[3.5] Pure Uniques Molten Strike HOWA. 4 Mill Shaper DPS, Good Defences

3.5 patch

Molten Strike got a nerf
+ 1 free jewel socket (about 5% more damage)
+ Damage per orb
- 2 projectiles from jewels (20% less damage)
- 1 projectile from helm enchant

End Result is
Base setup loses about 15% total DPS
Setup with either flask, helm or both loses about 10% damage

This build uses unique items to scale int for easy ES and HOWA damage. The tree is flexible to play spectral throw or bladeflurry but molten strike can get much higher damage with extra projectiles. In my own planning of this build I found that bladeflurry capped at around 2 mill and point blank spectral throw at about 3 mill while molten gets up to 4 mill

All numbers are lvl 92 against Guardian/Shaper resistances assuming a normal sized target (47% chance for each ball to hit). These numbers are quite outdated now as the build has evolved but still a reasonable estimate

- Just 2x Wildfire jewels DPS 2,579,938
- +Helm enchant DPS 3,581,952
- +Dying Sun Flask DPS 4,249,962

Damage is fine with just the wildfire jewels but the upgrades are there. I never end up getting both items and just get whichever is cheaper depending on popularity

Class Choice *Important Choose this First!*

The HOWA scion got hit in the 3.2 nerf which made me turn to the guardian option which I now prefer. The two options are both similar HOWA characters and are both described in this guide. The flexibility of the scion means it may return to best option again in future patches

HOWA Guardian
+ Best Rapid Hits prevention through block + evasion
+ Best overall defense from layering mechanics
+ Better Damage

HOWA Scion
+ Best movement speed

My recency bias has me preferring my new Brutus lead Sprinkler character best as it felt smoother to put together and plays the same as a HOWA character. It wins in damage and ES number but the HOWA guardian has more varied defensive mechanics that are hard to quantify.

BLS Scion
+ Best damage
+ Stun immunity
+ Best raw ES number
+ Best clearspeed options

Link: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2172248

Molten Strike Mechanics/DPS calculation

I use ancestral call as a clearspeed skill but also as a single target. How this works is that on bosses you need to be standing close to the target while still being far enough away that your ancestral 'ghost' appears and is hitting the target doubling the number of projectiles being produced.

This takes practice and skill but when done correctly turns ancestral call into a DPS boost on par with concentrated effect.

There are some bosses that like to charge right into you and prevent this from happening effectively and because of this some people choose to run Conc effect instead of damage on full life so they can swap ancestral call into dmg on full life for bossing giving a more reliable DPS.

I respect this and recommend giving it a go yourself to see which playstyle suits you more.

Personally I enjoy not needing to change gems each boss. Ancestral call also increases your range which enables getting in a few attacks in places that would otherwise be too dangerous or just result in missing

DPS calculation
I used https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1903956/page/1 as my basis
which calculates that the chance for each ball to hit on a normal sized target is 0.47. This is still an estimation and probably flawed but its the best I've been able to find

Its worth noting that path of building doesn't apply multistrike to the balls which is why we need to take the balls average damage and multiply it by our molten strike attack speed instead of using their DPS number

Molten balls average damage(not dps)x Molten strike (Strike not balls)attack speed x 0.47 + Molten strike hit dps = Estimated DPS

So as an example to calculate with ancestral call doubling projectiles to 14 but no enchant or flask
ball average damage 38,961 x
attack rate 9.12 x
chance to hit 0.47 x
number of projectiles 14 +
Molten hit DPS 241,904
= 2,579,938



Scion Gear

Guardian Gear

These two items are the only difference. Guardian gets enough ES that Its easier to justify swapping into Heart. Guardian gets good block and rainbowstride is an easy option for some spell block and covering resistances

Gear Breakdown
Hand of Wisdom and Action to scale damage off intelligence. Hand of thought and motion are the preupgraded form for leveling

Int scales damage and %ES so it has really high value. These rings turn each unique item we pick up into a 4% more Int item. This is really solid value as most of the good ES/evasion gear is unique. The guardian version scales through Int even more heavily as it converts mana into flat ES

Here is where the synergy really kicks in. Shapers gloves are really the core of the build, their accuracy give us more dps then any other item while also give us massive evasion scaling which is what allows us to reach such high evade chance without evasion focused gear. The build also incidentally gets a hefty amount of strength which is converted into %ES through these gloves.

Astramentis is best in slot here. Up to 116 Int while also solving Dex and Str problems. Good rares can come close but no rare can beat this item in endgame

The vertex. Pretty boring but its unique and got great evasion and ES. +1 to socketed gems is just a bonus that pushes it over the edge as best. When you have some more currency you can buy a high ES roll one but a cheap rolled one will do until then

Splendor for scion. Best base ES total in a unique and covers resistances. Guardian can afford to lose ES more to swap into incandescent heart for leech, less ele damage taken and a bit of damage.

Since its introduction Cyclopean Coil has dominated the other options for belt slot and luckily its even cheap. 15% increased all stats gives more DPS and ES then the previous options plus the 5% increased damage for lowest stat is wonderful for this build since it gets alot of all 3 base stats. The build should end up with Int highest and Dex lowest which means it grants immune to shock and ignite for extra bonus.

Atziri's mirror is best in slot due to its Int and resistances. It happening to have good evasion, movement speed and extra block is just a bonus. Can be upgraded into Atziri's reflection which makes it even better

Sin Trek are such good boots. They just have everything we want, Int, Evasion, Move speed and the best ES you'll find. Pity they don't have resistances but they can't be perfect and they still beat any rare.

Guardian takes rainbowstride as it has greater block and so takes advantage to convert some into spell block. Also covers resistances for convenience.

There are two uber lab options that give great DPS on boots. 1-160 lightning damage if you haven't killed recently and 10% penetration if you haven't killed recently so you have a 1/7.5 chance of getting a good one whenever you run lab. I got lucky and got one on my 5th run.

Corrupting Gear

When to corrupt gear
Incursion league brought many good corruptions and double corrupting in the temple. This works well with a build that uses many uniques as its easier to replace gear with an identical version when your corruptions go bad. This is luck based and a currency investment, I would only start doing this after getting all your gear up to a high standard.

Since the rolls on these don't really matter this is a cheap item even including the cost of applying 20% quality, 4-linking and getting the colours correct

Good corruptions include
- Increased Attack Speed
- Elemental Weakness on Hit
- Enfeeble on Hit
- Temporal Chains on Hit
- Increased Maximum Energy Shield

This item is next in value. There is no point corrupting low rolled ones as even if you hit a good implicit it wouldn't beat a well rolled belt, only buy 13% Increased attributes or higher

Good corruptions include
- Increased intelligence
- Discipline has Increased Aura Effect
- # To All Elemental Resistances
- Increased maximum Energy Shield
- Increased Quantity of Items found

There is only 1 good corruption so harder to hit it.
Corrupt and hope for
- Increased Attack Speed

Getting more expensive but great possabilities
- Increased Intelligence
- Increased Attack Speed
- Discipline has (15–20)% increased Aura Effect
- % to all Elemental Resistances

If you plan on upgrading into the molten strike enchant then you cannot get a corrupted implicit. This means that corrupting this helmet is more an idle choice then something to invest much currency in

Good corruptions include
- Socketed Skill Gems get a 90% Mana Multiplier
- +2 to Level of Socketed AoE Gems
- +2 to Level of Socketed Aura Gems
- Increased maximum Energy Shield

Decently rolled amulets cost more and the implicit was already good so this item has a large chance of not being worth it. An amulet with a +90 or higher roll that corrupts with Increased intelligence will be better but not by that much. There is other good options but its questionable as to if they are actually better then the base +16 to all attributes implicit.

Hitting a double corrupt with 2 good things will beat the base implicit but this harder to get.

I would never corrupt this as I'd be too scared to lose my 6-link. There is some neat possible results but nothing I'd say was really worth the risk


Make sure that you have a removes bleed and freeze flask.

Onslaught flask isn't needed on the scion as it gets free onslaught on bosses. On both classes it speeds up map clear

If you get a dying sun flask for better DPS then its best to swap out Silver and Sulpher flask for Dying sun and Topaz flask so you still have lightning resistance tied for highest for wise oak

Vessel of Vinktar penetration version is cheaper and the best damage in a flask since it shocks nearby enemies and we already have shock immunity but it only gets 1 use before running dry and I have not yet bothered to get one

Is a solid defensive option


Make sure none of your jewels have a random "+% fire or cold resistance" on them or it will mess up your Wise oak flask that only works while lightning resistance is highest or tied for highest

Unique Jewels

Wildfirex2 is needed to add extra projectiles to molten strike. One just below scion start and one over near templar

Fertile Mind between duelist and scion converts a whole lot of dex into Int

Pure Talent is needed for the scion to get leech. Before you can get one you'll need to take the vitality void leech in the tree instead of connecting to the duelist start. The guardian does not use this jewel.

Watchers eye with at least one of these will be best

"Gain 18% of Maximum Mana as Extra Maximum Energy Shield while affected by Clarity"
Is the most efficient ES and you can either keep the high ES or cut ES nodes to take more damage ones and end up with higher DPS. This is the highest value watchers jewel.

"Damage Penetrates 15% Lightning Resistance while affected by Wrath" has better damage then a 4 stat rare jewel

There are several good affix's that you hope to pair with one of the above but that are not worth a whole jewel slot by themselves. Wrath mana leech, Discipline ES on hit, purity taken as elemental etc

Emperor's Mastery beats 4 stat rares but not by enough to warrant its high cost

Emperor's Wit is better then a 3 stat jewel but worse then a 4 stat one. Not worth the cost

Normal Jewels

Priority is Attack Speed > Intelligence > %Increased damage

Prefix List
Attack speed while holding a shield
Attack speed with One Handed Melee Weapons
Increased energy shield
Increased Lightning damage
Increased attack speed with claws

Suffix List
Increased attack speed
Increased area damage
+# to intelligence
+# to dexterity and intelligence
+# to strength and intelligence
+# to all Attributes
Increaed damage

Search for jewels with at least 3 of of any of these and it'll be fine

Abyss Jewels

Abyss jewels can roll with flat ES which is the best way to obtain a higher ES total so If you want to focus on ES total then this will be your preference

Flat lightning damage is worse damage then the same tier attack speed so in terms of dps normal jewels tend to beat out Abyss ones. Normal jewels are also much more likely to roll with 4 relevant stats since Abyss jewels don't have as many desirable rolls.

Ascendancy node breakdowns

Radiant Faith is the core of the ascendancy. It is best first and gives this build 35% of its total ES. It turns good mana nodes into more efficient ES nodes. If you need ES then mana is probably going to do better then %ES nodes for this character

Harmony of Purpose generates frenzy charges. Enough said. Basion of hope gives +12% block and occasional stun immunity. Neat.

The other notables are not that valuable to the build. 6% ES is a better option then 3% physical damage reduction or any of the life regen options.

- Raider is best damage as it sustains frenzy and onslaught against bosses which normally wouldn't be possible. You can run blood rage for onslaught while mapping if you don't mind dealing with the constant degen

- Champion is currently my secondary choice. Intimidate for 10% more damage and continuously taunts for another 10% more damage. Additionally gives 8% movement speed and access to 'path of the duelist' for more efficient pathing.


- Inquisitor has some good damage, pen and int. Also has good pathing options using path of the templar. This is my second choice

- Occultist's damage is less reliable as it relies on applying double damage curses instead of enfeeble. Its advantage is the stun immunity for those who have trouble with stuns

- Elementalist would have slightly more damage then Inquisitor but it needs to reliably shock every 2 seconds to do so which just won't happen with this builds low shock chance. Still an option if you are willing to lose 10% damage in order to get immunity to elemental reflect

Passive Skill Tree/Path of Building Links



These trees are assuming the base gear. Clarity watchers eye or atziri's reflection shield are both good ES upgrades that might have you cutting some ES for more damage.

The scion uses a pure talent jewel for leech. The guardian uses its lvl 70 chestpiece. Both probably take vitality void in the tree during leveling.

Gem Selection

Chest - There are 7 options here. Multistrike gives the least damage but often makes things 'feel' a bit smoother as it creates more orbs per second and shortens the time before everything gets hit by one. The rest all give pretty much the same damage boost.

Helm - Before you have the Vertex and a level 3 Enlighten use herald of thunder instead of Wrath

Gloves - CWDT setup. I like auto casting golem and curse for convenience. I added tempest shield in there because there was space so might as well get +3% block

Claw - Ancestral Protector for attack speed and to apply blind

Shield - I put the shield charge in here.

Boots - Vaal gems or clearspeed skill or blood rage or CWDT setup or leveling gems for profit
There is a few options, depends on personal preference


Soul of the Brine King Pantheon for the stunlock immunity. Your evasion will keep you from getting stunlocked from attacks but you'll want to be able to charge away from a firestorm that was stunning you

Soul of Abberath is my preferred minor pantheon bonus. Immunity to burning ground is really neat

Leveling and Gear Progression

Skill Choice
Molten strike with ancestral call from level 1

You can also use better clearspeed skills like frostblades, wildstrike, spectral throw etc but molten strike has best dps and will melt bosses and I prefer not changing skill all the time

Gear Progression
Leveling gear and path into endgame stuff. The highlighted items cost 1c or less. You should be able to start mapping wearing just these highlighted(cheap) items. For a smoother experience keep an eye on level requirements and upgrade right when you hit them

Chest - Zahndethus Cassock Lvl 37 - Geofri's Sanctuary lvl 64 - Atziri's Splendour lvl 75 or Incandescent Heart lvl 70
Weapon - Hand of Thought and Motion lvl 22 - Hand of Wisdom and Action lvl 68
Helm - Doedre's Scorn lvl 39 - Vertex lvl 62
Gloves - Asenath's Gentle Touch lvl 25 - Shaper's Touch lvl 66
Boots - Shavronne's Pace lvl 32 - Sin Trek lvl 62
Belt - Bated Breath lvl 22 - Cyclopean Coil lvl 68
Shield - Crest of Perandus lvl 8 - Atziri's Mirror lvl 54
Ring - Timeclasp lvl 22 - Perandus Signet lvl 1
Amulet - Astramentis lvl 20

Priority order for gear upgrades
Assuming you are already wearing the highlighted cheap items mentioned above this is the order I would look to buy the final gear.

Shaper's Touch > Astramentis > Vertex > Cyclopean Coil (14% or 15% increased attributes) > Hand of Wisdom and Action > Perandus Signets > Atziri's Splendour (500+ ES)

Check the FAQ for some common questions about gear choices/alternatives

Once fully geared there is still room for improvements, don't forget to check possible rolls on the items. Getting a near perfect Atziri's Mirror, Sin Trek and Astramentis is usually achievable. There is also a big ES difference between a min rolled Vertex and a max rolled one.

Skill Tree

The endgame leech comes from items you won't have during leveling. Vitality void is often taken during leveling for leech.

Scion has an easier time leveling then Guardian as its closer to the good keystones. Do the entire bottom part first getting a wildfire jewel, leech nodes, vaal pact and point blank. Then start on the top section.

Guardian gets its wildfire jewel first then also wants to head down to the section under scion for the same highlights. Cutting across from harrier to get them faster is probably better then going around like you will do in the final tree

The build paths near plenty of life nodes and its recommended that you pick up several of these while leveling then unspec out of them later when you swap into pure ES. How many you get will depend on how squishy you are comfortable being.

I recommend picking up mind over matter while leveling especially if you are already using the Perandus rings. While using mind over matter the only aura you would be using is discipline so it can absorb more damage along with mana flasks

When your Es is large enough that things are not hitting through it and making you rely on life as a backup swap mind over matter into CI. I generally swap sometime after level 60 when I have enough gear to reach about 5k ES. Just keep a life flask on you and watch for chaos damage until then

If you don't have good jewels while leveling then don't take the jewel sockets yet.


Why Atziri's Mirror not a ES shield or second HOWA?

Es Shield
You cannot remove the mirror without losing damage. Even with a really good (very expensive) ES shield with double ES rolls and triple resistances you still lose 60 Int and 4% more Int worth of damage. If you start cutting ES nodes and adding damage ones to make up that loss but this starts being fiddly and dependent on good gear.

Just using the mirror is easier, cheaper and also has 6% movement speed, good evasion and +10% block.

Second HOWA claw
*Important* If you go double claw you can no longer trust tooltip dps at all. Its currently bugged calculating each claws lightning damage as global not local so it displays much more damage then it should

The swap gives 17-19% More damage and keeps Int/ES at about the same so the main loss is in the resistances. Getting 30% all res takes enough skill points or slots on jewels that you end up losing about half of that damage so even assuming a perfect claw as replacement the result ends up something like

+ 9% more damage
- 23% Block chance
- 4700 Evasion Rating
- 6% movement speed
- Ability to use shield charge
- Ability to upgrade into atziri's reflection

In my opinion this is only worth it if damage is the only number you care about but it is an option

What about a Shaper/Elder ring or amulet?

There are some neat mods on them but no they cannot beat the uniques unless you have started changing other gear pieces into top tier rares too.

Give it a go and boot up the path of building link and craft something that could beat what we currently use. In order to do it you end up needing to craft something so perfect that it doesn't exist in the market. I have looked here and there but never found anything that can beat out the balance of ES and damage that the rings and amulet provide

Why do you only use Incandescent heart on the Guardian?

Incandescent Heart is a sidegrade that is more complicated.

Chaos damage doesn't benefit from our lightning penetration so even a max rolled one only gives +10% more damage. If you swap then you need to cut duelist start and some damage and put them into ES and resistance jewels so your damage actually ends up about the same.

The main difference between these two chest pieces is then which you prefer between
+ 25% less elemental damage taken
+ 1250 ES

Heart is better against hitting elemental damage while the splendour is a more all-rounder approach that works on anything.

The scion has less ES and physical damage reduction then the Guardian so I didn't want to lose that ES but its certainly an option

I can't run all the auras, whats wrong?

In order to run the 3 auras you need 2 reduced mana reserved nodes in the tree and a level 3 enlighten in the vertex which gives +1 to socketed gems.

Many people tend to miss the reduced mana reserved node just above scion before leadership since this build doesn't take the notable

Other Builds
Lead Sprinkler

HOWA Heirophant totems
Last edited by WaffleT on Dec 4, 2018, 9:13:34 PM
Last bumped on Dec 5, 2019, 1:39:03 AM
3.3 Updated guide.
- Integrated Guardian option more thoroughly into the build.
- Updated trees to accommodate the heart of thunder buffs
Last edited by WaffleT on Jun 10, 2018, 3:00:57 PM
This build seems very good, well written and effective to play.

If I manage to get skyforth in this temp league I'll try it personally. Even with skyforths, it's cheaper than most HoWA builds which need insane ES + int items to reach full power.
djnat wrote:
This build seems very good, well written and effective to play.

If I manage to get skyforth in this temp league I'll try it personally. Even with skyforths, it's cheaper than most HoWA builds which need insane ES + int items to reach full power.

Thanks for the kind words. I keep trying to find a reliable replacement for skyforths as it seems a bit of a waste to use such an expensive item when he don't need the benefit from half of it and the price tag can be scary even with the rest of the items being pretty cheap and easy to obtain
Last edited by WaffleT on Apr 7, 2017, 12:24:46 PM
Scuse me, what bandits to go with?
Last edited by sqvirel on Apr 7, 2017, 3:43:03 PM
sqvirel wrote:
Scuse me, what bandits to go with?

oh right I forgot that. Passive, attack speed then passive
WaffleT wrote:
oh right I forgot that. Passive, attack speed then passive

Be sure to add that to the guide then XD
sqvirel wrote:

Be sure to add that to the guide then XD

haha yeah I did. It was showing in the tree link as poebuilder displays the bandits but not everybody will check that so I've added a written version into the guide as well. Feel free to let me know if anything else is missing
Well, it's only my personal opinion but levelling tree (in 20 or so point increments) would be a nice touch. Also maybe levelling skills and equipment?

I could recommend a setup from my personal experience:
Til lv28 just use Tabula Rasa, Goldrim, Wanderlust, Lochtonial Caress and Karui Ward. For weapons two Last Resort claws until lv 22, then switch to two of Hand of Thought and Motion.

For skill, the best to level with is IMO Frost Blades, but that;s just personal preference.

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