[3.4] One Witch Delving Party: Self Casting with Curses

Have you wanted to try the party synergy but can't get your friends to play with you? Do you want to make self casting great again? Why wait for your friends to join you or GGG to buff the skills when you can start now?
This is also a fun opportunity for newer players to explore some fun mechanics. Your stay alive with your energy shield, not with your life. You cast spells with your life, not with your mana. This gives you all sorts of opportunities and challenges.
While this is a hipster build, it's quite strong. 1M DPS*, very tanky. It's a great fit if you want to delve deep without the damage immune shenanigans.

*With a 100 ex budget. But don't let the budget scare you away. Just because it scales well as you spend more doesn't mean it doesn't feel good all the way through.


Disclaimer: this guide is a work in progress. I don't have any videos (have never recorded play videos before) and is missing some nice QoL features (like linked items) to make it complete. Still, there's enough here to be helpful for the curious player who wants to try something new. I'm releasing this now because I'm confident it's a strong and unique build worthy of your considerations for Betrayal.

Pastebin: https://pastebin.com/eKezrNJB


General information:

Pros and cons

- Deep delving
- Quite tanky with several strong defensive layers
- Decent damage for self-casting (currently at 1M DPS on Arc)
- Can work with small or moderate investments with room to scale
- Can adapt the build for most self-casting spells
- Quick gear/gem swap to quickly gather your sulphite
- Easy T16s
- Several variations to customize
- Plays great in a group
- Can be used to self-level a cursebot
- Easy to swap between solo play and support

- Not a boss killer. Specifically, not designed for elder/shaper, guardians, atziri.
- Map bosses can be a struggle too. Filling in your atlas is what prevents this from being a league starter.
- Skills can be clunky when you reserve most of your life and mana.
- Not designed for new players. This is for players who (think they) have the hang of the game and want something they can experiment with/customize.
- Leveling isn't the easiest, you can't switch to ES until level 62.
- Gem slots are at a premium.
- Does require a low-life respec

Betrayal Updates

- ES recharging with blood magic is a big QoL boost
- You can probably use brands as a main ability
- This build shines with projectile spells (gets the projectile weakness curse), running magma orbs + gloomfang even stronger
- No use for banners, they are for attack builds and we don't have extra gem slots
- GGG hinted at changes to occultist ascendency, impact TBD
- GGG indicated they may revisit (i.e. buff) self-casting in the future
- Max slow of 75%. Weakens this Call of the Brotherhood version. A pure lightning approach might be better (lets us run despair for better explosions, frees up a ring slot).

More of a build template than a guide

There will be enough information to play your character like I do if that's what you want. And you will have a good time.
I'm less concerned about nailing the Best in Slot choice for each piece of gear than about giving you the tools to customize this build to your personal preferences. Is there a spell you've struggled to make work? Do you have a favorite spell you'd like to play in a fresh way?
This guide focuses on arc, but you could use this template for most viable self-casting spells. Magma Orbs is a particularly strong alternative

Map and delve mods

- Can't run ele reflect
- Less curse effectiveness is a big nerf to your damage and tankiness. Your build should become strong enough to handle this
- No regen/leech can be annoying depending on your setup but easily workable (drop a curse, add a life flask)

Because these monsters are more dangerous than map monsters, their mods are also more dangerous
- Less Curse Effectiveness is the only one I've had to path around (currently depth 750)
- Monsters Cannot Be Slowed nerfs your temp chains and a lot of your defense. Swap temp chains out for a curse (like despair) or an aura (like herald of thunder).
- Nemesis is rippy, would path around in hardcore
- Bloodlines/Beyond/Additional Projectiles/etc are difficult mods for any build, we can handle them as well as most.

How you can play (i.e. variations)

Blood Magic or Mana
You can run this with either a blood magic setup (pathing through it on the tree) or a mana setup. With mana, Prism Guardian is a required unique for more reservation. The mana setup gives you more flexibility on the tree to take the generic minion damage nodes, increasing your profane blooms as well as your regular damage. The blood magic setup will let you use the 5th curse as well as give you an extra aura. Check out the 'How do you keep going' section because life/mana sustain is a solvable challenge.

Spell Choice
You can also play this with any number of spells. For the spell to be effective, you want it to scale well with dedicated curses and/or auras. You'll also want one that has a good 6th support gem to replace the penetration support that we don't need any more.

Despair Curse
This will scale your profane bloom explosions as well as some of your damage. You will lose some damage and some ailment chance/effect (like shock chance from conductivity).

Warlord's Mark Stunlock
I haven't tried this one out yet but it should work in theory. You can also go for a stunlock build with warlord's mark. Enemies (and players) have a 20% minimum stun chance, which means you have to have at least a 20% chance to stun on a hit. You can get that with over 100% effectiveness on Warlord's Mark. To do so, you'll need 21% extra effectiveness outside the tree/ascendancy. You can get that from from a helmet enchantment or both a shield (Atziri's Reflection or a new delve curse effectiveness shield) and the Dying Breath staff (put the staff on an animate guardian). When you have 20% chance to stun, you'll want a spell that hits often, like ball lightning, to stunlock.

How you kill things

More mores make up for fewer increases.
Our passive tree is filled with curse and aura nodes. We don't have much room on gear for increased damage. We have precious little increased damage but can make up for it:
- Pain attunement, 30% more
- Elemental weakness, about 80% penetration
- Specific elemental curse, about 80% penetration
- Elemental aura (wrath is almost 35% more lightning spell damage once you soup it up)
The profane bloom explosion also comes in handy to help with clearing out mobs.

For increased damage, you can get a lot on your weapon. The glove implicit has a little. Abyss jewels are a great source of 'increased damage if you have killed recently.' These also buff your explosions.

How you stay alive

Let's start with your HP. We're a low life character, so your HP comes from your energy shield. Like with most builds, 5K is a good number to target when mapping. You will get more with your 3rd and 4th labs, so you want to run those when you can. By the time you reach the top tier maps, you should be at 7K ES. This is on the low end for an ES character, but we have good regen and a variety of other defenses. With better gear, you can reach 9-10K ES.
Evasion. Most of the incoming damage is in the form of attacks. We protect ourselves here by drastically reducing the monster's accuracy chance. Let's look at my character to see how evasion can work.
No auras or curses: 450 evasion, 6% chance to evade
Grace, no curses: 7500 evasion, 37% chance to evade
No auras, enfeeble: 450 evasion, 29% chance to evade
Grace, enfeeble: 7500 evasion, 80% chance to evade
Enfeeble w/ 30% effectiveness helmet, no grace: 450 evasion, 95% chance to evade
Same as above but with 60% less curse effectiveness mod: 450 evasion, 9% chance to evade.
This starts to illustrate the power of effective defensive curses. Most monsters have a 1 in 20 chance to hit me with attacks. But there's more. To determine critical strikes, you have to roll accuracy vs evasion twice. So with 100% critical strike chance, they still only have a 1 in 400 chance to crit. Except it's more because with a 109% effective enfeeble, they have 55% reduced crit chance (and 63% less crit multi). Oh that's right, they also do much 63% less damage as well. (Calcs in this paragraph are my own, PoB doesn't have much for curses.)
Then there's temporal chains which slows enemies by 55%.
In total, you're going to take about 1% of potential incoming attack damage and about 25% of potential incoming spell damage compared to a normal character without these layers. Combined with say 9K hp and 1M damage and you see why this is a strong build.

How you keep going

We sustain our ES with large amounts of regen from Vile Bastion (up to 30% if we've killed 30 enemies recently) as well as leech from Ghost Reaver (which gives up to another 20%). We aren't getting a lot of mileage out of ES recharge, but don't really need it. All in all this is similar to a life build with an automatic non-instant flask as long as we keep killing enemies. (Another notch on the "better at delving/refilling than bossing" list.)
How do we sustain casting spells? With mana, you'll want leech. The wrath leech watcher's eye mod is quite helpful for arc builds, combined with orb of storms to keep your leech topped off. You can also use a boot enchant, though the requirement of killing recently makes your occasional boss encounter all the more annoying.
With life (blood magic), you can't want to use leech because that takes away from your ES leech. Instead, you need life gain on hit from spells. That's tough to find, but you can get it with the watcher's eye vitality mod. You can also get life gain on hit on shaper rings, but that's not enough if you're also using Gloomfang and also requires a ring slot. If you're running blood magic, I'd avoid Zealot's Oath as the small reliable amount of life regen you get is more impactful for life than ES.

How you go zoom zoom

One downside with self-casting is that you have to scale 3 things to go zoom-zoom: cast speed, movement speed, and attack speed.
What if we forgot about scaling attack speed? We won't use shield charge, but we can use phase run. One less thing to scale helps us out quite a bit. We can get quite a bit of movement speed to run around quickly. The downsides are that it takes up that life flask that we don't need and we lose fortify.





This setup is for Arc as a main skill, blood magic passive tree, Atziri's Reflection or a shield other than Prism Guardian, and a rare helmet with reduced mana reserved.


Arc is our source of damage. Prioritize level 21 > vaal > quality. Not only does level 21 give more damage, but it also adds another chain (which also adds more damage).
We have three support gems that we always want with this Arc:
Spell Echo gives us a lot of cast speed. Because the repeat cast doesn't cost mana, spell echo also helps quite a bit for mana/life regen.
Controlled Destruction is our best "more damage" support because it is always on and the drawback isn't severe.
Hypothermia gives us a consistent source of "second hit" damage. The gem doesn't help you one-shot enemies, but by the 2nd hit it becomes a T1 support. The freeze chance and increased chill effect are fine riders on top of the damage.
Then you have several options for the other supports:
Empower joins the top tier if you can bring it to level 4. Ideally you will get it to level 5 with a +1 chest to give Arc another chain at level 26.
Added Lightning Damage is a common support with Arc. This is a top-tier support without Empower but doesn't stack with Empower. Still, it might be the best available.
Ice Bite support gives you a source of frenzy charges. With level 26 Arc, Ice Bite gives about 10% more damage than Added Lightning if all your frenzy charges are up. I've been using Added Lightning for more consistency, but Ice Bite does give you higher peak damage. Phase Run does eat your frenzy charges, so you'd want to swap to something like shield charge instead.

Orb of Storms

Arcane Surge
Power Charge on Crit
Increased Critical Strikes
Increased Duration

This goes in your main-hand weapon, so you only get 2 supports. I've found Arcane Surge and Blind to be the most helpful for both offense and defense.

Blasphemy A

Temporal Chains

Enlighten here isn't necessary depending on how much reduced mana reserved you have. You want 20% quality on your Blasphemy and Temp Chains.

Blasphemy B

Elemental Weakness

If you're going for a different main skill, substitute other damage curses here. Despair is another fine option here as it significantly buffs your profane bloom explosions.

Auras A


Wrath is a big damage boost. Haste lets you go a little faster. Vitality is necessary for the Watcher's Eye mod.


Phase Run
Flame Golem/Lightning Golem

This sits in our shield. Discipline is required for any serious ES build. Phase run is our primary movement. Both flame golem and lightning golem give us similar amounts of damage.


The 3 elemental purities (fire, ice, lightning) are strong defensive options. Because we are evading most of the damage from physical hits, most of the incoming damage is elemental. If you use one of these, be sure to pair it with the corresponding flask.
Herald of Thunder helps us with clear, but it hasn't felt like it makes much of a difference.
Grace gives us a good amount of evasion and is better than Haste against bosses. Against regular mobs without reduced curse effectiveness, it's redundant since we are already evasion-capped.





For helmets, we want an enchantment, some mana reserved reduction, and some energy shield.
For enchantments, we want 30% effectiveness from temp chains, enfeeble, or warlord's mark (for the stunlock build).
Alpha's Howl gives you everything but ES, which makes it a nonstarter. Heretic's Veil does give you ES as well as mana reductions. Unfortunately your helmet enchants are going to cost a pretty penny. If you keep your eyes open, you might snatch a rare Deicide Mask with an enchant and hope you can chance it. If you do, make sure to get your 30% quality and white sockets before it becomes a unique.
However, Delve gives us the ability to make better Heretic's Veil helmets from hubris circlets. To craft these, get them to 30% quality, (optionally) add a white socket, and spam bound + dense fossils. You want the mana reduced suffix, 250 ES, and a resist and you can get some of that with your master craft. Another advantage of hubris circlets is that people run them for labs, so you can buy your helm enchants. You want to craft off an ilvl 84+ helmet, as that gives you access to top rolls for % increased ES and resistances.

Body Armour

Shavronne's Wrappings is all but a required unique. SSF or budget builds can use Solaris Lorica in a pinch but lose out on a ton of ES. The +1 to gems corruption is a massive DPS boost for Arc and is worth saving up for. When incursion returns, these should come back into fashion. When I was playing this build in the early Delve league, there weren't any +1 gems Shavs on the market. So I bought up The Offering div cards, turned them on a level 1 character, Vorici 4-linked them, qualitied, and vaaled. If they didn't brick I broke even by reselling them and eventually I hit the +1 gems to then Vorici 6L.


Rare with ES and resists. Fingerless silk gloves give you increased spell damage which does more for us than for other builds.


Rare with ES, resists, and movement speed. Windscream is an option, but you lose out on a lot of ES.


As much increased damage (spell/elemental) as you can squeeze in. Added damage is nice but secondary. We don't have room for crits on our build, you will be casting enough to maintain elemental overload. Cast speed is nice as well.


Prism Guardian is required for the mana version but is also nice for the blood magic version. Because it's cheap, you can get some nice corruptions for a reasonable price. Atziri's Reflection is a big defensive boost (about 1K ES, curse effectiveness) and small offensive boost (better offensive curses) but quite expensive. For big-ticket end game upgrades, prioritize a +1 Shavs over Reflection.


To get to 5 curses, we want 2 from our jewelry. The other 3 will come from your character, passive tree, and ascendancy. You can grab 2 Deodre's Damning, but I prefer to get an amulet with a +1 curse implicit. At the time of writing this, you could get +1 curse Gloomfangs for less than 2 exalts. You're going to want Gloomfang for magma orb and it works well with arc (an extra chain is great even that's all it gives you). Blood magic builds will have enough life gain on hit to support Gloomfang, mana builds will need the mod on a shaper ring. But there's plenty of other helpful rare and unique amulets with +1 curse. A +1 curse amulet should be one of more expensive gear pieces, but you can find something without breaking the bank, especially later in the league.

You want one Deodre's Damning. There's plenty of good corruptions on it as well: cast speed, immune to bleed/ignite/poison, added lightning damage to spells and attacks, attack speed (for sulphite collection), aura effectiveness.

If you don't need the resists or the life gain on hit, you have plenty of decent options for the other ring. Call of the Brotherhood lets you run a lightning+cold combination. You then are chilling with a chance to freeze for added safety in the delves and can also use the hypothermia support gem. Lori's Lantern gives you resists, movement speed, and more defense. The Taming gives you resistances and damage. The gives you a bunch of ES along with some cast speed and an extra gem slot.
For rares, you want resists, % increased lightning/fire/cold damage, spell damage (shaper), added cold/lightning damage to spells (shaper), added fire damage to spells (elder). Opal rings also give you damage in their implicit.
If you have Gloomfang with a mana build, you'll need enough life gain on hit to negate the lost life. Be careful, you can suicide yourself with Gloomfang if the ring doesn't have enough LGoH.


For your non-unique jewels, you want abyss jewels because the flat ES from them is much better than the % ES from regular jewels. Don't limit yourself to hypnotic jewels, you can find good murderous, searching, and ghastly jewels.
These jewels have a variety of helpful stats you can use:
1. Flat ES
2. Damage if you've killed recently, onslaught, global defenses (delve mod), reduced mana reserved (corruption)
3. Added lightning damage to spells (with shield), resistances, cast speed, dodge, movement speed, damage (corruption), AOE (corruption), corrupted blood (corruption), dexterity, hinder
4. Added cold damage to spells (with shield), cast speed if you've dealt a crit recently, phasing, life regen, block

Unique jewels that you want are Conqueror's Potency, Energy From Within (near Melding), and a Watcher's Eye. Unnatural Instinct is decent but unnecessary for the cost. For the Watcher's Eye, you want:
1. Life Gain on Hit (Vitality, required for blood magic users)
2. Mana as extra ES (Clarity), ES gained on hit (Discipline), ES recovery rate (Discipline), Faster start of ES recharge (Discipline), Onslaught (Haste), Increased lightning damage (Wrath), Physical damage taken as X (Purity of X)
3. Chance to dodge spell hits (Haste), Phasing (Haste), Debuffs expire faster (Haste), Life Regenerated Per Second (Vitality), Spell Block (Discipline), ES regen per second (Discipline)

Prioritize the top tier, then one of the 2nd tier. Mods on the 3rd tier or other mods you might find helpful could be available as well.


Not many required flasks, you have a lot of flexibility. You want a quicksilver flask to move quicker and a sulpher flask for the damage. Atziri's Promise gives leech, damage, and chaos resistance.

For the other flasks, pick your favorites. I like Rumi's for block chance, armour, and a little spell block. Elemental flasks are required if you're running purities and optional otherwise.

For affixes, you want adrenaline, ideally on your quicksilver flask. You need heat (freeze immunity) somewhere. Curse immunity is nice for mapping, you don't run into it much in the delves (and with Atziri's reflection you don't need it altogether). Bleed immunity is nice, but we aren't taking much physical damage and bleed isn't much of an issue. Ignite immunity has been more helpful to me than bleed immunity.


Passives, Ascendancy, Leveling:

Your tree will vary based on whether you want to path down for blood magic (and Mortal Conviction behind it). Blood magic is typically worth it for the 5th curse. If you didn't want the 5th curse, you could also try maximum resistance shenanigans with purities. Here is my tree: http://poeurl.com/b87n


This is an occultist build. We are here for curses, energy shield, and explosions, in that order. Because you don't respec into ES until later on, you'll grab the curse nodes before the ES nodes:
1. Profane Bloom
2. Malediction
3. Wicked Ward
4. Vile Bastion

Each one of these notables gives us a lot. Profane Bloom gives us our explosions. Hexproof curses doesn't come up often but is a big annoyance that we get to avoid. Malediction gives us some extra damage, an additional curse, increase curse effectiveness, and some less damage taken. Wicked Ward gives us a non-interrupted ES recharge and some flat ES. Vile Bastion gives us a good amount of ES regen, stun immunity, and a good amount of ES.


You're going to start leveling as a life build. You don't want to switch over to ES until you can don your Shavs at level 62. Get 6 sockets and 5 links. While we will be happy for more damage on the 6th link, we can be patient as it's not as vital as other setups. While leveling, you want Spell Echo, Controlled Destruction, and Lightning Pen attached to Arc.


Credits: This guide is inspired by Enki's Arc Witch (https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1147951). It's a great guide you should check out. This build is a cross between his build and a cursebot support.
Last edited by benkester on Dec 5, 2018, 1:00:35 PM
Last bumped on Dec 4, 2018, 10:21:28 AM

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