[3.8] ♛ Hank the Tank™ ♛ - The Manliest Man ☛ Cleave & Bladestorm [Delve 500+][Uber Atziri/Elder]

Status: Check the update sticky below. ✌

Update sticky (read this!)

Path of Building code updated to 3.8.

Nothing has changed in 3.8 as per patch notes.
You can find a list of wanted anointments in the FAQ down below.

This way, please! Come on in!

Welcome! This is Hank the Tank, also known as The Manliest Man.

Who is Hank?

Hank is a Champion. Not just any Champion. The Champion.

Tried and tested, this build is for people who want to have a good time while playing melee. He can take care of most of the content you will face, and he has a tendency to stay alive.

Hank is the man you call when your friends make fun of you because you keep dying.
With Hank by your side, you will be the one laughing.

Hank is the man you call when someone needs to be carried through Uber Lab.
Not only can you laugh in Izaro's face, you can do so with style!

Hank is the man you call when you want to relax.
He will take the hits you don't want to dodge and he will shrug them off with ease.

A true man does not flinch when staring into death's gaping mouth.
A true man grabs his fate by the tails and shapes it the way he wants.

Play like Hank. Love like Hank. Be like Hank.

Path of Building/PoB code: https://pastebin.com/DzL9KVxw *
Regular: http://poeurl.com/czQG
RT: http://poeurl.com/czQH
You can find all passive trees in the PoB code.

  • Kill all

  • Master of Metal
  • Unstoppable Hero
  • Fortitude
  • Inspirational

  • Solaris (upgraded)
  • Shakari (upgraded)

Feel free to stop by at my YouTube channel to subscribe for more content.

Only the finest motion picture for your viewing pleasure ;)

Please take note that new ones may be added in due time. Thank you for watching!

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Older videos:

How am I supposed to play this build?

Press a button. Press another button. Press that button. Now, do it again.

Is this build tanky?

Eh, it's all right.

Does this build actually do any damage?

I suppose it does.

Can this build do endgame content?

Yes, it can.*
This was in Legion league and just a personal goal of mine. Monsters at this point start becoming scary with multiple damage mods. On-death explosions must be avoided in general. I could have gone farther, but I settled with ~500 at the end of the league.

Which nodes for anointment would you recommend?

Here's a list:
  • |█|█|█|█|█|█|█|█| Master of Force
  • |█|█|█|█|█|█|█|█| Force Shaper
  • |█|█|█|█|█|█|█|█| Silent Steps
  • |█|█|█|█|█|█|█|█| Crystal Skin

|█| = offensive value
|█| = defensive value

If I use all auras and stuff, I don't have enough Mana left to use my skills. What did I do wrong?

Banners still reserve Mana until you finish Uber Lab and get Inspirational. That means that you will have to drop either Flesh & Stone or War Banner (depending on your level and thus Mana pool) until then.

Why is my damage so low? What did I do wrong?

First of all, ignore the tooltip! Don't believe me? Scroll down to the bottom of page 173 of this guide and see for yourself.

Depending on what type of content you try to do, you probably aren't ready for it yet (or your standards for DPS are too high). But there can be multiple causes, so here's a checklist (check if true):

☐ I followed the guide correctly.

☐ I have weapons with high base attack speed (Corsair, Foil).

☐ I have 100% chance to impale.

☐ I have endgame weapons as displayed in the guide.

☐ I do not have endgame weapons yet, so I still use Resolute Technique.

☐ I have a Lion's Roar, Sulphur and Silver flask.

☐ I am level 80+ and picked up most damage nodes according to the tree.

☐ I have the Cleave helmet enchant.

☐ I have the attack speed boot enchant.

☐ All my gems are maximum level.

☐ All my gems have maximum quality.

☐ I have Spiked Gloves with attack speed.

☐ I have finished all the Labyrinths.

☐ I use Bladestorm to keep my Rage stacks up.

☐ I have a 6L body armour.

☐ I have jewels with more than 1 damage mod.

☐ I have all my auras and buffs active.

Once you have checked most of this, damage should be a non-issue. I have killed Shaper and his Guardians on a 5L with trash weapons myself.

The difference between 5L with bad weapons and 6L with good weapons is huge. Impale chance is very important for consistent DPS.

Also, very big thing to keep in mind: Multistrike and Ruthless mechanics. Multistrike only adds any DPS if you let the entire attack (aka. 1 skill use) finish and all 3 hits connect. Ruthless only works if you do NOT cancel every third skill use (since Multistrike turns all hits of every third skill use into Ruthless Blows instead of every third hit) by moving etc. Yep, who would have thought that proper DPS-ing actually takes a little practice.

Make sure to pick up Resolute Technique if you don't have Hits Can't Be Evaded on your weapons. You can spec out of it once you get that mod (on both weapons!).

Most of the complaints I have gotten were from people attempting content they weren't yet ready for gear-wise, or not picking up RT (due to not having endgame weapons) and thus missing most of their attacks. Remember that preparation is key and you can't properly DPS or survive when you miss a ton of hits.

Can I use other skills but Cleave?

Any melee skill that works with one-handed swords. Keep in mind that some Support gems may not apply, then. For example, if you want to use Cyclone, you will need to replace Multistrike and Ruthless with something like Rage and Pulverize.

Which weapons should I use?

I mention that at the bottom of this guide in the gear section, but let's clarify a couple things.

From left to right, weapon #1 is the budget option for well balanced offense and defense. Ichimonji is great bang for your buck (also allows you to run all auras before Uber Lab), however, weapon #2 already outclasses it DPS-wise because of the Impale chance (it's also what I used to kill Shaper and his Guardians on a 5L). Weapon #3 is an example of an endgame weapon as you want it for the final stages of the build.

The pDPS of the sword isn't that important anymore because we got added Physical damage to Cleave with 3.7 for this exact reason. This allows you to use the skill at all stages of your character, without the need for a very good weapon.

I saw your tree was slightly different in the video. Should I change mine?

No. Not unless you have to. I sometimes make circumstantial changes because of gear or whatever.

Which Stance am I supposed to use? Blood? Sand?

Blood Stance. Switching between them is a hassle that only works on paper and it's also not needed in my opinion. But if you want to play it safe, specifically in HC, it's worth it to put in the extra effort.

Where is the Poison immunity coming from?

Shakari Pantheon (upgraded). Should be high priority.

Why don't you use Aspect of the Crab from the body armour?

Because it doesn't work. Or more precisely, it doesn't work without a certain setup.

Aspect of the Crab will give you additional Physical Damage Reduction as long as you have Crab Barriers. However, all stacks of them are lost once you take Physical damage from a hit. This means that you can only make use of this with other Craiceann uniques.

BUT there is one use for it that is actually super nifty: Labyrinth traps. Yep. You can turn off Flesh & Stone and activate Aspect of the Crab between each Aspirant's Trial to significantly reduce the damage from traps (since Armour doesn't work against them). This only works for ones that don't hit, e.g. everything except spikes, poison darts and totems. Don't forget to switch back before you engage Izaro.

Why take Fortitude when Overwhelming Odds/Fortify Support exist?

Reliability. A lot of the bonuses are "while you have Fortify". There will be times where you can't/aren't attack/ing, thus this is worth taking. Always.

Also, imagine it like this:

The map has monster damage and you didn't take the Fortify node.
You need to Leap Slam to the pack and then use Cleave to get Fortify.
It's a pack of projectile mobs and they have additional projectiles.
They target you as you initiate the Leap Slam.
The projectiles are flying towards you while you are in mid-air.
All of them hit you as you land.
You have no Fortify. You have low Armour.
You are dead.

Or you turn a corner and they all blast you just as you come around. Boom. You are dead. Yes, both scenarios and more have happened to me personally in earlier build iterations before.

Is this HC viable? Any tips for HC?

Yes, it is. Well, let me elaborate. There were a couple of people who tried Hank in HC because they played exclusively HC (and others who just wanted to try it), and those players all reported that they made it past lvl 90 deathless, some even made it past lvl 95. Is it HC viable for everything? Probably not. But you should have your fun for a long while.

I personally have never actually played Hank in HC, but I did play him in SC past level 90 with no deaths.

In SC I tried to run as nasty maps as I can to see what I call "the choke points". I'm an avid "red mapper", meaning I only run high tier maps and up. So, my build requirements are probably higher than for some of you.

Anyways, if you plan on doing this particular build in HC, I will tell you that Chaos resistance is absolutely mandatory. There's no way around it. It's just too risky; Fortify and all that can't save you when you have -60% Chaos resistance. And there's a lot more Chaos damage in the game than you think.

Map mods you should avoid in HC:

  • Less Recovery *
  • No-Regen *
  • Physical Reflect (also in SC)
  • Too many attack speed and damage mods on dangerous bosses (e.g. Guardians - the build is tanky but obviously not immortal; I can run seriously nasty maps, but I only do that in SC)
  • Elemental Weakness if you are barely resistance capped (don't rely on Anti-Curse flask and Endurance charges here - better safe than sorry)
  • Any combination of Endurance charges + 40% Physical Damage Reduction + Monster Life (depends on boss, but this is an absolute NO-GO for Guardians - they will take forever to die, making it stupidly dangerous)
  • Chance to apply ailments + added Cold (or against a Cold boss like Hydra) because Freeze can get you killed
  • Penalty to maximum resistances (unless you use a Loreweave) *

Situational. You can run these if you know the limits of your character and are careful enough. No-Regen is mostly not a problem, and neither is less Recovery, though this depends on the content you face.

Maybe I don't see it, but... Stun immunity? Where?

Unstoppable Hero. Immune to stuns while you have Fortify.

How do you get 100% chance to impale? Am I missing something?

Weapon: 20%
Master of Metal: 20%
Passives: 20%
Support gem: 40%
Total: 100%

Where is the chance to bleed coming from?

That and Vulnerability.

Let's talk about opportunity cost.

From a conversation with another player: I basically got asked why I use Thief's Torment when you could just use 2 Elder rings (especially when trying to stack Chaos res) and Mana on hit jewels.

First, yes, that'd totally work. The reasons why I'm not doing this are:

* 2 perfect Elder rings are ~66% as effective as a perfect Thief's Torment and good luck getting those, not to mention it's near impossible with Mana on hit. Get any lower tiers and you are at half the Life on hit and still need extra passives to sustain Mana. Not to mention the cost involved.

* Thief's Torment has 50% reduced effect of Curses on you. You can technically roll this mod on Shaped rings, but you'd need 2 of those (with T1 rolls) and then you obviously can't have the Elder mods.

* Thief's Torment also adds item quantity, which increases your overall item drops.

* Thief's Torment can be used from lvl 30 onwards, making leveling a breeze.

To sum it up:

Opportunity cost is about evaluating the gains and benefits of doing X instead of Y and making a proper assessment of each option available.

Option A may give X, but option B may give X benefit to Y greater extent and/or additional bonuses and thus both options have to be equally weighted based on circumstances.

A winner is then decided by finding the sweet spot that gives the most for the smallest investment.

Why use Armour? Armour sucks.

This is defnitely the most annoying thing I keep hearing. It's mostly said by people who haven't actually played a good Armour build and just throw around random stats without any credibility.

Many people will tell you that Armour "loses effectiveness" against bigger hits. It doesn't; it only looks worse if you compare the raw % of flat PDR vs Armour. It's just how Armour works: you need many times more Armour if you want a bigger reduction for a hit.

It's also very easy to stack without much investment and it certainly makes you tankier, as the most common damage you will receive in the game is Physical damage from basic monster attacks.

Armour is not something you build around on its own, the way it works doesn't allow for that. Once you understand that and know what to do with it, you'll see that Armour can actually be very nice to have.

How much Armour do you need?

The big Armour rule I will invoke here:

Armour has to be scaled with the content to remain useful.

You can't sit on one specific value (e.g. 15k Armour) and expect it to work the same for each encounter. That is not how Armour scales in the first place.

Here's a rough estimate on Armour values per map tier range (based on my own experience):

Tier 1-5: 15k-25k
Tier 6-10: 25k-35k
Tier 11-16: 35k-65k+

This is roughly the amount of Armour you need to mitigate a reasonable amount of the Physical damage in those tiers. Don't take these for granted, they are just estimates.

Armour has diminishing returns as content scales up to a maximum, at which point adding more Armour does little to nothing. Quick example:

Going from 15k to 40k Armour is significant.
Going from 70k Armour to 90k Armour is not.

Why? Because Armour can only mitigate Physical damage up to a maximum value and never more than its own value divided by 10 (e.g. 50k Armour can never mitigate more than 5k Physical damage). If you are already fully mitigating up to its maximum, adding more Armour does nothing (depends on enemy damage, of course).

Can this build do full key Uber Lab runs/carries?


Is this a league starter? Is there a cheap version?

Of course. I don't advertise stuff that is not true.

A Tabula Rasa chest can carry you for a long time and turned out to be better than what I previously always used: Bringer of Rain.

The helmet can be used as a substitute if you want to really go lowest budget. For Lab itself it works just fine, for mapping I'd recommend the Tabula approach. You can farm the chest yourself if needed.

This build is purely Physical damage based.

I invest into a lot of attack speed not only for damage, but also because I use a Thief's Torment ring for extra sustain. Since it grants Life on hit, coupled with Multistrike and high attack speed this becomes quite effective for Life Recovery.

Ancestral Protector and Multistrike both multiply your attack speed instead of just adding to it as passives for example do, thus are necessary to reach very high attack speed.

The build also uses Impale, which is a mechanic that stores 10% of the recorded Physical damage dealt by a hit, prior to mitigation, on the enemy.

It will consume 1 stack of Impale when you hit the enemy again. Doing this will deal reflected Physical damage to the enemy, which simply means it's a form of secondary Physical damage that can only be amplified by increasing the damage an enemy takes.

Impale Effect increases the amount of damage that is stored and then reflected. E.g. 30% increased effect of Impale translates to 13% instead of 10% stored (10 * 1.3 = 13).

Champion comes with Impale bonuses and raises the max stacks of 5 to 7, and also adds a flat amount of min and max Physical damage to attacks for each stack of Impale on the enemy.

You can further scale Impale on the tree, with the new Impale Support gem, with Dread Banner, and on weapons with the hybrid Physical mod.

This makes it a great tool for pure Physical damage builds to dish out some extra damage.

The build uses Cleave to take advantage of several things:

  • Cleave deals damage in a wide cone in front of you (estimated 180° angle)
  • Cleave applies on-hit effects such as Life on hit twice, but also rolls crit and other things for each individual weapon separately

Cleave still counts as a single hit, despite the double on-hit mechanic that stems from dual-wielding.

Layering defenses to accumulate a lot of raw mitigation is the build's primary goal. Hence the name Hank the Tank.

This build stacks a bunch of Armour to mitigate Physical damage, has permanent Fortify to reduce damage taken from hits, comes with stacked resistances and is immune to Bleeding (with higher budget). Bonus points for extra Endurance charges.

To start things off, let me explain the difference between scattered and layered defenses and why I use the latter.

Scattered defenses is what I will refer to as small values of X mechanic that are theoretically layered when you simplify the term, but it's not actually layered defenses.

Layered defenses is what I will refer to as stacked mechanics with stacked values that mitigate damage in order.

A build with 30% chance to evade, 30/20% chance to block, 5000 Armour, 20/15% chance to dodge, 75/75/75 resistances, 5k Life and Arctic Armour is what I would call scattered defenses.

To be fair, the average/new player would be like:

"Oh, I got a 30% chance to evade attacks; and if that fails, I got a 20% chance to dodge attacks. If that fails, I got a 30% chance to block attacks; and if everything else fails, I still have some Armour and Arctic Armour to protect me."

If it's not that obvious to you, there's a lot of IFs in that thought trail.

I don't like IF, I prefer to have builds that are reliable.

In my case I'm stacking Armour, Maximum Resistances, Reduced Damage Taken and so on. To show you what layering defenses looks like, let's get into detail:

Conditional Modifiers

Conditional modifiers are simply modifiers that are tied to specific restrictions. Once you meet their conditions, these modifiers will take effect.


Modifiers apply as long as the condition continues to be met.

"Chaos Damage does not bypass Energy Shield while not on Low Life or Low Mana."
Source: Esh's Visage.


Modifiers apply as the condition is met.

"Gain Adrenaline for 20 seconds when you reach Low Life if you do not have Adrenaline."
Source: Champion's First to Strike, Last to Fall passive.


A restriction that applies a condition to modifiers that has to be met in order to take effect.

"Take no Extra Damage from Critical Strikes if you have taken a Critical Strike Recently."
Source: Upgraded Solaris Pantheon.

Other modifiers

Some modifiers have other restrictions that don't use this kind of specific wording.

"5% reduced Damage taken from Bleeding Enemies"
Source: Bloodletting passive.

You can identify conditional modifiers by checking if they only apply a certain effect when a certain condition is met.

Unfortunately, not all of these modifiers have 100% consistency in Path of Exile. For example, Pain Attunement should be worded While and not When, as its Spell Damage modifier applies as long as you are on Low Life and not just when you reach Low Life.

Lucky and Unlucky


Lucky and Unlucky both only work for modifiers with minimum and maximum ranges.
You cannot be Lucky when you are Unlucky, and you cannot be Unlucky when you are Lucky.
This means that, if you got both modifiers, they will cancel each other.
Lucky will roll minimum and maximum ranges twice and pick the higher roll.
Unlucky will roll minimum and maximum ranges twice and pick the lower roll.

Example for Lucky:
Damage rolled 20 to 80.
Average value is (20 + 80) / 2 = 50
Damage rolled 40 to 75.
Average value is (40 + 75) / 2 = 57.5
Lucky picks the higher roll.
The selected roll is: 57.5.

Example for Unlucky:
Damage rolled 20 to 80.
Average value is (20 + 80) / 2 = 50
Damage rolled 40 to 75.
Average value is (40 + 75) / 2 = 57.5
Unlucky picks the lower roll.
The selected roll is: 50.

This means that, for example, if an enemy's attacks against you were to be Unlucky, you would effectively reduce the average damage roll of their attacks when they hit you.

Reducing the Critical Strike Multiplier

Reduced Extra Damage Taken From Critical Strikes

Increasing this stat will reduce the Critical Strike Multiplier of enemies when they hit you.
Enemies have a base Critical Strike Multiplier of 30%; e.g. a critical strike would deal 130% of damage.

You take 50% reduced extra damage from critical strikes.
Enemy has +40% to Critical Strike Multiplier.
30 + 40 = 70; enemy's critical strikes would deal 170% of damage.
However, the value of the Critical Strike Multiplier is now reduced by 50%.
70 * 0.5 = 35; enemy's critical strikes will now hit you for 135% of damage instead.

Please be aware that this stat will only reduce the extra damage you take from critical strikes, and not how much damage you take from a critical strike as a whole.

By taking the Solaris Pantheon, you can turn the damage of all enemy critical strikes into normal hits if you have taken a critical hit Recently. This does not mean that enemies cannot hit you for extra damage. You still have to mitigate the critical strike up-front, which is why you should still invest into this stat if possible.

Evading the Hit

Chance to Evade Attack Hits

The attacker's Accuracy Rating is weighted against your Evasion Rating to determine whether a hit occurred.

Evasion is entropy based, meaning an evaded hit will add to the entropy counter, and once full, the attacker's hit will connect and reset the entropy counter.

You evade attack 1.
Entropy counter gets filled.
You evade attack 2.
Entropy counter gets filled.
Entropy counter is now full.
Attack 3 hits you.
Entropy counter resets.

Blind halves the hit chance of the attacker.
This makes Blind a very effective defense for low Evasion Rating characters.

If you have no Evasion Rating to begin with, for example by using Iron Reflexes, you cannot evade enemy attacks. However, Blind can still affect the hit chance of the enemy and thus is a straight-up 50% chance for them to miss.

Dodging the Hit

Chance to Dodge Attack Hits
Chance to Dodge Spell Hits

If you failed to evade the enemy's attack, you now have a chance to dodge it based on your Chance to Dodge.
Dodge has no entropy counter and is purely random.

You have a Chance to Dodge Attack Hits of 50%.
Enemy has passed the Accuracy check.
Your Chance to Evade Attacks has failed.
Chance to Dodge Attacks is calculated.
Dodge was successful.
You dodge the hit and take no damage.

Dodging a hit does not count as you getting hit.
Dodging a hit completely avoids damage.

Dodge is very strong in combination with Evasion Rating, but it also applies to any character that uses Armour or Block. It's an entirely separate modifier. The higher the value, the more effective it becomes.

Shifting the Damage

Damage taken as

Portion of the damage is shifted to another damage type.
This is not Conversion and shifted damage does not retain its original damage type.
Shifted damage is applied before any types of mitigation, and thus can be described as just splitting damage.

100 Cold damage
75% Cold Resistance
75% Fire Resistance
50% of Cold Damage Taken as Fire Damage

(Damage shift: 25% Cold Penetration)
50 Cold * 0.5 = 25
50 Fire * 0.25 = 12.5
Final: 25 + 12.5 = 37.5

(No damage shift: 25% Cold Penetration)
100 Cold * 0.5 = 50
Final: 50

Shifting damage can be vital to bypass Penetration effects to mitigate damage more effectively. Be careful with damage shift. If you have high mitigation of a damage type and shift more damage than necessary, you can end up taking more damage than you otherwise would have. Damage over time cannot be shifted.

Mitigating the Damage

Avoiding Damage
Physical Damage Reduction

Avoiding Damage fully negates the damage of a hit, but it still counts as you being hit.

10% chance to Avoid Lightning Damage When Hit.
Enemy hits you with 100 Lightning damage.
Chance to avoid damage was successful.
Lightning damage from the hit is reduced to 0.
You are still being hit, you just take no damage.

Resistances apply to both hits and damage over time of the corresponding damage type.
The higher the maximum, the more effective damage reduction you get from it.

100 Cold damage
75% Cold Resistance vs 85% Cold Resistance
100 * 0.25 = 25
100 * 0.15 = 15

The total Physical Damage Reduction must be calculated from:
Armour and Additional Physical Damage Reduction
Armour applies to hits only

Armour is often regarded as useless against bigger hits. This is a common misconception that stems from how Armour scales. For Armour to mitigate more and more of the incoming Physical hit damage, you need more and more Armour to achieve the same effect.

This doesn't make Armour useless against bigger hits, it just means that it's best utilized as additional damage reduction in conjunction with other sources. Unlike Additional Physical Damage Reduction, Armour can mitigate more or less damage, purely based on how hard you are hit.

Damage Taken

Flat Damage Taken
Increased/Reduced Damage Taken
More/Less Damage Taken

Flat Damage Taken is a simple subtraction that subtracts a fixed number from the remaining damage.

You have -50 Physical Damage Taken From Attacks.
Enemy hits you for 100 Physical damage.
100 - 50 = 50
You take 50 Physical damage.

Increased/Reduced Damage Taken are additive modifiers.
They stack and thus can cancel each other.

10% Reduced Damage Taken
10% Increased Damage Taken
You are hit for 100 damage.
100 * {1 + [(1 * 0.1) - (1 * 0.1)]} = 100
You take 100 damage.

More/Less Damage Taken are multiplicative and apply after Increased and Reduced Damage Taken.
They are multiplicative with each other.

10% Less Damage Taken
10% More Damage Taken
You are hit for 100 damage.
100 * 0.9 * 1.1 = 99
You take 99 damage.

10% Reduced Damage Taken
10% Increased Damage Taken
10% Less Damage Taken
10% More Damage Taken
100 * {1 + [(1 * 0.1) - (1 * 0.1)]} * 0.9 * 1.1 = 99
You take 99 damage.

Diminishing Returns of Less Damage Taken:
10% Less Damage Taken
10% Less Damage Taken
10% Less Damage Taken
10% Less Damage Taken
10% Less Damage Taken
10% Less Damage Taken
100 * 0.9 * 0.9 * 0.9 * 0.9 * 0.9 * 0.9 = 53.14
You take 53 damage.

Fortify reduces damage taken from hits only, but there are other sources of Reduced Damage Taken that also apply to damage over time.

Due to the multiplicative nature of Less Damage Taken, you will never end up taking no damage. Reduced Damage Taken can stack up to a total of 100%, at which point you'd take no damage.

Blocking the Hit

Chance to Block Attack Damage
Chance to Block Spell Damage

You have a chance to block incoming damage based on your Chance to Block.
Blocking a hit avoids all damage from it.

Blocking should never be viewed as a fail safe but as strong average mitigation. If your intent is to take as minimal damage as possible, you are better off stacking raw mitigation.

A grave mistake many players make when building a Block based character, is to neglect all other forms of defenses. Blocking is only effective as long as you are blocking. If you are not mitigating past that point, a failed Block can kill you. Keep that in mind.

Applying the Onion Principle

Basically, the Onion Principle is about adding layer after layer of defense. But to keep those layers from falling apart, you need some kind of glue.

Glue being a metaphor for synergy. You have to make a choice of which class to use, which type of defenses you want to invest into, which skills to use and so on. And then you find the best synergies that go along with those choices.

For instance, a build that can apply Bleed and travels through the Duelist area can pick up Bloodletting for some bonus defense. It's a conditional modifier, so the bonuses it grants may not always apply, depending on the situation. But it is there. And it is your choice whether or not you pick it up.

And it's the choice you make with pretty much every layer of defense you decide to pick up or not pick up, that determines in the end how tanky your character will be.

If you pick 10% more damage over 5% reduced damage taken, then you made a choice. And whether or not that choice means that you can survive that slam or not, it's all your doing.

But paraphrasing myself here, it always depends on the context.

If that 10% more damage means you can kill the enemy before he finishes his slam animation, then you made the right choice. If that 5% reduced damage taken means you survive that slam and can fight back, then you made the right choice. The context matters.

The reason why Hank is a Champion is because of all the synergies. He offers solid offense as well as defense and is well positioned in the tree for melee sword builds. That allows me to focus on defense and still have decent damage.

Going crit is not possible without compromising my survivability. It's a choice I made a long time ago. A consequence that I accepted. And it's this compromise that you have to be willing to take.

Otherwise you will always feel that your build either isn't tanky enough or deals not enough damage. Find the sweet spot that is good enough for you.

EHP or More Defense?

Another thing I should mention that you will come across often, is the fact that most people value eHP over defense stacking for some reason. You will find that people will mock you for having 4k Life; doesn't matter if you got the appropriate defenses to take far more damage than a 10k Life build ever could.

I learned this the hard way years ago with a 10k Life build, purely stacking Life, and getting smacked left and right. Then I played another character, specifically earlier iterations of Hank, and I could tank stuff with 5k Life that my 10k Life build couldn't. Specifically Shaper's slam attack or bullet hell projectiles come to mind.

It is often far easier to grab defenses that equal 30% more Life than it is to actually get 30% more Life. Whether you believe me or not is up to you.

When Does Stacking Defenses Become Too Much?

While stacking defenses can feel great, one should be careful not to overstack.

Certain encounters can be fatal if you only bring the pack but not the punch.

You can wear a steel helmet as I come at you with an axe. And it might hold for a while, but sooner or later that head is coming off.

It depends on the type of content you plan to farm. A lot of the endgame bosses are purely mechanical and you can power through them with minimal defense, some skill and enough DPS.

Shaper, for instance, is a purely mechanical fight and can be trivialized with high DPS builds. Something like Chimera, where he has immunity phases where he can attack you or a lot of adds that can be dangerous, stacking defenses in turn can make these bosses easy to farm.

Then you have endgame content such as Uber Elder, where the area becomes fatal if you don't bring the necessary DPS, but this also is highly build dependent. If you are playing some Righteous Fire super high Energy Shield Regen tank, chances are high that this won't affect you. But for most other builds, this is certainly true.

So, try to find the right amount of offense and defense for your build.

Overlooked Defenses

Once again referring to the Onion Principle, defense stacking is not just about stacking a value of X to do Y.

No, it's much more than that.

Often overlooked detrimental effects don't have anything to do with taking damage. They solely exist to make sure that sooner or later your character will die.

These effects can be ailments, but don't have to be. Aside from Stun and Freeze and all those shenanigans, people often overlook those teeny tiny super annoying effects that you might not even know you can build against.

Those effects include Hinder, Maim, Tarred Ground, Vine Snare, and so on.

Those effects in particular are movement slows, not action slows like Freeze or Chill, and often cannot be avoided. Unless, of course, you are a Juggernaut with Unstoppable.

But against some of those you can actually take measures that often don't cost much. In particular Hinder and Maim, which can be countered with jewel corruptions.

Also falling into this category, movement speed is a form of defense. Depending on the type of build you play, it may or may not have a huge impact.

If you are melee, you can often make up for slower movement speed by using fast movement skills.

Shifting Defenses Into Gear Pieces

Speaking of which, those detrimental effects also include status ailments and other negative effects.

You are probably aware of flasks and how they are used to counter stuff like Freeze and Curses.

But let's do a quick summary. There are a total of 6 ailments. Bleed, Poison, Ignite, Freeze, Chill and Shock. You have 5 flask slots. But that's ok, because Freeze and Chill can be taken care of with the same flask.

So, since you are probably also aware that Corrupted Blood tends to kill you, I'm just gonna assume you are also aware of Anti-Bleed flasks.

But you will probably want a movement speed flask, maybe a damage one or two. And -- oh damn, you are out of slots!

And then you are gonna say, "But I don't need to be immune to Poison, Ignite and Shock!"

And it's this attitude that will get you killed.

Just a few examples: The big snake in the Guardian of the Chimera fight always applies Poison, the Rigwald boss always stacks Corrupted Blood in wolf form, the Elder Guardian Enslaver always ignites and Dominus always shocks you with Shocked Ground.

And there are many more enemies that apply strong ailments. More than you probably realize.

"But that's what flasks are for!", you might say.

Yeah, but what if you fat-fingered a flask one too many times? Didn't press the button correctly? Or maybe just didn't realize you were being debuffed? And suddenly - boom! - you are dead. There isn't always enough time for you to react.

There are also map modifiers that do all of these things.

Hank the Tank in particular is immune to Bleeding, Ignite, Poison, Freeze and Chill, Maim and Hinder.

Because I'm immune to 4 out of 6 status ailments, I need a total of 2 extra flasks to deal with negative effects. That's 1 for Curses and 1 for Shock.

This fact alone makes sure that my character will outlive the average character by far.

And stacking defenses that go beyond Armour, Resistances and so on, is how you apply the Onion Principle and make sure your character doesn't just fall over.

At league start you will need to mostly rely on flasks to push you through until you get a ring or find a substitute. Don't forget that you can spec into passives to help sustain and then later respec. You can also sacrifice a Support gem for Life Gain on Hit or use Life on hit from other sources.

Mana only starts to become a concern at higher levels with high attack speed. For early sustain, you can use Mana Leech rings or amulet.

In general you can skip the Fortify nodes at first if you start the league fresh because it will take you at least until Act 3 to get a Fortify gem (from the Library quest).

In Act 5, you also get the option to pick one Overwhelming Odds jewel as your reward, and it grants Fortify on hit with Cleave. You can use that in conjunction with the Fortify passives until you get the permanent Fortify from ascending.

However, if this is your second character, you can use Overwhelming Odds to get Fortify as soon as you get your first jewel socket without having to spend another gem socket. This is a great and safe way to level in HC.

In earlier stages of progression, investing into damage is better for faster leveling, but don't overdo it. Don't forget to pick up the Armour and Life nodes as well.

The leveling trees provided in the Path of Building code serve as guidance.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

That's the motto. If you don't have access to specific stats or mechanics, improvise a solution.

To be quite frank: a build guide only serves as a guideline.

Body Armour (6L, in order):
  • Cleave
  • Impale
  • Multistrike
  • Melee Physical Damage
  • Brutality
  • Ruthless

Weapon 1 (3L):
  • Leap Slam
  • Faster Attacks
  • Blood Magic

Weapon 2 (3L):
  • Ancestral Protector
  • Blood and Sand
  • Blood Rage

Helmet (4L):
  • Determination
  • Flesh and Stone *
  • Maim *
  • War Banner

Flesh and Stone can be supported by Maim to increase the Physical damage enemies take, as the skill itself maims enemies. Do not link another Maim somewhere, as they do not stack and only the strongest will apply.

Gloves (4L):
  • Bladestorm *
  • Rage
  • Pulverize
  • Blind **

This is used to generate Rage stacks, and for extra Life on hit and damage. It also triggers and stacks Impale, which makes it easy to get full Master of Metal stacks quickly.

Blind still works with Iron Reflexes. Use it for bonus defense.

Boots (4L):
  • Cast When Damage Taken lvl 4
  • Vulnerability lvl 7
  • Molten Shell lvl 12 *
  • Frost Bomb lvl 1/Berserk lvl 6 **

The buff will absorb up to 10k damage (75% of all damage, so you can take a total of ~13333 damage before it breaks), based on 20% of Armour.

Leaving it at this low level is fine because you want the buff to proc as often as possible (despite the 4s cooldown). The Armour bonus or reflected damage at higher levels are not worth it.

Frost Bomb can be used to deal with heavy Life regen enemies. Yes, I too keep forgetting this gem exists.

Berserk will drain your Rage rapidly, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I feel it's a pretty solid buff, even at lower levels.

My current items in the League

I'd love to have a good amulet with Fortify effect, as well as a Timeless Jewel for Elemental damage taken as Chaos, but one can't always have what one desires. Still happy with what I got. Would be even better if I could fit in a Watcher's Eye with Reduced Extra Damage Taken From Critical Strikes, but my resists wouldn't allow it and it's not as tragic because I'm on SC.

Core items

Thief's Torment is just so nice to play with. It covers Mana problems and rewards high attack speed builds with pretty decent Life gain. Very solid ring. Can be used from lvl 30 onwards and makes leveling a breeze.

Early League weapons

There are multiple ways to get decent weapons early in the league, most of which I briefly covered in my Full Guide video you can find at the top.

However, the easiest way is to constantly check your vendors for sabre type weapons. They come with high base attack speed, and generally roll Physical damage as opposed to foil type weapons that require higher stats and tend to roll Elemental damage.

Here's what I've been using on day 1 of the league for a fairly long time:

Leveling items

Tabula Rasa is the leveling item because it gives you a 6L from level 2 onwards (if you already have one). It also serves as a budget option 6L substitute until you can get a proper one.

Very important note about Lakishu's Blade: It has Reduced Stun and Block Recovery on it, which means that Stuns on you expire slower/last longer. This can get you killed when your HP is low compared to enemy damage and you get stunlocked by mobs. I advise you to skip this item on HC for safety reasons.

Substitute items

Bringer of Rain is a cheap substitute for Lab farming in place of a Tabula. I do not recommend it for mapping. Equipping a Tabula Rasa with something like Ahn's Contempt or a rare helmet is still far superior.

Carnage Heart is a good substitute amulet. It gives good stats, resistances, damage and Leech. Great and cheap amulet.

Bloodgrip is another cheap amulet for extra damage, Life and it makes Bleed hurt far less while moving.

Endgame weapons

For some higher investment later in the league, you can meta-craft weapons with local chance to impale, double damage and Hits Can't Be Evaded.

You will want swords with the highest local attack speed possible.

Hits Can't Be Evaded is optional. It's something for the people who want to min-max a bit more and aren't afraid to spend a few more Exalts to achieve that. The RT approach works just fine.

Ichimonji. I just love this weapon. It will carry you for a long time. Dual-wield that puppy for maximum efficiency. Its unique buff effect will amplify anything with a green border (buff) by 10% each; that includes auras, Master of Metal, Fortify, etc. It's a good choice of weapon, but it's no longer needed as a core item.

Let me be perfectly clear: It's a great sword DPS-wise, but it will be outclassed by any half decent rare Corsair/Foil with the local chance to impale hybrid Physical mod. Only use this sword if you want good overall "bang for your buck".

Endgame Armour

This one mostly boils down to preference, but there are many fine body armours to choose from:

Loreweave, Belly of the Beast and Craiceann's Carapace are probably the best ones, but a nice Elder chest will do as well.

I personally prefer Craiceann's Carapace mainly for the Bleed immunity.

The rest of the stuff you want you can find in the Path of Building code I provided.

Thanks for checking out my guide! If you have any questions or want to say a few words, feel free to leave a comment :)

Please do not spam me with PMs, because I hate to repeat myself over and over.

Proud creator of Hank the Tank™:
☛ ♨ ♂ ✌ www.youtube.com/captainwarlord ♂ ♨ ✌ ☚
Last edited by CaptainWARLORD on Oct 1, 2019, 5:24:57 AM
Last bumped on Oct 18, 2019, 3:01:41 PM
1# nice guide, depending on ascendency changes in 3.2 maybe starter for next season, good work mate!
Mekadrill wrote:
1# nice guide, depending on ascendency changes in 3.2 maybe starter for next season, good work mate!

Yeah, curious about the changes as well. I hope they don't change too much. Also, thanks!
Proud creator of Hank the Tank™:
☛ ♨ ♂ ✌ www.youtube.com/captainwarlord ♂ ♨ ✌ ☚
Hello. Nice build. I respect thief's t. ring + high as. Its feeling good but .. you said that izaro deal high phys dmg, well thats true but how u handle mods like essences + conduits ? Izaro on full key runs deal ele dmg too if he get essences. Cheers.
Hello. Nice build. I respect thief's t. ring + high as. Its feeling good but .. you said that izaro deal high phys dmg, well thats true but how u handle mods like essences + conduits ? Izaro on full key runs deal ele dmg too if he get essences. Cheers.

Tank it or dodge it. You don't have to facetank everything. But I don't see how it should pose any problems.
Proud creator of Hank the Tank™:
☛ ♨ ♂ ✌ www.youtube.com/captainwarlord ♂ ♨ ✌ ☚
Hi! looks very nice, gonna try as league starter in 3.2 btw i'm gonna start to play in hardcore next league, wish me luck ! hahaha
Thanks for the build man! *cheers*
hmm funny build
u can add perfect form + brine crown, defend synergy > BoR and craft amulet with 15% increase fortify effect, also u can switch ring to kikazaru + 1 rare
Last edited by PQxEOKvFTD on Feb 17, 2018, 4:16:10 AM
PQxEOKvFTD wrote:
hmm funny build
u can add perfect form + brine crown, defend synergy > BoR

Yeah, you could. Which means you'd need a 6L, which defeats the purpose of the build.
Proud creator of Hank the Tank™:
☛ ♨ ♂ ✌ www.youtube.com/captainwarlord ♂ ♨ ✌ ☚
Stun immunity+2k Base armour and Hit's can be evaded for taunted enemies...this build just got BUFFFFEEEDD!!...found my starter next league. Thanks
I'm bored....somebody pm me..:(
Last edited by Qyenoh on Feb 22, 2018, 1:48:33 AM
Qyenoh wrote:
Stun immunity+2k Base armour and Hit's can be evaded for taunted enemies...this build just got BUFFFFEEEDD!!...found my starter next league. Thanks

Indeed it did. Check out the new layout and let me know what you think :)

Should be easier to read and provide more info.
Proud creator of Hank the Tank™:
☛ ♨ ♂ ✌ www.youtube.com/captainwarlord ♂ ♨ ✌ ☚

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