[3.0] Dual Strike Gladiator - 6k+ life, VP / Maxblock / 1mln+ FLdps / With a plot twist!

[Updated for 3.0]
corrected the frenzy generation mistake, made a bit better description overall

- What is this build about?
It's about creating an endgame-viable single target focused character with some good old melee as a main skill that actually looks like a melee - and not feeling terrible while playing it (aesthetics are a restriction).

- What's going for it?
1. Phys based - less dps reduction on bosses
2. Front loaded damage, whirling blades, gladiator - jump-click-explode-repeat, smooth mapping
3. Flexibility - tree has a lot of good life and damage passives not picked, so its easy to make a more safe or risky build

- Did it rip on 3.0 with Abyssus ruled out and damage flasks nerfed?
No. It got even better due to new support gems - Ruthless and Maim.

Sorry, there will be no images and or fancy videos, just a plain concentrated info. Lets go.

PoeBuilding stuff - an example based on the previous char. 98 lvl, mediocre to decent gear (jewelry and weapons are good, i guess), nothing special apart from the Red Nightmare key item
1.85 mln dps, 6.6k life, 11k unbuffed armour. Remove Taste of Hate for Jade Flask with armour suffix if you are short on cash: 16k armour will make up for ToH defensive effect. Kinda.

Dual Strike or Cleave
They look like an actual melee and work well for dual wielding. Aesthetics - check! Cleave with Conc. effect almost gets to the Dual Strike dps level and frees up one gem slot (Fortify gem, you can get golem instead). Personally I've chosen Dual Strike, just felt a bit better, maybe because the splash damage (provided by the treshold jewel Might and Influence) clears trash mobs behind your back. But overall these skills stand very close.

- Why the hell getting out of your way and reaching dual wield maxblock, when its hard to not trash your dps in the process?
Maxblock (as well as damage res.) is among the few characteristics in the game that has increasing returns. First 15% of block prevent 15% of incoming hits. When you have 60% block, another 15% prevent 37.5% of incoming hits. Even though surviving in this game is more about escaping oneshots, not reducing their chances, maxblock pays off big time in the endgame, especially on hard-modded maps.

Gamepedia lists pretty much all the sources of block (crafted mods on gloves and weapons and jewel mods are not mentioned). I would just rule out some options based on the experience.
Both non-legacy BoR and Anvil - common options for maxblockers - are a bit too weak for my taste. Reckless defence forces you to take The Brass Dome or at least Belt of the Deceiver (btw very good, underestimated belt that can carry you all the way through the endgame).

My gear included

and The Red Nightmare, they were key elements for my setup, provided 23% block combined. We dont have access to Rigwald's in current league, so the solution is to craft +5% block chance prefix on two rare swords.

It can get a bit pricey to get perfect crafting rolls, so if you are short on cash or just wanna get the things going - use Scaeva in the offhand (roughly -15% dps) and Rumi's flask for a cheap bugdet solution. In my poebuilding example i use two rare jewels and a glove crafting as well to cap block

My god did i waste hours optimizing it

Here is the "list" of all the damage and life skills worth picking up if you want more dps or life

Crit multi, survivability and RIP Abyssus

40-60 flat phys + 200+ crit multi were getting us to the desirable dps level in 2.6, but increased 40%+ phys damage taken is pretty hurtful, especially for an actual melee.

We used all kinds of sources of phys. mitigation: Fortify (20% reduced), Arctic Armour (13% less), Taste of Hate (taken as cold) or/and basalt flask (20%(now 15%) phys res) and possibly Outmatch and Outlast(10% reduced).

But even that wasnt quite enough for Abyssus, we had to use Grace aura and maybe even Jade Flask of Iron Skin with Iron Reflexes passive pushing 45k armour in optimal scenario.
(Note: Iron Skin is a better mod for Iron Reflexes than Reflexes flask mod, cause +%armour works for every evasion and armour on the gear we have).

All that trouble was worth the dps gain. Now it isnt. We are using Starkonja and replacing Grace with Hatred - a bit less dps, but a lot less headache about taking care of that +phys damage taken mod from Abyssus. Goodbye, beautiful.

In light of these changes other sources of crit multi must be used - amulet and weapon mods, path to unnerfed Disewboweling passive, jewel mods(!!). Jewel mods are very important and i would recommend to search for double crit multi modded jewels with some damage and attack speed rolls on top. These can easily give you +8-10% dps each and they wont cost you much, cause people overvalue +% to max life mod and almost give away jewels without it.

Other gear
First of all, look for a good thrusting sword with crit multi (implicit and mod), high attack speed (up to 2.0 aps), increased crit chance, decent phys dps (funny enough - least important) and with a space to craft +5% of block chance prefix.

Everything else is usual: for the chest - BotB is the best option, but not mandatory, a good 140+ life chest will work too; other items - rares - should give you the best combination of +flat life and damage (+accuracy, crit, crit multi, flat phys) and sufficient amount of int. My advice - try to up your ele res and int with boots and belt, dont waste rings', gloves' and especially amulet's modes on it. Good amulet with +life, +strength, flat phys, crit multi, crit strikes and/or accuracy will give you +15-20% dps boost.

This build is not revolving around any particular unique interactions, its more about general optimization. I strongly suggest to use Poebuilding tool before any iteration of your gear upgrade - it's the best way to see what parameters you need to raise (flat phys, crit, crit multi, accuracy) to get your dps on a sufficient level, because these little details will determine whether build is endgame-viable or not.

As for most of melee characters, flasks play important role in building our dps. Taste of Hate + Lion's Roar + Atziri's + Crit flask with antifreeze + Bubbling life flask with antibleed - this is my choice for mapping. When you find yourself suffering from phys damage you can always include Basalt flask or Jade flask of Iron Skin instead of Atziri's. Even with Abyssus on this build can be taken to almost phys immune level (survived Mino's crits).

Gems - curses and charges solutions
Most of my links are pretty standard:
MainSkill - MeleePhys - DamageOnFullLife - Multistrike - Ruthless - Maim(ConcEffect for Cleave)
4-link WB; 4-link triple aura with 4lvl Enlighten; two CwdT setups on different levels.

There are only two unusual things i tried and found them as viable options.

1) Riposte - Increased Crits - PCoC
The best way to get frenzy and power charges in maps and boss fights is Frenzy - Increased Crits - PCoC.
But if you like automation, you'll find usefull the same combination with Ripost instead of Frenzy. Our crit level is enough to provide constant power charges in high density (low evasion helps too), and a small bonus - it kills trash and leeches life, so it can save your life during lag spikes. Swap Riposte to Frenzy for big boss fights.

Originally i had a Rigwald's Command for mapping frenzies, but with rare swords we dont have that feature anymore. Unfortunately we cant use Blood rage now, cause it doesnt work with Vaal Pact and Damage on full life which are both just too good to give up. An easy, but not a cheap solution would be to take Outmatch and Outlast instead of Violent Retaliaton. We now lose 2% of block chance and have to have three perfect rolls of block crafting, as well as two jewels with 1% block chance roll.

2) Two curses without +1 curse - Punishment and Temp chains(Enfeeble). People dont use Punishment, and for a good reason, they dont want to get hit, but the important thing about it - it's a buff for you, not a debuff for the enemy, and it starts working when only one of cursed enemy hits you. And they always hit you. Its just that you block most of hits or dont feel them due to armor and increased stun treshold.
Surely two curses will overlap sometimes but i found them to be working together decently - Temp chains procs all the time, on less area, while Punishment procs occasionally but just enough to give you the buff for the most time in a high density fight.

If you find the second option unreliable - you can always go for standard Vaal Haste or Vaal Lightning Trap. I dont use them cause i try to lower the amount of "on kill" elements of the build.


Honestly, cant say much in this section. I used Dual Strike from early levels. Kept the Princess sabre early on, at late 60s switched to the beautiful pair of Scaeva and Ichimonji - i think you can even down Shaper with this 3-4 alch worth of weaponry. Rest of the gear was pure trash. I got 5-link Belly at early 80s. Never had a single issue during white or yellow maps. The biggest challenge were labs, but only because i didnt know sh*t and didnt kill Izaro's adds (in the final form you should be able to do max keys uberlab runs with no issues).

As for the tree - the beginning is very standard. I would suggest going for Ambidexterity and Vitality Void early on, pick up the lower jewel spot for the Might and Influence (this branch you will respec later). Then you can pick up the Born to Fight branch for some life and sufficient strength and then - go on the dexterity journey, which is pretty straightforward.

Outmatch and Outlast is not required, it only gives us fenzies while mapping, cause we have end. charges from the jewel. And You really shouldnt underestimate Violent Retaliation. Stacks of it in high density (up to 25 easily) can make up for both frenzies and raw damage from Outmatch and Outlast, while also giving that needed 2% of block on the way.
The rest of ascendancies are obvious: bleed explosions for mapping and the one and only op max spell block.

- What's the cost?
On Legacy it cost me smth like 30-32ex. Now Red Nightmare (or Red Dream + blessing) is very expensive for some reason, but should be cheaper later in the league.

- What i was able to do with this build?
Guardians - smoothly, Chayula - very easy, T14 breach+beyond felt interesting (most fun gameplay i had actually), relatively safe.

For phys reflect map - swap Dual Strike for Wild Strike, for ele reflect - Hatred for Grace. For Temp chains or Chilled ground - keep Kaom's Roots in the stash along with some rings to compensate the loss in ele res from boots - or just take the Wise Oak flask.

Now, it is not the place to express my opinion on the endgame bosses, i will just say i could only force myself to grind for one attempt for each of them, just to see how the build stands. Made a lot of mistakes, ran out of portals halfway through each of the fights. So i dont have a representative data. But dps felt good when i didnt act like a potato, and my own attitude shouldnt discourage those who would like to take on ub.Atziri and Shaper with raw melee.

Anyway i had a great time planning and building phys Dual Strike character of the power i didnt think i would have been able to achieve.

- Hardcore?
Cant say for sure. I would say that i dont remember dying with Abyssus off in endgame. If you go ham on life and get it to 8k level - why not?

What if The Red Nightmare wont be affordable?
We can go two ways. The easy one - non-constant maxblock - will be Rumi's flask

But if we want to reach the most possible constant maxblock, we must take Scaeva for the offhand (-15% dps) and choose from pretty crappy options: the Anvil (-15-20% dps, -4-5% life) or the Gemini passive, which is far and has little to no other good passives for us on the way.

Ah, almost forgot the promised plot twist! As you see, the main body of the tree - with insignificant tweaks - is within 5 points reach of 4 classes - marauder, duelist, ranger, shadow. And for the selected skill this tree is optimal for each one of them and can be played almost the same.

The main issue is you cant reach maxblock on other classes without the legacy BoR or Rumi's flask (also no spell block). Legacy BoR is a good item, not OP, and it wasn't very expensive on Legacy, but we dont have it on temp leagues, and i dont think it's fair to include it in the guide, as it was excluded from the game by the devs. So for maxblock you are stuck with Rumi's. But if we drop this maxblock obsession - both raider and berserker might turn out even better than duelist in some way.

I think thats all! Lemme know in the comments if i forgot or messed up smth. It was my first character and, of course, my first guide, so dont flameblast me too hard.
Last edited by banana_peel2 on Sep 1, 2017, 6:47:07 PM
Last bumped on Nov 26, 2017, 8:41:48 AM
Change http for https in your image links and it'll work :)

Abyssus nerf sucks balls for 3.0, but its proly still op for a blocking build, well... u can get iked by a few bosses still.
Last edited by ArkthuriuS on Aug 4, 2017, 3:57:23 PM
Any chance of a 3.0 update? Also what bandit would you choose now?
So I saw that you're using Might and Influence + The Red Nightmare jewels but you have 4 jewels slots skilled :s
What are the other two jewels you use/would suggest?
Heeey, fellas! Sorry for the absence of updates, the build got zero attention due to the Legacy ending and i just moved on, started maximizing another melee based char to the fullest (max dodge/90%+evasion 2mln dps wild strike raider in theory).

I sure will update the build this week. Yes, it will still crush content up to t16 and be Shaper/Atziri viable in right hands. The only real change is the need to craft vagan's block chance on two decent rare swords. Like i mentioned, Abyssus is not crucial. We have enough crit multi from other sourses, and life builds got more flat life which allows us to invest more in dps (around +10% at least). More details are coming.
Hi. Where do we get Endurance charges from? Can't figure it out. Thanks.
Finally updated it for 3.0, sorry for the delay! Got all items covered, i think.

(For bandits - two passives, end. charges we gain from the Red Nightmare, for jewel mods we should look primarily for couple of crit multi as it gives us the most dps boost, while everything else, including life, is easy to get form the tree).

p.s. also corrected the mistake of putting in Blood rage, while having Damage on full life with Vaal Pact.
Last edited by banana_peel2 on Sep 1, 2017, 6:50:56 PM
Is it Uber Atziri viable? or do you struggle with it?

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