[2.2] Crit Elemental Overload DD Elementalist

I am no longer updating this guide since I ripped to a server-side disconnect. Before I died I did make some changes that I think improved the build relative to what I have here. The main difference is I dropped death's hand in favor of doryani's catalyst. The power charge sustain required stuns which isn't always possible against bosses and it sucks if they drop off because you're picking up loot. Instead, I get the crit from doryani and bought diamond rings and an amulet with crit. I specced out of the power charge nodes and took more damage nodes instead. I feel the build was far stronger with that setup than it was with the death's hand setup. It's a lot more expensive though.

This is a build guide for my Detonate Dead Elementalist that I made for the Perandus HC league. The build uses detonate dead as the main damaging skill and scales its damage through massive fire/elemental damage on the passive tree, elemental overload, and elemental conflux. The build is designed for hardcore leagues and is very cheap to gear.

Build Concept

We use desecrate to create corpses and detonate dead to blow them up for massive fire damage and even bigger ignites.

Elemental overload is a keystone that makes our crits do no extra damage, but provide a buff for 40% more elemental damage for 8 seconds. We want this so we need to regularly crit. Spell crit doesn't apply to DD since it's not a spell so power charges are necessary. We will use the increased critical strikes support to boost our base crit chance significantly. We have 4-6 max power charges depending on the exact build and maintain them with Death's Hand:

Death's Hand has a 30% chance to give us a power charge on stun. We deal so much damage that we almost always stun white and blue mobs, and frequently stun rares even in 75+ maps.

With 5 power charges and a leveled increased critical strikes gem, I have around 30% crit chance. That's enough to have 100% uptime on elemental overload (except on bosses).

However, using increased critical strikes support means we have to drop chance to ignite gem. That's ok because we take the Shaper of Destruction ascendancy notable to get elemental conflux on kill. Elemental conflux makes our damage inflict ignite, chill, and shock. Our pure fire damage inflicts ignite, shock, and chill while elemental conflux is up. That shock is another 50% more double dipping multiplier.


My gear at level 81 in Perandus HC

The only required item is Death's Hand to generate power charges. Every other piece of gear is life, resists, armor, evasion, ES, or whatever else you might want. I got some lucky drops so I picked up a 5L6S carcass jack and I think it's the best option for the chest slot. The 20% increased AOE is just so nice to have. It's absolutely not required though, and getting a decent 5L rare chest is much more important.

Main links

Essential 4L: Detonate Dead - Increased Area - Concentrated Effect - Increased Critical Strikes
5L: Detonate Dead - Increased Area - Concentrated Effect - Increased Critical Strikes - Fire pen
6th link would be IIR most likely.

Desecrate - faster casting
CWDT - inc duration - IC - phase run
Lightning warp - faster casting - less duration
blasphemy - temporal chains
arctic armor
flame golem - minion life - minion speed - raise zombie

DD requires you to cast two times before you do damage (if there's not already corpses). As such it would be nice to slow down any nearby enemies to give us more time to get those two casts off. Blasphemy - Temporal Chains does just that, and it also benefits from all the increases to skill area of effect from our passive tree. This is a critical part of our defense and I cannot imagine playing the build without it.

I put my golem in a +1 minion helm along with minion life, minion speed, and a raise zombie gem. I just mentioned how we're vulnerable when getting through the two cast times for desecrate and detonate dead, so let's revisit that. Anything we can do to delay enemies that are rushing towards us is really beneficial. Having 3 very tanky, very fast zombies around us helps a ton here. They do die over time since we have no minion regen so don't bother recasting if you're running an easy map. They are absolutely not required for the build and you can replace them if you wish. I like to have them around for dangerous content though.

I put phase run on my CWDT setup because it works really well with temporal chains and zombies. If I take a big enough hit to proc the CWDT, i go into phase run and drop aggro to let my zombies and golem tank for me. It's worked really well so far but you do not need to use this if you prefer something else like molten shell.

Character Screenshots



TL;DR - At level 81, my DD does 48.7% of the corpse max HP on the initial hit. This goes up to 68.2% with elemental overload up, and 102.3% with elemental overload up against a shocked enemy. The burns are hard to calculate, but generally are 1 or 2-shotting mid tier map bosses if i get the elemental overload + shocked base damage to cause the ignite.

Normally people will link their tooltip to show offense. That's not really relevant here because the tooltip only shows the base damage, not the 6% corpse max life damage. However I can show the difference between the base damage on the gem and the damage on the tooltip. This ratio is the overall modifier to the hit damage, and it applied equally to the 6% damage.

So for my level 81 character, the ratio between actual top-end flat damage and base gem top-end flat damage is 2500 / 308 = 8.12. Therefore the 6% max health damage becomes 6 * 8.12 = 48.7% of corpse max HP. If elemental overload is active, this is increased by 40% to become 68.2% corpse max hp. If the enemy is shocked (from elemental conflux) and elemental overload is active, this becomes 102.3% corpse max hp.

There's no way to show damage from the ignite via pictures. If you want to know the ignite damage, it will depend on lots of different factors and you'll need to make a spreadsheet to calculate it. I can assure you that the ignites it puts out are absolutely brutal though. An hour before writing this post, I 1shot the dark forest map boss (Oak, lvl 75) in a +60% fire resistance map. He dropped in less than 3 seconds from the ignite, and that was with capped fire resistance.

Pros and Cons


- Very high health
- Very high damage
- 100% immune to reflect damage
- Very gear independant. The only required item is Death's Hand, which costs around 5 chaos
- Damage scales from enemy max life, so higher level enemies do not really take more damage to kill
- Massive AOE on blasphemy temporal chains (+123% on my level 81 char)


- Not a high-speed clearing build
- If you play in a group, you will do nothing against white packs because DD is a 2-step process
- DD requires 2 casts to get started: one desecrate and one DD. This is a big window of opportunity for enemies to swarm you if you aren't careful
- Requires a sceptre main hand weapon so no whirling blades
- Desecrate has a 5 second cooldown (but 3 charges). Do not spam it or you will run out.

Mechanics Explanation

Detonate dead explodes a corpse dealing 6% of the corpse max HP, along with a bit of flat fire damage. It is one of the only skills that can reliably apply percent-health based damage without requiring an on-kill effect. It deals 100% fire damage and so can be used to create massive ignites for taking out tougher enemies.

Detonate dead is a cast but is not a spell. Spell bonuses such as spell damage and spell crit do not apply to it. The main sources of damage for detonate dead are:
- Fire damage
- Elemental damage
- Area damage

Area damage only directly affects the original hit; not the ignite. However, the damage from an ignite is based on the original hit, so it indirectly applies to both the hit and the ignite.

Fire and elemental damage both apply to the original hit and to the ignite caused by the hit. Therefore these damage types apply to the original hit once which increases the base damage of the ignite, and they then apply again to the damage of the ignite. So fire and elemental damage effectively apply once to the original hit and twice to the ignite damage. I'll refer to this concept as "double dipping damage" in this guide.

Penetration applies to hits but does not apply to damage over time. It acts similarly to increased area damage: it affects the original hit and therefore the ignite also, but it doesn't double dip on the ignite.

Ascendancy Explanation

First Ascend: Liege of the Primordial
Why: We use flame golem to get a lot of damage out of this node. We get +40% fire damage, doubled effect from flame golem for +15-20% damage, +10% damage and 3% ignite chance for the pathing node, and our golem becomes near-unkillable. That's a grand total of +65-70% double dipping damage and 3% ignite. This is essential in the early game to get started, since DD is very weak until you get a lot of damage nodes.

Second Ascend: Shaper of Desolation
Why: Elemental conflux makes all of our damage inflict ignite, shock, and chill. The duration isn't that long, but it procs on every single pack so it's fairly easy to maintain >80% uptime. This completely solves our ignite needs and opens up shock to the build. Shock is a double dipping 50% more multiplier so that's huge. A bit of control/utility from chill is nice too.

Third Ascend: Beacon of Ruin
Why: Ele prolif on an ignite build? The reasoning here should be pretty obvious.

Bandit Rewards

Normal: Oak (+40 HP)
Cruel: Kill all (+1 passive)
Merciless: Alira (+1 power charge) or Oak (+1 endurance charge)

I took the power charge in merciless, but I could see an argument for getting another endurance charge. Use whichever suits your needs better.

How to level

Use fireball until you can get firestorm. Then use firestorm until you finish normal and get the flame golem ascendancy. At this point you can start using DD as your main skill assuming the following requirements are met:

- Have the following 4L (DD - Inc AOE - Conc Effect - Chance to ignite)
- Have both the witch AOE nodes and the templar AOE nodes
- Have all the fire nodes to the north of the witch start

Your passive tree will look something like this to meet those requirements.

You cannot use crit DD until level 56, when you get Death's Hand. Use chance to ignite instead of crit strikes support until that point. You can start going crit as soon as you get Death's Hand, or you can hold off - it's up to you.
Last edited by Genraenera on Apr 18, 2016, 2:08:02 AM
Last bumped on Apr 11, 2016, 10:23:42 AM
need more Videos PLS!
I'm pretty sure penetration from curses and the passive skill tree also apply to the ignite so they do double dip. However, penetration from the skill gem only applies to the hit so it doesn't double dip.

I like the build idea!
Really interested in this build, however, there are some of my opinions:

- You go down pretty deep to get Barbarism node. I think it's not efficient. Instead, you could grab a 3-node jewel slot and have much better offensive stats, while still at least get 7% life.

- I dislike Elementalist. The class is not weak, but niche and I hate the forced playstyle of Elemental Conflux. The free prolif sounds OK at first, but then you realize it has very short range and also depends on Conflux. That said, is Inquisitor clearly a better class for the build (provide you got 6L)?

+ You get nice boost in Crit. The 100% crit chance making those 1st hit even more likely to crit.

+ Crit IGNORE resist, causing a stronger explosion and burn. The burn is of course non crit and still benefit from 10% penetration.

+ A bit more tankiness (and basically 10% more damage as well) from Augury of Penitence.
Last edited by Taxi_Driver on Apr 10, 2016, 5:09:19 AM
Heres another approach for EO im using which frees up your weapon slot, need for power charges and gives you EE which is incredibly powerful and essentially doubles your damage: Try orb of storms... It is an amazing skill for several reasons:

Crits are rolled per hit
When supported by AOE (which you have) it has a substantial radius
When supported by chain it hits things over 2 screens away
It does lightning damage and because of its hit rate will EE whole packs before AND after your DD
It hits INSTANTLY upon casting
It can be cast extremely quickly

I originally supported orb with pcoc and inc crits, but later found this is totally unnecessary. Inc aoe and chain are better supports. Since you no longer need power charges you save passive points, and since you no longer need deaths hand you can use a real weapon like doryanis or my choice Eclipse Solaris.

Eclipse synergizes extremely well with this play style, run right into the face of a pack, drop desecrate, drop orb, then dd. You will be surprised how quickly you can cast orb... It is an extra action but the benefits are overwhelming and by making use of EE you have one more map mod that doesnt bother you, which on a build like this is important.

Check out my char named SolidDonut. Is CI also.
Last edited by muir on Apr 11, 2016, 10:26:33 AM

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