[3.0] KevaeL's newbie-friendly Dark Pact Suicide Berserker

Hi there! I know that many of you might not care, but I'd like to say that this is my first guide, so have mercy if it doesn't sound or look very professional. Also, I'm not a native English-speaker, so there might be a few mistakes spread throughout the whole guide. I hope you'll forgive me for this as well :) .

How the build works

Dark Pact

Dark Pact is a spell (which means that it doesn't scale on your weapon's base damage) which can be cast either on skeletons or on yourself. It deals a fixed amount of damage which depends on the gem's level + 6% of your skeletons'/your maximum life (depending on the spell's target) in an area around the target. That same amount of life is sacrificed by the skeletons/the player in order to cast the spell. This sort of "damage" (which is not considered to be damage as it does not trigger effects such as Cast When Damage Taken and so on) can't kill the spell's target, and will leave them with 1 HP at worst.

The build relies on self-cast Dark Pact and it also uses spell echo, thus you will lose 12% of your maximum life per cast. Of course, this means that you somehow have to keep up with this life loss. That's why I decided to pick Berserker: its life leech ensures that we keep our HP levels high and, moreover, provides us a very good survivability.
Even though we don't care about reflect at all (we're dealing chaos damage), I decided to pick Vaal Pact in order to have that life leeched instantly.
The ways to boost your DPS are pretty simple: get as much life from the tree and from your gear, and then get cast speed, spell damage, chaos damage and so on. Your life is a mean to enhance your survivability and, at the same time, is converted to spell base damage, thus being very valuable.

Why I'm not using skeletons

Before the league started, I had planned a build which would rely on Spell Totems to summon skeletons and then use them to cast Dark Pact without wasting my HPs. When I switched to the actual build (around level 65), the damage was as good as I thought, but there were some major issues that I had not considered which made the build unreliable:
Both the totems and the skeletons weren't as tanky as I thought and every single boss with decent AOE would kill them before I could damage them at all, and all I could do was running around hoping that the totems wouldn't die before casting at least a few skeletons;
I couldn't directly control the totems nor the skeletons, which means that I couldn't focus the monsters I wanted to kill first;
Wither is a way bigger boost then I thought at first, and running Spell Totem + Summon Skeletons would prevent us from being able to use it, which is another big DPS loss.

However, you still could use Vaal Summons Skeletons for bosses, but the facts that you can only use it once during a fight and that the skeletons' AI is pretty bad for our aims convinced me not to run skeletons at all.

Pros and Cons

Very good survivability (5k+ HP, lots of evasion, 3% life leech on any mob but curse-immune ones, on which you'll "only" have 1%, and 100% life leech when you're dealt a savage hit);
Good damage on both single target and multiple targets (for bosses you're going to switch to CE, which boosts your single-target DPS to very, VERY high levels);
Quite cheap (the most expensive piece of gear I'm running right now is a 5-link Pledge of Hands, which is about 40 chaos);
Runs 2 curse auras (and a 50% aura of your choice as soon as you get your hands on a level 3-4 Enlighten);
Reflect immune (we're dealing chaos damage, so we don't have to worry at all about that, which is nice);
Can possibly run any map except those with "Can not leech";
Doesn't rely on the bad AI of skeletons;
Atziri-destroyer (I will try ASAP to kill uber atziri as well)

Sometimes, especially when in a group, it gets a little tricky to keep your HP levels high because you need to get close to mobs first and then cast DP, whereas in the meanwhile a ranged player might have already killed them all, making you waste 12% of your life;
For the same reason, it might not have the same map clearspeed of a ranged build, even though DP with Increased Area of Effect covers something like 70% of your screen.

Levelling section

I used Sunder through Act 1 to Act 10 and the only time when I struggled was at Act 5 because I was very undergeared, but as soon as I bought a good leveling 2H mace I pretty much breezed through every act and a little bit of mapping with ease. You might also decide to use totems (they're widely known to be a good levelling strategy).
While levelling, you want to pick as many nodes that boost your Sunder damage which you'll respec later on and, at the same time, try to make your tree look like the finished one. This is why some nodes in the levelling skill trees might look sub-optimal: they might be just a mean to stick as close to your end-game tree, thus having to respec fewer skill points.

Skill tree


31 points


50 points


At this point, you can either decide to invest a little more points to improve your sunder damage or stick to your finished tree. If you're struggling to get past the last acts I would definitely pick the first skill tree, which is the one that focuses on boosting sunder (however, a mace which decent physical DPS should be more than enough to go all the way through to maps), otherwise you can go for the second one. It also depends on how much currency you have: if you've just started the league/you're a new player, you'll probably have little to no currency to spend on regrets, so you'd better go for the second tree.

First tree (+Sunder -Dark Pact), 70 points


Second tree (-Sunder +Dark Pact)



I did respec somewhere around level 65, which means after the end of the main quest-line, after defeating Kitava, but I think it may be better to wait until level 70, which means after you've begun mapping. The main reason for this is the fact that in your early-mapping levels you will struggle to kill rare and unique monsters because you won't be able to keep up with Dark Pact's life loss. This means that you're going to die quite often, thus slowing your levelling.
Also, you HAVE TO obtain at least the first 2 ascendancy points before switching to the actual build, and that is because they are going to be your only reliable life-leech source for quite a long time.

74 points


Level 83 (106 points)


From this point on your skill tree choices will depend on your preferences. Here are the best choices you can make with your last points:
On the right of the Marauder's start, you'll see a juicy life node. You can go there and spend as many points as you want, which will drastically increase your survivability and, at the same time, boost your damage. Also, there are a few life points that we've skipped next to the notables (the ones with the narrow golden frame) we've already picked. Those are a very good investment as well, especially the ones which provide you both +% Evasion and life (if you're playing Evasion);
You can pick the spell damage points at the Witch's start;
You can pick the chaos damage points at the Shadow's start. However, the mentioned above spell damage points are slightly better as they provide you 2% additional increased damage.

My current tree, level 90 (113 points)


Bandits, Ascendancy, Pantheon


Kill all. In my opinion, none of the bandits' rewards is worth as much as 2 passive skill points, even though Kraytin might be a very solid choice as well, especially if you're playing Evasion.


Normal Lab: Pain Reaver
This bad boy is pretty much the only reason why this build exists. Without it, you couldn't keep up your Dark Pact spam, which is the very basic mechanic of the build.
Cruel Lab: Crave the Slaughter
Not very useful for our build (we don't use attacks), but the movement speed is nice and it allows you to pick from your
Merciless Lab: Aspect of Carnage
40% more damage is huge. It's like having an additional support gem, but without wasting a socket in your weapon. 10% more damage taken might sound like a lot, but remember that we're running a high HP build and that we instantly recover 100% of the damage we deal for the next 4 seconds after we've taken a savage hit (a hit that deals at least 15% of our maximum life).
Uber Lab: Cloaked in Savagery
This is what makes the build a great boss killer. Thanks to this single bonus, you can facetank anything that doesn't OHKO you (including Atziri's storm calls and flameblasts).


Major god: The Brine King
It might sound like something not-so-impactful, but trust me, this is a huge bonus to both your clear speed and your survivability. This single power-up prevents you from being stun-locked or freeze-locked, which, as we're playing a melee-like build, are two of the main threats to this build.

Minor god: Garukhan/Tukohama/Ryslatha
This choice depends on your playstyle. Garukhan is probably the best choice for map clearing once you unlock its power-up, but I'm currently running Tukohama because I like sitting next to bosses and spamming Dark Pact without having to worry about their attacks.
Ryslatha might also be a solid choice for a "hit-and-run" playstyle and for tougher bosses, but I'm not the kind of player who likes avoiding stuff and running in circles waiting for the flasks to refill xD .

Gem links
Dark Pact
Dark Pact
Increased Area of Effect (for map clearing)/Concentrated Effect (for single-target)
Added Chaos Damage
Controlled Destruction
Void Manipulation (for 5-links)
Faster Casting/Arcane Surge if you're not playing Cospri's Will, whereas you could also use Vile Toxins/Poison/Lesser poison if you are (for 6-links)

Wither Totem
Wither + Spell Totem + Faster Casting + Increased Duration

Auras (gotta put those in your Heretic's Veil)
Temporal Chains + Warlord's Mark + Haste/Grace + Enlighten

Vaal Haste + Immortal Call
Vaal Haste + Immortal Call + Increased Duration + Cast When Damage Taken

Movement skill
You can use either:
Lightning Warp + Faster Casting + Less Duration
Flame Dash + Faster Casting


You can either use Flame Golem or Lightning Golem, though the latter should give you the better DPS boost.


My weapon of choice is Pledge of Hands, and there are 2 main reasons for that. First of all, if you're playing either evasion or armor, it's going to be very tough to get 5 off-colours on your chest, especially at the beginning of the league. Secondly, it allows you to run an additional support on your main skill, which greatly enhances your DPS.

However, you might also decide some different setups:
Double Apep's Rage;
Apep's Rage + shield;
Rare sceptre/wand + shield,
but you won't be able to play a Kaom's Heart as you would have no room for a 6-link setup.

If you're running evasion and Cospri's Will, it makes little to no sense to play any other helmet than Heretic's Veil.
If you're running evasion but aren't using Cospri's Will, you could still use it, but probably a helmet with lots of life and resistances would be better as it allows you to cap your res more easily and to focus more on getting life on the rest of your equipment, which boosts your base damage, thus being very valuable.
If you're not running armour at all, you definitely should use a rare helmet with those stats.

Body Armour
I'm currently playing a Cospri's Will and there are 2 main reasons for that: it allows you to play an additional curse (we're using a Heretic's Veil, which means that your enemies will always be cursed unless they're curse immune) and it gives you a cool DPS boost thanks to the poison.
It also allows you to run Vile Toxins, which should be a HUGE boost to your dps but I can't confirm that because I haven't tried it yet. The fact that you can curse Hexproof enemies is cool as well, and you get some juicy evasion as well.

You could also use a Cherrubim's Maleficence both if you're running Armour and if you're running Evasion as it gives you a pretty good damage boost.
Both Carcass Jack and Belly of the Beast should be very good choices as well, but they're still pretty expensive so I wouldn't reccomend using them at the start of the league.

However, none of them might be our end-game choice. If you're running Armour, the absolute best piece of gear might be Kaom's Heart. It gives you some Armour and TONS of HP, which doesn't only boost your survivability, but greatly enhances your base damage as well. Unfortunately, in Harbinger League (which is the one I'm playing right now) it's still one of the most expensive body armour, so I wouldn't reccomend it as a league-starter.


At the moment I'm running:
2 life flasks (one of them has anti-freeze, the other one anti-bleeding);
A Quicksilver Flask with added movement speed and -% charges used;
Jade flask with added evasion and -% charges used;
An Atziri's Promise for the added life leech, even though another Quicksilver Flask may well be a better choice.

The rest of your equipment should consist of high HP and evasion/armour rares. Of course you want your resistances to be capped, and you can also get some nice DPS boosts from your amulets, rings and gloves. And don't forget that juicy movement speed on your boots :) .


15/08: Corrected a few mistakes
16/08: Leveled up to 90! Changed the current skill tree
17/08: Removed some abbreviations in order to make the text easier to understand
20/08: Added a Flask section

That's it for now. If this guide had any success, I might decide to make some little neat visual upgrades and provide some videos for you guys of me running Atziri, high tier maps and stuff like that (even though right now I'm playing on a potato PC with a potato connection, so won't be easy for me to do so haha). I hope you'll enjoy my build :) .
Last edited by Kevael on Aug 20, 2017, 5:23:16 AM
Last bumped on Aug 20, 2017, 5:25:28 AM
nice build ! :)
Great job bro !!
Best build ever :D
Thank you all for the kind comments! I've made a few corrections, updated my current skill tree and created a changelog, and I'll try to upload a few videos of me running high tier maps and atziri ASAP :)
Could you please type out the full names of the gems, i cant decipher whatever it is you have typed.
Done! Tell me if you still have difficulties understanding anything :)
looks much better!

you should also add a section for flasks.
Can you set your Profile not private? or Path of Building link pls :)
Added a Flask section, I hope it helps :) .
I set my profile to public, but ATM I'm using a different character and I borrowed some pieces of gear from the Dark Pact one, so there are a few slots unfilled.

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