[3.2] The Battlemage - Hierophant VD (12k+ eHP, ~10k armour, fast clear, uber elder doable)

About the build
I always wanted to play a "battlemage" in PoE. You know, the caster who is not afraid to jump into packs of enemies and nuke them. I never liked losing xp after a specific level in the game, so I tried to create a build with fast clear speed and more than 10.000 eHP. And some armor. And some block chance. And immunity to ailments.

I chose Volatile Dead. I did not play PoE during the previous league and I wanted to try it, it also looked like the best main spell for this build. Not just because it is powerful and entertaining, also because using VD, your clear speed in maps with many rooms, closed areas etc. is much faster. Also, I like to run every high tier map and go for the highest possible IIQ, not spam maps that are "convenient" for my build and sell others - that's boring after a point.

How will endgame be?
Every guardian / boss / shaper / map mod except ele reflect can be done very easily.
For example, phoenix on Ele weakness, -12max resists, enfeeble, +40% elemental resists is not scary for this build. Shaper is extremely easy, I have died once in more than 10 runs. Red maps bosses are a joke, regardless the mods. Fast clear speed as well. Take a look at the video below if you want to see for yourself.

Take a look at two videos I just recorded if you want.

Hydra (Not HD - didn't have the time to upload)
Minotaur (HD)

Pros and Cons
+ Fast clear speed
+ Very tanky (Can go up to 15k eHP, 10k+ armour, 30/36% block chance, immunity to all ailments, stun and poison)
+ Fun to play - 30 fireballs destroying enemies looks really nice and not something you see on a Poet's Pen VD build
+ Very easy to level up beyond 90
+ Flexibility - Can run Haste, Purity, anything you want really depending on the map's mods
+ Can clear maps with many small rooms (necropolis / torture chamber style) very fast
+ Can run every map mod except elemental reflect without even caring about the mods
+ Can reach 80% of the build's potential with items worth 1-2 exalted
+ All content doable

- Using a staff forces you to use flame dash or lighting warp as your movement skill. 2 quicksilver flasks are recommended for maximum clear speed.
- To reach maximum potential, the build requires at least a 6L staff and a 5L body armour, skyforth and maybe an expensive helm enchantment. Can become very expensive, even more than 15 exalted to be precise.
- Uber Elder is doable but some adjustments are needed. Losing some ES and adding some DPS from the jewels makes a big difference.

Levelling, bandits and passive trees
1-40 level

- Use a skill like firestorm, spark, freezing pulse whatever you want until you are 30-40. Anything with big AoE in a 4L works.

- Bandits : Get 2 passive points by killing them all. Helping Kraityn for the movement and casting speed isn't bad either, especially for levelling.

- If you want to level up faster, you will have to make use of the refund books from the quests, maybe even some regret orbs when you reach level 60+
Look at all the trees below before deciding what you want to do, as you will notice that the level 70 tree follows different paths than the level 40 one. So, when you hit level 60 or even better, 70, it is time to respec. My recommendation is to follow the level 40 tree and then respec later. IT will be much faster and who cares about 5 regret orbs?

- Elemental overload can be helpful early on, and we can't make use of our uniques before level 68-70. Don't expect VD to crit enough for you to sustain EO though. The way the spell works, is one big boom and enemies are dead. Not many hits per sec to proc crit strikes when your crit chance is that low early on. To sustain overload, you need a Cremation setup, with spell cascade and increased critical chance. You can also use a CWDT -assassins mark setup later on, or a CoH assasin's mark, whatever works for you, really, can be orb of storms, anything you like. It doesn't matter much anyway if you skip EO altogether. I wanted the 30 dexterity nod and was like, okay let's take EO too since it's close. You don't use cremation for the damage (yet) if you choose to go for EO, just to sustain overload and have some extra dps during boss fights.

Starting passive tree to get some fast life and DPS. If you want the "corrected" and final tree, after some respecs, just look at the next trees directly and follow them. Remember, you will have to use your refund books and maybe even 5 regrets to follow mine.

41 skills points

41-70 level

Switch to a Nycta's Lantern and get VD gem in there for the bonuses, along with spell cascade and a damage gem (contr. destruction / elemental focus) or a faster casting / spell echo for more fireballs. Whatever suits you. Everything works fine.

Do not spend much on gear as some levels later you will have to reconsider everything. It becomes a totally different build / char, come level 70. Get a movement skill on your shield and just run around killing stuff fast and finishing the quests for the passive skills fast, the goal is to reach 70, not farm, not gear up, not think what changes u can make to the gem links - as I said it's a totally different char after 70.

Respecing overload as we re getting ready to go for the crit chance and multiplier nodes, and getting ready to go into mind over matter nodes in both the passive tree and the ascendancy and making some other small changes:

85 skill points

70+ level
For other endgame (70 level+) stuff, read below.
Here is my passive tree with 103 points:

103 points tree

Using the Intuitive Leap unique Jewel to get the Melding, Overcharged and Dreamer passives. On this tree you will see 3 life / es nodes taken instead, ignore them and replace those 3 with the 3 I mentioned after placing the jewel there. Also taking Ghost Reaver, another jewel which u can also get earlier if you want, some more ES, Coordination, another power charge:

117 points tree

Gems and links before level 70

1. 3L Volatile Dead - Spell Cascade - Elemental Focus in the Nycta's Lantern for more dps. Otherwise, if you are not using Nycta's, use VD in a 4L with increased AoE for faster clear speed or Fire Pen if you feel your dps isn't enough.

2. 4L Desecrate - Spell Cascade - Faster Casting - Arcane Surge (make sure arcane surge's level works correctly for you to have it up almost always - we will get rid of it soon, it's a temporary thing)

3. 3S Golem of your preference - Herald of Ash - Arctic Armour

4. 4L Cremation: if you take Elemental Overload early on: cremation - spell cascade and critical chance / PCoC etc.
- If you don't go for EO: Cremation - Spell Cascade - Elemental Focus - Controlled Destruction / Conc Effect / Fire Penetration

5. The movement skill you want, depending on your weapons of choice.

6. Possibly a CWDT setup with a curse (Flammability / Assassin's / Warlord's Mark) and Immortal call or Frost Wall - doesn't really matter. If you plan to do the CwDT >Warlord's Mark > IC setup, you are not a low life caster so you can level up the CwDT gem a bit, as much as you see fit.

Endgame: Gear, jewels
The build starts becoming really powerful with the addition of specific items and the synergy they have.

We are now able to use a Memory Vault, a PoH / Duskdawn staff,the Fenumus Shroud, and if we can afford it, Skyforth.

We are also using 3x

to increase our base mana. 3 of those = 270 flat mana. the fourth jewel as I said earlier, is an Intuitive Leap, so that we are able to take the 3 passives (overcharged, melding, dreamer)

The preferable helm enchant may vary. With Pledge of Hands, having a "VD summons +# of corpses" is useless. So it can save you from having to buy a really expensive item. In that case, "desecrate cooldown recovery" can be better to deal with bosses faster when there are no corpses around.

For Duskdawn, the helm enchantment should be "VD additional # of corpses" otherwise you are kind of limited. Second best would be VD damage, and there is also an enchantment for an additional geyser for Cremation which I haven't tested, but sounds promising.

The rest of my gear looks like that. ES + Life + Mana is what we are looking for. Make sure you have a free slot to craft Aspect of the Spider. Mine is on the necklace. Crit chance and multiplier is also good, I am currently overcapped on resistances (like 160% fire res or so) and haven't fixed it so there is room for improvement.

Synergy of those uniques, the rest of the gear and the passives from the ascendancy

Your rare gear should have +mana mods. Along with the 3 Grand spectrum jewels and the Memory Vault, the Divine Guidance passive skill and possibly the skyforth if you have the currency, your base mana can reach almost 2.000.

This means that a modifier like 100% increased mana on the Pledge of Hands increases your mana by 2.000. Any modifier on the tree that is like, 20% increased mana, would increase you mana by 400. It is very easy to reach ~6.5k mana points.

We reserve mana using: Herald of Ash, Arctic Armour, Aspect of the Spider - which can be crafted on any item. Not necessarily those 3, but in any case we reserve around 70-80% of our mana pool, which is huge already. My reserved mana right now is around 4.5k. The Memory Vault gives you a flat increase on your armour value, equal to your reserved mana points. Which means, we get 4.5k flat armor.

The ascendancy passive "Sanctuary of Thought" gives you 30% of your maximum mana as extra maximum energy shield. Those are all flat values, so they are all drastically affected by modifiers on the tree. Any increase to your maximum mana increases your energy shield, armour rating, and gives you more effective HP, as we are using Mind over Matter + Divine Guidance, for 40% of damage taken from mana before life.

Having 4.000 life and 2.000 mana is not the perfect analogy for Mind over matter but you have insane mana regen because of your mana pool, which makes it worthless to actually go for 60% - 40% life to mana analogy, 2:1 ratio is more than enough unless you plan to stand still for 10 seconds and just die. Reaching 6.5k energy shield points on top of that is very easy, so you don't have to worry about your health pool. I use a health pot once every 2 maps, and it is mostly if that bird comes and hits me with chaos damage.

Pledge of Hands links socketed gems to a level 30 spell echo.
Let me explain the mechanics for anyone not familiar with the skills:

Casting desecrate linked with spell cascade summons 15 corpses.
Casting Volatide Dead summons 3 corpses, so 3*3 = 9 when it's linked to spell cascade.
With the helm enchant "Volatile Dead summons one more corpse" this number goes up to 3*4 = 12.
With spell echo, even without the helm enchant, you summon 9+9 balls per cast, which is limited by the maximum number of desecrate corpses (15), but when you are clearing a map, there are always corpses of dead monsters around you and you may have even 30+ fire balls up at a time. Remember when they nerfed the additional # of corpses per VD enchant because it was OP? Well Spell echo does just that, and when it isn't limited by Desecrate it does it in an even more imbalanced way.

In any case, spell echo works really well with VD and the 100% increased mana on that staff along with the spell damage and the fact that it allows you to take the "critical chance when wielding a staff" nodes and the "added block chance when wielding a staff" which are close to the templar anyway, make this staff possibly BiS for this build. That being said, the other staff I linked above - Duskdawn - gives you a big boost to your DPS. Is it needed? Not really, everything dies just fine with a 5L / 6L PoH and you are safer with a PoH in hand, but who doesn't like extra dps?

Duskdawn's dps boost is big, I would say ~25% more dps. It would be even more but Spell Echo really makes a difference on the PoH when spamming VD with 50 monsters around you. Also, you lose around 500-1000 ES, 2K armour and around 400-700 unreserved MP (which is effective HP), so I would say sometimes it is worth it, sometimes is isn't. Duskdawn gives you 6% more chance to block too. Overall, PoH > Duskdawn.

Aspect of the Spider / Fenumus' Shroud offer:
5% increased damage taken per second for enemies who stay around you, up to a maximum of 15%.
Which means bosses take 15% increased damage from you, which is huge. If you are super rich and can cover the dps / resistance modifiers on other gear (gloves, belt, jewels, rings) you can consider Xoph's amulet for the "enemies who hit you are covered in Ash" mod, which is also huge (20% inc damage taken)

AoE slow that covers the entire screen and more with the chest piece equipped.
ES regen when wearing the body armour.
-10% to all resists of surround enemies when wearing the armour, including chaos resistance, that has a good synergy with the extra chaos damage from the Duskdawn.
Enemies around you deal 10% reduced damage when wearing the armour.

Those mods are overpowered and it is definitely worth losing the energy shield of a Regalia, since we already have more than 6K ES.

Endgame: Gems
Two 5L/6L
Three 4L

I don't really bother swapping gems except cascade /conc effect / immolate, but here are the optimal setups with gem swaps included:

CWDT 14 level - Immortal Call 16 level - Warlord's Mark 17 level / Assassin's Mark if you can't afford Skyforth - Summon Golem level 16 / Arctic Breath level 17

Desecrate - Flame Dash - Faster Casting - Spell Cascade

Herald of Ash - Arctic Armour - Enlighten - Vaal Discipline / Lightning Warp for lab / Frost Wall / Golem if you didn't link it to CwDT / anything you want

Volatile Dead - Spell Cascade / Concentrated Effect when you are doing tough bosses without many minions - Increased Crit Strikes - Fire penetration - Elemental Focus

The optimal setup vs bosses, given that we ignite using cremation with chance to ignite, is VD - Conc Effect - Immolate - Ele Focus - Fire Penetration for a 5L. The 6th link can be inc crit strikes if your crit multiplier is high enough, or controlled destruction if it isn't.

Keep in mind that if you are using PoH and you do have a VD + 1 corpse helm enchant, Spell Cascade can be replaced, boosting your DPS a lot. Even though we will be now summoning 8 fire balls instead of 15, using something like Controlled Destruction instead of Spell Cascade will almost double your damage per ball, summoning almost half fireballs though. If your dps is enough, spell cascade without concentrated effect makes up for the damage per ball loss, as we summon more balls that hit around 7-8 monsters each, compared to 8 balls that hit harder, but only 4-5 monsters each, usually.

Cremation - Spell Cascade - Elemental Focus - Controlled Destruction - Fire Penetration - Increased Area of Effect / Concentrated Effect

Many things can be done with cremation. Curse on Hit - Flammability can be useful, PCoC to generate charges if u don't have another way, Life leech, Knockback etc.
It can be used for full dps or utlity, I mostly use it on bosses / breaches / abyss and since I have skyforth I just use it for dps.


Doedre's Elixir can be really helpful, mostly because combining it with the passive skill "Overcharged" you run with 5P, 3E and 3F charges most of the time.

You need at least one Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline. Two is better, as we rely on movement speed to clear maps, flame dash isn't bad but can't be spammed like other movement skills.

My suggestion is:

- A Perpetual or / and a Chemist's Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline.

- One or two life pots with % armour or removing bleed. Must be two if you are doing Shaper / Elder.

- A basalt with bleeding removal.

- Doedre's Elixir to keep Frenzy charges up reliably.

- A diamond flask if you have a spare slot.

Bleeding and heavy chaos damage are pretty much the only things this build is vulnerable to.

The Ascendancy Dilemma
This whole build is based and benefits the most from Sanctuary of Thought. So 4 ascendancy points go there for sure.

Sanctuary of thought gives you 0% mana cost while you are at full ES. This means that you cannot use the arcane surge support gem as you don't spend mana reliably. The bonuses from Illuminated Devotion are huge, especially the 25% AoE makes a huge difference when clearing maps. So 2 points go to that.

Now, there are two options. I chose #1 mostly because immunity to ailments is a huge bonus.

1. Take Arcane blessing. You always have arcane surge on and you are immune to freeze, chill, ignite, shock. Now you don't need to cast desecrate linked with arcane surge to always have the buff, you just spam VD while clearing maps and u have corpses already around you, which makes it faster.

2. You use the Fevered Mind jewel, which increases mana costs by 100%. We already have 50% reduction + 50% on full ES from Sanctuary, which means that increasing the mana costs by 100%, effects in spells having 50% increased mana cost when you are not on full ES, and normal mana cost when you are. Now you have to use arcane surge linked to desecrate and use desecrate now and then to keep it up even if u have corpses around you to cast VD without it. What you get, of course, is 2 ascendancy points which can go to conviction of power.

So, effectively, it is like choosing between:

Immunity to ailments
Kinda faster clear speed
A jewel slot


20% power and endurance charge duration
Almost always having endurance charges on which you can do anyway using warlord's mark
5% reduced elemental damage taken while you have an endurance charge
5% elemental damage penetration

I think the first wins

Minor God: Soul of Shakari for poison immunity or Soul of Gruthkul for physical damage resist, which isn't really needed.
Major God: Soul of Lunaris. If you are doing a major boss, Soul of Solaris can be better.

Any feedback is welcome, keep in mind this is my first guide, hopefully some of you will try it and like it : )

Last edited by ExiledForGood on Apr 12, 2018, 4:27:41 AM
Last bumped on Jun 9, 2018, 8:09:41 AM
A video would be nice thanks :)
Done. In SD for now, but you can take a look.
Will post the HD video later.
Hey just found this build and it seemed pretty good so im going to try it out!
Just wondering if there is an alternative to the fenumus shroud/aspect of the spider setup since you wont be able to get it in future leagues?
Very fun build.
Respeced into this at level 70, after I found Arc totems kinda boring.
I can stand inside 10 packs on tier 10 maps and they cant drop my ES after I pop Atziris Promise, as long as I keep casting. Cremation setup is super powerful against bosses. Atziri was pretty easy.

Items are cheap this league, since this is kinda off-meta.
Got a perfectly rolled PoH for 5c and the helm for 4c.
You can get a corrupted 6 link chest in the right colors for the Cremation setup pretty cheaply as well.
Only expensive item I still need are the Skyforth boots, but I am running Blasphemy + Assassin's Mark atm and there is no problem generating charges. Will switch to Warlord's Mark after I have the boots for even more tankiness.

I also like to play the "Chase the balls" mini game :)
That's where you cast Desecrate once at the start of a wide open map and then chase the balls without casting desecrate again. Cleared 2 maps this way so far :D

This build is the most fun I've had in PoE since I made a Mjolner Cyclone Marauder 4 leagues ago.
Heartily recommend you try this build.

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