[3.5] The “afk in Delve encounter” max block HoA gladiator | poison on block/cwdt/shield charge

Hi all, this is my first build guide. I like meme builds and trying out things that seem dumb. Most of the time that leads to nonsense that doesn’t work, and occasionally I discover something that’s pretty neat. I like to think that I’ve discovered something nice here, actually getting good value out of underused skills like Reckoning, Vengeance and Tempest Shield, so I’m presenting it to the community.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49__vG6eIvU - T11 twinned spider forest map
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgnQ12N_FlA - T11 -40 block Lair map
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjJi9SlhMOw - T12 Defiled Cathedral
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9qUbrDWmn0 - T14 -40 block Acid Lakes map
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4syRAAqSj4U - T15 rare corrupt Reef map
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezFRqtGqPo0 - Final phase of Shaper fight

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTNlWcllEyc - Delve 250
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAJh075PfWM - Delve 277
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPubBXOTLjg - Delve 311
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGIHIwZYUH4 - Delve 339

3.5 Changes
TL;DR: HoA got a nerf that is insignificant for this build. New skills and veiled mods provide interesting possibilities that I am going to try out.

* added T12 through T15 vids, shaper vid, deeper delve vids
* updated disclaimer
* changed video URLs to a new channel

* Added T11 map videos

* Changed some of the gem links, including the support gems for the HoA.
* Changed the PoB link and endgame tree. Instead of Iron Reflexes we will be going for Unwavering Stance, which achieves the same goal (getting evasion as low as possible) but better.
* Changed the leveling trees slightly to match this.
* Added an endgame setup focused more around endurance charges/immortal call, which I am currently trying out.

How this build came to be
As said, I like non-standard/memey/funny weird builds and lately I've been screwing around a lot with a max block gladiator (82 or 83% chance to block) plus all sorts of block effects you can get. Seems to me that most gladiator builds purely use block for defensive purposes and dont look at skills that activate when you block (Tempest Shield, Reckoning, Vengeance etc.). Don’t get me wrong, block is amazing for defense, but why not also make the maximum use of it for offensive purposes?

The first thing I noticed is that shaper shields can have the mod "gain an endurance, frenzy or power charge when you block" and tried to make a gladiator discharge build around that, but in the end even though the clearspeed seemed ok, it felt clunky and a Duelist doesnt exactly have good access to elemental/spell dmg and cast speed nodes. Maybe if/when Discharge gets reworked I will give it another try.

Second thing I tried was to make tempest shield the main skill in a 6-link Inpulsas and scale that with heralds and all. Felt like a poor man's elementalist though. Occasionally it would blow up a pack of mobs very fast, but usually it wouldn’t. And Gladiator simply doesn’t get the awesome bonuses for heralds that an Elementalist does.

Finally I switched to a more ‘standard’ build with Herald of Agony, but kept the focus around block effects by linking poison to all the block skills. And what do you know – it actually worked and the clearspeed is insanely good (by my standards at least, but you should judge for yourself). Earlier in the league I played a HoA Champion that uses rain of arrows to apply poison, a very solid build, but I have to say that my build at lvl 75 had better clearspeed than the champion build had at lvl 90. (that maybe doesn’t say much, but still)

I have progressed to T11 maps so far with success, but there are reasons to believe that this build will have problems with shaper et al. (see below under "Pros and cons" and "Playstyle" on why this build is suboptimal for boss killing). Though of course I will give it a good try once I get to that part.

Well I did red maps comfortably and killed shaper on my first try, so this build is definitely shaper viable! It still is not a good boss killing build, and never will be because many bosses don't have a lot of attacks to block, which is what makes this build work. Especially the combination of a boss + the mod "monsters have 60% chance to avoid being poisoned" is painful, and in one case (T14 Plaza) made a boss impossible for me to kill. But for the vast majority, say 99.5%, of content, this build is viable.

Pros and cons
- good clearspeed. As fast as, if not faster than, other HoA builds in mapping
- makes good use of meme skills (tempest shield, reckoning, vengeance)
- max block makes you naturally very tanky
- won't have to worry about the possibility of dying while afk/disconnecting/alt tabbing
- excels at (most) delve encounters
- core items are very cheap, and you can throw a lot of money at it to take it to the next level
- can be tuned for HC
- viable up to Shaper at least.

- suboptimal for (some) bosses. This is in two ways: 1) when there is only a single mob around to block hits from, you will receive very limited sustain from the on block effects, and 2) with only a single mob around, it is difficult for this build to get more than 30 virulence stacks for the HoA.
- can't really afk during most boss encounters
- susceptible to being oneshot by big hits. You don't have any armor, evasion or ES, which can be painful. I am now making use of a 7 endurance charge/immortal call setup to be phys immune 95% of the time. It is not foolproof, but it helps a lot.

Mechanisms explained
What you will do, actively, is activate Tempest Shield (and occasionally re-activate it if you notice that it has run out) and then shield charge around. This will do the following things.

* shield charge, via the self-damage that Gluttony belt provides, will proc the +8% to block chance that your Painforged ascendancy node provides.
* shield charging into a pack will deal AoE damage, poisoning most of the mobs in the pack, granting virulence stacks, proc fortify, and grant LGOH via your weapon.
* every shield charge deals damage to yourself thanks to the Gluttony belt, which (every 3rd shield charge or so) procs your CWDT + ball lightning + poison setup. Ball lightning is great for spreading poison because it is a projectile that moves far, pierces all monsters it comes across, and hits every mob that comes close to its path.
* depending on the level of your immortal call setup, every X number of shield charges you will be completely immune to physical damage for around 1.2-3 seconds (note that during this time of physical immunity you can still block hits and get all the benefits from blocking!)

Passively you have a lot of skills and procs related to blocking. Every block does the following:
* refreshes the duration of Tempest Shield
* gives you ~40 life and ~20 mana (via The Anvil amulet)
* returns 5% of your max life (shaper shield)
* gives you an endurance, frenzy or power charge (shaper shield)
* procs Tempest Shield (with 60-80% poison chance), which hits the mob whose hit was blocked +1 chain
* procs Reckoning, an AoE attack that has 60% poison chance and 60 LGOH for each mob it hits
* 30% chance to proc Vengeance, another AoE attack with 60% poison chance and 60 LGOH

All of this is excluding the 34 life and 15 mana gained per hit of the lvl 30 Poacher’s Mark that the Gluttony belt provides.

As stated above, most of the time you will just be shield charging around. Anytime you shield charge into a pack of mobs your virulence stacks will rise to around 35-40 and your Crawler will directly dispatch of the pack, and you shield charge into the next mob. Meanwhile ball lightnings are moving all over the place and your on-block skills are proccing all the time providing additional sustain and virulence stacks. Rarely if ever will you see your life bar move below 90%.

The downside to the reliance on block mechanisms is that this build is not that great at dealing with bosses (though it depends, some bosses have very fast attack or spell abilities allowing you to ramp up a lot of poison stacks through blocks). If you just stand there passively and let a slow boss swing at you, you will have around 5-10 virulence stacks max and you will make your crawler cry!

This is why I connected a blade flurry gem to my shield charge setup (with faster attacks and fortify). I’m not sure if this is the optimal skill, but attacking a boss with blade flurry allows me to stay around 30 stacks of Virulence, which until now has been enough for my crawler to finish off bosses relatively fast. But obviously this is not optimal.

Why is this build so great for delve encounters?
Most of the delve encounters feature you standing in the middle of an area while mobs continually spawn along the walls and then attack you. This is fantastic for this build because a lot of mobs attacking you means that your block gems and effects are proccing like crazy, and your crawler will be one happy hamster! Meanwhile you don’t even have to press a button, you can just alt+tab and do whatever you want to do until the encounter is over. You automatically provide the virulence stacks to your crawler, and the crawler will do the killing for you.

Gem Links
6-link (chest): Herald of Agony - Damage on Full LifeFaster AttacksVile ToxinsMinion damageAdded Chaos Damage

4-links (helmet, boots or gloves):
Shield ChargeFortifyFaster AttacksBlade Flurry
Instead of Blade Flurry there might a better option, I don’t know yet. Will have to test things out.

CWDT (14) Immortal Call (16) Flesh Offering (17) - Increased Duration
I like to keep my immortal call at around 1/3 of my hitpoint pool.

3-links (weapon and shield):
ReckoningVengeanceLife gain on hit - Poison

CWDTBall LightningPoison
I have tried several other spells (firestorm, spark, EK, etc.) to be cast along with ball lightning, but there isn’t really any out there that seems like it has a big impact on the virulence stacks.

2-links (in helmet, boots or gloves):
BlasphemyProjectile weakness
Tempest ShieldPoison

Passive tree/Path of Building
Path of building: https://pastebin.com/FTAWLP6G
lvl 90 passive tree: Linky. Please note that the path of building has the block chance at 53% while in actuality it is 66%, because PoB apparently can't parse the Red Nightmare (which provides 13% block chance) correctly.
Alternative setup with endurance charges: Link


Mortem Morsu – this has 60% chance to poison on hit, which is effectively a free “Poison Support” for all your attack skills (Shield Charge, Reckoning, Vengeance). It has very good attack speed (great for shield charging around), can be used from lvl 34 onwards, provides 20 life gain on hit, and is dirt cheap (1 alch).

Later on you should switch to an elder one-hand sword with the following suffixes: 1) chance to poison on hit/socketed gems are supported by lvl X poison, 2) X chance to get an endurance charge on block and +1 chance to block per endurance charge, and if possible 3) life gain on hit, or increased attack speed. The prefixes are irrelevant. A sword like this can be anywhere from 1c to 1ex.

Shield: get a shaper shield with the following two mods: “recover 5% of your maximum life when you block” and “gain an endurance, frenzy or power charge when you block”. Anything more you get on it (life, resists, increased block chance) is a luxury.

The prices for these shields are all over the place, it seems like people don’t know what they have in their hands. I got mine for 2c. On a bad day the cheapest one is around 40-50c.

Chestpiece: The coming calamity is best in slot for Herald of Agony. While leveling you can do without it, but later you’ll find that the +2 to HoA’s level makes a huge difference (a lvl 20 HoA gets 3% attack speed per virulence stack, a lvl 21 gets 4% per virulence. That’s a 40% attack speed difference)

Amulet: The Anvil is mandatory because of the +3 maximum block chance (and other nice block stuff) it provides. Later you can try to get the +5% block chance corrupt, but this is not necessary early on.

Belt: Gluttony belt provides you with a free lvl 30 poachers mark and free damage whenever you use a movement skill, so that you can proc your own CWDT spells just by shield charging around. Try to get one with close to 200 damage dealt to yourself, so that ball lightning procs every 3 shield charges.

Note: if you play in HC, I would advise replacing the Gluttony belt. The belt provides great LGOH sustain, but it also removes all your armor and energy shield. The ES removal means you lose around 300-600 effective HP, the armor removal means you are prone to being oneshot by big physical hits – after all, you block 82 or 83% of all hits, but only one big hit has to get through and do damage…

Jewels: The Red Nightmare is an expensive (3 ex) but very convenient jewel for block builds. Placing it in the jewel node in the Marauder area will provides us with an extra 13% (!) block chance, and an extra 41% chance to get an endurance charge on kill.
The rest of your jewels are ideally of the Ghastly Eye Jewel type, they can provide “minion attack speed” along with life and resists.

Helm: Life, resists, dexterity/intelligence.
Rings: Life, resists, dexterity/intelligence. (If you are going for the endurance charge setup you should try to make space for a Kaom's sign/Kaom's way)
Gloves: Life, resists, dexterity/intelligence.
Boots: I think Windshriek is best in slot here, it provides resists, good move speed, a juice extra curse and nice extra AoE for your curse setup. If you can’t afford it, get rare boots with life, resists and movespeed instead, replace ‘minion speed’ in your HoA setup with Pierce Support, and remove your blasphemy + projectile weakness setup. You should still be fine.

(FWIW I'm only wearing Volkuurs because I was testing something out. It's not necessary for your lightning spells to poison. I only keep wearing it because I happen to need the lightning res. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

How to minmax the build:
- get a lvl 21/20 HoA.
- get a corrupted Anvil amulet with +5 to block chance implicit (+1 additional curse would be juicy too). This allows you to skip a few block chance nodes on the skill tree.
- corrupt your shield for a +1 to maximum block chance implicit.
- get corrupted Windshriek boots with a strong implicit - + movespeed, + attackspeed, + 1 endurance charges, + max % life, something like that.
- corrupted Coming Calamity with +1 to level of gems.
- possibly replace one of the HoA support gems with a lvl 4 Empower.
- idk get other useful corruptions on the items I haven’t mentioned yet


You want to level with a molten strike + poison setup. Get herald of agony in act 2, then use that from then onwards. If you have two 4-links, use Molten Strike – Ancestral Call – Multistrike – Poison (RRRG), and Herald of Agony – Minion Damage – Attack Speed – GMP (GGGB). If you get the Mortem Morsu claw at lvl 34 (dirt cheap usually) you can skip the poison support in favor of something like faster attacks.

Get a shield as early as possible. Modifiers don’t matter much, though life , resists and block chance will be nice. Get the Anvil amulet at lvl 45, it is best in slot for this build and less than 1c. Finally you can get a Coming Calamity at lvl 53, but it might require some investment in intelligence nodes or intelligence on gear for you to be able to wear it.

The build really starts coming online once you finish Cruel lab and get the Versatile Combatant ascendancy node. At that point you should take Iron Reflexes at the bottom of the duelist area, and start looking to acquire a Red Nightmare jewel – they are expensive compared to all the other items you need (3 ex) but will provide you with a whopping 13% block chance, which allows you to skip several block nodes on the skill tree.

Leveling skilltrees:

Kill em all

This is debatable. The choice is, do you go for degen damage protection, or for physical/big hits protection. Major: definitely not brine king. Other 3 are all good. If you get Lunaris, don’t upgrade it (you don’t want dodge/avoidance chances, it means you block less often). Personally I am going with Arakaali because degen/chaos/poison damage is a major annoyance to me.
Minor: I picked Shakari. Gruthkul and Tukohama are solid options too.

Flask setup
Get a health flask, mana flask (if only for no regen maps), silver flask, basalt flask and quicksilver flask. Make sure you have immune to bleeding, curses and freeze spread across them. Don't use armour and evasion flasks - they don’t do anything for us because of Gluttony belt.
On the Endurance charge focused setup, you should ditch the Basalt flask for a Doedre's elixir. Immortal call will be up 99% of the time, so physical reduction doesnt really matter anymore - Doedres elixir is handy because it is an extra way to gain an endurance charge as well as way to trigger your CWDT+Immortal call setup.

Map mods
I have not come across any impossible map mods yet, I haven't tried all map mods yet either. I suspect “monsters have 90% chance to avoid poison” will be hard to deal with. Anyway my experience so far:
- physical or elemental reflect maps are completely fine, you don’t deal that much damage and you block most of the reflected damage anyway.
- no regen maps are slightly annoying, just make sure to use your health and mana flasks every now and then.
- 30% less block chance is annoying. I swap in a Rumi’s Concoction flask (rolled for 20% chance to block attack damage) for this, it mitigates this map mod by 67%.
- Similarly but worse is 40% less block chance. Would avoid on hardcore, this is doable but rippy.
- monsters have 60% chance to avoid poison: Mapping is doable, but it makes doing bosses really slow and painful.

If I come across more problematic map mods I will update this list.

Thanks for reading through my shitty meme build. I hope you will give it a try and if you do, have fun and success with it! Comments, questions, suggestions are all welcome.
Last edited by Alphastar27 on Dec 8, 2018, 8:46:52 AM
Last bumped on Jun 9, 2019, 1:26:07 AM
What's the deepest you've gone with this build?
your video shows extremely average clearspeed, this is nowhere near an autobomber level.
your video shows extremely average clearspeed, this is nowhere near an autobomber level.

Not sure what part of "away from keyboard" in the title you missed coming in the thread expecting AB clear speed whether the author made the comparison or not. =|
Thanks for sharing your build! This is pretty hilarious and fun. Definitely looks like you accomplished your goals!
killerx09 wrote:
What's the deepest you've gone with this build?

Only 240 or so but thats mainly because I get bored of the mapping grind easily, and have other hobbies and play other games.

I think I'll give it a legit try to get as deep as possible the coming weeks and see when and where I run into problems.
Why are u using Iron Reflexes?
Dexlaz wrote:
Why are u using Iron Reflexes?

The idea is to have as little evasion as possible. Evasion (and dodge) applies before block chance, so you can't block hits that you evade, and if you block less, you get less of the blocking benefits...

That said I should probably get unwavering stance instead, it is simply better with our final ascendancy nodes. But I'm kinda starved for dexterity at the moment so I cannot replace iron reflexes just yet ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Got through T11 maps without any problems (posted a few vids of em, including a -40% block chance one). Also I'm approaching 300 depth in the mine, will post a video of a 300-ish encounter soon.

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