[2.6] The Curse Whisperer - Tri-Curse CI Whispering Ice Elementalist - Viable for Everything

2017-08-04: As of 3.0, ES has been nerfed and the ES based version of the build no longer works. See the Life based Berserker version for 3.0.

This is the Witch version of my Tri-Curse CI Whispering Ice build. The other versions:

The power level of all versions is pretty close and the differences are only in the Ascendancy perks specific for each class. The Witch is very powerful all around and almost completely immune to reflect.

This build can do everything in Path of Exile. No boss is too hard for it, most are too easy. Watch the videos below to see how it performs against all the hard stuff.

Featured video: Steamrolling Everything with Nasty Mods

In ordinary mapping it's so flexible and safe that you can use MF gems while routinely clearing top tier maps with most of the random mod combinations.



2.6 Legacy league, after 2 weeks:

Defense (with Discipline)

Icestorm tooltip in hideout (with golems and Pendulum)

Icestorm stats in combat (with golems, EO, Pendulum)

Standard league:

Defense (with Discipline)

Icestorm tooltip in hideout (with just the golems; Pendulum inactive)

Icestorm stats in combat (with the golems, EO, Pendulum and Mastermind active)

Build Theory

This build is based on Intelligence which provides both offense (Icestorm damage) and defense (ES, leech amount). Converting cold damage to fire maximizes the offensive and defensive power.


The Whispering Ice grants you a unique skill - Icestorm - that scales with your Intelligence stat and uses any support gems in the staff without the need to link them (a free 7-link).

The initial cold damage is converted to fire. This lets us take advantage of both Fire and Cold damage modifiers, as well as the bonuses from various Ascendancy nodes.

More details

Icestorm is a high DPS skill. Its true DPS is hard to calculate, and it can vary depending on too many things, so the game only shows average damage per hit. Icestorm hits 10 times per second by producing a small AoE explosion in a random spot within the area of attack. What makes this build really shine is resistance penetration (see below). Resistant enemies, including all serious bosses, take a much larger percentage of our damage than they do from most other builds.

We use several support gems that increase the damage multiplicatively:

Fire Penetration is equivalent to 38-152% MORE damage depending on the enemy resists. It can make the target's resists negative, so against an enemy with no Fire resistance it makes their resistance go to -38% resulting in 38% MORE damage. A boss with max Fire resistance (hard capped at 75%) would take only 25% of incoming fire damage without penetration. But this gem penetrates 38% of it and makes them take 25+38=63% damage dealt, or 152% MORE. Elementalist Ascendancy class adds another 25% resist penetration, increasing our damage modifier from penetration to 63% MORE damage against trash and an incredible 252% MORE damage against bosses and other resistant enemies.

Concentrated Effect is 55% MORE plus 10% increased. Reduced area of effect is increased back by the Blast Radius and Amplify nodes.

Cold To Fire is similar to 30% MORE plus 20% increased damage.

Converting Icestorm damage to fire maximizes the offensive bonus of Flame Golem to 80% with Liege of the Primordial and adds another 40% increased damage against enemies that hit you with fire.

Cast while Channelling is 10% MORE plus 10% increased damage. And it sets the casting speed of Icestorm to 0.35 sec which is much faster than it could be cast directly.

Scorching Ray is used to cast Icestorm (via Cast while Channelling) while also doing its own burning damage and applying up to -24% fire resistance debuff on the target which stacks with Fire Penetration.

Because this build is not a crit one, we use a secondary skill to trigger Elemental Overload's 40% MORE damage benefit. Orb of Storms works the best because it can benefit from the increased AoE and skill duration. And it also triggers Mastermind of Discord's fire penetration effect.

Warlord's Mark causes everything that's not a boss or curse immune to be stun locked by Icestorm.


CI and high Intelligence provide a very large amount of ES from just 4 items (body armor, gloves, boots, belt), Discipline aura and a few ES nodes in the tree. 1500 Int = 300% increased ES. Compared to that, all tree nodes that grant increased ES are insignificant and can be ignored.

Life Leech, Ghost Reaver, Vaal Pact and Warlord's Mark combine for very efficient ES and mana leeching.

CI makes you immune to all forms of Chaos damage, including poison.

Paragon of Calamity combined with Arctic Armor make reflect a non-factor.

Arctic Armor, Fortify, Enfeeble, Paragon of Calamity reduce incoming damage. Temporal Chains, Arctic Armor and the chilled ground created by Icestorm greatly slow all enemies. Warlord's Mark stun locks almost everything. Immortal Call protects against damage spikes. Unwavering Stance grants stun immunity. Auxium provides excellent defense against freeze and chill. Golems distract the toughest enemies and take a lot of hits for you.

More details

Life Leech Support leeches 2% of the Icestorm damage as ES.

Warlord's Mark adds another 2.4% ES and mana leech (with 20q Blasphemy and curse effect nodes). However, it doesn't work on Curse Immune enemies and its effect is reduced to 1.2% leech against bosses. Also, Warlord's Mark makes killed enemies give you endurance charges reducing incoming physical damage and increasing the duration of Immortal Call. And it lowers most enemies' stun threshold to where they get permanently stunned by Icestorm and unable to deal any damage to you.

Enchanted boots add another 0.4-0.6% ES and mana leech as long as you keep killing something.

Enfeeble makes the enemies deal 36% LESS damage (15% LESS if boss). Enchanted helmet (with a lot of luck) can take that to 45% LESS (18% LESS if boss).

Fortify reduces incoming damage by 20% for all hits. If the hit is elemental, Paragon of Calamity reduces it by another 8%.

Arctic Armor makes you take 13% LESS damage from fire and physical hits, including reflected fire damage.

Fortify, Arctic Armor and Enfeeble combine multiplicatively as they are applied on different stages of the hit damage calculation. For example, an Enfeebled monster landing a physical hit on you will deal only (1-0.36) * (1-0.20) * (1-0.13) = 0.45, or 45% of the damage it would deal without Enfeeble, Fortify and AA, i.e they hit you for 55% LESS damage. For bosses (60% less effect of curses) this number is 0.59, or 41% LESS damage.

Arctic Armor, Fortify and Paragon of Calamity also protect you against reflected elemental damage. Elemental reflect causes you to hit yourself for a portion of the fire damage you deal to the enemy. But this build takes 81% LESS ((1-0.5-0.20-0.08) * (1-0.13) = 0.19) reflected damage and can easily outleech it.

High level CWDT + Immortal Call + increased duration nodes make you immune to physical damage for extended periods of time when you take a serious hit while ignoring small hits.

A character with no Life from gear or the tree would normally get stunned very often by high level enemies. Unwavering Stance makes you completely immune to stun.


This build does not rely on flasks and can take advantage of any flasks you want to bring to the particular situation for the best performance. In the videos you can see me using Quicksilver flasks for speed running through easy stuff and Sulphur flasks for the toughest encounters.

Very high Intelligence means very large mana pool. Warlord's Mark leeches mana faster than it can be spent. This allows us to reserve 95% of the mana and still not run out of it even in no regen maps.


Important: Always 20q your staff and chest armor before attempting to 6S them (and linking the armor). Quality improves your roll by a lot. You can do it a lot cheaper than Vorici with average luck, as long as it's 20q.

Mandatory uniques

The foundation of the build.

Keep in mind that 6S requires ilvl 50 or higher. A lower ilvl staff is Ok for leveling, but you will want 6S eventually.

Astramentis solves all stat requirement issues and provides a huge amount of damage and ES via its high Intelligence (which is also boosted by the staff, helmet and ring). Some amulets from the Talisman league can do better, but they are very rare and expensive.

The implicit mod can be easily rolled to 16 with a few Blessed Orbs. A low explicit roll (below 90) can be turned into a high roll (over 90) with a Divine orb or two.

Recommended uniques

Black Sun Crest boosts your Int. Look for at least 13% increased Int. +1 gem level bonus is nice too.

This helmet also makes it easier to obtain a good enchantment (see the Enchantment section). You can use more than one Black Sun Crest with different socket colors and enchantments and swap them depending on the target.

Doedre's Damning allows you to use 3 curses.

Perandus Signet adds a lot of Int at high levels. A really good rare Opal ring with a lot of Int and other useful mods can work well too.

Standard league only. The legacy Pyre with 100% conversion lets you drop Avatar of Fire for 2 skill points, use a higher DPS gem (Elemental Focus or Controlled Destruction) instead of Cold to Fire, and helps with resists. Don't use the new (40%) version of this ring, it's not good.

Rare armor/gloves/boots

Int is the main stat to look for. Try to get at least 40 Int on the rare armor/gloves/boots, ideally 50 or better. Int is more important than raw ES, because Int gives you ES and DPS. Moderate amount of ES on the item is fine as long as Int is very high.

Body Armor is the primary source of ES, look for one with very high ES (700+), 40 Int or better, and at least 1 decent resist mod.

Gloves and boots have to provide resists. Look for ones with high Int, at least 120-150 ES and decent resists. For the boots you want 30% (or at least 20%) movement speed. For the gloves, the new Fingerless Silk base is the best because it has an implicit damage mod. But it's a small bonus compared to all the MORE modifiers we use, it's worth about the same as 10-15 Int.

You can add 30 Int or 30% any resist via crafting if the item has less than 3 suffixes.


Int Crystal Belt

Essence crafting introduced in 2.4 added this fantastic option: a belt with high Int, ES, resists and extra movement speed. You need an Essence of Spite to craft a belt with Int.


This is the 2nd best option after the essence-crafted Crystal belts. Protection against freeze and chill is nice.

Other belts

These are all viable options with various benefits but they are nowhere as good as the Int Crystal belts, and not worth giving up Auxium either (IMO).


You will need Fertile Mind and 2x Brute Force Solution to convert Dex and Str nodes on the way to important things to Int, with their own Int on top of that. Izaro's Turmoil is a great DPS jewel for this build. Rare jewels with good mods can be even better. Resist/damage jewels can also be used if you are struggling to balance the resists.

The following mods are good on rare jewels:
+12-16 to Intelligence
14-16% Increased Spell damage while wielding a staff
14-16% Increased Fire damage
14-16% Increased Cold damage
10-12% Increased Spell damage
10-12% Increased Area damage

To calculate the value of a jewel, simply look at the sum of the values of these mods on it. Int is better than the same amount of Increased damage. Int will increase Icestorm damage by almost the same amount as a damage mod, but it also increases ES.

Jewel placement



Helmet enchantments are the most useful, but also hardest to get. There are 360 of them. What's worse, you have to replace your previous enchantment with a totally random new one, so if you get something even remotely useful you have to think twice before losing it in hopes of getting a better one. However, using a unique helmet (Black Sun Crest) lets you eliminate the risk: bring a second helmet to enchant instead of the one you are using and switch them whenever you find a better enchantment than the one you have. Ideally you want to have multiple helmets with different enchantments to use against different targets.

Here's the list of helmet enchantments that are good for this build:

30% increased Enfeeble Curse Effect = cursed enemies deal 9% LESS damage
30% increased Temporal Chains Curse Effect = cursed enemies are 12% slower
30% increased Warlord's Mark Curse Effect = +0.6% extra ES and mana leech from WM
36% increased Arctic Armour Buff Effect = 4.5% LESS damage from fire and physical hits


There are 15 different boot enchantments, so it's a lot easier to get the one you want compared to the helmet enchantment lottery. One of them is good for this build. 'Recently' means in the last 4 seconds.

0.6% of Damage Leeched as Life and Mana if you've Killed Recently


There are 13 different glove enchantments and only one of them is useful good for this build:

Cast Commandment of Reflection when Hit - a temporary clone to distract the enemy

However, if you have Fingerless Silk gloves, enchanting them is a bad idea because you lose the increased damage implicit mod.

Enchant your boots first, then gloves (if not Fingerless), then start playing the helmet lottery.

Note: Do the Endgame Labyrinth to get the strongest version of the enchantments, especially the helmet one. In lower difficulties they are much weaker.

My gear

2.6 Legacy league, after 2 weeks:

Standard league:


Arctic Armour lv 20, ideally 21
Ball Lightning lv 4
Blasphemy 20/20, ideally 20/23
Cast while Channelling 20/20, ideally 21/20
Cold To Fire 20/20, ideally 21/20
Concentrated Effect 20/20, ideally 21/20
Curse on Hit 20/20, ideally 20/23
CWDT lv 1
CWDT lv 20
Discipline lv 20, ideally 21
Enfeeble 20/20, ideally 21/20
Faster Attacks 20/20
Fire Penetration 20/20, ideally 21/20
Immortal Call lv 20
Leap Slam any level
Life Leech any level
Orb of Storms lv 17 or better
Scorching Ray any level, ideally 21/20
Summon Flame Golem 20/20
Summon Ice Golem 20/20
Temporal Chains 20/20, ideally 20/23
Vigilant Strike 20/20, ideally 21/20
Warlord's Mark any level, ideally 21/20

Elemental Focus 20/20, ideally 21/20
Item Rarity 20/20, ideally 20/23
Culling Strike 20/20

Recommended priority of adding quality:
- Faster Attacks
- Blasphemy
- Curse on Hit
- DPS gems: CtF, CwC, Fire Penetration, Concentrated Effect
- Vigilant Strike
- Temporal Chains
- Enfeeble
- Golems
- Scorching Ray
- Warlord's Mark

Uber Lab farming is the best way to add quality to your gems. You can often find treasure chests filled with random quality gems to vendor for the GCP recipe.

If you are not into Uber Lab farming, then for the non_DPS gems, level the gem to 20 or buy an uncorrupted 20/0 gem, vendor the gem + Gemcutter Prism to get a 1/20 gem, and then level that one. You can get them to lv 17-18 in no time, and that is enough for them to be efficient.

For the DPS gems, you can often buy lv 19 gems for cheap, and then you only need to do the final level yourself while adding quality as you get GCP's.


Weapon RRRBBB: Life Leech, Cold To Fire, Fire Penetration, Scorching Ray - Cast While Channelling, Concentrated Effect (or Elemental Focus).

Scorching Ray must be linked to CwC. No other links are required, Icestorm automatically uses all support gems in the staff.

The 6th socket:
- Concentrated Effect for max DPS against bosses
- Elemental Focus for slightly lower DPS but larger AoE for map clearing
- Item Rarity for better loot, if the map is easy enough

In the Standard league, you can also swap Cold to Fire for Item Quantity for more loot (requires the legacy Pyre ring, see Recommended Uniques).

For the top bosses, a swap staff for MF culling can be quite useful. RRRBBG: LL, CtF (or IQ), SR - CwC, IR, Culling Strike. Swap to it when the boss is at 10% life or less.

Chest 5L: CWDT (lv 1) - Ball Lightning (lv 4) - Curse of Hit (20/20) - Enfeeble (lv 20) - Temporal Chains (lv 20).
Important: CWDT needs to be lv 1 and BL must be lv 4 or lower, do not level these gems! CoH can be any level, 20/20 is highly recommended. Enfeeble and TC must be lv 6 or higher, do level them. This setup will not work with low level curse gems or high level CWDT/BL.

If you obtain a 6L chest then the best luxury upgrade is to add Enhance to the curse link.

4L: CWDT - Immortal Call - Summon Flame Golem - Summon Ice/Chaos Golem.

3L: Leap Slam - Faster Attacks - Vigilant Strike.

2L: Blasphemy - Warlord's Mark.

Remaining sockets: Discipline, Arctic Armor, Orb of Storms, and a gem of your choice (e.g. Enlighten for more free mana, Enhance for stronger curses (6L chest), Vaal Lightning Trap, Portal, Lightning Warp, etc).

Other than having to put the 5L into the body armor, the rest can be placed depending on the sockets you have. You will have to off-color 3 sockets in at least one item, so be prepared to spend 200-300 chromatic orbs.

The final curse comes in at lv 85. Until then you can put Enfeeble into 3L with CWDT-IC, summon the golems manually, and the body armor links are not even needed. You can use the body armor to get around the coloring issues until you are higher level and doing high tier maps.

The ideal setup requires coloring one item RRRG to use Ice Golem. Doing that in the gloves or boots can take over 1k chroms (use Vorici 2R1G). However, you can just use the helmet for it and pass on the +1 lv bonus for Discipline. Alternatively, you can use Chaos Golem instead of Ice for slightly less DPS and slightly more defense. Another alternative, which I highly recommend, is to use jeweller orbs instead of chroms (this can take 200-300j):

Skill tree

Lv 92 tree

This build is fully functional as early as lv 61, and fully safe at lv 85 (see the Leveling section). After that you just add damage and ES upgrades every 1-3 levels and go as high as you want.

Kraityn - Kill - Kill

If you already have good gear with enough resists, you can enjoy an extra skill point instead of helping Kraityn. You can always respec Kraityn into the skill point for 20 Regrets later.



Liege of the Primordial doubles the effect of the golems and makes them much tougher, plus extra DPS on top of that.

Paragon of Calamity takes care of reflect, adds extra protection against elemental damage and gives you extra DPS against enemies that hit you with fire or cold (including Atziri, Malachai, Phoenix, Hydra and the Shaper).

Pendulum of Destruction gives you extra DPS and AoE 40% of the time.

Mastermind of Discord gives you even more DPS, especially against resistant enemies.

Play style

- Run around, see a pack of mobs, hit them with Scorching Ray + Icestorm.
- If they are not dead yet, pop Orb of Storms and keep channelling Scorching Ray.
- Don't be afraid to tank. This build is VERY tanky. Moreover, you want everything you hit to be close enough to leech from.
- Hit the bosses and other notable enemies with Vigilant Strike to get a very long Fortify buff.
- You never run out of mana and can pre-cast Icestorm on triggered bosses.
- Warlord's Mark aura covers most of the screen and provides ES and mana leech and endurance charges, plus it makes Icestorm stun lock pretty much everything that's not a boss.
- Anything that manages to hit you gets chilled, Enfeebled and Temp Chained and can't really hurt you anymore.
- Whenever you take enough damage to notice it, Immortal Call triggers and makes you immune to physical hits (that's most of them) for up to 3-4 sec.
- Your golems pop automatically when you take damage.
- Leap Slam across the terrain and over Labyrinth traps.
- Be careful, of course. While you can faceroll almost everything, this build still cannot survive the attacks that are meant to 1-shot, such as Atziri's Gigantic Flameblast, Malachai's Teleport Slam, etc. Facetanking high DPS bosses should be done with caution. Use Leap Slam often to get Fortify when it expires. Depending on the map mods, you should be wary of elemental or physical damage that is not a problem without those mods.

Important: This is NOT a ranged attack build. You want to keep everything within your WM aura. If you are not leeching from the mobs you are killing, you are more vulnerable. The only times you should be attacking from range is when fighting high level bosses that can 1-shot you.


This build doesn't depend on flasks to function, so the choice is entirely up to you. All flasks have to be utility ones, because life flasks don't work with CI and mana flasks won't work because you leech mana faster than you spend it and you are almost always at full mana.

I currently use these flasks for most of my mapping in high tiers:

A Staunching flask is a must, many enemies can cause heavy bleeding. Anti-freeze and anti-shock flasks are always a good idea. Quicksilver flasks with extra movement speed make things go really fast.

The Wise Oak introduced in 2.6 gives you additional 20% fire penetration if your total fire resistance (the number over the 75% cap) is the highest of the three, or joint-highest. It also gives you additional protection against damage of the lowest-resist element. It's an awesome flask for boss fights.

Dealing with map mods

This build can do any map mods and virtually any combinations of them.

Mods that grant monsters extra damage, speed, projectiles, AoE: this build is very tanky and can take a lot of punishment. Just be more careful. The same goes for the curses on you and lowered max resists.

Mods that grant monsters more life or resistances: they die a little slower, makes no difference otherwise. You have huge DPS and resist penetration.

Elemental reflect: this build easily outleeches even the top reflect mod, as long as you stay near the mobs you are hitting (i.e. they are covered by the WM aura; avoid range-killing in reflect maps). For tough cases such as EW -maxres or Atziri's mirror use Sibyl's Lament in the left ring slot.

Leech immunity: without the ability to leech you cannot tank well and have to range kill everything. Do not combine this with ele reflect.

Hexproof: without the curses you are much more vulnerable to attacks and lose a big source of ES/mana leech. Swap Blasphemy and Warlord's Mark for a Purity aura most helpful for that paricular map.

The % reduced regen mods are not a problem at all, you will not even notice them. No Regen is fine as long as there is no leech immunity. Pop Orb of Storms before Scorching Ray, and stop casting just before the last enemy dies. Or click off Arctic Armour to have more room for error. Or use a lv 1 Scorching Ray that costs almost no mana.

Dealing with specific bosses

See the Boss Guide (moved to a separate post instead of posting a copy for each version of the build; it works the same for all versions)


Problem: It's hard to stay alive after switching to CI.
Cause: You are either not using WM+Blasphemy aura or trying to range kill everything instead of face tanking.
Solution: Use WM+Blasphemy and keep everything within your aura.

Problem: Not enough mana for WM+Blasphemy aura while leveling.
Cause: You are using Clarity.
Solution: Stop using Clarity. Your two auras should be Discipline and WM+Blasphemy.

Problem: Not leeching enough to stay alive while leveling, even with all mobs in the Blasphemy+WM aura.
Cause: Your DPS is too low, because your Int is too low and/or you are using wrong gems in the staff.
Solution: By the time you reach the end of A4 Cruel, you must use fire damage, preferably with at least 5S staff (see the Leveling section). Make sure you don't neglect to take the jewel sockets as per the Leveling guide, they make a lot of difference while leveling. With appropriate DPS you will easily outleech everything in the storyline content. You MUST use gear with Int AND ES. Re-read the Leveling section starting from "Reaching lv 39" in case you overlooked or forgot something.

Problem: Constantly running out of mana while leveling.
Cause: You are either not using WM+Blasphemy aura, or staying too far away from the enemy, or not using Scorching Ray+CwC.
Solution: Use Scorching Ray+CwC and WM+Blasphemy, keep everything within your aura.

Problem: Getting perma-frozen or stun-locked.
Cause: You don't have protection against freeze and stun yet.
Solution: Until you get Unwavering Stance, don't leap into mob packs. Just cast Scorching Ray/Icestorm and get close enough to leech from them. Carry an anti-freeze flask.

Problem: Leap Slam is very slow.
Cause: Your Faster Attacks gem is too low level or has no quality.
Solution: Level the Faster Attacks gem and add quality to it. Leap Slam is still a slow attack, but it will be a lot faster with a 20/20 Faster Attacks.

Problem: Losing track of the cursor when the screen is full of Icestorms.
Solution: Use YoloMouse to change the cursor color to something that won't blend with Icestorm or other PoE ground effects (e.g. green). Press Ctrl-Alt-1 until you like the color. Yes, it's perfectly fine with GGG.

Problem: Something is very wrong and I don't understand why I'm struggling. Help!
Solution: Make sure your characters are not hidden (check the Privacy Settings in your profile), then ask for help in this thread.

Q & A

1. Which version is the build is the best?
It really depends on your goals and personal preferences. The Witch is very powerful all around and almost immune to reflect, I usually recommend trying the Witch first if you haven't played this build yet. The Templar is very good at boss killing and has nice party support perks. The Marauder is fast and strong, good for clearing and running the Lab, a good boss killer too. The Scion has great clear speed and xp/hr which matters a lot if you plan on leveling above lv 94, although that class is in need of a buff.

2. Is this build HC viable?
Yes. It's extremely tanky and leechy. Just remember that this is NOT a ranged attacker build and don't try to range/off-screen everything. Your main defense is leech. Avoid leech immuninty, Hexproof and ele reflect maps to be safe. Don't tank the attacks that are meant to 1-shot you. Be careful while leveling, outlevel the content by a safe margin. Don't try to faceroll dangerous bosses until the build is complete (lv 85). If you don't do anything too crazy it would take an effort to RIP with this build. This does not include T16/Shaper. The endgame is extremely dangerous, and while you can easily farm it with this build in SC, mistakes/lag/deaths do happen. There is a reason why most HC endgame farming is done with cheap builds that let you run around and dodge everything while something else (totems, minions, damage over time) kills the boss for you. This is not one of those builds. Facetanking is far more dangerous than dodging. Do it at your own risk.

3. What map mods should I avoid?
You don't have to avoid any mods, but if you don't want to take risks, avoid these:
- Leech immunity. Without the ability to leech you have to range kill everything, and a random reflective rare means trouble. You can do this mod, but only if you really have to.
- Combination of elemental reflect with Hexproof.
- If you are trying to level above 94 or playing in HC, avoid ele reflect and curse immunity altogether to be safe.

Everything else is fine.

4. Can I play this as LL with Shavs?
You can but it will be not very good. You will have much less ES, chaos/poison damage will be a thing, and you won't be able to survive the top encounters. The extra auras from reserving life will not compensate for losing so much ES and Int. The 30% MORE damage from Pain Attunement is absolutely not worth the pain. We already use several multiplicative (MORE) damage modifiers.

5. What about Skyforth?
Too expensive, no Int, low ES, no resists and no real stun immunity anyway. You can still get stunned at the worst possible time. You can buy amazing body armor, gloves and boots, plus all the required uniques, i.e. your whole set of gear, for less than the price of Skyforth.

6. Can I play this as another class?
Yes. You can play as Templar, Marauder, Scion, or perhaps Ranger (I haven't tried that yet).

7. Can I MF with this build?
Yes, even in the highest tiers. This build has much more power than you need to clear most maps with most mods. You can always trade some of that power for more/better drops. Swap Concentrated Effect for Item Rarity (+70% IIR). If you are in the Standard league, swap Fire Penetration for Item Quantity (+44% IIQ). This will only lower your DPS without making you any less safe against most enemies. Against the top bosses you can use a swap staff with MF gems and Culling Strike. You can go even further by using items with inferior stats/resists that have MF, depending on how easy the map is for you.

8. Isn't leveling as CI hard?
Not for a build that does tons of AoE damage and leeches ES. The combination of WM+Blasphemy aura with Life Leech makes sure your ES is always replenished. Just don't play a range attacker. Get close to the mobs you are killing. See the Leveling section.

9. Can I drop Unwavering Stance and use all those points elsewhere?
Stun immunity is very important for this build in endgame content. You can easily get stunned (or even stun locked) and die in the top tier maps without it. This build has no Life from items or the tree and no physical defenses. Our defense is leech, and getting stunned is very bad for your ability to leech. Items such as Skyforth or Valyrium don't offer stun immunity, you can still get stunned at the worst possible time. Replacing Astramentis with Eye of Chayula would mean a massive loss of all stats.

Unwavering Stance costs only 5 skill points. All nodes on the way to it are used for good things, except 5. It's not the only target in that part of the tree either: without Diamond Skin it would be a lot harder to max resists. When considering an alternative to US, simply check if 5 skill points can compensate for the loss of Int/ES/resists/other good things and give you more power. With Skyforth, Valyrium and Eye of Chayula they can't. If new alternatives become available in the future, they will be considered.

10. What about Hyporthermia?
Hypothermia is weaker than the weakest DPS support gem we use (Elemental Focus) and does not work on chill immune targets. All current endgame bosses are immune to chill.

11. What about Heretic's Veil?
No Int, losing 15% Int bonus from Black Sun Crest will hurt. Still won't have enough mana to run all curses as auras. Lv 22 Blasphemy is just more radius but it would lose 20q on Blasphemy (additional 10% curse efficiency = 0.2% leech from WM). Not worth the sacrifice.

12. What does Orb of Storms do?
It triggers Elemental Overload and Mastermind of Discord. Orb of Storms crits per hit, i.e. very, very often. In some endgame boss fights Orb is also used to curse the enemy (see the Boss Guide).

13. Why convert the damage to fire?
Adding fire damage mods on top of the cold damage ones is good for DPS. A number of Ascendancy mechanics come into play for even more DPS. Dealing with elemental reflect is a lot easier when it's fire because of Arctic Armour (although this matters mostly for the non-Witch versions of the build). See Build Theory for more details on the offensive and defensive bonuses of the damage conversion. It also makes it much easier to find good jewels.

14. What about Elemental Equilibrium?
EE works per hit. Icestorm (converted to fire) produces 10 fire hits per second, per storm (and we stack multiple storms). Orb of Storms can't possibly compete with that. Every target would be just 25% more resistant to fire almost all the time.
Last edited by Kelvynn on Aug 4, 2017, 2:57:43 AM
Last bumped on Jul 10, 2018, 9:01:39 PM
Leveling Guide

Leveling with the Whispering Ice is a blast. You can start using it at lv 33 and switch to CI at the same level (although since CwC was added to the game it makes more sense to switch at lv 39). This way you get used to the play style and feel very comfortable by the time you graduate from the storyline content into the maps.

Video: Leveling as CI with the Whispering Ice (Templar version)

Don't listen to the people who say that leveling as CI is hard. It is for other builds, but not for this one, as long as you use the recommended items and take tree nodes in the recommended order.

It does not get any harder at higher levels and diffculties, as long as you do the recommended upgrade in A4C.

Other than the staff (that may cost 1-5c depending on the league), all other items used for leveling from 33 to 70 can almost always be found on poe.trade for 1 alc or less (with a total budget of 10-12 alc plus the staff). Some of the items for leveling can be easily crafted with minimal currency investment.

Before starting

This build is based on The Whispering Ice. You must have the staff before proceeding past lv 39 with this guide. If you don't have the staff, you can level any way you know how, but this guide will not work after lv 39 without Icestorm. Other skills such as Firestorm will not have enough dps/leech for safe and fun leveling as CI.

It is highly recommended to obtain Pyre before lv 39 (or at least before A4C), although a ring with high Int and some resists can work too. If you already have Astramentis, it will make everything trivial.

And the first two jewels. One must be Fertile Mind, the other one is ideally Izaro's Turmoil, but those can be expensive early in a new league, so a cheap jewel with 2 useful mods will do until later.

The following items, or similar, must be obtained before lv 39:

They won't be needed until lv 39. Everything before lv 39 is way too easy.

Useful twink items for trivializing lv 1-39:

Don't skip quests that give skill or respec points:
Act 1: A Dirty Job (+2 respec), The Dweller of the Deep (+ skill), The Marooned Mariner (+1 skill), The Way Forward (+1 skill)
Act 2: Deal with the Bandits (+1 skill), Through Sacred Ground (+2 respec)
Act 3: Victario's Secrets (+1 skill, +2 respec), Piety's Pets (+2 skill)
Act 4: An Indomitable Spirit (+1 skill, +2 respec)


Your starting skill is Fireball. Use it to kill Hillock and throw it away. Buy Frostbolt from Nessa and use it until lv 12. If you already have twink gear - great. If not - you'll still do fine. Use wands, not any other weapons.

Lv 2: Buy a Paua amulet from Nessa for mana regen.

In the skill tree, go left and up and via the Int nodes, grab Occultist's Dominion and head to Snowforged:
Lv 15: A2 Normal

The Climb: Rescue Navali. Get prophecies from her any time you find silver coins. They can be extremely helpful. Save crafting prophecies for lv 39.

Axiom Prison: Go to town and take Added Lightning Damage as a reward from Nessa and support Frostbolt.

Killed Brutus: Take Clarity as your quest reward and start using it.

Cavern of Wrath: Take Firestorm as your reward from Nessa and start using it. From here to lv 39 this is your main skill. Get used to it, Icestorm will be very similar.

Act 2: Go West, finish The Way Forward, kill Alira, kill The Weaver, take Controlled Destruction as your reward from Silk.

Next, grab:
- Arcane Focus
- Deep Wisdom
- jewel socket between Witch and Shadow (Izaro's Turmoil or rare)
- Harrier
and start preparing for greatness:
- Ghost Reaver
- Vaal Pact
- jewel socket near Vaal Pact (Fertile Mind)
Lv 35 tree

Lv 18: Add Controlled Destruction to Firestorm.

Lv 20: Equip Astramentis if you have it and say good-bye to stat requirement woes. Help Kraityn.

Finished Crematorium: Take Discipline as your reward from Maramoa.

Lv 24: Start using Discipline.

Help Siosa in the Library! As of 2.6, he will sell you all skill gems available at your level/quest status regardless of the class. You don't have to buy gems like Warlord's Mark from other players anymore.

Killed Voll: Take Summon Flame Golem as your reward from Oyun and start using it.

Lv 36-38: Save these skill points.

Lv 38: If you have Astramentis, you can start using CWDT - Immortal Call.

Reaching lv 39 is the turning point of your experience: you can equip your Whispering Ice and spec into CI! Do it! Use the saved points to take CI and Infused Shield:
Lv 39: A4 Normal

You need 59 Str to equip the staff. If you don't have Astramentis, you need an amulet with as much Int as possible and some Str. Look for a rare amulet that has Int or Int+Str implicit, Int explicit and optionally All Stats and extra Str. Example:

Stop using Clarity. Your two auras should be Discipline and Warlord's Mark/Blasphemy.

Stop using the twink gear. From now on, you must be wearing gear with as much Int and ES as you can find. Your armor, helmet, gloves and boots must have Int AND ES. No need to buy the top rolls this early, just look for cheap items with Int, ES and some resists.

Special mentions:

Shavronne's Pace is by far the best boots for leveling all the way to 70. They are very cheap and common and give you 35% inc movement speed (you are always at full life with CI). Get them.

Icetomb is very common and cheap. It has good Int, ES, takes care of your cold resist and makes you immune to chill.

Doedre's Scorn is another cheap unique great for leveling, and it gives you extra damage for cursing the enemy too. This helmet is good until you reach 1200-1300 Int, somewhere around lv 80-85. After that Black Sun Crest will become the top option.

You can craft your own armor easily with no budget at all. You must have met Haku and Catarina by now. Don't ignore them. Helping them once or twice gets them to lv 2, and you can invite them to your hideout or just place their crafting benches there (type: /claim_crafting_benches).

All you need from the armor at this point is a level-appropriate amount of ES (example: see the wiki for ES gloves; at lv 39 you want Embroidered or Silk gloves) and 20+ Int. Pick up the drops of those types. If you happen to find a magic or rare drop with 20+ Int and extra ES - that's great. If not, you have options:
- if you have a rare drop that already has 20+ Int: craft increased %ES on it (Haku)
- if you have a rare drop without Int: craft Int on it (Catarina)
- if you have a white drop: use a transmutation orb and hope for Int or ES, then use an augmentation orb.

Use the belt and rings to get as much resistance as you can. Use rings with high Int.

Your staff should be at least 4S / 2L and have these gems in it, in the order of importance: Scorching Ray, Cast while Channelling, Life Leech, Elemental Focus, Controlled Destruction (5S), Cold To Fire (6S). SR must be linked with CwC. No other links required, all support gems in the staff apply to Icestorm automatically.

From that point on, you will be steamrolling everything on your way through the game. Use Quicksilver flasks to move fast, with various useful mods such as anti-freeze, anti-bleed, extra resists, etc.

Important: If you try to range kill everything, you lose the massive advantage of the WM aura. Don't be afraid to get close to the enemy! Very few enemies can really hurt you through that leech, stun and chill. The radius of the aura is very small at first, but it will grow substantially as you level the gem and take Blast Radius.

You can do the Normal Labyrinth at this point. Dodge Izaro, don't tank him. Take Paragon of Calamity for extra protection. Reflective rares start appearing as early as A1C.

- Blast Radius
- Fire/Frost Walker
- Elemental Overload
- Avatar of Fire
- jewel socket between Witch and Templar (Izaro's Turmoil or rare Int/dmg)
- Potency of Will
Lv 53: A4 Cruel

Elemental Overload: Start using Orb of Storms to trigger it.

Avatar of Fire: Convert your damage to fire for the double-dipping bonuses and resist penetration. Your staff must have Cold to Fire now. Gems: Life Leech, Cold To Fire, SR - CwC, Fire Penetration (5S), Elemental Focus (6S).

A4 Cruel, lv 51-53: Upgrade your gloves, belt and non-unique jewelry before facing Cruel Daresso and Malachai. Get more Int, ES, and start looking for resists for Merciless.

Next, grab one thing from the Shadow space:
- Coldhearted Calculation
and head into the Templar area:
- Light of Divinity
- Elementalist
- Retribution
- Amplify
Lv 61: A3 Merciless

Do the Cruel Labyrinth. Dodge Izaro, don't facetank him. Take Liege of the Primordial and add a second golem (Ice if you have a green socket available, otherwise Chaos).

Finish the storyline content if you care about it, or grind to lv 70 quickly in the Lake, or head into the maps. Don't forget to free Deshret.

Lv 70: When you have your endgame gear, do the Merciless Labyrinth (take Pendulum of Destruction). You can grind to lv 80 in the Lake easily or work on completing maps for the Atlas bonus. You should be safe enough in low- and mid-tier maps despite non-maxed resists. Keep upgrading your gear.

It's time to undertake the journey down the tree to get stun immunity and max resists, and then get the 3rd curse. It takes a while, but this build is based on Intelligence, and you've been taking mostly Int nodes so far. That doesn't change. You just take Str nodes and convert them to Int with the Brute Force Solution jewels:
- Templar area jewel socket (Brute Force Solution)
- Ancestral Knowledge
- Marauder area jewel socket (Brute Force Solution)
- Unwavering Stance
- Diamond Skin
- Whispers of Doom
Lv 85: Safe and sound

By then your staff really should be 6S. Gems: Scorching Ray - Cast while Channelling, Life Leech, Cold to Fire, Fire Penetration.
The 6th socket:
- Concentrated Effect for bosses
- Elemental Focus for map clearing
- Item Rarity for better loot
SR has to be linked with CwC and optionally with EF for more damage. CE, FP and LL never need to be linked.

You are good to go for all content in PoE! Do the Endgame Labyrinth and get Mastermind of Discord. Farm Uber Lab for xp, currency, maps, sacrifice frags and uniques, random quality gems for the GCP recipe. Get the leech enchantment for your boots, then start enchanting the helmet. And keep working your way through the Atlas.

Video: Uber Lab farm run (Marauder)

Then just add more and more power:
- Lv 86: Catalyse (it's 20 Int, converted from Str)
- Lv 88: Witch area jewel socket (Izaro's Turmoil or rare)
- Lv 92: Shadow area jewel socket (Izaro's Turmoil or rare)

At this level you can farm T16 and the Shaper once your gear is good enough to survive them.

And for the final levels, should you decide to go that far, a few choices:
- (1 point) replace the useless Curse Cast Speed node near Whispers of Doom with the two Curse Effect nodes (+10% curse efficiency)
- (3 points) Jewel socket between the Scion start and Vaal Pact (Fertile Mind; a Dex node nearby is converted twice!)
- (3 points) Trickery
- (4 points) socket near Whispers of Doom + either Might (Brute Force) or Agility (fertile Mind)
- (3 points) Thief's Craft
- (3 points) Ballistic Mastery
You can switch between these options every time you level up. Refund something smaller, grab something bigger.

If resists are still an issue, you can grab these until your gear gets better:
- (2 points) Faith and Steel (ES and resists)
- (2 points) Nullification (ES and resists)
- (1 point) Lightning Walker or the 4th resist node near Diamond Skin

If/when you manage to overcap your resists by 10% or more, you can respec Kraityn into a skill point for 20 Regrets.

Last edited by Kelvynn on May 5, 2017, 5:22:44 PM
Do you think that Lightning Golem would be better than Ice Golem as the 2nd Golem?

I think about linking them to Minion Life and selfcast them.
Last edited by Slowdice2 on Jun 2, 2016, 12:44:07 PM
Slowdice2 wrote:
Do you think that Lightning Golem would be better than Ice Golem as the 2nd Golem?

I think about linking them to Minion Life and selfcast them.

I have not decided yet. Need to try them out once 2.3 is out. Right now I like the Lightning Golem better because his effect (18% cast and attack speed) will be more useful against bosses than +40% increased damage from the Ice Golem. Also, off-coloring all 4 sockets on Int gloves or boots to get that extra green socket (Ice Golem) can be very expensive - and that's where it will have to go. Blue (Lightning Golem) will be a lot more affordable in a new league.

Minion Life is unnecessary, and there is really nowhere to put it.

Self-casting both golems is also unnecessary, the main one (Flame) works really well in the CDWT - IC link. But so far I haven't found any better solution for the secondary golem than to self-cast it when you see it disappear.

The problem with the extra golem is that summoning a new golem dismisses the oldest existing one, and CWDT will always summon the first one in its checking order (unless it fires more than once within the golem summoning cooldown, 6 sec). So if you are not constantly taking lots of damage, you will end up with two Flame golems. And they only grant one buff. You can see how it works if you equip Clayshaper.
Last edited by Kelvynn on Jun 2, 2016, 4:15:59 PM
I thought about trying this with Occultist for the extra ES defense and using Pyre ring instead of Avatar of Fire. In terms of a raw ES number it should be higher but that said, I'm not sure how good or bad the DPS would be. Not entirely sure how to calculate that. Thoughts?

I mean it's probably perfectly strong against trash in either case, my main concern is big bosses.

edit: This was my attempt at level 85. Replace CtF gem in Whispering Ice with Poison. It grabs extra fire damage from Heart of Flame and Explosive Impact. Also notably, I don't use Vaal Pact. Not sure with all the extra ES goodies from Occultist if that is workable or not.

edit 2: realized I could save a single point from changing my pathing slightly; haven't updated the url though.
Last edited by doctorsurgo on Jun 2, 2016, 5:23:27 PM
doctorsurgo wrote:
I thought about trying this with Occultist for the extra ES defense and using Pyre ring instead of Avatar of Fire. In terms of a raw ES number it should be higher but that said, I'm not sure how good or bad the DPS would be. Not entirely sure how to calculate that. Thoughts?

I mean it's probably perfectly strong against trash in either case, my main concern is big bosses.

edit: This was my attempt at level 85. Replace CtF gem in Whispering Ice with Poison. It grabs extra fire damage from Heart of Flame and Explosive Impact. Also notably, I don't use Vaal Pact. Not sure with all the extra ES goodies from Occultist if that is workable or not.

edit 2: realized I could save a single point from changing my pathing slightly; haven't updated the url though.

Extra ES is overrated for a build that leeches as much as this one. Take a look at this part of the demo video for the Scion version of the same build:

(double boss Vaal Temple with Vulnerability)

and watch the ES globe. Those momentary dips in ES are from the archer bitch'es Empowered Rain of Arrows. With Vulnerability. After finishing the bosses I walked through it to show how hard it hits. Yet all damage during the event is instantly repaired as long as there is something to leech from.

The total raw amount of ES is useful only for surviving the hits that can 1-shot you. But for most of them it's not going to be enough anyway - the builds that survive that stuff use either invulnerability or extremely high resists.

Pyre is slightly more useful than Doedre's Damning as a ring, but it's still a sacrifice of a gear slot. But using Occultist instead of Elementalist to obtain the 3rd curse would destroy your DPS. And eliminate the main reason for playing a Witch with WI: reflect mitigation.
I thought at first that the DPS of Occultist would be close to that of Elementalist thanks to the added chaos damage, but I totally neglected to remember the extra 25% fire penetration. Damn that is huge.
doctorsurgo wrote:
I thought at first that the DPS of Occultist would be close to that of Elementalist thanks to the added chaos damage, but I totally neglected to remember the extra 25% fire penetration. Damn that is huge.

And that's in addition to 38% from the Fire Penetration gem. That's 63% MORE damage against enemies that don't resist fire, and up to 252% (!!) MORE against resistant ones.

Penetration is also a major source of tankiness because the leech amount is based on the actual damage done.

Occultist is more suited for the builds that do primarily chaos damage. Unfortunately, that's not possible with WI, since Consuming Dark is a weapon and Infernal Mantle converts too little. If GGG ever adds a unique that enables Chaos Icestorm - that's gonna be insanely OP. Which is why they won't :)
Kelvynn wrote:
doctorsurgo wrote:
I thought at first that the DPS of Occultist would be close to that of Elementalist thanks to the added chaos damage, but I totally neglected to remember the extra 25% fire penetration. Damn that is huge.

And that's in addition to 38% from the Fire Penetration gem. That's 63% MORE damage against enemies that don't resist fire, and up to 252% (!!) MORE against resistant ones.

Well, lets stay fair here: every WI build will use fire (/cold) penetration. The Elementalist ascendancy node is equivalent to a 18% more multiplier against mobs without res. This helps to compensate for the loss of controlled destruction's 45% more multiplier that has to make room for the life leech gem, but it is far from compensating this loss on its own.

I've conducted a very detailed analysis of AoF WI build variations and come to the conclusion that this build here (the elementalist version) is reaching an average damage of around 95% of that of the old 2.2 scion elezerker version. It provides the awesome "halved ele damage taken" on top... but it also requires us to use orb of storms more frequently, to keep up and deal with 2 golems and to play around the inconsistency introduced by pendulum of destruction. In particular, the massive 25% increased AoE on pendulum will reduced the damage of our icestorm against bosses, partly nullifying the 100% increased damage bonus that comes with it. No biggie, but should be kept in mind.

For those that are reading this thread, but havent kept up to the discussions in the other, older thread about the scion version of this build: the elementalist version presented here will work like a charm and will be very safe and somewhat consistent. It's major selling point, however, is it's resilience against reflect. The scion eleraider version presented in the other thread is more inconsistent since it depends a lot on whether one is on full frenzy charges or not, but it has the higher damage and map clearing potential.

tldr: If you prefer speed, I would recommend the scion eleraider version. If you prefer safety and reliability, I recommend the elementalist version presented in this thread.

Last edited by Black_Gun on Jun 2, 2016, 11:25:16 PM
Kelvynn wrote:

I have not decided yet. Need to try them out once 2.3 is out. Right now I like the Lightning Golem better because his effect (18% cast and attack speed) will be more useful against bosses than +40% increased damage from the Ice Golem. Also, off-coloring all 4 sockets on Int gloves or boots to get that extra green socket (Ice Golem) can be very expensive - and that's where it will have to go. Blue (Lightning Golem) will be a lot more affordable in a new league.

Minion Life is unnecessary, and there is really nowhere to put it.

Sounds reasonable.

Thoght about this set-up:
Fire Golem - Ice Golem - Minion Life / Vaal Discipline
CWDT - Ball Lightning - Curse on Hit - Enfeeble - Temporal Chains / Arctic Armor
CWDT - Immortal Call / Discipline / Orb of Storm
Blasphemy - Warlord's Mark / Leap Slam or Gorund Slam - Fortify
Cold to Fire, Fire Penetration, Life Leach, Spell Echo, Concentrated Effect, Elemental Focus

I will respec my Firestorm witch in Standart to this build. Still with the old Passive Tree but already with a 6S WI and some Items from your list I was already able to do T7 White map yesterday with Level 65. I have to advance very slow but got nearly 1 full Level from 1 map.

Unfortunatly I Need some Orb of Regret for the Bandit Quest. 40 Life is not a very good choice for this build ;)

Last edited by Slowdice2 on Jun 3, 2016, 4:17:55 AM

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