[3.10] MoM Archmage Storm Brand Hierophant (League Starter / All-Content / HC Viable)







Hi! I'm Ajoscram and I've always wanted to build a mana based Hierophant. I'm a softcore player who would love to play hardcore instead but can't (real life, wobbly connection, crappy PC). As such, my favorite builds usually lean more towards having great defense but only good enough offense to clear the entire game. This guide is no exception: most other versions of this character lean very heavily on either maxing out offense with some sort of gimmick to get a million DPS here or there with wonky set-ups (I'm looking at you Indigon) or unrealistic PoB DPS calculations for burst damage.

This guide isn't about having the most damage: it's about having the best possible defense without needing too much investment into damage. It just so happens that in 3.10 the already very defensive mana based archetype actually got damage via the Archmage Support gem, pushing our damage into the ~2 million shaper DPS range without any flasks or buffs up.

The tree and item selections are extremely straight forward so picking this character as a league starter is very much advised. I hope you enjoy this build as much as I have and without further ado, let's jump right in.



The main concept of this build is to gather a huge mana pool to use both offensively and defensively. Defensively, we can achieve 50% of damage taken from mana before life via Mind Over Matter, the Hierophant ascendancy node Divine Guidance and the Cloak of Defiance chestpiece. Since our mana pool is so massive (even very conservative builds should end up with about 8k mana) this effectively means we take half damage from all sources.

Offensively we scale the mana cost of our spells to astronomical amounts for Archmage Support. Increases to mana are made via the passive tree and flat mana on gear. The cost of our spells are increased with a whopping total of five Fevered Mind jewels and just regular gem link multipliers. Currently, my main Archmage setup has a skill cost of 6.6k. That amounts to about 8.5k base lightning damage from that support alone. That's a lotta damage! To put that in perspective, an Added Lightning Damage Support gem at level 20 grants 211 base lightning damage.

The downside of Archmage would normally be that we can't cast our spells because they cost too much, but fortunately we can mitigate this downside by playing Storm Brand as our main skill. Brands have the added benefit of not requiring recasting very often due to getting dragged around with Brand Recall and having a reasonably long duration either way.

The main gameplay loop consists of playing down a brand onto a group of mobs, regenerate mana on kill with the passive node Mind Drinker (and some other sources which will be discussed later), drag your existing brand into another pack and cast a new one. Rinse and repeat until you have your maximum number of brands down (which happens much sooner than you'd think).

Bosses are trivial since you can only attach a maximum of two brands on them at a time with the Runebinder passive on the tree, which means that only 2 are needed on any given fight for maximum damage output.



Hierophant is a no-brainer here because it has the best defensive options available for the build, not to mention having direct support for brands via the Sign of Purpose ascendancy node. Another interesting choice is Trickster, but that's better suited for other types of Archmage setups. These are the nodes and order to pick them in:



  • 1) Sign of Purpose: This is by far our best damage ascendancy node. Pick it early on to ease levelling down the line.
  • 2) Divine Guidance: At this point you've should've already invested into mana heavily, picked up Mind Over Matter on the tree and have Archmage Support linked on Storm Brand. This node is far too good to pass up for the rest.
  • 3) Illuminated Devotion: This node does nothing for you the moment you pick it up during your third lab, since Arcane Surge Support is not in the recommended gem links at all. I suggest you place a level 1 Arcane Surge Support instead of Empower on your Brand Recall setup until you get your fourth ascendancy. The reason it should be level 1 and not more is because our final ascendancy node essentially grants us a level 1 Arcane Surge Support on all our gem links.
  • 4) Arcane Blessing: This is an incredibly busted defensive node. Not only does it give you Arcane Surge every time you hit something, it also makes you immune to all elemental ailments. That's huge convenience since it eases up our flasks for Freeze, Shock and Ignite removal. No more "I hit the freeze flask, but it was empty" kind of scenarios.



I like to include two versions of the tree: one with just the absolute essentials, and another one with my geared out character. The Essentials PoB includes several trees at different progression breakpoints for levelling.


The passive tree is incredibly straight forward. In general, all we're doing is picking up every % Increased Maximum Mana node you can and every accompanying % Increased Maximum Life node. Additionally, we get Runebinder for a massive single target damage boost (about half our single target damage), and Elemental Overload since investing into crit is too demanding tree-wise (not to mention it would also make gearing very awkward).

Progression
  • Level 35: Make your way into Discipline and Training immediately, as it provides some much needed defense in the first few levels. Since you're already so close, you might as well also get Light of Divinity and Holy Dominion immediately for elemental resistances and damage. Up next make your way to Mind Over Matter for a massive defensive boost, and
    Elemental Overload for damage. Make sure to pick up the remaining nodes in whichever order you feel necessary.
  • Level 55: If you're already playing Storm Brand (which you get at level 12) then make your way into Runebinder immediately for a very significant single target damage increase. Next work your way towards Mind Drinker and pick up Runesmith on the way. Mind Drinker pretty much carries this build's high mana cost by itself, which is why we rush to it here so abruptly before taking more life and mana nodes.
  • Level 70: Here we're just taking all the mana and life nodes we missed while rushing towards Mind Drinker, as well as picking up all five jewel sockets for the Fevered Mind jewels. If you don't have access to them yet just spec into the slots later on. The Coordination node is too good to pass up, so we take that one as well. Remember to drop Mind Over Matter as soon as you get your Cloak of Defiance chestpiece.
  • Level 90: At this level we shore up our defenses with life via the Written in Blood and Quick Recovery nodes. Most importantly, we spec into our only cluster jewel socket for this tree: A Brand Damage Medium Cluster Jewel. Make sure your jewel has the Brand Loyalty and Grand Design notables, as well as an additional jewel socket. We'll place an Increased Maximum Mana Small Cluster Jewel here, with the Scintillating Idea notable. Your medium jewel should have 4 or 5 passives, and your small jewel only 2.
  • Level 100: For the last 10 points I suggest you pick up Cursed Concoction immediately. The node prior to it is a conditional Mind Drinker, where the enemies must be cursed to grant the mana recovery. It is totally worth it regardless. Finally we pick up Melding for a bit more defenses.

Notes
  • Bandits is 2 passive points.
  • Major Pantheon is Soul of The Brine King for stun mitigation. Surprisingly great in this build.
  • Minor Pantheon is Soul of Gruthkul for much needed physical damage reduction while mapping.
  • Mind Over Matter comes with Cloak of Defiance, so we drop it from the tree at level 74 when we get it.
  • The most important node for mana regeneration here is Mind Drinker. Prioritize getting to it before investing very hard in mana cost.
  • We don't ever spec into Explosive Runes at all on this tree, because the Grand Design cluster jewel notable is so much better overall, while also granting an additional brand.
  • In the PoB I've linked a level 1 Arcane Surge Support to Orb of Storms. This is not a real link to Orb of Storms. It just represents our Ascendancy node Arcane Blessing, which is not supported in PoB.



As per usual with any skill gem set-up I invite you to test and refine it. After all, the only mandatory skill here is Storm Brand. If you find something cool worth looking into do let me know in the thread's comments.

  • Storm Brand 6-link


    Pretty standard here. Worth noting that Elemental Focus is better raw DPS than Energy Leech, but Energy Leech is close enough and provides quite a bit of survivability and you get to shock enemies as well. The Awakened Lightning Penetration is not required at all, but getting Awakened versions of any support gems here is suggested obviously.

  • Orb of Storms 4-link


    Our Orb of Storms is just for utility. First of all, we run a Curse on Hit set-up for Conductivity, which improves our single target a little bit, but most importantly grants us a curse on packs of mobs. This is used by the Mana and Mana Gain on Killing Blow node just before the Cursed Concoction notable, which grants us a 2% mana recovery on killing a cursed enemy.

    I've also added a Power Charge on Critical here, because I felt through mapping that my Elemental Overload was not proccing enough. If you wish, you can swap this out for something like Onslaught for even more single target damage.

  • Shield Charge 4-link


    Shield Charge is my all time favorite movement skill. If you don't like it, this 4-link is comepletely open to change. The Fortify is also quite significant for survivability, so even if you don't run Shield Charge you should make sure to get it from somewhere. Faster Attacks and 20%+ quality Culling Strike gives us the attack speed needed to make this feel great. Also killing bosses with Shield Charge is hilarious.

  • Brand Recall / Flame Dash 4-link


    Brand Recall is the bread and butter of this build. Make sure to bind it to a button you're confortable hitting many many times, since you end up casting this more than your actual brands. Second Wind and Empower are here because they both grant increased cooldown reduction to use Brand Recall more frequently.

    Flame Dash kinda just hangs out on this 4-link because it makes great use of Second Wind and you need it to flee sticky situations and to move over walls. Empower also grants it cooldown recovery speed, which is not insignificant.

  • Arcane Cloak / Vaal Righteous Fire 3-link


    Arcane Cloak is ridiculous on any mana based build. At the time of writing this, it grants my character a 6k damage buffer for hits. This skill alone allows me to tank the Sirus beam (although I must admit I do end up taking a lot of damage regardless). The damage it grants is somewhat insignificant compared to how much flat lightning damage we get from Archmage though.

    Vaal Righteous Fire is just a massive damage boost, which I really only ever use for bosses (sometimes I even forget). Both get their duration increased to lengthen their effects.

  • Wand Triggered Singles


    This set-up is to be socketed on a wand with the craftable Trigger a Socketed Spell when you Use a Skill mod, so no direct casting of these spells is ever required. If you don't have the craft just level these gems on the wand and get it at some other point.

    Summon Lightning Golem gives us attack speed for Shield Charge and damage in general. If you prefer survivability I suggest going for a Chaos Golem instead. Wave of Conviction provides 25% lightning penetration in the form of exposure, and Cold Snap grants Frenzy Charges while mapping; which are super nice specially with Shield Charge.



The really nice thing about this build is that every single item serves one of three purposes: grant flat life, flat mana or resistances (with the minor exception of our wand). As such, gear progression is very smooth and straight forward without specific mods required on rare gear. Capping out on Chaos Resistance is trivial as a result.

  • Required Items


    Cloak of Defiance is mandatory on this build. It has an insane mana roll, grants us percent mana regeneration and a whopping 10% of damage taken from mana before life. No other chest comes even close.


    It's impossible for a rare amulet to compete with Atziri's Foible. It's just an outright ridiculous ball of stats. In my opinion, it's mandatory. You could drop this amulet if you're running a Skyforth boots set-up, but even then it's most questionable and I've opted not to because I found a really good pair of rare boots. Another benefit to this amulet is the reduction to stat requirements which makes it so that we don't need to get dex anywhere in our gear; really nice!

    On the topic of amulets, Battle Rouse is an insane anoint. It greatly increases our survivability and feels great as a general regen tool. There are other higher value % Increased Maximum Mana options, but none of them aid to recover our vast mana pool quite as quickly.


    This is the only rare item required for this build. As it was discussed in the Gems section, you need the craftable Trigger a Socketed Spell when you Use a Skill mod on your wand. The triggered spells far outperform any other mod you could craft on your wand. Other than that the main stats to prioritize on it are flat mana and cast speed. Everything else is a bonus.


    Fevered Mind is actually where most of our damage comes from. All 5 non-cluster jewel sockets in the tree should have one of these. They are a bit steep in price early on in the league, so just get them gradually one by one and watch your damage sky-rocket on every addition.


    Finally, only one Brand Medium Cluster Jewel with Grand Design, Brand Loyalty and a Jewel Socket is needed. There is no brand node cluster in the tree with this much damage so it only follows we'd add one of these. Additionally, we can benefit from this to add even more mana to the tree via a Mana Small Cluster Jewel. Make sure it has the Scintillating Idea notable for even more damage.

  • Nice to have


    A helmet with the Storm Brand Damage Penetrates 12% of Branded Enemy's Lightning Resistance lab enchant is nice, but by no means necessary. I beat A8 Sirus without it. Another option for a really solid helm is Mindspiral, but at the end of the day I really needed the resistances and could not make room for it. Wear it if you can afford to (specially if you get your hands on one with the enchant, oh my!).


    The lab enchant 70% Increased Mana Regeneration Rate if You've Cast a Spell Recently greatly improves the downtime from one cast of Storm Brand to the next. Get it only if you really want to min-max your build as we already have much better ways of regenerating mana on the passive tree. Make sure you get as much movement speed as possible on your boots though, at least 25%.


    Cerulean Rings are a no-brainer here, make sure to get life, mana and resists on them. Even though I have dexterity on one of them here, it is a completely wasted stat since Atziri's Foible solves all of my stat requirement issues. Rings like these used to cost a couple of Exalts at the start of the league, but the increasing popularity of this build has sky-rocketed the prices to upwards of ten Exalts per ring. Try to craft them yourself instead if you have the patience for it. Who knows, you might get something really good!

  • Miscellaneous


    Gloves, belt and shield are simply rares with life, mana and resists; nothing too fancy. Improving these with better and better rolls through time has been a lot of fun, and sometimes a lot cheaper than it seems.

  • Flasks


    With flasks, options are pretty open to you. All you really need are Bleed, Poison and Curse removal flasks. I decided to go for a Panicked life flask to try it out and I must admit I'm very happy with the results in this build. My mana flask has Enduring and of Warding affixes to assure curse removal uptime of nearly 100% of the time. Since this build has almost no physical damage mitigation I went with a Basalt Flask. A Quicksilver Flask is always a welcome addition when your movement speed matters. I ran Atziri's Promise instead of Vessel of Vinktar until I capped my Chaos Resistance. Make sure you get the Lightning Penetration version of this flask since the others do nothing.



All in all, this build is honestly outright ridiculous. With the exception of perhaps fully juiced 100% delirious sextanted scarabed maps, I don't really see a scenario where you should struggle at any point in the game. Every single time I've died it's either been to reflect (cause I'm dumb), lag, or a really inconvenient Sirus beam.

Given how little upfront investment is needed to get this build going, I'd say it's eventually going to get nerfed. The leniency of required mods on rare gear make it an excellent league starter, and allows you to cap out on chaos resistance down the line quite easily. There are also a lot of uniques I didn't use here which might give the build a different feel, so there's room for experimenting and tinkering.

Bossing is some of the easiest I've ever experienced in this game due to the brands sticking to the boss and dealing damage as you move around dodging abilities. Sure, you need to recall them every so often to lengthen their duration, but by the time that matters the boss is already dead.

Most importantly, it's a lot of fun! Dragging around your brands into a pack of mobs and watching them bounce around killing everything has an unexpected allure. The only real downside of it is it has a moderate speed compared to speed farming builds.

Hopefully this guide inspires you to try it out. Thanks for reading, I hope it helps you out!
Last edited by Ajoscram on May 7, 2020, 2:04:04 AM
Last bumped on May 7, 2020, 9:34:39 PM
How do you know that this is HC Viable build if you do not play in HC?
"
JjjaMarcussS wrote:
How do you know that this is HC Viable build if you do not play in HC?


Because I've built this character around defense instead of offense and have done all the "hard" content in the game deathless. Conquerors, Shaper, Uber Elder, A8 Sirus, etc. The only instances where you are even remotely close to dying is if you're careless and get hit while you are mana-less right after casting Storm Brand, but if you're good enough that should never happen. I'd take this character to 100, but after this guide and the video I'm making I'm kinda done with it. It was great fun though.
Hi,
What's so great about Mind Drinker? As there isn't much attack damage, there is basically no leech. Am I missing something here?
Thanks
"
Hi,
What's so great about Mind Drinker? As there isn't much attack damage, there is basically no leech. Am I missing something here?
Thanks

Yeah you don't deal any significant amount of attack damage, so it's not for that. The thing that's so good about mind drinker is the Recover 2% of mana on kill bit. Since you have so much mana; flat mana regeneration is out of the question, and the percent mana regeneration on Cloak of Defiance and Arcane Surge is not enough to sustain your needs when mapping. You'd be way too slow as you wait for your mana to regen slowly. A pack of 30 mobs recovers (instantly, by the way) 60% of your total mana. That's bonkers. It also gives you % Increased Maximum Mana, which is obviously great.
How do you get your mana cost for Storm Brand over 6k? I am level 92 with five Fevered Minds and my Storm Brands cost 4,313.

I've been staring at PoB for the past hour and can't for the life of me figure out why the base mana cost of your SB is 558 and mine is 362 with the same 6 link setup.
"
Devop wrote:
How do you get your mana cost for Storm Brand over 6k? I am level 92 with five Fevered Minds and my Storm Brands cost 4,313.

I've been staring at PoB for the past hour and can't for the life of me figure out why the base mana cost of your SB is 558 and mine is 362 with the same 6 link setup.

Not sure actually. On this PoB with my current character I have a 2031 base mana cost getting rid of all Fereved Minds on the tree: https://pastebin.com/nFd2rBjx

Perhaps you're missing flat mana on your gear? What's your current mana total?
"
Ajoscram wrote:
"
Devop wrote:
How do you get your mana cost for Storm Brand over 6k? I am level 92 with five Fevered Minds and my Storm Brands cost 4,313.

I've been staring at PoB for the past hour and can't for the life of me figure out why the base mana cost of your SB is 558 and mine is 362 with the same 6 link setup.

Not sure actually. On this PoB with my current character I have a 2031 base mana cost getting rid of all Fereved Minds on the tree: https://pastebin.com/nFd2rBjx

Perhaps you're missing flat mana on your gear? What's your current mana total?


I'm an idiot who didn't read the entire tooltip for Archmage - I have 6k mana compared to your 9k. I missed the "Supported Skills have base Mana Cost equal to 6% of Unreserved Maximum Mana, if that value is higher" bit.

Great build by the way!
i have been playing fb/ice nova heiro and very frustrated with it. the damage is excellent but i clear slowly and the defenses are poor-not great for this league- i struggle to beat the fog in unjuiced maps. i want to try herald stacker but even farming with ice nova is slow, so i'm thinking about respeccing to something that can consistently farm simulacrum or juiced maps to farm for a bit. your tree looks pretty close to mine so it should be an easy respec. just curious how you think the char would be for farming simula or other endgame stuff without super expensive gear. i dont have many ex to invest in gear.
"
Devop wrote:
"
Ajoscram wrote:
"
Devop wrote:
How do you get your mana cost for Storm Brand over 6k? I am level 92 with five Fevered Minds and my Storm Brands cost 4,313.

I've been staring at PoB for the past hour and can't for the life of me figure out why the base mana cost of your SB is 558 and mine is 362 with the same 6 link setup.

Not sure actually. On this PoB with my current character I have a 2031 base mana cost getting rid of all Fereved Minds on the tree: https://pastebin.com/nFd2rBjx

Perhaps you're missing flat mana on your gear? What's your current mana total?


I'm an idiot who didn't read the entire tooltip for Archmage - I have 6k mana compared to your 9k. I missed the "Supported Skills have base Mana Cost equal to 6% of Unreserved Maximum Mana, if that value is higher" bit.

Great build by the way!


Haha it happens, I'm glad I could help you. Thanks for checking out my guide!

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