[3.14] Gannicus, God of the Arena – Deathless Uber Elder for Everyone

This is the guide to my physical Bladestorm Gladiator. It can be used as a league starter and scales to easily do all content in the game deathless (including Sirus A9 and Uber Elder). It’s cheap, fast and incredibly tanky. It’s also the perfect boss killer.

The guide is very detailed and probably contains answers to all your questions so please read it first before asking. Don't just watch the videos and download the PoB. Actually read the guide. It WILL help. Also read the FAQ at the 3rd post.

Important: If you're new to the game you'll have a much easier time with a spellcaster. Melee attack builds are generally tankier but take some practice to play and require a certain investment in your gear. If you're just starting out do yourself a favor and stick to spells (like GGG wants you to).

Please post your questions here and not in-game or through PMs so that everyone can benefit from the discussion.

Changes in 3.15 - Mega-Nerf to everything in the game

3.15 brings with it the biggest nerf this game has ever seen. Every single build in the game is NERFED HARD. GGG believes this will improve build diversity. However in the real world when it’s harder to get high damage output people are much more likely to choose whatever meta build is popular at the moment just to be able to complete the game.

Melee was already at a disadvantage compared to spells and this build makes things even worse. Another hit to build diversity.

The only positive side in all of this is that this build doesn’t use and of the mechanisms that were wrecked by GGG (triggered spells etc.) and should play more or less the same but with much lower damage. Survivability shouldn’t change much since we don’t rely on flasks for that and there were no changes to block or fortify.

I won’t be updating the guide for league start for several reasons. I might do it later on.

1. The guide is very long and detailed and the changes (especially mana cost) require a rewrite of some parts. I don’t have time to do this until Friday.
2. Before I posted this guide I played with the build for an entire season. I killed every boss and made sure everything works and is optimized. With the recent changes damage will suffer a lot and I need time to see if the build still plays well and think of possible solutions to the problems introduced in 3.15.
3. I was planning to play the league but now I’m not so sure any more. I won’t start on Friday, I’ll wait for the dust to settle a bit and see.

If you’d like to play the build this season go ahead. It should still play pretty much the same way but with much lower damage, like any other build. I couldn’t find any other relevant changes in the patch notes. Gear, flasks, tree, gems etc. are the same.

Changes in 3.14 - Change to Flesh and Stone mana reservation

Flesh and Stone: Now requires 35% Mana reservation (previously 25%)

This change obviously means that we can no longer run all 5 auras. This is not a big deal though because we can get back the mana we lose by removing precision and not using maim linked to Flesh and Stone. This will allow us to continue to use Pride, Flesh and Stone, Blood and Sand and Dread Banner. The total damage loss should be around 5% (depending on your total crit chance).

Another option could be Versatile Stance which will give around 3% more mana (PoB isn’t updated with the new reservation values yet) but this will require 2 points and it’s not worth it in my opinion. You get around the same amount of mana by disabling precision or maim.

Other than that, Blood magic is now called lifetap.

I will update the guide with these changes soon. It’s not like anyone will have the gear to run all auras on the first day of the league anyway.

Since the new league started I did some testing. See this post for details https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2627521/page/107#p24011760


- Can easily do all content in the game deathless !
- Super tanky, forgives mistakes (79% block, high life, perma fortify)
- Relaxed 2 button playstyle (leap, attack), no need to avoid damage
- Instantly switch between single target and clear
- Superb boss killing ability
- Good clear speed
- Relatively cheap, non meta gear
- Fast and fun to play, 0.17 sec leap slam
- Does all map mods (including phys reflect)
- 7K+ life without Belly
- No need for cluster jewels
- Great league starter
- Easy to level, all skills available very early
- Not likely to get nerfed (no meta gear or mechanics)


- Clear speed is not as good as half-screen-AoE cyclone Slayer
- Good swords can be hard to find
- Can't really do blighted maps due to limited AoE. Not great in legion encounters for the same reason

Why Gladiator?

The Gladiator is a very tanky ascendancy that was buffed in 3.7. I like tanky builds but had never tried Gladiator before. Well, let’s just say I’m glad I did. It combines great damage (especially in blood stance) with incredible tankyness and movespeed (via leap slap). If you don’t want to move around all the time trying to avoid things then this is the ascendancy for you.

Why Bladestorm?

Bladestorm was introduced in 3.7 and I wanted to try it out as it seemed to be the best of the new skills. It works well with the stance mechanic and provides relatively good clear speed (when combined with super fast leap slam) and extremely high boss killing potential. It also allows you to switch between stances instantly. No need for a second skill or gem switching.

Why physical?

3.7 is a melee league and introduced a lot of new support gems that make melee physical builds a lot better by finally giving us some much needed choice. I wanted to try them out and the result did not disappoint.

Why dual wield?

I wanted to make a build that reaches max block without flasks. I also wanted it to do a lot of damage. Dual wielding was the obvious answer. Much better damage than weapon + shield but still very tanky.

Dual wield provides:
- 10% more Attack Speed
- 15% additional Block Chance


The videos below are the only ones with all the new gear. They're meant to show the build's potential in boss killing and clearing maps.

Deathless Sirus the Awakener (Awakening level 9) – Deathless runs are easy if you know the fight and don't make major mistakes. Don't forget to get anti-bleed protection. Beams, hits and slams are often blocked but not always so try to avoid the obvious ones. Be careful of the degen on the ground as it can't be blocked and looks like our bloodstorm. Corridors are not a problem but triple mazes can be, so find the exit ASAP (although the slam may end up being blocked). Try to avoid going through the rotating beam if you can.
P.S. Culling strike OP!

Conquerors of the Atlas Compilation (Awakening level 8) – The Conquerors literally take a few seconds to kill. Just stand in front of them and press the attack key. Most of their attacks are blocked so it's safe. Occasionally a slam might get through though so make sure you have enough life to tank it.

Deathless Shaper 3.11 - Since 3.9 The Shaper has four times more life than before. He's no problem for us though. The high block chance means that the only dangerous thing in there is the DoT from the holes.

Blocking Shaper Slam and Balls

Deathless Shaper 3.13 Witnessed by Maven - Maven Infused Shaper. I can't really say I noticed any difference. The grasping vines were annoying but the Shaper didn't seem any more tanky. Not sure if the Maven gives random buffs but at least the ones I got didn't make much difference.

T16 Map Clearing – This is meant to show the build’s clear speed. Leap slam is extremely fast (use it sparingly or you’ll end up overshooting your target) and the AoE is good but not huge. The result is good clear speed because mobs die fast and we immediately leap to the next pack. Can’t compare to half-screen AoE cyclones and bow builds but still gets the job done quickly and easily.

Deathless Cortex – Cortex is no problem for us. The monsters he spawns have a variety of attacks but we take care of them so quickly that they barely have a chance to use them. And even if they do, they're easily blocked.

Aul, the Crystal King - This is Aul the Crystal King at depth 420. You need to avoid the spinning barrage attack at all costs and try not to let him hit the icy things at the edge of the screen in the "Ice column" phase. Other than than just facetank him.
Don't be afraid to use your flasks early on because he has a minion phase at 50% (which I forgot about) so you can refil them. At the end of the fight you can see culling strike doing its thing.

Kurgal, the Blackblooded - This is Kurgal at depth 420 (he was hanging out with his buddy Aul). He has a degen that you need to avoid but other than that it's a pretty straightforward facetanking fight. Oddly enough I get 84 stacks of darkness damage but it doesn't seem to overcome my leech even at this depth.

Deathless Elder T16 - It doesn't get much easier or safer than this. Just facetank everything until the monsters are dead.

The Forgotten (Rewritten, Augmented, Altered and Twisted Distant Memory) - Not much to comment here. Just facetank them for a few seconds. This map had -max res and extra elemental too.


The videos below are all with older gear. Some even without Impale.

Deathless Uber Elder – The only really dangerous thing in there is the DoT from the Shaper beam and the holes on the ground. Shaper balls, icicles, slams etc. are almost always blocked. Of course that doesn’t mean that you should stand in a ball stream. One ball can’t kill us and it’s very rare that a second will hit us before we leech back to full health. Use leap slam to avoid what you can, our block, fortify and high life will take care of the rest. The build is very tanky and forgives a lot of mistakes. Blood bladestorms will do damage even after you have leapt away. It only takes a couple of seconds to do 25% damage to the bosses. Most of the time is spent in the minion phases in between.

Deathless Uber Elder, No Flasks – We don’t need no stinkin’ flasks. We leave those for the little Pathfinder girls. I just used the life flask a couple of times because DoT can’t be blocked. No damage or defense flasks were used in the making of this video.

Deathless Shaper – This fight isn’t what it used to be. Shaper melts in a couple of seconds. Probably the only interesting thing here is the fight against the Uncreated (3:10) which shows how bad using a Lion’s is against enemies that are not knockback immune.

T16 Elder Guardian compilation - I included this to show the tankyness of the build. You don’t even need to dodge when they do their “levitating attack”. Damage isn’t as good as it normally is because they spawn in a separate area which means we lose all the rage, challenger charges etc. that we have from running the map.

T16 Guardian compilation – These fights are trivial, they all die in seconds. Most of the video is taken up by Chimera and his annoying phases.

Random T15 clear speed – This is just to show the build’s clear speed. Leap slam is extremely fast (use it sparingly or you’ll end up overshooting your target) and the AoE is ok but not large. The result is good clear speed because mobs die fast. Can’t compare to half-screen AoE cyclones and bow builds but still gets the job done nicely.

Deathless Chayula – Lots of chaos damage in the boss room but that’s not a problem. He melts in a few seconds.


The theme of the build is extreme tankyness. We have 79% attack and spell block all the time (no flasks needed), permanent fortify, lightning fast leap slam, physical damage reduction etc. We also deal a ton of damage in blood stance making boss killing fast and easy.

What makes this build so tanky is the triple combination of block, fortify and high life. Most attacks and spells won’t even hit us (79%) for the rest, fortify mitigates 20% of the damage. We need high life so that when we receive a powerful hit we are not one-shot. We quickly leech back to full life before we’re hit again. Our high block chance makes sure of that. The most dangerous type of damage is DoT which can’t be blocked.

Map clearing: Leap around killing mobs in Sand stance. Bladestorm works similar to DoT in the sense that you can create a storm and then leap away and let it keep damaging mobs. You can use this to increase clear speed, although it makes looting a bit more complicated. Leap Slam is really fast and makes clearing easier despite the mediocre AoE.

Bosses: In Blood stance get as close to the boss as possible and stand there creating blood storms. Even if you move the storms keep damaging the boss for a few seconds. You can create up to three storms (four with the helmet enchant) so you can damage the boss and mobs at the same time. Or just get close to the boss, click the attack button and wait a couple of seconds until he’s dead. Works just fine in almost all cases.


The concept of this build is to have max block (79% for the Gladiator) at all times. No need to use Rumi’s. We need block chance on our swords to achieve this. While leveling the best choice is to use the cheap unique Prismatic Eclipse. Dual wielding these will give us 16% block chance.

Scaeva is an upgrade from Prismatic Eclipse. It has good DPS and is very cheap. However it can only be used in the off-hand in order to get the block chance. The bonuses for gem socket color are useless if you're using Maligaro's.

Rigwald's Command is another option. These used to be expensive in 3.7 but now that the meta has shifted you can get them a lot cheaper so they are now a viable option if you're on a budget.

The best weapons for us are Shaper swords with the mod “Chance to block attack damage while dual wielding”. The maximum block chance we can get from one of those is 9%. Lower block chance swords can also be used when combined with a corrupted amulet that provides block chance, jewels or Elder gloves with attack block chance. See the block section of the guide for more sources.

Since we don't need two block swords any more (see below) we can use The Saviour. This sword more or less doubles the damage of your other sword so make sure you pair it with something good. The Saviour is great for clear speed since the clones attack intedependently and clear the entire screen. It also works well on bosses. I tried it on Sirus 8 and found damage to be better than my previous sword. The clones distract enemies and attack constantly allowing us to move or dodge when necessary therefore increasing "damage uptime". They also seek out enemies automatically so they help us find where the real Sirus has teleported to. Be careful of clone downtime though (check the icon). We can't renew them while they are summoned so we need to crit as quickly as possible after they die. A diamond and a Bottled Faith will make sure they are resummoned instantly. Also socketing an Increased Duration gem will help with uptime. This sword used to be particularly expensive but price has fallen dramatically so it's a good choice on all fronts.

Paradoxica is a good combination with The Saviour. You can get one with good attributes (physical damage, crit etc) for a couple of exalts. A good rare will give you more damage but it will probably also cost more.

If you’re on a tight budget or want the highest possible DPS you can use rare swords without block chance. In this case you can either use a Rumi’s flask to instantly reach max block (not a great option as you can't have 100% uptime) or get block chance somewhere else on your gear. There are multiple options how to do that. Violent Retaliation also helps but check the FAQ for details.

With the changes 3.11 brought to the tree we now only need 11% to reach full block. You can easily get that with two block swords (no need to have maximum block rolls any more) or one sword and some block on the rest of your gear. You can even reach full block without using any block swords at all! All options are listed in the "Details About Block" section.

Since the Shaper was removed from the Atlas getting good Shaper block swords has become a lot harder. The Shaper mod "block chance while dual wielding" is now also available as a Redeemer mod. If you can't get a pair of high pDPS swords with block you can use a Rigwald's combined with block chance on the amulet (either a corrupted implicit or anointed with Gemini). This will give you ~14% block which is more than we need to reach full block.

Another option is to craft block chance on your armour (thanks antmit). If you do that then you don't have to use any block swords as you'll only need 3% to reach full block and Violent Retaliation will provide that instantly. See the FAQ for details about that. Of course this means that you either can't craft other mods (like life %) or you need to multimod it if it has enough space (expensive option).

Don't forget to check the "Details About Block" section for a list of all extra block sources. The build can work just fine with one block sword or even without them if you get enough block from other sources. If you want to min-max it though then two good block swords is probably still the best option.

There are many choices here. The Belly of the Beast is always a good choice for life builds. It provides a ton of life and gives some resists too. As a sought after item, a 6L Belly will cost you a lot of exalts early on.

Another option is Loreweave. This versatile armour is good for a large number of builds as it provides lots of useful stats. For our build we need physical damage to attacks, global crit and life. A high all-stat roll also helps with our need for intelligence. Maximum resistances at 78% (or 80% for the legacy version) are a welcome defensive boost. Also don't forget that this allows us to ignore the -max res mod on maps. A good Loreweave can be expensive though and it also means that you'll lose a substantial amount (500+) of life.

My personal choice is rare armour with flat life and % life (both fixed and crafted). This gives a ton of life and some resists. But more importantly if you manage to get one with the –mana cost of skills mod, it allows you to run Pride instead of Herald of Purity for a significant damage boost. You can also get "gems are supported by level 1 maim" (legacy only) on a Shaper version of the armour for a 7L or "attacks have +X% to critical strike chance". Getting all three will cost a lot though.
Another option is to craft block chance which will allow you to use two normal swords that are much easier/cheaper to get and/or can provide more DPS.
It's impossible to get all of the above at the same time though so choose carefully.

A good rare helmet is the best choice here. We can get 120+ life and 100 resists on one and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The “physical damage taken as elemental” is another survivability boost but not necessary. Getting some intelligence is probably useful too. Getting one with +1 number of Bladestorms would be ideal. Bladestorm damage is also useful but don’t worry about it too much.

Rat’s Nest, Starkonja's and Abyssus are the unique alternatives. Be careful though as while Abyssus will give you a huge damage boost, it has no life and the increased damage taken is significant. Also the crit multi it provides is useless if you’re using Maligaro’s (see glove section).

Rare gloves with life and resists is an option here. Physical damage to attacks, accuracy and attack speed are all good for us. On Elder gloves you can also get 5% chance to block attack damage which may be needed if you can't get good block swords.

There are also some good unique choices. Maligaro’s were changed in 3.7 and they now give us a fixed 300% crit multi which is a significant damage boost. We don’t invest in crit multi so we end up gaining about 150 from the gloves. They also give attack speed and crit chance. Being cheap means that you can corrupt them for even more crit chance (or vulnerability, but in that case remove enfeeble). Be careful though as if you use them any investment in crit multi is useless.

Haemophilia helps with clear speed. The bleed-splosions kill any mobs that may be left behind if you move too fast. They don’t really help with bosses though.

Tombfists are another option with a murderous eye jewel to intimidate enemies. They also have some % life. You’ll lose a gem socket though.

Great Old One's Tentacles are very cheap and give us some Impale chance and something like splash damage. They also have life and some physical damage. They are good for clearing mobs until you get something better.

Nothing special here. Good rare boots with lots of life and resists. 100+ life and 100 resists is what you should aim for. Movement speed is not necessary and would only increase the price. We use Leap Slam for almost all our movement anyway and we also get about 100 movespeed from buffs. The enchant “reduced mana cost of skills if you’ve been hit recently” helps lower Bladestorm cost which is important if you’re using Pride.

A rare leather or Stygian belt is the best option. Get a lot of life and resists. A rustic sash would add a bit of damage at the expense of life.

If you want the highest DPS possible you should use a Ryslatha's Coil. Don't forget though that you'll be sacrificing some life, resists and a jewel socket.

Rare rings with life, resists and intelligence is all you need. If you manage to get that on a good base like steel, iron or diamond then it’s even better. Flat physical damage, accuracy and attack speed are all good for us. Crafting – mana cost of skills is necessary if you’re using pride.

Get a rare amulet with high life and resists (if you need them). Good stats include added phys, crit chance, strength/intelligence and accuracy. You can get a lot of crit chance with a talisman but since the introduction of anointing and quality on jewellery it's not a very good option any more. In theory you can get a great amulet, 20Q it, anoint it and then turn it into a talisman in the syndicate bench.

A corrupted amulet with block chance may be necessary to reach full block depending on the block chance on your swords. You can also anoint "Gemini".

A rare Shaper amulet can increase your maximum chance to block by 2% (for 79% to 81%). It's expensive to find one with good stats (life, damage) though.

The unique amulet The Anvil is another (very defensive) choice. It reduces our attack speed and gives no life or damage but raises our max block to 82% and gives life and mana on block. They’re also dirt cheap so you can also corrupt one for some attack speed.


We use brutality on this build which means that we can’t deal any chaos damage. This rules out using Atziri’s and Sin’s. We also don’t need Rumi’s which is commonly used in block builds.

Seething Divine Life Flask
This is our panic flask. It doesn’t give a lot of life but it’s instant and can save you when everything else fails. Another option is Panicked Divine which gives more life and is still instant but only on low life.

Forbidden Taste
A good alternative to a Seething Divine life flask. It fills our life instantly and we can counter the degen with our life regen. It’s not good on certain situations though like maps with reduced life recovery or the mine.

Diamond Flask
This is our main damage boosting flask. It’s cheap and easy to get early on and is perfect for this build. Diamond flasks mostly benefit crit builds that don’t have a huge chance to crit without it. Our crit chance is less than 30% without it so we benefit a lot from using it. About 20% of our damage comes from this flask.

Silver Flask
Although we get onslaught from Riposte (see gem section) we can also use this flask to guarantee that we have it when we need it the most. The crafted suffix "Of the Order" provides a huge damage boost during flask effect. Since we use at least 4 rare flasks, it's easy to find room for it.

Sulphur Flask
40% increased damage and consecrated ground for some life regen. Using magic flasks allows us to get the important Of Stanching and Of Heat suffixes. Curing and Warding are also useful.

The Wise Oak
What is an elemental flask doing in a physical build you ask? It provides elemental protection (10% reduced elemental damage taken) if you can balance all your resists. It’s not mandatory and balancing your resists is tricky but if you can do it it’s a solid option.

Lion’s Roar
The obvious flask for any melee physical build. It gives a ton of damage but has a big downside for us. Knockback. This will significantly reduce our clear speed and make boss killing annoying since our AoE is rather small and we use Close Combat (see gem section). However the big bosses of the game (Shaper, Elder, guardians etc) are all immune to knockback so it’s a must for those fights.

Dying Sun
The Dying Sun increases our Aoe and clearspeed. You can immediately see its effect in the Sand/Blood circle. It's a good increase especially if you use the legacy version.

Bottled Faith
The strongest and most expensive flask in the game can be used by most builds and this one is no exception. It's very expensive so it should be one of your last priorities but adds a ton of damage. However it relies on consecrated ground for almost all of its effect (with the exception of the 40% increased damage) so it doesn't help much while clearing or with very mobile bosses like the Hunter. For most bosses though its huge radius is more than enough to ensure full effect.

Gem Links

For our main skill we use (in order of importance):

Bladestorm (20/20), Brutality (20/20), Close Combat (20/20), Melee Physical Damage (20/20), Fortify (20/20) + Ruthless (20/20) or Impale (20/20)

Brutality means that we can’t deal chaos damage so we can’t use Atziri’s or Sin’s. If you’d rather use those flasks then you can substitute it for on of the choices below.

Close Combat is a huge damage boost. Its maximum damage area is almost exactly the same size as our blood storms so it’s a perfect fit. Take note that It's only supported by LocalIdentity's PoB, but your should be using that version anyway (see the PoB section).

Melee Physical Damage really has no downside for us. A must for any melee phys build.

Fortify was buffed in 3.7 and gives a significant damage boost so it’s now a good option for our main skill. You’d still get a bit more damage if you use Ruthless but I prefer the defensive effect of fortify instead of a little more damage.

For the 6th link there are a lot of choices. Ruthless and Impale are probably the best but I present all options so you can choose what works best for you.

Ruthless is a very straightforward support gem. It provides 44% more damage with no downside. This is slightly lower than some of the options below but it is consistent and doesn't need stages/impales/whatever to work. It also doesn't lower our clear speed. It just does it's job without us needing to worry about it. As an added benefit is has a lower mana multiplier than the other options.

Impale + Dread Banner. The Impale support gives us 15% more damage but more importantly it allows us to use the impale mechanism which is a very significant damage boost. Please note that PoB does not support this mechanism and you have to use LocalIdentity's fork. While the impale mechanism does need 5 impales to reach it's full potential, it offers a large damage boost when the target has been impaled 5 times (APS*chance to hit*chance to impale=5). The downside is that until you reach maximum impale stages the damage boost is much lower. To further increase Impale's contribution we also use the Dread Banner aura which increases our chance to impale and gives us added impale effectiveness.
This setup provides maximum damage but in theory it should lower clear speed a bit.

The above options are the best and you can choose whatever you think works well for you. Below I list a few more options to consider which (for reasons that I explain) I feel are slightly inferior.

Other Options

Multistrike. Before the melee overhaul, multistrike was very annoying/dangerous to use as it kept you stuck in place until all 3 attacks finished their animations. After the overhaul in 3.7.0 it is much better as you can cancel the animation at any time and use another skill. It also got a damage boost. At least that's the theory. In practice canceling the animation doesn't always work or doesn't work at the exact moment you want it to. It's a lot better than it used to be but it will still get you stuck in place often. In a build that is supposed to leap slam almost instantly and relies on that ability for relatively fast clearing this is an issue, so while this is a good damage option I prefer not to use it. Another example of things looking great on paper but not in-game.

Concentrated Effect. Almost any skill that has the AoE tag can take advantage of the CE/AoE combination of gems. You can use Increased AoE for clearing and CE for bossing. Obviously this would mean that you'd have to switch gems to fight bosses (at least the most difficult ones). Another option would be to use CE all the time but this would decrease your clear speed. It's a viable alternative but I usually try to avoid switching gems whenever possible and luckily we have other options.

Rage gives a lot of damage but needs stages. There is a big boost at 10 stages so make sure you always have at least that. When you’re in combat it'll take a few seconds to gain maximum stages (50) and you need to move quickly between groups so you won’t lose them. When you enter boss arenas that are separate you lose all stages. It's a good damage boost but keeping up the stages can be difficult/annoying depending on the situation. You can combine it with Berserk which gives you an enormous damage boost for a very short time but leaves you with 0 stages (so essentially a 5L) when it finishes.

Awakened Gems

Awakened Melee Physical Damage. This gem gives us 5% more damage than the non-awakened equivalent. While this isn't much, at 20Q it also provides a 10% chance to intimidate enemies which is essentially another 10% more damage. We have a high enough attack speed so bosses are guaranteed to be intimidated almost immediately. This gem is very expensive and takes a very long time to level so it should be one of the last things on your list.

Awakened Brutality. This gives 5% more damage than the non-awakened version and also lowers the enemy physical damage reduction by 10%. A very small damage boost considering its price and the time needed to level it.

4L Cast When Damage Taken (6/0), Immortal Call (8/20), Enfeeble (9/20), Increased Duration (20/20)

This is a defensive CWDT setup. Immortal call now mitigates 28% of physical and elemental damage at level 8 but can mitigate more physical damage if we have endurance charges. We generate them by blocking (10% chance) so it’s not an overly reliable method but we do get some on boss fights where it counts. Enfeeble is the best defensive curse and is especially useful now that boss curse immunity has been reduced. The level of the gems is determined by the available intelligence. We don't gem much intel from the tree so you can get some on your gear or just use a lower gem level which will of course reduce the curse's effectiveness.

Steelskin is an alternative but it works best when it’s high level and self-cast and I’m not a fan of having to do multiple things in a fight. Automation is a lot better and more reliable.
If you don’t want a defensive curse you can use vulnerability for extra damage.
You can also use Blood Rage or a Golem instead of Increased Duration.

4L Pride (20/20) / Herald of Purity (20/0), Flesh and Stone (20/0), Blood and Sand (6/0), Enlighten (3/0)

This is half of our aura setup. Pride gives up to 39% more damage if you stand next to an enemy for more than 4 seconds. This works well for us since we have to tank bosses anyway and don’t need to move much to avoid their attacks. Herald of purity (which reserves 25% of mana) can be used as an alternative to Pride (50% reservation) if you don’t have a very low skill cost. Our unreserved mana with Pride is quite low and Bladestorm normally costs 35 mana which makes it impossible to use. If you follow all my mana cost reduction tips (see FAQ) you can get it down to 10 (or even 0) which allows you to use Pride.

Flesh and Stone blinds nearby enemies and makes faraway enemies deal less damage in sand stance and maims enemies in blood stance making them take more damage.

Blood and Sand gives us some much needed AoE in sand stance and damage in blood stance for just 10% mana reservation.

3L Riposte (20/20), Onslaught (20/20), Culling Strike (20/20)

Counterattacks deal double damage because of our ascendancy so Riposte is a good option here. It triggers whenever we block but has a cooldown of 0,8 sec. It’s a little bit of added damage (it would have been a lot if it didn’t have the cooldown) and is used to trigger Onslaught (more damage) and Culling Strike (very useful against bosses). The good thing about onslaught is that it triggers both on-kill and on-hit against uniques which means it works fine on bosses.

3L Leap Slam (20/20) / Whirling Blades (20/20), Faster Attacks (20/20), Lifetap (20/0)

Since we are using swords we can use either Leap Slam or Whirling Blades. I chose Leap Slam partly because it’s more in tune with the Melee theme and because if I chose Whirling Blades I’d also have to add a 1L Flame Dash for moving over gaps/walls. This build has a ton of attack speed (Bladestorm loves attack speed) and in combination with all the buffs we get (seriously the top of the screen will look like you’re playing a summoner) our Leap Slam gets all the way down to 0,17 sec !! Perfect for moving around super-fast and dodging boss slams. Lifetap is necessary because we leap a lot when not in battle (so we’re not leeching mana) and our unreserved mana is very low.
Leap Slam with BM also works like a mana flask on no regen maps. When you run out of mana, you just leap into a pack and your mana instantly fills up.

1L War Banner (20/20)

War banner gives us 11% more damage while we’re carrying it and some AoE and aura effect when placed. Personally I never bother to place it although technically it’s the best option for boss fights. 11% more damage for 10% mana reservation is a great deal any way you use it. Use this banner only if you're not using Impale.

1L Dread Banner (20/20)

Use this gem instead of War Banner only if you're using Impale with your BS. This banner gives us 20% chance to impale and 19% increased impale effect. It also reduces enemy accuracy by 21% and therefore provides a defensive bonus as well. When placed it provides Aoe and aura effect bonuses as well.

1L Precision (1/0)

This aura provides 20% increased critical strike chance and 93 accuracy at level 1. There's no room in our mana pool for a leveled version but even at level 1 the bonuses it provides are worth the 22 mana that is reserves. Obviously, in order to be able to use it alongside all the other auras you need to have all the mana cost reducing stats that I recommend. It also enables some interesting Watcher's Eye options.

1L Vaal Ancestral Warchief (20/0)

The totem is a great damage boost and also does some damage on its own. I usually use the Vaal version because of the higher damage boost and its ability to jump around and attack mobs. On separate map areas (like Elder guardians) you can use the normal version because the souls gained before you enter are lost.

1L Ancestral Protector (20/0)

Since we're not using Maim any more we have an empty socket which we can put to good use with an Ancestral Protector. 20% more attack speed is a huge damage boost and it is available all the time. No need to gather souls like with the Vaal Warchief. This gives us around 20% more damage which more than makes up for the 3% damage loss from Maim.

Since the Vaal Warcheif gives us +1 totems we can use both of them at the same time for maximum effect.

Aura options
The cheapest/easiest combination of auras when you're still poor at the beginning of the league is Herald of Purity (25%), Flesh and Stone (35%), Blood and Sand (10%), War/Dread Banner (10%) depending on whether you’re using Impale or not and Precision (22 mana). This is a total of around 83% mana reserved without using enlighten.
The best combination of auras which gives you the most damage is Pride (50%), Flesh and Stone (35%), Blood and Sand (10%), Dread Banner (10%) and Precision (22 mana). In order to use this you need enlighten level 4 and the mana reduction techniques that I describe in the guide and the FAQ. Also see this post for more details and options for enlighten 3.

Alternate Quality Gems
Bladestorm Supports
Divergent Brutality gives a small damage boost. The best option here remains Awakened Brutality though.

Divergent Close Combat should also provide a small damage boost.

Divergent Melee Physical gives a small damage boost. By far the best (and most expensive) option here remains the Awakened version.

The Anomalous version of Fortify provides a small defensive upgrade at the expense of some damage.

Impale has some interesting options. The Anomalous version provides 10% extra impale chance. You should get that if you don't already have 100% chance to impale. The Divergent version gives 5% chance to add an extra impale on monsters. This sounds like a reasonable damage boost but doesn't currently seem to be supported by PoB so I can't be sure.

Other Gems
Anomalous CWDT provides 20% increased skill effect duration. This works well for us.

Divergent Pride gives a small damage boost but the AoE reduction might mean that you'll restart the 4sec counter if you move away from the enemy.

Anomalous Herald of Purity gives some taunt chance to the sentinels. This is a small defensive boost if you use this herald.

Riposte offers two good options. Anomalous gives 20% increased cooldown recovery rate which means it will activate more often. Divergent gives a 20% chance to gain onslaught on hit. This is double the chance to gain onslaught against unique enemies compared to Onslaught support and it even lasts 4sec compared to Onslaught's 3sec. We can either replace Onslaught support with something else or keep it and have a total of 30% chance to gain the buff on hit against uniques making it essentially permanent.

Anomalous Onslaught gives 20% extra duration.

Phantasmal Leap Slam gives 10% increased attack speed. We already have tons of it but it can't hurt to get some more.

Divergent Dread Banner provides 5% extra impale chance. You should get that if you don't already have 100% chance to impale.

Anomalous Precision reduces mana reserved by 10%. Since we only use a lvl 1 that would mean a reduction of just 2 mana. It's also very expensive.


Get life on all your jewels (well there’s only three of them so it shouldn’t be expensive). Other than that there are multiple options that are good for us. Attack speed (while dual wielding), flat physical damage, increased physical damage, physical damage with one handed, physical damage while dual wielding, increased damage, crit chance etc. We have so many options that getting life + 2 damage mods should be cheap and easy. You can also get 1% block chance while dual wielding if you need it.

Since our main aura is Pride we can also use a Watcher’s Eye. “(8-12)% chance to deal Double Damage” is the best mod but “Intimidate” and “increased Attack Physical Damage” should be ok too.

If you're using Impale with your BS then the best stats are obviously those that affect it with "Impales you inflict last 2 additional Hits" being the best, followed by "25% chance to Impale Enemies". The other Pride stats will also work in this case as well.

When fighting Sirus especially at high awakening levels you NEED to have bleed immunity. A corrupted jewel with the implicit "Corrupted blood cannot be inflicted on you" is the best way of getting that. If you can't afford a good one just buy anything that has this mod. It's absolutely essential.

If you're willing to sacrifice some life and resists to get a damage boost you can use a Thread of Hope with large radius at the bottom socket. This allows you to take Harvester of Foes, Swift Skewering, Panopticon and Bladedancer. You can remove the 4 points of Fatal Blade. Remember though that Panopticon provides a significant damage boost only while your totem is active.

My Current Gear

This is my final gear. I have some pretty nice items but you don’t really need them to kill every boss in the game. You can easily kill Uber Elder with 5ex worth of gear especially if you’ve done it before. Final gear cost was around 15ex for me (not including the very expensive items at the bottom). Prices will vary in leagues though.

If you're rich you can get some really nice stuff to juice up your build.

The guide continues at the next post
From League Starter to Shaper – Cheap, Tanky, Fast and Fun Physical ST – Very Detailed Guide

Gannicus, God of the Arena – Deathless Uber Elder for Everyone
Last edited by Aias_o_Telamonios on Jul 21, 2021, 3:31:17 PM
Last bumped on Dec 7, 2023, 12:38:52 PM
Details About Block

For most builds block is capped at 75%. The Gladiator ascendancy raises that to 79% (Violent Retaliation) and gives spell block equal to attack block (Versatile Combatant). This means we don't need to take any spell block. In fact any spell block we may have is ignored.

Our goal is to have 79% block chance when in combat. There's no need to try to get 79% in your hideout. No one will attack you there.

Dual wielding gives 15%, the tree gives 39% and the ascendancy (including Painforged which only works in battle) 14% for a total of 68%. This means we need another 11% block chance from our swords or other gear. Finding swords with a high block chance (9% max roll) may be hard so you can use other sources as well. You don't need to use two block swords any more (or any block swords at all) as since 3.11 the tree provides an extra 7% block chance on nodes that we already take.

- Corrupted amulet (5% max roll)
- Anointing Gemini (4%)
- Anvil amulet (8%), also increases max block chance by 3%
- Jewels with block chance (they only give 1% though)
- Abyss jewels (+2% Chance to Block Attack Damage if you were Damaged by a Hit Recently)
- Cluster jewels (Deadly Repartee, Enduring Ward, Flexible Sentry, Prodigious Defence, Riot Queller, Rote Reinforcement, Second Skin, Strike Leader, Vicious Guard, minor passive: 1% Chance to Block Attack Damage)
- Reckless Defence jewels (bad choice though)
- Elder gloves with block chance (5% max)
- Elder sword (+1% Chance to Block Attack Damage per Endurance Charge)
- Crafting block on your armour (7%)
- The Red Nightmare unique jewel in the socket near Barbarism (4%). You should also allocate Diamond Skin if you do that.
- Rumi's Concoction (only during flask uptime)

All those can all help towards getting to 79%. Check the gear section for more details. Also check the FAQ regarding Violent Retaliation.

Details About Damage

This is an attack build which means that most of our damage comes from our gear and tree and not from gem levels (like spells). Our main focus is tankiness and single target damage, taking out bosses quickly and safely. Our AoE is not large so don’t expect to clear the entire screen with a single attack. Bladestorm is in some ways similar to DoT. The attack part does damage immediately but the storm part keeps damaging the enemy even after the attack has ended. Use this to your advantage for faster clear speed.

This is a comprehensive checklist of things that you need to pay attention to in order to have maximum damage:

- 20/20 gems. This is obvious but there are people who overlook it so it’s first on the list. Gem levels don’t matter as much as they do for spells but that doesn’t mean we don’t need them. Getting 21/20 is nice but doesn’t really help much.
- Good swords. Weapons play a key role in any attack build. See the gear section for leveling weapons. For the end-game the minimum you should aim for is a Saviour combined with a Paradoxica with good mods (flat phys, crit chance, impale, attack speed etc). This combination is also pretty cheap a couple of weeks into a new league. The best you can get is a Saviour and a high pDPS T1 block sword, but that should be expensive.
- 100% chance to hit. This is essential and easy to get. You need accuracy on your gear (sword and jewelry are good options).
- 100% chance to impale. If you’re using the Impale version (which you definitely should in end-game) you absolutely need to have 100% chance to impale. You can get some from the gem itself, dread banner, tree, cluster jewels, watcher’s eye or even your sword. It doesn’t matter how you do it but make sure you’re at 100%
- Flat physical damage on most of your gear. You absolutely need to have some at least on your jewelry.
- Flasks. A large part of our damage comes from them. Make sure you’re using the right ones.
- Attack speed. Bladestorm loves attack speed and leap slam does as well. Make sure you get as much as possible. Aim for 6+ APS.
- Crit chance. We have 300% crit multi from the Maligaro’s and we need to make sure it’s put to good use. You can get ~45% crit chance with flasks up with moderate investment. With a bottled faith you can reach ~60%. This is effective crit chance so use PoB to calculate it. Don’t forget to craft “of the order” on one of your flasks.
- Using a Stygian Vise is the best option if you’re using a rare belt. You get an extra Abyssal jewel which you can use as a damage source.
- Ryslatha’s coil. Best damage belt and it even has life. You do lose resists though and that will put a strain on the rest of your gear. It’s an option worth considering though.
- Make sure your amulet has the proper anointment. See the relevant section of the guide.
- Totems. Use a Vaal ancestral warchief and an ancestral protector at the same time. The damage boost they provide is huge. Especially if you get Panopticon (see the jewel section).
- Thread of hope. Nice damage boost at the expense of a jewel. Makes your totems pretty insane.
- Cluster jewels can help (see the relevant section) but that will cost you nodes from the tree. Don’t expect huge gains though. Make sure you thoroughly examine your options on PoB.
- +1 Bladestorm helmet enchant. This is by far the best enchant we can get as it gives 20% more damage. Nothing can beat that.
- Bottled faith. Huge damage boost especially with good rolls. It’s only for bosses though as it relies on consecrated ground for almost all of its functionality.
- Watcher’s eye. All the Pride mods are great but +2 impales is the best. Most precision mods are also pretty good. Getting 2 useful mods is the best (and most expensive) option.
- Awakened gems. Awakened Melee Physical is the most useful as it intimidates enemies and Awakened Brutality gives a moderate damage boost.
- Alternative quality gems. Some nice options available, see the gem section for details.


There are several guides out there about leveling so I’m not going to write another one. Bladestorm is available from level 28 so you can use that to level. Or use any other skill you like. Grab some life and mana leech early on and then just get damage or life depending on what you feel like you need the most. I had no trouble leveling this.


Painforged: Some block chance but mainly needed to get the other nodes.
Violent Retaliation: Great node. Max block, lots of block chance and damage.
Versatile Combatant: This is what makes the Gladiator unique. No other class can get so much spell block.
Arena Challenger: Good damage booster that works on mobs as well as bosses.


Kill all is the best option.


+1 number of Bladestorms is the ideal helmet enchant. Each of our bladestorms does around half of the damage that our melee attack does. So if each bladestorm does X damage then the total (melee + 3 storms) is 5X. Getting that to 6X is 20% more damage. That's pretty huge.

For the gloves go for a crit chance (or vulnerability) corruption. Glove enchants are useless anyway.

The boot enchant is important. Go for “reduced mana cost of skills if you’ve been hit recently”. The reduction is calculated on the original mana cost of 35 so it’s enough to take your mana cost from 12 to 6. Pretty significant if you want to run Pride.

3.11 brought with it belt enchants. They're all useless for us though with the exception of "Enemies Blinded by you have 30% reduced Critical Strike Chance" which of course only works while in sand stance. Not particularly useful but if you have the chance, get that one.


There are many choices here and it all depends on whether you are using Maligaro's or not. If you are then any crit multi you take will be useless. Blade of Cunning, Disemboweling, Throatseeker, Assassination, Dismembering, True Strike, Heartseeker, Twin Terrors, Master of Force are all options you should consider. If you're using Maligaro's then Tenacity (Gold, Gold, Crimson) is probably the best and most expensive option. It gives the second best damage and 5% life on top of that. For maximum damage go for the new Command of Steel node (Amber, Crimson, Opalescent).

You can get Gemini (Amber, Teal, Violet) if you need extra block chance. It will also give you a damage boost.

You can also get Cruel Preparation (Teal, Black, Silver) for life.

Cluster Jewels

Below is a list of notable passives and small passives which are suitable for this build. The ones I like the most are at the top. The list is not exhaustive, there are other nodes that are usefull but these are the ones that stand out. As the list is quite large and diverse (damage, life, defense, charge genaration etc.) I can't recommend specific nodes. Take what you think is best for your playstyle. There is nothing in there that significantly alters the build althought there are some very interesting nodes that can have some impact beyond simply increasing life/damage (like the ability to generate power charges etc). Likewise I can't tell you what nodes to remove from the build tree in order to use the cluster jewels. You will have to decide that based on what you picked from the list and what you feel would be the least useful to you.

You can, of course, simply choose not to use cluster jewels at all. I'd suggest only using them if you find/craft/buy one where all the nodes are useful. Otherwise just stick to the build tree.

3.11 removed the notables that provided the most damage for us (Deep Cuts and Confident Combatant). However large cluster jewels now always have 2 jewel sockets which can justify their use if you get one with at least 2 good notables. Feel free to experiment here and always try things out in PoB before you buy anything. Notable placement on the cluster jewel is important as you don't always want to allocate all of them.

If you choose to use a cluster jewel then you should also allocate the socket near Amdidexterity.

Notable Passives
Mage Bane
+5% Chance to Block Spell Damage while Dual Wielding
Attack Skills deal 20% increased Damage while Dual Wielding
20% chance to gain a Power Charge when you Block

Powerful Ward
20% chance to gain a Power Charge when you Block
+6% Chance to Block Spell Damage while at Maximum Power Charges

20% increased Attack Damage
20% increased Damage with Ailments from Attack Skills
Enemies killed by your Attack Hits have a 15% chance to Explode, dealing a tenth of their maximum Life as Physical Damage

Deadly Repartee
+5% Chance to Block Attack Damage while Dual Wielding
Attack Skills deal 25% increased Damage while Dual Wielding
30% increased Attack Critical Strike Chance while Dual Wielding

Iron Breaker
Enemies have -10% to Total Physical Damage Reduction against your Hits
35% increased Physical Damage

Pressure Points
Your Critical Strikes have a 5% chance to deal Double Damage
40% increased Critical Strike Chance

Towering Threat
5% increased maximum Life
10% increased Area of Effect
3% increased Character Size

+20 to maximum Life
10% increased maximum Life

Prismatic Carapace
30% increased Armour
+1% to all maximum Elemental Resistances

Force Multiplier
5% chance to deal Double Damage
25% increased Physical Damage

Hit and Run
Attack Skills deal 20% increased Damage while Dual Wielding
4% chance to Dodge Attack or Spell Hits if you've Hit an Enemy Recently

Insatiable Killer
Attack Skills deal 20% increased Damage while Dual Wielding
5% increased Attack Speed while Dual Wielding
5% chance to gain a Frenzy Charge on Kill while Dual Wielding

Furious Assault
8% increased Attack and Cast Speed
25% increased Physical Damage

Basics of Pain
20% increased Damage
30% increased Critical Strike Chance

Quick Getaway
5% increased Attack and Cast Speed
5% increased Movement Speed if you've dealt a Critical Strike Recently
25% increased Critical Strike Chance

Run Through
Axe or Sword Attacks deal 15% increased Damage with Ailments
10% increased Impale Effect
10% chance to Impale Enemies on Hit with Axes or Swords
15% increased Physical Damage with Axes or Swords

Fearsome Warrior
8% increased Area of Effect
25% chance to Intimidate nearby Enemies for 4 seconds on Melee Kill

Martial Momentum
8% increased Attack Speed while Dual Wielding
16% increased Accuracy Rating while Dual Wielding
32% increased Damage if you've used a Travel Skill Recently

30% increased Evasion Rating and Armour
35% increased Physical Damage

Smite the Weak
40% increased Attack Damage against Maimed Enemies
Attacks have 10% chance to Maim on Hit

Martial Prowess
20% increased Attack Damage
6% increased Attack Speed
15% increased Global Accuracy Rating
20% increased Damage with Ailments from Attack Skills

Minor Passives (in order of effectiveness)
Large Cluster Jewels
Sword Attacks deal 12% increased Damage with Hits and Ailments
12% increased Physical Damage
12% increased Attack Damage while Dual Wielding
10% increased Attack Damage

Medium Cluster Jewels
6% increased effect of Non-Curse Auras from your Skills
15% increased Critical Strike Chance
10% increased Area Damage

Small Cluster Jewels
4% increased maximum Life


I use Lunaris and Gruthkul for the physical damage reduction. We’re usually surrounded by mobs so it works well almost all the time. You can change it to Solaris for the Shaper and Sirus fights.
Ryslatha can be good for lab if you’re having trouble with the traps.

Map Mods

This build can do any map mod including no leech (annoying but ok because we have regen), no regen (easy because we leech a lot) and reduced block chance (be careful with this one). I’ve even done a map with no regen + no leech by turning off some auras to get more mana and using a mana flask.
You can even do physical reflect by using a Sybil's Lament ring and Yugul in the Pantheon (thanks OminousDarkness).


Obviously Izaro is a complete joke.
As for the traps, we have life regen and reduced physical damage taken which will help. Also some traps (like the poison darts) are blockable. Our lightning fast leap slam should be enough to safely get through any gauntlet. However don’t forget that the traps deal damage as a percentage of your life so having high life doesn’t help here. Just be reasonably careful and lab should be a breeze.

Is this suitable for HC?

It’s tanky as hell so I’d say yes. You can make it even tankier by investing in things like physical damage taken as elemental, more life, higher block chance (using an anvil) etc. I don’t play HC but if I did I’d do it with this build. You really shouldn’t have any trouble surviving there. Let me know if you try it.


Finding good block swords can be difficult. The market was relatively small and apparently the popularity of the build has drained it. Crafting can be a viable option to get high damage block swords. It can be quite expensive though. You may need to use a crafting service if you don't have all the desired mods. Make sure to select one with a vouch thread.

The general steps are:

1. Study the list of possible mods. This is very important so you know what you are looking for and what level base to buy. https://poedb.tw/us/mod.php?cn=One%20Hand%20Sword

2. Buy the base. It has to be a high level shaper one handed sword obviously. I suggest at least level 80 so you can get the highest block roll.

3. Scour the base (if needed) and make it magic. Alt spam it until you get the combination of 2 mods that you're looking for. If you get one good mod on its own then augment it.

4. If you want at this stage you can make an imprint. You need to use beastcrafting with a Craicic Chimeral. This allows you to come back to the current state of the sword if the next step fails. It is expensive though. It may be cheaper to just redo step 3 if you fail.

5. Regal the sword then annul it and hope that the annul removes the mod that the regal added. If you get lucky and regal a good mod then obviously don't annul it. If the annul removes a good mod then go to step 3 unless you made an imprint in which case you can use that to get the magic version back. If you succeed with the annul then continue.

6. Multi-mod the sword. Since the multi-mod nerf, you can only multi-mod 2 affixes. Choose carefully what you want to add as the only way to change it is to remove all the crafted mods together (including the 2 ex multimod).

7. If you're feeling lucky you can exalt the last empty affix.

Crafting can be expensive and depends entirely on RNG so your mileage will vary. Make sure you understand the process before you start. You may want to look at some youtube crafting guides if you're new to all this.


You need to use the community (LocalIdentity's) fork of PoB. The normal version has fallen so much behind that it's useless.

My gear is very good and quite expensive. There's no need for that level of gear to do everything in the game. I easily killed all bosses a long time before I got any of the expensive gear listed here.

3.14 PoB Link - Best gear
3.14 PoB Link - Normal gear

I’d like to thank bashtart for getting me started on this with his build which ended up being completely different (Impale Cyclone) but gave me some good ideas. Check it out if you want.

I’ve made this guide as detailed as possible. While I believe I’ve covered all the important things feel free to ask me any related questions.

Please do so here and not in-game or through PMs so that everyone can benefit from the discussion.

I hope you will all enjoy this build as much as I have.

Don't forget to check the FAQ below.

Also check out my other guide, Physical ST Slayer
From League Starter to Shaper – Cheap, Tanky, Fast and Fun Physical ST – Very Detailed Guide

Gannicus, God of the Arena – Deathless Uber Elder for Everyone
Last edited by Aias_o_Telamonios on Jul 1, 2021, 8:35:03 AM

OK, I get the obligatory “Spartacus” reference because this is a Gladiator, but why Gannicus?
Because he was the best. Unmatched in both skill and style. Noone else could defeat the Romans with a sword in one hand, a cup of wine on the other and still get all the girls when he’s done. The fact that he dual wielded swords was no accident either.

Should I use Brutality or Ruthless + Atziri’s + Sin’s?
Brutality will give you more damage all the time but Ruthless + flasks will give more damage with flasks up. It’s your choice really. I chose not to rely on flasks too much since they can’t be up all the time especially in boss fights. Clear speed is also better with Brutality.

Will this work with other skills?
It’s a pretty general Melee Physical build so it should be just fine with other similar skills. You may need to make changes in the tree/gear if you want to specialize in something different though.

My PoB damage seems low compared to X skill
First of all it’s utterly stupid to compare damage between different skills. Each one works in a different way and damage is calculated according to that. I have 600K on my PoB and melt Uber Elder faster than other builds with millions of Shaper DPS. Also don’t forget that PoB doesn’t currently support Close Combat, Maligaro’s crit multi, Pride Watcher’s eye and probably more things that I’m forgetting now. Damage numbers are only useful to compare things like gear, tree nodes etc. in the same build.

Do we really generate Frenzy and Endurance charges?
Yes we do. We have a 20% chance to generate a Frenzy charge and a 10% chance to generate an endurance charge on block from the tree. In general you won’t see many charges while clearing. Mobs usually die before they have a chance to hit us. But you’ll see a lot more of them on boss fights (especially with minions) where they are actually needed the most.

Why aren’t we using Blood Rage?
You can use it if you like. It’s a decent option, either self-cast or automated on CWDT. I rarely use self-cast things and I chose to use Increased Duration on my CWDT setup to make it a bit more defensive instead of BR. BR also has the down side that it only generates charges on kill. So on bosses you mostly only have the attack speed boost (and the degen).

Vaal Double Strike instead of Vaal Ancestral Warchief?
The doubles will probably do more damage than the totem but they don’t provide any damage boost to the player. The main advantage of the Vaal Warchief is that huge 32% more melee damage buff that it provides. If you don’t want to use the Vaal version then an Ancestral Protector gives more damage than a Warchief.

How can you use Bladestorm with 8% unreserved mana?
I have covered this in the guide but this is all the information concentrated in one place. The normal mana cost of Bladestorm is 34. I use an armour with -15 to mana cost of socketed attacks. I also have -7 mana cost of skills crafted on a ring. This brings the total cost down to 12. The boot enchant 18% reduced mana cost of skills if you’ve been hit recently brings it down to 6. You can even add a second ring with –mana cost which will mean a total cost of 0 but that’s not necessary and a damage craft will help more.

Is Violent Retaliation enough to get me to 79% block without block swords?
Technically yes. It can get you from 61% to 79%. However there's a catch. In contrast to Painforged which only needs one hit every 4 seconds to give you 8%, Violent Retaliation gives 1% per block. If you don't have block swords or other block sources except the tree that means you go into battle with just 53% block chance (remember Painforged hasn't activated yet). Of course this won't be a problem against mobs but against dangerous bosses it can be deadly since we need to tank them and we absolutely rely on block for survival. Don't forget that having higher block chance means that you block more often so VR works faster. Lastly if you don't get hit for 4 seconds (due to high block chance, dodging, boss phases etc.) Painforged stops working so you need VR block chance to make up for it.
In summary, we need as much permanent block chance as possible on our gear. This is the most reliable source. Painforged and Violent Retaliation help a lot but they are situational and we should rely on them a less as possible. With that in mind, I'd say that you can get away with having only one good block sword (or equal block chance from other gear) but by far the best option is two good block swords.

Previous League Changes

Changes in 3.13 - No real changes

The only change is that "Painforged no longer grants 40% increased Damage if you've taken no Damage from Hits Recently". Not a big nerf since in serious fights we do get hit regularly so this didn't really help anyway.

Other than that: "Small passives that previously granted Chance to Block Attack Damage while Dual Wielding or holding a Shield now instead grant Chance to Block Attack Damage at the same values". Which means no change for us.

On a side note, I find this change ridiculous. They want the ascendancies to have "character". Well gladiators dual wielded or used a shield. It makes for faster and more spectacular combat which is the entire point of the gladiator (in real life). Very rarely would you see them use slow and heavy two handed weapons.

Slight nerf to divergent Pride if you want to use that.

No changes in gear or tree were made. The build is ready to go.

Changes in 3.12 - Absolutely nothing...

Nothing is changed in the tree, gems, gear etc. with the exception of the enfeeble nerf:

"No longer causes cursed enemies to have reduced critical strike chance or critical strike multiplier. Curses applied by casting this spell now gain 10 Doom per second. Now gains additional radius as the gem levels, up to +10 at gem level 20 (from +7). Now gains 1% increased effect of curse per 2% gem quality (previously granted 1% reduced accuracy rating per 5% gem quality and 1% reduced critical strike chance per 2% gem quality)."

So we gain slightly larger radius and 10% curse effect and lose the crit chance/crit multi reduction. Enfeeble remains the best defensive curse so we will continue to use it.

Changes in 3.11 - This is a buff. Not joking!

In its infinite wisdom GGG saw it fit to nerf dual wield. This is an obvious attempt to push players towards two handed weapons which are the theme of this expansion. Apparently GGG thinks that melee is too strong and needs to be nerfed in order to keep the balance. The meta in the last three leagues has been zombie Summoners, mana Guardians and herald stackers. Melee hasn't been meta in a long time (with the partial exception of Cyclone Slayers during Legion) and yet it seems that dual wielding is destroying the balance of a game dominated by bows and spells.

To keep a long story short I estimate the total damage loss at around 16%. We'll need to wait for PoB to be updated to see the exact numbers. The numbers are in and the total nerf is 13,5% with my gear. While this is definitely ...not a buff, it isn't something that really affects the build or limits its potential. In fact the new location of Forceful Skewering means that we can now use that instead of the Berserking cluster for some added Impale damage and chance to Impale. We even get a bit of life out of it.

So why is this a buff you ask? Because the tree now gives us +7% chance to block attack damage on nodes that we already take! This is huge! It means that we no longer have to use two block swords or even any block swords at all to reach maximum block. The best option is still to use one block sword and potentially get some additional block elsewhere (see the new section about block sources). However if you can't find block swords or you want to use high DPS non-block swords you are free to do so. This makes it a lot easier/cheaper to get high DPS swords in a temp league. You'll most likely end up with higher damage because of that, considering how hard it was to find/craft high DPS block swords.

The build tree hasn't changed apart from using Forceful Skewering instead of Berserking. We do lose a bit of attack speed but nothing significant.

The new skill Intimidating Cry might make up the lost damage at least partially. We'll need to wait for it to be integrated into PoB.

Herald of Purity (for those not using Pride) now grants 12% more physical damage instead of added flat physical.

Cluster jewels have also been nerfed. Deep cuts and Confident Combatant were removed. These were the biggest damage boosters for us. However cluster jewels were never really good for this build anyway. The only way I could make them work was with a 15ex Megalomaniac and even then the result was marginally better.

Other than what I mentioned above I couldn't find anything else in the patch notes that might affect us.

Patch notes:
Dual Wielding no longer grants 20% more physical attack damage. It still grants 10% more attack speed and 15% chance to block attack hits.

Herald of Purity
No longer grants added Physical Damage with Spells and Attacks.
Now grants 9% more Physical Damage at gem level 1, up to 12% more Physical Damage at gem level 20.

Added a new Strength Skill Gem - Intimidating Cry: Performs a warcry, Intimidating nearby enemies and taunting them to attack the user, as well as exerting the user's next two attacks. Grants a buff which reduces the effect of enemy armour against your hits.

Changes in 3.10 - Cluster Jewels can be an excellent addition to the build!

Patch 3.10 brings with it absolutely no changes to the build. After reading the patch I could only find a few minor things that influence us.
1. Precision: Now grants 20% increased Critical Strike Chance to you and nearby allies at gem level 1 (from 40%), up to 58% at gem level 20 (from 59%).
2. Corrupting jewels can now grant "Enemies have -2% to Total Physical Damage Reduction against your Hits" as an implicit.
3. Fossils can no longer craft any prefix or suffix mods that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Body Armour: Socketed Attacks have -15 to Mana Cost (now from Warlord's Influence).

No1 just reduces our damage slightly. In all fairness 40% crit for 22 mana was too much. I believe precision is still worth it though. No2 could give us a very small damage boost. No3 might make -15 mana armours a bit more difficult to find. Warlord's armour bases are not rare though, so it shouldn't be important.

Cluster Jewels are a new way of modifying the skill tree. They are a better version of the Historic Jewels. Instead of relying on RNG to get the desired mods you can now use crafting. This opens up a huge array of possibilities. You can find the full list here: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2783927. As you can see there are a lot of them that can be useful to us. Don't forget though that getting those nodes requires skill points so you will have to remove them from other nodes. For now I'm not going to modify the skill tree. You can easily grab the outer socket next to Ambidexterity if you want to add a good cluster jewel and see what that does for you. The possibilities are so many that it's hard for me to recommend a specific one at this time. We will need to wait and see what works best.

As an important and complex new addition to the game, Cluster Jewels will take some getting used to before they are incorporated into the majority of builds.

Changes in 3.9 - Changes? What changes?

Well there are some but they are pretty minor.

First, the new position of Swagger saves us a point. I suggest getting the new Path of the Warrior. That extra -5% to enemy physical damage reduction should help mitigate the monster armour changes. You can also take one of the many 4% life nodes if you prefer.

"Endless Hunger now causes you to be Unaffected by Bleeding (rather than Immune)". This doesn't matter for us.

"Monsters throughout the game now have more armour, from 33% at level 1 up to 2762% at level 84. Sounds a lot scarier than it is, because their base armour is stirringly unimpressive". Monsters having more armour isn't good but I don't really think it'll change much. Getting Path of the Warrior will help too.

Awakened gems. Awakened Brutality or Melee Physical would be super good for us. Good luck getting them though as they will be pretty rare. And leveling them will take forever. Something to aim towards I suppose.

Shaper items will still be available (but harder to get) but GGG has stated that most of them will also be made available as Conqueror mods. We'll need to see about that as I didn't find anything in the patch notes about it.

This is a Boss League. This build should be perfect for it.

P.S. There is a fork of PoB that correctly supports Close Combat. You can get it at: https://github.com/LocalIdentity/PathOfBuilding/wiki/Installing-this-Fork
This doesn't change anything for us. It just shows our correct DPS (huge increase). Thanks to Fire309 for letting me know.

Changes in 3.8 - No changes at all

There are really no changes to the build in 3.8

Aura skills now have a slightly larger radius. This is good for our Pride aura. Flesh and Stone also has a larger range and so does our banner aura (with a higher bonus from quality).

Flesh and Stone now has 20 gem levels. I guess this means that all of us who leveled them in Legion will have to relevel them to use on standard. Bad choice from GGG. Also it now only protects from attack damage from blinded enemies. At least it gets a higher cooldown recovery.

Herald of purity (for those using it) has a slight and meaningless change. Summoned Sentinels can now use Crusade Slam regardless of Ascendancy. Whatever that means....

From League Starter to Shaper – Cheap, Tanky, Fast and Fun Physical ST – Very Detailed Guide

Gannicus, God of the Arena – Deathless Uber Elder for Everyone
Last edited by Aias_o_Telamonios on Jul 1, 2021, 8:35:57 AM
O looks wonderful~~~I want to try this in 3.9, as the 1st char when legion is released.
3.9 ? So you're gonna wait 3 months to use it ? :P

Yeah, this is a good league starter. I had no trouble leveling it. Gl.
From League Starter to Shaper – Cheap, Tanky, Fast and Fun Physical ST – Very Detailed Guide

Gannicus, God of the Arena – Deathless Uber Elder for Everyone
Build updated for 3.8. No changes whatsoever. I'll update the PoB if the changes in the tree affect us.
From League Starter to Shaper – Cheap, Tanky, Fast and Fun Physical ST – Very Detailed Guide

Gannicus, God of the Arena – Deathless Uber Elder for Everyone
Hi !

Just checked your build which, first, looks awesome and second is exactly the kind of melee build I'd like to play.

However I'm a real newbie and I've only done one season so far, so I have trouble seeing the priority in allocating the points in the skill tree while leveling.

If you ever find time, do you think you could make a "what your tree could/should look like" at levels 40, 60 and 80 (just giving kind of random levels) for instance ?

I've read the "Grab some life and mana leech early on and then just get damage or life depending on what you feel like you need the most" part of your guide but for beginners it's not always easy...

Thanks again for your build !
I did leveling trees for my other build. They were a REAL pain to maintain. Changing one tree every time GGG changes something is one thing. But having to constantly maintain 6-7 trees with the changes in every league is too much, sorry.
From League Starter to Shaper – Cheap, Tanky, Fast and Fun Physical ST – Very Detailed Guide

Gannicus, God of the Arena – Deathless Uber Elder for Everyone
I understand, I didn't even think about how maintaining the leveling trees league after league can be so much time consuming, thanks for your answer.

I'll focus on getting that life/mana leech and then see how it'll go afterwards, and I will wait for some eventual changes in the tree.

Have a nice day !

Thanks for sharing the build.

Would like to know if it is good for playing delve too.

Thanks in advance

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