[3.2][BSC] The Whispering Web - 12.5k EHP, any map, guardians/shaper, easy-to-use build

For Bestiary league, I promised myself I would stick with one character until I finally beat Shaper. And, it worked! Here's that character:
PoB paste link

And the video of the fight, to give an indication of what it's like:

This is a dependable build that progresses extremely smoothly from the very start of a league all the way through to the end-game.

-Massive EHP pool
-Safety barrier of using totems
-Excellent additional defensive layer of webs and chilled ground slowing enemies and Fenumus' Shroud reducing the damage they deal
-High maximum DPS - melts all bosses up to T15 with ease and can handle guardians and shaper quite well
-In safer maps, can run through packs throwing up totems that kill everything without slowing you down.
-Can easily farm uber lab and can run any map mod
-Budget-floor is low and ceiling is high - can start up cheaply and scale up as you farm
-Lovely soft pitter-patter of deadly ice rain

-Can be quite expensive to reach the outer limits of power level
-Totem MTX don't work with Icestorm totems. GGG pls.

Aspect of the Spider is very useful for Icestorm (or Firestorm) builds, as the primary way they lose damage is by enemies simply moving out of the area where the damage is stacked. Hindering their movement while increasing the damage they take is a double helping of increased ability to kill things, while also making you safer. Fenumus' Shroud has a straight flush of great mods: intelligence, ES, better web AoE, and best of all, reducing enemy damage dealt and reducing their resistances. Against Shaper or Guardians, this resistance reduction is about as good as doubling the effectiveness of Frostbite.

Other than that, it's an ordinary Whispering Ice build, except that it uses totems. Get lots of intelligence, deal lots of damage.

This build is all about the nice progression. Leveling can be divided up into sections: 1->33, 33->maps, maps->uber lab, and everything past that.

Before Getting Whispering Ice
Start off with freezing pulse, move into firestorm linked to spell cascade. Keep an eye out for int on gear, but don't worry if you're not getting any. At level 33, you should have around 40 points total allocated:
Tree 1 - Level 33
Up to this point, the build is pure life, and very suitable for starting a new league. Getting ES on gear as well is certainly a nice bonus, but as there's no scaling for it yet, it's worth less than life. Since that's the case, there's little merit in reserving mana for Discipline right now. Get one to level up with you, but blasphemy-curse or a pair of heralds will be the reservation of choice for now.

At 28, swap to Flameblast Totems. A +1 to fire gems sceptre with FB, Spell Totem and Faster Casting is sufficient; a four-linked item with Controlled Destruction will be better. You can complete normal labyrinth without WI at this point, if you like. Take Pursuit of Faith.

Using Icestorm
After reaching level 33, aim to buy the staff and the Brute Force Solution jewels at the same time, and switch to this tree: Tree 2 - Level 33. If you're at the start of a league, you might have to spend a large fraction of your wealth at the time on a staff that isn't even item-level 50. That's fine. Otherwise, make sure the ilevel is 50 so it can have the full 6 sockets. Try to put 4 or more sockets on it, if you can. Priority order for supports is: Spell Totem, Concentrated Effect, Faster Casting, Controlled Destruction, Elemental Focus, Cold Penetration. FC rates so highly because it decreases the delay until you start dealing damage, which will be quite long until you get your second pair of ascendancy points and the massive boost to placement speed. Cruel and merciless labs are completely trivial for this build, I should note. Izaro's habit of standing still and large hitbox both work in your favour. Take Ritual of Awakening, then Divine Guidance.

Mana will start being tight around this point. You might want to go down to one herald, and apply Frostbite by a curse on hit setup. I found it was usually tolerable to run it using Blasphemy and keep using a mana flask. This will become much less of a problem after getting the third pair of ascendancy points.

Your first (semi-)major purchase should be Astramentis. The earlier, the better - it removes all requirement to think about stat requirements while leveling, provides a serious damage boost, and also comes with a decent amount of life in the form of strength.

The Whispering Ice and Astramentis are basically fully sufficient to get through the story, focusing only on life and resists on gear. Intelligence should be obtained whenever possible, of course, but don't worry if you don't have all that much.

At level 65, you should have 84 skill points. The tree should look like this:
Tree 3 - Level 65
If you've obtained a reasonable amount of life on gear, Kitava should pose no obstacle at all - his size means he catches damn near every icicle with his face.

This is when you'll start wanting to get intelligence on your gear wherever possible. It coincides with the increase in resistance penalty, which can be a bit troublesome as stats and resists are both suffixes. Still, get what you can. You should also look to switch on Discipline if possible, though if you're not able to get the links for curse on hit and want to stick with blasphemy, that works fine. If you haven't already, this is about the right time to get a well-rolled Whispering Ice and put the full 6 sockets on it.

The last two ascendancy points get you Sanctuary of Thought, solving all your mana problemss. You now want to overcap your cold resistance more than the others, to make the Wise Oak effective. You should also pick up the Sorrow of the Divine flask around now. The ability to regenerate energy shield is super useful since otherwise it can get taken apart piecemeal, but if you take Zealot's Oath, you'll find yourself wishing you could regenerate life fairly frequently (against any chaos degen, in lab, etc). Personally, I don't bother putting quality on this flask, as it lasts long enough anyway, has plenty of uses, and it can be awkward to be needing it to end so you can go back to life regen.

The final tree looks like this (113 points):
Tree 4 - Level 90
Past 90, just take life, ES, and totem life & resistances nodes. Look for endgame gear - the price and availability of this will vary wildly throughout a league, but hopefully you'll get some sweet finds to push your EHP and Int towards their limits.

Final Enlightenment
The requirements for switching to spidermode are:
-Piece of gear with free suffix slot, that you're okay with replacing basically never. Suffixes are where you're stretched furthest already, so this can be quite difficult to do.
-No longer require resistances from chest. Whatever resists you have on your body armour, you'll need to be overcapped by that amount.

Once you're ready, catch or buy Fenumus and sacrifice her to craft Aspect of the Spider onto the item. Make sure you have plenty of chaos resistance for the fight! The Broken Crown can be an excellent piece of gear to swap in for this. As for the Shroud, look for one with good rolls. The AoE doesn't matter much - the area is already decently large, so increasing it has relatively less effect on the all-important radius. I six-linked mine because, well, Whispering Ice build, had plenty of fusings lying around anyway, but this is entirely needless. Arcane Surge doesn't even trigger unless you cast Orb of Storms while your ES isn't full, so a five-link is more than sufficient.

Having AotS active with Shroud feels like playing the game on easy mode for all but the toughest content. It's really nice.

That's the last step! The build is now "complete." Well. You could always try to craft an Elder belt using Essence of Spite, try to get that juicy flat int with a %attributes roll. Or, opal rings would be nice...

This build can keep growing pretty much indefinitely if you want.

Ascendancy: Hierophant, taking Pursuit of Faith, then Ritual of Awakening, then Divine Guidance, then Sanctuary of Thought. See levelling section for how to handle mana.
Bandits: Killing them all is the best option.
Link to Tree

Gear and Alternatives

Astramentis is basically the best amulet, since it also covers all your Dex and Str requirements. However, if you somehow manage to get those met elsewhere, a rare amulet can theoretically have more Intelligence and still have life, ES, cold damage etc as mods.

I've listed the spider items as "critical" since I'd consider it a different build without them, but it's not like that other build is terribly different. In fact, this build only starts using Aspect of the Spider very late on. These can be replaced with rare items.

Nice, but a rare jewel does mostly as well at a fraction of the price.

Good rares with life, ES, resistances and intelligence.

Gems and Links
The Whispering Ice:
Spell Totem, Concentrated Effect, Elemental Focus, Controlled Destruction, Faster Casting, Cold Penetration

Body Armour: Orb of Storms - Faster Casting - Curse on Hit - Frostbite (- Increased Critical Strikes - Arcane Surge)
Increased Crits and Arcane Surge are entirely optional though nice to have.

Leap Slam - Faster Attacks - Fortify - Flame Golem. Swap Faster Attacks for Culling Strike when needed.
Cast when Damage Taken - Immortal Call - Increased Duration - Frost Bomb
Enduring Cry, Decoy Totem, Arctic Armour, Discipline

I seldom find Decoy Totem that useful - the situations where you most want it are the ones where it does nothing - but it sometimes comes in very handy. If I had Aspect of the Spider on one of these gear pieces, my links for that piece would instead be Enlighten - Discipline - Arctic Armour/Purity of Ice - Enduring Cry, and Decoy Totem wouldn't be used.

For general mapping, I use:

Flasks: Divine Life Flask, Sorrow of the Divine, The Wise Oak, Granite Flask, Basalt Flask. Other flasks should be swapped in situationally.

The only somewhat unusual choice here is SotD instead of Atziri's Promise. Reasoning:
-Leech is useless for us
-We have relatively little Increased damage, so the 40% increased is approximately comparable, damage-wise
-Being able to regenerate energy shield is nice, as it means you don't need to slow down between packs to let it recharge from chip damage. But, it would also be annoying to spend a passive point and lose the ability to regenerate life entirely.
-Consecrated Ground also applies regen to our totems (and other allies)

Mods: Instant mod (Seething or Bubbling) on the life flask. Heat and Staunching on the utility flasks.

Major Pantheon: Brine King. Our life pool is more anaemic than a true life build, and getting stunlocked sucks. 50% reduced effect of chill is also very powerful, especially against bosses like Hydra, Shaper, and Elder.
Minor pantheon: I like Tukohama here. Standing still is more common than you might think (consider the time it takes to raise all four totems, for instance), and the benefits are very relevant for this build. Gruthkul and Shakari are also definitely good.

You can do any mod. Remember to use a mana flask for no-regen and a warding flask for temp chains. Elemental reflect just means summoning a lot more totems.

They all die extremely easily except for the rogue exiles in Precinct, who hop around like mad and deal tons of damage. Be careful in that map.

Thanks for reading! I look forward to seeing your comments, questions and criticisms.
Last bumped on May 25, 2018, 2:20:39 AM
Will this build lag me on a non-SSD? :^)
pirate_yar wrote:
Will this build lag me on a non-SSD? :^)

Good question! Speaking for myself, even with all four totems going full-tilt, I haven't had any performance problems on my laptop (Intel Core i7-4710HQ CPU @ 2.50GHz, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M, SSD). My knowledge of how PoE works is limited, but I'd be very surprised if the storage type is especially relevant compared to the graphics for this, as saving/loading data isn't any more required than for other builds. That said, I've heard that Icestorm can cause problems, and this does stack up several times as many instances of it as non-totem builds.

You could try the skill self-cast and see if it causes any problems, and only move to totems if it's okay even with faster casting and spell echo?
HI-Thx for posting your build. In about 2 weeks all this will go standard and a new league starts. I am not sure AOTS will even work in standard league, but next league it will not be available. Any thoughts on good replacements next league? Looks like a interesting build I would of played if I had seen it earlier.
JesusIsMyLord wrote:
HI-Thx for posting your build. In about 2 weeks all this will go standard and a new league starts. I am not sure AOTS will even work in standard league, but next league it will not be available. Any thoughts on good replacements next league? Looks like a interesting build I would of played if I had seen it earlier.

Thanks for the question! It's a big shame to be losing the Aspect, yes. The simplest answer is to stop at the last stage before getting AotS and Fenumus' Shroud, then look for alternative upgrades along the same lines. The best body armour upgrade will be a Shaper chest with flat int, %int, life and es (arguably better anyway, but hard to get all the mods you want). I'm not sure what to do with the mana left over. Herald of Ice (or Thunder) would be fine, but the damage is quite weak. Maybe replace AotS and Arctic Armour with a 50% aura, perhaps Grace since it's defences that are being lost? Or Haste, since slowing enemies is approximately the same as speeding yourself up? As I understand, the Vaal versions of these gems will also provide the regular skill in 3.3, and both the Vaal skills were already good skills to have if you had a spare socket.
does the sockets in the staff be linked??
does the sockets in the staff be linked??

No. Anything you slot into the staff will support Icestorm.
Heya! Cool build.

I hope you can answer some questions I have:

How is map clear? I've done whispering ice before and while strong it was slow as a snail, does using totems speed that up?
And on that note, do you swap Spell cascade in instead of concentrated effect for maps?

Thoughts on the revealed Mask of the Stitched Demon?
In PoB I got around 8k life and 1.5k life regen with it (just barely enough to support RF if one wants to)
But hybrid life & ES seems to suit the build quite well so I'm doubtful that it's worthwhile unless more uniques that synergize show up.

Thanks in advance, definitely considering running this in incursion!
Last edited by Sprouting on May 23, 2018, 10:22:01 PM
Sprouting wrote:
How is map clear? I've done whispering ice before and while strong it was slow as a snail, does using totems speed that up?

It can do. If the map isn't very dangerous, you can place a totem and then run through/past packs while it casts on them, saving time. But it can also add delays, if you can't do that and need to instead place the totems and wait. Compared to my own self-cast WI experience, which was quite a long time ago now (Essence League if I recall correctly), I'd say it's about the same on average - but I wanted to push into very difficult content, so of course I was going quite slowly.

And on that note, do you swap Spell cascade in instead of concentrated effect for maps?
I didn't myself, since multiple casters gives the same kind of increased coverage without any drawback, but I tried it and it was okay. A bit slower on tough enemies, of course. Probably quite strong in very open maps like Dunes or Shore.

Thoughts on the revealed Mask of the Stitched Demon?
In PoB I got around 8k life and 1.5k life regen with it (just barely enough to support RF if one wants to)
But hybrid life & ES seems to suit the build quite well so I'm doubtful that it's worthwhile unless more uniques that synergize show up.
I agree, it seems unlikely to be worthwhile. That said, I'd love to see a WI+RF build, which historically has been very difficult due to the constraint of it being a 2-hander. RF would also help a lot with clearspeed, of course =).

Good luck in Incursion!

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