[3.3] [HC] Torchbearer's Off-Screen Summoner - [Command 90+ Minions] - [HC/Uber endgame viable]


Hi, I'm Torchbearer - a long time PoE player that's been flying under the radar since the game's inception. I'd like to present my build I theorycrafted and made for Bestiary league and exclusively for the Hardcore experience.

I myself have created over 40 summoner builds throughout the years, but never decided to share them until now. I have been exclusively playing summoner builds over level 90~ / endgame on every Hardcore league GGG has done so far.

The Off-Screen Summoner build is one of the safest, craziest and most satisfying build I've created to this day.

The build plays around having a massive amount of minions at your disposal (over 80 if stacked up), while using the new Charged Dash ability and it's mechanics to force them to play "Off-screen", successfully giving you a huge boost in defenses & cleaning out whole rooms and even killing bosses without your presence. Making it an extremely safe option for HC and endgame content.

This build addresses the so called "Bad Minion AI" issue a lot of people dislike summoners & zombies for, which I more like to call "low target acquisition range" for minions.


+ Extremely Safe (Can go up to 13,000 effective life/ES (60%/40%) with massive physical damage reduction).

+ Extremely Satisfying To Play (Command up to 90 minions).

+ Can Clear All Content Solo.

+ Huge Meatshield.

+ A Lot Of Active Abilities (Unique Playstyle).

+ Relatively Cheap To Build.

+ Defense Oriented (Great For Newer Players).


- Usually Gem Slot Starved While Leveling.

- Little Bit Weak Vs. Chaos Damage


Level 22/23 Summon Vaal Skeletons - 46 Minions
Animate Guardian - 1 Minion
Golem - 1 Minion
Spectral Wolf - 20 Minions
Summon Skeleton - 13 Minions
Summon Zombie - 10 Zombies
Summon Phantasm On Kill - 10 Minions.
Summon Spectre - 2 Minions

The Increased durations from a combination of Ascendancy points, gems & unique items create a comfortable amount of uptime for all minions stated above, where you can freely refresh them as long as you're going through rooms of enemies and upkeep them for the duration of the map + bossfight. You technically can go up to 100~ minions, but generally you will actively have up to 75-80 minions while mapping.

Gameplay Showcase Video:
I apologize for the slight FPS drops, but I don't have greatest computer and you can only handle so many minions + extra gore effects. You'll be able to delete bosses all the way up to Red Elder like this with 5-10 seconds difference once your minion stack up on it.

+++ You absolutely do not need a 6-link (not even a 5-link due to the elder/shaped helmet buffs) to make this build work, although superior - the 6 or 5 link setups would limit your amount of gem sockets, making you lose useful skill gems such as convocation or summon chaos golem. +++


The Scourge - Big Minion % Damage Boost / Big Self Damage Boost / Gives Us 10 Extra Wolf Minions.

Magna Eclipsis - +2 Level To Socketed Gems To Empower Our Zombies & Spectres.


Sidhebreath - Minion Stat Increase.

Queen's Escape - Good For Switching Weapons / Creating Zombie Chaos Damage Pools / Saving Spectres & Guardian.


Rumi's Concoction - Great potion in general, gives armour and extra block/spell block chance. Can't say no to that!

Belly Of The Beast - Best In slot chestpiece in my opinion. Gives a decent amount of all-around resistances and a huge amount of Life.

Craiceann's Carapace - Insanely great item for the build, less raw Life compared to Belly, but more than makes up for it with the extra phys reduction and a whopping 2500~ armour.

The Council's Grip - Great gloves with a whopping 20% extra damage given to minions, but I don't use it since it's such a big loss of stats and doesn't give MS/Less mana cost/Max Life like Sidhebreath does.

Vis Mortis - Great summoner chestpiece all around, gives decent amounts of ES and gives your minions steroids, but doesn't give any Life whatsoever and makes your minions weaker in terms of survivability.

Blood Of The Karui - Amazing flask allowing you to use it before getting into a scary situation. Will automatically heal you to full health after a 2-second duration.

Please do not use stuff like Bones Of Ullr and other low-level/low-stat minion items for this build. The emphasis on spectres and zombies isn't that great and they're not worth the statloss you'd receive by using these kinds of low level unique items.

Zombies are just there to provide a meatshield and 10% phys damage reduction. Spectres are there for utility and because they only take up 1 gem slot. Your main source of damage is Dark Pact + Skeletons + Vaal Skeletons, which just melt away bosses and do insane amounts of damage.


Necromancer [Exactly In This Order] ---> Invoker ---> Bone Sculptor --> Flesh Binder --> Puppet Master.


Standard CWDT Combination -> Cast When Damage Taken - Immortal Call - Increased Duration.


++ Charged Dash + Storm Barrier + Fortify

HOW CHARGED DASH + OFF-SCREENING WORKS: Charged Dash is an ability that propels a "spirit" of your characters in a direct line to a location. The game registers your character being at the point of your "spirit" instead of it's current location. You can keep pressing the hotkey for the ability to remain channeling the ability, while your minions will flock to your "spirit" as they think it is actually you, letting you aggro your minions into tough bossfights or hard-to-get-into rooms.

You can also press Charged Dash for half a second, just tapping the hotkey to give yourself great amounts of reduced physical, lightning and fire damage taken, also the Fortify buff. Channeling the ability also registers your character as Stationary (not moving), giving you all the defensive passive bonuses from your items, auras and passive effects, making you even more tanky for every second channeled.

While channeling the skill, you are actively gaining defenses from your Arctic Armour (+15% Phys damage/+15% Fire Damage) + Lunaris Pantheon Node (+8% potentially) + Tukohama Pantheon Node (+8%) + Storm Barrier (+15%) + Zombie Ascendancy Node + Chaos Golem Passive (4%) -> Giving you a whopping 60% (80% with fortify) reduced physical damage taken while casting Charged Dash.


++ In Helmet with +2 level to socketed minion gems: Summon Skeleton + Minion Damage + Melee Physical Damage + Summon Phantasm On Kill Support

(If you can acquire an Elder helmet with increased minion damage on it, then make sure to use Multistrike gem in the 4-link instead of Minion Damage. It's thanks to this setup your skeletons are able to delete bosses in seconds)

(If you decide to run this in a Tabula while leveling or a 6-Link - Then add Melee Splash & % Fire Damage Supports.)

++ We Will Be Using Both Summon Zombie & Summon Spectre & Summon Vaal Skeletons Gems Without Any Links In Magna Eclipsis Shield - Giving Them +2 Level.

(Magna Eclipsis Is A Very Underrated Summoner Shield, Since Minion Gems Benefit Hugely More From +# Levels Than Other Gems, Giving Your Spectres & Zombies A Makeshift 3-Link Setup.)

Animated Guardian - Equip your guardian with a Dying Breath and a Leer Cast & Zahndethus Cassock for increased damage and consecrated ground auras!

Summon Chaos Golem - For passive phys reduction!


++ Hatred + Generosity
Huge Damage Boost To All Minions. (20% Quality On Both Is Very Important Since It Gives More Aura Area Of Effect To Reach Minions While They Are Offscreen, So They Don't Lose Damage!)

++ Discipline - For That Extra ES.

++ Arctic Armour - Amazing To Use In Combination With Pantheon Passive Physical % Damage Reductions From Pantheon Tree + Storm Barrier + Ascendancy Zombie Bonus.


++ We will be using Enduring Cry to generate Endurance Charges for extra defensive layers.

++ Dark Pact + Curse On Hit + Punishment + Spell Echo

Why Dark Pact?
--> The Scourge weapon we're wielding gives us increased damage based on our minion damage increase percentage, thus giving us a respectable amount of damage. Dark Pact also makes it 100% accurate to hit exactly the targets your skeletons will be hitting. It will also chain to other skeletons to make sure it curses everything fast. It is also the only ability that doesn't make the 10% to Summon Spectral Wolf On Kill ability on The Scourge useless and adds a significant amount of dps from Wolf minions to our army.

Why Punishment? - Punishment is the only curse ability in the game that gives an active BUFF that lasts for 4 seconds to your minions, giving you time to re-cast the curse on a new wave of enemies to prolong this buff to your minions until there's no more enemy waves left without rushing to reapply curses with slow moving projectiles or other, inferior Curse On Hit setups (which I see is quite common in current summoner builds).

Flesh Offering: - Massive damage boost for minions. The bonus Movement Speed is also a hidden DPS increase while mapping and going through waves of enemies.


For Specters We Will Be Using 1 Infernal Sentinel & 1 Rime Sentinel. These two are the most long-range spectres in the game, allowing them to literally stand on top of you while you're casting Charged Dash and clear out whole rooms from an insane distance without ever coming under the threat of death.

Why not Solar Guards?

Since we are not using the 100%+ bonus damage/life node from Ascendancy for our beloved spectres, Solar Guards rush into the fight because of their inferior range and die a lot.

Why not Apes for frenzy charges?

Apes have very low mana regeneration without clarity gem (for which we have no space for, unfortunately) or require a blood magic gem to be socketed for them to be able to really spam their frenzy charges on our minions (for which, we also have no space for!)

Every Summoner build -must- have at least 2 health potions, there's no going around without them.
I suggest running 1 Instant-heal potion that removes bleeding (unless you're running Craiceann's Carapace)
1 Blood Of The Karui (If you're running Belly Of The Beast, which makes it almost 2 instant heals instead of 1)
1 Rumi's Concoction for the extra block chance and armor.
1 Quicksilver Flask with reduced charges used.
1 Basalt Flask with freeze immunity

PASSIVE SKILL TREE (Bandits: Kill All):

I only use 2x "To Dust" jewels since I feel like it's the perfect, most smooth-running balance between damage bonuses and duration.

Also, it is -very- important that if you can get your hands on a jewel that gives your minions % chance to blind on it to take it. It is one of the most overpowered and underrated mechanics your minions can have, especially with the amounts of minions we are running, you will have Blind uptime on anything that doesn't die in 2 seconds!

The difference between SC builds and HC builds:

A lot of newcomers don't understand how to differentiate the two & can't figure out why there's a massive difference in maximum life/ES, defensive layers and DPS between them.

If you're a new player going through guides (or just new to Hardcore) - I suggest you look at builds in a different manner rather than just comparing damage. HC builds are specifically designed to have multiple defensive layers, a big life/ES pool and a definitive answer to most things the game might throw at you.

Since we only get one life on HC, margin for error is very thin - so you want to be protected at all times & against many types of enemies & damage types. Indirectly - this might mean sacrificing clear speed, raw damage, boss killing power and even currency at certain levels, to make sure your character is well-equipped to clear content without putting yourself in harm's way.

While this particular build could take advantage of different damage auras & items that will make it an infinitely better & effective boss killer (for example), it will, in return, lose a lot of survivability. What makes a build viable for HC endgame is it's all-around strength and the ability to do all content without having to avoid certain maps, bosses or encounters.

With that in mind, there are a lot of builds that say they are viable for HC, but they're mostly made on SC characters and have never been put to the test on HC by their creators and unfortunately are just speculations. Look for the character on which the build has successfully been executed and that's how you'll know the fake from the real.

Anyway, thanks for checking the build out - you can always check my profile if you have further curiosities about gear/jewel choices.

If you have any questions, please post them here.

"A true master of death should have the army equivalent of their title."

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With the mechanic changes to Charged Dash & Vaal Summon Skeletons (not announced yet), I will be updating the guide for everyone that wants to play it as a starter to follow. So far with what has been annouced about the new Charged Dash mechanic - it is a MASSIVE buff to this build and sounds like a lot of fun and may even potentially allow us to off-screen minions even farther away than before!

When GGG decides to give us info about Vaal Summon Skeletons changes, I'll make an update note for that too - it is most likely the deciding factor if the build will still be viable in 3.3.0 or not!

3.3.0 UPDATE #2:

3.3.0 Vaal Skeleton Gem Update:

Vaal Summon Skeletons
Now requires 50 souls per use (up from 32).
Now prevents you from gaining Vaal souls for 10 seconds after use.

Quite a decent nerf to the skill.

While it isn't destructive to the build, it'll certainly hit clear speed. Skeleton duration is at 32-34 seconds for us right now. We will most likely have to add a good 5-10 seconds between the intervals to resummon our Vaal Skeletons. It doesn't change anything for boss fights fortunately, but I imagine it'll make clearing a bit slower. Nothing too terrible, but still a nerf.

Final opinion:

3.3.0 Patch

Charged Dash - Huge buff - Allows for much more damage & crazy off-screen minion control now.
Vaal Summon Skeleton - Medium nerf - Reduces our clear speed & army resummon time. Won't affect boss fights, but will certainly make things slower.

I imagine the clear speed will be the same as other summoner builds now, while previously being a bit faster than most of them. (Removed "Faster clear speed than other summoner builds" from build Pros & Cons)

3.3.0 UPDATE #3:

The way new Vaal gems function is actually a massive buff to our Vaal skeletons indirectly. Since we can link Vaal skellies to the full 4-5 gem combination now together with our normal skeletons, it is a massive boost in damage and performance. Clear speed will now be even faster than before thanks to this change! We can also swap our Vaal Skeleton gem space with minion damage or even an empower to buff the rest of our minions in our Magna Eclipsis shield, giving them additional +1/+2 levels.

The build in 3.3.0 will be stronger than ever.

Is the build still viable for 3.3.0?

Absolutely Yes.

Last edited by Acaste7 on Aug 30, 2018, 1:38:43 PM
Last bumped on Jan 23, 2019, 12:58:31 PM
can you show some more footage of the builds potential? rushing through a t1 map isnt really telling us much about the strength of any build :D
Gunnieh wrote:
can you show some more footage of the builds potential? rushing through a t1 map isnt really telling us much about the strength of any build :D

I'm currently Lv. 91 with the build on BHC, have done all content before Uber Elder and I'm closing in on that too.

Haven't needed to disconnect or portal out on anything since starting the character.

My PC drops FPS a lot when I record, but I'll try to get some bossfight footage up.
+ Faster Clear Speed Than Most Summoner Builds.

Wait, what? Your video is a T1 map, and it already looks slow as f*ck. Any summoner build is either as slow as yours, or faster. Sure it’s creative, and I’m sure it’s fun, but it can’t claim to ne fast.
LezOx wrote:
+ Faster Clear Speed Than Most Summoner Builds.

Wait, what? Your video is a T1 map, and it already looks slow as f*ck. Any summoner build is either as slow as yours, or faster. Sure it’s creative, and I’m sure it’s fun, but it can’t claim to ne fast.

It's a shaped T7 beach map and in the video I'm using 0% movement speed boots and going slow on purpose to showcase the amount of minions without my FPS dropping to hell too much.

The video's just there to showcase the build, it's not there to prove anything. :)

The reason it clears faster is because you can off-screen leave your skeletons in doorways and even leave your Vaal skeletons in big areas, while continuing to go through the map yourself.
Last edited by Acaste7 on Mar 22, 2018, 7:16:11 AM
I think some of the avian beast gear would be excellent for this build. The chest alone offers like 90+ es regen per second. Also the avian aspect offers you and your minions 10% increased movespeed and a 10% chance to deal double damage. That is the base buff before all the bonuses from armor, and with 90+ minions happening you are guaranteed so many double hits.
Shadeval wrote:
I think some of the avian beast gear would be excellent for this build. The chest alone offers like 90+ es regen per second. Also the avian aspect offers you and your minions 10% increased movespeed and a 10% chance to deal double damage. That is the base buff before all the bonuses from armor, and with 90+ minions happening you are guaranteed so many double hits.

Great idea! I didn't have the new uniques in mind while making the build :)
what would you prioritize with skill points? like what to get first and by what levels? I've been wanting to do a witch this league but most just spectres focus and thats meh to me. Your build sounds fun and I would be trying it on console so fps is never an issue.
Is this SSF viable? It says that there are two required uniques, so guessing its not. But looks fun, so curious any way about recommended for SSF or not.
Well done working charged dash into a minion build! i tried for a bit, but thought it would require cast while channelling to be effective. This never worked well.

It's a nice guide with lots of explanations, however I suggest you share your items which allow you to cap your resists, as anyone following this build may struggle: It has no commander of darkness, no purity of elements and not much scope for resists on jewels.

Also, have you tried pure physical minion damage? This would likely negate the need for your hatred aura to be nearby, and allow your minions to do full damage with you even further away.

Cheers :)

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