[3.16] Wintertide Brand Occultist/Trickster | 8-9M Dot dps| Fast Clear | Detailed explanation

Wintertide brand is a cold dot brand skill introduced in 3.11.

However, the mechanics of wintertide brand is slightly complicated as compared to cold dot skills like vortex or cold snap, so you will definitely need to take some time to read up on my explanation of the mechanics

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

Big changes overall to elemental dot builds. Base damage of wintertide went up but we can no longer utilize elemental equilibrium and overload

Brand jumps(holy conquest previously) every 0.3 seconds is made alot more avaliable
Easier to reach 5 brand limit/runebinder
Huge buffs to wicked ward playstyle(super fast start of ES recharge with new passive tree nodes)
Have free mana to utilize Temporal rift as an oh shit button

As of 3/4 days before 3.16, the tooltip changes to wintertide is not in PoB yet, number will definitely be lower due to 3.15 nerfs, but its not as low as it currently should be

NO MORE hope for thread of hope, do let me know if you can find a good location

Videos taken on A8

Uber Elder 2 min deathless run

A8 Sirus cut from stream, using a level 19 wintertide brand gem here btw

T16 underground river + 4 sextant + bestiary scarab + crusader influence

Good clear due to the brand explosions proliferating
Touch and go playstyle, after setting up low life most mobs will die from a cast
We are able to handle mechanics much better because this is a dot playstyle
Dps is deceptively high(read the mechanics column)
Perma chill bosses
Pretty ridiculous single target dps
Bypasses proximity shield because dot

Dot damage build with a ramp up might not feel super amazing for map clear at highest end maps
Wintertide brand do not start feeling smooth until you set up lowlife
You dont start using wintertide brand at level 12
Invulnerability aura is a giant bitch

Our Defenses - Occultist
6-9k ES(depending on your gear and version of PoB
Always chill enemies Vortex on floor
Quartz flask for phasing and dodge
Malediction 10% less damage dealt on enemies
Frigid wake 10% less damage dealt on enemies, Chill/freeze enemies nearby sometimes
Wicked ward ES recharge start as soon as 1.2 seconds
Temporal rift works quite well here

Our Defenses - Trickster
Trickster dead dont use

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


Wintertide brand and how it works
** you have to read this **

Wintertide brand has a few parts to it skill. As a base line, it does a fixed amount of cold dot damage per second. We are not able to increase the frequency as to how often this damage is dealt(even if we stack a million% cast speed).

The second part of the skill is a charges stacking mechanic. As long as the brand is attached on an enemy, the brand gradually gain charges. The charges are not stacked on the enemies, but the brand. As the brand gain charges, it affects the cold dot damage component on the first part of the skill(20% more per stage)
When we talk about activation frequency in this brand, we refer to activation frequency on how often the brand gain charges to increase the cold dot damage component, not the frequency on how often the brand deals damage.
That being said, using swiftbrand in this brand is a huge dps loss because you reach maximum stage faster, but you do not actually benefit from the dps boost from reaching maximum stage.

However, we also do not want to be over stacking duration on this build, because we actually want to scale harder on damage and we want the brand to progress to the third part of the skill.

The third part, is what i call the explosion part, where the brand unattach itself in 2 possible scenario.
The first being the end of the brand's attach duration, second is what the brand actually kills the mob from the cold dot damage.
When an explosion occurs, a secondary debuff(this is 2 seconds with our current set up, not affected by swiftbrand) is applied to all nearby enemies(including the main target). This debuff deals the damage equal to how much dot damage the brand was before it detaches. Simply put, with our set up its a 20 stacked wintertide brand damage
From my experience, this cold dot debuff works similarly to ED/contagion, meaning it chains to nearby enemies.

To calculate the damage for this dot, simply set in pob for winter tide brand stack to be at 20

Explosion's debuff do not stack, so this is a perpetual "4th" winter tide brand damage at maximum stack on boss fights

All in all, if our brand do not kill the target/end its attached duration, our clear do not exist. So we want to either achieve 1: kill shit fast, 2: use swift brand and force explosions early.
Early on we will run swiftbrand, but i drop it as the character reaches end game and starts using lowlife set up+ all auras up
Btw, wintertide brand never hits, it will never trigger elemental equilibrium

This calculator from BrokenGlassFactory from reddit is pretty accurate on how much dps the brand does
Original post: https://www.reddit.com/r/pathofexile/comments/hbjtz4/wintertide_brand_dps_calculator/
Calculator: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1cGYkPjTsVj42C20LMn67ElqKxRnbQo3WXHXpYCagd4o/edit#gid=0

How do we utilize elemental equilibrium + elemental overload in this build

For bosses
Cast orb of storms(procc elemental overload, 2 curses) + vortex(arcane surge, bonechill)
Pre-cast wintertide brands on boss feet while he roleplays(or do it on the feet before you trigger the fight)
Use vaal RF after the boss starts prancing around +1-2 seconds(this is when the first brand reach maximumpower)

Stay safe distance/melee range depends on boss mechanics(I HIGHLY DO NOT RECOMMEND staying too close to sirus on p1-3, the instant meteors will kill you)
Recast brand every 4 seconds(it last 4 seconds in our set up) together with orb of storms and vortex.
Run around, avoid mechanics and watch the boss life drop fast

Why Wintertide Brand?

Its dot + brand playstyle, pretty safe and you got time to dodge without losing too much dps
Visually its appealing yet not intrusive
Also, a passive playstyle with high damage is always a good to have in poe

Why Occultist

Before we go into why Occultist, there is also a why trickster column next. Because both ascendancy are amazing with this skill

Occultist has access to +1 curse and a decent amount of curse effect. This allows our curse(frostbite and elemental weakness) to be more potent and actually feel very impactful on bosses

We actually apply less damage dealt to enemies with our curse and our chill, thus fortifying our Ehp further.

Occultist has a very nice cold dot branch in ascendancy, also giving us freeze/chill immunity, which is great for an ES build.

Also, tricksters are overused for dot based builds, occultists are pretty great too

Use only occultist.

My current set up in 3.11, everything is budgeted around 15 EX

Bottled faith is not required, i use it because i am addicted to it. Using a Sorrow of the divine over it is fine

Highly recommend getting awakened controlled destruction


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

*** wintertide brand's chill will not work if you have elemental focus linked, we might not need the chill from it(because vortex), however if we do, we can swap inspiration in instead for the next best damage support/reduce mana cost.***

Life based lvl 90, didnt put any gear it but its a mock up on how the skill tree should look like lvl 90
We go life/ES hybrid, because tree gives a good mix of es and life
Look for items with ES and decent life roll, focusing on elemental res capping
We will be super weak against chaos dot at this stage
Path for the brands first. Get the brand hopping mastery asap

lvl 91
Occultist: https://pastebin.com/uKxMc8V4

lvl 96

Nocluster lvl 88
No remarkable means single target might tank a lil bit

Cluster jewels notable:
We want 2, 70% chance for an additional brand casted = less down time casting.
Wintertide is a unique brand skill whereyou can have an additional(3) brands attached on a target. So having more brands pop per cast is great

Deep Chill(large)
Possibly highest dps from large nodes

Brand loyalty(medium)
9% increased damage taken with 3 brands attached. Decent dps boost, look at pob and compare if this is better or holy conquest is. On my pob, brand loyalty is stronger

Holy conquest(medium)
refer to previous node.

Very good to have
Vengeful commander(large)
Decent dps boost thanks to hatred aura

We dont have enough passive points to use small cluster, energy from naught got nerfed so its not as good as before

Grand design
Duration, attachment range. I might take 1 of this + 1 of brand loyalty

Here because its suffixes on large cluster
Widespread destruction/disorientating display


Occultist: Go straight to frigid wake, go straight to malediction then profane bloom(hex proofs are rare pre-red maps)



Alternate quality gems:
Alternate quality 1 orb of storms is good for map clear for cursing more targets

Alternate quality 1 malevolence is decent for duration

Main 6 link:
Wintertide Brand - Efficacy - Elemental Focus - Controlled destruction - Swift affliction - (Swiftbrand/Hypothermia)

As explained in my mechanics column, swiftbrand is there to detonate brand early for clearspeed. Early on without full dps nicely set up yet, this is key to our clear speed, because brands will detonate faster.

Awakened controlled destruction is really good as a 1st big gem upgrade(depends on league to league prices)

Hypothermia is just simply more dps, allowing us to kill enemies fastter and trigger explosions earlier

Swap in inspiration over elemental focus if the lack of chill from wintertide is an issue

On weapon 1:
Flame dash Temporal rift + Vaal righteous fire

Flame dash is great without a fixed travel distance(dash) or a delay(lightning warp)
Temporal rift because if you cant get your ES to start recharging due to dots
RF is there for damage, easy

On shield:
Hatred Malevolence Zealotry

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

On Helm
Vortex - Bone chill - Arcane surge level 8 - Swift affliction/culling strike

Arcane surge within level of triggering it on 1 vortex cast

Culling strike vs swift affliction is totally based on your choice. Vortex cull on hit or more vortex dot damage

On Gloves - For Occultist
Orb of storm - Elemental Weakness - Frostbite - Curse on hit

We use this to curse

On Boots
Discipline Clarity Frost bomb Summon skitterbots

We dont need enlighten. If you want to run enlighten, you need to find an elder Unset ring with good stats to throw frostbomb inside.
Clarity to a level where its comfortable, we want a lil bit of mana regen


We use a wand/sceptre/dagger 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 dot multiplier, ideally both cold and normal dot. Cast speed is great to have here, but not super super important where it makes or break the build

Mainly, we want:
Dot/cold Dot multi
+1 spell/cold skill gems(this is rare and expensive, if you cant throw in load of exalts, ill skip this)
Spell damage/crafted cold damage(as high as possible roll, this is a prefix)
Everything else isnt important but good to have:
Cast speed
Chaos res(free slot for resist actually, but chaos res is easy to get this league due to chaos slams)

High end upgrades:
+1 spell/cold skill gems
Wands/sceptres with malevolence/hatred aura effect(hunter/redeemer influence)
Unnerve on hit(hunter influence)

Btw, dont use the 1ex spell damage craft, theres an 8 chaos cold damage craft thats 6% less increased damage. I wouldnt value potential 6% increased dps over an ex(this is a tiny dps boost btw)

Dont get despair curse on hit, despair is our weakest curse
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.

As much es as possible, get some res here because gloves cant roll as high end of ES as helms do, so we want to throw more budget on res here and budget on ES for helm.


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

Budget version:
Rime Gaze

This gives ES and Dps. However, i am not a fan of the reduced recharge rate mod. Supported by concentrated effect might be good if we socket vortex here, but overall i prefer a rare helm as a high end upgrade, since we rely mainly on wintertide for dps

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


Mark of shaper buffed with 20 imbued catalyst

The other ring HAS to be elder.
My ideal ring is an unset ring just so i can throw in a frost bomb in it


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


Still work in progress for 3.16, fully update after patch notes
We will need an 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: Expensive or niche flasks
Rumi's concoction is great for the block chance

Sorrow of the divine is great to get some ES regen

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

For 4/5th flask,
Bottled faith is the highest dps boost.
Rumi is the highest survivability boost after cinderswallow
Sorrow of the divine is a bottled faith replacement


For cluster jewels, refer to PoB column

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

Watcher's eye
Many mods are good, but keep within budget
Cold/dot multi with malevolence
Cast speed zealotry/increased damage taken on consecrated ground(only if you have bottled faith)
Increased cold damage hatred

TLDR gearing priority for power spikes(from start to end)
Start as life version, then build towards a hybrid.
Our power spike goes straight to lowlife set up with shavs/prism guardian. Once we set up this, our dps is pretty much set to be great.


Might change with 3.16 release
Lunaris with divine vessel completed

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


Kill all for 2 points


Wintertide brand is honestly, terrible for leveling. I would suggest going for vortex/cold snap for leveling.
However, with 3.16 and brand jumps available early, we can start wintertiding early possibly


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 trickster
A: Trickster is good, i explained why trickster too, you can go trickster if you like it more

Q: My dps is low
A: refer to Key build mechanics section. Once you have low life set up, dps would almost not be an issue

Q: is this deep delve viable
A: Hardly, we might chill everything, we dont really explode stuff/shatter. Not destroying bodies - death at low delve(thats like 400+ for me)

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

Will add more in future


Revived the build and edited and threw in pob for 3.16 tentatively

Remove haste and put in skitterbots for mana because flesh and stone got increased mana cost

Build posted
My Builds/Stream

Last edited by Astarift on Oct 22, 2021, 10:23:40 AM
Last bumped on Mar 20, 2022, 8:04:58 PM
Uber elder video added

Trickster friendly set up posted
My Builds/Stream

Hey, I´m thinking to try this build, this seems to be a very nice build, my only question is, what do you think to level a pj to 100 doing maps with this?... will be tanky enough?... Thanks

Thanks in advance...
Vyr75 wrote:
Hey, I´m thinking to try this build, this seems to be a very nice build, my only question is, what do you think to level a pj to 100 doing maps with this?... will be tanky enough?... Thanks

Thanks in advance...

If you are looking to level to 100 with this i believe you will be investing more into this build yes? Honestly with my current set up, which excluding bottled faith, i put everything together within 15 ex. If you can throw in 15 to 20 more EX min maxing the energy shield, getting to 10kES would probably bring you tanky enough to not die to burst. Cinderswallow is absolutely mandatory for mapping 10000000000% in this case.

With my simple set up, most mobs dies within 1 cast of the brand, which means you can just tag and run most of the time.

I would invest abit more into chaos res on free slots(chaos res is super achievable thanks to harvest chaos slams). With a base line 0% chaos res after act 10, we are decently safe to most things

This build absolutely destroys all end game bosses tho, nothing is really much of a challenge
My Builds/Stream

Last edited by Astarift on Jul 24, 2020, 4:25:29 AM
Thank you for all the explanation in detail. It really helps me understand this new skill and having great fun.

Just one reminder. I believe that the Thread of Hope at north of witch suppose to be large.

Thanks for the article again.
Kwanbot wrote:
Thank you for all the explanation in detail. It really helps me understand this new skill and having great fun.

Just one reminder. I believe that the Thread of Hope at north of witch suppose to be large.

Thanks for the article again.

Yes, its large, not very large i made a mistake there
My Builds/Stream

Thinking of trying this build out! I love the Occultist Ascendancy. Do you have any advice on what nodes to go for first while leveling?
Last edited by Acideyez on Jul 26, 2020, 5:16:16 PM
Acideyez wrote:
Thinking of trying this build out! I love the Occultist Ascendancy. Do you have any advice on what nodes to go for first while leveling?

I would level not using wintertide brand and go with vortex/cold snap first, going for elemental overload and a vortex set up should be great
My Builds/Stream

Thanks for the guide.

How long do the brands last on bosses or that is how often do you have to keep casting.
Chrom wrote:
Thanks for the guide.

How long do the brands last on bosses or that is how often do you have to keep casting.

In my exact set up in end game its 4 seconds, 3 cast every 4 seconds + keep up vortex and ball lightning, which are pretty much instant cast anyways
My Builds/Stream


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