big mana spender like Haste. Take some support gems off of Arc to make it cheaper and bring mana flasks.

of Suffering - Players take chaos damage per second - 3
Spoiler
Entirely dependent on your health regen. If you have none, it's very annoying, I'd say 5 in difficulty. It forces you to proceed fast to keep Life Flasks filled, leaving no time to inspect loot. If you have lots of health regen, it's smooth sailing. Consider leveled Vitality in place of Haste if possible.

of Temporal Chains - Players are cursed with Temporal Chains - 3
Spoiler
More an annoyance than a real threat. Slows you down without a doubt and you can't kite anything other than zombies. Careful use of totems is required.

of the Warlord - Players are cursed with Warlord's Mark - 0
Spoiler
As with all curses, doesn't affect your totems. Monsters will never leech much life from you, if they do you die and they get Endurance Charges. That's bad. Don't get hit or die.

of Vulnerability - Players are cursed with Vulnerability - 1
Spoiler
Doesn't affect your totems. If you get hit, you're more likely to die, so don't get hit.


Closing

I hope other players find this guide helpful and maybe it will encourage the use of Arc in an offensive manner instead of just as a Shock builder. It's an awesome spell under right circumstances that needs to be used more. I will make and post videos if enough players are interested. Any comments, be it negative or positive, are always welcome.

Stay Arcing!
Alhoon's Trading Post (Invasion)

http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/818826
Thanks for sharing. I would love to see this in action.
IGN: Gemaq
"More of how EE works in Passive skill tree chapter."

I wish you went more in depth with the choice of EE : dmg using arc with and without EE ?

What do you think about the upcoming changes in Open Beta, mostly the aura nerfs we saw on kripparrian stream (I know these change are not final, but I doubt they'll undo all of them)
EE means constant 50% Lightning Resist reduction when a target is being damaged by Flame Totem. How big of a damage increase this is for Arc depends on original resists that the monster had, but it's safe to say that with Lightning Penetration and the two curses, it'll almost always be 50% damage increase. Because the build uses Added Cold Damage on Arc, when Arc hits the monster gets 50% reduced Fire Resists and nothing else. Theoretically this increases Flame Totem damage but since it ticks so fast, it's not really meaningful. But due to that Added Cold Damage, we can spam Arc without Flame Totem and not increase enemies Lightning Resistaces at all.

About the upcoming changes, if they end up being anything similar when Open Beta goes live, I'll drop double totems. I've actually already dropped that passive in Closed Beta to test how much it affects the build, and the build works very well without it. If anything, it's a slight DPS and survivability loss, but on upside, there's no incentive to cast Flame Totem twice now, so it might end up altering the playstyle in our favor. Arc hasn't changed at all, which is good considering some spells, like Spark, got nerfed. There are rumors that EE has been buffed, but I haven't been able to confirm those. The build uses tons of auras, but if percentage mana costs haven't changed, integer mana cost changes don't really affect the build because our mana pool is massive. Finally, Granite Flask change is pretty big, and along with double totem nerf might mean I'll end up using Templar itemization (Armor/ES).

I've tried capturing gameplay video but I'm afraid it's not possible with my current computer setup. If I manage to make it work I'll upload them.
Alhoon's Trading Post (Invasion)

http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/818826
Last edited by Alhoon on January 16, 2013 4:24 PM
so u just reset 4 points for totems and 10str node and go for more hp?
Pretty sick build.
Last edited by Devestate on January 16, 2013 8:39 PM
"
Norm4n wrote:
so u just reset 4 points for totems and 10str node and go for more hp?

I don't want to think about anything that specific at this point. Just wait and see how Open Beta is different from current Alpha. If I go Templar items then I'll probably get the other Body and Soul ring, and since the Shield ring next to that was buffed, I'll get that as well if the buff will go live. Since it gives spell block, I'll probably get more block as well, but too early to say at this point.
Alhoon's Trading Post (Invasion)

http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/818826
Hi Alhoon, how suitable is this build as a pure MF character?
What changes would you make?
How do you think it would stack up against other potential builds (any class)?

EDIT: Also, could you link your gear?
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Last edited by maxwolfie on January 18, 2013 7:18 AM
"
maxwolfie wrote:
Hi Alhoon, how suitable is this build as a pure MF character?

What changes would you make?

Without knowing all that much about MF in PoE, I'd say it'd work pretty well. Iron Will swapped to IIQ isn't that big of a DPS loss and the character is pretty gear independent so you can always gear towards IIQ, maybe even IIR although currently I see IIR as a pretty useless stat.

"
maxwolfie wrote:
How do you think it would stack up against other potential builds (any class)?

My uneducated guess is it's on a very good standing. There are builds that kill faster but they almost universally need to get into melee range, and thus need to gear accordingly. Then there are builds that are safer and even less gear dependent, like summoners, but in my opinion they lack killing speed that this build has.

"
maxwolfie wrote:
EDIT: Also, could you link your gear?


Spoiler


As you can see there's a lot of room for improvement. With the exception of the chest and boots, all items are found by myself.
Alhoon's Trading Post (Invasion)

http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/818826
"
Completed 3 ChallengesAlhoon wrote:
EE means constant 50% Lightning Resist reduction when a target is being damaged by Flame Totem. How big of a damage increase this is for Arc depends on original resists that the monster had, but it's safe to say that with Lightning Penetration and the two curses, it'll almost always be 50% damage increase. Because the build uses Added Cold Damage on Arc, when Arc hits the monster gets 50% reduced Fire Resists and nothing else. Theoretically this increases Flame Totem damage but since it ticks so fast, it's not really meaningful. But due to that Added Cold Damage, we can spam Arc without Flame Totem and not increase enemies Lightning Resistaces at all.


I'm sorry i'm a bit puzzled by that part.

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