[3.3] Auto guided missile ball Volatile Dead Occultist

Hi I'm Arthur and this is my first English thread. Hope you enjoy.

- Very safe and carefree play style with auto guided Volatile Dead skill killing enemies a screen away. No need to aim. No living things in sight
- Two variations (basic/advanced) of the build for easy farming or higher damage, defense, and sustainability.
- Fair early game starter gear without any required item, to sky-is-the-limit endgame dream gear, up to lv 30 Volatile Dead and 10k Energy Shield
- Shaper/Elder down

Build Theory

Volatile Dead is this build's main damage skill, utilizing corpses Desecrate produces and/or of those monsters you kill along the way. On top of that, with the help of two Unique wands Void Battery and Occultist's Forbidden Power Ascendancy, a maximum of 9 Power Charges can be reached and maintained in combat and throughout mapping to provide huge damage increase.
The build's defense in basic setup relies on Occultist's Ascendancy synergy with energy shield and Vaal Discipline. However, stronger and more versatile sustainability can be achieved with curses and ES leech in advanced setup

- Suitable for most map mods (except reflect elemental damage) and boss encounters
- Great monster pack clearing speed (with their own corpses) as well as good single target damage against bosses
- Taking advantage of certain landscapes (narrow passages/rooms with a door) with unique clearing style
- Fast regeneration when not taking continuous damage in basic setup/life and mana leech in advanced setup
- Adaptability to some difficult situations
- No mandatory gear required, however can be very strong with certain items
(- new MTX or something looks cool)

- Noisy
- Non-interactive play style can get dull over time
- Power charge generation and maintaining may be troublesome
- Poor target selection makes quick add elimination difficult and direct fire at specific single target seemingly impossible (can't do reflect Atziri)
- Advanced variation is a little complicated with 3 active skills

Path of Building (my current char)


Main skill

Volatile Dead is an interesting fire skill with auto guided orbs that can travel through a full screen to strike monsters out of sight or remain in place for a couple seconds. With the former property you can cast it at the edge of your screen and clear a region with a radius of up to two screens and then safely loot, while with the latter you can save a dozen orbs around a strongbox, Essence elite, or boss to be activated and then potentially oneshot them all (such as some Emperor). There are a lot more fun ways to utilize the unique mechanism of the skill for you to explore
Note: the numerical damage refers to that of the orb, and the 3% corpse explosion damage can be ignored until late game with high level corpses


Suggested Support gems

Concentrated Effect is the best support gem for Volatile Dead with the largest more damage and negligible tradeoff

Combustion is also great for fire skill with additional functions to ignite and reduce enemy fire resistance. At lv 21 on a 0% resistance enemy it gives 1.3*1.2-1=56% more damage, potentially more on enemy with resistance but the problem is the hits before ignite are weaker compared to CE

Controlled Destruction is very popular with large more damage and a little reduction (-3% with amulet) to Critical Chance which is still important to us

Alternative Support gems

Empower at lv 4 on a +1 to level of socketed gems item is as strong as the above. Every +4 levels starting from lv 20 Volatile Dead gets 45%-43% more flat damage

Similar to Combustion but more direct, Fire Penetration provides potentially more or less damage depending on enemy resistance

Increase Critical Strikes (chance) and Power Charge on Critical (hit) are 2nd tier more damage support

Spell Echo is required for most other spell builds for its imba 80% more damage at the same mana cost and a little more cast time, but not really for Volatile Dead. While it's perfectly exciting when clearing mobs turning all of their corpses into fire orbs with high cast speed, there will not be enough in most boss fights after you run out of the corpses you create by Desecrate, which has 3 charges with 3s cooldown, and that means no damage. Same goes for Spell Cascade and Faster Casting.

Utility Skill

Desecrate is a reliable corpse provider. With Spell Cascade one cast provides the maximum of 15 corpses enough for 5 cast of standard Volatile Dead. It's also perfect to proc Arcane Surge.

Defense Skills

Universal setup of Cast when Damage Taken - Immortal Call - Phase Run or other defense skill
Stone Golem is always the best for defense

Another universal setup of Cast when Damage Taken - Enfeeble. Frost Wall is what I find very helpful for caster. Like the curse it will be cast right under the damage causing monster's feet and block its movement physically and/or its projectile ... magically? It also works at melee range and adds a pseudo knockback to any enemy around you. It could even block Elder's placement when restraint in Phase 3 and leave me more space to dodge but that was like a bug. However it could also block your own movement. But with Phase Run (or flask or Abyssal jewels granting phasing) you can run pass it just like monsters.

Clarity and Discipline are good auras, even better with Watcher's Eye. Be sure to get a Vaal Discipline as that will be our only substitute for Life flask.


Passive Tree
Apart from the required Chaos Inoculation Keystone and 3 +1 maximum Power Charge Notables, the rest of the Passive Tree can really accord to your preference. I really like Abyssal Jewels so I go all in for 11 Jewel Sockets with most Critical Strike Chance and Critical Strike Multiplier and some energy shield passives along the way. If you don't have or prefer great Jewels, you can drop the whole central Scion region for Fire damage/Spell damage/Energy Shield nodes and get 2 affixes of 40 Strength/Dexterity on gear
The Jewel Socket on top of Witch is actually 4 Notables with

- Wicked Ward and Vile Bastion
I think the best Ascendancy for energy shield and/or casters. Wicked Ward guarantees a maximum of 4 sec of energy shield recharge every time, so any damage taken in the meantime before fully recharge will be quickly recovered. Vile Bastion provides great regeneration in mapping, easily achieves 20+ layers and surpasses leech rate. But the essential is Stun immunity. With poor 1k+ pseudo health CI characters are stunned frequently even with innate 50% energy shield Stun prevention. I tried dropping this and died soon after of stun among a pack.

- Forbidden Power
Predictable and reliable Power Charge generation, +1 maximum and a slight damage increase (1/5 of one Void Battery). Volatile Dead costs easily over 100 mana a cast with 5-6 links, but still takes you over 10s to reach 9, so this can be troublesome. There are several possible solutions.


With Power Charge on Critical support you can get at most 1 Power Charge per cast, along with 36% more damage at 9, it's acceptable when your sockets allow
Inya's Epiphany Arcanist Slippers statistically gives you 9 Power Charge after you reach at most 4, but in real situation it's not much good especially with poor properties
The third option is to proc it with another fast casting skill. We will get there in advanced setup.

Anyway once you reach maximum Power Charge you want to maintain it for the rest of the mapping. With passives you have at least 18 sec of Power Charge duration, should be enough for looting and finding the next pack and even if it's not, you can cast a couple of skills to refresh it when it's about to end with this Ascendancy

- Profane Bloom
The only one left seeming any useful. It actually works pretty well if curse in place, making map clearing as efficient as Arc builds. It's an inferior version of the unique Inpulsa with smaller AoE and stability. Reliably cursing enemy is again in advanced setup later. For now CwDT - Enfeeble has acceptable coverage

Bandits - help Alira for Crit Mult and Ele Resist
Pantheon - Major God: Soul of Solaris for possible spike damage mitigation
- Minor God: personal preference


Please note "recommended". No item is absolutely required to play this build, and I'm constantly looking for better ones and eager for suggestions.

Void Battery is the best synergistic item with Power Charge at the price of only 1/10 of that of its superior Shimmeron. Granting +1 maximum each, at 9 Power Charges two Void Battery provide 2*(25%*9-80%)=290% increased Spell Damage, rendering any passives and even Ascendancy diminishing, along with implicit increase Spell Damage, Cast Speed, and Increased Global Strike Chance, all huge.
Still you don't have to have them to play this build. Using any decent wand or scepter you can have stable damage higher than that with them at low Power Charges, without the need to add Power Charge nodes on passive tree or to pay attention to it, and can do with any Crit stats.

Everyone starts with Tabula. I did until I found this Skin of the Loyal, a total upgrade of Tabula if corrupted all white, with no compromise and even enhancement on defense mainly energy shield, and +1 lv socket gems bonus, at the price of only 10 times of Tabula, and cheaper into the middle of the League. As a great investment for any of your new characters, I deem it definitely worth it.
You can also search for cheaper Skin of the Loyal with the right sockets. Body Armor 6 link is the only fixed gem placement for Volatile Dead, so one green socket with any combination of blue and red sockets will do with different support gems chosen (better blue more than red)

Good stat Loreweave is another versatile choice with innate 6 link. Maximum Elemental Resistance at 80% giving all round 20% elemental damage reduction compared to 75% cap, with the rest of the stats as high as possible, Loreweave is especially good at maps with -12% max player resistance mod and Temple of Atzoatl with Corruption Room, and any difficult elemental boss.

It's better to just buy helmet of Volatile Dead Enchant than try your luck (3 out of hundreds) after each crazy long Uber Lab. 40% Volatile dead damage is decent after diminishing returns, about 10% for me and lower at high Power Charges. Cast speed is ok. Volatile Dead destroys up to 1 additional corpse is no doubt a substantial boost - 33% more damage when there are enough corpses - and of course, quite expensive.

Popular helmets with satisfying stats for ES base that people like to enchant on are few.
Dog head is good to socket Discipline and Clarity in with +2 lv. Cold Resistance and Avoid being Chilled are bonus. But the problems with this pure EV helmet are very high Dex requirement and extreme difficulty to get 4 blue sockets (not necessary though)

Lightpoacher is again satiating for me a Jewel goer. But pay very close attention here, as Lightpoacher's Spirit Burst deals physical damage, not much but enough to kill me in Phys Reflect maps single-handedly. I spent my whole level's xp figuring it out.

Memory Vault is a great defense helmet with over 200 flat ES, lots of mana and mana regen and together with Lord of the Skin offering 2-3k armor with two auras. We are immune to Chaos damage and able to mitigate elemental damage without difficulty but our armor is basically 0. Memory Vault alone provides almost 20% phys damage reduction, greatly boost defense against physical damage.

Marylene's Fallacy is built for Ranger, but is actually good with all Crit build with high Crit Chance and not so high Crit Mult. If my math doesn't fail me, the amulet provides bonus when Crit Mult < 460% and the higher the Crit Chance, the lower the Crit Mult, the larger the gain. For my char it's providing 6-8% damage, higher with Power Charges. And Culling Strike is a great bonus when fight hard bosses that you will miss when you take it off. After all it's super cheap.

I find no other place than jewels to get extra flat energy shield when gear is optimized. And with Skin of the Loyal's 100% increase, even if I pick just a few energy shield nodes on Passive Tree, Abyssal Jewel's flat energy shield is still 50% better than Cobalt Jewel's 8% increase. And on the way to jewel sockets I fulfill Str and Dex requirements from gear and gems that you need to sacrifice 2 affixes on gear to get otherwise. 4 full affixes jewels are still stronger than 5 basic passives.

Intuitive Leap was shown above.

Watcher's Eye is an endgame BIS I think for any build with aura or if not add a lv 1 Clarity. The ones with great effects and the right combination can be too legendary to think about yet they are being sold. The most worthy effect should be Gain 18% of max mana as max energy shield when affected by Clarity, about 200, then got boosted to over 1k. With a single jewel! Faster start of ES recharge and Gain ES for enemy hit are cheaper but also useful

The rest of the gear are mostly for capping elemental resistance with as much energy shield as possible

Ring slots are highly versatile with possible functionalities
Dream Fragments may be some CI players must have. Again with mere 1k+ pseudo hp, we will basically be chilled by any cold damage or map mod extra 100% cold damage. Either spam your Immune to chill and freeze flasks, or hoping Pantheon or Dog head will reflect/avoid them, or put this on and ignore them just like we already do with chaos and stun. Cold resistance is a big amount along with quite some mana and mana regen

Brinerot Mark is excellent at keeping your stone golem alive. With Zealot's Oath it provides good regen at all time. Gifts from Above works even better with Zealot's Oath, easily covering the boss area with Consecrated Ground, granting 6%/s regen, and increase damage and block chance, but no other stats except Crit Chance

Timetwist is exclusive for Temporal Chain maps

Fingerless gloves are goood with increase damage implicit. Two tone boots are good with resistance but it seems easier to get better enchants on boots than on gloves. Pay attention again to the damage type of the gloves enchant

Belt is surely Stygian Vise

Last edited by Arthur606 on Jul 18, 2018, 6:53:51 PM
Last bumped on Dec 5, 2018, 12:41:16 PM
Interesting build! What make this superior to other builds?

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