[3.9] A Stunning Executioner w/ Ground Slam- League Start/ Stunning Endgame (Awakener 8 Down)

Hello Exiles! I'm Hologram, who first played Path of Exile in Betrayal League 3.5. Ever since then I have been following different build guides to learn about the game with different characters and ascendancies and how the game works. However, in Metamorph League 3.9, I am very happy to present to you my Slayer Vaal Ground Slam, a build that is both a meme (perma-stun type of build) and an underrated off-meta powerhouse if built correctly. This is also my first-ever build guide, so I am open for any feedback and critique to improve the build.

NOTE: If you are new to the game, please read through the guide carefully - I plan to make it as detailed as possible so that new players can also learn if they want to try out the build.

So if you're looking to play something fun and can potentially get very strong after certain upgrades, you're in the right place! MELEE is still STRONK in 3.9!

PATCH 3.9 Update
Monster Defense Buff
- Monsters throughout the game has gained a substantial amount of Armor for more physical mitigation and can reach up to 28k Armor for Endgame Bosses. However, this isn't something to worry about - as we do enough damage to totally bypass this defense layer of theirs!

- Rare and especially Unique Monsters (including endgame bosses like The Elder, Shaper, etc) have gained significant increase to their life - The Shaper went from 18 million life before patch 3.9 to roughly 68 million life now. This makes the game quite a bit harder, but don't worry too much about it - this affects the DPS of all builds across the board and the time it takes to kill bosses will be a bit longer but that's about it. What's the fun if everything in the game is steamrolled, right? ;)

- Our main skill, Ground Slam is unchanged.

- Nerfs to Multiple Crafted Modifier, but we don't need it anyway so it doesn't affect us.

- Watcher's Eye is more expensive, but not impossible to obtain - we only need 1 mod (Pride or Precision) on it.

- We can use 2 Awakened Gems - Melee Physical Damage and Brutality for some damage boost. These are rare and expensive, however.

- Fortify change, from reduction to less damage taken. This does not affect us because we do not stack damage reduction.

=> Overall it's a bit more challenging to play this patch, but we have some ways to deal tons of damage.


Our core survival in the game is from our main skill - Vaal Ground Slam. We rely on doing a lot of damage in a single hit to stun an enemy. A hit that deals at least 50% of the target's maximum life is guaranteed to stun. This makes it very easy for us to stun normal mobs while clearing maps, etc. Against bosses, we rely on a lot of damage burst sources to achieve more reliable stuns. More details in the Gem Links section.

Currently in the game, this parameters determines how easy it is to stun a target. We have a stat called "Reduce Enemy Stun Threshold" to stun them more easily. The higher this number, the easier to stun them in each single hit with the normal Ground Slam. Our Vaal skill guarantees a stun regardless of how much damage it deals, under normal conditions.

Pure Physical
After planning the build for a while of how to best scale the damage at league start, I decided to go with pure physical damage. This means we deal 100% physical damage, 0% chaos or any elemental damage. We do not stack Bleed, either.

Critical Strike Setup
An efficient way to scale our damage output to great levels is to stack Critical Strike Chance and Multiplier (Multiplier is a more important stat) through gear, jewels and passive tree.

Dual Wield
The most common weapon so far on Stun builds is a 2H Mace Tidebreaker. However, that doesn't do enough damage. So I have decided to go with the Dual Wield route, by using 2 1H Maces for better feel - 10% more Attack Speed, +15% chance to Block Attacks from Dual Wielding, and we can stack Critical Strike Multipliers on both maces, giving more damage.

Keystone Passives
This build doesn't spec into any Keystones. No keystones? No problem. We only need notables, like any other builds in the game. Although possible keystones to take can be Unwavering Stance and Iron Reflexes, which are niche at best, and unnecessary at worst.


+Cheap to start, possible to league start

+Zoom-zoom playstyle, very fun - Screen-wide AoE, can even off-screen sometimes, fast clear

+Decent boss killer (better as long as we can stun)

+Immune to Reflected Physical Damage

+Can run pretty much all map mods (No Leech/No Regen/Unwavering very hard to run on high Awakening Atlas and Map Tier)

+Party-play friendly (Bonus)

+Decent defenses at higher level

+Can reliably handle festive Metamorphs by stunning them to death

-Vulnerable to Porcupines especially with hard map mods- despite guard skill and some Armor, playing around these mobs is required to avoid deaths

-Unwavering monsters (cannot be stunned) such as all Syndicate members (except Mastermind), Guardian of the Minotaur, Atziri can become very deadly fights, as well as the Unwavering map mod

-Require certain investments to really shine in endgame contents (from red tier map onward). Min-maxing can cost several dozen exalts

-Weak to chaos damage, but is manageable

-Kinda reliant on flasks until damage breaks a threshold to kill bosses more quickly


https://pastebin.com/9WJDMWWe (This is my current gear and gem setup, with all buffs active)

Do note that there are bugs with Pride (not calculated from Watcher's Eye jewel), Slayer's 15% more damage based on proximity and some other passive nodes are not probably calculated, so I add these stats on jewels/flasks. I am also not certain whether the current DPS of Ground Slam already took into account of "49%/50% more damage to closer targets", if anyone knows, please comment in the thread!

To calculate the true DPS of Ground Slam, multiply your current DPS with 1.25 (Bane of Legends gives 20% cull, which is equivalent to 25% more damage), and if you are curious about the damage of enemies standing on Shocked ground, multiply with 1.2 as well (this is iffy calculation because our Vaal Lightning Trap is usually not active at the beginning of boss fights in different instances, so ignore it mostly). My PoB link shows how much damage Ground Slam can reach with most buffs active (3 frenzy and 3 power charges, and other effects like Shocked ground). The maximum DPS our Vaal Ground Slam can reach is about 18 million DPS - but this is only a theoretical number that can be reached during map/delve with several nearby enemies. During boss fights, the realistic damage output is about 1.2 million Shaper DPS with good gear.

https://pastebin.com/PSjyczwL (Realistic DPS with only 1 nearby enemy as boss)

My number shows about 3.5 million Shaper DPS, which is proven to be enough to run Awakening 8 high tier red maps without DPS issues unless there are mods that make enemies much tankier like Physical damage reduction, etc.


Since I didn't plan to make a build guide at the start, I did not save up any PoB leveling passive. However, the general direction is as follows:

+ First, grab the life nodes at the start of Duelist areas, head to Art of the Gladiator to prevent armors from reducing movement speed. You can start with any skills, and once you complete the quest Enemy at the Gate (Nessa), you get rewarded with Ground Slam gem. Use it until you can afford the Vaal version.

+ As you progress to around Act 2, head to Brinkmanship for some more AoE and protection. Note: Help Alira for more resistance and crit multi!

+ The next clusters to grab are Soul of Steel for more elemental resistances and Bloodless for extra life

+ At this point, depending on how much life you have on gear, you can either head to Constitution notable upward of the tree, or continue toward the left side of the skill tree. I grabbed Constitution around Act 3 for big life boost when I league started with the build.

+ The next cluster is Lust for Carnage - this is very important as it's the only source of life leech in the build. Getting to this cluster will feel safer and smoother with more attack speed.

+ Continue in the left side of the tree, grabbing Juggernaut and Barbarism notables for more life.

+ As damage becomes more lacking when we were busy with the life nodes, next up are the Bone Breaker - Skull Cracking cluster which is huge for damage, cover up these 2 notables shortly after.

+ The last 2 notables with life/damage to the left are Born To Fight and Heart of the Warrior. This pretty much completes the left side of the tree, for now.

=> At this point the basics are covered - no need to spec into any clusters with Critical Strike Chance/Multipliers yet!

+ As you reach Act 7, you get some extra protection by buying Immortal Call/Molten Shell from Lilly in Act 6 as well as any other utility gems you need, like Fortify.

+ Once you get a guard skill, it's time to proceed to the right side of the tree, covering the Rampart cluster for both damage and defense. Immortal Call is a temporary skill, when you get enough currency, you should afford a Vaal Molten Shell.

+ Head to Ribcage Crusher and Thick Skin (the last life cluster). Afterwards, you can actually start investing into Critical Strike passives and jewel sockets as you get your gear upgraded around Act 8-10.

*RULES OF THUMB during leveling::

- Aim for at least 300 flat life each Act. This means after the end of Act 5, you should have at least ~1500 life total, and ~3500 life by the time you reach map. The more, the safer.

- Upgrade your gear gradually. You can buy cheap rares for just 1 alt/alchemy or pick them up along the way. Aim for life and resistance and try to raise your resistances as high as possible after resistance penalty of Act 5. A corrupted 6L chest is better than a Tabula, but make sure socket colors fit!


Normal Lab: Impact (to help with accuracy)

Cruel Lab: Headsman (to help with tanky mobs and clear)

Merciless Lab: Overwhelm (when we start investing into crit)

Eternal Lab: Bane of Legends for better cull and clear speed


1.Main skill (Chest): Vaal Ground Slam - (Awakened) Brutality - Fortify - Pulverize - (Awakened) Melee Physical Damage - Ruthless

Alternatively, to maximize DPS for tough bosses, you can replace Ruthless with Concentrated Effect (but be mindful of Int requirement). Fortify is for permanent uptime and is a core defense. Ground Slam is both our clearing skill and bossing skill.

2. Gloves: Pride - Flesh and Stone (Blood Stance) - Maim - Enlighten (lv 3)

First aura setup, to maximize damage. Enlighten 3 is needed, no need lv 4. To reach lv 3 you need the +30 Int from passive tree and an Agate Amulet (covering both Int and Str for some more life and damage)

3. Helmet: War Banner - Blood and Sand - Precision (lv 1-4) - Enlighten (lv 3)

Second aura setup, for more damage. I run both aura setups without requiring any support from mana reservation reduction on tree or any gear piece. However, until you get the craft "-9 to total Mana Cost of Skills" on your ring, better to stick with Precision Lv 1 and some mana on gear to sustain mana better. War Banner is great damage burst for bosses due to Adrenaline (100% increased Damage and more Physical Damage Reduction).

4. Weapon 1: Leap Slam - Ancestral Warchief - Faster Attack

Mobility and buff from Warchief totem for more damage. Even though Warchief gives less total DPS than Ancestral Protector (who gives more attack speed), we focus on raising average hit damage to be as high as possible to stun, so we don't focus on Attack Speed as much.

5. Weapon 2: Cast When Damage Taken (Lv 5) - Vaal Molten Shell (Lv 12) - Vaal Lightning Trap (Lv 1)/Rallying Cry

Vaal Molten Shell is the best guard skill, since when it's active it can be used to escape dire situations, so the timing is very important. Vaal Lightning Trap is only used against bosses to burst them down more quickly as they are shocked. On a screen-wide fight, everything can get shocked, receiving 20% increased damage taken!

Alternatively, during boss fights in different instances (Uber Elder, Awakener, etc) Rallying Cry can be used for some effective temporary damage boost while Vaal Lightning Trap is useless. However the damage boost is less than Vaal Lightning Trap's.

6. Boots: Cast When Damage Taken (Lv 5) - Purifying Flame (lv 1) - Summon Ice Golem (lv 7) - Assassin Mark (lv 8)/Vulnerability (Lv 8)

Another cwdt setup for utility. Ice Golem for accuracy (the build doesn't cap accuracy that easily, but that's not a big issue for reaching ~96% accuracy) and crit chance. Purifying flame is for debuff - enemies on consecrated ground receives 100% increased critical strike chance from our hits, making we crit more easily. It also gives 6% of maximum life regen per second, helps with extra recovery aside from our leech. The last slot is either curse - getting Assassin Mark curse on hit from ring is very expensive since Shaper items are rarer now, so I just play with a cwdt setup for a middle ground. We get hit pretty often, so it's easy to proc the curse.

During boss fights that do not spawn much add, like The Awakener, Vulnerability gives more damage and can bleed.


Major God - Soul of Brine King - we have no stun protection so this major god is a must-have.

Minor God - Soul of Shakari - one of the few ways to handle the heavy chaos damage as of currently in the game. Immunity to poison helps a ton.


We are not the best at defense as Slayers, but there are some tricks to make the build safer. Currently, I have:

1. 30% increased effect of Fortify - 26% less damage taken
2. 6500 life
3. Immunity to poison and corrupted blood (jewel)
4. 5% reduced chaos damage taken (Shakari pantheon)
5. 3 Endurance Charges from stuns (which is sort of unreliable, but doable)
6. Reliable Stuns - enemies usually can't do much, except for teleporters like Awakener, Al-Hezmin, and Unwavering monsters
7. Molten Shell with ~13k Armor + Vaal Molten Shell
8. 77% max Fire resistance, 76% max Cold and Lightning Resistance
9. Roughly 55% Physical Damage Reduction with all Endurance Charges active (combined with Fortify, Brinkmanship, Adamant passives, etc)
10. Strong leech due to good damage
11. 15% chance to Block & 15% chance to Evade, which isn't much, but it's there
12. Nearby enemies have -30% to Crit Multi (Ascendancy)


What to look for on your gear:


Weapon: Look for 1H bases like Nightmare and Auric, as they have a balance of attack speed and base physical damage. You can look for Elder/Shaper/Redeemer/Hunter bases for even more specific stats, but currently I find my damage enough. Aim for:

+ Attack speed (>25%)
+ Crit Multi (~35%)
+ Increased Physical Damage (around 165%)
+ Flat Physical Damage (crafting bench) (rank 3, 15-30 added physical damage)
+ Flat Accuracy/Quality if you multi-mod
+ Crit Chance (extra luxury)

Helmet:, Starkonja is a great all-around helmet while not being too expensive. You can buy one with Ground Slam enchant. The helmet gives Crit Chance and Attack Speed and a boat load of flat life.

Chest: Personally I prefer Belly of the Beast with a lot of life (we need life!). A rare Elder chest with Lv 1 Maim can be used for even more damage, but will lose out on some flat life, and is much harder to craft now.

Gloves: A pair of Spiked Gloves base with life, resistances and attack speed/flat physical damage. Pretty basic. There are quite some other alternative crafting choices, but this is just basic, league start suited gear.

Boots: Rare (Two-Tone would be the best, but expensive), other than that any Strength-based boots can work, which help build up our Armor for Molten Shell to take more damage. 30% movement speed at least would be ideal. Life and resistances, as usual.

Rings: Ideally in endgame contents you would want Mark of the Elder and a Shaper Ring. It's important to get the mod "Physical Damage Leeched as Mana" to save you 3 passive points. This mod can be either on your ring or gloves. Use Abrasive Catalysts on your Mark of the Elder ring for even more Attack Damage, and Fertile Catalysts for the other ring and belt for more flat life.

You can get a Shaper ring with "Curse enemies with Assassin's Mark on hit together with life and resistances to spare a gem slot for anything else you want, but I find it unnecessary and hard for me to cram all needed stats in that sole ring.

Belt: A Stygian Vise/Leather Belt would be perfect. A Stygian Vise is great because it allows for 1 abyss jewel, where you can get more Crit Multi and flat Physical Damage. Try getting some Stun Threshold Reduction on this belt as well!

Amulet: This is our offensive piece of gear - look for Crit Multi, life, and +1 to Minimum Frenzy Charges craft. This frenzy charge will be permanent and gives 4% MORE damage and 4% increased Attack Speed. Anointment choices exist, but Disciple of the Slaughter gives the most damage output. Disciple of the Forbidden can be used for much cheaper cost with 3 power charges without having to resort to Assassin's Mark to proc. Spine Cruncher is also decent for more stun potential.


Because our skill tree is pretty packed and not spread out much, we can achieve 4 jewel slots (5 if you're really invested into the character and reach high level). 2 jewels should be Rare, and stack at least 2 Crit Multi mods (getting life on them will cost several exalts and not worth it). Extra mods include Global Accuracy, Mana, Critical Strike Chance.

The Watcher's Eye mod should be "x% chance to deal Double Damage while using Pride. This is because we're stacking Double Damage chance with a Lethal Pride Timeless Jewel (if you cannot get to this jewel, alternative mods include: Crit Multi with Precision, Attack Damage with Pride/Precision or both if you're rich.

The Lethal Pride jewel should give Crit Multi, + Strength/Life to raise total life for more tank, chance to deal Double Damage, Chance to Intimidate (if you haven't got Awakened Melee Physical Damage). Utilities like 5% chance to gain 1 Endurance Charge on kill is also very helpful in Unwavering maps. This requires several Divines to roll the ones you want. Immunity to Corrupted Blood (e.g, The Awakener fight) is very strong, and you can get it on the Rapid Expansion jewel (Threshold jewel for Ground Slam).

Flasks: A Diamond flask is pretty much always on Crit builds, a Life flask, Lion's Roar Unique flask, Quicksilver flask and a Silver flask to give the most damage bursts possible. Suffices to cover include Bleed, Curse and Freeze/Chill immunities and more Movement speed.


A. Weapon: You use the Callinellus Auric Maces and these will stick with you for quite a while until you switch to rare maces.

Good rare Mace bases to look for include: Nightmare Mace, Auric Mace (15% reduced enemy stun threshold), or Tenderizer. These have a balance between base attack speed and physical damage range. Look at wiki for details: https://pathofexile.gamepedia.com/One_Hand_Maces

Upon relegating the unique 1H Maces, on rare maces you gradually upgrade their stat tier, but look for:
+ Attack speed (10-15%)
+ Crit Multi (~15-20%)
+ Increased Physical Damage (around 150%)
+ Flat Physical Damage (crafting bench) (rank 3, 15-30 added physical damage)

These can be obtained via Fossil Crafting, or buying the weapons with these stats.

B. Rings: 2 Rare rings can work:
+ Accuracy
+ Life
+ Resistance
+ Increased Damage (crafting bench)

C. Amulet:
+ Rare
+ Life (can be from crafting bench)
+ Crit Multi
+ Increased Damage (crafting bench)

D. Gloves:
+ Life
+ 1 or 2 Resistance
+ Attack Speed (crafting bench)

For other pieces, similarly, you can aim for the simplest pieces of gear with just basic stats (mostly aim for life and resistances) and farm up for the high-end items. Note that to be able to run all auras effectively without worrying about mana available, you should get some flat Mana on gear.


Since the build offers a more glasscannon type of playstyle rather than facetanking, you'll need to learn to play aggressively. DO NOT panic when you see an enemy is about to unleash a deadly attack - if they are stunned, their animation is cancelled completely. So in those circumstances, don't run away and dodge - keep slamming them until you feel the need to regroup. We rely on a lot of damage burst to shut down enemies as quickly as possible while preventing them from performing any deadly moves. If your life pool is in the safe zone (at least ~6.4k for me to feel safer in high tier maps) you can survive a number of moderate hits and maybe some heavy hits.

And because we want to STUNT, we need ways to deal tons of damage ;) The concept is very simple - you just pretty much SLAM the ground to endgame. That's what the build is all about!


So you might wonder, what contents have I achieved with the build, or is it purely for the stun meme?

+ The Shaper
+ The Elder
+ Uber Elder
+ T16 bosses
+ The Awakener ( Including Awakening 8)
+ Elder Guardians
+ Shaper Guardians
+ Kurgal (Abyssal Boss in Delve, depth 200)
+ All 4 Conquerors (Up to Awakening 8, including Drox, Veritania, Al-Hezmin & Baran)
+ Normal & Uber Atziri
+ Uul-Netol/Chayula/Tul/Xoph
+ Syndicate Mastermind


+ The Elder (lv 83): https://youtu.be/sj4VXJ5flpg

+ Uber Elder (lv 84): https://youtu.be/sj4VXJ5flpg

+ Syndicate Mastermind: https://youtu.be/r4xPZf6AXlk

+ T16 Underground River map clear: https://youtu.be/VhkOq-T7w5I

+ T16 Promenade map clear: https://youtu.be/448kTjQ1g6U

+ Drox, Warlord Conqueror (6): https://youtu.be/nMvPb7w1ppo

+ Sirus, The Awakener (6): https://youtu.be/2kih2gIv3P4

+ Drox (8): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJS9Ud8Nwlc

+ Veritania , The Redeemer (8): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P1c80CTZX0

+ Sirus (8): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqaLpLQ8uFM

I'll record more videos, but my potato quality is as bad as it gets, so please don't judge what you see too badly :D.

Most of these fights are done to show that it's possible with the build, I just made stupid mistakes and lag spikes, but it's possible even for this build :). If you know boss mechanics well, you can achieve with even fewer deaths than me with even worse gear than mine xd.

THANKS FOR READING THROUGH THE GUIDE! If you have different and interesting gear sets, feel free to share them in here! I'll try to answer questions in here when possible.
A filthy casual
Last edited by Hologram_o on Feb 21, 2020, 9:04:53 PM
Last bumped on Feb 4, 2020, 5:20:01 PM
niice a meme build but its good :3
Senior Graphic Designer,reading,watching anime,gamer
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niice a meme build but its good :3

Ty friend :p

Also added Sirus Awakening Level 6 and Drox videos. Now I can proceed to Awakening 7 and hopefully 8. It's been pretty slow progressing recently.

EDIT: Sirus A7 down (no deaths, but no recording either xd). One more to go and I'll wrap up the league.
A filthy casual
Last edited by Hologram_o on Jan 20, 2020, 3:15:29 PM
Awakener 8 finally down (first run). Veritania and Drox Awakening 8 videos are also up. Mission accomplished for this league.
A filthy casual

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