[3.10] ShakCentral's Vortex For Dummies

A Reference for the Rest of Us!

     Do you hate having to choose between high damage builds and ones with great defenses? Do you want a single build that can take on deep delves and still crush Uber Elder? This guide is your stop for all things Vortex. Whether you want a character easily geared in SSF, a safe boss killer, or a build deals constant damage while maneuvering around, you'll find what you need inside!

Discover how to:

✔️ Level quickly in a new league and transition to Vortex cheaply

✔️ Craft your own gear and save a lot of $$

✔️ Adjust your build for delving and take on that deep content

✔️ Make bosses a joke while avoiding all of their moves

...and more!

3.10 Update:

Vortex has survived the patch notes extremely well. No major buffs and no major nerfs. There are changes to crafting methods that I will be exploring - Shaper belts cant roll ES anymore (rip 1,000+ ES belts), but the "increased ES from body armour" mod has moved to a prefix, which is MASSIVE for fixing resists or attributes.

Overall, the build is looking fantastic for Delirium and should breeze through all content as usual. Great league starter and even better end-game crusher.

I will be updating the PoB as much as I'm able before league launch. There shouldn't be too many sweeping changes, and older PoBs and build setups will still be fantastic.

Newest Update:

The Path of Building has been (mostly) updated, and can be found in the appropriate place in section 1.4. I'm continuing to work on updates in other sections as free time allows.

To-Do List & Upcoming Guide Changes
I'm using this space to leave myself notes for updates, so no promises that it all makes sense
- More PoBs. A normal progression PoB and some other weirder builds
- SSF specific instructions
- Re-do item pictures for Part 3B (wiped in the comment move)
- Add in many new sections with the new best items and new items
- Hide a toucan somewhere in the guide
- Deeper explanations on mechanics that are difficult to understand (EE I'M LOOKING AT YOU)
- Crafting processes


My Other Guides

The first guide in the "For Dummies" series was Tornado Shot For Dummies. Check it out!

This guide is an overhaul of my first guide on Vortex, which can be viewed here. If you want to see videos before I upload fresh 3.9 kills, go here.

About the Author

     I began playing Path of Exile in 2014. After a several-year break, I returned to PoE around 2017 and have been playing steadily since. I streamed Path of Exile content for a while on Twitch, especially my participation in the “Kammell” races in 2018/19, but have taken a step back from streaming as my wife and I have begun foster care. I love writing, and am excited to contribute to the community in this way.

     I enjoy playing efficient builds, and fondly remember the days of clearing Merciless Dried Lake with Vaal Spark in 30 seconds or less.


     As always, to Enki, whose Arc guide inspires me in my content creation, writing, and dedication to the game. ❤️❤️❤️

Why Make A Vortex Guide?

     As mentioned at the start, this actually isn't my first Vortex guide. I really love Vortex, and it has been one of my favorite builds since 3.5, although Occultist got nerfed pretty hard. Nevertheless, the build is still top tier, and I was happy to return to it. I've redone the guide, as I want to keep it in the "For Dummies" style, and much of the tree and items have changed in the past 6-9 months.

     My goal is for this guide to be the stop for all things Vortex. Whether you're playing CI, Low Life, or some weird Life build (you weirdo), this is the place for you.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Introduction to Vortex
 1.1 - The Mechanics of Vortex
 1.2 - Why Play Vortex?
 1.3 - The Pros and Cons of Vortex
 1.4 - Path of Building (PoB) and Brief Build Theory
 1.5 - Videos

Part 2: Leveling
 2.1 - Leveling in a fresh league or With a New Account
 2.2 - Leveling with twink gear
 2.3 - Full Leveling Guide
 2.4 - Leveling Guide tl;dr
 2.5 - Converting to Chaos Inoculation

Part 3: The Full Vortex
 3.1 - Gem Setups
 3.2 - Immunities
 3.3 - Flasks
 3.4 - Jewels
 3.5 - Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheon Powers
 3.6 - Trade League Live Searches
 3.7 - Gearing For Low and Mid-Tier Maps
 3.8 - Low-Life Build: Destroying the End-Game

Part 4: The Part of Tens
 4.1 - Ten Cheap Uniques That Can Substitute For Expensive Gear
 4.2 - Ten TV Shows to Watch While Deep Delving
 4.3 - Ten Builds To Play If You Need A Break From Vortex

Part 5: FAQ, Index, And Changelog
 5.1 - Frequently Asked Questions
 5.2 - Index
 5.3 - Changelog

Part 1: Introduction to Vortex


 1.1 The Mechanics of Vortex

How Does the Gem Work?

Here is the default spell visual:

Vortex is an instant cast spell that causes an initial hit of Cold Damage and leaves behind a circle on the ground that deals Cold Damage Over Time.

A few things to note about the mechanics of Vortex:

        1. Instant cast means that casting does not interrupt your character's movement.

        2. The Vortex is created at the feet of the caster and stays in that location (As of 3.9, there is a ring which makes Vortex targetable. It is bad).

        3. Vortex (and Cold Snap) applies increases to your spell damage to its Damage Over Time.

        4. The Frostbolt interaction can be ignored. This build does not utilize it in any way.

How Do You Build Around Vortex?

Vortex builds have a simple concept paired with a high degree of flexibility. Vortex has incredibly high DPS "uptime", a concept that I will mention throughout the guide, so I will explain here.

DPS Uptime : DPS Uptime is my term for the % of time in combat when enemies are taking damage. If you stop Fireballing to Flame Dash, you lose DPS uptime. If your Mirage Archer is firing while you're moving, you don't. This is why some melee builds can put up absurd damage in Path of Building but struggle in game. If you list 5 million DPS but you spent half your time Leap Slamming, you're not really doing 5 million DPS. Vortex has phenomenal DPS uptime, as it creates its damage instantly while moving, and the damage remains around to kill more enemies afterward.

Vortex builds want to do 3 things, none of which require extensive game knowledge or complicated calculations:

        1. Vortex wants to stack generic Spell Damage, Damage over Time, and Cold Damage to deal high damage for its duration.

        2. Vortex wants to stack Energy Shield and other defensive layers to become as tanky as possible.

        3. Vortex wants to utilize curses and the freeze and chill ailments to the greatest extent possible to neutralize enemies and stay safe.

1.2 Why Play Vortex?
Quality of Life

Vortex rivals Righteous Fire for the best combination of damage, survivability, and forgiving gameplay. While the ultra-fast gameplay of Tornado Shot can be fun and rewarding, it can also be a strain on your fingers, eyes, and attention. Vortex is very good at turning the game's toughest content into a manageable and enjoyable experience.

Gear Requirements and SSF

Good news: there are no specific gear requirements. There are uniques that make the build better, and some are required for the Low Life variant of the build. However, Vortex can be played into maps in all self-crafted blue (Magic) gear. I've demonstrated this in the past, and plan to record a video of the gearing process. The build can achieve 4500+ ES, capped res, and 50-60k Vortex DPS (Not counting Cold Snap) in all blue self-crafted gear.

Vortex vs Melee Skills

Vortex's advantage over melee skills is its defenses and DPS uptime. Where melee builds constantly switch between attack and movement, Vortex has constant DoT dps while never having to stop moving. It can be actively finding a safe position while damaging the enemy and keeping them cursed.

Vortex vs Ranged Skills

Vortex will never compete with the speed of a clearing build like Tornado Shot or Kinetic Blast, but it more than makes up for it with survivability and bossing ability. Vortex is a rare build that needs no gem, gear, or build swapping to do all content from T1 maps, to Atziri, to Uber Elder, to deep delves. It's survivability in comparison to ranged classes can barely even be calculated.

Vortex vs Other Spell Skills

Vortex is the king of survivable spellcasters. Its combination of curses, ailments, and Energy Shield stacking allows it to cruise through trash mobs and take down bosses in ways that most spellcasters cannot. It may not have the DPS of Blade Vortex, but it can dish out its damage and survive to tell the tale.

 1.3 The Pros and Cons of Vortex

One of the safest builds in the game
Can do all content and easily farm Uber Elder
Damage Over Time cannot be reflected, so you can do Reflect maps by Vortexing at your feet and pulling mobs into the DoT
Can reach 11-12k ES, ~1 million DPS on Vortex alone, and a dizzying array of defensive layers


Not a god-tier clearing build like Tornado Shot
Does not have infinite scaling like some attack builds
Can't effectively clear Hall of Grandmaster? I don't know - there's very few cons to this build

 1.4 Path of Building (PoB) and Brief Build Theory

I'll start with the obligatory, "Unless you really know what you're doing, do not just yoink the PoB and leave." I've never seen people debate a skill tree as much as I've seen in comments on other Vortex guides. This isn't a bad thing - Vortex is INCREDIBLY flexible. However, as you get more specific in uniques and playstyle, the tree options tighten up a good bit.

PoB : https://pastebin.com/zCVUSMcq. Pay attention to your tree and items, as there are different trees, and gem/item/jewel setups that differ between each tree.

A full Vortex build goes through 3 and sometimes 4 stages, each utilizing a very different looking skill tree. While the first 2-3 stages of the build do not have any required uniques, be sure to save up your passive respec points and any Orbs of Regret that you find; you'll be spending a LOT of them.

Stage 1: Early end-game, life-based build \still using an Orb of Storms leveling setup.

Stage 1b: Some players prefer to use their main skill while leveling, even if it slows them down. Stage 1b is the same as 1, just slower and using Vortex the whole way.

Stage 2: The CI transition. After accumulating gear, the build shifts to Chaos Inoculation and goes full time Vortex if it hadn't already.

Stage 3: The build abandons Chaos Inoculation in favor of a low-life build with Shavronne's Wrappings. This build has both the highest possible defenses AND damage and is incredibly strong.

 1.5 Videos

Part 2: Leveling


 2.1 Leveling in a Fresh League or With a New Account
        If you're new to the game, starting with 100,000 other players in a new league, or a speedrun addict (*raises hand), you're starting with no items and no currency. Luckily for you, the build requires nothing and is absurdly cheap even if you're switching to CI. Don't worry about unique items for now. Just move down a couple of sections and start with the Full Leveling Guide. Take your time and enjoy!

 2.2 Leveling with Twink Gear

Uniques That Help The Leveling Process

        There are a few uniques that will allow you to truly zoom zoom through the leveling process. If you want to twink your character, slap these bad boys on and crush everything.


 2.3 Full Leveling Guide

The full leveling guide for Vortex can be viewed here. This allows me to host future leveling guides for other builds in one place and reduces the character count for this guide.

 2.4 Leveling Guide tl;dr 

Passive Tree

Here is the full tree for leveling. See the full guide for an Act-by-Act breakdown.


This is ripped straight from the full leveling guide. Here are the links in order to level as Orb of Storms / Wave of Conviction and level some of your end-game gems:

► Orb of Storms + Elemental Proliferation + Chain + Ice Bite.

► Wave of Conviction + Physical to Lightning + Added Lightning + Faster Casting

► Lightning Spire Trap + Trap and Mine Damage + Advanced Traps + Elemental Focus. If you've found a 5L/Tab, Use Controlled Destruction + Lightning Penetration

► Herald of Ice + Onslaught + Curse on Hit + Conductivity

► Herald of Thunder (Unlinked) + Flame Dash + Arcane Surge

► You should be leveling as many of the following gems as possible, roughly in this order: Vortex, Discipline, Malevolence, 2x Efficacy, another Elemental Focus, Controlled Destruction, 2x Hypothermia, Swift Affliction, Bonechill, Storm Brand, Frost Bomb, and Tempest Shield. These are all for Vortex later, so they can be leveled unlinked in any available slots or off-hands.

 2.5 Swapping from Orb of Storms to Vortex

Measure Twice

        I highly recommend farming either Blood Aqueducts or Tier 1 maps as Orb of Storms, while picking up pure ES bases to assemble your initial set of Budget Gear, as displayed in the PoB. As far as using Vortex, it shines in a 5-Link, but you can swap from Orb of Storms as soon as the support gems are high enough level to be comfortable. Don't forget to save your Orb of Storms gem and a few of the supports for later!

        The process of crafting your initial CI gear is easy. First, if you have Rares with a combination of ES and resist(s), keep it and use it! For the rest, quality the white item to 20%, Transmute it, and Alt spam, looking for 1 good resist, a good % or flat ES roll, or ideally both. Look for tier 3+ ES rolls and tier 4+ resist rolls. You can equip and use the items as you complete them. Just be aware that until you actually take Chaos Inoculation, your main concern will be Chaos Damage, as it will bypass your growing ES pool and directly drain from your shrinking life pool. Once you have 5500+ ES and capped resists, you're ready to transition. Take CI, start using Vortex if you weren't already, and get off to the races!

Part 3A: The Full Vortex


3.1 Gem Setups


Wowowowowowow. WELCOME TO 3.9! This gem is bonkers. This is the type of gem that you warp your build around. In the case of Vortex, I'm seriously considering using this gem. To do so, my initial thought is to swap to a Mace and drop the wand, or maybe even get nutty and go for a staff. I might modify the tree to grab some attack speed, and I would be using either Shield Charge or Leap Slam as my movement skill in a 4-Link. Links would be SC/LS - Awakened Curse on Hit, Temp Chains, Enfeeble. Maybe Frostbite? Idk I have to think on this a little more, but there are insanely strong possibilities for this gem.

The links are in order of importance

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

Cold Snap

Vaal Cold Snap - Bonechill - Efficacy - Hypothermia

If you have a Helmet with "Socketed Gems Are Supported By Level X Hypothermia", socket Elemental Focus instead for the 5-link.

Movement and Tempest Shield

Flame Dash - Arcane Surge - Tempest Shield

Weapon Slot Elemental Equilibrium Triggers

Check out the Elemental Equilibrium section for more details.

Storm Brand - Orb of Storms - Frost Bomb

Chaos Inoculation Auras and Defenses

Cast When Damage Taken - Enfeeble - Immortal Call - Increased Duration

You can either Leave Immortal Call at lvl 1 and Enfeeble and IC in the appropriate range, or you can level it up so it only procs on big hits.

Clarity - Vaal Discipline - Malevolence - Enlighten

Low-Life Auras and Defenses


Blood Magic - Clarity - Malevolence - UNLINKED Vaal Discipline

Blasphemy - Enfeeble - Temporal Chains - Enlighten

 3.2 Immunities

        Immunities are a huge part of survivability in PoE. Vortex uses its immunities to become even tankier and reduce any chance of missing uptime on DPS.

All of the desired immunities can be Beastcrafted onto flasks through the Menagerie, if you are able to roll a flask with just a prefix mod.

Freeze and Stun Immunity

One of the biggest advantages of being an Occultist is in the immunities offered to the build through the ascendancy. As an Occultist, Vile Bastion gives you stun immunity and Frigid Wake grants Freeze and Chill Immunity. As soon as you complete Merciless Labyrinth, you will not have to worry about these immunities again.

Bleed Immunity

Bleed immunity will typically be achieved through flasks. You're looking for the "of Staunching" mod on your flask. In the late-game, you can Vaal jewels or buy one to get the "Cannot be Inflicted With Corrupting Blood" mod. The example jewel is not a Vortex jewel, but is shown for the mod.

Curse Immunity

Curse Immunity is important, especially for higher tier mapping. Roll flasks to get the "of Warding" mod to become curse immune.

Shock Immunity

As our Freeze/Chill immunity is covered outside of flasks, you may be able to work in shock immunity to the build and further smooth out your incoming damage. Roll flasks to get the "of Grounding" mod to become shock immune.

 3.3 Flasks
Main Flasks

The only unique flask used by the majority of Vortex builds, either CI or Low-life, is Rumi's Concoction. Other unique flask options are discussed below, but Rumi's as the only unique flask gives us a lot of utility options in the remaining 4 slots. A Quicksilver flask is all but mandatory. Roll Adrenaline and any prefix that you like. A Basalt flask is another great option to pair with a Rumi's or other Granite flask for a large buff to armour and damage reduction.

For the remaining two slots, I like starting with a Quartz flask. The phasing is invaluable to our Vortex placement, and the dodge chance adds another layer of defense to the build. If you're running Zealot's Oath for the ES regen, a Sulphur flask can provide both great damage and some fantastic ES regen.

Optional Flasks

There are a few flasks you could use to fill out any remaining flask slots. Until you have a Corrupting Blood jewel, I highly recommend using non-unique flasks with the immunities discussed above. Here are some options for usable flasks in your final two slots:

 3.4 Jewels

Unique Jewels

        Lethal Pride (Kiloava)

Before I describe the jewel, I will warn you to double, triple, or even quadruple check if you buy a Lethal Pride jewel from another player. MAKE SURE IT'S A KILOAVA LETHAL PRIDE! I ran into SIX scammers in a row when I bought this as a test. It's one of the easiest scams to run in PoE.

When a Lethal Pride Kiloava jewel is socketed, it turns nearby Keystones into Glancing Blows:

This keystone is incredibly valuable and smooths incoming damage by a huge amount. You'll want to socket this into the top right of the tree, converting Eldritch Battery to Glancing Blows. If you've ever noticed a huge amount of Vortex players inexplicably taking EB on sites like poe.ninja, this is why.

        Energy From Within

EFW is a great jewel for the combination life/ES nodes on the tree. If you have one, socket it here:

        Watcher's Eye

Watcher's Eye has randomly assigned mods that grant bonus effects based on auras that the player has equipped. If you can get your hands on a Watcher's Eye, here are some good mods to look for:

        -ANY "while affected by Clarity" mod except for "% of Damage taken from Mana before Life while affected by Clarity"
        -ANY "while affected by Discipline" mod except for "+# Energy Shield gained for each Enemy Hit while affected by Discipline"
        -ANY "while affected by Malevolence" mod except for "Damaging Ailments you inflict deal Damage #% faster while affected by Malevolence"

Normal Jeweling

Vortex can use Cobalt regular jewels or Searching Eye abyss jewels. Best jewel corruptions: Corrupted Blood cannot be inflicted on you, Increased Area of Effect, Increased Damage, 1% Reduced Mana Reserved

Cobalt mods to look for:

        -Spell damage while holding a Shield
        -Increased Cold Damage
        -Maximum Energy Shield
        -Chance to Block Attack/Spell Damage while holding a Shield
        -Faster start of Energy Shield Recharge (HUGELY BENEFICIAL; BEST STAT)
        -Energy Shield Recharge Rate
        -Spell Damage
        -Damage over Time
        -Area Damage
        -% Chance to Freeze and Freeze Duration
        -Cold Damage over Time Multiplier

Searching Eye mods to look for:

        -Damage over Time while holding a Shield
        -Maximum Energy Shield
        -Increased Effect of Chill
        -% Chance to Block Spell Damage / Attack Damage if you were Damaged by a Hit Recently
        -Increased Movement Speed if you haven't taken Damage recently or if you've killed recently
        -Damage Penetrates #% Elemental Resistance if you haven't killed recently
        -% Chance to Gain Onslaught or Phasing on kill

My "For Dummies" guides:
-Tornado Shot For Dummies: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2633692
-Vortex For Dummies: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2661120
Last edited by ShakCentral on Mar 25, 2020, 10:14:18 AM
Last bumped on May 28, 2020, 7:29:19 PM
Part 3B: The Full Vortex


 3.5 Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheon Powers
The Cage Match : Occultist vs Trickster

I've had an increasing number of people ask me why they should play Occultist over Trickster. In my opinion this comes down to two questions:

1. Very good defenses with very good quality of life, or god-tier defenses with merely "good" quality of life?


2. Do I want to abuse Coward's Legacy belt and Atziri's Reflection shield, or do I want more damage and defenses from those slots?

Trickster has more QoL options. Constant bits of ES/life recovery, more evasion, on kill effects, etc.

In addition, most end-game Tricksters achieve Pain Attunement, not through Shavronne's Wrappings, but by the interaction between Coward's Legacy and Atziri's Reflection, allowing you to be unaffected by your self-cursing and achieve Pain Attunement.

Occultist has more defenses, She has access to more % ES on the tree, as well as some Shield-based nodes and greater emphasis on curses. Trickster will take more damage, dipping lower more often but recovering constantly. Occultists take damage very smoothly, with curses helping mitigate incoming damage and allow ES time to recharge.

If I was purely racing in a softcore setting and HAD to use Vortex for some reason, I would take Trickster. Personally, I would use Occultist for everything else.


Normal Lab - take Vile Bastion for better Survivability throughout leveling.

Cruel Lab - take Void Beacon. This is negligibly beneficial until we are using Vortex full-time, and you can wait on Cruel lab if desired.

Merc Lab - get Frigid Wake. Tons of utility and our Freeze/Chill immunity. Hugely beneficial ascendancy.

Uber Lab - take Profane Bloom. The explosions help with damage, but applying curses to hexproof enemies is the real benefit here.

Bandit Reward

Kill the Bandits. The passive points are very important, and we gain very little overall from the 3 other options.

Pantheon Powers

Major: Solaris is the go-to here, as trash mobs don't pose a threat, and will help more against high health bosses. Lunaris is an option for delving.

Minor: Garukhan and Gruthkul are great for smoothing of incoming damage. Abberath is niche but helpful, as burning ground is a problem for ES. Shakari is an option for low-life builds that are concerned about Chaos damage.

 3.6 Trade League Live Searches

To use this section in a new league, do the following:

        1. Click on the link of the gear you want to live search.
        2. To the right of the search bar, change the league to the current temporary league.
        3. Click the live search button on the left side.

This process is illustrated in the following (professionally commissioned) image:

Leveling Gear




Lochtonial Caress


Axiom Perpetuum

Tabula Rasa

Cheap Humility Div Cards (1.5c or less)


30% MS Boots with 50+ Resists

5c or less ring with 120+ resists

 3.7 Gearing For Low and Mid-Tier Maps
3.9 New Unique Ring Analysis

Metamorph league implemented a new ring that has generated tons of questions for me. This ring allows Vortex to be cast around the map like cold Snap, but with the loss of 1/5 of its AoE.

I don't this ring for multiple reasons. First, INT is not needed and would be better as DEX/STR. Chance to avoid ailments is mostly blank as we're freeze/chill immune. Finally, the reduced AoE is gigantic. At 5%, I'd use it. At 10%, I'm on the fence. Once 1/5 of my AoE is cut, I'm officially out. I'm just not seeing this ring.

Elemental Equilibrium

This is by far the part of the build that I am asked about the most. Elemental Equilibrium says "Enemies you hit with Elemental Damage temporarily get +25% Resistance to those Elements and -50% Resistance to other Elements". They key word is "hit". Here's how this works for Vortex:

Step 1: Get a weapon with the mod "Trigger a socketed spell whenever you use a skill" (The crafting/mod process is below in the gearing section). Once you have this mod on your weapon, take EE on the tree.

Step 2: Roll 3 blue sockets on your weapon (don't have to be linked), and place Storm Brand, Orb of Storms, and Frost Bomb into these sockets.

Step 3: Kill everything.

Once you have EE and this mod, every time you do anything, either Storm Brand, Orb of Storms, or Frost Bomb will be cast automatically. IF Storm Brand or Orb of Storms is cast, they will hit enemies repeatedly with lightning damage, constantly ensuring that enemies have -50% to their Cold Resistance. If Frost Bomb is cast, there is a long delay before it detonates. During this time, Frost Bomb reduces enemy Cold Resistance even further. Once Frost Bomb hits, Storm Brand or Orb of Storms will still be going off, meaning that the cold hit of Frost Bomb is almost immediately overridden with a fresh -50 cold res.

So the overall progression is as follows:

-Cast Vortex/Cold Snap. Enemies have +25% Cold Res from the hit. Not good.
-Storm Brand casts and begins hitting. Enemies in the Vortex/CS DoT effect now have -50 Cold Res. Very good.
-Cast Vortex/Cold Snap. Enemies have +25% Cold Res for a fraction of a second, but Storm Brand resets this to -50. Very good.
-OOS casts and begins hitting. Enemies in the Vortex/CS DoT effect continue to have -50 Cold Res. Very good.
-Cast Vortex/Cold Snap. Enemies have +25% Cold Res for a fraction of a second, but Storm Brand/OOS resets this to -50. Very good.
-Frost Bomb casts. Enemies in its area have a total of -75% Cold Res. Frost Bomb explodes, and enemies have +25% Cold Res for a fraction of a second, but Storm Brand/OOS resets this to -50. Very good.


Getting Gear in Blood Aqueducts

For this section, I'm assuming you're either playing SSF or are interested in saving your currency while gearing for low-tier mapping. Mapping gear for Vortex can be bought for as little as an alch a piece to get going into maps.

Gearing yourself for the change to CI and to get into maps is a very straightforward process. It can be done extremely cheaply and in a very relaxing manner. Here is the process:

Step 1. Go to Blood Aqueducts.

Step 2. Remove your loot filter completely. No, not the default filter - NO filter. Trust me, I'm a doctor.

Step 3. Clear Aqueducts. You will be picking up the following:

        - Rares, currency, and div cards. ID all of the rares and sell for Alterations, as this is your main currency used to craft your starting gear.

        - Energy Shield items with a level requirement of lvl 55 or higher. This is why we take off the filter - so the white items show up.

        - A Chain Belt with 17+ ES implicit and a Dex, Str, or Dex/Str Amulet. Don't worry about rings for now.

Once you have a complete set of items sans-rings, go to your hideout. Make your white items blue, and begin rolling them with Alterations. You're looking for rolls for the following mods:

        Prefixes: Tier 4 or better Flat Energy Shield or Increased % Energy Shield

        Suffixes: Tier 3 or better of any non-Chaos resistance.

If you only roll one of these, Augment for the other. For your Wand, roll for Spell Damage or Cold Damage Over Time for a Prefix and % Increased Cold Damage for a Suffix. For your boots, you could skip an ES roll and try to get 25% or higher Movement Speed.

Once this is complete, equip the items and check your resistances. Buy or farm Aqueducts for Rings to shore up the needed resists.

Check the PoB for a set of blue budget items that can easily get you into maps. As you begin to accumulate currency, I recommend rolling for higher damage on a Wand and/or Shield, as higher damage will help both your clear and survivability.

As you begin mapping, you should have 5500+ Energy Shield, capped resists, and then as much damage as possible.

Mid-Tier Mapping Gear Check

As you farm currency, begin to make rare item upgrades that will help you shore up any weaknesses. As the build is very straightforward, you really only need to continue to focus on capping resists, keeping your ES pool as high as possible, and then upping damage as much as you can until you reach late-game.

As better gear starts to become a priority, here is what to look for on gear:

Wand: Damage Focused. Your wand is one of your main sources of item-based damage. Your wand should have as many as possible of Cold Damage, Damage over Time, and Spell Damage mods. If you are able to purchase in trade league or unveil it in SSF, adding the mod "Trigger a Socketed Spell When You Use a Skill" is one of the biggest damage upgrades you can make. Once you have this mod on a wand, take Elemental Equilibrium and be sure that the Frost Bomb / Storm Brand / Orb of Storms setup from the PoB is socketed in your wand. This will cast those spells as you Vortex around, greatly lowering enemy cold resistance.

Shield: Damage / Defense Hybrid. Your shield can be a large source of ES for your build. The implicit Spell Damage on Spirit Shields is also great for damage. Shaper Spirit Shields can roll the "Recover % of Energy Shield when you block" mod, which is one of the best mods we can get for sustain and survivability while our ES recharge is down.

Body Armour: Energy Shield Powerhouse and links. Your main concern with body armour is rolling as much Energy Shield as possible on at least a 5-link. You'll want a Vaal Regalia with all 3 prefix rolls being flat ES, %ES, and the %ES + increased Stun and Block recovery mod. Try to roll at least 500 ES for a good mid-tier map chest.

Helmet: Resist Shredding and/or Defenses. If you have a very tight budget or low access to delve materials, just craft ES and resists on the helmet and call it a day. If you can get your hands on some Frigid and Dense fossils, you can roll for a good ES helmet with "Nearby Enemies have -9% To Cold Resistance".

Boots: Movement Speed and Resists. Look for a decent amount of ES and as much resistance as you can find on a pair of boots with at least 30% Movement Speed.

Gloves: Attributes and Defenses. Grab some ES and resists and stack up the Str and Dex that the build needs so much.

Rings 1: Damage, Defenses, and Resists First of all, if you've unlocked the "Faster start of Energy Shield Recharge" mod, definitely put it on the rings. Aside from that, shoot for rings with Cold Damage and whatever resists you're missing.

Amulet: Damage and Resists Try to get some resists as well as Cold Damage or Area Damage on a Str or Dex base.

Belt: Flasks and Defenses. Get a Crystal Belt with some Resists if needed, some Flask related mods, and maybe some % damage if you can get it.

 3.8 Low-Life Build: Destroying the End-Game

Assessing Your Goals

When you're gearing your character with big-time items, you need to stop and decide what you're actually going for. For Vortex builds, there are two general directions to take the build - deep delving or super high-tier map and boss content. Deep delving will sacrifice some defenses for the sake of very high freeze chance and damage, where high tier mapping has a perfect mix of high defense and mitigation and good-to-great DPS. You need to give yourself some direction.

Core Items and Mods

Shavrone's Wrappings

Shav's is the item that allows us to go Low-Life without constantly dying to Chaos damage. The Energy shield recharge is nice as well, but the bottom line is tat without Shav's, you're not going low-life.

Presence of Chayula

Linking an image, as I somehow cannot find my Presence. Too many stash tabs I guess? Idk.

Presence does a few very important things for the low-life build. Firstly, it takes care of our stun immunity, allowing us to respec Vile Bastion into Malediction in our ascendancy. We lose some ES regen, but we gain an additional curse and more damage.

PoC also gives us a healthy chunk of Energy Shield, some nice rarity (especially for SSF), and brings our Chaos Res to a 0, which is very nice for mitigation, as most builds are at -60%. This keeps the common mitigation theme of smoothing out incoming damage as much as possible, preventing damage spikes that lead to deaths.


Both build focuses will want basically the same helmet. First, acquire a Hubris Circlet with an appropriate Lab Enchant - Temp Chains Effect or Vortex. Roll Frigid and Dense fossils to get good Energy Shield and "Nearby Enemies Have -9% To Cold Resistance". Multimod or craft as needed to add more ES or resists.

ALTERNATE OPTION is a Heretic's Veil. This allows for a double curse setup including Temp Chains and helps with mana. We'll see a similar alternate option in the Shield section.


While damage mods are very important for a good wand, there is only one mod that we specifically care about, and there is only one way to get it.

While mapping in the end-game, run as many of Jun's Betrayal master missions as possible, and unveil every weapon you find. Eventually, you're looking for the mod "Trigger a Socketed Spell when you Use a Skill". I'll explain the reasoning for this mod at the bottom of the weapon section. It's pretty nEEt.

Once you have unveiled that mod enough to fully unlock it, you need to get a weapon. In the past, Spiritual Aid was a big part of Vortex builds, and I used to run a Tiger Hook sword, as the block chance was great and you could just fill out the weapon with minion damage mods.

These days, the process is simpler, albeit slightly more expensive. Grab an Opal/Tornado/Prophecy wand base and roll it magic until you have a good mod or two. Regal it to rare, ensure you have 2 open Suffixes, and craft the "Trigger" mod as well as "Can have multiple Crafted Modifiers" (If you dont have this mod unlocked, look up 'The Pale Court' and run it). From here, your wand should end up with the 2 crafted suffix mods and 4 other damage mods.

Desired damage mods include:
        - % Increased Spell or Cold Damage
        - +# to level of all Cold Spell Skill Gems
        - +% to Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
        - % Chance to Freeze or % Chance to Gain Arcane Surge on kill (Jun mod)

NOTE: Be absolutely sure that you do not accidentally have ANY instances of "Adds # to # Cold Damage to Spells". This will ruin the entire reason that you have the Trigger mod in the first place.

You want to have "Trigger a Socketed Spell" in your wand because of Elemental Equilibrium. The wand should have 3 blue/white sockets and be socketed with Storm Brand, Orb of Storms, and Frost Bomb. They do not need to be linked. These skills will be cast constantly while you play, alternatively triggering elemental Equilibrium with lightning damage and then further lowering cold resistance with Frost Bomb. It's resist shredding to a very high degree.


Similarly to the Helmet slot, your choice of shield can either be a very strong defensive and gem level option, or you can go with a specific unique for its benefits. For a rare that's worthy of the endgame, you have two options.

Rare Option 1  - A Spirit Shield with at least 250 Energy Shield; 300+ if you can get it. You want two other mods: +1 to level of all Cold Spell Skill Gems, and +#% to block spell damage. If you have space left, the combined "Intelligence and + Quality" mod is a great way to boost ES.

Rare Option 2  - A Shield with -% mana reservation, an implicit with + levels to socketed AoE gems, Aspect of the Spider, and at least 200ES. This will be your slot for your Auras to be placed, and they will have multiple bonus levels for greatly increased effect.

Unique Option  - Prism Guardian. This will become your source of a free Blood Magic keystone and where you will socket your Auras to be placed on life reservation.

Option 2 is likely the best overall for min-maxing, but any of these are completely viable for endgame.


End-game gloves may be a bit harder to come by after 3.9, as Shaper is no longer as accessible as before. You need Shaper Fingerless Silk Gloves and you're looking to roll the Cold Damage over Time modifier. That's really the only non-defensive requirement. Outside of the Cold DoT, your gloves are a major defensive piece. Ideally, you're looking for 150+ ES and as much elemental resistance as you can get. Some DEX or STR wouldn't hurt in this slot.


Here's where I'm going to be a little overly firm: Don't gimp your clear speed. Get 35% Movement Speed boots. Not 25, not even 30. Vortex is routinely maligned as a slow clearing build, and you're not helping yourself by leaving easy movement speed increases on the table.

Once you have 35% Sorcerer Boots, you're again looking for high defenses and maybe some attributes. This is similar to the glove slot. For lab enchants, don't sweat it too much. There is a large number of good enchants, from Movement Speed to Spell Dodge to Freeze chance. Max movement speed is more important.


I'll start by addressing Headhunter. If you have one, use it. It's very good, and while it doesn't quite get the same benefit that you'd get with a fast bow skill, it's still unreal. That being said..

Grab yourself a white Crystal Belt. If possible, get a Shaper base, as Shaper bases can roll some great mods such as Cooldown Recovery, ES Recharge Rate, Movement Speed during flask effect, and Spell Damage during flask effect. It's very nice.

Either way, make the belt white and prep some resonators with Frigid and Dense fossils. If you have the Shaper base, Aetheric fossils will also make the good mods more likely. Slam that bad boy.

If you get Increased Cold Damage, Increased ES from Body Armour, and some other relevant mods, you win! If not, reroll and keep trying. You may hit Cold red quite a few times looking for Cold damage, but don't give up!


Your rings can provide a huge amount of benefits, from defensive, to utility, to massive damage increases. My recommendations for rings are in the following order:

I generally recommend a Two-Stone Ring, unless your other gear has you almost resist capped. In that case, choose between a Moonstone for ES, Opal for damage, or even Cerulean for mana. Rings are generally the final items you'll get for your (version 1.0) end-game gear, so check resists first and decide based on that.

Next, you'll need to unlock the Faster Start of Energy Shield mod. Prior to 3.9, the tiers of this mod are unlocked in the T5 Lookout and T12 Belfry maps. We'll have to see how to get these in 3.9. These are vital to survivability, and are some of your overall most impactful mods on any item. Get them before doing any end-game bossing or T13+ maps.

For the rest of the ring mods, there's a lot to pick from. Of note: be sure that you do NOT get any "Adds cold damage to spells" on your rings, as this will screw up EE as discussed above.

Good mods for rings can include the following:

        - Flat ES, Item rarity, # Increased damage, % Increased cold damage, Resistances, Minimum Frenzy Charges, Attributes, Aspect of the Spider, Increased Spell Damage


When it comes to delving, ES loses value the deeper you are. Monster damage increases to the point where any hit of damage will kill you. As you approach that depth, health-pool-based defenses become irrelevant, and not getting hit at all becomes the only consideration. Damage, freezing/chilling, and learning monster moves and patterns becomes the biggest factor in how well you do delving.

14 OccultistS hit 1,000 Delve Depth in Blight league, according to poe.ninja. Will you be one of them in 3.9?
My "For Dummies" guides:
-Tornado Shot For Dummies: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2633692
-Vortex For Dummies: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2661120
Last edited by ShakCentral on Jan 3, 2020, 4:25:55 PM
Part 4: The Part of Tens


 4.1 Ten Cheap Uniques That Can Substitute For Expensive Gear
1. Bated Breath

Bated Breath is a fantastic belt that can be used absurdly early. You can kill the Vaal Oversoul with it, never remove it, and still be using it when you hit 1k Delve depth. Ridiculous item to be honest.

2. Rime Gaze

Rime Gaze is a nice home for your Cold Snap. It grants it a 4th support gem, gives damage to all of your Cold DoT damage, has good energy shield, all with the downside of reduced recharge rate. Note that this isnt always bad - with recharge rate being uninterruptible if it began recently, this often means you get a full 4 seconds of huge ES regen, greatly smoothing out incoming damage.

3. Sin Trek

Sin Trek is another item that can be used right to level 100 with no issues. 30% MS, a very solid amount of ES, and some attributes mean that if yo ucan offset the lack of resists, you have a very nice pair of boots at a tiny cost.

4. Timetwist

Timetwist is great if you're resist capped. ES, Cast Speed, Mana Regen, and Skill Effect duration are all welcome. Temp Chains immunity means we can be more liberal with what maps we run and provides some great quality of life.

5. Voidbringer

Voidbringer is another nice home for your Cold Snap, giving +1 level to gems. It has decent ES, and although it raises our mana cost of skills, the ES on kill effect is just ridiculous. This item can carry you through early maps before you're super tanky on the ES gain alone.

6. Doedre's Scorn

Obviously, this is where you socket your curse(s). That's really it. That's the whole gimmick. Very nice helmet.

7. Rainbowstride

Rainbow Stride is another great pair of boots. While I wouldn't consider taking this to endgame, the spell block is SUPER nice, resist are rarer and more welcoem on uniques, and the MS is decent for early mapping.

8. Dream Fragments

If you're having issues with mana and don't have a current course of reliable freeze/chill immunity, Dream Fragments works wonders.

9. Rathpith Globe

Rathpith is a little weird, as you need some life regen to make this item work. It has a decent chunk of ES, spell block, and decent spell damage. Don't kill yourself.

10. The Beast

The Beast is one of my favorite items. I have no idea why it's so cheap. 400+ ES is nothing to scoff at, 40% spell damage is big, AoE and ES Recharge rate are awesome, and the downside is easy to work around in a build with this much chill and defenses. Use it proudly.

 4.2 Ten TV Shows to Watch While Farming Bosses
The Undisputed: The Office. Not even going to explain why. Just watch it, then watch it again, then never stop.

Hulu Comedy: Brooklyn 99. Excellently written and consistently laugh-out-loud funny.

Zombie Show: Z Nation. YES, it's absurdly corny and meandering. But it's great because it doesn't take itself too seriously and is phenomenal as background mapping material.

Food Show: Chef's Table. Much of the story of the dishes shown on the show is an audio and visual companionship, which leaves a lot of enjoyable content to listen to as you farm.

Docu-series: Our Planet. Documentaries on Earth that are beautiful, relaxing, and informative.

True Crime Adaptation: Mindhunter. Mostly told through dialogue and extraordinarily binge-y. Be aware of the massive amount of potentially traumatic material related to the retelling of sexual crimes.

Easy listening: Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Jerry Seinfeld has coffee and talks with other comedians. It's really that simple. One of my favorite things to listen to while running endless Shaped Arcades as they delve into what truly makes things "funny".

Absolutely Terrible Guilty Pleasure: Supernatural. Best soap opera of all time. Fight me.

Hulu Drama Classic: Lost. 4 8 15 16 23 42. You know it, and you either love it or hate it. I love it.

Best YouTube Show: Hot Ones. The best interviewer on the planet sits down with celebrities and interviews them while both parties chow down on increasingly hot wings. It's great to watch people's personas fade as they lose feeling in their face, and it's consistently hilarious.

 4.3 Ten Builds To Play If You Need A Break From Vortex

I Need Insane Speed: Tornado Shot

I Need A Break From DoTs: (Any Skill) Mines Saboteur

I Need A Break From Cold Damage: Righteous Fire Juggernaut

I Need A Break From Killing Monsters Myself: Mass Minion Support Necromancer

I Need A Break From Clicking: Cyclone Slayer

I Need A Break From Broken Mechanics: Arc Elementalist

I Need A Break From Expensive Builds: Orb of Storms Assassin

I Need A Break From Spells: Physical Reave/Bflurry Berserker

I Need A Break From Playing Witch: Scourge Arrow Scion

I Need A Break From Path of Exile: MTG Arena

Part 5: FAQ, Index, And Changelog IN PROGRESS


5.1 Frequently Asked Questions

5.2 Index
THIS SECTION IS NOT VORTEX. Still Tornado Shot's Index

*Currently Indexed Through 3.3

⚫Additional Projectiles - 1.1, 3.5, 3.8
⚫Area of Effect (AoE) - 1.1, 1.2, 3.3, 3.5

⚫Bosses - 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 3.7, 4.3

⚫Claws - 1.4, 3.4
⚫Clearspeed - 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 3.2, 3.7, 3.8
⚫Currency - Intro, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 3.7, 3.8

⚫DeMiGodking102 - Foreward, 3.10
⚫Dexterity - 1.2, 3.1, 3.8, 3.9

⚫End-Game (broad) - 1.2, 1.4, 2.4, 3.3, 3.8, 4.3
⚫Evasion - 3.3, 3.5, 3.7, 4.1

⚫Farming - 1.3, 2.5, 3.7, 3.8, 3.8, 4.1, 4.2
⚫Flasks - 3.2, 3.3, 3.5, 3.7, 3.9
⚫Flat Added Damage - 1.1, 3.4, 3.7, 3.10, 4.1

⚫Gem(s) - 1.1, 1.4, 2.4, 2.5, 3.1
⚫Grimro - Foreward, 3.9


⚫Impale - Foreward, 1.1, 1.4

⚫Jewels - 1.4, 2.5, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.7, 3.9, 4.1


⚫League(s) - Intro, Foreward, 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 3.6, 3.8, 3.10, 4.1
⚫Leveling - Intro, Foreward, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 3.1, 3.5, 3.6, 3.9
⚫Life - 1.2, 1.4, 2.4, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8, 3.10, 4.1
⚫Links - 1.1, 1.4, 2.4, 2.5, 3.8, 3.9

⚫Magic Find - Foreward, 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 3.8, 3.10
⚫Map(s) - Intro, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.5, 3.1, 3.2, 3.5, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9, 4.2
⚫Mechanics - 1.1
⚫Melee - 1.2, 3.4
⚫Movement Speed - Foreward, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 3.3, 3.5, 3.7, 3.9


⚫Unique(s) - 1.2, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.6, 3.7, 3.9, 4.1

⚫Path of Building - 1.4
⚫Pierce - 1.1

⚫Quantity - 1.4, 3.10
⚫Queen of the Forest - 1.2, 3.8, 3.9

⚫Range/Ranged - Foreward, 1.1, 1.2
⚫Rare (items) - 1.2, 3.2, 3.4, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9
⚫Resistances - 1.2, 2.5, 3.2, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7, 3.10, 4.1

⚫Shaper Items - 1.4, 3.8
⚫Single Target - 1.1, 1.2
⚫Spell(s) - 1.2

⚫Tornado Shot - Literally everywhere. Why the hell are you looking this up?







5.3 Changelog
⚫ 10/2/19 - Added 25+ terms to the index and updated the note at the beginning of the guide.
⚫ 9/26/19 - Updated PoBs to reflect a more realistic lvl 90 Tree by default. Continued work on index.
⚫ 9/24/19 - Nearly done with Part 3. Updated Post Title. HUGE CHANGE: Added numbering system for sections within each part. Will make indexing and referencing much easier.
⚫ 9/23/19 - Totally forgot to update this as I've continued work on the guide. 3.5 of the 5 sections are complete. The Index will need to be created, and I still have to finish jewels, end-game gearing, purchase order, and a few other items. Getting close!
⚫ 9/10/19 - Table of Contents structure placed into body of guide. Spoilers and colors modified and put in place.
⚫ 9/9/19 - Forum post created. Marked as Work In Progress. For Dummies intro, dedication, and Table of Contents sections put in place.
My "For Dummies" guides:
-Tornado Shot For Dummies: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2633692
-Vortex For Dummies: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2661120
Last edited by ShakCentral on Jan 3, 2020, 4:26:09 PM
Accidental reservation. After a long day of edits I somehow quoted my entire guide and made a new comment. Very stable genius here.
My "For Dummies" guides:
-Tornado Shot For Dummies: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2633692
-Vortex For Dummies: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2661120
Last edited by ShakCentral on Jan 3, 2020, 3:41:20 PM
Still very legal and very cool :)

Thanks for this, I just found my next league starter I think.
LabRat001 wrote:
Still very legal and very cool :)

Thanks for this, I just found my next league starter I think.

I've played PoE for something like 10 league launches, and starting Vortex is by far my favorite. It's absurdly cheap on day 1, but then you somehow find yourself easily downing Uber Elder like 4 days later..
My "For Dummies" guides:
-Tornado Shot For Dummies: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2633692
-Vortex For Dummies: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2661120
Last edited by ShakCentral on Jan 3, 2020, 3:42:21 PM
Looks like a descent build. Can you use HoI to boost clear speed?
any tip for crafting wands?
used tons of fossils and alters but nerver happened to get cold damage over time multiplier + +1 cold skill gem or spell damage.
Playing this build as a CI until I reach lvl 83 and can transition to low-life as a T16 farmer. Should I be using normal Cold Snap or Vaal Cold Snap? Can't find any playstyle mechanics info with regards to how you play the build. I also don't find myself ever using Tempest Shield, can I swap that out for a Portal gem instead?

thanks for redoing it, looking forward to the finished version! :)

I propose you put in paragraph about how EE stops to work if you have added cold damage on the gear, i think (not entirely sure!) your old guide was missing this.
Personally i didnt know that for the longest time and was always wondering why EE seemed to make things harder, and enemies were always listed with the cold resistance...

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