[1.0.5] Cloak of Defiance RF/EK Witch


Hi there. Since the creation of my unique and it being added into the game, I have been working on this build. I wanted to make one quite different to many builds that had existed at the time. Sadly, and very much because of my laziness, many quasi-similar builds did get posted before I got around to doing so.

That being said, this has been my favorite build I've ever built. It's incredibly tanky and puts out a really good amount of damage too.

Now I do not encourage people to simply copy what I show you here, in fact, it's very likely there are more efficient ways to achieve what I did. Now that's done with, let me explain how the build works!

1.0.4 : Patch doesn't change anything with this build. Fire skills are possibly more attractive to use with it though!

1.0.5 : None of the patch changes really did anything to change aspects of this build.


This build does not utilize many uniques. In fact, not all of the uniques are even 100% necessary. That being said, I found that utilizing them worked best for me.

The namesake of the build and the unique I created. This is the item that my build completely revolves around. Everything about the build defensively is designed to make use of what this unique gives you. As most of you know, this item makes it so 40% any hit you take goes to mana before life. This can be read as "40% damage reduction as long as your mana can sustain it". I don't have to tell you how insane that is. You can technically grab the keystone instead, but I much prefer this as it's stronger and gives us the stats we need.

The second most important unique of this build and the most important unique from an offensive point of view. This shield allows us to run Righteous Fire. Without this unique it would be a lot harder to sustain the HP-loss. Another minor advantage that many people will not notice right away is that this also helps against Burning damage (which incidentally happens to be one of the few damage sources MoM cannot protect you from!). It is theoretically possible to sustain RF without this, but I'd really not recommend it.

The third unique in the build and possibly the least essential. However, if you look at what it gives you, it's a hard unique to ignore! The boost to aura gem levels are very good for Purity of Fire. The reduced mana reserved is exceptional for having mana available to use through MoM. That being said, this unique does tend to be a bit pricey, and can safely be avoided if necessary. There are other ways to get what this unique gives you (and rare helms can possibly have more resists and life too). Do remember that it requires a fair amount of DEX to equip, which Witches don't typically get a lot of!


Since this character was intended for the Nemesis league, defense is a lot more important that it's offensive capabilities. This character is so incredibly defensive and tanky that it takes a lot to go wrong to make you panic. Below are what this build uses.

Mind over Matter
As mentioned earlier, Mind over Matter is the central focus of this build's defenses. You gain the keystone through the unique Cloak of Defiance, which also happens to be 10% stronger. The aim of this build is to be able to have so much mana regen that having mana available for use through MoM is never an issue. As long as you have the mana available, the use of this keystone effectively reads as a 40% damage reduction against everything but degen effects.

Arctic Armour
With high mana, one naturally thinks about the possibility of running Arctic Armour. Not only is this possible, but it works incredibly well and makes this build exponentially more tanky against physical and fire sources of damage. You can pretty much run whatever level of Arctic Armour you please, as your aim is to be able to regen as much mana as possible. It is even possible to link Empower to Arctic Armour if you have it available to boost it's reduction even more.

The Cloak of Defiance provides us with a sizable amount of Evasion. Through the use of the Iron Reflexes keystone and since we grab a number of increased Armour nodes in the tree, you should have a respectable amount of Armour. You could even run Grace instead of Hatred if you wanted to push it over the edge, but I found it largely unnecessary and the damage trade-off not worth it.

At the very end and possibly the most important defensive stat in the game, you will have a fair amount of life. You might not have as much as some of the pure life builds out there, but remember that almost every source of damage hits you only 60% as hard!


To be perfectly honest, it does not matter what skill you want to pick as long as it's a spell. Any spell will work within the framework of this build as far as I know.

The spell I had originally chosen was Ethereal Knives for no other reason other than someone telling me it was weak after it got nerfed and I wanted to prove them wrong. However, I found that EK worked very well with this build I had in mind. However, what really makes the damage of this build tick is the running of Righteous Fire.

I will list my suggested links too, in order of importance!

Righteous Fire
While the burn damage it deals is noticeable, the main reason we want to run this skill is because of the massive spell damage buff it provides. At level 20, it provides a whopping 59% more spell damage! That's a multiplier because do note the 'more' keyword. Essentially what this means is that this skill will boost our DPS by a significant amount by simply turning it on.

Suggested Links : None (it doesn't matter because you're only using it for the damage buff, but linking it to damage supports does not hurt)

Ethereal Knives
This skill is very good with this build. The best part of the skill is that it requires very little investment in the passive tree to make it work. Most of it's damage comes from it's links and it's gem level.

Suggested Links : Faster Projectiles > Added Fire Damage > Faster Casting > Life Leech > Empower (Iron Will is also a possibility if you have enough STR)

Bear Trap
Although this skill now requires damage nodes from the tree to be as good as before, it's fairly respectable as a single target damage skill. Use it with culling strike and it'll be awesome!

Suggested Links : Culling Strike > Item Rarity > Added Fire Damage


I actually debated long and hard about this. Both Oak (for life) and Alira (for mana) are desirable stats. At the time, I ran a few calculations myself and concluded that I needed Alira's reward to sustain my auras. While that calculation has changed a fair amount since I had not originally planned to use Alpha's Howl, the bonus is still amazing. That being said, Oak's reward is also very hard to ignore. Depending on how much mana you can get on your equipment, Alira's reward can go from being absolutely crucial to minor.

Suggestion : Take either Alira (mana) or Oak (life). I personally took Alira.

In almost every case, Oak's reward is the best for EK. However, Alira's reward is fine if you choose to run another spell!

Suggestion : Take Oak for Physical damage.

Personally I am not a fan of using charges so I completely skipped this one and took the skill point. I suggest you do the same!

Suggestion : Kill all 3 for the skill point.


I have gone through so many iterations of this build, spent literally 60+ regret orbs trying out various things. In the end I've settled on this. It's very likely not the most efficient way to do it, but it works for me.


Get the duelist mana nodes last, but they do help a lot. Get life/mana from here on out. The cluster below Hex Master is a very good mana cluster. Hex Master is not 100% necessary but it's one of my favorite keystones to prevent Enfeeble from ever dropping!


Auras play such a key role in this build. It is incredibly important to know at a certain point of time if you can run a specific aura or not (as in, if your mana can support it). If running an aura makes it so your mana pool is insufficient to absorb hits, you need to re-evaluate the decision of running that aura.

The most important aura of this build. You MUST run this aura no matter what. The amount of mana regen it provides is insane. Not to mention it stacks with mana regen passives and affixes. Remember that if your mana pool is too little after running other auras, it is possible to run this off blood magic as it costs a flat amount!

Purity of Fire
The second most important aura of this build. You MUST be able to run this aura if you are at a stage where running Righteous Fire is possible. This aura provides us with so much max fire resistance to allow running Righteous Fire. In my build, I require a minimum of level 20 Purity of Fire to have enough regen (which I achieve through the Alpha Howl).

The third most important aura of this build. You might be asking why run it at all. Doesn't it cost 60% of your mana pool to provide a minor increase? Even if it makes your available mana pool a bit smaller, remember that mana regen depends on max mana. Discipline boosts your mana regen by a ton and has to be run if you can support it.

As it stands, my build is capable of running RF without Vitality. However, it does require being 80+ to do so. Until you can get to that stage, you may choose to run Vitality over Hatred in order to get your life regen high enough to support running RF.

Finally we come to Hatred. It's very useful when you run it and provides a ton of additional damage. That being said, running Righteous Fire provides more DPS in most cases so if it's a choice between running Hatred and RF, drop Hatred. In groups it's very likely that someone else will have it anyway, and if you are solo the DPS drop will not matter too much.


Remember in all cases, support the Auras with the Reduced Mana support! Slot them into the Alpha's Howl to benefit from the +2 to aura gems.


I had to make this a section by itself because it is one of the most important aspects of this build. You will very likely spend a lot of time calcing out the balance to get it just right. Below I will show you three breakpoints, including the way I currently run it.

I have also included theoretical ways to run it better than I am currently doing so, for people who would like to experiment with the boundaries of what is possible.

With Alpha's Howl
The easiest and most straightforward way to do it. You are aiming for a level 20 Purity of Fire. This will provide you with 4% max fire resistance, which will get boosted to 6% with 50% increased aura effect passives.

75% + 2% (Elemental Adaptation) + 8% (Rise of the Phoenix) + 6% (20 Purity of Fire) = 91%

With a 91% fire resistance, you only require 8.1% life regeneration to sustain RF.

With a +3 to gem level weapon
Another simple way to run it, and possibly a bit less expensive, although finding a weapon with both gem level/fire gem level and good DPS can be expensive once again. Slotting a Purity of Fire in there to ensure it reaches level 20 creates a case similar to the one explained above.

It is possible to boost it even higher. For example :

Slotting a level 20 Purity of Fire in there can result in a level 23 Purity of Fire, which provides 5% max fire resistance. If you can achieve this, I recommend picking up another aura node somewhere to get you to 60% increased aura effectiveness. That will take Purity of Fire to 8% max resist (5% x 1.6)

75% + 2% (Elemental Adaptation) + 8% (Rise of the Phoenix) + 8% (23 Purity of Fire) = 93%

You only require 6.3% life regeneration to sustain RF now, allowing you to drop some regen for more life/mana.

Using Empower
Empower is another cheap-ish way of boosting the level of the aura gem to level 20. Using that in combination with a +gem weapon makes it even nicer.

This is yet another way to push the limit of what you can do with Purity of Fire. Using a level 3 Empower Gem slotted into a weapon such as the one above can boost Purity of Fire to level 26 (6% max resist)! With 50% increased aura effectiveness, that is now 9%.

75% + 2% (Elemental Adaptation) + 8% (Rise of the Phoenix) + 9% (26 Purity of Fire) = 94%

Now you only require 5.4% life regeneration to sustain RF.

Do note however that Empower does increase the cost of the aura reservation by 1.25x!


However you choose to run RF, make sure you have at least level 20 Purity of Fire to make it easier on yourself. Whenever you find yourself lacking in the life regen department, use Vitality and drop Hatred and you will be fine in most cases.


Gearing this character is a very delicate process as there are many things to consider. I will try to explain how the process goes below.

Get yourself a Cloak of Defiance and try to 4L it at the very least. A Rise of the Phoenix will be good as well. Decide if you want to go the Alpha's Howl route or not.

If you choose to not use an Alpha's Howl, you will need a wand with + to all gems/fire gems, depending on how many additional levels you'll require. Other than this, prioritize spell damage, cast speed and projectile speed.

It's often hard to find a really good ring/amulet which is cheap. The thing to remember is to prioritize Mana regen and life over anything else! These are one of the few slots where you can actually get mana regen, so abuse that.

If you can get yourself a Ming's Heart for one of your ring slots, it'll help your DPS immensely and is worth losing the mana regen.

Other slots
You are looking for the following stats.
- Life
- Resists
- Max Mana

Make sure you have the following.
- Seething Life Flasks
- Staunching Flask somewhere
- Granite Flask
- Seething Mana Flask/Bubbling Mana Flask (I have mixed feelings about this, sometimes I prefer having the instant recovery and sometimes I prefer the gradual one).

Chaos Resistance
Do NOT skimp on this. Most chaos damage is in the form of degen, and MoM does not work against degen. You will be taking full damage to life from most sources of chaos damage. Make sure your chaos resistance is not too low or it'll be painful when you encounter those mobs.

This is more important when using the Alpha's Howl, but since Bear Trap also has a high DEX requirement, do not neglect your DEX! If possible, get a bunch of DEX on a single item slot somewhere and save yourself the headache of not having the stat points to use something.

My Gear for Reference
While this is by no means a requirement to run the build, I have posted my gear below as a reference of what you want.

Yes my flasks suck, and they really need to be improved. I do have the basics though!


While DPS numbers aren't a very accurate way of looking at how hard something hits, it can sometimes be a good way to compare.

Currently I'm using a level 19 EK, which is rather strange because I thought it would hit 20 well before this.

With Hatred alone


With level 18 Righteous Fire alone


With both Hatred and level 18 Righteous Fire


Remember DPS numbers vary between skills. Compared to regular EK numbers, this is fairly strong! It'll get even better with a 6 link and with a level 20 gem. A Ming's Heart would boost is further as well.

This really shows the impact RF has on your damage. Best part is for maps that do not support RF (such as -max resistance and whatever else), you can just turn it off and get a huge amount of HP regen in exchange.

I forgot to take a screenshot showing how much Armour is possible, but with good gear you can easily get 5k+ without a granite running, since you do take a good number of Armour passives and the uniques you use do tend to provide a good amount of Evasion (which gets converted to armour through Iron Reflexes).


If you choose to run a variant of this build without using EK, there are a few advantages. The most important one is that you do not need to run Hatred anymore, and are free to run Vitality, making RF a lot easier to run. That gives you a lot of freedom with your passive tree. Running something like below :


This will give you enough regen inclusive of Vitality to run RF, as well as enough spell damage and a bit of extra mana. It also leaves you with enough spare points to get more damage, depending on the type of skill you choose to go for.

In the end, this build does not have to be a Witch at all. You could run this as a Marauder, a Duelist, a Scion or even a Shadow and you'll gain various advantages/disadvantages by doing so. I am not fully certain which class runs it the best, but I like Witches so the decision was fairly easy. However, if you prefer running it on another class of your choice, feel free!

If there's anything I left out, or if you have any questions about it, feel free to PM me or reply here and I'll try to get to them as soon as I can.

Thanks for reading!
Last edited by Hrishi on Jan 14, 2014 12:28:52 AM
Looks good.
Passive is good but i thinks it's not perfect,need some fix.
PS: Can you make a passive tree for people which want use Spells and not EK?
pacatino wrote:
Looks good.
Passive is good but i thinks it's not perfect,need some fix.
PS: Can you make a passive tree for people which want use Spells and not EK?

If you see anything I've not done most efficiently, do point it out and I'll try fixing it.

I'd run something like this for non-EK builds.


Leaves you with enough HP regen along with Vitality to safely run RF with a level 20 Purity of Fire, as well as a ton of Mana. You also have enough spare points to get more points into damage too depending on what type of skill you'd want to go for!
Last edited by Hrishi on Dec 17, 2013 8:44:54 PM
Can u post screenshots of ur def/dps?
Can u post screenshots of ur def/dps?

Definitely this. I've been looking for a new build and having all these unique sounds interesting.
Actually good point, thanks for pointing that out. I'll take a few screenshots with various setups and update the first post.

EDIT : Done!
Last edited by Hrishi on Dec 17, 2013 10:36:32 PM
Completed 33 ChallengesHrishi wrote:
Actually good point, thanks for pointing that out. I'll take a few screenshots with various setups and update the first post.

EDIT : Done!

Thank you for doing this so quickly and allowing me to be lazy. Unfortunately, I'm not a hardcore player. The damage is too low for me to invest in as a non-HC player.
Dekunuts wrote:
Completed 33 ChallengesHrishi wrote:
Actually good point, thanks for pointing that out. I'll take a few screenshots with various setups and update the first post.

EDIT : Done!

Thank you for doing this so quickly and allowing me to be lazy. Unfortunately, I'm not a hardcore player. The damage is too low for me to invest in as a non-HC player.

Remember this is just a picture from my nemesis character, so you are looking at a picture from that perspective. You could very easily adapt the passive tree yourself for a non-HC league, since this tree has a ton of survival instead of damage. I'd switch the nodes around and give up some HP for some spell damage/cast speed. I would not give up mana since you do need it to run these auras.

I would do it myself but I have not played in any other league in a while I would not want to mislead people. Good luck!
Last edited by Hrishi on Dec 17, 2013 11:05:50 PM
Woah wait a sec... So Cloak of Defiance has 30% MoM, PLUS another 10%?! I though it was just 10%, and you could get 40 if you went down to MoM.
The silent majority.
PanicAK wrote:
Woah wait a sec... So Cloak of Defiance has 30% MoM, PLUS another 10%?! I though it was just 10%, and you could get 40 if you went down to MoM.

Yes, Cloak of Defiance has the keystone inbuilt. So you get 40% for simply wearing it. You don't have to go down the tree at all.

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