[Not quite 3.7] A Simple Cleaver (Beginner friendly, SSF-viable, Much Explanation)

A Simple Cleaver : A wordy guide

Additional Information:
1. This build is HC-viable (according to someone trying it out)
2. This build was written vor 3.0, but none of it's mechanics changed for 3.1, so it should still be as viable as in 3.1 as in 3.0.
3. The ascendency changes from 3.1 to 3.2 did switched "Blood in the Eyes" and "Gratuitous Violence", in the end it did not chance anything for the completed build, only slightly for the leveling process
4. No changes to Duelist, Gladiator or Cleave in Version 3.3, so it should be good to go even now.
5. For 3.4 still no changes to duelist, gladiator or cleave. Actually, Cleave did change... it looks better now!
6. And again no changes to anything involving this build in 3.5. Should be as viable as ever!
7. As for 3.6 again, nothing changed. Ok, Cleave got actually buffed. You can now hit 40 enemies at once instead of 20.

Important Note:
Transforming the build from a 3.6 Skilltree to a 3.7 Skilltree removes about 5 Skillpoints, so nearly everything is still in place.
The basics are not really different from 3.6 to 3.7, so the playstyle is still the same, the weapons are the same, the way the build works in total is still the same. So nothing changes, except a little bit of the skill tree.
But as I have neither the will nor the time to re-play the build to figure out if everything still works the same for the whole leveling process I will not update the build.
You can still use it as a guide line if you want, but take it with a grain of salt, that I can't guarantee everything.
It could point you in the right direction for a simple build, but it will no longer take your hand along the way.

This build is NOT, and I repeat NOT, made to clear everything, facetank everything or kill everything with the press of a button in light speed.
It is a build that's quick to start, easy to level and gets slightly more complex as the game advances.
It is able to play endgame, if you learn to play a bit and not take risks you do not have to take.
Another feature is, that it's easy to gear. I played this game SSF (Solo Self Found = No trading, no partying) until I hit yellow maps or about level mid 70s.
I made it up to lvl 90 and am playing red maps comfortably. I will probably never take down the highest and most difficult endgame bosses of the game, but that is not the goal of this build.
So, if you're new and want to delete everything, look elsewhere. If you're new and want to learn a thing or two, stay a while an listen.

Additional Note:
Questions asked are answered in the thread itself, but not included in this post, to keep it from being too lengthy.

Highest map (I have) beaten so far:
[3.0] T15, Dark Forest, 100% (deathless, no portaling out) (Additional Boss HP, no damage mods)

Part 1: Playstyle

The playstyle is basically a fast attacking melee character wielding two weapons.
You dash from one pack of monsters to another, dish out your damage to literally explode them (more later) and dash towards the next pack of monsters.
You use a bit more skills as you go, especially against bosses, but ultimately you have 1 Attack, 2 Movement Skills and 2-3 Supporting Skills.
During Leveling, you use another Attack, bringing you up to 2 different attacking skills. This is, to make leveling more smooth and not having to bother with the downsides your main attack has early on.

Part 2: Gearing

Gear is actually easy to come by for this character. Your weapons of choice are swords and axes.
In the beginning, you take the strongest axe or sword you can find and go with that.
Luckily, this build does not use advanced types of damaging, so you can go for your Tooltip DPS to see what's actually the most damage.

Because you will be taking some resistance nodes in the skill tree you will have easier time capping your resists (75%) and will not need special gear.
A little bit resists on some pieces, not even all of them, will easily net you all you need.
So, mostly you will try to get items with HP and a little bit of resistances. Physical Damage is nice to have, if you can get it, but it's not essential.
This build can equip dexterity based, strength based or str-dex-mixture type of armour easily.
Try to get your body armour strength based. Str-based armour has the easiest time rolling red sockets, and you need those for your main attack.

Part 3: Defenses

This build has several layers of defense, making it quite tanky. But despite all that tankyness, the HP are on the low to mediocre side. You can facetank some things most of the time, but you should not try to facetank everything.
Manually evading big attacks is something you should learn.
You can make some error during play, most of the time it is rather forgiving. But making too many errors will lead to your death. From those deaths, you should learn and reduce the amount of errors you do.

So, to the defenses:
- This build has a little bit of armour, reducing physical damage taken from small hits.
- It has some amount of evasion, letting you evade some more punishing hits.
- It has a mediocre amount of block, letting you block some hits (in the end it will be around 40-48% of attacks blocked).
- It has a small amount of life regeneration, letting you heal small hits without having to use potions inbetween fights.
- The skill "Arctic Armour" is used, which reduces physical and fire damage taking when you're standing still, which you do, when you're actually attacking.
- The build is able to make enemies bleed and has the advantage of taking less damage from bleeding enemies.
- You will have a support skill that has a chance to blind enemies, increasing your evasion against those by 50%. It's used for bosses that use attacks.
- You will also get Fortify, which reduces all damage from hits by 20% (does nothing against damage over time, though).
- Upon finishing your build it will get your block chance against attacks as additional block chance against spells, meaning you also take less damage from enemy spellcasters.
- This build has some amount of life leech, letting you heal while attacking and doing damage.
- And lastly: You will get a fast movement skill, to dash in or out of combat or sticky situations. Not really a passive defense like the rest, but it helps actively doging stuff.

Part 4: Skills


Main Skill: Cleave
This skill attacks with both weapons at once, doing damage from both, in an area in front of you.
As the skill level increases so does the area you damage.

Additional Leveling Attack: Charged Dash
This skill lets you charge through a pack and deal damage to everything between the start and the end point of your dash.
It get's used during leveling, when speed and area of Cleave is not yet up to par.

Some people do not want to use charged dash, or do not enjoy its gameplay.
Below, in spoilers, I will outline a few different options you could use the slots for (taken from a post of mine).

If you're content with Cleave and nothing else, I have 4 things for you to try:
1. Defensive 1
Cast When Damage taken (cwdt) lvl 1, Immortal Call (lvl 1-3), Increased Duration (level as high as possible)
Reason: Immortal Call makes you invulnerable to physical damage. Triggered by cwdt it does not help against the first hit (oneshot), but it helps against every other hit afterwards. For example the spike monsters in the imperial gardens explode on death. Those can hit you a dozen or more times in less than a second. Immortal Call helps greatly here. Cwdt lvl 1 to trigger it as often as possible.
2. Defensive 2
Enduring Cry, Increased Duration, Blood Magic, (maybe Increased Area of Effect)
Reason: If you like more active defense you can use enduring cry to generate Endurance Charges. Every Charges gives you 4% ELemental Resistance (not relevant) and reduces physical damage by a flat 4%. So 3 Endurance Charges mean 12% reduced physical damage taken.
Increased Duration means, that the regeneration effect of Enduring cry lasts longer (it does not help with duration of endurance charges, only the hp regeneration of enduring cry itself)
3. Offensive
Vaal Double Strike (+ Damage Multipliers)
Reason: If you are comfortable with the defense, you can use this more burst damage against bosses. The clones from Vaal Double Strike can be really brutal in terms of dealing damage. But you have to charge them first.
4. Offense-Defense-Mix:
Cast when damage taken (a level you prefer) + Your Golem
Reason: The golem dies rather easly later. If you link it to cast when damage taken you can't cast it yourself, but it will be resummoned in the thick of battle without you having to lift a finger.

Supporting Skill 1: Blood Rage
This is a buff, that lets you lose 4% life per second, but gives you increased attack speed, life leech capabilities and lets you gain Frenzy Charges, which boost damage and attack speed.
This build will get enough life regeneration, so you will not lose life through blood rage.

Supporting Skill 2: Ancestral Protector
This skill creates a totem that uses a single target melee attack. While the totem is out, you will have increased attack speed.
This will later be linked with Melee Splash, making the Single target attack into a AoE-Attack, and it will be linked to blind, to... well... blind enemies.
As it's stationary you will mostly use it against bosses or strong encounters.

Supporting Skill 3: Stone Golem
This skill creates a minion, that walks beside you, attacks enemies and gives you a life regeneration buff.
This is a nice addition early on, but later the golem dies rather easily, so you can ditch it later, if you want.

Movement Skill 1: Whirling Blades
If you're using at least one sword you can use this skill to dash a short distance, ignoring enemy collision.
Because of generall attack speed increase for this build, it will get quite fast and later on be faster than normally walking.
EDIT: As for 3.5 you probably need two swords to use this skill.

Movement Skill 2: Leap Slam
This skill let's you jump across gaps or up/down cliffs. It's used for complementing whirling blades, to easily traverse terrain.

Defensive Skill 1: Arctic Armour
As stated above, this skill reduces physical and fire damage taken when you're standing still. It also chills enemies that land a hit on you, slowing them.
Activating this skill will reserve 25% of your mana.

Defensive Skill 2: Grace
This skill increases your evasion for the cost of 50% of your mana reserved. Combined with arctic armour, it reserves 75% of your mana and lets you use 25%, which is more than enough to do everything you want.

Curse: Poacher's Mark
Poacher's Mark is a curse, that makes you more likely to hit cursed enemies, gain mana/life per hit against cursed enemies, has a chance to give you frenzy charges from killing cursed enemies and lets you get more flask charges from killing cursed enemies.
It's not an important skill in this build, and you can easily do without it, but in the early game it is actually a nice addition. For example, linking it with "Cast when damage taken".

Part 5: Support Gems

1. Brutality
2. Melee Physical Damage
3. Multistrike
4. Maim
5. Ruthless

Cleave will be supported with strong physical gems. Brutality has an insane amount of damage, but you can't deal elemental damage anymore (thus you want physical weapons)
All in all, it's just simply: "Take the most damage you can find"
On a side note: Do not use blood lust. It gives nice damage against bleeding enemies, but removes the ability to inflict bleeding. You want to inflict bleeding with cleave.

Charged Dash:
1. Chance to Bleed
2. Melee Physical Damage
3. Faster Attacks

Charged Dash is used for clearing out packs of monsters in the mid-level range.
It's supported to increased its damage potential and increase the chance to bleed.
Bleeding enemies explode on death (due to an ability of this build), dealing damage to other enemies around them.
Having a high chance to make enemies bleed can result in dashing once to let the whole pack explode, due to survivors of the attack being taken out by the explosions

Ancestral Protector:
1. Blind
2. Melee Splash

Ancestral Protector is support for increasing your damage and blinding bosses. So you support it to blind and in case of more than 1 boss, make it able to hit them all.
You can support it further to increase its damage, duration or survivability, but that's if you got slots to spare.

Whirling Blades:
1. Blood Magic
2. Faster Attacks

Whirling Blades is quite fast in this build, so you want to use it often instead of walking. Because you're not a mana factory, your mana will run dry if you keep using whirling blades.
But because you got some life regeneration, you can put it's cost on your life and never run dry. Faster Attacks will obviously whirl faster.
EDIT: If you are unable to use this skill, you can switch it with Leap Slam, with the same supports as this, so Blood Magic and Faster Attacks.

Leap Slam:
Optional: Culling Strike

Leap Slam is not used much, mostly to traverse terrain, so you can easily pay it's mana cost. It also does not have much damage potential in this build.
You can support it however you want, like faster attacks to make you jump faster.
I personally have it supported with culling strike, which instantly kills anything below the 10% HP mark. Which is good against really high HP targets, to just kill them just a little bit quicker.
Just jump on them when they have less then 10% life and they're dead instantly.
EDIT: Use this skill with Blood Magic and faster attacks if you are unable to use whirling blades.

Poacher's Mark:
Optional: Cast When Damage Taken
Combining Poacher's Mark with Cast when damage taken will occasionally cast it on targets that hurt you. It's not constantly on and not an amazing buff, but it can help you sustain yourself a bit better against bosses.

Grace, Arctic Armour, Blood Rage, Summon Stone Golem.

The rest of the gems is not supported, because it's not needed.
Supporting Grace or Arctic Armour will only increase their mana cost, so you don't want that.
Blood Rage has not much supports it can use, and does not really need them.
Summon Stone Golem would actually profit from Supports, like Minion Life, but this build lacks the intelligence to actually push this to high levels.

Part 6: Skill Tree

Here's the link for the Path of Building Pastebin:
It's not the theoretical character but my actual character that's featured.

I divided the skill tree into 6 steps in chronological order for you to complete.

Level 90:
First and foremost, the complete skill tree, made for level 90.
And now, to the steps:

Step 1:
Take the Attack Speed point at the start of the Duelist first.
After that, head "straight" to Revelry.
Revelry is really useful early on, as it lets you attack without needing to use a mana potion.
On the way to revelry, we take a little bit of life and damage that's easy to come by.

You do not need the single Accuracy node near Dervish, because you will get enough dexterity and using 2 swords will make you easily break the 90% Hit Chance mark.

Step 2:
Going further, you want to grab Ambidexterity, as that gives you a nice bonus to your damage.
Along the way grab the Jewel socket as well as life.
The Jewel socket can support the "Overwhelming Odds" jewel later on, and until then you can socket any jewel you find in there.

Step 3:
Pathing. Simple and stupid, pathing.
Because you're still low level your level ups will come quickly, so it's best to get the most annoying and useless part of the skill tree out of the way: The path to useful nodes.
Somewhere along the line you should have your first Izaro fight in the labyrinth.
He may be a difficult fight, but weaving in and out of close range is the key.
Exploring the lab for some Dark Shrine effects and clearing all of Izaros mechanics during his fights will make it a lot easier.
The first Ascendency Points you get will be put into "Gratuitous Violence"
It will help you clear packs slightly faster and increases your damage. It's one of the key nodes to pick, so do it.

Step 4:
Damage and Resistances.
This step focuses on taking the remaining damage and resistance nodes, as well as taking the single leech node at the bottom of the duelist.
Resistances are important, as, after Kitava, you will lose 30% of them. Having them in the tree makes it far easier to select the gear you want and still cap resistances.
The focus is on damage nodes, because you will probably not yet need the life nodes.
With Overwhelming Odds kicking in and Arctic Armour and Grace giving you even more survivability you can tank most things the story throws at you.
Be carefull with damage over time, though, it hurts a lot.

As with Izaro 1, Izaro 2 is still a tough fight where you have to manage your positioning and your time to attack, because he really hurts.
If you got fortify from Overwhelming Odds he probably can't kill you in one hit, but best try not to test it.
The Ascendency Points you get from him you will put into "Blood in the Eyes"
Blood in the eyes boosts your bleeding capabilities, bringing you to a 50% Chance to inflict bleeding.
You should've noticed the exploding enemies by now, Blood in the eyes will boost the availability of those explosions.
But that's not the main point why to take it. 6% Reduced Damage taken from bleeding enemies is.
You should be able to rather comfortable clear packs of enemies, yet still sometimes struggle with bosses or big hitting enemies.
Blood in the eyes makes those fights easier, as at some point the enemy will bleed, and thus do less damage to you.

Step 5:
The last damage
During this leveling period you will path towards "Path of the Warrior", going through those life nodes, also taking "Constitution" for its big bonus.

Talking about Izaro 3, he should be somewhat easier than 1 and 2, if you explore the lab, get a dark shrine and annihilate his mechanics.
The Ascendency Points you get from him you will put into "Painforged".
On a side note: Because you are melee, it's unlikely that you will get much use of the damage bonus it provides, because you will get hit and damaged at some point.
But because of that we can clearly say, this node will get us 8% Block Chance (with the node in front of it, thats a nice 10% Block Chance).
Your Mapping phase can start, you're good to go against most attacking threads. Spells will come later.

Step 6:
Level 90
This is the full tree to take.
You take more HP, HP and HP. This will turn you from a weakling to an actually quite tanky mapping character.
You will gain damage from leveling your gems, while your survivability increaes with each level up.
Somewhere along the way you can reset Revelry and use those 3 points you get to skill Duality for more damage.
You should have enough damage to get enough mana through the 0,4% Leech and won't need those 2 Mana/Enemy anymore.

The last Izaro is a tough fight, but can be beaten if you're careful.
With enough Life on your gear, you should be able to survive a hit if you make a mistake.
But if you keep your blinding totem up and manually evade his big attacks (even if he's blinded, you better do not try stupid things) you should be good to go.

The points you get from him are actually quite nice, as they give you an insane amount of spell block.
You put them in "Versatile Combatant".
You should have about 40% Block, and that turns into an additional 40% Spell block. Which means approximatly 40% less damage from spells.
You're able to tackle many more things now.

Part 6.5: Bandits

In Act 2 you get the choice as to help a bandit or kill all, depending on who you help, or kill all, the reward changes.

The recommended Choice would be: Kill all bandits

Killing all bandits will reward 2 skill points. Another potential option is Help Oak.

The reason behind my recommendation for killing all the bandits:
Oak gives this build some physical resistance, damage and life regeneration.
The reward of killing all bandits is 2 skill points.
Those skill points make it easier to "finish" the build, meaning you will have an easier time accessing those life node in the higher levels.
A higher life pool has two benefits over Oak: You will survive stronger hits slightly easier, as you can take more punishment.
The other benefit is, that life leech is capped at 20% of your maximum life per second. Having a higher life pool means, the leech cap is also higher, and thus giving you a better sustain during combat than the 1% life regeneration from Oak would give.
The damage you get from Oak is also not a real factor. "Finishing" the build with Oak means, you have reached Level 92 and grabbed all the life nodes.
When you reach Level 92 with 2 additional Skill points you can invest those into damage, and there are points available that give you actually more damage than the 10% from Oak.
The only thing Oak has over 2 Skill points is the 4% physical damage reduction.
This means taking slightly less damage from physical hits.

But the physical reduction of this build is not that bad, as Arctic Armour reduces physical damage by a large amount. Your Totem, supported with Blind, also lets most big physical threats easily miss you.

Thus, the choice is: Kill all Bandits

A quick run down of the other Bandit Choices:

Kraityn gives attack speed, move speed and a little bit of attack dodge.
This build is already attacking really fast, at more than 8 Attacks per second with Frenzy Charges, Blood Rage and Ancestral Protector. It does not need additional attack Speed.
Movement is also mostly done via movement skills, which scales off attack speed, thus Movement Speed is not really needed.
The last point, Attack Dodge, is a feeble 3%. While Dodge is in fact quite strong, because this build does not have any Attack Dodge, the 3% Additional are quite useless.
It results in a 3% Damage reduction against attacks, but as with oak you lose your bigger life pool and better sustain during combat.

Alira gives you elemental resistances, mana regeneration and critical multiplier.
Mana regeneration is not needed for this build. Once you got to Alira you would probably already have Revelry, or be near it, thus eliminating the need for mana reg.
This build is not meant to go for a large amount of critial hits. There is no critical hit chance in the skill tree, so all critical comes from the weapon. If the weapon you use does not have a high critical chance the multiplier from Alira turns out empty.
This leaves you with the elemental resistances. While resistances can be a problem for some builds, this build already has 61% Resistances in the skill tree, meaning you just need 74% more resistances each across all your gear, which shouldn't be much of a problem to fill.
And again, you end up with a slightly lower life pool at level 90 than with the 2 additional skill points.

Part 6.6: Pantheon


Pantheon is usually a defensive boost, so we try to boost the worst defense the build has.
That is: Damage over Time and Chaos Damage
For that purpose as main Pantheon I recommend Arakaali

As for Minor Pantheons, there are a few you can take.

Soul of Tukohama
Tukohama gives physical resistance while stationary and life regeneration.
It's nice if you're doing easier maps where you can facetank a lot of stuff. It makes you able to facetank even more stuff.

Soul of Gruthkul
In a smiliar vein to Tukohama this does give you damage resistance for getting hit. It's good if you need more physical resistance on the run.

Soul of Ralakesh
Bleeding is always dangerous, so it's nice if you have a chance to simply avoid it. This is also the Pantheon that's most useful in the Labyrinth.
If you improve it you gain immunity to maim and blind, both rare yet annoying debuffs.

Soul of Ryslatha
If you actually enjoy difficult content where you can easily die and have to run around a lot, while not killing a lot, or for drawn out boss fights Ryslatha is really nice, as it makes your life flasks always usable and in dire need they are stronger.

Soul of Shakari
This is probably my go to Minor Pantheon. It's simply nice to reduce random chaos damage, which you can't anticipate in most maps.
Being immune to poison altogether is a nice little bonus also.

Part 7: Leveling

In the skill tree section, you see a little bit about the progression of the build, going mostly for damage early on, taking HP later when you're doing harder content.

Leveling is actually straight forward.
You get Cleave after you beat Hillock in Twilight strand, so you actually get your main skill at level 2.
You will want to support it with your most damaging support gems you can get. Chance to bleed is a good contender for starters.
The weapons you will use are axes and swords. Probably axes at first, because they do more raw damage. But if you find a good sword, use it.
Try to keep to pure physical damage, because later on you will lose the ability to do anything else than physical with cleave.
But until you socket Brutality you can do elemental damage and it does not hurt you to use elemental weapons.

In the beginning the build will be kind of slow, because you do not have much area of effect. You will oneshot most enemies, but still take a few attacks to clear a pack.
Bosses may take some manual dodging to fully clear.
Do not stand in stuff that hurts you more than you anticipate. Keep moving if you're afraid of some hits.

You can get your Ancestral Protector at an early level, and blind is also not far away. Take both and try to get gear where you can link them.
Ancestral Protector boosts your attack speed and blinds bosses. What more do you want for boss fights?

You will chug along, slowly decimating your enemies, getting stronger ever so slowly.
Meaning, this build is not yet fast and can be somewhat sluggish to clear everything.
Don't try to chase the apes in Act 2, you will just needlessly exhaust yourself.
Oh, and take Arctic Armour when you have the chance. You will be able to buy it at Yeena after you've beaten the Quest "The Root of the problem".

After you beat Gravicius in the "Sever the Right Hand" Quest in Act 3, things will look much better.
You will get the "Charged Dash" attack skill.
Equip it, support it, do things that were hard with Cleave: Kill groups of monsters.
Charged Dash will be your go to for clearing packs, as it's much faster than cleave in this regard (at least now).
Still try to have cleave in your most linked item and support it the most. Charged Dash does enough damage with little support.
So in the end you will spend most of your time now like that:
Dash through a pack, Cleave the remains, Ancestral Protector and Cleave against bosses.

And pick up Grace while you're in Act 3. You'll get it as reward after "Lost in Love".

Slowly, every so slowly, Cleave will get more area of effect and you will have a better time with it.
Once you got a 4-linked item cleave becomes quite strong (if you keep your weapons up to date).

Later on, you will do a quest that nets you a Threshold Jewel. Pick Overwhelming Odds. No need to buy it or being lucky in dropping it. Just get it from the quest.

This Jewel transforms Cleave into a nice clear skill.
First of all, it gives you free fortify, which tremendously boosts your survivability. And secondly it increases your area of effect for each monster that's nearby.
So standing in front of a pack lets you, most likely, attack the whole pack now.

As you pick up speed and damage while leveling (and keep your weapon up to date, most likely using swords now) cleave will more and more outpace Charged Dash.
The reason being, you will get more attack speed and area of effect on cleave, but Dash will still move at the same speed, becoming slower and slower in comparison.

Once you got enough life regeneration (4% or more) start using Blood Rage (available at Yeena after "Root of the Problem").
It will boost your attack speed and increase your life leech capabilities, helping you kill things faster and surviving easier. If you struggle to find enemies fast enough to keep it active you can support it with "Increased Duration", so you have to recast it less often.

The Golem in Act 4 is a nice early addition to your survivability. It gives you a decent amount of life regeneration.
Problem being, you probably have to recast it quite often.
Later on, once it starts dying too often and you can sustain yourself enough, you can ditch it.

Once you are into maps and you feel like your clear speed is dropping too much (for me it was the case at the start of yellow maps)
I suggest spending a few chaos on gear.

I bought 2 Scaeva for 1 Chaos Orb each, and bought me a second Overwhelming Odds for another Chaos orb.
Scaeva is not a rare item, so you may have luck and drop it yourself.
(I recommend it, because it's a cheap weapon with a surprising amount of physical damage. Of course you can find similiar or even better weapons yourself (or via trade))

After that your clearing will probably get an amazing boost.
You will also probably start zipping around with Whirling Blades now (or earlier), because it'll be faster than moving normally at some point.

Part 7.5: Actual Gear

This build does not have high requirements in regards to gear, and can be played SSF.
Still I'd like to show you the items my character is actually wearing.

I bought both of these, but shortly after buying them I got one Scaeva to drop myself.

Saceva is an easy to aquire high physical damage sword, so it's a good choice for gearing cheaply and effectively. Any other high Physical Damage Axe or Sword is also a viable option.

I did buy the 5L Body Armour for cheap, because I did not drop a 5 linked armour based body armour, and as I'm not dedicated to SSF, I rather bought it than made it myself.

The body armour is strength based, because all support gems for Cleave are red, and strength based armour has an easier time rolling red sockets.
The other parts are simply Dexterity or Strength based armour types I found that had the highest life values along with some resists. Nothing too outlandish to aquire.

Everything found myself.

Bloodgrip was a lucky drop for me, as it complements the build really well. It does boost your damage, it gives you additional life, and it helps going fast, because the risk of dying to normal bleeding is rather low. You should notice it before it kills you and use a staunching flask to cleanse it.
The other items are again simply items that give a few extra hit points and resistances. One of the rings luckily also gets a little bit of physical damage.

Those are all simply crafted.

At the moment, this build runs 2 flasks against bleeding, one flask against freeze and one flask against curses.
2 HP Flasks for helping sustain in fights while also getting life faster between fights, if you so need it. It does not use an instant flask, so it has to weave in and out of fights sometimes to not die, but the overall life you can get from those flasks is rather high (and still fast).
Utility flasks are Silver for the onslaught bonus, which nicely boosts your damage.
Quartz and Aquamarine Flasks are used for defensive purposes, reducing the damage you take as well as force everything around you to be chilled. Blind can be taken care of by the totem, so a Stibnite flask is not needed, but can still be used.
Other useful utility flasks are amethyst when you're encountering large amounts of chaos damage, sulphur, for a little bit extra sustain when you're in the middle of a sustained fight (like during harbinger fights). Against heavy hitting physical threats, that are not (yet) blinded a basalt flask would also be a nice addition. Actually most flasks can find a purpose in some way or another.
Unique Flasks you could consider for this build could be: Witchfire Brew (for it's Vulnerability Aura) and Rumi's Concoction (for it's additional block, and spell block; because of your Ascendency it actually gives more spell block than normal block).
Actually most unique flasks do not really work for this build, because you can't deal non-physical damage. Lion's Roar would be a good unique flask, but the Knockback makes it pretty much useless, as you shove most enemies out of your attacking range rather quickly.

Part 7.6: Best Gear


Because I've been asked a lot for "the best gear", I've decided to give you people this section.
Keep in mind, that this is gear that you will never even come close to, if you don't dedicate your whole existance to the game, as it is either next to impossible to craft or next to impossible to afford.

Also, as these items are purely theoretical, I can't actually show them in the forum itself and positing the stats and slots for every item would be an incredible bloat, so I'll provide you with a PoB-Build, that has these theoretical items equipped:

Part 8: Thoughts and Mechanics

The thought behind this build is simple: Start early, start easy, low gear requirement.
If the build is lacking in one point, try boosting it cheaply with complementary abilities (Ancestral Protector, Blood Rage)
It's important to get life to a decent level, so having 180% Life in Tree is quite ok.

Now to mechanics.
The Gladiator Ascendency Class nets us a good amount of block for survivablity, as well as bleeding.
Bleeding works for survivablity as well, and clears amazingly good.
Most of the time, you actually have to kill only one enemy in the whole pack for it to explode in a blood fountain.
As Cleave is AoE you will attack the whole pack, because of your high attack speed and decent chance to bleed, most of the pack will bleed at some point.
Once you kill a bleeding enemy, it will explode, resulting in a chain reaction, killing another bleeding enemy, which explodes, etc. (actually, it's so fast, for humans it looks, like everything is exploding at the same time)
If you got a big enemy with a large group, it's not unlikley to remove half the enemies Life with the death of its group.

It's important to have several layers of defense, and this build does have quite a few. (Explained at Part 3)
There's also a hidden defense mechanic at work:
Exploding enemies means, they do not leave a corpse behind.
Not leaving a corpse behind lets you avoid most "On Death"-Abilities monsters have.
Like some exploding into spikes, or boosting enemies nearby. You have none of that (or at least not much).

But all in all it has no finely crafted interaction between mechanics, but is actually quite straight forward.
It just as a lot of straight forward things.

Part 9: Future Capabilities

This build, right now, gets close to 100k Physical DPS in a 5L. (Total Trading Investment for the entire build: 8 Chaos)
It can probably double that with good (and expensive) gear.
So far I'm able to do Red Maps and have not much problems, clearing T12 and T13 Maps. (My highest yet was clearing a T15 Rigwald deathless without using portals, but that was quite exhausting. I don't have a T16 to attempt, and am not yet willing to actually do so)
It's possible to aim even higher, probably guardian level, if you have the ability and the gear.
The higher the content, the more you have to weave in and out of combat if you have subpar gear.
So a good player can probably take it higher than a bad player even if the bad player has better gear.
But what it will never achieve is the "Clear Speed Meta", meaning clearing entire maps in seconds.
While it can be quite fast, it's not the fastest and never will be, simply because cleave is not made to clear entire maps in seconds.

Part 10: Last Words

That's basically it for the build.
I tried to explain it for new players to understand and explain the reasoning of things.
I have not yet tried to super optimize every little thing in this build, because, frankly, it's too expensive to get exactly what you need most of the time, so I settle with sub par gear and try to get the best out of it.

If some things are unclear, tell me, and I'll try to clarify.
Thoughts and critic are welcome.
Last edited by Scythless on Jun 6, 2019, 3:21:52 PM
Last bumped on Mar 30, 2020, 7:21:52 AM
What about bandits?
Section 6.5 added.
Explaining all about the bandits, and why I chose to kill them all.

Section 7.5 added.
Showing my (bad) gear and explaining it's use
Last edited by Scythless on Sep 4, 2017, 2:50:53 PM
Hi Scythless, I just begin to play PoE and I follow this guide. Pretty simple to follow and fun to play I admit.

Thanks a lot!!
as someone who is new to poe - i love this build and the explanations.

Did you take Iron reflexes in your passive tree? I see you took the node before it, but the actual iron reflex node is not highlighted, nor is the skill mentioned in the guide. Please advise!
Hey, I have couple questions about some additions to the build, only about additions becasue base version of the build is explained really good.
Since I didn't notice any specific weapon nodes i.e. sword dmg, axe dmg I bet I can use Soul Taker with that build but what auras or curse with blasphemy would you recommend and can I swap defensive auras with more offensive ones? Would it even make any significant difference damage-wise?
What do you think about Bringer of Rain?
And last but not least can I take Outmatch and Outlast or Violent Retaliation over Verstile Combatant?
Thanks in advance and sorry for any misspelling.
gad0x9 wrote:
as someone who is new to poe - i love this build and the explanations.

Did you take Iron reflexes in your passive tree? I see you took the node before it, but the actual iron reflex node is not highlighted, nor is the skill mentioned in the guide. Please advise!

Iron Reflexes is indeed not taken, because it's not needed.
The point before it leads to the life and mana leech node, which is needed.

Iron Reflexes changes your evasion for armour. But the thing is, you do not really need the additional armour. Armour only helps against physical hits, and this build already has arctic armour, which would be far better when you're standing still.
Evasion helps against any kind of attack, so elemental and physical.
While the difference against bosses (who are blinded) is not really big, the monsters in a map are far more varied and you get attacked by elemental attacks often enough.
It's not that taking Iron Reflexes would destroy the build but it would for sure be hit more often, taking more damage from anything that's not physical.
If you can ensure, that most of the attacks you take are physical it can be a little bit better, but I take the more varied approach to take whatever the game throws at me.

Astim wrote:
Hey, I have couple questions about some additions to the build, only about additions becasue base version of the build is explained really good.
Since I didn't notice any specific weapon nodes i.e. sword dmg, axe dmg I bet I can use Soul Taker with that build but what auras or curse with blasphemy would you recommend and can I swap defensive auras with more offensive ones? Would it even make any significant difference damage-wise?
What do you think about Bringer of Rain?
And last but not least can I take Outmatch and Outlast or Violent Retaliation over Verstile Combatant?
Thanks in advance and sorry for any misspelling.

Yes, this build does not rely on a specific weapon type, so as long as you can use it with cleave it's fine, so you can of course use a soul taker. Using at least 1 sword is recommended, because of whirling blades, but that does not stop you from using axes (even 2 if you want to).

Auras are actually not really useful, simply because of Brutality. Brutality stops you from doing elemental or chaos damage, so you can't use Anger, Wrath, Hatred or any Herald, because they simply do not have any effect on your main attack (if you keep with Brutality)
So only Haste would help you, but as this build is already quite fast the damage bonus would be rather small. A Level 20 Haste for example would give me 5,5k DPS when I have roughly 90k, so it would be 6% more DPS, where Grace would give me roughly 7,5k Evasion, which would translate to something like 21% Chance to Evade.

Curses with Blasphemy are more useable. But one problem is, you can't use curses that use intelligence. THis build is literally quite stupid, and you can only level Blasphemy up to Level 4 without Intelligence from gear (or aquiring additional Intelligence from the tree).
Useable Curses are Poacher's Mark, Projectile Weakness and Warlord's Mark.
Of course Projectile Weakness does absolutely nothing, so let's not discuss that.
Warlord's Mark will give you Endurance Charges, you do not normally gain. And that's it. You do not need the leech it provides, because Blood Rage normally already takes you to the leech limit and mana leech you already have more than enough.
Poacher's Marke does make enemies easier to hit, which is also not really needed and gives you Frenzy Charges... which you already get. On the other hand, you get Life gain on hit, which may be good with no Leech/no Regen Maps, because there's no limit to it and you have a high attack speed.
The best curse for DPS would be Vulnerability, which you can get by using Witchfire Brew for free. If you want it permanently, you can use it, but only Level 1 and 2, because without Int-Investment you can't go higher. (still would be a 20% More Multiplier)

Bringer of Rain
If you can get enough resistances on your gear to compensate the possibility of losing resistances on your helmet and body armour, Bringer of Rain can push your damage higher.
You also have to be aware, that it reduces your total life pool, as you can get more HP on Helmet + Body Armour than you can get on Bringer of Rain.
You also get the possibility of generating endurance Charges, so that's nice, as well as a bit more block, taking you near 50% Block Chance.
Summarizing it: It gives you Damage but in general will probably cost you a little bit of survivability and makes it harder to gear.
Side Note: If you were to actually get a 6L Body Armour with 6 red sockets, you would get more damage from the 6th slot then from Bringer of Rain.

Ascendency Choices
I would not recommend changing Versatile Combatant to something else.
While you may be tempted to take more damage with Outmach and Outlast or Violent Retaliation Versatile Combatant takes care of one of the vulnerabilities of the build.
You can't evade spells and without Versatile Combatant it's hard to get a decent amount of Spell Block.
A slight example: T12 Shipyard Boss (one of them) uses Lightning Tendrils. Before I had Versatile Combatant this boss was a long fight, constisting of weaving in and out of his spells constantly, because if I would stay to long in Lightning Tendrils he would simply destroy me.
Now, with Versatile Combatant, most of the time I can facetank this boss, if my block is not unlucky (or reduced with Map mod).
Violent Retaliation would be a nice ascendency, if you were to take away Blood in the Eyes, but that would reduce your ability to bleed and you would lose the defensive ability of bleeding.
Outmach and Outlast sounds promising, but has some downsides. The Blood Explosion from Gratuitous Violence does not trigger it, afaik, so you have to kill the enemy manually, which actually are not that many in higher maps (where you do not oneshot enemies).
Also you do not have Frenzy Charges for Boss encounters most of the time, because there is not a high availability of minions to keep the charges from Blood Rage, and for normal monsters you do not really need more damage. Without minions you also do not generate Endurance Charges from Outmatch and Outlast.
do you have any recommendations on passive jewels? i am currently running increased phy damage/phys damage with swords/bleeding jewels.

also, should i use 1 or 2 overwhelming odds jewels? (is 2 necessary, or overkill?)

gad0x9 wrote:
do you have any recommendations on passive jewels? i am currently running increased phy damage/phys damage with swords/bleeding jewels.

also, should i use 1 or 2 overwhelming odds jewels? (is 2 necessary, or overkill?)

For Jewels it would be best if they had HP, otherwise just generic damage.
Physical Damage, Physical Damage while Dual Wielding, Area Damage, Physical Damage with Swords, etc. (if you're using Dual Swords)
Block while Dual Wielding would also be possible to increases Survivability.

For Overwhelming Odds: 1 is necessary, a second one is optional.
I'm running 2 myself, because of the additional area boost, which is quite nice, but it's not necessary if you feel the AoE is good enough.
Love the build, nice and fast, simple to play, and tons of fun. Thanks!

Since we already have Maim from our ascendancy, why put Maim as support on Cleave? Why not a leveled Melee Physical Damage (45% or more physical damage vs 15%)?

Also ... how is your single-target boss damage with Cleave in the endgame?

Report Forum Post

Report Account:

Report Type

Additional Info