[3.20] Level with VAAL FLICKER STRIKE from LV28 - LEAGUE START


Major Changes in 3.20 made leveling with flicker even smoother than before:

1. Vaal flicker strike was introduced. It will help a lot with bossing.
2. Melee splash is on the tree (lower left corner), so you no longer need the melee splash support. It is expensive to annoint, so it's better to path there for league start.
3. +1 strike target is on the attack mastery. It is an additional source of clear speed.


This guide is about getting started with Flicker Strike and Vaal Flicker Strike from as low as LV28 with the cheapest, easiest, smoothest, and beginner-friendliest possible build.

Flicker consumes a frenzy charge at each use, which is difficult to sustain at low levels. I chose Duelist because he has the smoothest leveling experience in my opinion. Obtaining gems is easiest with Duelist, he's closest to the mandatory melee splash node on the tree, and he gets a ton of damage early. My LV28 tree has 232% increased damage!

In the endgame, you can progress to a flicker build of your choosing (Oro's Sacrifice example is provided). I will post my personal endgame progression when I get there. I plan to improvise based on how I feel about the new Vaal Flicker skill.

LV 67 Kitava fight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGo9vqGLNck
LV 36 Daresso fight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hMjIc0c_Ds
LV 30 gameplay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVjHqPPLnaE
Update explanation preleague: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkdcufCP0Bk
Initial explanation preleague: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzxFjZRlqoU

How does it work?

You will flicker 26 hits total without dealing any damage. Then, any damage you would have dealt is summed, and dealt in 1 big hit. You will be quite vulnerable during Vaal Flicker, because you cannot leech, use other active skills, or dodge attacks. You must survive the duration for a successful kill. Since it has a 300% multiplier for attack speed, you will be attacking quite fast. Faster you attack, the quicker you can get through the 26 attacks.

1. Multistrike support cannot be used because it is a vaal skill. You can still link it to multistrike and use Vaal Flicker strike. You just won't get the damage and attack speed bonus from multistrike.
2. Ailment damage from poison/ignite are also summed and dealt in 1 big poison/ignite.
3. You'll be considered stationary for the entire duration, so arctic armour works decently well
4. Since you don't deal damage during the skill, you can't gain fortify or leech. But on-hit effects will work.
5. It does not cost mana because it is a Vaal skill
6. Vaal Flicker will not consume any frenzy charges. In fact, it will charge up your frenzies.
7. War cries cannot exert Vaal skills
8. You can still use flasks or instant skills during Vaal Flicker
9. Works with impale but you only get 1 impale with vaal flicker. You have to hit enemies after the Vaal Flicker to get the impale damage bonus. So there will be a delay in the damage.
10. I estimate roughly 2.3x DPS for Vaal flicker compared to regular Flicker vs bosses (Comparing the ideal 6-links). It's really nice for bossing.

General Strategies:
1. Stack defensive layers that function during Vaal Flicker.
2. Use Vaal Flicker vs bosses for damage but also to charge frenzies that you can later consume for regular Flicker.
3. Stack attack speed so you can finish Vaal Flicker as fast as possible. Min-maxed builds should be able to complete 26 hits in less than a second.
4. Ruthless support gem will give you 26 consecutive huge ruthless hits every 3 times you use Vaal Flicker. Since it is so inconsistent, I would avoid using it in typical scenarios.
5. You could use phase run right in the middle of Vaal flicker for 30% more damage, although it will consume all frenzy charges.
6. Having separate links for Flicker and Vaal Flicker can be a good idea because the optimal support gems are so different between them.
7. If there are multiple enemies nearby, Vaal Flicker will flicker between them all, so your damage per enemy will a lot lower. So don't Vaal Flicker vs bosses when there are ads. Save it when the boss is alone.

Tips that apply to leveling most melee builds.
If you need some extra dexterity, strength and/or intelligence, get some on your amulet or rings. Try to get movement speed on your boots. Otherwise, just get AS MUCH LIFE AND RESISTS as you can on all gear. Try to maintain 75% elemental resistances. If possible, get some "adds XX physical damage to attacks" mods on rings and amulet for extra DPS.

Flasks are important. While leveling, you should have at least 1 life flask, 1 mana flask, and 1 quicksilver flask. Make sure you keep upgrading your life and mana flasks as you level. Pick up any life and mana flask upgrades that drop. You can also buy them from Nessa. Give them a transmutation orb and augment orb for extra bonus mods. Unfreeze, unbleed, and movement speed are the best mods on flasks.

If you cannot find any good weapons but you want more DPS, the rustic sash recipe is a good one to know. Simply vendor a blacksmith whetstone, any weapon, and a rare (yellow) rustic sash. It works for a magic (blue) rustic as well, but you get higher phys rolls with a rare one. Try to find a weapon with 1.45 attack speed or higher. If possible, giving the weapon 20% quality using 4 blacksmith whetstones before vendoring is a good idea. If you get to Act 4, unlock the crafting recipe for attack speed and craft it on your weapon (see crafting recipes list below).


These two crafting recipes are really nice for leveling. Once you find the recipe, create a hideout if you don't already have one, and you can use the crafting bench to craft these mods for a cheap cost. The item will need an open affix for the mod to be craftable.

Act 2: The Caverns -- (10–14)% increased Movement Speed on Boots -- 3x Orb of Augmentation
Act 4: The Dried Lake -- (8–10)% increased Attack Speed on Weapons -- 6x Orb of Alteration

LV1 to LV28
Flickering before LV28 is basically impossible, so you will need to find another skill.
When you first get to town, talk to Tarkleigh for the quest reward. I suggest grabbing a Cleave (other skills can work too). Hold a one-handed axe or sword with the highest DPS you can find, with a shield. A weapon with a high attack speed is very nice as well (at least 1.4 attacks per second).

Then, do the "Mercy Mission" quest to get a quicksilver flask and onslaught support gem as your reward. Link the onslaught to your Cleave. You can also link the chance to bleed as your 3rd link. Other than "Mercy Mission", skip the optional quests that do not reward you a passive point. Quests you don't want to skip: https://www.poewiki.net/wiki/Book_of_Skill Kill all bandits.

See the "GENERIC LEVELING TIPS" section above if you need a bit more guidance. Otherwise, just follow the story line and get ready to flicker at LV28 or LV38.

LV28 is the earliest possible level to begin Flickering. However, it requires 1 cheap unique item, so you will need to be in a trade league and be willing to trade.


Summary of the tree:
-- life
-- life leech helps you recover life
-- One-hand + Shield melee/attack damage -- getting increased damage early is really good. A couple nodes can be as strong as a whole support gem. This tree gives you 232% increased damage at LV28!
-- attack speed
-- melee splash (most important node. Gives Flicker AOE dmg)
-- +1 additional strike
-- Call to arms - (instant warcry)


Lakishu's Blade comes with the multistrike gem socketed, a necessary support gem for flicker strike. Multistrike is usually only usable after LV38, but this sword allows you to use it at LV28.

This sword is cheap. Buy one from here (Change settings to your league):

Try to buy one that is 3-linked, or at least 3-socketed. If it isn't 3-linked, you have to link it yourself. If you cannot get a 3-link, a 2-link can suffice.

1. Use any blacksmith's whetstones you have to give the sword quality. More the better.
2. Use Jeweler's orbs until the number of sockets is 3
3. Use Orb of Fusings until all 3 sockets are linked.
4. Use Chromatic orbs until you have 1 green and 2 red sockets


Get a shield. Dual-wielding was nerfed, so I don't recommend it. Your gear should be armour, evasion, or armour/evasion hybrid. I recommend armour/evasion hybrid armour most because of lower attribute requirements and socket color flexibility. Try to get life and resist on gear, movement on boots. You will need a little bit of intelligence and dex on gear.


In Lakishu's Blade, socket Flicker strike + close combat + life tap. This is your main skill. If possible, get a flicker gem with quality for 5% additional chance for frenzy generation (optional). Life tap lets you not worry about running out of mana. Starting 3.20, melee splash is on the tree. Melee phys support is bad because of the 10% less attack speed multiplier.

If you have a 5 or 6 link and don't need to use a Lakishu's, use Flicker, Multistrike, Lifetap, Close Combat, Faster Attacks, and Ruthless.

You also need Frenzy and Blood rage. Frenzy provides frenzy charges when you happen to run out. Blood rage provides a 25% chance to gain a frenzy charge on kill.

At the very minimum, Flicker Strike, Blood Rage, and Frenzy gems are absolutely necessary. Duelist can obtain all gems from quest rewards or from the NPC vendor (see below).


Vaal Flicker is not necessary for leveling, but it would be fun to have. Note that you cannot buy Vaal Flicker from the NPC. You can either trade (should be cheap) or find one in vaal side areas.

If you have a Vaal Flicker, Close Combat + Faster Attacks support is much better than lifetap. This is because 1) Vaal Flicker Strike doesn't cost mana, and 2) faster attacks lets you survive the skill. You could have a separate 3 link for Vaal Flicker, or put Vaal Flicker in Lakishu's with lifetap or faster attacks. If you don't use lifetap, you will need to worry about mana sustain.


Ancestral Protector totem for extra attack speed and damage vs Bosses. This also helps you survive during vaal flicker strike. You could link maim to it for extra Flicker damage.

Dash for mobility, steel skin for defense/bleed immune, enduring cry for endurance charges and life recovery. If you take the "Call to arms" keystone, enduring cry becomes instant, which means you can use it during Vaal Flicker. I like to put Steel skin on my left mouse button.

Mana reservation
These gems are quite flexible. Res and Ele ailment immune from purity is nice. Accuracy is nice, especially after taking Precise Technique. But you could also consider using determination, grace, arctic armour, vitality, or herald of ash. Arctic armour might be quite good in endgame since it protects you during Vaal Flicker.

Poacher's Mark + Mark on hit will give you some free damage and life/mana sustain. The life on hit will help you survive vaal flicker. Mark on hit is available from LV38. This will help you sustain frenzies while bossing because of the "10% frenzy on hit vs marked enemies" mastery you will get later.

Quests/Vendors to obtain these gems. Vaal Flicker cannot be bought from the NPC. You can either trade (should be cheap) or find one in vaal side areas. Mark on hit is available from LV38. All other gems are available at LV28 or earlier.

Act 1 (Nessa):
-- Breaking Some Eggs (War Banner, Steel Skin, Ancestral Protector, Dash)
-- Mercy Mission (Ruthless)
-- The Caged Brute (Flicker Strike, Lifetap, Precision, Maim, Enduring Cry)
Act 2 (Yeena):
-- Sharp and Cruel (Faster Attacks)
-- The Root of the Problem (Frenzy, Blood Rage)
Act 3 (Clarissa):
-- Lost in Love (Poacher's Mark, Purity of Elements)
Act 4 (Petarus and Vanja):
-- The Eternal Nightmare (Mark on hit)

LV38 -- Flicker with SSF viable gear. No necessary Uniques
Many players will probably start flickering from here

You can Flicker at LV38 without any required unique items because multistrike gem becomes available (Act 4, The Eternal Nightmare quest reward). This means you can use any melee weapon. It's not necessary to swap out Lakishu's, but you have the option to. I still recommend using a sword because of the 8% frenzy on hit mastery on the tree.

If you have a 5 or 6 link (in the order of priority): Flicker, Multistrike, Lifetap, Close Combat, Faster Attacks, and Ruthless.

Keep upgrading your flasks. Make sure you pick up a Mark on hit support in Act 4 and link it to Poacher's Mark. Otherwise, there are no necessary gem or gear changes between LV28 and LV65.

Summary of Tree (LV40):
-- Rush to get the 10% frenzy on hit vs marked enemies and 8% frenzy on hit vs uniques. This gives us 10 + 8 + 15% (flicker gem) = 33% chance to gain a frenzy on hit. With multistrike, you only have a 30% chance to lose a frenzy per flicker. This should help a lot with bossing.

Finishing Act 10 Campaign
Near the end of Act 10, you will be around LV65. Again, there is no mandatory gear/gem changes from LV28. You can get a new weapon if you want, but I still recommend using a sword because of the 8% frenzy on hit mastery on the tree. You could follow a tree like below.

Summary of tree
-- fortify on melee hit
-- onslaught on kill (clear speed)
-- Precise Technique Keystone (Make sure accuracy rating is always higher than your life. Otherwise, don't take the node yet)

For the Ascendancy, I recommend Slayer. No matter what variant of Flicker you try later, it's pretty hard to beat Slayer. Take Impact and Brutal Fervour first. Impact gives damage, AOE for your melee splash, and accuracy. With or without Precise Technique, accuracy is very good. Brutal Fervour lets you overleech, which means you continue to leech after you are at full life. This lets your leech last throughout Vaal Flicker too.

ENDGAME (Example Build)
An example Oro's Sacrifice build you can try. I'm emphasizing simplicity, ease of building it, and smoothness of gameplay.
This is just 1 example of a build you can try when you get to the endgame. From LV67, you can pick up an Oro's Sacrifice. This is a fire two-hand sword I recommend for beginners because the sword makes frenzy generation easy. You will have to respecc the tree for a few points.

POB: https://pastebin.com/nFeL4uR1

Oro's Sacrifice is the only unique required. I also included a hinekora's insight in the POB because it makes it easy to obtain enough accuracy for Precise Technique. Your accuracy rating need to be higher than your life to get 40% more damage. Both uniques should be cheap (1 chaos on day 1 or 2).

For damage, take mods like fire/attack/melee/ele/two-hand damage, attack speed, accuracy, and fire penetration.

Defense is focused on spell suppression, evasion, over-leech, and phys mitigation from endurance charges. Get evasion and spell suppression on your gear. Frenzy charge corruption on gloves if you can.

You can have a separate 6link for flicker and vaal flicker if you want. It's your choice. (Remember, multistrike doesn't work with Vaal Flicker, lifetap is almost useless, and ruthless is inconsistent)

Also, do not use ele focus support. If you cannot ignite enemies, you will not gain frenzy charges.


Transition to crit when you have enough currency and you feel like you need more damage. POB below shows a basic crit setup. You need the overwhelm ascendancy, crit nodes, diamond flask, crit multi on jewels and amulet, and assassin's mark on hit. To get even more DPS, start getting Eater/Exarch implicits on gear.



1. When you enter a zone, turn on Blood Rage
2. Use Frenzy a couple times to get some frenzy charges
3. Keep steel skin on left mouse button
4. Flicker away!!

Against Bosses or Tough Enemies
1. Cast your Ancestral protector totem
2. If vaal flicker is charged, use it, even if you don't have frenzy charges
3. If you dont have vaal flicker or frenzy charges, alternate Frenzy skill and Flicker.


-- Why Duelist? Why not other classes?
Duelist is the only class that can buy all the gems necessary without doing extra quests. He's also closest to the mandatory melee splash node on the tree. Finally, my LV28 tree has 232% increased damage with duelist, which is a lot.

-- I keep running out of mana
Use Lifetap support. If you don't want to, then make sure you have an upgraded mana flask. Turn off an Aura/Herald/Banner if needed, and use Poachers mark + Mark on hit after LV38 (for mana gained on hit). Use Ruthless or added fire gem instead of melee phys or close combat, to lower mana cost. You can also use inspiration support if you are dealing mostly ele damage. Taking "Mana Flows" on the tree also helps. When you have enough DPS, get mana leech on the tree and then drop the mana flask.

-- I keep running out of frenzy charges, and I stop flickering
Make sure you have multistrike (Lakishu's Blade) linked to Flicker, and turn on blood rage. Use Mark on hit + Poacher's Mark, and the two "frenzy on hit" mastery nodes on the tree (see LV38 section). In general, the higher your damage, the easier the frenzy sustain. Use Frenzy to get your first couple charges. Quality on flicker gives you an additional 5% chance of frenzy on hit.


I'm finding that the people that follow this guide tend to neglect flasks. They can also save you from lethal mechanics and provide more DPS, so they are VERY important.

Make sure your life flask is an instant flask. Like most builds, you will want unbleed, uncurse, and unfreeze flasks. Diamond flask is necessary if you are doing a crit build. MAKE SURE YOU 20% QUALITY ALL FLASKS!


It's up to you what you want to do in the endgame. I will post the POB as I progress and improvise.

LV 67 Kitava fight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGo9vqGLNck
LV 36 Daresso fight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hMjIc0c_Ds
LV 30 gameplay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVjHqPPLnaE

LV 81
Probably going to switch from Precise technique to crit now.

LV 68
I switched to the Rebuke sword (LV64 requirement), since I don't feel like I need Oro's. This thing can be 900 to 1000 dps, and is quite good at this stage. Even on a 3 link, it will carry you in early maps. I got a 5 link for 2c. Try to get one with high attack speed if you do this.

LV 66
Killed kitava deathless

LV 30
Build working well. Frenzy sustain is good. Flicker feels great.

Last edited by Hollyphantom on Dec 27, 2022, 10:53:01 AM
Last bumped on Sep 6, 2023, 7:23:37 PM
Nice guide on early flickering, but do you have any pob/skill tree plan out for different type of flicker such as Terminus ESt, Oro etc? Asking for a friend.
DemiSandal wrote:
Nice guide on early flickering, but do you have any pob/skill tree plan out for different type of flicker such as Terminus ESt, Oro etc? Asking for a friend.

I think other people will make those guides, because they already exist. They just need to update them. The exception is Oro's Crit flicker. That needs a new guide.

We'll see what I end up doing with this guide. I'm still working on it. I dont have the endgame build planned yet either.
Last edited by Hollyphantom on Jun 6, 2019, 1:27:28 AM
I hope you can end build until tomorrow because it's starting really nice :D
looks very good, good luck :)
Last edited by Versonire on Jun 6, 2019, 3:01:32 PM
Looks really good so far,i think i will start the new League with this build as Duellist/Slayer. Hope it get´s updated quikly.
Can u add a PoB Version of the Skill Tree?
Thanks for the work u put into this :)
Roxxis wrote:
Looks really good so far,i think i will start the new League with this build as Duellist/Slayer. Hope it get´s updated quikly.
Can u add a PoB Version of the Skill Tree?
Thanks for the work u put into this :)

its included already for lv28.

or is that not what youre asking for?

working on lv 38....
Can it actually sustain Flicker tho? Please post a video!
the league has not started yet, how will he post a video? patch 3.7 flicker is required for this to work
Last edited by SquireShiedon on Jun 6, 2019, 5:46:45 PM
Can it actually sustain Flicker tho? Please post a video!

Yea I can actually. I'll use a 10% frenzy on hit chest from synthesis to simulate. I've tested it and it has worked.

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