Breach [2.5] Southpaw DW Physical Sword Gladiator (Block & Spell Block capped)

Beginner Friendly and Inexpensive!
The inspiration for this build was the confluence of multiple factors.

1) Several of my friends were excited to play together starting in Breach. I have a fair bit of experience with the game, but had been away since Perandus. I wanted to develop my own build for Breach League.

2) I have played too many glass canons. I wanted my build to be durable enough to succeed in the endgame. I looked over various Ascendancy classes and fell pretty hard for Gladiator, especially Versatile Combatant.

3) In preparation for Breach, I jumped in during the end of Essence League to check out the state of the game, and I played with Blade Flurry on the day it was introduced. I decided I wanted to make a Blade Flurry Gladiator for Breach.

4) Given that attack speed scaling is very strong for Blade Flurry, and because I had some concern that a max block character would lack in damage output, I decided to see if I could find a way to make Dual Wield Max Block viable.

5) The build needs to be inexpensive. Because it'll be a league starter, it cannot rely upon multiple high-value uniques.

Achievements (sorry, no videos yet)
With this build so far in Breach league, I have:
  • Killed Xoph (first attempt, deathless)
  • Killed Tul (first attempt, deathless)
  • Killed Esh (first attempt, deathless)
  • Killed Atziri (first attempt, one death to trio). My first ever Atziri fight
  • Cleared endgame Lab (first attempt, deathless)
  • Reached level 90
  • Easily clear Tier 10 maps with any mods except Phys Reflect (and can do those with caution), only waiting on the rest of the group to progress farther
  • Killed Uul-Netol (second attempt, deathless)

  • Level 90 Talent Tree

    Core Concepts:
    • Southpaw Dual Wield -- Deal Physical damage with a melee area attack, using a sword from off hand, while holding a "stat stick" ax or mace in main hand.
    • Reach Block Cap while Dual Wielding. Very tanky for a DW build.
    • Great synergy with Gladiator ascendancy nodes.
    • Deliver high damage over a large area to clear breaches rapidly.
    • Overcharged capable. Passively stack 5 Endurance Charges for defense, 6 Frenzy Charges for offense, and 4 Power charges for damage scaling.

    + Easy to level, use your primary skill and spend no regrets all the way to 90.
    + Simple & Straightforward gameplay. Just attack and move and attack.
    + Blade Flurry has a great feel / quality of life. Melee targeting is solved.
    + Inexpensive to gear and durable. A good league starter.
    + Can run any map mod. Physical Reflect requires caution.
    + Excellent clearspeed.
    + It's not possible to overstate how good 78% block and 78% spell block is.
    + Six Frenzy charges (24% increased attack speed, 24% more damage)
    + Lots of "stat stick" options. Onslaught, Culling Strike, Unholy Might, free melee attacks.

    - Few non-unique slots can make it challenging to cap resists while meeting other requirements.
    - Limited upward mobility from gear. Scaeva and Bringer of Rain are difficult to improve upon.
    - Could have more life, only 154% on the tree.
    - Combination of low Chaos resist and unblockable nature of DoTs makes poison/bleed dangerous.

    Skill Links[spoiler]Main Attack (in The Bringer of Rain)
    Blade Flury + Added Fire Damage + Inc AoE / Conc Effect

    For the fourth gem in this 7-link, I started with Reduced Mana or Mana Leech. After that was no longer required to support the cost, I added Weapon Elemental Damage. Eventually I'll try out Empower instead.

    So my current link (including the BoR freebies) looks like this:
    BF + AFD + WeD + Inc AoE + (MPD) + (FA) + (Blind)

    And of course I swap out Increased Area of Effect for Concentrated Effect on boss fights (Atziri, Breachlords, Izaro, etc.)

    Whirling Blades + Faster Attacks + Fortify

    Pretty standard stuff.

    Cast When Damage Taken
    CwDT + Immortal Call + Temporal Chains + Vortex

    Also pretty standard. When we take a big hit, we become temporarily immune to physical damage, and curse our enemies to slow them down (which has a big impact on the rate of future incoming damage). As an added bonus, we drop a Vortex which further damages and snares enemies in melee range.
    The Vortex is pretty much just for fun.

    Utility Skills
    We have to socket these somewhere.

    Herald of Ash
    Summon Ice Golem
    Blood Rage

    Additional Skills I use
    Ancestral Protector -- It's a good temporary boost to our dps. Also useful in situations where you don't want to (or can't) be right next to an enemy. Has some utility in distracting enemies.

    Enduring Cry / Abyssal Cry -- I play in a party, so it's handy to have a taunt. Abyssal Cry's explosion effect is also great in breaches.[/spoiler]
    Required Gear
    [spoiler]These three pieces were purchased for under 20c total in the first week of Breach League. They're quite inexpensive for their effectiveness. We'll be using them all the way to level 90 and beyond.

    The Bringer of Rain

    BoR is integral to the build. We require the 6% block chance. Since we block very frequently, the 20% chance to gain an endurance charge on block can passively maintain our stack of endurance charges during boss fights.

    It also provides early and inexpensive access to a "poor man's 7-link". We would want to be using Faster Attacks and Melee Physical Damage supports in any case. Blind's defensive bonus should not be discounted, especially given that we're attacking a large area 6+ times per second.

    Bringer of Rain lets us bring a very effective 7-link online for only a few chaos, at level 67.


    It's hard to find a better sword for this build, even at level 90. Scaeva's high physical damage, along with its reasonably high critical strike chance, and most importantly the 8% chance to block when in off hand, make this sword very hard indeed to pass up.

    The Anvil

    The drawbacks on The Anvil are minimal. 10% reduced attack and movement speeds are easily overcome, as they're additive with our attack and movement speed from talent points, frenzy charges, and other sources. The most significant drawback is probably the opportunity cost of not being able to use a rare amulet with resists and damage scaling.

    The benefits, however, are great. We need the 8% chance to block, and +3% to block cap is nearly the same as 3% reduced damage taken.

    Along with its other perks (not insignificant armor, plus life and mana gain on block), this is an excellent unique for the build. Helpfully, it's quite common and low cost (under 1c).[/spoiler]

    Recommended Gear
    [spoiler]There are a number of excellent "stat stick" options. We won't be attacking with these weapons -- their damage, attack speed, and crit chance are irrelevant -- but we hold them in our main hand for their other benefits.

    Stat Sticks[spoiler]
    Lavianga's Wisdom is available early (from level 20) and is extremely inexpensive. A good early option.

    Relentless Fury is an excellent choice, also available early (from level 29) and inexpensive. Culling Strike is effectively 10% more damage, and near-permanent Onslaught while clearing packs is amazing. This is an outstanding inexpensive choice, viable to endgame.

    Death's Hand becomes an option after level 56. Unholy Might may not be as sexy as Culling Strike + near-permanent Onslaught, but the passive power charge generation and near-permanent Unholy Might are very, very strong. A good endgame choice, and the one I'm currently using.

    Soul Taker is the most expensive and least accessible option. It doesn't grant Increased Area Damage or Onslaught or Unholy Might or Culling Strike. But it may be a great advanced choice, allowing you to reserve 100% of your mana and drop mana leech entirely. Personally, I haven't tried it.
    Update: Several players have found Soul Taker not to be an effective improvement.[/spoiler]


    These gloves improve our attack speed and accuracy significantly, and grant 100% chance to poison to our attacks (while at maximum Frenzy charges). They're not mandatory, but they substantially increases our damage output.[/spoiler]

    Gearing Priorities
    [spoiler] After our required gear and stat stick selection, and given that we won't be wearing body armor, our remaining slots are under substantial pressure to provide elemental resistances and life.

    Look for high total elemental resistances and life in every remaining slot. Flat physical damage, attack speed, and critical chance or multiplier are good secondary options once you have your resists capped. Obviously we want movement speed on boots, and it will be useful to pick up some Int on your rings if possible.

    My gear at 90
    It's nothing special, probably under 30c in total, and certainly has room for improvement.
    [spoiler]This build is extremely straightforward to level. There's no major changeover, in fact you can level directly into the endgame tree without regretting a single point.

    You can level with almost any skill until you reach 28 and gain access to Blade Flurry. Lacerate uses all the same concepts, and would therefore be my recommendation, but feel free to use Reave or Dual Strike or whatever suits you.

    We'll pick up Herald of Ash, Hatred, Blood Rage, and Summon Ice Golem along our trip through the game. Work them in as you gain access to them.

    The Advancing Fortress is a solid (and very inexpensive) early unique; it helps us get more block early on, and works as a "stat stick" with Lacerate. Note that if you use it with Blade Flurry (or Reave) you'll be attacking with it.

    I leveled through my middle levels with Lacerate, using whatever rare sword I happened to have at hand, and Advancing Fortress.

    Leveling Trees
    [spoiler]30 point tree

    Focus on the dual wield block and damage nodes early.
    I did initially take Vitality Void and Spirit Void. They're convenient but not necessary. As you gain higher damage, larger life and mana pools, more passive regen, and leech from other sources, these become less valuable and you can respec out of them when desired.

    There's also a lot of freedom to spec in and out of the +30 to Int or Strength nodes along the path between Duelist and Ranger. You'll eventually want to find these stats from gear, but having the flexibility early is helpful.

    50 point tree

    Continue to fill in the sword damage, dual wield damage, and dual wield block nodes.

    70 point tree

    Finish out the block nodes.
    Begin to shift focus to life for survivability

    90 point tree

    More life, more crit.
    About time to spec out of Spirit Void

    Full level 90 112 point tree

    This is where I'm at now. My next objective is either Infused (+1 Power Charge), or Heartseeker (+40% critical strike multiplier).

    General Guidelines
    It's ok to fill in the tree in a different order, so long as your general priorities are:
    1) Damage output for early game, while picking up the block nodes.
    2) Life for the mid/late game as things start hitting harder.
    3) Crit and Charges toward the end.

    These leveling trees are an approximation intended to show a reasonable path through the game rather than a rigid procedure.
    I believe I may have taken Master of the Arena and Vigour (the extra endurance charge) somewhat earlier than shown.[/spoiler]
    [spoiler]Normal - Help Oak for the life
    Cruel - Take the talent point. Physical Damage or Attack Speed are also reasonable choices.
    Merciless- Help Oak for the Endurance Charge.[/spoiler]
    [spoiler]Normal - Painforged
    Cruel - Versatile Combatant
    Merciless - Outmatch & Outlast
    Endgame - Gratuitous Violence

    This order seemed most reasonable to me, because I was focused on reaching block cap as quickly as possible, and picking up Versatile Combatant in Cruel makes most of the rest of the game a cakewalk.

    Outmatch & Outlast is an excellent talent, both offensively and defensively, but I wasn't putting any investment into charges until Merciless in any case. By the time we pick up O&O We can stack 5 Endurance and 3-5 Frenzy, which really makes it shine.

    Gratuitous Violence is great, and scaled well by our investment in physical damage talents, but it's icing. It's not core to our survival or damage output. It does, however definitely help clear faster, which is most relevant after you're farming maps for experience.[/spoiler]
    Play Style
    [spoiler]At the start of a zone or map, cast Blood Rage. We have plenty of passive life regen to support it without noticing.

    After that, it's Whirling Blades and Blade Flurry all day. There's no need to manually curse, or place totems / traps / mines. There's no fancy flask management, no summoning of minions, no need for warcries. Just move and attack.

    This is technically a "melee" build, but it's attacking a large area of the screen, very rapidly, from a fairly safe distance. At level 90, normal and magic packs on Tier 10 maps simply evaporate when I stroke them once. Map bosses go down in seconds.

    Blade Flurry has all the upsides of a normal melee attack linked with melee splash and Multistrike -- it attacks multiple targets very quickly, and namelocking isn't necessary.

    It also has none of the downsides -- it's very controllable; you're never animation locked, and you never spastically switch facings to attack all around yourself. Yet if you do namelock an enemy, you will switch facing to stick with it as it moves. Best of all, we're not spending support sockets to get a melee skill that attacks rapidly over an area.

    We use Whirling Blades to engage packs and/or whirl through tougher enemies to get behind them. This keeps a high uptime on Fortify.

    Keeping up our stacks of charges is important for survivability and for damage output, so we try to move from pack to pack quickly. Luckily, we have plenty of extra duration for our charges, we're using the best movement skill in the game, and we don't have to stop to do anything like curse or manage minions. So maintaining charge stacks is no big headache.

    TLDR: The quality of life with this build is excellent. All dashing in and killing, little hassle.[/spoiler]
    The Devil
    [spoiler]Is in the details.

    How does it all come together? What does it all mean?

    Stat Stick, Southpaw[spoiler]Some skills in Path of Exile require a specific weapon type. Blade Flurry is such a skill, it only works with daggers, claws, or one-handed swords. Lacerate and Reave are other skills that work similarly.

    If you're wielding two weapons, one of which qualifies and one of which doesn't, you will attack with only the weapon which qualifies. You will still gain all the benefits of dual wielding, you simply attack with the qualifying weapon more often (rather than alternating weapons).

    This enables us to use Blade Flurry while wielding Scaeva and Death's Hand. We're only attacking with Scaeva. Yet we gain the 10% more attack speed, 20% more attack physical damage, and 15% additional block chance from Dual Wielding. In this example we also get a 30% chance to gain a Power Charge when we stun, and Unholy Might for 2 seconds when we critical strike.

    The reasons we've chosen to put our qualified weapon (Scaeva) in our off hand:
    • Scaeva's bonus to block chance only applies when in off hand.
    • The notable talent Ambidexterity (20% increased attack speed with off hand)
    • Outmatch & Outlast -- 10% chance to generate an Endurance Charge on kill with off hand

    Since all of our attacks are coming from our off hand, it's easy to stack up and maintain Endurance Charges.[/spoiler]
    Why Physical Damage? Why Swords?[spoiler]The real core of this build is reaching the block cap while dual wielding, and then taking the awesome and overpowered Versatile Combatant.

    In order to get as much block (while dual wielding) from the talent tree as possible, Slashing Comeback is a must. Given that we're taking Slashing Comeback (and thus at least half the sword wheel), swords are our weapon of choice.

    Slashing Comeback, Weapon Artistry, and Aspect of the Panther all push us toward dealing Physical Damage with a Weapon.

    Which suits us just fine, as Scaeva is a sword which deals physical damage, and increases our chance to block when we hold it in our off hand.

    Lastly, we're scaling our physical damage with nodes like Will of Blades, and Fangs of the Viper, which will also scale the physical damage dealt by Gratuitous Violence.

    Synergy is awesome.[/spoiler]
    Block Cap / Blocking Mechanics
    [spoiler]The block cap is normally 75%. We're using The Anvil, which pushes our block cap up to 78%. How do we get there?

    • 15% chance to block because we're dual wielding
    • 22% from gear (BoR + Anvil + Scaeva)
    • 31% from our passive tree (including ascendancy nodes)
    • 2% from Jewels (either two "Parrying" type jewels, or Reckless Defence
    • 8% additional block chance if we were damaged by a hit recently (Painforged)

    This is only 70-72% chance to block (not technically capped), unless we've been damaged by an attack recently. However:
    1) We should have enough health to take a single hit. It's the second one that kills you, and we'll have our fully capped chance to block that one.
    2) We'll be taking small damage from hits all the time. In practice, Painforged has a very high uptime while we're in combat.

    Blocking Mechanics
    Blocking is checked after Evasion and Dodge. A blocked attack (or spell) deals no damage and applies no status effects. Only Damage over Time and Secondary damage (like explosions) cannot be blocked.

    This means that if we have a (very reasonable) 30% chance to evade an enemy's attack, and 76% chance to block, we're hit by less than 17% of attacks against us.

    Before armor, before endurance charges, before resistances -- just completely discard more than 80% of incoming hits. That's good.

    The only downside is, if a blocked hit would have stunned you, the game plays the (much shorter) blocking animation (which does count as a stun, and does interrupt channeling).[/spoiler]
    Charges[spoiler]This build passively generates and maintains stacks of all three charge types. Charges are good. Very good.

    We have a maximum of 5 Endurance Charges. 3 naturally, 1 from Oak, 1 from the passive tree.
    We generate them via Outmatch & Outlast (10% chance on kill with off hand). Since all of our kills are happening with our off hand, this is more than frequent enough to maintain a stack while clearing packs.
    In addition, we have a 20% chance to generate an endurance charge on block, and we block very frequently. This helps passively maintain our stack of charges during boss fights.

    We have a maximum of 6 Frenzy Charges. 3 naturally, 3 on the tree. We generate them with Blood Rage. We have more than enough passive life regeneration on our talent tree to support Blood Rage without concern.

    We have a maximum of 3 Power Charges. We generate them passively with Death's Hand, and in my experience this is more than frequent enough to maintain a stack of charges while clearing.

    In addition, Outmatch & Outlast gives us 10% additional physical damage reduction when we're at maximum endurance charges, and 10% more physical damage (including the explosions from Gratuitous Violence) when we're at maximum frenzy charges.

    Snakebite gloves also scale with frenzy charges. The following math includes them.

    When we're all charged up, we have 36% increased accuracy, 36% increased attack speed, 24% more damage and 10% more physical damage, our attacks poison on hit, 150% increased critical chance, +20% to all elemental resistances, and 30% reduced physical damage taken.

    Best of all, all of our charges are generated passively while we're clearing packs, we don't have to do anything to maintain them. And in my experience maintaining stacks is no headache. We generate stacks very rapidly, and have plenty of increased charge duration nodes on our talent tree.

    This is very different from a PCoCS / CoCS build that needs a "ramp up" phase. We just dive into the first pack we meet, and come out fully charged.

    TLDR: Charges are good, this build generates them passively and maintains them easily. Quality of life is excellent.[/spoiler][/spoiler]
    This is my first build guide, thank you for reading it.

    Good luck with the build and have fun. I traipsed to 90 almost without noticing. This character is my first to fight Atziri, and I beat her on my first attempt. (One death to the trio earlier in the run). I've had fun building and playing it, I hope you enjoy it as well.

    I'm happy to field any questions, correct any errors, or debate my choices. Feedback is encouraged.
  • Last edited by Anglave on Feb 10, 2017, 3:59:30 PM
    Last bumped on Jun 19, 2017, 10:58:14 PM
    Reserved for FAQ and Changelog
    Thanks for sharing.

    How much life do you have with this build? Running a BoR with no shield, an Anvil, and 154% life doesn't seem like much.
    I love this game but I'm not so sure about the people who play it.
    tokyotapes wrote:
    Thanks for sharing.

    How much life do you have with this build? Running a BoR with no shield, an Anvil, and 154% life doesn't seem like much.

    At level 90, about 4,200 life. Which may sound a bit low, but being block and spell block capped, and having 5 endurance charges which are up pretty much permanently, really does make a huge difference.

    I'm currently focused on improving my damage output rather than gaining more life, which is unusual in my experience. I could probably get the total closer to 5k if it were a priority, but I don't die while flying through T10 maps, so I'm not worried about it.

    4,200 might be too low on paper, especially if you're playing hardcore, but in actual play, I find the build to be extremely durable and resilient. As I said, I downed Atziri and the first three Breachlords, deathless, on my first run at each.
    Last edited by Anglave on Jan 21, 2017, 5:56:27 AM
    cool build.

    Reminds me a little of my dual scaeva cleave attempt. I pretty much gave up on that because of the life nodes, lol. Thanks to you I now found out about the 4 of the ranger tree that I did not see for any reason.

    But hm, 4200 life for lvl 90 is nothing how can you do anything without being locked in block animation permanently?

    You skip Heartseeker, thats pretty much a Maligaro's Virtuosity, isnt that stronger than an additional frenzy charge?

    I love outmach and outlast too, the charge generation and +10% more phys and 10% reduced phys damage taken is a nice combo.
    Update - I downed Uul Netol with this build today. It did take me two attempts to get through his breach. For the second, I swapped out my amulet and rings for more damage:
    The second run through the breach was much smoother, and the boss fight itself was trivial.

    So, on my second run at Uul-Netol, a deathless kill.

    4200 life for lvl 90 is nothing how can you do anything without being locked in block animation permanently?

    I haven't had any trouble. If you're concerned, Unwavering Stance would permanently solve the problem for 6 talent points. Or you could temporarily replace Anvil with Eye of Chayula. Or just focus harder on getting life on gear.
    But the fact is, I'm not doing these things because I haven't found it to be a problem.

    You skip Heartseeker, thats pretty much a Maligaro's Virtuosity, isnt that stronger than an additional frenzy charge?

    It may very well be. Though I felt the increased attack speed and more damage from a Frenzy charge were more consistent, I haven't directly compared it to the crit chance and crit multi. Sometime soon I'll respec the 3 points and see if I can feel the difference.
    Last edited by Anglave on Jan 23, 2017, 11:12:50 PM
    Can you post your character offensive and defensive stats?
    Loving the simplicity of this build, move kill, move kill. Simple. No messing around.

    In case it wasn't mentioned already, I just did my first Uber Lab with this build, deathless on first try at level 87.

    I experimented with Soul Taker as a stat stick for about a day, but IMO, Death's Hand is superior; the mechanic of not caring about mana was nice, but i still had to carry a mana pot for when my golem died (which was alot). Also the lack of passive power charges meant using Assassin's Mark, which also necessitated the use of a mana pot. Basically, I felt it ruined the simplicity of this build.

    Also when I switched back to Death's Hand and started criting again...dps just felt better, no numbers to back this up - just felt better.
    Last edited by Rendralt on Jan 29, 2017, 7:51:21 PM
    this is very well made, thought through and the both detailed and simple instructions help a lot!
    thank you very very much!
    Hi, I'm really enjoying this build, my first viable end game build. Very fun. However, I am at 81, just finished uber lab, and have all the gear listed and don't see any more block passives on the suggested tree that I haven't picked up yet and my block is at 68% instead of 78%. Any ideas what I might be missing that's accounting for 10% block?

    Report Forum Post

    Report Account:

    Report Type

    Additional Info