[2.2]The Flame Crash Chieftain (updated 2016.04.14)

(Sadly, this character ripped to Heralds of the Obelisk, of all things. I still think the build is quite strong. I've updated the guide with gear/passives at time of death and added some additional insight based on playing him through mid-level maps. Thanks for reading!)

What's the point of this build?

The idea came about while I was trying to break a Chieftain ascendancy node that I think is totally bonkers.

This major ascendancy offers a ton of stats:

-It's a source of elemental life leech, which would otherwise cost you 8-10 passive points (by pathing to the Vitality Void cluster)
-It's a mini Fire Penetration
-It's about half of an Added Fire Damage

But there's a catch:

-The first two buffs scale with fire damage
-The third buff scales with physical damage

For you to gain full benefit of this node, you need to be scaling physical damage, but converting 100% of your damage to fire.

Isn't converting physical damage to fire difficult?

It sure is! Even using a melee skill that converts 50% of physical damage to fire, you are left with very unattractive options to convert the remainder. Unique items like Chernobog's Pillar are not where you want your endgame to be.

Enter an often-maligned keystone:

Every Avatar of Fire build I've ever tried to spec out, I got halfway through planning and realized that it'd be better if I dropped it altogether. But now, you have an actual reason to take it -- if we can convert 100% of physical damage to fire, this sweet Chieftain node comes online.

Wait a minute -- didn't you say Ice Crash? Why are you using a physical-to-COLD conversion skill if your goal is to convert 100% of your physical damage to FIRE?

Here's a short rundown on the math, featuring your other forgotten friend:

-Ice Crash converts 50% of physical damage to cold
-Avatar of Fire converts 50% of physical damage to fire, and 50% of cold damage to fire
-Cold to Fire converts 50% of cold damage to fire

50% of your physical damage gets converted directly to fire, and 50% of your physical damage gets converted to cold. Then, 100% of that cold damage gets converted to fire. When all is said and done, you're converting everything!

Why Ice Crash? Why a cold skill at all?

Two reasons:

1. I don't like Molten Strike and Infernal Blow.
2. The most commonly used aura to scale elemental damage when stacking physical damage is Hatred:

Hatred grants a % of your physical damage added as cold to your attack. Damage "added as" undergoes the same conversions as all of your other attack damage -- this means that 100% of your Hatred damage is converted to fire too!

Other commonly used sources of elemental damage for physical builds include Added Fire Damage, Herald of Ash, and Taste of Hate. The first two are fire damage already, but Taste of Hate is another "added as cold" buff that -- you guessed it -- is converted to fire in this build with no loss.

Okay, I'm doing 100% of my damage as fire now. What good does this do me?

Aside from Hinekora, Death's Fury, you gain some other nice benefits:

-You're doing 100% elemental damage, so Weapon Elemental Damage scales you at full effectiveness
-Big fire damage hits = big ignite/burn damage
-You gain access to one of the strongest MORE multipliers in the game:

Here's a quick explanation of why resistance penetration is so good. Let's assume a tooltip DPS of 10k for our Ice Crash, and assume we're using a level 18 Fire Penetration gem, which provides 35% fire penetration.

-Against a monster with 0% fire resistance, 35% fire penetration reduces that to -35%. Instead of taking 10k from our Ice Crash, he now takes 13.5k. That's a 35% more multiplier - not quite on the level of Added Fire Damage, but it doesn't really matter, because we're going to wreck mobs with such low fire resistance either way.

-Against a monster with 65% fire resistance, 35% fire penetration reduces that to 30%. Instead of taking 3.5k from our Ice Crash, he now takes 7k. That's a whopping 100% more multiplier!

In short: the more fire resistant your enemies are, the stronger Fire Penetration becomes, which is exactly what you want from your support gem.

What about mana leech?

Good question -- we've solved our life leech issue, but we're planning on running Hatred and Herald of Ash, and elemental mana leech sources are practically nonexistent. Fortunately, there's a solution for this problem too:

Soul Taker is perfect for this build. It's a one-handed weapon (allowing you to use a shield), it's got high DPS and attack speed (Ice Crash can't link to Multistrike), and it's an axe (a supported weapon type for Ice Crash). It also allows you to do cool things like take the Sovereignty cluster near Avatar of Fire and then reserve a 35% aura - I've been using Flammability, which is obviously insane with this build, but I wouldn't fault anyone for running Enfeeble or Temporal Chains instead.

You'll also never run out of mana for Leap Slam, and if you link your other spells (Blood Rage, Enduring Cry) to Blood Magic, you don't need mana for anything at all.

IF YOU'RE ON A BUDGET: any one-handed sword, axe, or mace with high physical DPS will work in place of Soul Taker. You give up a flask slot (a Perpetual/Chemist's mana flask is a necessity) and you also give up the ability to run either Herald of Ash or a Blasphemy curse.

Aren't you soft to elemental damage reflection? How about fire resistant monsters?

Yes, elemental reflect is the most dangerous thing this build will encounter. Taking Vaal Pact is prohibitive without seriously warping your passive tree, and Ice Crash hits slow and hard. After I acquired my 6-link chest, I had to run a Ruby Flask in my setup even for single elemental reflect bosses. You have to reroll reflect maps.

As far as resistant monsters are concerned, you are reducing enemy fire resistance by 80+% with this build. I would probably reroll maps that had two or more of the following three mods:
-Monsters have X% additional fire resistance
-Monsters are immune to curses
-Players have Elemental Equilibrium

But any one of those three should be a non-issue.


Ice Crash
Melee Physical Damage
Cold to Fire
Weapon Elemental Damage
(Fire Penetration)
(Added Fire Damage)

Herald of Ash

Enduring Cry
Blood Rage
Increased Duration
Blood Magic

Cast When Damage Taken (lvl 17)
Molten Shell (lvl 19)
Life Leech
Iron Will

Leap Slam
Faster Attacks

Vaal Haste
Vaal Grace
Increased Duration

Passive Tree

Here's my tree at level 67: http://tinyurl.com/julqcsl

Here's the "finished" build around level 90: http://tinyurl.com/zvtr3hx

Current Gear

I'm also running two 15+% attack speed jewels, which I highly recommend.

Map Video

--Coming soon!--

Things you can customize

Aside from Soul Taker, I think this is the most compelling weapon choice. Marauder has access to several efficient passive wheels for one-handed weapons, so using Varunastra likely results in higher tooltip DPS (at the expense of mana issues that need to be resolved).

Dedicating a ring slot to Pyre frees up a link - you can replace Cold to Fire with Faster Attacks or Concentrated Effect. Of the two, I think Concentrated Effect seems very strong -- it's a huge more multiplier, and you have access to a decent amount of increased area of effect to offset the drawback.

If you go the Pyre route, you give up the potential for 70+ life, additional resistances, flat physical damage, and weapon elemental damage from one of your ring slots.

A 2-hand setup, specifically with Marohi, gives you a big boost in damage at the expense of survivability. This also really opens you up to one-shotting yourself with reflect damage, so I would not recommend this in HC unless you warp your build to run Vaal Pact.


You could conceivably cut one or both of the jewel sockets, but I wouldn't recommend it. This build really wants some additional attack speed to smooth out movement and improve the utility of Leap Slam. After I got those two jewel sockets, I felt so much safer, especially in fights like Vaal Oversoul and Dominus where you don't want to be stuck in a slow attack animation.

Thanks for reading!

If you have any questions, comments, or want to see if I've ripped yet, my IGN is OhShitItsBurning Man.
Last edited by snowcrash7 on Apr 14, 2016, 4:03:09 PM
Last bumped on Oct 18, 2016, 1:29:49 PM
elemental focus is much much better than conc or faster attacks when you use a pyre ring btw
IGN: SlightRedeye
(GMT + 0:00)
Hi there

I had a spare Mara waiting for respec and decide to try your build and it works quite good.

The clear speed is ok and tankiness too i run some T8 and it was super easy gona try higher.

My gear:

Tree: https://www.pathofexile.com/passive-skill-tree/AAAABAEDAAHnBLMGDgbDCfYNzRNME6UUIBRNFHEWbxcvF-EYkRo4Gj4czh0UJKom8yb4Jy8n7SgqKS4rUC3SMHcyiTbpOtg8BT38TjJQR1XWV-JYY1nzWf5fP2RSZOdmVGaeaGVo8nIPcql2K3asd-V5OXy4fNl99X7igIqApIIHgpuLT4zPkFWRzpRvl3mezZ8-n8uiAKajpzCsqq2Nr42vp7l-u-28n8BmwaPE9sYExtjPftIh1HzZfOFz4mHjauRR6dXqGO0g7w7vfPAf8kHz3fZI9zL3Tfjr-tL8S_5U?accountName=Tagmatar&characterName=Rhunm

I use Infernal blow because i love this skill but Ice crash is a bit more efficient.

I got 41k dps with aura + BR + 4 charge 5.7k hp cap res and 10k armor. Solid build good burning damage and the fire pen is realy strong as we see mob just melting instantly =)

Good idear and fly safe ;)
Nice, glad to hear it's working out well for you!

I'll have an update to post reasonably soon. Current character is up to level 77 and is closing in on having access to a 6L Astral Plate.
Bump for updates! Also I ripped :(
Could this build be done with two handed weapons? As I understood the initial concept of fire dmg leach but wanted to expand and go, is it a tank build or a dmg build etc? I prefer tank builds and so am trying to work around the avatar of fire chieftain highlight points and then make it as tanky as possible. What are your thoughts on this?
So I continued to think about your initial concept and put together a build based around HP tank/regen with high physical mace dmg with a shield with good mitigation... At least in Theory!!! I've just done the skill tree only and wondered what you thought?

Passive Tree
Just wanted to stop by and thank you for this build; it's been an absolutely blast so far. It definitely feels powerful alright, although non-trivial in the survival department due to choosing a 2H style instead of shield.
May seem like a dumb question but what bandit path does this build follow?
Is this 2.4 up to date?
Embrace the vaal and the corruption! Only then, you will be bless by Atziri. That's how I got a Headhunter in the Atziri Apex of Sacrifice!

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