[2.1/2.2] Heartstopper - crit Freezing Pulse flasker, perma-freeze bosses!

2.2 EDIT: Some in-depth Ascendancy speculation, updated passive tree added


This build is a combination of two different ideas: freeze all enemies including map bosses, and use flask nodes and a flask belt to get OP flasks. Both of these ideas have been floating around in my head for a long time (my very first character, 2 years ago, used glacial hammer... it sucked). I mocked up the build sometime during Darkshrine, and then it got a nice little bonus in the 20% buff to Freeze Pulse as well as the 20% projectile speed from levelling! Plus, I don't see any buffs for the build yet in what's been spoiled for Ascendancy, so I think Tali is the right league for it.

I gotta say, it is even more fun than I thought it would be. The build is really fast, and it rewards agile play by being very safe--if you can react properly, quickly!

- overview -
Offensively, the build relies on the fast base cast speed of Freezing Pulse combined with high crit multi from the tree and gear. Freeze Pulse has very nice coverage with GMP, and hits just past the edge of the screen with ~80% projectile speed (20/20 gem + one node in the tree). We use Vaal Haste for clearspeed and Vaal Lightning Trap to boost our damage against map bosses.

I would say the build does Enough Damage, and there's a moderately high ceiling on how good your gear can be, but it's not the turbo-ultra-clear speed that you would get from, say, an EA build with Devoto's, or from the oh-so-meta CoCycloners that are all over the place right now. It does enough damage to perma-freeze most of the map bosses I've come across in building my map pool, and that's what I was aiming for.

Defensively, the build has four layers:
(1) We freeze trash mobs almost before we can see them. We stack 71% increased freeze duration using jewels, passives, and Frostbite curse to keep even high-health bosses frozen nigh-indefinitely. We stack crit chance as high as possible to crit as often as possible; Freezing Pulse also has a bonus innate 25% chance to freeze which decays linearly as the projectile travels.

(2) We can manually avoid anything that isn't frozen due to high mobility. Freeze Pulse's low cast time combined with a buffed Whirling Blades mean we just don't get hit very often as long as we're somewhat vigilant about it. We also use Temporal Chains curse with Blasphemy to automatically slow down anything that gets too close, making it even easier to avoid taking any damage at all.

(3) When we do get hit we have a lot of active damage mitigation: A well-rolled Granite Flask of Iron Skin can give about 10k armour by itself, and our flask bonuses mean that we can have it up for >20 seconds straight. This build gets exceptional use out of Taste of Hate although it is entirely unnecessary (I mostly bought one because I'd never used it before). We attach Fortify to Whirling Blades for an additional 20% Less Damage Taken from Hits; this is up all the time because we're constantly whirling around. Also, we get a decent chunk of evasion from gear, as our tree naturally gives a nice amount of %increased evasion. Eventually I'm planning on running Hyrri's Ire + Atziri's Step for some spell dodge, too.

(4) Finally, whenever we take any remotely threatening amount of damage we can pop our life flasks which are almost 2x as effective as normal. I use a long-acting flask which contains 7 uses and an instant flask which contains 5 uses. All in all, our life flasks pack almost 4x as much health per charge as a normal build.

- HC viability -
I am not a hardcore player. Let's get that out in the open. When I see content that looks rippy, I hop right in just to see if I die or not. Stupid shit like added damage + chilled ground Orchard boss in a Beyond map. Like shocked ground + temp chains + twinned Jungle Valley. (Actually, I didn't die to that one...) So I don't have the best reference frame for hardcore viability. That said, I do have an opinion on this build's HC viability, and it essentially boils down to whether you're playing in a party or not. This build is GREAT in parties, you freeze the screen like you're playing on AUS gateway during peak traffic! You can even perma-freeze bosses still, since freeze duration isn't affected by the party life boost.

Solo, it'd be a bit tougher. A4C was preeetty tough, and the build definitely has a learning curve - What can you freeze? How often should you pop flasks? - Those are things you kinda gotta just feel out. The biggest dealbreaker for HC is that this build's defenses are active, rather than passive. You have to pop flasks, you have to manually dodge, etc. If you get a bad lag spike at the wrong time, you can die very quickly. That said, I don't think I died a single time mapping until I got to ~Tier 6/7, playing without a logout macro. All the same I think this build would require some tweaks for HC.

__The Build__

- tree + ASCENDANCY + bandits -
Here's the tree at lvl 90, updated for 2.2:

As you can see, we stretch from Ranger to Witch, jogging out to get the life wheel. There would be other ways to build this, such as starting from Shadow and giving up the life/stun avoidance in Ranger in exchange for more damage, or even starting in Witch or Scion and going CI. The only absolutely irreplaceable nodes for this build are Arcane Chemistry and Alchemist. Any comfortable mix of life, damage, crit, cast speed, and jewels surrounding those two clusters should do fine.

VIABLE ASCENDANCIES (roughly in order of preference):
The Ascendant... oh goodness. There would be a lot of ways to build it. The one that looks best on first glance is to take Berserker and drop Life Leech, and then take... Deadeye? Raider? Pathfinder? Assassin? Elementalist? Even Juggernaut is a reasonable choice, if Berserker is not chosen. I have no idea what would be optimal here.

I guess if it were me I'd go Berserker and Assassin, but any of the other subclasses I listed, or combinations thereof, also seem viable.
One of the worst feelings with the build is when you fail to crit twice in a row. Rolling Assassin, that would basically never happen. With 5 power charges, that's +2.5% base crit chance, which is about a 40% MORE multiplier on Freeze Pulse's base crit chance. The crit multi is highly welcome to increase the max life we can freeze, and freeze more consistently against bosses.

I'd take Deadly Infusion and Ambush.
Pathfinder seems good on its face, but looking closer I'm not sure if it's the best pick. That said, there are multiple viable options for Ascendancy trees. Either Master Alchemist or Master Surgeon would add a lot of utility to flasks, Veteran Bowyer and Nature's Boon are both compelling 2-pointers, and even the flask effect and duration on minor nodes matches what we want to do perfectly. The biggest strike against this ascendancy is that we don't make great use of Master Surgeon. We have lots of casts per second and therefore lots of crits per second, but not Blade Vortex-level of crits per second.

I'd take Master Alchemist and Veteran Bowyer.
Inquisitor obviously offers us some verrrry powerful bonuses. Ignoring resists allows us to gain damage while dropping a gem link (Cold Pen). That's a crazy bonus. Augury of Penitence is basically a 1.1x More multiplier on our damage as well, as we're often in semi-melee range. Instruments of Virtue also has a lot of merit, as we use Whirling Blades extensively--with all the cast speed it provides, maybe we could even cut the dual-wield nodes from the tree and wear a shield. The issue with Inquisitor is that the tree pathing, at least on first glance, is really awkward. If this build were going to run as an Inquisitor, I think we might have to drop a lot of the flask sub-theme, and that, well. That's a different build.

Regardless, if I were going to go Inquisitor, I'd run Inevitable Judgment and probably Instruments of Virtue with a shield, but potentially Augury of Penitence.
For a heavier focus on defense, Trickster is a reasonable choice, going hybrid life/ES with some evasion. Patient Reaper is also a very interesting node, as it buffs non-instant flasks, and might even allow for dropping Vaal Pact. We could proc the effect by adding any amount of fire damage to our spells, and use the ignite to proc the bonus. However, I'd rather have the consistent frenzy charges from Swift Killer.

I'd take Shade Form and Swift Killer.
I want to mention Elementalist as a not-so-great option. Since we freeze and shatter, Beacon of Ruin wouldn't add much benefit, as we wouldn't be getting prolif from corpses. Shaper of Desolation could be nice, but otherwise I don't think Elementalist offers this build very much.
Deadeye is a real disappointment, for this build. I can see three good passives, (Fast and Deadly, Endless Munitions, Powerful Precision) but one of them is locked behind Far Shot, which is completely useless to this spell-based build. So, I have to give this one a pass as well.

For bandits, get Oak - Kill - Alira.
Oak is semi-optional, as 40 base life is roughly equivalent to one 5-6% inc max life node.
oak math
Assuming 165% inc life in the tree leads to total 4500 life (which, from experience, is roughly correct), adding 5% inc life tacks on ( [1+1.7] * 4500 / [1+1.65] - 4500 =) 85 life.
By contrast, Oak's 40 base life with 165% inc max life tacks on ( 40 * [1+1.65] =) 106 life.

- gems -

Freezing Pulse

There are two different setups that I recommend for Freezing Pulse, depending on whether you have a 20% quality FP gem or not.

If not: FP -- GMP -- Cold Pen -- Faster Projectiles -- PCoC -- Life Leech
If so: FP -- GMP -- Cold Pen -- Spell Echo -- PCoC -- Life Leech

The reason we want Faster Projectiles, and projectile speed generally, is that the damage of Freezing Pulse decays based on the time the projectile has been in flight. So, we want the projectile to hit as soon as possible to minimize that decay.
For a 5-link, drop whichever feels best between Fast Proj/Echo, Life Leech, and PCoC. If you drop PCoC, you might opt for Assassin's Mark curse instead of Frostbite in the curse-on-hit setup (see below). However, this is one of the safer builds with which to use a Tabula Rasa for the cheap 6-Link, which is what I'm doing. I also like Tabula because we can easily swap in Rarity for Life Leech in low-level maps.

As for quality, obviously the first gem to think about qualitying is Freezing Pulse. Quality on Freeze Pulse is basically worth a gem link, since it allows you to swap out Faster Projectiles. After that, quality is quite nice on PCoC for the 20% inc crit chance, also on GMP for 10% inc cast speed.

Temporal Chains

We run Temp Chains in a 4-Link, potentially using a gear with +1 to socketed gems (geofri's crest, corruption on gloves/boots) or +1 to socketed support gems (catarina mod).

Temporal Chains -- Blasphemy -- Enhance -- Enduring Cry

The Enhance isn't strictly necessary, but it's pretty nice. If you're going to run enhance, I recommend buying one very early into levelling, and it'll hit level 2 at ~level 80-85. Enduring Cry is only socketed here because Enhance gives it increased AOE; you can really stick it wherever there's room. One last note, I would advise against levelling Blasphemy all the way, due to our Herald of Ice setup which I will explain next.

Quality on Temp Chains is GGOP, so get that as soon as you can, after you have 20q Freeze Pulse. Quality on Blasphemy is also very good, because while quality on Temp Chains makes enemies move and attack slower, increased effect of curses multiplies with Temp Chains's secondary effect of "Other effects expire 40% slower", acting as a More multiplier on your freeze duration. Quality on Enhance will make it level a lot faster, which is probably important...

Herald of Ice

We use Herald of Ice to apply two secondary curses. The order of these curses in the item does matter. I will list the gems starting from the top left of the 4-L, going clockwise.

HoI -- Curse on Hit -- Poacher's Mark -- Frostbite

We want the curses linked in this order because Curse on Hit will curse enemies starting from the top left and going clockwise. So, enemies will first be cursed with Poacher's Mark, and then they will be cursed with Frostbite immediately afterward. The reason we want Poacher's Mark applied first is that our Temp Chains aura will overwrite the oldest curse if enemies enter its range. Since enemies that make it within range are more likely to be difficult enemies, we want the higher-DPS curse on them, in this case Frostbite. Poacher's mark is nice for the frenzy charges on kill and the increased flask charge recovery, but it's just the icing on this ice-cream cake, so it's okay if Temp Chains overwrites it.

Quality on Frostbite is very good (probably the third gem you should quality), on CoH is pretty good, and on HoI is a nice touch.

Cast When Damage Taken

This build can be somewhat punishing of mistakes, so it's good to have a nice big "OH SHIT" button that automatically goes off if something happens that we don't expect. Thus, our cwdt set-up. Again, the order is important, but for a different reason this time.

Warlord's Mark -- Cold Snap -- Elemental Proliferation -- CWDT

The way this works is that, like CoH, CWDT casts the linked spells starting from the top left and going clockwise. In this case, enemies will be cursed with Warlord's Mark and after they are cursed they will be hit with a Level 17-18 Cold Snap, leeching back a bit of life. Due to our high crit chance and Cold Snap's base 30% chance to freeze, it will likely freeze at least one of the monsters it hits. This freeze will proliferate and keep everything locked down until you get around to shattering it.

You'll want to level CWDT to at least 14 or 15 (mine is 14), and make sure you keep the level requirements of the Warlord's Mark and Cold Snap below the level of CWDT. If you screw up, you can always sell the overlevelled gem with an Orb of Scouring to reduce its level by one. Quality Cold Snaps are relatively cheap, so just buy the highest quality one you can get for a chaos or two. Quality on Ele Prolif is nice to help offset its less damage multiplier, but not mandatory.

Whirling Blades

Whirling Blades is great for this build! We routinely freeze bosses, so we will likely have plenty of advance warning to dodge any skills with a windup.

Whirling Blades -- Faster Attacks -- Fortify

There's not much more to say about Whirling Blades. In my opinion it's a contender for most OP skill in the game. Every build that can use it, probably should. It's definitely the easiest way to apply Fortify. We get a lot of attack speed in the tree so it's even better. Get quality on WB and FA whenever it's convenient. Moving on.

Vaal Haste + Vaal Lightning Trap

Vaal Haste -- Vaal Lightning Trap -- Increased Duration

These are our two Vaal skills, and they function as our single-target. Vaal Haste is also helpful for keeping things frozen, since it allows you to freeze them more often. Vaal LT is a very potent addition to any freeze build, as you can drop it beneath frozen bosses to make sure they stay frozen forever and also die quicker.

- gear -


These are the daggers I'm currently using. They cost about 15-20c each to acquire and craft. When you're looking for daggers, you want high crit chance for spells on the highest crit base (any Kris); past that, you want any of the following: crit multiplier, spell damage, spell damage + mana, added cold damage to spells. Spell damage and crit multi can both be crafted on via Vagan or Catarina, so make sure to get a dagger with an open prefix/suffix as appropriate.


As I mentioned earlier, I've found a Tabula to be perfectly serviceable so far, but it is the next item I will try to upgrade, because I will definitely need more defenses going into T10+ maps.

For the helmet, you could swap in a Geofri's Crest for +1 level to Enhance, also some chaos res, however I think the life roll is too important to pass up.

For the gloves, you could choose to run either Maligaro's Virtuosity or Voidbringer (we can handle the mana cost just fine). Between the two I think I would prefer Voidbringer and I may switch over at some point when the rest of my gear permits it. However, I don't know if it will be better than just some life + eva + all-res gloves.

For the boots, Windscreams are nice for the 10% increased elemental damage, and they're absolutely essential for the +1 curse, however I'm currently working on corrupting +1 curse onto an amulet, and once I get that I will replace the Windscreams with Atziri's Step. Spell dodge is useful against not only enemy spells but also reflect, and 30% movement speed sounds just great.


You can get a lot of different stats on jewelry and it's up to you which ones you get. For amulets, there are some really good talismans (that 50% crit base...), but I would prefer an amulet with life, strength, and crit on it, corrupted to have +1 curse.

For rings, diamond rings are quite nice, but you could probably get better life and resists for cheaper if you bought two-stone rings instead.

The belt, however, absolutely must have one specific stat on it, with two acceptable rolls. You NEED 19-20% reduced flask effect duration. This is non-negotiable, for reasons which I will explain when I cover my flasks. The other mod you want to look out for is Flask Effect Duration. Fortunately, flask belts are significantly underpriced. I got this beauty for 5c about a week into Talisman, and it's pretty much BiS for this build. You can get a similar belt for just as cheap; you can also craft on Flask Duration via Tora.

For jewels, the only really critical stat is %increased Freeze duration. I also like getting %inc maximum life on jewels, and after that I'd grab some increased cold/spell/projectile damage, or cast speed. There are a lot of good mods.


I'm going to talk about each flask individually because these are the linchpins of the build.

Firstly, our instant flask is totally bonkers. We get 50% life recovery and 30% flask effect on the tree. This is multiplicative with the 20% more life recovery from quality, resulting in a (1.8 * 1.2 =) 2.16 multiplier on the life our flask gives. For a Seething Divine flask, that's (2400 * 0.34 * 2.16 =) 1762 life instantaneously whenever we pop this flask.
Furthermore, we have 15% reduced flask charges used in the tree, and 19% or 20% on belt. Thus, we use (15 * 0.66 =) 9.9 charges when we flask. It's important to note that while the game allows the player to gain partial flask charges, it always rounds down for flask charge usage, so that 9.9 charges/use rounds to 9 charges even if we don't have the perfect 20% roll on belt. Thus, we can use our 1.7k life flask (45 / 9 =) 5 times before it is depleted.
Finally, we regain charges at double the rate due to our Poacher's Mark curse, so normal mobs grant 2 charges instead of 1, magic mobs grant 7 charges, rares 12, and uniques 22. Killing a decent-sized magic pack is enough to completely refill this flask to its full 5 uses.

The same buffs apply to our extended life flask. It grants (2400/7 * 1.2 * 1.8 =) 740 life/sec, and lasts (7 * 1.32 =) 9.24 seconds. An Ample roll of 18+ grants ( [45 + 18] / 9 =) 7 uses, which makes this flask great for utility suffixes like Staunching, Warding, or Heat.

Our mana flask is how we sustain casting. The 35% increased flask mana recovery on the tree plus the 30% from alchemist, plus quality, winds up granting 158 mana/sec, which is slightly more than we spend casting Freezing Pulse in a 6-Link. In slow recovery maps, or to compensate for Voidbringer's mana cost increase, we could upgrade to Eternal flasks. I like divines, though, because they only cost (5 * .65 =) 3 charges per use. The flask linked above contains 15 uses, which is more than enough for any possible encounter.

Now we move on to the utility flasks. A Granite of Iron Skin is pretty mandatory, of course you wouldn't have to get as lucky with the rolls as I did. However, since I did manage to roll a perfect granite, I'll use it in this calculation. The Granite base +3000 to armour is modified by flask effect to grant (3000 * 1.3 =) 3900 armour. The Iron Skin +100% to armour is also modified and becomes +130%. We also get 24% increased armour from the tree. Taken together, that's (3900 * [1 + 1.54] =) 9906 armour. Any armour on gear just takes this higher. This Granite lasts (4 * 1.2 * 1.32 =) 6.34 seconds, consumes (30 * .66 =) 19 charges on use, and so contains ( [60 + 17] / 19 =) 4.05 uses. It should be spammed with impunity!

Lastly, we have <insert unique/other flask here>. Taste of Hate (39% reduction, 5.5s duration, 3 uses) is phenomenal with the amount of armour we get from our granite, but before that I used an Atziri's Promise (2.6% chaos leech, 19% added chaos damage, 5.5s duration, 3 uses). Other choices include a Rumi's (3900 armour, 32/19 block/spell block, 6.5s duration, 3 uses), a Divination Distillate (78/23 rarity/quantity, 7% max resists, 7.9s duration, 3 uses) or even a Quicksilver flask of Adrenaline (91% move speed, 7.9s duration, 5 uses).

All of this is achieved for the low price of 5 passive points and 2 suffixes on the belt.

- stats -
27k tooltip dps with power+frenzy charges (~11k damage per critical hit)
38k tooltip dps with charges + Vaal Haste
~70k including Cold Pen, Frostbite
~105k with charges + Vaal Haste + resist modifiers + Vaal Lightning Trap
66% crit chance with PC's up
404% spell crit multiplier
40% cold penetration
3.69 casts/sec
+51% freeze duration modifier, +132% including temp chains multiplier

4511 Life
10909 armour with granite up (4 uses)
12% physical reduction from 3 endurance charges
39% phys->cold conversion from Taste of Hate (3 uses)
75% resists, 88% cold res with Taste of Hate
20% less damage from hits from Fortify
2400 evasion = ~22% evade chance
15% block chance
36% stun avoidance
1900 life from instant flask (5 uses)
740 life/sec from long-acting flask (7 uses)
2% instant life leech with Vaal Pact = ~540 life/sec per enemy hit, 1100 including Warlord's Mark

- leveling -
Ranger doesn't get Freezing Pulse, nor do you get enough Intelligence to level it until a ways into Cruel. Shrapnel Shot is pretty easy to use until you get to that point. For the tree, make a beeline toward Heart of Ice, grabbing whatever life is in reach along the way, and whatever damage you need to progress--you'll have plenty of refund points later. I recommend grabbing Sniper and Nullification on the way out of shadow, however I refunded these later for more efficient nodes. Then branch out toward the life wheel, grabbing all the nodes at Scion on the way. Lastly, grab the flask nodes and fill out the rest of the crit. Here's an example tree at ~L60, just prior to getting flask nodes.

For items, get elemental and spell damage on weapons, and make sure your resists are capped. Once you hit level 32, Bitterdream is an extremely nice item to put your FP gem in. Hang onto your Alteration Orbs as you will need them for crafting flasks later. I recommend buying a Tabula Rasa as your first big-ticket item, and socketing Item Rarity instead of Life Leech. I didn't switch to leech until Tier 5 maps or so. My mapping strategy was to transmute and aug map tiers 1-4, then start alching at 5 and chisel+alching at 8 or 9.

- tips 'n' tricks -
~ under construction ~


Thanks for reading this! Sorry it was lengthy, but I didn't want to leave anything out. Let me know if you find success with a similar build, and feel free to ask any questions if I missed something.

builds: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1663570/
Last edited by ThatsSoGoodman on Mar 16, 2016, 12:21:27 AM
Last bumped on Mar 16, 2016, 12:11:34 AM
reserved for q/a
builds: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1663570/
Had a hankering for a crit FP build for quite some time. Going to throw this on a 79 shadow. Will let you know how it goes.

Edit: Will say in an early impression that getting that 20% FP is *vital*. Quite frankly, casting feels sluggish and horrible without Spell Echo - and I took the 12% cast speed at Shadow start.
Last edited by ConsPark on Jan 12, 2016, 2:45:06 AM
ConsPark wrote:
Had a hankering for a crit FP build for quite some time. Going to throw this on a 79 shadow. Will let you know how it goes.

Edit: Will say in an early impression that getting that 20% FP is *vital*. Quite frankly, casting feels sluggish and horrible without Spell Echo - and I took the 12% cast speed at Shadow start.

Yeah, 20% FP is a biiig upgrade, Spell Echo is a 53% more dps gem at level 20. I did like not having to count FP casts to know exactly when I could whirling blades with fast proj, where with spell echo you can only WB after an even number of casts so you have to count. However, if it hadn't been my first character I think I definitely would have just bought a 20% FP to start with, instead of levelling it to 20 and doing the recipe.

How're you finding the rest of the build?
builds: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1663570/
Can we see a video?
How're you finding the rest of the build?

Haven't played much the past few days but based on how far I've gotten in testing:

I'd forgotten just how bad FP single-target is. I'm running Vaal Haste but am looking for a Vaal Lightning Trap gem. I died to a pair of Bog bosses because of this and ragequit. It was late. :P

I'm still trying to stack more crit. With five charges I'm only at about 65% chance to crit and that really hurts the output when FP is so dependent on the crits to deal damage. I'm running one Divinarius and one bad rare dagger atm. I might get a second Divinarius just to hold the fort til I can get a better pair of rares.

Running everything in a +1 socketed Tabula. I suspect that +1 tabula plus a 21/20 gem would be where the build truly shines.

More to come :D
ConsPark wrote:
How're you finding the rest of the build?
I'd forgotten just how bad FP single-target is. I'm running Vaal Haste but am looking for a Vaal Lightning Trap gem. I died to a pair of Bog bosses because of this and ragequit. It was late. :P
Yeah, I really can't oversell Vaal LT. It's like an extra support gem vs bosses, and a really good one at that.

I'm still trying to stack more crit ... I might get a second Divinarius just to hold the fort til I can get a better pair of rares.
I'd really recommend getting a Kris instead of another Divinarius, you can find 160+% spell-crit daggers with crit multi for the same price as a Divi. As you say, missing on a crit is just painful, so it's worth maxing the crit on your weapons.

More to come! :D
Great! :DD

Can we see a video?
I'll work on getting a few videos sometime soon, I've never done video before so we'll see how it goes.
builds: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1663570/
Updated the build with Ascendancy passive tree + subclass speculation!
builds: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1663570/

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