[3.12] Smokemantra's Blade Blast Inquisitor - Budget Friendly - 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 used as a league starter for 3.11 to great success. For 3.12 the balance changes did not affect the main skills so the build will definitely work.
Pros and Cons of this build
+ Strong damage even with low currency investment
+ Does not need 6-links to start working
+ Great Map Clear and Single Target Damage
+ Gameplay loop is simple and swift
+ SSF viable (Few uniques required and build still works without them)
- Glass Cannon especially early on
- Not really suited for Hardcore with the lack of survivability
About the Build (and a bit of my experience with it, if you're interested)
I have cleared every boss in the game with this build. During 3.10 I did most of it with about 5ex invested. Many of the bosses were getting deleted or insta-phased. I even once killed an Elder in like 4 pops, it was so fast he didn't go into another phase (and it was like my first or second Elder). By the time the league ended, I had spent about 20ex on this character, and with all the stuff it enabled me to do it was totally worth it.
Out of everything I've played so far, this build definitely has the best damage on a low budget. It's actually a bit crazy. The power of this build lies in the interaction between Bladefall's ability to stack Lingering Blades on the ground and Blade Blast's ability to detonate them for high amounts of damage. I was very surprised with my damage when I started playing it, as it's already quite high with barely any items (I'm talking about something like being able to wreck with just a decent Staff + Hrimsorrow + garbage rare items + a 5-link) and if we keep up with upgrades, we will steamroll content. It is possible to push our Blade Blast damage over 1M per blast (with quite a bit of investment).
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 always, but any amount of Dodge, Block, Physical Damage Reduction or even Chaos Resistance is very welcome. For 3.11, Block will 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 high amount of our Blade Blasts will land. 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 close to 500k per blade (Shaper/Sirus damage), so assuming that around half of my 40 blades hit my target, this would easily be a bit over 10M damage every time I pop Blade Blast.
In 3.11 I was consistently doing T16 maps with a total investment of around 100c (3c for my Body Armour, 70c for Diadem and 15c Taste of Hate), with the rest of my gear being self found or self made (and consisting of mostly Life and Resistances). I very easily cleared bosses like Elder, Shaper, Cortex, A8 Sirus and the Harvest Final Boss by then. I do suggest getting the Average Hit (in PoB) to around 200k+ before trying the "most difficult" content, like A8 Sirus.
The playstyle of this build is quite simple, and as mentioned before it revolves around using Bladefall to spawn Lingering 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 (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.
Once we have enough damage and AoE on Blade Blast, if we want it can pretty much become our main source of clear while used alone, with Bladefall acting as an extra tool for single target damage.
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 optimal use of this mechanic we want our Life:Energy Shield ratio to be 100:43 (43 points of Energy Shield for every 100 Life). EB and MoM are basically a package deal and should not be taken separately.
Area of Effect: AoE is actually a very relevant concept for this build. Basically, we want to keep our Blade Blast very big, because we want most of our Blade Blasts to hit our target.
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:
Righteous Providence -> Inevitable Judgment -> Sanctuary -> Pious Path
We can choose to take Pious Path first, which will be the safety and QoL option, while Inevitable Judgment first is all about damage. 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 getting Inevitable Judgment first still.
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. I would suggest Brine King if you have too much trouble with stuns, otherwise stick to Lunaris/Solaris depending on the situation.
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.
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.
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)
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 29-30, 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 but I have never felt any need to do it. Also regarding Spell Cascade, it increases the AoE of Bladefall with levels so it's perfectly fine to leave it at level 1 and it might be more desirable to do so, although just like the previous option I have never felt the need to de-level my own gem.
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). I'm actually putting Portal here, just because.
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 Concentrated Effect.
4-link Auras in our Helmet slot: Hatred, Zealotry, Herald of Purity, 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. Oue final Aura setup is mae possible if we have our Diadem and if we have the reduced Mana reserved from pathing towards Sovereignty an Influence. If we lack ES we can drop HoP until we get more. For more details read the lower sections.
In short, we 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
Orb of Storms is our spell of choice for this setup 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.
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.)
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):
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 very useful. Another options would be Cinderswallow Urn (particularly for survivability while mapping) or Rumi's (extra Block = extra survivability). Alternatively we can use other flasks here depending on what we need, like Quartz, Silver, Sulphur, etc.
Final Gear in 3.10:
and some items I also had but forgot to link here during Delirium:
Final Gear in 3.11:
As can be seen, many of these items have very good mods, and they were quite simple to acquire thanks to the Harvest league mechanic.
To be able to use this build, we want 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. Getting enough Dexterity will be an issue to solve (but not really hard if you're willing to get Dex on something like a Ring for example).
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 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. In case you didn't know, it is possible to modify the sockets of corrupted items with the crafting bench, so this is a viable alternative. These gloves will eventually be swapped for rare gloves in an endgame setup, however they are very important for the earlier part of our playthrough.
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.
*Important 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. On a cheap budget, go for stuff that needs cheap oils, usually Heartseeker should be very strong for us at any given point. If we get close to the Block cap though, the annoint that stands out the most for damage is Command of Steel.
Nodes for our Annoint to keep an eye on are:
- Doom Cast
- Static Blows
- True Strike
- Searing Heat (only okay if you deal fire damage)
- Divine Fury
- Divine Wrath
- Divine Judgment
- Command of Steel
- Charisma (very costly)
- Constitution (very costly)
*Some of these nodes are reachable from our position in the tree and are suitable alternatives in case anyone wants to try different options.
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.
Some unique alternatives that [i]could[/i] be useful:
- The Perfect Form
- Belly of the Beast
- Saqawal's Nest
- Farrul's Fur
- Carcass Jack
If you want to use a Staff since early levels, sadly no unique is particularly good, so I would suggest getting any rare that is cheap and has decent damage affixes. Alternatively, it is perfectly fine to use Wands for the leveling process, which is what I did myself until I finished the story acts and got an Eclipse Staff.
Unique Staff: 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 at all (even though you should since it's so easy with Harvest) or hunt for the right affixes on a rare one on the market. 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.
Once again, 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.
Regarding 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 tons of Crit Chance already (read: close to 100%), a Block Staff would be the better choice because it will give more survivability.
The Staff I show from 3.10 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 it would still beat the priciest Staves on the market in 3.10 (including some 200ex+) at least for my particular setup. In contrast, the Staff I show for 3.11 is just a random Staff I crafted with a single "Reforge with Caster mods being more common" and which then I accidentally 6-linked, otherwise I would be using something else.
If we're buying a Staff, for starters our number 1 mod to look for is "+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 +3 is the strongest mod but not having it is not terrible, it's very rare after all.
As I mentioned, the strongest affix is +3 to level of Physical Spell gems but there's alternatives. There is also +2 levels to All Spell gems as an alternative, and it's actually possible to get both but that would be expensive, % increased Spell Damage (the spell damage + elemental as extra chaos craft is a very solid and handy alternative, and in some cases even stronger than the T1 affix, this will be one of our go-to crafts), Crit Chance for Spells and Crit Multiplier. Examples of other useful affixes are Cast Speed, any 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, remember there's no need to make some huge Staff when we're starting, that can be dealt with later. Relevant influences for the Staff that I would recommend are Shaper and Redeemer, as these have the strongest mods for us, especially Shaper, although influence is not a necessity since most of the strongest mods are not from influence.
For our Rings we don't need anything fancy, so we can stick to regular rare Rings with affixes like Life, ES and Resistances. I personally prefer Vermillion Rings for the extra Life.
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. Another one is "of Scorn", which gives Critical Multiplier.
Once we have the currency, I highly suggest getting a Shaper influenced Ring that has the Curse enemies with level X 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 (from 3.10) 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. Alternatively, since crafting is so accesible in 3.11 I also highly suggest crafting a second rare Ring, which will be very strong as well if we choose the right mods.
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. One particularly good alternative is Warlord Gloves, since Warlord influence can give useful affixes like % Spell Damage and Culling Strike. Apart from that, get any affix that is useful, such as ES, Crit Chance and Multiplier, Cast Speed, AoE, etc.
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.
The best possible Jewel will be one that has % Life, two useful Crit Multi affixes and one other useful roll like for example Physical or Spell Damage.
We can play this build without Cluster Jewels, but 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.
I recommend starting out without these and saving this point for later when we have more currency to min-max.
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 any Notable suffix.
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.
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, Overwhelming Malice or Precise Retaliation, all of these are solid, I suggest OM, 2x PP and one of choice. I suggest checking PoB to see what works best. From what my own PoB tells me, I could suggest getting 2x Pressure Points, one Overwhelming Malice and one Magnifier (if Magnifier doesn't give us +1 AoE Radius for Blade Blast, we take Precise Commander), but honestly all of the Notables I mentioned are useful and great for our build.
Small Clusters are optional (these can be swapped for regular gems). If we choose to use them, we pretty much just want 2 Passive Jewels that grant Life (other options can also work but we really want to stack up Life). The Notable I recommend most is Fettle (this is for a Life Cluster, and other useful options include Sublime Sensation and Blessed). For the non-Notable affixes, I recommend getting Life/ES/Resistances/Dex.
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 (work on getting a 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 or No Regen (annoying for survivability)
- Less AoE (will cut into our damage)
- 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. We can do all of the endgame with these numbers, but they can still be pushed much higher with more investment.
Passive Tree and PoB
My own character from 3.10 for posterity
This is how my own character used to look like. This setup's damage could go up to a possible 20M per pop, with the average being close to about 11-12M or so. https://pastebin.com/vFqimqZF
- Includes Leveling Trees and tree for Level 72, this is start of maps/white maps without Diadem yet, one 5-link https://pastebin.com/045a9z0E PS: remember that you must either have both EB and MoM or neither!
- Level 81, upgrades: Diadem / decent rare Staff to Disintegrator / Stygian Vise + Abyssal Jewel / Atziri Flask https://pastebin.com/bLvjQAgs
- Level 90, upgrades: Curse Ring / all-around better equipment https://pastebin.com/ae2MG3T0
- Lastly, this is how the character would look like if we had an infinite budget, basically everything is near perfect and the tree is modified after the ridiculous items. This is just for reference and I do not recommend using this tree at all unless we have actually incredible items. https://pastebin.com/gSrpyAzi TLDR: it is possible to actually deal over 1M damage (Sirus Damage) for every Blade Blast that hits the enemy.
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.
Update: For more reference to my current iteration of the build, optimization and which points I suggest to drop for Clusters check the trees below!
Level 87 Tree. This tree is made after how my own build looks (start of July), with 0.5ex of investment (in my case) doing T16 comfortably. It doesn't have a cluster, that comes later, this tree compensates a little of the Life, ES, AoE and Crit that we lack in our Gear.
Level 92 Tree with an added Cluster setup. This tree is made after how my build will look before doing too heavy Gear optimization but after swapping points for a Cluster setup, the lost Life and ES should hopefully be bridged with Gear. This one should last for a while.
Level 93 Tree. This tree is how the build should look like in its final stage. By this, I mean having a strong Cluster setup, Elusive on Boots, Bottled Faith, all-out costly Gear and stuff like that. Basically, this is my suggestion if you have amazing Gear.
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 the Agility/Alacrity nodes. Alternatively you could get some Dex on a rare item (Gloves, Boots, Ring, Belt). An easy way to get a lot of Dex for example is using a Deafening Essence of Sorrow on a level 84+ Stygian Vise belt, and if it rolls bad affixes, we can recraft them with Harvest. Another one is to get it on regular Jewels or Clusters.
For Watcher's Eye affixes, we of course want to aim for Hatred, Zealotry or Discipline mods, and we have a variety of useful ones to choose.
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 at least an extra useful mod apart from this one, and Watcher's Eyes are expensive. It should not be hard to get a Watcher's Eye with this conversion mod and at least 1 extra useful affix for around 3ex.
The Zealotry Arcane Surge mod is 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).
As an example, the Watcher's Eye I have myself has Hatred Phys to Cold conversion and Zealotry Arcane Surge (plus an extra Discipline mod in the 3.11 version), the 3.10 one was bought for 2ex and the 3.11 one for 3ex.
Last edited by Smokemantra on Sep 16, 2020, 3:16:11 AM
Last bumped on Aug 5, 2020, 9:37:25 AM
on Jun 14, 2020, 1:19:19 AM
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.
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. I particularly prefer Warlord for Spell Damage and Culling Strike.
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.
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, etc. For the sake of simplicity I suggest sticking to the aura setup I use myself but feel free to experiment.
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.
Other ascendancies and casting methods
As some might know, there are people out there who play Bladefall and Blade Blast on different setups.
Regarding ascendancies, I would say the ones that deserve attention are Pathfinder, Chieftain and Assassin, maybe Elementalist. Regarding the casting ways, there are others besides the dual self cast this build is based on, like Spellslinger, Poet's Pen or Cast on Crit. These are all viable. I personally chose to use dual 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 choose and target our Blast areas very well.
I do believe that doing Cast on Crit has potential. Going this route in my opinion would be best in 1 of 2 ways: with a Shaper influenced Bow that has the "Socketed Gems are linked with level X Cast on Crit" modifier (this way we would be saving a gem link) or with a Bow that has relevant Synthesis Implicits that have the potential to compensate for the extra link (for example Spell Damage, there are simple ways to abuse this craft and do it for pretty cheap when comparing to non-Harvest leagues). Now, in this bow we would put at least our Blade Blast alongside a Bow Skill that will be used to trigger it, plus a bunch of gems that get our damage up. This would ideally be coupled with extra casting methods like a Maloney's Mechanism and Asenath's Chant, which would be used to cast a bunch of extra Bladefalls (and it's also a possibility to put Bladefall in the Bow alongside Blade Blast), this way we would be getting a lot of blades in the ground and power up our Blade Blast pops even more.
Last edited by Smokemantra on Aug 15, 2020, 6:03:53 PM
on Jun 14, 2020, 1:19:40 AM
Reserved, looks interesting!
Last edited by burdd on Jun 18, 2020, 3:52:06 PM
on Jun 18, 2020, 3:51:53 PM
on Jun 18, 2020, 11:41:19 PM
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!
on Jun 20, 2020, 3:07:46 PM
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.
on Jun 25, 2020, 7:39:58 AM
Hello Smokemantra, this build sounds hyper nice ! I'll try it, and I just wanted to ask: do you have any plan for a leveling section ?
If not, do you have any advice on leveling ?
on Jul 14, 2020, 8:54:49 AM
Thanks! I have thought about adding a bit more guidelines, at least concerning gems. There are many content creators out there that have made useful resources for leveling, and I would recommend following advice from such a guide if you're a bit lost or feel like you need to. Some examples of this are this leveling guide based on league-start tips given by well known player Zizaran, and this pretty-detailed leveling guide for beginners from PoE-Vault, but there are many more out there.
This build's main skills are not unlocked at the earliest levels, so it's necessary to find something to use before we get Bladefall. Blade Blast is available in act 2 and it should be picked up and leveled up but it's not useful on its own at that point in the game and Bladefall is available in act 3. Before that there are many useful and popular options such as Freezing Pulse or Purifying Flame or Arc or many others. For the most part, anything that's Elemental or Spell should be fine.
on Jul 15, 2020, 12:57:02 AM
Hi again Smokemantra ! I tried the build, and even without any decent gear, the damage is clearly there (althought very fragile). Thank you !
I have one question tho: the build revolves around Inevitable Judgement, however you run Controlled Destruction on Bladeblast, why so ? Wouldn't you want to run something else to ensure you hit a critical as often as possible ?
Last edited by KrissKrols on Jul 25, 2020, 5:46:57 PM
on Jul 25, 2020, 1:31:28 PM
The reason is that Controlled Destruction gives a lot of damage and in the end the drawback is not that big, in truth it's not too hard to compensate for the loss of Crit Chance.
If we have for example 95% Crit Chance, this just means that 1 of every 20 Blasts will not be a Crit, which is a great price to pay for the ~35% extra damage Controlled Destruction gives.
Last edited by Smokemantra on Jul 29, 2020, 7:24:37 AM
on Jul 28, 2020, 8:24:21 AM