[3.13] Vaal earthquake Bleed Gladiator // Slightly off-meta with The Traitor keystone

This is not a build guide. This is just a sharing of my character, IGN: VengefulBalbala.
Path of Building link: https://pastebin.com/W0cLsfEj

Motivation: Combatting lag spikes with auto-skills

I play on a potato tablet with low RAM and CPU, not even a proper PC. With today’s PoE there are at least 5-6 lag spikes every map when my machine struggles to load new textures should I run too fast. It gets frustrating. But being a PoE addict, instead of quitting the league I decided to start a new character designed to defeat both the endgame and the lag.

On top of my brain I thought of two ways to do this. One is to off-screen enemies before their model can be loaded in, so they don’t have to be loaded in (doesn’t work that way, but feels good shooting thin air). I tried that with max Dodge self-cast Ice Spear Deadeye (IGN: ShapeOfTheMarker). The other one is to deal damage even while lagging with minimal control over your character. This is how I come to Vaal Earthquake.

Key gimmick: The Traitor, Soul Ripper, Vaal Earthquake and bleed


The build revolves around Soul Ripper, the flask that stores souls for the Vaal skills during Soul Gain Prevention, effectively bypassing the prevention and enables Vaal skills to be used continuously instead of a “special move” every once in a while. However, this does not work against single targets since they do not give you flask charges at all. Therefore, there needs to be some way to passively regenerate charges.

The Traitor keystone (transformed from Brutal Restraint in the name of Balbala) grants 4 flask charges every 5 seconds for each empty flask slot, evenly distributed across all flasks. If there is only Soul Ripper equipped, it will gain 16 charges every 5 seconds. This also scales with “increased Flask Charges gained”. With The Tactician belt (which also provides some nice Intelligence for using Warstaves and global Physical Damage for the bleed), we gain 24 charges instead. Unfortunately, Vaal Earthquake requires 30 souls to use, meaning that we can only use it once every 10 seconds. A prolonged bleed helps fill in this damage gap nicely. Combining Unbound Ailments support, cluster jewel notable Rend and ailment duration while Focussed helmet craft, we can have 1.6x faster bleeds while still lasting over 10 seconds.

Compared to a conventional bleed Earthquake, there are some differences. Against a single target one Vaal Earthquake will leave 7 aftershocks, meaning we can afford higher variance to gamble for a high bleed roll. This results in me going crit. Between 95% accuracy, 38% effective crit chance and the 60% Elder weapon mod, I can rely on one of the 7 attacks being a “super bleed” over the next 10 seconds as my Soul Ripper refills. (Side note: the crit-based Haemorrhage cluster jewel notable is cheaper too.)

Planning around the downside – No flasks

The obvious issue with the Traitor is that having flasks will impede your ability to get Vaal souls. This is a significant trade-off given how much defensive power flasks provide: status removal, Rumi’s block chance and many more. I got around this as much as possible:

1. The notable Admonisher “removes an ailment when you Warcry”. An Enduring Cry – Second Wind setup provides health regen and ailment removal on demand.

2. 100% freeze avoidance. Of course you cannot Warcry while frozen. So I used Rin’s Veiled mod “Cannot be Frozen” on boots. (Actually I crafted only 80% chance to avoid Frozen, which costs 4 chaos instead of 1 exalt, as I have 2 jewel implicits through Harvest that provided the other 20%)

3. Actually using a flask. Mapping while Cursed is really annoying and unfortunately there are no easy solutions to remedy this without sacrificing gear slots. Therefore I opted to use equip a second flask: a Quicksilver Flask of Warding for mapping, and a Bottled Faith for bossing.

Using a flask is a calculated compromise. With The Tactician and two flasks equipped, we gain 18 charges every 5 seconds. All these charges will go into the Soul Ripper if the other flask is full, meaning that this will also fully recharge a 30-soul Vaal Earthquake in 2 rounds/10 seconds. Having one or two flasks actually makes no difference in terms of Vaal Earthquake downtime. One caveat here is that we need a Soul Ripper with maximum charges between 30 and 36. Fewer than 30 means we can’t fully recharge one Vaal Earthquake. More than 36 means we can’t use it every 10 seconds.

Surviving lag with max block

Max block has been a staple in AFK builds, and lag spikes in a sense make you AFK. I have had a good time with The Surrender + counterattacks before, but this time I opted for more damage with Staves, since it got slightly buffed in 3.13 in the passing Ascendancy points on the Gladiator tree. Then I realized that Staff block is still far inferior because there are no sources of life gain on block for Staves. Capping block with Staves is also harder than with a Shield, and I only managed to get to 67%, 75% if I am damaged recently. I have been using The Anvil for a long while before finding good Megalomaniacs with Block notables to replace it.

To supplement this my way to recover life is through Vengeance + Life Gain on Hit support. This and Life Leech from Vicious Guard notable allows me to tank through laggy Harbinger/Beyond packs. Sometimes.

The Overlord notable provides Fortify even on triggered attack. Finally, high armour and Molten Shell helps mitigate some damage as well so that the character is fairly tanky despite the low life pool.

Additional critique and summary

In terms of gameplay, mapping is really chill, pressing flasks and Vaal Earthquake once every 5-6 seconds with no aiming or dodging required. Just use the Phasing from Soul Ripper to run into packs and the bleed explosion will take care of the rest. With the helmet AoE enchant the coverage is also nice, often leaving maps with 0 monsters remain. Running Heists with this character is an absolute breeze.

Slight annoyance when playing this build is that the 7 aftershocks run out slightly earlier than the Soul Gain Prevention itself, meaning that there will be around 1 second gap between your aftershocks. But it is nice that Soul Ripper is implemented such that you cannot use it during Soul Gain Prevention, so no souls are wasted and the timing is lenient. I just spam the flask and the Vaal Earthquake keys in a pinch.

I tried to build around single target, but it is not the smoothest. If you have the dexterity to dance your fingers over the “Vaal Earthquake-weapon swap-Ensnaring Arrow-weapon swap back so that Vaal Earthquake can get Souls-Soul Ripper flask-Vaal Earthquake again” cycle, then the damage is formidable. But too many times did I try that and forgot to swap back to the Vaal Earthquake gem link before tapping Soul Ripper, and the Souls just got wasted and I lost another damage cycle and had to rely on regular Earthquake that deals around 20% less damage.

Still, I am happy with this build because of so many things coming together to work nicely (thanks to Harvest making it possible in the first place), and there is a sense of pride that I have come up with something innovative that is a rare Traitor build, even though it is not comparable in terms of both damage and survivability with the meta bleed EQ Gladiators.

This is one of the least skill-intensive builds I have played in terms of skills/combos, flask and movement, which is in my opinion the biggest benefit of playing this over the normal Earthquake. On a medium-high budget of 30 exalts, I recommend this to everyone like me who plays PoE not for its flashy combat effects but for the interesting build mechanics, not for fast-paced action but for casual strolls over Atolls – on a bloody explosive roll.

Last bumped on Mar 12, 2021, 7:16:05 AM
How do you find the damage because in Pob your only pushing 1.1mil Vaal EQ, and 995k EQ fully ticked which is extremely low.

When I looked more closely at your character you are aiming for 3 different archetypes these are Bleed, Block, Crit

Without any investment into bleed you have 39% chance to bleed this is real bad even when you crit you roll the dice of not landing a bleed on regular EQ.

Since you have DoT scaling when you land a Critical and your Crit chance is only 61% in Pob you gain no benefit from the Tactian as you only have 116 Int which means that isnt working.

Then you went for Max block while having 4.8k Life with no offence and no scaling for Bleed or Crit.

In order for this kind of build to work you would either go Max block with RT and aim for around 7mil EQ - 5mil Vaal EQ damage.

Or a heavy Focus on getting as much Crit chance, power chargers to proc the Haemorrhage while having baseline Dot and using Starves block as its there but nothing serious

If you switched Less duration for Chance to bleed your Vaal EQ becomes 12 seconds and goes to 1.4mil dps which between flask downtime gives you more uptime
Last edited by GrimExcuse on Mar 12, 2021, 8:15:58 AM

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