Dominion's Hardcore Dual-Spark CI Witch - UPDATED for 1.0.1

Information for 1.0.0 spark changes
A quick update for post 1.0.0 spark:

1.0.0 Patch notes impacting spark

-Shock has been reduced to 30% increased damage taken per stack rather than 40%.

-Spark: Damage is increased at lower levels. Spark duration has been heavily reduced.

-Bear Trap: Damage at high levels has been reduced by around 40% at level 15.

-Spell Totem: Damage reduction increased from 40% to 50%.

-The mana cost for all auras except Purity and Clarity has been changed to 60% reservation. Edit: Blood Magic is very strong because the auras are so powerful and the mana reservation can be mitigated very heavily using passives, items and the support gem.

So, to extract from the above, assuming you were using CI and you did not change gear or passives from 0.9.9 to 1.0.0, the difference would look like:

17% less damage
57% reduced area of spark coverage
15% less party damage. (from shock stacks)
Lose 1 aura, gain a slight buff on the other 2 auras.

The practical result of these changes is as follows:

Early endgame (60s/70s): Spark requires more gear to begin usage. It is significantly harder to shock at the beginning - probably worth taking static blows to compensate, and I highly recommend using fire trap/bear trap to supplement damage.

Mid endgame (80s): Still noticeably slower, it may still be worth taking static blows temporarily as a result of the changes to supplement crit shocking.

Late endgame (90+++): Mostly untouched. With strong gear, the only noticeable difference is the reduced AoE. Rather than putting down 2 totems and running through 2 screens as the sparks extended across the screen killing everything, you need to place totems down every pack. Single-target via placing the totems directly on a mob is still one of the best sources of single-target DPS in the game.

Now Streaming at:

Gameplay on Youtube
Merciless Vaal on Youtube

This Guide on ExilePro
Frequently Asked Questions

Why use spark? Why not (ice spear/ethereal knives/incinerate/etc.)

Spark has several advantages. It deals very effective AoE damage, but it also does fantastic single target damage by placing the totem on top of a mob. On top of this, it has the capability to shock targets, causing them to take 40-120% more damage from both your attacks and those of your party. Ice spear is limited to ranged usage since it must travel a large distance before it transitions to second form and explodes on the target. Ethereal knives suffers from 2 significant problems: mana cost that is too heavy to be supported with CI and extremely slow cast speed (cast speed scales doubly on totems - the totems are placed quicker and cast more often). Finally, incinerate deals decent damage, but does not inflict useful status effects making it lacking for crit builds, something for which totems are very well suited.

Why use Chaos inoculation? Why not use life?

Chaos inoculation builds have several benefits: Chaos immunity, which makes itemization easier since chaos resist can be ignored. Fewer points are required for survivability (Good ES can be achieved through far fewer nodes than similar EHP life builds). ES pool regenerates passively when damage isn't being taken. Because the build can be played without entering the fray, it is easy to regenerate (you also have no need for life flasks, enabling extra granites, quicksilvers, mana, or resistance flasks.)

Why use lightning penetration? It doesn't increase my tooltip damage?

When fighting a mob that has curse immunity and 75 lightning resist, level 10 lightning pen will exactly double your dps (reducing the mob's resist from 75 to 50). If you do the same against a mob that is not curse immune, assuming you are using elemental weakness and conductivity, you will reduce it from about -25 to -50, causing the lightning penetration to increase your effective dps by 20%

These are the two extremes of the spectrum. Most of the time, you will increase your damage by somewhere between 20-100%. This is much more effective than something like added chaos, which merely adds a static amount to your attacks, and does not scale effectively as your gear improves.

How do you manage your maps?

66-67 Transmute
68 Chance or Alch
69-70 Alch (70 maps can be chiseled initially per personal preference)
71+ Chisel and Alch

Maps that I never run without Maze:

71: Temple and Arachnid Nest
72: Waste Pool and Torture Chamber
73: Cells
74: Maze
75: Necropolis
76: Crematorium
77: Shrine and Shipyard

Lower level maps that benefit greatly from maze:

68: Spider Lair, Vaal Pyramid
69: Overgrown Shrine

Mods to prioritize:

Maze or Area Size (These are mutually exclusive, maps capable of rolling maze can not roll area size and vice versa.)
Pack size, More magic monsters
More rare monsters

Acceptable quantity without above mods:

66-68: 30
69-70: 60
71: 70
72: 85
73 and above: 100+


NOTE: Between A3 Cruel and A2 Merciless, there are many different ways to continue the passives, as they depend heavily on gear. Ancestral bond can be taken when spark does roughly 100 dps, and CI can be taken when ES is roughly 2500. Because these are not dependent on progression and instead depend on gear, I can not give a generic passive tree for these levels, and instead opt to give the desired passives before progressing in A2 merciless.

NOTE: If you are having difficulty shocking at this point, take static blows before you invest in the damage nodes suggested in the level 80 version.

Endgame Gem Setup
Spark Gems (4-6L)
4-Link Gems:

5th Link:

6th Link:

Power Charge Generation (4L)

Auras (4L)

Curses (3L)

Endgame Gear Examples








I will need to add more here later as I lent out several of my belts to a friend. Prioritize ES, Strength, and 2-3 good resistances.

Optimal Bandit rewards:

Normal: Passive Point (Kill All)
Cruel: 4% cast speed (Help Alira)
Merciless: Power charge (Help Alira)

General strategy:

Normal - Create a shadow at the beginning to get freezing pulse and bear trap. Play the build like any freezing pulse/ice nova build through normal. Alternatively/additionally, fire trap is also a good choice for progression, and is usable as supplemental damage after switching to dual totem.

Cruel - Spell totem is rewarded from Merveil's Lair toward the end of act 1 cruel. You should still be using freezing pulse heavily at this point, but you should supplement it with Spark+Fork+Spell totem. You will want to add faster casting as a 4th link as soon as you get it since totems scale so well with it (Faster casting improves the speed at which you place totems as well as the speed at which the totem itself casts). As far as progression is concerned, I prefer to overlevel the zones slightly by camping in ledge and city of sarn.

Merciless - Double spell totem will likely become viable during ledge farming in merciless. Fellshrine should be farmed until your gear reaches 2500-3000 ES (Including discipline). You can then remove the 10 life nodes from the passives and spec CI as well as adding more ES nodes. This should put you in the 3.5k-4k range. Act 2 progression should not begin until after activating CI since the chaos damage will easily kill you if you haven't specced CI.

Endgame - Endgame is simply an extension of the nodes placed during progression (More damage, crit, and ES.)
IGN: Dominion / Clamor
Last edited by Fireknight on Nov 30, 2013, 7:40:44 PM
Thanks for posting your build. Looking forward to update and more guidance.
Strange, Ages did not change this Place

Just died with my 38 ranger and want to try something new to me.

I'm just wondering, what skills to use low lvl and what should I go for in gear?
Aswell how should I start speccing in the lower lvls? Should u just rush to get CI then go for curses etc??

Thx for posting ur build :D
Last edited by Nikyht on Feb 4, 2013, 11:45:47 AM
IGN: Dominion / Clamor
Appreciate the post . . . how hard are you feeling the spark nerf (delay between repeat hits)?
samuraiduel wrote:
Appreciate the post . . . how hard are you feeling the spark nerf (delay between repeat hits)?

I've found it to be mostly trivial. The only time it's noticeable at all is when fighting a high life mob that's cornered in an otherwise open room. The sparks usually only hit once in that case. In more closed areas, the sparks hit just as many times as before - just with a slight delay between the first and second hits.

The reduction to totem cast speed is much more impactful in my opinion. (As well as ES requiring a much heavier investment)
IGN: Dominion / Clamor
What rewards should u take from the bandit quest rewards for normal, cruel & merc??

Really loving the build so far though :)
Nikyht wrote:
What rewards should u take from the bandit quest rewards for normal, cruel & merc??

Really loving the build so far though :)

Good question, I forgot about that.

Normal: All resistance
Cruel: Cast speed
Merciless: Passive point

A brief justification of why I took those points:

I prefer to get a large portion of my resistances from passives. By reducing the amount of resistances needed from gear, it's much easier to go for high ES on gear - ES does not need to be sacrificed on equipment slots just to cap out resistances.

Cast speed scales extremely well with totems, since each point of cast speed increases the totem cast speed as well as the speed at which the totem is placed.

Endurance charges may have been a better idea - I'm still tooling with the idea of using enduring cry. If you do decide to use enduring cry, the endurance charge is certainly worth getting.
IGN: Dominion / Clamor
Why Spark over Ice Spear? You said you enjoy the defensive side of hardcore builds, surely isn't perma frozen a better choice? I mean there is more damage in this, I don't doubt especially due to shock, but I was just curious.
IGN @Badwald
grimwald wrote:
Why Spark over Ice Spear? You said you enjoy the defensive side of hardcore builds, surely isn't perma frozen a better choice? I mean there is more damage in this, I don't doubt especially due to shock, but I was just curious.

Ice spear requires the totems to be at a range. Spark totems can be placed directly on the mob packs, which reduces the chance that the player gets targetted. I prefer spark totems for that reason, though I like ice spear totems as well.
IGN: Dominion / Clamor

Report Forum Post

Report Account:

Report Type

Additional Info