[3.12] Spark / Crackling Lance Inquisitor - New Player Friendly Guide - League Starter

IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR THE SPARK / STORM BRAND INQUISITOR BASE BUILD, GO TO THIS POST: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2953709

First – go get the current build off of PoB! https://pastebin.com/zSwsKWti Community Fork Sep 16 2020
PoB (regular) is not updated with 3.12 at this time. My builds are on the community fork which HAS been updated.

Also, here is my leveling filter.

But Why Spark Staff Inquisitor?

The build relies on critical strikes and the staff to assist in getting to 75/75 block. The build combines the fast clear speed of Spark (excellent in maps like Sewers or delving, not as great on maps like Desert) with the increased benefits from Storm Brand and Orb of Storms. Because the build heavily invests in lightning damage, all three skills benefit from investments in your tree. I am interested in seeing how Crackling Lance can be worked into the build, if at all.

The end build is taken from a player who reached Lvl 100 in Harvest (3.11) league (ManuMP – SpidersGoBRRRR), and I have built a plan to backwards engineer how to get to that level. I’ve only logged 500 hours in this game so I’m no expert at all and I’m sure there’s some optimization to be had. But if I can get through the acts at Lvl 67, which included completing the Merciless Labyrinth at level 64/65 in my first attempt, with only unique passive skill tree gems that are quest rewards. This build was a fresh SSF start that did NOT use harvest crafting at all. I’m no racer so my time for the acts tends to be between 12-14h.

Thoughts for 3.12 / Crackling Lance

Current Crack Lance links:
CL - Spell Echo - Added Cold Damage - Arcane Surge

Assassin's Mark will not work like it did prior to 3.12 and is not something that will benefit the build nearly as much.

Crackling Lance can be purchased in A3 after killing General Gravicious (Sever the Right Hand) and is probably worth exploring at that point.

Watcher's Eye got reworked and will not benefit you as much either.

Lastly Glancing Blows took a nerf so be aware that it affects this build as well. Seems like a lot of collateral damage occurred to this build based on the sins of other ascendancies. It also moved on the ascendency screen so it isn't in line with the very large ring Thread of Hope jewel any longer.

With all of that said, if Crackling Lance is good at point targets, this build will be stronger as a larger weakness gets shored up. My plan is to replace Storm Brand with CL straight and experiment from there to see how to optimize it.

Hot Tips for Leveling (not all Spark specific… but kind of)

The starter skill for templar is Glacial Hammer. You will want to get rid of this relatively quickly so you can switch your weapon to a wand with a shield. The story line awards you Lightning Tendrils pretty early on, which also opens up your ability to purchase Spark. About that time you can also acquire Orb of Storms. I say all of this because you are going to specialize in lightning damage very quickly, so moving towards a wand with flat lightning damage added (via the vendor recipe, Topaz Ring + magic wand + Orb of Alteration) pays off quickly. As a reminder, you can sell a green gem and an iron ring to a vendor for a topaz ring. The added flat damage is what makes up a large part of your ability to get through Act 1 at a reasonable pace. Spark is not great off the bat, so using Orb of Storms then Spark will get the Orb to bolt things each time you use a lightning ability close to your Orb. This dramatically improves your early game damage. When you combine the lightning combos with your movement skill (I start with Frost Blink because I want to escape tough packs early, then move to Flame Dash when it is available), you are able to efficiently move through each zone while killing along the way. Towards the end of Act 1 you can get Storm Brand and it helps your point targets immensely.

Some other tips that I’ve learned watching speed runs include using the armor vendor to look for boots with increased movement speed on them, buying gear that has the correct link colors on them, and vending for resist rings, if needed. Because the skills feel weak from the beginning, I focus more on getting gear with the links I need rather than keeping gear with more desirable stats. I try to focus on getting to maps as quickly as I can so focusing on the links and support gems saves some time. If a white (common) piece of gear has the right links and is towards the required level that the character is at, I tend to use essences to turn them into rares and go from there. This build will want to stock up on Transmutes and Alterations early (around 5 of each), so don’t blow those trying to get better gear early. You will need them to buy skill and support gems as you level. You also want to stock up on Orbs of Chance as much as you can as you will need them for Act 3 gems. The power of this build is in the gems, not the gear. As such, prioritize gems / links / gear stats, in that order. Lastly, body armor slows your movement speed so it is the last item I pick up for my gem links. I run around naked unless I find something with good links and stats that I have to have. You can just keep the armor in your inventory until you need to wear it.

These three skills (Spark, Storm Brand, Orb of Storms) form the cornerstone of the build through the Acts. The Lvl 100 build uses Vaal Righteous Fire to get additional end boss damage, but I put this together with the premise that you will not have access to that skill at all. This build uses ONLY the Vaal side of Righteous Fire if you choose to go that route, which is why I chose to level with a skill that actually assists our build. I have not yet tested / assessed if Orb of Storms is just a flat out better version of Vaal RF for end game content or not. While you are leveling, I basically throw out Orb of Storms and a Storm Brand inside it while I’m moving quickly through a zone. The two will zap most of the things inside it to rack up some XP as you shuffle along. Spark gets a lot better when you run into mobs you want to kill. I use Storm Brand on the tough target in the mob while I’m Sparking inside an Orb of Storms ring. This technique is also my preferred method for bossing. I throw the Orb first, then Storm Brand (causing Orb to trigger), then get as close as I feel comfortable to Shock my point target to get more damage. Again, Spark is better at mobs than single targets, so you will want to rely on Storm Brand / OoS for tough point targets. Using those two skills also lets you focus on the technical moves in a fight to avoid damage.

Holy Flame Totem is in the build because you get it for free and monsters love to attack it rather than you. You can also drop the totem into Orb rings to kill packs as you are running through zones. I really only use it through Act 5, but if it suits your style, then keep it as long as you want. By Act 6 I usually need the slot for a support gem.

I use Herald of Ice and Discipline to clear areas. I will switch Discipline to Zealotry for boss fights. The boss will do more damage to you than Disciplines provides but you can recharge faster with Zealotry.

Skills, Links, and Gear to look for (by Act)

I’ve done the hard work, so you don’t have to, on how to best link skills so you change your equipment as few times as possible while amping your damage. Skills in “peach” are gems you can use in that act but are not available for purchase. Skills in “yellow” should be purchased in that Act. Lastly, skills in gray highlight a change in the skill chain so you don’t miss when you should move things around.


Act 1


I move flame dash into Chain 3 as soon as I get it, but the movement skill is totally a player preference. Storm brand will just suck in Act 1 so I leave it on my second set of gear to acquire XP. You may notice that I acquire 3x Added Lightning Damage early on to add some kick to our three lightning skills. One of those ALDs will move to our XP only gear quickly, so you can skimp there if you want and only get two. Also, do not level up Arcane Surge.

Act 2


ALD on Flame Dash, what? Well, you can throw it on Storm Brand and it will serve you well, but I didn’t want to clutter up this chart with moving things around too much. Herald of Ice is a free gem while you will need to buy the other four. Culling Strike really helps your clear speed on OoS and Pierce on Spark will help you do damage on things that have lightning resist. You need Pierce for late game but not Culling Strike, so you can cut down on purchases here. If you have 2x 4-link pieces of gear (B-B-B-R and B-B-B-G or B-B-B-R) then you are in good shape at this point. Pierce is not critical at this point so I would rather keep a piece of gear with a Red link rather than a Green link for Act 3.

Act 3


Ok, you’re going to want to complete the Library quest in Act 3 to make sure you have all of your skill and support gems. You may notice that the three core skills are now on 4-links, thus the reason Flame Dash and OoS move around. The skills I buy at the Library are Inspiration (x2), Increased Duration, and Pierce.

Act 4


Pay attention to the Cast When Damage Taken skills… keep CWDT on Level 1 and only level Immortal Call / Summon Lightning Golem to Level 3. Lightning Golem is free from the Act but you will need to Library purchase the other two. At the end of the Act you should be able to purchase them from the jewel vender too.

Act 5 / Staff Transition


If you’re feeling frisky, you can change your weapon to a staff around Act 5. I normally switch at the beginning of Act 6, but wanted to highlight what it would look like if you want to change at Act 5. A good staff will boost your DPS greatly due to the flat lightning damage that is common to the weapon type. I wait to make the change so I can have enough passive skill points to get deep into the staff abilities. Spell Echo is a big time gem for Spark so make sure you upgrade that as soon as you can.

Act 6+ / End Game Links


Here is the final tree with the priority of gems. I have checked these against the DPS in PoB for the optimal order. Hopefully you also notice the continuity on how our gear’s links line up with our final build from the get go.

General Notes

You may notice during leveling that you only have three (or four) skills to use. The other two slots are reserved for Vaal Spark and Vaal Righteous Fire. Don’t feel that you need to throw some other skills into those slots because you really won’t want or need them later. Just focus on using the 3 main skills (Spark, Storm Brand, Orb of Storms… and kind of Holy Flame Totem).

Yikes, Path of Building (and the Passive tree)

Here is a link to my experimental version of this build to capitalize on Crackling Lance... https://pastebin.com/KcUfb1JV (Community Fork)

Also, this is where I am with how to progress the passive tree. This hasn't been proofed yet so I'm not 100% on the order. To read this, follow the RAINBOW color order by number. Do all 1s, then 2s, etc.


1. Sanctuary
2. Pious Path
3. Righteous Providence
4. Inevitable Judgement


I spent the time (in PoB) to build gear that match with each passive tree to show you what I actually used at that point in time. I’m not going to go into depth on things for below Level 75, but it is there to show you it can be done without uniques.


Level 70+

This can also be read as “budget options.” Get a Call of the Brotherhood ASAP. I really liked Choir of the Storm and you should anoint it with Longshot. Once you get to maps you’ll be hopping around using Flame Dash and shooting a ton of Sparks to kill everything. Scoring a critical strike to get a Level 20 Lightning Bolt just helps that process. The last piece of “priority” gear I would get is a ring with Level 12 Assassin’s Mark on hit. “Curse” rings are getting a nerf in 3.12 so this may not be a priority anymore.

If you get Voidwalker, it is possible to remove Pierce from your Spark chain and replace it with something like Culling Strike. Ultimately, I was underwhelmed by Voidwalker even though it is hyped by several Spark Inquisitor guides I have read. I like Winds of Change (anointed with Word of the Tempest for extra damage) for the projectile speed and damage.

You may (or may not notice) that several of the flasks have a Surgeon’s prefix. That helps us refill flasks during boss fights when we don’t have mobs to get refills.

Gems – I was only able to buy Intuitive Leap, Watcher’s Eye, and Thread of Hope (Hazardous Research, Poacher’s Aim, and Conqueror’s Efficiency are free quest rewards you should use while leveling). Intuitive Leap is probably the most important, followed by Thread of Hope then Watcher’s Eye.

Final Gear Goals

This is the gear stolen straight off of the poe.ninja datamine. Duskdawn is great in this build and I really like Crown of the Inward Eye. If you can get a good enchantment on the Crown that’s a bonus. Unnatural Instinct sounds bananas but was too rich for my blood.

Other Things:

Bandits: I help Alira during leveling for the resistances but will later kill all 3 because you can get some pretty sweet mileage out of the extra points when combined with cluster jewels. There is a recipe to rework the bandits. It’s your choice, but ultimately I go with the extra passive tree points.

Pantheon: I don’t have any real preferences here, but I normally run Soul of Lunaris (sometimes I jump into packs then spark them) and either Soul of Tukohama or Soul of Ralakesh depending on the map or zone. If I think I’m doing more single point / stationary things, I go with Tukohama. Otherwise, Ralakesh.

Anointments: I like Word of the Tempest on my gloves and INTENSIFY on my amulet.



Why are the resistances in PoB so crazy?

Anything with the resistances in my PoB is going to be wild. First, all resistances have Kitava -60 applied. Second, you should match the tree you're looking at with the Items/gear for that tree. That's to show where I was when I ended that Lab... just to highlight the build works just fine without anything special.

When I'm trying to level quickly I am less focused on capping resistances and more interested in just getting things done. I'll keep a few different resistance rings/ ammy on me to deal with specific bosses or whatever but generally just try to get whatever I can out of resistances given the gear I have. If I was deliberately leveling I'd have a focused set for what that looks like.

Why do you use Spark? Doesn't Crackling Lance clear too?

I use Spark and CL to compliment each other. Spark does a better job of clearing IMO, especially after you can cast it 360. CL does better at cleaning up / bossing. I constantly switch between the two as my main spell depending on pack type / size.

When I’ve only had CL on a 4-link I use:
Crackling Lance - added cold damage - arcane surge - spell echo.

It appears that intensify support does not grant 3 additional charges (meaning CL has a max charge of 3 and not 6) so there’s no need to link that, unless it’s bugged.

Spark does not generate intensify charges that can be shared with CL if using intensify support. I tried.

I have a different staff that I'm using and I don't think my damage is where it should be. Why?

This advice came from player Trev0413, and I agree with it.

The "damage" on the staff is for a physical attack (if it doesn't specify spells), so it's doing nothing for your build. It would be good for a melee elemental damage build for instance.

It's a common mistake and probably needs to be re-worded somehow to make this obvious at first glance, I know it kept me from scaling spell damage correctly as a new player many times.

As for stats to look out for:
- X to X lightning damage to spells
- % increased lightning damage
- % increased spell damage
- % global critical strike chance
- % global critical strike multiplier
- % cast speed
- +X level to all spell gems or lightning gems or intelligence gems

I can't find gear that match the links that I need. What am I doing wrong?

Notice the gear I have and the stats they require. Gloves are "armor" gloves, which mean they are more naturally inclined to Red than Blue or Green. It is much easier to get R-R-R-B on those gloves than B-B-B-R. That's why my red heavy link in there.

The chest is an Energy Shield item, so rolling B links is easier. While I am working towards better gear, I will tend to take ES chests so I have an easier time rolling B-B-B-B-B-R as I progress. Knowing the natural roll colors is helpful to saving some currency and rolling into what you need on a piece of gear you have or would like.

I recommend using my leveling filter (that will be updated at the beginning of each league) to highlight things you want and hide things that are distracting.

One cool trick I learned early is to pick up all loot with socketed R-B-G links and resell it at a vender. They will give you a chromatic orb, which will let you reroll the colors on something you have. This can be helpful if you have a nice piece of gear and need the colors different. Also be aware how gear tends to roll colors; Int rolls Blue, Str rolls red, and Dex rolls green. If the item requirement has only one of those stats, it is most likely to roll links of that color. So if you need a B-B-B-R, you can get an Int pure or Int & Str item to roll that with few tries. You can almost guarantee that a pure Int 4 link item will not roll 3+ green sockets.

What are your initial thoughts about Crackling Lance?

As of Sep 28, 2020:

I didn't like CL much during the early/mid Acts but I liked it towards A9/10 and beyond. Spark has weaknesses in that it doesn't "hit" in differently elevated terrain (i.e. doesn't go over walls or into depressions unless you are on stairs). Spark also has challenges in choke points like on a Delve or tunnel type maps where its difficult to get the sparks to go towards enemies. CL complements spark in that where it is strong, Spark is weak. It does so in ways that Storm Brand just doesn't and I'm glad to have CL for that reason.

What Storm Brand does that CL doesn't is keep pressure on a single target by doing smaller, constant damage to prevent ES regeneration. However, I don't think that the gain from SB outweighs the overall benefits CL adds to the build.

I do not expect to respec the tree as my goal is to build my passive skills in a way that work (as best as I can) in the Acts with what I want for end game.

I don't get why you have the Cast When Damage Taken linked and leveled like it is... can you explain it?

Cast When Damage Taken casts all skill gems linked to it when a certain threshold of damage occurs. If we level our CWDT too high, it will not activate when we take lower levels of damage (which we want it to activate at a low threshold). CWDT also does not cast spell with level requirements greater than the level requirement of CWDT itself (you can hover over it to read more about how it works).

One of the abilities of CWDT is that you cannot manually cast skill gems linked to CWDT.

You have a couple of options:

1. Keep the links and levels where I recommend
2. Level up CWDT to a point you are comfortable with, which allows Lightning Golem / Immortal Call to go up in level too
3. Remove CWDT altogether and self cast LG / IC... which allows you to level those two skills to whatever point you want.

Your level of skill and comfort with the build will dictate how far down that list you progress.

What types of cluster jewels should this build use?

Look for Snowstorm, Disorienting Display, and Overshock (or the best combination possible) in your large jewel. Eye to Eye, Aerodynamics, and Streamlined in Medium. These are focused on helping Spark.

I haven't done the work to see what makes best sense for Crackling Lance but the two skills share a lot of synergies.

What types of Vaal skills should you use?

Vaal Spark is optional. Otherwise I don't run any other vaal skills. Vaal Discipline might be good but I haven't had a lot of luck getting the gems. Largely the build is focused on doing things without access to Vaal skills to make sure anyone can make it to maps.

Why do we build critical strike chance on the passive tree and get Controlled Destruction as Support?

Good question — we are adding a ton of crit but we also want a lot of damage. What we lose in crit is made up on the tree / gear, so it’s a way to get a bunch of damage on the spell. With my “mid game” gear I have a 16.5% crit chance and a 250% crit multiplier. We are still going to crit a bunch.

Last edited by Scary3074 on Sep 29, 2020, 2:05:41 PM
Last bumped on Nov 22, 2020, 3:16:34 AM
I am hoping this works, you got a first follower here
This was an attempt to reply to someone but didn't realize I can't just delete my own posts.

There is no useful information in this post.
Last edited by Scary3074 on Sep 15, 2020, 5:25:13 PM
BuggyPie wrote:
I am hoping this works, you got a first follower here

Thanks -- sorry you are seeing it in the raw right now as I add the pictures and what not. Feel free to ask away.
I like it.
I'm really new to POE (only played in three leagues so far). How is this for a noobie like me to take on? CL looks like so much fun to play on the little video footage we've seen.
eLbotz wrote:
I'm really new to POE (only played in three leagues so far). How is this for a noobie like me to take on? CL looks like so much fun to play on the little video footage we've seen.

Last league was my first. This is 100% doable. If you follow how I set up the links and the passive tree you’ll be totally fine. I do need to refine some parts due to Glancing Blow moving location and to see if it’s still a worthwhile keystone. I still like the life / spell nodes near it so it’s probably fine.

I wrote the guide to “past me” about a week into the game. If you haven’t popped open the spoiler sections with photos I encourage you to do so. It’s made as a handrail to get you to maps.

Due to a large amount of experimenting I didn’t go as deep in Harvest with the build. This version, however, is based on someone who was lvl 100 with large DPS, etc.

My plan for CL is to drop it in where Storm brand currently is.
Last edited by Scary3074 on Sep 16, 2020, 5:45:08 PM
sweet! One thing - I tried copy and pasting your pob tree and it spits up an error.
eLbotz wrote:
sweet! One thing - I tried copy and pasting your pob tree and it spits up an error.

Try this -- https://pastebin.com/zSwsKWti
Getting an error when importing in PoB too for the experimental and current version of build as well as the one in the comments, I've checked for updates already, any ideas?

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