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

Wintertide brand is a new cold dot brand skill introduced in 3.11. It has a pretty similar mechanics with penance brand which i played as a starter and after trying this brand out i was not disappointed.

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

3.13 changes:
The buffs made almost no changes to dps
25% to 40% profane bloom procc is great
post 3.13 i recommend occultist alot more than trickster, seeing that trickster got some nerfs to survivability

If you are curious as to how the build is played, check out the videos

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

Build can feel abit wonky due to delayed damage
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
Flesh and stone blind/less damage taken
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

Our Defenses - Trickster
6-9k ES(depending on your gear and version of PoB
Flesh and stone blind/less damage taken
Always chill enemies Vortex on floor
Quartz flask for phasing and dodge
Wicked ward ES recharge
Base 2% ES on kill
70% chance to evade damage with ghost shrouds up
6% reduced dmg taken on full ghost shroud, 4% ES of evasion rating gain when hit
10% chance to dodge spell hits while ghost shrouded

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

As a cold dot skill, we can benefit heavily from elemental equlibrium(-50 res of element not hit)
As we never hit with wintertide brand, as long as we recently touched the enemy with either fire damage or lightning damage, we get a perpetual -50 cold res.

However, vortex actually hits enemies, meaning if we weave in vortex for bone chill(we get more damage from bonechill-ed vortex), we will give the enemy 25 cold res instead of reducing it. Also, we link a adequately leveled arcane surge with vortex, to trigger arcane surge

So in this case, we will always weave in orb of storm to deal lightning damage and crit hits(we dont need high crit chance, but if we crit, we are gucci for 8 seconds) + apply 2 curses because we are an occultist.

So as a rule of the thumb, we will be weaving in vortex + orb of storms constantly as we winter tide thru maps and bosses.

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 new, its fresh, it does not have the weakness of other cold dot builds(if bosses move, the brand is tied to them like parasites)
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

Why Trickster

Patient reaper is my favourite ascendancy on trickster, opening up cinderswallow's flask slot for another defensive flask

Prolonged pain is a flat out 20% more damage multiplier, however it does prolong the duration of the brand/explosion debuff

Ghost shrouds are great and tricksters are built more towards the avoidance direction moreso than the mitigation direction of occultist.

Trickster has alot of cast speed modifier on ascendancy, allowing us to get to higher stacks of wintertide brands earlier.
DPS might look lower, but trickster reaches max power earlier

tldr of both ascendancy;
Trickster stronger in sustain/recovery due to patient reaper, occultist is stronger straight out in a dps fight

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

Current set up:
Trickster: https://pastebin.com/A9SCJWh2
Occultist: https://pastebin.com/RgtLHCAz

Tree is pretty much similar, because there isnt really much to tweak and change.

The dps shown in PoB is as of 20 stacks on wintertide, cold dot damage. It does not include debuff damage nor the take in account the dps while stacks are building up. It also only calculates one brand uptime on enemy, just 3x the number and poof, theres your actual dot damage with 20 stacks excluding explosion damage.

Cluster jewels notable:
Debatable, we want minimum 1, but i went with 2 for clear

Deep Chill(large)
Big dps boost here

Brand loyalty(medium)
15% increased damage taken while 3 brands are on enemy. Huge huge dps boost here btw

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

Energy from naught(small)
100 flat ES sounds small, but this is a huge amount of ES after throwing in all our % increased ES

Grand design
Good cast speed for brand, some duration and attachment range

Here because its suffixes on large cluster
Widespread destruction

*****Holy conquest***
There will definitely be questions regarding this notable. I would say this is a great notable only assuming you are at leveling stage/your damage isnt fully boosted with our lowlife set up. At the end game set up, i do not recommend this because the brand hopping isnt really great nor does it add any sort of dps. At the end game, we want our brand to deal enough damage and explode, killing everything nearby instantly, not hop around and deal tiny dot damage everytime it jumps to a new target.

Lastly, the explosion debuff do not stack, having holyconquest make wintertide brand jump around applying sub par debuff does not really help greatly in clear

tldr; good for leveling, drop at end game when you are like level 90 with the dps set up nicely


Occultist: Go straight to frigid wake, go straight to malediction

Survivability: Escape artist, prolonged pain
Just dps: prolonged pain, escape artist



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

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

On weapon 1:
Flame dash - - Second wind + Vaal righteous fire

Flame dash is great without a fixed travel distance(dash) or a delay(lightning warp)
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

On Helm
Vortex - Bone chill - Arcane surge level 7 - 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

On Gloves - For Trickster
Orb of storm - Frostbite - Curse on hit - Culling strike

We use this to curse, to trigger elemental overload, elemental equilibrium. If you leave this out, except to loss more than 50-60% dmg

On Boots
Discipline - Enlighten - Haste - Flesh and stone

Taking out enlighten will not impact us greatly, i just wanted to have more free mana for cast and not rely too heavily on mana flasks.
Haste is here because theres no better aura and i love to run faster, have my stuff cast faster.
Flesh and stone is a staple for ES builds for extra mitigation and evasion

+++ Frost bomb on ring

If you cant get an unset ring for frost bomb, you have to sacrifice some mana fluidity to replace enlighten with frost bomb


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


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(its lowered due to wicked ward, thats why i dont allocate zealot's oath normally)

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,
Cinderswallow is a must if you are an occultist.
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

We use 2 thread of hopes.
1 north of witch, large. We allocate:
Utmost intellect
Heart of Ice
Breath of Rime
Practial Application(drop if you overcap dex/str)
Arcane Focus
Snowforged(this is roughly 3.7% dot cold damage and crit chance for consistency on orb of storm, drop if you dont need it)

1 West of templar, very large, we allocate:
Glancing Blows

Using 2 thread of hope might be taxing on resist, but we have lots of slots to compensate for it, not forgetting prism guardian gives a fat 37% all res

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.


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.

Personally, i leveled as a typical storm brand build and i would advise to change into wintertide after you finished cruel lab


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


Build posted
My Builds/Stream

Last edited by Astarift on Jan 14, 2021, 10:18:56 PM
Last bumped on Jan 31, 2021, 1:08:57 PM
nice guide, will try it.

EDIT: seems like the link for pob is not working
Last edited by coccoxoxo on Jul 26, 2020, 12:17:21 PM
POB not working for me neither (and yes, i have community fork)
Trickster: https://pastebin.com/Z1Q8iQLE
Occultist: https://pastebin.com/YmV4zf3m

This should work, think there was some 301 error
My Builds/Stream

Last edited by Astarift on Jul 26, 2020, 2:03:20 PM
pob works now, ty
so u say vortex also hits so why should I use it if I proc EE with it and mobs get +25 cold res?
coccoxoxo wrote:
so u say vortex also hits so why should I use it if I proc EE with it and mobs get +25 cold res?

Elemental equilibrium is reapplied every hit and it overrides the previous hit. It gives enemies + to the element hit and - to the elements not on the actual hit. Vortex hits, enemies get + cold res but only on the first hit, orb of storm will then override it almost instantly into + lightning res and - cold res.

We never ever hit with cold hits except on the initial vortex cast, dont ever get added cold damage to spells in any way possible. Lightning is fine, fire is fine
My Builds/Stream

ahh so when we cast vortex we will instantly cast orb of storm on it, I got the wording wrong, ty for info
Hi love the guide! How viable you’d say this build is as a league starter? I
IRidlah wrote:
Hi love the guide! How viable you’d say this build is as a league starter? I

If you are doing this as a league starter, ill use vortex as the main link, because wintertide only starts to work super well once you get lowlife set up, thats bascially with 1 shav, shield and amulet here. Once you can get the 3 uniques, the build goes off really well
My Builds/Stream


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