[3.9] Wallach's Hierophant Freezing Pulse Totems (Full 3.9 Items Update)

Hey folks,

Welcome to my Freezing Pulse Totem guide for the Hierophant! This guide is currently updated for patch 3.9 (Metamorph League & Conquerors of the Atlas).

1/5/2020: Updated guide for most recent itemization suggestions and other various improvements / fixes.

To summarize most of the changes we are looking at for 3.9:

Spoiler

- No passive tree changes

- No changes to core skills or build items (eg. Soul Mantle, Kikazaru, Self-Flagellation, etc)

- Multimod nerf means it will be a bit harder to craft powerful weapons in the midgame range, but this isn't really specific to our build

- Shaper and Elder being removed from the main Atlas progression means we likely have significantly less access to Shaper influenced items; this mostly affects the opportunity cost of acquiring a +1 to maximum totems Shaper[/span] shield, but dual wielding is a perfectly fine alternative for this build

- Chill & Freeze calculation changes will make it even easier to chill and freeze all enemies compared to 3.8

- Lots of new power level gain opportunities at endgame, particularly things like Awakened Curse on Hit or Awakened Cold Damage supports and new influence pools for our rare item slots

- New Freezing Pulse visuals (POGGERS)


Overall the build is looking in fantastic shape for Metamorph, so you shouldn't have any worries about picking up the build for this league compared to 3.8.

Video Guide Update for 3.9: [Metamorph] Freezing Pulse Totems 3.9 Build Update

NEW: Awakener Kill Video (Deathless)

NEW: Awakener - Full Watchstones - Deathless & No Logouts

NEW: 3.9 Uber Elder (Deathless, Fun, Not Sirus) (YouTube Version)

NEW: 3.9 Endgame Gearing Options


Skill Tree


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Gear


Helm


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

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

If you're looking to invest a bit more into your helmet, getting a Hunter influenced helm will allow you to add some flat elemental damage to spells prefixes to the pool, where Frigid fossils will also help you specifically hit the cold damage to spells prefix. You also have a chance of hitting Shocking Conflux in the suffix pool, but your Frigid and Pristine fossil weightings will make this pretty unlikely to show up. Aside from Hunter, you can also consider a Shaper helm (which has the same cold damage to spells prefix, but will add a couple undesirable suffix to Frigid weighting) or Warlord helm (which has a fair amount of nice affixes like increased elemental damage or critical strike multiplier, but nothing that will be weighted via Frigid fossils).

Example:





Body Armour


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

Example:





Gloves


With 3.9, gloves are now one of our most flexible armor slots with a lot of interesting options you can consider.

For the baseline affixes, you're generally going to just be looking for things like Dexterity, Life, Mana, and / or good resist totals. On top of that, there are a lot of influence options that can get you some great damage bonuses:

Incursion armor has the Puhuarte suffix, which is a hybrid that grants both T1 cold resistance and up to 35-50% increased damage with hits against chilled enemies, which works with our Freezing Pulse totem strikes. Especially in 3.9, the availability of these type of gloves is pretty high, because Metamorphs fairly frequently have the "drops Incursion armor" reward, which is resulting in a lot of these gloves winding up in the trade pool (or something you can at least target for yourself in SSF).

Hunter influence can add the "chance to Unnerve enemies for 4 seconds on hit" prefix, which is a very powerful debuff that causes enemies to take 10% more spell damage; since this is a debuff, it is multiplied after your final damage is calculated, so assuming no other debuffs in play this is a 10% more damage multiplier essentially. Unfortunately there isn't much else in the Hunter pool that is good for this build and the minimum ilvl required is quite high, so it can be pretty hard to get an ideal set of gloves with this suffix alone. Alteration orb searching for this prefix into Regal -> multimod is probably the best way to isolate this one.

Warlord influence has the "Culling Strike" suffix at ilvl 73, which means any enemy that you hit that has less than 10% health dies instantly - including boss targets. A very good affix to have against fights like Sirus where you want to end the last phase as quickly as possible. The only fight that I know of where Culling Strike doesn't work is against Uber Elder (either boss in this encounter). Against anything else, it is up to a 10% damage increase since it functionally removes the last 10% of an enemy's potential health bar. There are some other decent affixes in this pool on gloves (such as increased spell damage in prefix, or chance to avoid stun in suffix) which make these a better crafting target than Hunter in my opinion. Like Hunter, Alteration orb spam -> multimod is worth considering in my opinion to isolate Culling Strike and craft some very strong gloves.

Shaper influence still remains one of the better glove options for the "socketed gems are supported by Faster Casting" hybrid prefix at ilvl 84, which always comes with a global increased cast speed bonus (and you can slot your self-cast curse here to gain the socketed gems effect, increasing its mana cost for Arcane Surge). You can also get the "socketed gems are supported by Slower Projectiles" prefix (ilvl 83) which comes with an increased projectile damage roll. Shaper influence items are noticeably more rare in 3.9 however, and you don't have the option to Hunter / Warlord Exalted Orb slam a good base that you want to craft into.

Example:





Boots


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

For the boot enchant, the best option here is "Damage Penetrates 10% of enemy resistances if you have not killed recently". Since our totems do killing instead of us, we have this effect up permanently. The "120% increased Critical Strike Chance if you haven't crit recently" isn't terrible in a pinch, but we do self-cast Frost Bomb fairly frequently which - even though it will deal no damage due to Ancestral Bond - will still roll its critical strike chance and may disable this bonus sometimes, especially in boss fights.

With 3.9, much like gloves & weapons, the very powerful Incursion=specific Xopec's prefix is much more accessible due to Metamorphs dropping Incursion armor, and grants both a T1+ flat mana roll and another 9-10% increased maximum mana on top of that. You are able to get 300+ mana from this one prefix, making it a great target to shore up your Mind Over Matter mana ratio among your armor pieces. Highly recommended.

As far as influence options, while I generally wouldn't take an influenced item over a good Xopec's set of boots, it is worth considering a Redeemer or Warlord Exalted Orb slam depending on what you have open on boots. Redeemer has a few good options such as "increased effect of non-damaging ailments" in suffix, which will greatly improve the effect of your chill & freeze (or even your shock if you happen to land Shocking Conflux in Hunter helmet), as well as having some good defensive suffixes in case you don't hit that one. Warlord also has a set of less impactful but safe suffixes such as "chance to avoid stun" or "chance to avoid fire/cold/lightning damage", "regenerate 1% life per second", or "additional % physical damage reduction". Hunter could be considered if you are running something like Storm Brand to apply curses, which would allow you to use "you have Tailwind if you have dealt a critical strike recently" more easily, but everything else is a pretty big whiff in Hunter's pool.

Example:





Main Hand Weapon


A Rare Sceptre or Wand is generally what you're after here. You're looking for standard "caster" stats - +1 to cold spell skill gems, spell damage, cold damage, global critical strike multiplier, cast speed, cold (or other flat) damage to spells, non-chaos / cold damage as extra chaos, critical strike chance to spells or projectile speed (roughly in that order of priority).

As with a few of our other slots in 3.9, some of the juicy Incursion affixes are more easily obtainable due to Metamorphs - in particular the Topotante's or Tacati's prefixes which grant 70-79% increased Spell or Cold damage and come with either flat cold to spells (Topotante's) or non-chaos as extra chaos (Tacati's) in a single prefix. These are great prefixes to build a strong wand around and ones you should be keeping a sharp eye out for (whether in the trade pool or in SSF).

Unfortunately, influence options aren't super exciting for this slot in 3.9. I would say the most compelling options here are "Hatred has X increased aura effect" or "Spells have X chance to deal double damage" suffixes in the Redeemer pool, or "Chance to Unnerve enemies for 4 seconds on hit" in Hunter. The latter is going to be extremely hard to acquire as the rest of the Hunter influence pool is a total minefield for us, so even considering a Hunter's Exalted Orb on an open suffix would be an enormous gamble unlikely to pay off. I'd be more inclined to find a strong Incursion base with other good T1-T3 rolls that has an open suffix and slamming a Redeemer orb, as you have about a 1/3 chance of hitting one of the desirable suffixes. More realistically, I'd say ignoring influence altogether is probably the better option and just crafting on an Incursion base will be your best bet overall.

Example:





Off-Hand Weapon


A Rare Shaper shield is one of the better options here (that we know of so far) for the "+1 to number of maximum summoned totems" affix. This only requires an item level of 70 or higher to appear on Shaper shields, but as of 3.9 with the Shaper and Elder no longer being part of the core Atlas mechanics, this may be significantly harder to acquire than before. If you can choose, I recommend crafting on something like a Fossilised Spirit Shield base for the highest possible Spell Damage implicit bonus. Since patch 3.8 this slot can also roll +1 to all cold spell skill gems like 1-handed weapons, so that would generally be one of the highest priority affixes after +1 to maximum totems. Otherwise, look for either defensive stats where you're currently lacking (life, mana, resists) or general offensive caster stats like cast speed, spell damage, or spell critical strike chance bonuses.

Another good option is to just skip the shield altogether and dual wield a second Rare wand or sceptre with similar stats to your main hand weapon. This generally means you have slightly less access to defensive affixes like life or mana, 1-handed weapons can still roll resists, and your per-totem DPS will be noticeably higher than your average Shaper shield. This is generally close to a wash in terms of total single target DPS since the shield route will give you an entire extra totem to work with, and sticking with 4 stronger totems tends to have a positive impact on your general map clear speed (as you will generally never be setting all your totems down in any one given spot while progressing forward through a map). It'll just generally leave you with slightly less effective health to work with, and possibly trickier resists to balance.

In the example Path of Building link, you'll see both an example 3.9 multimod wand and a decent rare Shaper shield so you can compare the two options for yourself.

Example:





Rings


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

As expected, Catalysts aren't particularly useful on these since the only thing you can really do is increase either the lightning resist (which you probably won't need more of anyway) or the life / mana recovery affixes (which is incredibly costly relative to what you get out of them). Better to save your Catalysts for other pieces.

Example:





Amulet


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

Influence wise, I think your best bet is probably Redeemer to have a chance at the "+1 to all Cold spell skill gems" prefix, which even at the high end of gear is worth around the same as a 38-40% critical strike multiplier roll. Crafting one of these will be tricky; your best bet is probably Alteration orb spam looking for +1 cold spells and a T1 critical multiplier roll, then trying to Regal into another good T1 roll like life (or search trade for such a base you can multimod). While Hunter also has the "+1 to Intelligence skill gems" - meaning a dual-influence Redeemer / Hunter amulet with both prefixes is a possibility - you are dealing with incredible opportunity cost issues in trying to actually get both prefixes alongside something like T1 critical multiplier, which increases the cost of crafting such an item exponentially. Realistically, it's not really something worth considering unless currency is really no object to you, and you couldn't invest the currency in another slot for a more deterministic upgrade (which is pretty unlikely considering what such an amulet is likely to cost).

The Pandemonius is the other main late-game option that provides a large amount of damage through the cold penetration against chilled enemies and bonus cold damage, and applies blind to enemies when they are chilled for additional safety against attacks. It is also a Jade amulet base so you still get to pick up some Dexterity in this slot for your skill gem requirements. Blind is a bit of a tough thing to evaluate defensively, and much of its value is relative to the content you are most concerned about; for general mapping, Blind is pretty good, especially if you are running maps that make enemies immune to elemental ailments and cannot Freeze them (so you are dealing with vastly more incoming attacks). However, if your main target is endgame boss fights like Uber Elder or Sirus, Blind doesn't serve much purpose here as the actual threats in this encounter simply aren't affected (Sirus in particular has no attacks whatsoever).

You should consider Pandemonius sort of the high-end "floor"; when you're considering the cost of an amulet upgrade, this is the baseline you're weighing against in terms of cost.

Example:





Belt


Another Rare slot, but there are a couple good options here: either a Rare Stygian Vise for the ability to socket a strong Abyss Jewel, or a Leather Belt which rolls an additional implicit maximum life bonus.

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

In terms of Influence, Redeemer is a strong option - "Increased Cold Damage" and "Damage with Hits against Chilled Enemies" prefixes (both ilvl 80) are able to be weighted with Frigid Fossils, and still has some good suffix options such as "Increased Mana Recovery Rate" (ilvl 75, which increases our total global mana regeneration) or "Remove Chill & Freeze when you use a Flask" (ilvl 75) which can free up a flask suffix for something like Ignite removal or a Catarina veiled flask craft like "increased critical strike chance during flask effect".

Hunter also has a couple good suffixes such as "Increased Cast Speed during any Flask effect" (ilvl 68) or "Increased Movement Speed during any Flask effect" (ilvl 81) which you can consider weighting with a Shuddering Fossil (speed modifiers). You could even consider Pristine + Shuddering fossils here to also weight life and the "Increased Maximum Life %" (ilvl 84)

Catalyst-wise, this is a good target for defensive gains - either the life & mana rolls or resists, depending which you need more of at the time.




Jewels




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



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



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





Gem Links


Early to Midgame Gem Setups


Primary damage links in order of priority:

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

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

Offensive support 4-link:

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

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

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

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

Offensive support 4-link:

Frost Bomb -> Spell Cascade -> Increased Area of Effect -> Increased Duration

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

Utility support 4-link:

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

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

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

Damage support 3-link:

Cold Snap -> Cast When Damage Taken -> Bonechill

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

Movement support 3-link:

Flame Dash -> Lightning Warp -> Faster Casting

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



Endgame Gem Setups


Primary damage links in order of priority:

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

Awakened support gems change our gem priority quite a bit; Awakened Controlled Destruction becomes our most powerful support gem overall due to the addition of 10% increased cast speed on top of the gain in spell damage multiplier, pulling ahead of Hypothermia. Awakened Cold Damage is a massively improved gem at max level compared to its non-awakened version, while Awakened Cold Penetration is only a small gain over its original counterpart.

In terms of Awakened support gems specifically, I'd say your first priority is actually Awakened Controlled Destruction, because the 10% increased cast speed gain over regular Controlled Destruction comes via the quality bonus, so you can access that boost immediately instead of having to level the gem up to rank 5 to see the benefits. Awakened Added Cold Damage would come in second; even though it provides a larger increase over Added Cold Damage, it doesn't really gain the large jump in damage until rank 5, which takes a massive amount of experience to reach and is a significant time investment. Awakened Cold Penetration would come in last and is a pretty meager increase compared to regular Cold Penetration (though is likely to be the cheapest of the three by a significant margin).

Offensive support 4-link:

Freezing Pulse -> Awakened Curse on Hit -> Projectile Weakness -> Frostbite

This setup should replace the self-cast Frostbite curse if you can find or afford one of the new Awakened Curse on Hit support gems, as it will allow you to run both curses together for a very strong overall damage boost against big targets. Note that you will need both curses linked to Awakened Curse on Hit, as only linked skills will be granted the +1 to maximum number of curses rather than globally to your character. You can technically use whatever skill you prefer to apply these curses (so long as the skill deals some kind of hit and isn't just a damage over time skill), but Freezing Pulse is a pretty good choice since we are already running a pair of First Snow jewels and stacking lots of projectile speed for our totems, making it a good candidate for ease of curse application. Storm Brand might also be worth considering if your main focus is keeping a boss target cursed, since it will attach to the enemy and continue to re-apply your curses. Personally, I much prefer self-casting for curse application and for triggering Arcane Surge, so your mileage may vary in terms of gameplay QOL in a dual curse setup.

You'll note that this removes Arcane Surge from your self-cast curse setup, so you need to move it to one of your other support setups when you make this change (see below).

Offensive support 4-link:

Frost Bomb -> Awakened Spell Cascade -> Arcane Surge -> Increased Duration

Awakened Spell Cascade is a worthwhile upgrade to this 4-link, at which point you can afford to run a low level Arcane Surge here in place of Increased Area of Effect. This will be slightly less optimal for map clear (as you generally wouldn't use Frost Bomb as often during map clear without the need for Arcane Surge), but slightly more optimal for boss fights where you are already generally putting Frost Bomb down nearly off cooldown to keep Cold Exposure on the boss targets anyway. If you don't want to run Arcane Surge here, keep Increased Area of Effect in its place.

Movement support 3-link:

Flame Dash -> Increased Duration -> Arcane Surge

You can run this setup instead to trigger a low level Arcane Surge every time you use Flame Dash (somewhere around level 5 Arcane Surge; check your mana costs in-game). It's not quite as ideal during boss fights as you don't necessarily want to be forced to dash somewhere to refresh your Arcane Surge depending on what the boss is doing, but for map clear it should ensure Arcane Surge stays up all the time without you having to think about it.





Ascendancy


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

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



Amulet Anointment


Flash Freeze - It doesn't grant as much raw damage as some of the other choices on the tree, but you still get 24% Increased Cold Damage, while also picking 20% Increased Projectile Speed, 10% Chance to Freeze, 10% Increased Effect of Chill. Projectile speed is a particularly good stat for us, both increasing effective range and relative damage. Even though it isn't the highest damage choice on paper, I think this is my personal pick currently for an offensive notable. It's also a much more reasonable anointment cost compared to most of our other good choices in the tree (particularly strong defensive notables like Soul of Steel or Constitution), so it's hard to recommend anything else in terms of opportunity cost.

Heart of Ice or Throatseeker / Heartseeker - These are essentially pure damage anointment options that are your best bet against targets that your totems are hitting point blank (such as when you're trying to drop totems directly onto boss targets). All three of them are nearly identical in terms of overall DPS increase; Throatseeker and Heartseeker tend to be a tiny bit stronger during your Diamond flask uptime, with Heart of Ice winning very slightly when your Diamond Flask is down. Of these three, Heartseeker would probably be my recommendation as it is the overall cheapest of the three to anoint by a notable margin, and you are close enough to Throatseeker that you might even choose to path to it manually (which is not really reasonable with Heart of Ice or Heartseeker).

Whispers of Doom - This very expensive anointment option will give you the ability to run both Frostbite and Projectile Weakness curses without an Awakened Curse on Hit support gem. I've tried this anointment myself in 3.9, and while it isn't as powerful (due to losing one of the above anointments for additional damage), the main drawback really is that I feel the gameplay of using some form of self-cast spell to apply curses isn't as smooth as self-casting a curse directly. It also requires a different link for Arcane Surge (and generally one at a lower rank due to the low costs of Frost Bomb or Flame Dash) which makes triggering Arcane Surge a fair bit clunkier and less consistent. Not my personal recommendation but worth mentioning for those that don't mind self-casting something like Freezing Pulse / Storm Brand / etc for curse application but want a cheaper (and less time consuming to level) option than Awakened Curse on Hit.



Flasks




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



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



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



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



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



Pantheon


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

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



Bandits


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

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


Last edited by Wallach on Jan 6, 2020, 2:18:18 AM
Last bumped on Jan 17, 2020, 5:49:35 AM
Leveling Tips


Act 1


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

Other important gems you want to pick up in this act are Arcane Surge Support and Spell Cascade Support from killing Hailrake, and Spell Totem Support & Flame Dash after killing Brutus. You'll also pick up Frostblink and Frost Bomb as rewards for unlocking the Lower Submerged Passage in the Mud Flats, which is a nice movement skill you can use until you get access to Flame Dash in Act 2. Spell Cascade will eventually want to be linked to Frost Bomb (and later also to Frostbite curse), but this can wait until you have convenient links for Frost Bomb and isn't a high priority.

To help improve your single-target damage against bosses, I also recommend picking up a Holy Flame Totem ater you complete the Breaking Some Eggs quest in Mud Flats (collecting the shells to open the submerged passage and progress the main quest). From this quest you'll also get access to Infused Channeling Support which will be one of your main links to Holy Flame Totem for damage. If you can find room for a 3-link, you can also add Added Fire Damage Support to Holy Flame Totem in this act, which can be purchased from Nessa after completing the Caged Brute quest (killing Brutus).

Added Cold Damage and Increased Critical Strikes can also be acquired this early, however the Templar does not receive these gems as quest rewards; you'll have to either create an alt or ask someone to buy it from the vendor for you (Witch, Shadow, Duelist and Scion can all purchase it from Nessa after they kill Brutus in this act). Finally, consider buying a Clarity aura gem from Nessa after killing Brutus, which will give you some additional mana regeneration and ease your reliance on mana potions until you have better mana regeneration.

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

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

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

Skill point quests in Act 1 that should be completed:

The Marooned Mariner
The Dweller of the Deep
The Way Forward



Act 2


The main gem pickups you can get here are Controlled Destruction and Faster Casting supports from killing The Weaver. Both are solid links for Freezing Pulse, and Controlled Destruction also makes a good 4th link for Holy Flame Totem down the road if/when you find the room in your Holy Flame totem setup.

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

In terms of the passive tree progrsession, I'd suggest grabbing Purity of Flesh (including the 2 additional minor nodes on the island for some aditional life & chaos resistance), and picking up up the three minor totem nodes that lead to Ancestral Bond - without actually taking the keystone at this point - as these minor totem nodes will buff your Holy Flame Totem while leaving you in better position to switch over to Freezing Pulse totems when the time comes.

Skill point quests in Act 2 that should be completed:

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



Act 3


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

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

In terms of links, once you have access to all the above gems, your Freezing Pulse priorities now look like Hypothermia -> Controlled Destruction -> Faster Casting / Cold Penetration. Increased Critical Strikes won't gain full value until later in leveling, and you'll only have room for Added Cold Damage if you are sitting on a Tabula Rasa. Frostbite is a great support curse that makes enemies much more vulnerable to Freezing Pulse, and since you now have enough support choices for Freezing Pulse to want to move Arcane Surge out of that link, attaching it to Frostbite is a good way to continue to trigger the Arcane Surge buff.

For your passive tree, after completing the Purity of Flesh wheel your main goal is to start pathing towards your second jewel socket to equip your second First Snow threshold jewel (again with the caveat that if you are league starting with this build, you can skip this socket until you have your second First Snow to equip). After that, pick up Quick Recovery near the Mind Over Matter keystone for more life and life/mana regeneration. You won't need Mind Over Matter just yet, however.

Somewhere around the end of this act or the start of act 4 you should be ready to hit the normal Labyrinth. For your first two points you'll want to take Pursuit of Faith so you can pick up Ritual of Awakening after the Cruel Labyrinth. You'll still get decent value from this node bfore Ancestral Bond as it will allow you to summon two Holy Flame Totems during tough fights while improving their damage.

Skill point quests in Act 3 that should be completed:

Victario's Secrets
Piety's Pets



Act 4


Cast When Damage Taken from killing Malachai is the main important gem in this act. Once you have it (and you have room for a 2-link somewhere in your gear), you can go back to Act 1 and purchase a Steelskin from Nessa and link it to Cast When Damage Taken so it triggers automatically from you taking damage.

You'll want to keep in mind that Cast When Damage Taken has a limit in terms of what level gems it can trigger based on its rank; for example at rank 1, Cast When Damage Taken can only trigger gems with a level requirement of 38 or lower. Steelskin is a low level gem at rank 1, which means its level requirement increases faster per rank than Cast When Damage Taken does. A good target for now will be to raise your Cast When Damage Taken to rank 6 (capable of triggering gems up to level requirement 48), and your Steelskin up to rank 13 (which has a level requirement of 48). Just remember that when Steelskin wants to level up, its level requirement will also go up, and you'll want to double check that your Cast When Damage Taken is high enough level to continue to support it. I generally don't level either gem beyond rank 6 / rank 13 until I am done with the campaign and into maps, so that it doesn't take too much incoming damage to trigger Cast When Damage Taken (as your life pool will generally not be that great in your weak leveling gear).

You also gain access to Bonechill after killing Malachai; if you have the spare links, you can purchase a Cold Snap gem from Yeena back in Act 2 and set up the 3-link damage support of Cold Snap -> Cast When Damage Taken -> Bonechill, though this is pretty low priority for now. You likely won't have the links or maybe even the sockets for these yet, so you can delay getting these until act 6 or even later if you want. You also get the option to pick up a golem reward from killing Voll; I personally don't like using golems, but if you do, I'd recommend using Summon Lightning Golem for this build. At this point you should have access to all of the gems you'll need for the rest of the campaign.

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

Skill point quests in Act 4 that should be completed:

An Indomitable Spirit



Act 5


Your next passive tree steps here picking up Mystic Bulwark, then heading over through the Arcanist's Dominion notable to pick up Heart and Soul line for more life and mana. After that is the earliest I would consider taking Mind Over Matter; mainly I think the Innocence fight is probably the first big difficulty spike in the game where it is worth considering.

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

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

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

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

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

Skill point quests in Act 5 that should be completed:

In Service to Science
Kitava's Torments



Act 6


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

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

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

Skill point quests in Act 6 that should be completed:

The Father of War
The Puppet Mistress
The Cloven One



Act 7


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

Around the end of Act 7 you'll have the opportunity to hit the Cruel version of Labyrinth for 2 more Ascendancy points. Once you complete it, you'll want to take Ritual of Awakening for another big boost in power for your totems. Once you take this node, the build is fully ready to switch over to Freezing Pulse totems if you so choose; you can drop a point into Ancestral Bond, abandon your Holy Flame Totem setup entirely, and replace your weakest link to Freezing Pulse (likely either Faster Casting or Cold Penetration) with Spell Totem Support to turn Freezing Pulse into a totem.

By this point you'll be high enough level to equip a Soul Mantle and a pair of Kikazaru rings if you have access to them (which would allow you to discard Spell Totem support for either Faster Casting or Cold Penetration depending on your Soul Mantle socket colors), but remember that you need to have enough points (or respec points to backtrack in your tree progression slightly) to pick up the Sanctum of Thought notable for 100% reduced effect of curses on you to prevent Soul Mantle from kicking your butt. It can also be tricky to balance your resists when making this gear transition, so you may need to do some other gear adjustments like looking for slots where you can craft resists onto your rare gear pieces to ensure you don't let your fire or cold resists drop too far (the Kikazaru rings will generally cover your lightning resists due to both being Topaz ring bases).

Skill point quests in Act 7 that should be completed:

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



Act 8


Passive tree progression here will be hitting the final jewel socket (again, unless you are league starting, in which case come back for this once you have your Clear Mind jewel), grabbing Nimbleness and then start making your way towards the Shadow starting area, taking the path that leaves you connected to Written in Blood which you'll want to pick up later on your way to Doom Cast.

Skill point quests in Act 8 that should be completed:

Reflection of Terror
Love is Dead
The Gemling Legion



Act 9


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

Skill point quests in Act 9 that should be completed:

Queen of the Sands
The Ruler of Highgate



Act 10


Your last goals in the passive tree as you close out this act and move towards mapping should be to pick up Assassination, Trickery and Blood Siphon. After the campaign, you'll probably want to finish off Written in Blood and grab Coordination before starting to invest heavily into the various critical strike related wheels shown in the level 95 skill tree.

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

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

Skill point quests in Act 10 that should be completed:

Vilenta's Vengeance
An End to Hunger





High Budget Gearing Options


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

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



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

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



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



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



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

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



If you can only afford a single-affix Watcher's Eye to start, prioritize the 10-15% Cold Penetration affix. The added flat Cold Damage affix makes for the second-best option on this jewel. These are likely to become more expensive in 3.9 and beyond with the Elder no longer being a part of the main Atlas endgame storyline.

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

Finally, one of the most expensive but largest DPS upgrades you will be able to manage at this point in gearing is a corrupted 6L Soul Mantle that has the +1 to Socketed Gems or +2 to Socketed Projectile Gems implicits. +1 to Socketed Gems comes out a bit ahead between the two, as it increases the rank of not just Freezing Pulse but the socketed supports as well, allowing you to change Increased Critical Strikes out for Empower (rank 4) to still get +2 to Freezing Pulse on top of the +1 to the other support gems. A double-corrupted Soul Mantle would be the dream, having both +2 projectile gems and +1 all socketed gems.



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

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







Thanks for reading! Feel free to stop by my Twitch stream when I'm online if you have any questions about either build, or just want to chat:

http://www.twitch.tv/wallachtv
Last edited by Wallach on Jan 10, 2020, 3:35:42 PM
Also reserved, just in case.
Cool stuff :-)

Been replaying this in standard to farm Shaper (no Celestial Hideout yet :'(), the feel and damage are both awesome.
Iam waiting for your 3.9 Update. It will definitely my league starter build.

Do you will stream on 13?
Last edited by Jaccob on Dec 5, 2019, 10:29:51 AM
Could i also use a Atziris Reflection instead of the rare shield?

And really fun build!
I m planning this to be my SSF build,
However with lack of 2 jewels and soul mantle (2 rings aswell) im going to do :
- play with brands, including ascendancy then switch it to FP totems when i got build enabler items. (passive tree is quite similar)
- try it with FP totems from the scratch and see how it going.

whats optimal in your opinion?
"
Wallach wrote:

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



Hi!
Thx for your totem builds, going to start league with one of them.
If you play both maybe you can advice which one is more strong and preferred as league starter? Thx!
short question, do i cast frostbite by my self or will it be triggered anyhow?
"
Jaccob wrote:
Iam waiting for your 3.9 Update. It will definitely my league starter build.

Do you will stream on 13?


Yeah, I'll definitely be streaming on league start.

"
Shepherd_ArK wrote:
Could i also use a Atziris Reflection instead of the rare shield?

And really fun build!


Definitely, check the high-budget options section of the guide for into on the Reflection setup.

"
Dyvz wrote:
I m planning this to be my SSF build,
However with lack of 2 jewels and soul mantle (2 rings aswell) im going to do :
- play with brands, including ascendancy then switch it to FP totems when i got build enabler items. (passive tree is quite similar)
- try it with FP totems from the scratch and see how it going.

whats optimal in your opinion?


For SSF I can't see it being optimal to start directly into Freezing Pulse totems. If you want a totem start for SSF I suspect something like Holy Flame Totem is more suited for that, until you get a pair of Kikazaru rings and a Soul Mantle at least.


"
Old_Hroft wrote:
Hi!
Thx for your totem builds, going to start league with one of them.
If you play both maybe you can advice which one is more strong and preferred as league starter? Thx!


I prefer Freezing Pulse totems to Holy Flame totems, though as mentioned above if I were league starting in SSF I'd probably use Holy Flame Totems to start instead.

"
Jaccob wrote:
short question, do i cast frostbite by my self or will it be triggered anyhow?


It's just self-cast in this build.

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