[3.9 HCSSF] Dominating Blow Jugg (Rolling through T14-16 Maps, No unfarmable gear needed)

Yes, a build specifically designed for HCSSF.

Brief backstory
I have done hc for a long time specializing in
good value budget builds, but i had never really tried ssf before. My first attempt was terrible and it helped me understand that a good ssf build really needs absolutely no required uniques that cannot be -easily- farmed (e.g.Tabula) It still needs high survivability and decent bossing and clear speed to be fun. This build was the result of my trying to fix those problems.

And it has exceeded my expectations. Currently level 92 in the hcssf, fully ascended and rolling through red maps. While it can certainly benefit from expensive gear (I am no where near the current equipment ceiling for the build) It has no trouble with T16s in nothing but a tabula.

Here are the disclaimers: If you are in trade league with tons of currency, I am sure there are other builds that are better at just about everything. This is also not a two button face-tank the world kind of build. We are using both sides of the entire panel and we do periodically dodge in and out of fights when our defensive skills are on cooldown. Personally I have found this play style to be much more fun than one/two button builds but ymmv.

With that, lets get into the build.

Basic Overview:

Juggernaut using Life+MOM to achieve an 8-9k ehp pool in nothing but a tabula with the following skill set:
1. Dominating blow (primary offense via summoned sentinels)
2. Raise zombie (extra offense/defense and gets dominating blow rolling
2a. Currently testing out replacing Zombies with Skellies--promising
3. 2-3 Spectres (I use Carnage chieftain and Host chieftain for frenzy/power atm)
4. Carrion Golem (Little extra offense and linked to cull for boss fights
4a. Testing out replacing this with a CWDT setup--may be an improvement
5. Vaal molten shell/molten shell (with granite flask, provides key defense)
6. Steelskin (Provides intermittent defense when out of flask charges)
7. Convocation (Essentially acts as our attack button)
8. Flame dash (movement)
8a. Testing out Leap slam. Looks like matter of taste
9. (Optional) Flesh offering for extra offense.
10. (Optional) If you are able to farm Cat for a devouring diadem, CWDT-Desecrate for extra survivability.

Tokens of notable things the build has accomplished in hcssf so far:

Video: (Plan to post more higher end when I have time)

1. Early All boss Metamorph fight (while leveling) https://youtu.be/4sTVMtcDZik

2. T15 Geode with T15 Boss & Boss based Metamorph (Gives a good sense of builds normal mapping style) https://youtu.be/aLbw69-Wkbw

Explanation of links:

1.Dominating Blow>Melee Splash>Fortify>Multistrike>Brutality>Melee Physical

2.Raise Zombie>Minion Speed>Minion Damage>Feeding Frenzy

3.Vaal Molten shell>Steelskin>Inc. Duration

4.Carrion Golem>Cull>Minion life

5.Raise Spectre>Blood Magic>Minion life

6.Flame Dash


8. 3 optional gem slots. I currently have CWDT>desecrate and a separate desecrate for use with Devouring diadem. Without that I might recommend CWDT>Flesh Offering>your favorite curse.

Current Gear and Discussion

Other than the Tabula, you are really only looking for Life, Mana and resists on your gear. Move speed for boots. Minion damage on a weapon is a plus (I crafted mine with essence of fear. TBH the most important piece of gear is probably the granite flask (obtainable in A7 via quest). which combines with molten shell/vaal molten shell to make the build intermittently extremely tanky. Life flask of animation is also useful, though not an absolute requirement--just good QOL.

Lvl 92 skill Tree POB (3 variants)

2 Spectres, 8 Zombies, 9k ehp https://pastebin.com/HvSzgBSe

3 Spectres, 9 Zombies, 8.5k ehp https://pastebin.com/nSVNJ4RR

3 Spectres, 9 Zombies + Gravepact, 7.9k ehp https://pastebin.com/naeunn3H

I have experimented with all three trees in order, scaling back ehp for dps once I felt comfortable that the builds defensive mechanics were sufficient, then scaling back both more ehp and mana/life regen to get the top end tree-based dps.

I definitely prefer the middle variation to the first one. My experiment with the bottom variation is now underway. If it continues to feel solid, I expect it will be my favorite. ~8k EHP plus all the defensive mechanics should be enough for most encounters. Of course everything will improve significantly with a non-tabula 6L.

[Edit] 3rd variant died to a T16 metamorph. Perhaps the second one after all. :>

Kill all

Ascendancies in order:


Any Major depending on circumstance and Ralakesh/Shakari. I use Ralakesh for ascending, but we will want the upgrade with Shakari for poison immunity, since DOTs are where the build is weakest.

You aren't trying to kill anything yourself. Summon your zombies, spectres and carrion golem ahead of time (A7 Ashen fields for both spectres, use A2 riverways for a Carnage chietain while leveling.

When clearing: Proc your Steelskin/molten shell, flame dash into the first pack and swing once or twice while your summoned minions kill and generate sentinels. Flame dash in and out of packs using convocation to summon all minions for the beat down.

When bossing: Proc steelskin/molten shell/vaal molten shell from out of range, dash in, and attack the boss while your defense is up (Since on one out of 4 swings you will summon a new sentinel). Dash out during the cooldowns and repeat.

Even if the Summoned minions die and you don't have the dex to resummon during the fight, You can win this way against many bosses using only sentinels

This is definitely my most efficient build yet in terms of power vs. currency required. Hope some of you having a tough time in HCSSF give it a try and let me know how it goes

Last edited by Orion72 on Dec 19, 2019, 6:12:41 AM
Last bumped on Mar 15, 2020, 4:09:08 PM
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First video up. Planning to do more later, but this should give a little sense of mid-game playstyle.

I'm trying out your build in standard trade league. I know you said other builds are likely better, but I'm trying to get a grasp of its tankiness and mechanics of dom blow as a whole.

That said, how did you level this char, what skills did you use until you could get dom blow?
Plyte wrote:
I'm trying out your build in standard trade league. I know you said other builds are likely better, but I'm trying to get a grasp of its tankiness and mechanics of dom blow as a whole.

That said, how did you level this char, what skills did you use until you could get dom blow?

My favorite easy leveling setup to 28 is smite>Ancestral call>anything useful>anything useful with Ancestral protector>anything>anything>anything

(seriously, any other beneficial gemns can go in those slots and it will be fine).

The leveling part of tree is a pretty clear one way path with a couple of small deviations for life. Take the minion wheels as you reach them. Because dom blow has a pretty heavy mana cost, I didn't take Mom until much later in the game, after I had significant mana regen. I think I was already in maps at that point, but you could take it sooner if you are comfy with your mana flask.

Post mom (until mana regen is sufficient) I highly recommend an enduring prefix mana flask for the constant upward pressure on your ehp. It's like having a mini version of Slayer's overleech with almost constant uptime.

Happy to answer other questions as they come up--good luck!

Added additional variations to skill tree trading some ehp for additional dps.
Added T15 Video showing top level variant (Most ehp, least dps)
Last edited by Orion72 on Dec 18, 2019, 4:43:06 AM
Another great guide, thank you, I will definitely switch to this later if I cant progress more with the other Jugg build (currently level 87 and lacking a bit of damage). Amazing how tanky it is with that life.

Question: Is Vaal Grace out of the question? Not sure if having 2 vaal gems for this build is good or bad, or this way you can use more molten shells. Whats your opinion on that? Better 1 or 2 vaal gems?

Also, would be amazing if you include some uniques as "lucky options" for best in slot or great upgrades, just in case we are fortunate enough to find it and knowing we can switch them, or even chance them if gotten the opportunity. I think the build (and the guide) will improve a lot this way.

Thanks and keep up the good work!

IGN: Gonorreitor
Last edited by Valmar on Dec 18, 2019, 10:19:20 AM
Re Vaal Grace:
I have experimented with multiple vaal gems in the past and found that I preferred using just one, as the dilution of vaal souls hampered uptime substantially. That said, nothing wrong with trying it and deciding for yourself.

Re Lucky Uniques/Upgrade ideas:
Sure--here is non-exhaustive list off the top of my head:

1. Devouring Diadem
2. Scourge claw
3. Any 5-6 link 2h weapon with crafted "proc slotted gem on skill use". If I had this I want to try using summon skeletons instead of zombies. The idea of summonning one set of skeletons per swing (with cooldown) would synergize better than the zombies which were showing a tendency to die off in some upper level fights.
4. The Brass Dome
5. Craicean's Carapace
6. Kaom's way (x2)
7. Any melee weapon with the Atzoatl temple minion mods
8. Aul's uprising with any helpful aura.
9. Essence worm--I would probably try Pride here.
10. Physical impresence with vulnerability.

I'm sure there are more, but there is an off-the-top-of-my-head starter wish list.

In other news, I have ended my first destruction test of the build. The least tanky/highest dps variation died to a T16 Metamorph with extra damage mods. (I know, this was aggressive for still being in a tabula, but I like to push limits)
I expect to reroll in a bit, after a break. I did first post a YouTube of a clean run in a T15 map to give a sense of how the build functions near the top end. Apologies that I didn't make more content prior to my first death.

Anyway, do please feel free to post any improvements/ideas y'all come up with if you try it out. Good Luck!

Last edited by Orion72 on Dec 18, 2019, 1:40:34 PM

Before the first version I've tried of this build ripped, I noticed that the Zombies and Golem were dying pretty regularly against T16 bosses, despite taking all the minion life and res nodes that I did.

I'm working on a variant now to see if I can replace the zombies with skellies and drop the golem for a CWDT>vuln setup. This may allow us to ignore some of the minion life and res nodes, since skellies are much easier to resummon and are meant to be more fire and forget. This also might make the Al Hezmin fight a bit easier, since he is a pita for melee and skellies can be summoned to his location as he zips around the area.

Variation looks promising through Act 8 so far.

So I'm continueing my Metamorph softcore path with the build and I'm pretty happy so far. Think I'm going to try the Brass Dome route.

My reasoning is that the fights are so long that you cannot rely on your armor from granite to carry you. You just run out of charges. Getting over 12k armor from just Brass dome (+ armor from traits) will help make every molten shell a nice pillow.

I also picked up the extra rare from dom blow enchant. Its nice for map clear, but for bosses, its almost no impact. But thats fine.

I'm not sure about running a curse. Curse effectiveness gets hit so hard against bosses that sacrificing a gem slot for it and juggling yet another thing, Im not sure if its worth it. I'd like to find a solution to minions dying on metamorph bosses. Perhaps Spirit Offering.

Also, have you tried using impale yet? I'm not sure of the armor maths anymore, but I'm curious if Impale could be a good option against armored mobs. I've defintely noticed when metamorphs have the Armored Affix, I do almost no damage.
Last edited by Plyte on Dec 20, 2019, 11:41:40 PM
I think Brass some is actually an excellent choice, given the way our defense works. Having tested both now, I found skeletons to be superior to zombies. They do approximately 5x the damage (literally) and can be easily resummoned during boss fights. For the spectres (who were also dying on T16s) I had some good luck with the giant gladiator statues, which can be found just south of the waypoint on the A3 marketplace. They seem absurdly tanky, and provide nice added defense with minion life and meatshield.

Haven't done anything with impale. But that's a good idea against armored bosses at least. If you try it out, please let us know how it goes.

Good luck!


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