[3.11] Penance Brand Elementalist | Up to A8 cleared | Huge explosions+Fast Clear | 6M DMG explosion

Penance Brand is a new skill added in 3.11 and i was immediately attracted by its nice satisfying big explosions. So i decided to do a started with this skill and i was totally amazed at the clearspeed and damage i managed to squeeze out building around an elementalist

Penance brand is a very strange skill with regards to its damage scaling and mechanics. So before we start, take a look at some of the videos before deciding if this is for you

Alternatively, you can check out my stream at https://www.twitch.tv/astariftt
Try not to PM me in game or forums for questions, drop them here in the thread or come by the stream, its easier for me to answer questions on the thread as your question might benefit others as well. I am pretty much afk 95% of the time just doing trades while i am in game

Changes for 3.12
Because of the nerf to glancing blows, Sanctuary got moved slightly downwards and we can no longer pick it up. This frees up 1 point of survivability for us to take dps elsewhere

Alternate quality gems helps us abit, but its not a significant amount

Vengeful commander got a slight nerf from 30% to 20% increased effect

Videos taken on A8
Slight juiced t16 promenade map clear(check video description on what was added in)

1 min 26 seconds T16 promenade clear

A8 Sirus cut from stream

Pretty much 1 of the strongest clear speed build i have ever made
Huge satisfying explosions all the time
You get to use all 5 herald effects/MTX
league start viable because i started 3.11 with it
Be a hipster, use purposeful harbinger after its nerf
All content cleared, from all delve boss to A8 all bosses
We reach max dps by right clicking twice every 1.39 seconds, allowing a mobile playstyle

You have to read my penance brand explanation column, else do not continue
Build can feel abit wonky due to delayed damage
Low life build means we need a shav
But we cant kill atziri due to reflect

Our Defenses
6-9k ES(depending on your gear and version of PoB
Flesh and stone blind/less damage taken
Always chill enemies(beacon of ruin)
Quartz flask for phasing and dodge
29% block, 10% spell block
Herald of purity meat shields

Key build mechanics
You have to absolutely take some time to read this, because penance brand and how we scale it is pretty specific


Penance Brand and how we scale it
** you have to read this **

Penance brand when cast, will attach to a nearby enemy. When attached, it will pulse every fixed interval, modified by cast speed and brand activation frequency, stacking up to 20 energy stacks. Upon reaching 20 stacks, penance brand will instead pulse out a part of damage to nearby enemies.
Do not worry about reaching past 20 stacks in this build, because we dont want that to happen.

For penance brand to detonate, releasing all the energy stocked, there must be 1 out of the 2 requirements fulfilled
Monster dies, explode with all energy stacks
Penance brand attach duration expired, explode with all energy stacks.

Keep in mind, this is the main mechanic we want to scale penance brand by.
So we need to consider penance brand's duration. If you go according to my passive tree, penance brand will last 1.36 seconds with a 20/20 swift brand supported. So in actuality, we get an explosion once every 1.36 second if nothing dies while energy is stuck onto them.

Cast speed frequency scaling
With this, we need to scale penance brand based on the brand activation frequency break off point.

1(second) divided by your activation frequency = brand activation frequency
1/activation frequency

Brand duration divided by brand action frequency = stacks of energy on enemies before the brand explodes

Putting it into my pob as a calculation(untick cinderswallow, its not consistent and i dont want to count frequency based on the flask uptime)
1/7.54 = 0.1326(brand activation frequency)
1.36/0.1326 = 10.25
This means the 1st brand i cast, will always reach 10 stacks of energy before exploding.

With Runebinder keystone allocated, we can have 2 brands on a target at once.

Our cast speed of penance brand is 0.32 seconds(taking from my pob, again exclude cinderswallow)
This means the second brand starts calculating energy stacks roughly 0.32 seconds afterwards. In this situation,

Brand duration - cast speed/brand activation frequency
1.36-0.32/0.1326 = 7.84

This ultimately means we will have 10 + 7 stacs of energy explosion on an enemy(single target) if we want to cast 2 brands at 1 go(without cinderswallow), means we deal 17 energy stacks of explosion every 1.36 seconds, effectively 12.5 energy stacks worth of explosion per second.

Now the reason why the math above was taken into consideration was because if you were to stack cast speed blindly, you will either over cap a cut off point or miss the energy stack cut off point by 0.01 second. This is a dps loss for no reason

tldr i am a lazy person but i still read it abit but i cant calculate penance brand energy stacks properly;
This is a calculator made to calculate the brand energy stacks, made by remicaster. Follow what it says and poof, you can kinda understand how many stacks you have

Double dipping elemental conversion+purposeful harbinger herald stacking
We will run all 5 heralds and run it with purposeful harbinger in this build.
In total, we run
Herald x5
Flesh and stone(defensive)

In this scenario, we focus on double dipping mechanics. What is double dipping mechanics?

In PoE, damage conversion always goes down this line. Physical > Lightning > Cold > Fire > Chaos. There is no mechanics whatsoever that bypasses the conversion hierarchy like converting chaos into lightning(correct me if i am wrong).

So for our build, Penance brand is a skill with intrinsic physical damage, with 50% converted into lightning. That means a modifier that increases physical damage, will fully increase the damage of penance brand by that modifier. However, in this case, if we have 10% increased lightning damage, it only increases the 50% portion that have been converted into lightning. That means if we have extra elemental damage, it affects lightning, cold and fire.
In this build, we convert 100% of phys into lightning. 96% lightning into cold. 50% cold into fire.
Not counting in and herald effect/aura effect;
Herald of purity gives us 12% more physical damage.
Wrath gives us 22% more lightning damage, elemental overload gives us 40% more damage
Hatred gives us 27% phys damage as cold, 18% more cold damage, elemental overload gives us 40% more damage
Herald of ash gives us 15% phys damage as fire, 12% more fire damage, elemental overload gives us 40% more damage
Non chaos as extra 5% chaos damage from our weapon gives us 5% damage based off everything above(phys>lighting>cold>fire added together)

As you can see, going down the elemental conversion line gives us multiple stacking of aura and effects that greatly magnify our final damage(59% of our damage is fire, 29% of our damage is cold, 1% of our damage is lightning and ultimately, 11% of our damage is chaos. We dont even stack chaos damage, but that 5% non chaos as extra chaos was 11% of our damage.

This is how double dipping work and what makes physical spells extremely strong with scaling

There is no tldr, but if you already knew about double dipping mechanics, you can skip it. Do not skip the cast frequency part, its new.

How we convert fully to lightning
25% divine wrath(left of templar)

25% from either gloves(temple mod, unveil craft)
or from watcher's eye phys converted to lightning watcher eye(more expensive)

Actual flow of game play(what we do while mapping/fighting bosses)

Cast orb of storms(procc elemental overload, shock/chill/ignite)
Cast Penance brand in the middle of pack 1/2 times
Run past them with quartz flask/around them, while avoiding any projectile that might come to you
Wait 1.36 second/Orb of storm kills something
Everything explodes

For bosses
Cast orb of storms(procc elemental overload, shock/chill/ignite)
Pre-cast penance brands on boss feet while he roleplays(or do it on the feet before you trigger the fight)
Use vaal RF after you trigger the boss, after the penance brand tags onto the boss(make sure you arent in harm/danger, because you lose life on activation)
Rinse and repeat, boss dead

Why Penance Brand?

Its new, its fresh, with beautiful explosions and sound effect. Also, i hate chasing the meta, so i build skills thats different
Being a physical base spell, it has insane scaling capability

Why Elementalist

Herald stacking got absolutely murdered in 3.11, purposeful harbinger got capped, heraldry got changed to no longer reduce our herald reservation. On any other ascendancy, you can not get enough reservation reduction without insane investment(mana reservation jewels, equipment that are rare and expensive)

Elementalist also gets a free 25% elemental penetration to all elements, we like that.

A guaranteed 20ish% shock is also a great modifier for our initial penance brand explosion, bringing up our burst.

Whether we can build this with another ascendancy or not, its really up to budget and the only ascendancy i have in mind that comes close to power is trickster(harness the void is powerful but rng gated)

I understand in 3.11, gear can be easily made to be top mirror tier, but i kept whatever i have within budget and easy to get/make in future leagues assuming harvest crafting never get brought forward. In short, its not super tough to assemble a decent set up that can clear all content

My current set up in 3.11(i stopped to fully optimize, you can get better gear ofcoz, this is within 15-20ex of gear, excluding bottled faith)


Bottled faith is not required, i use it because i am addicted to it. Replace with taste of hate for more survivability losing about 3-5% dmg

Effectively we only use 1 awakened gem, which i highly recommend, awakened controlled destruction

Exclude my bottled faith and my watcher eye(i got for 1ex), everything is about 12ex so far(include my medium cluster which was 2ex when i bought it)


Before we go into PoB, do make sure you are using the PoB community fork. Else there will be random issues or bug when you try to load my pob links

Also if you are having issues with the PoB link(error 301), add a "s" after the http before the ://, link should be https://(link)
I removed the S because some were getting error 302, which was fixed by removing the S

POB and skilltree explanation

Current set up:
This is my set up before i moved on from this build. Very different from ideal set up, however i find this good enough to handle all content without issue
I also want to keep build decently budgeted, not throwing in multiple mirror tier items and within a below 20ex budget(EXCLUDING BOTTLED FAITH, YES)

I would suggest going for my current set up as a goal, because its tested and proven, the ideal set up i had may have more dps, but the cast speed takes a big hit and we wont be able to get good amount of stacks before explosions

This is my ideal set up with cluster jewels:
Items are not fully set in place because this is my pre-league planning

Cluster jewels notable:
Purposeful harbinger(medium)

Very good to have
Vengeful commander(medium, large)

Good we want
Sadist(elemental large cluster)

Here because its suffixes on large cluster
Doryani's lesson
Widespread destruction


Go for master mind of discord
Go for beacon of ruin

The nodes before arent huge power spikes, but still good



Alternate quality gems:
Alternate quality 1 cold to fire is decent for us because it changes cold to fire conversion from 50 to 60%

Alternate quality 1 hypothermia can be slightly good due to the chance to freeze

Alternate quality 1 hatred is good for prolonging chill/freezes

Alternate quality 1 wrath gives us more dps, we want it

Alternate quality 1 herald of agony/purity are decent but not huge upgrade

Alternate quality 2 elemental weakness prolongs our shock on enemies, but base quality might be better for more penetration

Alternate quality 1 discipline is good for a lil bit more dps

Main 6 link:
Penance brand - Swift brand - Controlled destruction - Concentrated effect - cold to fire - hypothermia

Cold to fire only applies once you have 2 call of the brother hood and have fully converted phys to lightning. Else use a phys to lightning gem for early leveling
Awakened controlled destruction is a very strong upgrade because it gives 10% cast speed

On weapon 1:
Flame dash - Arcane surge level 7 - Second wind

Our arcane surge set up, do NOT level arcane surge past 7, else you will need 2 casts to get arcane surges. This assumes level 20 flame dash. Make sure you get surge every dash.

On shield:
Hatred Wrath Zealotry

We can run 3 50% auras on the shield with our set up, yes

On Helm
Vaal Righteous fire Herald of Purity Herald of Ash Flesh and Stone

Vaal rf is there for burst, use it

On Gloves
Orb of storm - Elemental Weakness - Curse on hit - Culling strike

I debated culling strike with combustion or increased critical strikes

Critical strikes arent worth it.

Combustion and culling strike are pretty close, but being a 10% cull is just really strong because you want to finish a boss off fast at the end

Combustion is a 13% more damage

On Boots
Herald of Thunder Discipline Herald of Agony Herald of Ice


We use a wand/sceptre and a shield

Shield wise,

No replacement. We need this. For corruption, only consider after you can afford the resist(we lose the 12% resist when corrupted). Socketed gems increases are good

For weapon,
We want a wand or sceptre with the temple mod

74% spell damage + 5% non chaos as extra chaos
This is a single mod that comes from alva temple or any incursion temple weapon mod drops

Secondary stats we want:
+1 lightning/phys spell gems
Cast speed
Phys as extra element/as extra chaos damage
Any sort of elemental damage

Dont prioritize spell crit, its not useful for us
Dont get crit multi, its useless

Body armor

We run low life, so we look for shavronne's wrappings.

Look for a high es roll, then hillock it in fortification for 28% quality.

No CI, we lose auras


ES and resist.
This is an important slot, if we cant get a watcher eye with phys convert to lightning, we need to use this slot for 25% conversion to lightning

Also, gloves can roll dexterity stat, we want some here because we can save points not taking 30 dexterity nodes to fulfil our dex requirement(111 thanks to hypothermia)


This is a slot where there are 2 choices.
1: highest possible es, good res and movement speed

2: anti chill/freeze, highest possible es boots

Same as gloves slot, we want to cap resist

DO NOT GET TAILWIND BOOTS, brand dont benefit from tailwind.
Elusive isnt that good because it competes with a prefix for ES roll


We want ES here, ES and more ES, couple with resist. Ideally some inteligence roll because it gives us more ES
Helm rolls are important for a build that uses shavs because this is another big ES slot that gives us the chunk of base ES

Neck and anointing

We want maximum possible ES% and flat ES here

Else, the true end game for me will be

Key mods we look here is the immunity to stuns. I really hate stuns or being stunned, so having this amulet gives us a huge amount of survivability

For anointment,
We will run tranquility if we get presence of chayula

Else for a cheaper alternative, assuming you are saving for a presence of chayula
Static blow
Storm weaver
Ash, Frost and Storm


Call of the brother hood X2 with 20 turbulent catalyst


We want Strength here together with good ES roll
Strength saves us some passive to fulfil stat requirement(Flesh and stone/herald of ash purity)
This is what i have currently

The next move is to crusader slam and % es and we are gucci


We will need an anti freeze(assuming you dont use the anti chill freeze boots), anti bleed, anti curse flask. So in most cases we run 3 utility flasks
1: Enduring Mana flask is mandatory, nothing else can sustain how we burn thru our mana
2: quicksilver flask, we like speed

4/5: more expensive flasks
Go for a taste of hate, this is easy upgrade thats decently priced, coupled with some phys and cold damage mitigation

Next, we want cinderswallow. I cannot emphasize how amazing cinderswallow is and how much survivability boost it gives ontop of the free green fire mtx and extra dps it gives
For the crafted mod, go for movement speed, crit isnt that good for us

Lastly, i am addicted to bottled faith, i put it into every build i do. BUT this is never a required item, just a novelty and extra dps push item

I replaced taste of hate with bottled faith for the slight bit more dps, but taste of hate wins in the overall survivability category


Medium cluster jewel with purposeful harbinger is a must. Absolutely must.
Add on vengeful commander, with +1 jewel slot, thats our ideal medium cluster

Intuitive leap because it allows us to get some annoyingly pathed notables north of witch

Thread of hope left of templar to allocate divine wrath/judgment/fury +sanctuary

Energy from within north east of scion, convert melding wheel into pure ES

Watcher's eye
This is a slot we can use to free up gearing options on gloves.
% phys converted into lightning will free up gloves slot for better options, ill have this as the top priority

As for the extra mods, because we use 3 big aura +1 medium aura(hatred, wrath,zealotry + discipline), we can pretty much use many options
Zealotry, we want enemies take increased damage from consercrated ground created
Hatred we want flat added cold damage, Cold penetration(not very strong)
Wrath additionally we want phys as extra lightning

TLDR gearing priority for power spikes(from start to end)
1: intuitive leap
2: call of the brotherhood x2 + taste of hate
3: Shavs(i did t16 on 5 link with this) + prism guardian
4: Presence of chayula + thread of hope
5: cinderswallow
6: Shavs 6 link + energy from within
7: Watcher eye with phys into lightning
8: tranquility on amulet
9: Expensive upgrades like bottled faith


Lunaris with divine vessel completed

Abberath because i hate floor on fire+ reduced ignite duration is great


Kill all for 2 points


I will do this later, but ill leave you with my PoB i did with leveling on a life based build on league start
Swap to shavs once you can afford, else just run hybrid ES/life with 5 heralds up + discipline + flesh and stone

level 1-11
Freezing pulse, your choice of a starter spell
We want elemental overload asap
Link orb of storm with crit chance, we use orb of storm to trigger our elemental overload

Level with storm brand, pick up penance brand at lvl 26, but dont use it,just level it
Armageddon brand
We dont use penance brand immediately because its weak without swiftbrand support
Go for Rune binder after elemental overload, we want to be able to apply 2 brands on a single target

Penance brand with swift brand
Intuitive leap if you have, get discord artisan, +1 brand from Brand equity

This is the tree we are looking at after act 10 ends

We will stay on hybrid es/life until you can convert fully into ES with shavs


Q: I cant run all the auras needed
A: Take all the required aura reservation nodes. We need a mana flask for sustain

Q: why not guardian/scion for herald stacking
A: heraldry got destroyed by GGG, we have to go elementalist to reduce the mana reservation of heralds to an acceptable level to run all the auras required

Q: My dps is low
A: refer to Key build mechanics section and read how we scale penance brand

Q: is this deep delve viable
A: i got to 320ish depth comfortably, not a deep delver but we could probably get to 600 with some deaths

A: we use too many uniques, if you can find them in SSF, yea its probably viable

Will add more in future


Build posted
My Builds/Stream

Last edited by Astarift on Sep 17, 2020, 10:23:52 PM
Last bumped on Jan 28, 2021, 3:23:02 PM
nice guid will give him a try
This is really looking interesting, definitely a build I will consider as my next once I have more currency again.

Kind of reminds me of my triple herald BV elementalist in incursion league.

Great job :)
ZidaneFFIX wrote:
This is really looking interesting, definitely a build I will consider as my next once I have more currency again.

Kind of reminds me of my triple herald BV elementalist in incursion league.

Great job :)

Can pretty much tweak the tree abit and turn it into a BV build and it will still be extremely potent
My Builds/Stream

Build look fantasic but how much ex do u think is enough to run it smooth
mysboy6 wrote:
Build look fantasic but how much ex do u think is enough to run it smooth

I played this from league start, it started feeling smooth once i gotten lowlife set up with shavs, a medium jewel with just purposeful harbinger and prism guardian.

I ran 5 link all the way in t16s until i linked my shavs

Survivability gets a huge spike on presence of chayula, but i started off using the unupgraded version because stun immunity

I was decently safely running in t16s on my 5 link with 5-6k ES with a granite flask instead of cinderswallow at this point.

It went to super smooth once 6link shabs, presence of chayula and purposeful harbinger and cinderswallow(3%es on kill) comes in
My Builds/Stream

Thanks for answer , i already have shav 5 link and 4 ex so i think it will try it . Also love your poet pen build man . Keep create more off meta build :D
Last edited by mysboy6 on Jun 30, 2020, 3:26:03 AM
Nice stuff! I'm looking forward to this. I'm about done/bored with my current league starter and this looks interesting! Can't wait to see more content once you've updated the guide more.
mysboy6 wrote:
Thanks for answer , i already have shav 5 link and 4 ex so i think it will try it . Also love your poet pen build man . Keep create more off meta build :D

Thanks, glad you enjoyed the meme build i made last league that turned out great

kazafz wrote:
Nice stuff! I'm looking forward to this. I'm about done/bored with my current league starter and this looks interesting! Can't wait to see more content once you've updated the guide more.

The end game version is pretty much fleshed out, just leveling section has to be updated more in detail
My Builds/Stream

Hi, this build looks very interesting, im giving it a try.
I'm going to ask a noob question,
how to convert 100% physical to lighting?

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