[2.6] Pizza Sticks: Flameblast Totem Inquisitor/Hierophant (Ready for 2.6!)

2.6 UPDATE

Nothing has really changed for us in 2.6. A few minor nerfs, but nothing that alters how the build is played or put together. As such, I've only made minor updates to the guide. Hopefully I've caught everything that is out of date, but if you see something (or something is missing) please PM me. In particular, the recommended uniques will likely need updating once we see how all these buffed uniques play out, or if I forgot anything from 2.5. In particular, the new Berek's Respite sounds exciting.

Also added links to many of blajo's excellent videos, posted with permission.

Best of luck in 2.6!

Old Updates
PRE-2.6 UPDATE

Having had a chance to absorb the AoE nerfs fully, they're not too bad. Unpleasant of course, but not terrible. Build is still good. For the sake of comparison, have some images and a tiny 30-seconds-of-effort video.

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Nothing really needs to change thanks to this nerf. It's just a small power hit for us.



2.5 UPDATE

Not too much has changed with this build in 2.5. We got a small buff from the totem node changes, and that's pretty much it. This build is a great choice of league starter.

The following updates have been made for 2.5:

- Reworked and expanded the ascendancy choice section.
- More information and updated suggestions for the life version of the build. Much improved tree, Tukohama's Fortress discussion.
- Updated weapon recommendations. (WILL LIKELY CHANGE FURTHER WITH NEW 2.5 ITEMS)
- More videos (Inquis vs Hiero comparisons, pinched Hydra/Shaper videos from other players).
- A few extremely minor things.

Good luck in 2.5!


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CONTENTS

1. Build Concept
2. Why Play the Build (Pros and Cons)
3. Ascendancy Choice, Skill Tree and Bandits
4. Gearing Recommendations
5. Gems
6. Levelling Tips
7. Playstyle
8. Stats
9. Videos



1. BUILD CONCEPT

Flameblast charges up while you channel it, increasing in damage and AoE the longer you hold it before releasing. Traditional Flameblast builds have struggled with the awkwardness of standing still for such a long period of time. This build does away with that by having totems do it for us, letting us run around at our leisure while our totems blow up the whole screen.

Flameblast also faces issues with reflect due to its high damage per hit. Again, totems deal with this by tanking the reflected damage for us. This also allows us to go crit with no fear.

Totems pretty much solve all of Flameblast's problems. It's a match made in heaven.


2. WHY PLAY THE BUILD? (PROS AND CONS)

Pros:
  • Very high damage. Current statistics: ~110k DPS per totem with Increased AoE, ~175k per totem with Conc. Effect for single target. Most bosses die in under five seconds, most other things get one-shot.
  • Large area of effect, enough to one-shot entire packs of monsters.
  • Whirling Blades access + Inquis attack speed for zippy clearing.
  • Can do literally all map mods.
  • Confirmed sub-5-minute Atziri, haven't been able to test harder endgame boss fights yet but they should in theory be fine.
  • Totems are naturally safe - you're reflect immune, don't have to stand still to deal damage, and have extreme range (even more extreme for Flameblast because the totem will cast if the edge of a blast centred at its max range will hit a mob).
  • No unique items required or even particularly recommended.
  • Straightforward, hardcore viable, beginner friendly, self-found friendly build. If you're new to Path of Exile and have any extra questions or don't really follow anything in this guide, PM me and I'll do my best to help!

Cons:
  • Very, very dependent on cast speed due to needing to hit 10 Flameblast stacks before the totem will release. Can feel quite clunky without sufficiently increased cast speed (pretty much anything under 100%).
  • Requires CI to do the hardest endgame content safely - life-based version is much cheaper but can't achieve the same levels of tankiness, although the natural safety of totems offsets this to a large extent.
  • Totem playstyle is offputting to many people. Hopefully I can win a few of you over with this build!



3. ASCENDANCY CHOICE, SKILL TREE AND BANDITS

Inquisitor or Hierophant? Elementalist???

Inquisitor has massive damage thanks to resistance penetration, extra crit, a bunch of cast speed and the more damage aura (or plenty of regen to help out CI versions). For killing bosses, Inquisitor is unquestionably the best choice.

Hierophant has slightly better clear speed (4 totems lends itself to a much more fire and forget playstyle) and is slightly more defensive thanks to mini-MoM and the extra totems providing distractions to mobs. I personally prefer Inquisitor even for lower content, but that's just me. If you want to Hiero, go ahead.

Couple of (imperfect) Inquis vs Hiero comparison videos: Gorge run, T15 Daresso kill

RaizQT published a video explaining at some length why he prefers noncrit Elementalist to Inquisitor. He makes some poor assumptions (e.g. that this build can't reach 95% crit chance, or sacrifices defenses compared to his), but has some very good points. He avoided the maths in his video, but let me lay it all out here (huge shout-outs to Openarl for making Path of Building and letting us theorycrafters do stuff like this with ease).

Inquis damage stats (6L in real conditions, against a boss, with all buffs active):

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Elementalist damage stats (6L in real conditions, against a boss, with all buffs active):

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Remember that the initial hit DPS is multiplied by 2 thanks to dual totems.

Sum all that and you get that Inquis deals ~510k DPS vs Elementalist's ~271k. The damage is MUCH closer against regular mobs but the inbuilt resistance and curse effect reduction of bosses kind of wrecks the Elementalist version. However, that is not an entirely fair comparison because of Shaper of Desolation. If you assume that the Elementalist version is consistently shocking (a pretty reasonable assumption against all but the biggest and meanest bosses), then:

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490k total DPS, very comparable. Just not reliable against anything with over 1.5 million life, or ignite immunity.

Other than that, Elementalist gets free prolif and occasional AoE (both very strong, though not asstrong as in most builds due to Flameblast's already massive AoE), Inquis gets faster movement, quality of life from higher cast speed and ele damage reduction, and everything else is almost identical (at least for the respective CI versions). I'll let you decide which you prefer based on this information.

Life or CI?

CI can be thought of as the final form of the build. It has more survivability and more damage (although Tukohama's Fortress can actually let the life version outstrip CI in damage). However, CI is expensive. If you're starting a league or don't intend to accumulate large amounts of currency, go for life. If you're serious about getting to red maps and Shaper, aim for CI. You can always swap from one to the other for a middling amount of regrets.

Trees

This section only shows final skill trees. For advice on what to prioritise while levelling, see section 6: "Levelling Tips".

Life-Based (Hybrid) Skill Tree

Level 90 skill tree (or Tukohama's Fortress version)

Normal: Help Oak (+40 maximum life)
Cruel: Help Alira (5% increased cast speed)
Merciless: Help Alira (+1 maximum power charge)

Energy Shield-Based (CI) Skill Tree

Level 90 skill tree (or Pious Path version for a bunch of ES regen at the cost of damage and speed)

Normal: Kill all (+1 skill point)
Cruel: Help Alira (5% increased cast speed)
Merciless: Help Alira (+1 maximum power charge)


4. GEARING RECOMMENDATIONS

Life-Based
Sample gear



Weapons

Three main options. The first is to dual-wield daggers. This gives us access to Whirling Blades and plenty of attack speed and crit.

Most important mods:

Spell damage
Increased critical strike chance for spells
Cast speed

Desirable mods:

Added damage to spells (preferably fire)
Global critical strike multiplier
Increased attack speed

The second option is to use a dagger or sceptre with a shield, using Shield Charge for mobility instead of Whirling Blades (or whichever if you use a dagger). A lot of this will come down to personal preference of desired safety and choice of movement skill. Of particular note here is the unique shield Tukohama's Fortress.



If you want to use it, you need to change your tree slightly. Specifically, you should pick up EB and MoM so that your ES can regenerate through Blood Magic and still protect you. Something like this.

The Blood Magic really isn't a big deal otherwise. Use an Essence Worm if you want to still run Anger or Discipline. This is the highest damage version of the build at the cost of some safety.

Finally, you can use wand and shield or dual wield wands, and use Lightning Warp to get around or just run. I don't recommend it though.

Other possible unique options (though neither are very good):

Armour

Nothing special. Life and resists, energy shield or evasion where possible just for a little extra value, and movement speed is nice on boots (even though we want to Whirl everywhere).

Possible unique options (none are remotely required):

Jewelry and Accessories

Rings: Cast speed, life, resists, energy shield. Some mana regeneration is also helpful.
Amulet: Cast speed, crit chance, crit multi, life, energy shield.
Belt: Life, energy shield, resists.

Possible unique options: none really.

Flasks

As with almost all life builds, one or two Seething Divine Life Flasks are basically mandatory. They will save you from 90% of sticky situations. Beyond that, a Silver Flask is highly recommended for attack and cast speed. The rest can be your own preference.

Possible unique options:

Jewels

Unlike most crit builds (which tend to want to pick up as much crit multi as possible on jewels), I recommend trying to get as much cast speed as possible. Your blasts do enough damage already, so the extreme QoL provided by more cast speed seems better. Attack speed for Whirling Blades and life are also highly desirable. Other than those, pick up damage stats of your choice.

Possible unique options:


Energy Shield-Based (CI)
Sample gear


Weapon(s) (and Shield?)

Firstly, yeah, that there is dual daggers on a CI build. Why? Cast speed. Definitely don't do this in hardcore, and if you want to be more defensive in softcore then by all means go for a shield instead (though preferably one with spell damage and crit, as well as ES). But every bit of cast speed you can get is super important in this build and I'm loathe to give any up. I'm currently sitting at ~9k ES without the shield (and could be at much more with more defensive point allocation), so it's clearly not the end of the world.

If you dislike the idea of giving up a shield or can't get a cast speed dagger, you can use a shield with a dagger or sceptre and use Shield Charge to get around instead.

Most important mods:

Spell damage
Increased critical strike chance for spells
Cast speed

Desirable mods:

Added damage to spells (preferably fire)
Global critical strike multiplier
Increased attack speed

Possible unique options (though neither are very good):

Armour

Rares with ES and resists are the order of the day here. Beast Fur Shawl and Infernal Mantle are both a bit of a trap IMO - not only are they far more expensive in 6L form than a high ES rare, but the damage (and AoE) are not worth the lost survivability. Voidbringer is probably just about BiS, but don't attempt to use them if the rest of your gear can't shoulder the burden of resists, attributes and the increased mana regen you'll need.

Possible unique options (none are remotely required):

Jewelry and Accessories

This is the only place where I'm going to go ahead and say you need a unique item, because CI builds have some...issues with stuns and we need to deal with that. You have two options, and they're both cheap and plentiful: Valyrium and Eye of Chayula. Personally I would suggest Valyrium - it's not quite stun immunity but it's close, and it's WAY closer to a rare ring in raw stats than Chayula is to a rare amulet. Otherwise:

Rings: Cast speed, energy shield, resists. Some mana regeneration is also helpful. Elreon's % ES craft is lovely if you can afford it.
Amulet: Cast speed, crit chance, crit multi, energy shield (% and flat, although the former is preferable).
Belt: Energy shield, resists. Flask mods if you're lucky.

Possible unique options:

Flasks

You will need a flask with the "of Heat" suffix to deal with CI's weakness to being frozen. A Silver Flask is highly recommended for attack and cast speed. If you're going the Pious Path version, then make sure to use a Sulphur Flask. The rest can be your own preference.

Possible unique options:

Jewels

Unlike most crit builds (which tend to want to pick up as much crit multi as possible on jewels), I recommend trying to get as much cast speed as possible. Your blasts do enough damage already, so the extreme QoL provided by more cast speed seems better. Attack speed for Whirling Blades and life are also highly desirable. Other than those, pick up damage stats of your choice. Energy from Within in combination with the Melding cluster is a classic CI combo, but not really required unless you're looking to be more defensive than I have chosen to be.

Possible unique options:



5. GEMS

Flameblast - Spell Totem - Faster Casting - Increased Area of Effect(/Concentrated Effect) - Increased Critical Strikes - Controlled Destruction(/Elemental Proliferation)

Primary damage setup. Gems are listed in order of importance, e.g. drop Controlled Destruction if you only have a 5L. Concentrated Effect should be kept handy for high-life bosses, although you won't need it for most boss fights. Elemental Proliferation is an option if you want to improve your clear speed, although you definitely want to swap off it for boss fights. I personally find it unnecessary but many swear by it, and it's particularly good for huge swarms of mobs such as breaches.

Anger - Discipline - Summon Lightning Golem

Auras and buffs. Clarity is not necessary due to the extremely low mana cost of Flameblast totems, but feel free to run it if you really want to. The life version can replace Discipline with whatever 35% or less aura you like (e.g. Blasphemy Enfeeble), but it's still good.

Whirling Blades/Shield Charge - Faster Attacks - Fortify(/Blood Magic)

Primary movement. Blood Magic is helpful if you don't run Clarity (but please don't try to use it if you're CI!). You can also run this in a 4L and use both Blood Magic and Fortify.

Flame Dash - Faster Casting

Something to get over walls. Can use Lightning Warp - Less Duration - Fasting Casting if preferred.

Orb of Storms - Power Charge on Critical - Curse on Hit - Temporal Chains

Amazing power charge generation and free curse application. Feel free to swap out the curse to whatever you fancy.

There are some leftover slots here. Fill them with whatever takes your fancy (e.g. a CwDT setup, Vaal Haste, Vaal Discipline). No other gems are particularly important to this build.



6. LEVELLING TIPS

Life-Based
Levels 1-11: Level with Frostbolt and Flame Totem. Get the Quicksilver Flask from killing Hailrake (heck, use a second character and get two if you don't have any lying around already). It's helpful to run Clarity at these early levels.

Levels 12-28: Pick up Firestorm and use that and Flame Totem. Head towards Ancestral Bond but don't take it. 32-point tree.

Level 28-45ish: You can start using Flameblast totems right from level 28. You can also continue with Firestorm + Flame Totem or use Bladefall (self-cast or totems). Levelling should be pretty breezy from here on. Pick up Ancestral Bond if you're going totems now and head into Witch. 60-point tree.

Level 46-65: Start picking up a little crit. Also consider doing normal and cruel Labyrinth. 90-point tree.

Level 66+: Farm up in Dried Lake, get your endgame gear rolling, pick up lots more crit, finish up your ascendancy. Go nuts! 113-point tree.

Ascendancy priorities:

Normal: Righteous Providence
Cruel: Inevitable Judgement
Merciless: Instruments of Virtue
Endgame: Augury of Penitance


Energy Shield-Based (CI)
Levelling without life nodes is generally not advisable. If you want to risk it, go ahead, but you'll probably die a whole bunch. It's a lot smoother to respec into CI.

Levels 1-11: Level with Frostbolt and Flame Totem. Get the Quicksilver Flask from killing Hailrake (heck, use a second character and get two if you don't have any lying around already). It's helpful to run Clarity at these early levels.

Levels 12-28: Pick up Firestorm and use that and Flame Totem. Head towards Ancestral Bond but don't take it. 31-point tree.

Level 28-45ish: You can start using Flameblast totems right from level 28. You can also continue with Firestorm + Flame Totem or use Bladefall (self-cast or totems). Levelling should be pretty breezy from here on. Pick up Ancestral Bond if you're going totems now and head over to Witch. 60-point tree.

Level 46-67: Picking up crit, doing some labs and getting ready to swap to CI. 89-point tree.

Level 68: CI time! You can make the swap earlier but this is probably about where most people will be comfortable doing so. The swap will take about 15 respec points. 90-point CI tree.

Farm up in Dried Lake, get your endgame gear rolling, pick up lots more crit, finish up your ascendancy. Go nuts! 113-point tree.

Ascendancy priorities:

Normal: Righteous Providence
Cruel: Inevitable Judgement
Merciless: Instruments of Virtue (or Sanctify for a regen heavy but slower version)
Endgame: Augury of Penitance (or Pious Path if you took Sanctify)




7. PLAYSTYLE

This is just a few general tips on how to play the build. To get a better impression of what it feels like overall, head to the videos section.
  • Hang back and drop totems if you're scared. In low level content you can whirl along without care, but when in doubt let your totems scout out for you.
  • One totem is sufficient to kill packs. Don't waste time dropping both for a single pack.
  • While waiting for your totems to kill everything, you can curse mobs or spam Ice Spears to generate power charges.
  • Without Clarity, mana may be a small issue despite the low cost of your totems. Mana regen on gear is nice.
  • Map mods of note: Reduced/no regen (bring a mana flask and be wary of long ES recharge times), elemental reflect (your totems will one-shot themselves so be ready to recast them constantly).



8. REPRESENTATIVE STATS

Life-Based (Slightly Outdated)
Damage (6L, buffed, Increased AoE — normal mapping conditions)
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Damage (6L, buffed, Concentrated Effect - boss killing)
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Defenses
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Unbuffed Damage Stats
Damage (6L, unbuffed, Increased AoE)
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Damage (6L, unbuffed, Concentrated Effect)
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Energy Shield-Based (CI)
Damage (6L, buffed, Increased AoE — normal mapping conditions)
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Damage (6L, buffed, Concentrated Effect - boss killing)
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Defenses
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9. VIDEOS

Many excellent videos courtesy of blajo (linked with permission):

Shaper Run

Uber Atziri Run

Phoenix Run
Minotaur Run
Hydra Run
Chimera Run

Chayula's Domain Run
Normal Atziri Run
Uber Lab Run

Inquis/Hiero comparions videos (mine):


Inquis vs Hiero: T13 Gorge Run

Inquis vs Hiero: T15 Daresso kill


Thanks for reading, and I hope this guide has been useful to you!
Have you done something awesome with Sire of Shards? PM me and tell me all about it!
Last edited by viperesque on Mar 6, 2017 11:18:46 PM
Last bumped on May 28, 2017 11:05:01 AM
Finally
Thanks for your build.
Is it possible to run curse aura in this build? Even duel curses maybe?
Last edited by alanpower on Sep 11, 2016 10:04:14 AM
Thanks for the guide.
Gonna try it out.
Nicely written guide thank you. I am currently leveling a flameblast totem, going the hierophant route though. My reasoning behind staying away from crit is that because flameblast is so strong.. critting an enemy will either one shot it or not. My thinking is that crit merely just crits and overkills on the enemy, exception of course is vs bosses.

Also I am using the apep's rage dual wands for chaos damage and cast speed. Don't have level requirement for them but would be interesting to see how they fair. Thanks for posting this and I'll make sure to post again to see how I make out.
Im the profile linked to prove that a CI variant is HC viable and it best to logg this now. Before level 86 i used a 153% crit and 20% cast dagger and a 100% crit shield. Now i've switched to a +2 bow and Soulstrike. The switch made me go from 8.2k hp to a temporary 6.9k due to respeccing away from 15% es.

The build is faring really well and I have reached 85% critchance with charges up so far. Looking forward to writing my own guide in a few days. For now though please remember that my current tree is not optimal for a dual dagger or dagger and shield variant. This is my Dagger and shield tree. https://www.pathofexile.com/passive-skill-tree/AAAABAUAAPndi4zAmgmq2fzAZjwF73yf35o7dwftPNWmytOMdrcxZp5Y5SoTWiuj8kVHMtHr7hzcjxp8g6eUXl3R_REtLJwFQkGW0PWus0yz0B_v60V-Dlxq-peVUlM9XzW5EVBtGZf0pyvZWxslS67pAiL0bAuTJ-wYwcV_xr6KoS8svxXXhq5WY4_68NVJUev1ZJ3yHRGWDkhd8ioLcFKJ04w2KwoRL45kHRSPRvemtvo2xYPzRKGuErE2Tq6LegFv4veESFxrw22HE1XgUilYWpykb560DOq6DXxGcYMJsZAtqL6Awwm5k6cI2CT60g==

Remembe to get lots of castspeed on jewels. I search for them like

http://poe.trade/search/ometabomowamorr

I hope this'll help you people trying this in hardcore before my build guide is up!
Awesome. Thanks for putting this up.

Question: Could you make an argument for getting the witch area totems for more damage instead of the scion/duelist area for totems? It's he same amount of points, but the witch area is straight up damage and the other area is mostly totem placement speed which we already have a lot of.
How do you calculate flameblast totem dps?
Last edited by Terkhev on Sep 11, 2016 2:35:59 PM
Have to say it is an interesting build. I'm still undecided as to its power, but the deep, resonant BOOOMs are quite satisfying.

Temp Chains. My goto curse. Even playing a chieftain ascendancy, so the resists of target matter, TC is great. Besides defense, it slows targets so they stay within blast radius.

As a pro-tip, you don't have to wait for 10stack auto-release of the blasts. A resummon of the totem will release the previous totem's channeling. Thus for lower hp packs I find that quick casting totems works just fine. For faster moving targets, it can be almost a required skill to get your totems to actually hit!

Playing as a chieftain allows for some differences in playstyle. Leech. Blood Magic. EE + curses for resist mitigation instead of Penetration + crit. I think both build styles will work, just in slightly different ways.
Thanks for the guide, I'd love to see the CI version soon.

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