[3.1][The Volatile Poet] Smoothly cast Volatile Dead! Fast clear speed! Now with Uber Lab video!


Do you want to play Volatile Dead, but hate the idea of having to cast Desecrate or Unearth first? Want a fast-clearing character that can get through bosses too? And no six-link required?

If this sounds good, try out my build! It’s 3.1-tested up to map tier 16 and level 93. I will be updating my build as I progress through the league, it’s still a little rough around the edges but I don’t think I’m far off.

This is a softcore-only build. I do NOT recommend it for hardcore. Also, due to the amount of travel nodes at the beginning of the tree, you will need to level as freezing pulse or another leveling skill before switching over to Volatile Dead at around Act 3. You can use Poet’s Pen, an important build unique, at level 12, so if this is not your first character you may use them while leveling to great effect.

Pros and Cons

+ Fast clearing
+ Smoother skill spam than self-cast Desecrate
+ Tanky
+ Uses Pathfinder ascendancy: movement speed, bonus flask charges, ele damage penetration
+ Kills bosses FAST!

- Requires you to use more than one skill in boss fights
- Requires good flask management
- Gearing may be too expensive
- Leveling is slower than other builds without party play or investment in leveling uniques.

Path of Building Link
https://pastebin.com/cPLJksqj -- level 94



Gear Explanation


Poet’s Pen is critical to the build. You will need them at around level 30. I recommend checking their price before attempting the build to make sure it’s not out of your ballpark. Poet's Pen also has a cooldown on the triggered spells that makes attacking more than 4 times per second counter-productive. Try keeping your Frenzy aps 3.99 or lower, unless you have cooldown reduction on your boots or belt. Remember to use a flask while testing your aps, since as a Pathfinder our flasks make us attack faster.

Using a 6s or 5s Carcass Jack with four links increases your AOE and Area Damage, but is not necessary for the build as you work on gearing until later. A decent rare with life an resists and at least 5 sockets will do you well. I have switched to Kaom's Heart at level 91, getting rid of self-cast Cremation (which had been in a pair of Shaper gloves).

The helm enchant is great! It allows us to use Controlled Destruction in place of Spell Cascade. If you do not have a helm with the enchant, use Spell Cascade. Note: switched from Starkonja's to Devoto's Devotion with the helm enchant at level 93.

The Elder ring that has Warlord's Mark on hit is a great way to get some life and mana back. It is not necessary, though without it you will be relying on your flasks more heavily.

Essence Worm lets you socket an Anger aura into it and not reserve any mana, making it possible to still use the Clear Mind Jewel in your tree. See "Jewels" for more info on Clear Mind.

I am still working on it, but I want the Life and Mana Leeched on Kill on my boots. Should make the build play even smoother!

The rest of your gear needs high life rolls and resistances. Spell damage and fire damage is also good; mana isn’t bad either.

Skill gems

Volatile Dead - Concentrated Effect - Controlled Destruction

Unearth - Greater Multiple Projectiles - Mana Leech

Frenzy - Power Charge on Critical - Culling Strike - GMP

Cast When Damage Taken - Immortal Call - Increased Duration - Decoy Totem
Note: the Decoy totem is very useful for bosses that can be taunted. It should be higher level than the CWDT so that you can self-cast it. If you can fit Decoy Totem elsewhere, socket a golem into this series.

Cremation - Controlled Destruction - Concentrated Effect - Greater Multiple Projectiles
Note: If using Kaom's Heart, this set-up gets dropped.

Unearth - Greater Multiple Projectiles - Spell Totem
Note: As of level 93 I am not using this setup, though I feel that if you are not running Kaom's Heart and the Volatile Dead +1 helm enchant, this setup may still be necessary.

Lighting Warp or Flame Dash

Vaal Haste

If using an Essence Worm:
Note: this will probably mean that you will need to have high resistances on your amulet, boots, gloves, and belt -- since your rings will provide curse on hit Warlord's Mark and Anger.

Passive Tree

Final Tree:
Level 94

Leveling Trees


Look for Abyss Jewels that have life and Spell Damage on them, like this one. The more Fire Damage the better!

Grab a Clear Mind Jewel when you can with a high spell damage roll.

I am currently shopping for a Watcher's Eye jewel with either of two of the Anger affixes: Life Leech for fire damage or % fire penetration.


You can use Atziri's Promise in place of Wise Oak. Remember to quality your flasks! I'm in the process of doing that now.

Bandit Choice:

Choose to help Alira for Mana Regen, Crit Multi, and Resists. We want the Mana Regen and Resists.


Nature’s Adrenaline, Nature’s Boon, Master Alchemist, then Veteran Bowyer


Minor: Yugul
Major: Brine King


Attack with Frenzy to trigger Unearth and Volatile Dead. The first attack may only have a few Volatiles spawn, but after that it’s smooth. You will also generate Frenzy and Power charges while attacking, and your Frenzy attacks will have Culling Strike.

If you are not using Kaom's Heart, use the following set-up as well: For bosses and hard mobs, I have a Spell Totem with an Unearth setup on it. This is to create more corpses since Volatile Dead gobbles them all up. I then cast Cremation three times near the boss, and after that spam Volatile Dead until the Cremation times out. I then recast the Spell Totem and Cremation, beginning the process again.

With Kaom's, I just have an Immortal Call set-up, a Decoy Totem, Flame Dash, and Vaal Haste set-up, and the Frenzy set-up in three four-links that gear provides.


Uber Lab:
Final Izaro fight at 15:14
Note: Recorded after the helm enchant nerf. We're still good!
Mapping videos viewable on my Twitch channel, here:

Last edited by Wyncote on Feb 21, 2018, 12:27:23 PM
Last bumped on Oct 9, 2018, 8:07:06 AM
Reserved for additional notes...

This is my first build guide, please give feedback!

I'd also like to thank Draener for help with developing the build.

Thanks also to HiddenoO from Reddit for some great feedback.

12/22/17: Added Kaom's Heart to the build.

1/4/18: Update to take in changes made to the build as I have leveled to 93. Mostly gear changes.
Last edited by Wyncote on Jan 4, 2018, 2:32:00 PM
What if I level without Poet’s wand? Don’t have enough chaos for it right now. How much difference I will see until I got hem.
Last edited by Lynkeus_ on Dec 13, 2017, 9:05:34 AM
You definitely can level without the Poet's wands... They just make it easy. I leveled without the Pens and without using Volatile Dead as Freezing Pulse until I reached Act 3. Then I picked up all the gems I needed at the Library quest and self cast Volatile Dead and Desecrate until around level 70. That's when I bought the Poet's Pens. Thanks for your question! Hope that answers it!
is one poets wand enough or is it critical to have both?

i could only afford one :(
You may be able to do something similar by using the Unearth Spell Totem with GMP more extensively. But I think you might be better off just doing a self-cast Volatile Dead build at that point, one where you do not use Poet's Pen and instead use a self-cast Descerate or Unearth and then cast Volatile Dead yourself. I leveled this way until I bought two Poet's Pens at around level 70. It's not bad, but much slower.

I think you could do it that way, and then buy the second Poet's Pen once you've made some currency mapping in lower maps.

Hope that helps!
Updated with Uber Lab video!
I am playing as this build ( well something similar ) I decided to go raider instead and I am actually using a tabula to cast on channel both volatile and unearth with scorching ray...I find its working quite well. I dont have the pens yet. Build is VERY solid, and quite fun imo.
That's a really nice idea, to use Scorching Ray and Cast on Channelling to trigger the corpse skills! Thank you for telling me about that.
viable elemental equilibrium?

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