[2.6] Varunastra Cleave Slayer. Starting Legacy league couldn't have been easier.

People whine about 2.6 and dead of melee. I wanted to play melee in 2.6 as starter since I played Ranger bow in 2.5 already. As cleave gets a nice threshold jewel and the availability of Varunastra I come up with an effective league starter build using 2 Varunastra and cleave.

Why Slayer and not Gladiator, even though I'm dual wielding. Slayer is cheap, effective and good lab farmer.
Carnage heart was buffed in 2.6 to become one of the best Amulet for Slayer.

With Slayer I don't have to invest into block chance like Gladiator, and can go all out on offensive while still having reasonable defense from huge leech rate. Varunastra, with proper investment on skill tree can be very powerful, taking it up to endgame without any trouble, and is much easier to access this league compare to "league starter" Soul Taker builds ( Soul Taker is about twice the price of Varunastra in Legacy which is pretty fucking crazy when you think about it)

So lets get to business here with how the build works:

Cleave uses 60% of combined dps from both hand while dual wielding. With 2 Varunastra, scaling crazy phys dps from "By the Blades" and "Deadly Dilettante" I can have very good DPS with the ability to have decent crit chance as well. Before obtaining Varunastra, I used 2 Scaeva and even then, clear speed was super good, damage was solid. A setup of Scaeva in the main hand and Varunastra in the offhand is also very strong with the high base crit of Scaeva. In general, the transition from Scaeva to Varunastra feels very subtle and the build doesn't require 2 Varunastra to work.

Slayer Ascendancy provides extremely high leech rates, 20% culling, reflect immunity and good AOE boost. All makes for a very cheap and effective build, able to map comfortably even on a 4 link cleave.

The new threshold jewel provides fortify on hit and aoe boost for cleave which is very good quality of life.

Downside of the build is that it's life, melee so many things can kill you if you are not being careful, or have good flask setup and reaction.


My character in Legacy league is MeleeInLegacyLUL

The gears are very mediocre except for the Bringer of Rain and Varunastra x2. Bringer of Rain is just the best league starter melee unique, and this one actually dropped from the first map boss I killed.
Carnage heart is cheap, low level and effective which is just superb.

Other rare parts are just to fill out resistances, as much life as possible, and at least 30 int on 1 of the ring to be able to use level 20 crit gem and aoe gem.

Bringer of Rain or 6l chest for endgame? I would rather take a 6l chest with lots of res for example Astral Plate, jusst so I can fit in 2 steel rings, Devoto Devotion and that is going to produce much higher DPS than currently.

Flask setup:

Being a crit build, Diamond flask is just too good to pass by. Lion Roar is a staple flask for Melee builds ,and Atziri flask I got from my first Atziri run of Legacy league is a nice bonus.

Skill tree:

Level 87
From now on its just taking more life, jewel nodes and potentially 2 more frenzy charges.

Level 88 final skill tree
Newly updated skill tree, I respec out of Cloth and Chain because I have been able to fit all my resistances. Instead I'm taking life nodes in Ranger area. Last few points would all go toward life, jewel socket and achieving 5k5 life at 90 is pretty easy. At this point I consider the character very much completed. Of course if you have legacy BoR, or good Astral Plate you can squeeze out 6k life.

I take Oak - Kraitin - Kraitin for bandits.

Ascendancy is very much your average Slayer, going for Bane of Legend to Headsman first, then Endless Hunger to Brutal Fevor.
By the time you have Brutal Fevor you will feel incredibly powerful, with 15% max life/second to leech rate and 190% increased leech rate so basically you heal for about half your hp per second.

Gem links and gem setup:

Cleave will be put in Bringer of Rain so its already supported by Melee Phys and Faster Attack. The other links should be: Cleave + Multistrike + Increase Critical strikes + Increase Area of Effect/Concentrated Effect.

Multistrike is the prioritized gem for Cleave because of the huge DPS boost it provides. After that, crit gem is self explanatory enough. Aoe gem help with clearspeed because its the only source of increase area the build has. Concentrated Effect is the best swap for AOE gem when encounter a tough mob like map bosses, 4 Essences, Beyond Boss and the like.

Ancestral Warchief is a very strong skill, both for DPS and the MORE melee dmg buff. The links should be : Ancestral Warchief + Faster Attack + Melee Physical Damage + Concentrated Effect. The totem is mainly to increase single target DPS and thus doesn't need increase aoe gem.

Movement skill setup in 1 varunastra: Whirling Blade + Faster Attack + Blood Magic/Fortify (dont need fortify when I have Threshold Jewel)
With Blood magic I can use Whirling Blades as much as I wanted, not having to worry about mana.

Aura: Hatred + Herald of Ash. So far this is the best combination of damage auras because both provides extra elemental damage based on physical damage of the build. This gets up to 51% MORE dmg at max level Hatred.

Misc buffs: Blood Rage + Ice Golem.
Bloodrage provides strong leech, attack speed and Frenzy charge generation. A must have for the build.
Ice golem provides crit chance, much needed accuracy.

Defensive setup : Cast When Damage Take + Immortal Call + Increase Duration
This is the most common defensive cast when damage taken setup because it prevents damage from subsequent big hits. Immortal Call and Cast When damage taken should only be at level 5 to proc more often.

Because I'm using Bringer of Rain, I'm missing some sockets that can have things like Vaal Lighting Trap, Vaal Haste, Vaal Grace. If using a 6l chest piece then the last Skill gem setup should be:
Vaal Lightning Trap + Vaal Haste + Vaal Grace + inc duration. This last setup is the luxurious end game scenario setup, and is probably only noticable when it comes down to Guardian, Uber Atziri and Shaper.

Leveling, Variant with different weapons:

While leveling it is not efficient to spec into 1 weapon type but play with a generic 1 handed duelist skiltree, and improvise with whatever unique or rare axe or sword you found throughout leveling process.

38 points
Generally after this point you can choose a weapon to stick with, be it sword or axe. With my character I chose to go with sword because I can equip 2 Scaevas at level 60, which is a cheap powerhouse even until mid tier maps.

76 points
At this point Scaeva is available and will take it to mapping very easily, so it's time to go for life.

101 points
This is what the skill tree looks like around level 81, with 1 jewel socket for the Overwhelming Odds threshold Jewel. This would be the point where I try to accumulate currency for Varunastra, and once I get my hand onto 1 Varunastra, I started to respec into the original skilltree.

Because this is a crit build, sword is the more efficient way due to crit nodes and amazing newly buffed accuracy roll on swords. However if you really want to play Soul Taker x2, it is equally strong, if not even stronger with Legacy Soul Taker.

A variant axe build would look something like this:

106 points

This is a Soul Taker variant at end game, very much switching all sword nodes to axes, get Resolute Technique because Axe cant crit and have no implicit accuracy mods. With Soul Taker you can replace Ice Golem with Arctic Armour for better defenses.

There can be a bleed/poison variant but that requires either Voidheart or a complete makeover of the tree.

General Mapping

Generally while mapping, the only mod you have to absolutely stay away is no leech because its all the build is about. Other than that, there are always ways to tackle situations.

Phys/Ele reflect: For phys reflect map, switch inc crit strike with Phys to lightning and you are good to go. For ele reflect simply turn off Hatred. Damage will be good enough to get you through unharmed.

One of the more annoying mod is slower recovery of life, mana and ES because for some reason that affects leech rate as well (you gotta hand it to GGG for fucking up anything leech related, making VP that much better over leech rate stacking). You will still be able to get through, just need to play safer.

Other than those above there's not really any other troublesome map mod.


Normal Atziri
Sorry for choppinest I have just started the game and it took a few minutes to stabilize. Although that also shows how tanky the build is under "Hazardous condition".

Uber Lab 4 keys
Charges + Conduit Izaro is almost able to one shot me. Took the hit on purpose to see whether I can tank it or not.
I wouldn't say this build is a "good" lab farmer. However it is definitely capable of doing full key runs.


So far with this build, I've done Normal Atziri, Xoph Breach Stone and up to t12 maps all smoothly. Killed Abaxoth in a t7 Catacomb map with some nasty rolls too. All seems going quite well.

I hope this build guide helps lost souls to find the ways to melee in PoE.

Catch me die trying to do Phys reflect maps on my twitch channel at https://www.twitch.tv/habeo123. I dont stream too often though and quality is questionable.

If you have suggestions or questions feel free to ask, I'll do my best to answer them.

Ghazzy's project build of the week:
Ghazzy wrote:
Just showcased your build @Habeo in the 5th Episode of Weekly Build Showcase!



Updated Skill tree section.
Updated Gear section with additional information about 6l chest vs BoR.
My builds:
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1809378 - Lazor Inqusitor
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1781498 - Burning Arrow Raider
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1800999 - Perfect Formless Inferno Slayer
Last edited by habeo on Apr 17, 2017, 5:42:40 AM
Last bumped on Oct 15, 2017, 1:11:25 PM
Could you make lvling section with trees step by step?

Edit: is it viable to play with lacerate instead of cleave?
Last edited by Cebilat on Mar 8, 2017, 2:26:46 PM
Updated to include Leveling and build variant section.

About Lacerate, it operates in a different way than Cleave that it uses each weapon for 1 swing. Lacerate also has a Less atk speed multiplier, and much lesser base dmg multiplier. Technically it will only achieve half the DPS of Cleave, but cover a larger area.

In conclusion, for novelty purpose you can use lacerate on lower tier maps but don't expect it to achieve the same range of DPS as Cleave.
My builds:
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1809378 - Lazor Inqusitor
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1781498 - Burning Arrow Raider
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1800999 - Perfect Formless Inferno Slayer
Last edited by habeo on Mar 9, 2017, 1:16:20 PM
This build looks fun! What is your crit chance on cleave and what is your life pool?

How would blade flurry work with this build?
Thoughts on going abyssus with a 6l chest?
Last edited by Phasesaber82 on Mar 10, 2017, 12:37:56 AM
Currently I have 45% crit chance, 250% crit multi. With diamond Flask crit is quite consistent still and you can feel the differences when diamond flask is up.

Life is at 5k right now with really bad gear. Basically with more levels and better gears I can achieve 5.5k life.

An Abyssus and Lightning Coil can be very good option, however I wouldn't count on Abysuss too much, unless you go Iron Reflex, use Grace instead of Hatred.

A Soul Taker variant with Resolute Technique can reserve the last 25% mana for Arctic Armour, and I think that is the much better choice if you wanted to go Abyssus.

I think at this point, good steel ring is much stronger option compare to Abyssus.

Bringer of Rain is by no mean the Best in Slot for the build, since there are other options. It just happens that I got BoR dropped from mapping and its an effective 6l earlier on in the league.
My builds:
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1809378 - Lazor Inqusitor
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1781498 - Burning Arrow Raider
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1800999 - Perfect Formless Inferno Slayer
Last edited by habeo on Mar 10, 2017, 4:57:09 AM
Been playing this since yesterday. Level 52 right now. I feel incredibly overpowered so far. Using two:
currently just because I had them in my stash. Pretty ok damage.

I bought 2:
but I think I realize now why you'd only want to use one of those.

Gonna use this:
in the other jewel slot instead for now. Any chance on an update to the tree? Curious to see what nodes you'll be grabbing. Thanks for the build, by the way.
What gear would you say this build would ultimately use? Would it be viable for all the end-game content save for Shaper?
Hi, I have updated some more information in skill tree and gear section that hopefully will help.

For your question about endgame, I am confident that the current gear can take me to t16 maps without much struggle. Uber atziri is doable since it's mostly mechanical and my conc effect combined dps with totem is over 400k which will be sufficient.

However to truly be endgame smooth poison is probably still better. Especially when the build reaches attack speed of 0.12 with a level 12 faster attack from Bringer of Rain. A 20/20 faster attack will take it to 0.1 or 0.09 so poison stacking become even stronger.

So, for endgame you will need a 6l chest, if going Poison then Cherrubim Maleficent is best in slot, otherwise 6l Astral Plate that fill up neccessary resistances with t1 life to free up 2 steel ring with good phys roll.

Other ways would be going with Vinktar and The Retch and capitalize on the huge leech to damage mechanic from The Retch.

Or like someone above mentioned Abysuss is crazy good given you can provide sufficient defenses, like Lightning Coil (legacy Variant even better).

My builds:
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1809378 - Lazor Inqusitor
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1781498 - Burning Arrow Raider
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1800999 - Perfect Formless Inferno Slayer
Thanks for the update! Glad to hear this build will run easily into higher tier maps since that's all I ever planned on using it for anyways.
I will try to record a video when I get my hand on some interesting content like high tier map or normal atziri.
My builds:
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1809378 - Lazor Inqusitor
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1781498 - Burning Arrow Raider
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1800999 - Perfect Formless Inferno Slayer

Report Forum Post

Report Account:

Report Type

Additional Info