Spark 2.0: a comprehensive and complete skill guide

Tala moana exiles,

Spark has been my favourite skill since its existence in PoE. It reminds me a bit of the Charged Bolts skill from Diablo 2, although it has a very different mechanic.

Spark went through a lot of changes. I notice that it is not a very popular skill anymore nowadays. Still, I don't think Spark is trash and while maybe not the OP skill of the moment, can offer you some great times in PoE.

Therefor, I wanted to create a guide dedicated to this one skill. Because there is not really a place for skill guides on this forum, I decided to post it here on the Scion forum. I believe the increased duration nodes in the passive tree are so strong for Spark that they almost become mandatory, and as the Scion is closest to both clusters, it seemed logical to post here.

Spark however can also easily be done as a Witch, a Templar or a Shadow. In some rare specialized cases, even a Marauder or a Ranger could be considered. You should really know what you are doing if attempting those routes though. Duelist is out of the question: his starting nodes are useless for a Sparker and you'll always make a more optimal tree using another character.

Before we start, mind that English is not my native tongue and feel free to correct my language.

CHAPTER 1: "2.0." = non-shotgun Spark:

The Awakening brought an end to shotgunning. To shotgun is to hit the same target with multiple projectiles fired from one cast. Before 2.0., one could go in melee range with Spark and all 3 Sparks (or 5 or 7 with LMP/GMP) would be able to damage one target in front of you. This was especially easy if the target was big, and bosses often are.

Shotgun removal hit Spark hard, as only 1 projectile now hits the target and the other 2 (or 4 or 6) pass your target and zigzag further. There is however still a hidden shotgun potential! Once a Spark projectile bounces against something (obstacle, wall,...), it "resets" and forgets the targets his "brothers" fired from the same cast already hit. Thus it can hit a target already hit by a Spark of the same cast again. We will call this mechanic "delayed shotgunning".

Because of the normal shotgun removal, Spark's damage, crit chance and damage effectiveness have been boosted immensily in 2.0.. I feel they did a good job, because it buffs Spark enough to be viable without pure shotgunning, although it's good we still have our delayed shotgunning to truly get decent damage out of this skill. Mind that apart from removing pure shotgunning, GGG also lowered the quality projectile speed bonus which is very important.

CHAPTER 2: Crit or non-crit?:

A very good question when it comes to Spark. Since 2.0., the base crit chance of Spark is 6%. With some decent investment you can get your crit chance over 50%. Still, I don't feel like going crit is mandatory.

Firstly, crit is indeed a big investment and this means you have to give up on other things like cast speed and increased damage, which are also important when you go crit, and defenses (e.g.: dual wielding daggers means no shield). Sparkers might find themselves very cramped on the passive tree or in their gear. Going crit can mean a damage boost, but also makes gearing and pathing along the tree very hard. I recommend for unexperienced players to go non-crit.

About crit: either you go for full crit or no crit at all! This is a very important rule that applies to all builds. Because crit is exponential: the more crit chance you have, the better adding crit multi becomes and vice versa. Having a bit of crit doesn't do much for the investment, and that is why leveling as a critter is often harder in the beginning (except maybe for cold users, because the freezes also provide defense).

About shock: I personally think shocking is overrated. Sure, 50% more damage is awesome, but it's a bit more complicated then that:

- Your first hit applies the shock but doesn't get the bonus damage yet (100% damage).
- Your second hit gets the bonus damage (150% damage).

=> So after two hits you do 250% damage with shock, 200% without. That is only 25% more damage in fact.
=> Sure, all subsequent hits will also do 150% damage. But chances are you kill most mobs with two Spark hits anyway. And you don't have 100% shock chance normally, so sometimes it will only be the 3rd or 4th hit that applies the first shock. By then the target is already dead.
=> So it seems good against tough targets that need many hits to be killed? Well, in a way yes, but they are also harder to shock due to their high health pool.

So in the end is it worth it? Hard to say... if you are crit it seems good to invest in shock duration, but just a bit of shock chance doesn't seem to make a difference when it matters. Ofcourse you get some shock chance for free by just pathing along other useful things, but I would advice against making it a main goal in your tree and gear UNLESS:

- You specialize in shock, making sure you can even shock map bosses.
- You mostly play in party, and you add shocks to increase the damage of party members.

CHAPTER 3: The Passive Tree:

As I explained in my introduction, the 6 increased duration nodes are incredibly powerful for Spark. Spark has a base duration of 1.5 seconds. Those nodes will boost that to almost 3 seconds, with the following consequences:

* More time for each Spark to find a target and do damage.
* More time for each Spark to bounce and reset to perform a delayed shotgun (more damage again).
* Your Sparks can travel around longer, so you have increased range, often off-screening with the skill.

Projectile speed pretty much has the same consequences as increased duration, because the Sparks travel faster, hence meet emenies faster, bounce faster and cover more distance. But the passive tree only features 55% increased projectile speed shattered around (against 90% duration close to eachother). A 10% node is in the Duelist starting area, forget about that one, it's almost never worth it. Another 15% is at the end of a cold damage cluster southeast of the Ranger. Only take it if you go for an obscure cold damage Spark build (converting up to 100% of your lightning damage to cold with double "Call of the Brotherhood" unique rings). In any other case this passive point is not worth the travel.

That leaves us with only 30% projectile speed: 10% in an excellent Shadow area. If you are somewhere around there, go for it! Another 20% in the Ranger area which is not a bad investment as there are some other useful nodes around. In no way is it mandatory to take this 30% projectile speed, but it certainly helps!

Another place of interest for Spark is the Pierce and Projectile cluster just above Acrobatics. Pierce is a nice boost to Spark as will be explained under support gems. All in all, the Shadow area offers many opportunities and I tend to go here with all my Sparkers (but not necessarily as a Shadow). Taking Acrobatics and Phase Acrobatics is also a very real option as a Sparker, being so close.

Spark-wise, those were the important nodes to mention. In a more general perspective: the Witch area, the Templar and the Shadow all offer good damage nodes around them. So it depends more on your other concerns (defense, keystones,...) which area you will take.

CHAPTER 4: Support gems for Spark:

Ha, this is the main chapter. Spark has tons of good support gems, and it might be hard to choose.

1) Faster Projectiles: One of the best Spark supports. As explained above, projectile speed not only increases your range, but also your AoE damage (more Sparks find a target if they go faster and thus cover more distance) and even your single target damage (because of the increased chance of delayed shotgunning).

A lvl 20 Faster Projectiles adds a whopping 69% projectile speed! On top of this 30% increased Spark damage and with 20% quality another 10% cast speed. All this for only a 110% mulyiplier. I start to think this support gem is mandatory!

2) Lightning Penetration: (EDITED!!! Was incorrect before). Penetration is always very usefull as unlike resistance-lowering curses, it will always have an effect. Even if an enemy has overstacked resistances (like 150% and (75%) max), just 25% penetration will make you do double damage against that target because it is calculated from the maximum resistance, not the overstacked number like curses apply to. On top of it, penetration stacks with curses so will always have a noticable effect. Against tough targets with high and overstacked resistances penetration works best, and it's in those situations that you need your support gems to work. I would strongly advice linking this support gem to Spark, unless you are a Voltaxic Rifter or some other niche build.

3) Spell Echo: another big one! It was invented to make self-casting more viable. So... if you want to be a viable self-caster, that basically means you need to use spell echo. This support gem makes you cast much faster without increasing the mana cost (because 2 casts for the price of one) for a very minor drawback (very short castlock, 10% less damage). Once you use this, chances are very tiny you will ever remove it from its socket... .

4) Faster Casting: obviously inferior to Spell Echo because it adds less speed in itself and contrary to Spell Echo, you WILL feel that casting faster can get heavy on your mana. Still, it stacks very well with Spell Echo (because Echo is "more" and Faster Casting is "increased"), especially if you didn't take much cast speed on the tree and your gear. If you have few sources of increased cast speed, Faster Casting can be a huge boost. But always give priority to Spell Echo first, and be sure your mana can handle increased speed of depleting it.

5) Added Lightning Damage: increases your Spark damage by almost one third! Which makes it a very straightforward and decent support skill.

6) Added Chaos Damage: This one is good if you have a lot of spell damage as primary damage increase (e.g. using Pledge of Hands as a Witch) or projectile damage (e.g. Sire of Shards as a Shadow). If most of your increased damage falls under elemental damage or lightning damage, then forget about added chaos. It is also an interesting choice for a Voltaxic Rift Sparker (see gear).

7) Added Cold Damage: Probably not worth it. It doesn't benefit from your lightning penetration gem and adds less absolute damage then added lightning. I put the gem in the list but advice against it! If you're counting on freezing or chilling enemies with this, think again: the cold damage will be too low to consistently do that. And if you're doing a cold Spark build, converting 100% lightning damage to cold, then an added lightning gem will still give you more cold damage then this one.

8) Increased duration: I told you the increased duration nodes on the tree are golden so this gem must be good too! Well... not entirely. Ofcourse increased duration IS very good, but as I siad we can get a relatively easy 90% from the tree. Then the 74% from this gem doesn't seem so impressive, especially looking at how many other good support gems Spark has. Compared to projectile speed e.g., increased duration doesn't offer damage and cast speed as a bonus, it just adds duration. Frankly, I would only consider this gem in a 6-link, and even then... .

9) Increased Critical Damage: Simple => if you are a crit Sparker, by all means yes use this gem. If you're non-crit; by all means no don't use it! Crit multi is hard to come by in the tree and on gear, but this gem offers plenty of it, so throw it in a socket if you're a critter!

10) Increased Critical Strikes: Debatable. Ofcourse again if you're non-crit, then forget about this gem. If you're crit, well... there are many good sources of crit chance and this might not be the best to get it. It's not a bad support gem for a critter, but there are so many other good ones, that this one will only be rarely used. With +1 power charge, number 13) is already better.

11) Elemental Proliferation: My opinion? Don't use it! You have read what I said about shock before and the gem has been heavily nerfed with the Awakening. They nerfed it with Ignite builds in mind, so even the not-yet-nerfed version was not good for lightning builds. If you are in a well-organized party and you have been appointed as a shocker, then - maybe! - proliferation might - might! - be worth considering.

12) Innervate: a new gem. It basically makes shocking more interesting and useful. So if you're a dedicated shocker, why not? Mind that you will do it mostly for the lolz though, because the onslaught buff only grants 20% cast speed. In which case you're better of with a Faster Casting gem. The main reason you use this gem is to have that 20% increased movement speed fairly often and run around like a mad man. On a serious note: Innervate is not a gem that will help you when things get hard.

13) Power Charge on Critical: If you're going for a full power charge build with possibly dual Void Batteries, then you probably know very well what you're doing. If you don't, then it's probably best not to use this support gem. If you have more then the standard 3 power charges, it's a better option though then Increased Critical Strikes. There is a small build-up period, but it's easy to sustain and you don't depend on "on-kill" effects or other crap so even against hard bosses it is useful. If you happen to have a tree picking up those charges and you're a dedicated crit build, then this gem is certainly a valid way of getting your charges up!

14) Blood Magic: casting Spark can be heavy on your mana. So expect to have a sollution for this. Blood Magic can be a sollution, but be sure your life can sustain it!

15) Reduced Mana: actually this is not such a bad gem as everybody thinks. With quality, it can lower your Spark mana cost with 39%, and that is something you will notice. If it turns out you save a bunch of passive points and/or gear dedication that no longer need to be oriented towards mana, then this gem can indirectly mean a huge damage increase by passive points going elsewhere or manamods on gear switched for damage mods. Don't be afraid to use this support gem, it might be a wise thing to do!

16) Empower: Spark doesn't take huge jumps each level like poison arrow or some other skills. Still, empower adds some decent damage. There will almost always be another gem granting you more damage however. If you happen to posses a succesfully corrupted empower, things look different: those are almost always worth it. At least in a 6-link. If Spark is linked in a +1 skill gems staff/body armour, then a +3 empower becomes +4 and will beat almost any other gem in terms of damage.

17) Iron Will: not for beginners! Iron Will only starts to become interesting at around 250 Strength, and even then only if, for some reason, you have very few other sources of "increased damage" to boost Spark. If your build is so niche and special that Iron Will becomes an optimal support for Spark, then you know better then me what you're doing and you don't need my advice. If you are unsure, don't bother with this gem.

18) Knockback: not bad not bad. It's fun and it makes life a bit safer. If you want lolz, go for it, if you want efficiency and viability, don't even look at it. There are so many good gems that this fun but niche gem becomes very questionable for Sparkers.

19) Life Leech: Well, I don't dare to say anything here! Leech is one of the most debated issues after 2.0.. So go and check everyone's opinion about leech, and then make up your mind if you want to use this support gem or not. Spoiler: most argue it's not worth it anymore!

20) Spell Totem: Ah the infamous days of the Spork Totem... are long gone now. Still, Spark is again in a place where it could be used for totem builds. Some people have succesfully done that in the Beta of the Awakening. Just like Spark itself: it's not OP but it's fun and at least viable, if not decent. Another option is to use a Spark Spell Totem in a 4-link as a Sparker just as an extra support. It will be your small brother. I find it very effective that way!

21) Pierce: Making your Sparks pierce is rather effective! Instead of being absorbed by its target, your Spark will continue travelling, giving him the chance to hit another enemy, or after bouncing, the same enemy again. If you have enough projectile speed and Spark duration, Sparks will often use their "second chance" after piercing their first target. It is also very useful to target invulnerabilty-granting totems and bosses behind trash mobs, or necromancers surrounded with skeletons.

22) Chain: It's like pierce but with a less damage multiplier. Forget it, even if the quality (20% projectile speed) is interesting.

23) Fork: So hard to tell if it's worth it. It used to be the meta with Spark ("Spork"). Spark works well with it because of it's movement pattern: those forked projectiles can return and cause delayed shotguns or hit targets that were missed. So Spark seems THE skill to use Fork with. However, 30% less damage is severe and seen the multitude of good support gems, even for Spark Fork doesn't seem worth it. Try it out though, you might like it. This one is really up to you.

24) LMP/GMP: With the removal of pure shotgunning, these seem much less appealing now. However they come with quality cast speed. In my opinion, both the damage penalty and mana cost of GMP are too big, but LMP is in an interesting spot, very similar to Fork. So also one where I leave the conclusion in the middle... try it out!

25) Point Blank: BAD idea! Going up close is useless with Spark, because without pure shotgunning, you never get all three projectiles to hit near you. And your delayed shotgunning will lose a lot of damage because of the Point Blank distance penalty.

26) Slower Projectiles: 29% more damage is something we have at least to mention. But cutting your projectile speed in half makes this gem PURE EVIL for a Sparker. I already stressed the importance of projectile speed enough to not surprise you with this statement.

27) Trap/Remote Mine: Hmm, not too much experience with this. Spark's base cast speed however (0.65) makes it a naturally very fast skill. Combining it with traps or mines annihilates that big advantage of Spark, so I'm not very eager to try out a Spark Trapper/Miner. I guess in PvP the Mine-route can be fun though, as a gem slot swap for your first match.

CHAPTER 5: Active skills that combine well with Spark:

1) Wrath: 21% more damage is hard to resist. Chances are small you'll prioritize another aura because we all love damage. It's only since 2.0. that Wrath works with spells, and it has since quickly become the preferred aura of any lightning-based spell caster. Even if you convert all your lightning damage to chaos or to cold, Wrath will still work because it affects the lightning damage before it's converted.

2) Herald of Thunder: Some extra damage is never bad, and for just 25% reserved mana it is noticable. The secondary effect is a free bonus: even with a very low shock chance (you always have 6% from the base crit and probably another 5% or 10% shock from the tree) it is active most of the time. The 6 seconds duration is automatically buffed to almost 12 seconds because of your passive increased duration nodes. The damage of the lightning bolts is ok due to the increased elemental and lightning damage you probably have from your tree and/or gear. I wouldn't suggest buffing this damage with support gems though, as that would increase the mana reservation cost of HoT. We all know why that is bad. You can however link a curse with curse on hit to HoT. It won't increase the mana reservation cost and you can curse for free. Most people like to have more control over their curses so don't do this. E.g. if you are facing a single very hard boss who doesn't summon or use minions, your lightning bolts will not be triggered because you're not killing anyone for a while and subsequently you lose the curse attached to it during that fight.

3) Clarity: If you're not using a Blood Magic gem, you'll probably want to run Clarity. Keep in mind that you don't need to level this gem whenever you can. If your current level of clarity provides you with enough mana, don't level it because every level the mana reservation goes up. Chances are however, that you will grab all the mana you can. Spark is mana-intensive due to its high base cast speed.

4) Haste: Another damage aura. 16% cast speed is not bad and we all like move speed. However, it can be difficult as a Sparker to get 153 dexterity and there are already other aura's you'll like more. Haste is something only to consider if you invest in having a lot of aura's, by taking some aura nodes in the tree combined with an Alpha's Howl for example or going low life.

5) Purity of Lightning: in the days of reflect many people ran a purity that protected them against their own element. Post 2.0., reflect is much less of an issue and I wouldn't bother with it anymore. You can still occasionally use one for reflect maps though.

6) Conductivity/Elemental Weakness: the obvious curses. If you consider them, I would suggest you to use them both as a dual curser. Ball lightning is a great curse on hit skill, and it will even do some damage as it's a projectile and lightning based. Consider using a slower projectile support gem on that Ball lightning if you're only doing 1 curse. Bosses are resistant to curses, so the effect on them will be smaller. Mind also that some enemies or entire maps are curse immune. If you party, discus the use of curses beforehand with your party members so you don't override eachothers curses.

7) Projectile Weakness: This is my preferred curse for Spark. It does so many things. It adds a good amount of damage (even if it says "increased", think of it as "more" because it's on the receiver's side), some fun knockback, an impressive amount of useful pierce,... this curse seems to be made for Spark. You immediately notice the difference if you use Projectile Weakness.

8) Assassin's Mark: this remains a very good curse for crit builds. Spark is no exception. AM gives you power charges, makes you crit more often and harder. Probably the best offensive curse for a critter.

9) Temporal Chains: has always been a good defensive curse. When it comes to lightning skills like Spark, it also adds some offense because you'll be able to shock longer, sometimes allowing you to keep high life targets shocked (if enough shock investment).

10) Warlords Mark: The life and mana leech can help with your general sustain of your red and blue ball. Endurance charges are never bad and even the stun works. WM can be your Swiss pocket knife, albeit a rather small one. You might get addicted to its versatility though.

11) Lightning Warp: it's a spell and it's lightning based, just like Spark. But if you took the increased skill duration nodes on the tree (which I highly recommend for Spark), then don't even consider LW. Increased duration kills this skill. Leap Slam is an alternative if you use a staff or a mace. Link faster attack speed to it to make it viable, and you can even link it to fortify for more defense.

12) Tempest Shield: because you probably invested in increased lightning/elemental/spell damage, Tempest Shield can do some real damage if you link some support gems to it (like penetration or added). Because you most likely took the increased duration nodes, it has a nice long duration for the mana cost of just one cast. If you have a shield, I would always use this, even with low block, because it is free damage for a low investment.

13) Vaal Spark: basically Vaal Spark is a much much stronger version of Spark, but works in an almost identical way. Hence, everything that works for Spark also works for Vaal Spark (only faster casting is much less important for Vaal skills, due to their non-spammability), so your gear and tree is perfectly suited to use this skill. Linking it to support gems to buff it is overkill in my opinion, so you can save those gem slots for other things. If you insist, again, all support gems that work well for Spark also work well for Vaal Spark, except the faster casting support gem.

=> Those are the most important, specifically Spark-related active skills. Ofcourse you can complement your build with a multitude of other skills, but these were especially important to mention when talking about Spark.

CHAPTER 6: Gearing up to become a Sparker:

> Pfou, this is taking long... I will keep on writing further the coming days, but response is already welcome! <

Last edited by Soepkieken on Aug 7, 2015, 6:57:39 AM
Last edited by Soepkieken on Jul 27, 2015, 10:04:24 AM
Soepkieken wrote:

2) Lightning Penetration: Sometimes I see people using resistance lowering curses combined with a penetration gem. That is absolutely useless. Let me for once and for all explain how penetration works:

=> Penetration lowers the maximum amount of resistance against an element, while curses lower the effective resistances a monster/player has.

I always thought Penetration reduces both resistance and maximum resistance.
At least that's what it says here:
Or is that one outdated and the mechanic was changed?
Last edited by Ahegao on Jul 27, 2015, 10:00:57 AM
I always thought Penetration reduces both resistance and maximum resistance.
At least that's what it says here:
Or is that one outdated and the mechanic was changed?

Thanks for pointing that out, but I'm still in doubt...
I don't know where I read it, but I'm pretty much sure there was a consensus once that penetration worked in the way I explained it here.
How reliable is the wiki?
And what do other people think?
Soepkieken wrote:

E.g. for 25% penetration:

A) Monster has 25% resistances with a maximum of (75%):
=> With penetration the monster has 25% resist with a maximum of (50%). So in this case your penetration doesn't do a damn thing. The real resistance remains 25%, with or without pene.


=> Using Pene and resistance lowering curses together is ineffective: they don't stack but each lower another number. Since only the lowest of both numbers is taken into account, it has no use whatsoever to lower them both.

Your description of the penetration mechanism is not correct.
Penetration always lowers the target's effective resistance (not some theoretical max resist the monster could have):
A) Monster will have 0 resistance.

Penetration and curses do stack: If a curse lowers an enemies resistance, penetration will further lower it.

If for example an enemy has 90 overcapped resists and is cursed for -35 resist, then the effective resist after curse is 55. 25% lightning penetration will lower that further to 30%.

Your description of the penetration mechanism is not correct.
Penetration always lowers the target's effective resistance (not some theoretical max resist the monster could have):
A) Monster will have 0 resistance.

Penetration and curses do stack: If a curse lowers an enemies resistance, penetration will further lower it.

If for example an enemy has 90 overcapped resists and is cursed for -35 resist, then the effective resist after curse is 55. 25% lightning penetration will lower that further to 30%.

Well, thanks to both of you, I will edit in a minute!
Cool thanks for the spark!

What about Culling Strike gem? I just corrupted one for level 21!

Last edited by Rorshax on Jul 29, 2015, 2:47:41 PM
How would spark do in that new staff, sire of shards?
By any chance have you tryed vaal spark and vaal glacial hammer before?
"ran out of high teir maps to leave on the ground - people kept taking the higher teirs" - Da Pagionator
Sorry I waited so long to reply and update, but things have been very busy here. Next week I might have some time to finish the guide!

Cool thanks for the spark!

What about Culling Strike gem? I just corrupted one for level 21!

There are no specific skills that work better or worse with culling. Almost every single active damage gem in the game has the same benefits from culling. So I didn't feel like including it in a Spark-specific guide.

People mostly use culling as a MF character in a group to have the kill done by someone with good MF to have good drops. Then the best skills to use are skills that easily target many enemies often, like Arc, Ball Lightning or Firestorm. Spark is sub-optimal for this.

Otherwise I would never advice to socket culling, except for very tough bosses just at the end to bring down the last 10% of their life fast.

How would spark do in that new staff, sire of shards?

I don't have this staff myself yet so I still have to find out. Because of the removal of shotgunning, it will certainly not be OP, but as delayed shotgunning still exists, it can be viable.

I will add it as soon as I update the gear section and have tested the staff!

By any chance have you tryed vaal spark and vaal glacial hammer before?

Never thought of that before but it must be awesome when you do it, though very clumsy: you need 2 vaal skills loaded and one is melee and the other a spell. I guess it can be a good boss killer, but mostly just Vaal Spark with one or 2 links already suffices for that and is much less bothersome to use.

Last edited by Soepkieken on Aug 7, 2015, 6:53:17 AM

Report Forum Post

Report Account:

Report Type

Additional Info