[3.9] Necromantic Scribe - [6k+ Life] [All Content] [2.5M+ dps] [Fun Playstyle]






BUILD HISTORY:

This build originally started as a remake of Neversink's 2.2 Poison Animator. I played it back then and it was possibly the most fun build I had played. It used Null's Inclination with volley fire barrage, full pierce, poison and SRS/AW summons.

With the changes to poison scaling, it needed to be built slightly differently. I had a Null's Inclination build ready for league start in Synthesis and through my testing while levelling and until now, it slowly evolved into this build. Poet's Pen is much better than Null's for triggering spell casts due to not requiring killing blows, and can be used on bosses, which was one of the major issues with the Poison Animator build.

Herald has been added to take care of boss dps and it does a very good job. For the most part though, this build is intended to be fast and smooth and fun to play in maps. I checked out a couple of HoA builds and I disliked the speed of clearing when using the herald's AI. I wanted something that clears on it's own with poison or degen, in the style of Neversink's original build.

I am at the point where all the big decisions have been finalised in the build, so I'm getting around to posting it here to share.

Despite the build no longer using AW/SRS summons or poison to clear, this iteration still has the same feel and playstyle and has been highly enjoyable for me to play so far.


3.9 UPDATES:

BUFFS for 3.8/3.9 (combined):
Spoiler
+ Double influenced amulets provides a big single target dps gain for some currency investment. Pushes single target dps for this build (along with some other changes as listed below) from around 1.8m to 2.8m.
+ Awakened gems (curse on hit = 1 additional curse!)
+ Blight Anoints available, so this translates to additional DPS and onslaught for herald (if anointing Grave Intentions or Feeding Frenzy) or additional life (if anointing Whispers of Doom).
+ Feeding Frenzy support gives potential dps to our spider. Possibly swap skeletons for zombies.
+ Soulrend duration buff (50%)
+ Volley Fire buff (essentially 2 free jewels)

+ We don't use a Watcher's Eye, so the increased rarity of these will not effect us at all!


Due to the changes in volley fire and anointing, the additional skill points and jewel sockets mean that my PoB is sitting at over 200% life and above 6.6k.
There are two skill trees listed as endgame now, see the skill tree section and PoB.


Mid-metamorph league update:

This build actually got a lot of hidden support in the last few leagues.

Hunter amulets can roll +1 chaos/+1 dex gems. This is now our goal for the amulet slot. Ideally, if you have a bit of currency to craft, a +1 str, +1 chaos gems hunter + warlord amulet.
At least +1 gems on the amulet is a huge boost to HoA dps as it hits a new breakpoint for %phys per virulence on HoA (provided you are reaching a level 25 skill gem).
Both mods would be ideal, along with +1 from warlords for a total of +3, but that is rediculously expensive to craft. The better of the two hunter mods is +1 chaos skill gems, as it effects Soulrend as well.

Grave Intentions is a much higher dps node than Ravenous Horde and is now the recommended anoint.

Helm enchants are now realistically obtainable for a little bit of currency, thanks to awakener orb shenanigans. More info in the gear section.

This also opens up the option for an Aspect of the Spider. This will add decent damage and some survivability. Again, see the gear section for details.


MTX:
Spoiler





PROS & CONS:

Pros:
+ Good league starter
+ Can do all map mods easily
+ No 6-link required
+ High movespeed, fun playstyle
+ Massive life gain on hit against big packs of mobs
+ Basically zero budget to start, clear upgrade paths
+ Over 6k life, acro, phase acro, blind & flat damage reduction
+ Decent chaos resist
+ Lots of knockback
+ Non-meta requirements, gear is not high in demand
+ Can use the two best MTX in the game, Celestial HoA and Cat Soulrend!

Cons:
- Not as tanky as a 9k life max-block Gladiator or 16k ES Occultist herald build
- Still need to dodge big boss attacks and one-shots
- Soulrend damage drops off in groups as we aren't scaling it too high. Herald still one shots things.
- Single-target dps ceiling is not as high as a dedicated herald build
- Little room for scaling the build much further - this isn't a build you can throw 30 ex into


GAMEPLAY:





We use barrage with volley fire to cover the screen. Flasks should be up always - I pretty much use them every pack out of habit.

Poet's Pen casts soulrends and we clear packs using this. Most packs should die from the DoT, the tanky rares that survive should get squashed by the crawler minion.

Note that momentum is a big deal with this build. The more smoothly you play and keep moving, the better it feels. You can stop and start if you need to loot, but try and keep the pace up and it will be very enjoyable.

I also find it incredibly fun to attack and "chase" your own soulrends, they lead you towards packs and will generally kill them as you phase run through.
The hit-and-run and stutter-stepping playstyle takes some time to get comfortable with, but once you know your damage it's an extremely satisfying way to play.

Flame dash gives an instant blink for dodging big attacks or jumping ledges.

Phase run allows phasing to run to the next pack and to prevent body-blocks, making the playstyle very interactive and pretty smooth.

The herald is very much a supporting pet while mapping, and on bosses we switch and support him. You can use convocation to pull him to you if he gets stuck or you need him to focus a specific target - he typically attacks what you are attacking anyway though.


PASSIVE TREE/PATH OF BUILDING (UPDATED FOR 3.9):

Levelling tree (level 30): http://poeurl.com/cD99
Levelling tree (level 50): http://poeurl.com/cEaa
Levelling tree (level 70): http://poeurl.com/cEab

Final tree (DPS Variant): http://poeurl.com/cEac
Final tree (HP Variant): http://poeurl.com/cEak

These two final trees are options for 3.9 (only minor variation - 7 points difference).

In addition, with either tree the three 'Acrobatics Improvement' nodes and Phase Acrobatics can be removed and placed into more HP (Barbarism node).

I think the best option for Metamorph league currently is to run the DPS tree, but unspec the 4 nodes behind Acrobatics and put them into Barbarism.

Tree comparison:
Spoiler
DPS Variant:
- 6k to 6.2k HP
- 2.6M to 2.8M dps (Shaper)
- Cheap anoint (Violet oils - Grave Intentions)
- 30 additional intelligence from tree

HP Variant:
- 6.6k to 6.8k HP
- 2.0M to 2.2M dps (Shaper)
- More expensive anoint (Golden oils - Whispers of Doom)

IMPORTANT: If you are using the high HP tree and are therefore taking Tireless, you need to leave Arcane Surge at level 4. Otherwise if you are using the DPS tree, you can level it to 5. It's almost no difference to your dps, so if you're unsure, keep it at 4!


Currently, I would be inclined to play and recommend the DPS variant (maybe starting as HP variant and transition over). 6k HP is already comfortable given we're an evasion character with Acro/Phase Acro and blind.

However, the increased hp may be very useful if 3.9 proves to be very dangerous.

Bandits: Kill All

Ascendancy: Pathfinder
Nature's Reprisal -> Master Toxicist -> Nature's Boon -> Master Alchemist

PoB: https://pastebin.com/HTmPZQBQ

Includes all trees, gear, and skill gems.


PANTHEON:

Major: Soul of Lunaris / Soul of the Brine King

Soul of Lunaris is very nice, especially with all the upgrades. Brine King is always a nice choice for the anti-stunlock effect, but that's really all it gives.

I have been playing with Soul of Lunaris permanently and I haven't had any issues, but if you want Brine King it's an option.

Minor: Soul of Garukhan / Soul of Shakari

More evasion and movement speed is nice for us. We don't need Soul of Ryslatha for the life flask recharge as we're a pathfinder.
Shakari is nice too for the chaos damage reduction and immunity to poison.


LEVELLING TIPS:
Spoiler


3.9 Update: The below info was written pre-3.9.
Feel free to mess around with the new bow skills instead and improvise how you level. Just follow the levelling skill tree, and this info is always here for reference if you start to struggle.


Act 1:
Start with Split Arrow or Shrapnel Shot (shrapnel works well for not getting body blocked, eg. in submerged passage). Look for 3-socket 1h weapons to pick up to put in your offhand weapon slots for levelling gems.

Take Lesser Poison support from the Mercy Mission reward (Medicine Chest).

Take Added Cold Damage from The Caged Brute (Brutus) reward, buy Blink Arrow from vendor.

Take Rain of Arrows from The Siren's Cadence (Merveil) reward.

Run a triple green 3-Link: Rain of Arrows + Lesser Poison + Added Cold.

Take Precision aura from quest reward (don't remember which).


Act 2:

Be on the lookout for 3-link +1 minion level helmets (GGB or GGR). That mod can appear from level 14 onwards.

Kill all bandits.

Take Herald of Agony from Intruders In Black (Chamber of Sins) reward.
Buy Herald of Ice from vendor.


Run double heralds (Agony, Ice) and Precision.

Take Faster Attacks from Sharp and Cruel (Weaver) reward.

Run a GGGG 4-link: RoA + Lesser Poison + Added Cold + Faster Attacks.


Act 3:

Take the Lapis amulet from the Ribbon Spool quest to help with intelligence requirements if you don't already have one.

Complete A Fixture of Fate (Library), then buy Minion Damage, Damage on Full Life, Added Chaos Damage and Soulrend from Siosa. Try and start levelling Soulrend now, so that when you switch to using it, it's not level 1.

You can skip this until Act 6 if you don't want to do library.

Run your Rain of arrows in a GGGB 4-link: RoA-Lesser Poison-Added Chaos-Added Cold.

Take Chain Support from The Eternal Nightmare (Malachai) reward. Link this to your Herald of Agony in a 3-link (GGB or GGR).


Early-lategame goals (in no particular order):

- Obtain a Volley Fire jewel. This allows you to drop Rain of Arrows and start using Barrage. You may do this as early as you like, depending on whether you prefer Rain of Arrows or Barrage for levelling. Note that you want Barrage to stay at level 1 for our endgame setup, so if you do use it for levelling, level the gem and remember to buy another one once transitioning to endgame (much cheaper than trying to de-level the gem).

- Obtain a Poet's Pen. Once you have this, you can switch to Soulrend + Herald of Agony. This allows you to drop all your elemental heralds and run a 4-linked HoA (Herald of Agony-Minion Damage-Damage on Full Life-Chain).

For beginners/early league playing:
Spoiler

If you are struggling to get the currency for this, run low level maps, collect rares (especially rings and amulets), DO NOT IDENTIFY THEM. Use them for the UNID chaos recipe - you should be able to brute-force chaos quite quickly to buy your first Poet's Pen to kick-start your build. This often occurs at league start, when a Poet's Pen may cost 20-40c and is preventing you from transitioning into the build and progressing maps.


- Obtain a Gluttony belt (req. level 48) or Mark of Submission ring. Alternatively, swap your Barrage (or RoA) setup to Curse on Hit + Poacher's Mark.

- Move your Herald of Agony setup into a pair of "The Embalmer" gloves.

- Obtain a second Poet's Pen for weapon swap bossing setup.

- Obtain a Witchfire Brew flask.

- Obtain a Cospri's Will ASAP (req. level 68).

- As you progress your atlas and obtain Divine Vessels, remember to keep upgrading your pantheon's components.


Mana Issues:
Either run a mana flask or take the three mana leech nodes in the Essence Sap wheel. My preference is the mana leech - these should be respecced once you have Poacher's Mark up and running.

Poison:
To increase your poison chance early on, take the four nodes leading to Swift Venoms and run the Lesser Poison gem. With Herald of Agony, this gives a total of 80% chance to poison. At this point your 4-link herald damage can carry you comfortably even if your own damage is bad.

The Volley Fire jewel needs to be socketed in either the Scion jewel socket or the two sockets on the right side of the tree. They will not activate in the templar or witch areas.

Cursing:
Your options for applying curses are as follows:

- Mark of Submission. Can be used fairly early to apply Poacher's Mark. Later, can be used alongside a Gluttony belt to apply a second curse (eg. Despair).

- Gluttony for Poacher's Mark.

- Witchfire Brew. This is our endgame mapping setup for Despair but it's not necessary until you're using Soulrend.

- Barrage-Curse on Hit. This is our endgame setup. Once you have Soulrend up and running, this is the way to go.


Curse Limits:
3.8 and 3.9 added multiple additional methods of obtaining +1 curse.

Note that we will use 4 curses in our endgame setup. Default curse limit is 1, and Cospri's Will gives +1, therefore 2 additional curses need to be obtained in total.

Methods to obtain +1 curse are as follows:

- Whispers of Doom
- Blight anoint Whispers of Doom passive
- Doedre's Damning ring (uses a ring slot)
- Amulet vaal corruption implicit
- (3.9 NEW) awakened curse on hit support gem

Probably the best solution in 3.9 is taking whispers of doom manually and using a Doedre's Damning ring or Windshriek boots.

Note that the Doedre's ring is only needed when mapping, and only when using Asenath's Gentle Touch gloves. For dedicated boss fights, swap the gloves and ring out for a boss setup instead.
You can later upgrade from a Doedre's Ring to an awakened curse on hit support if you wish (may be prohibitively expensive).


Poacher's Mark is important for us. When you have only one curse available, always use this.

Once you can use Poet's Pen with Soulrend, you can start using Despair as well.

To apply a second curse, you can either use Doedre's Damning or take Whispers of Doom on the passive tree.

If this is not available to you, just stick with Poacher's Mark only. It's the only absolute must-have curse while levelling.

We use a Cospri's Will, Whispers of Doom and Doedre's Damning, Windshriek or an Awakened Curse on Hit support gem to provide our 4 curse endgame setup.



EQUIPMENT:

Legion:
Spoiler



Synthesis:
Spoiler







GEAR DISCUSSION:
Spoiler

Weapons:
Spoiler




Two Poet's Pens are used. This league they are very cheap because they are "trash", so they are definitely affordable for anyone wanting to play with them.

Our boss setup uses a Victario's Charity to provide substantial dps for our spider via frenzy charges.

Our mapping setup uses a rare shield with life (and ideally some spell damage). Try and get a lightning resist roll to match Victario's Charity so that you can optimise your gearing more efficiently between the two weapon sets.

Helmet:
Spoiler

For mapping, you want to upgrade to an elder helm with +2 minion levels and supported by Minion Damage support. Note: In 3.9 and onwards, elder bases are more expensive. If these +2/minion damage helmets are not super cheap, possibly just skip this step and go straight to crafting your final helm below.

Late game, the goal is to craft (or buy) a +3 gems, 5L helm. Note that THIS IS NOT REQUIRED, you can buy/craft a +2/minion damage helm and use it very successfully for endgame content. Once you start pushing extra levels on your Herald of Agony gem (via crafting a +2 amulet, buying a level 21 HoA etc), a +3/minion damage helm will add a greater amount of damage.


Late game crafting process:

Purchase an ilevel 86+ helmet with the lab enchant of your choice.
For this build, the best enchants are as follows:

- Spirit offering gives +12% phys as extra chaos damage
- Herald of Agony has 30% reduced mana reservation
- Summoned Agony Crawler fires 2 additional Projectiles
- Soulrend fires an additional Projectile
- Soulrend deals 40% increased Damage

The last three are basically quality of life improvements.

The Spirit Offering enchant is very strong and provides the most damage.

However, the mana reservation enchant will allow us to also use Aspect of the Spider, which is 15% increased damage taken on the enemy as well as a nice defensive boost with the slowing effect. It doesn't add as much damage as Spirit Offering, but it is a good choice as well.

If you get a Circle of Nostalgia with the mana reservation reduction mod, then you can use both the Spirit Offering helmet enchantment as well as Aspect of the Spider. This particular setup really goes best with an Awakened Curse on Hit support, otherwise when you swap a Doedre's Damning in for mapping you will lose the ability to run all of the mana reservations together.


To begin crafting, we require a level 86 (not 84!!) ELDER helmet base.

3.9 UPDATE: The below info is speculative based on current knowledge of the various new orbs. It has not been tested by me personally yet.

Also need confirmation that this process retains lab enchantments.


Due to the new awakener orb mechanics, it is now possible to systematically craft a helm with enchant as follows.

In 3.9, this is now craftable from an enchanted non-elder base by using one of the new influence exalted orbs on your enchanted base helmet, applying an awakener orb, consuming an elder helmet and transferring the influence to your enchanted base. You can then proceed to craft the affixes as detailed further below.

Have a look at PoE DB for information on which influence type you would prefer to add, based on their pool of modifiers. I do not recommend using Hunter, as it has a cold damage to spells modifier which will be amplified by using a Frigid Fossil.

Awakener orbs are around 2ex currently on Metamorph SC.

Note that if you can buy an enchanted elder ilvl 86+ helm for less than the cost of the standard ilvl 86+ base plus the cost of an awakener orb and one of the new exalted orb types, then just do that instead. It is theoretically better to get a pure elder helmet, as it has less affixes in the pool to roll, but it will probably be expensive to get a good enchant this way.

The theoretical best base would be a bone helmet for the additional damage, however don't pay much extra for this as it's a minor increase.

You can quality fossil craft it up to 30% if you like.

Then you can either:

1. Fossil craft it using Bound and Frigid fossils in 2-socket resonators (Frigid cancels out quite a few unwanted modifiers and is very cheap). This is probably a better and cheaper way of crafting.


Or,

2. Alteration spam until you hit +3 to minion gems (prefix). If you get a good suffix on it's own (eg. high resist roll), you can augment for the chance at +3 levels.
Once you have a +3 roll, augment (if possible) and regal for minion damage prefix. Note that if you hit one of the other supported gem affixes (immolate, burning damage, minion life) the helmet is BRICKED and must be scoured.
If you miss, scour and repeat. Note that minion damage is much more common than +3 gems, so it's important to roll the +3 mod first.


Once you get both +3 and minion damage on the helm, you can craft +life and then it's complete. Note that I do not recommend filling out the remaining affixes using Leo slams, as you run the risk of bricking the helm by rolling another linked gem (minion life, immolate, burning damage). They are actually quite common and make the helm unusable by our build as they increase the mana reservation of Herald of Agony.

If you are planning on using Maim instead of Vicious Projectiles, then just craft 2 green, and then use the jewellers method to create two more red sockets.

To complete the jewel sockets for green/red colours, use the jewellers method to craft 3G1R:

Spoiler
Use jewellers orbs until you get 4 sockets. Then use the crafting bench to craft TWO GREEN SOCKETS. This will craft the two top sockets green, and the bottom two random.
If you get exactly 3 green, 1 red, then stop here.

Otherwise, if you get the bottom left (3rd) socket as GREEN, skip to the last step and finish crafting the 4th socket.

Otherwise if you only have 2 green sockets, then use the crafting bench to craft 2 sockets, then craft 3 sockets. This will create a random socket colour, weighted by the item type. Repeat this until the new 3rd socket is also green.

Now craft 4 sockets. If the 4th socket is not red, craft back to 3 sockets and repeat.

Body Armour:
Spoiler

The body armour used is a Cospri's Will. This is a super cheap unique. It provides us +1 curse, replaces the Poison gem and allows us to curse Hexproof mobs. This is important because Curses are a huge part of our build - they provide damage, more damage, knockback, healing, mana sustain, and frenzy charges. Guaranteeing our use of curses allows us to run every map mod in the game without issue.

At the current prices (70-90c for a 6-link), do not ever try to link this yourself! Buy a pre-linked one.
Gloves:
Spoiler

These gloves provide corpse explosions, high life and Temporal Chains on hit (see below for discussion about this). Note that if using these gloves, you should make sure you have adequate additional curses, otherwise one of your other curses will be overridden (use a Doedre's Damning for mapping if needed).

Curse Priority:
Spoiler

When using 4 curses on hit with a 3-curse limit, only 3 will be applied. It would be great if these gloves came without curse-on-hit, as we need our other 3 curses. However, curses in this game follow a priority system as follows:

aura curses ⇒ CoH ⇒ triggered curses ⇒ normally applied curses (newest overrides oldest)

Due to the above order, our Despair aura from Witchfire Brew will always be active (if in range). If enemies are out of range of our Despair aura, then they will be cursed with Projectile Weakness, Poacher's Mark and Temporal Chains, and there is no issue.
However if they are close to us, Despair will take one curse slot and this leaves Temporal Chains, Projectile Weakness and Poacher's Mark to compete for 2 curse slots. All three of these are in the Curse-on-Hit category for the purposes of the order above.
According to the trigger order, if multiple trigger sources are used the order will be:

Main hand ⇒ Amulet ⇒ Helm ⇒ Off hand ⇒ Body armour ⇒ Gloves ⇒ Boots

Note that this is NOT priority, but order of application - therefore the most recent will override the oldest. This means that Temporal Chains (gloves) will override one of our Barrage curses (Body Armour).

Which one it overrides is again dependant on the order of application. Curses are triggered from top-left link to bottom-right, following this pattern:

This means that whichever curse is placed "earlier" in the body-armour links will be overridden.


Alternatively, run a pair of rare gloves to help with resistances.

For the boss swap gloves, I just keep both my mapping and boss gloves socketed with gems. Buy duplicates of the gems to keep two sets - it's too tedious and annoying to bother with moving around individual gems.

As of 3.8, Triad Grip is now the highest damage boss glove swap we can use. We need to use this to convert to chaos.
USING THESE GLOVES WITH NON-WHITE SOCKETS IS A DPS LOSS!

Herald of Agony has 40% phys to chaos conversion by default. Therefore there is 60% remaining to be converted.
This means that 3 white sockets are the maximum needed for 100% chaos conversion. This is quite a bit cheaper than a 4-white pair. When you buy these, the arrangement of white sockets is important. Make sure that the top two, and bottom right socket are white.
You can then use the crafting bench to force the item to 3 sockets. This will remove the last non-white socket. Keeping this socket will ruin your dps.

The final result will be a pair of gloves with 3 sockets, all of them white.

Before you can afford a 3-white pair, you can go with 2-white. This is much cheaper, but again you will need to force the item to 2 sockets only, and you will need to make sure that you buy a pair with the top two sockets as the white ones before you do this.

With 2 white sockets only, this is a 90% chaos conversion on our herald, and it's only around 2% less dps than the 3-white version. The main downside is that you have one less gem link for your zombies, so I recommend upgrading to a 3-socket version at some point (same goes for 4-socket, but often they remain expensive and a 4th support gem is not too necessary for the zombies).

Gem Choices:
Spoiler
Raise Zombie + Feeding Frenzy. For a third link, you may use Minion Life, Withering Touch or Minion Speed. I probably recommend Minion Life as we're not using them for damage and the less you need to resummon them, the better. Use whichever support you ultimately prefer though.


Because of their rarity, they may not show up at the start of the league for a little while.
In the meantime, you can use The Embalmer for your herald instead as a budget/early alternative before swapping it into your helm.

Boots:
Spoiler

Windscream/Windshriek are an option for adding an additional curse and can be used instead of Doedre's Damning to provide our 4th curse slot.

Essentially you are losing 5% movement speed (compared to 30% MS boots), 110+ life, and 70%+ resistances (compared to 45% on windshriek).

Compare this to wearing a Doedre's ring, which instead sacrifices around 75+ life and 70-100% resistances when comparing to a decent rare ring.

They are pretty close and really up to personal preference, though typically Windshriek are expensive early in a league, and I think once you have your resistances sorted, a good rare pair of boots with a Doedre's ring (possibly corrupted for a good implicit) is slightly better.
Also the ring is easier to swap out for difficult bosses, whereas the boots would be more difficult to swap out due to the resistances provided, as well as the gem sockets.


The endgame goal is a pair of rare boots with 30+% movement speed, high (100-110+) life roll, and some resistances. Try to get the movement speed lab enchant as well.
Amulet:
Spoiler


While levelling, you can use a rare amulet with intelligence to help reach your stat requirements.
An early endgame option for the amulet is a rare with life and whatever resistances you need.

3.9 UPDATE: The below method has not been tested by me, but I believe it is correct. Please do your research beforehand if you are going to try this.

Late game, our goal is a +2 HoA HUNTER + WARLORD amulet.
To do this, you need to obtain two amulets. One Hunter influenced, and one warlord influenced. Make sure one of them is the final intended base type you intend to use (eg. Lapis, Agate etc). These amulets need to both be at least ilevel 82. This build can sometimes be a little short on intelligence, so consider using a Lapis or Agate amulet as a crafting base.

Alteration spam these amulets separately until you hit +1 to physical skill gems on the warlord amulet, and +1 to chaos skill gems on the hunter amulet.

NOTE if you hit any of the other influence mods, particularly the other + level to skill gems mods, consider selling the item base and buy a new one. It will likely sell for a little bit and you might as well profit instead of rolling over it.

Once you have done this and have your two amulets, make sure that the other mod on each item (if it's not a single mod magic item) is NOT a mod from the hunter or warlord influence pool. Check this at PoE DB.

You then need to use an awakener's orb on the item with the base type you do NOT want to keep, then transfer that item to the other of your two crafted amulets. This will add the +1 gem mod, giving you a +2 gem amulet, plus additional random modifiers. At this point, depending on what modifiers you have rolled, you have a few options.

If there is a spare prefix, you can craft life.
If there is a spare suffix, you can craft resistances or +1 minimum endurance charge.
If there is a spare suffix and the other suffixes are bad, you can craft "prefixes cannot be changed" and then scour the item ONCE to remove all the suffixes, then multimod and add life + whatever suffix you would like (resists, minimum endurance charge).

If there is no spare suffix or prefix, you can gamble and try and annul off one of the bad mods in order to proceed with one of the above crafts, at the risk of ruining your +2 amulet. Otherwise you can leave it as-is if you don't wish to risk bricking your investment.
Rings:
Spoiler


There are some choices here. Elder rings with a t1 life roll and a high (15+) life gain on hit roll are good and probably the go-to option. You can even use a Vermillion ring base for even more life. If you do this, it's probably worth using Fertile Catalysts while the item is scoured to boost the quality to 20%.

These can be crafted using Pristine fossils. Aim for high life, high life gain on hit and some resistances. If you have a spare suffix open you can craft additional resistances or +1 minimum endurance charge.




For the other ring, use a Doedre's Damning while mapping (unless you have an Awakened Curse on Hit).
For the boss swap, when you swap out Asenath's Gentle Touch for Triad Grip, you no longer need the 4th curse and can swap this for any other ring. I would recommend either another elder ring as above, or a Circle of Nostalgia.

If you can sort out your resistances and life, a Circle of Nostalgia with HoA damage and another useful mod can add a fair bit of damage. If you go for a mana reservation reduction as the second mod, you can use the Spirit Offering helmet enchantment. This is likely the best high-budget option, along with an Awakened Curse on Hit support gem to avoid using a Doedre's Damning.

Belt:
Spoiler

Early on, a Gluttony belt is very useful for applying Poacher's Mark.


Lategame you want a rare belt with high life and resists. A stygian belt is best if you can get one, but a good rare leather/heavy belt is better than a crappy stygian vise. This is a good slot to really boost your resistances if you need to.

If you are planning on min-maxing this build or you want to future-proof your items, make sure the belt you buy has an open prefix so that you can later add Aspect of the Spider via beastcrafting.

Jewels:
Spoiler


These are very cheap and are a good target for corrupting for implicits. You can either corrupt a bunch yourself or just buy a corrupted one already. Immune to corrupting blood is the best implicit and you should try and at get a jewel with this (either via volley fire or some random rare jewel).

Take care placing Volley Fire. It must be socketed somewhere where the Dexterity requirement is fulfilled. For this build, there are 3 valid sockets - The scion socket, the socket near Duelist, and the socket over in the Ranger area.


The remaining jewels can be anything. Get life on all of them (% from normal jewels and 35+ flat hp on your abyssal jewel for the belt).
Increased minion damage is nice because it scales our own damage due to Spiritual Aid.
If you are short on a few resistances, this can be a good place to patch them up as we don't really need any expensive jewel modifiers.

Flasks:
Spoiler


Instant life flask, silver flask and quicksilver are our staples.
Note that we still require a remove-bleed flask even with a "immune to corrupting blood" jewel, as this doesn't make us immune to rupture and other bleeds.

Witchfire Brew is used for mapping and most content. I only swap it out for Uber Elder because when swapping to our single target setup, we don't use Soulrend. The single target boss setup applies Despair and doesn't require the despair aura.

This frees up a flask slot and can be used to run a situational flask specific to the boss (eg. Sapphire flask for Uber Elder). For easier bosses, even Shaper, I don't bother swapping it out because I'm lazy.

The last flask is optional. A Jade or Basalt is a good addition. We don't require any elemental status removal due to the Pathfinder ascendancy, so I chose a jade with an increased evasion roll.


Stat Priorities:
Spoiler

We don't need many stats on gear. Therefore aim for high life on everything (t1 rolls if possible) and elemental resistances.
Watch out for your intelligence requirements - especially while levelling, you might need quite a lot of intelligence on your amulet.

Jewels:
- Life
- Minion damage
- Resistances (if needed)
- Any other on-hit/on-kill effect you would like

BUDGET BUILDING:
Spoiler

You can start this build on zero budget. I used it as a league starter in Synthesis and Legion and it worked well.

Before you get a 6-link Cospri's Will, you can use a Gluttony belt, Mark of Submission ring or a cheap Poacher's Mark curse-on-hit elder ring.

Your priority for upgrades should be as follows:

- Buy a pair of The Embalmer rare gloves, put your Herald of Agony in here (HoA + Minion Damage + Damage on Full Life + Maim/Vicious Projectiles)
- Buying a Witchfire Brew flask
- Buying a minion damage, +2 minion helm (see gear discussion). If this is more than a few chaos in the current league, it may be worth completely skipping.
- Buying jewels


At this point you can look into the following options:

- 6-link Cospri's Will
- Amulet upgrade - see Amulet gear discussion
- Crafting or buying a +3 minion level/minion damage elder helmet (approx. 15% more damage over a +2 minion level/minion damage helmet - all content can be completed without one)
- Level 21 Herald of Agony
- Level 21 soulrend for slightly higher clear speed



GEMS:

Barrage
5th link add:

6th link add: Poacher's Mark
Pierce can be run prior to using Projectile Weakness curse.
Poacher's Mark is important but can be obtained elsewhere before you have a 6-link (see Gluttony belt, Mark of Submission, elder curse-on-hit ring etc).

Keep Barrage level 1 to reduce the mana cost. We don't lose any damage from this as our damage comes from Soulrend.

Make sure to turn on "Always attack without moving" for Barrage (click the skill on your bar, click on the toggle at the top).


Herald of Agony


Herald of Agony must go in the helmet!
After getting a helm with "supported by level x Minion Damage", drop the minion damage gem and add Maim or Vicious Projectiles.

Once you start running Projectile Weakness, drop Chain and replace it with Vile Toxins. Chain is very nice for levelling, especially when you are relying on the spider to clear for you. Once you're running Projectile Weakness, attacks can no longer chain as they have 100% pierce, so it can be replaced for a damage gem.

Note that Vile Toxins does not benefit at all from quality (it only increases poison damage). However, level 21 gem adds 5% more damage. Therefore try and get a level 21 Vile Toxins if possible.


Defensive + Movement (Flesh and Stone, Steelskin, Convocation, Flame Dash/Shield Charge)


Keep Flame Dash level 1 for a lower mana cost. Quality helps to increase cast speed, so feel free to level it initially to flip at level 20 with the vendor recipe and then stop levelling it at level 1/20% quality.
Tip: click Flame Dash on your skill bar, and make sure "Always attack without moving" is selected. This makes Flame Dash feel much better!

Leave Flesh and Stone on Sand stance for defenses.


Soulrend + Phase Run


Level 5 Arcane Surge, two separate 3-links. Make sure to put Soulrend in the Poet's Pen and the Phase Run setup in the Shield.
IMPORTANT: If you are using the high HP tree and are therefore taking Tireless, you need to leave Arcane Surge at level 4 instead.


Boss Setup + Wither Totem


Two separate 3-links. Make sure to put the offering setup in the Poet's Pen and the wither totem in the shield. This Poet's Pen does not need to be linked.

Quality on multiple totems and spell totem makes a huge difference on the smoothness of placing the totems. Try to level them early to flip them with the vendor recipe asap, or alternatively buy quality gems.


Vaal Skeletons OR Zombies



3.8/3.9 Update: Skellies may be switched with Zombies (see below)
For mapping, I like to use Portal for convenience (if you can squeeze it in). The remaining sockets can be used for a 3-link Vaal Summon Skeletons or some Zombies.

Zombies:
Spoiler

Zombies can provide a more persistent meat shield for you, especially if using the meat shield support.
However my favourite use is possibly as dps boosters, using Feeding Frenzy to boost the herald's damage. The heavy zombie nerfs in 3.9 don't effect this at all as we aren't using them for damage. This can be run on a minimal 2-link, and even combined in a 4L with shield charge to give Fortify to both zombies and shield charge.

I have not tested this so I'm unsure how quickly the zombies will die. If you don't use shield charge (we already run quite fast and some people dislike the awkwardness), you can add Minion Speed, Minion Life or Withering Touch to the Zombies to buff them up further.

You can also experiment with Spectres, although we don't invest into additional spectres or anything to make them more tanky. Feel free to experiment! This is a flexible 4-link.

I recommend Raise Zombie-Feeding Frenzy-Minion Life for mapping, with either Portal or an additional zombie support in the 4th link (Withering Touch or Minion Speed).

For the boss glove swap into Triad Grip, you will have only 3 sockets. Therefore use Raise Zombie-Feeding Frenzy-Minion Life.

Level two sets of Zombie gems so that you don't need to constantly swap gems between gloves as that's incredibly tedious.


Vaal Skellies:
Spoiler

A 2-link Vaal Summon Skeletons + Feeding Frenzy works fine - good to pop during Betrayal ganks, or any time you need more bodies on your side.
We can also use Shield Charge with wands. This is probably very nice to use as we get a lot of attack speed. I haven't tried it out but I've had feedback that it's very smooth, so feel free to fit it in.



SCALING HERALD OF AGONY:

Herald of agony has low base damage, but extremely high internal scaling (level 21 gem values):
- 2041-3760 added physical damage at 40 virulence stacks (!!!)
- 480% increased physical damage
- 160% increased attack speed

For this reason, adding 15% increased minion damage, or 9-15 added physical damage, or 8% attack speed to the herald has very little impact on it's final dps.

The best way to scale the herald's damage is by multiplying the damage it deals:

- "more" multipliers, eg. support gems:


- "% phys damage added as x" damage bonuses, eg.


- gem levels, especially 20->21 and 24->25 as these hit a new scaling breakpoint on the attack speed and %phys per virulence modifiers respectively.

- increasing damage taken by the target:


Minion accuracy is not as important for Herald of Agony as it appears to have very high base accuracy. It's still worth taking the % increase nodes on the tree, but minions like SRS or Animate Weapon benefit far more from accuracy. Therefore flat accuracy items such as Command of the Pit are not worth stacking on this build.
Last edited by Bobblybook on Jan 7, 2020, 1:50:54 PM
Last bumped on Jan 12, 2020, 4:28:08 PM

VIDEOS:

[3.7] 3.7 Red Elder
[3.7] 3.7 Elder guardians (Constrictor)
[3.7] 3.7 Elder guardians (Enslaver)
[3.7] 3.7 Elder guardians (Eradicator)
[3.7] 3.7 Elder guardians (Purifier)

[3.7] Legion bosses (2 stones)
Spoiler
I didn't know what I was doing here so there was a lot of running around, and server lagged at the start. I'll record a 4-stone one when I do it.

[3.7] Crystal Ore (t14, juiced up)
Spoiler
This boss fight is annoying because it's hard to control who the crawler attacks when there are immune enemies. This map also had '60% chance to avoid poison' which I didn't even notice until I uploaded the video, and you can see my Virulence stacks still capped out.


The following 3.7 videos were done with a 4L, level 20 HoA with no additional minion levels, a 4L Barrage without Life Gain on Hit and a level 19 Soulrend.
[3.7] Caldera (t15)
[3.7] Crystal Ore (t14)
[3.7] Terrace (t13)
[3.7] Park (t12)

[3.6] Defiled Cathedral (t15)
[3.6] Lava Lake (t15)
[3.6] Shaper
[3.6] Red Elder - This video is a bit glitchy, sorry. Something messed up with the encoder.

I have also killed quite a few 8-mod twinned cores in Synthesis. The only one that really caused any issues was one with so many damage mods that the boss would one shot me with any hit of anything at all. The rest were fairly easy, as long as you're able to dodge relatively well.


FAQ (in progress):

Why soulrend and not ED/x spell?
Spoiler

The difficulty with Poet's Pen is that you get to use a spell that gets spammed, but has relatively low links. It's a 3L, but it has +3 bonus levels to the socketed spell so you can think of it as a 3.5/4L. This means that you need to use a spell that benefits from being spammed.

Pretty much any direct damaging spell is good to use. ED is not, because with ED you cannot stack the debuff multiple times. Therefore only your hardest hitting ED debuff will be damaging an enemy.

This means you want to scale the damage as high as possible, and not invest much into the cast rate as it doesn't do anything for the dps. This is the opposite to what Poet's Pen is all about.

Soulrend is a similar idea, however the debuff time is so low that it doesn't really overlap itself in the same way as it would if you used ED.

Also, the base damage is very high, which is great for us as this scales well with gem levels, which we get from Poet's Pen.

If you swap in ED in Path of Building, you will see that it really doesn't do a whole lot of damage without actually investing into spell damage. If a future update introduces a direct-damaging chaos spell (some sort of chaos bolt or similar), it will probably be even better than soulrend for this build.

15 Wither stacks?? Someone contact Bullshit Builds™!!!!111
Spoiler
With multiple totems and skill duration on the tree, wither stacks incredibly fast. It's fairly trivial with this setup to reach maximum stacks of wither very fast and maintain it easily on bosses, so I don't think it's an unreasonable configuration.

The wither totems have a cast time of 0.28 sec, for a cast rate of 3.57/sec.
The wither debuff has a duration of 3.3 sec.
With three totems up, this is a total of 10.57 stacks of wither/sec. Therefore it takes 1.42 seconds to stack wither from 0 stacks to maximum (15).

If using just a single drop of totems (two), this becomes 7.14 stacks/sec for a total ramp time of 2.1 seconds.

If you want to drop wither stacks to 5 or 10 to check the numbers, go ahead.


Why no withering touch on either barrage or Herald? surely it's OP!
Spoiler

Withering Touch is a nice concept and I desperately wanted to fit it into either of these. Either into barrage, where the on-hit aspect would keep it up, or on herald, where you get the added-as-chaos bonus as well, which is very good. Unfortunately, the gem sucks.

The application rate is too low. Even if it were 100% chance, you would have to hit the target 15 times to stack wither. This is annoying to ramp during messy boss fights, especially if you're at range and your barrage is spraying all over the place.

However, the proc chance is only 25%. This means you have to hit a target 60 times to get your wither stacks to 15 (and that's only an average - if you get an unlucky streak it could easily be way more). It's just never going to realistically work - the wither stacks will always be low and nowhere near full. This gem is only really useful when the gem provides good damage by itself, and the wither effect is just an extra bonus. For this build it's much better to get reliable, fast wither via the totem, use the extra gem slot for barrage for LGoH, and buff your herald with other better damage support gems.

It's sad because this gem seems like it's basically made for this build, and even then it's woefully crap. Maybe if they do something about it in the future, it could be a contender.
Last edited by Bobblybook on Jun 15, 2019, 1:54:10 AM
I have done this build with help from OP messaging him questions and such. It is a very good build. You do feel a bit squishy but it's manageable. I just hit lvl 90 with it today and have done up to t15 maps and a t13 elder no problem. I did all the guardians and elder himself deathless.

I've played poets pen the past 2 leagues and was looking for a build to replace my last 2 since the poet's pen nerfs. Decided to also give Herald of Agony a try so this build was a nice fit for me and what I wanted.

Can't be inflicted with corrupted blood Volley Fire, and Poet's Pen is cheap so give it a try.:D
What pantheons are you using? I felt squishy while levelling, but once I had a cwdt ic setup, jade flask, stibnite (witchfire), endurance charges, lunaris pantheon, immunity to elemental status ailments (ascendancy), knockback, and my life sorted out, it's one of the least squishy rangers I have played.

Life gain on hit 6th link should add a lot of healing as well if you feel that it's needed.
Last edited by Bobblybook on Mar 28, 2019, 12:31:20 PM
Specced into this yesterday. Very smooth gameplay with good single target.

Btw, Empower 4 is better than maim for herald of agony. Barrage is best kept at lvl 1 to minimize mana costs.

Thanks for guide.
"
nebel wrote:
Btw, Empower 4 is better than maim for herald of agony. Barrage is best kept at lvl 1 to minimize mana costs.

Thanks for guide.


This is true, but Maim beats Empower level 3. They are both red gems so if you can get your hands on an empower 4, by all means use it.

Empower also has a higher mana multiplier (125% vs 115%) which may cause some problems, especially if you have a 6L with LGoH.

I didn't think about the level 1 barrage, thanks. I initially was trying to scale poison so I levelled it up, but I will make a note of that somewhere in the guide.
Last edited by Bobblybook on Mar 29, 2019, 2:30:05 AM
Good build, any idea how to make Master Alchemist more useful other than immune elemental ailments?
"
mithras001 wrote:
Good build, any idea how to make Master Alchemist more useful other than immune elemental ailments?


Get flat fire on some jewel/ring. Use cinderswallow urn flask. Ignited mobs will take 10% increased damage.
"
mithras001 wrote:
Good build, any idea how to make Master Alchemist more useful other than immune elemental ailments?


You can't really. 40% increased ele dmg is not a lot even for ele builds since it's increased, not more. So don't feel bad about not making use of that portion of the node.

If you want more damage, Nature's Adrenaline is better to take over Master Alchemist, but then you have to roll an anti-freeze flask. I think you get more damage from taking Master Alchemist and freeing up a flask slot for a unique flask instead.
Last edited by Bobblybook on Apr 24, 2019, 10:12:04 AM
For the first time in my 2.5k hours of PoE, that I have spent playing other peoples builds, I have to comment to a build I play. This build is awesome!
This is not the easiest build to get going at the very beginning, but once it starts (around lv16 when you get HoA running) it gets super fun! As a note, I had my poet's pen equipped at the lvl 12, right when you can start using it.
For the first time ever I think I found a build I'll be playing another round in next league. Thank you for this!
Edit: Red elder down, Shaper down, and no problem whatsoever in neither of them.
Last edited by henjoi on May 10, 2019, 1:05:28 PM

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