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General Tips for Racing
Note: This guide hasn't been updated to include the changes for a few major updates now.
How to get started
At the character selection screen, you'll find a box below your list of characters displaying upcoming racing events. When the event is close to beginning, you'll be able to click 'Join' and create a character for the race. You'll log in at the Twilight Strand (or other starting areas, depending on the type of event) and wait until the race begins. The schedule is available here: http://www.pathofexile.com/events.
The most recent community based resource that you can check for learning about races is here.
Decision-making is an important aspect of racing, and learning to make choices quickly comes with experience and practice. This applies to many aspects of racing, including: inventory management, gem setup, skill tree decisions and gear choices. It's better to start off with a plan than to figure it out during a race when under pressure.
Just like saving time, area knowledge is acquired with experience. Some resources are available, but your ability to identify which layouts you’re confronted with is going to determine how quickly you can progress through a zone.
If you are going to spend an hour or more playing the game, doing your research and reading up about what you’re going to play is a smart time investment. This will help avoid any unwanted surprises. Some of the races have mods designed to challenge experienced players and are likely to drastically change your experience from the original game.
As you’ll be spending a lot of time running through areas, you'll want to gain as much movement speed as you can. This is also a great layer of defence against monsters.
Wearing body armour or a shield slows you down. You have to make an informed decision, carefully considering the benefits and drawbacks of the gear you choose. As a general rule, prioritising evasion-based gear is usually the way to go, as the penalty isn't as significant as with other body armours.
In the earliest stage of the game, keeping an eye out for unidentified boots and checking in with the vendor is also quite important, as 10% movement speed can accumulate a significant difference over time.
With 3.0.0 came level 1 support gems. The most notable one for races is Onslaught; you should use that linked to your main skill until you reach a point where you gain onslaught elsewhere (from either a flask or Ascendancy choices).
If you're a melee class, it is recommended that you skip the Mercy Mission quest, as your access to Leap Slam combined with a fair amount of attack speed makes a Quicksilver Flask rapidly irrelevant. However, spell casters still need to ensure they complete the Mercy Mission quest in order to receive the Quicksilver Flask as soon as possible. If a second flask drops, it typically provides more utility than any other type of flask at this point in the game. If you can afford it, use currency on it to improve your flask mods. Having extra charges or charge recovery helps a lot in sustaining your movement speed potential.
Life and Mana Flasks
Life flasks keep you alive, so making sure you're using the highest tier flask for your level is necessary. Be aware of the specific threshold levels (such as 1, 3, 6, 12, 18) to know when to look for them. You cannot afford the continuous mana cost of your skills at level 20 with the initial small mana flask. As a melee player, this is exacerbated by their early use of leap slam. After killing Brutus, buying a large mana flask is preferable. They are available at the vendor for scrolls of wisdom if you cannot find one. It is also possible to upgrade to the next tier if you have three of the same tier below e.g. 3 Large Life Flasks = 1 Greater Life Flask.
Socket Colours and Links
In addition to having an idea about which skills and support gems you’re going to use, having an appropriate item filter highlighting your requirements will save you a lot of trouble. Some item filters are specifically designed for racing, but global ones like NeverSink's item filter can be sufficient. It's also good to be familiar with the Quest Rewards article for this purpose.
It’s a matter of personal preference, but considering how important early links became with the addition of level 1 support gems, it would be worth checking that your item filter is appropriately displaying 3-4 link gear. If you aren’t familiar with the optimal gear you should be using at different levels, your item filter should help a lot with this.
You can find some information about these here but later in this post we'll detail these further, based on which character archetype you're going for.
Each of the NPCs can provide you with gear, for example: base items you need, magic items, jewelry, flasks or specific gems. Some magic items can cost two Scrolls of Wisdom, which makes them a very good purchase at very early levels (depending on their mods).
Prioritizing experience over progression
As a global rule when it comes to killing monsters, outside of an area-per-area guide (which would include the level penalty - you really want to avoid being more than 6 level below the area), the size of the pack and the onslaught uptime should be the main factors when deciding whether it’s worth killing.
When planning for a longer race, unless you’re willing to use a fair number of regret orbs, you’ll need to find an appropriate middle ground between an optimal racing build, and how you’re planning your character (that is, if you’re interested in going fast and competing for the first hours of the new league).
Selecting what you need to pick up from monster drops is one of the most important components of racing. Vendoring unidentified rare or magic items will give you transmutation shards. Once they're identified however, selling to the vendor will result in alteration shards. Those are both currencies that you will need in order to buy jewelry (granting attributes) or gems at the vendor. Picking up white items that take up minimal space in your inventory is also a good way to farm Scrolls of Wisdom.
Archetype Specific Recommendations for Racing
Melee Racing - Gearing up
Iron Rings are a very important part of your damage. At a low level they have a huge impact on your damage output. While it can make your character vulnerable in other ways, reaching specific thresholds of being able to kill monsters in 1-2 hits is where you want to be if you aim to go fast and compete. They can also be used at later levels in vendor recipes for elemental resistance rings.
Magic gloves and jewelry are another potential source of extra damage.
Belts - Since most of your damage is physical or scaled from physical, a Rustic Sash belt can provide a fair amount of damage (up to 24% increased). You can also use them for upgrading your weapons through a vendor recipe. Using an Orb of Alchemy early on can provide very useful mods, for example additional strength, and can be used in vendor recipes later on. It's a good investment. In this case, keep a spare to avoid running around beltless.
Dual Wielding is the optimal option when it comes to speed. You may be using skills focusing on the main hand (Sunder, Ancestral Warchief), however the attack speed bonus provided by dual wielding cannot be overlooked.
Beware of the stat requirements of the items or gems you intend to use. Each class has different requirements, and there are no guarantees that you’ll have either the currency to buy an item, or that the specific type you want is available at the vendor.
Melee recommended skills (Marauder, Duelist, Ranger, Scion):
Cleave linked with Onslaught, chance to bleed (to be switched later)
Ancestral Protector linked with Maim, chance to bleed (if your main skill isn’t using it)
Molten Strike can push your single target slightly higher, but Cleave can be enough.
Sunder to use instead of Cleave once level 12, can be used as single target too.
It's recommended that you use either axes or swords when using Cleave. Ensure that you pick up higher base types as you go, as they are a significant upgrade. Once you get Sunder, maces are an option.
Engage packs of enemies with Cleave. You can summon your totem if the size/rarity of the pack justifies it. With Sunder, you gain significant kiting abilities. Monsters trailing you tend to line up - going forward and engaging several packs at once is optimal. Ancestral Protector isn't always relevant by then, but against magic packs or bosses it's always a good tool to have available.
Once you reach level 10 (and after you've killed Brutus), you will also gain access to Leap Slam, which is a useful movement skill.
Ranged recommended skills:
Shrapnel Shot linked with Onslaught, chance to bleed (to be switched later).
Siege Ballista linked with Maim, chance to bleed (if your main skill isn’t using it)
Ranged recommendations cannot be as clear cut as the above classes, because of varying preference in playstyle. Both Lightning Arrow and Rain of Arrows are good Area of Effect skills but differ significantly in gameplay. Lining up monsters benefits both of your main skills: Shrapnel Shot and Siege Ballista. While you have the ability to fight monsters from afar, engaging them in close range to group them in clusters allows you to clear them efficiently, especially as picking up the Keystone Point Blank helps pushing your damage early game.
Lightning Arrow has to be used with the Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support gem in order to have a decent Area of Effect, whereas Rain of Arrows can work by itself but has a delay between the use and the hit. They are both viable options - it just depends which option works best for your situation.
After killing Brutus and reaching level 10, you get access to Blink Arrow. As it has a cooldown, make sure that you use it to the best of your abilities.
Caster Racing - Gearing Up
Your damage is based in the following weapon types: Wands, Sceptres and Daggers. The affixes having the most impact are +1 to socketed skill gem level of the appropriate elemental type, and flat spell damage of any elemental type.
There's a vendor recipe to address the +1 to socketed skill gems, but it doesn't work on daggers. You also cannot dual wield a sceptre and a wand. For the flat spell damage, pick up the relevant weapon type, trying to get the highest ones possible. Having an idea which ones spawn at which level is one way to optimise your gear choices for casters.
Unlike Attack based players, you can pick the jewelry for their survival aspects: Coral Rings or Elemental Resistance rings. You can keep Iron Rings for their recipe use.
Be aware of the stat requirements of the items or gems you want to use. Each class has different requirements, and there’s no guarantee you’ll have either the currency to buy an item, or that the specific type that you want is at the vendor.
Staves are a bad option for racing, so you're better off dual wielding. A shield can be considered, but doesn't provide as much damage as a weapon. It will also slow you down.
Caster recommended skills (Witch, Templar and Shadow):
Freezing pulse linked with Onslaught and Arcane Surge.
Fire Trap linked with Elemental Proliferation, added lightning damage.
(Templar doesn’t have access to Fire Trap, so it is recommended to mule a Shadow to pick up Fire trap and Onslaught, also necessary on witch for Onslaught. Worth using this necessary step to check vendors as well)
Spark has a stronger single target component, but requires specific positioning.
Firestorm / Flame surge become accessible at level 12, however Shadow has to rely on Lightning Trap.
Keep your Arcane Surge at level 1, it will come in handy later once linked to your movement skill.
Orb of Storms and Flame Totem can both be used, but their damage output is fairly low. While you have the ability to fight monsters from afar, engaging them in close range, and moving them into clustered groups allows you to clear more efficiently. Use Fire Trap to engage monsters and Freezing Pulse to pick off resistant targets. Freezing pulse also has a survival aspect due to the chill or freeze component.
At level 12, you get access to Firestorm. You can use it as a main skill or to optimise your character, use it combined with the supports Trap and Multitrap for very good coverage. Use Flame Surge for single targets.
Flame Dash is a decent movement skill, but has a short range and limited use with a cooldown (similar to traps). However, it can be used to kill monsters with its base damage, and the trail of burning ground left behind can be combined with Flame Surge.
General Gem Recommendations:
Level 16 gems:
Level 18 gems:
Level 24 gems:
Level 28 gems:
The Twilight Strand: Run straight to Hillock. Don't bother killing spare monsters on the way, however opening up chests can sometimes give you a crucial extra item.
Another area where killing monsters isn't rewarding enough for the time you spend, but contains many chests. Make sure to grab the waypoint if you are planning to kill Hailrake.
The Tidal Island:
For spellcasters only
The first challenging fight, not to be taken lightly. Run straight to Hailrake and engage him cautiously. Kiting is encouraged as you can quickly become overwhelmed or targeted by Hailrake's spell. After you've killed him you can log out to get back to town more quickly. Make sure to pick up the Quicksilver Flask from Nessa. It's usually a good time to check the vendor for the early gear (rings, magic wands/sceptres or 3 links gear).
The Mud Flats:
Be aware of charging Rhoas. Get the three required quest glyphs as quickly as you can without spending too much time killing monsters.
The Submerged Passage:
Zombies and Spawns are easy targets for gaining experience and flask charges. Look out for the bridge leading up to The Ledge, it's usually populated by a rare monster. If you find The Flooded Depths, you went the wrong way. The skill point quest isn't worth doing in short races, and in longer ones as this is usually the point in the game where you are the slowest, it is advised to skip it. If you really want to go for it as soon as possible while remaining efficient, you can use a town portal at the bridge, and go back there once you’ve gotten the Ledge waypoint.
You should kill most of the monsters in this area, just don’t bother with the isolated ones. If you went back to town and are hesitant about which direction to take, check the waypoint. It has stones that indicate the direction to The Climb. It is recommended that you skip Kuduku.
Goatmen are harder monsters to fight, and the casters are dangerous to melee players because of their Molten Shell. Fighting the ranged monsters in this area is more efficient and less risky. The boss in this area represents a real threat, skip it if you feel vulnerable.
While it isn’t worth picking up Navali in a short race, you might as well do it in a new league.
The Prison Level 1:
This rewards you with your level 8 support gem. It's also an opportunity to buy an attribute amulet if you've picked up enough unidentified items for currency. Checking for 3 link gear is advised.
The Prison Level 2:
Don't spend too much time fighting the monsters unless you are sure to level up while you're there. Between the revive and the enfeeble curse, it can become quite inefficient. In the warden's quarter, you can follow the blood trails on the ground to avoid a small dead end.
Brutus - Use your totem or utility skills. If you aren't confident in your ability to manage him, buying a Large Life Flask should help you mitigate the amount of damage he can deal. Prioritising evasion gear and dual wielding also helps.
Once you've killed him you can log out to return to town. You are awarded the Prisoner's Gate waypoint automatically after killing Brutus.
Two bosses populate this zone. Both should be skipped if possible. The Burning Menace can be hard to deal with and you can run away from the the Guardian of the Mound easily.
The Ship Graveyard:
Monsters are a bit sparse in this area. Picking up the waypoint is advised since completing the Marooned mariner is separated from the progression and you might as well go back there once your character is faster.
The Cavern of Wrath:
This is where you are rewarded with your level 12 skill gem (Firestorm or Lightning Trap for casters. Sunder for melee.). Unless you've overfarmed, you won't be level 12 by the time you reach Merveil. It is possible to buy a sapphire ring or check the vendor again. Using your movement skills to cross gaps can save you a lot of time. It is preferable to not go back to town until you’ve killed merveil, and log out once you’ve killed her to deal with anything vendor related.
The Cavern of Anger:
Be aware of the exploding monsters, don't let them reach you.
Merveil - Most of the damage she deals is cold so having some cold resistance at this point will make the fight a lot easier. Use your totem or utility skills. Make a note of her using her teleport when reaching specific amounts of life, and react quickly to her barrage of Ice Spears. The second form should be easier to deal with as long as you don't stand in the geysers. If you run out of mana, using a portal to refill your flasks is an option.
If you haven't picked up your gem reward, you can log out after you've killed her to get it and take the opportunity to vendor your loot. You are awarded with the Southern Forest waypoint automatically on kill.
The Southern Forest:
Reaching level 12 and socketing your previously acquired skill gem will help deal with the density of monsters in this area. Don't spend too much time chasing after those fleeing monkeys!
Follow the road. Use your movement skill to get across the bridges. Grab the waypoint. From the waypoint, you can see a cobblestone road indicating the location of the Wetlands. You don't need to go there yet, but it's good to take note of for later.
The Western Forest:
Follow the road. Grab the waypoint. The greyed out part of the minimap/forest indicates where the Weaver's Chamber is. In a similar manner to how the Wetlands are indicated, a path to Alira can be seen. From the the road there is a torch that indicates where this path begins. It is not worth killing the blackguard soldiers for the skillpoint in a short race. Be aware of the exploding monsters - don't let them reach you. Once you’ve gotten the waypoint, go back to town and progress to the other side of the Forest Encampment.
The Old Fields:
Follow the road, skip the boss, try to gather multiple packs of monkeys at once for efficiency.
Grab the waypoint, then head left towards the Chamber of Sins.
The Chamber of Sins Level 1:
The waypoint’s position is now indicating the direction to follow to reach level 2. You want to try to find it as soon as possible. Killing the magic packs at the branches is not really worth it for the longer term, unless you are in dire need of experience.
The Chamber of Sins Level 2:
Having some lightning resistance will help here. Fidelitas is a hard-hitting boss. Engage him with your totem or utility skills that you have available. Getting rid of the pack of monsters accompanying him first is safer. Having a Greater Life Flask at this point is advised. Once he is killed, make sure to pick up the Baleful Gem before logging out to go back to town. In town you'll be rewarded with your choice of Herald Skill Gem and blood rage if you are Melee.
The Weaver's Chamber:
This area has rewarding monster density. At this point if you don't have a Greater Life Flask you may start struggling with the incoming damage. The boss is a hard-hitter and has a pack of magic spiders enhancing his abilities through frenzy charges. Try to get him down to 50% quickly to have some breathing room. Once killed, pick up Maligaro's Spike and then log out. You are rewarded with level 18 support gems.
Kill The Bandits:
This is usually your next stop after killing The Weaver. You should be sufficiently geared at this point for them to not be too much trouble. Use the Crossroads' waypoint to reach Kraityn in The Broken Bridge. You can find Alira in the Western Forest. Use the Riverways’ waypoint to get to Oak in the Wetlands. Killing/helping will depend on your build and preferences.
Hug left for a bit to verify if you don’t get the early waypoint, if it doesn’t happen quickly you should go back towards the center to find Oak (whose camp’s orientation tells you where the exit is).
The Vaal Ruins:
This area has good density although the snakes can become inefficient to kill because of their behaviour. Don't get hit by the Vaal Fallen. Their elemental-status-on-hit ability makes them quite dangerous. This area has the hardest layout in the game, it will take you time to decipher it.
The Northern Forest:
This area is linear so you can essentially run in one direction from the entrance to the exit at the other end. Skip the devourers. The spiders and snakes should be easy to kill.
Skip bears unless you have high damage output. There is also a boss to avoid in this area.
The Ancient Pyramid:
Be aware of the elemental damage in this area. Having at least a lightning resistance ring is advised for killing Vaal Oversoul. Getting familiar with his mechanics should make him easier to deal with. The stairs should be on the opposite side from where you started a level.
Once you’ve killed Vaal Oversoul and picked up loot, you can log out to avoid the 20 seconds long animation of the door opening: the waypoint to City of Sarn is granted on kill. It’s also preferable to do your inventory management at this point.
The City of Sarn:
Linear layout, kill on your way to Clarissa, prioritise the guard pack once you’re there to save time on her animation. Talk to her then head towards act 3 town.
Once in town, head straight for The Slums.
This isn’t a straightforward area, but it’s quite unlikely to get lost in it. Avoiding Perpetus in this area is advised, though he’s not the threat he used to be.
Most of the monsters in the area deal fire damage whereas Piety’s damage is lightning-based. The size of Piety’s room should make it easy to identify if you walk near it. Picking up Tolman’s bracelet will reward you with your level 24 skill, which can be a 50% reservation aura. In most cases, it’s better to wait until you are higher level since combined an herald and an aura will make mana management too difficult.
Don’t forget to pick up the waypoint, and be aware of the high threat from the dischargers: try to keep a safe distance between them and you. While it is possible to pick up the busts for the skill reward as you go, the layout won’t always allow it.
The monster density is pretty bad, and statues aren’t easy to kill. The less time you spend in that area, the better.
Head straight for the quest item, but skip the boss: he’s likely to be distracted by ribbons anyway and is barely dropping any items. You can then go towards Docks, but use a portal scroll near the entry. Completing the solaris temples first is optimal, especially as this is where you are likely to be slightly underleveled.
The Solaris Temple:
Now a straightforward area with decent density and easy monster types, kill as you go.
Once you get to the waypoint, go back to town to use your town portal to pick up the quest item from the Docks.
If you are behind in level, you can spend some extra time in this area to catch up.
The Ebony Barracks:
Killing general Gravicius will reward you with your level 28 gems, which is where ending this area guide feels appropriate. If you’ve made it this far, reading a small paragraph per area won’t really help you.
Last edited by KhyrJil on Nov 10, 2017, 7:02:51 AM
Last bumped on Nov 10, 2017, 6:03:02 AM
on Jul 17, 2016, 11:58:29 PM
Grinding Gear Games
Nice guide Will definitely help newer players
on Jul 18, 2016, 12:49:06 AM
on Jul 18, 2016, 4:05:13 AM
Great article, thank you.
One thing though, and maybe I'm being silly, but I think Scion doesn't get access to Firestorm after The Siren's Cadence.
Last edited by moggy006 on Jul 18, 2016, 6:31:07 AM
on Jul 18, 2016, 5:46:29 AM
Iam anew player and yes this was very helping thank you :)
on Jul 18, 2016, 6:07:32 AM
Good article! Left a few steps out though.
1. Whirling Blades
2. Whirling Blades
3. Whirling Blades
4. Whirling Blades
5. Whirling Blades
🎆🎆 NEW #1 Aura Stacker Ring +3 Gems -> 25%ES|47ES|86Dex|86Int
🎆🎆 NEW #1 LLRF Helm -> 30% MORE|25CON|25BURN|-12fire|315es
🎆🎆 #1 Phys/Impale Leg 70% Multi Amulet + #1 Phys Rings!
Last edited by Ahfack on Jul 18, 2016, 7:43:36 AM
on Jul 18, 2016, 7:43:25 AM
generic arc/trap whirling blade will get you soo far
on Jul 18, 2016, 8:50:59 AM
Just a heads-up - WB is heading for a nerf pretty soon. GGG doesn't like that players just use it as a permanent - and continuous - alternative to simply running. It'll probably get a cooldown similar to Flame Dash.
on Jul 18, 2016, 12:08:14 PM
God I hope so! :) WB is so lame hahaha
🎆🎆 NEW #1 Aura Stacker Ring +3 Gems -> 25%ES|47ES|86Dex|86Int
🎆🎆 NEW #1 LLRF Helm -> 30% MORE|25CON|25BURN|-12fire|315es
🎆🎆 #1 Phys/Impale Leg 70% Multi Amulet + #1 Phys Rings!
on Jul 18, 2016, 2:16:26 PM
Fantastic guide for new players, very impressed.
AFAICT this is no longer true. The look of waypoints was changed a year or so ago, and they are omnidirectional.
That nerf already occurred, when 2.3.0/Prophecy was released.
-------------------- twitch.tv/unsane --------------------
SSF Ultimatum: skip?
SC: 95 97 93 90 96 100 93 94 90 90 91 93 94 91
HC, Alive: 90 92 91; RIP: 91 91 94 91 96 90 92
--------------- character archive: /963707 ---------------
on Jul 18, 2016, 7:30:59 PM