(old) [3.14] Dark Pact Totems | Life-based MOM, Ailment Immune, up to 8k EHP
This guide is currently discontinued, as of the end of 3.14. This build should still work for 3.16 and beyond, as long as you use the right support gems, flasks, etc. I'll return to play for 3.17, and we'll see if totems are still playable then <3
3.15 Gon’ Give It To Ya
Best of luck to the brave souls who will be playing 3.15! May your masochism not be in vain :)
- Unique items are untouched, specifically the Soul Mantle Combo + Astral Projector
- Cluster Jewels are untouched
- Hierophant Ascendancy untouched… well just the parts we care about
- Huge flask nerfs that impact every build, especially crit builds like this. No idea what a proper flask setup looks like now. Don’t be afraid to run double Quicksilver, etc.
- Crafted ‘Avoid Elemental Ailments’ is reduced, but is now available to craft on Boots and Shields.
- Virtually every support gem now has a higher mana multiplier.
- Spell Totem Support has a larger Cast Speed penalty, now -40% from -30%; we do gain 2% More Damage though!
- Controlled Destruction should now never be used, except when using Elemental Overlord during the acts.
- Conc Effect loses 15% Damage
- Void Manip and its Awakened version both lose 5% Damage
- Added Chaos Support, Increased Area of Effect, and Multiple Totem Support all unchanged?
It’s not clear what the best 6 or 7-link combo for Dark Pact looks like. Will need to see what Path of Building thinks!
Our biggest loss of power comes from the flask changes, since so much DPS and QOL was associated with ‘skillful’ uptime of flasks. That’s now all gone. Surprisingly the support gem changes aren’t all that bad, but it hurts to lose Awakened Controlled Destruction since that was a very good gem to use. Dark Pact continues to have a lack of strong, solid support gem options.
I expect Viridi’s Veil helmet, for the Soul Mantle Combo, to be significantly more expensive in 3.15. Players are nerfed, and the helmet is a Maven endgame drop. Players also want curse immunity, which the helmet provides. Likewise, any totem character is going to be desperate for the Soul Mantle Combo, if they want to stand a chance of clearing juiced T16s comfortably.
This is a new skill, added in 3.15, that seems primed for exploitation with totems. It scales similarly to Dark Pact, with a bigger tax on Totem Life and Totem Chaos Res, for potentially a bigger DPS upside. The skill is scaled by everything that scales Dark Pact, in addition to Projectile Damage.
While the skill is given in Act 2, I don’t think the skill will be truly usable until you are into maps and you specifically have two Medium Cluster Jewels, both with ‘Ancestral Preservation’. The two other notables you’d want would be ‘Sleepless Sentries’, and then whatever else you want like ‘Ancestral Reach’ or ‘Ancestral Echo’. Until then, the skill will simply nuke your Totems too fast for it to be enjoyable or powerful.
Projectiles - The skill always launches one projectile where the totem is targetting. There will be additional projectiles launched for nearby enemies, and there will always be a 2nd projectile if there is only one enemy in range. It is unlikely that increasing your projectile count will improve single target DPS, and the skill tooltip says there is built-in 7 extra projectiles.
AOE - Each projectile’s explosion is AOE damage, like Dark Pact. We are assuming that the AOE explosions of each projectile can overlap its damage. If that is the case, then increasing Area of Effect radius will be incredibly important for most any situation.
Cast Speed - The skill has a longer casting time than Dark Pact, and 3.15 is also increasing the Cast Speed penalty for Spell Totems. This will be a slow skill early on, and the projectiles aren’t instant once cast (Dark Pact is instant). Likewise, if you scale Cast Speed too high without also increasing your overall DPS, then your totems will nuke themselves long before any beefy enemy is dead. So you’ll need a balance here.
Projectile Speed - There is also travel time of the projectiles (Projectile Speed), which you could think of as a second type of Cast Speed. There’s no efficient way for us to scale Projectile Speed, and GGG has nerfed this many times already. So probably don’t worry about this.
This is a guide for Dark Pact Totems, Hierophant ascendancy. I was very impressed with how mechanically strong and sound this build was after playing it to Level 100 and 40/40 challenges in 3.12 Heist league, and also Level 100 in 3.14 Ultimatum! Original inspiration came from Mathil’s version of the build in 3.11 Harvest.
Ranged, safe playstyle
Reliable DPS uptime
Able to do ALL map mods
Life and Mana based gear (simple)
Cluster Jewels are straight-forward and reasonably cheap
Elemental Ailment immunity (shock, freeze, ignite)
Totem builds generally ignore bleed, except for Sirus fight
Good amount of Life and Mana regen; no mana sustain issues
Tabula-focused budget version is very strong, and the Soul Mantle version becomes affordable later in a league
Open maps feel really good
Simple spell visuals, so it’s easy to see WTF is going on
Able to pick up loot, take a sip of beer, all while your totems kill stuff around you
Requires the Astral Projector ring, but this is now cheap
League starting is an awkward transition, but 100% feasible
Not able to life leech, life gain on hit, etc.
The map mod “no life/mana regen” makes dying more likely
We don’t stack block, or that much dodge
Cramped maps feel a little clunky
Can never have enough Chaos Res
Mind over Matter approach means we shouldn’t use offensive auras
How does Dark Pact work and scale?
Dark Pact is cast by your totems with the Spell Totem Support gem. The Astral Projector ring turns this into a ranged spell. This spell instantly ‘explodes’ on a targeted enemy. The size of this explosion is scaled by area effect, and can obliterate small packs of mobs with a single cast. There is no inherent chaining, projectiles, proliferation, damage over time, or whatnot. The totems will keep machine gun casting until all enemies are dead, or until the totems run out of their own Life from casting.
Dark Pact has built-in flat Chaos damage and a “More with Hits” multiplier, that increases with spell gem level. Dark Pact also gains extra damage based on the Life pool of the totem! This doesn’t scale with the Dark Pact gem level, but it does scales with the Max HP of your spell totem, and Spell Totem gem level!
Dark Pact DPS is scaled by, in no particular order:
Gem Level. Totem Life. Totem Damage. Spell Damage. Chaos Damage (not DOT). Area Damage. Cast Speed. Critical Strike Chance and Multiplier. Chaos Resistance Penetration. Wither Stacks.
PoB, Skill Tree:
Here are my personal POBs from the 3.14 league, at Level 95 and at Level 100. You can also look at the poe-ninja ladder for some more ideas! I will be working on a multi-stage POB for 3.15 release.
https://pastebin.com/C4dqQPs6 Level 100 (3.14)
https://pastebin.com/Ucy6q6Wv Level 95 (3.14)
https://pastebin.com/RRZTT8mt leveling tips
For posterity, here is a link to my character’s profile from 3.12 Heist.
I have 7 clips from my character, at Level 100 but emulating the gear of my Level 96 character. These are from 3.12 Heist.
T16 Drox https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EamKla8TYbo
T15 Baran https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRqK0NoIMZw
A8 Sirus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo6OfWJQSNQ
T16 Uber Elder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKzI5qaCUAY
T16 Heist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7xqxmc6QQE
T16 Summit (1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MozysFrSmQQ
T16 Summit (2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWeVN_cipf8
Here’s a clip from 3.14, where a guide follower takes on Awakener 9 Sirus.
Mathil also has two videos from 3.11 that do a very good job of showcasing the mechanics and playstyle of this build.
Templar into Hierophant. 'Pursuit of Faith' for first lab. 'Ritual of Awakening' for second lab.
For third lab, ‘Conviction of Power’ is a strong and simple choice. This gives us 4 Endurance Charges and 4 Power Charges. This gives us offense, defense, and helps with elemental resistance!
For fourth lab, 'Divine Guidance' is the only choice left. This increases our EHP, increases our Mana Regen, makes our MOM more balanced, and throws in a little DPS with the Transfiguration of Mind.
I prefer Alira for the Crit Multi, Elemental Resistances, and Mana Regen. Elemental resistance can get a little tight on our gear, we’re a crit build so we like the multi, and the mana regen is never useless for us.
Kill All for the +2 passives points is also acceptable.
Lunaris, fully filled out, is my preference. Avoiding chained attacks is very relevant for a totem build, and all of the Lunaris bonuses have value for us. Brine King is reasonable because we don’t have stun immunity. However, getting stunned isn’t that bad because our totems keep trucking away, and the extra bonuses under Brine King are largely wasted on our build. And Brine King only prevents being perma-stunned anyway.
For the Minor, I prefer Shakari because we don’t stack a lot of Chaos Resistance, and we need help in that department. Garukhan is the zoom zoom choice.
Astral Projector & Bench-Crafting Concepts:
Astral Projector is a unique ring that is mandatory for this build. The cheapest way to get this ring, especially early in a league, is to gamble with the Div Card “Haunting Shadows”. Try not to overpay for this ring, because it will drastically drop in price if you give it a little time.
Our other ring, and our amulet, have open suffixes so we can craft +1 Minimum Frenzy Charge. This lets us sneak in a good chunk of DPS, at the opportunity cost of not being able to craft more resistances.
Our helmet and gloves have open suffixes, so we can craft “chance to Avoid Elemental Ailments”. Combined with the Astral Projector ring, and taking ‘Arcane Swiftness’ on the passive tree, this makes us immune to elemental ailments. Once you’re on the ‘Soul Mantle Combo’ version, you won’t be able to craft on the helmet. So you’ll have to buy/roll Shaper-influenced boots that have 25%+ Avoid Elemental Ailments (a roll with 23 or 24% can be Divine Orb’d up to 25%).
Natural Progression of the Build:
This build has four different stages of growth, with the majority of focus on the ‘Budget’ version and the ‘Soul Mantle Combo’ version. The general flow is:
Leveling ==> Budget ==> Soul Mantle Combo ==> $$$ End-Game Options
The passive tree, jewels, gem links, and general playstyle of the build do not really change between these versions. Only specific gear pieces change!
The ‘Leveling’ version isn’t Dark Pact, more details in the Leveling section. The ‘Budget’ version is centered around a Tabula Rasa, preferably with +2 AOE Gems implicit. The ‘Soul Mantle Combo’ version is a 6-Link Soul Mantle chest, the Viridi’s Veil helmet, a magic-rolled ring, Coward’s Legacy belt once your budget and resistances can allow, the Self-Flagellation jewel, and new boots that have Avoid Elemental Ailments.
You transition from whatever Leveling character you are using into the Budget version, once you have the Astral Projector ring and are at least Level 40. I also recommend a Tabula at this time, or a usable 6-link corrupted chest. The rest of your items will be decent rares, with Life + Mana + Resistances. You'll want a +1 Totems shield as soon as they come on the market, and it's OK to use a decent DPS wand here in the meantime. You might also consider crafting the Elemental Ailment Immunity, and Frenzy Charges, if you feel like your gear is good enough for it.
Transitioning into the Soul Mantle Combo involves changing a lot of gear, and I recommend trying to do it at all at the same time. The belt, Coward's Legacy, can be saved for a later time if you don't have the currency for it, or you can't balance your Life/Mana/Res with it yet. The Soul Mantle Combo also becomes cheaper over time, so you do save currency by waiting!
[the ‘Skin of the Loyal’ version of this build has been officially retired]
The first chest you should start with is a Tabula Rasa, with +2 AoE Gems corruption when possible. This chest is cheap, and the corruption provides good DPS. This is all you need up until red maps, and beyond.
Soul Mantle 6-link is what you should seek after you’re done with the +2 Tabula. Soul Mantle is always strong for any Spell Totem build, and Dark Pact is no exception. The +2 AOE Gems corruption here is also nice, but is quite rare and totally not required for end-game.
Before you can afford the full Soul Mantle Combo, you can slum around with a Curse flask and try your best not to die while using this chest :) This works fine during mapping, with diligent use of flasks. But things will be rough for long bosses like Sirus.
Because of the challenges of using the Soul Mantle chest, I don’t recommend bothering with a 5-link version. Best to run around with a +2 Tabula until you can afford to properly switch over to Soul Mantle 6-link, and preferably with the other items that go with it.
A rare 1H wand is best here. Most any Implicit here is decent too.
You want large rolls for Spell Damage, Cast Speed, and Critical Strike Chance for Spells. You really want +1 Level of all Chaos Spell Skill Gems. The 5th roll is a prefix, best of which is +1 to All Spells. More economical choices here can be something like +Mana or added elemental damage to spells.
The 6th roll is a suffix, and Crit Multi is best here. In the past I would craft ‘Trigger Socketed Spells’ here, but that has been nerfed.
For a unique/budget option, Apep's Rage wand is a good choice, especially if you're not ready to invest and commit to this build yet. The weapon adds flat Chaos Damage, Cast Speed, and Spell Damage, to increase DPS. And a splash of Chaos Res. I've seen people dual-wield these in early league, before +1 Totem Shields come online. The main downside is the Mana cost increase to skills, which this build can handle because of mana regen and mana flask.
The minimum requirement for the shield slot is the Shaper-influence mod, “+1 to maximum number of Summoned Totems”. The rest of the shield can be junk, as long as you have this mod. Crafted Life is then what you would put on this shield.
Trade link for ultra basic shield: https://www.pathofexile.com/trade/search/Ultimatum/92PJ0mHK
The next step up is to look for some bonus elemental resistance on the shield, in addition to +1 Totem, and both Life and Mana if you can get it.
When you are ready to spend more currency on a shield, you want to look for these affixes: +1 to Level of all Chaos Spell Skill Gems, maximum Life/Mana, Critical Strike Chance for Spells, Spell Damage, and other useful stuff like resistances.
Basic rare, preferably with the Dark Pact enchant for Damage or Cast Speed. You want big life, some mana, two rolls of elemental resistance, and an open suffix for crafting “chance to Avoid Elemental Ailments”, which needs to be 25%.
Once you switch to the Soul Mantle Combo, you will also wear the Viridi's Veil helmet. This helmet gives us curse immunity when we use a magic ring, which is the main synergy with Soul Mantle. This item is expensive in the first week of a league, so do not be in a rush to burn currency on this!
Basic rare. Big life, some mana, two rolls of elemental resistance, and an open suffix for crafting “chance to Avoid Elemental Ailments”, which needs to be 25%. Also nice to sneak in some Dexterity here.
I need to list examples of expensive end-game gloves!
Basic Rare. 30% movement, big life, some mana, two rolls of elemental resistance, and an open suffix for crafting even more resistances.
Once you switch to the Soul Mantle Combo, I recommend getting Avoid Elemental Ailments here on Shaper-influenced boots.
My two preferred lab enchants are the Crit Strike Chance one, and the Movement Speed one.
Before the Soul Mantle Combo, any good Abyss belt will do. Big life, some mana, and it’s really nice to score some Strength here. Elemental resistances, and an open suffix to craft more resistances. Catalyst quality for either Life/Mana or Resistances can also be used here.
Once you go Soul Mantle Combo, you will want to use the Coward’s Legacy belt. Take note that this belt has no EHP and no resistances! You can also catalyst quality for some extra attributes, or 2% movement speed. Don’t forget to spend the passive point on ‘Pain Attunement’, on the passive tree!
The best Belt enchant from the Super Uber Lab is "Enemies Withered by you have -6% to all Resistances". It’s nice to have if you can get it, but don’t sweat it. "15% increased Area of Effect while you have Arcane Surge" is second best.
Headhunter does work with totem builds, and works perfectly fine on this build for clearing maps. So aim for this if you want to!
Dark Pact doesn’t scale the best from gem levels, so seeking out a +1 or a +2 amulet is not as strong as you might think. Still an option though!
A more economical approach is to look for an amulet that is generically good. Big life, some mana, Spell Damage, Cast Speed, Crit Multi are all fine here. Also useful here is Strength and Dexterity, if you need more of these stats.
We also want an open suffix on our amulet, for the +1 Minimum Frenzy Charge craft, which does limit our options. Catalyst quality for either Life/Mana or Attributes are both strongly recommended here.
The anoint you want is "Primal Manifestation", which is cheap and gives a big chunk of DPS.
Your spare ring is a standard rare ring. Big life, some mana, a lot of elemental resistance, and an open suffix for +1 Minimum Frenzy Charge craft. Catalyst quality for either Life/Mana or Resistances are both strongly recommended here.
When you make the switch to the Soul Mantle Combo, your rare ring with 6-mods will need to become a magic ring with 2-mods. Plan accordingly!
The other ring is Astral Projector. Do not put Caster quality on this ring; it will increase the Less Area multiplier!!
This build has 3 regular jewel sockets on the tree. 1 Abyssal socket on the belt, if not using Soul Mantle / Coward’s Legacy. And 2 more regular jewel sockets at the end of your two Medium Cluster jewels.
The regular jewels have Maximum Life and Totem Life for their prefixes. The suffixes are your choice, and can be elemental resistance, strength/dexterity, crit multi, crit multi for spells, critical strike chance, area damage, and anything else you think might be good. I tend to find Elemental Resistances really helpful here.
Trade link with a variety of suffixes: https://www.pathofexile.com/trade/search/Ultimatum/DYzyBOgU5
The abyss jewel is similar to a regular jewel. I like Life, Mana, Str/Dex, and Crit Multi. This is also a good place to buy a Corrupted Blood abyss jewel, which you slot in exclusively for the Sirus fight.
Once you are using the Soul Mantle Combo, you will want to use the Self-Flagellation jewel.
These jewels provide a lot of DPS, and good quality of life. They should not be ignored.
The full skill point cost of 1 Large Cluster, 2 Medium Clusters, and their empty jewel sockets being filled, is 18 skill points. That’s a bargain for what they offer! Before you can afford the full set of Cluster Jewels, I would recommend using a single Medium Cluster that has ‘Sleepless Sentries’ on it; the Onslaught proc is just so nice to have ASAP!
The Large Cluster jewel comes from the Chaos Damage family. You want it to have “Adds 8 Passive Skills”. The best roll has 3 notables on it, two of which are Prefixes, and one of which is the Suffix 'Unholy Grace'.
For the two Prefixes, you want two of the four 'Dark Ideation', 'Touch of Cruelty', 'Unwaveringly Evil', and 'Wicked Pall'. Go for what feels best for your character, and of course is affordable :)
Trade link for the crafting base: https://www.pathofexile.com/trade/search/Ultimatum/9adWadzUK
Trade link for ideal jewel: https://www.pathofexile.com/trade/search/Ultimatum/vwXVnmBcE
The two Medium Cluster jewels are your bread and butter, and they come from the Totem Damage family. They can have 4 or 5 “added passives skills”, but you do not want 6. Each can have 2 notables, which means you will have a total of 4 notables to work with. That means you want 1 each of: Ancestral Echo, Ancestral Preservation, Ancestral Reach, Sleepless Sentries.
Trade link for the crafting base: https://www.pathofexile.com/trade/search/Ultimatum/yp3bZyeUR
Trade link for ideal jewels: https://www.pathofexile.com/trade/search/Ultimatum/yVleyJBhR
Below is a link that helps detail these medium Cluster jewels.
Small Cluster jewels should generally be avoided, in my opinion. They just cost too many passive points to use.
We use both a Life and Mana flask. Since we are MOM, the mana flask acts as a type of life flask, and works synergistically with our life flask. You can choose to not use a Mana flask, since the build only uses it for EHP sustain, and not for actual mana sustain.
The utility flasks are Diamond, because we are crit, and Quartz, because reliable phasing is just too good to not use. The last flask should be a Quicksilver, because we want to be fast!
We have a lot of choices for our flask suffixes, since we are elemental ailment immune. If you need Curse Immunity, I recommend putting that on the Mana flask. The Catarina flask craft from unveiling a Cinderswallow Flask is really strong here, especially if you can get the Crit Chance one.
Eternal Life Prefix: Bubbling, Catalysed, or Panicked.
Eternal Life Suffix: Staunching, though we don’t really need it
Eternal Mana Prefix: Enduring, for the always-on effect
Eternal Mana Suffix: Warding, if not using Soul Mantle
Diamond Prefix: Experimenter’s, generally best here
Diamond Suffix: Cast Speed, a good Catarina craft, or your choice
Quartz Prefix: Experimenter’s or Chemist’s
Quartz Suffix: Cast Speed, a good Catarina craft, or your choice
Quicksilver Prefix: Experimenters, Chemist’s, Alchemist’s, Ample
Quicksilver Suffix: Adrenaline
Lastly, this build does benefit from a Bottled Faith flask. I’d drop the Mana flask, because standing on the Consecrated Ground gives 6% Life Regen, and partially makes up for losing the ‘regen’ from the Mana flask. Bottled Faith can be a little awkward to use, because we need to get closer to scary bosses in order to get the benefit. But boy is it strong when you get everything working!
Last edited by BlueeGreg on Oct 16, 2021, 1:52:36 PM
Last bumped on Oct 19, 2021, 11:55:11 AM
on Oct 27, 2020, 4:03:20 AM
Gems & Links:
Dark Pact 6L: The gold standard 5-link for Dark Pact is Dark Pact (anomalous), Spell Totem (divergent), Multiple Totems (regular), Void Manipulation (awakened), and Controlled Destruction (awakened).
For the 6th, and possibly 7th link, there are a few options. Awakened Added Chaos (level 5) is good. The new red gem Cruelty Support is acceptable. I also really like doing a gem swap between Awakened Increased Area of Effect, into Concentrated Effect for bosses like Conquerors and Sirus.
Wither 4L: Wither (divergent), Despair (anomalous), Cast while Channeling (Anomalous), Infused Channeling
This is our self-cast damage boost for tanky bosses, and is rarely used outside of bosses. This adds Wither stacks to the enemy. It also casts Despair on the enemy, which increases our DPS. If you channel longer than 0.5 seconds, you gain the temporary DPS buff called “Infusion”. This overall combination DOUBLES our DPS on bosses, assuming 6 Wither stacks.
The most important alt-qual here is Divergent Wither, which literally doubles the rate at which enemies gain Wither sticks. Do not overlook this.
As your character gets stronger, you’ll find yourself using self-cast Wither less and less. This is a good thing!
Movement 4L: Flame Dash (anomalous), Arcane Surge level 4, Second Wind, Withering Step
Flame Dash is used for crossing gaps and quickly escaping from danger. I don’t use Flame Dash for advancing towards the unknown, because this can put our guy in danger, stunned, with no totems nearby, and into a quick death.
Withering Step is deceptively strong, and I encourage everyone to fit it into their gameplay. This skill is instant cast, and applies an aura around you. This aura, when it touches an enemy, immediately applies 6+ stacks of Wither to them. Withering Step also grants Phasing and Elusive to you.
There are some downsides. Withering Step competes with the same recharge as Flame Dash, and this makes the skill awkward to use if you aren’t used to it. You will also lose the Withering Step buff once you use any other skill, which should be often. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, because you only need a millisecond to apply the stacks of Wither to the enemy.
The Arcane Surge goes without saying :)
Remaining Flexible ~10 Sockets:
There should be a 4-link, a 3-link, and another 3-link worth of sockets remaining open, that you can experiment with or insert your preferred combos. In 3.14 Ultimatum, I ended up going with:
CWDT Level 20, Stone Golem, Immortal Call
CWDT Level low level, Tempest Shield, Void Sphere
Shield Charge, Fortify Support (strictly for Ultimatum and Ritual content)
We used to use a trigger-weapon, but that has been nerfed. Vaal RF was also nerfed.
I like Phase Run on my left-mouse click, for a build like this. It acts as a bonus Quicksilver flask, and generally just feels good. Be sure you buy a high-quality version of this, and keep the gem level low because of the Dexterity requirements.
Vitality Aura, I like because it gives Life Regen. That’s it. It’s fairly weak, you don’t have to use it. There is no other aura that I recommend.
I like a high level Cast When Damage Taken in all of my builds. Here, I use a max level Stone Golem for the life regen, and a level 12-14 Immortal Call for the defense (unlikely to be max level because of Strength requirements).
There’s room for a low level Cast When Damage Taken. I like Tempest Shield, for the tiny bit of Block that it gives. I also like Void Sphere, because it occasionally sucks up some corpses and it just looks cool.
Shield Charge + Fortify is very reasonable for content like Ultimatum. It’s otherwise very clunky to use and I don’t recommend trying to use it during bosses or most other content.
This is not a true league starter build, because of the Astral Projector ring. You must level up as some type of Hierophant, such as Holy Flame Totem or Freezing Pulse Totem, and then switch over later to chaos damage and Dark Pact. Leveling as a 2nd character, with pre-bought leveling gear and an Astral Projector for level 40, feels really good!
Wallach has a very good guide for Freezing Pulse, and other leveling-focused tips.
I've created a POB that might help with leveling. It has three phases of Story Mode (first lab), Early Mapping, and then End Game. It also has example support skills like Arcanist Brand.
Your main goal is to the clear the first lab, at the start of Act 4. This gives you an explosion of power, and this is also when you double down on your totem synergies. 'Ancestral Bond' should be taken on the tree immediately after you finish your first lab, taking 'Pursuit of Faith'.
How you get to Act 4 is up to you. Use any style and Spell you prefer, it really doesn't matter. Once you're at Act 4 and beyond, you'll want to focus into a main 4-link Spell like Holy Flame Totem or Freezing Pulse + Spell Totem Support, while also adding in some support skills like Arcanist Brand.
'Elemental Overload' is great to use for most of leveling, until you have enough crit nodes on your tree and also a really good Diamond flask. Unfortunately with the upcoming flask nerfs, its unclear how potent the Diamond flask will be. So you should expect to use Elemental Overload for longer, and postpone taking crit nodes on the tree. Oh and when you're using Elemental Overload, don't be in a rush to use Controlled Destruction Support; your crit chance could be lowered to 0% :)
Once you have your first 6-link or Tabula, I strongly recommend using Multiple Totem Support. Combine this with your Spell of choice, and your early mapping should be set.
Your skill tree will be feature complete, shortly after Act 10 Kitava, around Level 75-78. Slot in regular jewels when you can snipe a good deal, and definitely be working towards your Cluster jewel combo.
Combo While Waiting On The Boss
This applies to any boss with a long summoning animation, such as Metamorph, all Conquerors, Sirus, Cortex phases, Maven phases. The steps are this:
- Stand close to the boss
- Spam out your totems, preferably on the other side of the boss
- If Soul Mantle, spam out even more totems to make sure you have lots of curses going
- Wait for the boss to become targetable. You will know when this happens, because your totems will start shooting
- Hit all your non-Life flasks, especially Bottled Faith if you got it
- Hit your Withering Step button
- Run away like a scared child, but not with Flame Dash because its locked out
If the boss doesn't immediately vaporize, you should start to burn them down with self-cast Wither from a safe distance. At all times, make sure you have all your totems up and shooting.
End Game Variants
Elegant Hubris ES Stacking:
@Bobirosan1 took this version to Level 100 in 3.14.
Elegant Hubris (Cadiro) is used to access the Supreme Decadence keystone. When combined with the Panicked 'instant because low-life' Life flask, this provides very reliable recovery to the ES pool, which the build otherwise does not have. There are other small bonuses from this jewel, if you allocate more points around it and rolled good RNG.
ES is further boosted by changing the Ascendancy points. A Clarity Watcher's Eye is used. Some mana is reserved for Zealotry, to make up for missing DPS elsewhere. A double curse setup is used for more boss DPS. There are also clever passive tree changes to fit this all in.
Agnostic Arcane Cloak:
@ciggaro took this version to Level 100 in 3.14.
The Agnostic keystone, and a high level Arcane Cloak skill gem, leverage a healthy mana pool into a significant source of regen, and also a chunk of DPS. This creates a surprisingly balanced and defensive character, though some DPS is sacrificed to create this balance. The passive tree choices largely mimic what a person would do for an Archmage build.
Elemental Ailment Immunity is maintained by anointing 'Arcane Swiftness'. Clarity, and a Clarity Watcher's Eye, are used to balance out the MOM even more. Unnatural Instinct jewel is used because cash money why not? :)
I personally like this variant and I think I will try it whenever I play Dark Pact again!
Which map modifiers should I look out for?
There is no single map modifier that will 'brick' a map for us, so therefore every single map can be completed. The main one you want to look out for is 'Cannot regen life/mana', and I skip this almost 100% of the time.
When I start getting close to the next level and can't afford to die, I start looking out for other dangerous rolls. 'Additional / multi proj for enemies' and '100% increased enemy AOE' are lethal when combined with other modifiers. 'Monster crit chance and multi' and 'monster attack and cast speed' can be lethal. Also, any of the 'enemy gains 100% of phys as an element' is a big increase in enemy DPS.
If too many of these modifiers exist at the same time, I would consider re-rolling the map, if your goal is to not die.
"Is there a good Watcher's Eye jewel that we can use?"
The simple answer is, no. The Vitality bonuses are fairly weak across the board. Some of the Clarity bonuses can be good, but I would never recommend paying for that unless you're focusing on a variant. We have no offensive/DPS options. A well balanced regular jewel really goes a long way instead.
July 18 2021, leveling section updates and with new POB there
May 20 2021, huge update on all sections of the guide! Need to finish Leveling section and POB section for 3.15
Apr 23 2021, addendum at the front for 2nd week 3.14 Ultimatum, includes current POB
Apr 13 2021, 3.14 patch notes, cleaned up the guide, new POB soon
Mar 22 2021, initial thoughts on upcoming 3.14 League
Feb 21 2021, brief update to Gems / Trigger Weapon. Also the Ascendancy section.
Nov 18 2020, updated Shield information and added trade link
Nov 11 2020, actual video clips of my character added!
Nov 1 2020, Skin of the Loyal chest now expensive? :(
October 2020, 3.12 Heist
Last edited by BlueeGreg on Jul 19, 2021, 12:37:48 AM
on Oct 27, 2020, 4:03:31 AM
on Oct 27, 2020, 4:03:39 AM
Hey man - been trying to catch you online but no luck. I am playing this on HC and invested a bit as this will be my last char. I am really enjoying it. I was wondering if you can take a look at my POB for my level 84 and let me know if you see any potential changes I could make... hoping to be level 90+ today.
Thanks ahead of time!
Last edited by dsata on Oct 30, 2020, 4:51:11 PM
on Oct 30, 2020, 2:45:58 PM
็Hi. Im playing this build to lv90 now. Its absolutely blast and quite cheap to get going.
on Nov 1, 2020, 4:21:41 AM
can you tell me why you ignore the imba chant on totem and miners from the labyrinth for a 120% crit chance on boots? has it nerf and no longer works?
on Nov 1, 2020, 7:58:25 AM
The Storm Brand from the trigger weapon crits all the time, which gives us Power Charges but also means you can't benefit from that boot enchant. These crits count as YOU critting. If you aren't using a trigger weapon, it's totally OK to use that crit boot enchant. I think I would still prefer the movement speed enchant, since DPS feels already really good once you get everything together.
on Nov 1, 2020, 10:59:33 AM
Yes it's a very cheap build, if you ignore the cost of the Astral Projector ring. That's a good thing too because that ring itself can break someone's bank early in the league, not leaving a lot left for good gear.
on Nov 1, 2020, 11:01:44 AM
Your char is very impressive for level 84 and in Hardcore!
The Bottled Faith is a tough flask to fit in. It really only helps with bosses and you need to be close to the boss, which is scary for HC. Also means you likely lose a Quartz flask or a Mana flask, both of which are great defensively. I would honestly drop the Bottled Faith flask and use an Enduring Mana flask, so your EHP stays topped off.
I love your focus on stacking Chaos res, which I wish I had been able to do. Your chest is very good for defense, though you lose DPS obviously. Probably the right call for Hardcore.
Your Small Cluster jewel with Blessed is a great choice. That actually might be BIS, and I didn't notice it. That extra Mana and Chaos res go a long way.
You were able to fit in Elemental Ailment immunity on your boots with Shaper influence. Nice!
Lol your gear is so good and cohesive, I feel like you're playing an entirely different game than me! :)
on Nov 1, 2020, 11:15:02 AM
Can it be considered tanky enuff for endgame heisting ?
Edit: Chest price went up a lot .. sigh
Last edited by Yloss on Nov 1, 2020, 6:50:01 PM
on Nov 1, 2020, 3:59:20 PM