[3.5] Scold Snap™ - a low-life league starter Cold Snap Occultist

3.5 build exploration can be found here. She's a Vortexer now!

3.5 Betrayal, day 12, "starter build" prices (approx.):
Scold's Bridle: ~5c
Shavronne's Wrappings: ~120c
Cerberus Limb: ~20c
Sin Trek: ~20c
Doedre's Malevolence: ~5c
Bated Breath: ~1c
Energy From Within: ~20c
Aegis Aurora: ~20c
jewelry: ~5c each

If you ask me, that's no longer a starter build. Still affordable, but an early respec is no longer casual-friendly. If you attempt this build at the start of a league, be prepared to spend a good chunk of time playing a life + MoM spellcaster. Don't worry, though, because that's a good build too.

Non-bullshit PoB numbers. Last updated 4/11/2018
Cold Snap: 360k impact, followed by 696k DoT
Vortex: 110k impact, followed by 190k DoT
11,263 Energy Shield
DPS calculated with curses, equilibrium, and arcane surge applied. Calculations do not include frenzy charges (even though Cold Snap generates frenzy charges) so mapping DPS is actually higher than these values.

Here's a Path of Building pastebin link to my current configuration, for the heathens who don't feel like reading a guide. Character level 97.

Each of the above items were purchased for 30c or less (some closer to 5c) and it wasn't because I'm a savvy trader. Obviously 6-linking a chestpiece can get costly, but pretty much every build knows that struggle. Thanks for Delve league, GGG. Hanging out with level 83+ monsters all the time and buying near-perfect Scold's Bridles for 15c were just what the doctor ordered. Having to buy 2000 vaal orbs was nice too...

This build focuses on scaling every aspect of Cold Snap. It emphasizes more damage scaling instead of fast, repeated spell casts. Just like our even-more-unpopular friend Vortex, it's an AoE cold spell with a chilling DoT field that can be scaled by spell damage mods. It's kind of like an AoE version of Essence Drain, only... cooler...

The DoT fields from Cold Snap and Vortex can stack, dealing ~890k DPS with my current setup (just shy of 1 million DoT DPS with frenzy charges). This witch uses curses, Frost Bomb, and Elemental Equilibrium to lower enemy cold resistance and increase DoT damage taken. The playstyle is reminiscent of hard-hitting ignite proliferation builds from 2014 (e.g. Detonate Dead and Fire Trap). If you enjoyed that "cast once, then walk away as everything melts" playstyle, you'll probably enjoy this build.

Low-life + Scold's Bridle = league starter build? I smell bullshit, Cha.

"Look at all those crazy items your low-life build uses! No way that re-spec is going to be cheap! It'll be like 3 weeks before I even get to play the build."
Why that's wrong:

The only build-enabling item you need to re-spec to low-life is Shavronne's Wrappings. It doesn't need to be a 6L Shavs, either.

Shavronne's Wrappings has been cheap for the entirety of Delve league - currently a whopping 18c as of 4/11/18. My first Shavs cost me 30c about 10 days into the league. The low cost means you can start with a 5L Shavs, then buy another one for the 6L project without feeling like you just spent your life savings. Now you can save your bankroll for converting everything you own into 6-linking attempts! Yay!

Scold's Bridle is not build-enabling for this build - it gives the build damage and utility. Low-life Cold Snap will be viable (but a bit more clunky) in future leagues where Scold's might not be available/cheap. But Scold's is cheap in Delve league, so why not take advantage? I bought a nice one early in the league for 15c. Coincidentally, my current endgame Scold's also cost 15c, purchased over a month later on 31/10/18.

Simple ES jewelry was very affordable through all of Delve league. High flat ES + resistances + a prefix free for master craft. I spent 25c on an amulet, 10c on one ring, and 5c on another. The 25c amulet and 10c ring are still currently equipped on my level 97 character. Keep in mind that, as soon as you add damage, jewelry prices skyrocket. "Nice opal ring" and "budget-friendly" rarely occur in the same sentence.

Level 3 Empower is cheap. It's no level 4, but it'll do for now. The seller tried for level 4 and failed - that's a brick - and it's reflected in the market value of the gem. They were 15c earlier in the league, and currently cost 5c (as of 4/11/18). Obviously your endgame goal is level 4 Empower, but who says you need to min-max everything before you switch to low-life? Baby steps.

Cerberus Limb + rare archon kite shield is a cheap and effective endgame item combo. Limbs with decent rolls have been valued at ~2c throughout the entire league. See the "Clever uses of game mechanics" section below for more details.

Baby steps, my friend. "I'm not actually playing the build until I've gone low-life," simply doesn't apply for Cold Snap. A good, dedicated player could have made the switch to low-life by day 3 of Delve league, when Shavs were ~60c. I am neither good nor dedicated, so I took longer. At the other extreme, a casual player could spend weeks mapping with the life+MoM variant and not feel bad about it. Keep up with your gem links and gem levels and this build will never feel bad/inadequate, regardless of how long you take to re-spec to low-life.

From the start of Delve league, my build was:
life + MoM for the first few days
CI (6L vaal regalia) for about 10 days
low-life (6L Shavs) for the rest of my life, or until Blizzard releases a Diablo game for mobile phones so I can experience a real ARPG

I started the league with the least gear-dependent build possible (life + Mind Over Matter) to ensure I could dive right into maps after Act 10. This "leveling build" never stopped feeling good, and cleared red maps wearing low-budget gear. If you suck at making money, this will be a godsend. Build upgrades and re-specs can happen on your schedule, and you'll never feel forced to farm low-level content on a poopoo I-can't-afford-to-respec-yet leveling build. You can continue running content that's relevant to your character level and never need to be carried through any lab for ascendancy points.

The switch to low-life happens when you choose to invest and 5L/6L your Shavs, not when the leveling build starts to feel shitty. I transitioned to CI before going low-life, which was fun but unnecessary. For the first month of Delve league this witch was my only build. And that second character wasn't a quant-finding moneymaking build either - just another fun idea.

This is one of the first times I've had an elaborate league-start build plan that actually played out as expected. It worked because 4L Cold Snap does tons of damage throughout progression. I don't think it was a fluke, either; leveling with Cold Snap in start-of-the-league conditions seems both repeatable and friendly to inexperienced players. I lingered too long on both leveling builds, buying more minor upgrades than I needed and deliberating whether it was worth the investment to continue with the original plan. But every upgrade and re-spec felt significant, worthwhile, and affordable, so I kept forging ahead. Cold Snap was strong and reliable damage throughout the entire process - from level 18 to 97.

There are multiple ways to play this build as your league starter. Though I recommend life+MoM, I bet you could spend a lot less regret orbs than I did by leveling as a hybrid life+ES build instead of life+MoM. Check out the "Leveling / Low-budget Options" section below for further details.


Dealing with unidentified maps: T16 Elder City Square + 4 sextants + the business

T16 Elder City Square with lots of quant and pack size, 4 sextants, and Shaper influence. Beyond from the Zana box.

T15 Shaped Siege with spicy mods, 4 sextants, and Elder influence

Uber Elder's Guardians:
Enslaver (the fire guy)
Purifier (the phys guy)
Eradicator (the lightning guy)

Shaper's Guardians:
Minotaur, extra spicy
Hydra, extra spicy

Uber Elder: Build is viable, but cha_siu_bao is not (2 deaths)

T15 Carcass map

Delve depth 364 with lots of tame mods

Uber Elder Party Fight!

No Uber Atziri VOD yet, but I've killed her twice with 0 deaths. Also, no deathless Uber Elder VODs yet because I suck at Uber Elder mechanics.

Scold Snap vs other endgame content that wasn't in the videos

Fights feel long but controlled when compared to strong boss killer builds like Molten Strike or Glacial Cascade mines. Large AoE and the chill from Cold Snap/Vortex DoT fields allow it to focus on positioning while consistently applying damage, but it doesn't do bursts of 1 million DPS so fights last longer.

Uber Atziri: Easy, smooth, and deathless. 2 runs so far, both deathless. Minor gear and gem modifications required.

Shaper: Easy, smooth, and deathless. ~15 runs so far, most of which were deathless. Keep him chilled and cursed, then use your sick Touhou skills to manually avoid his slow-motion abilities.

Shaper's Guardians: Ease is highly dependent on map mods. Run the maps without mods and all guardians are easy.

Uber Elder: Viable. A deathless run is possible, but requires that you actually play well. Naturally, this means that I am the weak point in this build's ability to kill Uber Elder without dying at least once. I do not recommend using Scold Snap to farm him unless you have a lot of experience with the fight or have watched DodgeBall 50+ times.

Troublesome map mods:
Elemental reflect (cannot run)
Players cannot Regen Life, Mana or ES (annoying but doable)

Currently just past depth 450. Penetration zones are terrifying, but are made less so by Occultist's Profane Bloom. Rare monsters at depth 450 usually only require one cast of Cold Snap.

Pros & Cons

-Mediocre map clear speed
-Acceptable but unimpressive boss kill speed
-Very difficult to get chaos resistance
-Very slow cast speed
-Unreliable corpse destruction (25% chance to explode a cursed monster on death)
-Zero leech
-Awkward in party play (loses survivability because Occultists need kills to gain ES regen)
-The low-life variant takes huge damage from Uber Lab traps

-Gigantic AOE for the amount of investment. Just look at the size of that DoT field in the pic below. Without the Increased AoE gem and without my AoE sceptre, it's the same size as the gold circle from an Elreon "feed the relic" mission. Three properly spaced Cold Snaps pretty much fill the screen.
-Occultist shenanigans make her feel invincible at times
-Cheap, easy leveling build
-Very safe. Absolutely HC viable
-Deathless Shaper / Guardians / Uber Atziri kills
-Customizable as hell with a very high gear ceiling
-The only core item needed to make the low-life build work is Shavronne's Wrappings
-Cold Snap DoT ignores Proximity Shield, making it strong vs Uber Lab sentinels and other shielded monsters.
-You could probably find a way to make the build even better.

Gear, Gems, Passive Skill Tree

This gear + character level 96 = just over 11,000 Energy Shield

Curious about gear options for before 6L Shavronne's Wrappings? On a tight budget because you're a casual player? Or are you simply a potato who doesn't know their way around Wraeclast?
Scroll down to the "Leveling / Low-budget Options" section. I got you.

Potatoes: you'll know the sub-section for you when you see it.


Cold Snap - Efficacy - Elemental Focus - Controlled Destruction - Hypothermia - Empower
Use level 3 Empower until you can afford level 4. 21/20 Cold Snap should be your top priority, with level 4 Empower just behind it. Vaal Cold Snap is great for cosplaying as a Hurricane Druid until you hit that 21/20 Cold Snap.

An alternative option, these gems maximize damage at the cost of AoE and utility:
Cold Snap - Efficacy - Elemental Focus - Controlled Destruction - Concentrated Effect - Empower
On average, this will result in ~120k higher DPS.

Vortex - Elemental Focus - Controlled Destruction - Efficacy

Orb of Storms - Arcane Surge - Curse on Hit - Frostbite (freely swap with Elemental Weakness or Enfeeble)

Cast When Damage Taken - Ball Lightning - Greater Multiple Projectiles

Blasphemy - Enfeeble (freely swap with Temporal Chains)

Discipline - Blood Magic

Frost Bomb

Phase Run

Flame Dash

Passive skill tree

I recommend you use Path of Building to view these instead of the official website.

Low-life: (use the latest build update link to see current setup)
PoB Pastebin (full build)
Just the tree (poeurl)

Build update: 13/10/2018. (pastebin link)
10997 ES, 655k DoT DPS. level 95, 118 pts

Build update: 14/10/2018. (pastebin link)
11034 ES, 666k DoT DPS. level 96, 119 pts

Build update: 2/11/2018. (pastebin link)
11143 ES, 696k DoT DPS. level 96, 119 pts

CI (previous):
PoB Pastebin (full build)
Just the tree (poeurl)

His Royal Highness Lord Antoine Scrooglepants III recommends:

This chest is sufficiently stupid, but "+1 to level of socketed gems" would be a further upgrade of about 10k DoT DPS. I want you to know that I bought this thing already corrupted. I had to use Vorici 8 to force the 6s, the 6L, and the coloring. 2000 vaal orbs... Positively excruciating.
The belt gives me about 120 more ES than a perfectly rolled Bated Breath.

Current gear (last updated 2/11/18):

Clever uses of game mechanics

Cerberus Limb + rare kite shield

Thanks to Cerberus Limb mechanics, this shield provides base stats of 380 ES and 920 evasion. A well rolled titanium spirit shield has higher potential for ES and damage, but can only get a maximum 18% all res.
A spirit shield with ~380 ES, ~50% spell damage, and ~30% all res would cost many exalts, if it ever existed at all. The biggest offer I ever got on this archon kite shield was 50c. There are plenty of other interesting shield options that will result in high ES, such as Magna Eclipsis or Lioneye's Remorse. This interaction gives you a lot of freedom to explore unique gear options. Go get 'em, snowflake.
That's cute. But do I have to do it?

You will probably get the most damage from a Doryani's Catalyst or perhaps a rare weapon like this:

If that's the case, go with a rare spirit shield with high ES and spell/cold damage. Theoretically, you could use a wand instead of a sceptre. That's the joy of scaling spells like Cold Snap and Vortex: cold damage, elemental damage, and spell damage are all the same to you.

Scold's Bridle hands-free Elemental Equilibrium application

The helmet makes you hit yourself every time you cast a spell. The gloves make you hit yourself hard enough to proc this tasty setup every other spell cast:
Cast When Damage Taken - Ball Lightning - Greater Multiple Projectiles
Life regeneration (which becomes ES regeneration thanks to Zealot's Oath) mitigates the damage taken from Scold's Bridle. The ES regen from Occultist's Vile Bastion is amazing, but is not necessary to avoid Scold's-assisted suicide.
That's cute. But do I have to use it?

No. But here's why I think you should, for as long as Scold's Bridle is budget-friendly:

While in early maps I discovered that applying Elemental Equilibrium was slowing me down. Too many buttons to push, and I wanted to push all of them at the same time. With Scold's Bridle and Doedre's Malevolence I not only get great damage scaling, but also the ability to proc EE with lightning damage while only casting Cold Snap and Frost Bomb. If you come up with something with more damage or better utility than this item combination, please let me know.

Ball Lightning + GMP is not essential. There are many other fire/lightning spells that are decent for applying EE. Firestorm, Shock Nova with Increased AoE, Fireball, Arc, Magma Orb, Bladefall with Phys to Lightning... the choice is yours.

Orb of Storms: one cast to trigger all the buffs/debuffs

Orb of Storms - Arcane Surge - Curse on Hit - Elemental Weakness

Wearing gloves with a Despair-on-hit corruption makes Orb of Storms apply two curses on every tick. The spell also applies Elemental Equilibrium on every hit, and Elemental Overload when it crits.

I can't think of a skill gem that achieves this better than Orb of Storms.
Arcane Surge should be an appropriate level to proc every time you cast OoS (mine is level 11 for a level 20 OoS)

Three curses from three different sources

I started out with two curse gems linked to Orb of Storms. It was great, but I wanted more gem sockets for even more shenanigans, and without losing a curse. That's where glove corruption and Blasphemy come in.

Curse #1: Despair on-hit from glove corruption. Literally every hit from every spell/attack will apply this curse. Note: DoT does not hit, and therefore will not apply on-hit curses.

Curse #2: Elemental Weakness - Orb of Storms - Curse on Hit

Curse #3: Blasphemy - Enfeeble
That's cute. But do I have to do it?

Choose the curse configuration that feels best for you. I'm currently using Enfeeble, but the awesomeness of Temporal Chains cannot be overstated. If you don't feel like vaaling gloves, you can drop Arcane Surge from your Orb of Storms 4L to socket another curse.

Accidental 5k evasion on an ES build

-As stated above, the Cerberus Limb interaction results in 920 base evasion from my shield.
-Well rolled Sin Trek provide another 480 evasion.
-Witchfire Brew is a stibnite flask, which has a dual benefit of scaling my base evasion and blinding nearby enemies.
-Blasphemy - Enfeeble has great synergy with evasion, on top of reducing damage dealt.

The final result is 4.9k evasion + blind + Enfeeble with increased curse effect, assuming my flasks are up and I'm holding my ground in the smoke cloud. Given that I've committed zero passive points to evasion and haven't sacrificed any base ES from my gear, I'm excited to see how much more defense I can squeeze out of this mechanic.

And there's still room to grow!

Notice how I only care about two prefixes on my rings? What if I exalted T1 evasion on that ruby ring? What if both rings had a strong evasion roll...
To be clear, I don't think this is worth prioritizing. To focus on getting rings with evasion would be the epitome of min-maxing: maximum cost for minimal gain. The fact that we got some base evasion - with zero opportunity cost - for synergy with Enfeeble and smoke clouds is great, and I think I'd be wise to leave it at that.

Mods - good scaling vs bad scaling

Hot damn that's some good scaling. Cobalt Jewels are amazing for this build.
% ES > any resistances you lack > spell/cold damage > area damage

Great mods to look for in your gear and passive tree:
% more/increased spell damage
% more/increased area damage
% more/increased cold damage
% more/increased elemental damage
Faster Start of Energy Shield Recharge
% increased Energy Shield Recovery Rate

Useful-but-not-great mods:
Damage over time
Mana Regeneration
% Life Regeneration

Terrible mods:
Flat elemental damage to spells

Gear choices explained - Do I have to do what Cha did?

If you didn't read it yet, I also recommend you check out the "Clever uses of game mechanics" section above. The section covers weapon and shield choice, curse options, and the ever-scandalous Scold's Bridle.

Alternative Ascendancy options, in case you have an irrational fear of Shavronne's Wrappings

CI Occultist: much higher ES, but less damage than low-life. Incandescent Heart is a viable option. A Shaped Vaal Regalia with +1 to active skill gems will help make up for the damage lost by not being low-life. There are several other options you could use here.

Life-based Trickster with Mind Over Matter: lower effective HP, nice DoT scaling, zero mana issues. I think the coolest thing about MoM AoE spellcaster is the plethora of body armors available to you. Cloak of Defiance, Loreweave, Carcass Jack, Belly of the Beast, rare carnal armours with ridiculous Shaper/Elder mods... I think I would opt for Carcass Jack for the damage and AoE, but there's really no wrong answer here.

The jewelry

-Base Energy Shield
-attributes (this build is starved for dex and strength)
-% Energy Shield or a prefix free for crafting an ES mod (Elreon for amulets, Leo for rings)
-spell/cold damage if possible
-mana / mana regen if possible

Definitely some room for growth here:
-Frigid Fossils are capable of creating some stupidly powerful amulets, especially if the "of the Underground" suffix cold damage aligns with prefix spell damage. Chances of success are slim, but the resulting craft could be insane.
-Using a lower level Phase Run would alleviate some of my dexterity needs.
-Perhaps a different belt would provide some more resistances, allowing me to run two opal rings.
-Shaped rings can roll suffix spell damage.

The belt

-energy shield
-energy shield
-more energy shield

Bated Breath is really nice, but a fossil-crafted crystal belt can probably do better. You would most likely have a bit less ES in the end, but just think of all the sexy belt mods and resistances we could squeeze into this slot...
Build update:

Oh hey, would you look at that! It appears I was wrong about the ES values - thanks to speccing into more ES nodes than before, I gained about 115 ES when I switched to this!

The shoes

Sin Trek provide base evasion for my "accidental 5k evasion on an ES build" gimmick, but let's be real - it's a non-essential gimmick. Rare sorcerer boots can do better, but they're very rare and usually cost a small fortune.

Lab Enchantment options

There are a lot of nice options, none of which are essential for the build to be viable. I got increased Frostbite effect by dumb luck, and I really didn't feel it was that impactful. Since then I've taken to vaaling Scold's Bridles for +2 to Curse Gems, and am currently content with my Increased Chill Effect implicit. Corrupting a large number of any well-rolled unique is an arduous process. But is it more arduous than running Uber Lab hundreds of times for a non-essential enchantment? Probably not.

Increased Cold Snap cooldown recovery speed (30%)
Increased Cold Snap AoE (12%)
Increased Cold Snap damage (40%)
Increased Orb of Storms AoE (12%)
Increased Orb of Storms critical strike chance (90%)
Additional Ball Lightning projectiles (+1)
Increased Ball Lightning AoE (12%)
Increased Phase Run duration (36%)

Leveling / Low-budget Options

I leveled the build as a straightforward life-based caster with Mind Over Matter. Frost Bomb and Cold Snap do quite well in progression, even with self-found gear. Sorry I didn't save my leveling gear to share with you, but here's the gist of it:
Life + MoM leveling: gear and tips

Start with Skullhead and rare items with life/mana/resists/damage. If you can get Tabula Rasa early, do it. Otherwise, rest assured that Cold Snap is strong enough to clear low maps on a 4L with self-found gear. If you decide to stick with the leveling build into level 80 or higher, here's an idea of what you'll be working toward:

Jewelry aside, all of the above items are worth 15c or less in Delve SC.
Half of them were purchased earlier today for 1c. Just play the game and RNG will provide you with rare items with life + mana + resistance.

Other body armor options

-Belly of the Beast
-Cloak of Defiance
-Crystal Vault
-rare 6L chest with life and things
-The Restless Ward
-Atziri's Splendour

How to acquire a 6L chest without using any fusing orbs

-buy Noobula Rasa or farm Humility cards in Act 9 Blood Aqueduct

-use a trade indexer to search for a corrupted rare 6L chest with the colors you want (BBBBRG)

-farm/buy card sets (The Chains That Bind or The Dapper Prodigy) and hope they produce a base that you can color easily.

Weapon/Shield Options

-Dual wielding has higher damage potential, at the cost of life and resistances. Whatever you choose to do, focus on the right kind of scaling. With how much the current meta emphasizes cast speed, crit mods, and ele flats to spells - and we don't care about any of these for Cold Snap - I bet you'll snipe something with ~130% inc damage for less than 5c.

-There is nothing stopping you from using a wand (or two wands) instead of a sceptre. Spell damage provides the same scaling as elemental damage.

-Rare shields with spell damage and life are great but can be expensive, depending on the meta. Rathpith Globe works as a cheap stand-in until you find a good rare.

-Don't forget that % cold damage (a prefix found on int shields, max roll 79%) and % elemental damage (a prefix found on str/int shields, max roll 34%) also scale Cold Snap efficiently.

-Rare shields with life and resistances are dirt cheap, if your HP pool is a bigger priority at the moment.

Maybe craft something like this if you're feeling frisky:

Flat elemental damage to spells is totally fine for early leveling - just don't take Elemental Equilibrium. But be aware that ele flats don't help the DoT at all. In maps, Cold Snap will feel the best with no flat ele to spells and as much % increased damage as you can muster. Catarina crafts and rare chain belt recipes helped me make my own decent leveling sceptre, but I bet you'll find something respectable by just murdering monsters and IDing all the good sceptre bases that drop.

Node priority while leveling:
life > AoE nodes > Elemental Overload > Duration nodes > MoM > Shadow nodes > extra curse

Life + MoM leveling skill tree: http://poeurl.com/b7R6

Budget CI leveling: I want to be an Energy Shield build ASAP and I'm also poor.

The Ethereal is a card that drops in the Apex of Sacrifice (lvl 70 Atziri). It produces a 6L vaal regalia with the same item level as the level of your character, up to ilvl 80. If your character is not yet level 80, ask a friend who is 80+ to turn the cards in for you. Early in the league, I farmed a couple cards and then bought the rest for 6-8c each. Prices tend to drop later in the league; right now Ethereal cards are 4c in Delve SC.

Time spent "farming Ethereal cards" is not time wasted if you're smart about it. Doryani's Catalyst is great for this build (and sells decently well if you choose not to use it). The high amount of magic monsters in Apex of Sacrifice also makes it an ideal setting for leveling Empower gems. And let's be real here: you're looking at this section of the guide because you're a cheapskate, meaning you've probably already convinced yourself that it's not worth it to buy a level 4 Empower for ~3.5 exalts. So farm Atziri, level multiple Empowers in your weapon swap, and hope you get a lucky corruption.

I used Dense fossils to craft my 6L vaal regalia, but fossil crafting is not essential for achieving a respectable amount of ES. It sure does help though.

Why do you like The Ethereal card set so much?

Buy body armor with high ES + Buy The Jeweller's Touch = ~45c total in first few days of a league
It's the safest bet, but now you're stuck with a 5-socket, 5L chest. Yuck.

Buy 5L vaal regalia + craft it yourself = ~10c + who knows?
This is effectively you saying, "I don't believe in my ability to get a 6L." You're at the mercy of crafting RNG here. What's worse, your 5L regalia is probably a low ilvl so you won't have access to the better ES mods. But hey, you might get lucky.

Buy well-rolled vaal regalia + 5L/6L it yourself = ~10c + who knows?
You're at the mercy of socketing/linking RNG here. But hey, you might get lucky.

Buy The Ethereal card set + craft it yourself = ~50c + who knows?
It's a guaranteed 6L of the most ideal base for CI. You're still at the mercy of crafting RNG, but it's ilvl 80 so it has access to the better ES mods. The extra damage will also help you keep pushing into higher maps. And when you finally spec out of CI and into low-life, the 6L regalia will have retained its value much better than a 5L.

You don't need Scold's Bridle or any of the other uniques to get started, but every corner you cut is going to hurt your damage and quality of life. Elemental Equilibrium becomes significantly more annoying to apply without Scold's Bridle. I predict you will be casting Orb of Storms a lot to deal with this issue, which is fine for a budget setup.

The most low-budget CI gear setup I can think of:

Helm: Martyr's Crown or a rare hubris circlet

Body Armor: your self-crafted 6L vaal regalia from the aforementioned The Ethereal card set.
If you don't have the currency to buy The Ethereal cards:
Buy body armor with high ES + Buy The Jeweller's Touch prophecy = ~45c total in first few days of a league

You can buy a 5L vaal regalia and craft it yourself or you can buy a well-rolled vaal regalia and try to 5L/6L it yourself. I don't like either of these options because you'll be spending almost as much on buying/crafting/linking this 5L regalia as you would have spent on just buying the 6L card set.

Gloves: rare sorcerer gloves

Boots: Sin Trek

Weapon: Cerberus Limb or a rare sceptre/wand

Shield: If not using Cerberus Limb, rare titanium spirit shield.
If using Cerberus Limb, rare archon kite shield or rare titanium spirit shield or any shield with over 1500 base armor. Extreme budget-minded unique shields that might work are Lioneye's Remorse or Ahn's Heritage.

Belt: Bated Breath

Rings/Amulet: rare jewelry

unique item priority for upgrading out of the above items: Scold's Bridle > Doedre's Malevolence > Witchfire Brew > Cerberus Limb

CI Scold Snap is a means to an end, not the final goal. Low-life is objectively better for this build. And given that Shavronne's Wrappings isn't very expensive anymore, the bulk of the cost now lies in 6-linking the damn thing. And when that happened for me, the chest was the only gear swap I had to make. Other minor changes included re-coloring items and shuffling gems around to make room for Blood Magic on Discipline/Blasphemy.

Path of Building links for CI variant:
PoB Pastebin (full build)
Just the tree (poeurl)

I am actually a potato. Help!

32-point leveling skill tree for potatoes (poeurl link)
63-point leveling skill tree
78-point leveling skill tree
100-point leveling skill tree
If you spend points on jewel sockets, put good jewels in them!
If you don't have good jewels right now, don't waste points on a jewel socket.
Orbs of Regret exist for a reason. Buy and use them as needed.

Do Catarina and Haku missions every time you see them. Cat is your crutch for bad weapon RNG, and Haku is your crutch for bad armor RNG. The ability to craft spell damage and resistances, respectively, makes items that were otherwise bad suddenly become upgrade opportunities.

How to Ascendancy

If you're going CI or Low-life before level 75:
Profane Bloom
Wicked Ward
Vile Bastion

If you're planning to be a life-based build for a long while:
Profane Bloom
Wicked Ward
Vile Bastion

Curses for potatoes

When you go Dual-Curse

You have two options:
One curse on Blasphemy and the other on Orb of Storms
Both curses on Orb of Storms. This will force you to move Arcane Surge to another skill - probably Frost Bomb.

Choose two:
Temporal Chains
Elemental Weakness

Maximum solo DPS is Frostbite + Despair.
Maximum party DPS is Ele Weakness + Despair.
Maximum safety is Enfeeble + Temp Chains.
My personal choice is Enfeeble + Frostbite / Ele Weakness

When you go Tri-Curse

If you don't have corrupted gloves, you have two options:
One curse on Blasphemy and two on Orb of Storms
Two curses on Blasphemy and one on Orb of Storms. This will leave you starved for mana, but is manageable.

Choose three:
Temporal Chains
Elemental Weakness

Maximum DPS is Frostbite + Ele Weakness + Despair.
Maximum safety is Enfeeble + Temp Chains + anything
My personal choice is Enfeeble + Ele Weakness + Despair

Act 1

ID every rare wand/sceptre you find. Keep any rare chain belts you find in your stash until level 20. Use any essences you find in Acts 1-2 on weapons or chain belts.

Start with a level 1 spell gem. I recommend Freezing Pulse. Other viable options are Spark, Magma Orb, Lightning Tendrils, and Frostbolt. Support it with Arcane Surge and Onslaught if possible. Witches don't have access to Onslaught, but you can probably convince a friendly Duelist in town to buy one for you.

At level 4 you gain access to Frost Bomb, Summon Phantasm on Kill, Orb of Storms. Frost Bomb will be your main damage spell for a few levels now. Phantasm on Kill isn't bad for Freezing Pulse in early levels either.

Your new skill rotation:
-Cast Frost Bomb at a pack of monsters.
-Try to kite as many monsters as possible into the explosion area.
-Cast Freezing Pulse a couple times.

Orb of Storms won't be useful to you until you have Elemental Overload... but if you really want to use it right now then link it with Arcane Surge. Always make sure that the mana required to proc Arcane Surge is close to the mana cost of the Orb of Storms - a low level Arcane Surge is perfectly fine.

At level 8 you gain access to the Added Cold Damage and Added Lightning Damage support gems. Link these to your Frost Bomb. If you have enough transmutes and linked sockets in your gear, they also work great with Freezing Pulse so consider buying multiple when the situation fits.

It's time to start thinking about crafting yourself a weapon.
Wand/Sceptre + rare chain belt + blacksmith's whetstone = Wand/Sceptre with 20-29% spell damage
If you augment % cold damage, congratulations! You've won the early game.
If your crafting doesn't produce anything by the time you're level 20, consider using essences on 3L quartz sceptres instead (or any item base with higher than 20% spell/elemental damage implicit).

Your new gem links:
Frost Bomb - Added Cold - Added Lightning
Freezing Pulse - Onslaught - Added Lightning
Orb of Storms - Arcane Surge (if you're extra fancy and love pushing too many buttons)

At level 10 you gain access to Clarity. It's not essential, but it helps you be lazy about your mana flasks. This is important because you're a potato.

At level 12 you gain access to a bunch of decent spells. None of them are amazing, but they're all okay. Blade Vortex, Firestorm, Scorching Ray, Arc... or stick with your Freezing Pulse. I vote Blade Vortex or Firestorm.

Act 2

It's time to go crazy with quartz sceptres. If you don't have a good weapon yet, throw an essence at every 3L quartz sceptre you find.

At level 16 - when you've slain Fidelitas - you gain access to Cold Snap. Start leveling the gem in a spare blue socket, but don't switch to it until...

At level 18 you gain access to Controlled Destruction, Elemental Focus. This is your new 3-link setup.

Your current gem setup:
Cold Snap - Controlled Destruction - Elemental Focus
Frost Bomb - Added Cold - Added Lightning

Once you get Elemental Overload on the skill tree, you're going to start casting Orb of Storms. A lot. If you can afford the socket links, here's another extremely useful 3L you can add:
Orb of Storms - Arcane Surge - Increased Critical Strikes

Act 3

At level 24 you gain access to Elemental Weakness, Despair, Enfeeble, Frostbite. Frostbite reduces slightly more cold resistance than an Ele Weakness of the same level. 20% quality on the Elemental Weakness levels the playing field. But a q20 gem is not even a possibility for you because you're a potato, so let's move on.

Buy all of the curse gems mentioned above. Heck, buy a Temporal Chains while you're at it. Keep the ones you're not currently using in your weapon swap.
Use Frostbite if you're playing with yourself.
Use Elemental Weakness if you're playing with your friends.
Use Temporal Chains or Enfeeble if you're scared of dying.

At level 28 you gain access to Vortex. It's not essential, but if you have extra sockets it's nice to have an extra source of damage. Use it when Cold Snap is on cooldown and you have no frenzy charges to bypass it. This will probably happen often because you're a potato. Don't feel bad - being made to feel like an idiot is a natural part of playing the build.

It's time to take it easy on your Frost Bomb links. Cold Snap and Vortex deal so much damage, Frost Bomb is probably just slowing you down at this point. It's time to treat the skill as utility from here onward.

At level 31 - after completing the Library "Fixture of Fate" side quest - you gain access to Efficacy, Blasphemy, and Hypothermia. Efficacy is AMAZING. Use it on all of your damage spells forever.

Act 3 is pretty much over and you're probably confused as hell, so let's review your current gem links:
Cold Snap - Controlled Destruction - Elemental Focus - Efficacy
Vortex - Controlled Destruction - Elemental Focus - Efficacy
Orb of Storms - Arcane Surge - Increased Critical Strikes
Frost Bomb
Frostbite / Elemental Weakness

Your current skill rotation:
-Cast Frost Bomb from a distance.
-Cast Cold Snap from a distance.
-Cast your curse from a distance. Run toward the monsters into melee range.
-In melee range, cast Orb of Storms and Vortex on the fattest nearby monster.
-Step away from the monsters and cast Cold Snap when available.

Acts 4 and beyond

At level 34 you gain access to golems. I recommend not using one at all, but if you like simulating the experience of having friends I think Stone Golem or Flame Golem, with Stone Golem being the smarter choice.

At level 38 - after killing Daresso and Kaom - you gain access to Curse on Hit. This is probably best used in your Orb of Storms setup. You also now have access to Cast When Damage Taken. It wouldn't be a bad idea to set up a 2L Immortal Call for safety.
Orb of Storms - Arcane Surge - Curse on Hit - Frostbite / Ele Weakness

It's been about 5 minutes since we last discussed it, and given that you're a potato we should probably review your current gem links:
Cold Snap - Controlled Destruction - Elemental Focus - Efficacy
Vortex - Controlled Destruction - Elemental Focus - Efficacy
Orb of Storms - Arcane Surge - Curse on Hit - Frostbite / Elemental Weakness / Enfeeble
Frost Bomb
Cast When Damage Taken - Immortal Call

Your current skill rotation. This will not change much for the rest of this character's life:
-Cast Frost Bomb from a distance.
-Cast Cold Snap from a distance. Run toward the monsters into melee range.
-In melee range, cast Orb of Storms and Vortex on the fattest nearby monster.
-Step away from the monsters and cast Cold Snap when available.

You're now ready to be a big girl. Do labs whenever you feel ballsy and strong. Buy an Empower when you can afford it, and quality that sucker ASAP. When it hits level 3, pucker up that booty and vaal it.

Here's your 63-point potato-friendly leveling tree.
Go for the Templar tree AoE stuff first. If you like the idea of dual-cursing, then grab it next. Otherwise, rush for duration nodes and the Constitution life wheel.

5L/6L Cold Snap gem links

5L Cold Snap setup:
Cold Snap - Controlled Destruction - Elemental Focus - Efficacy - Hypothermia

6L Cold Snap setup:
Cold Snap - Controlled Destruction - Elemental Focus - Efficacy - Hypothermia - Increased AoE / Concentrated Effect

6L setup when your Empower reaches level 3:
Cold Snap - Controlled Destruction - Elemental Focus - Efficacy - Hypothermia - Empower

Without my friends' advice this build would have been dogshit. So thanks, guys.

I'd like to thank Draskyl, a veritable gatling gun of questionable build ideas who plays ironman HC SSF, for demonstrating Cold Snap's viability with minimal gear. He was really pushy about my trying the build in a SC trade league, and I appreciate his persistence to the utmost. And Draskyl was 100% right: post-rework skill is fun and build is good.

Thanks to everyone in Team Scare Mask and our fearless not-leader Flababa. They're a great group of friends who always come through with quality suggestions: RimGreeper, Heshla, Hyperbear, RinleezWins, WizardStrangler, and many others.

Further thanks to Esajoram, AngryWeasel, Aisha, and de_pauli. They've been consistently great resources for great/awful build ideas.

Shout out to all the r/pathofexile redditors who provided solid feedback on guide content/formatting and helped me fix some issues with the passive tree links.

Build updates: never stop min-maxin'

6 Oct. 2018:

This Shavs is going to be an interesting project. PoB claims it will take my DoT DPS from 533k to 689k.

8 Oct. 2018: Increased PoB DoT DPS to 744k!
It looks like I miscalculated the DPS gain from the +2 duration gems Shavs... updating the DPS numbers at the top of the guide so I can impress all the ladies. *flexes biceps*

13 Oct. 2018: Time to get sensible. If I'm gonna survive in deep delves, I think this build needs more than just 9.8k ES. Bought Energy From Within and performed a small lobotomy on the shadow tree.
L95 Build PoB pastebin: https://pastebin.com/JBA8q170

14 Oct. 2018: Now level 96, I shuffled some points around to get another jewel socket. More damage, slightly more energy shield, more mana, less curse effect. Currently 11034 ES, 666k DoT DPS.
14/10/2018 L96 build PoB pastebin

2 Nov. 2018: Gear upgrade!
purchased for 9 exalts. This let me replace some of my resistance jewels with more DPS jewels. Currently 11143 ES, 696k DoT DPS.
2/11/2018 L96 build PoB pastebin

Thanks for reading, folks.
Last edited by cha_siu_bao on Jan 13, 2019, 5:35:00 PM
Last bumped on Jan 18, 2019, 6:35:02 PM
I find it funny how you think those are bad numbers, especially for a DoT build.

What can I say? I'm spoiled. First DoT build I've run in quite some time, and I'm still accustomed to not being impressed until a build pushes toward 1 million PoB DPS.

"What the hell? How are the damage numbers so low when the build still feels so strong?" -me, about 300 times over the course of playing this build

Thanks for putting things in perspective for me, lol.
Last edited by cha_siu_bao on Oct 6, 2018, 1:32:02 PM
PLZ, Videos :)
xtREEN wrote:
PLZ, Videos :)

Videos up! Currently just T15 Carcass and Delve depth 364. More to come.
Great build!

Lovely synergy between items, curses and skills.

You are crazy if you think every build needs 1M DPS. I had 350k DPS on my Dancing Duo build when I started doing Shaper the first time and still did it deathless. Now I'm at ~990k DPS and Uber Elder is a breeze. Done several already.

I feel like "need" is too strong a word here, but your point still stands. 500k DoT DPS is indeed pretty impressive, and enough for the build to be viable in any content. I'm just still in the process of min-maxing the build, so I'm using 1 million as an arbitrary goal. I predict that, as I approach the gear ceiling, the DoT damage will be around 850k... but that's still a long way off.
Buddy, do you have any PoB link for the trickster ascendancy? :)
Nawul wrote:
Buddy, do you have any PoB link for the trickster ascendancy? :)

No. I have only run the build once, and it was CI Occultist as soon as I had the gear. Any MoM Trickster PoB build I could show you would be purely theoretical.
Nice build. I like it. I am also planning an elemental DoT / cursed based occultist with ignite. But yours is very tempting. I have some questions:

1.) Why and when do you use Vortex instead of Cold Snap? Vortex seems to me unnecessary.

2.) In the skill tree you selected Increasd Skill Effect Duration, but after 5 seconds you can just recast Cold Snap. Does Increased Skill Effect Duration has other purposes?

3.) Is it safer when Elemental Focus is exchanged with Elemental Proliferation?

And I ask myself ever time: would it be better to go "main stream" with Elementalist and not Occultist? (No, I don't want to play Elementalist.)
Last edited by knivil on Oct 10, 2018, 8:02:36 AM
knivil wrote:
1.) Why and when do you use Vortex instead of Cold Snap? Vortex seems to me unnecessary.

I agree, Vortex is non-essential. I use it when I don't have frenzy charges but still want to apply more damage. This happens a lot in boss fights, particularly vs Minotaur, Phoenix, and Hydra guardians. I could change my playstyle to simply run around in circles for a few seconds, awaiting the Cold Snap cooldown (I think a Cold Snap cooldown reduction helm enchantment would be sexy AF in this case). Removing Vortex would make boss fights last longer, but it certainly wouldn't ruin the build.

Any thoughts on what you'd throw in that 4L instead of Vortex? Maybe support gems for Phase Run or Flame Dash?

knivil wrote:
2.) In the skill tree you selected Increasd Skill Effect Duration, but after 5 seconds you can just recast Cold Snap. Does Increased Skill Effect Duration has other purposes?

In order of descending awesomeness:
-Orb of Storms (and Arcane Surge): more opportunities to proc EO and EE, longer re-application of Frostbite and Despair, longer buff from Arcane Surge
-Frost Bomb: more time for debuff application
-All on-hit curses: they persist longer
-Immortal Call: longer phys immunity
-Phase Run: makes running in the darkness a lot more comfortable
-Vaal Discipline: not a huge difference, but it doesn't hurt
-Vaal Cold Snap (currently not in use): the extra duration lets me stay in Hurricane Druid form a bit longer

knivil wrote:
3.) Is it safer when Elemental Focus is exchanged with Elemental Proliferation?

I doubt it. Gem + tree would give me 25% chance to freeze. That's not awful, but definitely not reliable. It also encourages spamming Cold Snap to ensure monsters are frozen; my Cold Snap cast time is currently 0.68sec (that's really really slow for an endgame caster).

Also noteworthy is that the DoT field from Cold Snap (and Vortex) doesn't work like most elemental status effects. It's more like chilled ground, so any "increased chill duration" does absolutely nothing for it. "Increased chill effect" might increase the crowd control from the DoT field, but I'm still unsure. The one thing I can tell you for certain is that the drawbacks outweigh the benefits. Invest 4 passive points and a 10% chill turns into a 12% chill; you'll also get another 50% inc damage. Not worth 4 points in my opinion.

This idea reminds me of putting Fortify in the main links of my melee attack build. It will help keep me safe, but by giving up one of my "more damage" support gems I'll arguably be less safe in long fights. Longer fight = more chances to get screwed by a lucky crit or overlapped AoE.

knivil wrote:
And I ask myself ever time: would it be better to go "main stream" with Elementalist and not Occultist? (No, I don't want to play Elementalist.)

I don't think so at all. Here's why:
-three-curse build turns into a two-curse build
-I can no longer apply curses to hexproof monsters
-I lose a ton of energy shield
-I lose a ton of survivability (ES recharge and ES regen)
-I have to kill frozen monsters with hits to shatter them (Occultist just needs them to be cursed for corpse destruction to happen)

Good questions! I'm glad to see people thinking critically about this build and considering other gear/gem/skilltree options.
Last edited by cha_siu_bao on Oct 10, 2018, 8:54:24 PM

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