[Dead after 3.0] Facetanker Frost Blades Berserker - Budget, Beginner Friendly [Detailed Guide]

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS BUILD IS OUTDATED, AND WILL NOT WORK IN THE CURRENT VERSION OF THE GAME. I'll still keep the post around because I might use parts of it for a newer frost blades guide. But really, this build simply doesn't work anymore.

Hello all, and welcome to my first build guide for Path of Exile, a Terminus Est wielding Frost Blades Berserker. This build was designed with 4 main objectives in mind:
- it had to be really cheap to get up to the start of red maps;
- it had to be capable of facetanking most bosses (i'm lazy and slow at dodging);
- it had to be able to clear maps fast (not "clearspeed meta" kind of fast, but fast enough);
- it had to be fun to play.

I consider that all these objectives have been completed, and as such decided to share this build with other players.

Featured videos:
T15 Shaped Underground River map clear
T13 Waterways map clear on a 5link

This will be a very detailed guide. My aim is to make it as comprehensive as possible for new players, not only by stating what you should use, but also explaining why every choice has been made and whether you have alternative options.

Disclaimer: This build started out from KorgothBG’s guide “How to Flicker, Terminus Est Edition” (which you should check out if you haven’t, it’s a great build). I used his skill tree as a base, and while the final form of the build ended changing most of it, some parts of the tree are still the same - and I wouldn't have been able to build this without using his base. So a good part of the credit for what is going to be posted here should go to him.

Last updates


a) Changed the last points on the skill tree. The build now has a level 87 skill tree + different trees for the last points, depending on what each player feels he needs at that point.


a) Changed the recommended sixth gem for the main attack. I've been playing around with different options, and came to the conclusion that Melee Physical Damage is our best option. If you are already using a gear piece with one of my previously recommended gems, it's fine to keep what you were using. But do consider getting Melee Physical Damage when possible.

b) Rewrote the Auras section, leaving only Hatred. It's simply the best option.

c) Rewrote part of the gear recommendations. The main intent with this is to state more clearly what to look for when you want to spend a bit more than a couple chaos on gear.

d) Rewrote part of the Pantheon section, changing my recommendations of what to use.

e) Rewrote part of the Curse Setup section. I no longer recommend choosing between Temporal Chains and Enfeeble. Instead, the recommendation is to use Enfeeble. It fits our playstyle better.

As everyone else nowadays, I also have a Path of Building link for the build. However, I haven't updated that PoB in the last month or so. It's mostly still the same build (I've changed the last 5 points or so, and added some gear recommendations that aren't on PoB yet), but this post is a bit more up to date than the PoB. In any case, if you want to take a look, here's the link:


Table of contents

1. Pros and Cons
2. Frost Blades: what is it, and why use it
3. Skill Gems: setups and explanations
4. The skill tree
5. The ascendancy
6. The bandits
7. Gear
8. The pantheon
9. Enchantments
10. Map mods
11. Leveling guide
12. Stats and current gear
13. Videos
14. FAQ

1. Pros and Cons

+ really cheap, ideal for new players or as a league starter
+ easy to play, uses the same attack from the very first town in the game
+ has tons of life - can facetank basically anything up to (at least) t14 bosses
+ good clearspeed
+ uses cold damage – frozen enemies can’t damage you, chilled enemies are easier to avoid
+ has vaal pact and insane berserker leech: you can basically only die to one-shots
+ works well on party play
+ keeps a reasonable distance from mobs, even though it’s a melee build
+ has a good balance between single target and multi-target damage
+ has good hipster potential: everyone goes dual-wielding Raider with Frost Blades - you won’t be one of them

- needs multistrike: can keep you locked in place for a split-second longer than you wanted (though you will end up just sitting in front of most bosses anyway)
- has vaal pact: the lack of regen can be annoying sometimes, specially on lab (this is much better with the Soul of Ryslatha pantheon, but I still do not recommend doing lab or trials more often than you need to)
- Aspect of Carnage makes you take 10% increased damage (but we get more than enough life to counter this)
- while the build can do Guardians, it doesn't get enough damage to make these fights comfortable. If you want to farm Guardians, this is not the build for you.

2. Frost Blades: what is it, and why use it

This build revolves around the Frost Blades attack skill. The in-game text of the skill states: “Attack with increased range, releasing icy blades from the struck enemy that fly at other enemies. Requires a Melee Weapon”.
This mechanic makes Frost Blades a really interesting skill. When the player attacks, he performs a melee strike. If that attack hits an enemy, this will trigger the second part of the skill, with projectiles affecting other nearby enemies. As such, Frost Blades is a great skill for clearing packs of monsters, while still maintaining a melee single-target hit compound.

Due to this dual-nature, Frost Blades damage can scale out of melee and projectile damage increases. However, it is important to note that increases only affect the corresponding part of the skill, unless they can affect both melee and projectile damage. This means that any source of “increased projectile damage” will not affect the first hit. In the same way, increases to “melee damage” will have no effect on the damage of our projectiles.

On the other hand, both the first hit as well as the projectiles scale from generic attack damage increases. This also includes things as "% increased physical damage with two handed melee weapons", as the damage increase applies to any physical damage that has a two handed melee weapon as source. Even though the Frost Blades projectiles don’t do melee damage themselves, their original source is a melee weapon. This allows us to increase both melee and projectile damage by getting a good weapon and picking nodes that increase the damage of the desired weapon type.

Another interesting thing about Frost Blades is that it converts physical damage into cold damage. This means our damage can be increased both by physical damage increases as well as cold damage increases, allowing for a greater variety of passives that can be picked. The Frost Blades skill itself only converts 60% of damage. This isn’t ideal, as it means that almost half of our damage (the 40% physical damage that doesn’t get converted) will not get any benefit out of cold damage increases. This, however, is solved by picking up passives that convert those 40% physical damage into cold as well.

TL;DR: Frost Blades is a cool skill because a) it’s a melee skill with good pack clearing potential, b) it allows us to scale both single-target melee as well as multi-target projectile damage out of our weapon damage, and c) we can pick both physical and cold damage increases in the skilltree.

3. Skill Gems: setups and explanations

Main skill
Frost BladesMultistrikeElemental Damage with AttacksCold PenetrationFortifyMelee Physical Damage / Increased Critical Damage / Added Cold Damage

Gems are sorted by order of importance. A “-” indicates a link, while a “/” indicates alternative options, listed in order of preference.

Frost Blades is our main skill. The first link we need is Multistrike. Not only it greatly increases our DPS and attack speed, Multistrike also allows us to attack without the need to namelock every single enemy, as it automatically selects targets for the subsequent attacks (as long as there are targets in range). Second link is Elemental Damage with Attacks. It is the biggest DPS increase we can get.

The fourth gem is Cold Penetration. It helps our damage pass through enemies elemental resistances. This makes it specially good against enemies with cold resistance – such as bosses and many rares. Since resistances can get into negative values, however, it also improves our damage against non-resistant enemies.

For the fifth gem, we have Fortify. The gem gives us a very small increase on melee hit damage (and no increase to projectile damage). But it also grants us the Fortify buff whenever we hit, granting a 20% reduction on damage taken for 4 seconds. This is a huge survivability boost, and will be specially needed after getting the last ascendancy point.

Since Fortify doesn’t grant any significant damage increase, you could also leave it as the sixth link, getting Melee Physical Damage before. This will increase clear speed, but will also result in more deaths. I feel that getting Fortify earlier is the best option, but the order can be swapped around.

For our last gem link, we have a few options. The best option is to use Melee Physical Damage. It's a significant increase into our single target damage, which is the weakest part of Frost Blades. It doesn't increase projectile damage, but that part should already be doing enough damage. If you can get an item with the right socket color, use this gem.

The second option is to use Increased Critical Damage. It won't give us as much damage as the first option, and thus should only be used if you end up getting your hands on a 6-link with a blue socket that can't be changed (or that you don't have the needed currency to change).

Lastly, if you end up with a green socket, you can use Added Cold Damage. It is worse than both previous options, however, and should only be used if you really can't use one of the other two.

Curse setup
Herald of IceCurse on HitAssassin’s Mark

Herald of Ice increases our DPS by adding extra cold damage to our attacks – which is increased by our cold damage increases from passives. Besides that, it has as important secondary effect: every time we shatter an enemy (every time we kill a frozen non-unique enemy), it will explode dealing cold damage to enemies near them. This effect counts as a hit on enemies, thus allowing us to use it to apply the Assassin’s Mark curse with the help of the Curse on Hit support gem. The Assassin’s Mark curse increases the damage taken by enemies from critical strikes and gives a chance of them granting Power Charges on kill. Even though they got nerfed in the last patch, power charges are still very important for every crit based build, as they increase our chance of landing a critical strike – with all 3 power charges we get 120% increased critical chance (which ends up resulting in around 10% more effective crit chance).

Please note that the Assassin’s Mark curse has a rather high intelligence requirement – 111 points on level 20. It is highly advisable to get enough intelligence on items as to be able to level it up to max – and doing so shouldn’t be too hard. However, if you do not manage to get enough intelligence to do so, just use the highest level Assassin’s Mark that you can.

Mobility Skill
Leap SlamBlood MagicFaster Attacks

Our mobility skill. Leap Slam allows us to move around the map faster than by walking. It also helps us to get out when surrounded by mobs or in any other dangerous situation, as well as being a way of going over ledges and some other in-game obstacles. It is really important to link it to Faster Attacks, so as to leap faster. Failing to leap fast enough might result in death in tight situations.

As we reserve most of our mana with auras, we also link Leap Slam to Blood Magic (spend life instead of mana for the skill), so as to allow us to leap around more often. Using it with mana is not only annoying – as you won’t be able to leap around often enough to get to the other side of a map, for example –, but can also be deadly – if you spend all your mana on leaps, you might find yourself facing a monster pack without the needed mana to attack them. Thus, spending life is a much superior way of using the skill. That said, it is important to note that from the moment we get Vaal Pact we will not regen any life, and as such it is possible to spam Leap Slam to death. However, one would have to jump around A LOT for this to happen, and just using a life flask when your life is half-spent solves the issue.

Utility setup
Cast when Damage Taken (level 1)Immortal Call (up to level 3) - Frost Bomb (up to level 10)

Cast when Damage Taken is probably the best utility gem in the game. It allows us to use the spells linked to it without the need to cast them ourselves. The linked spells also get cast instantaneously – while casting them ourselves would take some precious time away from our attacks.

One important thing to note is that increasing the level of the Cast when Damage Taken gem also increases the amount of damage that is needed to trigger it. In our situation, we want it to trigger as often as possible. Thus, you should not level it at all.

It is also important to be aware that a Cast when Damage Taken gem can only trigger spells that have a level requirement that is equal or lower than that of the CwDT gem itself. A level 1 CwDT has a level 38 requirement. This is the same level requirement as a level 3 Immortal Call, and a bit higher than the requirement of a level 10 Frost Bomb. Your Immortal Call and Frost Bomb gems do not have to be leveled up – any level up to that point will work as well.

The Immortal Call gem gives us a brief moment of damage invulnerability. As our build doesn’t generate any Endurance Charges, this will be a really brief moment – 0.4 seconds. This might seem like it isn’t enough to make a difference. However, it is a highly effective defense against any damage sources that hit in really fast succession. Without it, that kind of damage might end up killing us. With it, we have enough time to land a hit or two on enemies, leeching our life back to full. As stated above, the gem can be any level between 1 and 3 – leveling it will make absolutely no difference for us (but you absolutely can’t level it over level 3, it will not work in that case).

The Frost Bomb gem, on the other side, has offensive purposes. It applies a debuff to enemies, making them more vulnerable to cold damage. The skill lasts 4 seconds, ending with a small explosion that deals a small amount of cold damage. The important part of the skill is the debuff, as it makes enemies vulnerable to our main attack. The debuff doesn’t change with the level of the gem, so it’s perfectly fine to keep it at level 1. Leveling it up further will increase the damage of the cold explosion, but this is a completely negligible effect – it’s not strong enough to matter at all.


Hatred is an aura that gives us a huge DPS increase, by granting extra cold damage based on our physical damage. Even though we end up not doing any physical damage to mobs due to conversion, the original physical damage is counted for this skill.

Given that Hatred doesn't interact with our support skills (except Blood Magic), it can be put in any slot we have left, as long as it's not linked to Blood Magic. Any other combination works fine – it can be an unlinked slot, it can be a slot linked to our CwDT setup, it can be a slot linked to our Curse setup. Just never, ever link it to Blood Magic. Doing so will cause the skill to reserve life instead of mana. You do not want to do that in this build.

Ancestral Protector

The Ancestral Protector is a totem that uses a single target attack while we stand next to it, as well as granting us an attack speed bonus while nearby. It’s attack is mostly negligible, as it won’t do much damage. The important part, however, is the increased attack speed. Attacking faster not only means we get a higher DPS, but also that we leech more often – the lower the amount of time between our hits, the lower the chance of two hits getting through before we can leech our life back.

When killing normal mobs, it isn’t worth casting the totem, as the time it takes to do so is greater than it’s benefit. It can be helpful against harder magic/rares mobs however, and really shines against bosses. It’s a good idea to try to keep it up at all times during boss fights.

Single targer curse setup
Vengeance - Curse on Hit - Enfeeble - Blind / Culling Strike

Please note that while this setup is a nice addition, it is less important than all other setups posted above. Given that we use a two-handed weapon, you should be able to get enough gem slots to also use this setup. If you don’t have the needed slots, however, this is the setup that should be dropped.

This setup is used mainly on boss fights. Vengeance has a 30% chance of performing a counter-attack against all enemies around us whenever we get hit. This counter-attack has a small damage component that can be completely ignored. The important part, however, is that it hits enemies, allowing us to use it with some other interesting skills. We want to use curse on hit + curse and, if we have another gem slot available, an attack support gem.

The Curse on Hit gem is pretty straightforward: it allows us to apply the curse on enemies. It is worth nothing that enemies can’t have more than one curse at a time, so we won’t be able to stack the curse we choose here with Assassin’s Mark on the same enemy. We will still have both in our build, though, as they serve different purposes.

For the curse, we use Enfeeble. Enfeeble reduces the accuracy, damage and critical damage from the cursed target, making it so that it will hit less often, and with lower damage. It’s a great option for facetanking bosses, and might help you survive against enemies that would otherwise one-shot you.

It is worth nothing that a level 20 Enfeeble has a rather high intelligence requirement (155 points), and you probably won’t be able to get this stat. You can get it up to level 9 without increasing the intelligence requirements of the build (a level 9 Enfeeble requires 109 intelligence points, while a level 20 Assassin’s Mark requires 111 points). If you can get more intelligence, then go for a higher level curse. It'll be better - but it's not required. If you can’t get to 111 points, you’ll need to stop at lower levels for Enfeeble and Assassin’s Mark.

For the attack support gem, the first option we have is using Blind. Blind is a support gem that gives the linked attack (vengeance) a 10% chance of blinding enemies, lowering their hit chance by 50% during 4 seconds. This is a huge debuff, that makes the enemy hurt us a lot less. However, it is not something you can put all your hopes on, given that the chance of the enemy getting blinded is fairly low, and the effect doesn’t last that long. Still, it makes fights much easier when active, and can save your life if you do something wrong during the fight.

Our other option here is to use Culling Strike. This gem makes boss fights a bit shorter, killing them when they’re under 10% life (as long as our Vengeance attack hits, as it still is the base for the support). This will hardly be a game changer – if you got the boss to 10% life, you can as well get it to 0%. But it’s a nice addition to have.

Right now, my inclination is to use Blind. But I encourage self-experimentation. They’re both green gems, so just play around with them a bit and see which one works for you.

Other utility skills
If using all gems listed above, you’ll have 21 gem slots occupied. It is possible, however, to get up to 24 gem slots (technically, you can also get gem slots on rings and amulets, but those aren’t worth it unless you have a really good reason to use them). While this isn’t at all required, there are some options that can be used if that is the case. I’ll try to cover the ones that seem to make most sense, so that you can make a choice if you find yourself with some extra gem slots.

a) A golem (+ Cast when Damage Taken)
A golem is a minion that attacks enemies and gives you a small buff. There are 5 different golems that you can have – but only one can be active in any given moment.

The Stone Golem grants health regeneration, and can be quite useful during leveling - specially because it will grant a flat amount of health regen, not a percentage of your life. But it gets completely useless once we get Vaal Pact, as the health regeneration will have no effect. As such, it isn’t an option for our endgame.

The Flame Golem grants increased damage. While this is a helpful buff, the amount of damage we gain from it is lower than the one gained from the Ice Golem buff. Unless you have a red socket that can’t be changed nor used for anything else, do not pick it.

The Ice Golem is our first good option – and probably the best one. It grants us increased accuracy and critical strike chance. This translates into both a small single target DPS increase (because we crit more often, taking more life of bosses away) as well as a small clearspeed increase (because we crit more often, and in many cases this will mean killing normal enemies with one or two hits less, allowing us to move further). It’s a nice option to have, albeit not one that will change your build too much. If you want to get a Golem, this would be my recommendation.

The Lightning Golem increases attack and cast speed, as well as granting minion life. We do not have any other minions, and also do not care about cast speed. The attack speed gives us a small DPS increase, but it’s not really a noteworthy amount. It’s also less than the Ice Golem gives, which leaves it in the same situation as the Flame Golem: if you absolutely have no other use for the slot, and can’t change it’s color, you can use the golem.

The Chaos Golem has what is, in my opinion, the best buff of all Golems. It grants you a small amount of physical damage reduction (3 to 4%). This makes a much bigger difference than the other golems for one simple reason: it is perfectly possible that you end up taking a hit that would just kill you at some moment, and the Chaos Golem could save your life at this point. At most times it won’t make any difference though – you’ll either die anyway, or you’d stay alive without it.

It also has one huge downside, that is it’s intelligence requirement. In this build, you certainly won’t be able to achieve the needed intelligence to be able to cast a level 20 Chaos Golem. Casting a lower level one is possible, but this will mean it will die a lot, specially during though fights – which is when you could actually need it, so it ends up being pretty useless. The only way for a Chaos Golem to be useful would be to link it to a Cast when Damage Taken gem, so that it gets recasted automatically. This, however, means spending two gem slots. I don’t think it is worth it, but it’s a possibility.

Speaking of which, the Cast when Damage Taken gem can be used with the other golem options as well. In case you use one of the other golems with it, you should level both gems up to level 20. This will trigger CwDT less often, but your golem will also have more life and die less often. If you use a CwDT gem with a Chaos Golem, just go for the highest level Golem that your intelligence allows – and then level the CwDT gem accordingly (it should be so that it’s level requirement is the same as the golem one). The best option would be to get at least a level 12 golem, as this is the level where its buff goes up from 3 to 4%. However, this already means you’ll need 125 intelligence points. Unless you really can get to this point without specifically investing in items or passives, do not do it – investing there isn't worth it at all.

b) Vaal skills (+ Increased Duration)
There are three vaal skills that can be useful for us: Vaal Lightning Trap, Vaal Haste and Vaal Grace. All of them can be linked to Increased Duration as a way of increasing the time of their effects.

Vaal Lightning Trap is a great option for boss fights. The trap itself deals close to no damage, but it leaves shocking ground behind. As long as the boss stands on it, it'll take 15% increased damage. It lasts only 4 seconds, but can be cast up to three times. It's my favorite option, and I strongly recommend getting one if you can.

Vaal Haste gives us a small time of increased attack and movement speed, without caring about where the enemie stands. The problem here is that it lasts only 4 seconds and can't be cast again.

Vaal Grace gives us a chance to dodge attacks and spells. This sinergizes well with our Acrobatics and Phase Acrobatics passives, resulting in really high amounts of dodge chance. It also lasts a bit longer than Haste, which is nice. It’s the more defensive option.

c) Increased Duration (linked to our Cast when Damage Taken Setup)
Another option here would be to get an Increased Duration gem linked to the Cast when Damage Taken setup that has been listed further above, as a way of increasing the duration of Immortal Call. It is worth nothing, however, that a max level Increased Duration will increase the duration of the supported skills by 50%. Since our Immortal Call lasts only 0.4 seconds, this would get it up to 0.6 seconds. It’s better than nothing, but not much.

d) Culling Strike (linked to our mobility setup or to our Ancestral Protector)
If you’re not using a Culling Strike gem linked to your Vengeance setup, then it might be a good idea to get it in you mobility setup. Linking it to Leap Slam will allow us to jump upon bosses to kill them – just make sure they’re under 10% life, otherwise jumping in their direction might not be advisable.

e) Blind (linked to our Herald of Ice setup)
Blind is a support gem that grants a chance of blinding enemies, which decreases their hit rate by a huge amount. Linking the gem to our Herald of Ice setup allows it to trigger with the icy explosions of said gem, sometimes blinding enemies. While this usually won't be a game changer, it's a small defensive improvement.

4. The skill tree


This is our level 87 skill tree. At this point, the build is mostly done. What you should get as your last points will depend on what you feel you're needing. I recommend just playing up to level 87, and then deciding on which path to take. If you feel that you still don't have enough life, you could get a couple more life nodes. If you already have enough life though, getting a couple extra damage nodes might be better.

If you feel like getting some extra damage nodes, your tree at level 93 should look like this: http://poeurl.com/bBcP. Grab Weapon Artistry, then Aspect of the Lynx and, lastly, Will of the Blades. This is the option I'm currently using, and the one that feels better to play with - as long as you have enough life from gear to survive the bigger hits.

If you still lack life, then go for a tree like this: http://poeurl.com/bBcT. Just grab the life nodes after Revenge of the Hunted and Thick Skin. This tree stops at level 91. From there, I'd grab some damage nodes.

Besides that, please note that our skill tree has no Intelligence notable because this is highly conditional. You probably will want to pick some extra intelligence while leveling, though. Later on you can see if you can get enough intelligence out of your gear or not – and respec that point if the answer is positive.

The build also doesn’t invest in elemental resistances. Capping resistances is really easy for this build, given that we don’t need any defensive uniques. You really should be able to do so when going for your endgame gear. However, if for any reason you’re unable to do so – or if you want to make gearing easier while leveling – you can put some passives points into it (and, if you just use them for leveling, respec them later). The most important thing is to have your resists capped at all times. Diamond Skin is a really nice option for leveling.

We end up with 4 jewel sockets. Two of them are reserved for our treshold jewels. The other ones are free for using with whatever jewel you have. I’ll talk about the jewels later.

Further down this build, you can find a leveling guide. This explains more about which passives to pick at each moment.

5. The ascendancy

We ascend into Berserker. No other options here – I do plan on seeing if a Champion version of the build is possible at some point in the future, but this would require skill tree changes.

The first thing we want to get is Pain Reaver. This allows us to start leeching life and mana, increasing our survivability and allowing us to drop mana flasks.

As second, we go for Cloaked in Savagery. This grants us 100% of damage leeched as life for 4 seconds after taking a hit that removed at least 15% of our life, as well as a huge damage and attack speed boost in that situation. There’s not much to say about the damage and attack speed increases: they’re great. As for the leech, its worth nothing that it won’t be as great as it seems (for a while), because of the way leech works.

In Path of Exile, there is a cap to the amount of life than can be leeched each second. Once that cap is hit, you won’t be able to get your life back quicker. Leeching more life will only result in the leech lasting longer. This is still useful, but not nearly as much as it seems at the first glance. However, this situation changes once we get Vaal Pact. With that passive, our leech is applied instantaneously. This basically means that every time we get hit for more than 15% of our life, we’ll heal back to full at the next hit we land on any enemy. It sounds amazing, and it is.

Our third labyrinth points go into Crave the Slaughter. It grants us increased attack speed if we’ve been hit recently – another DPS boost. The extra movement speed if we haven’t been hit recently is also nice, as it helps you get faster when backtracking or just going around in town (and quite often in maps as well, since with our freezing ability it is quite easy to go for a while without taking a hit).

At last, we go for Aspect of Carnage. This gives us the biggest DPS increase of the whole build. The cost is a 10% increased damage taken. It might sound scary, but it’s really not that bad. And it'll make you kill things quite faster.

6. The bandits

Oak gives us a bit of physical damage reduction, which is nice and hard to get by other means. It also increases our damage a bit, but the amount really isn’t noticeable. The life regen has no effect at all, as we get Vaal Pact.

Alira gets us the highest damage increase. It still won’t be much noticeable, but is a bit more significant than the other options. The extra resistances make gearing a bit easier, but it should already be easy enough on this build as to not really matter. The mana regen does nothing for us, as we get our mana through leech.

Kraityn grants increased attack speed – which ends up getting us the same DPS as Oak. It also grants a small amount of attack dodge chance, which stacks with the one we get from Acrobatics. It’s not really helpful though, as the one hit every once in a while that it prevents would hardly be what kills us. The movespeed is a nice quality of life, but also won’t do much for our combat capacity.

Killing all grants us two passive skill points, and seems like the best option in my opinion. None of the other bonuses are really big enough to matter much, and these two points can help us getting to important passive points earlier/at all.

7. Gear

Before going into detail of what we need for every gear piece, the most important thing: how much will this build cost?
The answer is almost nothing, really. Obviously, prices can change, but at the moment I write this it is perfectly possible to get all we need to get to the end of yellow maps with less than 15 chaos (and this is considering you do not get any usable drop yourself). To push for red maps you'll probably want a 6-linked chest, but even then it is possible to go without it.

Also, I’ve decided to separate our gear options in two sections. The first one will be about rares we can use, and what kind of mods to look for. The second one will talk about uniques.

Unlike most other games of the genre, in Path of Exile unique items are not always the best option. In fact, it is not advisable to gear up only with uniques, as they don’t tend to have enough life or elemental resistances. This build has been designed to be played with rare gear (with the exception of our weapon). While there are some uniques that can be good for us to use, none of them are required – and, quite often, using a well rolled rare item will be a better option.

If you are a new player that still doesn’t know how to gear up, I highly advise limiting the number of uniques you use – a good rule of thumb would be to not use more than 3 uniques at the same time (already counting in our weapon).

7.1 Rare gear: what mods should you look for

Now, as I said in the former part, this guide is designed to be used with mostly rare gear. Our weapon, however, is an exception to this, as we do need a unique Terminus Est sword to get the build going. This simply isn’t negotiable. Unless you get really expensive items (and use something else for frenzy generation), you will not be able to get a better result by using rare items. Even then (and we’re talking about a considerable exalted orb investment), you’ll probably still be better off with the unique sword – since generating frenzy charges on boss fights would be tricky otherwise.

Body Armour
The most important things to get are a good life roll and elemental resistances. This is probably also where we will get our 5 or 6-link setup, as it will be much cheaper than getting a linked Terminus Est sword. As for the armour stats, evasion > armour > energy shield. None of them are really important, though, and it’s not really worth picking up a chest piece based on them. Just get whatever piece of gear fills the other criteria (life, resists and gem slots).

In this link (http://poe.trade/search/ehiritebotomia) you can see an example of a search parameter for finding gear to start mapping. Please note that we’re searching for a fairly low amount of elemental resistances here because this is based upon the assumption we will be using rare gear only, and thus will be able to cap our resists with other pieces of gear.

I’ve also set up an example search for nearly perfect endgame gear (http://poe.trade/search/soosimitesamak). This will be much much harder to get, specially if we want the right socket colors (at the moment I write this, the search returns only one result). It isn’t required at all, however – this is here just to give you an idea what the best possible rare chestpiece would look like.


As with the body armour, we want life and resists above everything else. Other useful stats are +# to accuracy rating and the master craft % increased elemental damage with attack skills. Getting them, however, is a bonus – you really want to get as much life and resist as possible. Another thing you could look out for is +# to intelligence, which can help getting the required stat for our skills. As for innate stats, also go evasion > armour > energy shield.

Example of reasonable map starting gear (http://poe.trade/search/ariwitoyohimek).
Example of nearly perfect endgame gear (http://poe.trade/search/akosituikogoni).


Once more, get life and elemental resistances. For boots, % increased movement speed is also important. They will make you move around faster, increasing clearspeed, and will also help you manually dodge attacks. Get at least 20% increased movement speed, and aim for 30%. Getting extra intelligence can also be good, but should not be prioritized. The same holds true for the master craft % increased elemental damage with attack skills. Lastly, there are a lot of good essence mods, but you most likely won’t be able to get a good pair of boots with them.

Example of reasonable map starting gear (http://poe.trade/search/ariteonomhakom).
Example of nearly perfect endgame gear (http://poe.trade/search/omimagononemiw).


As for all other pieces, your absolute priority should be getting life and resists. With that covered, you might want to look out for some stats that increase our damage. The best one is % attack speed, followed by +# to accuracy rating. Getting added physical damage is also a nice boost, albeit it won’t be highly noticeable – it’s probably not worth taking in into consideration when shopping for gear.

It is worth nothing that we should get added physical damage, not added cold. This is because physical damage will scale out of all our physical and cold increasing passives (because of our damage conversion). Added cold damage scales only from part of our passives, and as such isn't worth bothering with.

As for essence mods, % increased global critical strike chance is a solid option, although not as good as the increased attack speed suffix. And, again, you probably will not find a good piece of gear with an essence mod, so it's hardly worth looking for.

Another thing you could look out for is the Spiked gloves base, as those have an implicit modifier to Melee Damage. That modifier is nice because it is an implicit – meaning you still can have up to 6 explicit mods (if you don’t know the difference between implicit and explicit mods, I suggest looking it up on the wiki). It doesn’t increase our damage by much though, and is only worth taking into consideration if you’re comparing two similar items or really looking into min-maxing the build.

Example of reasonable map starting gear (http://poe.trade/search/simerihikonaau).
Example of nearly perfect endgame gear (http://poe.trade/search/mohiutimariyes).


You all know it already: get life and elemental resistances. Try to get a Leather Belt or a Rustic Sash - the former can have a higher life total due to it's implicit, the later has a damage increasing implicit. Both are fine options. As for explicit mods, the % increased elemental damage with attack skills is a really good option, increasing our damage by a good amount. The master craft % increased movement speed and the suffixes that involve flasks (flask effect duration, increased flask charges gained, reduced flask charges used) are all nice bonuses, but don’t bother looking for them specifically. Some essence mods are also good, but you’ll hardly get them.

Example of reasonable map starting gear (http://poe.trade/search/iwimmokonitabu).
Example of nearly perfect endgame gear (http://poe.trade/search/nimmanakarenom).


Everybody repeat it after me please: you should get life and resists. If your resistances allow it, try to get Diamond Rings or Steel Rings. Diamond Rings are useful for the extra critical strike chance, and shouldn't cost too much. Steel Rings give us flat physical damage, and are even better than Diamond Rings. The problem with them is their hefty price tag. But a well rolled Steel Ring is probably the best offensive upgrade that can be made for this build, so if you manage to save the currency, get yourself a pair of those.

As far as explicit mods go, your order of priority (after life and the needed resists) should be % increased elemental damage with attack skills > # physical damage to attacks > # to accuracy rating > % increased attack speed. Other mods can also increase damage a bit, but are not important enough to bother looking out for.

Getting Intelligence is also an option if you need some – rings are one of the best pieces of gear to get that stat from.

Example of reasonable map starting gear (http://poe.trade/search/onogotuwomihag).
Example of nearly perfect endgame gear (http://poe.trade/search/asakonaumitoni).


Yes, you guessed it correctly: life and resists. As with rings, there are quite a lot of other mods that can help our damage, though. Here, the list goes: % to global critical strike multiplier > # physical damage to attacks > % increased elemental damage with attack skills > # to accuracy rating > % increased Global Critical Strike Chance.

As for rings, getting some intelligence might be a good idea if you need it – you can get intelligence as an implicit on amulets.

Example of reasonable map starting gear (http://poe.trade/search/rususanonikoki).
Example of nearly perfect endgame gear (http://poe.trade/search/ougohaitunorim).


Another thing than can not be obvious for newer players on Path of Exile is how important good flasks are. They will save your life when you something makes you bleed. They will save you life when you get frozen. They can make your damage skyrocket – a single Diamond Flask can get our damage up by more than 30%. Flasks are great.

The first thing you want is a Life flask with remove bleeding. Veteran players already know this, but I’ll write it down clearly for newer players: you need a flask with bleeding removal. Bleeding will kill you really fast, specially if you are moving (its effect is six times stronger while you’re moving).

While it doesn’t necessarily have to be your life flask, it’s probably the best option, as it will be the first button you’ll think of smashing when you see your life going down (and it will go down a lot if you’re bleeding). If possible, also get Instant Recovery. If you can’t get that, just go for the quickest recovery speed you can get.

The other flask you must get is a Diamond flask. It will improve our critical strike chance by a huge amount, which result in a much higher clearspeed and DPS. You should get used to having at least this flask active at all times.

A Basalt flask is also really helpful, with it’s physical damage taken reduction.

Other nice defensive options are a Jade flask and a Quartz flask. A more offensive option would be using a Silver flask, which grants the Onslaught bonus (20% increased attack, cast and movement speed). There are also some good unique options, about which I talk further down this guide.

The last thing worth nothing here is that you also must get a flask with remove freezing. Ideally, this will be your Diamond flask, as you should have it active at all times (it also has lower charge consumption than the other flasks mentioned, so there’s less of a risk of you getting frozen just after spending all flask charges).

If you can’t get it, though, it might be one of your other flasks. Just be sure that you’ll be able to smash the right flask fast enough when needed. We depend on our ability to strike enemies to survive. Staying frozen makes you just stand there and look while enemies cut through your life pool. You don’t want it to happen.


Our passive tree has space for 4 Jewels. However, 2 of those slots will be used by our treshold jewels – covered in the unique section. We’re then left looking for the best possible jewel for our last two slots.

The first thing you will want to look for is increased maximum life. You really should aim for +7% increased maximum life on both gems.

Besides that, getting at least one damage related mod (crit chance or multiplier, physical damage, sword or two handed weapon damage, attack speed, and so on) would also be important. Any damage related mod works fine – as long as it can affect both melee and projectile damage. If you absolutely can't get your hands on a gem that affects both types of damage, prioritize the melee damage - our single target damage is the weakest part of this build.

Another option is getting a jewel with at least three damage related mods, instead of life + at least one damage mod. Getting a jewel with life is superior, though.

At last, you can use the jewel to fill up any gap in your resists or attributes, if needed. Getting Intelligence here might end up saving you one skill point if you can't find the right gear pieces.

Continues in the next post.
Chris Wilson took my soul
Last edited by DanutMS on Feb 22, 2018, 7:17:15 AM
Last bumped on Feb 22, 2018, 7:14:01 AM
7.2 Unique gear

As already stated above, getting a Terminus Est is required for this guide. The whole build has been based upon the use of it. It has a nice DPS, a high critical strike chance and also grants us frenzy charges. You can’t ask for much more. It’s a great weapon. Luckily, it’s also a really cheap great weapon, and can be bought for up to 1 chaos without having to look around for long.

Now, knowing that you must get yourself a Terminus Est, the second question is how to decide which one to get. There are two rolls that can vary on this sword. The increased physical damage value and the critical strike chance value. Getting a higher physical damage roll will have a greater impact on our final DPS, and will be specially useful against bosses.

Given that we already do fine against mobs in general, I advise prioritizing the physical damage roll on the sword. If possible, try to get as near as possible to a perfect phys damage roll (+260%), and at least a midtier crit roll (around +65%). If you can’t get that, aim for the highest possible phys damage roll.


Body Armour
This build can use quite a lot of different unique body armours. The best in slot would be a Kaom's Heart. It's life bonus is amazing, giving us almost 1.5k more life at endgame. No other bonus can top that. The downside is that it costs a lot, and that you must have a linked weapon to put your gems instead. Still, if you were to save currency for a single upgrade on your build, a Kaom's Heart would be my recommendation. It is that good.

Another great option is the Belly of the Beast. It also gives us a nice life bonus - although much smaller than a Kaom's, and has some elemental resistances. It's a more budget option, since you won't have to worry about linking your weapon (if you have a 6-link Belly, of course).

If you can handle it's resistance penalty, a Lightning Coil is a great option, reducing physical damage taken.

An Yriel's Fostering is also good, with it's projectile related bonuses. We don't benefit from it's bleeding ability as we don't do any physical damage, but the other bonuses are enough to make it a really nice option.

The Perfect Form gives us the ability to use Arctic Armour for free, allowing us to keep it together with Hatred, and has Phase Acrobatics. It doesn't stack with the passive we already have, but can be a good alternative - if you use this chest you can drop the passives after Acrobatics, and put these points in more life or damage passives.

All options above are, in my opinion, superior to a rare chest - as long as you can cap your resistances with other pieces of gear, of course. The ones following now are probably worse than a good rolled rare chest, but are still good enough to be worth mentioning. I wouldn't advise buying them, but you could use them if you already own one.

Lioneye's Vision gives our projectiles the pierce support effect. This gives them some extra damage, as well as the ability to pass through some targets, hitting the enemies that are behind them. This is nice, but shouldn't be a game changer - we already do good damage with our projectiles, and clearspeed is fine without the ability to pierce. It also gives us a good amount of armour and almost as much life as a well rolled rare. The armour isn't so useful, but it's a nice addition. Still, I don't it's bonuses are good enough to justify giving up the resistances from a rare chest - this would mean having to compensate somewhere else, so the opportunity cost is too big.

A Daresso's Defiance would allow us to generate endurance charges. We lose them when we get hit, but this also gives some seconds of the onslaught buff, which is nice. And we also get some extra dodge chance. The problem here is the relatively low life amount and the lack of resists. Getting more life is just a better defense.

At last, we have Hyrri's Ire. This chest grants us a good DPS bonus due to it's added cold damage, increases chill duration on enemies and makes us get hit way less often - with it's enormous amount of evasion and dodge bonuses, this can end up being almost 1/3 less chance of getting hit. The problem here is that it has no life at all, which ends up being a huge drawback against harder hits. Also, while a bit of evasion is nice, we do want to get hit every once in a while to get maximum leech and our damage bonuses.


A Starkonja's Head is a good option, due to it's high life roll and increased attack speed/critical strike chance. If you can compensate it's lack of resists, it'll be better than a rare helmet.

The Rat's Nest is a more offensive oriented option. It'll give you a bit more damage than Starkonja's and a higher movement speed, at the cost of having no life (and no resists). In my opinion, the lack of life makes it worse than both Starkonja's and a reasonable rare helmet.

At last, we have the Abyssus Ezomyte Burgonet. Using it would be a huge DPS improvement for the build. However, it comes at the cost of increased physical damage taken. I've played around with Abyssus on other builds, and the increased damage ends up not being as scary as it sounds (except on lab/trials - it's a good idea to swap it out before doing them).

However, I've not yet been able to see how it would interact with the 10% increased damage we already take from Aspect of Carnage. I really can't say how bad it is without playing it, and I neither own nor have the currency to buy an Abyssus right now. You'll have to test for yourself if you want.


A pair of Maligaro's Virtuosity gloves is a really good offensive option, as it gives us increased critical strike chance and critical strike multiplier, as well as a bit of attack speed. It's downside is the lack of life and resists, meaning you'll have to compensate for them in other pieces of gear.

Another great option are the Shaper's Touch gloves. They give us increased physical damage based on dexterity - of which we have plenty. Thus, the melee damage while wearing them is almost equal to that we achieve with Maligaro's. Besides that, they give us a good amount of life, making them a really strong option. The downside is that it doesn't increase our projectile damage, while Maligaro's Virtuosity does. And it also has no elemental resistances. Still, I find them to be our best unique option, because of the life roll.

Theoretically, a pair of Shadows and Dust gloves would also be an option. However, they're inferior to Maligaro's in most situations, and currently cost around 65 times as much. So well, no reason to use them.


We have three options here, but none of them are really convincing.

The first is to use a Belt of the Deceiver. It has a bit of life and elemental resistances, and grants us some extra physical damage. It also intimidates nearby enemies, making them take 10% increased damage. The problem with it is that it doesn't sinergize so well with Frost Blades, as we quite often keep a distance from what we're hitting. Thus, I feel that a rare belt with more life is better.

Another offensive option is to use a Prismweawe belt. It grants us a high amount of extra elemental damage, and thus can get our DPS up by a good amount. However, it's lack of life and (decent) resists hurt a lot. Once more, a rare belt is simply the better option.

Last but not least, we have the Headhunter belt. It's one of the most amazing and fun items in the game. The downside is it's stupidly high price tag. If you can afford one, why are you reading this build?


You probably should buy at least an Atziri's Promise. It's a really cheap flask that'll give us extra chaos damage based on our physical and elemental damage. A well rolled one can give us around 10% more damage, and will give even more against cold-resistant enemies. Prioritize the elemental damage roll above the physical damage one.

The Wise Oak is probably the best flask available for us - as long as you can set your gear right. It gives us some increased elemental penetration for every element for which our uncapped resistance (this means, the actual total of resistance values, not the 75% cap) is the highest, and gives us 10% reduced damage taken for each element for which our uncapped resistance is the lowest. This is a great boost if your cold resistance is the highest - giving us extra cold damage and protection against fire and lightning damage. However, this might be a bit hard to achieve. If you do have the needed resists, I highly advise getting this flask.

It is worth nothing that if you can get all uncapped resistances to be exactly the same, then you'll get all benefits from Wise Oak for all elements. This would mean extra cold damage (also fire and lightning, but we don't do those) and protection against cold, lightning and fire damage. It's great - but even harder to set up right.

Another flask we can get is the Taste of Hate. It grants us some extra cold damage based on our physical damage. This is a nice damage increase - a bit more than Atziri's Promise, unless the enemy has a really high cold resistance. But it's most important feature is converting part of the physical damage we take into cold damage. Since you should have 75% cold resistance, this effectively means reducing that damage to 1/4 of it's original number.

The downside is that it costs a lot, and we don't get as much DPS out of it as pure physical damage builds. It's still a great option if you can afford it, but I'd advise against spending all your currency in getting one.

Our last option is the Lion's Roar Granite Flask. It gives the biggest DPS boost of all available flasks, and some extra defense in the form of armour. It also knocks enemies back. This is great on general mapping, keeping enemies at a distance. But it can also be quite annoying at bosses. Against bosses, you probably only want to use it if you can push the enemy against a wall.


Please note that the Taste of Hate and Wise Oak flasks shown here are legacy variants. Their current versions have lower rolls.

We use the Fight for Survival jewel, twice. It grants us increased cold damage (increasing all our damage), melee damage cold penetration (increasing melee damage) and increased projectile speed (increasing the total distance our projectiles can travel). We get one of them for free as a quest reward on act 5, and can buy the other one for cheap.

The one important thing to note here is that these jewels must be used in slots that have enough dexterity near them. These dexterity nodes do not have to be allocated, but they must be nearby. We have this in two of our slots, so the jewels go there – do not put these jewels in the slot that is near our starting point, as they won’t do anything there.

Other pieces of gear
Coming soon

8. The Pantheon

Major Powers

Soul of Lunaris is the best option for general mapping. Physical damage reduction, increased movement speed, and the possibility to expand it for some extra defenses are great. The downside is that you won't get so much protection against lone bosses, which often will be the hardest hits we'll face. Which brings us to the second power...

Soul of Solaris grants you physical damage reduction if there is only one enemy nearby, and might be a good option for bosses. Due to the nature of Frost Blades, even bosses that eventually spawn some additional monsters will end alone most of the time, so it might help there. It's expansions aren't so good, though. Still, it might be worth getting it on tougher fights.

Soul of the Brine King grants us stun immunity for a short time after getting stunned. It might sound trivial, but this pantheon power has the biggest "life-savior" potential of all. That's because it effectively turns us imune to stunlocks (getting stunned multiple times in rapid succession, so that you can't move in between stuns). Since we rely on our ability to leech life back - which only comes when we can attack -, a stunlock might kill us quite easily.

However, I find that getting stunlocked something that doesn't happen often enough to justify using said power. With the high amount of life we have, it's not really a problem. But if you do run into stunlocking troubles, then consider using Soul of the Brine King.

Soul of Arakaali grants bonus against damage over time mainly. Since we do not regenerate life, damage over time can be quite annoying. However, that is also the easiest kind of damage to deal with, so I don't think it's ever worth using said power. The only part of it that I feel is noteworthy is the protection against shock effects that come with the soul of Shock and Horror. The problem is that capturing Shock and Horror is quite hard, so it ends up coming a bit too late to really matter. You might still want to use it if you know you'll be facing a boss that makes use of shock, though.

Minor Powers

Soul of Ryslatha is your power for doing the lab and it's trials after you take Vaal Pact. It's a game changer, really. Since we do not regenerate life, our only way of getting life back while between sets of traps is by using our life flask. If we end up without flask charges, then things get really bad. With Soul of Ryslatha, all we need to do is stay in place for a while and wait for the flask to recharge. Do not attempt to do the Uber Lab without it. For general mapping, though, it's use is quite limited. Just swap it in before lab/trials, and then swap it back out when finished.

Soul of Yugul helps a lot against the reflect rares you'll find. If you find yourself having trouble to survive those single reflect monsters, use it. Otherwise, it might still be useful to get you through Elemental Reflect maps - I've been able to do so if I play on a 5-link (a 6-link is too much damage and ends up being dangerous). That last part is not recommended for Hardcore.

Soul of Garukhan, Soul of Tukohama and Soul of Gruthkul all grant some small bonuses to defense - either through damage reductions or through extra evade chance. These are nice additions for general play, but won't really be game changers. I'd advise picking one of them up if you don't need anything situational nor want to use the expanded Soul of Ralakesh yet.

Soul of Ralakesh helps mitigate the bleed damage you take. Unless you find yourself being too slow to react when bleeding, it's not really useful - just smash your anti-bleed life flask and you're good to go. However, it's expansion power (that comes after killing the boss of the Graveyard map - a tier 4 map) grants us immunity against blind and maim. In my opinion, this is one of the best minor power effects. Our survivability is directly related to our ability to hit enemies. Thus, getting blinded is a huge liability. Being imune to it helps a lot. On the other hand, in most situations you can as well just run away if blinded. So it's up to you to decide if you want to use it or not.

9. Enchantments
I honestly have no idea. If you know any useful enchantment, please let me know.

The best option would be getting the "Adds 45 to 68 Cold Damage if you've been Hit Recently" enchant. Another good option is "16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you've Killed Recently".
Other options are "10% Chance to Dodge if you've taken a Critical Strike Recently", "10% increased Movement Speed if you haven't been Hit Recently", "8% chance to Dodge Spell Damage if you've taken Spell Damage Recently" and "80% chance to Avoid being Stunned if you've Killed Recently". "Damage Penetrates 10% of Enemy Elemental Resistances if you haven't Killed Recently" can also be good for lone bosses, but won't do anything during general play.

"Ancestral Protector Totem grants 18% increased Attack Speed while Active is a nice option. The best enchant, though, would be the "40% increased Frost Blades Damage". Other enchants that affect our skills might also help if you end up getting them - but none is worth actively searching for.

10. Map mods

We have to be careful with two map mods. No leech in a no-go. We simply can't survive without it. Elemental reflect is also dangerous. It can be run, but if you do so be conscious that you're taking a higher risk, and it might end up badly. The most dangerous thing about elemental reflect is that it can't trigger a Savage Hit (needed for the 100% life leech). Thus, if we don't get hit by enemies for a while, we'll end up taking more reflect damage than we can leech. All things considered, I'd say you shouldn't be running it.

If you do run them though, make sure you have the Soul of Yugul pantheon power selected. And use Arctic Armour, not Hatred - the extra damage of Hatred will hurt you.

11. Leveling guide
This guide is still a work in progress. I'm levelling a second character to be able to write a guide with the quality I'd like to. Thus, it'll be updated at the pace I manage to level my char.

11.1 First steps

12-points skill tree

Gems and general guidelines

a) Get a Frost Blades gem. If this is your first char, start by creating a Ranger or Shadow. Go to the first town (kill Hillock) and grab the Frost Blades gem Tarkleigh gives as a quest reward. Put it in your stash.

b) With the gem in your stash, you might now create your Marauder. Get it from the stash when you hit town. From now until the end of the game, this will be our attack (it'll feel much more amazing later on, though - so don't worry if it feels a bit clunky at the start).

c) For now, just link whatever damage support gems you can to it. Another good option is the Life gain on Hit gem.

d) Get the Ancestral Protector totem as a reward for the Breaking some Eggs quest. Link it to whatever damage increasing gems you can fit in for now.

e) At last, pick up Leap Slam as a reward for the The Caged Brute quest.

Passive skills explanation

a) Start grabbing the life nodes. Those will shine later on.

b) From Warrior's Blood, go for Versatility. We'll respec those those two points later, but this grants us dexterity and intelligence, which we really need at the moment. We only get 10 other intelligence points in the next 28 passives, so it's worth spending two respec points later to get these now.

c) Now grab the other side of that small cluster for the life points, and get Born to Fight. It will only boost our melee damage (not the projectile part), but the melee increase is too big to ignore.

11.2 Going two-handed

24-points skill tree

Gems and general guidelines

a) The Maligaro's Spike quest gives us acces to two gems we need: Faster Attacks and Elemental Damage with Attacks. It doesn't matter which one you pick, just buy the other. Link Elemental Damage with Attacks to Frost Blades, and Faster Attacks to Leap Slam.

b) If you have the needed link, you might want to buy a second copy of Faster Attacks and link it to Frost Blades. While it doesn't make it into our endgame setup, it's a nice option to boost DPS for now.

c) We also get Herald of Ice from the Intruders in Black quest. Even without the rest of our curse setup - which we'll only get later -, it's a nice DPS boost.

Passive skills explanation

a) We now wander into the duelist area. If you are using the Screaming Eagle hatchet and want to hang onto it for the movement speed, go for Art of the Gladiator first, grabbing the life passives in the way.

b) In that case, just grab Destroyer after the former. Wether you actually go two-handed now or not depends on how your damage is. If you want to hit harder, go two-handed. If you're still fine, keep the Screaming Eagle for the movement speed (you might want to put Shiversting on your second setup though, so you might use it on harder fights).

C) On the other hand, if you're already using Shiversting (or just a rare two-handed weapon), it's better to grab Destroyer first, for the extra damage. Then go for Art of the Gladiator.

11.3 Fight for survival

36-points skill tree

Gems and general guidelines

a) We can buy Hatred from Clarissa on act 3. You won't be able to sustain mana with it before doing the first labyrinth, but we can start leveling it up already. Just put it in a free slot or in your swap weapon.

b) The sidequest A Fixture of Fate gives us access to a lot of skill gems. Pick Fortify, Blood Magic or Increased Duration as reward for the quest. You might want to buy the other ones to start leveling them. Just note that, unlike other NPCs, Siosa won't take currency from your stash - you must have it with you.

c) Siosa also sells a lot of other gems. I'd advise you to, at the very least, pick Frost Bomb and Cold Penetration. Even if we don't have our Cast when Damage Taken gem yet, we can use a self-cast Frost Bomb on bosses and thougher enemies. It'll help a lot at this point. Just remember that you don't need to level it (and if you do, do not level it over level 10). As for the Cold Penetration gem, use it with Frost Blades if you have the needed link. If you happen to have other socket colours, just go with whatever gem gives you better damage at this moment.

d) Other useful gems sold by Siosa: added cold damage, blind, culling strike, arctic armour, temporal chains, increased critical damage, assassin's mark, enfeeble. The list is big, so it might be worth spending some time here. We won't be using all of these gems now, but if you can already start leveling some of them (even if you don't have the links to use them as you should for now), buy them. Otherwise just come back later.

e) Siosa also sells gems which we already had access before. I won't be listing those here, as you should already have them. If you don't, though, you can buy them here.

f) Going forward to act 4, completing the Breaking the Seal quest allows you to pick a Golem. Even if we don't necessarily use one in endgame, it's a good idea to pick a Stone Golem for leveling. The life regeneration granted by it helps a lot at this moment.

Passive skills explanation

a) Grab the remaining two-handed damage nodes, then go for the life around Golem's Blood.

b) After that, we grab the jewel slot. This will be filled with a Fight for Survival gem. I'm assuming you have the currency to buy a well rolled one now - at least 14% increased cold damage. If you don't, it might be better to skip these points for now, and come back a bit later.

c) Lastly, we start moving into our next goals. Not very exciting, but we have to go through those dexterity points.

11.4 Converting to cold

48-points skill tree

Gems and general guidelines

a) The Eternal Nightmare quest gives us the Multistrike gem. It not only increases our DPS, but also makes Frost Blades easier to use (since the second and third attacks aim automatically).

b) Around this point you should also do the first labyrinth. I like to do it after completing act 4, so that it ends up being really easy. But it certainly can be done before that. When completed, ascend into Berserker and pick Pain Reaver.

c) After doing the lab, you can start using Hatred as well as Herald of Ice. The mana leech should be enough to sustain your attacks.

Passive skills explanation

a) Start by going for Thick Skin. We do not grab the other two life nodes now because they only increase our life by 4%. It's better to leave them for endgame.

b) Second thing is getting Winter Spirit. At this point, we won't be doing physical damage anymore. All our damage will be converted into cold, which will allow us to benefit the most from cold damage increases.

c) At last, go up for Herbalism, another life increase.

11.5 Damage increases and elemental resistances

60-points skill tree

Gems and general guidelines

a) We get our second Fight for Survival gem from the quest Death to Purity. We'll be getting our second jewel slot soon, but for now we can't use two gems. Keep the second one in your stash.

b) The Fallen from Grace quest on act 6 gives us access to the huge list of gems sold by Lilly Roth. With these, we should now be able to get all gems needed for the build. From now on, all that is left to do is work on getting gear with the right socket colors and links.

Passive skills explanation

a) Now that we already convert all our damage into cold (due to having picked Winter Spirit), we can go for the cold damage increase from Fangs of Frost.

b) Since we're already there, pick Point Blank. It sinergizes well with Frost Blades.

c) As soon as we defeat Kitava, our elemental resistances receive a -30% penalty. Thus, I find that picking up Cloth and Chain at this point is a good idea. It makes gearing while leveling easier. We will respec these two points later on. If you don't need the resistances, you might skip this part.

d) If you need it, you might also take Diamond Skin now. This depends entirely on how your elemental resistances are.

e) At last, we go for our second Fight for Survival jewel slot.

11.6 Learning to dodge

72-points skill tree

Gems and general guidelines

a) Somewhere around this point you should get to level 51, which allows you to start using the Terminus Est sword. Buy one as soon as possible. Even if you can't get a well rolled one now, just buy whatever you can afford. It'll be a big damage boost. You might upgrade to a better rolled one later.

Passive skills explanation

a) We start by grabbing Acrobatics/Phase Acrobatics. The attack/spell dodge chance will be extremely helpful for us to avoid getting killed by rapid sucessions of attacks.

b) At next, start working your way up to the life cluster around Constitution.

c) We can get one jewel slot here with just one passive point. You'll probably be able to buy a jewel that makes this worth it now (even if probably not a really good jewel). At this point, anything with 7% increased life will already be fine, even if it has no other useful mods - though one that also has at least one damage increasing mod will be better.

Continues in the next days.

Provisory leveling trees (just a general guideline that hasn't been tested in-game yet)

Gear options

Please note that none of the gear mentioned here is required. Those are just some suggestions of items that make levelling faster. Some of them are really cheap, and should be easy to get even as a new player/league starter. Others might cost a bit more, but are valid options for those who can afford them.


Redbeak sword: good starting damage, a bit of life and life gain on hit - which helps on the first levels. Might not be worth it, though, as we get access to a much better option on level 6.

The Screaming Eagle hatchet: available at level 6, it's the best weapon we can get for now. It has a nice damage, life gain on hit and grants increased movement speed. The only downside is that it costs more than a Redbeak, and we might end up not using them for long. Still, if you can get a pair, dual-wield those. Or you could just use one with a Redbeak in your other hand, if buying two costs too much.

Shiversting sword: Available at level 14, this two-handed sword gives us better damage than the Screaming Eagle. We lose the extra movement speed though, so you might want to hang to The Screaming Eagle until we get the first two-handed weapon damage passives. And if you haven't gotten yourself the former, then get a Shiversting - it's cheaper, and better than basically any rare you can be using at this point.
Edge of Madness sword: A DPS upgrade that is available at level 22. It's the best weapon we have access to at this point.

Quecholli, Jagged Maul: Also available at level 22, this weapon gives us less damage than the Edge of Madness, but it's cheaper and grants us increased dexterity and intelligence. You shouldn't be struggling with those due to the point we've put into Versatility. But if you do, then this weapon solves your problems.
Hrimnor's Dirge sledgehammer: Our next possible DPS upgrade. This mace becomes available at level 36. It gives us a much higher DPS than our earlier options. It might cost more than you have, though, which brings us to the next two items on the list.
Rigwald's Charge sword: If you lack the funds for a Hrimnor's, then a Rigwald's might be a good option. It has lower DPS, but gives you 10% increased movement speed. It's also really cheap, and will be an upgrade compared to the Edge of Madness. It's downside is that it becomes available only on level 44 - later than Hrimnor's, and almost at the same moment than the next item on the list.

The Blood Reaper axe: This axe becomes available at level 45. It is slightly worse than Hrimnor's Dirge, but better than a Rigwald's Charge. It's also very cheap, and thus a good option for our last levels before we can equip our endgame weapon.

Other gear

Tabula Rasa body armour: the Tabula Rasa is simply the best existing leveling gear. It has no stats, but allows you to put gems of any colors in it's sockets. This allows us to support our attack with a lot of gems, and swap them around without having to care about socket colors. If you can get one, it'll make leveling much faster. It's a bit costly, though - but if you can afford it, buy one. The Tabula Rasa stays relevant all the way up to around level 70.

Wanderlust boots: 20% increased movement speed, mana regeneration, a bit of dexterity and freeze immunity without any requirements.

Doedre's Damning ring: Sustaining mana before completing the first labirynth is hard. This ring gives +5 mana on hit, which should really help with that.

Goldrim helmet: You won't find as much elemental resistances in any other piece of gear so early. Requires level 3.

Meginord's Girdle belt: A good amount of extra life and added physical damage. Available at level 6, it's the best belt we can use early on.

Karui Ward amulet: Available at level 5, this amulet gives us 10% increased movement speed. It also increases our projectiles damage a bit, but the damage increase is smaller than our next option - which also costs less. I like it because of the extra movement speed - but if you feel like you need better damage, go for the next item on the list.

The Ignomon Amulet: The added fire damage helps our damage early on. It also has some fire resistance, which is nice. Available at level 8.

Victario's Flight boots: 25% movement speed, dexterity and intelligence, damage taken as mana. These boots are the slightly superior version of Wanderlust, and become available at level 12.

The Magnate belt: Available at level 16, this belt gives us good elemental resistances as long as we have more than 200 strength.

12. Stats and current gear
To give you an idea of what to expect, these are my currenct character stats on Path of Building. Damage is considered with all flasks active (diamond flask, Lion's Roar, atziri's promise) + Hatred + Ancestral Protector + Frost Bomb + Frenzy and Power charges, as well as having been hit by a savage hit recently. It's also set up to consider the enemy a boss (which has elemental resistances, thus taking less damage than normal enemies).

Just keep in mind that these stats are from my build, in which I've invested a bit of currency already. Your results will probably be a bit lower on starting gear, though they should still be fine (and they can also be made better than mine if you end up investing enough, as my gear is quite far from being great).


Melee damage and other stats

Icy Blades damage (considered with enemy within 10 units of distance from the source of the projectiles - damage will get lower on higher distances).

Also, you can check the gear I'm using at the moment. Keep in mind that this gear has costed me more than what starting gear would cost - but, at the same time, it's quite far from being optimized. This is just an example.


13. Videos
T6 Strand Map with elemental reflect (on a 5link, no merciless lab, budget gear)
T6 Wharf Map (on a 5link, no merciless lab, budget gear) - also a good video to teach new players why you should get a flask with freeze immunity (almost ripped at 2:55 due to the lack of it)
T8 Cemetery Map (on a 5link, first map after merciless lab, budget gear)
T9 Reef Map boss room (twinned map, on a 5link, no uber lab, budget gear)
Izaro kill - Uber lab last room (this time with a bit less than 60c invested in gear)
T10 Malformation map boss room
T10 Port map
T12 Residence map with elemental reflect
T13 Shaped Jungle valley map
T13 Beacon map
T14 Springs map
T15 Shaped Underground River map

14. FAQ
1. I see lots of build around here with millions of DPS. Isn't this build damage too low?
No, it isn't. You really do not need to do millions of damage per second to be able to clear all game content. In general mapping, as long as you keep you power charges and diamond flask up, everything dies almost instantly.

Bosses take a bit longer - some other builds might be faster here. Still, we get much more survivability than most of these builds. You basically can just stay in front of the boss and wait for him to go down, without caring about anything else.

Also, in some cases around this forum, the announced DPS numbers are there only to catch your attention. This obviously isn't the case for all builds - there is a lot of great stuff around here -, but I advise everyone to be careful about what they read. We could also squeeze out 3,5kk DPS in Path of Building if we ignored all defensive bonus and just went for perfect offensive gear. This isn't something that would actually be doable in-game, though.

2. My friend said the only way to play Frost Blades is with a Raider. There are lots of guides for it, and no other one for Berserker. Isn't Raider much better?
Playing Raider is considerably different from playing Berserker. A Raider works great with the Touch of Anguish claw, getting chains of projectiles that can clear maps in general really fast. This build can't get that same clearspeed - even though we are fast, we won't be that fast. On the other hand, it would be really difficult to set up a Raider build that can survive the same hits this build can. This might not be a problem if you like to dodge things and can do so consistently. If you can't - or simply like to facetank things more -, then this build probably will be a better fit.
All things considered, I think both are fine choices. Take a look and see which style suits you more.

3. Is this build hardcore viable?
Kind of. While I have never played Hardcore myself, the build was designed to be pretty tanky, and it has no mechanic that makes HC play impossible. On the other hand, it does depend quite a lot on simply absorbing hits through a big life pool and being able to leech the lost life back quickly - if we stop leeching for any reason, we don't survive for long.
I've heard from one guy who said he was at level 70-ish on HHC with this build. I'm not sure what happened to him after that, though. If you ever play this build in HC, please let me know of your experience.

4. Is this build solo self-found viable?
Unless you manage to solo self-find a Terminus Est sword, unfortunately no. We do not stack enough critical strike chance to be able to do consistent damage with other items - and you'd need a secondary plan for frenzy charges. If you do have a Terminus Est sword though (maybe one that dropped for another char), then you're good to go. There's no other required item for the build.

5. Is this build Atziri viable?
Yes. However, you'll have to swap a couple gems around for the Atziri fight itself. Multistrike's second and third attack automatically target nearby enemies. This is deadly on Atziri's split-phase, as it will result in attacks against the mirror clone. To work around that, you must take off Multistrike. Use Ruthless instead. Also, swap Cold Penetration for Faster Attacks (otherwise your attacks will be too slow).
You'll also need to position yourself carefully during the split-phase. Stay with your back facing the mirror clone - otherwise projectiles might still end up hitting it.

6. I want to play the end-game. How far can this build bring me?
Right now, I sit at 121/126 atlas completion on Harbinger League. I'm only missing a couple of unique maps, Vaal Temple and Shaper. This has all been done with this build. Facing Guardians takes quite a bit of time, specially on budget gear, but it is doable. All the rest should be fine.

7. I'm following your build, but I die a lot/can't kill stuff/have another problem. What do I do?
If you happen to run into any troubles by following this build, post a comment here and I'll do my best to help. Also, make sure to set your profile to public, so I can take a look at your char. This would allow me to try to identify what the issue is.
Chris Wilson took my soul
Last edited by DanutMS on Oct 4, 2017, 3:32:40 PM
Chris Wilson took my soul
Chris Wilson took my soul
I've just started playing POE and I've picked this char up, thanks for the build. Up to 61 so far and enjoying it a lot.

One question I have, what's the reasoning behind 'point blank' as a passive? It seems the 50% bonus is quite short ranged, and Frost Blades already gives +20 to melee range.
Erelyes wrote:
I've just started playing POE and I've picked this char up, thanks for the build. Up to 61 so far and enjoying it a lot.

One question I have, what's the reasoning behind 'point blank' as a passive? It seems the 50% bonus is quite short ranged, and Frost Blades already gives +20 to melee range.

I'm happy to hear you're enjoying it. Please let me know if you run into any troubles.

As for point blank, it sinergizes well with Frost Blades because what matters is projectile travel distance, not where you are. For most skills, this will be the same as your distance to the mobs, meaning you have to be close to them in the first place, which gives the passive a huge drawback.

For Frost Blades, though, the projectile starts at the first mob you hit. The melee distance doesn't count. So if you first hit a mob that is half screen away with your melee attack, and then the projectiles go from that mob to other mobs near him, they will deal (substantial) extra damage. This allows us to get the benefit of Point Blank without having to be near the monsters we hit.

Of course, you'll still deal less damage if the projectiles travel too far. But as mobs tend to be close together, I feel we get much more out of the extra damage to targets close to the mob we first hit than we lose by not dealing as much damage to targets further away.

As for the bonus distance, the wiki has this image which should give an idea of how it is. Just remember we don't count from where we are, but from where the mob we've hit with the melee attack is.

I hope my answer cleared things up. If not, please say so. Also, sorry for taking a while to answer. Had some trouble with internet connection in the last days. I also wanted to update the Uniques section, but couldn't access the forum before today. So I'll try to do this in the next days.
Chris Wilson took my soul
I've been working on some build updates. The following changes have been made in the last days:

1) Updated the passive skill tree. Dropped Butchery and the two points leading to it, Acrobatics and all points after it, Acuity and the two points leading to it, the two life points near Thick Skin (that aren't required for Thick Skin itself), as well as the points for the extra frenzy charges. That has freed us 17 points.

One point hasn't been used (the build now ends on level 92). The other 16 of them have been spent for getting more critical strike chance, critical strike multiplier and life passives, as well as one more jewel slot. These changes give us around 6% more damage, a higher crit chance (increasing clearspeed), and increase our life total from +190% to +222%. The downside is that we lose Acrobatics and Phase Acrobatics dodge chance, meaning allmost every hit will hit us (as opposed to getting hit by around half of melee and 2/3 of spell hits like we had before).

My initial idea with Acrobatics and Phase Acrobatics was to avoid situations where we end up dying by being overwhelmed by enemies, who end up hitting us in quickly sucession. However, after playing for a while I felt that those rapid sucession hits aren't as dangerous as I first thought (also because we attack real fast - and thus leech real fast back to full). The big one shot hits end up being much more dangerous. Against those, stacking extra life is a more valuable defense.

I still ain't completely convinced of dropping Acrobatics/Phase Acrobatics, though. My main concern is about fighting twinned bosses (or maps that already have two bosses). My plan is to play a bit more with these situations in the next week or so, to see if I don't end rolling this change back. For now I feel the extra life helps us more, though.

EDIT: After playing around with all options, I ended up going for the extra life AND acrobatics/phase acrobatics. Instead, I dropped some damage-related skill points. This increased our survivability by a fair amount. It reduces our damage a bit, but it is barely noticeable on general mapping, and the extra survivability on bosses more than compensates for the couple of extra seconds needed to kill them.

2) Added the Pantheon Power section to the build.

3) Added the Enchantments section to the build.

4) Updated the Path of Building version. Besides updating the skill tree to reflect the changes stated above, it now has an example of a budget gear set and of a nearly perfect gear set, as well as all uniques that I find might be useful. I still haven't written about the uniques in the build guide, but plan to do so soon.

5) Added some new videos, including a T12 elemental reflect map. Those have been shot with around 60-70 chaos invested in the build.

6) Made some small changes to text in general, trying to make things clearer, as well as adding some extra new information.

In the next days, I plan on doing the following updates:
- Add the unique gear section
- Add gear links (rare gear examples, all uniques I own and might be useful)
- Add some images from Path of Building to showcase build DPS and other useful stats without the need to use Path of Building yourself.
- Make up my mind about the use of Acrobatics/Phase Acrobatics or plainly stacking life and update the build accordingly.
- Add a provisory leveling section, with general guidelines based on theory (meaning I don't actually leveled this way, but it's what seems logical to me).

Other changes that are planned, but might take a bit longer:
- Add the definitive leveling section (which will result in me needing to level a new character to test everything out)
- See how far the build can get without further investments + how far it can get with extra investment.
Chris Wilson took my soul
Last edited by DanutMS on Aug 28, 2017, 1:52:06 PM
I have also picked this build up for starting the game. Someone that got me into it got me a 6 link tabula rasa so I have the frost blades all linked up.

Am I supposed to turn on Hatred and Herald of Ice at the same time? That locks up like 80% of my mana.

Level 47 so far but dying really fast in act 6.
Rotanadan wrote:
I have also picked this build up for starting the game. Someone that got me into it got me a 6 link tabula rasa so I have the frost blades all linked up.

Am I supposed to turn on Hatred and Herald of Ice at the same time? That locks up like 80% of my mana.

Level 47 so far but dying really fast in act 6.

Have you already done the first labyrinth? Your character profile page tells me you haven't, so that probably is what is wrong.

After doing the first labyrinth you get to pick your ascendancy (berserker) and get the first two points for it. These go into the Pain Reaver ability, which allows you to leech 2% of damage as life and mana. Without that, it's almost impossible to sustain both Hatred and Herald of Ice. With it, you should be fine - as long as you hit something with your attacks, you'll get much more mana back than the attack costs.

Doing the labyrinth would grant you the ability to use both Hatred and Herald of Ice, and also give you life leech, which would help with survivability.

As for your survivability, the other problem is that your gear has considerably low resists. By the end of act 5 your resists receive a -30% penalty. If I counted it correctly, you currently have 54% lightning resistance, 33% fire resistance and 19% cold resistance. This means you're taking almost twice as much damage as someone who is capped (75% resistance) on lightning resistance, and around 3 times as much damage from cold and fire. This makes it really hard to survive, regardless of the build.

To fix that, you need to get gear with better resistances. If you have some currency to spend, you can search for it on poe.trade (just make sure to get something you can actually use, not something that requires a higher level to use). As an example, I've set up a search for gloves. Any of these, while not being end-game viable gloves, would be a big improvement over what you're using now.

Depending on how much currency you have, you might be able to do more or less upgrades. In any case, I'd say you must upgrade your gloves and your boots. Getting a higher resistance ring instead of that life one (preferably one that also has life, but resistances would be more important than life at this point for you) is also advisable.

Another thing you could do is use some of the respec points you gain during the main story, and get some resistance from your skill tree. Eagle Eye and the two points leading to it are used in this build, but they only make a significant difference further on (around level 70-80). For now, you could respec these three points.

Instead, spent two to get Diamond Skin (+15% elemental resistances), and the other one to get the jewel slot near your start. Buy yourself a jewel that has elemental resistances (if you can get other good mods then better, but for now even a jewel that has only elemental resistances would help, and those are really really cheap) and use it there.

If you can manage to get your resistances capped, you'll die much, much less frequently. Do that and do the labyrinth, and you'll be much better off. If you need, even respec two more points and get the Cloth and Chain passive. Just get yourself resist capped. It's a game changer, really.
Chris Wilson took my soul
Last edited by DanutMS on Aug 29, 2017, 10:54:45 PM
Awesome thanks for the input. Will try all of that out

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