[2.6] Zombie summoner - 6 Big Zombies


As a long-time summoner fan I've decided to start the next league with a Zombie build because of the newly added changes that affect Zombies (biggest change is their range improvement which will improve their AI, ergo clearspeed, significantly).

If Zombies aren't your thing but you still like summons, I recommend my previous 2.5 build thread for all things Golems, which includes discussion and suggestions for league starters as well (I started breach league with a golemancer and it worked well!)

Link can be found here: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1828990

Now, onto the main show. Raise Zombie has traditionally mostly been used as a meatshield because they lack the clearspeed and honestly the AI to kill things effectively.

There are three variations when it comes to defense that are feasible; Lowlife (most expensive but usually very strong due to natural synergy with Necromancer ascendancy Commander of Darkness), Chaos Innoculation (highest effective health but less auras / blasphemy curses) or Life. With the ES variants you need to invest into anti stun and probably anti freeze or you'll have a bad time. With the life variant you can also use mind over matter and eldritch battery to reserve most, if not all, your mana while keeping ES as a secondary defense.

Skill tree

In Legacy league I am playing the life variant due to the new Zombie helmet. I am stacking strength and am aiming to get a total of 7 big Zombies, currently I have 6.

CI Endgame tree


Bandits: Kill all

Note that this tree are missing a few things:

* Necromantic Aegis - it's up to your preference
* Extra ES or Jewel nodes

Aura reservations:

The enlighten is not required but it can allow you to recast Zombies without turning of an aura. With the following links:
Raise Zombie
Minion Damage
Inc AoE/Conc Effect
Melee Physical
Zombie costs 167 mana per cast

More testing on supper gems will be required but having up to 200 mana unreserved would do very good for recastability.

Why those auras? Discipline is just more health for you, a nobrainer. Haste helps them reach their targets faster and gives you a quality of life increase as well. The biggest threat to Zombies has always been high degen damage and the more they can regen each second the better, that's why we use vitality as our third aura. This also works well in conjunction with all the regen we will get for Zealot's Oath.

Zombies will do enough damage with the flasks and the Umbilicus belt.

Low life endgame tree


Bandits: Kill all

With this build we will forego Necromantic Aegis entirely as we use Prism Guardian to stack up on Auras.

Aura reservations:

Since we'll use a lot more auras we'll be more starved for gem sockets, so we will have to make due with some compromising optimisations.

The two blasphemy curses will be Temporal Chains and either Enfeeble or Vulnerability, depending on if you want more damage or more survivability. Dealer's choice.

It's also possible to remove the blasphemy and use a Curse on Hit setup instead. This allows us to run one more big aura which would in this case be Hatred.

Life with strength stacking tree


Bandits: Oak - Kill - Kill

Aura reservations:
No nodes, we use haste + vitality or purity of elements, depending on resists. Going to try to get a level 1 clarity as well for extra aura bonus from Necromancer ascendancy.

Current Gear: (lvl 91+ legacy league)


2x Violent dead - 1 between witch and shadow, 1 at scion start
2x efficient training - 1 at top of witch, 1 between witch and templar.
3+ brawn - all other jewel slots

Gear choices

Lowlife version

The idea behind lowlife is to scale your and your minions (this includes partymembers) damage via auras. The more auras you have, the better due to the necromancer node Commander of Darkness

The following items will be suggested for a lowlife build:

For your helmet / glove slots I would suggest something with high energy shield and stacks you lack such as dexterity, strength, resists. If possible you can craft minion damage on gloves

CI version

Similar to lowlife however the big difference being where you give up auras you gain a load of more energy shield

The rest should be similar. You also have the option of using a fairly cheap but great chest called Skin of the Loyal
. This allows you to scale minion levels to great ends with Empower and still being a decent ES chest, as long as your other energy shield sources are decent

Life version

This build looks way different altogether. You won't have as many auras as the lowlife version but you'll have the greatest number of Zombies among all the builds due to the new strength scaling. Due to strength being so high (I am aiming 1500+) there's no point not utilising life. It is possible to go hybrid and use shaper's touch gloves and geofri's sanctuary chest;

but I am not sure yet that's the route I want to take. Mainly because while they scale with strength, they don't provide any. Chest piece is also a great place to get +1 zombie enchant.

Some of the uniques are mandatory:

While the rest are pretty good and in some cases hard to replace;

For my current gear look at the life section, I will keep it updated

Gem links


Order of importance: (Note, before you have a 5 or 6 link you might as well run Zombies in your helmet as a 4 link, since the +2 gem levels helps immensely, especially while leveling)

Raise Zombie - Minion Damage- Melee Physical Damage
4th link: Before mon'tregul Melee Splash, after Mon'tregul poison
5th link: Here's the tricky part as more testing is still needed. There are several candidates; Faster Attacks, Multistrike, Increased Area of Effect/Concentrated effect, Minion Speed, Added Fire
6th link: Empower level 3 or greater, ideally 4.

Currently my links are Raise Zombie, Minion Damage, Melee Physical Damage, Poison, Empower, Increased Area of Effect (Concentrated effect for bosses)

2 link spectres:
Raise Spectre - Blood Magic. We use Carnage Chieftains found in "The Old Fields" in act 2 and they are just there to constantly buff Frenzy to us and our Zombies. Previously the build used Evangelists and Slashed Miscreations but their damage falls of lategame

4 link misc abilities:
Flesh offering - Increased Duration - Vaal summon skeletons - Convocation

I like vaal summon skeletons due to the added safety while in a breach for example. I use them all the time while mapping and recommend anyone to give them a shot, a great fire and forget skill.

4 link auras:
Haste, Purity of Elements, Vitality. Later on when I can afford a level 4 enlighten I will most likely run hatred + haste instead, for now it's not really needed. Note that I switch between purity and vitality pretty frequently, as the build cannot run all three at the same time.

4 link Curse on hit - ball lightning - temporal chains - vulnerability.

Then I have a misc 3 sock with flame dash and summon stone golem and somewhere in the mix, desecrate.

I plan on getting good unset rings with +3 gems, which will probably be used for skills such as summon stone golem

We need to decide on offerings to use. Flesh Offering or Spirit Offering are more offensive, while Bone Offering is defensive. I usually run with Flesh but since Zombies deal physical damage, Spirit offering is an alright choice for them. It's extra good if you run lowlife as you'll heal yourself every time you use it as well.

There's some other abilities we always use which include Convocation, Desecrate - general summoner quality of life. If possible to fit in a cast when damage taken / immortal call is helpful.

If you play ES and have a decent amount of aura effectiveness I recommend running vaal haste/disc with increased duration as well.

Strategy - leveling, lategame, playtips


When you're starting you'll want to be life based. As soon as you can afford it, I recommend getting the helmet "The Baron" which can be used from level 26 and put in your zombie there. If you want to level with summon raging spirits, you can add those there instead as the gem levels help a ton.

First 25 or so levels, your tree should look like this

Around level 50 your Zombies will be strong enough to clear things fairly quickly, so you can drop your damage spells (I used firestorm) if you no longer want to use it. Remember to get a ball lightning curse on hit setup going so you can keep directing them.

At this point your tree should look something like this:

Once you have access to the violent dead jewels, make sure you slot one at the scion start with life reg nodes and one between witch and shadow. The jewels does not need to have 40 int allocated in radius, there just needs to be 40 int in radius. These slots work.

The other two jewel slots should be used with the jewel "Efficient training" which adds flat strength and converts intelligence to strength.

All future jewel slots should be the "Brawn" jewel which adds up to 6% increased strength while reducing intelligence (which we will have too much of any way)

Once you reach this spot just decide upon what type of build you want to go for but my recommendation at this time is the life and strength based version


Working on it! Up to tier 8 yet so can't comment on actual hard content yet

What's most important late-game though is to optimise. Get your gems to level 20 (Zombie to 21 ideally), try to get an empower gem, an enlighten gem for auras etc. Raise zombie is a spell after all and spells scale really well with gem levels, so make sure you get it to 20 as soon as you can, ideally it can be worth buying a high level one as it makes life way easier.



Your minions will go where you direct them via other skills. Every summoner who has tried to raise spectres with desecrate knows the Zombie horde will rush to where you desecrate. This is true for all skills, and it's our best way to direct the minions towards where we want them to attack.

Convocation should be used often, both aggressively and defensively. Since this build utilised melee focused minions, and minion AI is dumb as dirt, prepare to be on the frontline a lot. Charge ahead and convocate to make zombies start appear and whacking things. Due to the nature of convocation and the long cooldown, if you can get the cooldown reduction enchant on your helmet it's going be super good.

Positioning overall is key as a summoner. You need to stand in such a way that your minions are attacking and you can avoid mechanics. Atziri is a great place to practise (you'll die a lot if you don't know how to do the fight). If you run around too much and too far, your minions will come to "defend" you, so you need to balance running with making sure they're attacking what they are suppose to.


Failed Minotaur Run (T16)

Twinned T15 Kaom with increased Monster life

Summoning a huge amount of Zombies

Note: This is not possible without a greatwolf talisman with +2 Zombies. I happen to have a one of a kind in Standard that was used to make this video:

Last edited by allana on Apr 25, 2017, 3:24:46 AM
Last bumped on Sep 18, 2017, 10:54:02 PM
FAQ - Frequently asked questions


"Why are your violent dead jewels not working?"

The jewels are working. They changed the way threshold jewels work so that you no longer need to allocate the targeted stat requirements, it just needs to exist in the radius the jewel provides. The two spots for these jewels on the tree I prefer are the one between witch and shadow and the one at the scion life regen start.


"How good is the clearspeed? Can it compete with summon raging spirits/flame golems/flame sentinels/animate weapon/cospri's discharge/vaal spark?"

Short answer: The speed is decent, but it's not going to be a T1 map clearer of doom. Among summoner builds, Summon raging spirits are king for clearing quickly and flame golems are fairly close behind (my personal experience from 2.5 breach league). Zombies, due to being melee, will never be as fast as the range summoner builds but they have other things going for them. Due to the insane strength scaling and new buffs I am fairly certain that they will be good at killing bosses in the endgame. So if it takes me 2 minutes longer to clear a T16 map, so be it, as long as I can kill the big boss at the end fairly rapidly. Zombies deal insane damage when they reach their targets and while leveling, one hit usually oneshots a small pack due to Mon'Tregul's infernal blow effect.

However, you will never be able to clear Chayula's Domain due to the Zombie AI and it being time-based. Have someone else run your stone for you or just sell it altogether. Every other content in the game should be possible, though.


"How can you get 1000 strength on a witch? It's impossible!"

Nothing is impossible if you dream big! We achieve the large amounts of strength via items that have plenty of it and an optimised skill tree for these reasons.

There's also the jewels "Efficient Training" and "Brawn" that help the strength pool grow

"How do I level?" "What skills to use?" "Can I start as CI at level 5?"

Slow down! First of, minions have traditionally been weak early game, but they're in a pretty good spot nowadays. You can level with Zombies right off the bat but your clear speed will be pretty bad compared to just using firestorm or something like that. You can also level with summon raging spirits. I leveled with zombies and firestorm with no spell damage nodes, it works but it goes pretty slow. If you want to level as fast as possible - change your tree to get double totems or something similar and then respec at later levels. I wanted to just be a Zombiemancer though so I used them in my build right from the start
Last edited by allana on Mar 8, 2017, 9:55:50 AM
Kaom's Roots as alternative - immune to stuns, freeze, tempchains.

loosing 4 sockets, 1 zombie, but frees amulet slot for a lot of other possibilities
kakius wrote:
Kaom's Roots as alternative - immune to stuns, freeze, tempchains.

loosing 4 sockets, 1 zombie, but frees amulet slot for a lot of other possibilities

No movement speed tho.
Kaom's roots is indeed a decent option with the changes to it! You'll be slow as dirt though but it's not like bones of ullr makes you a speedrunner anyway.

Added the rest of the items to the gear section and am going to start writing up my general strategy for how I intend to progress in 2.6 next.
i am really looking forward on how good zombies will really be after the patch
and lets not forget that new jewel
prospecial wrote:
i am really looking forward on how good zombies will really be after the patch
and lets not forget that new jewel

I'm happy they mentioned that the jewels weren't going to be super hard to come by. 2 of those will definitely be used as well :)
Since it´s the first time i´ll be playing a witch what skills / items do you recomend for leveling?
you think its somehow possible to run Umbilicus on a life base build, esp in the start of the league i think getting one before a shavs/regalia and so on is more achieveable.

i was planning to start out life/eb/mom (cause its super cheap) grab a mon'tregul's and later respecc into ci umbilicus with a proper 6l chest.

i was also eying with dual wielding, go with a montre + Severed in Sleep(UID) and get an extra free gem slot (replacing poison with sth else) and stay life/eb/mom with a skin of the loyal but dropping the umbi for a decent belt to make up the res (planning on using a talisman and ullr for 5 zombies)

another thought i had was to skip out on zealoths oath on my life/eb/mom build to run an umbilicus and shift a handfull of points to get arround 8% total regen with vitality to be able to compensate for not running life flasks. but i think this will be extremely weak to spike dmg...

as far as i can see, if you can manage to essence craft your stuff for the minion speed and not run an umbilicus (Saltychipmunk uses a promise roar and sins) and try to shift your dmg to sth else (for example a severed in sleep(extra gem slot) + montres +2 skin of the loyal maybe?) that it could reach compareable dps to an umbilicus build.

i just dont know which route to take rly with 2.6, all i know is that i want to go with at least a mon'tregul's, the rest im not sure what would be the most efficient route to take. hybrid?eb/mom?ci?
so whats the most cost efficient route. also i dont rly plan on doing shaper. but maybe at some point uber? god i cant decide what to doooo...

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