[3.12] Thicc Splitting Steel Champ - low budget, mediocre damage, great fun

Oct 25: Finished up gems.
Oct 23: Added endgame upgrade recommendations to gear section, updated gems section with anomalous gems.

Decided to league start with the new Splitting Steel since it looked fun. Turns out it's actually a decent build, so here's a guide for it.

Very simple two-button playstyle - Splitting Steel hits and impales things, and Call of Steel blows up whatever you didn't kill the first time around.

We're going double axes for no real reason, I'm sure you could make this work with swords. It would be a more critical-focused build since sword passives have better support for criticals. We're not a crit build, but we're also not using Resolute Technique, so we end up in a weird limbo where we can crit but don't invest heavily in it. We're pretty tanky with permanent Fortify, about 20,000 each of evasion and armour with flasks up, 57% attack block, and a blind aura courtesy of Flesh and Stone.

Coming Soon™, AKA whenever I get around to setting up OBS.

- Fun to play (in my opinion, at least)
- Strong defenses against attacks
- Solid clearspeed
- Cheap to get started, league-starts very well

- Single target damage is frankly not great
- Playstyle takes some getting used to - forgetting to Call is bad for DPS
- Somewhat lacking in defenses against spells

Path of Building:
Build: https://pastebin.com/CRy8ScHW
Actual character: https://pastebin.com/9s9XzSHU

Character stats:
- 5800 life
- 25% life leech cap
- 22000 armour, 18000 evasion with flasks
- 47% movespeed without flasks/Onslaught

Passive trees, bandit, etc:
These are just provided for reference, feel free to take certain nodes earlier/later if you find you need them at a different time.

Lv35: http://poeurl.com/c4Bf
Lv60: http://poeurl.com/c4Be
Lv89: http://poeurl.com/c4Bc
Lv96: http://poeurl.com/c4T6

- Two ways to go with ascendancies, since Unstoppable Hero does nothing until we also get Fortitude:
1. Master of Metal > First to Strike, Last to Fall or Conqueror > Unstoppable Hero, then respec the second set of ascendancies for Fortitude > Inspirational
2. Master of Metal > Unstoppable Hero > Fortitude > Inspirational, and just accept that Unstoppable Hero is useless for a while

- Kill all bandits for 2 passives, the other options aren't very useful.
- Pantheons are up to your preference, but I recommend Shakari if you have trouble with poison.


Notes: All armour pieces should be armour, evasion, or armour/evasion basetypes. Partly for ease of socket colouring, and partly because we have fairly low intelligence.

Look for open suffixes on your armour and jewelry to craft the elemental/chaos resistance hybrid mods. That's the easiest way to get some chaos resistance in this build.


As mentioned in the summary, we are going dual axes. Just get rares with as much physical DPS as your budget allows. I got this pair for about 30 chaos and 15 chaos respectively.


Rare, life and resistances. Good helm enchants are War Banner aura effect or Splitting Steel damage, but you really don't need an enchant. If you can get some intelligence here, you have more wiggle room with jewelry.

Good influenced mods for an endgame upgrade include Elder/Crusader chance to block spells, Crusader Fortify effect, Elder "Nearby enemies take 9% increased physical damage", and any of the "#% physical damage from hits taken as" mods.


Yriel's Fostering (ursa variant) is ideal. Life, accuracy, critical strike chance, flat physical damage, and the occasional Rallying Cry (mana regen and flat phys) from the ursa itself. Plus it's pretty easy to roll our desired colours. If on a budget, a 5-link Yriel's, or a rare 5/6-link works fine.

A potential expensive upgrade would be an enemies you kill explode (Crusader)/attack base crit chance (Elder) chest with flat life and crafted percent life. Explode helps with clear and attack crit helps with single target.


Again, rare with life and resists. Ideal base type would be Gripped gloves for the projectile damage implicit. Attack speed or flat physical damage are good if you can get them. Glove enchant doesn't matter.


Surprise surprise, life and resists again! Also movement speed, that never hurts. Any helpful boot enchant is fine. If you can get some dexterity here, you have more wiggle room with jewelry.

Endgame upgrade would be Elusive on critical strike (Redeemer) and/or Tailwind if you've crit recently (Hunter).


Life, resistances, flat physical to attacks, and attributes (i.e. dexterity/intelligence) as necessary.

If I was richer I'd go for steel rings with high flat phys rolls and/or a Warlord Vulnerability on hit ring.


Rare with life, resists, and attributes as necessary. Harvester of Foes is an incredibly strong node that's slightly too far to path to, so we anoint it instead. Now that talismans can have anointments, it's worth seeing if you can find a good talisman. I snagged this one for around 20c.


A Stygian Vise is great since we can get some juicy stats on the abyssal jewel, but a normal belt is fine. If you do get a normal belt, the good basetypes are Rustic and Leather. Again, we mostly care about life and resists - non-influenced belts don't have many other useful mods for this build.


Couldn't find any useful offensive flasks for this build (except Bottled Faith, but I can't afford that), so we just go full defenses. Rumi's Concoction and the quartz flask make up our anti-spell defenses. As usual, you want bleed and freeze immunities, preferably with bleed immune on the life flask. Other two flask suffixes are less important, but good ones include other immunities (e.g. curse or shock) or the %armour and %evasion mods.


Goes in your Stygian Vise if you're using one. Good stats are flat life and flat physical damage. Browse the trade site and see what you can find.

The increased use speed for Call of Steel makes this build feel way smoother. Fortunately, the use speed/damage variant of this jewel is only 1 chaos at time of writing, so you won't be breaking the bank for this. Given how cheap they are, you might be able to Vaal a few to try for some useful corrupted implicits.


Note: All Awakened or alternate quality gems can be replaced by their regular versions. None of them are necessary, they're just for min-maxing.

Splitting Steel 6L

Should be pretty self-explanatory. Drop Slower Projectiles on a 5L, and Maim on a 4L.

Awakened Vicious Projectiles is cheap for an Awakened gem, but Awakened Brutality is very expensive.

On tougher bosses like Conquerors or Atziri, you may want to swap Splitting Steel for Shattering Steel. You don't need to change the support gems.

Our mana reservation skills. Some notes:
- You'll want to place War Banner against bosses/tanky rares for the increased banner effect and Adrenaline. Increased Duration Support is for longer Adrenaline and placed banner duration, and should not be linked to the other skills. You can leave it out while levelling if it causes mana issues.
- Since we already use Maim support in our Splitting Steel gem links, we can use sand stance on Flesh and Stone for defense.
- You won't have the mana to use Herald of Purity until you get your final ascendancy, which makes War Banner reserve no mana.

Anomalous Flesh and Stone and Anomalous Herald of Purity are nice little defensive boosts.

Our cursing setup. Completely automatic, but unfortunately doesn't proc that often on bosses if you're dodging their attacks. You could link the Vulnerability to Cast when Damage Taken instead. We keep Hextouch at level 1 due to low intelligence.

Anomalous Vulnerability is a direct upgrade since we don't care much about bleed chance. Divergent Riposte is also a direct upgrade since we don't care about its damage, but we already have a chance for Onslaught on kill from the Slaughter passive, so it's not massive value.

A very normal CwDT setup. Keep CwDT at lv10, and Molten Shell at lv15.

Our miscellaneous utility gems. These can go wherever you have free sockets. Dash and Second Wind need to be linked, and Flame Golem and CwDT need to be linked. Flame Golem and its CwDT can be levelled to lv20. You can swap Flame Golem for Stone Golem for more defense.

Golem should ideally be Anomalous for increased buff effect. Anomalous Blood Rage would be good, but it's also quite expensive.

General levelling advice:
You get Splitting Steel right after killing Hillock, so you can level with that. Take Chance to Bleed, and use that on Splitting Steel until you get your other supports. Equip all the gems as they become available to you, but don't worry about the Riposte or CwDT setup during the story - you can sort that out once you reach maps.

Stats to look out for on gear:
Life and resistances on everything, attributes as necessary, and axes with high physical DPS. My rule of thumb is 300-400 life per act, and capped resistances from Act 5 onwards. Remember to use your crafting bench. Also, it's OK to craft resistances on your weapons as a stopgap - we don't invest heavily in criticals, so the only other useful suffix is attack speed.

Last edited by jwfiredragon on Oct 25, 2020, 4:15:40 AM
Last bumped on Oct 27, 2020, 1:43:57 PM
Im running something similiar but using shattering steel with leap slam/The Impaler keystone for clear. You can link the fortify gem to leap slam to get fortify pretty reliably and don't even need the fortitude nodes. Frees that up for something more usefull.
Last edited by GigaClon on Oct 20, 2020, 1:46:42 PM
GigaClon wrote:
Im running something similiar but using shattering steel with leap slam/The Impaler keystone for clear. You can link the fortify gem to leap slam to get fortify pretty reliably and don't even need the fortitude nodes. Frees that up for something more usefull.

Yeah, Leap Slam/Fortify is definitely an option. I avoided it because a) I like the feel of Dash better, and b) I don't like having to spam Leap Slam during fights to keep Fortify up.
To each his own, I rather like spamming Leap Slam :)

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