=====[3.2] "The Bane Brigade" | Viper Strike/Poison Summoner Hybrid=====
This Occultist build attacks with Viper Strike for applying as many stacks of poison as possible, but also supports various minions for additional damage and utility.
Pros & Cons
+ Easy to play! You only actively use two skills (Viper Strike and Shield Charge) in combat.
+ As of now, I can complete T11 maps relatively easily (which I think is pretty good for a melee summoner). My furthest push was T14.
+/- I made this build purely for fun :) As such, I take a more casual approach to this build and I probably won't make it a life goal to push it to being Shaper viable (or anything of the sort). You can view this as either a positive or negative (lol).
- It's a late bloomer and leveling the build from scratch can be a slow and daunting process.
- If you're looking for a build that can clear end-game content, this is not for you as it's not designed to handle uber bosses.
Background & Mechanics
(You can skip this if you're not interested)
First and foremost, I understand that the Necromancer has many minion-specific benefits. However, the Occultist is a far better choice for making a melee summoner centered on chaos/poison damage, applying curses, and regaining energy shield. While the Necromancer does offer some unique traits, most of its novelty is overshadowed by the Occultist's wider applicability to this build's mechanics.
This build picks up the following Ascendancy nodes from the Occultist:
*Wicked Ward: A flat increase to energy shield and the "Energy Shield Recharge is not interrupted by Damage if Recharge began Recently" mod is great for defense.
*Vile Bastion: Another flat increase to energy shield and having immunity to stun is also quite nice. However, the key mod is "1% of Energy Shield Regenerated per second for each Enemy You or your Minions have Killed Recently, up to 30%" - this gives you an incredible amount of energy shield regeneration.
*Profane Bloom: Ensuring curses apply to even Hexproof enemies grants much more flexibility when running maps. Also, the "Cursed Enemies You or your Minions Kill have a 25% chance to Explode, dealing a quarter of their maximum Life as Chaos Damage" mod gives another source of chaos damage.
*Malediction: Gives you one additional curse and inflicts nearby enemies with the Malediction debuff (10% Reduced Damage Dealt + 10% Increased Damage Taken). The "When you Kill an Enemy, for each Curse on that Enemy, gain 8% of Non-Chaos Damage as extra Chaos Damage for 4 seconds" mod provides a boost in damage.
The build's core mechanics revolve around one particular unique, Speaker's Wreath:
Speaker's Wreath denies your minions (namely your Zombies) from scoring any kills with hits. However, any kills cause by damage over time from poison stacks applied by your Zombies are considered your kills. Therefore, ALL kills will be yours.
Why is this important? For consistent triggering of the following on-kill mechanics:
* The on-kill energy shield mod from "Vile Bastion." * The on-kill explosion mod from "Profane Bloom." * The on-kill damage boost mod from "Malediction." * Gaining Frenzy charges from Poacher's Mark. * Giving Power charges to your minions through Victario's Charity. * Summoning Spectral Wolves from The Scourge.
I call the build "The Bane Brigade" because "bane" is a synonym for poison and "brigade" refers to a military unit; I like being extremely corny with build names. Joking aside, there's much synergy between the skills, passives, and equipment selected for this build. Recent changes to the game have made a build like this more and more plausible.
Passive Skill Tree
[Here] is the current passive tree for Level 88. Much of the tree focuses on minion, life, energy shield, poison, and claw nodes. Be sure to pick up the Zealot's Oath keystone. The following is a leveling guide:
The socket to the right of the Shadow starting area is for Growing Agony for improving your Viper Strike, while the socket near the Scion starting area and the socket between the Witch and Shadow starting areas are for two Violent Dead for improving your Zombies. Also, the socket to the left of the Witch starting area is for Careful Planning to help meet stat requirements in Dendrobate (explained later).
NOTE: This MUST be in The Embalmer! Combined with various claw and poison nodes from the passive tree, Viper Strike will apply poison 100% of the time to a small area in front of your character. By placing this setup in The Embalmer, Viper Strike becomes further supported by Level 20 Vile Toxins.
NOTE: This MUST be in Dendrobate! Melee Splash is not necessary because two copies of Violent Dead will make your Zombies use their slam attack all the time. By placing this setup in Dendrobate, Raise Zombie becomes further supported by Level 10 Lesser Poison (which is mostly for ensuring your Zombies also have 100% chance to apply poison). If you have a 6-link Dendrobate, I suggest using the 6th socket for Vile Toxins.
Desecrate must be socketed before Spirit Offering to ensure the correct order of casting. Spirit Offering gives your minions additional energy shield and resistances, as well as some chaos damage scaled from physical damage (which is mostly applicable for your Zombies).
CWDT (Lv. 20) + Summon Stone Golem (Lv. 20) + Minion Life + Fortify
Your Stone Golem is there to taunt enemies (which helps redirect aggro away from you and your other minions; it also reduces the damage taken from taunted enemies by 10%) and stay alive. Feel free to change this setup to something else if you'd like.
Blasphemy + Poacher's Mark + Despair
In addition to granting Frenzy charges, Poacher's Mark gives you more life recovery, mana recovery, and flask charges, but also reduces enemies' evasion. Despair is the curse of choice for any build focused on chaos damage or poison damage.
Shield Charge + Faster Attacks + Fortify
NOTE: This MUST be in The Scourge! This setup gives you a movement skill and a reliable way to keep up Fortify. The support gems also affect your Spectral Wolves.
*Speaker's Wreath: Again, it prevents minions from scoring any kills. However, the minion mods also give a bit of minion attack/movement speed.
*The Scourge: Ensures all those minion damage mods also apply to you.
*Victario's Charity: Constantly gives both Frenzy and Power charges to your minions.
*The Embalmer: Turns Viper Strike into a 5-link setup, but also gives additional chaos damage and increased poison duration.
*Dendrobate: Turns Raise Zombie into a 6-link (or 7-link) setup. Aim for 300 Dexterity and 150 Intelligence for bonuses to poison damage and poison duration.
*Astramentis: This item is optional, but it helps with the stat requirements in Dendrobate.
The rest of your items should focus on core stats: Life, resistances, defense, etc. For any rare jewelry, use Deafening Essence of Fear for the increased movement speed for minions. And yes, I know there are better boots - I'm working on it :)
I recommend having at least two "Of Animation" flask to help maintain you and your minions' life. I also recommend at least two Sulphur flasks for maintaining your energy shield (thanks to Zealot's Oath) and your minions' life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why not Necromancer?
This is undoubtedly the question I receive the most. Again, I understand the applicability of the Necromancer. Please refer to the "Background & Mechanics" subsection under "Introduction" for further details about my choice in Occultist.
Q: What are the Bandit rewards?
Go with Eramir's reward (+2 passive skill points) - you can never have enough passive skill points for a melee summoner.
Q: What about the Pantheon?
For the major god, use Solaris to mitigate incoming single-target damage (primarily against bosses). For the minor god, use Ryslatha because the "Of Animation" life flasks benefit both you and your minions (or Shakali if your chaos resistances are low).
Q: Aren't poison minions nerfed?
In comparison to their former popularity - Yes, and I understand that completely. But, to be perfectly honest, my goal is not to duplicate the meta, but to promote build diversity. Even if my build isn't end-game capable, I still enjoy making and sharing builds like this.
* 6/24/2018: Initial guide posted in the Witch forum.
While this build isn't the strongest in the game, it's certainly a different take on a melee summoner that, to me, is both fun and exciting (if you've heard that spiel before, then you've probably read the guide for this build's brother. Overall, I thoroughly enjoy "The Bane Brigade" and I hope you try it out! Thanks for reading~
With 3.4, this build is outdated. You can still play it, but remember to make the appropriate changes. Check out my new build (which is not surprisingly another Chaos Melee Summoner)!
It's nice to see thematic builds as opposed to "UBER ELDER SHAPER 99999MIL DPS LALALA"; especially ones that have such a necromancy/death/decay vibe. Thank you for your hard work designing and posting this build! <3