💀3.15💀 iLL3aT’s Cold Skeleton Warriors/Archers/Mages ❆ League Starter ❆ All Content ❆

Build write up mostly unchanged for now: New PoBs:

[Skeleton Mages] https://pastebin.com/LP6u7zCw

3.16 updated for mages with a focus on the fleshcrafter unique chest. Decent DPS buff in 3.16, oddly enough. Warriors/Archers will be updated at a later date (low on time). Guide itself has not been updated since 3.15.

Skeleton builds have always been great characters for beginners to learn the game, as well as for veterans who want an efficient league starter and/or a strong build that can clear all content.

For beginners, skeletons offer a simple playstyle with few gear requirements and impactful, incremental upgrades. It is also great to learn boss mechanics on, since you can focus on dodging while your minions do the work. A skeleton focused build can bring you to the endgame (Shaper, Sirus, Maven) at a cost of around two exalted orbs worth of currency. A few players have killed their first awakener ever using this build!

For veterans, skeletons are a cheap league starter that is also able to tackle everything in Path of Exile. With enough investment, it can go over 100 million Shaper DPS. Awakening level 8 mapping is smooth and safe, featuring over 6,000 life, fortify, blind, five defensive flasks, chaos resistance, among other defensive layers. It is capable of killing all end game bosses, mapping in tier 19 or 100% delirious maps, deathless 20 wave Simulacrums, and delving beyond 1,000. The build format is very versatile with many chances to personalize your own version of it!

High Level Table of Contents

1. How to read this guide
2. Build Overview
3. Videos
4. About the author
5. Pros and Cons
6. Path of Building and Passive Tree
7. Bandits, Ascendency, Pantheon, and Leveling
8. Gear
-------Post #2------
9. Gems
10. Spectres, Animate Guardian, and discussion on other minions
11. How to play the build
12. Advanced Mechanics
13. Boss, Delve, T19 Guides
14. Other setups worth considering
15. Crafting Guide
16. F.A.Q.s
17. Latest Patch Changes & Update Log
18. Credits

1. How to read this guide

The guide is split into sections, and then further into subsections (the bracketed numbers) – this is to help in navigation if a section points you to another. I would recommend reading through the guide rather than look just at the Path of Building (“PoB”), since some of my choices may seem odd without explanation.

For beginners, I recommend starting with the PoB in 6(2), and then going through the gear and gems sections before reading through the whole guide.

2. Build overview

This build is based upon using the unique Triad Grips gloves to fully convert the physical damage from the summon skeleton skill to cold. This allows for full abuse of the hatred aura by taking advantage of both parts of it, making for some absurd scaling that other variants of skeleton summoners or cold conversion attack/spell builds do not have access to. While there are many minions, the main damage dealers will be the summoned skeletons.

Skeletons: By default, summon skeletons summons multiple skeleton warriors, melee minions that deal physical damage with a timed life. They can be transformed to skeleton archers by substituting the gem with “Phantasmal summon skeletons,” or skeleton mages via the Dead Reckoning unique jewel.

Damage Conversion: To simplify this advanced topic, fully converting from physical damage to cold allows for the scaling of both, which then allows for some double dipping of multipliers. This is why a gem like melee physical damage linked to skeletons increases damage. All conversion is via the Triad Grips unique gloves.

Chilling and Freezing: As the skeletons will deal cold damage, they are able to inflict these status ailments based on their HP/ailment thresholds. The more damage is dealt, the higher the likelihood of freezing an enemy, and enemies up to conquerors can be frozen with enough damage. Against end-game bosses, skitterbots will provide chill even though their ailment thresholds will not allow them to be chilled otherwise. Freezing and shattering enemies provides a very strong defensive layer: corpse destruction, protecting the player from detonate dead and porcupine goliaths.

Elemental Equilibrium: All elemental minion builds are based around the keystone, Elemental Equilibrium (“EE”). Only the player character is able to apply EE, minions and other summons cannot. By hitting an enemy with for example a fire, the affected enemy will have +25% fire resistance, and -50% cold resistance for four seconds. Against an end-game boss with a base 50% elemental resistance, that is reduced to zero once hit by the EE trigger: this is essentially doubles the damage of all cold based minions. While the trigger can be any lightning or fire based skill, we choose armageddon brand for its near instant cast time and multiple hits. A more advanced alternative is to use frost bomb with avatar of fire (be sure to read through 16(1) though), but I personally feel this is less smooth to play despite the higher DPS. Skills that do not hit (such as flame wall or righteous fire) will not activate EE. See the image below; the pink/blue circle below the archer’s feet indicates that it has been affected by EE, and the text below its name indicates that it has been hit by a fire skill and is thus vulnerable to both cold and lightning.

Curse on hit: One of the recommended options is to get curse on hit rings, and/or curse on hit gloves for the animated guardian (see 10(2)). As with EE, this must be a skill that hits, and does not just deal ailment damage. See the EE image above: the blue circle and triangle indicates that this monster is afflicted by frostbite.

3. Videos

3.15 Videos:
A5 Sirus Kill (Early League) – Skeleton Mages
Item Level 84 Logbook – Skeleton Mages

3.13 Videos
Maven Invitation: The Feared – Skeleton Archers
Maven Kill – Skeleton Archers
Maven Invitation: The Formed – Skeleton Mages
A9 Sirus Kill – Skeleton Mages
Maven Kill – Skeleton Mages
Random T16 Map – Skeleton Mages

3.12 Videos
A5 Sirus Kill (Budget)
A8 Sirus Kill – Skeleton Warriors
A8 Sirus Kill – Skeleton Archers
Uber Elder – Skeleton Archers
Mastermind – Skeleton Archers
Breaking the Unbreakable (unique contract)

3.10 Videos
Early League Simulacrum, Waves 19 & 20
Cortex (Crit variant build)

3.9 Videos
640 Aul with 100% increased AOE
Juiced T19 Map

4. About the Author

I started playing PoE in the Abyss League, and typically get 24-40 challenges done per league, getting all 40 in Metamorph, Delirium, Harvest, and Ritual. I played a modified version of Viperesque’s Pure phys skeletons & friends necromancer in 3.8, built this cold variant in 3.9, and further improved it in subsequent leagues. My goal is typically to maximize DPS while maintaining decent survivability and minimizing button presses.

My characters in the last three leagues (gear/trees for reference):
3.9: EllySkellyBeefWelly (Triple offering, proto-aura stacking, first iteration): https://pastebin.com/j63vBAcQ
3.10 PopsicleSkeletons (Cluster jewels, crit): https://pastebin.com/vpr4U8tG
3.11 BowLeagueBois (Min-maxed hybrid skeleton/spectre): https://pastebin.com/jh1tKZKA
3.12 ClusterJewelTripleKill (Budget aura stacker, skeleton archers): https://pastebin.com/jGm3xBPS
3.13 Race Strats (Min-maxed Triple curse skeleton archers): https://pastebin.com/eYeM1mSW

I am more than happy to help out with questions as long as you leave a comment in this thread. I tend to ignore private messages and friend requests - sorry. I do respond to YouTube comments, but only once a week or so. If this build has helped you kill an endgame boss or achieved something new for you, I would love to hear it!

5. Pros and Cons

(1) Pros
+League starter
+Versatile – phys, elemental, melee, ranged, attack, spell
+High DPS on a low budget but able to scale well with currency
+Sirus and Shaper kills on a budget
+Tanky – 6k+ EHP, plus other defensive layers
+Chill, freeze, and corpse destruction
+Can do reflect maps with blessed rebirth
+Full mobility while maintaining maximum DPS

(2) Cons
-Poor visibility
-Freezing phased map bosses is a pain (might have to use elemental focus on phased bosses)
-Gets nerfed every league

6. Path of Building & Passive Tree

(1) Guide to Using Path of Building (Beginner)
Download Openarl’s Path of Building from the link below:
This is what allows for you to view my passive tree, and to calculate DPS, survivability, etc.

You will also need LocalIdentity’s fork version. This adds some more functionality into PoB such as correctly calculating multistrike DPS, impale DPS, etc. It is being updated by the community and adds more features and thus is a better tool than just the vanilla PoB. See below:

Install Path of Building and update to the newest version.
❄️Click “New” at the top middle to open a new build
❄️Click “Import/Export Build” at the top left
❄️Click “Import from Pastebin…” under “Build Sharing”
❄️Paste the Pastebin URL (see subsection 6(2) for the current pastebin) where prompted, and click “Import”
❄️Under “Build Sharing,” click “Import” once more

(2) Pastebin #1 – League Starter to Endgame (Recommended)

PoB: https://pastebin.com/t1PUW1w3

NOTE: You NEED the community fork to open the PoB. See the instructions in 6(1).

This version of the build can be played by anyone, is a strong league starter, and is able to get very far into the endgame. Follow the instructions in the notes when picking gear levels.

Leveling trees are found in the tree dropdown in the PoB. New league start notes are found in 8(13).

Notes: Read these with the Pastebin, otherwise it may not make sense! Also read the notes in the PoB.
❄️Levels 1-3 sample gear available in the Items section.
❄️Levelling & SSF/League start tree in the bottom left of PoB.
❄️See disabled gems in the skills section for mapping gems and skeleton archer gems
❄️Thread of hope: see subsection – 8(7)
❄️Level 94 Tree – achievable for most players
❄️There is no Animate Guardian functionality in PoB yet – stats are added to Basalt Flask. Disable this flask to see stats without an AG
❄️Cluster jewels discussed in 8(9). Essential: the blessed rebirth notable; it keeps skeletons at 100% life for the first few seconds.
❄️The scion life wheel is available if you would rather spec into more life than damage.

(3) Pastebin #2 – Skeleton Warriors Endgame: 100+ million DPS Crit Variant (Requirements: Level 95 & 100+ exalts) NOT UPDATED FOR 3.15 YET

Pastebin: https://pastebin.com/VJV2GC0N

Includes three variations. Do not run these variants unless you meet the requirements listed above. You will need sufficient currency for jewels alone, and for good stats on gear to have enough life and resistances. The damage is much higher, but survivability lower than the 6(2) build.

Notes – Read through the League Starter to Endgame notes first:
❄️Level 100 Tree. Lose some life if at a lower level.
❄️Helmet is significantly cheaper without the 30% more elemental damage modifier
❄️Avatar of fire is to get both exposure and EE from frost bomb.
❄️Note that this version is min-maxed and is thus harder to play than the one listed in 6(2). More in the how to play this build section, 11

(4) Pastebin #3 – Skeleton Archers Endgame: 50+ million DPS Non-Crit Variant (Requirements: Level 92 & 35+ exalts) NOT UPDATED FOR 3.15 YET


Pastebin: https://pastebin.com/zsrP1y48

My personal favourite variant: High survivability and great damage.

Notes – Read through the League Starter to Endgame notes first:
❄️Level 100 Tree. Lose some life if at a lower level.
❄️Helmet is significantly cheaper without the 30% more elemental damage modifier

7. Bandits, Ascendency, Pantheon, and Leveling

(1) Bandits
Kill them all for skill points.

(2) Ascendency

Choose necromancer, and the following notables in this order:

Mindless Aggression – Offensive stats and opens up:

Unnatural Strength – Scaling minion levels is super important. Essentially it’s about 20% more damage and 20% more minion life.

Commander of Darkness – Helps with capping resists, and adding some damage. Not amazing, but solid.

Bone barrier – With the nerf to mistress of sacrifice and with heist needing defenses, bone barrier is now the uber lab choice.

Optional: Commander of Darkness can potentially be replaced once resistances are sorted out for:
Mistress of Sacrifice – Previously the uber lab option, this is a glorified 15% movement speed node with some utility. If bone offering is favored over flesh offering though, take this node instead.

(3) Pantheon

Major god:
General play: Lunaris for the movement speed, physical damage reduction, and not taking damage from chains
Bosses (Optional): Solaris for more defences against one enemy
Sirus only: Araakali for the 25% chaos DOT resistance if chaos resistance is not capped

Minor god:
General play: Abberath since burning ground means no ES
Optional: Shakari for reduced chaos damage taken or Yugul for reduced cold damage taken

(4) Leveling
I personally like the leveling guides on this website: https://www.poe-vault.com/guides/quick-reference-leveling-guide-for-path-of-exile
List of all skill points from quests: https://pathofexile.gamepedia.com/Passive_skill

Below is a rough progression idea for gem links and suggested skills while leveling.

Act 1
Pick raise zombie after clearing the twilight strand, and purchase Stormblast mine from Nessa. Purchase dash after completing the Breaking some Eggs Quest. After killing Brutus (The Caged Brute), you can pick up Summon Skeletons, and buy from Nessa up to two minion damage supports. Be sure to complete the labyrinth trial in the lower prison.

The playstyle will be to summon minions, while supplementing their damage with stormblast mine’s aura (non-detonated). You can also detonate the mines for additional burst damage. You do not have to use all minion types, nor support them all – pick your favorites! The mines are also optional.

Note: If you are leveling with a friend and they are able to (based on class), have them pick up dash, enduring cry, and vitality for you. Vitality in particular makes life very easy!

Act 2
After completing Sharp and Cruel, you can purchase faster casting (for dash/flame dash), predator and melee physical damage (for zombies/skeletons) from Yeena. After completing The Root of the Problem, purchase Summon Skitterbots from Yeena. You can link infernal legion (from act 1) to them for some additional damage. Be sure to complete the two lab trials located in The Crypt Level 1, and the Chamber of Sins Level 2.

Act 3
You can pick up Raise Spectre after completing Sever the Right Hand. For now just raise any monster while leveling up the skill gem. Finish up the last three lab trials in the Crematorium, Catacombs, and the Imperial Garden. If you have about 1,000 life, you should be able to clear the first labyrinth and pick Mindless Aggression.

An ideal four link for skeletons/zombies would be: Summon skeletons/zombie-Minion Damage-Melee Physical-Predator

Act 4
You get another minion in Carrion golem after completing Breaking the Seal. After The Eternal Nightmare, pick Spell Echo or Multistrike.

Act 5
In The Control Blocks, raise some Slave Driver Spectres, and put them in a four link if possible with minion damage, spell echo, and predator. Remove damage supports from zombies/carrion golem to make room for spectres (better clear speed). Link maim and feeding frenzy to either of these minions for them to act as support. Damage at this point will come from both spectres and skeletons.

Acts 6-10
At this point, skeletons and spectres will carry you through the rest of the acts with no issues. Keep up with gear, picking up life and resistances where possible. A good rule of thumb is 300 life per act (e.g. 1,800 life in act 6). Completing Fallen from Grace allows you to purchase almost all gems from Lilly, so do that as soon as you reach act 6. The Cruel Labyrinth trials are located in The Prison (Act 6), the Crypt (Act 7), and the Chamber of Sins Level 2 (Act 7). Recommended for the Cruel Labyrinth is 2,000 life and level 55.

The Merciless Labyrinth Trials are located in the Bath House (Act 8), the Tunnel (Act 9), and Ossuary (Act 10). Recommended for the Cruel Labyrinth is 3,000 life and level 65. Complete the Cruel Labyrinth before beating Kitava in Act 10 to have some more resists.

Leveling Uniques
See below for a few uniques which may make the leveling process easier. Most are pretty cheap even at league start, but some are only accessible for second characters and on:

General Tips
I typically play with a non-strict loot filter, and keep an eye out for items with the links I want (e.g. four blue links). Use an essence on these to turn them rare and probably usable. Keep essence of fears for wands, as they add a pretty significant amount of damage for your minions.

Levelling Trees
Included in the main PoB in 25 point increments now; see the bottom left drop down menu:

Final: See PoB – 6(2). In between 100 points and the final tree, you will be trying to obtain a good set of cluster jewels, a medium thread of hope, and anoint Death Attunement onto a worthy amulet (generally +1 intelligence skill gems or better). A few regret orbs will be required.

The build is pretty flexible that you can aim for damage or life as you need it – no need to follow the trees perfectly. If you swap to elemental earlier for example, path to elemental equilibrium right away. If you acquire a Doryani jewel early, path that way. If you want to save on regret orbs later, don’t path to Ravenous Horde.

8. Gear

Sample gear below (old, to be replaced; refer to PoB instead). Pick which level of currency you fall into and read all subsections up to it. The gear tiers will be referred to a few times in the guide. Jewels, cluster jewels, flasks, etc. will be in a separate section of their own and a progression summary will be at the end of this section recommending the order you acquire your gear. Note that you will require some dexterity and intelligence from gear. Early on there may be mana problems, so either craft 30-40% mana regen on a piece of gear, or purchase a pair of boots with the “Increased mana regeneration rate if you’ve cast a spell recently” enchant.

(1) Key Item

Triad Grips – These gloves allow for full conversion from physical to elemental or chaos damage based on the colors of the sockets. We need all green sockets – no other colors will work for the base cold build.

Guide on how to get off colors on gear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kXPc8IomRI

(2) New to maps; little currency (Level 1 Gear):
The first goal would be to max resistances and to try to get some life on your gear as this build does not need anything special at this tier. Some prefer a shield for resistances/life. Due to a Triad Grip being a unique item, it may not be available for cheap early league – there are no issues with starting out as physical skeletons and transitioning over to elemental conversion later on (see 8(13) for league start tips).

Your first major purchase should be a six linked chest – typically a tabula rasa or a cheap corrupted rare with the correct six colors (3R3B, or 3R1G2B at league start). Life and other stats on top are nice, but may be too expensive at this point. While expensive, nothing in the game adds more DPS than an extra support gem for so little cost (relatively). The second purchase should be level 21 vaal summon skeletons. Six of the divination card “The Bones” will give the level 21 vaal summon skeletons gem and may be cheaper than buying the gem.

Other good choices (dependent on league):Belt of the deceiver. For a weapon, use the highest tier of Essence of Fear on hand on a convoking wand, or price permitting/league dependent, purchase a temple wand/sceptre (Minions have 5% chance to deal double damage). The Jinxed Juju is a good budget amulet early on. The rest should be rares.

By the end of Level 1 Gear, you should have a six linked chest, level 21 vaal summon skeletons, 4,000+ life and capped resistances. There are many cheap upgrades in level 2 gear.

(3) You have: 30c to 5 exalts (Level 2 Gear)
Starting in this section, the gear will be broken down by slot. In general, as resistance per piece of gear goes up, start to switch some (excess) elemental resistances for chaos resistance.

Helmet – Rare helmet - This is where we will be parking some of our non-skeleton minions which we want to keep alive. They are not here to do damage so Look for a helmet with +(1-3) to level of socketed minion gems, life, and an open prefix. Other useful stats: resistances, dexterity, and intelligence. The prefix is for a +1 to maximum number of skeletons craft, unlockable by unveiling veiled helmets. An offensive alternative is a helmet with a great enchant (see 8(11)) on it and then harvest craft it yourself.

Body – Defensive: Six linked rare, with high life, possibly percent life and resistances. Offensive: tabula rasa corrupted with +2 to level of socketed duration gems to raise the level of skeletons by +2. Skeleton warrior colors: 3R3B; Skeleton archer colors: 2R2B2G, or 1R3B2G

Weapons – Two wands. Look for either +1 to level of all spell skill gems, or +1 to level of all minion skill gems. Both together is the set-up for Level 3 Gear, but so far is out of this level’s budget. You will also want other minion stats on the wands including minion damage and attack speed otherwise it is better to use the temple wands from level 1 gear. One wand should either have an open suffix for crafting Trigger a socketed spell when you use a skill, or already have that mod crafted. The Trigger wand is a game changer, so get one ASAP.

Gloves – Triad Grips – Four green sockets.

Boots – Start by purchasing a rare base boot with the mana regen lab enchant (super important!). Then craft until you have some combination of life, resists (and/or dexterity), and movement speed.

Amulet – One of your bigger purchases at this level – a rare amulet with +1 to level of all intelligence skill gems. Depending on your budget, the other stats could be life, dexterity, or resists. Craft either life, a resist + chaos resist, or minion speed. The preferred base is turquoise (due to lacking dex/int on tree). If this costs over 1 ex, consider the cheaper, more defensive alternative: a Jinxed Juju. Be sure to anoint this amulet with Death Attunement.

Rings – Rares with life, dexterity and resists. Prioritize chaos resistance. Resistances permitting, pick up a redeemer ring with “Curse enemies with frostbite on hit, with X% increased effect” – this is a nice DPS increase.

Belt – Stygian Vise (or other belt) with high life and resistances. An alternative is Darkness Enthroned with two decent ghastly eye jewels.

Cluster Jewels – Dependent on league, the jewels in the 6(2) PoB may be affordable.

By the end of level 2 gear, you should have triad grips (4g), two good weapons, a +1 to all intelligence skill gems amulet or anointed Jinxed Juju, 5,000+ life, and capped resistances including some chaos resistance. This is more than enough to kill awakening level 8 Sirus, Shaper, and other bosses depending on your skill level.

(4) You have: 6 to 35 exalts (Level 3 Gear)
You’ll start trying to consolidate resistances into fewer pieces at this point, focusing more on damage and/or survivability.

Helmet – Better version of the helmet in 8(3) - +3 socketed minion gems, life, an open prefix for a +1 to maximum number of skeletons craft, and decent suffixes.

Body: A non-tabula body armor with +2 to level of socketed duration gems is ideal here. They are somewhat rare so just keep an eye on trade. An alternatives\: +1 to level of socketed gems (15% more damage instead of the 20% that the +2 offers). Otherwise the armor from level 2 will suffice.

Weapons – Look for wands with both +1 to level of all spell skill gems, and +1 to level of all minion skill gems. You will also want other minion stats on the wands including minion damage and attack speed. One wand should have the Trigger a socketed spell crafted mod. Look for other minion mods.

Gloves – Triad Grips – Four green sockets – Look for a corrupted pair with 5-6% increased maximum life. You can recolor them with the method from 8(1), except that it will cost vaal orbs as well.

Boots – Rare boots with life, resists (and/or dexterity), and movement speed. Run the eternal labyrinth until you get the mana regen enchant.

Amulet – Use an awakener orb to combine a hunter amulet with +1 to level of all intelligence skill gems and an elder amulet with +1 to maximum number of skeletons. Make sure there are no other hunter or elder mods on the base amulets! Craft life or a suffix (elemental + chaos resistance or minion movement speed) to finish. Another option with an open prefix & suffix is to craft prefixes cannot be changed, use a scouring orb on the amulet, and then multimod for life and a suffix of your choice (resistance + chaos resistance or minion speed usually).

Rings – Rares with life, dexterity and resists. Prioritize chaos resistance. If you’re happy with a certain ring, use some catalysts to either boost life or resistances. One ring should have the frostbite on hit mod from level 2 gear, possibly with minion damage too.

Belt: High life/resistance stygian vise, or darkness enthroned with two good jewels

Jewels – Pick a up a copy of the jewels on the left side of the 6(2) PoB. Buy a thread of hope as well, finishing your passive tree to match the PoB.

The upgrade over level 2 mostly comes from the two wand upgrades, a body upgrade, jewels to finish off the passive tree, and just generally better gear with more life. At the pinnacle of this stage, you can do everything in the game comfortably.

(5) You have: 36 exalts+ (Level 4 Gear)

With the return of harvest, it is now relatively simple to move the skeletons and support gems into a helmet, freeing up an additional two sockets and the chance to harvest craft a body armor instead of using a random +2 duration chest.

Helmet – Starting with a shaper/elder 86 bone helmet (enchant optional), spam bound and frigid fossils until +X to Level of Socketed Minion Gems, Socketed Gems are supported by Level 16-20 Minion Damage, Socketed Gems are supported by Level 16-20 Hypothermia are on the helm. Finish with removing the last prefix if possible, and crafting “+1 to maximum number of skeletons.” A more expensive version also includes the “socketed gems deal 30% more elemental damage” suffix, only available from a ghyphic fossil. Getting all of the above will be very expensive.

Body: A hunter body armor with 25 or 35% increased effect of offerings or +1 curse. Can be awakener orbed with another influenced item (like warlord's all resistance). Fill with life and resistances.

Wands: Either purchase or create a convoking wand with the temple mod (Minions deal 66% increased damage & Minions have 5% to deal double damage) fractured. Proceed to craft as normal with four socket resonators until hitting +1/+1. Reforge, keeping all prefixes (harvest) to get removable suffixes, then multimod and craft minion attack speed and trigger a socketed spell. For the second wand, craft mana regeneration as the second suffix. An alternative for the second wand is to path to necromantic aegis, and awakener orb a +2 minimum power & +2 minimum frenzy charges shield.

Gloves – Same or better level 3 gloves.

Boots – Same or better level 3 boots.

Amulet – Same amulet as level 3 but with life and generally better stats.

Rings – Rares with life, dexterity and resists. Prioritize chaos resistance. Minion damage (redeemer) is a bonus, but generally this is where all of the resistances are crammed.

Belt: Your choice of four end game belts: High life/resistance stygian vise, darkness enthroned with two good jewels, the Torrent’s Reclamation, or Headhunter.

Cluster Jewels – Two+ ideal large clusters and four+ ideal medium clusters. See cluster jewel section.

Then read through either 6(3) or 6(4).

(6) Perfect gear and perfect double corruptions – Theoretical but impossible (Level 5 Gear)

It is hard to describe the perfect gear in text, so I put together a PoB (Patch 3.10) with the goal of maximum damage while maintaining somewhat reasonable defences. See the PoB below for what I feel is ideal gear given infinite currency and infinite re-tries for double corruptions. Most of this gear is for reference only, though a few pieces (wands, gloves) are actually achievable. Read the notes for explanations on configuration, etc. As a side note – for experienced players, creating a theoretical max build is a good way to see how your build can improve, and how close or far you are from “perfection,” and you may discover some cool interactions, or improve your build in a way you did not think of originally.

Not updated yet for 3.15.

PoB: https://pastebin.com/07XEM7M1

(7) Jewels
Cluster jewels are described in subsection 8(9)

Possible gem choices
❄️From Dust – cheap jewel that allows for 4 extra skeletons to be summoned per cast. A huge quality of life addition that is easy to mass vaal for the corrupted blood implicit. For those with mana problems due to skitterbots, this will make life easier. Highly recommended.
❄️Thread of Hope – For this build, it is used to save points when going for ravenous horde since it costs seven to path to ravenous and to get Cruel Preparation for cheap. Try to get one with as little resistance reduction as possible. See the following Pastebin for some cool Thread of Hope skips (note – not all of these are useful): https://pastebin.com/tfPvfdxP.
❄️Ghastly Eye Jewel – I refer to “generic ghastly” a few times in this guide: This means 26+life and minion attack speed at minimum, with a third utility stat on top. One jewel should have “minions have X% chance to blind on hit with attacks” for another layer of defense, and another should allow minions to leech. Other useful stats are “minions have X% chance to taunt on hit with attacks,” “minions deal X% increased damage if you’ve used a minion skill recently,” flat damage, minion movement speed, chaos resistance, chaos resistance for minions, and resistances/attributes as needed. Flat damage does not add a lot of damage to minions and is often grossly overpriced, but if you can get one, every little bit helps. For those: phys>cold>lightning>chaos>fire. Most of your non-cluster jewels will be these generic ghastly.
❄️Cobalt jewel with increased life %, minions deal X% increased damage, minions have X% increased attack speed (delve drop only), and an additional suffix. These are technically better than ghastly jewels, but are near impossible to get.
❄️To dust – cheap alternative to ghastly jewels. They are not as good since they do not have life on them but are fine when starting out on a budget and offer a little more DPS.
❄️Fortress/Quickening Covenant – Some like this jewel since it gives minions block and good increased damage. However, no life, so I’m not a fan.

Optional: historic jewels:
Glorious Vanity with “Doryani” (gives Corrupted Soul) or “Xibaqua” (gives Divine Flesh) in the description.

Doryani is the recommended one unless you can get over 89 chaos resistance and have points for a few small cluster jewels to increase max chaos resistance. The Doryani keystone changes pain attunement into “Corrupted Soul, which gives 15% of maximum life as extra maximum energy shield. At 6,000 life, this is 1,200 energy shield. As a bonus, it also corrupts all of the minor travel nodes on the way as well, some of which are minion damage, aura effect, life, resistances, and movement speed. The full list of possible corruptions can be found here: https://poedb.tw/us/unique.php?n=Glorious_Vanity

The jewel can be divined, but the name may be change, so it will take three divines on average to land a jewel with the same name.

The Xibaqua jewel is very nice with the addition of cluster jewels since you can get to 90 max chaos resistance. It corrupts the keystone to Divine Flesh with the upside of basically +5-7 maximum elemental resistances, at the cost of zero energy shield (it’s still there, but useless). I ran one of these in 3.10, and feel extremely tanky, probably more so than if I ran a Doryani. However, you need a lot of chaos resistance, and ideally three “Born of Chaos notables from small cluster jewels or megalomaniacs.

My 3.9 Doryani Jewel illustrated to show how it works:

(8) Flasks
Due to not needing flasks for damage, this build is allowed to run four defensive/utility flasks to maximize playability and survivability and a mana flask. You will need to have at least two magic flasks in order to be remove bleeding and freezing. I recommend the four “required” flasks and one optional one. Where possible, try to get 26% on these via Hillock in research (betrayal content) My flasks, followed by the write-up (RIP basalt, replace with mana):

❄️Life flask – We are life based, so a life flask could be a lifesaver. The best prefix is “bubbling” and the best suffix would be “of staunching” for curing bleed. Blood of the Karui is an option to those who prefer it, but you would not have the staunching effect.
❄️Quicksilver flask – Movement speed is a huge layer of defense, since if monsters cannot hit you, they cannot do damage. For maximum movement speed, the best prefix is “Alchemist’s” and the best suffix is “of adrenaline.” The adrenaline suffix has a range of 6-8%, with the 8% being quite expensive. If two unique flasks are run, then the suffix may have to be changed for one of the defensive ones.
❄️Quartz flask – Two reasons for this – 6% dodge for both spells and attacks is another defensive layer, and phasing – super important so that you do not get stuck on enemy hitboxes. Roll heat or warding as a suffix, and increased duration as a prefix.
❄️Mana flask – Spells are expensive to cast now

Optional – Choose two
❄️Rumi’s concoction – Block is good, especially if bone offering is the offering of choice.
❄️Granite Flask with increased armor, increased duration
❄️Bottled faith – enemies take 10% increased damage while on the consecrated ground created by this flask. This is for the rich guys who want to min/max damage and is especially helpful for crit variants.
❄️Silver flask – if you want more movement speed
❄️Forbidden Taste – possibly as a panic button for those who like this flask. You will want max chaos res.
❄️Atziri’s Promise – We run avatar of fire in one build variant - so you can equip a promise for the memes. It’s actually useful due to the chaos resistance funny enough.

(9) Cluster Jewels

Note: Vicious Bite and Precise Commander were nerfed in 3.11, and again in 3.12. Vengeful commander was nerfed in 3.12, but it is still very good. Renewal, First among equals, and the small passive aura node were nerfed in 3.13.

Cluster jewels offer a lot of DPS and utility at the cost of mostly minion life. The passive tree is full of weak minion nodes that had to be taken before due to a lack of choices, but cluster jewels offer a way around that. These have to be placed in the jewel sockets at the six outside jewel sockets of the passive tree. Large, medium, small clusters or any normal jewel can be put in these sockets. Mediums, smalls, and normal jewels can branch from a large cluster’s jewel sockets, and only smalls or normal jewels can be placed in a medium’s jewel socket. Due to these jewels going from moderately expensive to very expensive depending on rolls, one cluster is recommended for the base build, 2-3 for the crit build. Four is the maximum possible but will result in a near unplayable build.

PoB 1: First Cluster Jewel Branch: One large jewel into two medium jewels into two generic ghastlys
The large cluster jewel should be the socket to the left of the tree since the pathing nodes give armor, an actually useful travel path.

Large Cluster Jewel: Added small passive skills grant: Minions deal 10% increased Damage
Important notables: Renewal, Call to the Slaughter or Feasting Fiends, ideally on a jewel that only has 8 passive points. To save on costs, a jewel with 9 or 10 passive points can be substituted. For min-maxing, you want Renewal, Vicious Bite, Rotten Claws, and two jewel clusters on a jewel with 8 passive points. We do not pick Rotten Claws, but refer to the image above – by not picking it we save a passive point. Note that this jewel is very expensive.
Medium Cluster Jewel 1: Added small passive skills grant: Minions have 12% increased maximum life
Important notables: Renewal, Blessed Rebirth: Blessed rebirth gives skeletons four seconds of invincibility upon being summoned, which means that Renewal’s double damage is active. Get one with 4 or 5 passive points.
Medium Cluster Jewel 2: Added small passive skills grant: 6% increased effect of non-curse auras from your skills
Important notables: vengeful commander, first among equals: This scales hatred.

Put a generic ghastly into each of the medium’s jewel sockets.

PoB 2: First Cluster Jewel Branch: One large jewel into two medium jewels into two generic ghastlys
Since two+ jewel sockets is for richer players, no substitutes for the below will be offered.

2 x Large Cluster Jewel: Added small passive skills grant: Minions deal 10% increased Damage
Important notables: Renewal, Vicious Bite, Rotten Claws and two jewel clusters, ideally on a jewel that only has 8 passive points. See the above images, but we do not pick rotten claws – it is just to save on passive points since it is always between the two jewel sockets.
1 x Medium Cluster Jewel 1: Added small passive skills grant: Minions have 12% increased maximum life
Important notables: Renewal, Blessed Rebirth. Blessed rebirth gives skeletons four seconds of invincibility upon being summoned, which means that Renewal’s double damage is active. Get one with 4 or 5 passive points.
3 x Medium Cluster Jewel 2: Added small passive skills grant: 6% increased effect of non-curse auras from your skills
Important notables: vengeful commander, precise commander, one jewel socket.

Put a generic ghastly into each of the medium’s jewel sockets.

Image with descriptions of all passives noted above:

(10) Additional Cluster Jewel Discussion (Advanced)

1. Why not fettle or other small jewels? Fettle gives 10% increased maximum life and +20 to maximum life, and the small node gives 4%. On a jewel with two passives (include the jewel socket), this is an average of less than 5% per node, making fettle a below average life node on the tree. A ghastly eye jewel gives roughly the same life as one node, with attack speed and other stats on top.

2. Megalomaniacs? All the content in the game can be completed without the use of megalomaniacs, but this jewel allows for large, medium and small jewel notables to appear on one jewel. The best megalomaniacs are shown off in the perfect gear setup in 8(6), but these will be (near) impossible to find in league. Even two notable megalomaniacs command ridiculous prices. I’ve tested what is theoretically the best combination: Vicious bite and Precise commander against an aura medium setup above, and the damage is about the same, but without the life and utility given from the ghastly eye jewel. My conclusion? Unless you get a great megalomaniac or want some niche notables, they’re too expensive for what they give.

3. Born from Chaos You need this node either on a small jewel or on a megalomaniac if you are running a Xibaqua Glorious Vanity. Each adds +3 max chaos res, up to a cap of 90.

(11) Enchants, catalysts, and anointments

Helmet: The best enchant with the triple offering setup is “flesh offering grants an additional 21% increased attack speed.” Second and third in no particular order are: “skeletons deal 40% increased damage” and “150% increased effect of the buff granted by your carrion golems.” Other useful enchants would reduce skitterbots’ or hatred’s mana reservation.

Gloves: Whatever to be honest. Just make sure it does not do cold damage if you are not using avatar of fire.

Boots: Mana regen is the best for this build (I say essential). Alternatives: Movement speed, attack or spell dodge, or life regen per second

Ring Anoints: Whatever you like – I like meteor or scout towers personally

Amulet Anoint: Death attunement

Weapon Anoint (tempering orbs): Speed

Armor Anoint: (tailoring orbs): Life

Catalysts: Either life or resistance catalysts for all pieces, whatever makes the most sense. These are expensive however, so ensure that you are using catalysts only on items that will not be replaced quickly.

(12) Progression summary
-Level 1-
❄️Cap resistances with all rare gear
❄️Six link body with some life – 3R3B
❄️21/0 Vaal Summon Skeletons
❄️Temple wand x2
-Level 2-
❄️4 Green Socket Triad Grips
❄️Jinxed Juju & Death Attunement anoint
❄️Trigger mod on one wand
❄️General gear upgrades – more life and resistances, ghastly jewels
❄️Frostbite/Vulnerability curse on hit ring
❄️+1 to all intelligence skill gems amulet
❄️Blessed rebirth (and other cluster jewels)
❄️+2 Duration corrupted body
-Level 3-
❄️ (Optional: Skeleton archer switch)
❄️21/23 vaal summon skeletons
❄️Cheap awakened gems (get a start on leveling them)
❄️+1/+1 wand without “trigger”
❄️Awakener Orb crafted amulet
❄️+1/+1 wand with “trigger”
❄️Better cluster jewels
❄️Awakened melee physical damage support
-Level 4-
❄️Minion helm craft
❄️Offering/Curse body armor craft
❄️Other awakened gems
❄️Upgrade wands again (fractured)
❄️Awakened multistrike & bottled faith
-Level 5-
❄️Mirror level gear
❄️Finish decorating your hideout

(13) League Start
I recommend starting with classic physical impale skeletons at league start. Skeletons are a strong league starter due to not needing any uniques, having over a million DPS just by gems, links, and support skills in other sockets. See 14(2) for gem links and a sample PoB.

Recommended early upgrades:
❄️ands/scepters with the hybrid mod: “Minions deal 50-66)% increased damage” and “Minions have 5% chance to deal double damage.” Get one with an open suffix, and these should cost ~10c apiece. Craft either trigger, minion attack/cast speed, or mana regen onto the weapon.
❄️Pick up a six link with at most one green, and at 2+red and 2+ blue sockets. This should cost about the price of a divine orb and will be sold to a vendor for a divine orb once you are done with it. A red socket will be melee splash/multistrike based on activity, and the wildcard socket will either be melee physical damage, or predator
❄️Minion damage can roll on rings and gloves – if resistances are capped, you can add one of these items.
❄️Belt of the Deceiver is a solid early game belt.

Phys vs. Cold
Physical skeletons do comparable damage to cold skeletons in the early and mid-game, so there really is no need to switch if you like the playstyle. Follow the PoB in 14(2) in this case. However, cold skeletons far outscale physical skeletons in the endgame due to the ability to scale hatred, have access to crit builds while providing chilling, freezing, and corpse destruction as an extra defensive layer.

When to Switch?
I personally usually switch before I face Sirus for the first or second time, since by then I have enough currency to purchase the triad grips, and possibly a cluster jewel or two to scale hatred a little more.

The guide continues in the following post!
3.15 ❆ Cold Skeletons guide: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2774965
Last edited by iLL3aT on Oct 20, 2021, 10:52:24 PM
Last bumped on Jan 19, 2022, 1:26:36 AM
Build Guide Part II

9. Gems

Due to the item choices, there is not much flexibility in where the gems are socketed. Gem levels are the suggested level at endgame, though if you can get a higher level/quality version, use that instead. Where there is 0 quality listed, it means that you can cut costs to get a 21/0 version for a lot less currency, though there may still be value in getting a 20 quality version.

(1)(a) Chest – Skeleton Warriors Variant:
Mapping: (Vaal) Summon Skeletons (21/23) | (Awakened) Minion Damage (21/20) | Predator (21/20) | (Awakened) Melee Physical Damage (21/20) | (Awakened) Melee Splash (21/20) | (Awakened Elemental Damage with Attacks (21/20)

If on a four link, drop the last melee splash and predator (formerly known as deathmark), and if on a five link, drop predator. Damagewise, this could be considered a 4.5 link, since melee splash does not add damage and only half of predator is active. Melee splash speeds up clearing significantly while freezing groups of mobs – try running maps without it, it does not feel nearly as good. Feeding frenzy can be put on other minions, but for mapping, it gives skeletons a charge skill. Once damage is no longer an issue, predator can be changed out for feeding frenzy support. Due to how conversion works in PoE, melee physical damage support is fully converted to cold damage.

Bossing: (Vaal) Summon Skeletons (21/23) | (Awakened) Minion Damage (21/20) | (Awakened) Elemental Focus (21/20) | (Awakened) Melee Physical Damage (21/20) | (Awakened) Multistrike (21/20) | (Awakened) Elemental Damage with Attacks (21/20)

This setup is optimal for bossing since it gives five high tier support gems. If you are early on in the build and struggling with bosses, or just straight up want to delete them, I would suggest to swap to this variant for bosses only. This build does not lack damage even when in the mapping setup, so if you do not want to gem swap, you can just use the mapping set up for end game bosses as well. If you are mapping with predator, you can boss with predator too to minimize gem swapping.

(1)(b) Chest – Skeleton Archers Variant:
Mapping: (Vaal) Phantasmal Summon Skeletons (21/20) | (Awakened) Minion Damage (21/20) | Predator (21/20) | (Awakened) Greater Multiple Projectiles (21/20) | (Awakened) Chain (21/20) | (Awakened) Elemental Damage with Attacks (21/20)

It is probably not possible to run this variant on any less than a six link otherwise the damage may be horrible due to the two green gems being less damage multipliers, yet you want them for clearing quality of life. Lesser Multiple Projectiles can be run instead of greater or a smaller less damage multiplier, or vicious projectiles instead if more damage is wanted. Some players may also prefer pierce or fork over chain. I recommend not running two awakened green gems due to the less damage multipliers. Alternatives for predator to account for colors: Damage on Full Life (R), Slower Projectiles (G), Faster Projectiles (G), Cold Penetration Support (G)

Bossing: (Vaal) Phantasmal Summon Skeletons (21/20) | (Awakened) Minion Damage (21/20) | Predator (21/20) | (Awakened) Vicious Projectiles (21/20) | Hypothermia (21/20) | (Awakened Elemental Damage with Attacks (21/20)

Ranged attack minion builds unfortunately need to do a double gem swap for maximum efficiency (at their tasks anyways). Alternatives for colors: Damage on Full Life (R), Slower Projectiles (G), Cold Penetration Support (G), Elemental Focus (B).

(2) Helm – Animate Guardian, Auras - Be sure to keep this as 2 two links and not a four link!
Hatred (21/20) | (Awakened) Generosity (21/20) | ]Minion Life (21/20) | Animate Guardian (21/0)

Since your character does not need hatred for its attacks, generosity increases the effectiveness of hatred greatly for your minions.

The animate guardian is here for the +2/3 levels from the helm, and the last gem is a wildcard: minion life, meat shield, or anything else. If you are not (yet) running an animate guardian, this is a free slot.

(3) Gloves – Green gems
Dash (12/23) | Phase Run (6/23) | (Anomalous) Second Wind (21/20) | Enhance (4/0)

All gems here have to be green in order to fully convert minion damage to cold. Since getting enough dexterity is a hurdle for this build, I limited each gem to 100 dex – the same as a level 21 hatred gem. If your gear can handle it, phase run and dash can be leveled further. The new second wind support is very nice for fixing dash’s problems – enhancing survivability greatly and increasing mobility. Portal can be substituted for enhance or phase run if preferred.

(4) Boots – Support Minions
Feeding Frenzy (21/0) | Elemental Army (21/20) | (Anomalous) Carrion Golem (21/20) or Raise Zombie (21/0) | Raise Spectre (21/0)

Your choice of two minions here, but spectres and a golem are recommended (golem type is up to you). They are then linked to two gems that support your skeletons; feeding frenzy gives a buff to all minions, and with triad grips, elemental army lowers enemy resistances via cold exposure.

(5) Wand without “trigger a socketed skill” – Curse (or skitterbots), Exposure & EE
Frostbite (21/0) | (Awakened) Blasphemy (21/20) | Armageddon Brand or Frost Bomb (1/0)


Summon Skitterbots (21/0) | Bonechill Support(21/0) | Armageddon Brand or Frost Bomb (1/0)

Two choices here: Frostbite is nice early because it lowers monster resistances, and is less gear dependent, but provides less damage/utility.

Skitterbots is the more offensive option and the recommended option once a frostbite on hit ring is purchased. It makes enemies take 32% more damage while chilling them passively. The downside is that this reserves more mana than the other setup and thus requiring workarounds. The guide provides 65% mana regeneration from the tree, but also recommends “From Dust,” and a mana regeneration roll somewhere (preferably as a boot enchant). See 10(3) for advanced details on how Skitterbots work and 16(2) if you are experiencing mana issues.

Armageddon brand is the recommended EE trigger, but frost bomb (only use with avatar of fire) is an option for higher DPS but less smoothness of gameplay.

(6) “Trigger a socketed skill” wand – Offering and Optional
(Divergent) Flesh Offering (21/20) | Desecrate (1/0)| Enduring Cry (21/0)

Make sure desecrate is above flesh offering since the trigger wand goes from top to bottom. Enduring Cry is not cast by the trigger wand which is a plus. Enduring cry is optional but recommended since it heals 2,000+ life over two seconds and provides some physical damage reduction via endurance charges – other options below in the unset ring section. Note that flesh offering costs up to 100 mana even when triggered.

(7) Unset rings (optional)
Various options here – convocation, portal, armageddon brand (for easier EE procs in frost bomb setup), steelskin (if bone barrier is not taken), Vaal molten shell, carrion golem, raise zombie, sigil of power, divergent vitality, flame wall (skeleton archers). Summoners are notoriously socket starved, and an unset ring may help fit everything in.

10. Spectres, Animate Guardian, and discussions of other minions

(1) Spectres
Three spectres are normally available via gem levels and death attunement, but a fourth becomes available at gem level 25. Generally, the recommended spectre is the primal crushclaw, but see below for more options:

Primal Crushclaw – Super aggressive and tanky spectre – Very good as a meat shield for skeleton archer (and mage) builds especially. Found in harvest (primal crushclaw bulb), but you may be able to find some on global 6666 (the spectre channel).
Carnage Chieftain – grants frenzy charges (needs blood magic or clarity level 6+), found in the ashen fields (act 7). Low health
Host Chieftain – grants power charges (needs blood magic or clarity level 6+), found in the ashen fields. (act 7). Low health
Death Bishop – curses enemies with a -40% frostbite (6 second duration, 10 second cooldown), found in the catacombs (act 3)
Ruins hellion – uses rallying cry (10%? Increased minion damage), found in the quay (act 8). Low health
Undying Evangelist – Proximity shield, found in the (upper) scepter of god (act 3). Low health
Slave Drivers – High DPS and fast clear, but we do not scale lightning and has low life. Excellent for leveling, found in the control blocks (act 5). Low health
Redemption Sentries[/b] – High DPS, high life, Physical to cold attacks with AOE. Found in redeemer influenced maps.
Arena Master – Beats its shield granting 20% movement speed, 22% attack speed, and 22% cast speed (4 second buff, 12 second cooldown). High life, but the sound is very annoying. Found in warlord influenced maps
Baranite Cleric – Aura that grants nearby allies 20% of physical damage as lightning. Tested – about 5% more damage so probably not worth it. Found in Crusader influenced maps.

To summon a spectre, first kill the monster that you have chosen (you may have to put in elemental focus to avoid shattering them, and take out your offerings (to avoid blowing up the corpse you want). Hold “A” on your keyboard and move around until you have the chosen spectre selected. Press your summon spectre button, and you will have your spectre! If your spectre ever needs to be resummoned, it should be in your desecrate pool in your hideout for a quick resummon.

Spectre levels and thus health and damage are tied to the gem level. Unfortunately some spectres die easily (see low health notes above). To resummon them go to your hideout and press desecrate (you may have to move the gem from your trigger wand). Your hideout has a “spectre bank” containing the spectres you have used and saved. At earlier levels of gear, it may make more sense to play a tankier spectre if you are not okay with re-summoning often.

(2) Animate Guardian
The animate guardian (“AG”) is made up of sacrificed piece of armor, keeping the stats and special effect of the armor, but cannot equip gems, jewelry, nor trigger most skills from gear. It can equip either two one hand weapons, a one hand weapon and a shield, or a two handed weapon. For armor, it can equip a helmet, body armor, gloves, and boots. The AG can be unsummoned by removing the gem from its socket, and resummoned with a click of the skill. If it dies however, all gear that it was wearing is lost forever, so it is recommended to gear to keep the AG alive. While an AG is highly recommended due to providing great defensive and offensive bonuses, it is completely optional.

There are three options for the AG: Cheap, Max DPS (or throwaway), and expensive. At level 2 gear, it may make sense to invest in the cheap AG, and at the higher ends of level 3 gear, invest in the expensive or throwaway versions. The grave intentions node on the passive tree (three points - optional) does a lot to keep the AG and other minions alive by providing chaos resistance, as well as 10% of their life as extra energy shield. Considering the high life totals of all non-skeleton minions, this is pretty significant.

Cheap AG - ~10c:
Weapon: Dying breath – Cheap weapon that grants nearby allies 18% increased damage.
Helmet: Leer cast – Grants 15% increased damage to nearby allies
Body Armor: Belly of the Beast – Life, elemental resistances, looks cool
Gloves: Southbound – Life
Boots: Victario’s Flight – Gives you 10% increased movement speed

Expensive AG:
Weapon: Kingmaker – Expensive but amazing weapon that gives your minions +50% to critical strike multiplier, culling strike, and fortify. It gives the player fortify and +30% increased item rarity.
Helmet: Mask of the stitched demon – the key line is the phase “regenerate 1% of life per second per 500 maximum energy shield.” Some 3.9 math (HP has gone down significantly in 3.10+): My level 30 animate guardian supported by level 20 minion life has 140,000 life on PoB, and has grave intentions allocated. 140,000 x 10% from grave intentions = 14,000 energy shield. Mask of the stitched demon gives 1% life regen per 500, or 28% of life as life regeneration per second. 28% x 140,000 life is 39,200 life/second. This makes the AG virtually immortal outside of some exceptions to be discussed below.
Body Armor: Two options here: Rare chest with the crafted mod “Gain 9-10% of maximum life as extra energy shield,” or a garb of the ephemeral. The first option takes the 39,200 life/second from the mask of the stitched demon, and doubles it. The garb is more defensive for the player, since in a small (maybe 30 units?) radius, it provides immunity to enemy critical strikes and does not let you get slowed below your base speed.
Gloves: Vixen’s entrapments with elemental weakness on hit. With Windscreams, a double corrupted vixen’s is an (expensive) option.
Boots: Victario’s Flight, or Windscreams for +1 curse.

Max DPS/Throwaway AG:
The expensive AG’s gear except that the Helmet is replaced by either a Crown of the Tyrant (green socket) or a redeemer influenced helmet with the “Nearby Enemies have -9% to Cold Resistance” mod. The best body armor is Garb of the Ephemeral.

Despite the expensive animate guardian being virtually invincible, there are a few places that the AG should be unsummoned for: Hall of Grandmasters and the Acid Caverns Map. Acid Caverns has a boss called Morgrants, the Deafening, which casts a variant of storm call of hit. With how many minions this build runs, the damage can potentially reach the billions, easily annihilating your AG. Against metamorphs, it is important to read all monster mods as well, since storm call on hit has appeared there before, wiping out my first AG in seconds.

The Throwaway AG gives the most DPS, but has a higher chance of dying, which means buying another kingmaker, garb of the ephemeral, etc., which can get expensive I it dies. Personally, I ran a throwaway AG in 3.10-3.12, losing one in 3.11 (no regen 100% delirium map) and two in 3.10 (Sirus and 100% delirium map).

(3) Other minions
Zombies & Carrion Golem
This build also features up to ten zombies and a carrion golem. The carrion golem adds a small amount of DPS to all minions, while the zombies act as meat shields. Due to low health though, zombies are optional rather than recommended.

Support minions can be linked to gems that help out the main damage gem (skeletons). This includes elemental army (-10% elemental resistance for enemies), feeding frenzy (buff grants 10% more Minion Damage, 10% increased Minion Movement Speed and 10% increased Minion Attack, and Cast Speed”

Skitterbots shock enemies for 15-20%, and chill enemies for 10%. The chill procs bonechill support’s line: “Enemies in Chilling Areas from Supported Skills have Cold Damage taken increased by Chill Effect.” Since skitterbots gives increased chill effect and bonechill increases this further, this results in about 15% additional damage – combined with the shock, this increases damage by over 30%.

The Torrent’s Reclamation unique belt allows for the summoning for a harbinger that follows the player around, creating a tempest of about 30 units around the player character. Everything in the tempest is granted 20% increased action speed, which is a 20% more movement speed and minion attack speed multiplier! It has a slight downtime between casts of about a second.

(4) Reaper
New in 3.15. It may be possible to substitute a reaper in place of the skeletons, and then use skeleton warriors/archers/mages as the support minion. This variation cannot use an AG, and spectres/carrion golems/zombies may be too annoying to upkeep.

11. How to play the build

(1) Playstyle
The playstyle is like a hybrid of a summoner and an aurabot.

Mapping: Run as fast as you can, never stop moving until mobs are cleared, and summon skeletons in front of you. If monsters are ranged, run in a zigzag pattern or beside them (so projectiles will shoot behind you). Casting dash, phase run, and skeletons will be enough for you to proc your offerings. There is no need to EE most mobs as they are typically not tanky enough to be worth the effort.

Bossing: Before the boss fight starts, summon all of your skeletons, then drop either frost bomb or your brand skill to proc EE. Mark the boss with predator if relevant. Past that, focus on dodging mechanics, and replacing lost or damaged skeletons (they deal more damage at full life).

Frost Bomb (Optional but no longer recommended): This is a skill used to proc both exposure (-15% elemental resistance) and elemental equilibrium (-50% elemental resistance, “EE”). The first part of the skill, about four seconds of pulses, applies the exposure, and the explosion itself applies EE in its radius. The skill in this comes from having the explosion occur right after the boss becomes vulnerable so that it is also hit by one pulse of exposure. For mobile bosses, this may be a challenge so it may be better to drop the exposure and just focus on elemental equilibrium via an easier skill – Armageddon brand. Frost bomb does not usually allow for EE due to being a cold skill, but we have fully converted it to a fire skill by the keystone, avatar of fire at the cost of two skill points.

Left Click: Patch 3.10 allowed for the binding of an instant skill to the left mouse button, casting it off cooldown while allowing the player to run without interruptions. I personally like bone armor (from Bone Barrier) here, but other alternatives include enduring cry, convocation, or phase run.

(2) Map Mods
The build can handle all map mods. However, just because it can does not mean that you should run certain mods, since it may either kill you, or make the game too inconvenient. In general, I only reroll elemental reflect and no regen:

❄️Elemental Reflect – Can be done with Blessed Rebirth. Support minions may die though; skip if annoying.
❄️No regen – Mana can be offset by changing to a mana flask, but there is additional risk to the AG since it cannot regen life. Skip to save currency.
❄️Temp chains – Annoying – personally I recommend rerolling
❄️Chilled Ground – Annoying without a heat flask
❄️Combinations of many of damage/speed/crit/proj mods – dangerous, play defensively on those.
❄️Chain – Dangerous if the pantheon power to avoid projectiles that have chained is not unlocked (currently foundry map). With so many minions, this can be lethal.
❄️Anything that gives bosses area of effect – This is dangerous on certain bosses, e.g. Minotaur or Phoenix.

12. Advanced Mechanics

This section is more advanced, so newer players do not have to read it. I have done quite a bit of math for this build, so some players may benefit from it, even for other non-minion builds.

(1) Hatred
As the core of the build, hatred deserves a section of its own. The gem at level 3 gear will be either level 23 or 24, and there is no difference between the two. Two levels come from +1 spell wands, one from awakened generosity, and a level 21 hatred is the last way to get over level 20. At level 23, the hatred gem grants 27% of physical damage as extra cold damage, as well as 19% more cold damage. The second part applies to the extra cold damage from the first part.

See the spreadsheet above. Since there is no other element converted to and chaos damage from spirit offering is negligible, the added portion of hatred is essentially a 27% more multiplier on its own. The full 127 is multiplied by the more multiplier (1.19) to get the total damage of the base minion plus hatred = 1.51. This means that a base level hatred with no increases to its effect is more or less a 51% MORE multiplier for our minions. Once you add some more effectiveness via generosity, corruptions, the skill tree, and redeemer suffixes on weapons, hatred’s effect can be increased to around from the 100% base effectiveness to somewhere around 340% (depending on glorious vanity). At that point, hatred is a 240% more multiplier instead.

Levell 23 hatred vs. a level 25 one,: when it hits the next breakpoint (28% phys as cold, 20% more cold). The increases can be seen in the final tab and are pretty minimal considering the only way to get this would be either empower (the mana multiplier reserves an additional 12.5% mana) or a corruption for the boot. My conclusion was that it was not worth chasing for such a small increase.

(2) Distance

I lifted this image from the Path of Exile’s wiki page on distance (credits to rkiga). There are a few key distances to keep track of: hatred’s range, frostbite’s range, and the -9% to cold resistance on the helm.

Hatred: No real numbers despite my research from the internet. I had a friend test the distance with me and based on the above chart, hatred’s range is between 50 and 70.

Helm: Per the wiki, it has a range of 60

Frostbite: See the work done by rkiga: https://imgur.com/a/tBhn2. It looks like the radius of frostbite is probably somewhere around 40-50 units.

Kingmaker: Again, no concrete numbers, but from repeatedly running away from my animated guardian, the radius looks to be around 40 units.

Victario’s Flight: Per the wiki: range of 50

Dying breath and leer cast: Per the wiki: range of 75

Skitterbots: Base radius of 30 units, but moves around.

For reference, the player character is 15 units tall in this graphic.

In summary, for maximum damage, the player should be around 40 units away from the monster at most. Animate guardian may not be on top of you, so it may be better to be 20-30 units away for the skeletons to receive all kingmaker buffs.

(3) Layers of defense summarized

❄️6,000+ Life
❄️10+ non-skeleton minions to absorb hits and projectiles
❄️Fortify from kingmaker
❄️No damage taken from monster critical strikes from Garb of the Ephemeral
❄️Minions have a chance to taunt enemies on hit
❄️Minions have a chance to blind enemies on hit (50% less chance to hit)
❄️4% physical damage reduction per endurance charge (max of 3) from enduring cry, with another 2%/charge upon activation, 10% from bone armor
❄️Flasks to prevent bleeding, chill, freezing, curses, as well as 10% attack and spell dodge
❄️Chilling and freezing enemies.
❄️Corpse destruction (anti-detonate dead/porcupine goliaths) from freezing and shattering.
❄️50% reduced visibility when phase run is up
❄️Bone armor active >60% of the time.
❄️Instant movement skill - Dash
❄️No slow casts or attacks

(4) Cold vs Lightning vs Fire minions

Math to come at some point – it is pretty complicated

Cold vs Lightning vs Fire
Of the elemental variants, most of the scaling is pretty similar since all skill gems are generic for elemental conversion, and all curses are the same except for the name and ailment. Cold gets chilling and freezing, lightning gets shock, and fire gets ignite – the least useful of the three.

Oddly enough, all three variants still use hatred as the aura after testing wrath and anger for their respective elements. Cold is the only one that takes full advantage of the “more damage” part of the aura –proving it is the best for scaling. This is further improved by cluster jewels (vengeful commander), resulting in a huge damage gulf. This is due to skeletons having high base stats already. It also gets to take advantage of skitterbots+bonechill.

The downside for cold is the gems since you have to use the shorter ranged dash instead of flame dash & faster casting combo for lightning builds, though the advantage is phase run. Fire builds are again the worst of the group since I cannot think of a useful set of four red gems.

For comparisons to physical and chaos skeletons, see 14(2) and 14(3) respectively.

(5) Skeleton Stats

Attacks/second: 1.25
Base Crit Chance: 5%
Base Crit Multiplier: 30%
Base Accuracy: 100%
Weapon Range: 10 units
Resistances: 40%/40%/40%/20%

Damage: The key takeaway is that damage and life increases by about 10% more damage per level between 20 and 30, and 5% after 31 (which makes it much less attractive).

13. Boss, Delve, T19, League Guides

I personally like poelab’s boss guides for a quick reference for certain attacks. There are multiple full boss guides to be found on YouTube as well. If a boss is not specifically mentioned here, treat it as a generic boss (see the How to play this guide section) except you may need to look up their specific mechanics.

(1) Sirus
Try to have as close to 75 chaos resistance as possible – use the Arakali Pantheon if necessary. If you are already chaos capped, Solaris is best but Lunaris also works if you are lazy to change. Bring at least one life flask and one quicksilver.

For Sirus himself, summon minions, cast your EE trigger and desecrate as necessary in between his attacks. Run circles around him, while staying perhaps 10-30 units of distance (see subsection 12(2)) from him to dodge lasers easier. If he teleports (sometimes followed by a die beam), follow the light trail from his teleport and get close via dash – never lose sight of him for more than a second.

Die Mechanic (Sirus says: “DIE”) – When Sirus says die, run/dash to his left or right/through him before he fires. Staying close will help in dodging this mechanic.
Meteor mechanic – try to run out of the maze, following the red glowing indicators. If you cannot escape in time, activate guard skills, heal, and use your defensive flasks – this build can tank the meteor sometimes.
Corridors Mechanic –teleport through him and out of the corridor since he takes 80% less damage during this phase now. Skeletons and zombies no longer absorb the projectiles so there is no point do DPSing during this phase.
Four clones (Sirus says: “Everlasting fire”) – Phase four only: Position yourself beside the main Sirus (follow your minions), and follow the spinning laser beams while dodging his attacks. Touching a beam applies an annoying action speed slow.
Circle clones (Sirus says: “Feel the pain of the void”) – Keep running circles, and right before the says “the void”, teleport to the left or right of Sirus since the beam just fires straight.
Storms – Let them fully spawn, then run back under Sirus once they are out of the way.

(2) Aul
Deepest Aul killed by this build: 838 in 3.9 (did not delve in 3.10 and on).

Aul is by far the hardest boss in the game, unable to be instantly phased at deeper depths. This is due to his high health, high mobility, high damage, and punishing mechanics that scale very hard with delve mods. Some items to make the fight easier may be boots with the “cannot be frozen” mod, as well as a Taste of Hate flask to reduce cold/physical damage taken. Unlike normal bosses, I would recommend the boss gem setup, except that feeding frenzy is left on skeletons and meat shield on the zombies link. This is for two reasons: to freeze mobs during the mobs phase, as well as to chase the very mobile Aul to actually do damage.

General tips: Remain mobile throughout the fight while dropping frost bomb and desecrate to keep auras up. Against increased AOE and faster Auls, it may make sense to sacrifice a portion of the room during the pillar phase if you are bad at dodging his projections like me. His most dangerous attack is the “crystalline arc” – watch Aul for when he puts his sword in front of his left arm on stops. This is your cue to either get behind him or to get far away to dodge in between the projectiles.

(3) General Delve Guide
This build is capable of delve depths of 1000+. It is a strong delver due to being cold based, with the freeze affecting multiple enemies with melee splash. With so many minions, a majority of the enemies hit will be frozen, making delve much safer than with a non-cold build. When moving between nodes, the goal is not necessarily to kill them all at lower depths but to just get through them. This is done through killing, freezing, and sometimes just running through them. For particular difficult nodes (extra projectiles, tons of damage/speed mods), the best strategy may be to just use a quicksilver flask with phase run and run to a relatively safe spot to wait for cooldowsn, before doing it again.

For most lower level (sub 600) nodes, it is possible to just activate vaal summon skeletons, summon skeletons, and then find a place to hide until the node is over. At deeper depths, the monsters are able to kill the vaal skeletons, so it requires a more active playstyle – summoning while running around with all defensive flasks activated. With the layers of defense we have, especially the freeze from our minions, this is very safe most of the time.

Stay away from fungal cavern biomes if your chaos resistance is not high – the when the enemy zombies die, they deal high amounts of chaos damage.

(4) Maven
Not really a full guide, but a few tips:
For the memory game, I recommend two things:
1) Breaking down the pattern into thirds, with a rhythm
2) Saying the blinking part out loud (e.g. up right left, (breath) up left up)

Save vaal summon skeletons for the final phase, after one memory game

(5) Heist Guide
The biggest thing to focus on in heists is movement speed – getting in and out as fast as possible. There is not much to write on concerning the infiltration section, but here are some tips on the escape phase (watch the 3.12 Breaking the Unbreakable video):

Escaping: Focus on maximizing movement speed, movement skills, being as tough as possible, and having phasing as much as you can. One of the first major upgrades would be flasks – see 8(8), but I would stress having an optimized quicksilver, quartz, basalt, and life flask, and having them used off cooldown while escaping.

Bind bone armor to left click so that it is up about half of the time. Phase run (linked to second wind for the cooldown reduction) activated off cooldown adds some speed. Time enduring cry when running by rare/unique mobs for another layer of safety. Another recommendation is to switch at least one spectre to arena master. He casts a +20% movement speed buff that lasts about four seconds, with a 12 second or so cooldown.

Fortified areas: Behind doors, there will sometimes be a large mob of guards in wait, ready to one shot the player character if they walk through normally. The best solution for this is to pre-summon skeletons (clearing setup, with melee splash) at the door, prepare all damage buffs (offerings, brands at the door, etc.) and let the skeletons go in first to lessen the enemy numbers. The player character should then activate all defensive buffs (flasks, guard skill if any, enduring cry when close to a rare mob), and dash twice right after the mob attacks.

Remember that the hotkey for rogues to perform their task is “v.”

14. Other setups worth considering

(1) Skeleton Mages
Skeleton mages are very fast at clearing compared to warriors and even archers (longer range), but suffer a little in terms of damage and a lot in visibility & eye health. Gearing is the same. Most of the information in this guide applies to mages, with the differences outlined below.

PoB: https://pastebin.com/a9t0exCa

In this variant, we use the same tree except that we add the Dead reckoning jewel and exchange our aura medium cluster jewel for a curse one. Skeleton mages scale two elements for EE purposes, and their attacks count as projectiles and spells for tags. Each mage summoned has a chance to be either cold, lightning, or fire based (not physical converted to the element), meaning that we want to scale two mages while the third will be the same element as the EE trigger, and thus do very little damage. We chose fire because of combustion, cold because of skitterbots-bonechill, and not lightning because other than wrath (not used in this version), lightning is harder to scale.

To calculate DPS on PoB, you have to enter onto a spreadsheet the DPS figure for each element and then calculate the ratio of each to the highest element (set at 1). Averaging the three and multiplying by the highest element’s DPS will give you a “true” approximate DPS.

Like archers, skeleton mages need two green links to clear smoothly, so take one of greater/less multiple projectiles and one of chain/fork/pierce, though you should avoid the GMP & chain combo since both are large less damage multipliers with high mana multipliers. Combustion is added to spectres to increase fire damage. The recommended spectres are primal crushclaws due to their tankiness, aggressiveness, and that skeleton mages cannot apply blind & taunt from ghastly jewel and require another minion to do that for them. You also need one fire damage spectre to apply combustion – my suggestion is one Ashblessed Warden (high life) from the Heist Tunnel contracts.

Other changes:
Hatred for zealotry
Armageddon brand for storm brand
Carrion golem for stone golem
All affixes that focused on cold offensively have been changed for fire

Misc. note: Anger is okay at lower gem levels, but becomes absolutely terrible at level 30 skeletons.

(2) Physical Skeletons Variant
PoB – based on 6(2)’s, but replaced with physical skeleton gems, gear, etc.:

PoB: https://pastebin.com/Dde9u4de

Hatred-Generosity gets replaced by pride
Skitterbots-Bonechill get replaced by Dread Banner-Generosity and Flesh and Stone
Elemental Damage with Attacks gets replaced by Brutality
Predator/Elemental Focus get replaced by Impale
For bossing, predator is used due to being stronger, and costing less mana than multistrike
Cluster Jewels: Only one set of clusters needed: Large: Rotten Claws, Renewal, something else. A medium should be blessed rebirth/renewal.
The tree does not have to path to EE, and can go elsewhere – in the PoB, more life is taken, as well as the “Redemption” notable.

The main reason that phys skellies are good is impale – the whole impale package cheaper is pretty easy to slot in while adding in a ton of damage. This makes phys skeletons good for league start and is more beginner friendly. The downsides are that it cannot scale as hard with cluster jewels and scale crit in particular since Aura clusters without vengeful are poor value. It also lacks the safety of chilling, freezing, and corpse removal.

(3) Chaos Skeletons Variant
PoB – based on 6(2)’s, but replaced with chaos skeleton gems, gear, etc.:

PoB: https://pastebin.com/yMDWPtbD

Due to how bad this variant is, it is not updated for 3.15 yet.

Auras replaced by Blasphemy-Despair and two aspects: Spider and Avian due to lack of better substitutes. Due to spare mana, a level 1 clarity is added to help with mana and give attack speed from commander of darkness.
Elemental Damage with Attacks gets replaced by Void Manipulation
Predator/Elemental Focus get replaced by Predator/Damage on Full Life
Support minions stack wither
Cluster Jewels: Only one set of clusters needed: Large: Call to the Slaughter, Renewal, something else. Both mediums should have renewal: one with Blessed Rebirth, and the other with Feasting Fiends
The tree does not have to path to EE, and can go elsewhere.

Honestly, chaos skeletons with the standard build are terrible – they get about half the damage even after ticking boxes that are 50:50 at best (avian might, 3 stacks of spiders, 15 stacks of wither…). They just do not have a strong, scalable 50% aura (haste is terrible), and two aspects do not make up for it. Cluster jewels are even weaker than for physical skeletons – utilizing a second minion life one. The one advantage that is has is the ability to avoid both physical and elemental reflect.

(4) More Defensive Options
While my personal philosophy is that offence is the best defense and that whatever is dead is less threatening, I know many would prefer to have additional defensive layers and options. Below are a few ways to beef up your defense.

A stone golem (133 life regen per second at level 25) or a chaos golem (5% physical damage reduction at level 25) can be substituted in place of the carrion golem. Don’t ever go for Golem Commander on the tree. Opportunity cost – about 3-5% damage.

Bone Offering
Bone offering can be used in place of flesh offering for block, and life gain on block. Best used with a shield (see below). Opportunity cost: Probably the commander of darkness ascendency node, 30% minion attack speed, a full wand worth of stats.

A rare or unique (recommended: Lioneye’s Remorse, Ahn’s Heritage, or The Surrender (expensive)) shield can be substituted in place of one of the wands to add life, resistances, block chance, among other defensive options. Pair with a Rumi’s Concoction and potentially bone offering. Expensive option to avoid curses: Atziri’s Mirror. Opportunity cost – dependent on budget, but relatively small with lower levels of gear, and high when at higher levels.

Physical Damage Taken as X
Physical damage is one area of vulnerability, with only bone barrier and a flask to mitigate it. There are a few influence mods on body armor and helmets that convert physical damage to elemental of chaos damage, of which 75% is mitigated by resistances. A flask can also be changed over to Taste of Hate. Opportunity cost – Probably a +2 duration chest (~20% damage and minion life), potentially a flask slot.

Defensive Curse
Either temporal chains or enfeeble can be applied via blasphemy instead of frostbite. Opportunity cost – frostbite.

See the spectre section for more details, but the Undying Evangelist and They of Tul are defensive options.

Flesh and Stone
At the cost of 25% mana reservation, you take ~10% less damage from non-nearby enemies, and nearby enemies are blinded (though your minions should already do this). Opportunity cost – Probably have to switch a ring to an unset ring, skitterbots cannot be used, and frostbite would have to be applied by hextouch support.

Dread Banner
10% mana reservation: Use with flesh and stone or an aspect (avian/spider). Due to us scaling aura effect, this gives enemies around 30% less accuracy rating.

(5) Triple Offering Variant
This was the best way to play in 3.9, but heavily nerfed in 3.10. With the buff to Leash of Oblation (no offering effect penalty), it is possible to have all three offerings on a trigger wand, and manually cast desecrate on bosses.

15. Crafting Guide

(1) +1/+1 Convoking Wand

You will need a four socket resonator, a corroded, jagged, metallic, and shuddering fossil. You will also need an uninfluenced convoking wand; ilevel 72 if you want the best odds of hitting +1/+1, or ilevel 84+ if you want a chance of hitting 79% minion damage, +1/+1 as prefixes. The latter can potentially be crafted into a mirror tier wand. Also see the video in 15(2).

(2) +1 Convoking Wand
There is no real way to target these, since the weightings on both +1 spell and +1 minion are so low. Most are either dropped/alched normally, or are “failed” attempts at +1/+1. See the following video:
Minion Wand Attempt

RIP Harvest.

16. F.A.Q.s


(1) What is the use of Avatar of Fire?
This is optional: Frost Bomb: This is a skill used to proc both exposure (-15% elemental resistance) and elemental equilibrium (-50% elemental resistance, “EE”) in the 6(3) PoB. The first part of the skill, about four seconds of pulses, applies the exposure, and the explosion itself applies EE in its radius. The skill in this comes from having the explosion occur right after the boss becomes vulnerable so that it is also hit by one pulse of exposure. Frost bomb does not usually allow for EE due to being a cold skill, but we have fully converted it to a fire skill by the keystone, avatar of fire.

(2) I have mana issues!
New in 3.15 – add an enduring mana flask.
The tree gives +65% mana regen by default, and the cause of mana issues is usually from over casting skeletons (you only need two casts per four seconds for blessed rebirth. The first suggestion is to add the From Dust unique jewel – it helps discipline a little by adding a cooldown. The best source of mana reservation is as an enchant on boots – 35% increased mana regeneration after casting a spell (skeletons, dash, EE trigger). Alternatively, craft mana regen on a weapon, ring or amulet as a suffix, or path to Shaper on the tree (two points).

(3) Why is my damage bad (league start)?
First check your gear to ensure that you do not have generic added cold damage, or cold damage to spells (cold damage to attacks is fine). This makes your elemental equilibrium give the enemy cold resistance instead of taking it away!
Check your wands – in League, temple wands (Minions deal (50–66)% increased Damage &
Minions have 5% chance to deal Double Damage) are extremely cheap (10c) and help DPS more than even a basic +1 gem level wand!
Get a Trigger Wand (Trigger a socketed spell when you use a skill) – this is about 30% increased attack speed for your skeletons – that’s a lot.

(4) I’m dying a lot!
If under level 85…level to 85 – this adds quite a bit of life that is missing from just finishing the storyline. Ensure capped resistances, around zero or more chaos resistance, and life on as much of your gear as possible. Check your flasks – the five defensive flask set-up prevents a lot of damage, and provides phasing. In terms of playstyle, never stop moving, and do not dash directly at enemies, come in at an angle or “drive by.” Bind bone armor, phase run, or enduring cry to your left mouse button. Check your jewels also – blind and taunt on ghastly eye jewels help out a pile. Change out your belt for a replica soul tether if the timeless jewel is not purchased yet. If none of this is enough of if you want more, check out the defensive options in 14(4).

(5) My minions are dying a lot!
Not much can be done here at league start or lower gear levels. The other minions scale well with +gem levels, the same as skeletons. Unfortunately this means that zombies and carrion golems will likely be resummoned a lot unless linked to minion life or a helmet with minion life. To offset this a little, socket them in a helmet with +level to minion gems, and then work on getting +gem levels where recommended. For spectres, consider a high health spectre, but it may not add as much DPS as the low health ones or be annoying (arena master).

(6) What about The Iron Mass?
Pros: The free skeleton MTX that the sword gives is very nice.
Cons: Completely different style of scaling which just seems to do a LOT less damage than traditional skeletons. You also have to attack instead of setting down an instant cast brand, which makes the build feel not smooth. Personally I hated it.

(7) Why is your (iLL3at’s) tree so different from the guides?
I play around with my passive tree a lot, usually using an estimated 100 or so orbs of regret a league trying stuff out. The guide is more polished, whereas my tree is usually experimental. My cold skeleton characters from the last three leagues all have very different trees due to these experiments!

(8) Pain Attunement on the tree?
Glorious Vanity – See 8(7).

(9) What about an energy shield/chaos inoculation version?
It would work, as has been demonstrated by a few spectre players, but obtaining a 600+ ES +2 duration chest would be near impossible in a league. Without that, it starts with 20% less damage already. I have PoB’d one to 8k ES, but it gives up a sizable amount of damage.

(10) Are skeleton warriors or archers better?
Skeleton warriors have a bit more damage while archers will have a little better clear. Archers are quite a bit worse in dense, high HP packs since chain is not as good as melee splash in those situations. Warriors are easier to get 21/vaal summon skeletons on, but the body armor is harder to color. At the end of the day though, it comes down to your preference of playstyle as both are very viable.

(11) What about X support minion?
Probably fine, as long as you have enough gem sockets.

17. Latest Patch Changes & Update Log

Nerfs everywhere.

Recent Updates:

-Updated for 3.15!

18. Credits
Brokensaint7 – Guild leader of “<°v°>”, PoE encyclopedia, and person who introduced me to the game. Donate him your regret orbs.
Keyen and wazzupdj: Suggested skitterbots and bonechill interaction found in subsection 8(5)
Viperesque – for the original skellies guide: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2108003

3.15 ❆ Cold Skeletons guide: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2774965
Last edited by iLL3aT on Jul 23, 2021, 2:09:59 AM
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IGN- Brokensaint
Well, I know what I'm playing next league.

This is a stellar guide - elemental scaling is completely and utterly absurd.

Are you able to skip phases on bosses reliable with this DPS? I noticed that when playing Physical/Impale Skeles there was a "wind-up" of sorts while vulns/curses/impales/multistrikes applied and, as a result, damage started slow and then over about five seconds or so, would ramp up very quickly to max.

The problem being, of course, that this gives bosses plenty of time to invuln - with only 25m DPS, and without a lucky crit or a very early impale, I almost always end up getting forced into phase transitions (especially obnoxious on, say, Shaper).

Has this been your experience with this build as well?
drewmcduffy wrote:
Well, I know what I'm playing next league.

This is a stellar guide - elemental scaling is completely and utterly absurd.

Are you able to skip phases on bosses reliable with this DPS? I noticed that when playing Physical/Impale Skeles there was a "wind-up" of sorts while vulns/curses/impales/multistrikes applied and, as a result, damage started slow and then over about five seconds or so, would ramp up very quickly to max.

The problem being, of course, that this gives bosses plenty of time to invuln - with only 25m DPS, and without a lucky crit or a very early impale, I almost always end up getting forced into phase transitions (especially obnoxious on, say, Shaper).

Has this been your experience with this build as well?

Thank you for the kind words!

In regards to bosses - mostly yes, and you can refer to that Sirus video. Sirus usually does not get a chance to do meteor, walls and bowling balls, or the four clone mechanics. Shaper is more tricky though - for phase two in particular it seems he always does a red bubble phase at the start of it, and sometimes during phase three as well.

For fast DPS, it depends on how well you hit the frost bomb - if you get EE and exposure down very quickly, then the boss should melt. The scale up portions mostly come from the monkeys being pretty slow to cast their shouts for charges.

On a side note, I like the way you managed to get Xibaqua working and the additional layer of safety that provides. I believe you can get +1 chaos res as a corrupted notable on the glorious vanity.
3.15 ❆ Cold Skeletons guide: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2774965
Very detailed and strong build! Thank you for it !!!
One question, what is it for, Paine Attunement?
ssHozjaina wrote:
Very detailed and strong build! Thank you for it !!!
One question, what is it for, Paine Attunement?

Thank you!

The Doryani glorious vanity changes pain attunement to corrupted soul, adding 20% of max life as extra ES. Here is a wiki page on corrupted soul


For more details (I’m on my phone), refer you the passive tree notes - 6(3) and the jewel section 8(7)).
3.15 ❆ Cold Skeletons guide: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2774965
This build is the most insane boss killer I saw in action, the endgame is turned into a joke, Good job on the build bro <3.

Looking foward to play it in 3.10
Last edited by Senti3nt on Feb 20, 2020, 10:58:06 PM
Thanks Senti3nt - always a good time playing with you =)

Feb 23. 2020: Added 12(4), comparison of elemental minions, 13(1-4), Sirus, Aul, Delve, and T19 maps.
Added 14(1): magic find variant, a few pictures, and two new videos (T19 map, Cortex).
Added 8(12) & 8(13): progression guide and an optional wand to mirror. Some general formatting updates
3.15 ❆ Cold Skeletons guide: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2774965
Cool builds and very nicely written guide, thanks.

Might play league as 3.10 leaguestarter :-)

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