[3.11] Smokemantra's Blade Blast Inquisitor - Budget Friendly Start - 7k+ eHP

Welcome to my Blade Inquisitor guide!

This is a guide for one of the 2 builds I played most during patch 3.10. This is also the build I plan to use as a league starter for patch 3.11.

This was an idea I had at the start of the Delirium league when Blade Blast was announced. It's the second build I've made myself and the first that in my humble opinion has actually turned out great.

For anything related to this, I'm always open to questions! You can leave a comment on this post or DM me in-game.

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Index

Pros and Cons
About the Build
Ascendancy & Pantheon
Gem Setup
Gear, Flasks and Jewels
Maps and Bosses
Passive Tree and PoB
High-End Details


Pros and Cons of this build

+ Strong damage even with low currency investment
+ Does not need 6-links to start working
+ Both Map Clear and Single Target Damage are great
+ Gameplay, scaling and progression are smooth
+ Gameplay loop is simple and swift
+ "Fresh", non-FOTM Skills and Playstyle
+ Can be SSF viable (Gear Requirements are not too exhaustive)
- Glass Cannon especially early on
- Not really suited for Hardcore with the lack of survivability

**With the 3.11 changes, the survivability of this build will improve compared to 3.10.

About the Build (and a bit of my experience with it)
As of the end of 3.10 I have cleared most encounters and bosses (of variable difficulty) with this build, such as: Shaper, Elder, Uber Elder, Atziri, Izaro, Saqawal, Farrul, Breachlords, Liches, Omnitect, Architect, Aul, Catarina, Cortex, the 4 Conquerors and Sirus. In my experience, these were laughably easy because of the damage I had, and as expected Sirus gave me the most trouble, particularly because of his "Corridor" attack which killed me a couple times. Other than that, other notorious Endgame encounters like Elder, Shaper, Uber Elder and Cortex were a joke.

I did all of these with an investment that was not above the 10-15ex mark (most at 5ex and below since I took my time with upgrades, and Aul + Sirus at 20ex). Many of these bosses were getting deleted or insta-phased, for example the ones that are not quite Final Bosses would often get deleted just from a couple of Blade Blast pops. I even once killed an Elder in like 4 pops, it was so fast he didn't go into another phase (and I wasn't even halfway through this character). By the time the league ended, I had spent probably 20ex on this character, which I think is a fair amount for all the stuff it enabled me to do.

Even with a low amount of currency, this build certainly has the necessary damage for PoE's content. The power of this build lies in the interaction between Bladefall's ability to stack a high amount of Blades and Blade Blast's ability to detonate them for high amounts of damage. I was very surprised with this build's damage when I started playing it, as it's already very high with barely any items (I'm talking about something like being able to wreck with just Dying Breath + Hrimsorrow + garbage rare items + one 5-link) and if we keep up with upgrades, we are likely to steamroll content.

As the difficulty in the game increases, since we won't naturally have damage mitigation through Armour or Evasion, currency should be spent on increasing our survivability as much as we can. We will aim to have capped Elemental Resistances as with every character, but any amount of Dodge, Block, Physical Damage Reduction or even Chaos Resistance is very welcome. For 3.11, it seems like Block might be a particularly convenient option.

As I have mentioned, the damage is kind of insane. PoB doesn't calculate the DPS properly since it factors Cast Speed into it, but we can take the damage our Average Hit deals, and multiply it by the number of Blades that hit the target. Now, we never really know how many hit the target exactly, but usually a solid amount of our Blade Blasts will land (this is kind of like a Gauss Bell Curve type of situation). It will also depend on other factors like the size of our Blade Blast, the size of our opponent, and other stuff. My own damage by the end was a bit over 480k per blade (Shaper/Sirus damage), so assuming that half of my 40 blades hit my target, this would be a bit over 10M damage every time I pop Blade Blast. Then DPS just depends on how fast I cast.


Playstyle
The playstyle of this build is quite simple, and as mentioned before it revolves around using Bladefall to spawn Blades on the ground, and then using a single cast of Blade Blast to chain-detonate them. As I have mentioned this build can be quite fragile, especially when starting maps, and this build has a comfortable long range so we want to keep on the move and stay far from enemies whenever it's possible.

A small detail I've found out is that we can start the chain detonation of Blade Blast before the Bladefall actually hits the ground.

New casts of Bladefall will sometimes cause the blades on the ground to disappear (according to the text on Bladefall we can only have up to 40 blades on the ground), so generally we want to "pop" Blade Blast once every one or two casts of Bladefall.


Important mechanics
Crit: Critical Strike Chance and Critical Strike Multiplier are both very important for this build because of the ascendancy node "Inevitable Judgment", which allows our Critical Strikes to completely ignore the enemies' Elemental Resistances. This will translate into a very high amount of damage, especially against Bosses, as long as we're dealing Critical Strikes. Since Blade Blast deals Physical damage and Inevitable Judgment only works with Elemental damage, we want to make sure we're converting our damage from Physical to Elemental! (TLDR: we manage this with the Phys to Lightning gem and Hrimsorrow gloves, more details on how we achieve this on the Gear and Gem Links).

The EB+MoM combo: once we arrive at Maps, we start using the Mind over Matter (MoM) keystone passive to redirect 30% of incoming damage to our Mana, and we couple this with the Eldritch Battery (EB) keystone passive (which we get from our Helmet of choice instead of allocating it on the Skill Tree) so that we can reserve the vast majority of our Mana and still be able to cast our spells. For this mechanic to be effective we want our Life:Energy Shield ratio to be at least around 5:2 (this would be 40 Energy Shield for every 100 Life, hopefully more than 40, we should aim for 43-45 to be on the safe side). EB and MoM should not be taken separately.

Area of Effect: AoE is actually a very relevant concept for this build. Basically, we want to keep our Bladefall size around a not-very-big sweet spot and make our Blade Blast very big. This is because Bladefall spawns blades in random spots and the bigger it is, the more ground our Blade Blast procs will cover, which is not what we want, because we want our Blade Blasts to be as concentrated as possible so that more explosions hit our target. Basically, decreasing the AoE of Bladefall and increasing the AoE of Blade Blast will make us much stronger.

Cast Speed: While this does not directly buff our damage, this will speed up the cast animation on our Bladefall, which is great for survivability. Less time spent casting = more time dodging and running.


Ascendancy and Pantheon
For the Ascendancy order I suggest 2 options:

1. Righteous Providence -> Inevitable Judgment -> Sanctuary -> Pious Path

2. Sanctuary -> Pious Path -> Righteous Providence -> Inevitable Judgment

Basically, Pious Path first will be the safety and QoL option, while Inevitable Judgment first is all about damage. Even though it has less damage early on, option 2 is still solid because in my experience this build has enough damage to compensate. However, it's important for us to have Inevitable Judgment by the time we are around the high-tier yellow maps, because that node is one of the most important for our damage. Therefore, we would have to hopefully clear Uber Lab early. I would recommend option 1.

Sanctuary is not that strong without Pious Path, but it will be nice QoL during the early game. With this third option, we will also have Inevitable Judgment ready for our first fight against Uber Izaro, which will make it much easier.

The Pantheon is even more versatile and depends on our needs, especially the Major (I usually use Lunaris, none of its bonuses are useless and it gives some handy evasion). Remember that because of the Pious Path ascendancy node we are Immune to Elemental Ailments pretty much all the time, which means some of the unlockable powers the Pantheons give are basically useless.

For the Minor I suggest Garukhan or Ryslatha (particularly good with a Panicked Life flask) or maybe Ralakesh, the others are either not useful outside of niche situations (like Yugul) or straight up useless.


Gems
I made this build around the use of a Staff, which means we can have up to two 6-link setups. That said, having two 6-links is not strictly necessary, this build should work just fine with two 5-links or maybe even less. My own endgame setup had a 6-link and a 5-link, which I'll show in the Gear section. If your items lack socket links, drop the last gem. Remember to keep all gems (except for auras, which don't really need quality) at 20% quality unless this is specified otherwise. Gems should all be level 20 (or 21 if possible) with the exceptions of Blood Rage, CWDT and Immortal Call.

For comparing the damage different gems give us, PoB will be a huge tool to let us know what is better to use at any given time. If you are not using PoB, you should start using it now, it really is amazing.

TLDR version:

Blade Blast - Physical to Lightning - Hypothermia* - Energy Leech - Controlled Destruction - Increased Area of Effect

Bladefall - Unleash - Spell Cascade - Concentrated Effect - Faster Casting

Hatred - Zealotry - Discipline - one more aura (Herald of Purity/Wrath or sub for Enlighten)

Orb of Storms - Assassin's Mark - Curse on Hit - Power Charge on Crit

Dash - Second Wind

Immortal Call - Cast when Damage Taken

Extra options: Blood Rage, Portal-CoD, Stone/Lightning Golem, Enduring Cry, extra aura (Discipline, Arctic Armour, Herald of Purity/Ash)

Detailed
Blade Blast: this spell will be the crux of this build, and the reason it shines in the endgame. During the leveling process I suggest using this on a 4-link as a secondary addition to Bladefall. Later on, we swap these skills.

Blade Blast - Physical to Lightning - Hypothermia* - Controlled Destruction - Energy Leech - Increased Area of Effect

Phys to Lightning helps us achieve full Elemental Conversion (important!), and Increased AoE will let us have a big AoE Radius on Blade Blast (hopefully near 30) without having to rely on the passive tree too much. Remember to upgrade CD and IAoE to their Awakened versions when you can.

*Hypothermia does not do anything if we don't have Hrimsorrow or another way to convert Physical to Cold. Once we do have this, Hypothermia becomes great for damage.

The Blade Blast AoE Radius I suggest to aim for is 30, and hopefully not less than 27. While I highly recommend IAoE, if you feel like you have enough AoE (which tbh is probably not the case) you can swap it for something like Increased Critical Damage or Added Fire.

Bladefall: this is what I call the "Engine" of the build that allows Blade Blast to shine. During most of the leveling process this will be the main skill we use for clear. Early on this would be the spell we put on our biggest link item (Tabula, etc).

Bladefall - Unleash - Spell Cascade - Concentrated Effect

Once we're using Blade Blast as our main damage, Bladefall should work just fine on a 4-link.

Unleash and Cascade help cost efficiency and let Bladefall spawn more blades over its AoE. Concentrated Effect will concentrate the blades over a smaller area so that more Blade Blasts overlap on our target. In the end these all help us deal more damage. For single target, we also have the option of removing Spell Cascade if we prefer to.

For a 5th link I highly recommend Faster Casting to speed up the cast time (less time spent casting means more time escaping from incoming damage and faster clears in the long run).

For a 6th link, well, it's pretty optional, I didn't use a 6th link myself. We don't really need Bladefall to do more damage (even though it will actually deal a good amount of damage, it should kill normal T16 mobs with just the 4-link) so we basically have 3 alternatives: 1. put a damage link anyway (Hypothermia/Controlled Destruction/Energy Leech/Phys to Lightning/Cold to Fire), 2. put a utility/damage link (like Intensify/Power Charge on Crit or something else of your choice) or 3. use the 6th socket for a non-linked skill (Blood Rage/Portal/mobility skill/an extra aura/Golem skill).

If we face Physical Reflect, it's useful to at least have an extra Phys to Lightning gem to link to Bladefall in place of Faster Casting or Concentrated Effect.

4-link Auras in our Helmet slot: Hatred, Zealotry, Wrath, Discipline (with Enlighten as an option)

When leveling we won't have the option to use more than 2, so we can use just Zealotry early on, and add Discipline once we start using EB for extra survivability. Discipline can also be added early on if we're comfortable with having more of our Mana reserved.

If we have our Devouring Diadem, we can use an Aura setup that only works because of this Helmet and only if we have 6% reduced Mana reserved (which we get from Sovereignty) and use Enlighten level 3, and this setup is Hatred - Wrath - Zealotry (each of these will end up reserving 33% for a total of 99%). This setup buffs only our damage and should be used as long as we meet our desired Life:ES ratio.

Alternatively, if we lack ES we can swap Wrath (which is the weakest of the 3 mentioned auras) for Discipline. with the 6% reduced Mana reserved from Sovereignty we can link Hatred, Zealotry and Discipline in our Diadem without needing Enlighten.

It's also possible to use all 4 of the aforementioned auras, which is what we will ideally aim to do in an endgame situation. For more details read the lower sections.

In short, we will use 2 auras that are not negotiable (Hatred and Zealotry) and we will use one or two more that will depend on preference (these can be Wrath, Discipline, Herald of Purity, Herald of Ash, Arctic Armour). My personal pick so far is Discipline with Herald of Purity.

4-link Orb of Storms setup: Orb of Storms - Assassin's Mark - Curse on Hit - Power Charge on Crit

The reason Orb of Storms is our spell of choice for this setup is because we can cast it once and it will stay on the ground for a duration, dealing damage and getting procs of our linked gems. We use this for both clearing and bossing, when clearing we will drop it on a pack and it should grant us max Power Charges pretty quickly, then we can forget about it until we need to refresh our Power Charges, and against Bosses we can leave our Orb of Storms on the ground before the fight starts to be able to cast from long range at the start of the fight, and the main purpose here will be both to generate Power Charges and to Curse the boss with Assassin's Mark, which will give us more damage (the Orb of Storms will basically be casting the curse so that we don't have to).

So those are the 2 purposes of this gem setup: applying Assassin's Mark and generating Power Charges against Bosses. Later on, we will want to acquire a ring that gives "Assassin's Mark on Hit", because with this we can stop using the Curse On Hit and Assassin't Mark gems in favour of extra Utility gems (more details for options below). Apart from this, we also have the option to get any kind of effect that grants us Power Charges on Crit/on Hit, and if we do manage to do this, we can also drop the Orb of Storms and Power Charge on Crit gems, so in the end we can ditch the whole 4-link and get something else.

Mobility: Dash - Second Wind. This is my mobility skill of choice because I personally like Dash but you can change it in favor of whatever you prefer. Flame Dash is a very good alternative (it doesn't need a support like Dash does), which would let us use our gem sockets for something else.

Survivability: Immortal Call - Cast when Damage Taken. Since we're pretty fragile, this will boost our overall survivability. These two gems should not be leveled up too high, personally I use them at levels 6 and 4 respectively. If we have a spare link, we can add Increased Duration to this setup.

Extra Utility: We use Blood Rage as an easy way to generate Frenzy Charges. This will be the only purpose of this skill, so we can leave it at level 1 and we don't need to add quality (or we can level it up anyway, it doesn't matter). This skill will cause us to regenerate Life and ES slower, so we can choose not to activate it in hard situations. It also generates charges with kills, which means we will not be using it on bosses unless they have some sort of minions or monsters we can kill. This skill is not necessary if we can generate Frenzy Charges through other means. Actually, finding a way to generate them against Bosses would be great, since we don't have one.

On a similar note, getting a way to generate Endurance Charges is also useful, although not required. For example there is the Enduring Cry gem, which will also provide us with an extra heal in a pinch.

If we have spare sockets, Portal is nice, even more so if we can afford to link it with Cast on Death so we can return to action quickly if we happen to die.

As I mentioned before, we can also add any Golem of our choice (of which I'd suggest Stone or Lightning) or even an extra Aura if we happen to have enough unreserved Mana. For example, if you are using Discipline instead of Wrath then you might be able to fit an extra 25% reservation aura, and for this I would recommend Arctic Armour, Herald of Purity/Ash or Aspect of the Avian/Cat.

This build cannot acquire Arcane Surge by using the gem (because we don't spend Mana for our spells). Arcane Surge would be a very solid damage increase but if we want it we will have to acquire it through other means (Equipment, Arcane Heroism notable in a Spell Large Cluster Jewel, Watcher's Eye Zealotry affix, etc.) of which I'd recommend the Watcher's Eye option because it synergizes really well with our Ascendancy.


Flasks
I'm putting Flasks before Gear because this is a fairly short section. During the leveling section we will also need a Mana flask, since we will probably start using EB by the time we're level 70+.

TLDR (what a final setup should look like):


Detailed
We want to have a Life flask at all times, and it should have the Staunching suffix (to remove Bleeding and Corrupted Blood). For the prefix I like Panicked, or Bubbling if we don't have that.

We also want to have a Quicksilver flask at all times. Here the suffix depends on personal preference and on the rest of our flask setup. The remaining useful suffixes are Adrenaline, Draining, Quickening and Warding (as well as the Crit Chance bench craft). We want to have at least one flask with Warding, and the rest will be optional. I do suggest getting Warding here.

We will want a Taste of Hate, which will fit the build really well providing both damage and survivability.

We will want a Crit flask, which most of the time will be a Diamond flask. This flask is very important! It generally is very important for any kind of Crit character. This flask must have the Warding suffix (unless our Quicksilver has Warding). In an endgame setup this flask can be replaced with a Bottled Faith, which will compensate the lost Crit Chance and add a ton of damage on top of that, but Bottled Faith is very expensive so it is not a priority.

For the fifth flask we use Atziri's Promise, which will give us damage, life leech and chaos resistance, all quite useful. Another option would be Cinderswallow Urn (particularly for survivability while mapping). Alternatively we can use other flasks here depending on what we need, like Quartz, Silver, Sulphur, etc.

There is no need to think too hard about their usage, generally I keep the Life flask for emergencies and the other 4 are active pretty much all of the time when I'm fighting.


Gear
TLDR (final gear on my character during 3.10 Delirium League):



Detailed
To be able to use this build, I suggest getting at least 160 Dexterity (we will need a bare minimum of 155 to use level 20 Blade Blast, and level 21 will need 159). Strength and Intelligence are not so relevant because we will never have less than what we need.

I made this build around the use of The Devouring Diadem, which fits us very well. It gives us EB (which saves us skill points) and has the potential to lower our Mana reservation by a lot. Even though the Diadem is expensive at the start of the league, fortunately it's not the rarest of items, it can be target-farmed via the Catarina boss fight. The best affixes we can get on it are either attributes (particularly Dex) or resistances. Never remove the craft on the Diadem though, it is not possible to recraft it. For enchants, any Blade Blast enchant works. The enchant can be very had to get so it's not a requirement, just a very nice plus to have. See above for an example of this item.

There are two other unique items that I would call "Core items" of this build, these are Hrimsorrow (or the fated upgrade, Hrimburn), which is very very cheap and lets us easily achieve full Physical-to-Elemental conversion on our Blade Blast (alongside the Phys to Lightning gem), and Taste of Hate, which gives us both damage and survivability. See above for examples of these items.

Since Hrimsorrow are very cheap, we can aim to buy them with a "Spells have +% Crit Chance" corruption implicit, which should be both pretty useful and not overly expensive.

I made this build around these particular uniques, but if needed this build can work without them, provided we make adjustments. We will of course be stronger if we have them than if we don't.

Annoint: Our Amulet Annoint of choice will be Charisma because it will allow us to have extra options for auras. This annoint however is the 3rd or 4th most expensive annoint (2 Golden and 1 Opalescent oils), so I recommend using another annoint before we get to Charisma. A nice and cheap one is Heartseeker, although I will leave more options of which most are just as good.

*Update for 3.11: since clusters have been nerfed and we were relying on stacking Vengeful Commander notables with the use of Wrath, we can swap Wrath for Herald of Purity and stop annointing Charisma, which will be good for our budget because Golden Oils are expensive.

The alternatives for our Annoint that I'd suggest are:

- Doom Cast
- Static Blows
- Tranquility
- True Strike
- Searing Heat
- Throatseeker/Heartseeker
- Divine Fury
- Divine Wrath
- Divine Judgment
- Command of Steel
- Disciple of the Slaughter

*Some of these nodes are reachable from our position in the tree and are suitable alternatives in case anyone wants to try different options.

Body Armour:
This is the main slot to get Life and ES, and we don't need anything fancy, so we will aim to get a rare Body Armour (Vaal Regalia will be our best option) and focus on getting the most Life, ES and Resistances as possible. Bench crafts that stand out are the [5-8]% Life craft and the [9-10]% max Life as extra ES (depending on which one you lack, if we run Discipline we can probably use Life better, but if we want to swap Discipline then the extra ES craft will compensate very well). Every influence has at least 1 useful mod, but one very strong mod I recommend is +[1-1.5%] base Crit Chance from Shaper or Hunter.

With Harvest crafting in 3.11 I recommend getting an ES base (I suggest Vaal Regalia, because it gives the most ES) and using T1 Yellow seeds for Life crafts. Prefixes should be dedicated to all-out Life and ES and Suffixes would ideally be the Crit Chance and 2 other useful affixes like resistances.

Some unique alternatives that can be useful:


- The Perfect Form
- Belly of the Beast
- Saqawal's Nest
- Farrul's Fur


Staff:
I used to suggest Dying Breath as a trash-tier budget Staff, but in 3.11 with the addition of Harvest crafting, it will be very easy to craft a decent rare Staff, so instead of a unique Staff I highly recommend finding or buying a base with a nice item level and using Harvest crafts. T1 Pink seeds are what we want to look for, since these can give Caster crafts, and we want to get Caster affixes. For a bit more investment, there's also T2 Blue seeds that give Crit crafts.

Alternatively, it is perfectly fine to use Wands for the leveling process, which is what I did myself until I got an Eclipse Staff.

Considering unique Staves, our best option is Disintegrator. This unique Elder Staff gives a lot of damage and is the best option if you don't want to craft your own Staff or hunt for the right affixes on a rare one. It does however come with a potential drawback: it introduces the Siphoning Charge mechanic, which has the potential to give us high amounts of damage at the cost of dealing damage to us with the more Siphoning Charges we have, therefore we may want to skip it if we consider that this will directly hurt our survivability. If we wanted to capitalize on this extra risk, we would have to get Elder or Shaper items (Disintegrator gives us 1 maximum Siphoning Charge for every Elder or Shaper item equipped). To counter this risk we would need Armour/Physical Damage Reduction, which we don't normally get.
Other unique options (not as good though) cold be Taryn's Shiver or Soulwrest, but honestly I wouldn't bother with those. Since there are no good low level Staves, using Wands during the leveling process is still an option, we would just have to remember not to use the Staff tree nodes during that stage.

For a rare Staff, our preferred base is either an Eclipse Staff if we want the Crit Chance implicit, or an Imperial Staff if we want the Block Chance implicit (this doesn't really need to be an Imperial, since the base type will only affect Physical DPS, which we don't care about, so we can use any alternative like a Primordial Staff, Lathi, etc.). It has to be a Staff and not a Warstaff, because Warstaves are primarily for Attacks instead of Spells and won't roll Caster mods that are useful for us. Both Crit and Block staves are good. In a very endgame scenario, which is if we have a very high Crit Chance already (well above 90%), a Block Staff would be the better choice because it will give more survivability.

Believe it or not, the Staff I'm showing above cost me only 5c (plus 4c for the craft, plus whatever amount it cost me to 6-socket and 5-link it), which I noticed was pretty crazy afterwards, since (in my personal case) it still beats the priciest Staves currently on the Market (200ex+). That said, I also bought a very similar one the same day for 8c (which I unfortunately insta-killed with an Annul). If we're buying, for starters we just want to look for a Staff that has "+3 to level of Physical Spell gems" and one or two useful damage affixes, so that we can put a craft on it and call it a day. I'd recommend Crit Chance for Spells on it as well.

The strongest affixes to put on the Staff seem to be +3 to level of Physical Spell gems (there is also +2 levels to All Spell gems as an alternative, and it's actually possible to get both, which is very strong but obviously expensive), % increased Spell Damage (the spell damage + elemental as extra chaos craft is a very solid and handy alternative, this will be one of our go-to crafts), Crit Chance for Spells and Crit Multiplier. Examples of other useful affixes are Cast Speed, chance to deal Double Damage, % Physical as Extra Elemental Damage, Flat Elemental Damage for Spells. When starting out, I recommend going for nice values of % Spell Damage, base damage to spells, crit affixes (global or specifically for spells) or Cast Speed.

Relevant influences for the Staff that I would recommend are Shaper and Redeemer (and maybe Crusader); with mods like Crit Chance for Spells + Power Charge on Crit, chance to deal Double Damage for Spells, increased Hatred/Zealotry/Wrath aura effect, gain % Physical as Extra Fire/Lightning, gain % Elemental as Extra Chaos or chance to inflict Cold/Lightning Exposure. I recommend ilvl 85 for a Shaper Staff and ilvl 80 or 84 for Redeemer.


Rings
For our Rings we don't need anything fancy, so we can stick to regular rare Rings with affixes like Life, ES and Resistances.

One simple way to get nice damage in or Ring is to use an "Essence of Hysteria", this will ensure your Ring has a "gain 10% of Physical Damage as Extra Fire Damage" mod.

Once we have the currency, I highly suggest getting a Shaper influenced Ring that has the Curse enemies with level 12 Assassin's Mark. This will allow us to stop using 2 gems in our Orb of Storms setup. Buying or crafting this Ring can be a bit costly, but ultimately it's a worth investment.

On this same note, we can choose to buy or craft a Shaper/Elder influenced Ring that has both Assassin's Mark and Crit Multiplier. If we have this, we can make use of Mark of the Shaper. This unique Ring gives us Life, ES, percentual and flat damage, and if we also use a Shaper/Elder Ring, it also gives us Stun Immunity against Spells and up to 96% Spell Damage. See above for an example of this Ring setup. Prices will surely vary, but my Shaper/Elder Ring cost me a total of about 4ex including the Awakener Orb I used, which was luckily self-found (the Ring didn't turn out that good but it definitely does its job), and my Mark Ring cost me 50c.


For the Boots, remember to get as much Movement Speed as possible on them, or alternatively use the 20% Movement Speed + chance to gain Onslaught craft (which is the best bench craft for us) or any suitable alternative. If we have a lot of currency, a strong and popular option is to get a pair of Boots that has Tailwind, Elusive, or better yet both of them. Elusive is probably better for us than Tailwind, because Tailwind is not directly linked to damage for us and Elusive gives us Dodge. As of 3.11 we can get Elusive from the Passive Tree, which is a very useful alternative, but it's still better if we have it on our Boots because it would allow us to use the 3 passive points on something else. An example of ideal Boots would be a pair of Evasion/ES Two-Toned Boots with Life, Movement Speed, Elusive and 3 Resistance suffixes (Boots like these will be quite expensive).

The Gear slots that are not mentioned can be filled with rare items, we just have to remember to always cap our Elemental Resistances and grab all the Life we can. Apart from that, get any affix that is useful, such as ES, Crit Chance and Multiplier, Cast Speed, AoE, etc.


Jewels
For our Jewels, the best thing to have is "increased maximum Life" in them, and then we can get ES, damage or any utility. I recommend using only one Abyss Jewel (placed in a Stygian Vise Belt) and using regular Jewels for the Skill Tree slots.

I highly recommend rolling for % Life Jewels starting early on, with Harvest crafts. T1 Yellow seeds can give us Life crafts.


Clusters
We can play this build without Cluster Jewels, but according to my calculations, using the right Clusters will definitely enhance the build (they can mean a damage increase of 20+%). Because of the nodes we want to get from the Tree, we can't really afford to spend more than 20~ points on Clusters, so we would be limited to a single Cluster setup (by this I mean 1 Large, 2 Mediums and 2 Smalls/Regular Jewels, or less according to what we can get). The Unique Clusters Megalomaniac and Voices can be great additions, but Voices will definitely be very expensive and a good Megalomaniac can be hard (and expensive) to find.

Cluster Jewels have been nerfed for 3.11 and it's now pretty hard to get ideal ones, so I recommend saving this for later when we have more currency to min-max.

Large Cluster
For our Large Cluster ideally we want an 8 Passive and 2 Socket Jewel that grants Elemental or Spell Damage.

The notables I recommend on an Elemental one are Doryani's Lesson, Vengeful Commander (especially if we're using both Wrath and Hatred) and Sadist (which could be replaced for Prismatic Heart if we really needed Resistances). If we deal damage of all 3 elements, Sadist will be the strongest of these 3 notables. Doryani's Lesson can be swapped for Widespread Destruction.

On a Spell one I recommend Conjured Wall + Arcane Heroism (if we don't have a way to get Arcane Surge, if we do have another way to get it then we should not use this one) and either Essence Rush or Thaumophage.

A Physical one can work too, but the only really good Notable on it is Force Multiplier, and the rest range from okay to bad.

In short: we want an [Elemental or Spell] Large Cluster with 8 passives and 2 sockets.


Medium Clusters
For our Medium Clusters we want 5 Passive (4 Passives would work too) and 1 Socket Jewels that grant either Crit Chance or Aura Effect. In the Aura cluster, the strong combo is Vengeful Commander + Precise Commander. In the Crit Chance cluster I recommend Magnifier, Pressure Points, Precise Commander or even Overwhelming Malice or Precise Retaliation, all of these are solid. I suggest checking PoB to see what works best.


Small Clusters
Small Clusters are optional (these can be swapped for regular gems). If we choose to use them, we want 2 Passive Jewels that grant Life (although other options like ES, Elemental Resistance, Chaos Resistance or even Dodge can work). Jewels with 3 Passives are okay as long as they have very good affixes on top of the Notable. The Notable I recommend most on them is Fettle (this is for a Life Cluster, and other useful options include Sublime Sensation and Blessed). For the non-Notable affixes, actually every single option is of at least some use, with the exception of Mana Regeneration. I recommend getting Life (always good to have more) and Resistances, since this will alleviate our need for them on other slots. Dexterity might also prove useful.


For Mapping and Bossing
When we start Mapping, we want to aim to have this setup:

- 3.5k+ Life and 1.5k+ ES (at least 3k/1k)
- Capped Elemental Resistances
- Life, Quicksilver and Diamond Flasks (+ try to get Taste of Hate ASAP)
- Hrimsorrow and a Staff (and if possible Devouring Diadem)

Map mods to be wary of are:

- Elemental Reflect (this will get us killed instantly)
- Physical Reflect (can be ignored if we link Phys to Lightning on our Bladefall)
- Less Regen (mildly annoying) or No Regen (hard for our survivability)
- Less AoE
- Cursed by Temporal Chains/other curses (this is countered by our Warding flask)
- Combinations of too many damage mods

For late game I suggest aiming for at least 5k Life and 2.2k ES. Hopefully we can get to a 5.5k/2.5k spread or even higher if possible.


Passive Tree and PoB
PoB links
- Includes Leveling Trees and Level 71 start of maps, without Diadem yet https://pastebin.com/JnRPzzKd

- Level 81, upgrades: Diadem / decent rare Staff to Disintegrator / Stygian Vise + Abyssal Jewel / Atziri Flask https://pastebin.com/AyEkjv1v

- Level 90, upgrades: Annointed Charisma / better equipment (Curse Ring) https://pastebin.com/1e3QpZ6K

- Same as previous one but level 93 with probably BiS Cluster Jewels https://pastebin.com/z37gtjzJ

- This is how my own character looked like (with my own gear, and only 'invented' item here is the Gloves, also this has minimal adjustments for the 3.11 tree). This setup's damage could go up to a possible 20M per pop, with the average being close to about 12M or so. https://pastebin.com/vFqimqZF


Since Clusters generally carry damage nodes, no-cluster versions will probably sacrifice some damage for survivability and turn out tankier (and somewhat cheaper, since Clusters have a cost attached to buying/crafting) than the cluster-using alternatives. We do want to use a Cluster setup though, because it's a very skill-point-efficient amount of damage.



Skill Tree, no clusters version

My final 3.10 Skill Tree iteration, with space for a Cluster setup pathing to Counterweight and Annointing Charisma

Tentative Passive Trees for the start of 3.11
My tentative Skill Tree for 3.11, this one is planned for level 94 (a pretty achievable mark) and it's largely based around my final 3.10 gear (including over 2.7% base Crit Chance from my corrupted Hrimsorrow and Bottled Faith), not using Watcher's Eye, not using Clusters, taking the new No Witnesses nodes, manually pathing towards Counterweight and annointing Charisma.

Update: Level 90 Tree. This one is how my build will end up looking at the end of the character. It is quite similar to the ones I showed before: no Clusters, we accomodate No Witnesses and Glancing Blows, and we allocate Block nodes that will get us to 44/34% Block Chance, with options that would let us reach higher Block Chance values.


If you have enough Crit Chance (which is probably the case if you're using a Diamond flask) I suggest dropping the nodes that branch upwards from Arcanist's Dominion, or dropping Crit Chance nodes in general depending on your needs.

If you don't have much AoE for your Blade Blast (for example if you don't have a 6-link yet, can't link Increased AoE and don't have a 27+ Radius) I suggest taking a look at the Enigmatic Reach and Amplify nodes. These will be particularly useful early on when we don't have the opportunity to link Increased AoE to out Blade Blast.

If you need some extra Dex, don't be afraid of taking the Precision node (also gives Cast Speed), or even the Agility/Alacrity nodes. Alternatively you could get some Dex on a rare item (Gloves, Boots, Ring, Belt).

For the 3.11 Tree changes:

- We will 100% take the "No Witnesses" Notable that will be added to the Skill Tree. It will be right on our path and we will be able to grab Elusive for only 3 points!

- We will be taking "Glancing Blows", which will be added near the Templar area. Since we have a nice amount of regen and leech for both Life and ES, this keystone is quite attractive. If we take it, we will want to scale Block wherever we can. Even if we don't scale Block, we will have a 30/20% Block Chance, which is serviceable.

- We will focus less on Cluster Jewels, especially early on, because getting ideal ones will be much harder than in 3.10.

- We will have Harvest crafts, which will make it easier for us to get nice gear to start mapping (and potentially to get our endgame items too).


Watcher's Eye
For Watcher's Eye affixes, we of course want to aim for Hatred, Wrath or Zealotry mods, and we have a variety of useful ones to choose. Even if we were to take the Discipline aura, I personally don't find the Discipline mods useful for us.

A detail about elemental conversion that may be useful
One particular thing we can do here, is to grab a Physical to Cold conversion Hatred mod, which we can then couple with an Elemental Conversion mod on a pair of rare Gloves, which we can get as a Crafted Prefix from the crafting bench. Doing this we can abandon our Hrimsorrow and get a pair of Gloves that has Life and Resistances, which will in turn free space on the rest of our items. This will be a pretty advanced thing to do though, since we probably want to aim for a Watcher's Eye that has an extra useful mod apart from this one, and Watcher's Eyes are expensive.

We can also use a Phys to Lightning conversion Wrath mod, and turn the build into a full Lightning build, however our Cold damage allows us to Chill and Freeze our opponents, which is very useful defense-wise. This is also especially useful against the notorious Porcupines, because if we kill them while they're Frozen, they will Shatter and won't release their annoying spikes. More importantly, Hatred is naturally stronger than Wrath for us, so I would highly suggest to stick to the 2-element approach with 50/50 Cold and Lightning.


The mods that stand out the most are:

Hatred: +[1.2-1.8]% to Critical Strike Chance while affected by Hatred

Wrath:

- Gain [15-25]% of Physical Damage as Extra Lightning Damage while affected by Wrath

Zealotry:

- Gain Arcane Surge for 4 seconds when you create Consecrated Ground while affected by Zealotry.

I find the Arcane Surge one particularly notable, because of how it synergizes with our Ascendancy. Every time we stand still we generate Consecrated Ground below us, and every time we cast a spell (like Bladefall and Blade Blast) we stand still for a moment, so with this we can keep Arcane Surge permanently active (as long as we cast a spell at least once every 4 seconds).

Other mods that are useful but might not be as strong as the ones above are increased Cold/Lightning damage from Hatred/Wrath and Zealotry's "Consecrated Ground causes enemies to take increased damage", Cast Speed and increased ES leech recovery.

As an example, the Watcher's Eye I have myself has Hatred Phys to Cold conversion and Zealotry Arcane Surge.


More advanced options / Theorycrafts / Possible Build Changes
These are ideas I have had during the making of this build, but that I have not fully tested yet.

Glancing Blows
In 3.11, the 'new' Glancing Blows keystone will allow us to scale Block more easily. Before we would only really get 10% global Block (with a possible extra 18% Attack Block if we use a Block Staff), but now with Glancing Blows doubling our Block chance and some Tree adjustments, we can get our Attack Block chance to reach 44% (and by using a Block Staff we can push this past the 75% cap!) and our Spell Block chance to reach 34% (or more with a couple extra skill points of investment) without seeing too big drawbacks. I have integrated this idea in previous sections.


Watcher's Eye + rare Gloves
As I mentioned earlier, we can use this combo to achieve full Elemental Conversion, and this will be stronger (but obviously more costly) than using Hrimsorrow. Read the Watcher's Eye section for more details.

Gloves are a very dull item slot for us, we just want them to have high Life and Resistances (Attributes are okay too). For anything special we will need Influence mods, of which the ones I consider useful are the Crusader influence mods, Culling Strike from Warlord, Charges on Kill from Elder/Redeemer or the Faster Casting mod from Shaper.

The last one in particular opens up the option of using Bladefall on a 4-link in our Gloves, with the Gloves adding Faster Casting as a 5th link. This could also open up other interesting possibilities.


More auras
If we stack enough "X% reduced Mana reserved" affixes, we will be able to equip more auras, which will make us stronger. This can give a variety of options.

Example 1: Hatred/Wrath/Zealotry/Discipline in a 4-link setup:
We can swap our Counterweight annoint for Charisma and path towards Influence on the Skill Tree (4-5 extra points). If we also have the 14% reduced Mana reserved from pathing towards Sovereignty, it is mathematically possible to use the 4-link setup mentioned above as long as we put it in our Devouring Diadem (Hatred, Wrath and Zealotry will reserve 27% each, and Discipline will reserve 19%, which adds up exactly to 100%). Keep in mind though that we still want to grab Counterweight in the tree because it gives good damage (5 extra points pathing through Whirling Barrier). This might actually turn out to be a better optimization of this build. Will update if I have more information on this.

Update: this will ideally be the option I will use for 3.11

Example 2: Hatred-Zealotry-Discipline-Enlighten + Herald of Purity-[Herald of Ash or Arctic Armour]-Enlighten (one Enlighten must be level 4 or we need an extra "1% reduced Mana reserved" which can for example come from a Jewel corruption implicit).

I won't list more, but there are many other variations of this, where we could include other useful auras like Aspect of the Cat/Avian, Haste, Grace, Vitality, Purities, etc.


One-Handed Weapon version
We can turn this build into a Dual Wielder (or Single + Shield). This can work because there are Shaper influence affixes that can link Spell Cascade and Faster Casting (among other options) to our Bladefall without the need for extra sockets, which means we can have a 4 or 5-link (or potentially more than 5) on our 1-handed weapon, and thus use the remaining empty sockets on other gems.

Doing this, however, may or may not be worth the cost. We would have to get not only a Wand (or Sceptre/Dagger) that has these extra link mods, but also a second item that also has strong affixes.

Since Shaper Rings are already a strong option, there might be some potential here with two Shaper 1-handed items and The Eternity Shroud, since most of our items can benefit from having Shaper influence. (Eternity Shroud is not omething I plan to test).


Other casting methods
As some might know, there were people out there who played Bladefall and Blade Blast on different setups like Spellslinger, Poet's Pen or Cast on Crit. This is of course viable. I personally chose to use them both as Self Cast because it's very straightforward and that way we don't 'lose' links and our Blade Blast can be stronger thanks to the extra links and our ability to self cast letting us target our Blast areas very well.

Last edited by Smokemantra on Jul 3, 2020, 9:18:18 AM
Last bumped on Jun 25, 2020, 7:39:58 AM
Reserved
Reserved, looks interesting!
Last edited by burdd on Jun 18, 2020, 3:52:06 PM
ReserveD!!!
Hi, I'm trying this build out, but I often die because the bladefall cast delay is pretty long if monsters are coming after you. Any tips for early mapping with this set up? (Currently on a 5L Bladefall, 4L Bladeblast). Thanks!
"
Nathrall wrote:
Hi, I'm trying this build out, but I often die because the bladefall cast delay is pretty long if monsters are coming after you. Any tips for early mapping with this set up? (Currently on a 5L Bladefall, 4L Bladeblast). Thanks!


The delay when casting Bladefall is the reason why we want to stack up our Cast Speed, which is why I recommend linking Faster Casting to Bladefall. This is ultimately for quality of life so that we can spend more time running.

This build has pretty nice range, so try to stay away from the monsters if it's possible and cast your spells from afar. It's important for survivability to have your resistances at 75% and to get Life on all your rare items (except the Staff, which should have only damage). I highly recommend using Harvest crafts (for example T1 yellow seeds for Life crafts), since they're a simple and effective way to reroll items.

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