[3.5] Storm Brand Elementalist. League Starter, Deathless Uber Elder.



Introduction
Spoiler

Storm Brand Elementalist offers excellent clear speed and capable boss damage. I used it as my league starter for Betrayal league, and it exceeded my expectations.

Gameplay is smooth thanks to the instant cast nature of brand recall, as well as the instant damage from Storm Brand (as opposed to Armageddon Brand).

Brand elementalist is a popular build, with several streamers running something similar. My take on the build is fairly defensive, with an eye towards being able to do all map mods and all content, including safely farming uber elder.


Videos
Spoiler

Deathless Uber Elder With Storm Brand Elementalist - sloppy as heck, but didn't die, so therefor skill.

Double Elder Guardian (with clear) Storm Brand Elementalist - derped for way too long on syndicate choice, sorry about that. I would have picked a different clip, but I like the double guardian prophecy bug. (And honestly, when I look over the footage, I derp a LOT anyway)


Build Theory
Spoiler

The general concept for this build is that storm brand looks sweet. It is also a great clearing skill, so that's nice too.

I didn't think it would be great for single target, and part of the concept for improving on single target damage was to use the newly buffed malachai's artifice ring:


-50 to enemy lightning resist sounds pretty good to me. I bought one at level ~40 for 1c, and stuck a flame golem in it. Flame golem is an ideal choice because it doesn't benefit from your +damage to spells modifiers. As a result, you can stack up +lightning damage to spells without screwing up your EE.

Because the build was suddenly very dependent on the golem, I decided I wanted it to live. So I took liege of the primordial to make it immune to elemental damage, and righteous army (on the way to spiritual aid) to give it life regeneration. It seldom dies (mostly to syndicate).

With this alone, storm brand is adequate at killing bosses (~600k shaper DPS with my current gear, not counting temporary buffs). This doesn't break the bank as far as bossing characters are concerned, but it is damage that works the whole time, while you're doing mechanics, so it is very safe and consistent damage.

We've got time to kill while our storm brands tic, so how about throwing some traps into the mix for even more damage. We can get a 7-link lightning spire trap from a hat like this (cost me 25c, but prices have gone up a bit:


Increased AoE helps the lightning spire strikes overlap, so it is actually a great gem for improving single target damage. Lightning spire gives another ~2 million shaper DPS from 3 traps stacked on a boss. Combined with the brands it completely destroys any boss that's willing to stand still for it.

You can also get 6-link lightning spire in gloves, with trap and mine damage + cast speed. Theoretically you could get blind in there as well, which could be good for safety.

So we've got a build with great clear speed, with brands hopping all over (and inpulsa popping all over, if you go that route), but also very high (for a budget / league starter) single target. We've also got reasonable defense, with mind over matter and phase acrobatics.


Path of Building / Build Link
Spoiler

PoB Paste: https://pastebin.com/SdyBfVFy

The PoB paste includes leveling trees. The gear is a little out of date, but I don't want to re-do the leveling trees every time I update my PoB, so most current gear is found instead in this one:

https://pastebin.com/qfv3gHCX

For those who don't use PoB (I highly recommend you do, though), here's the final tree.



Bandits, Pantheon, Ascendancy
Spoiler

Bandits, we're non-crit, so we're killing all the bandits for that sweet +2 skill points.

Pantheon, we're not stun immune, so brine king. Whatever you like for minor. Flask refill can be nice, so can poison immune.

Ascendency starts with Shaper of Desolation -> Beacon of Ruin. Beacon of ruin is our power node, and the entire reason to be an elementalist. Prolif and 20% min shock (with increased shock effect, ~33%) is simply amazing.

After that, most storm brand builds out there are going for Pendulum of Destruction -> Mastermind of Discord to get that sweet 25% lightning penetration while Herald of Thunder is up. This is not what we're doing.

There's no doubt that the pen is nice, and pendulum is cool too. But we can get reflect immunity to be able to run literally all map mods, gain damage and cast speed from extra golem, and very importantly, make our golems immune to elemental damage.

We're basing a significant part of our single-target damage capability off of getting EE from a flame golem socketed in:

As such we'd like to keep that flame golem alive. Immunity to elemental damage is huge for that. Most of the AoE and ranged type abilities that waste golems do elemental damage. Not all, unfortunately, some of the syndicate guys can wreck your golems pretty good. But the golems stay alive very well for the most part. We get 1% life regen for minion in tree, as well, so incidental damage gets healed and we don't have to re-cast.


Gems
Spoiler

Our primary links for Storm Brand are:
Storm Brand + Concentrated Effect + Controlled Destruction + Added Lightning + Hypothermia + Lightning penetration

We supplement our single target damage with Lightning Spire Trap:
Lightning Spire Trap + Controlled Destruction + Added Lightning + Lightning Penetration + [Additional from Shaper hat or gloves: Hypothermia / Trap and Mine Damage / Increased Area / Faster Casting]

Utility skills are to your taste, but here are my choices:

CWDT setup:
CWDT(1) + immortal Call (3) + Enfeeble (5) + increased duration (20)

*Lately I've swapped increased duration for cold snap (7). Chill and enfeeble both on anything that decides to slap us is pretty nice, and as a bonus we've got frenzy charges a decent amount of the time.

Move setup:
Flame Dash (20) + Faster Casting (20) + Arcane Surge (7)

If you choose to go daggers or scepter + shield you can change this to whirling blades / shield charge in order to get fortify. If you do that, put arcane surge on your brand recall link.

Brand Recall:
Brand Recall + Empower + Enhance

Buff Setup:
Vaal Grace + Vaal Clarity + Vaal Righteous Fire + Increased Duration

Vaal grace is amazing temporary defense. The others are optional really.

Do not actually turn on the regular version of grace, it will kill your mana pool for mind over matter. We just want the vaal version for the dodge. You can turn on the regular version of clarity for no-leech maps, if you like, but generally we want all our mana open for MoM.

Wrath only if you use essence worm. It isn't worth losing half your mana for, since we're mind over matter.

Lately I've taken to skipping the lightning golem, to make sure he never buffs the flame golem with lightning damage, messing up EE. It doesn't happen often, so the lightning golem's cast speed is potentially still pretty good for maps, but double flame golem is probably more reliable boss damage.


Gear
Spoiler

This is a league starter build, and has absolutely no real gear requirements. I used a Tabula up to level 90. We're MoM and acrobatics so after maxing resists we're looking at maxing life/mana/dodge and not worrying too much about other defensive stats.

For offensive stats, as a non-crit build, we're looking for:
+lightning damage to spells
Cast speed (increases brand placement rate AND tick rate)
Increased spell/lightning/elemental damage
Elemental (or non-chaos) as extra Chaos
Elemental penetration

There's an insanely powerful hybrid veiled mod on the crafting bench:


It is a prefix, and it conflicts with increased spell damage (pure but not hybrid) / increased lightning damage (if it is a prefix). So you can often get a pretty cheap weapon that is missing increased spell/lightning damage, and fix it up quite nicely. The temple "topotante" hybrid increased lightning / added lightning to spells does not conflict with this pure added lightning to spells craft (and such wands make a nice starting point for crafting also).

Crafting bench also now offers an actually relevant amount of +lightning damage to spells, if you need to fix that on a weapon:


The first unique you buy (and the only one that is really at all "build around" for the build) is:


It is very cheap (loreweave price, ~3c) We stick a flame golem in it (which rarely dies thanks to Liege of the Primordial and Righteous Army), and we get free EE.

We also want a source of cold damage to spells, to enable our hypothermia support gem. An abyss jewel with any amount of cold to spells does the job.

My Current Gear
Spoiler





Uber Elder Swap:


If you don't have a wrath mana leech watcher's eye, you need another mana leech or regen solution:

The leech if you killed recently boot enchant is the nicest for mapping, but doesn't do much on bosses. If you need an even more budget option you can put warlord's mark in your CWDT instead of enfeeble. Atziri's foible is 1c so probably just do that until you get the boot enchant.

If you don't use the wrath mana leech jewel (and thus aren't married to wrath) an additional possible swap on uber elder is:

That will put you to 80% cold resist.


Cinderswallow is our best damage flask. It helps if you have any amount of added fire damage to spells (abyss jewel) to activate it when our conflux isn't on ignite. It makes us zoom, it heals our life and mana (even on no-leech maps), it is generally great. I run it in place of the mana flask if I feel I won't be needing that.

For tough boss fights the mana flask is better, since you can't reliably trigger on kill mana recovery form cinderswallow.

Inpulsa is NOT needed. I went to level 90 on a Tabula. Carcass Jack or even a rare are also decent choices.

Wands are cheaper than daggers (and can get cast speed), and better damage than scepter + shield. The down side is you can't have fortify. The up side is flame dash is super responsive with a ton of cast speed. I don't think wands are the only correct choice, any of these 3 options is fine. You can use essences to get cast speed onto daggers if you want to try your hand at crafting.

The +1 wand is nice for making brand recall cooldown faster. With empower I have level 10 brand recall. With good corruptions (expensive) you could have level 12 brand recall. At level 10 my brand recall is 1.58 second cooldown.

For mapping the life/mana leech if you killed recently boot enchant is pretty important, but not mandatory. If you don't have it, get the mana on kill node in shadow, or mana on kill on a piece of gear.

The uber elder swaps are for the following reasons:

Kaom's roots: To negate the elder's snare attack, so he can't lock you down for the shaper to ball/beam to death.

Purity of Ice: Most of the danger is cold damage

Atziri's Foible: To make up for not having mana leech




Map Mods
Spoiler

All map mods are doable. Of course many damage mods combined is not always wise.

We're immune to elemental reflect, so that's no issue.

We have life and mana leech, so no regen is fine. We have life and mana regen, so no leech is fine.

Chain is mildly irritating because of our golems, but mostly fine.

Unlucky dodge is the most dangerous damage mod, but I still run it paired with 2+ other damage mods, because I'm about that softcore life. Most of the time not punished.


Gameplay
Spoiler

Cast brands at pack, recall on next pack, repeat. If you get brand recall high enough level often you can just chain recall for a while. That's why I use a +1 wand. There's also a +2 shield available, Invictus Solaris, if you want to really work on maxing out brand recall level.

Syndicate encounters are the most dangerous thing you'll encounter while mapping. Lightning spire trap is immensely helpful with the fortification encounters. Throw three traps at the door, and it will melt. Often the syndicate members will run into the lightning trap to get out the door and die too. Drop brands and run around. Pop Vaal Grace and flasks as soon as the door breaks.

On many bosses you can pre-throw your lightning spire traps before getting their attention. Beyond that, just put brands on them and run around. I don't usually run in to try to nuke with brand recall, that's more of an armageddon brand thing. We're stacking lots of cast speed to scale our damage, which means each individual brand tick isn't that impressive.

Overlapping proximity shields can be a pain. Flame dash in, brand recall, hope they don't kill you, is my general strategy.

Immunity aura is dangerous but you can just stand back and ranged-cast your brands at the target instead of running in and recalling.


Leveling
Spoiler

Leveling trees are in the Path of Building paste

I leveled as frostbolt until I got storm brand (end of act 1). Then I was just storm brand after that. It is honestly pretty smooth leveling. You can supplement your damage with any skill you fancy if things are a little chewy, since you don't really have anything else to do while brands tick away.

You shouldn't need supplemental damage on trash though, just keep running towards the next pack while your brands finish off the last one.

You get lightning spire trap at 28, at which point your single target should be pretty well sorted. By that time you should have runebinder, which also helps single target out.

Keep an eye out for 4 socket bases with 4 blues (or pure ES base so it can easily be turned into 4 blues). These show up on vendors starting in act 3. With 4-link storm brand and 4-link lightning spire you're good through to end game.



Answered Questions
Spoiler

Why not Mastermind of discord?
Spoiler

"
Completed 7 Challengesbuttcommander wrote:
interesting choice of ascendancy skill. Just wondering why not choose mastermind of discord and use another skill to proc elemental equilibrium.

There's a few reasons for this, in no particular order:

1) I can stack +lightning damage to spells and not have it mess up EE. (Possibly you could put something like kinetic blast with +fire to attacks and no +lightning to attacks to accomplish the same, but you can't put a spell - maybe consecrated path if you were doing scepter + shield)

2) Golem lasts forever without having to do anything. At most have to re-summon it once a map (after syndicate encounter).

3) Mind over matter build, so nice to have entire mana pool unreserved.

4) Reflect immune means I can do all map mods. Very good if you intend to do random maps through zana's shaped/elder mods - or if you just want to save on re-roll costs.

Realistically speaking, I simply wouldn't use malachai's artifice if I wasn't sticking a golem in it. So the choice is between -50% enemy resist with malachai's artifice and golems, or 25% lightning pen with mastermind, plus however much damage I could get from a rare ring.


How to get good weapons:
Spoiler

"
Completed 18 Challengesjan1ss19 wrote:
Honestly for this type of build Shade of Solaris wand combined with rare wand with cast+spell dmg+lightning dmg+ EO is sleeper op'ie imo buff is constantly up and there are almost no downsides

It is definitely decent, but I wouldn't say it is OP. Unfortunately it is also quite expensive. The cheapest result at the moment is 80c, which actually surprised me, I wonder if somebody is price fixing them at the moment? Anyway you can do better with rares pretty affordably. 200% increased spell damage is really nice, but it is missing two other great stats for us: cast speed, and added lightning damage to spells.

With my gear, a perfect shade of solaris is about 12k less DPS than either of my rare wands, neither of which cost as much as shade (the shaper one probably should have been expensive, but I snagged it for 30c):


Path of Building correctly understands the unique mods on Shade of Solaris, so I recommend playing around with it with your gear and a few decent rares.

Here's a weighted sum weapon search I built using path of building and my character. It should be relatively close in weights for anybody who's following the guide, though you should build your own from your gear if you want optimal weighting:
https://www.pathofexile.com/trade/search/Betrayal/LbG4DZun

You can easily copy-paste weapons from the search into your path of building. Use the copy item feature in the item search:


Then paste into the "create custom" option in the items menu in path of building.

If you're bargain hunting, you might want to tweak the above search a bit by reducing the sum total, but forcing it to not be crafted and have an open prefix. Our best crafts are either:

1) Increased spell damage / non-chaos as extr chaos hybrid veiled mod
2) Added lightning damage to spells

1. conflicts with other "increased damage" mod prefixes. Increased spell, as well as light/cold/fire. If it has increased lightning as a suffix though, it can still get 1.

2. conflicts with other added lightning/cold/fire damage to spells mods.

Hybrid increased/added mod "Topatante's" conflicts 1, but not 2.

So you just visually scan the results for one that has room for either of those to be crafted on.

For example, in preparing this search just now, I found both of the following for 4 chaos each (uncrafted):


I spent another 4 chaos on each to craft them. According to PoB the first wand is 7.5k more dps than perfect shade of solaris for me. The second is 5.7k more dps than perfect shade. The mana regen on the second is kind of neat too, might try it out on boss fights where my mana leech isn't always active.

Here's the search modified with open prefix / uncrafted I used to find them:
https://www.pathofexile.com/trade/search/Betrayal/rwvP4gIQ


If you're interested in learning how to make your own weighted sum search, I made a video guide: Using "weighted sum" search.


Does Lightning Golem mess up Flame Golem's EE?
Spoiler

"
Completed 15 Challengesdeimoss wrote:
Hmm, I think I discovered something: the lightning golem temporary aura adds lightning damage to spells to nearby enemies and it seems to mess up the EE from fire golem because now he's doing lightning damage as well.

Lightning golem casts a short duration "wrath" aura that adds lightning damage to allies spells. This does apply to flame golem's spells. In testing (thanks fidgey) we saw it happen, but the amount of time the wrong EE was up wasn't very much.

I never noticed the damage drop in real gameplay scenarios, but that doesn't mean it wasn't there. I've since started running 2x flame golems, and while I don't really notice a difference in damage, it is nice that if one flame golem dies, the other is still there keeping EE up.

For map clearing the extra cast speed from lightning golem is probably still slightly better even with the potential for occasional wrong EE, but the difference wasn't large enough for me to really notice, so I dropped the lightning golem.



Last edited by magicrectangle on Jan 17, 2019, 4:00:25 PM
Last bumped on Jan 19, 2019, 10:57:05 PM
I have been playing Storm Brand Elementalist since the league started but only now switched some things like the guide describes and it feels great, a bit more tanky i believe and the damage is ok. I am using Shroud of the Lightless and stacking Abyss jewels, my dmg is around 250k Shaper dps( i just don't know how to properly add ele pen from my chest so i added lightning pen 20 lvl 0 quality). Any thought on skill tree? My cold and lightning ress is equal, i will try to balance fire also for The Wise Oak flask.



And here are the jewels, they are budget options but will change to better as i get more currency.

Last edited by tona91 on Dec 19, 2018, 6:30:24 AM
PoB actually does understand shroud of the lightless, so long as the link is set to the chest slot, so there's no need to do anything creative with that. Shroud of the lightless is a decent choice for a chest, and abyss jewels aren't bad at all for the build. They do mean you can't stack cast speed as hard, but I suppose that's why you've put faster casting in your link.

Here's a PoB with the right boxes checked, and a custom shock flask (22% because no inpulsa):
https://pastebin.com/Pxr8phBR

I see 470k shaper DPS (235k per brand, x2 brands)

The tree looks very solid, and most of the gear looks pretty solid on a budget. You might want to buy a level 3 failed corrupted empower, they're only 30c, and can be re-sold pretty easily once yours finishes leveling in your swap.

I'd probably try to work a shield charge + faster attacks + fortify link in there. IMHO getting fortify is half the reason to go shield (the other being the +2 gem levels = +4 net levels for brand recall).

I'm not really sure the herald of thunder curse on hit setup is worth it. For trash clearing we don't really need any help, and it is somewhat unreliable on bosses (and not that much damage anyway given the 80% less curse effect on bosses). I think one of the advantages of not going mastermind of discord is having your whole mana bar free to function as health. You're losing about 550 "health" by running the herald. Of course if you find the clear noticeably faster with it, then run it. But I'd turn it off for a dangerous encounter like uber.

Overall looks really good.
How come you not using clear mind?
"
Completed 21 ChallengesMrYamamoto wrote:
How come you not using clear mind?

Clear mind is definitely a good damage jewel.

With all unique jewelry, and a resist-less hat, I've been using my jewel slots to crutch my resists together. I like to be ele weakness capped for mapping, and also needed to be able to swap in kaom's roots for uber elder.

I do actually have one jewel that isn't giving me resists, and have considered running clear mind in that slot for more damage. I'd gain ~3.5% more raw DPS (with a perfect clear mind), but lose 5% life and and the quality of life from the 9% cast speed on that jewel.
interesting choice of ascendancy skill. Just wondering why not choose mastermind of discord and use another skill to proc elemental equilibrium.
"
Completed 7 Challengesbuttcommander wrote:
interesting choice of ascendancy skill. Just wondering why not choose mastermind of discord and use another skill to proc elemental equilibrium.

There's a few reasons for this, in no particular order:

1) I can stack +lightning damage to spells and not have it mess up EE. (Possibly you could put something like kinetic blast with +fire to attacks and no +lightning to attacks to accomplish the same, but you can't put a spell - maybe consecrated path if you were doing scepter + shield)

2) Golem lasts forever without having to do anything. At most have to re-summon it once a map (after syndicate encounter).

3) Mind over matter build, so nice to have entire mana pool unreserved.

4) Reflect immune means I can do all map mods. Very good if you intend to do random maps through zana's shaped/elder mods - or if you just want to save on re-roll costs.


Realistically speaking, I simply wouldn't use malachai's artifice if I wasn't sticking a golem in it. So the choice is between -50% enemy resist with malachai's artifice and golems, or 25% lightning pen with mastermind, plus however much damage I could get from a rare ring.
Last edited by magicrectangle on Dec 20, 2018, 5:13:31 PM
Hey man, thanks for the build. Just one quick question...

Doesn't Wrath Aura effect your Flame Golem too? Meaning it does lightning damage and screws up your EE ring trick, effectively bringing the lightning resists up on mobs not down? I am sure I am missing something, but I thought I would ask.

TIA.
"
Completed 14 ChallengesChucacobra wrote:
Hey man, thanks for the build. Just one quick question...

Doesn't Wrath Aura effect your Flame Golem too? Meaning it does lightning damage and screws up your EE ring trick, effectively bringing the lightning resists up on mobs not down? I am sure I am missing something, but I thought I would ask.

TIA.

Flame golem's 3 abilities are all spells, rather than attacks. Wrath adds lightning damage to attacks, but for spells is gives more lightning damage instead of flat, so more of 0 is still 0.
Very good! Thanks for that man. I knew I was missing something. Cheers

Report Forum Post

Report Account:

Report Type

Additional Info