[2.0.1][Tempest] Begsplosive's BM Solo-MF EA Duelist of Frugality [Cheap and Beginner-Friendly]

What if I told you there was an archer build out there that could clear endgame maps easily up to 80s (and maybe more, I just haven't gotten many 80+ maps to run yet!) with 150-200%+ Item Rarity, 7k+ life and 10k+ armor, simple and almost lazy but not mindless gameplay, with a startup cost of under one Exalted Orb? Have a seat.


+Awesome Clear Speed, Full Clear Up to Highest Tiers of Maps
+Ignore many dealbreaker Map Mods like Blood Magic, Enfeeble, and More
+Great Survivability for an Archer with HUGE HP pool, loads of Armor, and innate EA utility
+Extremely Cheap with Basically No Startup Cost
+Simple (but not braindead) playstyle
+Can Easily Solo-MF for 150-200%+ without godly gear


-Single Target Isn't Amazing
-Must Always be Vigilant for Ele Reflect
-No sustain in the form of leech, unless you use a secondary split link for life gain

Why Explosive Arrow?

Some of the reasons for why this skill is so good are obvious. Others, less so. Explosive Arrow is a truly unique game mechanic in PoE: each hit with the arrow, on the monster or terrain, applies a fuse. The fuses explode after a 1.00 duration, unless you apply fresh fuses (more arrows), each of which refreshes the timer and adds more AoE.

The quality of your weapon is irrelevant other than attack speed for applying more fuses; you also do not benefit from weapon elemental or weapon damage in the skill tree or on gear, which makes things cheaper. It also saves you a crapton of skill points from the tree, because only Projectile / Fire / Area Damage modifiers from the tree will do anything to scale your damage, which is great with levels to begin with. These extra points are funneled into more life and defenses, equating to more survivability. This is the basic allure behind every EA build.

Additionally, Explosive Arrow has utility beyond just hitting your target. You can pile EAs up into walls and cliff faces and get a nice amount of shotgun damage, offering a way to damage mobs that you don't want to directly face or give Line of Sight to. You can clear around corners and tight corridors by lodging arrows into the walls and letting the blast radius do work. These are underrated benefits to survivability and clear speed, especially in tight indoor maps where you can otherwise be quickly overwhelmed.

When it comes to bosses or more difficult fights, you can also deal damage without needing to shoot the entire time...you just fire when it's safe, let the fuses pile up and deal damage, and spend the rest of your time maneuvering.

When I mentioned that there's basically no startup cost for this build, it's because Explosive Arrow functions more like a spell than a traditional attack gem: you need only levels and quality on it to be good, your weapon does not need to be expensive and god-rolled unless you want to totally min max it late game with a 6L +3 bow.

Literally the only thing you need to get this build started is a high quality Explosive Arrow, which you can easily buy in the mid 10% quality range and GCP up to perfection for cheaper than buying a perf quality one. You need to link it with Fire Penetration (Required) and some combination of Conc Effect + GMP + Slower Projectiles + Increased AoE / Item Rarity / Empower / Faster Attacks (not necessary, I'll explain later) for incredible pack clear speed. If you're eventually able to afford quality on support gems, go for Fire Penetration before the others.

Why Blood Magic?

Explosive Arrow requires at least four links with high mana cost and multipliers. Additional links make it even more cost-intensive. In 2.0, Blood Magic from the skill tree was buffed, it's easier to get high life totals than ever, and maybe most importantly, Mana Sucks. Leech was nerfed and makes things harder/more expensive to gear, and you won't even do any physical leech with EA to begin with, so you'd be forced to chuck a Mana Leech gear into your main EA link (not even sure if this works, but it would be delayed til after the EA explosions at best) or use another attack to get it: why bother? Mana regen and pool nodes suck, you have to sink in way too many points to get even modest utility.

And since no traditional attack/offensive auras even benefit EA, what auras do you really need to run? Your life pool will be so high with this build that you can run a reduced cost Arctic Armor or something out of life if you really need it: but you don't, especially because this build uses armor. With this build you end up with easily 450+ life regen per second, enough to essentially sustain your Explosive Arrows unless you're firing nonstop on Vaal Haste for 10-15 seconds...but you'll seldom need to shoot that many EA's to begin with. It is essentially a no cost skill, even 6-linked.

Why Duelist?

The main differences between the trees for this build and the extremely popular Scion version seem to be that Scion gets more access to cheap Jewels (for duo or tri damage boosts), solid life and regen, and fire nodes for more damage. But, a Duelist build which goes hard left and up after a quick pit stop at Iron Reflexes offers several advantages:
(1) the excellent Art of the Gladiator Node for Insane Attack Speed, Accuracy (Important Before Resolute Technique), and unhindered move speed, which helps everything.
(2) Nice projectile and attack speed nodes in general, some of the only things that you need for EA which are also conveniently on the way to your other nodes
(3) Golem's Blood, which offers a juicy 1.6% life regeneration in addition to 10% max life
(4) a direct transition to Marauder for great life and armor immediately, as opposed to Scion which usually goes through Templar first
(5) Iron Reflexes

Why Armor and Iron Reflexes?

This is another critical part of this build for why I prefer a Duelist/Marauder start. Iron Reflexes converts your Evasion to Armor...no big deal right? WRONG! I mentioned that this build was cheap and budget, and Iron Reflexes is an understated part of the equation, as well as a HUGE contributor to survivability.

First, evasion has always felt clunky to me when playing an archer. You're already evading and dodging attacks by the very nature of you playing a long range character...you're using corners and positioning, range, and occasional offscreening to kill stuff without absorbing punishment. For this reason, pumping evasion seems kind of redundant, you're already not supposed to get hit much if you are playing the character correctly and juking and jiving, and the entropy evasion/dodge system ensures that you're still going to get hit.

Also, there are now more dangerous gap closers and mobs from Act 4 in 2.0 than ever before . With drop bears, Rakongos, Revenants and burrow firewolves all hitting pretty hard and having ways to get to you, I think it's become much more important as a ranged character to be able to take some abuse than to gear for avoiding it altogether. You will inevitably get hit, and if it's in higher level maps and you don't have armor or some other redirection/mitigation, you will die (half the bosses out there have flicker strike or some other way of hitting you hard). I believe that playing a safe non-armor character into higher maps basically requires Lightning Coil...and that's more expensive than ever.

The simple fact is that Armor and Marauder armor/life nodes are all the rage this season in 2.0. This has greatly increased demand for well-rolled pure armor pieces, and driven up prices substantially. Just for comparison, it took me almost a week to sell an 1100 Evasion Rating Assasin's Garb with 90+ life and 3 25-30+ resistances for 2 fuses, and about two weeks to sell a 1300 defense armor/evasion hybrid piece with 90 max life, two max resistance rolls (44-45%) and a third crafted res for a handful of chaos. By contrast, it took me about two days to sell a 70 life one high resist astral for 8-10 chaos. Everyone wants armor because it's the best defensive mechanic this season. If you're going Scion and you want armor, which is a given because you're going left on the skill tree, you both pay more for it AND spend more chromes and resources getting the links and colors that you want, due to not having Iron Reflexes and unfettered access to hybrid pieces.

That corrupted 6-link hybrid piece cost me a whopping 12 chaos...good luck getting a 6L pure armor piece with multiple blue and green sockets and decent rolls for anything near that price. Since all evasion transfers to armor, you can be far less picky with each of your slots, and opt for cheaper eva/hybrid gear that confer the exact same benefits for a fraction of the crafting and purchase costs.

Gear and MF

As with most hardcore builds, your gear must prioritize life, resists, and defenses before you can start adding luxuries like magic find. But as we already mentioned, you conserve skill points, rolls, and cost on gear because of the innate benefits of Explosive Arrow, a weapon-independent scaling attack skill with excellent AoE and damage. Therefore you don't need weapon elemental damage or phys damage rolls added to your gear, saving you a fortune from trying to min/max every prefix and suffix.

Because of this it's really cheap to get viable endgame gear, which you can progressively scale. Even now at Level 90, every single piece of gear I have cost me less than 15 chaos in Tempest. A 4-link Quill Rain suffices for damage purposes for a long-time, though I suggest getting a cheap 5-link or 6-link chest piece(and you can get these super cheap and easy, moreso this season than ever due to the abundance of links and corrupted armor pieces) early for Blood Magic/ LgoH / more damage/aoe/rarity links. Eventually you can upgrade to a god-tier 6L +3 skills bow with fast base attack speed, but a cheap 4L quill rain that attacks 3 times per second has been more than enough for me to rampage through most map packs.

I cheaply and steadily built from capped res and life to mixing and matching to add chaos resistance (I'm at +55% in merc) and Item Rarity, no saving or absolutely needing some best in slot god-tier equipment. For bosses and most maps in general, I use Item Rarity in place of Increased AoE for an extra 58% Rarity. This isn't a specifically MF or culler build, but if I can run 185%+ on average gear, you can definitely hit much higher numbers with good min/maxing, and even fit in some dedicated Ventors or Andvarius without skipping a beat.

Again, I'm Level 90 and I haven't needed to buy a piece of gear in nearly 20 levels...all currency goes into maps, progression, and content. If you have the cash, you can easily pile on a ton more life/MF than I have without in the least bit gimping your clear speed.

One note on Quiver as well, since Drillneck still seems to be THE Quiver for the vast majority of non-EA / non-split arrow builds: I absolutely LOVE Rearguard. It basically functions as a shield, already good because of all the armor nodes you're taking, giving you 20% block and an invaluable 12% spellblock which usually costs money or other penalties in the form of uniques. This is the only highly recommended unique (other than QRain) that I have for this build, and yep, you guessed it, it's cheap.

Playstyle and Gems

I mentioned in the Cons section that the one thing you must beware of is Elemental Reflect, especially at higher levels. You can't just YOLO unload on stuff offscreen if it's a white pack with a rare that you haven't identified. The removal of Thornflesh makes things much easier, but you will very quickly kill yourself to reflect if you aren't paying attention.

I run a Ruby Flask to make the occasional reflect mob a bit easier to deal with, but you should often judiciously fire only 1-3 times, which is more than enough to destroy white mobs and most champions without killing yourself to reflect. You shoot a few times, thin the packs, and diagnose whether it's safe before you get the all clear to let loose. Mostly that's all you need to clear stuff extremely fast - single target usually takes more persistent kiting and use of terrain.

I grab Resolute Technique so there's no use for Ice Golem, I've been using Flame for the increased damage and because I get so much strength that I can easily level the gem, but feel free to grab Chaos for more survivability.

For mobility I use Blink Arrow with Faster Attacks, which I find to be quite good for diversion and kiting. Bosses and most rampaging mobs will stop to attack it and it's very smooth to use (unlike Flame Dash which has limited in-screen range), and it basically functions as a Lightning Warp and Decoy Totem in one. This helps ALOT with single-target bosses.

For Cast When Damage Taken, I use Molten Shell (more armor and mitigation!) with Temporal Chains/Enfeeble and Frost Wall. I've never used Frost Wall on a CWDT before this build but it's actually sneaky good: things that charge/leap and gap close will run right into it before you take too much damage, allowing you to quickly blink arrow behind the wall and resume attacking...your arrows also lodge into the Wall allowing you to shotgun off it and use it as a damage front. Sometimes it just walls off bosses outright. It can occasionally be dangerous in a tightly packed tunnel if you get blocked IN, but again Blink Arrow usually saves the day.

As mentioned, I run EA with GMP/Slower Projectiles/Item Rarity/Conc Effect/Fire Penetration, but many different links and combinations can work. Enduring Cry is good for large packs and is worth running with duration.

For Vaal Skills, there are two green ones that are a PERFECT fit:
Vaal Detonate Dead - this is great for tightly packed areas, strongboxes, and necromancer packs. It also prevents you from dying to some kind of sneaky DD/Vaal DD Cultist, or dedicated bosses like Springs Alira.
Vaal Haste - I mean...what isn't this good for? I usually save it for huge packs or exiles or bosses, when you know it's mano-a-mano, just crack this thing and unload.

And that's pretty much it. You don't need auras which saves you a gem link. You can use that to buff your golem with some life, resistances or speed. I also experimented with a utility arrow link, Split Arrow + Life Gain on Hit + Curse on Hit + Temp Chains to be super-safe when initially experimenting with really high level maps, but I found that to be mostly unnecessary.

Improvise and enjoy yourself. I've yet to encounter a map boss that I couldn't take, though I'm not sure if this build is Atziri viable. I'll post if/when I find out.

Skill Tree

I don't have a detailed breakdown of what to do, but I went south for life and Golem's Blood, went left for some marauder life and defense, and specced fully into Blood Magic around 40 or so. You might still need to pot occasionally at that point to sustain explosive arrow spam on Blood Magic, but that can be kinda fun. I grabbed Iron Reflexes in late cruel/early merc (~level 60), but it doesn't matter what time you get it...you might want to get it sooner infact if you're relying heavily on eva/hybrid pieces.

Bandits: Oak/Skillpoint/Skillpoint. You might consider taking a charge if you're using them heavily, but I'd definitely go for the skill point over attack speed.


Levelling Tips

I levelled from 1-31 (Blood Magic and Fire Pen availability) first with Split Arrow, first using a Silverbranch + Craghead with Blackheart ring (all available for 1 chaos or less) and then Stormcloud + Blackgleam + Prismweave (again all pretty cheap, 2c or less). But you can level any way you want with any combination of available twink gear or rares, or the tried and true and brutally simple and powerful Flame Totem + faster proj + faster casting/added chaos.

At 31, I bought a cheap low level 5L chest (3c or less) and threw in the suddenly eligible Blood Magic and Fire Pen with Life Gain on Hit, Explosive Arrow and Faster Attacks/Slower Projectiles or Conc Effect. Again this was a luxury decision though still cheap that will last you for awhile, once you make the transition to Blood Magic you can open up that gem slot for another damage link, and once you get enough regen down the line you can drop Life Gain on Hit entirely.

You can level with the aforementioned totem setup or something else that doesn't require skill point investment if you want, whatever works for you. I transitioned to EA in the 30s and never looked back.





Olmec's Sanctum - One of Many Relatively Easy Map Bosses for this Build, Giving Potentially Very Good Loot for An Affordable Price in Tempest

Map Progression (for beginners)

Moving forward in maps basically boils down to two things.

1. Knowledge is Everything. You should know the map layouts and pros and cons of rolling different modifiers on each, as well as the bosses and which ones are doable for you and your build. With this build I was able to do almost every boss that I encountered, but I had to avoid a few because of especially dangerous map mods...you do not for example want extra projectiles or super fast speed Malformation Piety. Most unique maps are far more difficult than their original base, with some kind of special boss mechanic or map interaction that should not be attempted blindly if you value survival.

Some map bosses are disproportionately harder than others within their tier or what the map or boss archetype would suggest. The museum trio, for example, is incredibly dangerous for its 70 tier because they charge you in a very cramped hallway. The copy of Fire Fury in the Crematorium does absurd amounts of damage with her super fast cast firestorm, enough to stunlock you on 75% fire resistance. The Village Ruins duo has an enrage mechanic that can dispatch you instantly if you're not prepared for it. This means not only that you must naturally respect these map bosses, but also do not take them lightly when you encounter the lower-level Zana quest version. One of my friends has ripped two level 70-80+ characters for this exact reason.

The excellent map management thread that I used as a starting resource for maps was invaluable in giving me basic information on bosses, progression, layout and more: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/339977

2. Invest for Returns. If you've ever seen the State of Exile podcast or various other game discussions, you might hear many concerns about the difficulty of acquiring higher-level maps. Basically, the frequency of map drops, which are pre-determined in each map's creation but can be improved/increased by rolling additional quantity on the map, starts off very easy and eventually plateaus and falls off. You will quickly build an abundance of high 60s to low 70s, but once you start reaching the mid 70s range, the game is designed to make map drops more and more scarce. This is why players looking to progress often have to shell out currency to buy maps, which retain their value with rarity.

So, to maximize your returns and ensure that you'll always have more maps to run and progress with, you must begin investing currency into them. My personal map tier investment strategy is as follows:
68-72: no chisels, only 'blue' orbs, meaning transmutes, augs, alts, and chances for possible uniques
73-75: chisels optional, alchemy and chaos for good quantity and rolls
76-77: chisel to 20% (4 chisels if map is white), alchemy and chaos for good quantity and rolls, consider adding domination/ambush/onslaught from zana if it's a good roll
78+ maps: chisel to 20%, alchemy and chaos for good rolls, definitely add domination/ambush/onslaught

I'm not rich enough to do this but some players will exalt really good maps too, not sure if this remains a common practice in Tempest. Once you get to 79-80+ maps, the map itself is already worth about an Exalt, so if you want to run them you should be prepared to sink currency into them.

Just remember, once you get past the mid to low 70s maps the odds are against you being able to easily sustain a base unless you buy them or get lucky with things like Cartographer's Strongboxes (should be rolled for additional items and +chest level), which are capped to a certain level of map.

That's just how the game is designed and how the numbers are set up...you can complain about it if you'd like, but don't expect to get anything back without investing, and just like with god-tier unique drops, RNG and variance are inevitable. Maximize your efficiency (highest map quantity and pack size possible while still maintaining safety and good clear speed) to maximize your returns.

I'm bad with visuals. I might update those at some point, or if anyone has suggestions for sprucing this up, let me know. Enjoy the explosions!
Last edited by Begxiled on Aug 18, 2015, 10:11:52 AM
Last bumped on Mar 20, 2016, 10:57:13 AM
Can you screenshot your current stats? Defense/offense tab, total life, etc
Updated with screenshots. As noted, the tooltip doesn't really register Explosive Arrow DPS (same with Flameblast for example) since it's dependent on how many fuse charges you use, I obviously do more than 182 DPS or I wouldn't have made it out of normal. Also, with even moderately better gear one could easily reach 7500+ life or more...and that is kind of the point :)
any chance I could get a tree for this build for non HC? I've been dying to do an explosive arrow since pre 2.0, I've just never given it a shot & a majority of the EA builds I see are all HC variants
I don't have a non-HC build handy, but I imagine you could easily take out some of the life and armor nodes in favor of more elemental damage nodes on the left side. You might even save enough points from life (such as the gigantic life wheel) to go right and grab some ranger projectile damage and attack speed, and you'd take the rest of the duelist attack speed nodes and maybe even add frenzy charges. If you're taking points from four trees though, it might be better to roll scion, which will also grant more fire damage and convenient jewels (which can have IAS/fire damage/proj/area damage).

If this is the case you'd probably also have much higher clear speed with a 6L +3, heck the downgrade in attack speed from Quill Rain would be negligible since you'd probably 1-shot most if not all champion packs even in 78+ maps.
How does lvling looks like? Can I use exp arrow as soon as I get it?
Last edited by maqes58645 on Aug 10, 2015, 9:38:05 PM
I added a brief levelling tips section. You can certainly use it immediately but it's expensive when linked, so you'll probably need to run it with Blood Magic and Life Gain on Hit until you spec into Blood Magic and get more life/regen to sustain it.
why does nobody go devoto's and hyrri'S ire, cheap and effective. hyrri's even has life gained on hit+area .
They do, I frequently see them listed on other EA builds. Reasons why this build does not recommend Hyrri's or Devoto's:
(1) 5/6L Hyrri's Ires are extremely expensive and would begin to push the build out of budget range. While offering a miniature acrobatics and good raw defense, it offers no life or resists, which makes your other gear need to be that much better. Not sure what you're talking about with life gain on hit/area from Hyrri's...
(2) Devoto's has awesome attack speed, cool MS and chaos res but no life, resists, or MF. Nice bonuses but again makes your other gear need to be better and more expensive to keep up good resists and/or MF.
Both are viable additions to the build, but that's part of the progression to god-tier stage, in which case you'd probably want a Kaom's heart instead as chestpiece and a 5/6L as +3.
Which bandit did you chose? i imagine oak/skillpoint/skillpoint?
Really like this build and loved your explanation, thanks!

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