[3.2] Molten Strike Ascendant [Under Construction]

NOTE: With the sunset of the Craiceann items this guide will be getting a major overhaul in the future.


Prior to 3.2 I disliked lab. I would often try and run through as fast as I could, cheese the boss if possible, get my Ascendancy Points, and never return. I always heard about how lab was profitable but I found the whole process tedious and annoying.

I wanted a character that I could not put a lot of currency into that specialized in traversing the lab and facetanking Izaro. On days where the lab layout is sweet I can enchant up the bases I found while mapping and get all those juicy full-key-run loot explosions at the end.

On top of these goals I wanted to do something with new items in 3.2 so we are utilizing some new fated uniques and the new Craiceann "set" that makes Aspect of the Crab as powerful as it can be. To further fit the crab theme we are dual wielding Grelwood Shanks which provide fabulous synergy with the build. These weapons drop off an Elder Guardian and they even look kind of like crab claws. The shanks allow our fab lab crab to... stab.

Quick Reference:
"Final" Skill Tree

  • Molten Strike - Elemental Damage with Attacks - Greater Multiple Projectiles - Multistrike - Ancestral Call/Fire Pen - Concentrated Effect
  • Leap Slam - Faster Attacks - Fortify - Blood Magic
  • Cast When Damage Taken - Stone Golem - Enfeeble - Molten Shell
  • Ancestral Protector - Blind - Culling Strike
  • Aspect of the Crab
  • Hearld of Ash
  • Arctic Armor/Vitality/Determination/Anger

Item Stat Priority
  • Weapon - Phys Damage > Attack Speed
  • Helm/Chest/Gloves/Boots/Belt: Life > Resists > Life Regen
  • Rings/Amulet: Life Gain on Hit > Life > Resists
  • Abyss Jewels: Life > Blind on Hit > Fire Damage with Swords/Attacks

PoB: https://pastebin.com/S0Jh7n8k


Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/thi3n

Update Log:
  • Leveling Tree's Added
  • YouTube Video Added!

  • 1. Pros and Cons
  • 2. Gear
  • 3. Gems and Links
  • 4. Bandit + Ascendancy + Pantheon
  • 5. Leveling
  • 6. Tips and Tricks
  • 7. Questions I've Answered
  • 8. Thank you + Other Guides

1. Pros and Cons
  • Inexpensive. This character can be started for very little investment in trade leagues due to a high usage of cheap and common uniques. We are at the mercy of supply and demand so if a unique becomes popular or if a drop rate gets changed then the build can become more expensive.
  • Single Target. This build was created to excel in facetanking bosses and melting single target.
  • Tanky. If you're like me and you have the mechanics of a potato then you'll be happy to know that this build literally encourages you to stand still. We receive several bonuses while stationary and our defensive layers include other things like % Physical Mitigation, Armor, Block, and Life Gain on Hit.
  • AFK in Traps. If you have a small bladder and often need to AFK in the middle of Floor Spikes and Roombas then this build is perfect for you. Our above mentioned defensive layers did not include Vaal Pact so life regeneration is a big part of our build and makes traversing the lab a breeze.
  • Fast Leap Slam. LS is the premier movement ability for Lab. We invest a 4-link to make it as fast as possible. It's not required to get Elder/Shaper bases, use a Weapon Swap, or roll Insanity Essence gloves but those options will be mentioned in 2. Gear for all the Min/Maxers out there.
  • Average Mapper. The clearspeed is not as good as Tornado Shot or Kinetic Blast but not as bad as Ancestral Warchief or Infernal Blow. We'll have some options for mapping that can make the process fast and fun with a little swapping of gear/links.
  • Expensive for Bossing beyond the Lab. This is not going to kill Uber Elder on a budget (find yourself an RF or BF Jugg guide for that). Taking this character to the highest levels of content will take some serious currency investment with Helm Enchants, Watcher's Eye, and the like.
  • Sorry SSF Players. While this guide mostly has trade leagues and specific uniques in mind, there are rare gear alternatives. In essence this build is a generic Molten Strike Ascendant that focuses on Life Gain on Hit and Regen to make labbing smooth.
2. Gear
In Depth Gear Explanation
Grelwood Shank really makes gearing more flexible for us since Iron Reflexes while Stationary will allow us to get Armor or Evasion based gear.

Elder/Shaper items can give us free links for quality of life things like Culling Strike/Blind or Increased Area/Duration/Crit Strikes.

Grelwood Shank. If you want to be a crab and do lab... you have to stab. Dual Wielding shanks provide additional projectiles for Molten Strike after getting hit. While not 100% required, these weapons really do it all in terms of lab farming. 160% increased armor and Iron Reflexes when stationary (turns Evasion into Armor). Point Blank for free all the time which saves us some points on the tree. Prior to getting Grelwood Shank the Passive tree is weapon agnostic so items like Ngamahu's Flame, Wasps Nest, or a high Phys Imperial Claw with a Lycosidae are great choices. Other than that pick your favorite rare/unique with high physical damage and attack speed to scale Molten Strike.

Stats to look for (if you're using a rare): Physical Damage (% and Flat) > Attack Speed > Good Weapon bases like Imperial Claw
Craiceann's Chitin. The Crab Helm gives us block chance and spell block while sporting Crab Barriers and more importantly makes it to where we can't lose crab barriers if we've lost any recently (in the last 4 seconds). Rares with high life and resist are another option. Some other Uniques worth mentioning: Starkonjas, Lightpoacher, The Formless Inferno, Obscurantis, Voll's Vision, The Three Dragons

Stats to look for (if you're using a rare): Life > Resists > Armor/Evasion > Life Regen

NOTE: High budget builds should look at the Molten Strike Projectiles helm enchant.
Craiceann's Carapace. We crab people now. Aspect of the Crab comes from this on top of sporting a huge amount of life and bleed immunity. Other perfectly viable options are Belly of the Beast, Loreweave, Brass Dome, and Shroud of the Lightless. Rare Chests can also be great for league starting and budget versions of the build.

Stats to look for (if you're using a rare): Life > Resists > Armor/Evasion > Life Regen

NOTE: If you don't use Caiceann's Carapace you'll want to Beast Craft Aspect of the Crab onto an item. Also look into Evasion based body armors because Iron Reflexes turns that into armor for us!
Craiceann's Pincers. If you would gain a Crab Barrier you can now get up to your max Crab Barriers. On top of that unique effect it also just gives a massive amount of armor and life regen. Solid lab farming gloves in their own right. Meginord's Vise is a solid option as well for similar reasons but likely you'll want a rare to plug in resists since we are so unique heavy. Tombfists are also great value since abyssal jewels sockets and intimidate are both desired.

Stats to look for (if you're using a rare): Life > Resists > Armor/Evasion > Life Regen

NOTE: Min Maxers will want an Insanity Essence Craft for their Leap Slam setup. Gripped Gloves are a great base for the Projectile Damage and no enchant is of particular use.
Craiceann's Tracks. Instead of losing all our Crab Barriers when we get hit we only lose 5-7 instead. Also makes us immune to stun while sporting Crab Barriers. Provides some much needed Cold Res and gives great life and armor as well. Koams Roots are another great option as the Unwavering Stance prevents immunity to stun while making our chance to evade zero. NOTE: This doesn't remove our evasion rating though! So we still convert all evasion rating into armor during Iron Reflexes. Ralakesh's Impatience for stationary synergy and Atziri's Step for additional defensive layers should get a mention as well.

Stats to look for (if you're using a rare): Life > Resists > Armor/Evasion > Life Regen

*NOTE: Movespeed doesn't matter to us since we are leap slamming for movement. No enchant or Corruption is required. Life/Mana Regen after being Hit is probably the most useful.
The Nomad. 3.2 Gave us a couple new fated versions of The Magnate and this one has some serious synergy with the build. Literally every stat is useful on The Nomad except for the implicit of the belt... brave Vaal Orb users wont find many good corruption options for us. A rare Stygian Vise, leather belt, or a Darkness Enthroned are probably your best other bets as Abyss Jewels do help our build quite a bit (more on this later). Belt of the Deceiver gets a mention as well since it provides all useful stats for our build.

Stats to look for: Life > Resists > Armor > Life Regen
Thief's Torment. This was talked about in the Pros and Cons but Life Gain on Hit is an amazing defensive mechanic for us because every projectile of Molten Strike counts as a hit. Thief's Torment also provides mana gained on hit, reduced effect of curses on us, a large amount of all resists, and some Increased Item Quantity. The main drawback is losing out on a potential 140+ life (with 70+ life rings). Rare Elder Rings can also roll with the life gain on hit.

Stats to look for (if you're using a rare): Life Gain on Hit > Life > Resists
The Effigon. Another new fated unique added in 3.2, this item provides Accuracy and Evasion (which Iron Reflexes turns into armor) but more importantly it provides Fire Pen and Hit's Cannot Be Evaded by blinded enemies. We have some reliable sources of blind which I'll talk about later (Stibnite, Abyssal Jewels) but this is huge in terms of making sure we get as many hits as possible to gain life back. A fire Impresence allows a flammability curse to be on blasphemy for free but it doesn't bypass the curse limit so a defensive curse is off the menu with this. High budget endgame users should look into Xophs Blood which saves Passive Points on top of being an extremely good amulet by itself. Xoph's users can also get some Ascendancy options which I'll talk about in the 4. Bandit + Ascendancy + Pantheon section.

Stats to look for (if you're using a rare): Phys Gained as Fire > Life > Resists
  • Rumi's Concoction. If you can't afford this then a simple Granite Flask takes it's place. Rumi's is a granite which is great but the Block adds layers to our defense.
  • Jade Flask. While Stationary Grelwood Shanks give us Iron Reflexes which turns this into Armor.
  • Stibnite Flask. Provides Blind and increases our evasion rating by 100% - in combination with a Jade Flask and Granite our Armor gets to extremely high levels.
  • Life Flask. Pick your favorite, I prefer instant ones.
  • Sulfur/Silver/Wise Oak/Dying Sun. Luxury flask where there are tons of options for more damage or defense.
Abyssal Jewels. 3.1 Brought us Abyssal Jewels and these scale really well with Molten Strike. Traditional Rare jewels with % life and Attack Speed are also options but I highly recommend flat life. As far as uniques go, Wildfire Jewels are obviously core for any Molten Strike build, Pure Talent is pure value when you can reach so many starting areas with our tree so that's a great choice as well. Lastly a Watcher's Eye really dictates what aura's we'll be using. Aspect of the Crab and Herald of Ash are core for us, but Anger and Vitality are on the table in terms of the great Watcher's Eye mods that you can get from those. Fire Pen and Fire Conversion in Anger are great in Anger versions and the Life Gain on Hit from Vitality is a great option if you are looking to move away from Thief's Torment for a higher life pool.

Stats to look for (for Abyssal Jewels): Life > Blind on Hit* > Phys/Fire damage with Swords/Attacks
Stats to look for (for Traditional Jewels): Life > Attack Speed (swords, generic, dual wield) > Damage > Life Gain on Hit

*NOTE: Blind on Hit is great for Effigon users!
Sample Budget Gear in 3.2 Bestiary League
Sample High Budget Endgame Setup
3. Gems and Links

Elder/Shaper items can give us free links for quality of life things like Culling Strike/Blind or Increased Area/Duration/Crit Strikes.

Molten Strike
Molten Strike - Elemental Damage with Attacks - Ancestral Call - Greater Multiple Projectiles - Multistrike - Concentrated Effect

Alternatives: What can I say, there are a TON of options with Molten Strike, Damage on Full Life, Slower Projectiles, Elemental Focus, Fire Pen, and Life Gain on Hit are all valid options. I am a big believer in making the build your own by testing out different support gems. Path of Building is a good way to see your best damage output but there's an element of how the build "feels" based on how tanky you are with the rest of your stats that is really individual. I do highly recommend Multistrike, Ancestral Call, and GMP in terms of getting as many projectiles as possible for Life Gain on Hit from Thiefs Torment or Elder Rings.
Leap Slam
Leap Slam - Faster Attacks - Fortify - Culling Strike/Blood Magic

NOTE: Culling Strike with quality gives increased attack speed on top of just having the nice effect of culling a boss. Blood Magic should probably make its way in to an insane Min/Maxed setup perhaps on Insanity Essence Elder Gloves with Supported by Faster Attacks.
Ancestral Protector
Ancestral Protector - Blind on Hit - Culling Strike

If you're wondering why protector over Warchief, that's because Warchief only helps the Melee portion of Molten Strike, not the projectiles.
Aspect of the Crab. This gives us Crab barriers and is a large portion of initial lines of defense when taking damage before projectiles start raining down.

Herald of Ash. A staple of Phys to Fire converted damage and works as a more multiplier for very little mana reservation.

Arctic Armor - I really like this aura and is a great option before Watchers Eye!

Vitality/Anger/Determination. Depends on what you get with your Watchers Eye. Good mods to look out for are:
  • Vitality - Life Regen, Life Gained on Hit
  • Anger - Phys as Extra Fire, Fire Pen, Phys conversion
  • Determination - Block/Armor

NOTE: Without any reservation reduction you'll want to run Vitality or Arctic Armor which only reserves < 35% of your mana. If you use Anger/Determination you'll need an Enlighten setup with something like HoA - Enlighten - Anger/Determination. Enlighten level 4 is not required and I suggest having enough mana unreserved to cast Molten Strike at least twice.
Cast When Damage Taken - Golem* - Curse** - Molten Shell

*NOTE: Stone Golem has been my favorite golem so far but depending on your gear it may be better to have Ice Golem for the Accuracy/Crit which smooths out the uptime on Elemental Overload.

**NOTE: Right now I really like a blue gem swap where I have Flammability for mapping with a switch to Enfeeble for harder encounters. Similarly, a Poachers Mark and Temp Chains swap is viable if you want a green gem curse swap. Try them out to see what your favorite curse is.

Cast When Damage Taken - Immortal Call - Increased Duration

A standard staple defensive setup.
Nice to Haves
Phase Run. For ignoring collision while going through traps/mobs in the Lab.

Vaal Lightning Trap. Applying Shock to tough rares and bosses.
4. Bandit + Ascendancy + Pantheon
  • Kill them all.
  • You might be able to talk me into going Professor Oak since this is Bestiary League and there's a lot of flavor with the Pokemon theme... but 2 passive points is almost always going to be better than 1% of Life Regenerated per second, 2% additional Physical Damage Reduction, 20% Increased Physical Damage

  • Deadeye
  • Chieftan
  • Ranger Starting Area

If you have Xoph's I recommend moving away from Chieftan for Elementalist or Champion. Here is my breakdown of our choices:
  • Deadeye: Accuracy, Extra Proj, and a little damage increase to offset Point Blank if enemies move away from the center of Molten Strike. Extra Proj is really the elephant in the room here and everything about our build wants more projectiles. Higher budget builds that have Dying Sun and Helm Enchants can possibly look to move away from this but at the end of the day going from 7-8 balls is less of a more multiplier than going from 4-5 balls but it's still a MORE multiplier.
  • Chieftain: Covered in Ash is a MORE multiplier to damage, Life Regen, % increased Str. This guide was almost a Marauder Chieftain guide if that tells you how much I love the 3.2 fire themed changes.
  • Elementalist: A whopping 10% Damage Pen, Buffed Herald of Ash, Extra Golem (Stone Golem is bae), Shock Efficacy (I'll talk about this in Gems), and Reflect Immunity are just great.
  • Champion: Fortify, Taunt, and Intimidate are strong effects and ALL of them are useful for our build.
  • Pathfinder: Maybe my favorite overall ascendancy for Scion but the major drawback is that it shares the wheel with Deadeye which is very hard to move away from. The damage pen, flask sustain, and speed during flask effect are just great all around quality of life.
  • Jugg: I actually like Jugg a lot but the ascendnacy is basically Kaoms Roots. The 1000 flat accuracy does have some synergy with the 100% accuracy of Deadeye but I can't recommend this when the ones above are much better.
  • Saboteur: This isn't here for the meme's I promise! The blind on hit actually works well with the Effigon Amulet. Area of Effect actually hurts our build (explained in 3. Gems and Links) and the trap/mine stuff is obviously bad. Since we can get blind from Stibnite and Abyss Jewels this one gets the bench.
  • Slayer: This guide was almost a Ngamahu's 2H Slayer guide where the 20% cull and overleech played nicely together. However our defense is in the form of life gain on hit so the overleech (while useful) is not what we are looking to do and the 10% Culling Strike isn't nearly as good as the 20% of true Slayers.

  • Major God - Solaris. Not much to say here, Solaris is just great overall value but Soul of Arakaali might be an option if you're struggling with Traps
  • Minor God – Tukohama. There's some obvious synergy with the Stationary buffs we're getting. Gruthkul is a more well rounded choice outside of the Lab.
5. Leveling
No uniques are required as this build is fine for a league start - but if this isn't your first character of the league then these will make the process easier: Wildfire Jewels, Goldrim, Tabula, Wanderlust, Wurms Molt, Lochtonial Caress, Karui Ward, Thief's Torment, Elreon -Mana Cost jewelery (resists/int a plus!), and buying skill/support gems with quality ready to be socketed in!

NOTE: If for some reason you miss a gem, all gems are available from Neesa after completing Act 6.

NOTE: If you have a favorite way of leveling (Abberaths Hooves, Poets Pen, Sunder, etc.) then do that!

1. Low Level Tree

Rush Resolute Technique and Avatar of Fire, the two first jewel sockets you pick up both have 40 str in the radius so plug in the Wildfire Jewels.

MainSkill: Molten Strike - Ancestral Call - Lesser Multiple Projectiles* - Added Fire Damage - Life Gain on Hit - Summon Phantasm on Kill
Mobility: Leap Slam - Faster Attacks

*NOTE: The gems you link Molten Strike with are mostly arbitrary in the early game. The Wildfire jewels will absolutely carry your damage if it isn't your first character. I just listed some low level jewels that are fun to level with if you have a Tabula but they are in order of importance so if you only have a 3 link then Ancestral Call and Lesser Multiple Projectiles are fine until you start progressing.

2. Normal and Cruel Lab

Grab Iron Grip and when in doubt, life it out. The Molten Strike setup you get at level 38 can be locked in forever.

MainSkill: Molten Strike - Elemental Damage with Attacks - Ancestral Call - Greater Multiple Projectiles - Multistrike - Concentrated Effect
Mobility: Leap Slam - Faster Attacks - Fortify
Auras: Herald of Ash, Arctic Armor, Clarity*
Golem: Stone/Ice whatever you prefer. I prefer Stone.

*NOTE: As soon as you pick up Thief's Torment no Clarity is required at all.

3. Merc Lab and Blood Aqueduct

Grab the Ranger starting area and farm away in the Blood Aqueduct. Do your Merc Lab. Start grabbing utility gem setups as you get the links. My favorite 4 link utility setup is below.

Utility: Cast When Damage Taken - Curse* - Golem - Molten Shell, Cast When Damage Taken - Immortal Call

*NOTE: Flammability is great for players looking to push more damage. Poacher's Mark, Enfeeble, and Temp Chains are great defensive curses.

4. "Final" Skill Tree

In true crab form, this is just a shell of a tree. Pathing along the outsides of the Passive Tree allows you to pick up Sword, Dual Wielding Nodes for those going shanks. But for those going Ngamahu's or Claws or Claw/Shield you can adjust the tree accordingly. Below are a few examples of trees based on your weapon choices.

Dual Wielding Grelwood Shanks

Ngamahu's Flame

Alternatives: These trees are guideline, go off the beaten path and make the build your own!
6. Tips and Tricks
Mechanics of Ancestral Call
  • Standing a little further away lets you and the Ancestral Call Clone both create projectiles. If you are too close then you wont create a clone. It's important to figure out what this range is on your resolution to get the most projectiles possible.
  • The "numlock trick" is used for attacking in place.

Mechanics of Molten Strike
  • There are two portions to Molten Strike.
    • 1. The Melee portion. Scales off of Melee and Attack damage. Hits once and is very mediocre.
    • 2. The Projectile portion. Scales off of Attack, Projectile, and Area damage. By default, Molten Strike only releases a couple projectiles but as we add additional projectiles the skill becomes insane.
  • Each projectile released from Molten Strike counts as a "hit" for the purpose of things like Life Gained on Hit and Blind on Hit.
  • There is some amount of animation time for the projectiles to drop which can't be sped up or slowed with projectile speed but damage multipliers (like slower projectiles will apply).
  • Due to the "lag" of the projectiles dropping, the first moment of a fight is the most dangerous which is why high initial defenses (like crab barriers) matter. Once the attacks get going and flowing we're basically immortal.
  • Having more AoE is actually bad for this ability as it increases the spread of the projectiles and therefore the likelihood that multiple projectiles will hit the same target. Concentrated Effect plays an important role in not just giving a massive MORE multiplier but ensuring the single target we want to hit gets hit multiple times.

Lab Compass
  • This is an addon I tried out and loved it for running Lab! It takes a little bit of setup but try it out and see if you like it. I found the combination of having this addon and having a tanky high regen character a perfect combo for the chill full key run lab days.
7. Questions I've Answered
What about X Item? What About Y Support? What about Z Ascendancy?
I always encourage people to make the build their own. All of my guides are just that, guidelines. Take what is useful and apply your own ideas and create ways to make it work for your situation.
How do I sustain mana?
Grab mana gained on hit via Poacher's Mark or Thief's Torment or just grab mana leech node under Herbalism.
8. Thank you + Other Guides
  • Future thank you for people helping me refine the guide.
  • Thank YOU for reading! I appreciate the success stories in the thread.
  • Special shoutout to all the people who drop by and hangout on Twitch as well as my Followers/Subs!

Other Guides:
Last edited by thi3n on Oct 1, 2018, 5:51:45 PM
Last bumped on May 29, 2018, 6:19:56 PM
I want to play as a crab. Lvl me bro?
isnt it not safe to go with uncapped lightning resis? in the video you had 40 something in lightning resis and i didnt see any specify on getting gems for the tree for resis cap
Last edited by FaberXzio on Apr 4, 2018, 2:53:11 AM
I want to play as a crab. Lvl me bro?
I don't level people but I do like the desire you have to play as a crab.
isnt it not safe to go with uncapped lightning resis? in the video you had 40 something in lightning resis and i didnt see any specify on getting gems for the tree for resis cap
The Wise Oak is a Bismuth flask so we get to the cap with that on. I've since moved on to elder two-stone rings which I'll be covering in the Endgame setup, currently buying up gear for the character to take on a bit of the endgame with some currency investment. Jewels with lightning resist and easy access to an 18% lightning resist node near the scion projectile start will also help if you want to go 100% uniques like I am in the video.
This Fab Crab, driving the Uber Lab Carry Cab, dungeon crawling to fill your stash tab, with one quick stab, lays Izaro on the slab.
This Fab Crab, driving the Uber Lab Carry Cab, dungeon crawling to fill your stash tab, with one quick stab, lays Izaro on the slab.

The Dab Crab!!
Hey thi3n, i've check your profile lately and seen that you are using a totally different gear setup nowadays.
Is that to farm high tier maps/bosses, or you just found out that that setup is better for labing?

Thx for the guide btw. Farming lab is super easy with the build.
Hey thi3n, i've check your profile lately and seen that you are using a totally different gear setup nowadays.
Is that to farm high tier maps/bosses, or you just found out that that setup is better for labing?

Thx for the guide btw. Farming lab is super easy with the build.
I'm working on a sample of some end-game gear that I'll be using to try and take the build into some of the high tier fights. The guide with the gear snapshot for lab farming remains the same and glad to hear you're farming the lab!
Leveling this build tonight on stream in preparation for Flashback as a potential league/event starter!

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