[3.11] Ivonbeton's Vortex/Frostbolt Occultist - Cheap, SSF and all content (Sirus Video)

Updated for 3.11 and should work just aswell as it did before. Most of the gearing and Gems explanation does not fully account for Awakened Gems and Influence modifiers. The progression is just the same, there is simply an extra step you can take when it comes to gearing once you reach endgame. The PoB does include some of these options. It also includes a Shavronne/Thread of Hope version and one without either of them.

3.11 PoB pastebin link


Hey everyone! This is my take on a Cold DoT Occultist. This character uses Vortex as its main damage source with a Frostbolt delivery system. You'll also be using Cold Snap, but I rarely use it, mostly just Vaal Cold Snap for the burst. The build is safe, does great damage and scales well throughout the entire game. So it's a great leaguestarter and perfect for SSF especially. I played this character in Synthesis league and all of my gear was found in a private league with only two people actively playing. I cleared all content before I found any of the really strong items you'll see in my profile.

So while my gear is very good, you can easily clear all content with more budget options. They nerfed Occultist since Synthesis, but it's still a really strong build so I decided to share it on this forum. I will share general gearing and leveling tips for those who want to play the build on a budget or want to try the build for SSF progression.

Let's get started!


-Sirus Awakening Level 8 kill
-Uber Elder kill
-Shaper kill
-Video Guide

The Sirus kill was obviously done in Metamorph. The Shaper and Uber Elder kills are from Synthesis. They are still exactly the same, just take a bit longer. I've done both deathless in Metamorph aswell, they just take longer and you need to master the mechanics now rather than burst them down.

Pro's and Con's

+Great and Cheap leaguestarter
+Still scales with more investment
+Fast map clear
+Very safe thanks to the Frostbolt delivery system
+Very versatile when it comes to build choices
+Hardcore and SSF viable

-The build takes awhile to get going because Energy Shield is weak early game
-You can't level as Energy Shield, especially not when you are playing SSF

Passive Tree

Passive priorities
This is my tree at level 96 in Synthesis
This is my tree at level 94 in Metamorph
This is the pastebin to my build
This is the pastebin to my build for Sirus kill video in Metamorph Trade league
This is the pastebin to my build without Shavronne's

This is the pastebin and passive tree for the Low Life version and the regular version of my build. You obviously won't have access to a Shavronne's Wrappings straight away. The build is only slightly different before that. You have some wiggle room when it comes to sockets and gems you want to use, which is perfect for leveling.

Regardless, you should first focus on the right side of the tree. You will have to start with life nodes until you get a decent pool for Energy Shield. So picking up Melding and Written in Blood early is ideal, seeing as you don't need to change those for your final tree.

You should fill out the right side of the tree first. When leveling, you should also pick up the life nodes around Blood Siphon and Cruel Preparation. You can change those once you switch over to Energy Shield. Don't pick up Chaos Inoculation until you are ready to switch over to a pure Energy Shield build. I would advise at least four to five thousand Energy Shield before you do that. Don't forget to spec out of Chaos Inoculation once you pick up Shavronne's Wrappings and to pick up both Pain Attunement and Arcane Vision.

The damage of Vortex should be really good with minimal investment, so try to work towards a good amount of Energy Shield as fast as posssible so that you can switch over to full Energy Shield with Chaos Inoculation. You will also notice that my build uses Elemental Equilibrium. While PoB denotes this as a DPS loss, it's a massive DPS gain if you have the correct setup. I wouldn't pick it up until you get an item like mine which as the "Trigger a socketed skill" craft on it. You could use a level one Cast When Damage Taken gem linked to a level one Storm Brand until you get a weapon like this. You'll do less damage when you haven't taken damage, but you'll do more when you have. Most of the time, this is useful on the fights where you need more damage.

The reason why I path all the way to Holy Dominion and pick up Spiritual Aid
is mostly due to SSF restraints. Pathing this way gives you a lot of easily accessible resists, something you'll sorely lack if you are focusing on getting high Energy Shield. Plus, this enables you to have Minion Damage on your gear and have it actually benefit you. I also like Zealoth's Oath, but it does not make or break the build. You can see a modified version of the tree on my Metamorph character simply because I have plenty of resists and attributes on my gear right now.

Also, keep in mind that you might lack dexterity or strength depending on your gear. So pick up those big attribute nodes depending on what you need. That's why I added Fangs of the Viper to the build, it's dexterity on top of some movement speed. Same goes with resist, there's a lot of easily accessible resists within the tree, pick them up if you need them. The tree is extremely SSF/budget friendly.

Remember that you don't necessarily need as much strength as I have. You simply need 108 strength for level 19 Blood Magic with the Shavronn's Wrappings version of the build. You adjust your Cast When Damage Taken and Immortal Call setup accordingly. You also need 111 or 114 dexterity for a level 20 or level 21 Hypothermia, regardless of the version you are using


You should first focus on getting Frigid Wake. Since the changes to Wicked Ward and Vile Bastion, Frigid Wake is by far your strongest ascendancy. You used to be able to get a lot of Energy Shield early through the Occultist ascendancies, but those days are over. Still, being stun immune and freeze immune are really big attributes to have on an Energy Shield build.

After getting Void Beacon and Frigid Wake, you should get Vile Bastion. I know, it's nothing close to what it used to be but it's still great for mapping on a budget. Your final ascendancy should be Forbidden Power. While you can't do critical damage with the Cold DoT of your Vortex, the extra AoE and spell damage does help you. It's really not that big of a boost, but I still personally prefer it over Profane Bloom.


Kill all for the two passive points.


Gearing choices
I will cover this more in depth in my video guide, which will be uploaded shortly. I'll quickly go over some of the most important aspects of your gearing choices, but make sure to check out the video guide for more information.

Your early gearing will be focused on getting gear that has high resists and high Energy Shield. You'll have to start hybrid life and Energy Shield, so it's not a bad idea if your gear also has some life on it while leveling. You should try to go full Energy Shield as early as possible though.

There are some easy ways to get decent Energy Shield gear early. You could try to farm some Dense Fossils and craft on good bases you have. There are also not that many stats you really need, so you can very easily get decent gear with Essences or with combining alterations, augmentations and regals. Simply try to get one good Energy Shield roll in combination with something like a good resist roll and then craft the missing Energy Shield roll on it (either flat or percentage).

You could also try to get your hands on a Pariah Ring and put your Discipline gem in there. The budget version of this setup - and the one I used before I got Pariah to drop - is to get a rare Unset Ring and try to craft "+ to socketed gem levels" on it in combination with a good Energy shield roll. The unique belt Bated Breath is a really good and cheap option early on. It also drops like candy, so you have a good chance of getting it dropped early. The unique boots Rainbowstride are also a really cheap and very strong option early on. They also drop fairly frequently.

The unique helmet Rime Gaze is also a very strong and common option. The DPS boost it gives is massive. I personally only use it if I can find the resists to spare to use it with Bated Breath seeing as one slows your Energy Shield regen while the other boosts it. You could always pick up Frost Walker and/or Ash, Frost and Storm on your passive tree to make up for your resists.

Stat Priorities

Defense: Energy Shield = Resist > Chaos Resist > Evasion > Armour
Offense : Cold DoT Multiplier > Increased Level of All Cold Spell Skill Gems > Damage over Time/Spell/Elemental/Cold/Area Damage

The biggest damage boost you can get is from the stat ""Cold Damage over Time Multiplier". You can mostly only get this on your weapon, your shield, jewels and the passive tree. The next best thing is "+1 to level of All Cold Spell Skill Gems". This can only roll on your weapon or shield. These are your biggest priority on your weapon or shield though, it's a massive boost in DPS compared to other offensive stats.


Quartz Flask of Staunching
Witchfire Brew
Sulphur Flask of Dousing
Quicksilver Flask of Warding
Silver Flask of Curing

You can obviously get Staunching or Dousing on any of these flasks, but you should have one of each. They are really rather mandatory when playing an Energy Shield build. You only need a flask of curing if you have Shavronne's. With this item, Chaos Damage simply won't bypass your Energy Shield, but it will still affect you as opposed to having Chaos Innoculation.

How to find the right gear

While the endgame setup is pretty clear cut, I'll go over some tips and tricks on how to find the right gear before you get to that point. I'll also go over some items you can use early on. Your priority is to get your resists maxed out and to get as much Energy Shield as possible. Keep in mind that for Energy Shield, the base item matters. Some white items have more base Energy Shield than others. After that, you should try to get a good weapon, preferably with the "Cold Damage over Time Multiplier" on it, which you can then multimod to also have "Damage over Time" and "Trigger a Socketed Spell when you Use a Skill". This is really an endgame option though, just focus on the "Cold Damage over Time Multiplier" statistic with as many other statistics that affect cold damage. There's also a new modifier on both weapons and shields which boosts the level of your Cold spells. You'd ideally also want this on your items seeing as it's a enormous damage boost




Best Base : Hubris Circlet

Your first priority should be to get a lot of Energy Shield and resists. The best base is a Hubris Circlet, but you should be picking up every base early on to get started. This is especially true if you are playing SSF. I personalize my lootfilters depending on the build I play in SSF.

You've got all of this and still want an upgrade? You could try to craft a helmet with delve mods on it. You'd ideally want a helmet that gives a lot of Energy Shield, resists and the Nearby Enemies have -#% to Cold Resistance modifier. It's not easy to get a good one, but you certainly can through fossil crafting. Don't be afraid to try your hand at crafting! You might get lucky!

You'd ideally want a Vortex enchant on it, but that's not easy to get. So I wouldn't worry too much about it. This shouldn't be your priority. This should be your last stop and it's not worth sacrificing a lot of Energy Shield just to slot it into your build. Again, the the unique helmet Rime Gaze gives a lot of DPS and decent Energy Shield, but you will need a lot of resists either on your gear or passive tree.


Best Base : Vaal Regalia

The low life version has to have Shavronne's Wrappings. This is by far the highest DPS option. So you should work towards that. It's not easy to get in SSF, but it's farmeable through divination cards. Short of having a Shavronne's Wrappings, you should aim for a chest with high Energy Shield and maybe a choice few resists if possible. You could also try to get a Shaped chest with high Energy Shield and the Socketed Gems are Supported by Level # Arcane Surge modifier, but that's probably harder to get than Shavronne's.


Best Base : Fingerless Silk Gloves or Sorcerer Gloves

Like you can see from my PoB, I'm using an item called Storm's Gift. This was a Synthesis item and is very difficult to get now, so don't bother looking for it unless you are playing trade league. You should again be looking for Energy Shield and as many resists as you can get. You could also try to use a Fingerless Silk Gloves base for some extra spell damage. There are also a few Shaper mods that could be useful, but they aren't that amazing seeing as your DPS is almost entirely coming from your Vortex.


Best Base : Sorcerer Boots

Yet again you should prioritize high Energy Shield and resists. Your next priority should be movement speed. You can try to craft this through combining dense fossils with shuddering fossils or using Essences. Like mentioned before, the unique item Rainbowstride is an amazing budget option. The next step is to get the leech or the regen enchant on your boots.. This is easily farmed through running Merciless Labyrinth.


Best Base : Anything with Dexterity/Strength

You really lack strength and dexterity with this build. So if you can get some extra on your amulet, it can really help. Your biggest priority is again to get Energy Shield. The craft for percentage Energy Shield is really good, so you would ideally want a good flat amount of Energy Shield to then craft the percentage Energy Shield one. Some percentage Spell Damage or Cold Damage is a nice bonus.


Best Base : Titanium Spirit Shield

You want a lot of Energy Shield and the +1 to level of All Cold Spell Skill Gems on here. Maybe some resists, dexterity or strength if you can get it. You can also get some percentage Spell Damage or Cold Damage on top of that.


Best Base : Crystal Belt

You are looking for a lot of Energy Shield again. They nerfed the Delve crafts you can get on your belt, but it's still very worthwhile using some Dense fossils if you find yourself a Crystal Belt. You can get the % Increased Damage craft on here if you have an open prefix. Like mentioned earlier, the unique Bated Breath is a really solid and cheap early option.


Best Base : Moonstone Ring

There are a lot of viable options here. I already mentioned The Pariah and a rare Unset Ring that boosts your gem levels and has a lot of Energy Shield and resists. Ideally, you want to craft % Faster Start of Energy Shield Recharge, which is a prefix. It's also really helpful to get some strength or dexterity on here.


Your biggest priority is getting Cold Damage over Time Multiplier followed by +1 to level of All Cold Spell Skill Gems. Next, you'll want it to have the Trigger a Socketed Spell when you Use a Skill craft on it. After filling these requirements, you should look for the Damage over Time modifier. Finally, if you are really min-maxing, look for Elemental Damage, % Cold Damage or Spell Damage to supplement it.


You want the Frozen Trail threshold jewel. You only want one though. When you get two, the speed of your Frostbolt will be way too fast annd you'll have a hard time covering the screen with your Vortex.

Next to that, the only Jewel I use is a Watcher's Eye. Check my PoB for reference. Simply getting a Watcher's Eye with just one of the two modifiers I have is already a good deal. You could also look for Rare Jewels with percentage Energy Shield and preferably the Cold Damage over Time Multiplier. Any of the other offensive statistics I mentioned can be gotten here, but that's the big one.

Here are some links to help you navigate items in Path of Exile :

Poeaffix - It's not entirely up to date, but still very useful
PoEDB Chronicles - Very useful for fossil crafting
Poecraft - a great crafting simulator

Skill Gems


You should level with Freezing Pulse until you can get Vortex or Cold Snap!
The following support gems are all in order of importance! You can also take Faster Projectiles and Greater Multiple Projectiles with Frostbolt before you get your Threshold Jewel.

6L :

Vortex - Elemental Focus - Swift Affliction - Efficacy - Controlled Destruction - Hypothermia

You Hypothermia requires 111 dexterity at level 20 and 114 at level 21.

4L :

Flame Dash - Arcane Surge level 5 - Frostbolt level 1 - Faster Casting

4L :

Vaal Cold Snap - Bonechill - Efficacy - Controlled Destruction

3L :

Frost Bomb - Storm Brand - Increased Critical Strikes

2L :
Immortal Call level 7 - Cast When Damage Taken level 10

2L :

Enfeeble - Blasphemy

2L :

Malevolence - Blood Magic

Your Blood Magic should be level 19 which requires 108 strength.

1L :


There are a few things of note here. This is the low life version you use once you get Shavronn's Wrappings. You will have to use Malevolence without Blood Magic if you don't have Shavronn's Wrappings yet. You also have to use Enfeeble without Blasphemy. Your best play is to have it linked to your Cast When Damage Taken. Same for the three link, if you don't have the Trigger a Socketed Spell when you Use a Skill craft, you should remove the Increased Critical Strikes gem and replace it with a Cast When Damage Taken one.

You'll see that I'm using Vaal Cold Snap. I rarely use Vaal Cold Snap itself though, mostly just the Vaal Cold Snap for the extra burst. It does give you some extra DPS when you need it though. Your Frostbolt can be higher level if your mana can sustain it. This will proc your Arcane Surge and Forbidden Power more often. This is something you'll have to figure out for yourself though, it depends on your gear and level.

Look to the video for more in-depth explanations on this!



I use the fully upgraded Soul of Arkaali for mapping and the upgraded Soul of Abberath or Soul of Shakiri .



The build has changed quite a bit. There are two main options. You want to get either the Tranquility anointment on your amulet. This requires two Golden oils and one Azure oil. You can also take Sanctuary for more block. Ring anointments are whatever you prefer. I like the one with the Meteor Shower that stuns and better Glacial Cages cooldown.

Endgame gear

That's all there is to it! Stick to the basic principles of my guide and you should be able to reach Uber Elder and Sirus in SSF. They just nerfed Occultist, but the build is still amazing for SSF and is still very strong in Metamorph. I'll try to keep it updated. My last build got absolutely destroyed by unexpected nerfs, so we'll see what happens to this one. Thanks for reading and stay sane exiles.

Last edited by Ivonbeton on Aug 23, 2020, 9:56:30 AM
Last bumped on Jan 4, 2020, 1:16:21 PM
Hello everyone,

I finally got around to making the video guide. It's fairly long, but I added timestamps for those just looking for specific information. Here is the link. I won't be home for awhile, so I hope it's of use to someone at least. Still to come are the Shaper and Elder Guardian kills once I'm back home. This is still a very strong SSF build even after all the nerfs and it should probably also be exactly that at the start of the next league.


Last edited by Ivonbeton on Aug 10, 2019, 7:31:52 PM
The guide has been update for 3.9. The power remains fairly untouched. The only item which is exceptionally difficult to get now is my weapon, but you should still blow through all content in mere seconds. I might add some more guides, but honestly it's a lot of work and very disheartening to see the builds you made get gutted by changes.

I will try to keep this one updated though.

Enjoy 3.9 everyone!
Last edited by Ivonbeton on Dec 12, 2019, 6:07:03 PM
Wow very nice guide. The only thing that makes me hesitated with vortex is you can only drop it under your feet. Played a vertex version of trickster last league but didn't end well because of that playstyle (or maybe I'm just bad lol).
Now with your guide as the combination with frostbolt, will give it another try at league start :)
Thank you and good luck with 3.9 :D
The pastebins are not working :/
Edit: The pastebin website was down.
Last edited by Bandeen on Dec 21, 2019, 2:33:13 PM
Hi man, at which level u recommand to switch to ES ?
Nivek95 wrote:
Hi man, at which level u recommand to switch to ES ?

Really depends on your gear. I usually switch when I have around 4-5k ES, which I tend to get by early yellow maps. So I'd wager about level 80 orso?
I've updated it with a kill video of Sirus Awakening 8. I'm in trade league now, but the my SSF kill was also smooth and deathless. I've simply been having a lot of bugs bricking the fight so far.

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