[3.8] Wallach's Hierophant Freezing Pulse Totems (Uber Elder Update)

Hey folks,

Welcome to my Freezing Pulse Totem guide for the Hierophant! This guide is currently updated for patch 3.8 (Blight).

IMPORANT: In terms of 3.8, this guide is a work in progress and you should expect things to be tweaked in the coming days. Currently I have updated most sections to the best of my ability!

NEW: Video Guide for 3.8 Freezing Pulse Update

Skill Tree

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A good Rare helm is your target here. Treat this slot as a defensive piece; you'll want life, mana, and resistances mostly. This is also one of the most ideal places to pick up your main Dexterity bonus. Fossil crafting with Frigid Fossils will allow you to potentially roll the affix "Nearby Enemies have -X% Cold Resistance" which would be a slight boost in overall DPS and optimal for endgame gearing; I recommend using a combination of Pristine and Frigid Fossils in 2-socket Resonators until you get something you are satisfied with, and hopefully have a spare suffix for you to be able to craft Dexerity on top of that (unless you are getting your Dexterity elsewhere).

For your helm enchant, pick up the Freezing Pulse +30% Projectile Speed if you can. Freezing Pulse drops off in damage and freeze chance the further it travels, so the faster you can make the projectile go, the more damage it will do at any given point in its travel path.


Body Armour

This build utilizes the Soul Mantle unique chest piece for two reasons: one it gives us another +1 to maximum totems, and two because we are going to actually make use of the fact that this chest piece applies Curses to us every time a totem dies (which also counts if you summon new totems beyond your maximum, as the oldest totems are destroyed). When we combine this chest piece with two Kikazaru rings and the Sanctum of Thought passive tree notable, we have a full 100% reduced effect of curses on us, meaning we no longer suffer the effects of any Curses applied to us whatsoever (even though they will still apply and appear on our character visually). We'll then turn these Curses into damage buffs via the Self-Flagellation unique Jewel, which grants +20% increased damage for every Curse effect on you. This chest piece is mandatory for this build guide to function properly.



Rare Shaper gloves that have the "Socketed Gems are supported by level 18/20 Faster Casting / Increased Cast Speed" affix are ideal here. Item level 75 is needed for level 18 Faster Casting affix while 84 is needed for level 20.

Since that affix will provide global cast speed on top of the socketed gem bonus, the rest of your affixes should be defensive in nature. Life, resistances and mana if you still need to balance your mana pool for Mind Over Matter. This is also a decent slot to try and pick up some Dexterity for your skill gem requirements. You can also get the "Socketed Gems are supported by Level 16/18/20 Slower Projectiles", which won't do anything for the gem links since we slot our curse here, but that affix is paired with a Increased Projectile Damage bonus which does boost Freezing Pulse's damage.

As far as glove enchant, I personally like Commandment of Spite here to give you a slight defensive trigger that will chill enemies sometimes when you are hit. None of the glove enchants do much for us in general so don't worry too much about getting one.



Rare boots are my preference here as well; like the helmet slot I treat this mainly as a defensive piece, so life, resists and mana are the focus on top of getting as much movement speed as possible.

For the boot enchant, the best options here are "120% increased Critical Strike Chance if you haven't crit recently" or "Damage Penetrates 10% of enemy resistances if you have not killed recently". Since our totems do killing instead of us, we have these effects up permanently. The Critical Strike Chance version should be slightly more powerful than the Damage Penetration, if you are really trying to min-max your damage.



A Rare Sceptre, Wand or Dagger will all work here. You're looking for standard "caster" stats - spell damage, elemental damage, cold damage, critical strike chance, and critical strike multiplier.

In terms of raw damage, a Rare Shaper sceptre or wand would be my choice with the prefix "19-20% Elemental Damage gained as Extra Chaos Damage". This affix requires an item level of 85 or higher, and is not an easy affix to isolate when crafting a rare sceptre, but makes for a powerful multi-mod weapon for endgame gearing. We also now have the option of getting "+1 to All Cold Skill Gems" as a global affix, which is pretty close to equal with "19-20% Elemental Damage gained as Extra Chaos Damage", so starting with either affix as a multi-mod base is fine. In an ideal world, you'd roll something that had one of those two prefixes, Regal Orb the item into the other affix, then (if needed) Annulment Orb any unwanted suffix off the item. Don't expect to come across a weapon like this, though, they will likely be exceedingly rare and extremely expensive.

You can check the Path of Building item loadout for an example of a strong endgame multi-mod sceptre; Opal & Void Sceptres (40% Increased Elemental Damage), Opal Wands (up to 42% Spell Damage) Prophecy Wands (up to 40% Spell Damage) and Profane Wands (14% Increased Cast Speed) make the best bases and are close enough to each other that any of them is fine to invest into multi-modding.



A Rare Shaper shield is your main goal here for the "+1 to number of maximum summoned totems" affix. This only requires an item level of 70 or higher to appear on Shaper shields so acquiring a base shield to craft isn't too bad. I recommend crafting on something like a Fossilised Spirit Shield base for the highest possible Spell Damage implicit bonus.

Thanks to the 3.8 changes, we can now also roll the "+1 to All Cold Skill Gems" onto pure Intelligence requirement shields, which is a really solid damage gain and should be your second priority on a rare shield after "+1 to number of maximum summoned totems" affix. Unlike the weapon slot, this 3.8 change is a pure upgrade to the build, so keep an eye out for a shield with both these affixes.

Otherwise, look for either defensive stats where you're currently lacking (life, mana, resists) or general offensive caster stats like cast speed, spell damage, or spell crit chance bonuses.



As mentioned in the Body Armour section, this build makes use of two Kikazaru rings to give us 80% reduced effect of Curses on us, with the final 20% coming from the passive skill tree. These rings are required to prevent the Curses that Soul Mantle will be applying to you from actually applying their negative effects. Thankfully, these rings are common and relatively cheap, so they shouldn't be hard to acquire even early into a league.



A good Rare is my recommendation here, especially if you are running two unique rings as your resists will be harder to cap. Offensively the most important affix you can get in this slot is critical strike multiplier as it rolls higher in this slot than any other jewelry slot we have. Life should also be on this slot; beyond that pick up whatever resists you need patched and then grab more offensive caster affixes (critical strike chance, cast speed, spell & cold damage). You should also look for these stats on Jade, Citrine or Turquoise amulet bases, as that will give you some additional Dexterity towards your skill gem requirements.

The Pandemonius is also a good fallback option that provides a large amount of damage through the cold penetration against chilled enemies and bonus cold damage, and applies blind to enemies when they are chilled for additional safety. It is also a Jade amulet base so you still get to pick up some Dexterity in this slot for your skill gem requirements.



Another Rare slot, but there are a couple good options here: either a Rare Stygian Vise for the abliity to socket a strong Abyss Jewel, or an Elder Rare belt which can roll extremely high life bonuses as well as increased life recovery, which will boost all sources of our healing.

Treat this like a standard defensive belt slot - as much life as you can get, resists, and flask bonuses. Increased damage from Veiled crafting is another good option for this slot. Fossil crafting with Frigid Fossils will allow you to roll a potential additional 30% Cold Damage affix. With patch 3.8, we can also roll mana on belts, which gives you some flexibility if you need help balancing your life-to-mana ratio for Mind Over Matter.



First Snow is the first unique jewel in this build, and one of your first priorities in gearing is to unlock your first two jewel slots to equip these as soon as you possibly can. Each of these threshold jewels will add 2 projectiles to Freezing Pulse, which massively improves the amount of enemies the skill can hit per cast. You also get minor damage bonuses in the form of +10% projectile damage and another +25% damage for 4 seconds after you shatter any enemy. These jewels are usually quite cheap, so it is worth trying to track down corrupted versions that have bonus implicits such as You Cannot Be Maimed / Hindered.

Self-Flagellation is the second unique jewel you'll want to have access to, which you can make use of once you have equipped your Soul Mantle body armour and Kikazaru rings. This jewel grants up to +20% increased damage for every Curse effect on you, which thanks to Soul Mantle you will have plenty of pretty much at all times. This is an enormous source of damage for this build, but don't worry about picking this up until you have your Soul Mantle setup equipped.

Clear Mind is the last jewel for this build and simply grants a nice chunk of mana regeneration and spell damage, so long as you are not reserving any of your mana pool. Since we are avoiding mana reservations to make use of our 40% Mind over Matter damage split, this jewel fits nicely into the build. This jewel should come as a last priority after the above three jewels are already in your build.

Gem Links

Primary damage links in order of priority:

Freezing Pulse -> Controlled Destruction -> Hypothermia -> Cold Penetration -> Increased Critical Strikes -> Added Cold Damage

Note that if you are not yet using a Soul Mantle you'll need to equip a Spell Totem gem to convert Freezing Pulse into a Totem; the support gems above are listed in order of priority so drop gems as needed to fit your current available links.

Offensive support 4-link:

Frostbite -> Arcane Surge -> Increased Duration -> Spell Cascade

This should be your priority for your first spare 4-link. Remember to level your Arcane Surge gem such that the mana cost of Frostbite is equal or higher than the trigger for Arcane Surge to grant its buff effect. You want Frostbite to grant Arcane Surge every single time it is cast; maximum uptime is worth more than slightly increasing Arcane Surge's buff effect. Spell Cascade allows you to both increase Frostbite's cost (to give you more room for a higher level Arcane Surge) and allows you to blanket a much larger area without increasing Frostbite's cast time.

The reason this gem link does not contain Faster Casting is that it is intended to be socketed into Shaper gloves that contain the affix "Socketed Gems are supported by level 18/20 Faster Casting" on them. Until you have such gloves, feel free to drop Increased Duration for Faster Casting.

For late-game purposes, Projectile Weakness will actually prove to be a stronger curse damage-wise than Frostbite, with two caveats; a much lower mana cost (making it harder to consistently trigger high-rank Arcane Surge) and a very high Dexterity requirement (155 Dexterity required for rank 20). As such, I recommend you stick with Frostbite from the outset and only in endgame once you have the flexibility and currency to start refining gear for minor stats like Dexterity, consider switching to Projectile Weakness. Just remember to keep an eye on your rank of Arcane Surge; you generally want to trigger that buff within 2 casts of your curse so that you are never without the Arcane Surge buff.

Offensive support 4-link:

Frost Bomb -> Intensify -> Increased Area of Effect -> Increased Duration

This 4-link setup gives us access to Cold Exposure, an additional -25% Cold Resistance penalty that stacks on enemies on top of any other sources of penetration we are using. We can't actually deal damage with Frost Bomb, so we are only concerned with supports that improve this effect; Intensify and Increased Area give it a much larger radius and Increased Duration will improve how long the Frost Bomb remains to pulse its effect as well as how long the Cold Exposure lasts on enemies once applied.

Utility support 4-link:

Steelskin -> Cast When Damage Taken -> Increased Duration -> (Your Choice)

I've actually started running Steelskin over Immortal call as of late; even though we do generate Endurance Charges in this build, we have a low base amount of physical mitigation, and do not rebuild our Endurance Charges that consistently after Immortal Call eats them, which can leave us a bit vulnerable to physical damage once Immortal Call wears off if we are not fully out of danger. Steelskin doesn't consume our Endurance Charges when it triggers, so we get to keep the additional physical mitigation at all times. The downside of Steelskin is that it requires a much higher rank of skill gem to really be useful later, so you'll want to level up Steelskin and Cast When Damage Taken to relatively high levels. I personally run a level 17 Cast When Damage Taken and a level 19 Steelskin, which allows Steelskin to absorb up to around 2k damage during its buff effect.

The final link here is yours to decide; Vaal Righteous Fire would be my recommendation as it is a big damage increase when available. Just make sure whatever you slot here is high enough rank that it is not triggered autoamatically by Cast When Damage Taken unless you want it to be.

Damage support 3-link:

Cold Snap -> Cast When Damage Taken -> Bonechill

I run this 3-link setup in my weapon so that when enemies strike me, it will drop a Cold Snap chilling area under them that increases the cold damage they take thanks to Bonechill support. Keep Cast When Damage Taken at level 1 in this setup (which will allow you up to a level 7 Cold Snap) since we don't care how much damage Cold Snap itself does, so we want this to trigger as much as possible.

Movement support 3-link:

Flame Dash -> Lightning Warp -> Faster Casting

Not much to say here, you just want your movement skills to cast as fast as possible. If you don't find yourself using Lightning Warp much, consider replacing it with a Portal gem for the free portals.


Pursuit of Faith -> Ritual of Awakening -> Conviction of Power -> Divine Guidance

Not much choice here for a totem build. Luckily all four of these nodes are very strong and make Hierophant the standard bearer for totem builds.

Amulet Anointment

Flash Freeze - It doesn't grant as much raw damage as some of our other choices, but you still get 24% Increased Cold Damage, while also picking 20% Increased Projectile Speed and 10% Increased Effect of Chill. Projectile speed is a particularly good stat for us, both increasing effective range and relative damage. Even though it isn't the highest damage choice on paper, I think this is my personal pick currently for an offensive notable.

Disciple of the Slaughter - This notable grants +1 to minimum Frenzy charges, meaning you'll have a permanent Frenzy charge that grants 4% more damage and 4% increased cast speed at all times. It also grants you 5% increased damage per Frenzy charge (with a non-functional proc to generate charges on kill, which does not appear to work with totem kills). Even without considering the low chance to gain Frenzy charges, this is a very good raw damage node for the permanent Frenzy charge, and would probably be one of my top picks for a purely offensive anointment.

Throatseeker & Heartseeker - Both of these notables grant the exact same bonus of 30% increased critical strike multiplier, which is a very strong damage gain for our build. It doesn't have the secondary bonus of being able to grant Frenzy charges on kill, but in terms of raw damage, it is competitive with our best options available.

Heart of Ice - Another raw damage notable, this one isn't quite as powerful as pure critical strike multiplier, but the difference is pretty negligible. Consider this in the same tier as any of the above notables as an offensive node.

Soul of Steel - This is probably our premiere defensive notable option. The armor and physical damage reduction really help with our biggest defensive weakness of physical damage, and the +1% to maximum elemental resistances works out to about a 4% reduction in elemental damage taken. It also won't require any adjustment to your life or mana pools in terms of maintaining your Mind Over Matter ratio to get full effect.

Constitution - This is another great defensive choice that grants the single largest life increase of any notable on the passive tree. The only real downside is that it may require you to shuffle some investment around to ensure you can cover the additional life with Mind Over Matter, but we are connected to plenty of good mana nodes in the passive tree if that is needed.


Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Staunching - Your first flask slot should always be a life flask to help heal back from any big hits you might take. The ideal suffix here is Staunching so that you have the ability to remove dangerous bleed effects (such as the heavy bleeds put on you by Labyrinth spike traps) on demand. I personally recommend a Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Staunching, which will reduce the overall amount healed but grant some instant healing to help counter spike damage. Some folks prefer Seething prefix for purely instant healing at an even slightly lower value. Use whatever you're comfortable with here so long as it has the Staunching suffix for the bleed removal.

Wise Oak Bismuth Flask - This unique flask will grant us up to 15% Cold Penetration so long as our Cold Resistance is the highest of our three elemental resists. It will also grant some additional damage mitigation against whatever elemental damage type we have the lowest resist of. While quite difficult to do, if you can get all three of your Fire, Cold, and Lightning resists to the exact same number, you will get both of the flask's effect in all three elements (since all three resists will technically be both your lowest and highest elemental resists). Worth doing as a very endgame point of min-maxing, but for the most part you should be concerned only with ensuring your Cold Resistance is highest so that you get the Cold Penetration effect from this flask.

Chemist's Diamond Flask of Heat - Our most vital damage flask, as making your critical strike chance "Lucky" means it rolls twice to attempt to score a critical strike with every hit. This is also a good place for your Heat suffix to allow you a way to escape from being Frozen; you don't want to open any magic or rare strongboxes if you don't have a Heat flask handy, or they can be guaranteed death if they Freeze you upon opening. Chemist's prefix here gives us 2 uses from full charges with 10 charges left over, meaning you will get a 3rd use almost immediately.

Chemist's Silver Flask of Grounding - Another good damage flask that also grants movement speed. We take Grounding here since we don't need Curse removal on flasks with our build setup, and Shock can be dangerous in some situations so its nice to have access to Shock immunity. Chemist's affix will grant us 2 uses from full charges.

Chemist's Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline - This isn't the fastest build around, so a Quicksilver flask is great for improving your mapping speed and general quality of life. Adrenaline affix here gives us even more movement speed than a regular Quicksilver, and Chemist's ensures we get 3 full uses at full charges, with a few charges to spare.


(Major) Soul of the Brine King - We don't get any stun immunity in this build, so Brine King helps prevent us from getting totally stunlocked in bad situations. The reduced Chill effect is also good for fights like Uber Elder where your Freeze flask can run out leaving you very vulnerable to Chill.

(Minor) Soul of Shakari - Honestly the Minor doesn't make too much of a difference in this build. I often leave Shakari on for the Poison immunity (once upgraded). Especially useful to be immune to the poison from dart traps in the Labyrinth. In the end, though, just use whatever you're most comfortable with here.


Help Alira (5 Mana Regenerated per second, +20% to Global Critical Strike Multiplier, +15% to all Elemental Resistances)

Especially as a league starter, helping Alira is simply too beneficial to this build to take over 2 passive skill points. The resists and mana regeneration are super useful at the start of the game and remain good bonuses all the way through Uber Elder, while critical strike multiplier is weak early but the strongest offensive stat available to us at endgame. At the high end of things you can only get slightly more damage out of 2 passive skill points; the sacrifice of resistances and mana regeneration simply isn't worth it in my opinion.

Leveling Tips

Act 1

You initially acquire Freezing Pulse right at the start of the game, just after you defeat Hillock and enter Lioneye's Watch. As soon as you are able to, you should grab a couple 3-socket wands with blue sockets and purchase another 6 copies of Freezing Pulse from Nessa and socket them in your second weapon swap set. This will allow you to level additional copies of Freezing Pulse for the long term and allow you the chance to craft your own level 21 Freezing Pulse much later on when you're doing endgame content.

Other important gems you want to pick up in this act are Arcane Surge Support from killing Hailrake, and Spell Totem Support & Flame Dash after killing Brutus. You'll also pick up Frostblink and Frost Bomb as rewards for unlocking the Lower Submerged Passage in the Mud Flats, which is a nice movement skill you can use until you get access to Flame Dash in Act 2. Added Cold Damage and Increased Critical Strikes can also be acquired this early, however the Templar does not receive these gems as quest rewards; you'll have to either create an alt or ask someone to buy it from the vendor for you (Witch, Shadow, Duelist and Scion can all purchase it from Nessa after they kill Brutus in this act). Finally, consider buying a Clarity aura gem from Nessa after killing Brutus, which will give you some additional mana regeneration and ease your reliance on mana potions until you have better mana regeneration.

In terms of the passive tree, your primary goal is to beeline for your first jewel socket to utilize your first First Snow threshold jewel, picking up all of the notables shown in the passive skill tree such as Light of Divinity and Retributionalong the way. Note that if you are league starting with this build, you won't have access to the First Snow threshold jewel until Act 5's quest reward, so you can skip the jewel socket until then and simply respec once you acquire the jewel to equip it immediately.

Up until we decide to take Ancestral Bond, Freezing Pulse will be used self-cast linked to Arcane Surge and Onslaught for the movement speed; if you have the spare links, you can instead attach Onslaught to your Frost Bomb gem and link Added Lighting Damage to your Freezing Pulse for more damage. You can also link a second Freezing pulse to Spell Totem support for additional single target damage until you've switched over to totems full-time. Both Freezing Pulses can be attached to Added Cold Damage if you were able to acquire it from someone, otherwise you'l have to wait until Act 3 to pick it up yourself.

If this character isn't your league starter and you have some currency to splash on leveling gear, here are some uniques that can give you an early game boost:

Tabula Rasa body armour for immediate access to a 6-link
Goldrim helm for a large chunk of elemental resists to get you through the early game
Wanderlust boots for early game movement speed and chill / freeze immunity
Lifesprig wands or Axiom Perpetuum sceptres for damage

Skill point quests in Act 1 that should be completed:

The Marooned Mariner
The Dweller of the Deep
The Way Forward

Act 2

The main gem pickups you can get here are Controlled Destruction and Faster Casting supports from killing The Weaver.

I highly recommend helping Alira during this act instead of killing all bandits for 2 passive skill points, especially if you are using this build as a league starter. The resists and mana regeneration are very powerful when your gear is at its worst, and the critical strike multiplier is very strong so the Alira choice remains competitive with 2 skill points even at endgame, even just in the context of raw damage.

For the passive tree you have a couple options: you'll be able to reach Ancestral Bond at some point during this act, after which you can abandon your self-cast Freezing Pulse link setup. Depending on how many links you have access to, your gem link priorities after taking Ancestral Bond should be Spell Totem -> Freezing Pulse -> Controlled Destruction -> Faster Casting -> Added Cold Damage. Whatever you cannot fit into your actual main link, you should try to level in other gear slots as you'll be using these gems for the rest of the game. You'll want to move your Arcane Surge over so it is connected to Flame Dash until you can link it to Frostbite curse later.

That said, taking Ancestral Bond this early isn't really necessary since we won't have a ton of totem-focused bonuses yet, and our self-casting is still pretty potent. For your self-casting links, use the same gems as above just switching out Spell Totem for Arcane Surge. Overall I think it is probably faster to level by sticking to self-casting your Freezing Pulse alongside your totems, and taking Ancestral Bond just after your 3rd and 4th ascendancy points from Cruel Labyrinth and acquire Ritual of Awakening somewhere around level 55.

Either choice you make will ultimately be totally fine, but going pure totems very early can feel a little bit slow until you have the ability to drop 2 totems with one cast, and you have the large totem placement speed bonuses from Ritual of Awakening. I've leveled both ways and even though I think self-casting until later is faster, you won't really have any struggles going for Ancestral Bond immediately either.

In terms of the passive tree beyond that, I'd suggest grabbing Arcane Capacitor for some extra mana and Arcane Surge effect while you level, then start heading towards Purity of Flesh.

Skill point quests in Act 2 that should be completed:

None (unless choosing to kill all bandits instead of helping Alira)

Act 3

Your main two gem targets here are Frostbite from returning Tolman's bracelet in the Crematorium, and Cold Penetration, Intensify, & Hypothermia from returning the Golden Pages to Siosa in the Library. Also remember that if you didn't pick them up from someone else in Act 1, Increased Critical Strikes and Added Cold Damage can be bought from Siosa as well. Most of the above gems are key damage supports (sans Intensify, which you can either link to Frost Bomb or not worry about until later) which you should try to start leveling in some gear slot even if they won't fit in your main Freezing Pulse link yet.

However, they also mark the point at which you need to start paying some notice to your Dexterity. As you continue to level these two supports for your Freezing Pulse damage links, you'll need an ever-increasing amount of Dexterity; if you are having trouble meeting the Dexterity requirements through gear, don't be afraid to grab the Agility +30 Dexterity node just above Mind Over Matter until you can get more Dexterity bonuses on your items. Also remember to take the Jade amulet option from Dialla if you turn in the optional Ribbon Spool quest during this act.

For your passive tree, after completing the Purity of Flesh wheel your main goal is to start pathing towards your second jewel socket to equip your second First Snow threshold jewel (again with the caveat that if you are league starting with this build, you can skip this socket until you have your second First Snow to equip). After that, pick up Quick Recovery for more life and life/mana regeneration.

Somewhere around the end of this act or the start of act 4 you should be ready to hit the normal Labyrinth. For your first two points you'll want to take Pursuit of Faith to start buffing the power of our totems. Even if you are still self-casting Freezing Pulse alongside your totem here, this is an important selection.

Skill point quests in Act 3 that should be completed:

Victario's Secrets
Piety's Pets

Act 4

Immortal Call from killing Voll and Cast When Damage Taken from killing Malachai are the important gems in this act. You also gain access to Bonechill and Increased Area of Effect after killing Malachai; if you have the spare links you can set up the 3-link damage support of Cold Snap -> Cast When Damage Taken -> Bonechill, though this is low priority for now. Similarly you can link Frost Bomb to Increased Area of Effect if you have the space. You likely won't have the links or maybe even the sockets for any of these yet, so you can delay getting these until act 6 or later if you want. You also get the option to pick up a golem reward from killing Voll; I personally don't like using golems, but if you do I'd recommend using Summon Lightning Golem for this build. At this point you have access to all of the gems you'll need for the rest of the game.

In the passive tree your main targets are getting the Quick Recovery notable near Mind Over Matter and then progressing towards more life in Cruel Preparation. I don't recommend taking Mind Over Matter in this act.

Skill point quests in Act 4 that should be completed:

An Indomitable Spirit

Act 5

Your next passive tree steps here picking up Mystic Bulwark, then heading over through the Arcanist's Dominion notable to pick up Heart and Soul line for more life and mana. After that is the earliest I would consider taking Mind Over Matter; mainly I think the Innocence fight is probably the first big difficulty spike in the game where it is worth considering. If you aren't league starting with this build and already have access to Soul Mantle and Kikazaru rings around this point, you'll also want to pick up the third jewel socket next to Mystic Bulwark so you can slot the Self-Flagellation jewel as soon as possible after equipping that setup.

Remember that you want enough unreserved mana to try and cover your entire life pool; you can figure out how much mana that is with the following formula:

Mana / (amount MoM diverts) x (amount Life takes)

So if you had, say, 1,000 mana at this point, it would be:

1,000 / (.3) x (.7) = 2,333 life protected by your mana

Note that this formula is the same once you upgrade your Ascendancy with Divine Guidance, you'd just divide by .4 and multiply by .7 instead.

Skill point quests in Act 5 that should be completed:

In Service to Science
Kitava's Torments

Act 6

Once you kill Kitava at the end of Act 5, you are inflicted with a permanent 30% penalty to all of your resistances; your first priority in Act 6 is to do what you can to offset this penalty and get yourself back to 75% elemental resistances. Purity of Flesh that we took earlier grants us 20% chaos resistance which is more than enough for that damage type (as it balanced around the assumping you will have little to no chaos resistance unlike elemental).

Act 6 is also an opportunity to pick up any gems you didn't or couldn't fit in your gear prior to this; Lilly Roth will sell all available gems to you after you complete her initial quest to clear the Twilight Strand of undead. As your gem links expand you can always come back to her to purchase gems you skipped earlier in the game. Check the Gem Links section of the guide if you aren't sure what links you want to work towards.

Passive tree wise I'd consider picking up Prodigal Perfection here, grab Mind Over Matter if you didn't pick it up in Act 5, and then jump back over to pick up Frost Walker for some additional damage while leveling.

Skill point quests in Act 6 that should be completed:

The Father of War
The Puppet Mistress
The Cloven One

Act 7

Not much to advise here other than passive tree advice - pick up Deep Wisdom and Arcane Will before you start working towards our final jewel socket between the Witch and Shadow areas.

Around the end of Act 7 you'll have the opportunity to hit the Cruel version of Labyrinth for 2 more Ascendancy points. Once you complete it, you'll want to take Ritual of Awakening for another big boost in power for your totems. If you've been holding off on Ancestral Bond and are still self-casting Freezing Pulse, this is the point where you're going to want to pick it up and go full-on totems from this point on, abandoning your self-cast Freezing Pulse setup (but maybe keeping the second Freezing Pulse gem in your weapon swap if you have room for another chance to corrupt a level 21 Freezing Pulse down the road).

Skill point quests in Act 7 that should be completed:

The Master of a Million Faces
Kishara's Star
Queen of Despair

Act 8

Passive tree progression here will be hitting the final jewel socket (again, unless you are league starting, in which case come back for this once you have your Clear Mind jewel), grabbing Nimbleness and then picking up the Written in Blood wheel on our way towards the Shadow starting area.

Skill point quests in Act 8 that should be completed:

Reflection of Terror
Love is Dead
The Gemling Legion

Act 9

From here I recommend moving into Coldhearted Calculation, and then grabbing Lethal Assault before you move towards more life in Blood Siphon. Lethal Assault is not super efficient in pure damage at first glance, but projectile speed is a deceptively strong stat for Freezing Pulse, and you'll want to grab it for better clearing before you have access to other sources of projectile speed (such as a helm enchant or crafted amulet affix).

Skill point quests in Act 9 that should be completed:

Queen of the Sands
The Ruler of Highgate

Act 10

Your last goal in the passive tree should be to pick up Assassination, Trickery and Blood Siphon before moving on to crit-related nodes as you start getting into mapping. As you work your way towards the level 95 version of the tree, Shaman's Dominion should be your first pickup, then Annihilation and Arcane Potency.

You'll also find the Merciless Labyrinth trial in Act 10. I'd recommend trying to complete this before you fight Kitava and finish the campaign; you will get 2 skill points from killing Kitava, but you will also be inflicted with another permanent 30% resistance penalty on top of the one you received in Act 5. It'll likely be easier to defeat Merciless Izaro without that resistance penalty than it will with 2 more skill points, as there are a fair amount of possible elemental damage sources when facing Izaro depending on which version of Labyrinth is active that day.

Once you do complete Merciless Labyrinth and receive 2 more Ascendancy points, they should go into Conviction of Power for easy generation of both Power and Endurance charges, as well as a bit more damage and mitigation for generating them.

Skill point quests in Act 10 that should be completed:

Vilenta's Vengeance
An End to Hunger

High Budget Options

Once you've accumulated fat stacks of currency with this build, you can turn around and invest back into your character to really kick things up to the next level.

The first thing you'll need is the Atziri's Reflection unique shield:

This Prophecy-upgraded version of Atziri's Mirror is extremely rare and pretty costly, though not nearly as expensive as it has been in past leagues (in which this item was nearly Mirror of Kalandra rarity). If you can afford one of these however, it opens up a lot of new scaling options for us, as it has the affix "Unaffected by Curses" which eliminates our need for the Kikazaru rings or the Sanctum of Thought passive tree notable. It does however cost us the +1 to maximum totems our Shaper shield normally provides, so we need to use these options to get that damage back - which we can do and them some.

First off, you'll want to swap one of your rings over to an Essence Worm and slot the Hatred aura gem into it. This will give us up to 19% more Cold damage without reserving any of our mana.

Your other ring slot should probably be used on a Rare ring with some Dexterity and any other defensive stats you might need. If you can fit some more damage here - great. Here's what I'm currently wearing:

We can also get a lot more damage out of our belt slot via the Coward's Legacy unique belt:

This belt increases the effect of curses on you by 50%, which is why it isn't an option when using Kikazaru rings (since our 100% reduced effect of curses would get pushed back to 50% with this belt equipped). It also applies a permanent level 20 Vulnerability curse to you so long as it is equipped, but this is no problem with Atziri's Reflection equipped (if anything it is a good thing). The real reason we want this belt is that so long as you are affected by that Vulnerability curse (which is 100% of the time since we are not using any Curse Immunity effects that might temporarily remove it) you are considered at low life, which means we can take the Pain Attunement keystone which grants 30% more spell damage whenever you are at low life. Essentially this results in us gaining a permanent 30% more spell damage boost while wearing this belt!

You can still go even further, however - since you are now using Hatred this opens up the opportunity to utilize the Watcher's Eye unique jewel:

If you can only afford a single-affix Watcher's Eye to start, prioritize the 10-15% Cold Penetration affix. The added flat Cold Damage affix makes for the second-best option on this jewel.

Since we no longer need the Sanctum of Thought notable to deal with curses, you can freely remove those 4 skill points and use them to pick up Pain Attunement and the jewel socket for the Watcher's Eye without needing any additional skill points or re-routing. I recommend taking the 3-point elemental damage jewel socket between the Templar and Witch areas near the top of the skill tree, which you can see in the following Path of Building pastebin import:


Another straightforward way to boost your overall damage is to replace the Added Cold Damage gem in your primary 6-link with a rank 4 Empower. This should be a 6-8% DPS upgrade, though not cheap as rank 4 tends to run around 4ex. Don't use a rank 3 as it isn't a DPS upgrade.

Finally, one of the most expensive but largest DPS upgrades you will be able to manage at this point in gearing is a corrupted 6L Soul Mantle that has the +2 Projectile corrupted modifier. A double-corrupted is ideal, with the dream being +2 Projectile / +1 all gems.

One other thing to note: since you will need to increase your Dexterity to equip the shield anyway, once you switch over to this setup it's a good time to change your main curse over to Projectile Weakness since you'll be able to run a higher rank version that won't require you to use such a low level Arcane Surge support (also seen in the Path of Building pastebin import link above).

You can also switch your life flask from Bubbling / Seething to Panicked, since the Coward's Legacy belt leaves us considered "low life" at all times:

Thanks for reading! If you want to check out my other Hierophant totem build for Holy Flame Totem, you can find that build thread here:


Also, feel free to stop by my Twitch stream when I'm online if you have any questions about either build, or just want to chat:

Last edited by Wallach on Sep 29, 2019, 11:10:25 PM
Last bumped on Nov 19, 2019, 11:09:03 PM
Getting a little bored of softcore, I think I'll use this build for my HC starter build. Nice write up!
"your gem link priorities after taking Ancestral Bond should be Spell Totem -> Freezing Pulse -> Arcane Surge -> Controlled Destruction -> Faster Casting -> Added Cold Damage. Whatever you cannot fit into your actual main link, you should try to level in other gear slots as you'll be using these gems for the rest of the game."

Arcane surge doesn't support totems
myprism wrote:
"your gem link priorities after taking Ancestral Bond should be Spell Totem -> Freezing Pulse -> Arcane Surge -> Controlled Destruction -> Faster Casting -> Added Cold Damage. Whatever you cannot fit into your actual main link, you should try to level in other gear slots as you'll be using these gems for the rest of the game."

Arcane surge doesn't support totems

Yeah, not sure why I put Arcane Surge in that link. I'll just remove it as I don't think people will have above a 4-link at that point anyway. Thanks for the catch.
Added a couple videos for The Shaper and the 4-Emblem version of Domain of Timeless Conflict. Shaper was pretty trivial (other than perma-freezing mini-bosses who were trying to phase), and managed to rack up 24 generals in the 4-Emblem Domain encounter. I'll add an Uber Elder kill whenever Elder decides to cooperate again.
Thank you for writing this build. It came at the right time. I played melee char ( EQ slayer) but its annoying .. Its better for me play as totem hiero :)

Now i am leveling char, selling my gear (i will have +- 12ex) ... looking forward for better and safer play for me.
favourite build: spell totem hiero
HELLERcz wrote:
Thank you for writing this build. It came at the right time. I played melee char ( EQ slayer) but its annoying .. Its better for me play as totem hiero :)

Now i am leveling char, selling my gear (i will have +- 12ex) ... looking forward for better and safer play for me.

Nice, good luck mate. That much currency will get you into a pretty strong setup for this build I think.

Elder decided to show up before I logged off so I got after him and finally got that fight deathless. Only killed him a handful of times last league but was annoyed he managed to kill me at least once every time.

Not sure what other videos to add for this build, other than maybe a 5-emblem Domain whenever I get the Maraketh splinters together again. It should do okay in there judging by the 4-emblem performance (though not going to impress anyone running around with a Headhunter in there).
Hi, first of all thanks for your guide!
This is my first FP build and I don't know the mechanics very well. I know that the damage falls off as the projectile travels. Is this really important? Do I have to put the totems just in front of yellow and unique mobs?

The cycle of life and death continues. We will live, they will die.
Pesgamer10 wrote:
Hi, first of all thanks for your guide!
This is my first FP build and I don't know the mechanics very well. I know that the damage falls off as the projectile travels. Is this really important? Do I have to put the totems just in front of yellow and unique mobs?

Both the damage and base chance to freeze go down as the wave travels. That is part of the reason for all the projectile speed bonuses; the wave will travel much farther in the same amount of time, so at the same distance from an enemy it will do more damage.

Against really tanky bosses you will want your totems closer if possible, but it isn't that vital to be honest. As you get more and more projectile speed distance becomes much less of a limiting factor. Quality on your Freezing Pulse gem is vital for this reason. Even early game it isn't something you need to be very thoughtful about.

I'll upload a video of a T16 map clear to give you an idea of what it looks like in general mapping (in high end gear anyway). For the most part totem placement isn't even relevant because the projectiles will travel so fast that they are shooting off-screen.
Wallach wrote:
Pesgamer10 wrote:
Hi, first of all thanks for your guide!
This is my first FP build and I don't know the mechanics very well. I know that the damage falls off as the projectile travels. Is this really important? Do I have to put the totems just in front of yellow and unique mobs?

Both the damage and base chance to freeze go down as the wave travels. That is part of the reason for all the projectile speed bonuses; the wave will travel much farther in the same amount of time, so at the same distance from an enemy it will do more damage.

Against really tanky bosses you will want your totems closer if possible, but it isn't that vital to be honest. As you get more and more projectile speed distance becomes much less of a limiting factor. Quality on your Freezing Pulse gem is vital for this reason. Even early game it isn't something you need to be very thoughtful about.

I'll upload a video of a T16 map clear to give you an idea of what it looks like in general mapping (in high end gear anyway). For the most part totem placement isn't even relevant because the projectiles will travel so fast that they are shooting off-screen.

Thank you very much for the explanation! Looking forward for the video
The cycle of life and death continues. We will live, they will die.

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