[3.11] Poison Blade Vortex Assassin (Carried me to level 100 / delve 600+ / Aul / Sirus A8 viable)

Greetings Exiles,

I want to introduce you to my variation of a Poison Blade Vortex Assassin, which I used to complete the endgame grinds in 3.9 Metamorph League.
This build can be used as a league starter, as it requires very little initial investment.
But it can also carry you through the whole content and it is extremely versatile.

I chose a mix, that is a compromise between survival and clearspeed, but it is still able to kill all bosses, including Sirus, Aul and the Cortex encounter.

If you enjoy rushing through maps and killing bosses this build may be the choice for your next character.

State of 3.12
We are fine, we dodged all nerfs.

I am waiting for a Path of Building update, as Vitality has been changed to reserve flat mana instead of a percentage.
Most likely it will be a buff for us.
If I saw it right, the Watcher's Eye effect we are using was untouched.

Current state as of 3.11
We are still going strong!

Wind Dancer is in our range and we do not need the Brutal Restraint jewel anymore to get it.

Since Circle of Nostalgia is getting nerfed, we have to take some sort of reduced mana reservation in the tree. (Or we can corrupt jewels, if we are risky).
I updated the endgame tree acordingly.

Also we loose Hunter's Gambit, because it's position is being moved out of the Thread of Hope radius. It is about 4% damage lost.

I also need to update the skilltrees again, as I missed the serpentine spellslinger node. Will do so over the weekend.

Previous Patches
State as of 3.10
There are no big changes for this build in 3.10 considering functionality (if you exclude Cluster Jewels)
But the Unleash bugfix could hurt our damage by a bit.

- Elusive got slightly nerfed, but is still strong (Dodge Cluster Jewels exist, so it could be mitigated with different pathing.)
- Blade Blast can be used, if you sacrifice sockets that are previously used for the CwDT setup or drop an aura. (I will neither suggest nor advise against using this skill, as I probably do not use it in the beginning of the league)
- The bugfix of Unleash could hurt our damage, by having the malus now probably affecting BV
- Herald of Agony Crawler damage is almost insignificant for us, so we simply ignore the nerf there
- With Delirium monsters leaving no corpses I would still rank Asenath's Gentle Touch at least equal to The Embalmer, considering that normal monsters are still existing for its effect.

Video Guide
I released at the end of 3.9 a video guide for this build.
Most of it is still up to date.

Build Summary

Offensive Aspects

To understand the damage scaling, let's have a look at how poison damage works:

Poison is a damaging ailment, that is applied by both physical and chaos damage. It lasts unmodifyied for 2 seconds and deals 20% of the base damage that applied it as chaos damage. Each target can have multiple applications or stacks of poison.

This means, we can have the following points of increasing the damage of poison:
1. Increase the duration of the poison
2. Increase the damage of the poison
3. Increase the damage of the event that applied the poison

Defensive Aspects:

Our defense relies upon layering multiple defense mechanics to negate most of the damage, while lowering the damage, that passed through our defenses.

Since we start at the shadow area of the passive tree, it is intuitive, to choose evasion as our major defense mechanic. This gets supported by acrobatics and phase acrobatics for attack and spell dodge.

The Mistwalker Ascendancy node provides us with the elusive buff and negates extra critical damage taken, while we have elusive.

Elusive is a buff which gives us additional chance to dodge as well as movementspeed, but it looses it's strength over the duration of it's effect.

Furthermore we can choose a shield for the ability to block damage. In this case, Mistwall is a really good choice.

In addition to those mechanics, we choose a CWDT Immortal Call setup, to counteract bad luck streaks, where hits pass by all your defenses.

If you are willing to invest some more ress ources you can also include a Brutal Restraint jewel to aquire the Wind Dancer keynode.

Wind Dancer let's you take less Damage if you have not been hit in the last 4 seconds and boosts your evasion if you have been hit in the last 4 seconds.

For a poison based character there are some obvious choices, that directly interact with poison. Namely the Pathfinder and the Assassin.

In this case the assassin was chosen, because of the better starting point within the tree and how powerfull the Mistwalker node is.

My suggested Ascendancy nodes are:
1. Mistwalker - This provides you with a massive boost to your defenses and also increases your movement and cast speed as well, which directly benefits leveling speed.
2. Noxious Strike - It is a huge boost to both damage and recovery.
3. Toxic Delivery - It increases your poison damage, as well as crit scaling.
4. Opportunistic - It is another good boost to your movementspeed, as well as it boosts damage against bosses.

Passive Tree
Early Stage / Leveling

This part is for masochist who like to use Blade Vortex from the beginning. A more comfortable leveling method is in an extra section bellow.

Path of Building: https://pastebin.com/QvjQScED

For leveling my suggestion is to start scaling physical damage over poison damage and transition later when you reach maps to a full poison build.
Most likely you find yourself in a situation, where your damage scaling is not yet good enough for pure poison.

The best approach would be going strait for the skill duration node at the Scion starting area, as well as the life nodes there, if needed.
From that point you want to move forward within the shadow starting area and work your way forward to the Force Shaper node, while picking up the usual suspects.

Switch to Poison orientation
Path of Building: https://pastebin.com/h5g2fgqa

As you have reached maps, it is time to think about shifting more damage from physical into poison.
The following passive tree can assist you with a very budget friendly choice, that is fairly damage orientaited.

WARNING: The point in Perfect Agony may result in damage loss, if your equipment is not yet good enough. Please take a look into path of building, to find the most optimal timing for your character.

Ramping up Defense AND Budget
Path of Building: https://pastebin.com/xgEpAvwN

The next change in the passive tree includes picking up more defensive nodes and compensating within the passive tree for the lack of resistances, that some quality of life improving uniques bring with them.
Don't worry, it will be worth their costs.

The first big step is including 2 Might of the Meek jewels within the scion starting area to boost our life and resistances.
The second step includes a Thread of Hope jewel from the Awakener with a very large radius, to pick up a lot of points that would be normally out of reach, but increase our defense and poison damage massively.

Last l but not least the most costly improvement will be an Unnatural Instinct jewel, which will provide us with a huge boost to life and gives us access to the corpse devour talents, which we trigger by the Devouring Diadem.

We help Alira!

In the beginning the all resistance helps us out a lot and the mana regeneration is a nice feature.

Later the crit multiplier is the main deciding factor.

The pantheon can be a matter of your preferences.
For the major pantheon the choice is between the Soul of Lunaris for further defensives or the Soul of the Brine King to prevent yourself from being stun locked.

For the minor pantheon, the suggestion is Abbarath for immunity to burning ground and Rhyslata, for flask recovery when bossing.

Since you will not yet have enough reduction to reserved mana at the beginning, you will most likely carry those auras to already level them, but have them inactive.

Chest 6-Link

Helmet 4-Link
If you have The Devouring Diadem you want to go for:
(alternative: Flesh and Stone)



CWDT (3-Link)
Use this setup in both weapon sets:
up to 7 (if you have The Devouring Diadem)
If you do not have The Devouring Diadem, you can consider using Bladefall or any other spell that could either trigger poison or give you a defensive boost

Shield (3-Link)

Offensive Weaponset (3-Link)

Our starting equipment is flexible and cheap, but be prepared to invest into defenses for the endgame version.


Weapon Slot
For our weapon we have the choice between:
1. Cold Iron Point - This dagger massively boosts our damage done by blade vortex, as well as our supportive Herald of Agony. If you want to go offensive, take two of those.
2. Obliteration - This wand is cheap, scales well with our needs and provides us with the possibility to have chaining explosions. By the way, it's explosions cause massive poison stacks.
3. Bino's Kitchen Knife - This is a defensive dagger. It provides us higher damage over time as well as it spreads the remaining poisons on kill. The defensive aspect comes from the triggered health recovery on kills.
4. Mistwall - This shield is amazing. It provides a good amount of evasion and movement speed. In addition, it boost your block chance to maximum, if you didn't block for a while, and give you phasing, when you blocked.

Our goal is The Devouring Diadem, as it boosts our recovery and gives us the possibility to run more auras.
In the beginning any good helmet with life, resistances and evasion will do well enough. A great option is crafting one with Aberrant Fossils for trying to hit the - Chaos Resistance affix for nearby enemies.
Should you plan to use The Golden Rule, you can use Maw of Conquest to be unaffected by Poison.

This slot is very flexible. You can go with:
1. Rare - Use one with defensive stats. You can later think about upgrading to one with explosions.
2. Carcass Jack - It is a good choice for scaling clearspeed through damage and radius
3. Kintsugi - It lowers the first hit that you eat and then boosts your evasion. A very nice option for evasion stacking.

Don't plan with defensives in this slot.
You want to go for The Embalmer in the beginning and later on switch to Asenath's Gentle Touch for improved Clearspeed and Temporal Chains.

Clarification for The Embalmer:
Those gloves are a good start as a cheap 5-link, especially if you hate using Tabula Rasa. Once you have a 6-Link on the chest slot, the gloves still provide good benefits through their stats, but they are also of course replacable by a good rare.

Choose the biggest defensive belt that you can find. The best choice would be a Stygian Vise with life and resistances.

This slot is also needed for defensive stats.
Take any rare with health, movementspeed and resistances.
Going for the Cannot be Frozen affix saves up a flask slot for another unique flask.

Choose at least one ring with defensive stats, like health and resistances.
For the second ring aim for a Circle of Nostalgia with at least 20% Mana Reservation on Herald of Agony, as well as one of the offensive modifiers.

This is important.
Try to aquire a chaos version of Impresence to get the mana reservation of Despair removed. Until you get Asenath's Gentle Touch you can also use a Solstice Vigil for Temporal Chains instead.
Anoint any defensive Perk you want or take Dirty Techniques for offensive.
As soon as you aquire Asenath's Gentle Touch or any other source of a Curse on Hit, change the anointment into Whispers of Doom.

1. The Golden Rule - It helps a lot with our defensive against chaos damage, as well as it interacts with the Noxious Strike ascendancy node. Take care and use it only when you can make yourself unaffected by poison, as it is otherwise a glorified suicide.
2. Watcher's Eye - Luckily the affix we need is in general cheap. Our first priority is Unaffected by Poison, while affected by Malevolence. This enables us to use The Golden Rule. Our Second priority is +x Life gained for each Enemy Hit while affected by Vitality to boost our recovery. To use this, we need to have some matters of mana cost reservation. If you get extremely lucky, you can score also the Unaffected by Bleeding, while affected by Malevolence to free a flask slot and save ourself the jewel corruption against Corrupted Blood.
3. Thread of Hope - You want one with very large radius to allocate the following nodes in the passive tree: Swift Venoms, Hunter's Gambit, Heart of Oak and Revenge of the Hunted.
4. Might of the Meek x2 - It is the needed survival boost for the more expensive, but defensive build variation.
5. Unnatural Instinct - It is just a luxury.

You want to fill up immunity to certain effects with flasks, as well as boosting your damage and movementspeed. This leaves us with the following options:
1. Atziri's Promise - It is a solid boost to damage and survival, through the leeched chaos damage.
2. Life Flask - Choose your own preferences
3. Quicksilver Flask - In optimal cases you get the Adrenaline suffix for more speed, but going for a immunity is also valid.
4. Quartz/Jade Flask - This is depending on your equipment, if you should better get more dodge or evasion. Both are solid choice with an immunity included.
5. Diamond Flask - Include an immunity with it

Other good choices are:
1. Sin's Rebirth - Unholy Might grants you 30% of your physical damage as extra chaos damage, resulting in bigger poisons. In addition it removes burning and makes you immune to ignite.
2. Bottled Faith - This is the expensive Damage Flask. If you can afford it, it will boost your damage massively.

Cluster Jewels

As I currently do not play this build, I have to resort to just giving the links to specific traits on poedb instead of showing directly the items. I did not playtest any of these jewels, but I try to give you suggestions that fit the theme of the build.

In general it appears that you want to have Cluster jewels with as little passive nodes as possible, to only get the stronger points that you can roll on those.


The best option for the large Cluster Jewel seems to be the 12% increased Chaos Damage version.

Interesing passives that can roll on there are:
- Overwhelming Malice - https://poedb.tw/us/skilltree.php?n=Overwhelming+Malice
This can replace the Sin's Rebirth Flask as a source of Unholy Might

- Wicked Pall - https://poedb.tw/us/skilltree.php?n=Wicked+Pall
This grant's us more chaos damage, as well as effect duration, which also affets our poison duration.

- Unspeakable Gifts - https://poedb.tw/us/skilltree.php?n=Unspeakable+Gifts
This appears to be another Corpse Explosion like we can get from Obliteration. The chance should stack (not additive!)

- Grim Oath - https://poedb.tw/us/skilltree.php?n=Grim+Oath
Getting 10% physical as extra chaos damage should increase our damage by a good amount.


The most promising medium Cluster Jewel seems to be the +4% to Damage over Time Multiplier.

The most promising candidates are:
- Wasting Affliction (https://poedb.tw/us/skilltree.php?n=Wasting+Affliction) for faster poison damage.

- Wasting Affliction (https://poedb.tw/us/skilltree.php?n=Circling+Oblivion) for longer effect and skill duration and more damage.


The small Cluster Jewel appears to be a defensive option.

The 1% chance to Dodge Attack Hits jewel provides a lot of different dodge related points, which all seem very good.
Keep in mind that increased effect of elusive also means more dodge!

My Equipment (end of 3.9)
Offensive Weaponset:

Defensive/Mapping Weaponset:




Passive Tree Jewels:

Suggested Upgrade Priority for new Characters/League Starters
It is for me impossible to say, how the prices in a new league will develop, so please think for yourself and do not follow like a sheep!

The first goal should be acceptable weapons and enough resistances (75%+) while picking up as much life as you see fit.

Our endgame weapons are most likely also our starting weapons:

All those are usually relatively cheap and Obliteration is obtainable with a very common card set.

If the Embalmer are cheap, try to get them, they will boost your damage a lot at the beginning.

The next big upgrade should be the Golden Rule and a method to be unaffected by poison. I already mentioned a few sources in the previous section, but don't limit yourself to it, there are more ways.

After that we have to either push for the Elder or invest some currency for
. It massively boost the damage through Despair as Aura.

Then it is a matter of how the league develops, but the Devouring Diadem or Mistwall are bound to certain bosses (Syndicate Mastermind and Conquorers).
Make it dependend on the current economic situation, but probably the additional auras from the Devouring Diadem will help you more.

The Circle of Nostalgia is a bit gated behind the Cortex boss. Getting one with the right affix might be expensive in the first 2 weeks, after that I expect a drop in prices. Keep your eyes open for one with 20% reduced mana reservation, then you can finally run the full aura setup (considering you leveled by then Enlighten up to 4 and have the passive point in the tree).

Asenath's Gentle touch and most of the passive tree jewels are luxery that you will obtain later, when your income is steady. By that point you will most likely already have killed Sirus a few times.

Leveling Suggestion

This league I changed up the way I start the character and it works so much better, but we do not start with Blade Vortex anymore until almost Act 5.

We start in Act 1 by buying Caustic Arrow, any bow and a 3G-Link.
Getting iron rings and a quiver with attack damage is helpful.

At level 4 we get Pierce and link it to Caustic Arrow. Use either Frostblink or Dash, whatever fits your colours.

At level 8 we add Void Manipulation to it and take a second of that gem for Toxic Rain later.

At level 10 we should take both: Flame Dash and Withering Step.

Before Merveil (level 12) we use a second 3G setup with: Toxic Rain - Void Manipulation - Mirage Archer.

In Act 2 we pick up the Herald of Agony, but it will not provide a lot until we use BV.

In Act 3 we pick up Malevolence and start looking for caster weapons (+ phys/chaos dmg to spells on wands or scepters) and a 2G-2B-linked or a 1G-3B-linked item.

After Act 4 we can finally swap to Blade vortex - Unleash - (Lesser) Poison - Deadly/Unbound Ailments.

I think a 4-Link is enough to go from this point on towards maps and from this point you can directly follow the offensive poison variation in the trees.

This is the approximate route that I went during leveling.
Be sure to adapt it to your needs, so take for example life, when you need it and don't be afraid to use the +30 stat passives to meet requirements during leveling. (Orbs of Regret are cheap, so don't be afraid to modify)

I hope this helped you making a picture of a defensive BV Assassin.
If you have any questions, I look at irregular timeintervalls into the forum. Otherwise you can also find me on Twitch. (www.twitch.tv/3xul)


Q: Is it possible to play this build energy shield based (CI / Low Life)
A: I do not recommend it with this build. You can play energy shield based Poison BV, but you have to rework the tree and the equipment. Basically it is another build then.

Q: What to do when you do not have the helmet or amulet?
A: You have to play with less auras. There is no way around.

Q: Do you have other guides?
A: Yes, my video guides are in this playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHs1z6wAbUQCyZaJnoWYoJ80tHxWA89FA

Q: My question is not (yet) covered here?
A: Please ask your question in this thread. While I currently do not play a lot, I still have a look in here and try to catch up with questions.


- Removed Bug Warning
- Bug with Golden Rule, unsure of how far it goes yet.
- Asenath's seems to be fixed
- Bug Warning of Asenath's Gentle Touch
- Another skilltree update
- Added leveling section
- Unnatural Instinct now for corpse passives instead of frenzy, power and endurance charges.
- Updated the loss of Hunter's Gambit.
- Updated the endgame tree again. This time the circle of nostalgia nerf is included. (Gear is still from my character out of Metamorph league in the PoB file.)
- Removed Antivenom from the small Cluster jewels
- Updated all trees to 3.11
- switched Herald of Agony with Vitality due to Mana Reservation issues in 3.11
- Remove Brutal Restraint from jewel section.
- 3.11 changes added.
- Started FAQ
- Clarification for The Embalmer
- Added Cluster Jewel section
- Patch 3.10 changes (round 2)
- Included Patch 3.10 changes (round 1, I am sure I oversaw something)
- Swapped Withering Step and Vitality around to make Withering Step benefit from the support gems
- Added a suggested league start upgrade path
- Added Path of Building to Skilltrees
- Released initial version


- include serpentine spellslinger
- 3.11 update for endgame tree
- Cluster jewels
- Upgrade priorities for gear
- Use symbols for Gems and Items
My Video Guides: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHs1z6wAbUQCyZaJnoWYoJ80tHxWA89FA
My Poison BV Assassin: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2784069
Join my Discord: https://discord.gg/3C3bHk4
Last edited by exultheinsane on Sep 27, 2020, 8:29:02 PM
Last bumped on Jan 15, 2021, 1:53:58 PM
Placeholder 1
My Video Guides: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHs1z6wAbUQCyZaJnoWYoJ80tHxWA89FA
My Poison BV Assassin: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2784069
Join my Discord: https://discord.gg/3C3bHk4
Placeholder 2
My Video Guides: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHs1z6wAbUQCyZaJnoWYoJ80tHxWA89FA
My Poison BV Assassin: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2784069
Join my Discord: https://discord.gg/3C3bHk4
No Coralitos?

Also if you have the Empower, you might as well link it to Withering Step with the Increased AoE Support. More AoE on wither, more effect on elusive.
Last edited by cybertier on Mar 10, 2020, 10:39:08 AM
nice guide! can't wait to league start with this build!
cybertier wrote:

Also if you have the Empower, you might as well link it to Withering Step with the Increased AoE Support. More AoE on wither, more effect on elusive.

That was definitely an oversight of me, that I played the whole season with.
I corrected it.
My Video Guides: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHs1z6wAbUQCyZaJnoWYoJ80tHxWA89FA
My Poison BV Assassin: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2784069
Join my Discord: https://discord.gg/3C3bHk4
Ty about to start the beginning of league deep dive research into my build but this guide is basically what I wanted. League starter and for end game challenges. Ty bro also looking forward to the patch notes, I'm sure they're nerfing herald of agony. Btw wouldn't a rare with some enchantment be better than DD? Just was never a fan of this unique for late game but you would know way better.
MoMa25 wrote:
Btw wouldn't a rare with some enchantment be better than DD? Just was never a fan of this unique for late game but you would know way better.

The Devouring Diadem makes the amount of Auras/Heralds possible through its cost reduction and Eldrich Battery on it.

Of course you can modify the build to not use it, but then you have to drop some auras. (Most likely Vitality, which provides a lot of survival with the matching Watcher's Eye)
My Video Guides: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHs1z6wAbUQCyZaJnoWYoJ80tHxWA89FA
My Poison BV Assassin: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2784069
Join my Discord: https://discord.gg/3C3bHk4

I saw your video guide and read your forum post. Really interested in using this as my starter for Delirium league. In your league start PoB, how do you suggest I scale my main head weapon? Like, what mods should I be looking for, assuming it's a dagger/wand?

Thank you!
GL in new league :)

You should try to get Cold Iron Point or Obliteration as soon as possible.
Until then try to use a wand / caster dagger with things like poison damage, spell damage, modifier to crit or modifier to chaos damage over time.
In the beginning there is no need to be choosy with the weapon and the suggested unique weapon choices are usually on the very low end of the price spectrum within less than a week into the league.

If you still use the physical version of the tree: aim for spell damage and crit modifiers. Adds x damage to spells is also a good mod.

I hope I understood your question right and could help you.
My Video Guides: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHs1z6wAbUQCyZaJnoWYoJ80tHxWA89FA
My Poison BV Assassin: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2784069
Join my Discord: https://discord.gg/3C3bHk4
Why not use Coralito's Signature in your build? Huge dmg increase and could replace your normal diamond flask

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