[1.3] Dual Wield Axe Shocker - High HP, Balanced Atk/Def, Cheap, Fun!

Greetings! Welcome to the Dual Wield Axe Shocker build guide. This is my first guide. I consider myself a casual player, though lately I’ve been able to play a lot due to my holidays. I usually prefer developing my own builds instead of using other people’s builds (though I do that sometimes, which can also be fun). I’ve been trying to make many different builds since I started playing PoE about a year ago, and this is the first one I think deserves a build guide. Hope you enjoy!

This a melee build that dual wields axes, benefiting from skills that attack with both axes at the same time (Cleave and Dual Strike), and taking advantage of the high physical base damage of the axes to deliver lots of DPS. The main mechanic is to convert our physical damage to lightning damage using the Physical to Lightning support gem. This gem was introduced in 1.3.0 and the reason why it’s powerful in this build is that it allows us to scale lightning damage off of our high physical damage, which wasn’t possible before patch 1.3.0. The purpose of getting high lightning damage is to able to shock our enemies, placing a debuff which increases all damage they take by 50%.

Sources of lightning damage in this game usually provide a very wide range of rolls. If you use the Wrath aura, or Herald of Thunder, or the Added Lightning Damage gem, etc, you’ll notice they always add a small minimum value and a high maximum value. Something like “Adds 5 – 120 lightning damage”. This gives lightning damage great potential but makes it a little inconsistent: in the example above, you can either deal 5 or 120 damage, depending on rolls.

Physical damage, however, is more consistent. Just look at the physical damage found in any weapon: it has a smaller range between the minimum and the maximum values. Consequently, by scaling our lightning damage off of our physical damage, we are making it more consistent. By using axes, we make sure our base physical damage, which will provide our lightning damage, is as high as possible.


- Easy to build and new player friendly. Requires little investment from passives and gear, and can be played without any unique items;

- Good balance between offense and defense;

- Gear can be as cheap as you want it to be. Possible to play with only self-found gear. If you want to buy stuff on poe.xyz, the necessary items should be cheap;

- Can reach level 70, beating all difficulty levels and starting entry level maps, with very few deaths (or none at all if extra careful) and reasonably fast.

- Dual wielding axes just looks and plays awesome! :D


- Not the best offense nor the best defense in the game (balanced build);

- Relies on Elreon’s signature mod on Rings and Amulets for mana management (will be explained below). Good Elreon rings and amulets can be a little harder to obtain. Until you get those, you are restricted to subpar rings and amulets (could make it hard to cap resistances and get other good mods).

Offensive Mechanics
Our AoE skill of choice to use against packs of white and blue mobs is Cleave. Our Single Target skill of choice to use against strong rares, uniques and bosses is Dual Strike. These two skills were chosen because they are the only ones in the game that attack with both weapons while dual wielding, combining the damage of both weapons in one hit. This is important because one of our main strategies in this build is to apply a status ailment – shock. The duration of any status ailment, and whether it will or not be applied at all, depends on the amount of relevant damage (in our case, lightning) delivered in one single hit. Many builds reach high amount of DPS by acquiring sources of relatively small flat damage, but applying this damage enormously fast (high attack speed). This is not the case of this build. In fact, we do the opposite. We want high base damage delivered in powerful hits, to be able to shock even the strongest enemies. Cleave and Dual Strike are ideal for doing that in a Dual Wield build in their specific scenarios (AoE and Single Target).

We escape this logic a little bit by using the Multistrike gem in our link setup (detailed in a separate section below). Multistrike greatly increases our attack speed at the cost of making each single hit deal less damage. Not an ideal setup for applying status ailments. However, it is one of the biggest DPS boosts melee builds can get, and we simply have to use it. We compensate the damage penalty by just stacking massive amounts of physical damage everywhere else.

We use Leap Slam for mobility. We can use it to leap across rivers, cliffs and other obstacles. We can also use it to jump right in the face of our enemies and start cleaving them. Great utility skill for any melee build, probably indispensable.

If we feel it’s necessary, we curse our enemies with Conductivity. This increases the lightning damage they take and increases our chance to shock them. I always curse bosses and uniques with this curse. I sometimes curse blue or rare monsters, when they are resistant to lightning / elemental damage or when they have a lot of life.

We use the Wrath aura and the Herald of Thunder buff to give us a little more lighting damage. The effect of Herald of Thunder when a shocked enemy is killed is also helpful.

Stacking Strength: Strength is an awesome attribute, because it’s offensive and defensive at the same time. It gives us base health and a % to our physical damage. Therefore, once our Intelligence and Dexterity requirements for skill and support gems are met, we stack strength as high as we can.

Resolute Techinique (Keystone Passive): This is not a build centered around dealing critical strikes. Our weapon of choice, the axe, has a low critical strike chance base of 5%. This is difficult to scale into a measurable amount of total critical strike chance. Doing so would require a big investment in critical strike chance passive nodes and gear, and also accuracy. This build focuses on stacking strength, which does not provide any accuracy. We also do not get any dexterity node from the passive tree (dexterity provides accuracy). Therefore, we again go for consistency: by taking the Resolute Technique keystone in the Marauder tree, our hits cannot be evaded (we have permanent 100% chance to hit). The drawback is we are not able to deal critical strikes. Without special modifiers, the common way to apply shocks on enemies is via critical strikes. Since we cannot do that, we must invest on shock chance.

Shock Chance: The necessity of shock chance is what makes us take the Scion start for this build. By starting Scion, we have reasonably easy access to both the Marauder tree and the Static Blows cluster in the opposite side of the tree. The cluster contains 4 nodes, which in total give us 15% chance to shock with lightning damage, 8% increased lightning damage, and 50% increased shock duration on enemies. We also get the Elementalist notable passive in the Templar tree, which provides another 5% chance to shock, bringing our total to 20%, which I feel is sufficient. With 20% + the Elemental Proliferation support gem linked to our cleave, pretty much all enemies in trash packs are shocked. For single target shocking, we still have to struggle a bit and rely on high amounts of damage.
Increased shock duration is also a great modifier to have if we are able to obtain it. It’s important mainly for shocking bosses and uniques, and it’s not really necessary to shock trash mobs. The two main factors that define whether an enemy will be shocked, and for how long, are the amount of relevant damage per hit and the shock duration. Specific mechanics and formulas for this can easily be found in the wiki.

Defensive Mechanics
High Health: Our main defense is a big health pool. No secret here: just go for as many life nodes in the passive tree as possible, and have base life in every piece of gear. The pathing I chose for this build is optimal for that purpose. There is a step-by-step video guide I've made on how to build the passive tree. It's available in the video section in the end of this guide.

Armor: I do some strategic investment in armor nodes in the passive tree. Investing too much in armor is not desirable, since it has diminishing returns. However, we do want to have at least a decent base armor, which can be massively increased in critical situations by using granite flasks of iron skin. Therefore, we use pure Armor gear, and we also use the Determination aura for a reasonable armor boost, which scales greatly when we pop granite flasks.

Stacking Strength: Strength is an awesome attribute, because it’s offensive and defensive at the same time. It gives us base health and a % to our physical damage. Therefore, once our Intelligence and Dexterity requirements for skill and support gems are met, we stack strength as high as we can.

Life Leech: A great resource to help on survivability, since we can leech back some of the damage we deal to replenish our life pool. We have a few options where life leech is concerned. The main thing to consider is the use of the Physical to Lightning support gem. Since it converts 50% of our physical damage, we “lose” that 50% in terms of Physical Attack damage, which is where conventional life leech comes from. However, we still have 50% of our physical damage, which is greatly increased by our passive tree. We can still use this 50% to leech in the conventional way, by acquiring gear that provide physical attack damage leeched as life. The other way is to link the life leech support gem to our cleave setup. This would have to be the 6th link, since the other 5 are essential, but would allow us to leech life from both our physical and lightning damage. I personally don’t think this is necessary, but it’s still an option. I haven’t fully developed the build yet, but I intend to go the conventional way and leech life only from physical damage, increasing both my damage and the amount of leech by upgrading gear. I’m also considering using Blood Rage when I reach higher levels and maybe some decent chaos resistance, for some added leech. One last thing: this strategy will probably never use the Vaal Pact keystone, which provides instant leech at the cost of reduced effectiveness. It would only be useful to get Vaal Pact if our amount of leech exceeded the cap (see leech mechanics on the wiki), which probably won’t happen if we rely only on physical damage to leech. But, as I said, I haven’t finished developing the build and taking it to late game yet. Who knows.

Capped resistances: Almost unnecessary to mention. Any build in PoE must cap all resistances at 75%, or even increase the cap if possible. In this build, we don’t have any mechanics to increase the cap, so the flask setup will include resistance flasks – ruby, topaz and sapphire. At level 70, I haven’t set up these flasks yet. Shame on me! The +10% to max resistance can help in some relatively dangerous situations with heavy elemental damage.

Cast When Damage Taken setup: we use the traditional CWDT setup with enduring cry, immortal call and increased duration. Just some mildly lazy automation that is relatively helpful and requires no action.

Dealing with damage reflection: Our damage is part physical and mostly lightning. Therefore, physical reflection is not really a problem. Elemental reflection will be a little higher, but it’s still manageable by having capped lightning resistance and some life leech. The fact that we split damage between physical and elemental (lightning), by itself, is already a great mechanism for dealing with reflection. If physical reflection is ever higher than expected, we can just pop a granite flask. If elemental reflection is ever higher than expected, we can pop a topaz flask.

This is another important aspect of this build. I was able to find a solution to deal with mana in a way that I believe is the most efficient possible.

The usual ways to support spamming our skills in any PoE build are: high mana regeneration, mana leech, blood magic keystone, blood magic support gem. They all have drawbacks or rely on specific kinds of builds to work. I will briefly explain a little about each of them, and then give details about my approach to mana management, which is not any of those.

Usual ways to deal with mana
High mana regeneration is usually achieved by spellcaster builds who focus on intelligence, mana, mana regen, or even go for Eldritch Battery. This is not our case.

Mana leech is another option, but requires a little bit of the mana pool to be left unreserved and high physical damage to be able to leech at a sufficient rate.

The blood magic keystone completely removes the mana problem, but relies on at least a little bit of life regeneration, and prohibits the use of auras since your mana is reduced to 0.

The blood magic support gem also removes the mana problem and relies on life regeneration, while keeping your mana pool intact. Therefore, it has the advantage of still allowing the use of auras, but it occupies one gem slot that could be used for something better

Instead of using any of these traditional ways, we go for a somewhat novel mechanic, which is reducing the mana cost of our skills.

Reduced Mana Cost
Reduced Mana Cost can be achieved in two ways:

- % reduced mana cost of skills from 3 clusters between the Marauder and Templar skill trees;
- Flat reduction of mana cost of skills from special rings and amulets sold by Elreon, Loremaster.

We use a combination of these two resources. At level 70, I have allocated the 4 nodes in the Unrelenting cluster. In total, they provide 20% increased maximum life and 19% reduced mana cost of skills. This is great because they give us the reduced mana cost we need while still giving us a decent amount of life at the same time!

With this cluster allocated, my Cleave in its 5-Link setup costs 28 mana, reduced from 34. After that, we must obtain 2 rings and 1 amulet with Elreon’s signature mod with the max possible roll (-8 reduced mana cost of skills). This is a total of 24 flat mana reduction to all our skills.

At this point, Dual Strike and Leap already have a cost of 0, and Cleave now costs only 4 mana. At level 70 and without any investment whatsoever in mana regeneration, I have a mana pool of just over 400 mana and mana regeneration of 7.3, which is enough to support Cleave.

This means I can go wild on auras and reserve a lot of mana. In fact, the three skills which reserve mana used in this build (Wrath, Determination, Herald of Thunder), when supported by Reduced Mana at level 20, and considering 1 node from the passive tree providing a final 4% reduced mana reserved, reserve a total of 99% mana. I am left with 1% mana to use my Cleave. As I mentioned, at level 70, my total mana is around 400, which means I’m left with 4 mana unreserved, the exact cost of my 5-Link cleave. I call this the most efficient mana management you can possibly get in this kind of build in this game :D

Cleave in a 5-Link with: Cleave – Physical to Lightning – Multistrike – Melee Physical Damage – Elemental Proliferation.

Considerations for the 6th link
If I ever obtain a 6-link, I have considered the following supports for the 6th link: Increased AoE, Concentrated Effect, Faster Attacks, Life Leech, Added Lightning Damage, Added Fire Damage. Increased AoE would be great to make our damage application more effective, since Cleave has only a medium-sized radius of 20 units. Concentrated Effect would be a gigantic damage boost, but would decrease our area of damage application considerably, requiring investment on AoE elsewhere. Faster Attacks would be an interesting DPS boost, but would not do anything to make us shock things better, since it doesn’t increase damage per hit. Life Leech would help with survivability a little, as explained in the Defensive Mechanics section above. Added Lightning Damage would help a little for applying shocks, but doesn’t scale too well with our passive tree. Added Fire Damage scales awesomely with our big physical damage base, but is kind of out of the flavor of the build since it doesn’t help shocking (although it would probably be the biggest DPS boost).

To be honest, the 6th link, although desirable, probably won’t do much for the core mechanics of the build. I’ll have to see. In any case, any support gem I add will considerably increase the mana cost of Cleave and thus interfere with the Mana Management mechanic explained in the section above. To compensate, I would have to get more % reduced mana cost of skills nodes from the passive tree, depending on the mana multiplier of the new support gem. This makes Increased AoE and Concentrated Effect the least realistic gems, as they have a prohibitive multiplier of 150%, which is a shame because Increased AoE was the gem I was most excited about. In short, the 6th link will require more thought on my part for this build. I’ll deal with this if I ever obtain a 6-link chest.

Dual Strike in a 4-Link with: Dual strike – Physical to Lightning – Multistrike – Melee Physical Damage

Thunderfist unique gloves for Dual Strike?
At level 70, I’m considering using the Thudersfist unique gloves to put Dual Strike on, since it will provide a massive boost to our ability to shock bosses and uniques, at the expense of a big loss in defenses (Thunderfist has no life, no armor, no resistance). I want to avoid this as much as possible, because I don’t want to lose defensive power and I don’t want the build to need to rely on any unique item. I’m confident I can achieve the shocks on bosses and uniques simply by increasing my damage and maybe getting a little more shock duration (quality on the Conductivity Curse).

Auras and Buff in a 4-Link with: Reduced Mana – Determination – Wrath – Herald of Thunder

Cast When Damage Taken in a 4-Link with: CWDT – Enduring Cry – Immortal Call – Increased Duration

Conductivity in a 3-Link with: Conductivity - Faster Casting - Blood Magic

Leap Slam in a 2-Link with Faster Attacks

Possibly Blood Rage socketed in the final remaining socket left from gear.

At this point, start thinking about putting your Cleave and Dual Strike skills both in their 4-Links with Melee Physical Damage, Multistrike and Physical to Lightning, so you can start shocking things.

If you haven’t already, try to obtain a 5-Link chestpiece to put your Cleave on it, adding Elemental Proliferation to the other support gems. You’ll be able to shock monster packs consistently.

For the bandits quest on each difficulty level, do the following:

Normal: Help Oak (+40 life)
Cruel: Help Oak (+18% Physical Damage)
Merciless: Kill all (+1 skill point)

The build relies primarily on a big life pool and lots of physical damage, so the choices for Normal and Cruel are pretty obvious. The bandit rewards on merciless difficulty are extra charges. We don't have any mechanics for using power or frenzy charges. We use endurance charges in our CWDT setup, but it's not worth it to take +1 endurance charge only for that.

Summary of relevant passives at level 70

260 Strength
100 Intelligence

30% increased maximum Mana
4% reduced Mana Reserved
25% reduced Mana Cost of Skills

33% total increased Attack Speed
170% total increased Physical Damage

24% increased armor
156% increased maximum life
+50 to maximum life

20% chance to shock
50% increased shock duration

Character stats screenshots at level 70

Summary of relevant passives at level 75

290 Strength
100 Intelligence

30% increased maximum Mana
4% reduced Mana Reserved
25% reduced Mana Cost of Skills

37% total increased Attack Speed
208% total increased physical damage

38% increased armor
171% increased maximum life
+70 to maximum life

20% chance to shock
50% increased shock duration

Character stats screenshots at level 75

I have recorded 3 videos so far:

Introduction to the build and first footages of gameplay at level 70
Link: http://youtu.be/CeQj9lIQcJU

Update of the build at Level 75, including new passives, gear and more gameplay
Link: http://youtu.be/wr_PzzPHve4

Step-by-Step guide for buiding the passive tree from leveling to endgame
Link: http://youtu.be/tTeLn8rPwdY


All feedback is appreciated! As much as I've been loving to play with this build, if you have any suggestions for things I could improve, or maybe some comments on mechanics I've overlooked, please feel free to reply!

Also, if you tested out and enjoyed the build, I'd very much appreciate your comments on how it worked out for you :)

Last edited by Rhoa_Power on Feb 5, 2015, 11:29:49 AM
Last bumped on Apr 8, 2016, 7:55:40 AM
Hi all!

I've noticed this thread had some views, as well as my introductory youtube video for the build. Thank you very much for anyone reading the guide and watching the videos.

If you like the build, please reply to this thread with your comments and feedback! I'd greatly appreciate that.

I have updated the guide with the following new things:
- Added directions for the bandits quest
- Added character stats (summary of passives and character info screenshots)
- Added 2 videos: update of the build at level 75, and step-by-step guide for building the passive tree. Both can be found in the videos section in the guide.

Hello, I'm a PoE newb that looking to play with a serious build and yours look interesting!

Can you add a link to the skill tree? I know there is a video about it, but a static page would be very helpful.

Idten wrote:
Hello, I'm a PoE newb that looking to play with a serious build and yours look interesting!

Can you add a link to the skill tree? I know there is a video about it, but a static page would be very helpful.


Hello Idten! Thanks for the interest in the build. If you decide to try it out, I hope you enjoy!

I have made a new section with links for the passive tree as you've requested. I hope it helps.
aside from the lightning gimmick wouldn't hatred and herald of ash grant you more damage (since you are scaling your damage with %phys gems and passives and not with %elemental damage)?
Zuggtmoy wrote:
aside from the lightning gimmick wouldn't hatred and herald of ash grant you more damage (since you are scaling your damage with %phys gems and passives and not with %elemental damage)?

Yes, they would. It would scale a lot better. I chose Wrath and Herald of Thunder initially to maintain the lightning damage "flavor" and also to test how much pure lightning damage I could achieve (which influences shocking bosses).

Maybe when I'm finished scalling my physical damage as much as possible I'll just switch. Hatred has the same cost as Wrath and Herald of Ash has the same cost as Thunder. If you're playing with this build yourself feel free to do it and the DPS should scale really well.

I'll probably make a video with this comparison in the future.
I recently started playing this game, made a few characters, upon unlocking scion I wanted to try out your build. I've been following your passive tree exactly and I am lv55 now. The biggest issue I've found early on is that many one handed axes require some form of dex. On top of that both cleave and dual strike require dex as well. I can't afford to even equip most axes now without using a necklace that gives 50+ dex. As far as the build itself, I really enjoy it and find it to be very fun, I don't yet have a 5 link chest, working on it, but I have almost all the skill gems your build asks for. I feel I may be hitting a merciless wall of difficulty but if I don't have the proper flask up I die very quickly. There's no doubt I'm doing something wrong at this point, if you have any advice I'd appreciate it. Thanks for the build btw ^^
Hi!Iam also using this build and i'm level 29 at the moment!At this point i have to go for the shock/lightning points!I counted that u spend abou 17 points to go there!

I want to ask you because iam new to the game and dont understand it so well :

1)You go up there to get lightninh and shock because you are using the gem physical to lightning?

2)if i decide not to go there and make my character fully physical meleee damage.Only strenght armor and life will it be viable and strong enough(iam playing standard)?

3)I ask the 2nd question because there are some dual wielding points tha u missed and u went up there for the lightninh/shock points!

I need to get an answer to this because iam not able to understand on my own cos i dont have much experience of the game.
Hello you're build seems really interesting i might want to try it out im kinda new i wanted to know if this build is viable for hardcore
Decided to try this out... like the axes and so far in a one day run to lvl 37, I am liking it... almost out of normal going into cruel and so far this has been a killer build...

I wanted to add though, that I had a lot of gear warehoused, that made this easy for me. I wonder how a new player with less that great gear would do...

Great Build! I like it..

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