[3.8] Pure Phys Skeletons & Friends Necromancer — Beginner/SSF/Budget Build
This guide has been heavily updated for 3.8. It's not an exaggeration to say that every part of the build has been buffed. Damage, survivability, clear speed and levelling are all improved. This guide should now once again be up to date and complete (aside from adding new videos, which I will record in the next few days), but please PM me if you see any issues.
FINAL 3.8 EDIT: Added way more videos. This build will be updated for 3.9 once we get 3.9 patch notes. Expect nerfs, but also expect it to still be good after the nerfs.
1. Pros and Cons
2. Skill Tree and Path of Building Import
4. Endgame Gear
1. PROS AND CONS
2. SKILL TREE AND PATH OF BUILDING IMPORT
Firstly, kill all bandits.
Path of Building import from a cleaned up version of my actual character in SSF Blight: https://pastebin.com/2ySgXFzZ
If you don't know what Path of Building is, learn all about it here.
To import a pastebin link into Path of Building, click the Import/Export build button in the top left, then click Import from Pastebin at the bottom-right of the dialogue, paste the link into the box, click Import in that box and then Import again at the very bottom of the dialogue.
Levelling trees are provided in the Path of Building import above. Use the tree management drop-down to view them:
Ascendancy order: Mindless Aggression > Unnatural Strength > Mistress of Sacrifice > Bone Barrier
Ideally you want to anoint Indomitable Army. Minions can start to die in the game's hardest content, and that helps a lot.
Once you get past level 90, I'd suggest pathing to Devotion and the jewel socket along the way, and/or taking more mana nodes as necessary.
If you just want the tree links, here they are:
This section provides basic tips on skills and gear for levelling with this build. It is not a comprehensive levelling guide. I recommend PoE Vault's guides if you want one of those.
You'll need to use Freezing Pulse (or another spell if you prefer) for the first couple of levels. Make sure you also pick up a Raise Zombie gem from Nessa and start levelling it. You can start using it immediately if you want, but zombies die easily at early levels so it can be a bit annoying.
Make sure you get the quicksilver flask from the quest "Mercy Mission"!
Once you finish the quest "Breaking Some Eggs" you get access to Summon Raging Spirit, which you can use as your primary damage source for the next few levels. You can discard Freezing Pulse at this point. Try to look for an item with blue-blue-red linked sockets during this time (check the vendors too if needed).
Once you kill Brutus, you get Summon Skeletons! You also get access to the Minion Damage and Melee Splash support gems. Assuming you got that three-link, socket Summon Skeletons - Minion Damage - Melee Splash. This is your main damage ability from now on, and you can discard your Summon Raging Spirit gem. Make sure you also buy Flame Dash at this point, and start using it.
Start looking for gear that gives elemental resistances, and a bit of life if possible.
Look out for a Bone Spirit Shield in this act, on the ground or from a vendor. The rarity and stats don't matter. When you find one, don't equip it (unless it's actually good). Sell it, any life flask and an orb of transmutation to the vendor. You'll get back a life flask of animation. Don't use that though. Hold onto it for a later vendor recipe.
The gems you get in this act aren't very interesting for us. We'll need some of them later, but for now don't worry too much about any of them.
Continue using your 3-link skeletons, and looking for gear with elemental resistances and life. Make sure you're picking up new tiers of life and mana flasks as they start dropping.
4-linked items can start to drop early in act 3. Make sure you're looking out for them, on the ground or from vendors. Ideally you want to find a 4-linked helmet with blue-blue-blue-red sockets. if you find a 4-linked helmet that's either pure energy shield or energy shield/armour, that will be easy to use chromatic orbs on to get the right colours. Finding this helm might take you until as late as act 4, and that's okay.
When you find your helm, use an orb of transmutation on it if it isn't already magic. Then grab that life flask of animation we made in act 2, and sell it, the helmet and an orb of alteration to the vendor. If done correctly, this will give you back the helm with a +1 to minion gems mod on it. Use an orb of augmentation on this, then socket your skeleton gems into it. You'll be using it until the endgame.
Make sure you do the optional quest "A Fixture of Fate". It gives us the Feeding Frenzy and Meat Shield gems. Add Feeding Frenzy to your skeletons if your 4-link helmet is ready, and add Meat Shield and Minion Life to your zombies. Once you've done this and picked up the Sacrifice node on the passive tree, your zombies will be a lot stronger and won't really die anymore, so feel free to start using them more if you weren't already.
You'll get the Summon Carrion Golem gem very early in act 4, from the quest "Breaking the Seal". If you have the sockets available, try and get this into a 3-link with Feeding Frenzy and Maim, and start using it immediately alongside your skeletons and zombies.
That's pretty much it! 4-linked skeletons, 3-linked zombies, 3-linked carrion golems and Flame Dash are all the gems you need to breeze through levelling. You should find your skeletons doing insane damage and your zombies and golems never dying. Don't worry about the other gems mentioned in this guide until endgame.
For gear, always try to keep your elemental resistances as close to capped as possible, and then get as much life as you can find.
4. ENDGAME GEAR
Note: Don't pigeonhole yourself into one of these tiers forever. You can start off with low budget gear, farm up some currency and then buy better gear, and so on.
Low Budget/League Start
You really only need very basic gear to get rolling with this build. Wearing entirely rare gear is fine. Look for life, mana and elemental resistances. You can use literally any weapon (even a white level 1 axe) and it won't really matter. Aurumvorax is a nice budget weapon because it helps with resistances when the rest of your gear is bad.
Try to get a 5L body armour as soon as possible. Pure ES or armour/ES are best for getting the socket colours we need. You can also use Tabula Rasa if you prefer and can afford it.
Weapon: Try to find something with % increased minion damage on it. This can be be a convoking wand, The Scourge, an item from the Temple of Atzoatl, or an item crafted with a Bound Fossil from delves. If you have the mods unlocked, you can craft a bit more minion damage or attack speed onto it with the crafting bench.
Jewelry: You want jewelry with increased minion movement speed on it, in addition to life/mana/resistances. This can be bench crafted or made with a bound fossil or essence of fear.
Helmet: Some combination of a Bone Helmet, + to level of minion gems, and/or an Elder helmet with Minion Damage Support built in. Don't worry too much about enchantments, none of them are that impressive.
Body Armour: Upgrade to a rare 6L with life (and maybe mana) when you can. Ideally you want one with an open prefix, allowing you to craft +1 skeleton/zombie onto it (this is a veiled mod, which you may have to work a bit to unlock).
Gloves: You can bench craft increased minion damage on gloves if you have the space.
Jewels: An abyss jewel with minion taunt on hit is highly recommended to keep boss attention off you. Life, mana and any minion damage stats are also good if you can get them.
Other gear: More life, more mana, make sure you have capped elemental resistances.
Weapon: Aim for a convoking wand with +1 minion gems and minion damage. Preferably minion movement speed and/or attack speed too. You can dual wield these if you don't want to use Shield Charge.
Helmet: Your goal is an Elder helm with minion damage and +2 minion gems to socket your Carrion Golems into. If it's a Bone Helmet and/or has a Skeleton or Flesh Offering enchantment, even better.
Amulet: Getting your amulet anointed with Indomitable Army will give your minions the bit of extra survivability they need to survive the hardest content.
Jewels: Ideally you want a ghastly eye jewel with both taunt & blind on minion hit. Try and fill up the other sockets with copies of To Dust. They give a larger damage bonus than any other jewel, and we have enough duration increases that the reduced duration is not noticeable. If you want something more defensive, a Doryani Glorious Vanity provides an enormous amount of energy shield for quite low investment. You can safely socket it in the far left jewel socket (the one with armour nodes before it) for a total investment of 5 points.
Other gear: Even more life and mana.
Flask setup is pretty much constant across all budgets. You want a seething divine life flask, a catalysed eternal life flask, an enduring eternal mana flask, a chemist's quicksilver flask and a quartz flask. Make sure you have the warding, staunching, heat and adrenaline suffixes between them. Aside from adrenaline these can all be crafted using Einhar's blood altar.
If you're struggling to get the exact flask mods I've specified, prioritise getting a Chemist's Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline and a staunching flask somewhere. The prefixes on the life and mana flasks aren't critical.
My actual gear progression in SSF Blight league:
Day 5 (Gear basically finished)
All gems should be levelled to 20 (and ideally quality 20) unless otherwise specified.
Vaal Summon Skeletons - Feeding Frenzy - Melee Splash - Brutality - Minion Damage - Melee Physical Damage
Our main source of damage. Support gems are listed in order of importance, e.g. if you're on a 5L don't use Melee Physical Damage. For difficult boss fights, swap out Melee Splash for Ruthless. Getting the Vaal version ASAP is very important — they make most boss fights, and static encounters like delves/monoliths/blights, way easier. If you're playing at the start of a league or in SSF use every Vaal orb you find until you get it. Otherwise, just buy one from another player.
Summon Carrion Golem - Feeding Frenzy - Maim - Brutality
Very good for speeding up our map clearing, as they are highly mobile and have good AoE. Also help with single target damage and buff the damage of our skeletons. Try to put these in a helmet with a +minion gem level and/or minion damage support mod.
Raise Zombie - Meat Shield - Minion Life - Brutality
Zombies are there to block damage and distract enemies for us. They also deal a decent amount of damage even with minimal damage support gems.
Flesh Offering - Flame Dash - Desecrate (level 1) - Faster Casting
All our utility skills. Try and keep Flesh Offering up as much as possible, especially in boss fights or other encounters where you don't have to move. Flame Dash is for general mobility and jumping gaps/through fences. If you don't use Shield Charge (see below), then you should also use it as often as possible instead of running to move faster. Desecrate provides corpses to turn into zombies or spectres, or to fuel offerings.
Spirit Offering (level 8) - Enfeeble (level 5) - Cast when Damage Taken (level 1)
Defensive utility, triggering whenever you take a hit. Spirit Offering provides a large chunk of instant energy shield to absorb more hits, and Enfeeble weakens nearby enemies. Bear in mind that Spirit Offering triggering overwrites Flesh Offering, so you will need to recast it whenever that happens! It's very obvious when it triggers as your entire minion army turns blue.
For your last 3-link you have a choice! Pick one of the following setups. EITHER:
Shield Charge - Faster Attacks - Fortify
for significantly higher movement speed when mapping and some unreliable damage reduction, OR:
Raise Spectre - Meat Shield - Blood Magic
for a roughly 40% damage boost for your army. The spectres you're looking for are Carnage Chieftains, which can be found in the Old Field in act 2. Spam Desecrate until you get the right corpses. These provide frenzy charges to nearby allies. They are heavily restricted by mana, which is why we use Blood Magic support to let them grant charges more frequently. Once your Raise Spectre gem reaches level 19, you'll be able to have 4 spectres at once. At this point, use two Carnage Chieftains and two Host Chieftains (found in Riverways in act 6, provide power charges).
It's not a gem, but make sure you also use the Bone Armour skill granted by Necromancer!
Lunaris upgraded with "Avoid projectiles that have chained" is pretty much required for your own endgame survivability. For minor gods, Gruthkul provides the most.
Basic playstyle and map clear
Blighted Orchard (T13)
Level 83 Kurgal
Level 83 Mastermind
Uber Elder (video by CLloyd0)
Thank you for reading! I hope this guide is useful and you enjoy the build.
Last edited by viperesque on Nov 10, 2019, 7:08:37 PM
Last bumped on Nov 6, 2019, 6:44:58 PM
on Mar 12, 2018, 4:37:13 AM
I am a noob, spcecially at summoner.
Can you explain to me how to use desecrate? I don't get the utility of it cause we have no spectres.
sorry for the noob question,
And tkx for the guide!
on Mar 22, 2018, 12:20:41 AM
Pretty sure the use is to provide corpses to use Offering skills on - like the flesh offering to get the bonus attack speed and movement for you and your minions.
on Mar 22, 2018, 7:17:51 AM
Thank you do much for this guide.
This is my first summoner character and so far this has been the smoothest levelling I've ever had in this game. It's not my first char this league, so I could afford From Dust right away. And once I did - the game turned easy mode - I've yet to die (A9 now) and bosses are melting in seconds.
A small question - why Brightbeak? Does weapon attack speed affect minions? Or is it there purely for shield charge?
Last edited by acidagfc on Mar 23, 2018, 3:48:23 PM
on Mar 23, 2018, 2:35:28 PM
Glad you're enjoying it! Yeah, Brightbeak is purely for fast Shield Charge. There aren't many weapons that benefit your minions, so might as well. As I say, you can use The Scourge if you want, but it seems like massive overkill for all but Shaper.
on Mar 23, 2018, 5:01:54 PM
Very useful guide :D
What order should you take the Ascension talents in? Should you go straight for Bone Sculptor or get master of puppets first?
on Mar 23, 2018, 6:30:14 PM
Ascendancy skill order is: Invoker, Bone Sculptor, Flesh Binder, Puppet Master.
on Mar 24, 2018, 3:18:37 AM
Ya good! Ty for the answer!
on Mar 24, 2018, 2:32:50 PM
Respecced my necrobot to this and it works wonders! ♥
GGG's awesome. Thank you.
on Mar 26, 2018, 12:27:34 AM
Would this be better at bossing than vanguard spectres with the same amount of investment? Trying to figure out how it compares to the tried and true spectres build
on Mar 26, 2018, 12:56:24 AM