[3.7] SC/HC - ED/Blight Trickster
Main guide discontinued for now. Still posting league updates and helping out.
In 3.6, Chaos casters went properly mainstream for the first time. I don't feel like there is a need for me to challenge the general consensus on what options are available any more. I will keep experimenting and playing chaos DoT builds, but I won't update the guide unless I disagree with the other guides that are around. Feel free to add me in game or ask questions. I always enjoy discussing the play style!
3.7 Gear, Ascendancy and Passive Tree choices:
The main portion of the guide will remain unchanged. I will go through how I made my character below, explaining my choices.
Uber Elder + 5 way Conflict
I started the league going towards the classic Life/MoM version, but I also wanted to use Malevolence. The duration from the aura + chaos damage weapon craft makes me comfortable dropping the duration nodes down towards Scion life. This enables us to either expand towards Acrobatics to the right or to grab more stuff around Templar start. To be able to get cheaper jewels, I decided to go for the Templar area and get the minion damage nodes as well.
This also ment that I would have to go for Perfect Form to get some layered defense going. To build on the benefits to evasion and spell dodge that Perfect Form gives, I also went with Atziri's step.
To get enough damage to burn down tanky enemies, Allelopathy carries the build as always:
Early on, budget constraints will make it hard to fit any more uniques than this into the build. Perfect Form already makes it challenging to manage resists and dexterity when you first equip it. I decided to drop MoM and run with pure life for the start of the league. Once I got into red maps, this didn't cut it any more. Due to EDs spreading, you always end up with 10 super buffed rares that REALLY wants to kill you. I then decided to drop Swift Killer and Weave the Arcane and go for Escape Artist. At the start, this made my mana management a nightmare.
In order to get the ES and evasion balance just right, I spent quite a lot on a couple of rares:
With everything listed this far, my evasion with flasks is around 40k. This makes me recover 2k ES when I get hit (Ghost Reaver), which works very well for my 2.2k ES.
Once my economy was good enough, I got a Watcher's Eye with chaos multi as well as an Impresence:
All of this puts a huge demand for resists as well as the dexterity and mana regen we need on the belt and ring slots. a -mana cost craft on one ring will let you get away with 50-100% mana regen on gear for a completed character. You also need some dex depending on the roll of your Perfect Form:
Lastly, my weapon (to be multimodded) and jewels with chaos multi > general damage = life.
Currently running Malevolence, Despair, Arctic Armour and Aspect of the Spider as auras with Vaal Righteous Fire as an extra punch. We are very starved on links, so I just get Wither from a single Spreading Rot jewel. This works, but demands that you stack a lot of Blight to be effective. With Infusion and Arcane Surge up, I should be able to peak at around 3M Shaper DPS. That will require a bit more tinkering though.
I have tried to maintain a guide for Essence Drain for a while now. I started playing ED at the end of 2.1. Since then, I have played ED characters as league starter for every single league. I played Witch before Ascendancy, then Ascendant, Trickster, Occultist and Necromancer ED in other leagues. I feel this makes me slightly qualified to spew some information and hopefully help someone who wants to try out Essence Drain.
The Essence Drain play style is a synergy between Essence Drain and Contagion, and after 3.0 we include Blight as well. Essence Drain is a projectile spell that applies a strong damage over time effect to the target. Contagion is an area of effect spell that deals weaker damage over time to targets. When a target affected by Contagion dies, both Essence Drain and Contagion DoT effects on that target are applied to nearby enemies. This means you first apply Contagion, then fire an Essence Drain into the enemies. When the first enemy dies, Essence Drain is spread to everything and your job is done. In 3.0 the Allelopathy gloves were introduced, giving us a very strong 5L Blight for our glove slot as well. This gives ED the single target punch that enables it to tackle the hardest of content more effectively. ED remains an extremely solid all-round build and can deal with all content with ease if played well.
Recordings of the build in earlier stages:
ED/Blight vs. Kitava act 10, Self found
3.1 Abyss Performance, T9 map early league
3.2 Bestiary Performance, T11 map early league
These videos shows off how the build plays when it is "done":
3.1 - MoM ED/Blight versus Elder and his guardians
3.0 - MoM ED/Blight Versus all four Guardians and Shaper
3.0 - Uber Atziri
3.2 - Uber Labyrinth
3.2 - First Uber Elder kill
Why play my version of Essence Drain?
The MoM version of this build is a durable and all-round character. It can clear maps with all map mods relatively fast, it is an amazing Uber Lab farmer that is virtually immune to traps, and it can kill guardians and Shaper. If you opt to go Low Life, you will get more effective health and more damage, but it is very expensive. If you watch my video of the guardians and Shaper and think "omg, he doesn't kill everything in seconds, bad build", I suggest you find another build that suits your spesific needs.
The build is definitely a proven concept, and with the introduction of Allelopaty, you should be able to get some solid performance on minimal investment. The screenshot below shows the build on top of the HC Mayhem ladder in 3.0. In the race, I died on day 5 and still managed a 4th place with under 2 days played on my character.
AoE - Area of Effect
BotC - Breath of the Council
CI - Chaos Inoculation
CWDT - Cast When Damage Taken
DoT - Damage over Time
ED - Essence Drain
ES - Energy Shield
eva - Evasion
LL - Low Life
MoM - Mind over Matter
PoB - Path of Building
Choice of Ascendancy/Character
For this guide, we will focus solely on the spell combination of Essence Drain and Blight as a Trickster utilizing Mind over Matter, evasion and spell dodge. The character is very well suited as a league starter and can deal with all content in the game with low to medium budget. This also means that it will perform sub-optimally against the very hardest of content in the game, but is still able to complete it all. The ED/Blight combo of spells utilizes the same bonuses from the passive tree. This means that you as a player are free to decide for yourself what spell to focus on and where to invest. The guide used to include a Chaos Inoculation and Low Life transition, but there is enough content to discuss these days to be able to focus on a single type of character. If you want to eventually look into the Low Life option for higher budgets, I'd recommend djnat's guide on the Scion forums. His guide and character can easily be played as a Shadow with a few tweaks, and allows you to take this character further if you feel like it.
A MoM ED/Blight character has a few issues that you need to deal with in order to make it feel comfortable. We are virtually unable to leech, meaning we need some way to regain health and mana quickly after taking damage. The character will also feel very squishy in general mapping unless we are able to make plenty of room for damage mitigation for the character. It is also a build that utilizes several different spells. In order to make it comfortable to alternate between casting ED, Contagion, Blight, Totems and your movement skills we should get as much attack and cast speed as possible even though it does not directly increase our effective damage output.
The Trickster ascendancy lines very well up with the choice to go Mind over Matter. The Weave the Arcane ascendancy point provides a lot of utility for characters with large mana pools, providing mana on skill use as well as mitigation as we spend mana. Patient Reaper makes sure we regain a lot of health and mana as we kill enemies, so we have good sustainability while mapping. Swift Killer and Weave the Arcane provides a lot of attack and cast speed, making the character feel much smoother tho play in the long run.
Gem link progression
ED leveling is usually a combination of Blight, Contagion and Essence Drain. ED starts off very weak, and I often find myself using my largest gem links for Contagion and Blight instead. This boils down to personal preference, and I would suggest that any new player focuses on a proper ED/Contagion setup as listed below the first time around. This could make it easier for you to get used to the positioning and play style for later on.
We can get Essence Drain as we enter the Caverns of Wrath at level 12. If you don't like it at this point, that is understandable. If you like the concept, the actual performance will get way better as you level up.
I will split this section into two parts:
- Baseline setup
- Mid-game+ (level 60-70+)
The trickiest part of leveling an ED character is fitting all the gems, so hopefully this makes things a bit easier for newer players.
There are three core links in an ED build. We need Essence Drain, Contagion and Wither. You should try to get hold of a Spell Totem Support for your Wither as soon as possible. If you play SSF or are afraid of player interaction, you can get your Spell Totem from Siosa after doing the Library quest in Act 3. Included in parentheses is the level requirement for the gems. Keep arcane surge at level 1.
Essence Drain (12) > Void Manipulation (8) > Controlled Destruction (18)
Contagion (4) > Arcane Surge (1) > Faster Casting (18)
Wither (10) > Spell Totem (4) > Faster Casting (18)
With these gems, the build works. Your boss DPS will be terrible and your AoE on Contagion will feel pretty bad. At level 31 and 38 you get core gems that significantly increases performance.
As you start getting 6s drops at level 50, it gets easier to get the sockets and links we want. In this section gems are listed by priority. Keep Arcane surge at level 9 once your Contagion is level 20.
Essence Drain > Efficacy > Controlled Destruction > Void Manipuation > Swift Affliction > Empower
Contagion > Increased Area of Effect > Arcane Surge > Faster Casting
Wither > Spell Totem > (Faster Casting = Increased Duration) <-- Pick one, depends on gear/setup.
This is what makes the character. We still have one 3 link and two 4 links to go. Here you can fit anything you want. My recommendation is as follows:
Blaspemy > Temporal Chains | Flame Dash
Shield Charge > Fortify > Faster Attacks
Blight > Efficacy > Void Maipulation > Controlled Destruction
What curse you use is completely optional. Despair, Enfeeble and Temporal Chains are all very strong in their own way. The Blight setup should be replaced by Allelopathy as soon as possible. If you don't like incorporating Blight in the build, you can add a CWDT setup instead:
Cast When Damage Taken level 1 > Immortal Call level 1 > Increased Duration > Stone Golem
The Allelopathy gloves are extremely strong for us when we need that extra punch towards end-game. Since the gloves themselves provide Blight, you don't need to link them. Use the following gem setup:
Efficacy > Controlled Destruction > Void Manipulation > Swift Affliction
I prioritize my ascendancy points like this:
Weave the Arcane > Patient Reaper > Prolonged Pain > Swift Killer
This is mostly because I want to go MoM quite early and not care about the mana part. If you want to prioritize leveling speed, get Swift Killer earlier.
Although it is not the focus of this guide, it should be mentioned that dropping two of these points to get Ghost Dance and Escape Artist instead will give you a lot of energy shield if you want to combine ES/eva instead of MoM/eva.
Passive tree progression:
To start off, we just care about damage and life:
As we start doing the Labyrinth and ascend, we need to grab some mana as well. I like to go MoM after the first labyrinth, and at least before Kitava in act 5. The following is the core tree. Where you go from here depends on what you want to prioritize:
After going MoM, you should try to balance your health and available mana. Due to how math works, you need 43% of your total life as available mana if you don't want to risk your mana running out before your life does. I usually don't have a mana pool that big, and at the time of writing, I have 6.3k life and 2.3k mana. Get whatever passives gives you the most effective health. If you have to choose between a point in mana and a point in life, get whatever gives you the highest number. With this way of thinking, my current passive tree looks something like this:
In the endgame tree, there are a few things to note. It does not have +1 curse. In the gearing section, one option is to use Impresence and use both Temporal Chains and Despair as curses. The 5 spell damage nodes towards Witch can be dropped for Whispers of Doom without being forced to make any other changes in the tree.
We also focus on getting the jewel sockets towards Shadow start quite early while filling in the jewel sockets, as the suggested body armour, The Perfect Form, requires a lot of dexterity. Prioritizing these nodes will make it easier to equip it. If you want to go for another body armour, you should prioritize other jewel sockets or life nodes.
As MoM, the gearing of the character is very straight forward. You can play with a full set of rare items, no unique items are required. We prioritize stats as follows:
- Resists to cap (your choice if you want to go to 75% for normal cap, or 109% for curse cap.)
- Spell Damage/Chaos Damage/Damage Over Time
- Mana Regeneration
The stats on jewels we fit into the passive tree can be prioritized by the same list as above. I generally get a bit greedy in the damage/utility department when it comes to jewels, but I would advice to try to get jewels with life rolls. Due to roll tiers being different on jewels, here is my personal priority list:
- maximum life (or mana if I have good flat rolls on my gear)
- spell damage while holding a shield
- spell damage, damage over time, chaos damage
Beyond these affixes, stats like attack and cast speed, cast/attack speed while holding a shield, or resists are very nice to get.
Once your gear gives you enough life and resists, you can start considering if you want to fit some uniques into the build. Below is my list of priorities as well as some suggestions to what items you might look for for different slots.
My Priorities when gearing up
At the start of a league, the build works perfectly well up to maps completely solo self found. As a league starter, the main concern is to manage resists while at the same time getting gear with enough links to support all of our spells.
When I am done leveling, Allelopathy is the first item I get. Regardless of the performance of the rest of the build, Allelopathy has enough DPS on it's own to carry the build into yellow or even red tier maps.
I also want a random, cheap 5-link hybrid ES/eva body armour asap. If you use a Tabula Rasa, this is also perfectly fine. The ES/eva body armour is very easy to get our desired colours on, saving on Chromatic Orbs that we will need later. If you can, get an ilvl 72+ Carnal Armour to hit the sweet spot of potential rolls and low price.
The damage of the build, depending on gem levels still, is pretty much where it needs to be in order to clear pretty much all content. From this point, this list is purely my own choices while my economy grows and I progress through the atlas.
Playing a bare bones ED build with little to no defence feels very bad to me, so I always try to get a Snowblind Grace as soon as possible. This is the base for The Perfect Form, but it has lower dexterity requirements. Lower dex. req. means that it is easier to hit our desired colours on the item, so I always 6-socket and use Vorici 1B until I hit either BBBGGG or BBBGGR. If I hit my 6L colours, I have to consider if I have enough jewellers to 6-socket another one. This is also a reason to be rolling your stuff on The Snowblind Grace, as you aren't as heavily invested into the base yet. Eventually, I produce a 5-linked Perfect Form, and upgrade my rare items to match the new dexterity and resist requirements.
At this point, my focus splits. I want a 2% life/mana regen enchant on boots, a weapon for clearing maps, and a Breath of the Council. The Breath of the Council is very nice once I start doing the higher red tier maps with beefier bosses and multi phased fights.
Beyond this gearing process, I usually just upgrade my rares as I have the money for it. I also consider whether I am interested in using optional items such as Impresence or Atziri's Step for my final setup.
You start out with a rare dagger or sceptre with some spell damage most of the time. When the time comes to invest in a different weapon, you have a few solid choices:
Decay daggers used to be the go-to choice for any ED character, but Decay has been completely butchered. It scales very poorly at the moment, and a crafted Decay Sai like I have linked above is nearly the same in terms of DPS to a Breath of the Council for a pure ED/Cont character. If you choose to go with the Allelopathy gloves, Breath of the Council blows every other possible option out of the water. A dagger or sceptre with high attack speed, cast speed and spell damage is also very strong. A weapon like that would make your mapping experience much smoother, but will not be able to compete against the DPS of BotC on hectic boss fights.
Perks of the Sai:
Perks of BotC:
10% Increased AoE
40% Increased duration of Chaos Abilities <--- Major
The 40% increased duration can really help keeping high Wither stacks on bosses where your Wither totem tends to die a lot, providing a ton more dps than the Sai.
A third option is a +3 to chaos gems staff. A staff like that will provide a ton of DPS, but you can't shield charge any more. I don't like to limit my build just for the extra DPS when the build can already do everything.
In my opinion we have 3 very powerful choices.
We can start with the DPS king for ED:
With a level 21 ED and 4 Empower, this thing gives me 33% more DPS on Essence Drain. If you feel that you can't get close enough to enemies to use Blight, this will make ED perform better at least.
My choice of mapping body armour:
The Perfect Form is an extremely under rated item, especially for characters with heavy investment in evasion. This is great for us, since it makes it relatively cheap. We get quite a bit of evasion, free Arctic Armour and 30% spell dodge out of this thing. This gives the character excellent layered defence, and for mapping situations it just feels great. It requires around 60 additional dexterity than the passive tree provides as well as having negative cold resistance. You should keep this in mind as you consider getting it.
Lastly we have the jack of all trades, master of none:
A good option if you want a bit of everything.
There are probably a lot of cool uniques you could use on an ED character, but for now I will just mention a few:
If you use The Perfect Form, Atziri's Step is just amazing.
It would give the character 46% spell dodge. They also have ok health, perfect movement speed and a lot of evasion that the Perfect Form scales really well.
Along with "Eber's Unification", Despair is the only source of chaos resistance penetration we have. I would combine Impresence with dual curse in the passive tree to run both Temporal Chains and Despair on Blasphemy. If you really want to go all out on damage, Impresence allows you to reserve no mana at all for curses and also add Clear Mind to the build.
Lastly, the unique that really makes the build:
This thing can't be underestimated in power. If you equip it and feel that the tooltip of 8k or so DoT damage seems a bit low, keep in mind that the DoT stacks 20 times.
Combine this with 2x Spreading Rot jewels to make your entire experience better. It is worth noting that Spreading Rot only increases chaos damage taken while the enemy is hindered by Blight. This means that they do very little for sustained boss DPS, but should not be underestimated for mapping utility.
For builds like this that requires active mitigation to stay alive due to no leech, stun or other crowd control capabilities, flasks play an important role in the survival of the character. While leveling, I usually start out with two life flasks, two Quicksilver Flasks and a mana flask. As I progress through the story, my flask setup is mostly dictated by what drops I get and what rolls I can get with as little investment as possible.
As we reach the endgame however, flasks get more and more important to stay alive or deal with unwanted situations. I usually use a life and a mana flask at the start of the league. When I get the regeneration enchant on my boots, I drop my mana flask and use four utility flasks. Since we are evasion based, my core flask setup always consists of these two flasks:
The Jade Flask adds a lot of flat evasion which is scaled nicely by cold resistance through The Perfect Form. The Stibnite Flask scales evasion even further as well as blinding enemies we want to facetank. Since the Stibnite Flask has a long duration and uses few flask charges, this is my preferred flask to have curse immunity on. An Experimenter's Stibnite Flask of Warding is amazing for those annoying Temporal Chains maps.
The choice in flask that speeds you up depends on personal preference.
If you like to stay at range and move mostly by running, get a Quicksilver flask. If you are like me and like to Shield Charge straight into enemies and cast as many spells as possible as fast as possible, get a Silver Flask. Since these flasks are both for movement and speed, try to get an "of adrenaline" suffix regardless of choice. For Quicksilver, I prefer an "Experimenter's" prefix. For Silver Flasks, you really want at least a 23%+ roll "Chemist's" prefix to make it usable twice without any further investment in flasks or kills.
The fourth utility flask depends a lot on what content you want to do, how you play your character, and what you feel your weakness is. My usual suspects for the final utility flask are usually one of these:
Try them out and see what works for you.
Lastly, the HP flask can also be experimented with. My personal favourites are these exact rolls:
Once again they serve different purposes. If you are the kind of person that panics completely when you drop to 20% HP, get the Divine Flask. If you manage to keep your cool and rely on movement and mitigation to keep you safe for a second, the Eternal Flask is for you.
Regardless of what flask setup you choose, you should always at minimum have a flask that removes bleeding, one that removes and keeps you immune to freeze, and one that does the same with curses. This leaves you with two optional suffixes (or unique flasks). I always get movement speed on my speed flask, so that leaves one suffix open for whatever your heart desires. % increased evasion, %increased block and stun recovery and removal and immunity of the remaining elemental ailments are all solid choices and can be swapped around depending on the situation.
For gloves, there isn't much of interest for us. ... of reflection is pretty good as always, so is the Consecrated ground one. If you use Allelopathy, you could try to corrupt them for cast speed or +1 gems for optimal results.
On boots you want mana and life regen after being hit, as it works really well with Patient Reaper. If you feel like you can't drop your mana flask, you might feel differently if you get this boot enchant.
The helmet enchant depends on what you are doing with the build. Blight damage will provide the most DPS in path of building, aka. boss killing. For general map clearing, ED damage, Contagion area of effect or Temporal Chains curse effect are all very strong options.
Example gear from a few iterations of the build
For the setups with multiple weapons linked, that is mostly for the swap setups I am using for different content.
3.0 - Harbinger
3.0 - Mayhem
3.2 - Bestiary
Path of Building information
I named the spoiler Path of Building "information", as I will not include any pastebin for PoB. I recently read somewhere that the bare minimum for a build guide should be a PoB link, which I strongly oppose. In my mind, A build in this game should showcase an interesting playstyle as well as the build's potential in higher tier content within a reasonable budget. Path of Building is an extremely strong tool, and I use it all the time when I try to tweak my characters, but for new players who are not used to a build or playstyle, the numbers can be wildly misleading.
This is a screenshot of my current character in HHC in PoB. The collumn to the left shows realistic, sustained damage of ED and defense values for Shaper/Guardians, while the right side collumn shows some potential damage that you can in theory get to while clearing a map. The inflated damage is nearly tripple that of the realistic boss damage one, and is just an example of how easy it is to make a build look way better than it is.
My current character peaks at around 600k sustained DPS on Shaper/Guardians, assuming I can keep my Wither totem alive 2/3 of the time. That might not always be the case, so I'd go even lower and say that this build has around 400-500k sustained DPS on bosses where DPS is actually relevant. I could inflate the numbers and make a huge headline saying "ED/BLIGHT TRICKSTER - 1.5M DPS IN PoB", but it is just not true.
If you really want to check out my PoB, feel free to import one of my latest ED characters. Remember to set Wither stacks to 15 for boss calculations.
Low Life Transition
For those that really love the ED play style, and want to test the best performing version of the build damage wise, you can transition the character to LL. I would not recommend doing this in a temporary league unless you are prepared to burn a lot of currency. For those playing in standard, Low Life is this the way to go with amazing legacy gear available. The setup below gives me just above 10k ES, which is fine in my opinion. This is some of the gear I gathered playing ED in temporary leagues pre patch 3.0:
The 21 Blight should be swapped for a 21/20 Vaal Blight once they are available on standard. The setup linked above should be able to peak at around 1.7m DPS if everything lines up perfectly (vs. Shaper/Guardian, no charges, only curses + Vaal Blight)
LL tree suggestion
I tried using Ghost Dance over Weave the Arcane in the LL setup. I was not too happy with it, and would recommend you stick with the same ascendancies as the MoM setup uses. My mana regen is barely enough with one good mana regen roll on gear and level 20 Clarity.
I use all four major gods and two minor gods depending on the content:
Brine King - Stun immunity is godlike. I used this while leveling and until I equipped Perfect Form.
Lunaris - My go to choice currently. The extra layered defense is amazing once you get most
of the upgrades.
Solaris - Afraid of one shots on Shaper? Use this to be slightly safer.
Arakaali - I swap to this for Uber lab farming. If I just run once or twice, I don't bother.
Ralakesh - A must for lab farm. handy while mapping
Tukohama - If you use Blight/Allelopathy, this enables you to facetank much better.
Remember to punish all the bandits for their crimes!
Last edited by Nedieth on Jun 16, 2019, 2:12:38 PM
Last bumped on Jul 12, 2019, 6:55:40 AM
on Sep 1, 2016, 9:40:30 AM
What about bandits?
on Sep 1, 2016, 3:57:14 PM
Bandits is kill all, kill all, Kraityn if you want to save currency.
Oak, kill, kraityn if you plan on sticking around on life for a while.
Cast speed from Alira (Cruel) is nice, but I generally choose go get cast speed on jewelry if I feel like I need it.
on Sep 1, 2016, 5:57:15 PM
on Sep 1, 2016, 6:57:15 PM
great guide! can you post the node order for ascendancy?
on Sep 1, 2016, 7:29:58 PM
Added a section for bandit reasoning and ascendancy order
on Sep 1, 2016, 7:52:15 PM
I don't understand why all CI/LL ED/C builds that plan on taking 3 curses don't take Skittering Runes. 20% increased curse effect is pretty powerful.
And perhaps even better is Hex Master for 20% (!!!) increased AoE on curses AND +10% curse effect.
I understand these builds are rather point started to begin with, but perhaps someone could explain why these two nodes are never taken?
Last edited by sikker on Sep 2, 2016, 3:27:13 AM
on Sep 2, 2016, 3:26:54 AM
I guess you can totally them but you need to move 7 pts. And the curse got hit pretty hard with the new patch
"The exodus of humanity in search of a new home? It is like spreading a virus in the healthy space."
on Sep 2, 2016, 4:36:22 AM
Btw Nedieth you re the only one i found not going for pierce pts on the tree(and im not agree when you say to cast first ed and then contagion, the mob will die too fast! ), actually i like it because you can save a lot of points, whats your pov about that? I never played ED so i tested your tree CI with trickster in std and seems ok but dunno if with 100% pierce is way better or what
"The exodus of humanity in search of a new home? It is like spreading a virus in the healthy space."
on Sep 2, 2016, 6:17:33 AM
Am I missing something? Do you not Triple Curse Blasphemy when life-based? You get +1 curse from the tree and +1 from Cospri's, but no reduced reservation, it seems like. What gives?
on Sep 2, 2016, 8:02:59 AM