[3.9] Herald of Agony Mana Guardian | 2 Minute Deathless Sirus 8 | Delve 1500+
Mana Guardian caught the POE world by storm when POEDan took it to a whopping 1359 hardcore delve level in Legion. He had something like 27K energy shield, 40K armor, and well over 1 million in Shaper DPS. In Metamorph league, the build was used again by Daser in SSFHC delve competition and he finished second place with 1071 depth with far less gear than Dan's 1085 depth Baron Zombie guardian.
I am making a guide for this build because I truly believe it is the best all-around build in the game, especially if you hate dying and want to level to level 100 while farming maxed out T16 metamorphs/Uber Elder/Awakener Sirus without ever reading map mods.
I looked around and there is only a 3.6 version of the guide from Unlimitation which is a shame for one of the strongest builds in the game to go under the radar. My take on this build is SIGNIFICANTLY more damage than a pure tank to make it much more enjoyable to play as an all-around build than HC variants, and takes advantage of minion update to add some extremely powerful tanks for our build which also buffs our crawler.
Full credit goes to POEDan and Unlimitation and many others who built mana guardians before! Special thanks to MonkiGW2 who inspired me add spectres to this build to make it even more powerful!
We lost about 8% damage between feeding frenzy nerf and skitterbot nerf. However, this is more than made up the the awaken gems, I will re-calculate as soon as new POB is available so the build is intact and strong!
On the other hand, the removal of easy access to shaper and elder means Shaper's Touch and Memory Vault will likely be much more expensive, and much harder to get first day or two into the league. You can still get away with rare items first a few days of the league as you still have more than enough defense for a level 68, but you won't be able to unlock the full power of this build until you get these two unique items.
We also won't be able to get the fourth Spectre until we have +1 to minion skill wand which is also going to be more expensive this league, level 21 Raise Spectre and the +3 from shield. So until then, a golem will allow you to get the onslaught buff, or you can always run empower instead of meat shield.
The ability to add quality to rings means we can get as much as 180 resistance on one ring, which allows us to use Cyclopean Coil to be immune to ignite and shock. It also allows us to get as much as 48% mana reservation reduction on Circle of Nostalgia to make it easier to squeeze in more auras. You can throw in a pair of can not be chilled/frozen boots with high resistance on top of it to be immune to all elemental ailments. Thank you CTSabba for enhancing the build!
Our biggest competition for best all around builds of 3.8 got hit with much bigger nerfs. Baron Zombies lost 30% Zombie health and damage. Unshattered Will Juggernaut no longer gets damage immunity. This is likely the peak of our class/build with Guardian class presentation at 9%, third place on POENINJA.
How This Build Works
Herald of Agony has always been a low-maintenance, high damage skill that requires very little passive tree investment to do good damage. Despite several nerfs it is still one of the strongest skills in the game. By using a skill like ball of lightning that hits many times and a jewel like golden rule to double the number of poison applications, we create virulence stacks very quickly which spawns our invulnerable crawler to do damage.
Mana Guardian has always been one of the strongest defensive classes in the game. By reserving our mana, we get much higher energy shield numbers than Occultist. Thanks to Memory Vault helmet, we have massive armor for 80% physical damage reduction, and it also allows us to pop huge molten shell & vaal molten shell's which make us nearly invulnerable outside of their short cooldowns. We also have very high block chance. All of this make us much more tanky than say, an Occultist with similar amount of energy shield.
Finally, by adding four spectres to this build, we are getting 25% MORE damage thanks to feeding frenzy buff for our crawler, onslaught bonus from ascendancy, and they also tank for us with meat shield! Please see the spectres section.
How This Build Plays & 3.9 Videos
Thank you CTSabba for streaming with this build in 3.9!
Check out his Twitch channel: https://www.twitch.tv/ctsabba/videos
Level 8 Sirus in 2 Minutes: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/538653907
Level 8 Uber Elder in 2 Minutes:https://www.twitch.tv/videos/532998956
Aul Depth 740: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/537326753
Thank you kyuhlee00 for taking our class to delve 1700!
Check out his Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCObrzXZQvXVdgJgyRqBPAqA
11 Million Damage POB: https://pastebin.com/UVXefp8c
Delve 1700+: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5p3vNSdwFBU
Pros & Cons
1) Moderate upfront cost with a very basic set of unique items, scales extremely well with end game gear if you want to spend more currencies.
2) As tanky as any deep delve build, if not tankier, an Occultist with similar energy shield feels like glass cannon by comparison:
a) 18K energy shield, 35K armor (50K when we flask)
b) 7K molten shell / 20K vaal molten shell (10K and 30K when we flask)
c) 6000 energy shield regenerated every 5 seconds, 48/20% block chance without flasking, 75%/40% block chance when we flask
d) Four tanks with 175,000 health each as your indestructible front line!
e) 500 energy shield regeneration per second, 800 when standing still, 1500 when standing still and block a hit last 4 seconds
f) Immunity to chaos damage thanks to CI
g) Immune to ignite, shock, chill and frozen effects
h) Double curse if you want to do temporal chains + enfeeble
i) Enemies around you are blinded thanks to sand stance
It is as good of a defensive resume as it gets. Best of all? You use ball of lightning so you can cast from full screen range so you don't need to face check things like corpse explosion from a strong box on a map with huge damage mods.
3) Full screen clear with Herald of Agony pierce and 2 million shaper damage and you clear really fast for such a defensive build! Herald of Agony is also invulnerable, so you don't ever worry about things like damage reflect or zombie dying in deep delve. I am not even counting the frenzy charges you can get if it is not a single target boss fight which brings you to 2.5 million Shaper damage when mapping/delving. Ultra luxury gear with level 31 Herald of Agony can pull of level 8 Sirus in in just over 3 minutes, Uber Elder in just over 2 minute, which is top tier damage.
4) Press and hold ball of lightning + molten shield + convocation and face tank to win (I have them as Q, W and E), no clunky mechanisms, no preparation needed.
1) As we get closer to 2000 delve level, defense no longer matters. Builds like raider scourge arrow perform well with "kill them before they ever touch you" mentality and RNG based defense.
2) Unblockable attacks, especially heavy ground damage can still kill you.
3) You may get bored of the game if you literally can not die, and it is a mindless playing style without aiming, and low number of active skills to press and maintain.
4）You are playing an old bald man, perhaps this is why guardian has never been super popular compared to cooler classes.
5) This is not a SSF build or league starter like Necromancer Skeletons/Holy Relic. Upfront investment and specific gear pieces are needed.
I played plenty of meta builds like arc mines, cyclone slayers, baron zombies, and various occultist energy shield builds when these builds were at their peaks. Nothing felt anywhere near as safe as mana guardian. It is an insane combination of high energy shield, high damage reduction, high block, AND high sustain, plus very respectable damage and clear speed. All of my previous builds felt way more fragile in comparison. It is one of the few builds that allows me to actually level up in the late 90's doing pure T16 maps and farming Uber Elder / Sirus on every cooldown.
Starter Gear - Strongest Level 68 Ever
Level 68 will get you 8000+ energy shield, 15000 armor, and over 1 million shaper damage. It is as strong a level 68 as you can get with cheap gear listed below.
Body Armour - Skin of the Loyal OR Skin of the Lords
"100% increased global defense" basically doubles the armor we get from our helmet which is well over 10K in this build, which translates into bigger molten shell as well. +1 gem level is basically +2 to Herald of Agony skill gem level because we use empower.
You will want at least 2 Green 2 Red for Herald of Agony, Pierce, Empower and Damage On Full Life. The last two skills are variable. While Vicious Projectile and Minion Damage provides the best damage and we will use it as baseline, especially with awakened gems, it is also most expensive both in term of mana reserved and price.
Don't be afraid to pick up a different color combination for cheap while you are starting out, or grab a corrupted +2 level to socketed gems Skin of Loyal if a different color is available. One major shopping tip is to look for Skin of Loyal with one or more white sockets and try to fit it into any of these color schemes. It provides immense flexibility in case you need to reduce mana cost to fit an extra aura, and you can snipe it for way cheaper than the proper color because people are often not searching for white sockets.
Color Combination | Final Two Skills | Mana Reserved| Damage
2R-3G-1B | Vicious Projectile & Minion Damage | 100% | 100%
3R-2G-1B | Maim & Minion Damage 94% | 94%
2R-2G-2B | Deathmark & Minion Damage | 108% | 88% no mark, 111% marked
2R-4G | Vicious Projectile & Hypothermia* | 92% | 92%
3R-3G | Vicious Projectile & Maim | 88% | 89%
*For 2R-4G, use hypothermia if you have skitterbot to apply chilled, otherwise vile poison which will have variable damage depend on 0-10 poison stacks.
Other colors work too, generally speaking, anything with no more than 3 red sockets and no more than 2 blue sockets, work just fine. Even 4 green is usable if you can get one at good price.
The lower mana cost means it is easier for you to activate the next aura at every stage until you have herald of agony, hatred, skitterbot and flesh and stone all activated. And yes this can be done without a super expensive helmet enchant. You need to max roll your Circle of Nostalgia to 40% reduced mana reservation and pick up every mana reservation trick in the guide if you are using 2R-3G-1B, and the requirement goes down immensely if you are using other combinations.
Skin of the Lords is a great alternative, specially of you are on a budget. In fact if you can grab one with one of these keystones, it is better than the normal Skin of the Loyal until you can afford a corrupted one with +2 levels to socketed gems! 20/20 corrupted support gems are cheap to get.
Mortal Conviction - Allows you to use Hatred + Skitterbot + Dread Banner without Circle of Nostalgia and frees up quite a few mana reservation passive points. Good until you eventually upgrade to clarity watcher and/or corrupted Skin of the Loyal. The ultimate budget choice.
Phased Acrobat - 30% spell dodge is incredible
Unwavering Stance - Stun immunity
Runebinder - Allows you to use storm brand instead of ball of lightning for poisoning
Zealot's Oath / Elemental Equilibrium - Saves one passive point
When you are on a super budget, even keystones useless to our build like Perfect Agony, Avatar of Fire, Conduit (does not work with minions), Crimson Dance, Elemental Overload, Iron Grip etc. are totally fine if you get a cheap Skin of the Lords with good colors.
Helmet - Memory Vault
Fundamental to all mana guardian builds as we reserve huge amount of mana, this allows us to have 80% physical damage reduction and the huge molten shell / vaal molten shell. A rare with +maximum mana, intelligence, energy shield and resistance is sufficient until you can get this item.
Fundamental to all mana guardian builds, converts our strength to mana and energy shield, great synergy. Once you get your Circle of Nostalgia, the final socket can be either blue for Skitterbot in late game or red for Flesh and Stone if you don't have enough mana reservation.
First week of the league, Shaper's Touch may be very expensive, you are only giving up 400 energy shield or so with a rare pair of gloves with +maximum mana, intelligence, energy shield and resistance at level 68 until you can afford to upgrade. Better yet, pick up something that comes with "socketed gems supported by poison and/or faster attacks", and you can do a 6 link cyclone with cyclone, fortify, cast while channeling, spirit offering. A great combination with cold iron point dagger early on before you get auto trigger wand.
Amulet - Astramentis
Perfect pairing with all attribute based builds. Very hard to beat for the price. Strength and intelligence are great for mana guardian. We also need to meet Herald of Agony's 159 dexterity requirement so that 100+ dexterity allows us to not worry about it. Price varies a lot depends on total number of stat points. +100 to all three stats is a lot cheaper than +115 for example so you can start with a budget one and upgrade later.
Weapon - Rare Wand
A minion wand with +1 minion skill gem and triggers socketed gems on skill use. Auto cast curse, desecrate and spirit offering just makes the build so smooth and lazy to play. Mana, resistance, minion damage, minion attack speed mods are icing on the cake.
Cold Iron Point dagger is a great starter weapon if you are very early in the league and can not afford a rare wand, as it is a whopping +3 levels to Herald of Agony. You will also be able to play Cyclone with poison/fortify/blind support if you hate ball of lightning. It also saves you a skill point in elemental equilibrium.
Shield - Whakatutuki o Matua
2500 energy shield, 10% MORE damage thanks to aura buffs. You also get 5% energy shield per second for 4 seconds after you block which is good sustain as well for both you and your minions. Best in slot for your Spectres.
Boots - Rainbowstride
Really great boots as 6% chance to block spells is 12% with Lethal Pride, and excellent resistance. Great value for the money. You can also get a rare boots with more resistance, intelligence and mana, and even can not be chilled/frozen, but you will lose 12% spell block.
Rings & Belts
You will want rings and belts with high resistance, mana, intelligence, strength and energy shield. Because you don't want life, you can get these for really cheap. This is where you cap your resistance. Remember later on you will upgrade one of the two rings to Circle of Nostalgia which does not come with any elemental resistance, so having extra resistance well above 75 to the point you can hit 75%/80%/76% with only one ring is not a bad idea.
High Priority Upgrades
Circle of Nostalgia
Allows you to activate a second aura like Flesh and Stone, or Skitterbot with more investments mana reservation reduction. Please see the mana reservation section later. Notice you do not need this until way later, if you bought a Skin of the Lord with Mortal Conviction corruption.
The damage increase is not nearly as important as the mana reservation reduction, so you can start with a budget one without damage increase if needed.
Level 21 Herald of Agony and Level 4 Empower are must have damage upgrades.
The Kiloava variant of Lethal Pride doubles our block chance which makes our sustain and damage reduction much more consistent against all contents. Half damage off with heal trigger makes our defense much more stable. We also put it in a richly allocated region, so you will get as much as +44 strength AND four keystone modifier bonuses. Landing +5% strength, resistance, armor, regeneration etc can greatly improve your build strength. If you are lucky enough to get "10% chance to intimidate on hit" (Thanks Mecielle), you can most likely drop Unwavering Crusade and pick up both Time of Need and Bastion of Hope, as intimidate is the bulk of the benefit for Unwavering Crusade.
A pair of can not be chilled/frozen boots is relatively easy to craft and a huge quality of life improvement and makes contents like Uber Elder trivial. Buy a pair of two-toned boots with max roll implicit 12% to cold/lightning resistance, alteration spam then regal until you get enough resistance, mana, intelligence or strength AND have two empty prefix / one empty suffix, and craft the rest. You can also get just the "can not be frozen mod" and 35% speed.
A well-rolled Cyclopean Coil will give you another extra 800 energy shield, and protects you ignite and shock which is huge for face tanking Sirus. The challenge about this belt is you also need way more resistance on your ring and boot slot to cap resistance, so you will likely need to buy a much more expensive ring as well. Fortunately in 3.9 it is now possible to add quality to rings so you can get a 180 resistance ring. Until then, Sanctuary or Diamond Skin anointment is a great way to reduce the resistance requirement. Or you can get lucky on a corrupted one with elemental resistance.
Corrupt one of your jewels with "Corrupted blood can not be inflicted on you", helps a lot with face tanking Sirus and fundamental to almost all builds.
Ultra Luxury Upgrades
Charisma on your amulet, it allows you to save as many as 4 passive points which you can spend to easily beat the benefit of any other keystone, OR more importantly, activate Hatred, Skitterbot & Flesh and Stone at same time without helmet enchant. You will need a 40% mana reservation roll on your Circle of Nostalgia plus all other mana reservation reduction items to do this. And if you were using Diamond Skin and Sanctuary to fill resistance you will need to find it elsewhere as well.
You will need a Watcher's Eye with "+16-18% of your maximum mana as extra maximum energy shield when affected by clarity", a fundamental item for all energy shield based builds. Our build is the best at taking advantage of it with our huge mana pool, it is easily 3000 energy shield. Even without it, our build is already more durable than 95% of the builds so this is an ultra luxury upgrade, not a must.
Corrupted Skin of the Loyal with 2 levels of socketed gems instead of 1, it is 25% MORE damage overall, it is that big of an upgrade. But it is hard to find. This is how you get to more than 3 million single target Shaper damage, and 4 million when mapping/delving.
Awakened Vicious Projectiles, Awakened Generosity, and Awakened Minion Damage.
Enfeeble or Temporal Chains on hit is another incredible defensive layer especially for delving, spend three passive points to grab Whispering of Doom for double curse. +1 Socketed Gem Level on Shaper's Touch so you get the equivalent of enlighten 5 if you need extra mana reservation.
Helmet Enchant with Herald of Agony reservation reduction will free up valuable passive points needed for mana reservation reduction, as well as the need of conqueror's efficiency. It is very hard to buy this enchant so you will most likely need to run Uber Lab yourself. Even something like hatred mana reservation reduction will provide a lot of value here.
+1 to minion skill AND +1 to spell skill wand, yes these do exist and it will give your agony crawler two extra levels instead of one.
Bottled Faith will give you a much bigger area of effect for consecrated ground healing, and another 10% MORE damage. It is the new head hunter for every build.
Soul Ripper will allow you to abuse Vaal Molten Shell for deep delving. Non-stop Vaal Molten Shell is what you need to survive past delve 1000.
+1 to dexterity and/or physical skill gem level amulet will give you another 1-2 crawler level to hit level 31 for a big damage buff. This will cost you quite a bit of energy shield and you will also have a hard time getting enough dexterity for level 21 Herald of Agony, so save this for last. Level 31 vs level 30 is a significant jump of 20% more as you go from 15% physical damage bonus to 16% per virulence stack.
Golden Rule: Must have to double your poison applications. Herald of Agony is all about maintaining your virulence stacks. I use this even during early leveling without CI.
Healthy Mind: Huge mana increase and we found a perfect spot for it, right next to the life nodes around Cruel Preparation.
Tempered Spirit: Huge mana increase and we found a perfect spot for it, right below Mind Drinker, ton of unallocated dexterity points there.
Grand Spectrum: Pick up three of these and it is 90 mana each.
Lethal Pride: Not supported in Path of Building yet, but the the Kiloava variant will double our block and make our defense much more consistent. Taking half of blocked damage is not a problem as we heal right back up thanks to our shields. Min max this with better passives is a huge pain so I just bought the cheapest one. Put it in the socket below Minion Instability and allocate it.
Watcher's Eye: "+16-18% of your maximum mana as extra maximum energy shield when affected by clarity", a fundamental item for all energy shield based builds. Expensive upgrade for late game. Until you have this, Conqueror's Efficiency is a great filler for your mana reservation problems. If you don't have mana reservation problems, feel free to use any jewel with strength, intelligence, mana, minion damage etc.
Body Armour: Herald of Agony | Minion Damage | Damage on Full Life | Empower | Pierce | Vicious Projectile
Please see the section on Skin of the Loyal on other skill combinations, and impact they have on your damage and mana reservation.
Glove: Hatred - Generosity - Enlighten - Flesh and Stone OR Skitter Bot
Glove needs to come with +1 to gem level OR enlighten needs to be level 4, otherwise you will not be able to use Hatred even with full mana reservation skill points until you get Circle of Nostalgia. Once you have all three, you can use Skitter Bot.
Skitterbot (or Discipline) + Dread Banner is a great substitute during leveling before you can turn Hatred on.
Weapon: Poacher's Mark - Desecrate - Spirit Offering
You can use another curse like Projectile Weakness for single target bossing, or a defensive curse like Enfeeble & Temporal Chains. However frenzy charges will add another 25% MORE damage for your crawler so I prefer to use that for almost everything except Sirus. Since I am now using Spectres and have Onslaught all the times, I use spirit offering as it is a little more damage and provides elemental resistance.
Offhand - Whakatutuki o Matua: Raise Spectres - Meat Shield
- Feeding Frenzy
What makes this build special, try it and you will never go back to any other flavor of Herald of Agony!
Helmet: Convocation - Vaal Molten Shell - Increased Duration - Clarity
Add levels to clarity as needed to reserve all except maybe 50 points of your mana, you don't need it until Watcher's Eye. Before you get Watcher's Eye, feel free to use precision for a tiny bit more DPS as Clarity has zero benefit.
Boots: Ball of Lightning - Poison Support - Greater Multiple Projectiles - Flame Dash
Herald of Agony itself is 20% poison chance, combined with Poison Support it is already 80% poison chance, with Golden Rule it is enough to keep stacks up. Notice you will need lesser poison support instead of poison support until you can add chaos damage to your spells, Circle of Nostalgia provides this. During leveling you will likely want to have both Poison Support and Lesser Poison Support. Greater Multiple Projectiles greatly enhances our single target poison application, especially against moving target like Sirus phase 3.
Choose The Right Spectre
We are much more durable than Necromancers, but our minions are a lot more fragile. So to compensate for this, we will take the most tanky spectres in the game.
The best spectre for our build is Stoneskin Flayer from Delve, you will find them in Primeval Fortress or Primeval Chamber as early as 100 depth. Just desecrate, press A to target corpse and summon. They have 175K health and 75 elemental resistance with this build, and will tank anything for you with fast movement speed. You get free onslaught and feeding frenzy buff for your crawler, and free taunt with meat shield support.
Until you are that far in Delve, some of the choices are:
1) Towering Figment from Grand Arena in Act 4, they don't show up in desecrate for some reason, so you will need to walk around to kill them, target corpse with A and summon. 560% health vs 800% health for Stoneskin Flayers, slower movement and earthquake sound when they walk.
2) Sandworn Slaves from The Vastiri Desert from Act 9, 440% HP, faster movement but also a lot of on-screen animation
3) Kitava's Herald from the Cathedral Rooftop of Act 5, 360% HP, comes with leap slam.
If you want to use Carnage Chieftains to get frenzy charges, try replace meat shield with minion life and they should survive most of the contents thanks to spirit offering healing every 4 seconds, just don't take them into Sirus or deep delve. With max level clarity, four of them can keep up with the frenzy charges without blood magic. This allows you to use projectile weakness for more damage, and improves your mapping experience.
You can take any Spectre with this build as we are really just using them to buff our crawler! You can even use skeletons or zombies early to get the buffs and taunt minions, although they require constant resummoning and can be more annoying.
Experiment and I am sure in future updates we will have more toys to play with!
Flasks & Oil
a) Remi's Concoction adds 20% chance to block spell damage with our build, and another 10K armor on top of it. Try to pop this before Vaal Molten Shield during boss fights and you can face tank everything. Shaper slams don't even dent me.
b) Sulphur Flask is like a healing potion for our build as long as we stand still, and I added bleed removal onto it.
c) Jade Flask provides a lot of evasion and I added armor on top of it. You can use something like freeze removal instead or whatever utility you prefer.
d) Remaining flask can be whatever you like, I chose quicksilver for movement speed.
For Oil, Utmost Might is a super budget choice early, Primal Spirit is a bit more expensive and will also give you a little more energy shield. Diamond Skin or Sanctuary if you need extra resistance during transition to Circle of Nostalgia and/or Cyclopean Coil.
Charisma is the best end game choice, it allows you to save as many as 4 passive points which you can spend to easily beat the benefit of any other keystone, or more importantly, activate Hatred, Skitterbot & Flesh and Stone at same time without helmet enchant.
Path of Building & Skill Trees
Please use Local Identify fork (just google it) as it allows you to set Shock to 18% more, without it your damage is either way understated or way overstated, the official version has shock set to 50% more.
Level 68 POB: https://pastebin.com/QpZ5ZNJe
Level 68 Talent Tree: http://poeurl.com/cHLH
8000 energy shield, 1 million Shaper damage, 15K armor, not bad for a level 68! Cold iron point dagger is a great substitute at this level. If you are playing during first week of the league, Shaper's Touch will be very expensive, you are only giving up 400 energy shield or so with a rare pair of gloves with +maximum mana, intelligence, energy shield and resistance.
Level 94 POB: https://pastebin.com/y3eJ26cc
Level 94 Talent Tree http://poeurl.com/cHLJ
Once you buy Circle of Nostalgia, you can at least use Flesh and Stone's blind aura. You can switch to Skitter Bot later once you have more mana reservation reduction options, which takes you over 2 million single target Shaper damage, 2.5 million in mapping/delving situations when you can give your crawler consistent frenzy charges thanks to Poacher's Mark. You also get 13000 energy shield.
With full mana reservation items, you will be able to activate Hatred, Skitterbot and Flesh and Stone all at once without helmet enchant! Please see mana reservation section for details.
Ultra Luxury POB: https://pastebin.com/UVXefp8c
11 million damage, double curse, level 33 Agony Crawler with hatred and aspect of the spider!
Ascendancy, Pantheon & Bandits
Take them in this order:
1) Radiant Faith - what makes this build work, gives you massive energy shield from mana reservation
2) Radiant Crusade
3) Unwavering Crusade
4) Time of Need OR Bastion of Hope
Stun immunity and 20% spell block vs high (albeit slightly random) recovery. You can't really go wrong with either one.
Soul of Brine King, protection against stunlocks
Soul of Lunaris, protection against chain damage
Soul of Tukohama if you enjoy stationary face tanking like I do.
Bandits: Kill all, we need the two skill points.
Leveling & Mana Reservation
Use a melee skill like cleave or molten strike until level 18, once you have Herald of Agony, leveling becomes trivial. 4 link is a lot of damage already. Consider using a quill rain with rain of arrows linked to lesser poison and poison, coupled with thief's torment you get huge amount of life on hit and should steam roll all early contents. Switch to CI at level 68 once you can equip all of your core equipment for a big power increase.
Generally speaking once you get the level 68 tree you can use hatred with generosity for big damage increase. Once you get Circle of Nostalgia you can add at least Flesh and Stone aura, if you get some more mana reservation reduction options listed below you can use the 35% Skitterbot or Discipline.
2) Two corrupted jewels with 1% mana reservation reduction, notice because of some really funky formulas, one jewel doesn't do anything.
3) Level 4 enlighten
4) Corrupted shaper's touch for +1 socketed gem level and you get level 5 enlighten equivalent
5) Well-rolled Circle of Nostalgia
6) Charisma on your amulet
7) Fertile Catalyst on your Circle of Nostalgia to make it more than 40%
If you have everything above, you will be able to use Hatred, Skitter Bot, Flesh and Stone (or Aspect of the Spider if you want more damage and save a socket) with Vicious Projectile, WITHOUT helmet enchant. A massive power spike without one of the most expensive enchants in the game today. If you are NOT using 2R-3G-1B or 2R-2G-2B, you can do it with even less mana reservation items so play around with this in POB. (Thank you Mythrol1!)
Sample Level 94 POB: https://pastebin.com/Su0kQV4N
Finally, Helmet enchant is huge. Herald of Agony, hatred, skitterbot and flesh and stone mana reservation reduction can all save you passive points and it also allows you to replace Conqueror's Efficiency with a better jewel. I highly recommend running Uber Lab with twice enchanted to get at least one of these four enchants.
Remember you want to keep your unreserved mana as low as possible to maximize your energy shield and armor. So use higher Clarity level to allocate as much of the last 1-2% as possible.
Notable Boss Fights, Sirus, Blight, Delve Past 1000
Notable Boss Fights
You can stand and press/hold ball lightning and molten shield keys against most bosses. On maps with 2 or more damage mods, you will want to flask and vaal molten shell if you are trying to grind to 100, just to be safe.
1) Phoenix/Shaper - Heavy ground damage, need to move your feet.
2) Acid Cavern Morgrants the Deafening - This guy has a storm call/spectral throw combo that does more damage for each minion. He is much more threatening to a Zombie user than us, but still can do massive damage.
3) Uber Elder - Run circle around the map, spam balls of lightning in their general direction.
To make the encounter 100% brain dead, you will want to have corrupted blood immunity from jewel, can not be frozen boots, and ideally ignite and shock immunity from Cyclopean Coil. Other than dodging the storm between phases, you want to be in his face as much as possible and spam ball lightning with greater multiple projectiles for maximum poison application. Whenever you hear "die" or see a big move coming, pop molten shield. Don't bother dodging anything, focus on damage!
To reliably run Blighted maps, just get two ring enchants with +25% range to scout tower. Then use triple amber oil to get -60% cost of towers on blighted maps. Spam scout towers all over the map, stand near pump to clean up, and win easily.
You will want to abuse the Soul Ripper flask for infinite Vaal Molten Shells. Pop your armor flask first so you get maximum vaal molten shell value. Deeper into delve, ironically you will need more damage than defense. The 1700 delve Guardian had 11 million shaper damage with frenzy charges up. Flesh and Stone is also great as it gives us the RNG defense we need.
Skelemancer Variant: 1 million DPS per Skeleton, Even Better Defense
Thank you NSUCK, Antmit and Crazypearce for this variant!
Videos: Thanks pawelpm7!
Sirus 8: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKesMiqoGm4
T16 Farming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O6TbPcC-CM
1.3 million damage per Skeleton POB: https://pastebin.com/B93mGEnA
Disclaimer: Herald of Agony is stronger than Skeletons overall, however if you enjoy the playing style, it is a fresh playing style with minimal investment as the build is cheaper than Herald of Agony by a good margin.
Necromancer-like 1.3 million each with pride, impale, dread banner, flesh and stone blood stance and of course Skitterbot. Although outside of single target boss fights like Sirus, we are most likely using melee splash so the damage drops to 800K per skeleton.
Be sure to use Local Identity POB to see impale damage, and select max stage on Pride. On regular mobs you are not going to hit max stage 4 seconds, but on bosses you should.
You can use zombies or golem to trigger feeding frenzy and maim the target for more skeleton damage. Zombies will provide more damage and better clear speed, but they sometimes got in the way of skeletons and can get tedious to maintain. Carrion golem (1% more damage) or stone golem (double the health, so a lot less likely to die) is a good option with cast when damage taken.
Four carnage chieftains with blood magic and meat shield as we will be recasting skeletons a lot and we need maximum frenzy charges coverage. Although you can still use Stoneskin Flayers if you want immortal spectres. Skeletons die fast and feeding frenzy charges are not very consistent on them.
1) Corrupted 3R-1G-2B Skin of Loyal with 2 extra levels is very cheap. I bought mine for 1EX on standard. +2 to duration gems, +2 to vaal gems both work great. 4R-2B works too. You need far less mana reservation stuff, so the full build is MUCH cheaper than Herald of Agony.
2) You get one extra ring slot, one extra jewel slot, and save at least 3 points in mana reservations. So that is extra 2500 energy shield right there. You can fit discipline easily if you want to sacrifice some damage, so 22-25K energy shield is very easy to reach.
3) Skelemancer playing style with almost the same gear/tree is refreshing if you have build fatigue with Herald of Agony.
1) It does not feel like a 8-10 million damage build. I would love to see people try to come close to CTSabba and Kyuhlee00's Sirus 8 clear times with skeletons with their own video. Herald of Agony starts doing full screen piercing damage from long distance the moment it is summoned, skeleton needs to get to its target, when you recast it again needs time to get to its target, etc.
2) It struggles when you have a lot of enemies on the screen with AOE damage. It is also not as good for deep delving, as our minions are more fragile than Baron Zombie equivalents.
Then again, Skeleton variant has almost twice the energy shield of the super offensive Herald of Agony builds. So it really can't be judged on offensive power alone!
1) Why did you allocate Minion Instability (or Pain Atonement for people using older trees?)?
This is because POE Ninja and Path of Building currently do not display Timeless Jewels correctly. We are using Lethal Pride on the socket next to Minion Instability which converts it into Glancing Blows. This is also why you see weird keystones from POE Ninja characters.
2) I can not poison any act bosses with my level 1 poison gems!
Make sure you have at least a few levels of lesser poison support gems, otherwise chaos damage are rounded into zero against act bosses.
3) Why elemental equilibrium?
Ball of Lightning will lower the fire and cold resistance of your enemies, this is 20% MORE damage once you turn on hatred with generosity. You should not equip any item that adds cold damage to your spell or attacks, other wise you will increase the cold resistance of your enemies.
4) My POB damage looks really low, what are the correct settings?
a) Herald of Agony main skill is tail spike
b) 40 virulence stack
c) Feeding Frenzy active
d) Nearby allies set to 5
e) Enemy hit by lightning damage if you are using wand, Cold Iron Point doesn't have this
f) 10 poisons on enemy if you use Vile Poisons
g) Enemy is chilled if you use hypothermia and Skitterbot
h) Enemy is death marked if you are using deathmark
i) Shocked only if you use Local Identity to set to 18%
j) Enemy is on consecrated ground if you are using Bottled Faith
5) I just hit level 68 and I have 3000 energy shield, what is going?
Be sure to pick up Radiant Faith ascendancy if you haven't.
Questions & Suggestions welcome! I hope to keep this guide updated as I absolutely love Guardian's playing style!
Last edited by hitmantb on Feb 13, 2020, 8:27:41 PM
Last bumped on Feb 24, 2020, 9:22:19 AM
on Oct 12, 2019, 9:19:55 PM
Thanks for updating the build for 3.8! Over the past months I lost interest in this game and couldn't get myself to theorycraft a 3.8 update to this build.
on Oct 13, 2019, 6:24:41 AM
Came here from the other thread, so thanks for updating the original guide for 3.8. Build is super tanky and fun to play. Got really lucky with my jorgin bench craft and just made this talisman to replace my astramentis so hoping to break 20k ES soon.
on Oct 13, 2019, 9:56:32 AM
I've bought this items. Now it's time to level and try the build. Gonna post some feedback soon ^^ Thanks for the build.
20c gloves (need to change colors with some vaals lulz)
on Oct 13, 2019, 10:45:41 AM
Added your amulet to upgrades section :)
Last edited by hitmantb on Oct 13, 2019, 6:47:32 PM
on Oct 13, 2019, 10:53:07 AM
Why Pain Attunement
on Oct 14, 2019, 11:49:03 AM
Lethal Pride converts it into glancing blows:
Last edited by hitmantb on Oct 14, 2019, 2:31:05 PM
on Oct 14, 2019, 2:30:37 PM
Hi, in act V I had big problems with High Templar Avarius and Kitava (chaos immune) no chance to poison them ( ball lightning, Poison and LessPoison lvl 1). Any suggestions?
on Oct 14, 2019, 7:21:25 PM
You sure they are chaos immune? I just leveled my character recently, didn't notice any issue and not aware of any monster in the game with chaos immunity.
Try level up your lesser poison level 1 as it does not add any more mana cost to your ball of lightning. It is possible they are resistant to chaos damage so you don't have enough chaos damage on ball of lightning? Just purely guessing.
on Oct 14, 2019, 8:06:19 PM
Just hit 80 - great job with the guide. Destroying everything so far. Just did a red elder and only Eradicator even considered damaging me. No flasks on Elder (level 82). Going to spawn Uber elder next and give it a go.
Edit: Was terrible to level though. I think if I do this again, I am going to do something else until 68 and I have access to Memory Vault (and Shaper's touch at 66). The other stuff you can get around and work towards more easily I think.
I should also add that I chose to go dagger/mace and shield to use shield charge for faster mapping and play overall. I still have enough DPS so far though.
Last edited by Perce79 on Oct 14, 2019, 8:41:20 PM
on Oct 14, 2019, 8:35:53 PM