[3.2] Forest Lich MoM/Evasion Skeleton Summoner - T16 Guardians / Shaper Down

Hi everyone. I am very new to summoners and got thoroughly hooked on the class. This is my attempt at modifying Ghazzy's excellent Lich Queen Skeleton Summoner to my play style. As of the creation of this post, this is the only public QoTF Necromancer in BSC, BHC, BSC SSF, or BHC SSF on poe.ninja. I am posting this to get feedback from more experienced players, to iron out the wrinkles in the build, and share my creation with you. I hope you enjoy.

Play Style
This build generally use flasks to keep movement speed up, evasion, and damage reduction defenses up. Mapping is done via shield charging or running from pack to pack and summoning skeletons. Shield charging is preferred since it allows you to proc EE for your minions and grants you Fortify. Due to the movement speed of this build, your minions will usually always be behind you so remember to use Convocation and keep your defenses up. It is a very active and engaging play style. If you only want to click one button, this build is not for you.

I have played this build in all map mods but I will normally reroll Temporal Chains and No Regen maps simply because of the impact on mapping speed.

1.) Tanky build with layered defenses to handle most content with ease.
2.) Good mapper with boss killing, magic find, and clear speed oriented variants possible. (Will expand upon this after the initial guide is up.)
3.) Boss Killer - Cleared all end game bosses I have attempted up to and including Shaper and T15 Elder.
4.) High movement speed + Brightbeak + Shield charge = extremely smooth movement that feels great to play.
5.) Relatively easy to res cap due skill tree and ascendancy choices. This enables us to use a wide selection of gear many people normally would not consider ideal.

1.) While cheap to start, the budget behind some of the end game gear can get expensive since the body armor requires at least 5 off colors. Other gear may be expensive as well if you have to craft it yourself.
2.) Sacrifices some eHP compared to other builds to gain additional defensive layers.
3.) Build is not fully optimized yet for end game bosses. One 4 link losses most of its utility against Shaper and bosses with similar moves.
4.) High flask usage=. If you are not used to using your flasks constantly, this build may not be for you.
5.) Probably something else but I have spent 2 weeks playing nothing but this build so I can't see it right now while I am writing the initial guide. :)

1.0. Introduction

I normally play evasion based characters and am familiar with layering their defenses for survivability into the end game. When I started playing my first Necromancer I was not used to getting hit... a lot. While I had a high life pool, I realized that my play style did not translate to a low evasion character. Additionally, I am not a huge fan of low movement speed characters. As a result, I decided to create a character that worked with my play style while still maintaining the essence of a Summoner build.

Leveling Achievements
This is my first character to clear all 10 Acts, all skill points, and Cruel Labyrinth in under 6 hours. I arrived in Oriath at level 64. (Also a new record for me.)

Cleared Eternal Labyrinth at level 80 easily.

This is also my first build I have used to fight Shaper. I am 2/2 with it and I am pretty sure I can do the fight deathless with more experience.

Please note that I have only played this build in softcore. While it may be able to be played in hardcore, I cannot vouch for it.

1.1 Level 94 Hideout Stats

Life: 6053
Unreserved Mana: 1757
Effective Life: 7810

Defensive stats with flasks active:

PoB stats against blinded opponents:

Path of Building Link
https://pastebin.com/pxcDn6Tk This is my character at level 94 in Path of Building. Unfortunately PoB does not reflect the Spectres or Animated Guardian setup properly. Additionally, I am still relatively new to PoB so I may have a config box checked wrong.

2.0 Leveling & Skill Tree

2.1 Ascendancy - Necromancer
Our choice of ascendancy is Necromancer.

The buffs to our minions skills makes this choice simple and uncontestable.

Ascendancy Points
Here is the order I picked my Ascendancy skills:
1.)Invoker (Normal Labyrinth)
2.)Bone Sculptor (Cruel Labyrinth)
3.)Soul Weaver (Merciless Labyrinth)
4.)Commander of Darkness (Eternal Labyrinth)

Note: Bone Sculptor is crucial because it really enhances your skeletons and allows you to feel comfortable switching from SRS while leveling. Also, you could take Commander of Darkness in Mericless Labyrinth if you are having trouble with resistances. However, I generally had no issues with capping resistances and preferred the boost Soul Weaver gives our Spectres. You should aim for on all 85% resistances before taking Commander of Darkness so that you are Ele Weakness capped at 105%.

2.2 Leveling Trees
Here is the rough skill tree progression I followed. These may not be the optimal choices for you and your play style. While this is a level 94 build, it should be complete at level 91. The last three points in the build I used to pick up Discipline & Training for more life. Towards the end of this tree, if you do not have sufficient points to reach a notable life/mana node, consider storing the skill points in the Scion life wheel until you can reach the next. In general, you should be able to bank points in the life wheel and remove them without having to spend regrets.

54 point - Level 45 Skill Tree
80 point - Level 60 Skill Tree
100 point - Level 75 Skill Tree
117 point - Level 94 Finished Skill Tree

2.3 Bandits
Kill all bandits to receive 2 Passive Skill Points from Eramir.

2.4 Pantheon
-Soul of Lunaris for projectile avoidance and dodge. Physical damage reduction per nearby enemy is also nice.

-Soul of Garukhan for evade chance and additional movement speed.

Generally, this build can find uses for many of the major / minor pantheons. These are just my preferred choices and how I have played the build.

2.5 Keystone Explanations

Mind over Matter
This is one of the cornerstones of our defense. By allowing 30% of damage to be taken to mana instead of life, it greatly increases our effective life. As a result, we spend quite a few points increasing our mana pool and mana regeneration rate.

Optimally, you want your available mana pool to be as close to 43% of life as possible. This restricts the amount of auras we can run and is also why we run a shaped shield with 10-15% reduced mana reservation.

Elemental Equilibrium
This keystone adds a substantial amount of damage to our build for the end game. We will mainly give boosts to our minions for additional fire and cold damage. Avoid lightning as we will proc EE by either casting Orb of Storms or using Shield Charge. EE lasts 5 seconds and can be refreshed as needed.

3.0. Gear, Gems, Flasks, and Jewels

This build is setup around maximizing evasion and movement speed while maintaining survivability and damage. To do this we use a combination of gear, flasks, and jewels to accomplish this goal.

3.1. Recommended Uniques

Queen of the Forest

This body armor is the foundation for many of the choices we make in the rest of the build. It is a defensive choice with good evasion, life, and resistances. It also converts every 450 points of evasion to +1% movement speed. The down side of this chest is we must take evasion stacking seriously because it has a 25% reduced movement speed modifier that we have to overcome.

Don't be alarmed by the exotic sockets. It makes sense if you have to craft it yourself. I will talk about crafting options for this piece of gear in a later section.

Grip of the Council

These gloves are a nice addition to our build. They will give us some life, cold resistance, and additional cold damage for our minions. If you do not want to use these, you can opt for rare evasion gloves with life, res, and preferably an open prefix to craft "Minions have #% increased damage" from Catarina.

Bones of Ullr

These boots are mainly useful to us for the additional spectre. If you can live with two spectres instead of three, then the world of dex-based boots is your oyster. The key is to ensure you are getting more movement speed and life than what Bones of Ullr was providing you (not hard). I have experimented with Atziri's Step for the additional dodge, life, and movement speed but have kept the Bones of Ullr because the 3rd spectre is very helpful in map clear.

Saqawal's Flock

This Bestiary unique is a sleeper choice. For us it is a solid helmet due to the high evasion rating, life, lightning res, and movement speed. You can replace this unique with a rare elder helmet if you wish to increase the hitting power of your Spectres.

Edit: With Bestiary not making it into the core game, this item may not be available after the league. Other options are available but a trade-off will have to be made since we can no longer get movement speed, life, and res on a helmet


This item is a no brainer for us. It adds an incredible amount of attack speed along with up to 60% total elemental resistance. There are other weapons that can scale damage on your minions but the mobility granted to us by Brightbeak has made it my favorite.

3.2 Recommended Rares

Crusader Buckler

This is a key defensive piece of gear that adds block chance and additional movement speed into our build. The important stats for this item are life, res, and high evasion rating.

Ideally, you want a shaped version of this shield with an item level of 80 or higher to roll "Socketed Gems have 15% reduced Mana Reservation" so that we can gain approximately 150-200+ additional unreserved mana in our end game form.

Stygian Vise

The Stygian Vise is the preferred belt choice for this build. Search for belts with life and resistances you may need. With a proper Ghastly Eye jewel, this belt will rival the best Leather belts for the amount of life we gain while buffing our minions.

Unset Ring

This build uses two unset rings to add additional utility skills and survivability. When looking for unset rings you will want to look for life, mana, and any resistances you need. Generally, if you are fully ascended with the chosen uniques and a good belt, your should find resistances very easy to cap to 105% in hide out. Other nice to have bonuses are "+# lightning damage to attacks", mana regeneration rate, life regeneration, +# to evasion rating, etc. Basically, once you have the core requirements covered, there are a wide variety of options to improve the stats of this build.


The main focus of the amulet was picking up as much life and mana as I could. Getting a +#% Increased Evasion Rating was a lucky find. Basically, use this slot to pump up your life and mana as much as possible while filling out your other stats as best you can.

3.3 End-Game Gem Setup

(All minion links are sorted by order of importance)
Boss Version 1:

Boss Version 2:

General Mapping / Lazy Bossing:

Boss Version 1 & 2 are very close in damage output. When I originally specified my build, version 2 was the better option and what I chose to build around. By the time I got all my gear and leveled and added quality to my gems, version 1 slightly edged out version 2. Version 1 is the cheaper way to run this build but you will have to give up some damage if you want to use melee splash for map clearing. I generally chose the lazy bossing route and only swap to the boss version when I face Shaper or Guardians.

Solar Guards

Tukohama's Vanguards: I personally don't like them. I tried them against Guardians and Elder and I just did not like how they performed compared to what I gave up with Solar Guards. I have lost my Animated Guardian only once this league and it was when I experimenting with TVs.


This 4-link is most useful in mapping. It can do well in most boss fights but once you get bosses like Shaper that deal large amounts of damage with their slam, you will find that this 4 link is not running most of the time. With enough regen and proper placement the Animated Guardian survives just fine. The zombies usually always dead though. This area is one where I hope to improve and tweak the build.


This is a pretty straight forward utility link setup with increased duration support.


2 link:


You do not want Hatred to affect you since it would impact our use of Elemental Equilibrium so use a 2-link with Generosity to give the buff to your minions and not yourself.

We use an unlinked lvl 1 Clarity to proc our Commander of Darkness bonus to resistances. Do not level the Clarity because we will get enough mana regeneration from the skill tree and gear. We only use it for the bonus to resistance and want minimal impact on our unreserved mana pool.


Convocation is used to position our minions. Stone Golem is for additional health regeneration / survivability.

3.4 Jewels

From Dust combined with our Bone Sculptor ascendancy allows us to summon 5 skeletons at a time. We can summon all our skeletons in 2 casts.

Abyss Jewels:

Abyss jewels have a lot of options. You will generally want to get jewels with two of the following:
1.) +# Maximum Life
2.) Increased Minion Damage if you've used a Minion Skill
3.) Minions Deal # to # Additional Fire/Cold Damage

Get one jewel for each of the following:
1.) Minions have #% chance to blind on hit
2.) Minions regenerate #% life per second

Other usable affixes are:
1.) Minions have #% chance to taunt
2.) Minions have #% chance to hinder
3.) Minions have #% Increased Attack/Cast Speed
4.) +# Maxmium Mana

This character was started as a secondary character and so it only got my second rate Ghastly Eyes:

As you can see, they are not ideal but have some combination of the desired stats.

3.5 Flasks

The flasks are mainly chosen to provide boosts to our evasion rating and provide us with physical damage mitigation. Flasks affixes are currently chosen based on their duration and to cover the standard Staunching / Warding / and Heat for safer mapping. During general mapping, flasks are always up and you can spam them frequently. During boss fights you must be more cautious with their use in longer fights if there are no adds to refill them. If I wish to tweak the flask setup, I generally drop the Granite flask and add in the other flask I wish to use.

4.0 Animated Guardian Gearing

Borrowing this from Ghazzy until I have time to edit the post:

Animate Guardian Gear depends on your spectre choice, the examples are these:

Solar Guard Spectres
Leer Cast
Dying Breath
Ambus Charge
Victario's Flight

5.0 Leveling Gear

I leveled this build wfith zombies from the start and used Flame Trap and Freezing Pulse until level 8. At level 8 I switched to SRS but kept Flame Trap for awhile. Once summon skeletons became available, I added them into the mix. Along with melee splash they did respectable damage. I did not drop SRS from my setup until Act 4. At that time, I had a 6-link skeleton setup in a Tabula. If you are running this build from scratch, you may need to keep SRS around awhile longer.

Here are the unique items I used in my leveling process:

The Tabula Rasa is a staple requirement for anyone running multiple builds in a season. Getting lucky with a +1 to gem level corruption is just a bonus. I would highly advise using a Tabula to give you flexibility in setting up your early level gems.

Since it's introduction, this belt is a must have for speed leveling a character. Throw in some cheap low level abyss jewels with appropriate mods and you can get a substantial boost for much of your leveling process.

Another familiar leveling item that will provide you a nice boost to your resistances for most of the leveling process.

These boots are a great pick up for the build at level 22. This should be a must have upgrade for you since it will be with you into end game.

Since we are a MoM build, this item is very useful for leveling since mana regeneration starts out pretty slow. The reduced stat requirements are also useful as we will be dealing with low dexterity and possibly strength for a fair portion of the leveling process.

If you find that you are constantly running into strength and dexterity caps this will effectively nullify them until we are ready to gear for the end game.

Leveling from a league start.

I have tried this build from a fresh start in the Flashback event and so far things have gone pretty smoothly. The build currently feels a bit squishy at level 79 but no more so than a normal summoner. I believe this feeling is a combination of the league map mods in Flashback, running on a corrupted 6-link, my flasks/jewels/gear not fully sorted, and not having any quality on my gems. Be prepared to switch your skeleton gem links if you want to switch out of a Tabula. I ended up going for a 3R/2B/1G corrupted evasion base 6-link I negotiated for 20c.

I have yet to complete uber lab but ele weakness res-capping is very easy even without the last Ascendancy nodes. I haven't picked up Queen of the Forest or Grip of the Council as the Queen is expensive just to acquire and would require another 800-900c invested into it and Grip of the Councils are barely available 4 days into the league and currently sitting at 2ex due to only 2 pairs on the market. (Very expensive to me and not really worth it compared to the 7c or less once trade league gets flooded with them.)

My general thoughts on leveling this build from league start:
- Getting your skeletons into a functional 4 link asap is important.
- I stuck with SRS into Act 5 this time because my skeletons still needed some help.
- This build really starts feeling good once you pick up your Solar Guards.
- Farming up a Tabula in Blood Aqueducts is highly recommended. I was able to use this until I switched out for corrupted 6L with usable stats and socket colors.

Other thoughts: I tried this build with Summon Phantasm on Kill and it was interesting. Possibly will help make it better with clear speed but you lose a link on your skeletons and I need to test further once I get the build fully sorted in the Flashback event.

6.0 Crafting Gear

----This section is incomplete----

A quick note on crafting.

This build uses multiple pieces of gear with 3 or more off color sockets. This can be difficult and very expensive to achieve using chromatics alone. I highly advise you to use the Vorici socket crafting method when trying to achieve multiple off colors on a piece of gear.

I first learned this method from Jelbishi and it has become a staple of any build where I run off color links.

Jelbishi's Vorici Socket Crafting Tutorial

The chest piece: If you decide to try and self craft 4R2B on a QoTF it makes financial sense to craft at least 2 white sockets onto your item. When I crafted my chest piece, Albino Rhoas were going for 50c ea. 2 white sockets will cost you 100c. However, a failed off color on the 5th link will cost you 8c per attempt and a failed off color on the 6th socket costs 42c per attempt. (Assuming 10 jewelers = 1 chaos) It roughly takes about 13 attempts to get an off color socket on a QoTF. Therefore, you can save quite a bit of money in crafting if you only need an off color on the 5th and 6th link and not a specific off color.

(Edit: I have seen this chest piece available as 4R/2B in league so it's not impossible to get it but next league will be substantially harder to craft with Bestiary recipes not going core. 3R/1G/2B will be substantially cheaper next league.)

The shield: If you are crafting the shield, this can be surprisingly expensive to roll properly. Many times the -15% mana reservation affix was on an otherwise junk shield. Do not be afraid to stick with a good -10% mana reservation affix roll if the rest of the shield is good. This is how I started out and then I upgraded the shield to a -15% version later.

Edit: Updated some sections based on leveling from Flashback league start. Tested the build with Tukohama's Vanguards.
Last edited by UnseenSpectacle on May 8, 2018, 10:58:19 PM
Last bumped on May 22, 2018, 7:11:45 AM
Well done getting so much move speed on a summoner! Thanks for the guide :)
I also think move speed is the best, the game is very unfun without it. Here's your build with phase run and seven league step boots for 200% move speed ... https://pastebin.com/ePzYcQ2q

If you find you have too much damage, a survival tweak to your build I suggest is lose the hatred/generosity. Gain brutality. You lose a little damage, and the chill slow from cold damage, but gain so much more defences: from better gloves, more passive nodes, straight up mana, or better yet, a blasphemy curse aura. You also free up a new shield mod and a new gem slot for no orb of storms. Also, not having to proc EE is heavenly for less button pushing.

Thanks for the feedback. It was not an easy task but the build has exceeded my goals for it. Originally, I wanted to go movement speed only. However, I gave shield charge another try when I learned that Shield Charge is scaled by both attack speed and movement speed. I have never played such a smooth shield charge build before.

One pro I have not mentioned about this build is that it can keep up with the quicker Poorjoy's runners if you drop the granite flask for a Quicksilver of Adrenaline. I don't really enjoy running that fast with a party but the XP cannot be beaten.

I will take a look at the PoB link later today when I have more time. Your suggestions sound interesting. Currently I am planning an uber elder attempt with the build and am then planning to switch to a MF/clear speed variant to farm Shaped Underground Sea to level 100.
where are the videos?
Sorry, there probably won't be videos for this league from me. PoE runs like trash if I try to run OBS on this computer at the same time. If this build is still viable next league I will look at putting up some videos.
Bumping this thread because I want to try a charged dash version of this build. Theory crafting help would be much appreciated as I've never used this skill before.
grimlock9999 wrote:
Bumping this thread because I want to try a charged dash version of this build. Theory crafting help would be much appreciated as I've never used this skill before.

I'll take a look at it tonight and see if there is any possible way to make it work well. Normally when I use charged dash, it is for clearing gaps or height changes on maps. You can definitely use it as a movement skill but it will be slower overall than Shield Charge.
Me again. Just getting excited to see what the new boots 'Omeyocan' can do with this build.

It should get 20% more mana, 16% spell and attack dodge, 28% lightning resist and 50% movespeed all from one pair of boots. Now if the tree can just get the phase acrobatics node.....

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