[3.6] Death's Oath Trickster - ALL CONTENT | Tanky | Budget | Fast Clear | Lag-Free
Local Trickster buffed for 4th major update in a row
Essence Drain and Righteous Fire had a baby.
AND IT'S A M A Z I N G
Hi, I would like to buy your deathless Shaper listed for 1 league in Flashback (stash tab "~price 1 forum post"; ladder position: top 13, global 250)
The point of this guide is to be an extremely in-depth run-down of how to play the Death's Oath Trickster that has carried me through the last two leagues. At level 97 in bestiary Flashback SC, this build was the 12th Trickster on ladder, or roughly the 230th highest level player in the world. If you're shooting for a top 10 spot, you'll probably want to stick to your wander/support combos, but I truly hope the other 98% of the Path of Exile community gains something from this. All of my play to level 97 was done solo, but not SSF (because I get lonely sometimes, and buying items is good). More experienced players can skip to Skill Setups and Gearing, Itemization, Enchantments sections, while less confident players can give the whole thing a read. I've done my best to make the guide both as in-depth and as beginner-friendly as possible. If you have a question, chances are the answer is in the post, but barring that you can always ask here or shoot me a private message.
What in damnation is this build?
This is a Life-based Trickster that deals chaos damage to clear content and kill bosses. We use the Death's Oath unique to deal constant AoE chaos damage around us, which lets us deal with insanely high pack density without suffering. Stuns, Freezes, and otherwise debilitating effects (even silence) do not prevent us from killing. The consistency in not having to wait for energy shield, charges, traps/totems, or summons means that our only limitation is our ability to kill content (of which we are expecting a lot of).
This build was engineered to handle the high-risk environment of high-tier Flashback content, especially the constant threat of beyond Uniques. Our Ascendancy allows us to gain all of our Life, Mana, and Energy shield back after killing a sufficiently large pack, and Chaos damage tends to perform better against content when scaled well. Using Trickster's affinity for movement skills, and the fact that we do not need to stop walking to kill enemies, we can clear entire maps without standing still.
It plays better than it sounds, I promise.
How does Death's Oath work?
I'm going to skip the explanation for every other mechanic featured in the build, because that is better answered by the wiki. Death's Oath, however, gives us an fickle aura that has few modifiers to work with: namely, Chaos, Damage Over Time, Area of Effect, and Aura. Our choice of support gem is limited, and should be done in a specific order. Because of the nature of the skill, any support gem socketed into the Armour will automatically support Death Aura if possible. This means We do not link our body armour to save currency.
The one thing to understand about the Death Aura is that while it acts as a damage over time, this effect wears off immediately if an enemy is no longer in the zone. Righteous Fire players will be familiar with this concept, and it is easier to imagine it as if we carry a circle of desecrated ground with us. If an enemy is on the ground, they take the Damage over Time, but the effect does not persist once they step off.
Concentrated Effect/Increased Area of Effect
Big circle for mapping, small circle for bossing. People who don't like switching gems will want to keep Increased AoE on all the time (quality on this gem gives us more damage anyways). Or run both; it's up to you.
These three support gems can be socketed in any order, and in any combination. This is where things get complicated.
Arcane surge will never activate for us; we are not spending any mana in using this skill. This means it provides no bonus spell damage, mana regeneration, and its mana multiplier is not affecting a skill with an associated mana cost. What it does do, however, is add the duration tag to Death Aura. The game, for all intents and purposes, thinks that our Death Aura is a Duration Skill like any other (think Earthquake, Curses, Essence Drain). This new tag allows us to use our final two support gems in our 6-socket...
Now that we have Arcane Surge, we gain the damage bonus from this support gem, but the decreased duration has no effect on our Death Aura. We can think of it as a Damage over Time that wears of instantly, but is also reapplied instantly.
We squeeze a bit more damage from our build using this final gem.
As an addendum: do not trust the tooltip of Death Aura in the skills menu of the character tab. Hovering over the skill will show the real, unmodified damage values, which are often ignored by certain tooltips.
I said we do all content. I never said we'd like it. Decide for yourself if that makes me a liar or not, but the build runs pretty comfortably for the first 2 months of a league (levels 1-95 or so for a casual player). I've done my best to compile a list of all the content a normal character would expect to face in this amount of time, but these can easily be surpassed by being stubborn or having currency.
Red content is either very dangerous, or inherently rigged against us. Possible, but not pleasant.
Yellow content can be dangerous, but is still comfortably doable.
Green content poses almost no threat, but can still worsen other mods' impact on us.
Full disclosure: I've never actually tried this fight, but he sure looks like he hurts. It seems like a huge ordeal to spawn, and is the kind of content I leave reserved for overtweaked RF builds/2k life saboteurs/people who play poison builds. We boss very well with blight, and there is no immunity or mechanic that outright prevents us from clearing the Uber Elder fight, but yikes dude. Considering how well the build fares against T15 Elder and normal Shaper, I wouldn't be surprised if this is possible. Surprise me!
The Shaper's Realm
Dodge, stack blight, dodge, repeat. The fight can be tedious to the inexperienced, and I have more than a few deaths from failing to manage the Shaper's mechanics properly, or standing outside of the Zana Bubble™. Despite this, he fell on his face relatively quickly, and we can tank the shaper slam with our damage mitigation. Yes, we can tank the Shaper slam. The right gear turns us into the perfect build for sharing (or selling) Shaper kill tokens.
We can disregard the vaal twins entirely (if you cleared act 2 you can handle this), and I discuss the Trio in the Vaal Temple (T16) section. The scary lady herself hurts quite a bit, but has a kit composed entirely of avoidable spells and low-impact gimmicks. A player that understands what to look for can easily do this fight with no challenge. Despite this, the large flameblasts will still instantly kill us without the use of specific uniques (75% fire res, 7k life/ES pool) and her constant sources of ignite and bleed and wear down players who don't dodge like madmen. We never care about the mirror in the clone phase, however, which is nice.
Everything Uber Atziri is, but without the threatening bits. Extremely vulnerable to damage, barely hurts us, and more an exercise of patience than anything else. If you're the kind of player who is wary of end-game content like Atziri, this is the build to tackle them.
Vaal Temple (Tier 16)
Killing the Trio in the right order is key here, in order to maintain flask charges to avoid dying to bleed/ignite. Aside from this, the boss is otherwise nondescript, and can easily be kited. Another boss I highly recommend reading up on.
Guardian of the Minotaur
This big boy hurts, and restricts our mobility in his arena. The falling rocks can block of otherwise useable routes for dodging his attacks. A fight to be taken slow and steady.
Guardian of the Hydra
A weaker, more predictable Shaper fight. The only way to fudge this is to either walk into every map hazard, or stand in front of the Hydra at all times.
Guardian of the Phoenix
This is the perfect opportunity to show your friends how you killed a Shaper Guardian with 2 Lifesprigs and no helmet. Only one of his attacks will hurt us (the really slow-moving one, think of him like oncoming traffic but dorkier), and the arena summons die to our AoE automatically, giving us free flask charges.
Guardian of the Chimera
A really big Kraityn, only he gives us flask charges sometimes. As with the other guardians, as long as you know what to expect, you shouldn't die.
The Enslaver/Eradicator/Purifier/Constrictor (Elder Guardians)
We topple these chumps just like we do with regular map bosses, but we're a bit more mindful of the special arena hazards. Eradicator and Constrictor are historically the most annoying in that they take an extra minute or so to kill, but this is acceptable in my opinion.
Hall of the Grandmasters (solo)
My first Grandmaster experience consisted of clearing 4 halls through only walking, and then being forced to call in a slayer. Certain Eternal Grandmasters have chaos inoculation, many of whom also have a consistent life/ES regeneration effect. We deal negligible non-chaos damage, and this makes these grandmasters literally impossible to kill. I've yet to fully experiment with off-hands, totems, or some kind of vaal skill usage, but it seems very far-fetched.
Hall of the Grandmasters (with friends)
The added damage scaling of party members is pretty non-threatening, although we can occasionally get locked into a stun, hit with a harsh ignite, or step onto bear traps. Fuck bear traps. Provided your allies can deal with the CI Grandmasters, the rest of the map is a (cautious) walk in the park.
Necropolis Boss (T12)
Yes, you read that right. Despite normally melting T12 bosses before they can use more than one animation, there is an occasional boss that lands his ring of bones. Our lack of flame dash/leap slam means we cannot escape this, and our lack of immortal call activators means the follow-up physical degen kills us. A high-risk fight for players who forget to shield charge a lot. You can read about the boss in more detail on the wiki.
Map Mods (LONG):
Any Shaper/Elder Influence
Null portals are nothing, the Elder tentacles cannot kill us, Shaper anomalies/constructs do no damage, and any buffed boss fight still falls easily to our single-target damage. Players wishing to construct an Elder ring, farm Elder/Shaper maps, or confront the guardians do not need to worry.
Hexproof/Immune to Curses
Temporal Chains makes positioning, dodging, and general quality of life much better. After playing with it, the absence of curses makes maps feel faster and more dangerous. The loss of Despair also cuts both out Death's Oath and Blight damage by a significant amount. It's worth the orb of scouring.
Players Cannot Regenerate Life/Mana
Our ascendancy lets us regenerate mana on a whim by spamming our movement skill, and I have never seen Blight's mana cost rise above 10/channel. In addition to this, Death's Oath will deal continuous damage even while we are at 0 mana, preventing our mind over matter from putting is in an awkward spot. Where this mod hurts us is the lack of life regen: Death's Oath will lower our life pool, and only a flask or killing enemies (thus refreshing the degen) will replenish it. Can make tough maps undoable, but goes virtually unnoticed in easier ones. One of the only ways to unlock the "[player] committed suicide" death message, if you're weird like that.
Otherworldly/Slaying Enemies close together can attract enemies from Beyond
You want this on every map you run. More beyond monsters mean higher density. This increases the effectiveness of our Abyssal Cry, gives our flasks higher uptime (near-permanent in high-tier maps), and provides free life and mana sustain through the Patient Reaper ascendancy node. Unique Beyond spawns (Ephij, Haast, T'Zeosh, Bameth, Na'em) do not threaten us more than regular rares, and should not be a challenge for players who know what to look for (such as Bameth's vaal detonate dead). This build has killed many an Abaxoth that would end most players' fun.
Less Effect of Curses
A mild "Hexproof", if you will. Every tier of this mod (capping out at 60% reduced effect for red maps) hurts both our damage and survivability. Coupled with a "haste" mod, enemies can feel too fast to play around appropriately.
Monsters fire X additional Projectiles/Monsters' skills Chain X additional times
Certain enemies can become more annoying with these mods (vaal constructs, Flame/Frost Sentinels), but threaten our FPS more than our life.
Monsters reflect X% of Physical/Elemental Damage
The only damage we deal that can be reflected is Shield Charge. If you die to a phys/ele reflect map with your Shield charge, something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Area is Inhabited by X additional Rogue Exiles
Free loot, and very difficult to be caught off-guard by. A personal favourite for players who like to farm rares for the chaos recipe.
Rare Monsters have a Nemesis Mod/Magic Monster Packs have a Bloodline Mod
Normally non-threatening, these two mods have very special (and notorious) ways of killing players. nemesis mods include Volatile Flameblood, which can stun and remove a large portion of our health if not dodged. The best way to handle these is to dash directly through the fire orb, forcing it to detonate where we are not. The second is the bearer bloodline mod, which comes in three elemental variants (flame bearers, storm bearers, frost bearers). Standing directly over a pack of triggered bearers without Vaal Grace active will kill us about 110% of the time. Don't do that.
Monsters gain Power/Frenzy/Endurance charges
It probably makes the monsters tougher to kill, but I've never noticed.
Players have reduced Armor & Block Chance/Player Dodge Chance is Unlucky
While we technically have armour, block chance, and chance to dodge (with Vaal Grace), none of these mods impact us enough to be considered dangerous. The loss of reliable dodge can cause unfortunate circumstances when using spell dodge chance to avoid bearers (see: Magic Packs have a Bloodline Mod), but this is about it.
Area has patches of Burning/Chilled/Shocking/Desecrated Ground
Annoying, hard on the eyes, and can hurt framerate, but ultimately not harmful. Immunity to shock/chill on flasks mitigates shocking and chilled ground (as will soul of Arakaali for shock in general), and burning ground can be treated like a regular map.
Players have Point Blank/Elemental Equilibrium
Neither of these mods affect us at all, as we deal no elemental damage and have no projectiles.
Players gain reduced Flask Charges
I tend to be a thirsty boy when using flasks, and this mod can ruin some otherwise reliable counters (i.e not having anti-freeze or anti-curse active for a strongbox). Requires a bit more care in managing charges.
Players have Reduced Area of Effect
This mod makes us do a bit more work in getting enemies into our ring of death, but otherwise won't hurt.
Monsters take reduced damage from critical strikes
it is impossible to score a critical strike with a damage source that does not "hit"; this mod is incapable of affecting us.
Monsters have X% chance to avoid Status Ailments/Bleed/Poison
We inflict 0 ailments, and neither poison nor bleed. The chaos damage from Blight and Death's Oath is unavoidable unless the monster has a "cannot be damaged" phase.
All Monster Damage from Hits always Ignites/Monsters poison on hit
One of those mods where a flask makes the difference between "unbearable" and "nothing at all". Ignites act the same as "less life regeneration", but our damage mitigation to damage over time makes this negligible more often than not. Can hurt if coupled with lowered maximum elemental resistances. Soul of Shakari renders us immune to poison after capturing Terror of the Infinite Drifts, but this can also be mitigated by similar flask use/chaos resistance.
Monsters Cannot be Taunted + Monsters Cannot be Slowed below Base Speed
Our Temporal Chains is useless here, but still extends the duration of our blight degen. Despair still has full effect, but the map content will feel faster. Unknown if this affects Aspect of the Spider or Blight's hinder.
Reduced % elemental resistances/% Extra damage as elemental
I group these mods together because they have a tendency to stack up. 100% extra damage as lightning isn't harmful. 100% as all three, or as two with a reduction in resistances can quickly turn us to jelly. We run little in the way of elemental mitigation beyond 75% resistances. Trust your gut with these ones.
Monsters have % increased movement/attack/cast speed
Large swarms of packs, especially those that like to spam movement skills, can sometimes lock us into a stun. This does not interrupt our Death's Oath damage, but is still more dangerous than a regular map. Know what you're getting into.
Monsters have % Increased Chaos Resistance
Not a threat to your life, but it definitely hits the experience per hour. Tankier enemies means more time channeling between packs, higher abyssal cry reliance, and just less fun in general.
Players cannot leech Life/Mana
We neither need, nor are capable of Life and Mana leech. A free pass.
Monsters have increased Critical Strike Chance/Multiplier
Another mod that can make normally bearable maps a bit lethal. Critical hits tend to inflict more ailments than we can flask away, and have a higher chance of locking us into a stun. Killing enemies before they hit you is the best way to handle this mod.
Monsters deal increased Damage/have more Life/Increased Area of Effect
A mod so simple there is no way to loophole our way out of it. More damage means we take more damage, and more life means we take longer to kill the bad guys. Increased area of effect also affects volatile flameblood and bearers, making it a mod to watch for.
Players are cursed with Temporal Chains/Elemental Weakness/Vulnerablility/Enfeeble
Elemental weakness can be ignored by overcapping, Enfeeble isn't real, Vulnerability is another word for "more monster damage", and Temporal Chains is just a ping of 150. All nuisances in their own way, but also harmless. The kicker here is that we run a flask of warding. Mash that flask button - we clear enough to have it up 100% of the time anyways. The only curses that matter are ours.
%Less Life, Mana, and Energy Shield Regeneration
We make enough use of our ascendancy to call it "infinite mana", and our reliance on life regeneration is only between packs, not during combat. Even at 60% (T11-16 maps), these mods do not threaten us. Low enough life regeneration may cause Death's Oath to slowly damage us after killing an enemy, but never enough to kill us.
Unique Boss has X/Area contains two Unique Bosses
GGG is smiling upon you, and has given your map free item quantity or rarity. Twinned bosses means twinned loot, and two harmless fights still make for a harmless fight.
Area is inhabited by X/Area contains many Totems
These do nothing, and in the case of some (Sea Witches, Skeletons) actually make the map easier. I personally find Cultists of Kitava to be annoying, but no more threatening.
Anything not on this list has either slipped through a gap (shoot me a PM!) or is so non-threatening I have not included it.
Skill Gem Links
The Body Armor 6-socket is discussed in the How does Death's Oath Work? section for convenience.
Void Manipulation - Controlled Destruction - Efficacy - Swift Affliction
We like damage, and would rather scale up our damage over time than give ourselves faster casting. Even on this pseudo 5-link, the channel cost is almost nothing. Without Allelopathy, we replace Efficacy with Blight.
Shield Charge - Faster Attacks - Fortify - Culling Strike
Lets us move around quickly, and gives us huge mitigation against hits. Culling strike is an effective 10% more damage against bosses, and gives us more movement speed when given quality. A must-have, although some players may wish to skip the culling strike.
Despair - Blasphemy - Temporal Chains - Enhance
With Impresence, we are able to reserve mana for both curses (including Enhance's 115% mana multiplier) for half. It is difficult to overstate how much damage this gives us, in addition to a Temporal Chains slow of ovr 50%. This link is a priority for 20% quality and 21/20 gems, for players who can afford it (or are lucky). A level 4 enhance is worth it's price and then some, with the amount of curse effect it gives us.
Wither - Spell Totem - Faster Casting
The standard "wither totem" of many chaos builds. Putting this down quickly cripples a single target's chaos resistance (further amplified by our curses), as well as slowing them. The only drawback here is that we lose the opportunity to run a decoy totem.
Summon Stone Golem - Abyssal Cry - Onslaught
Abyssal Cry is our panic button. Using it has a lengthy cooldown (4 seconds or so), but will instantly kill a sufficiently dense room around us. Wipes strongboxes out immediately, and prevents porcupines from shooting spikes. It also gives us Onslaught, further boosting our damage and movement speed for the next few seconds (enough to set off another Abyssal Cry). This skill is your friend and you will learn to love it.
The Stone Golem is free Life regeneration, which is especially useful in sustaining the Death Aura in earlier levels.
These are gems we really, really would like, but can't have due to socket constraints. I recommend having at both shoved in somewhere, possibly in lieu of an Enhance, Culling Strike, or in an Unset Ring, before tackling endgame content.
This skill brings us up to about 50% Dodge and Spell Dodge chance with our Aura Effectiveness nodes on the Skill tree. This is a lot. Allows you to cheat death consistently, and makes party members love you.
Mitigation on our mitigation. Taking less damage is good, and the chill is an adequate last-ditch defense if something gets through our slows and hits us.
Some players may consider Clarity or Enlighten in their links to buff their Mind over Matter value; these are both valid strategies I happened to not do.
When building defensively, we prioritize defensive stats in the following order:
The reason we can get away with feeling so tanky without huge investment into defenses is that we layer defensive mechanics. This means at any moment, we have:
Adding to this our Pantheon choices (reduced Shock effect, Immunity to Poison, reduced Damage over Time taken etc.) and our non-negligible energy shield total, along with any evasion we might have and we're left with a build that fares well against pretty much damn well anything. T16 double Beyond maps feel almost underwhelming with how much raw bulk and sustain we have.
About Mind Over Matter
Keen players will see that this build caps off a fairly high percentage of our total mana (over 65% in some cases) and still runs Mind over Matter. I find players tend to think of Mind over Matter as adding Mana to their "life pool". This is a misguided approach in my opinion, because it implies that the node is only valuable when large quantities of Mana is left unspent/unreserved. Our main skill never costs Mana, and our secondary skill has a meager channel cost of 10 at a level 22 5-link. Adding to this that we gain our entire Mana pool back for every pack we kill. The proper way to think of Mind over Matter is as follows:
While you have Mana, you take 30% less damage.
It is easier to think of it as a persistent shield. Yes, we also happen to lose Mana in the process of taking damage, but we are a build that rarely, if ever, uses Mana in large quantities. What this means is that very large hits (the kind we avoid, such as boss charged attacks and slow-moving projectiles) will still eat through our small mana pool very quickly. Regular monsters, however, will give us the full benefit of the 30% damage mitigation, which we instantly regain with our hella strong Ascendancy . This is where Trickster outshines even Templars in my opinion.
If you run Path of Exile comfortably on a mid-to-high spec computer, you can ignore this section entirely.
One of the reasons this build took the direction it did was the complete lack of frame-dropping, performance-killing effects and particles. In short, we have 0 projectiles and blight is our only AoE effect. Perhaps the only potential sources of frame lag are abyssal cry, given our investment into AoE nodes and the overlap of explosions in high density maps. In my experience, this means having to wait an extra second after detonating a pack to see the loot. Players with bad computers (As a benchmark: I run approx. 20fps for a standard Shaper fight, down to maybe 10 in some Elder phases) will have a similar experience to large herald of ice procs - albeit much safer. Blight's texture has never caused me frame drops, and Death's Oath has no visual effect at all, save the small sigil below the player's feet (it looks like a smaller blasphemy circle).
With dynamic resolution enabled there should be no problems running this build on a ~$400 netbook.
Gear & Enchantments
I did my best to trim down the number of uniques (Death's Oath aside) required to make this build endgame-viable, but these are just too good to give up. Nothing in this section is mandatory, but you'll definitely want to get your hands on them first.
Self-explanatory; we build around this item. Every roll on this item is valuable, but we prioritize Life and Attributes for the stats they provide. The armor provides a non-negligible amount of physical damage reduction, making it valuable, while the attack speed makes our shield charge faster. The 180 strength requirement for this item is our only significant attribute obstacle.
These gloves provide us with our single target damage skill through Blight, which essentially gives us a 5-link skill to play with. The Increased damage over time also boosts our overall damage output, as well as an increase to the hinder (a slow) and out own immunity to similar effects. The lack of life is our only concern, but far outweighs the value of any other rare or unique gloves
When people say "best in slot" this is what they mean. it would be near impossible to find a single one-handed weapon that gives us this much damage with no significant drawbacks. The Increased area of effect also makes our Death Aura more potent, and our Blight easier to land.
Life, Damage over Time, and Chaos Resistance already make this amulet a viable pick for our amulet slot, but the largest boon is that it makes our Despair curse reserve no mana. This is what enables us to use Mind over Matter at all, and probably the only unique I would call "mandatory".
[Spreading Rot] x2
One of these Jewels can be taken as a quest reward in Act 5 - Death to Purity
These jewels are the reason we take the two early jewel sockets above the Witch starting area of the skill tree. In addition to the bonus chaos damage, the 50% increased effect when an enemy is affected by blight means our single target deals more single-target, and also makes our Death Aura do more damage. In other words, we deal more damage to enemies we're dealing more damage to. It's a nice deal.
(I'd link these, but I have them equipped)
Despite the level 21 Despair curse overlapping with our existing Blasphemy aura, this flask is still worth using for the massive increase to damage over time on a long duration.
Every other slot on our character can easily be filled with a rare item. This is where we gain our Life, Mana, Elemental/Chaos resistances, and some bonus armor if we can spare.
Very nondescript. Life, mana, resists, and we're done. If you're opting to play without Allelopathy, these same priorities apply to the glove slot.
Same as the helmet, but with one major difference: increased movement speed. This is perhaps the most important boot mod in the game, letting us reposition, dodge, avoid threats, and generally clear faster. Playing without movespeed boots seems like a painful, altogether unrewarding ordeal. Shoot for at least 20%
I personally think Unset Rings are the best in slot for this build, letting us run neat boons like Arctic Armor, Clarity, and Vaal Haste, all of which benefit from our % Increased Aura Effectiveness nodes. This brings Arctic Armor up to over 15% damage reduction, and Vaal Haste to 50% Dodge and Spell Dodge Chance. These are big boy numbers, and will make you feel like you've cheated death entirely.
The "Aspect of the Spider" mod is also an extremely potent addition to the build, giving us another stacking slow and damage buff. - MAY BE REMOVED FOR 3.3, CURRENTLY UNKNOWN
Life and resistances are the main draw here, although this is a good place to stack strength to let us equip our armour as well. Stygian Vises give us a jewel socket, which is more stats than any other belt base can compete with, but Shaper-modded belts can also give us a free abyssal cry, saving us a gem socket. This choice usually comes down to budget, so don't be afraid to wear a regular heavy or leather belt.
As with most (nearly all) life-based builds, we benefit from a life flask of staunching. This prevents mods like corrupting blood and corrupted bloodline from killing us, as well as immunity to monsters that inflict bleeding. We also want a flask of heat and flask of warding to allow us to open strongboxes unmolested. The actual flask base itself matters less than one would expect, but I prefer a combination of Quicksilver Flask for movement, Sulphur Flask for when we channel blight on bosses (and for the regen), and Basalt or Granite Flask for additional physical damage reduction. We can make use of a Quartz Flask for the Phasing buff if we find ourselves being blocked by monsters often.
This is perhaps one of the only builds where Abyss Jewels are harder to use than regular jewels. Aside from mods that give us buffs upon kill (we already generate Onslaught and Phasing, and do not make much use of the tiny movement speed), the only damage mods we can obtain are % Increased Damage over Time While Holding a Shield and % Increased Damage if you have killed Recently. Aside from this, we want Flat Life on our abyss Jewels to boost our tankiness.
Regular Jewels give us much more freedom to take certain mods, and we benefit from enough that we can easily roll 3 or 4-mod rare jewels. The mandatory mod is % Increased Maximum Life, which would ideally be at 7%. Aside from this, we can take any of the following:
In a pinch, both types of jewels can be used for Elemental Resistances or Attributes, such as our much-needed strength.
Other Uniques to Consider
Pretend you're playing Juggernaut, provided you have the Mana and resists for it. The armour stacks well with our chestplate to boot.
The biggest risk this build faces is dying to large elemental hits, such as those from Uber Atziri, Unique Beyond monsters, and packs of Bearers. This shield gives us an extra 1000 life against elemental damage, along with a ton of good stats. The +2 to gems works well for our Despair-Temporal Chains-Blasphemy link if we do not have Enhance Support, or can be used for out other auras/Wither Totem. An excellent, all-rounder shield that is grossly underappreciated in my opinion. This one will be difficult to get ahold of early in a league.
An interesting item I like to level with, simply because the "hinder" stacks with Temporal Chains slow. Perfect for playing when you're really tired and like your game in slow-motion. Sadly, we do not benefit from the increased damage, and prefer to switch to higher-end main hands.
These boots. These. Fucking. Boots. Putting these on single-handledly enables our build to clear T11+ maps by only walking. This leaves your other hand free to, uh, do other things, I suppose. The constant corpse detonation guards against corpse detonation, and our abyssal cry link in these boots means that we will also have permanent onslaught just by moving around. Culling bosses by running near them is pretty nifty to boot, and the Jewel Socket and added damage both provide stats we don't often see on a boot slot. I love the Bubonic Trail, but had to take them off for the more consistent T15=16 clearing (and gem socket).
While Death's Oath does not scale with Spell Damage, Blight (and Essence Drain, if we get creative) do. While not as much as a rare, and missing high resistances/mana, the damage and stats from this shield make it a viable shoe-in.
There are a ton of other interesting uniques I've yet to fully test, so do not take this as a comprehensive list. Heretic's Veil comes to mind as a potential helm slot for players who don't need 6k life. Get creative!
The most important enchantment for this build is the boot enchant. We try to roll Regenerate 2% of Life and Mana if you've been hit recently whenever we can. This enchantment gives us the most bulk and allows us to charge into packs without worrying about sustaining our life regeneration. Enchantments that give stun avoidance, dodge/spell dodge, and movement speed are acceptable alternatives, but this is by far best-in-slot. Remember: we do not benefit from any enchantment that adds damage to attacks or spells, as all of our damage is damage-over-time.
My personal preference for glove enchantments is Commandment of Reflection, which essentially creates a clone of ourselves to distract enemies and soak up damage. The clone also gains a copy of our Maddening Presence if we equip an Impresence Unique amulet, giving us more reach with the debuff. How you trigger this (on hit, on kill etc) doesn't matter too much as it will be bound by the internal cooldown regardless. Another option is Commandment of Frost, which lets us spread a chill and provides a small burst when we run head-first into packs of monsters.
Helmet enchantments are fickle and tedious; I personally never had the patience to run repeated Labyrinths to obtain a useful one. The best-in-slot enchants would be 40% Increased Blight Damage or 30% Increased Despair/Temporal Chains Curse Effect. My personal experience is to consider myself lucky if I land an enchant that affects any skill I use at all. The full table of helmet enchantments can be found here for those willing to go all-in on their gear.
My Current Gear
You'll be seeing a lot of similarities here. The biggest difference was that Bestiary league lasted far longer, while I had way more currency in Flashback to spend. If it looks stupid but it works, it isn't stupid!
Passive Skill tree
There are three important things to keep in mind when leveling with this character. The first is that we need two jewel sockets for our Spreading Rot unique jewels, making our blight a global damage amplifier. The second is that there are no points that require taking and regretting later, with the exception of +30 Strength nodes for players struggling to meet Death's Oath stat requirements. The third is that our aura effectiveness clusters (Charisma & Influence) do very little until we Equip Death's Oath.
Level 62 (level requirement for Death's Oath - assuming no Act 10)
Players who happen to have a lot of energy shield on gear may want to consider Foresight and Arcane Focus for the cheap defenses. Deep Thoughts also grants a large amount of mana for 2 points, comparable to the nodes behind Mind over Matter. The 5% curse effectiveness near Skittering Runes is also worth noting for players between levels that cannot reach a notable (and have regret orbs to spare).
1 - Weave the Arcane
My personal choice for the first point, this prevents running out of mana during the acts, and lets us spam a movement skill to move around quickly. It is impossible for us to make use of 6% reduced Damage Taken for 4 seconds after Spending 200 Mana, but the node pays for itself in sheer utility and quality of life.
2/3 - Patient Reaper
Arguably the most important ascendancy point, this gives us a metric assload of life and mana sustain, as well as buffing our blight and Death's Oath damage over time. The increased life regeneration also allows us to sustain the Death's Oath damage over time easier. Despite being mandatory for our chestplate, the level requirement of 62 means we can save this ascendancy for the merciless labyrinth if we prefer swift killer's damage
2/3 - Swift Killer
A hefty sum of damage and movement speed for when we can clear at a fast enough pace to maintain charges. The lack of other stats or utility makes this node skippable for cautious (or hardcore) players, but is definitely nice to have.
4 - Prolonged Pain (req. Patient Reaper)
A small boost to our damage, and a small reduction in our self-damage. The skill duration increases out single-target blight damage, but is fairly hard to notice. Players uncomfortable with the Eternal Labyrinth (Uber Lab) can avoid taking this node until much later without hurting the build's effectiveness.
Ghost Dance does little for us without significant investment into energy shield, and only leads into an even more useless node (our body armor will never give evasion, meaning Escape Artist will ever grant bonus energy shield). The stun immunity is not worth the 4 ascendancy points or this branch.
We do not ever take Harness The Void for two reasons: We have no non-chaos damage to convert, and our build deals 0 damage with hits. This wording is important for use with items like Singularity, which would otherwise provide a budget option for our main hand.
Tabula Rasa and Bubonic Trail are your friends. Those of you used to rerolling and leveling new characters shouldn't be surprised by this. With 3.6 buffs chaos builds are good enough to level with whatever you like, but I personally like Bane and Soulrend.
Do yourself a favour and spend a good few levels in the Blood Aqueducts (Act 9) to get the last big of life regeneration you need to sustain Death Aura's self-damage. The +30 Strength nodes are completely fine to take until higher levels, where you can get attributes on your rings.
Death's oath gives attributes on it's own, including strength. This means that with it on, you should have 220-230 strength, or else removing the item will make you unable to re-equip it. This can make regretting certain nodes awkward.
Bandits & Pantheons
We kill all bandits for the extra skill points. Oak and Alira have wasted stats in % Increased Physical Damage and % Increased Critical Strike Multiplier respectively, and Kraityn is just weak.
Our major pantheon is Soul of Arakaali, and we capture both Arachnoxia and Armala, The Widow. This gives us a good multiplier to our life and mana regeneration (both of which contribute to our life pool), and give us mitigation to damage over time and chaos damage over time. Both of these reduce the self-infliced damage of Death's Oath, and are generally useful in dealing with sources of chaos damage (which still hurts).
There's no real "correct" minor god, as we don't require any of the buffs to function, but I personally prefer Soul of Shakari for the added damage over time resistance. Soul of Gruthkul can also make us tankier in a pinch, or for players opting for slower, more bulky playstyles. The other pantheons don't really do much for us (we have no reflectable damage to warrant Yugul, burning ground does not interrupt us for Aberrath, we don't stand still enough for Tukohama to proc etc.)
SCROLL DOWN FOR THE FAQ AND > > 3.6 CHANGES < <
Note: If any information in this guide is outdated, assume that it has either not changed, or is barely relevant/buffed in our favour. I will try my best to stay up-to-date, but I basically come back once a month to check if GGG has nerfed us yet (they haven't). I am also very inconsistent with PMs, so thank you to all those that answer questions in this thread.
Last edited by Doeoeod on Mar 13, 2019, 12:03:07 AM
Last bumped on Mar 26, 2020, 3:56:31 PM
on May 26, 2018, 8:47:36 AM
Today, I clicked on this thread and I literally became a big boy on contact
Absolute BOGGERS in the chat right now
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Last edited by Ryphe on Aug 17, 2021, 4:50:12 PM
on May 26, 2018, 9:29:54 AM
Awesome build, would appreciate a visual after seeing the Shaper kill screenshot.
I think if I were to play a build like this, (and maybe next league when I have the currency to fund a character like this), I would be more comfortable playing Occultist, mainly because of the Ascendancy Node 'Profane Bloom'. But I don't know, Trickster seems like a great ascendancy to take as well mainly for clearspeed, and seeing the screenshot of you killing Shaper, I might be more inclined to take it.
on May 26, 2018, 10:09:12 AM
Moved because I hit the character limit
What do I do before I buy/find my Death's Oath?
You're now reading an Essence Drain build guide. And by this I mean until I actually update the section, go find an ED guide. Or Bane. Or Soulrend. Or Caustic Arrow (why tho). They all work I swear, they made this stuff too easy.
I've honestly never had too little currency to buy a Death's Oath by the time I clear Act 10. A minimum roll (20 less life, 10 less to all attributes, 5% less attack speed, 40% less local armour compared to max roll) is in the ballpark of 1-5 chaos early in a temporary league. I've seen people wear Cherrubim's Maleficence and running Essence Drain, but any generic 4-link rare will do. Blade Vortex and Essence Drain work fine until you get ahold of our build enabler. Really though, it's a hella cheap item.
What changed in 3.3?
Not a whole damn lot. Like, at all. Vaal Blight admittedly looks pretty interesting, but the new Vaal skill mechanics place both the Vaal and regular skill on the same gem. We do not socket a Blight gem because of Allelopathy, so this requires us to make room for another gem to use it. Probably requires some testing, but it seems too inefficient to make room for.
None of our Unique items, mandatory or otherwise, have been changed at all. The Pale Council and Shaper/Elder mechanics are virtually untouched, making Breath of the Council and Impresence about the same as previous leagues.
What has been changed, and is sadly a nerf for us, is Vaal Soul generation. Vaal Grace in particular now requires about twice as many souls, and has a cooldown after use during whih we cannot generate further souls. This is somewhat offset by the fact that we now generate souls from Rare and Unique enemies as they take damage. It is much more difficult to reach a strongbox or Unique enemy without Vaal Grace available, but we cannot use it frequently in dangerous maps.
I have yet to look at the full list of Incursion Unique items, and will update the post when I do.
What changed in 3.4?
TD;DR Buffed again
The only (major) change that at all affects this build are the mechanical changes to Shield Charge and how it interacts with local attack speed modifiers. This means that for characters saving up (or opting to not use) Breath of the Council, Brightbreak is no longer worth using. Our 3-5 mana reserved skills also activate without stopping our character movement, which is a pleasant quality of life change.
Avid item crafters may also use an Aberrant Fossil to get "Nearby enemies have X% reduced chaos resistance" on a helmet. This, alongside the potential %chaos damage on belts and jewels, makes fossil crafting a really simple affair for us (in addition to this being the cheapest fossil).
0 Skill tree alterations need to be made, and Bestiary aspect mods are once again easily obtainable in 3.4's Delve League. All in all, this is basically a buff by proxy (in addition to the fact that Death's Oath does an incredible job of clearing alongside the Delve Crawler).
What changed in 3.5?
TD;DR Buffed again AGAIN
To begin with, all of you should be leveling with Vortex with Bonechill and Hypothermia supports. It may not have the raw damage of Blade Vortex, but is an instant-cast, and the chill stacks with Temporal changes for some massive slows. There are a ton of veiled mods and focus mechanics that improve the build (as well as probably a few uniques) There's a lot to dig through that I have not yet, but view my thoughts on it -> https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2149006
What changed in 3.6?
Nothing but buffs, baby
3.6 is making me wish I made this build now instead of 4 leagues ago. Nothing was nerfed, go play this thing. Oh, and level a Malevolence gem or 7.
Leveling with chaos skills is now the easiest thing since breathing, with both Bane and Soulrend giving easy access to what is essentially an ED Occultist's kit. Forget the leveling blade vortex, forget the decay support. I will exploring all these and more... slowly. The build is more than playable as-is (much better, actually, but maybe take off Blight for ED or something), but far from optimal. Too many options, not enough time.
My hasty post on the matter is here -> https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2149006/page/39#p21767109
Why choose this over another build?
The biggest draw here, at least for me, was the the consistency in the build's performance (see the "Content Viability" section for why we run nearly everything in the game) and solid defenses. Any build can do a Shaper if the player either sinks enough currency into it, or plays well. This is usually what I expect to see on a "MILLIONS OF SHAPER DPS" or "FACE-TANK EVERYTHING!!1!1" build, both of which we technically do, but I don't feel the need to advertise. Bestiary Flashback Softcore and Hardcore ladders were an adventure in watching how often Tricksters (as well as Inquisitors, another notoriously unsafe class at the moment) died. I value my experience total over my tooltip DPS, and I think this is the perfect starting point for players who feel the same.
Why not Occultist?
Assuming Occultist and Trickster are the only two viable classes for this kind of cursing chaos degen build (hint: they are), I make this choice for a couple of reasons. The first is that if we were occultist, we would be forced into an energy shield build. This means having to find stun immunity, the lack of any ES from our chestplate, and losing our aability to use a flask. We then need to fill out Energy Shield wheels and take Zealot's Oath, probably finding room for a Discipline aura in here somewhere. The curse effectiveness is nice, yes, and Profane Bloom is a stellar node, but we give up a huge chunk of quality of life in the process. When I weighed my options in the face of Flashback's heavy-handed multi-mod maps, I decided a tanky, in-the-fray life build suited my playstyle better. Both are valid, but I can't exactly choose both, now can I?
Are there videos of this build clearing/bossing?
My PC is somewhere between an antique toaster and a Gameboy Colour with no batteries. I'm sure it makes me look a bit sleazy, but it isn't realistic for me to go back and record some footage. Also I'd have to reinstall Path of Exile, which is a pain. That said, I've trimmed as much hyperbole from this guide as I could; when I say I run something easily, I really mean it.
Solo Self-Found is almost a definite "no", unless you're in the business of killing your own Elder, Pale Council, Shaper, and finding the chestplate itself. I'm sure it's possible, but I definitely don't recommend.
I really couldn't give a good answer to this. On one hand, I've seen plenty of less viable builds tote the "hardcore viable" tag in threads. On the other, I'm a softcore ape with 200+ deaths at level 98. I can confidently say I've done all the content outlined here deathless. Getting there, however, was more RIPs than some streamers could dream of. I'd like to think much of that was me running headfirst into content to test the build, but I wouldn't bank your hardcore legacy on anything with less than 50k armor.
I hate reading! Where's the Path of Building Link???
I burnt out the last 3 brain cells I had writing this, and am thus incapable of figuring out how to use Path of Building. The only thing PoB would have that this thread doesn't, to my knowledge, is the actual damage calculations. My tooltip DPS is "hella", which should suffice.
How do I get 5/6 off-colours on a Death's Oath?
I tend to wait a day or two for someone to have a level 6/7 Vorici, and use the three blue sockets (120 chromatics - Vorici 6) or Two blue one green sockets (100 chromatics - Vorici 7). The unfortunate truth is that you'll be running your Death's Oath without a full socket setup for a good chunk of time. The hit to our damage is less than we'd expect, but getting 5-6 off colours usually requires the Jeweller's Method.
Last edited by Doeoeod on Mar 13, 2019, 12:23:13 AM
on May 26, 2018, 11:22:30 AM
There are hybrid builds That consist of both ES and Life, but then again, the amount of investment that ES takes is immense (at least for me) and probably varies on the build you make as well as the amount of damage nodes you find comforting to lose.
Also if there are life based Deaths Oath Occultist builds that take life, and life only, you would only benefit from 3 major ascendancy nodes, Profane Bloom -> Malediction -> Void Beacon, Although I could be wrong, I'm not quite sure the Death Aura would benefit from Spell Damage, making it less appealing, but I guess the Increased Area of Effect would help boost it, if that even affects it.
Overall, I think what I'm trying to say is I agree.
on May 26, 2018, 3:14:35 PM
what a great looking build, Starting this now on standard to practice for my 3.3 league starter. Btw could you add a section on transitioning from say a placeholder build until you can afford deaths oath?
on May 26, 2018, 3:17:30 PM
What a clean solid build!
Impressed that it can deal with so much content.
It even seems rly doable and viable for a new league.
Just one question? How good is this build for AFK Coward's Trial rotations? xD
on May 26, 2018, 7:40:05 PM
Question for you, how much did it cost to get a FIVE off color Death's Oath?
on May 26, 2018, 7:44:58 PM
Certified B I G B O I B U I L D
It's so beautiful I want to cry ! ! !
Quick question? Can I use a Pure Talent in this?
@Doeoeod Hi, I would like to buy your Pure Talent Viridian Jewel listed for 69 chaos in Standard (stash tab "XD"; position: left 4, top 20)
on May 26, 2018, 8:24:50 PM
Hey Cool build Dude! Can I join ur clan im in act 2 and Id relally like to have sum help im a newbie xoxoxoxo
Last edited by Ragnaros_the_firelord on May 26, 2018, 11:14:08 PM
on May 26, 2018, 11:12:59 PM