[3.5] How to be a Ninja (Assassin, Cyclone, Agony)


Ninja BFFs!

This is the build I came up with for Betrayal league, a twohanded sword wielding Assassin with a Ninja theme and an agony crawler buddy.

It is not really a budget build, but you can work your way up (as I did).

The build is very satisfying to play, and I beat all content I had access to so far with it. It is Shaper viable at least, and it doesn't have any issues with betrayal encounters.

It also cosplays as a Ninja, adding a bit of "theme" is very important to me:
1. I rely purely on physical, chaos and poison damage.
2. I use one of those samurai swords (exquisite blade).
3. I use acrobatics/dodge as the main line of defense.
4. I take the assassin ascendancy, of course.


About Herald of Agony

Herald of Agnony summons an invulnerable scorpion minion theat deals more and more damage the more poisons you apply on monsters. He has three different attacks, but mostly uses a multiple projectile ranged attack.

Once you spent a couple support gems on him, he is strong enough to kill most things in this game, if you can keep the stacks up. And it doesn't really need much support outside of gem links, as most "minion items" will only add increased damage, and he has plenty of that, hundreds of % of that.

So it really comes down to:
Do I use him as a primary or secondary source of damage?

I tested him in standard in several setups, like on a gladiator that didn't do any damage on its own, just put hundreds of poisons out with molten strike and let the crawler do all the work, while being super tanky with lots of life, block and life gain on hit.

While it was quite efficient, I didn't really enjoy the playstyle.
1. I had to bother way too much with Minion AI.
2. It felt quite slow, compared to builds that kill stuff as fast as they can move.
3. The tankiness is a bit "overkill" in most content.
4. I really want to kill stuff myself.

So I decided I want him as "secondary" damage, I will do most of the work myself, but whenever he is around, he will do serious business.

The crawler will often fall behind and be quite useless, he will sometimes kill monsters you wanted to kill, and then you hit nothing but thin air... but he will always be there when we really need him, in boss fights, adding a substantial amount of DpS.


...is one of the most enjoyable melee skills in this game, because you hit things while you are moving. It is also one of the most nerf-hammered skills, to a point there are memes about it ("arc is too strong? Let's nerf cyclone again.").

But no matter the nerfs, it still does what it's supposed to once you figured out how to use it and build around it properly. Single target is great, playstyle is very smooth, just need to overcome three problems:

1. Cyclone is mana-hungry.
You need around 20-25% free mana to run cyclone comfortably (or you have lots of flat mana on your gear, but that isn't really a stat I would recommend).

2. Cyclone is movespeed-hungry.
Luckily Assassin has +20% movespeed on kill, and we use double onslaught for +40% more.

3. Cyclone's AoE isn't the greatest.
Guess why we are running around with a trigger-happy Scorpion.


Why Assassin?

We do not need to worry too much about crit chance, and crit chance is harder to stack on twohanded builds. Against normal monsters, we gain "double crit chance" (which is enough). Against bosses, we ramp up crit chance per poison inflicted very fast (which is also enough).


tl;dr - path of building
I'm trying to be very conservative with my PoB links, like the opposite of a tooltip warrior.
I don't just equip stuff for the lolz like vaal haste and vaal lightning trap, or put damage on full life and conc effect in when I don't like using them. I also don't use vaal warchiefs for pack clear (often not even on bosses), and I disable useless buffs like phase run (the buff is very, very short) etc.

Life is ~6.1k
Dodge/Spell Dodge is 58-63 / 30-43 (Pantheon +5%, +8% spell dodge boot enchant)
Movespeed +30/50/90% (base/killed recently/onslaught)

Because of all the conditional buffs in this build, I'll add two PoB links.

Mob DpS
Click me
*monster on full life
*frenzy charges from blood rage,
*we have killed recently,
*war banner (stages don't matter)
*1 poison on the monsters, 20 applied recently
*monsters are maimed and intimidated

Cyclone DpS: ~430k (without poison)
With flasks: ~680k (without poison)
Agony Crawler Spikes with 30 stages (easy to maintain): ~130k

Boss DpS
Click me
*enemy is Shaper
*20 poisons on him, 20 recently
*only one nearby enemy
*maimed and intimidated
*3 wither stacks, 3 spider stacks
*war banner on 0 (does nothing anyways)

Cyclone DpS: ~500k (including poison)
With flasks: ~840k (including poison)
Agony Crawler Spikes with 38 stages (easy to maintain): ~330k

Still not sure if I got it all right, feel free to contact me if I clicked something wrong. ;-)


Skill Gems


In order of importance:
Cyclone > Melee phys > Maim > Vile toxins > Withering touch > faster attacks
The 6th gem is luxury, at this point we basially run out of more multipliers, unless you want to use conc effect (which I wouldn't want). PoB says Void manipulation is the best when all buffs are up, but to get all buffs up reliably, I need tons of attack speed, and faster attacks is only slightly less damage.


Herald of Agony

In order of importance:
Herald of Agony > pierce > damage on full life > vicious projectiles > vile toxins > maim
Damage on full life always applies because the crawler cannot be damaged.
Pierce is the most important choice to give the crawler a chance to clear whole packs.
You can use minion damage if you want to bother with the int requirement, but it isn't that much better than the alternatives, and it has a 130% mana reservation multiplier.


Other links

1. We need a movement skill.

Leap slam > faster attacks > fortify > blood magic
Blood magic is only required when you use this all the time to get around.

2. We need Immortal call.

CWDT - Immortal call - increased duration - x
Phase run and vaal grace are good choices for "x".
I prefer CWDT/IC lvl 20, but you can decide yourself if you want use a lower level setup to have it trigger more often. Note that we actually do maintain endurance charges, so immortal call levels are not wasted.

3. We still have 4 sockets left. Options, options.
a) Tombfists and abyssal sockets.
b) Another CWDT setup with other stuff, as an example:

I have automated blood rage, a curse and a warbanner (that I never drop, I just have it attached to my back for a small damage buff of "increased physical damage taken").
c) Whatever you prefer: Ancestral Warchief, Vaal Double Strike, a golem, a warcry...


Aura reservations
If you do not have the helmet enchant for Herald of Agony, he will eat up quite a bit of your mana pool when 6 linked. You can maybe run a banner or a 25% reservation aura (like a herald or one of the aspect skills).
If you do, you can run both a banner and the aspect skill. I suggest Aspect of the Spider, both in terms of style and gameplay.


Level 21 corruptions
It is highly desirable to vaal your vile toxins to level 21, as the multiplier jumps from 9*5=45% to 10*5=50% more damage.
The Herald of Agony also wants to be 21 (quality doesn't really matter), so I suggest to just level 10+ herald gems in offhand and spare links until you hit the corruption.
Cyclone gains +1 range at level 21, leading to a tiny bit more AoE.

All other gems don't really need to be corrupted, but of course you get a bit of extra damage if you succeed.


Skill tree

As with all builds, it comes down to a trade-off between what I want and what I need to survive.

What I want:
* Crit and crit multi
* sword or twohanded damage and attack speed
* some poison/chaos damage
* lots of jewel sockets
What I need:
* Tons of life
* a bit of mana leech
* some avoidance, let's say acrobatics and phase acrobatics

This leads to a skilltree like this (lvl 93):
click me

Further options:
* Crit/crit multi in Heartseeker
* a bit more damage (Razor's Edge, Fatal Toxins)
* or, more realistic approach: life nodes in the scion wheel


Jewel stat priority:
5-7% increased life
> 6-8% sword attack speed
> crit multi (sword, twohanded, melee, generic)
> resists, increased damage, stats etc.


We're crit, so Alira.
The resists and flat mana regen are also quite helpful.



Normal Lab: Opportunistic
+20% movespeed on kill, 100% increased boss damage, to speed up the leveling process.

Cruel Lab: Noxious Strike
40% chance to poison to get Herald of Agony uptime, extra crit against poisoned bosses.

Merciless Lab: Ambush and Assassinate
Basically translates into "you crit all normal mobs" and "you deal ~12% more damage" (culling strike on crit).

Uber Lab: Toxic Delivery
More chaos damage, more poison damage.




Should look something like this.
Lots of phys damage, crit chance, attack speed.


Body armour

An amazing item for cyclone.

Up to +40% movespeed, +40% attackspeed, with close to 100% uptime outside of boss fights. Also you will always have charges for immortal call (the charges consumed apply to both the onslaught and IC).

In boss fights, it doesn't do too much, but that isn't really an issue because we have a lot going for us in boss fights (stacking poisons for all sorts of buffs, a full agony crawler, flasks, ascendancy bonus when only one enemy is around,...).


Helmet, Gloves, Boots
Rares with life and all the resists you need, ideally all evasion based.
More ideally the gloves have attack speed, the boots have movespeed, the helmet has a Herald of Agony mana reservation lab enchant and nearby enemies take increased chaos damage delve mod.


Life, resists, damage.


...is a buff you should not pass.
So either wear tomb fists or - more budget - belt of the deceiver (at least get one that is corrupted with exta life):


New crafts from syndicate, delve, focus mods etc
There are plenty of DpS options these days with the new crafts, but you will be hard-pressed to get all of them into your gear set while still maintaining sufficient life and resists. Once you can afford this stuff, you probably do not need my help anymore.


Aspect of the Spider
To gain this buff, it needs to be on an item (aquired from delve, syndicate or as a bestiary craft). If you do not want to craft it on your own, just buy the least horrible ring with it that you can afford. I chose one with lots of life and a steel ring base, with an open suffix for a resist.


We need 3 suffixes: Remove bleed, remove freeze, remove curses.
As bases for these I choose an instant life flask, a diamond flask and a basalt flask.

The two remaining flasks can be uniques. Good options are plenty, like:


My current gear set (93)

Budget options

5L sword, 5L chest
Both 6 links are not really necessary. Also, a 5L Herald of Agony saves you the helm enchant as he obviously reserves less mana.

Terminus Est
Ok damage, very high crit, frenzy charge on kill.

No Aspect of the Spider
Having this affix on an item more than quadruples its price.
Just skip using it until you can afford it.

Atziri's Step
These boots are very nice for acrobatics builds. Only issue is that they have no resists.

No "Hit's cannot be evaded" weapon
This mod is 3 Ex to craft, if you have a bit of accuracy on your gear, "gain x% of non chaos as extra chaos" only costs a couple vaal orbs and leads to similar damage output. You'll be fine without it.



Choosing gods can be very situational, but if you want a setup that will do the job in most scenarios, I recommend:

Major god - Soul of Lunaris
Up to 8% phys reduction, and with the first two upgrades, you gain a bit more dodge chance and projectile evasion.

Minor god - Soul of Garukhan
Another 5% flat evade chance, and the upgrade comes with 6% movespeed if you haven't been hit recently. Remember, movespeed is king on cyclone.

If you don't have a "hits can't be evaded" sword, I recommend...

Minor god - Soul of Ralakesh
Less bleed damage and you cannot be blinded.


That will be it for now, thank you for reading.
Fee free to try this build, ask any questions, critique my choices etc. :)
3.5 build: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2299519
Last edited by Peterlerock on Jan 20, 2019, 7:22:52 AM
Last bumped on Jan 28, 2019, 10:52:31 AM
I always wanted a ninja-themed build and with the hats on sale I could dress like one too xD, looking forward to trying this out
I always wanted a ninja-themed build and with the hats on sale I could dress like one too xD, looking forward to trying this out

Yeah. I immediately purchased the pitch black hood once I saw the discounts (had a bandana already).
Looks pretty nice with bronn's lithe skin transfer:

(I just vanishing dyed boots and gloves, have no fitting skin for them and don't really want to buy the full pitch black set)
3.5 build: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2299519
Last edited by Peterlerock on Jan 13, 2019, 5:08:12 AM
Lvl 95 update:
I cleared uber atziri, uber elder and vaal temple to get the challenges done.

Vaal temple:
I walked in and was oneshot out of thin air, then proceeded to kill them all without a further death.

Uber Atziri:
I died 2 times on the trio because I also did the "kill A'alai last" challenge (which isn't the greatest idea usually)
Atziri herself is a very mechanical fight. Don't stand in flameblasts and storm calls, cyclone isn't the best skill to have perfect control, but it's not impossible.
I managed to eat the flameblasts twice, but that's just me playing horrible. ;)

Uber Elder:
I burned a couple sets. I'd say I have the necessary damage, but not the necessary sustain and "mechanics avoidance" to beat this fight clean. In the end, I swapped into Kaom's roots (needed to change other gear as well to keep resists) and Purity of Ice to barely get it done.

So, while all this can be done, this character is most certainly not "the go to boss killer", and is not tanky enough to do it all deathless, at least not at my skill level.


Gear updates:
I decided to not have another character this league, so I dumped more currency into it, experimenting with cyclone range.
I bought a lvl 21 cyclone, took the +1 sword range damage cluster and crafted +1 range on gloves, helmet, amulet.

Now my cyclone has a total of +10 range:
+3 (gem)
+3 (gear)
+3 (tree)
+10% AoE = +1 range (gem)

AoE feels good at this point.
Needs to be nerfed again in 3.6. ;)


I decided to burn a bunch of currency buying/crafting amulets and turning them into t2 talismans, hoping for crit multi or increased life.
The one I am wearing is the best I got out of it far, though it is arguably not worth it burning 2 ex to multimod an amulet like this (similar rolls without attack speed cost less than 2 ex).

3.5 build: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2299519
hands of applause for this post, I wanted to make a ninja class. I'm not good enough at this game to make a viable/fun ninja class lol. Thanks to your awesomeness I can make a ninja character so thank you!

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