[3.0] Iron Pumping Zombies: a Guardian Summoner Build

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The unique item that makes this build so great (the Baron) was so heavily nerfed in 3.1 that I consider this build essentially unplayable. Sorry to anyone who wanted to or has started this build in 3.1, but there's not much I can do about it. If you're just looking for a unique build that can handle up to (maybe) t10 maps, this might work, but if you want a good build you should look somewhere else.

Hi guys! Welcome to the guide for a build that I made because I wanted to play a summoner and was too lazy to start a new witch because I already had a leveled templar. This build relies on The Baron and getting tons of strength to boost zombie damage and life. It is MUCH tankier than the witch variant, both for you and your minions, but most likely has less dps.

Current Progress:
[x] T14 Maps
[x] Death and Taxes solo (not deathless because Ice Nova sucks)
[x] Uber Izaro

Dangerous map mods for this build:
Physical Reflect (United in Dream makes this not as much of an issue)
Cannot Regenerate Life/Energy Shield

3.0 Changes

I played this build through to lvl 70 in the beta and nothing much had changed for it other than the fact that three rat talismans are no more and severed in sleep/united in dream are far rarer. Kind of sad because I greatly enjoyed using both of those items but its more of a nerf to your options than anything that really shakes up the build.

Pros and Cons

-Cheap to start, with many possible luxury upgrades
-Very tanky, both for you and minions
-Bosses melt like butter with good gear

-Clear speed can be slow at times, especially with "nearby allies cannot die" auras
-Very costly to fully maximize the build
-Zombies are pretty stupid and directing the AI can occasionally be difficult/annoying


I have calculated my current dps at 367,158 assuming that all 11 zombies have been attacking the same target at the same time for 1 second (for maximum poison damage). This is only raise zombie plus auras, and does not account for any other spells or minions, including offerings. I'm sure I did something wrong but I just wanted to give people an idea of the kind of damage this build can do.

This is derived from the following:
Base damage per zombie: 1,119-2,797 (lvl 26 raise zombie from +2 skin of the loyal and lvl 3 empower)
Strength damage: 223% (1,115 strength)
Gems damage: 94% (fortify and melee physical dmg)
Passives damage: 80%
Jewels damage: 44%
Severed in Sleep damage: 20%
Multistrike: -30%
Total % increased damage: 431%
This totals to 5,941-14,852 physical damage per zombie per attack.

Zombie base attacks per second: .85
Gem attack speed: 138%
Passives attack speed: 12%
Haste speed: 16%
Total % attack speed: 166%
Final attacks per second: 2.261

Physical dps per zombie: 23,506
Poison dps: 1880 (8%)
Hatred dps: 7992 (34%)
Total dps for 1 zombie: 33378
Total dps for 11 zombies: 367,158

*This does not account for the 80% increased slam damage from my 2 Violent Dead jewels because I don't know enough about how the slam attack works. It also doesn't take into account the %inc of aura effects from the passive tree.


The Baron is cheap and the item this whole build is based around. Get one with as close to 40 strength as you can within your budget. The +2 to minion gem levels helps a lot before you can get a 6L.

If you're using a shield, make it this one. Excellent resistances and it allows you to reserve your life, massively boosting your armor aura. Also, the relic version is rather cheap and offers additional resistances, so pick it up.

These gloves provide a massive amount of defenses based on your attributes. The mana is also surprisingly effective, as it both increases your energy shield due to more reserved mana, and lets you cast more while your mana is reserved (without them I cannot cast raise zombie without removing one of my auras). If you don't have much base energy shield yet you'll want...

These provide a massive 100 strength bonus and a very nice life regen effect. You'll want to pick these up early as they are very cheap and effective.

These are simply the best boot option for this build, hands down. They are cheap, offer the best % increase to strength in the game, and even buff your skeleton number, which is a cool bonus but not why we're here. Make sure you get an 18% strength pair or you will be sad.


You want rare rings with the following attributes, in order of importance.
- Strength. Try to get at least 45. Note that you can get more with +all attributes.
- Resistances. If you can get them maxed, that's great, but as long as they aren't too low it shouldn't be a problem, as your minions should be taking the brunt of the damage.
- Energy Shield. If you're using skin of the loyal, this becomes much more important.
- Life. Increases your hp pool for chaos damage and increases the armor you get from your ascendancy.
- Mana. Increases es gained from your ascendancy.


You will want a rare belt with some of the following attributes, in order of importance.
- Strength. Try to get at least 70 unless you're going for a crystal belt.
- Resistances. Same as with rings.
- Energy Shield. If you're using skin of the loyal, this becomes much more important.
- Life.
- Armor. Try to get ~300 or it's not very worth it. Not very important because reserved life gives a lot of armor.

Chestpiece Choices

The best for raw ehp, it gives a ton of es and a solid amount of armor and life. 6L costs a lot, so I'd suggest worrying more about the es it gives you and use The Baron for your zombies.

The best (less than 5 exalt) option for dps, you can pick one of these up for ~25 chaos. You will notice a drop in your es, but the dps increase is pretty significant, and your armor will increase by a good amount. If you have high enough es from your other items, you should have no problem getting 5k+.

Shavronne's Wrappings
Probably the best gear choice for this build, if you can afford this reserve every bit of life you can to maximize on the armor you get. If you can find a 6L with +1 to level of socketed gems (I saw one for 600 exalt) then this would be the best chestpiece hands down. Otherwise it will be slightly inferior in terms of dps to the skin of the loyal.

If you feel like spending some exalted, a corrupted chestpiece with the +1 to level of socketed gems will give an insane boost to your dps. Skin of the loyal is obviously the best option for straight dps as it gives you an additional +1 to socketed gems' levels. These can be extremely costly, however.

Weapon Choices

If you can afford it, this give a ridiculous boost to your dps. Severed in sleep gives a nice +attributes and costs a LOT less, but united in dream gives more damage (not sure how much because I'm not rich enough to test it) and the leech gives a ridiculous amount of sustain.

Mon'tregul's is a solid choice if you don't like re-summoning zombies and you have a strength that is a multiplier of 600 (as baron will give +1 zombie per 600 strength instead of 300). It does the least dps of your choices, however. If clear speed is most important to you, look elsewhere. This might be a viable option to use if you're having trouble with your zombies dying to huge AoE bosses, but I would suggest using something else for most of your time.

Doon Cuebiyari If you're having trouble getting your strength to 1000, a doon isn't bad. Getting max strength can be expensive, so I'd suggest getting the highest strength you can get for cheap and then upgrading to one of your other choices once you can reach 1k strength without it.

Queen's Escape If you're solely interested in clear speed, queens is your best friend. I'd suggest using CI for this unless you like swapping between this and other (better imo) choices. As a note, you and your minions will have much less armor because you're not reserving life, and if you're interested in CI I'd suggest going with a witch to maximize your dps.

Amulet Choices

If you can get your hands on a nice 3 rat talisman with + strength (+es and resists too if you're lucky), this is probably your best option. I'm sure there's some math that could be done to figure out how much strength it needs to give to be better than your other options, but I'm too lazy for that. I got this talisman for 50 chaos, but because they are so rare the existence of a really good talisman will probably be more of a problem than the price.

Astramentis Effective. This gives a ton of strength (the most from any item in the game), and the other attributes help as well because of shaper's gloves. This is your second best option, but getting max or even high rolls can be very expensive.

If you don't have enough for an astramentis and can't find a good three rat, a rare amulet with the same mods as the belt/rings will do fine and shouldn't cost very much.


You have a lot of flexibility with flasks you want to use, as you're not a direct damage build that relies on flasks to increase dps. If you're not using Shavronne's, you will want at least one instant life flask with remove bleeding. You'll want a potion to remove freezing, as getting freeze-locked can be very deadly. Kiara's Determination could be useful, but is certainly not necessary. You'll probably want a fast mana flask with lots of charges in case you need to summon a lot of zombies when your auras are up.


Violent Dead I have no idea what the stats are on the slam attack but I notice a fairly significant increase in clear speed when I run 2 of these.

Brawn A good and relatively cheap option for boosting your strength. Your other stats are helpful, however, so not always the best choice. Don't get too many of these or you'll have trouble equipping some gear.

Efficient Training This can net you ~70 strength. Note that unlike Violent Dead, the Intelligence nodes have to be allocated in order to count.

This build doesn't rely too much on jewels, so once you have 2 Violent Dead (if you want them and as much strength as you want, use the rest of your jewels to fill in the gaps. Resistances, energy shield, minion damage, more strength, and life are all useful. Note that minion damage won't be that noticeable because of the 200% or so increased damage from strength.


Because this a more generic build with lots of different gear options, there is no definite gem setup that is better than another. Experimentation is your best friend, and you should always prioritize what you enjoy over what gives you the fastest clear speed or most dps. I'll list the most optimized choices for links (imo) with the best supports first.

Raise Zombie
Probably the only "core" ability here, if you're not making zombies you're not doing it right. Note that because strength gives your zombies a ton of % increased physical damage, the best things to increase their dps are a higher leveled gem and attack speed.

-Empower. It's the best. Level 3 is costly but worth it, Level 4 is really expensive and not the most efficient use of your currency, but a good upgrade if you have the spare exalted.
-Minion Speed Support. Pretty much necessary to maintain a decent clear speed. Might be worth skipping if you run Queen's Escape but if you want to use that sword you probably shouldn't be using this build.
-Poison. If you're not using Severed in Sleep/United in Dream this will give you a huge boost in dps. Otherwise, skip it.
-Multistrike/Faster Attacks. I've tested both of these fairly extensively and found that my fastest clear speed is when I use both, forsaking % damage increases.
-Fortify Fortify gives a decent amount of damage while also increasing survivability.
-Life Leech. Gives your zombies a lot more survivability. Pretty good but can be replaced by United in Dream or Warlord's Mark.
-Minion Life. Probably not necessary, but if your zombies are struggling to survive, you should probably use it.
-Minion Damage/Melee Physical Damage. Minion damage gives slightly more damage per quality and is cheaper to get a 20%, but it can be difficult to get a spare blue socket for it.


Auras are very important for your dps and survivability and should be considered carefully. I would suggest looking at all possible auras and deciding which you want as it should change depending on your situations, but I'll list the ones I use for general purposes here.

Generosity is a trap. Because you get buffs from each aura affecting you (+1% additional phys dmg resist and .2% life regen PER AURA,) and you'll most likely be struggling for socket space makes it an unfavorable choice.

Enlighten, on the other hand, is a fantastic choice. More auras = more damage and more survivability.

A note on reserving mana/life

You want to reserve as much of your life and mana as you can. How much you can reserve depends on a ton of different factors, but keep these two things in mind. You want enough mana to be able to raise zombies and cast your other spells. If you're not using Shavronne's Wrappings, you want to have enough life that you don't get destroyed by chaos damage, which is around 50% for me but may be different for you. Note that almost all of your armor will come from your reserved life, so if you're not reserving life, your ehp could go down drastically.


Not much to say here. This is your best option for damage as it scales, unlike the other damage buffs.

Provides a small but noticeable increase in speed. Speed is, as mentioned previously, very important for your zombies' dps, so this is a very good aura to have.

By far the best choice once you start using shaper's gloves. Base es is great.

Purity of Elements
A very good choice if you're struggling to get your resistances up (like me). It also helps your minions. If you're fighting a boss with primarily one kind of elemental damage, you'll want to run the corresponding purity of X aura.

Solid survivability skill, but it always feels pretty lackluster to me. If you're using Geofri's or took Zealot's Oath it's better, but still not a top tier choice.

Vaal Haste
Personally not my favorite as it's both unreliable and takes up another socket (not to mention a button), but it provides a significant boost in dps to your zombies for a short burst. Probably best used if you're struggling to quickly kill map bosses, but I find that most bosses are already dead before I can get off desecrate, offering, vulnerability, and vaal haste. Note that some bosses, like Izaro, are in a separate instance, and so you will lose your vaal souls before fighting them.

What's that? No curses? That's Blasphemy!
All joking aside, I don't think it's worth it to reserve mana for curses. There are so many great options of auras to choose from and if you need a curse you can just cast it yourself. Most of the time, you'd want to be well away from anything worth using a curse on anyway, so just cast it and then keep your distance.

Spirit/Flesh Offering
You'll want to run one of them but probably not both. Flesh gives a lot of movement and attack speed which will help a lot. Spirit will give more damage (not sure which is better in flat dps) and increase the resistances of your zombies. Unless you're having trouble with your minions dying to elemental damage, or if you know you're about to fight an elemental boss (like Atziri) I think that Flesh is better because it helps with clear speed.

Use it to raise zombies or cast an offering. Note that offerings can absorb a maximum of 9 corpses, but only increase in duration slightly with each additional corpse beyond 1, so it's often most efficient to use desecrate once and then use an offering rather than casting it 3 times for 2 more seconds.

Summon Skeletons
Solid summon with good damage and decent life. Empower does not boost their stats, so don't bother using it. Otherwise, supports are very similar. You will only have room for 3 supports unless you're running a 2h weapon.
-Minion Speed. As with Zombies, slow minions make frustrated summoners.
-Poison. If you have Severed in Sleep/United in Dream skip this.
-Faster Attacks/Multistrike. Same as zombies.
-Minion Damage/Melee Physical Damage.

Stone Golem
Stone golem is good because as a melee unit it gets % increased physical damage from the strength you're giving it. Regen is also really nice if you've got Zealot's Oath.
-Minion Life. I don't think that 1 golem warrants the use of your precious sockets for much of anything, but if you want to connect this with animate guardian and use a %life gem to keep them from dying, that's nice.

Vulnerability/Enfeeble/Warlord's Mark
Vulnerability gives a HUGE boost in damage, as it increases both the initial zombie hits, and the poison they inflict with every hit. Enfeeble is good for bosses that deal insane amounts of burst like izaro or atziri, while warlord's is good if your zombies are dying to steady AoE damage.

Animate Guardian

I hate this skill. Not because it's not useful, but simply because it could be so much better. I wanted a BA suit of armor following me around smashing heads in with the awesome gear I gave it. What I got is a walking aurabot that clanks around like a brain damaged monkey.

Here's what you want to put on your aurabot:

Leer's Cast
Dying Breath
Meginord's Vise
Ambu's Charge or
Gruthkul's Pelt (if you want your guardian to be big)
Atziri's Step
Alberon's Warpath MIGHT give it an 18% increase to your 1k+ strength but I have no clue about that or how to test it, as there's no real way to track your guardian's stats.

I tried to make this work as a melee damage dealer on another summoner build and it was an incredibly disappointing waste of my time and currency. I might get bored sometime and spend ~50 chaos trying to make it into the warrior of my dreams, but until then I'll be using it as an aurabot.

UPDATE: A direct damage Animate Guardian always sucks and I have 3 hours of research to prove it. If anyone is interested in knowing why, let me know and I will be happy to rant at you because this gem not being awesome really pisses me off.

Immortal Call
This is definitely not required, but can help a lot with quick bursts of physical damage. Make sure you don't level it past 3 or you won't be able to support it with a level 1 CWDT.
-Cast When Damage Taken. Keep it at level 1.
-Increased Duration. Makes you immortal for longer. It's good, but not essential.
-Convocation. This isn't something that I personally run, but if you want your minions meat-shielding you all the time, go for it. This can be dangerous on bosses/areas that require high mobility, like Izaro.


DO NOT TAKE GHOST REAVER. The life leech from Baron is currently not affected by Ghost Reaver. I am unsure of whether this is a bug or intended, but it is very disappointing and cost me 3 regrets.

As of right now, poe planner is down so I have replaced my leveling passive tree with a single link to one of the characters I created using this build:


Bandits: Kill them all.

Radiant Faith
Unwavering Faith
Time of Need
Bastion of Hope

Note: You may be tempted to pick up prayer of glory and use a warcy to increase your dps, but it will taunt nearby creatures, greatly increasing the chance of you dying. You have been warned.


You shouldn't have any real problems with leveling. You can use a direct damage skill early, but once you hit level 26, socketing minion gems into your baron will be much more effective. Get all of the gear as soon as you can equip it, and use Meginord's Vise until you have enough base energy shield to switch to Shaper's.

Midnight Bargain can be a good weapon to use as the reserved life will give you a massive amount of armor early without costing too much in flat life.

Any feedback is welcome. Feel free to send me a message in game about anything, my IGN is Traebyr.

As Legacy comes to a close, I'm going to be ever more inactive on the forums and PoE in general, so if you have a question/concern you want addressed feel free to add me on steam and send me a message: Fangheart25
Last edited by Fangheart25 on Jan 13, 2018, 1:33:47 PM
Last bumped on Jan 9, 2018, 10:24:44 AM
Hello and thanks for the nice write up.

Is this build somewhat HC viable?
Tuche wrote:
Hello and thanks for the nice write up.

Is this build somewhat HC viable?

I'm doing SC and am only dying when I take big risks or am not paying attention. I personally don't like HC and I think the idea of "HC viable" is rather arbitrary, but I don't see why it wouldn't be viable as long as you're careful. Chaos damage will rip you a new one if you're not careful and don't use Shav's though. I've died more times to chaos DoT when I'm not paying attention than I'd care to admit.
Last edited by Fangheart25 on Apr 10, 2017, 7:22:32 PM
Hello, have a video?
TheGrammaton wrote:
Hello, have a video?

No, I didn't really think of it. To be honest I get pretty burned out on builds past level 80 and switch to something else. I sold most of my optimized gear but I could make a video if you'd be interested. Would you want a full video guide or just a proof of concept?
what jewels?
what about bandits and could i do melee instead of casting
Life sucks; but damn i'm havin a ball doin it.
I updated the Gear section with Jewel suggestions.

Nuitariwolf wrote:
what about bandits and could i do melee instead of casting

Added bandits to Passive/Ascendency section. You should kill all of them because you don't really care about the stats of your character as much as passive nodes.

I'm not sure what you mean by "melee." As a summoner build the idea normally is to let your minions do the work. If you're talking about some kind of The Scourge build, it's possible but nothing close to optimized.
Hi there, I love your guide! Having so much fun playing this build. One question, how are you getting your endurance charges for the CWDT - Immortal Call? Or are you just using it for the base duration of IC.
Last edited by martymonstah on May 14, 2017, 8:28:16 AM
martymonstah wrote:
Hi there, I love your guide! Having so much fun playing this build. One question, how are you getting your endurance charges for the CWDT - Immortal Call? Or are you just using it for the base duration of IC.

I was just using it for the base duration as most of the time you shouldn't be getting hit that much. The only way I see this build getting endurance charges is using enduring cry. If you want to use that then you should go for the Prayer of Glory over Bastion of Hope or Time of Need (I think Bastion does less for you but neither are core to the build). I think it could be pretty viable and increase the zombie dps and clear speed, but the taunt that comes with warcries can be pretty dangerous.

Report Forum Post

Report Account:

Report Type

Additional Info