[2.2 ELE] Atherakhia's BEGINNER FRIENDLY Arctic Breath Elementalist Witch

So, you're new to the game and try to find a build you can afford without first farming for orbs for a few years? Or you just started in a league and got just about the same budget concerns as new players do? Well, then this build is probably for you. It starts out self-found and later on only needs a few relatively cheap things you can buy with the orbs you found along the way.
While this character was planned for something completely different, it ended up this way... and man did it end up good. I am past the 800 hours mark in PoE and after just about one and a half weeks, this witch has become my highest level character, though it is probably not exactly made for Hardcore and can't compete with things like the Auramancer.
So, without further ado, let's get into things.


So, what does this build do? The short answer is Freeze. This build is able to lock down whole screens of monsters with chill and freeze, keeping them away from you, thus keeping you safe and sound.
The long answer isn't really much more complicated, either. Use Arctic Breath to chill & freeze, with Herald of Ice causing a lot of icy explosions. In most cases, you only need Arctic Breath to clear all of a map. Curses and everything else is usually just needed for bosses, but more about that in the Skill Section.


Here, we don't find many surprises to experiences players but as I hope this guide will help new players above all else, I'm gonna go into detail a bit. Veterans might find a few skill choices that seem odd but I really got to say it works just great.

Main Attack: Arctic Breath
Arctic Breath + GMP + Faster Projectiles + Spell Echo
Well, seeing Arctic Breath (AB) here isn't much of a surprise, after all you saw it in the build name. Faster Projectiles could be replaced by something else but I see it as a great help for easier and faster play, being able to easier hit fast moving targets.
Greater Multiple Projectiles (GMP) costs you a lot of Tooltip-DPS... but I tell you: Don't trust the tooltip. From all those 5 projectiles, only one can hit a single target, making it seemingly terrible for hitting bosses or lone enemies. AB explodes on impact though, dealing its full damage to everything in a radius. A boss standing close to a wall can easily be hit by two or three such explosions. That's why the tooltip lies.
Spell Echo is great to increase DPS in general but there are also quite a few ways to apply freeze easier if your target is chilled. As AB produces lots of chilled ground, the second wave of Spell Echo'd projectiles is almost guaranteed to freeze.
Once you get a Five-Link, you can put in Hypothermia. This really raises your DPS to awesome levels. 20-39% more damage against chilled enemies – meaning just about all enemies hit by your second wave. Plus, more freeze chance, which we love.
You don't really need a 6L for this build and I didn't really think much about what I'd put in there.

Buff: Herald of Ice
Herald of Ice + Ice Bite + Mana Leech + Blind
Usually, I try to avoid support gems on Heralds, as the increased cost hurts your mana economy. A lot. In this case, though, I had a lot of spare sockets and started experimenting a bit once I could afford socketing and linking.
Mana Leech and Blind cost no additional mana, so you just need some sockets. The Leech keeps you casting longer without problems. Blind hasn't got a great chance to trigger but it still has a chance to proc on every herald explosion. And you get a lot of those.
Ice Bite was the last gem I added... and I was very surprised. You get about a 50-65% chance to get a frenzy charge on kill. I didn't expect the herald by itself getting many kills but it turned out I was very wrong. You get a lot of frenzy charges, which boosts your DPS quite nicely.

BFF: Ice Golem
Summon Ice Golem + Minion Life + Minion Damage + Life Leech
Everybody needs a friend and yours is an Ice Golem. Though this is not a crit build, we appreciate the little boost it gives us to set off Elemental Overload.
The Support Gems make him a little more resilient. You could swap out Minion Damage for Resistances but those few percents don't do terribly much on merciless difficulty.

Curse: Frostbite
Frostbite + Increased Area of Effect + Increased Duration
The obvious choice. Cursed enemies take a lot more damage and are more likely to be frozen. Usually, you don't even need that but with all your passives and the curse, screens blow up with icy shards of dead monsters.

Battlefield Control: Frost Wall
Frost Wall (+ Increased Duration from the Frostbite Links)
I keep this spell in the same 4L as Frostbite. It's not a spell that is used all that often, especially to be cast actively. This build uses it to keep bosses out of melee range and set them up for better 'shotgunning' – hitting them with overlapping areas from the Arctic Breath.

Panic Button: Cold Snap
Cold Snap + Faster Casting + Hypothermia
Quick damage and a high freeze chance in a small area. What we really need it for, though, is to hit things behind things that AB cannot get over. Ravines, railings, shelves & tables are an insurmountable obstacle to AB but Cold Snap can go over it, freeze enemies solid and keep them cold until you get around to hit them with AB.

Movement: Flame Dash
Flame Dash (+Faster Casting + Hypothermia from the Cold Snap Links)
Everybody needs a movement skill and ours is flame dash. You could use Leap slam if you got a staff but it wouldn't profit from our increased cast speed passives and thus be slower. It can also be used to pass through the frost wall, should you ever need to get to the other side real quick.
A little note on using Flame Dash: It works much better when holding Shift while casting it.

Debuff: Frost Bomb
Frost Bomb – No Support
A skill I highly underestimated just from looking at its description. You put it down somewhere and it creates pulses that reduce enemy cold resistance and life regeneration. You're probably wondering why you would use this when you also got a curse that is twice as good. First off, they stack. Roughly -60% to cold resistance reduces most bosses to negative resistance, making them easy prey. Second, the bomb stays on the ground for a few seconds after casting it, releasing more pulses. You can easily put it down right beside a Strongbox, open it, flame dash out and blast away the debuffed enemies.


This is what my Passive Tree currently looks like. Not many surprises. I tried to get all the ice damage and freeze chance I could, along with a fair share of life & energy shield. The critical strike cluster supports Elemental Overload (EO) and increased AoE is useful for about half our skills. Unless you get a lot of Dexterity from your equipment, though, you will need the +30 Dex close to EO to use all your green gems.
Something I really enjoyed about playing this character was the fact that it has a consistent playstyle right from the start, unlike other builds that only really get going around level 60.
Bandit Rewards are quite simple. Oak's Health on Normal, Alira's Cast Speed on Cruel and Kraityn's Frenzy Charge on Merciless – I missed out on the last one because I did not realize how useful Ice Bite would turn out to be.


With this Witch we go all out Elementalist but even without it being in the title you probably would have guessed.
With your first two points, you get Shaper of Desolation, making all your elemental damage able to inflict all status ailments. When this triggers, even bosses you can't freeze collapse under the combined debuff from shock and the huge burning damage.
With your second visit to the Labyrinth, you chose Beacon of Ruin. This means that all your Elemental Status Effects are contagious, as with Elemental Proliferation – for free!
The third run to the labyrinth won't work out well for a long time. I couldn't get through yet but I plan on getting Liege of the Primordial with it – boosting cold damage, crit chance and helping my little golem buddy to stay alive longer.


This section might seem a bit too full of uniques for a beginner build but they are quite affordable and you only need them in your sixties. Plenty of time to get some chaos orbs and find players selling them.

Taryn's Shiver

Hands down the best weapon you can get so far. More than 100% increased damage, +1 to cold gems, cast speed, freeze chance... equipping this staff will feel like suddenly jumping ahead 20 levels.

Doryani's Invitation

Usually quite expensive but you don't need one that has terribly good stat rolls, you really just want this belt for the cold leech. This is fixed at 0.2%, regardless of the item's other stats, so you can just go along and try to get the cheapest possible.
A note to new players: There are 4 variations of this belt, one for each element, plus a physical. Make sure to buy the right one!

Berek's Grip

Yea, this is why this will never be a 'budget'-build. For experienced players, I don't need to introduce this item. For new players: This thing is expensive. You will need to save up your orbs for quite some time to get it... but it is so worth it. You leech life and mana (because Shaper of Desolation makes you cold damage shock) while gaining damage, life and resistances. I bought mine for 25 Chaos in the Perandus League – but if you can afford it, it is easily worth twice or three times as much.

Rashkaldor's Patience

A little trinket that gives you a huge boost in all the right places. More status chance and duration is plain awesome. Not getting Power Charges is something we couldn't care less about. The implicit Dex bonus, along with the global 10% reduction in attribute requirements will probably free up a passive point from the +30 Dex node, which you can then put wherever you want.
Also, it's dirty cheap for how good it is.

Chest Armour

Quite a No-Brainer. Once you get to level 71, you look for a normal or magic 5L Carnal Armour on Poe.trade, then you alch and scour it until it turns out fine. I spent 2 Chaos on buying it and 3 or 4 Orbs of Alchemy and Scouring. When looking just at the Energy Shield, you may consider Vaal Regalia but the Carnal Armour is much more likely to roll those green sockets you need and even gives you a bit mana as an implicit mod.

All the Rest

Here you see the rest I'm wearing. Pretty straightforward. Try to stack as much resistances as possible, to balance out the rather lackluster resistances from your Uniques. Some Life and ES is nice to get but far less important than resistances. If you get a few mods that really don't do anything for you, don't worry, you're still going to do very well.


You want a life flask that has instant recovery for when you get in a tight spot, along with some flask that removes freeze, mostly for opening strongboxes.
For Bleeding, you need an Utility Flask, like Basalt, Silver or Stibnite. When you have that mod on a mana or life flask, the immunity ends as soon as the flask effect restores your mana or health completely. Utility Flasks always have their full duration, giving you bleed immunity for as long as you need to kill that Corrupted Blood Rare or Corrupted Bloodline Pack.


Playing this build up all the way through merciless isn't hard. You start out using freezing pulse, putting in support gems as you go and switching to Arctic Breath at Level 28. The only things you got to look out for are Elemental Reflection Rares, for obvious reasons, and Level Design. Arctic Breath gets blocked by a lot of things, which takes some time to get used to – but once you manage, you can use this to your advantage by overlapping AB's AoE.

I started mapping right after unlocking the Eternal Laboratory in Merciless, letting Piety & the rest wait until around Level 80.
When doing maps this build has a good clear speed for being that cheap and has little trouble with most maps themselves.
There are a lot of mods you don't really like though. Elemental Reflection is impossible to do, period. A lot of others are hard, too, like cold resist or chance to avoid status ailments... but as long as you go with mods you are comfortable with, this build survives just perfectly while leveling up quickly.

I hope this build will help some players to get an awesome character, maybe some will use this character for their very first runs through the labyrinth or to get to merciless for the first time.

I will try to keep this post updated as I keep leveling and as I get your feedback.

Should you have ideas, questions or any other feedback, leave your thoughts here and feel free to write me a message when you catch me in the game!

Good luck and have fun!
Last edited by Atherakhia1988 on Mar 18, 2016, 6:45:56 PM
Last bumped on Feb 26, 2017, 12:49:08 AM
I just restart to play after years.

Thank you for your great build, i will try it for my new beginning.

Spell Echo is missing on my old treasure. Where and when can buy it?

It's among the absolutely last gems you can buy in Act 4. Find me when we're both online and I'll get you one.
Hey man. Making my first character for my first play through I was just wondering what order I should take the passives in. it branches off in different directions idk where to start. thanks
I have been playing arctic breath for 2 seasons now and love this skill. It is a little hard to use but very satisfying at the same time. I have a few thoughts for you that may help.

1) I know you are using a taryns staff, may look into the pledge of hands. The total cast speed you get makes it very nice for volley fire with the lvl 30 spell echo. Then a faster casting in place of spell echo if you go with the pledge of hands.

2) For a six link I might suggest controlled destruction for the massive spell dmg boost.

3)Use orb of storms at this point to proc your crits

One of the few things I have not been able to solve with this build is how to deal with elemental reflect and would love some ideas if any body has any. I will try and get you a link of my current setup in a couple days (although my highest lvl version was a Templar last league)
Cheers, Notneb
Hey there, thanks for your ideas. Let's see...

1) Taryn's also gives me 8% Freeze Chance, which is very useful to lock enemies down, along with its increased damage against frozen enemies. Should I ever get my Hands on a Pledge, I might try it... but right now it's too expensive for me, considering that it might not actually help that much.

2) I'm not really planning on having a 6L, as those things are just too expensive, either. And as I am running Elemental Overload for 40% more damage, the Controlled Destruction wouldn't help that much. Especially as I want the crits as additional chance of triggering Status Ailments.

3) AB with GMP and roughly 15% crit usually crits a lot, anyways, more than once per 8 seconds... but I might look into it when I get the chance.

Reflec... yea... it's unpleasant. As a Map Mod... just don't do it. It's not even a challenge, it's suicide.
On a rare Monster it's hard but not too deadly. You just got to be careful, when your ABs fly off the screen and hit a reflec rare too often, you're dead.
Usually, I try to get the Reflecs into a pack of other enemies and blast the big pack, as explosions from Herald of Ice aren't reflected. That can do a surprising amount of damage to the rare. Then it might trigger Elemental Conflux, so you can Cold Snap the Rare to make it Burn for quite some damage.
If there aren't any other monsters around such a rare... run, blast it, wait for your shield to refill and let your Golem take the heat for you. Keep cursing the Rare so your Golem attacks it and wear it down. Not a fast solution but the only one that really works reliably so far.
This is the tree I used during talisman as a Templar. I have not gotten a high lvl toon this season yet with AB.


I agree with the freeze chance of Taryns plus the dmg when frozen. I did get a 5 link pledge of hands and for me it made a difference due to the much higher cast speed. I have never had the luxury of a 6 link beyond testing with a Tabula Rasa.

Controlled destruction was a massive dps boost. It doesn't remove crit it just lowered the base chance. To counter this I would use orb of storms with an ICC and IAOE to proc elemental overload. It adds 1 more cast per mob pack but works really well.

For me, the rate that a target goes from chilled->frozen/dead was enough to offset the need for the crit->frozen status. Most of the time the second wave from spell echo was more than enough to kill white mob packs. Blue mobs just took 1 additional "volley cast" with spell echo.

You pretty much do the same I do when it comes to reflect. Just not alot available for cold.

Please dont think I am knockin' ya cuz I am not. Its just a difference in play style. I have even thought about going max crit but honestly, reflect really scares me lol. I love the fact that someone else is playing AB and came out with a guide. I really enjoyed reading your guide and hearing someones elses thought pattern. I enjoy debating and sharing experiences to try to improve a skill that GGG has kind of ignored. (still love you GGG, just dont forget about the older skills in todays game)
Yea, doesn't really look too different from mine. Using an additional cast would be quite a lot for me, usually I don't cast anything but AB unless I meet the Map Boss or some particularly weird Rare.
And maybe the biggest problem with using Orb of Storms are sockets. At the moment I don't have anything where I could fit that in with the supports it needs. I will need to check out controlled destruction on occasion though.

Iam kinda new to this game, played abit when it started first time =)
Like your build alot Good Jobb on it.

Got one question tho.

What jewel stat u looking for at jewel slot in skill tree ?

Thnx =)
For quite some time I used Assassin's Haste, the quest reward unique jewel. It was much later that I found a real beauty of a jewel on poe trade:

16% increased Spell Damage while wielding a Staff
Minions have 11% increased Life
16% increased Freeze Duration on enemies
3% Chance to freeze

The last one is the real important thing here, as I just wanted to stack as much freeze as possible. The others are just ALL useful, even minion life for the golem.

Also, this jewel was dirty cheap (2 or 3 Chaos) as it was corrupted.

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