[3.9] Shaper = Stunned, Tidebreaker Heavy Strike Stunner Build

Hello guys, this is a guide to my stun build created since the Legacy League. Centered around Tidebreaker, this is a solid build that can do all content and can stun-lock everything including Shaper.

Although it's called a Heavy Strike build, you're free to map with almost any melee skill you like. To stun-lock Shaper, however, Heavy Strike is needed.

In this guide, the abbreviation "r.E.S.T." appears often; it stands for the "reduced Enemy Stun Threshold" modifier, a key concept for this build.


(Showcase of my collections.)



Changes in 3.9
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The end-game is reworked in 3.9. There are 5 new endgame bosses. The new end-game boss Sirus, Awakener of Worlds has 63.6 million life, according to PoEDB.

Also, Shaper now has 68 million life, up from 18 million; Uber Elder now has 44 million each; Guardians have 30 million.

This dramatic increase in boss' life pool means it's going to be much more difficult to stun-lock these end-game bosses. We are still going to be able to stun-lock them, but more investments into r.E.S.T., like from the Stun Mastery and Kinetics Impacts clusters would be required. This adds a bit of pressure on our end, but at the same time, this is also a challenge a boss killer build like this needs.

Other interesting 3.9 changes:

1. Awakened Support gems. We will make use of a number of them. Notably Awakened Melee Phys has a 10% chance to intimidate. Awakened Multistrike is also very good for single target now.

2. New unique gloves Hands of the High Templar looks strong.

3. Mobs are having higher resists and armour. It's found that the armour change isn't much and we wouldn’t be affected at all due to easy access to armour penetration from Spinecruncher and Awakened Brutality.

4. Fortify changed from reduced damage taken to less damage taken. This is a nerf to Slayer and a buff to Berserker.

5. Catalysts. This makes it easier to cap resists, which used to be a bit annoying to accomplish. Attack modifiers work on Ryslatha's Coil, resulting in ~3.8% more damage.


Overview
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With this build, you can expect 7k+ life and 3M to 9M Shaper DPS depending on your Ascendancy / tree / gearing choices (without Vaal skill / placing Banner / focus / Berserk; not counting totem damage and culling; no legacy or league specific items).


Path of Building
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Pastebin links to this build based on items I own:

-Berserker version: https://pastebin.com/a0p3qxvp

-Slayer version: https://pastebin.com/4uc9FHMf

*I am using LocalIdentity's PoB fork. The original PoB is inaccurate in many levels, so I do suggest you using this fork as well. Installation Page

*By default I am showing Heavy Strike w/ Fortify corruption, you can switch to the secondary weapon and PoB will show Heavy Strike w/o Fortify corruption.

Videos

Pros:

1. Stun-locks everything. Which means:
-fun;
-stunned enemies can't hurt you; you're invincible;
-you won't have to play around any boss fight mechanics; the boss will be too busy being stunned;
-you can protect your dumb party members from dying;
2. Solid offense and defense (7000+ life, 6-7 endurance charges). No problem killing any stun immune bosses.
3. Works well on a budget, does not require any luxurious or league specific gears.
4. Hardcore viable.
5. A number of ascendancies, gears, gems and passive tree choices.

Cons:

1. It's melee.
2. Boss fights with multiple targets or have stun immunity (e.g. Minotaur) cannot be face-rolled brainlessly. (You will need to use some brain to do these fights.)
3. Rely on leeching and stunning, so lagging can be problematic.
4. Weapon or gem swap is needed for maximum performance.
5. You will not learn any boss fight mechanism while playing this build.


Passives
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Ascendancy
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We can choose from Berserker (Marauder) and Slayer (Duelist). This choice is down to preference.

Berserker has a much higher DPS, stun capability and mobility. This ascendancy has a weaker passive defense, which is covered by positioning, stunning, and using Molten Shell and Warcry consciously. Choosing Berserker is like choosing a manual transmission car.

Slayer is slower but offers many utilities like unending leech, increased AoE, reflect immunity, etc. It's much tankier and offers a well-rounded experience. Choosing Slayer is like choosing automatic transmission. I recommend Slayer to people new to this build.


Berserker
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Aspect of Carnage
-40% more damage. Must-pick.

Crave the Slaughter
-Free rage generation. Must-pick.

Rite of Ruin
-Triple rage effect (100% damage, 50% attack speed, 20% movement speed) and stun immunity. Must pick.

War Bringer
-Free instant life and mana flasks as well as attack speed and double damage. A very strong choice.

Pain Reaver
-Allows you to ignore life leech on your jewelries, and some conditional bonus attack speed. If you really don't like War Bringer, this is an okay choice.

Flawless Savagery
-Useless unless going crit.

Blitz
-Useless unless going crit.

Slayer
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Impact
-Tons of increased AoE and 15% more damage; must pick.

Headsman
-10% more damage while mapping, 20% more damage against bosses, and physical reflection immunity; must-pick.

Endless Hunger + Brutal Fervour
-This is a 4 points investment, and we get: stun and bleed immunity, 70% increased damage, 15% attack speed, 6% reduced damage taken, and "life leech effects are not removed at full life". This is a very solid choice.

Brutal Fervour Explained
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In this game, each hit produces an independent leech instance that leeches at 2% (affected by "#% increased total recovery per second from life leech") of max life per second; the duration of this instance is proportional to the damage dealt in this hit (affected by "#% of damage leeched as life"), and capped by 5 seconds (affected by "#% increased maximum recovery per life leech"). Different instances stack but maximum leech rate cannot exceed 20% (affected by "#% increased maximum total recovery per second from life leech").

So, we need to land around 10 hits to reach the maximum leech rate, which, in single target scenarios, is several seconds into the fight.

The problem is that all the leech instances vanish when we reach full life. Let's imagine we leeched to full life and suddenly we are savagely hit down to 30% life. Now you really want to Leap Slam away, but after leaping away you're a melee character with 30% life and there are no leech instances on you.

With Brutal Fervour, when you leap away, you will still be leeching at 20% life per second or more; you can see your life going up rapidly even though you're just retreating. This is a significant defense advantage.

Bane of Legends
-Not too great as we already have 10% culling from Skull Cracking, but it's still a boost to clear speed.

Overwhelm
-Useless unless going crit.

Masterful Form
-Useless.


Passive Tree
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Depending on your playstyle and preferences, you should design your own passive tree. The general guideline below offers an insight of recommended nodes and clusters.


General Guideline
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Red: mendatory
Blue: class specific
Yellow: choose one
Green: strongly recommend
Purple: optional / not too powerful




About Stun Mastery
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Stun Mastery provides huge boost to your stun capability.



The plot shows the effect of an additional 15% r.E.S.T. (from Stun Mastery nodes) at given total r.E.S.T. values. At 100% r.E.S.T., it's equivalent to having 30% more damage. Stun Mastery also gives 10% chance to double stun duration.

For Shaper stunning, it's even worth it to take the two stun duration nodes in the Stun Mastery Wheel. For our stun capability, the 50% stun duration is almost equivalent to gaining 50% increased attack speed.

About Vaal Pact
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If you picked Brutal Fervour (Slayer), you may consider picking Vaal Pact, but it's not recommended.

1. Unless you have Brutal Fervour, Vaal Pact will disable Damage on Full Life while we are using Blood Rage.

2. Leech is not as reliable when you don't have Brutal Fervour. For detailed explanation, read about Slayer's Brutal Fervour in the Ascendancy choice section above.

3. Leech instances have a 5 second max duration. Picking Brutal Fervour will result in degen due to Blood Rage while backtracking in maps.



Below are some sample trees.

Slayer Leveling Tree (<60 level)

Berserker Level 95 Tree

Slayer Level 95 Tree

Anointing Enchant
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We get 1 Anointing notable from amulet enchant. Generally, this notable is worth about 3 passive points, so do not use this enchant for what you would be able to get with only 2 passive points into the tree. Below I will talk about a few good choices:

1. Tenacity. Good value.

2. Battlecry. Instant Warcry; highly recommended for Berserker.

3. Tribal Fury. This is a good choice if you use Heavy Strike extensively, or use other Strike skills like Flicker Strike.

4. Soul Raker. This offers mana leech as well as some life leech; okay choice if you cannot find any mana leech from your jewelries.

5. Whispers of Doom. One additional curse. We don't benefit much from curses other than Vulnerability, but if you're playing the mixed damage version, you can benefit from Elemental Weakness.

6. Kinetic Impacts. Good mix of stun duration and damage.

7. Fervour. +1 Frenzy charge, good for mapping speed.

Bandits
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Berserker: Oak.

*You need to take Oak and take the 0.8% life regen node near Marauder start to have a positive net regen after deducting degen from Blood Rage and rage stacks. Otherwise, Damage on Full Life would be deactivated.

*To achieve the same purpose, you may choose to take the Combat Stamina cluster. This cluster offers enough regen on its own so you don't have to take the 0.8% life regen node near Marauder start and can kill all bandits to take 2 passive points.

Slayer: kill all to take 2 passive points.

Pantheon
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Major God choices:

-Soul of the Brine King offers great crowd control resistances and is very handy for mapping.
-Soul of Lunaris offers good defense, it's another good choice for mapping.
-Soul of Solaris is what I would switch to for certain boss fights (Izaro, Minotaur).

Minor God should be Soul of Tukohama or Soul of Garukhan. The former for defense and the latter for mobility. Some other choices might also be good for certain bosses, like Sould of Shakari for Vaal Temple and Soul of Yugul for Atziri.



Gears
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Sample Gears
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Those are the gears I own in Standard. In my PoB page, I manually reduced my items to non-legacy versions.

-The corruptions and the Elder amulet are totally not necessary; see the Luxurious Upgrades section below for details.

Detailed Breakdown
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In principle, we want to cap our resists, get as much life and r.E.S.T. as possible, and get one source of mana leech from our gears.


Weapon
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Tidebreaker is BiS for stunning. Make sure you get a high r.E.S.T. roll; a Tidebreaker with 440 pDPS and 30% r.E.S.T. stuns harder than one with 450 pDPS and 27% r.E.S.T.

We may want 2 Tidebreakers, and put single-target setup in one of them, and AoE setup on another. Then we can simply do weapon swap and swap between 2 skills.

A well rolled rare weapon is also a strong contender here.

Kongor's Undying Rage is a good substitute before you can afford a Tidebreaker, in case it's expensive.

Body Armour
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Kaom's Heart is generally the best choice; note that the fire damage roll is not important at all.

A 6-link rare body armour is also viable, but you should have a good reason for doing so.

In case of a small budget, you can start this build with Tabula Rasa.

Helmet
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Devoto's Devotion is the best option in general. Starkonja's Head is also pretty good. You can also get a rare helmet, but you will have a hard time finding the correct enchantment.

The best enchant is "Heavy Strike has a 12% chance to deal Double Damage". However, if you're not planning to use Heavy Strike very often, you can consider other enchants like attack speed from Blood Rage or Leap Slam.

Gloves
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You have a couple of choices here.

Tombfist offers Intimidate and the Abyss jewel socket can have Onslaught on kill, which is a very nice source of clear speed.

Empire's Grasp eliminates the knockback problem from Heavy Strike and Lion's Roar. It doesn't offer any stats so make your own decision.

Haemophilia is also a reasonable choice, especially if you don't have Herald of Ash or other sources of on kill explosions.

Hands of the High Templar can be very strong or even BiS with the right combination of implicits.

Null and Void offers rampage and is a nice pair of mapping gloves as well.

Rare gloves are also very viable, especially if you're having trouble capping your resists.

*When fighting end-game bosses like Shaper, you can swap to a Facebreaker with Temporal Chains corruption, it's very cheap and very effective.

Boots
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Redblade Tramplers. Cheap and effective. Prioritize a high r.E.S.T roll, followed by life and resist.

If you don't care about the r.E.S.T., you may go for rare boots. High end rare boots can have much higher movement speed and resists.

Belt
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Ryslatha's Coil is the top choice as it offers around 23.5% more damage. Doryani's Invitation is also very good for stunning.

*Applying Abrasive Catalyst to your Ryslatha's Coil results in ~3.8% more damage.


Ryslatha's Coil
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Ryslatha's Coil might seem useless at first glance, but it's extremely powerful if you have a big damage range. Tidebreaker introduces a damage range of 3 times, meaning that our maximum damage is around 3 times higher than our minimum damage.

If we say our minimum damage is 100 and our maximum damage is 300, our expectation value of each hit is 200. Now say that we have a Ryslatha's Coil with x% more maximum damage and y% less minimum damage. Our average damage becomes (300*(1+x%)+100*(1-y%))/2 = 200+1.5x-0.5y. This means, if we get a perfect roll of 40%/30%, our damage goes up to 245, which means a 22.5% more damage.

This formula also tells us that each percentage in the maximum damage roll is 3 times more important as the one in the minimum damage roll. A 40%/40% Ryslatha's is as good as a 37%/31% one.



Besides Ryslatha's Coil, a Stygian Vise (Abyss belt) can also be a good choice.

You want T1 r.E.S.T. (14-15%). Then focus on high tier life, stun duration and resist mods.

Amulet / Rings
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You will want rare amulet and rings with really high resists to cap your resists. Besides that, try to get high life rolls as well as:

-Mana leech. You need to have mana leech on one of your amulet / rings, it's mandatory.

-Dexterity. You want at least 111 dexterity (for Faster Attacks), and you should aim for 155 (for Blood Rage); it's best to find an amulet with a dexterity base. It's possible to need some intelligence as well.

-You may go for Unset rings if you're using Kaom's Heart and are running out of gem sockets.

-Flat physical damage. It's not as important as life and resists.

-The -7 or -9 to mana cost master-craft, which will allow us to drop Blood Magic from our Leap Slam setup.

-Focus master-craft. You might go for something like "shock nearby enemies when you focus".

*You may go for a Pride Aul's Uprising. Vulnerability Impresence can be a good choice as well if you can't afford a Vulnerability corruption on your gloves. When using unique amulets, you probably need rare gloves to help you cap resists and get enough dexterity.

Resist Cap
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We get +1% maximum fire resist from the Barbarism cluster, and +1% elemental resists from Soul of Steel.

The absolute minimums you should have are 53%/52%/52%; this allows capped resists with 6 endurance charges. I recommend getting 77%/76%/76%, this allows capped resists without needing any endurance charges. You can also aim for 87%/86%/86%, this allows capped resists with 6 endurance charges in Elemental Weakness maps.


Jewels
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2 of Weight of the Empire basically means up to 33% more damage, depending on if you have other sources of double damage.

Only socket these jewels if you're using Heavy Strike frequently. Take these out if you're mapping w/ other skills.

Lethal Pride can be socketed near the Marauder start, and can be much better than rare jewels if you can divine it to a good seed. I strongly recommend getting one if you can afford the jewels and maybe 5 divines for it.


Fill your other jewel sockets with rares jewels.

1st priority: life, attack speed with maces, stun duration, attack speed, resists or dexterity if needed.

2nd priority: physical damage with maces, attack damage/speed with two hand weapons, physical damage, melee damage, damage, attack and cast speed.

Abyss jewels are not as good as ordinary jewels. Look for Onslaught on kill, flat life, flat physical damage, attack speed, and resists.

Flasks
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Lion's Roar is a must-have.

You can go for Atziri's Promise, Sin's Rebirth and Taste of Hate if you're planning to do the mixed damage version of this build.

Silver flask is nice to have. Bottled Faith is good too, if you can afford it.

You may use The Writhing Jar to proc Slayer's Headsman but it feels unnecessary.


During mapping, you will want 2 magic flasks to deal with freeze and bleed (Slayer with Endless Hunger is immune to bleeding). You can pick Silver flask for mobility and DPS, Granite for additional armour (synergizes with Molten Shell) or Basalt for reliable mitigation against large hits.

I recommend using 1 or 2 life flasks.


Budget Options
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This build scales linearly with item progression. You can start this build with leveling items and gradually reach its full potential with around 10 exalts (mostly for a 6-link). Below is an example of how to progress with this build, note that prices vary dramatically and it may not be optimal all the time.

1st stage. Now you have finished the story line. Get a Tidebreaker if it's within 20c; else, buy Kongor's Undying Rage. Get a Tabula Rasa or a 5-link rare body armour. For less than 5c a piece, get Redblade Tramplers, a good belt of your choice, and good amulet and rings with decent life and resist rolls; make sure that you have your resists capped.

2nd stage. As you started farming currencies in maps, now you want to have the following items unless they're really expensive: Tidebreaker, Redblade Tramplers and Devoto's Devotion. You should decide on your choice of gloves. You can also consider buying Lion's Roar if it's cheap.

3rd stage. Get a 5-link on your Tidebreaker, then put on a random chest with high life roll temporarily while saving up for a Kaom's Heart. Meanwhile, watch the market and try to get a Devoto's Devotion with desired enchant. Upgrade your other gear pieces as well.

4th stage. Get a 6-link Tidebreaker and put your previous 5-link Tidebreaker in your secondary weapon slot. If you feel rich, you can 6-link both Tidebreakers. Now I would say this build is complete, and you should be able to do most endgame contents and start being able to land stuns onto Shaper.

5th stage. See the Luxurious Upgrades section. There is a small room for you to further optimize your build with luxurious items, this helps raising your chances of stun-locking Shaper.

6th stage (non-existent). Most builds, namely projectile-based builds and crit-based builds demand very high-end Mirror worthy gears to achieve their full potential. It's common to see a Mirrored Opal ring providing 20-30% DPS boost to those builds. This is not the case for our build. With semi-decent items you will be able to reach this build's full potential.

Luxurious Upgrades
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1. Effective upgrades:

-20% quality on relevant gems. Typically, it's around 1.3% more damage per gem. (Quality bonuses on some gems can be totally useless, check Wiki before making investments.)
-A 6-link Tidebreaker with 28% or 30% quality; 6-link can be equivalent to 50% more damage from putting in Damage on Full Life, compared to a 5-link weapon; 28% quality is equivalent to 8% more damage.
-"Heavy Strike has a 12% chance to deal double damage" enchant on helmet (if you're using Heavy Strike); this is equivalent to up to 7.5% more damage.

2. Luxurious upgrades:

-Gloves: "Curse enemies with level # Vulnerability on hit" gives 6% more damage against Shaper/Guardians, around 25% more damage against trash mobs (significant clear speed boost).
-Redblade Trampler: "+1 to maximum endurance charges"; or a "16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you've Killed Recently" enchant; or both.
-Kaom's Heart: any useful corruption; increased damage is probably the best one, but is also the most expensive.
-"Gain #% of X damage as extra Y damage" Shaped/Elder mods on amulet if going for the mixed damage version; equivalent to up to 7% more damage.

3. You don't need:

-Lvl 21 Heavy Strike: only 1.2% more damage.
-Lvl 21 Support gems: only 0.67% more damage or less for each lvl 21 support gem.
-Fortify corrupted Tidebreaker: it's a significantly boost to DPS while extremely difficult to obtain; you won't need it for most end-game content.



Gem Setup
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Tidebreaker 5L/6L, Single Target
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Heavy Strike + (Awakened) Brutality + Ruthless + (Awakened) Melee Physical Damage + Fortify + Bloodlust (6th link)

-Tidebreaker offers a 7th link: Level 20 Endurance Charge on Melee Stun.

-You may replace 1 gem with Stun Support to focus on Stunning. Explanation given below.

-You may also replace 1 gem with Awakened Multistrike if you're well-geared. Explanation given below.

*It's okay to use Ground Slam for single target, not as good as Heavy Strike but you will free yourself from the Heavy Strike threshold jewels and helm enchant. Concentrated Effect is recommended for single-targeting with Ground Slam.


Support Gems Explained
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1. Ruthless is the single most important gem for stunning.

2. Use (Awakened) Brutality when you want to go pure phys.

3. (Awakened) Melee Physical Damage is a strong choice.

4. Fortify Support doesn't offer as much damage, but it offers great defense as well as triggers additional benefits if you have certain passives.

5. Damage on Full Life is not bad, but the conditional effect makes it the less wanted choice here.

6. Bloodlust is great when it's active. However, you need some investment (having Chance to Bleed Support or picking Bloodletting cluster) to have bleed chances. Good for serious boss fights.

7. Added Fire Damage or Faster Attacks should never be considered; they are bad.


Awakened Multistrike
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Multistrike Support interacts with Ruthless differently; Ruthless will trigger every 7th, 8th and 9th hits. With Awakened Multistrike, Ruthless triggers every 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th hits. This creates huge intervals between Ruthless hits.

If you have low attack rate and stun duration, Multistrike and Awakened Multistrike are bad for your stunning business. However, with a well-geared Berserker, you will actually stun harder with Awakened Multistrike.

Considering Awakened Multistrike also offers the highest DPS and more consistent leeching, I do recommend trying out Awakened Multistrike in single-target scenarios. You may wish to switch it out if it doesn't turn out to perform well in some particular fights.

Bloodlust
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To enable Bloodlust, we need some chance to bleed on hit. Then our totem (as well as Frenzy and Leap Slam) will apply bleed to the enemy.

We can have 25% bleed chance added to totem if Chance to Bleed Support is linked to Warchief. The Vulnerability curse also gives 30% chance to bleed; but against Shaper/Guardians, it's reduced to 10% due to reduced curse effect.

You can also pick up bleed chance from the passive tree; e.g. the Bloodletting cluster.

Will my Damage on Full Life work
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As long as you have enough regen or leech (Slayer with Brutal Fervour only) to compensate for your life loss from Blood Rage and rage stacks (Berserker), you will be at full life and Damage on Full Life will work.

1. Besides Berserker, Damage on Full Life will always work unless Vaal Pact is picked without picking Brutal Fervour (Slayer).

2. Sometimes you see yourself at near full life with Blood Rage on, this is a display bug and Damage on Full Life is still effective.

3. For Berserker, you need to calculate your total regen and degen carefully. If you follow my setup strictly, Damage on Full Life will be active.

*Picking Blood Magic will completely disable Damage on Full Life.

How good is Stun Support
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We have around 120% r.E.S.T. or more, and with Stun Support, we gain additional 49%; this is equivalent to gaining 60-75% more damage depending on your r.E.S.T.

Since Stun Support offers no DPS, only use Stun Support in tough boss fights when you want to guarantee stun-locking.



Tidebreaker 5L/6L, AoE
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(Vaal) Ground Slam + (Awakened) Brutality + (Awakened) Melee Physical Damage + Pulverise + Shockwave + Fortify (6th link)

-Tidebreaker offers a 7th link: Level 20 Endurance Charge on Melee Stun.

*Here, by Ground Slam I mean any reasonable AoE skill.

*If clearing with Ground Slam, it is a good idea to socket 1 Ground Slam threshold jewel for increased angle. It may also be a good idea to use Vaal Ground Slam.

-Ideally, you want to have 2 Tidebreakers for the single target and AoE setups separately. Else, you can just clear with Ground Slam, which have great boss fight performances without compromising too much on clear speed. You can also do gem swap before fighting challenging bosses.


Other AoE skills
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You may choose freely what AoE skills you wish to use. This choice is mostly down to preference although some skills are in general less suited for this build.

1. Ground Slam, Sunder, Sweep, Earthquake. Those are generally slow attacks and I recommend linking with Shockwave over Multistrike. Ground Slam has the advantage of having built-in r.E.S.T.; other skills have their own pros and cons as well.

2. Flicker Strike, Cyclone. These skills offer movement while dealing damage. They are both viable, especially if you're well-geared.

3. Heavy Strike. Since we may already have the threshold jewels this skill deals the highest damage. Depending on your choices of support gems, you may either fall into "slow clearing" or "low damage". I don't think clearing with Heavy Strike has an edge over other options.


Leap Slam
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Leap Slam + Faster Attacks

-If you don't have Fortify in your main damage setup, you want to add Fortify here.

-You may link Blood Magic here, especially if you constantly run into mana issues.

Totem
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Vaal Ancestral Warchief

-Link to your Leap Slam setup if possible.

-If you're not running Flesh and Stone, you should link Maim Support here. Else, link Maim to Flesh and Stone instead.

-If you're running Bloodlust in your 6-link, and do not have bleed chances from other sources, you need to link Chance to Bleed Support here.

Frenzy
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Frenzy

-You might want to bring 1 frenzy gem to boss fights. Maybe link to your Leap Slam setup if possible.

-A frenzy can help you sustain frenzy charges in a boss fight, as well as inflicting bleed at the beginning of the fight. It's totally not necessary, but can be useful in like Shaper fights.

*Frenzy can also be useful in maintaining Fortify in boss fights when linked with Fortify Support (most likely also with Leap Slam and Faster Attacks); this is assuming you're not using Fortify in your 6-link.

Utility
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Auras: Pride (50%), Flesh and Stone + Maim (28%), [Blood and Sand or War Banner] (10%)

Buffs: Blood Rage, Vaal Molten Shell, (your choice of Warcry - Berserker with War Bringer)

*If Flesh and Stone is not used, you should link Maim Support with Warchief instead.

*Blood and Sand only works with AoE skills, for single-targeting with Heavy Strike, use War Banner instead.

*You may link Molten Shell with CwDT if you feel lazy. Steelskin is viable as well.

*Besides to trigger War Bringer, Enduring Cry may still be used in special occasions (when fighting stun immune enemies) to sustain endurance charges.

Alternatives
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Below are some suggestions to fill the extra gem slots:

1. Link with auras: Enlighten
2. Berserk (if you have rage generation)
3. Lightning or Stone Golem
4. CwDT linked with Guard skill
5. Portal
6. Unlinked Vaal Ground Slam

About Berserk
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Berserk means a temporal gain in DPS while sacrificing DPS later on while rebuilding the rage stacks. Overall the long term total DPS is almost unchanged.

This skill can be used as a ~10 sec finisher or as a damage mitigation. It's not a must-have but if you have extra gem socket you may go for it.



After setting up all the necessary gems, you may still have a couple of gem slots left; you can pick from the alternatives recommended above or run any gems of your preference.


Vaal Skills
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1. Vaal Ancestral Warchief.

2. Vaal Molten Shell. If you prefer normal Molten Shell over Steelskin, it doesn't hurt to have a better version at hand.

3. Vaal Ground Slam; linked or unlinked. A guaranteed stun is sometimes far more powerful than Vaal Molten Shell.

Mixed Damage Version
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Currently, this build uses Brutality and deals pure physical damage. Historically, this build used Herald of Ash and flasks like Sin's Rebirth, Atziri's Promise and Taste of Hate.

For reasons like playing in a party and have auras from others, or using Tectonic Slam and have damage conversion, you may want to go for the mixed damage instead - just take out the Brutality Support and replace with whatever you like.

The mixed damage version deals similar DPS compared to pure damage version. Advantages of the mixed damage version include being able to benefit more from allies' auras, having on-kill blast from Herald of Ash; disadvantages include lower stun capability (physical damage is 25% better at stunning), lower defense / mobility from utility flasks, etc.

*You only need to swap gems to change between both versions. Therefore, you can always use one version for some content, then use another version for some other content.

Curse Discussion
Spoiler

Rare/unique bosses take 67% and Shaper/Guardians take only 34% of curse effect.

For this build, Vulnerability can be a huge boost to clear speed and can be applied via glove corruption; it's the best choice overall. If you can't afford one, choose either CWDT or Blasphemy (or just don't run any curses). When using CWDT, defensive curses like Enfeeble can also be considered.

Warlord's Mark should not be considered.

*Against Shaper, Temporal Chains is also viable due to the prolonged stun duration.



More Info
Spoiler


Stun Mechanics
Spoiler

1. Stun chance is based on 200% * damage done in this hit / defender's effective max life.
2. Defender's effective max life is reduced by r.E.S.T.
3. Defender's effective max life is not affected by party scaling.
4. Melee physical damage has a 25% bonus at stunning. Non-melee non-physical hit has a -25% penalty.
5. If a hit's stun chance is less than 20%, stunning won't occur.
6. Base stun duration is 0.35 seconds. A Ruthless Blow has a base stun duration of 0.8 seconds.
7. Stun duration is simply base stun duration * (100% + stun duration modifier).
8. Slow effects from chill and Temporal Chains prolongs stun duration. (The "enemies have 14% less action speed" part from Temporal Chains affects stun duration, not the "other effects on cursed enemies expire 40% slower" part.)

Therefore, to land a stun, we need a combination of r.E.S.T. and high damage per hit. Then, to achieve stun-locking, we need a moderate amount of attack rate combined with stun duration.

*Usually attack per hit and attack rate are almost equally important. So, when deciding between the two, take whichever that provides higher DPS.

Defender's effective max life is their total life pool (before party scaling) multiplied by:
-If r.E.S.T <= 75: 0.01 * (100 - r.E.S.T.)
-If r.E.S.T > 75: 0.25 - 0.25 * ((r.E.S.T. - 75) / (r.E.S.T. - 50))

A plot to visualize the non-linear growth of r.E.S.T.
Spoiler


We can see that additional r.E.S.T. becomes less effective as we get more of it. However, stacking r.E.S.T. is still usually the most effective way to boost our stun capability.

You should have around 120%, and up to 142% r.E.S.T. with this build, mostly depending on your belt choice (without Stun Support).

Where do I get this 142% r.E.S.T.
Spoiler

-Tidebreaker: 20-30%
-Endurance Charge on Melee Stun from Tidebreaker: 19%
-Redblade Trampler: 5-10%
-Skull Cracking wheel: 18%
-Stun Mastery wheel: 15%
-Heavy Strike: 25%
*Spinecruncher cluster: 5%
*Kinetic Impacts: 5%
*Belt suffix: up to 15%, more if essence crafted
*Timeless jewel: 10% per r.E.S.T. mod

With 115% r.E.S.T., defender's effective max life is reduced to 9.6% of their life pool, thus if we deal damage equivalent to 0.96% of the target's max life, this hit will have a chance to land a stun.

Life pool of endgame bosses according to PoEDB:
-T15 boss: 5M
-Uber Izaro: 15M
-Guardians: 22M
-Elder: 42M
-Shaper: 68M

So, to possibly stun Shaper, we need 650k damage in one hit. To guarantee a stun on Shaper, we need 3.2M damage in one hit.

Leveling Tips
Spoiler

This guide is written under the assumption that the audience has some basic knowledge in how to proceed to endgame. Very little of the guide can be applied to your leveling process.

I am no expert in speed leveling, and the speed leveling meta changes frequently. So I am not going to offer a detailed step-by-step guide on how to reach endgame.

However, this build is generic enough that you can try to search for other melee leveling guides and apply their tricks. You only need to be careful to not deviate too much from our passive tree if you cannot afford Regret Orbs to re-allocate them.

Otherwise, you can just level as a generic 2-hand melee build with whatever rare items you pick up along the way. A couple of tips for you:

1. Don't use Heavy Strike. I usually use Molten Strike, Ground Slam or Sunder while leveling. I would only start using Heavy Strike for certain boss fights after getting my hands on a Tidebreaker.

2. Don't pick up mace nodes too early if you're starting the league. Without the ability to buy whatever weapon you like, you will very often end up using a good rare sword or axe that you happen to pick up.

3. Many nodes on the tree are not good in the end-game but are great for leveling. This includes resist nodes, % increased physical damage nodes, and mana nodes like Revelry.

4. Make sure you cap your resists. The 2-hand melee play-style can definitely take you to the endgame with 0 or just a few deaths. But if you don't have your resists capped, you may find yourself dying endlessly.

Boss-fight Tactics
Spoiler

The general strategy is to cast Blood Rage, place totem near the boss, use Frenzy to reach maximum frenzy charges and maybe gain Fortify (and meanwhile totem applies bleed and maybe Maim Support debuff), then pop damage flasks and stun-lock the boss to death.

You may also Swap on Ralakesh's Impatience before boss fights to gain up to maximum endurance and frenzy charges; swap back before triggering the boss fight.

Below are the only boss fights that require a brain with this build, and I'll share my experiences. Besides those bosses, almost all other bosses including Shaper, Elder and Uber Izaro can be killed brainlessly by just stun-locking them.

Uber Elder: There're 2 bosses; we can only stun-lock one of them and the other will be firing skills at us. Stunning one of them does help a bit but you still need to learn the fight to be able to do this content. I find it easiest to just use Cyclone and pretend that we're playing a normal Cyclone build and have never heard of stunning.

Trio: This fight can be very trivial if you can finish the fight within 10 seconds; otherwise, it might be very messy and deadly. I find it easiest to use Cyclone or other long range skills. The last boss remaining is stun immune, so kill the ranged female boss first and tank the last boss with defensive flasks.

Uber Atziri: Atziri during the normal phase cannot be stunned so play safe and dodge the Flameblasts. During the split phase, run in circles and dodge the first Flameblast this way, then find the Flameblast clone and stun-lock her. Because of stun-locking no more Flameblast will occur and you can burst this clone down safely.

Minotaur: This boss is immune to bleed and stun. Bring Lion's Roar and Basalt flasks and swap out Bloodlust. Move away from the stone circles and you should be able to facetank the boss.


List of Stun Immune Bosses
Spoiler

1. Minotaur
2. Atziri
3. Rigward (seems no longer immune to stun)
4. Kitava
5. Argus
6. Trio (after killing 2 of them)
7. Syndicate members

*The mirror held by Atziri is what makes her stun immune, so during the clone phase, all 3 other clones besides the mirror holding one can be stunned.

None of these fights are tough as long as you familiarize yourself with the boss mechanics or are well geared to rush the boss down.


Crit Version
Spoiler

This section is outdated.

A crit version is certainly viable and can easily pull out a DPS that's much higher. But the problem is that this stun build doesn't need additional DPS.

This build can now easily get 2M to up to 4M DPS, which feels fast enough for most content. We also stun-lock bosses like Shaper, which guarantees a win. I don't think it matters if Shaper dies in 2 minutes instead of 3.

Also, when it comes to mapping, since we have a low attack rate, missing an attack occasionally and additional huge fluctuations in damage from crit / noncrit means that a higher portion of your damage goes to overkill, and actual kill time might be higher although you raised your DPS on paper.

So it's a better idea to invest into attack speed for mobility and life nodes for survival, instead of investing into accuracy, crit chance and crit multiplier.

That being said, if you really want to go crit, Slayer might be the best option. For ascendancy, replace Endless Hunger and Brutal Fervour to get Overwhelm and Bane of Legends. In the passive tree, go for Pain Forger, Disemboweling, Blacksmith's Clout, and Dismembering. Replace your gloves and helmet with Oskarm and Starkonja's Head. Also replace your auras with Pride, Precision and War Banner.

PoB link (outdated): https://pastebin.com/1UhHvHna

Q&A
Spoiler

In the guide I try to explain all the choices I make or lay out all the choices you can make. So for a question regarding a specific passive/gem, you should try to find answers in the corresponding section.

Below I will give my responses to some general questions. If you have a question and it can't be found here, just leave a comment and I will respond.


What about Champion/Jugg/Ascendant?
Spoiler

They are viable. But they are not good enough.
Champion has good DPS and defense, but has mediocre stun capability and mobility. I would probably always choose Slayer over Champion.
Jugg can be tanky and can bring quite a lot of stun duration. But Jugg has trouble with getting enough damage. The value of this ascendancy when not going crit is not too high.
Ascendant has good mobility but nothing else. The fact that Berserker has a higher mobility means that there are not many reasons to pick Ascendant.


What about one hand weapons or other weapon types like sword?
Spoiler

They're definitely viable. Probably won't have Tidebreaker level of stun capability but can probably at least stun-lock Guardians.

Callinellus Malleus and Starforge are the most common choices besides Tidebreaker. I have a pretty high expectation on the performance of Starforge and I believe a variant of this build with Starforge can be successful.

What about bleed/Impale damage?
Spoiler

We don't have much sources to scale bleed. Our bleed damage is minuscule compared to our hit damage. I don't see any reason or ways to try to scale our bleed damage.
Impale can be a good source of damage. However, we have a low attack rate and high damage per hit, meaning that Impale probably only works in Shaper fight. I don't think it's a good idea to invest into Impale, maybe except if you're using Cyclone and have a high attack rate.

What about stunning with Warchief totem or some other skills?
Spoiler

If we are talking about single-target stunning, I can say objectively Heavy Strike is the best choice.
Warchief has the advantage of not having to stand in melee range to the boss, so it could in theory be beneficial. If you really like the totem playstyle maybe you can go for it, just don't expect a high stun performance.

What about MoM or BM keystones?
Spoiler

MoM: I never found a way to make it work. We don't have enough int to benefit from anyways.
BM: It deactivates Damage on Full Life Support and only allows 1 aura. There is not enough advantage in having BM to justify these losses.

Why is my DPS on PoB so low?
Spoiler

You need to make sure you have the right settings in the Configure section in PoB. For example, not selecting "Are you always on Full Life" means your Damage on Full Life support is deactivated. Open my PoB page and see my configure page for details.

PoB is currently poorly updated and is doing its math wrong. I suggest using LocalIdentity's PoB fork. Installation Page

If you have the right PoB setup, but the DPS is still low, it's likely that you have skipped most high DPS choices for this build. Losing 10% DPS from a piece of gear isn't a big deal, but if many of your gears are not optimized, you may fall short in DPS.






This is the end of the guide. I will play the new league and keep the guide updated. I check this thread often, so feel free to leave comments down below if you have any questions or suggestions.



Simulation Code
Spoiler

Path of Building can't evaluate our stun capability, so I wrote this code to simulate stunning different bosses. The code has 2 outputs for each bosses:

-Stun up-time. This means if the boss stands still for us to hit, the percentage of time that he will be stunned.

-Chance of perfect stun-locking. This means if we challenge the boss' each phase many times, the percentage of times it is stun-locked from the beginning to the end.


Here's my code written in Python. You can run the code directly from the repl.it link.

-Github

-Repl.it


Additional Info
Spoiler


Changelog
Spoiler

01/21/20: Minor changes. Added discussion about Impresence and Aul's Uprising. Used qualitied Ryslatha's Coil in PoB pages.
12/31/19: Minor changes.
12/26/19: Pointed out usage of Catalyst on Ryslatha's Coil.
12/25/19: Added a Leveling Tips section; in the Bandits section, talked about an alternative to picking Oak rewards for Berserker.
12/19/19: Updated throughout the guide.
12/18/19: Updates throughout the guide; updated the simulation code; now recommending Awakened Mulstrike; updated the PoB page.
12/15/19: Updates throughout the guide. Updated the PoB page w/ Awakened Support gems. Added recommendation of Hands of the High Templar.
...
09/13/19: Patch 3.9 launched; significant buff to end-game bosses adding challenge to this build.
09/06/19: Patch 3.8 launched; some minor nerfs.
06/07/19: Patch 3.7 launched; huge buffs to this build.
03/08/19: Patch 3.6 launched; some minor nerfs.
12/07/18: Patch 3.5 launched; a couple of significant buffs.
08/31/18: Patch 3.4 launched; some minor buffs.
06/01/18: Patch 3.3 launched; some minor buffs.
03/02/18: Patch 3.2 launched; heavy buffs mostly due to the ECoMS Support buff.
12/08/17: Patch 3.1 launched; some minor buffs.
08/04/17: Patch 3.0 launched; Ruthless gem came out and made stun-locking Shaper possible with this build.
03/16/17: Build posted. Decided to post after I stun-locked a tier 15 boss to death.
03/03/17: Legacy League launched and Tidebreaker came out. I started leveling my first stunner.
02/20/17: Tidebreaker revealed. Build planning started.

Acknowledgement
Spoiler

During the creation of this build, I had wonderful discussions with Thorminathor and Lokiwider, which were crucial to the initial success of this build. I must also acknowledge all that responded with your questions and suggestions for your contributions to this build's further refinement.

Last edited by brightwaha on Jan 21, 2020, 1:18:10 PM
Last bumped on Feb 8, 2020, 2:57:17 AM
This looks really good, i would really want to try this out onece i finish farming my currencies
Just one thing, the belt Perseverance will completely disable if you have iron reflex, since your evasion rating became 0, but i guess it's still worth it since the other stats are just as juicy


Now im think to use champion and maximize the value of the belt, and wondering if armor+evasion build would ever work
"
751935736 wrote:
This looks really good, i would really want to try this out onece i finish farming my currencies
Just one thing, the belt Perseverance will completely disable if you have iron reflex, since your evasion rating became 0, but i guess it's still worth it since the other stats are just as juicy


Now im think to use champion and maximize the value of the belt, and wondering if armor+evasion build would ever work


Yes, the attack speed bonus from belt Perseverance will be completely disabled. I picked up this belt simply for the fortify and onslaught effect it provides (other stats are also pretty good).

Champion can work too, but I personally don't recommend. Unless you are going to put a 6L AOE skill on your body armour, you will need the melee splash that Slayer ascendancy provides (also 20% culling and some stun duration can be very handy).

As for armor+evasion build, I think it's viable, but you need to keep in mind: if you fail to stack a good amount of armor, it almost does nothing against large hits; evasion can still be effective without stacking too much of it. So I would suggest focusing on armor while grabbing some evasion if you can.

EDIT: If you're reading this, you should be aware that those responses were written in March, 2017. The build was very different back then and any information here can be very misleading.
Last edited by brightwaha on Feb 22, 2018, 4:02:04 PM
Hi,

I was considering something like that as a Berserker. But I find that 200DPS is more than I anticipated. Can you list what did the biggest difference?
"
Sarik wrote:
Hi,

I was considering something like that as a Berserker. But I find that 200DPS is more than I anticipated. Can you list what did the biggest difference?


Without any auras and buffs, my character has only 40k+ tooltip DPS. But there are a lot of factors that can add to it.

1. My tooltip DPS does not take into account the threshold jewels. From 2 threshold jewels and helmet enchantment, we can have 52% chance to deal double damage with our Heavy Strike. That is 52% MORE dmg.
2. 50% increased damage at 5 endurance charges (from Tidebreaker), and 20% MORE damage and 20% attack speed at 5 frenzy charges.
3. Onslaught buff (from Perseverance), Hatred aura, blood rage buff, and increased physical dmg while leeching.
4. From the Warchief totem, we will have a 18% MORE damage buff. Also the totem itself deals around 1/6 of our own dmg with only one faster attacks support. (If replacing Kaom's Heart with a 6L rare body armour, the totem itself can deal more than 10k. Then our total DPS can reach 300K.)

In maps, when buffs are up, my tooltip goes up to 120K. After manually counting the effect of threshold jewels it's already 18K (not counting warchief dmg). Remember some of my gears are 1c items and many of my gems are 19/0. So we can expect way more than 200K DPS with good gears.

My calculations didn't take into account the 20% culling from Slayer ascendancy. If you wish to count that, multiply the 200K by another 125%.

EDIT: If you're reading this, you should be aware that those responses were written in March, 2017. The build was very different back then and any information here can be very misleading.
Last edited by brightwaha on Feb 22, 2018, 4:01:44 PM
I play with bright often his build is fun and quite similar to mine, here is my tree for a berzerker version of this build. Clearing t13 maps solo with it.

https://www.pathofexile.com/passive-skill-tree/AAAABAECAAHnBLMFLQmWC2EMXw3NEuEUIBRNFPYW6RhdGJEaVRrkHKccziGQJDcrUC5TNZI26DkOOp064Ts7PC087z38QT9Hfk3jUEdR5lOlVw1YY18_X9BhIWVNaGVo8mqla9lyqXTtdqx3U3zZggeDX4PMhNmE74VShjuHaoiPjM-QbJHOlIeWbJd5mAqYV57Fns2iAKLqplenMKknqZStja9sr6e2pLc-vJ-9Nr6nvwjAZsT2xq7G2M9-0iHTb9i92WHawd6W37LkUeoQ6hjrCe8O8B_yQfJF8pzzm_ZI9zL4X_xL_TD-Cv5U_o__0w==
Last edited by Thorminathor on Mar 21, 2017, 5:17:05 AM
Hey guy,

I link you my tree, for pretty much the same build :).

http://poeplanner.com/AAYAAPcUIwB5uR0V7JkrvYHKkITZR369NmVNvqeplHh6qSeHaoTv2sF07QUteu9AoF4TktAS4SFV3D0HdcCmLPuKIicg705hUpOoirNXVIZg829J1Qm75K1nWGCROlK8nxiR_EsUTQHnpzC2pN6WmAoOPBRx-Ovz3Whlu-2RzuoYdqzPflHmtC8hNEE_37KUh57F9zJ82XKpidhoWNeWxPbGrjwtg1-DzLc-_grYvTWS_o9N46ZXOuHyRf0wiI8a5Gqlrj5nm-RRUEfvDpd5CZY5DhQgXz_2SIzPPfxYY9l8ggfyQa2NRrfTb6U1DHA7tvVh79FDo1HalSQAAAAAAA==
I was wondering if this works with a 5 link Tidebreaker?
if so what skill would you drop in the 6 link for it
here's my tidebreaker

Last edited by DiscoPug on Apr 16, 2017, 4:30:00 PM
Hey man, leveled this toon, 70 for now, but clear speed is like real slow, at least if you want to clear a lot of maps, would AoE improve this? any ideas on how to clear faster? I already have the slayer ascendancy.

Thanks.
"
DiscoPug wrote:
I was wondering if this works with a 5 link Tidebreaker?
if so what skill would you drop in the 6 link for it
here's my tidebreaker



Only 4 gems are necessary. First 3 are Heavy Strike, Melee Phy Dmg, Added Fire Dmg; the 4th link is Multistrike for dps or Stun Support for stuns. For the 5th/6th links, you can choose from Faster Attacks, Melee Dmg on Full Life or Weapon Elemental Dmg depending on your gears and encounter.

A 5 link Tidebreaker is good enough. You lose about 20% of dmg compared to a 6 link weapon, but everything else works well.

EDIT: If you're reading this, you should be aware that those responses were written in March, 2017. The build was very different back then and any information here can be very misleading.
Last edited by brightwaha on Feb 22, 2018, 4:01:14 PM

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