[3.00] Glacial Hammer Mjolner Berserker (Shaper Down!) (A Conversation)

Little Billy hesitated as he stood outside the door to Jane’s office. He was nervous and sweating—for some reason this reminded him of a pasta dish? (I don’t get this meme.) He gathered up the nerve and knocked on the door. Come in! requested a sweet-sounding voice from inside.

Billy entered the office and took a quick glance around. It was so aesthetically pleasing that a competent writer could spend multiple paragraphs describing it.

Ah, Billy! I imagine you have your 3.0 build idea ready to discuss? I sure hope it’s better than your last idea—Trypanon discharge? I hadn’t laughed that hard in ages!

Well, said Billy trepiditatiousfully, I’ve got a new build and I’ve got it all spelled out right here in Path of Building. A million DPS vs Shaper, so it must be viable! And it’s not too meta, and not too expensive, and it—

You don’t have to qualify everything, just tell me what it is! interrupted Jane.

Okay, well, I decided to go with Mjolner…

Billy! Jane sounded disappointed but unsurprised. We’ve talked about this. Mjolner isn’t like it used to be! But, well, I suppose it’s acceptable—I imagine you’ll be going discharge?

No—actually, I was thinking of going with… Billy trailed off. Jane raised her eyebrow.

Glacial Hammer…

Jane took off her glasses and drooped her head down, like an overacted character in a B movie. Billy, you can’t be serious.

Wait, you gotta hear me out! Billy scrambled a set of blueprints out of his pocket, and spread it across Jane’s desk. Look! A million DPS with Glacial Hammer, just like I said. We’ll grab Elemental Overload, and Elemental Equilibrium, um, yeah and Frost Bomb and Bloodlust and—

Okay, okay, I’ll hear you out. But let’s go through this one thing at a time.

Okay Billy smiled.

Glacial Hammer and Mjolner
Billy, please tell me why on Oriath you picked Glacial Hammer and Mjolner. Please tell me there’s some synergy between the two.

Sure thing! Look, with its threshold jewel we can get Glacial Hammer 100% converted into Cold Damage. We pair that with Elemental Equilibrium and Mjolner with Ball Lightning, and that’s an instant 50% Elemental Penetration right there!

But why not Ice Crash? At least that’s not namelock and has an acceptable amount of AOE.

Well, Billy hesitated knowing his answer wasn’t going to win him any favor. I kinda already tried an Ice Crash character in Legacy. Jane raised the other eyebrow. And it’s not just that—you can’t use Multistrike with Ice Crash, so it felt really slow to play and dangerous with Vaal Pact.

You just want to try and make a viable Glacial Hammer build, don’t you?

Well it was the first skill I ever tried in Path of Exile! I owe it to Glacial Hammer to give it a shot.

Billy, I have been an advisor at the University of Wraeclast for over two decades now, and that is the single dumbest reason I’ve ever heard for picking a skill for a build. Next time, just tell people you’re addicted to the sound of frozen enemies being shattered.

Billy nodded.

So why Mjolner? Couldn’t you hit better DPS numbers with a Doryani’s Catalyst or a decent rare mace? Perhaps a Kongor’s Undying Rage so you wouldn’t have to worry about accuracy? Please tell me you have a better reason than you did for Glacial Hammer.

Um… Billy didn’t look very confident. I’ve kind of always wanted to try Mjolner. Jane rolled her eyes, again.

But look, it does work! Mjolner helps us achieve perfect Elemental Equilibrium, and with the new changes we can actually shock enemies just by using Innervate in there. All those lightning spells going off will help activate Elemental Overload too. And, it’s cool! Come on Jane, you gotta admit that.

Jane sighed. She knew she was in for a long day.

Let me guess, mused Jane, you’re going with a Berserker.

How’d you know?

Such a crutch… Jane whispered under her breath.

It gives us good leech, good damage, and, well that’s it! What more could we need?


Cost and Required Uniques

Billy, you say you want to start Harbinger League with this character, but that’s a terrible idea! Not only is it going to have slow clearspeed, but it will require multiple expensive uniques before it even gets off the ground! I mean, unless you happen to randomly find a Kaom’s Heart in a Grotto map within the first week of the league, you’re going to be poor and underpowered for a long time,
warned Jane.

You may be right about the clearspeed, but look! Mjolner isn’t too expensive nowadays and there are some budget options that I can use while I build up my wealth. Instead of an Astramentis, I can get an Atziri’s Foible for practically nothing! That will help meet the requirements to wield Mjolner and help out my Mana pool for Mind Over Matter!

But… what about Bisco’s? Jane whined.

Now it was Billy’s turn to roll his eyes.

Billy continued really, the cost of my gear won’t be too bad. Probably middle-of-the-road for a build. I won’t need anything too expensive like a Kaom’s or a Shav’s. In fact I was thinking I could get a decent 6-link by buying Emperor of Purity cards and using an Essence of Greed.

I’ll need a Princess sabre for my offhand, but those are cheap. Other than two threshold jewels, the only other uniques will be my flasks. A Taste of Hate will be expensive, sure, but there are plenty of alternatives I can use while I save up for it.

That’s true, there are fewer uniques in your build than I would have expected. But your rares could get expensive quickly. Especially having to hit the stat point requirements for Mjolner.

Actually that’ll be easy! My passive tree, combined with an Astramentis or Atziri’s Foible, will almost get us there on its own. So I’ll be able to focus on Life, Resists, etc., like normal. I don’t think it’ll be too bad!

Billy seemed optimistic. This worried Jane.


Well, it looks like you’re right—a few uniques but mostly rare items. They seem pretty self-explanatory, but tell me if there are any subtle details I’m missing.

Sure! Well first of all, I tried to avoid relying on my Gloves for any Attribute or Resistance requirements. That way I can switch them out with Repentance Gloves if I need to. I’ve also been thinking about using Hemophilia gloves, but unfortunately you need to do Physical Damage to cause bleeds, and Glacial Hammer can only deal Cold Damage as splash damage, so it won’t help out my clearspeed.

Billy, with the stat points you're going to be reaching, why not use Shaper's Touch? You could give yourself a huge boost to Life, Mana, and Accuracy all at the same time, let alone sheer damage.

Whoa, you're right--I hadn't even thought of that! I suppose that could end up being the best-in-slot.

Jane smirked triumphantly. Now, I wouldn’t use gloves with an enchantment—anything Cold or Lightning related could mess up your Elemental Equilibrium.

True. So Spiked Gloves or Shaper's Touch without an enchantment are probably the way to go. Anyway, I’d just want the rest of my gear to have high Life numbers and some Mana too, while capping my Resists of course. I’ll need some Accuracy on my rings or helmet, but since I’ll probably be self-crafting my helmet off of a base with the ideal Glacial Hammer enchantment, I don’t think I’ll be able to rely on getting Accuracy.

Is that your plan? Purchase a white helmet with a good enchant, and then throw an Essence of Greed at it?

Yep! That’s also my plan for my body armor, except I’m going to go about that with Divination Cards. If I can purchase six Celestial Justicar cards and a Deafening Essence of Greed, I should be all set!

Why not go with a Belly of the Best like EVERYONE ELSE IN EXISTENCE?

It’s too expensive! And it’s not necessary. And it’s not cool anymore. And my computer can’t handle extra gore. And it’ll be hard to get the right socket colors. And it looks dumb. NEED I GO ON?

Anyway, I plan on buying a couple rings with some Accuracy. Preferably Steel Rings, although that can get expensive quickly. Luckily, according to my calculations, I’ll only need a total of about 400 additional Accuracy Rating from my gear to achieve a 90% chance to hit, so it shouldn’t be too bad.

Here’s an excellent question, is it possible to get away with not using an Astramentis? Couldn’t you use something like a Carnage Heart or an amulet with good attribute points, but also get some added Damage or a good Life roll?

Well, actually I’d say no. It may be possible, but you’d have to sacrifice so much in other areas to do so. The Astramentis actually gives decent Life, Mana, and Accuracy too, so it’s no slouch.

Fair enough.

Gem Links
Alright Billy, it’s time to talk about skills and gems. Since your gear isn’t anything amazing or groundbreaking, let’s see where your supposed “1 million DPS” comes from!

Glacial Hammer Cluster
Glacial Hammer – Multistrike – Melee Physical – Elemental Damage – Ruthless/Bloodlust – Increased AOE/Elemental Focus
Okay, it makes sense. You’re using standard Elemental Damage and Melee gems, with a switch between Increased AOE and Elemental Focus for mapping vs. bosses. I get that. But why would you swap out Ruthless for Bloodlust? Isn’t Ruthless much, much more consistent? How are you even bleeding enemies anyway?

I’m glad you asked! As you’ll see in the next cluster, I’ve got my Totem linked to the new Chance to Bleed gem. It’ll attack fast enough that it should be able to cause Bleeding in single target situations, and Bloodlust does way more damage overall than Ruthless.

I get that, but what about Elemental Equilibrium? Totem attacks count toward EE, and if it does any cold damage at all, it will ruin it! That means no Hatred, no Taste of Hate…

That’s what you think. Behold!

Totem Cluster
Ancestral Protector/Warchief – Brutality – Chance to Bleed
Oh, I get it—you’re using Brutality with your totem so that it can only deal Physical Damage and not screw up your Elemental Equilibrium! Surprisingly clever of you. But is this a consistent setup? Do you really think your totem will be able to provide bleeds often enough versus bosses that it’s worth the gem slot?

I can’t say for certain, but I think it will be. The bosses that tend to sit still or who only target one enemy at a time (Shaper, Chimera, Vaal Oversoul, etc.) will be prime targets. But otherwise we don’t have to use Bloodlust. I suppose it’s more for niche situations.

That makes sense. Now the big question, which Ancestral totem will you use?

Well, the Protector gives us better attack speed which is very nice, so that’s what I want to use while I’m leveling. However, at the highest levels when I have all my gear and passives and buffs ready, I don’t think I’ll need so much attack speed. Then the Warchief will be better for me, since it hits with splash damage and can cause bleeds on multiple enemies simultaneously.

Mjolner Cluster
Ball Lightning – Shock Nova – Innervate
Why Ball Lightning in your Mjolner cluster? Wouldn’t Arc do more Damage?

It would, but here’s the thing—I did some testing with Mjolner and Elemental Equilibrium back in Legacy League, and discovered some odd results. Fighting Merciless Kuduku with Resolute technique and few buffs as a sort of controlled experiment, I tried socketing different gems and seeing which had the best EE uptime.

Logically speaking, it makes sense that so long as you attack fewer than 8 times a second while having two spells socketed (due to the innate Mjolner cooldown of .25 seconds per spell), you should have perfect EE regardless of the spells you use. However, with an attack speed of 5 hits a second, I found that using Arc and Shock Nova didn’t work. No idea why! But it took me way longer to kill Kuduku than using Ball Lightning in the setup.

What’s even funnier is that a single Ball Lightning was enough to ensure perfect EE! So I could easily go for a Ball Lightning + Curse on Hit setup here. But instead I thought I’d use Ball Lightning to maintain EE and then any other Lightning Spell I wanted with Innervate in order shock enemies. I decided on Shock Nova because it looks cool.

At least you’re honest. But if you wanted to look cool, why not Ball Lightning and GMP?


Mobility Cluster
Whirling Blades – Faster Attacks – Fortify – Flicker Strike/Frenzy/Blood Magic
Okay, I see a standard Whirling Blades setup. But I see you want to use Flicker Strike or Frenzy as a fourth link? Why? Wouldn’t Blood Magic be much better so that you don’t get stranded if you’re getting pummeled and run out of Mana?

I think you’re right that Blood Magic would be the safer option, but honestly I worry about Glacial Hammer’s mobility and playstyle.

Jane nearly spat out her drink in laughter.

But I thought maybe Flicker could help with that. Just imagine: I Whirling Blades in, I fire off a multistrike of Glacial Hammer, most trash mobs around die instantly, then I hit Flicker and immediately attack in place again. Just like that, bam! I finish off one or two of the stragglers. Then I identify any remaining targets and Whirl to them to repeat the process.

That sounds inspired and optimistic. Can you explain Frenzy in as passionate a way?

Not really. I thought Flicker wouldn’t be too effective against big bosses so I might as well socket in Frenzy and try to get myself some Frenzy charges.

Billy, are you saying you’ll use Frenzy just so you can pad your stats in Path of Building by adding Frenzy Charges to your DPS calculation?


Buff Cluster
Vaal Lightning Trap – Increased Duration – CWDT (lvl 1) – Frost Bomb (lvl 10)
Okay, Vaal Lightning Trap is a no brainer since it works on the Guardians and Shaper now, as is Increased Duration. Frost Bomb on a CWDT setup is smart since it’ll keep enemies around you at -20% Cold Resistance and slows Life Regeneration to a crawl. But is there any reason these are linked together in the same 4-Link?

Well, Frost Bomb can screw up a hit of EE if it explodes on the target. I thought with a longer duration that might not happen as often, but honestly it doesn’t matter much.

Curse Cluster
CWDT (lvl 20) – Elemental Weakness/Frostbite – Lightning Golem
And here I see that you’re avoiding self-casting your Golem by having your Elemental Weakness curse apply only half as often as otherwise. Is that really a good idea?

Oh Jane, you know as well as I do that summoning a Golem in the heat of battle will never happen! And honestly I’m a little disillusioned with curses since they’re reduced in effectiveness so much against the final bosses. Even Frost Bomb has a bigger effect than a lvl 20 Frostbite curse!

Speaking of which, why a choice between Elemental Weakness and Frostbite?

Well, Frostbite is better for Glacial Hammer of course and helps us freeze more stuff (since we’re not going crit or stacking chance to freeze), so it’s a solid choice, but Elemental Weakness also buffs our Lightning Skills which can lead to more shocks. Either one would work.

And your Golem—wouldn’t the Lightning Golem mess up your Elemental Equilibrium?

Oh Jane, you should know better than that! A minion can’t apply Elemental Equilibrium.

I knew that I was just testing you haha Jane threw out quickly.

So I went with the Golem that would be best for my DPS. I suppose a Chaos Golem would be a decent choice too for some more survivability. It’s really a preference thing.

Aura Cluster
And of course you’re using Hatred for obvious reasons. You know you could also throw in Herald of Ash and maintain your Equilibrium. Did you think of that?

Yes, and it would also help our clearspeed too, but Hatred does way more damage.

How about both?

Are you nuts? That would ruin our Mind Over Matter, which is the only real Damage Mitigation we’ll have! Not to mention I don’t have a place anywhere for an additional gem.

I see that. You’re packed to the brink! You know, an excellent build maker would probably specialize in a few things and then have some extra gem slots to spare. But it feels like you need every single gem available and then some!

But there’s just so much to try out! So many ways to buff your damage. I guess I’m just not a Kaom’s Roots kind of guy.

Passive Tree
Okay, I’ve got a passive tree (or two) to show you.

Wait, what was that? No, Billy, you can’t have two different passive trees for one build. Just show me your best one! scolded Jane.

But, they do different things! They each have their strengths and weaknesses, quirks and charms. Please, just let me show you, Billy pleaded.

Jane was, for the fourth time in the last 20 minutes, reminded that she should have worked harder in college and become a surgeon—it would have been far more pleasant than dealing with Billy and all those other wide-eyed ignorant POE builders like him.

The first version is the “Tank” variant. It foregoes some good sources of Damage in order to grab extra life and Unwavering Stance. It’ll be a slow mapper, but having 190% increased Life and Stun Immunity will make it an exceedingly safe character!

Tank Variant Passive Tree (Lvl 92)

My second version is the “DPS” variant. It drops Unwavering Stance and some Life in order to max out on DPS and Accuracy. This would be for the late game, and fighting the Guardians and Shaper. What do you think?

Billy, I appreciate the effort, but I don’t have all day to talk about POE (even though she did, as that was her job). Let’s focus on your DPS tree, and pick it apart.

First off, I’m surprised you’re spending so much time in the Duelist area—I would have thought, for the sake of wielding Mjolner, almost all your points would be in the Strength/Intelligence parts of the tree.

Yes, well I needed to path to Vaal Pact and there were too many nice nodes on the way. I experimented with travelling through the Witch and Shadow areas to get to Vaal Pact, but they miss out on a lot of Accuracy and Melee Damage. The increased Melee Range and Accuracy from this tree are going to be very nice. With a decent Astramentis, I’ll end up with over 350 Dexterity, and combined with the 118% increased Accuracy on the tree, it’ll be easy to reach a good hit chance!

Hmm, I see you’re going right past the Duelist leech nodes. Why not grab some of them? Wouldn’t that improve your survivability?

My Tank version grabs the Mana Leech nodes—I figure we’ll be doing so much Damage that Vaal Pact will get me to full Health just off of the Berserker Leech alone, so raising our Mana Leech stats would be the priority. But honestly I don’t expect either will be necessary for the lategame.

Okay, that’s fair. I see you’re getting four Jewel slots. Two in Strength areas for Winter Burial, I presume?

That’s right.

And then two for general use. Not bad! I’d guess you’d go for sheer Damage with those jewels, or perhaps some Life and/or Mana?

Yes, I tend to like to use one Jewel with mostly attack speed and then one with Life and Mana. I try not to rely on them to meet Attribute requirements or cap resists, that way I can switch them around without fear.

Good idea! Speaking of Mana, I see you’re taking Mind Over Matter seriously and grabbing several Mana nodes. I count… 13 Mana nodes outside of the Mind Over Matter cluster. Pretty good! What kind of Max Life and Mana totals are you expecting?

Well, I make it a point to hit at least 170% Increased Life from the tree from any build I put together, and we accomplish that here with 176%. My aim is to get 5,500-6,000 Life in total and 1,500 Mana, making a total Health Pool of 7,000-7,500. Not bad, right?

Not bad, Billy. Not bad.

I apologize, Jane, but I need to show you one more variant. I thought I should make something that actually uses the lightning spells in Mjolner to achieve some decent clearspeed, so here it is! It grabs a ton of extra AOE from the Passive Tree and has decent % increased Life and Mana, too. I call this the “Clearspeed” variant. All I need to do is forego Elemental Equilibrium, equip my Repentance gloves, and socket Arc/Shock Nova into Mjolner, and it’ll be able to get through low to mid maps in no time!

Clearspeed Variant Passive Tree (Lvl 92)

Please tell me that’s your last one. I don’t think I can bear looking at any more Passive Trees.

Yes, that’s it. Trust me, it’ll be worth it!




Well Jane, I know you have an affinity for flasks.

They’re absolutely essential, but that does not mean they’re overpowered or bad design!

Yes, you’ve said so many times before. Anyway, I figure a Taste of Hate and Wise Oak are no brainers for this build. The nice thing is they synergize well—having my Taste of Hate active will practically guarantee that I get Cold Penetration from the Wise Oak. I was thinking I could pay extra attention to balancing my Fire and Lightning Resists, and perhaps I’ll get them to match to take as close to full advantage of the Wise Oak as I can!

Jane smiled at the prospect. She loved the Wise Oak. What about a Lion’s Roar? Do you see yourself using it despite its obnoxious knockback?

Yes! replied Billy somewhat enthusiastically. Actually I came to realize that Mjolner + Ball Lightning + Lion’s Roar would be insane for keeping enemies away. It may come in handy during Harbinger battles or tough Breaches to keep me from getting overwhelmed. I definitely wouldn’t keep it active all the time, however.

Not to mention how much of a DPS boost it will be against the Shaper and his Guardians.

That’s right!

Now, what about utility? You’ll at least have anti-freeze and bleed flasks, right?

Of course I will. I like having bleed immunity on my Life flasks, so I figured a Bubbling/Seething Eternal/Divine flask of Staunching would do well. For my “of Heat” flask, I actually thought a Silver Flask would be best. It would increase my DPS and my Movement Speed, almost acting like a miniature Quicksilver.

Just make sure you get a good one—unless it has a perfect roll with the right kind of Prefix, you’ll only be able to use it once without recharging. That’s not a good thing to tie to your only flask “of Heat.” Have you considered a Sulphur Flask instead so that it’s spammable?

Sure, and I do keep a Sulphur Flask of Warding around for difficult Curse maps. A Sulphur flask is definitely a viable and cheaper option than the perfectly rolled Silver Flask, but of course its added DPS is minor in comparison to the others, and the Consecrated Ground does nothing for Vaal Pact users.

I noticed you haven’t mentioned Atziri’s Promise. It’d give you some good added Damage in the form of Chaos, not to mention increased leech and Chaos Resistance.

That’s all true, and I can see myself using one for mapping purposes earlier on, but its DPS increase isn’t as high as the other Unique Flasks we’ve talked about, and we won’t be able to afford dropping our anti-Freeze or Bleed flasks for it. Perhaps before I can afford a Taste of Hate, I’ll use one as something of a cheap substitute, and break out the Atziri’s only when I desperately need more Chaos Resistance.

The only other flasks that could be relevant are Quicksilver, Ruby, and Topaz flasks. I don’t think I’ll need them very often, but I’ll keep one of each around just in case the opportunity comes up.

Knowing how hard it is for you to settle on a compact and intuitive Passive Tree, I’m going to guess you’ll be killing all the Bandits for those 2 extra skill points?

Yes, that is exactly correct.

What about the Pantheon? Have you give much thought to it?

Well, it seems to me that the Brine King is going to be best so that I don’t get stunlocked. As a pure melee character, I’m sure I’ll be taking lots of big hits. Other than that, I figure Ryslatha would be good to make up for Vaal Pact’s lack of Life Regeneration, or I could go with Yugul to minimize the danger of reflect. But I can switch it up whenever I want, so who cares what my plans are?

Last edited by rut on Sep 19, 2017, 11:34:17 AM
Last bumped on Sep 19, 2017, 1:43:39 PM
Campaign and Leveling
Acts I - V
After triumphantly defeating Hillock, Billy purchased a Glacial Hammer gem from Nessa. Nessa was always very kind to him, and he hoped he would see her again in the new Act VI.

Not having a miraculous Goldrim drop from Hillock this time (the last two characters he made both did!) Billy decided to grab Diamond Skin for some easy resistances. Here was his early-game Passive Tree:

Wielding Glacial Hammer from the earliest possible moments, Billy was reminded how HORRIBLE it is to play a namelock melee skill at the beginning of the game. Constant misses, slow playstyle, no ability to dodge enemy attacks—it was a nightmare. Billy got so frustrated, he almost quit the character before finishing Act I!

However, Little Billy’s luck changed once he got the Melee Splash gem. It helped his playstyle feel more fluent and acceptable, and he forged onward. He found a miraculous Chaos drop early on, and used it to purchase the Winter Burial Jewel so that he could drop Melee Splash in favor of Faster Attacks. (Yes, you should not spend an entire Chaos orb on a Glacial Hammer Threshold Jewel. But Billy was desperate and it was early in the league!)

After getting the must-have passives in front of the Marauder’s starting point, Billy’s primary goal was to make it to the Duelist Leech cluster (grabbing the Strength Jewel socket on the way). This would help alleviate Mana problems and increase his survivability drastically. He was also excited to get the +2 Weapon Range from Master of the Arena.

Billy also found two Orbs of Regret early on in his adventures. He traded these in for a well-rolled Princess Sabre, which he would wield in his offhand for most of the rest of his journey. He found a second miraculous Chaos drop, and purchased with it an Atziri’s Foible amulet (oddly enough, Billy found two Chaos and two Regrets before finding a single Alchemy). This solved his Mana problems and also bolstered his Mind Over Matter stats once he pathed to it.

(When Billy goes Mind Over Matter, he likes to save up Passive Points until he can get all 4 nodes. He finds the idea of using Mind Over Matter without the increased Mana and Mana regen a scary prospect.)

Billy made sure to keep two Quicksilver flasks in his belt throughout the campaign because he is an impatient person. He also found a Stibnite and a Quartz flask fairly early on, and found the use of them together incredible for survivability!

As Billy progressed through the campaign, he found it fairly easy to get acceptable gear with the exception of primary weapons. He eventually found a comfortable routine of every 10 or so levels checking POE.Trade and searching for one-handed weapons within his level requirement that were priced for 1 Alchemy Orb. Then he’d sort them by Physical DPS, and purchase the best one-handed Mace or Scepter that he could.

Billy used Glacial Hammer paired with Faster Attacks, Melee Physical Damage, and Ruthless as his core 4L in the early game. He made sure to get Whirling Blades fairly early, which helped his character feel quicker and more smooth to play. At about level 40, Billy finally got access to the beloved Multistrike. He swapped out Ruthless for it and his build finally felt like it was coming together.

(If Billy were to level this character again, he would probably use a melee skill with some AOE, like Cleave or Sunder, until he got access to Multistrike—then he’d swap to Glacial Hammer.)

Billy was surprised at how solid his Glacial Hammer character was through the campaign. He was amazed to find he was tanky enough to defeat Act V Kitava deathless!

Acts VI - X
Billy’s success in the first five acts led to overconfidence, and he suffered his first death early in Act VI to a random Harbinger. This was likely due to not having his resists capped.

Billy used a 4L armor with good resists all the way through Solaris and Lunaris at the end of Act VII. Then he finally upgraded to a 5L. He purchased a white 5L base and then alch’d and scoured it until it was usable.

When Billy reached the start of Act X, he realized it was probably time to Ascend. Billy is an intensely lazy person, so he had skipped all the trials he came across until this point. He decided to run through them all so that he had access to the first three Labyrinths. He then tackled the Labyrinths one after the other.

At this point, he did not have Vaal Pact, so his survivability in the trap parts of the Labyrinth was exceptionally good (his Passive Tree had a ton of Life Regen). Merciless Izaro one-shot him with a slam on their first encounter. Billy tried again, being extra careful to avoid slams, and was successful. Luckily, he was level 60 by then and was wielding the mighty (and cheap) Cameria’s Maul, so he had enough DPS to make the Izaro fights fairly quick.

After completing the first three Labyrinths, Billy had the idea that he should use Mjolner to fight Act X Kitava—it just seemed like the right thing to do. He almost had enough Intelligence to equip it, so in order to meet the threshold he used an Essence of Spite on a Heavy Belt. The result was a belt with enough Intelligence and Strength that he was able to meet the intense requirements of Mjolner, and as a nice bonus it even had some Life and Resists.

Billy picked up Mjolner for the first time, equipped Elemental Equilibrium and Vaal Pact, and then headed to the Feeding Trough to take on Kitava!

It was a tough fight, and after one death to Kitava’s attack where he LIGHTS THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE ON FIRE (that’s just not fair), Billy emerged victorious! He was ready to take on maps.

As far as actually fighting Kitava goes, Billy watched a few videos to see what Kitava’s moveset looked like, and identified that most people seemed to die after standing in one spot for too long. Billy’s strategy became to throw out two Glacial Hammer flurries, then Whirling Blades away, and then repeat. This way he never stood in place for more than a few seconds and was never one-hit by punches or caught in the weird X attack. He also played defensively when he saw Kitava doing stuff he didn’t recognize. He didn’t expect to tank his way through any of Kitava’s attacks.

Billy has learned that this character is one that excels with a patient mindset. Very rarely should he charge in, hold down attack, and hope for the best (Mind Over Matter makes tanking a horde of enemies a very bad idea—your Mana won’t recharge quick enough to sustain that). Instead, constant hit-and-run to keep Fortify up and to avoid enemy attacks is key.

Early to Mid Maps
Little Billy had a ring and some gloves with tons of resist (and little else) to cap his resists for maps. He started as one generally does, with Jungle Valleys and Beaches. Here his clearspeed issues started to make themselves known, as hunting down all those little monkeys and crabs felt like it took an eternity.

Billy started using the Chaos recipe in order to build up enough wealth to purchase a set of Emperor of Purity Divination Cards. These would allow him to get a pretty cheap and easy 6L on a mediocre base. Once he got his 6L Holy Chainmail, he threw a Shrieking Essence of Greed at it and called it good.

He grew some levels and hit tier 3 maps, when in a random Grotto it happened—a Kaom’s Heart dropped completely randomly.

That was how Billy became rich overnight.

With his newfound wealth, Billy purchased an Astramentis with a perfect Explicit roll for 100c, and then used a couple Blessed Orbs to make it perfect overall. He swapped out his rings, boots, and belt for about 30-50c each, and purchased a Royal Burgonet with the a 15% added Cold Glacial Hammer enchant for 15c. He purchased a Shrieking Essence of Greed for it and got some decent resists too.

Billy decided not to rely on his Gloves for any resistances or stat points, so that he could easily swap between high-damage Spiked Gloves and Repentance Gloves. He purchased a pair of Spiked Gloves with Life, Strength, and Added Physical Damage for 5c, and then crafted Increased Attack Speed onto them when he managed to level Haku up enough to do so.

Billy’s final purchase with his windfall was a Princess Sabre corrupted with Culling Strike (he purchased it after attempting to corrupt one himself and failing a dozen or so times), for 50c. Out of sheer coincidence, it was already linked and colored exactly as he needed!

Now broke but actually geared up enough to do some real damage, Billy focused on exploring the Atlas and growing levels. He found that Harbingers and Breaches were overwhelming him, so he purchased a Lion’s Roar at his first opportunity and used it just for those situations. It greatly increased his survivability.

Also note that Billy no longer utilized the chaos recipe, as fast mapping was more valuable to him than steady, incremental increases in Chaos.

Wanting to speed up the leveling process, Billy purchased a pair of Repentance gloves, dropped EE, and went all-in on his so-called “Clearspeed” build. Although effective in clearing white and yellow maps more quickly than before, his single-target damage dropped drastically. When he started getting into red maps, he found this variant of the build clunky and dangerous. He used it until he hit level 86 or so, and then made a change to the “Tank” build.

Billy then spent a decent chunk of his savings on his Taste of Hate. He purchased a cheap one and tried to Divine it. Three Divines later, he ended up barely better than he started, but figured it was good enough for now.

Throughout his mapping, Billy would purchase “The Dream Trial” prophecies whenever he could. He was confident in his abilities to defeat Uber Lab (or is it the “Eternal Lab” now?), but of course he had to complete all the trials first. It was fairly expensive to always have a Dream Trial prophecy queued up, but it was worth it in the end—Billy found all the trials quicker than he expected and earned his final Ascendancy without too much trouble (although he may have unallocated Vaal Pact for running through the lab, and re-allocated it for the final Izaro fight).

Later Maps
From levels 86 to 90 Billy used the “Tank” build to complete most of the red maps under Tier 16. This build was the slowest map clearer of the three builds Billy had thought up, and it showed. However, he appreciated not having to worry so much about dying. He also enjoyed using the Soul of Solaris Pantheon Power instead of the Brine King.

In order to compensate for his slower clear speed, Billy started to use Flicker Strike more and more often, eventually using it as much as Whirling Blades while in combat. He was tempted to purchase a Green Dream jewel to allow him to Flicker even more often, but decided that it wouldn’t be worth the cost.

After accruing some more wealth, Billy purchased a set of Celestial Justicar cards and turned them in for a 6L Astral Plate. Since this would be his final Body Armor, he decided to go crazy and buy a Deafening Essence of Greed for it. It worked out nicely, and he ended up with a 6L Armor with over 150 Life and decent resists. Noticing there was still a prefix open, he slammed it with an Exalt and managed to earn himself an extra 10 Armor. WHAT VALUE.

When Billy hit level 90, he switched to the “DPS” build and started to clear maps noticeably quicker. He found Gorges and Shaped Atolls quick, easy, and reliable for leveling, although it did take a very long time compared to his previous characters. He ran some Beachheads too, but they were too expensive for him to sustain.

When Billy hit level 92, he decided his leveling was over and took a moment to finish the standard maps of the Atlas up to tier 16.

Billy avoided Elemental Reflect maps and some maps with reduced player maximum resistances. He also tended to play it safe when he was getting close to leveling up, avoiding maps with high enemy damage and crit chance. For Temp Chains, Vulnerability, and Elemental Weakness maps, Billy would sub out his Lion’s Roar flask for his Sulphur Flask of Warding, which usually did the trick. He also found he could run Elemental Weakness maps without his Warding flask by relying on The Wise Oak’s added resistances, but this was a bit risky.

Billy prefers to “take it slow” when leveling at the late 80s and early 90s, and run magic maps that he feels comfortable with. He has two rules that he forces himself to follow:

1. Never run a map that you are not 100% confident you can complete deathless.
2. If you die in a map, don’t re-enter it. What can kill you once can kill you again (barring things like deaths to Volatiles that are one-time only).

As mentioned before, little Billy initially struggled when facing Harbingers in maps. He would attempt to stand in one spot and tank their attacks, but they would overwhelm him or things like Volatiles and Reflects would catch him off guard.

Billy’s solution was the Lion’s Roar flask. Combined with Ball Lightning, it prevented melee Harbinger enemies from reaching Billy entirely! As a result, Billy found himself Whirling Blading and Flicker Striking all over the place throughout each encounter, which served to noticeably increase his survivability. Clearing space around him also helped him to identify Volatiles and other nasty enemies.

Since his flasks would gain charges like crazy during Harbinger encounters, Billy also started getting into the habit of periodically using his Life Flask throughout encounters for no reason other than to remove bleeds from sneaky puncture-users and Corrupting Blood enemies.

Beachhead maps were no problem for Billy once he mastered his Harbinger strategy. During the last “arena-style” fight of these maps, he would occasionally find himself retreating behind the portal to catch his bearings. Although the experience was great and the loot was decent, Billy decided not to rely on Beachheads for leveling due to their high cost and boring nature.

Other Dangers While Mapping
Billy didn’t find reflect too much of a danger in his travels. His Taste of Hate gave him excellent Cold Resistance, and his Multistrike-using, non-critting Glacial Hammer attack was not capable of one-shotting himself. That being said, there was still no way he was going to take on an Elemental Reflect map!

Breaches were a very similar story for Billy as Harbingers, although he would only use his Lion’s Roar if the Breach was particularly dangerous. For the first time ever, Billy encountered a wild Chayula and got demolished! It was an honor.

Beyond can be challenging for a namelock melee character. Although Billy found himself able to tank and destroy the tougher Beyond monsters fairly consistently, the threat of being Bameth-nuked while standing over the corpses of a couple dozen monsters was always present. Hit and run tactics were essential in Beyond maps for precisely this reason.

The Guardians
So, said Jane excitedly, it’s been about a month since the league started and you’ve invested more than enough time into your character. How does it feel?

Well, so far it’s been good. Definitely slower than—

Actually sorry, I don’t really care about that, Jane interrupted. Have you defeated the Guardians?

Billy was a little disappointed that he didn’t get to talk about his feelings, but answered yes, I’ve beaten all four. It’s been nice—the low cost of tier 16 maps this league has allowed me to actually practice and learn the intricacies of the fights.

That’s great! Jane seemed legitimately excited. Tell me about your experiences. Which were difficult for you? Actually, start from the easiest and we’ll work our way up to the toughest.

I don’t know why so many people call Chimera one of the tougher Guardians. The entire fight takes forever because it’s split into so many different stages, but it’s the same every time. It’s as if the whole thing is completely scripted, and once you know the order of events, there’s very little that can go wrong.

I agree, very good observation Billy. Any particular notes?

Sure, the only tough part of the fight are the Chaos snakes. I tried packing an Atziri’s Promise flask for them, but honestly I kept forgetting to save it. However, they went down easy enough.

What about the smoke phase? I know it catches a lot of people off guard.

Sure, but when you know it’s coming it’s not so bad to prepare. I did have one rough experience. My corrupted rare map didn’t allow me to regenerate Mana, so once the smoke phase started and MoM made me lose all my Mana, I wasn’t able to use Whirling Blades to move around! So he did get the upper hand on me on that run, but a hybrid flask was an easy solution.

What about your gem links? We’ve talked a lot about whether or not Bloodlust can be useful in the endgame fights—did you try it here?

Actually yes, I tried Bloodlust out and found it worked great! Chimera wouldn’t destroy my totem with splash damage on his normal attacks so it kept him bleeding throughout the whole fight, and it was fairly easy to get my totem to camp the animal summon spots too. I had more than enough DPS to make the fight quick (relatively) and easy.

The Minotaur is a very straightforward fight. The only thing you have to know is “don’t tank the falling rocks.” So long as he can’t one-shot you, everything else is perfectly fine.

But what about a corrupted rare map? Did you ever take him on with Damage mods?

Actually yes, I fought him on a Vulnerability and Elemental Weakness map with added Cold damage, but I prepared beforehand by getting myself a Sulphur Flask of Warding that I could keep up almost the entirety of the fight. With his other mods he could still one-shot me with his tunnel attack, so I just baited that out of him with my totem and otherwise had a fairly easy time of it.

Did you use Bloodlust against him?

I tried, but his normal attacks have enough AOE that it was difficult to place my totems. I decided to use Ruthless instead, and my damage output was fine.

Here’s the one I was curious about. I know the Phoenix is tough for straight melee characters. What did you think?

Yeah, he was tough, Billy admitted. It took me several attempts to get a deathless run. There’s just so much that can go wrong! At any moment you could walk into a little fire tornado and die instantly! Sometimes his whirling attack will do practically no damage, and sometimes it seems to one-shot you. You underestimate the range of his fire explosion attack, and it’s instant death. You accidentally get hit by three fire birds at the same time, you’re a goner!

But you did manage it?

Yep, with a lot of practice and a patient playstyle, I was able to defeat him deathless. I used Bloodlust and summoned a totem on him after every whirling attack. I paid attention to the birds and took them out whenever I could, and I avoided fire tornados like the plague.

I also learned that the fight gets much more difficult as his health gets lower, so I started saving my flasks for later instead of using them up all at the start.

I see. And you used a Ruby flask for the fight?

Um, actually I didn’t. Jane gasped. I tried! But it just didn’t last long enough to make a difference! I eventually decided that going 100% offence in my flasks was a better strategy.

I suppose that’s acceptable. Anyway, I imagine you were able to learn his attack pattern? A lot of people seem to misunderstand it.

Yes, I think I did! It seems that after every fire blast, he would perform a whirling attack very shortly afterward. The key was not to rush in to deal damage after his fire blast. He also liked to chain his whirling attack into a fire blast, but not if he had performed one recently. I had to get the rhythm down in order to know when to go in for an attack.

Yes, very good! I’m proud of you, Billy. That just leaves the Hydra and…well what’s so tough about her?

Billy frowned.

I hate the Hydra. She’s unfair. She has Barrage—I can’t compete with that!

Jane wasn’t impressed.

The constant frostbolts, the fact that I have to be point-blank to damage her with my melee attack while she can destroy me with one lucky Barrage or pretty much any of her attacks. I would try to get around behind her but she would end her attacks and start again so quickly. I definitely couldn’t use Bloodlust because my totems would die instantly, and every time I threw a Vaal Lightning Trap or activated my flasks, she’d move out of the way or teleport out of there.

Billy, she’s really not that hard. You just have to concentrate a little better and quit being so greedy by trying to tank her attacks.

On the contrary! I’ve had one deathless run, and it was one where I didn’t even care about strategy—I just wanted to obtain the fragment as quickly as I could. I stood in one spot and attacked without stopping, and I managed to take her down that way!

Huh. Well, sometimes brute force is a valid option. I’d still recommend you actually learn the fight, though… Anyway, you’ve got all the Guardians down, have you given Shaper a shot?

I sure did, answered Billy.

Shaper Video for Reference
Shaper sucks! What a terrible fight for melee users! And I don’t mean ranged melee like Frost Blades or Sunder—the fight is crazy hard with real, close-quarters combat melee skills. I mean, you can’t position yourself right when those vortexes take up all your space. And I kept misclicking and walking into my death, which happens in like 2 seconds if you’re not constantly attacking and leeching, and…

(Billy proceeded to rant about namelock melee skills and boss fights for about 15 minutes. This has been cut out in order to preserve your sanity.)

Jane sighed with boredom. Okay, I get it, Billy. But you did manage to beat him? I’d be glad to hear that you didn’t waste the last month of your life on a build that’s not Shaper viable!

That’s not really fair, Jane. Not every build has to beat Shaper to be considered successful…

Jane shrugged and made a noise that sounded like “eyh.” Anyway, tell me how it went.

Well, I went all-out DPS for the fight. I used Bloodlust in place of Ruthless and Frenzy instead of Flicker, I had a hard time remembering to keep my Frenzy charges up, but I did try. I also have a jewel that puts me at 6,000 Life, and I actually switched it out for more DPS.

*Gasp* you let go of being able to say you had over 6,000 Life just for a little extra DPS? Are you not horribly, crippingly OCD? Didn’t you at least Divine something to get there? Come on, 5,940 Life is so close!

I guess my motivation to defeat Shaper was enough to let go of nice, round numbers and arbitrary thresholds. And I was too lazy to buy Divines.

To continue, the fight itself was very challenging. His laser has an insane hitbox. I can’t tell you how many times I found myself caught in it while I was off to the side, visually nowhere near the beam.

What, you can’t tank it like all those GG build Shaper kills I see on Youtube?

I tried once. I saved all my flasks for it and got my Frenzies up, but his beam still melted me.


Very. Anyway, his yellow cold balls were also able to destroy me if I got caught in them. I learned I had to be careful not to be in between my totem and Shaper. If he decided to attack the totem with his yellow ball attack and I happened to be in the path, he would demolish me instantly. But luckily it wasn’t too hard to place my totem off to the side instead.

What about the white vortex balls? I remember they were your favorite part of fighting Shaper last time…

Ugh, exhaled Billy. I contend that this fight was absolutely not made for melee characters! How do they expect us to place those things effectively when we can’t leave the immediate area around Shaper or his minions without dropping 100% of our DPS?

I don’t think you can say “us” when talking about Glacial Hammer users…

But at least I could outleach the damage of standing on a Vortex for a couple seconds. My Mana would drain and make it unsustainable, but for short bursts of time it was okay.

Overall my DPS was solid. When I was able to activate my flasks, get some Frenzy charges up, get him on a Vaal Lightning Trap, and avoid his beam, his health dropped quick! I also felt sufficiently tanky for the fight. I could also swear I survived one of his teleport slams somehow.

It’s possible I guess, if you had your Taste of Hate and a full Mana pool. But tell me, what about the phases in between Shaper? Did you struggle with the Unshapen minibosses?

Billy contorted his face in disgust. He started to relive some very frustrating experiences… Well, the first one was no problem at all. I was amazed at how quickly he went down. All I had to do was not stand inside his big, telegraphed slam, and I was fine. However, the second one is a f%!@#$ cheater!

Billy, watch your language—adolescent children could be reading this transcript!

No, seriously—watch my video! He kills me after a comedy of errors and getting stuck in a wall and all sorts of nonsense, and then when I get back to him, he catches me in a slam from offscreen! Or maybe his previous slam hadn’t ended for some reason, but it was entirely unfair!

Billy, one unfortunate bug or random incident doesn’t make a pattern. If you fought him again, would you struggle?

Actually, probably not. Those guys were way easier than I expected for a melee-range character.

Good! And the final phase, with the Shaper clone, how did that go?

It was tough—I’m not gonna lie. I feel I was exceedingly unlucky with white vortex ball spawns. I got a ton of them spawning in unfortunate positions closer to the center of the map. Zana died almost instantly during the portal phase—Shaper’s clone demolished her. Is that a bug? There was no possible way to stop it from happening.

Anyway, I died a lot. Most of my deaths were the result of getting caught in his BS laser, thinking I was sufficiently out of the way. I honestly didn’t think I was going to beat him on that run, but my Princess Sabre and her amazing Culling Strike corruption saved the day!

I poured myself some bourbon and corrupted his Boots, of course ruining them completely. It was a good night.

I’m proud of you, Jane said. She seemed almost…authentic about it. But for the love of Voll, don’t share that video with Reddit.

Billy frowned.

The End.
Last edited by rut on Sep 18, 2017, 3:22:45 PM
Loved the writing. Quite different from the usual build guide around here.

Glacial Hammer is on my list of skills I want to try in the (sort of) near future. If I manage to do so, I'll probably give your build a go. It seems fun.
Chris Wilson took my soul
I'm glad you enjoyed the build guide!

However, I would warn that Glacial Hammer isn't the most "fun" skill I've played--the clearspeed is quite a bit slower than most other skills since it's primarily a single-target attack. At least before you get access to Multistrike, I'd recommend going Cleave or Sunder just so you don't lose your sanity!

Definitely check out some of the gameplay videos if you haven't already to see if the style is for you.
Just put together a quick video guide for those who prefer a visual format to a written one.


Some minor updates to the build as well. For example, it never even occurred to me to try Shaper's Touch until recently. The results? They're absolutely crazy for this build! They take my Mana from 1500 after reservation to 1800, and get me enough Accuracy that I wouldn't need to get more from any sources! I've added them to the build guide as they are probably the best gloves imaginable for this build.
why not just use doryani's catalyst and gain 80% More dps? Mjolner does nothing here...

It totally looks like you put a mjolner randomly there for no reason, you dont even use the spells for something meaning full and they deal insanely BAD damage (5K per strike, negligeable amount).

However yes, shaper's touch is insanely good

why Mjolner? Couldn’t you hit better DPS numbers with a Doryani’s Catalyst or a decent rare mace?

unfortunately elemental equilibrium is not enough 1M dps with doryani without EE, 837 with mjol + EE...

You should have gone hybrid elemental damage instead, to improve spell damage too. Plus EE boosts spell damage too bcuz of the cold->light->cold->light.

The cool down cold spells look good. 0.129 attack/sec triggers the spells at the right timing.

Also bloodlust... well ye your ancestral warchief will bleed but it's only 25% chances and if it dies, you lose a lot of dps. Especially if it dies when the bleed hasnt proceed, since the attack speed of the warchief is low, on average you need more than 4 hits. Then you lose time to respawn it. to me it's a bad idea.

Anyway, funny concept, cool guide but not a good build.
I will never be good but always I try to improve.
Yes, you have touched on an excellent point--as stated in the guide, a solid rare mace or Doryani's can get better DPS than Mjolner with EE.

Mjolner gets us a couple things that Doryani's doesn't--namely better Elemental Overload uptime, the ability to shock some mobs, and, most importantly, it's awesome!

Not to be pedantic, but the intention of the build was to find an endgame-viable way to wield Mjolner as an actual attacking melee weapon--the fact that we use Glacial Hammer is incidental. It just happens to be the best option I could come up with. If we were to drop Mjolner but keep Glacial Hammer, it would change the "orientation" of the build into something very different than its original intention!

It may be better by most any objective measure, but...it wouldn't be the Mjolner GH Build anymore!

Bloodlust on the totem works well in practice--it attacks quickly enough to apply bleeds consistently. Bleeds last 5 seconds (to my knowledge this is true against bosses too, but don't quote me on that), so even if the totem dies after a bit, that's 5 seconds of 59% more damage. In my experiences it's noticeably more powerful than Ruthless against the correct enemies (Shaper, all the Guardians except Hydra, and other more stationary bosses).

I fiddled around with scaling Elemental Damage but found it underwhelming. Perhaps I didn't do it correctly (Repentance Gloves, Lightning Pen instead of Innervate, Elemental Damage nodes from the Templar part of the tree), but it seemed my single-target damage fell drastically as a result. I did remove EE so that the Lightning spells could clear trash mobs--perhaps that was a mistake?

My reasoning was that increasing melee stats for Glacial Hammer would scale faster than elemental damage since enemies would have to be in GH range for EE to work anyway. But I would love to see if something that focused more on Elemental Damage over melee could surpass the current build!

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