[3.18 Ready] Versatile Combatant Impale Shield Crush Duelist - Crush the Atlas - SSF Compatible

Last Update: May 6th, 2022

I am pretty confident that swapping to Slayer Ascendancy for Endgame Uber Bossing will be enough for it to be doable.

I will not personally be running Shield Crush this league (to avoid burnout). I will still update this guide as needed during Sentinel league.

Update Log

This build is now 3.18 ready.

Added a 'more damage' type that utilizes Arn's Anguish over Ryslatha's Coil
Adjusted Shield values to emulate breakpoints better
'Uber Budget' version created with very low gear and Lifetap over Pulverise for super low budget emulation

Please let me know if there's anything I missed or any oversights. There's a lot of stuff here and it's easy for me to miss something!


This Shield Crush build is intended as a starter build for all types of players, including those brand new to the game.

This build can currently scale into a character that can reasonably do all endgame content utilizing easy to get gear, reliable scaling, and large amounts of safety. Because of this, the build is also SSF and HC friendly due to the adaptable options to prioritize defenses over raw damage.

This build is comprehensive and breaks down nearly every aspect of the build including mechanic breakdowns, upgrade options, crafting steps to make your own endgame gear, alternative options to make this build your own, examples of gear that you should be aiming for, and video demonstrations of endgame content.

This build is designed for Gladiator due to the ease of access we get to block, attack and movement speed from challenger charges, and quality of life we get with the ability to ignore enemy physical damage reduction. This build can also be run as a Slayer, which is loosely covered in this guide. You can run this build on Champion and Berserker as well, but this is not covered in this guide.


The listed PoBs will emulate 'realistic' DPS against bosses. Frenzy Charges, Onslaught, Vaal Warchief, and recent kill effects are all turned off with the exception of blocking in the past 20 seconds (this is not hard to proc on most bosses). The damage is ~20% higher with all of these turned on.

3.18 'Main' Gladiator PoB: https://pastebin.com/JNzyUHAP

My 3.17 'Finalized' Slayer (made slight realistic tweaks to simulate 'more damage' pieces. See notes): https://pastebin.com/9Nmm4Xvf

NOTE: Make sure to check the Notes section for a sheet that includes Harvest priorities, Pantheon, enchantments, and finalized gear links!

3.17 Gear

3.15 Gear

Shield Crush Overlap

Here is an image demonstrating how the Shield Crush areas work.

Green = the two 'side' damaging arcs
Red = the 'center' damaging arc
Gold = the 'sweet spot' where you get shotgun damage.

Remember: You only really need to apply the shotgun damage for rares/bosses, not during general mapping. The whites and blues should die in 1-2 hits either way.

What Makes Shield Crush Unique

One of the Unique things about Shield Crush is that gem levels are important, and we can use these to scale Shield Crush to do even more damage. At Level 24, we get an extra point of physical damage per 15 armor or evasion on our shield, which totals to roughly a ~20% DPS increase if we can hit that margin. Shield Crush, Shield Charge, and Spectral Shield Throw are the ONLY Melee skills that utilize this kind of scaling so far.

Pros and Cons

+ Easy, Effective League Start to get off the ground (only need a high armor shield)
+ All content viable
+ Tanky (about 100k eHP) with lots of ways to keep your defense up (Versatile Combatant Max Block, Armor, Endurance Charges, Vaal Molten Shell, etc)
+ SSF Friendly. No Uniques Required.
+ Fast mapping and mobility utilizing Leap Slam tied with Challenger Charges.
+ Offensive, Defensive, and Flask Flexibility to make this build your own.

- Not a one button build (Totems, Blood Rage, Leap Slam, Shield Crush buttons)
- We Level with Steel Skills and swap to Shield Crush at Act 9 / Early Maps
- Weak to DoT damage early on (natural weakness of block/armor builds, we patch this with Pantheon bonuses)
- Average Bossing speed
- No Physical Reflect Maps (unless you are Slayer). Reduced Block Chance maps are dangerous but doable.
- Slight Dexterity/Intelligence Starvation without Carnage Heart.

Mechanics We Use

Resolute Technique:
Resolute Technique enables us to hit 100% of the time at the cost of no critical strikes. Since we do not use critical strikes, this is excellent for us to use.

Unwavering Stance:
We don't use evasion, so Unwavering Stance is used for Stun Immunity.

We use Fortification for general damage reduction, and end up getting about 24% less damage taken after passives. Due to the new passive mastery system, we now get Fortification built in since Shield Crush is a melee skill, which removes the need for the skill gem.

We utilize Lifetap to make Leap Slamming really easy, and to give us a nice damage buffer early on before we get our cluster jewel to ignore most mana problems. It is entirely optional to use Lifetap or Pulverise - I prefer Pulverise for more aoe. We still need Mana Leech for CWDT Vulnerability trigger (before Vulnerability ring) and Totems.

Our main source of defense. We block the hit, we take no damage. We also get the ability to ignore enemy physical damage reduction on block.
We can also use life gain on block to get health back when we do block.
We get up to 60% block and 50% spell block through Versatile Combatant on Gladiator with no additional investment on gear.

Remember, we are still HIT even if we BLOCK the hit. We do not have to take damage from the hit to consider being hit.

We can take some pretty heavy hits assuming everything is up, and Determination can make our Armor Threshhold even larger if you would like to be more defensive. Effective HP is simulated through elemental resistances in the Configuration > Custom Modifiers section.

We swing our Shield really fast. Using Impale is best because we can trigger Impale stacks easily and effectively due to our speed. The shotgun effect also counts as two hits, which makes stacking and triggering Impale even faster.

Attack Speed:
In tandem with above, Attack Speed gives us faster Leap Slam movement, faster shield hits, and faster Impale triggering when we attack.

Ancestral Protector + Ancestral Warchief:
We use ancestral totems to buff our attack speed and flat damage, and also anoint 'Panopticon' for better effects of our Totem buffs. This is a large damage steroid that we primarily use for bosses and tough rares, as our damage is reliable enough for general mapping without it.

We use leech as our primary life and mana sustain. We get our leech through Jewels, Cluster Jewels, Gloves, Rings, or the passive tree.

We will have enough mana sustain to continue attacking with this equation below:


Generally speaking as long as there is one source of Mana Leech on your items and you have multistrike in Shield Crush, you will be able to sustain mana through leech. Just 0.2% of damage leeched as mana is enough for this equation to work as long as we are past ~Act 8.

Gems and Links

(20/X) = Level/Quality. If you see X on quality, it can be whatever quality.

Shield Crush

6L - Shield Crush R R G R R R
Explanation: Main skill, duh.
Shield Crush (21/20) - We want 20 Quality on this for area of effect increase. This is top priority.
Brutality (20/20) - Raw damage. No chaos or elemental damage though.
Impale Support (20/20) - Impales for 100% Impale chance.
Multistrike (20/20) - Faster attacks, also makes mana leeching easier.
Melee Physical Damage (20/20) - Basic damage addition.
Pulverise (20/20) - Area of Effect + Area Damage.
Lifetap (20/20) - Ignore mana issues since ability costs life instead.

Gem Alternatives:
Anomalous Shield Crush for more attack speed over area of effect
Divergent Multistrike for more attack speed

Shield Crush w/ Awakened Supports

6L - Shield Crush Awakened Supports R R G R R R
Explanation: Main skill with slightly better damage.
Anomalous Shield Crush (21/20) - Anomalous version for increased attack speed.
Awakened Brutality (5/20) - Raw damage. No chaos or elemental damage though.
Impale Support (20/20) - Impales for 100% Impale chance.
Divergent Multistrike (20/20) - Faster attacks, also makes mana leeching easier
Awakened Melee Physical Damage (5/20) - Basic damage addition along with Intimidate support.
Pulverise (20/20) - Area of Effect + Area Damage

4L 1 - Totems
4L 1 - Ancestral Protector + Vaal Ancestral Warchief R R R R
Explanation: The attack speed buff along with the flat damage buff is beneficial to us, and using Multiple Totems Support lets us use both totems at once. You should only really need this for tough rares/bosses.
Vaal Ancestral Warchief (20/X) - Quality doesn't really matter here. We want the buff.
Ancestral Protector OR Phantasmal Ancestral Protector (20/X) - You want 20 quality if you are using the Phantasmal Ancestral Protector variant.
Multiple Totems Support (20/X) - For Multiple Totems to use both Protector and Warchief.
Maim Support (20/X) - Maiming enemies for more damage for all of our build.

4L 2 - Auras
4L 2 - Auras R R R R
Pride (20/X) - Raw damage increase.
Blood and Sand (6/0) - Area damage + Challenger Charge Support
Herald of Purity (20/X) - More Damage and slight defensive benefits from Sentinels (they do draw aggro)
Flesh and Stone (20/X) - Maim damage on bosses on blood stance, and % less damage taken from far enemies on sand stance.
NOTE: We need the Mana Reservation cluster fully completed in order to use all the Auras mentioned in this build. Please make sure to take a look at the levelling section to see what Auras you should use during the levelling process.

4L 3 - Leap Slam + Enduring Cry
4L 3 - Leap Slam + Enduring Cry R G R R
Explanation: Movement Skill + Endurance Charge Generation
Leap Slam (20/X) - We use this over Shield Charge because it traverses terrain and is just as fast.
Faster Attacks (20/20) - Always put this with Leap Slam.
Lifetap (1/X) - We keep this at level 1 for a free 20% increased Life from Flasks because of Lifetap.
Enduring Cry (20/20) - Endurance Charge generation against bosses + Life regeneration boost on demand.

3L 1 - Shield - CWDT + Vulnerability
3L 1 - Shield - CWDT + Vulnerability R R R
Explanation: Defenses with Molten Shell. Vulnerability as curse. Make sure your linked skill gems are low enough level so CWDT can trigger them.
Cast When Damage Taken Support (CWDT) (6/X) - Take 1000+ damage, it activates. Tinker with the level as you see fit.
Vaal Molten Shell (13/X) - We are an armor build, this is the best defense for us. Vaal skill can be used on demand. You can use Immortal Call instead if you want, but I prefer the Vaal skill for on-demand usage.
Vulnerability (9/X) - Your decision on if it's CWDT or not. I prefer CWDT. This will ultimately be replaced with a Vulnerability on hit ring.

3L 2 - Weapon - Blood Rage + Frenzy
3L 2 - Weapon - FILL G G B
Explanation: Culling Strike support once we get the space + Blood rage socket. Once we free up gem slots and find other ways to leech mana, prismatic eclipse will be G G G colors.
Blood Rage (X/X) - Level this as high as you can, as we're slightly Dexterity starved.
Frenzy (20/X) - Frenzy gives us easy Frenzy charge generation during bosses since we attack so fast.
GGG sockets: Culling Strike (20/X) - Culling Strike support for killing bosses at 10% or lower hp. Very nice against bosses like Maven, Sirus, and Catarina.
OPEN (X/X) - This slot remains open while we look for other ways to get mana leech. You can place a gem like Portal here if you'd like.
Note: Since we are using Prismatic Eclipse as our main weapon, you want the sockets to be 1 Blue, 2 Green. 2 Green for attack speed, 1 Blue for Mana leech. Once mana leech problems are fixed, switch to G G G colors on Prismatic Eclipse.

UNSET RING - War Banner
UNSET RING - War Banner R
Explanation: Extra damage boost. Once we get a Vulnerability on Hit ring then we can move this to the CWDT section.

Eldritch Mods - What to look for

Eldritch mods are an addition as of 3.17 that give us some cool benefits depending on the gear that we have. These can be applied to Helmets, Body Armor, Gloves, and Boots. Eldritch mods can only be applied to rares. There are multiple tiers of these items and they replace implicit values on armor pieces. Use the lesser ones as much as you like on your armor pieces - it won't change the explicit values.

Because our Body Armor slot is ultimately going to be a unique or a warlord's body, Body Armor is not listed.

Remember that the end options for our helmet are an Eldritch Modded rare helmet or an Inward Eye. You can still use a rare helmet if you find some godly rolls, but these other options will be better most of the time.


Exarch Implicits: Increased Vulnerability Effect, Increased Area of Effect

Eater of Worlds Implicits: Mana Reservation Efficiency, increased attack damage


Exarch Implicits: Increased Attack Speed, added physical damage to attacks, herald of purity has increased buff effect, rage on hit with attacks, intimidate enemies on hit

Eater of Worlds Implicits: increased damage per strength, impale chance on attacks


Exarch Implicits: Increased movement speed, resistances, damage per endurance charge

Eater of Worlds Implicits: increased armor from helmet/gloves, enduring cry recovery rate

Gearing Breakdown

NOTE: There are endgame options for both Amulet and Body Armor slots. As long as Shield Crush is ultimately Level 24, you do not need +2 on both options.


Priority - Crafted Shield

Budget Recommendation - Rare Shield with ~2000 Armor

Explanation: A crafted shield will be very easy to do because of Essences. Using Essence of Dread, we can force up to +340-370 FLAT armor on our shield. This is big because although its slightly lower than the natural T1 modifier, it is significantly more consistent to make a budget shield.
Crafting your Shield
For a baseline we will want a good life roll and the ability to craft % increased armor on our shield to hit 1500 armour.
The best shield for us to use for damage is an Item Level 73 or higher Colossal Tower Shield.
A shaper influenced or Warlord's influenced Colossal Tower Shield is best in slot for Life Gain on Block, but not required. The bar for Life Gain on Block is only Level 68. We go for 73 or higher for the T1 life roll (if you want) and the T3 % increased Armor roll.

An easy way to get a 1500+ armor shield is by following the steps below.
1. Find/Purchase an ilvl 73+ Colossal Tower Shield
2. Scour (optional). Armorer's Scrap to 20%
3. Use a Deafening Essence of Dread on it. Ensure one prefix slot is open and % increased armor isn't taken.
4. Craft tier 3 increased Armour on it. You can find this in early maps. Tier 2 increased Armour is from Kitava fight.

Assuming no other modifiers, you will have a BARE MINIMUM 1700 or so armor shield for use with Shield Crush. This already outclasses Lioneye's Remorse in a purely damage standpoint.

Endgame Shield Crafting

Other options to consider for endgame shield crafting:
Dense Fossils
Defense Harvest crafts

I would recommend using Dense Fossils in order to get the mods you want. As a bare minimum, you want at least T1 flat and % increased armor. The armor/life or armor/block recovery are bonuses. armor/block recovery is better than armor/life. It is most ideal to also get crafted attack speed or double damage as a crafted on suffix if possible.

Priority - Prismatic Eclipse with G G B sockets

Budget - Stat Stick Weapon (Resistances, attributes, and on-hit effects)

Endgame - Corrupted Prismatic Eclipse with G G G sockets and Resolute Technique

Explanation: Prismatic Eclipse gives us global attack speed per green socket, and mana leech on hit per blue socket. Since we only care about our Shield, this is the best, cheapest option for us to help pad Shield Crush damage. These drop heavily in price after the first day or two, so it should be very easy to find one in trade.

Endgame Explanation: Adding in a corrupted Prismatic Eclipse can give us two extra passive points or slightly more damage. Corruptions include Resolute Technique, added damage to attacks, and area of effect. All of them are good, but I would consider Resolute Technique the 'best' because of the passive points.

REMEMBER: You can buy a corrupted prismatic eclipse with any sockets, then use the bench to get to 3 socket and to get triple green, you just have to pay vaal orbs along with the chromatic/jeweller orb costs. This will save you money in the long run over buying the 3G corrupted prismatic eclipse outright.


Priority - Crown of the Inward Eye

Budget - Defenses Rare Helmet

Endgame - Elder Helmet w/ 'Nearby enemies take x% increased physical damage'

Explanation: Inward Eye gives us the best bang for our buck, and it's a relatively common drop from Sirus. As the league goes on, this will get cheaper. We want as high of a roll as possible for the life modifier. Due to the 3.17 changes, it will most likely take longer for this to drop in price. I would recommend waiting until day 3-4 of the league to buy this unless you have a good amount of currency already saved up.

In the meantime, use a rare helmet with life/defenses.

Endgame: We gain about 2% DPS with a 3ex or so investment, and get more slots for resistances as well as extra armor. The primary reason you want to work for this is to alleviate potential elemental resistance problems you can run into when changing rare items to uniques. The steps to craft are listed below.

Crafting your Endgame Helmet

Step 1: Purchase an ilvl 85 Elder Base Armor Helmet (Royal or Eternal Burgonet are best). OPTIONAL: Buy a helmet with a Shield Crush craft on it as well.
Step 2: Use 'Deafening Essence of Greed' until you also hit a T1 or T2 health/armor modifier (for more hp). Ensure that there is an open suffix modifier. The suffixes do not matter at this point.
Step 3: Craft 'Prefixes cannot be changed' modifier (cost 2ex).
Step 4: Harvest craft 'reforge physical' to guarantee 'Nearby enemies take 9% increased physical damage' while keeping your prefixes.
Step 5: Craft whatever suffix you want on if there's space.

NOTE: The enchantment makes the build's damage significantly better, so an enchanted rare helmet is better than a base Inward Eye. Your top aim is to get an enchanted Inward Eye or Elder Helmet.

Body Armor

Priority - 6L Armor Item (preferably Astral Plate) OR Belly of the Beast

Budget - Tabula Rasa (+2 to AoE socketed gems option)

Endgame - Warlord's Astral Plate w/ +1 socketed active and +1 socketed strength mods OR Belly of the Beast with +2 gems corruption (EXPENSIVE)

Explanation: Using a 6L rare will let us craft whatever we want onto it, and can also allow us to put influences on our chest that could give nice QoL.

Remember, do NOT use Eldritch orbs on your body. It will brick your body armor if you plan to use that same piece for the endgame chest.

A tabula rasa will be enough for a while, as we only really need a 6 link for early on. Using a Body Armor for extra life and defense makes it easier to hit resistance cap, though.

Belly of the Beast option: Belly gives a lot of life, decent Armor, and good resistances. It's normally 4-5ex for a 6 link around league start and drops to 2-3ex after a week or so. If you just want more life to stack on, this is your best option.

Corruption Option - +2 to AoE socketed gems: We use this in order to help hit Shield Crush 24. +2 to AoE socketed gems is pretty cheap on a Tabula, so this is a good medium if you don't need life/resistances from your body armor. Corrupted Bellys or other 6Ls with this mod will be pretty expensive and hard to find on trade.

Endgame: Using an Astral Plate along with Warlord's Mods and Delve Crafting will get us a +1 socketed active and +1 socketed strength gems chest, which helps get us to gem level 24 without corrupting anything except for the 21/X Shield Crush gem. This also gives us a +1 to 4 of our 5 support gems as well, which will also apply to Awakened gems if you take Awakened gems instead. It's also pretty cheap to make! (Normally around 5ex about 2 weeks into the league).

How to Craft your Endgame Chest

Pre-requisites: Level 80 character for Divination Card
COST: ~5 Exalted estimate

Step 1: Purchase 6 'The Celestial Justicar' divination cards for your 6L Astral Plate.
NOTE: The Astral Plate MUST be at least ILVL 80 for this to work.
Step 2: Chromatic Orb to 5R1G
Step 3: Purchase 1 Warlord's Exalted Orb Warlord's Exalted Orb and use on Astral Plate
Step 4: Purchase the following Delve Fossils and Resonators:

X = the amount for each. The average is about 4 per Craft of Exile. I would recommend doing one or two at a time so you don't overbuy.

Craft of Exile math is here: HERE

X faceted fossil
X pristine fossil
X dense fossil
X powerful chaotic resonator
Step 5: Fossil Craft on your Astral Plate until you land on the following modifiers:
+1 to socketed active skill gems
+1 to socketed strength skill gems

Step 6: Craft either % max life or flat life. Flat life is usually better, but check in PoB to make sure.

Other Good Rare Body Armor Influence Mods
Redeemer: % chance to gain a Frenzy Charge on Hit (Suffix, ilvl80)
Hunter: % increased maximum life (Prefix, ilvl85)
Warlord: +1 to Level of Socketed Active Skill Gems (Prefix, ilvl80), Socketed Attacks have -15 to Total Mana Cost (Suffix, ilvl85)

Priority - Rare Sinistral Gloves with Life, Attack Speed, and Added Physical

Budget - Rare Spiked/Sinistral Gloves (or General Gloves) with Life and Resists

Mapping - Haemophilia

Endgame - Warlord's Sinistral Gloves w/ Culling Strike or Block Chance

Explanation: Shield Crush uses only our offhand, so Sinistral Gloves gives us the most damage. Use Spiked gloves as a cheap option in the meantime, or Haemophilia if you want smoother mapping.
Added damage is just a bonus, attack speed is better than flat damage.
Crafting 'increased damage with non-vaal skills during soul gain prevention' will increase our damage after using molten shell or throwing down Warchiefs. If you want more damage and are already resistance capped, use this. This is found via Betrayal.

On Haemophilia: Haemophilia gives us weaker bleedsplosions for the cost of our glove slot. The explosion radius isn't all too big, but it is noticeable in maps. I would recommend using this for mapping on Gladiator early on.

Endgame Explanation: Sinistral Gloves with Culling Strike is the best way to go and the best way to optimize our glove slot on a decent budget. As long as we have 1 suffix and the craft 'chance to avoid stun', we will either hit increased block chance or culling strike. Both are good, and it's up to a matter of preference for what you want. Block chance is not needed on Gladiator, but if you run an Ascendancy like Champion or Slayer, the extra chance helps to hit 50/50 on block. Culling Strike is great for mapping, but has no use for Slayer since Slayer has built in culling strike.
Crafting your Endgame Gloves

Step 1: Purchase an ilvl 73 or higher Sinistral Gloves
Step 2: Use 'Deafening/Screaming Essence of Zeal until you either hit 1 suffix (which will be just the attack speed modifier that is forced on) or the 1 suffix + life. This will likely be costly due to hitting both the life modifier as well as the 1 suffix.
NOTE: Having 3 prefixes is required, as when we Exalt slam there will be no available option to gain a prefix modifier.
Step 2a: If you wish, you can try to use Orbs of Annulment to remove the extra suffix mods.
Step 3: Craft 'x% chance to avoid stun' on your gloves.
Step 4: Purchase a 'Warlord's Exalted Orb' and use it on your gloves. You will either get % chance to block or culling strike.


Priority - Rare Armor boots with Life, Resists, and 30% Movement Speed

Budget - Rare Armor boots with an open prefix to craft Movement Speed

Explanation: Boots with 30% movement speed feels the best, but if you're on a tight budget then search an open prefix and the life/resists you need, then craft on the movement speed for 20-24% (found in Oriath after killing Kitava).


Priority/Budget - Carnage Heart

Additional Option - Turquoise Amulet

Endgame - Turquoise Amulet with +1 Physical Skill Gems OR Ashes of the Stars

Honorable Mentions - Deafening Essence of Zeal Turqoise Amulet

Explanation: Carnage Heart is cheap, efficient, and gives us everything we need for a super low price.

If you can't get a Carnage Heart, run a Turqoise Amulet with Life and Resists.

Use Deafening Essences of Zeal on the Amulets for more Attack speed if you'd like.

Our endgame amulet option is a +1/+2 gems amulet, which gives +1 to physical and strength gems. A +2 amulet is an option but you will either need to get lucky or pay a LOT of money for it. I would recommend staying with a +1 amulet since it is relatively cheap.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON ASHES OF THE STARS: We will have more attribute starvation issues with Ashes of the Stars, but it is better than a +1 physical gems amulet if you can juggle attributes. We use this in the 'More Damage' tree since its better damage with the awakened gem + phantasmal ancestral protector setup.

How to Craft your +1 Amulet

The best way to do this is Jagged fossil spam. Craft of Exile states that it takes roughly 40 tries to hit the modifier once.

Priority - Panopticon, Cheap Version - Kinetic Impacts

Explanation: Panopticon is our best option despite it only working while totems are up. Kinetic Impacts is a good cheap alternative, but we use it solely for the chance for double damage. You can easily put in whatever you want for this whether its resistances, mana reservation, life, or whatnot.

If you have life problems, anoint Discipline and Training.

If you have resistance problems, anoint Diamond Skin or Cloth and Chain.


Priority - Life and Resist Rare Rings (Vermillion or Two-Stone or Prismatic). One ring must be Unset if you do not have a Vulnerability on Hit ring.

Budget - Two-Stone Rings with Life

Endgame* - Circle of Guilt (% increased buff effect / % increased Physical damage while affected by Herald of Purity) and Vulnerability on Hit ring.

Explanation: Like most other rares, these are for defenses. Vulnerability on hit allows us to drop our Unset Ring and move Dread Banner to the open slot. Don't sleep on Prismatic Rings - they are very powerful and give better resistances than two-stone rings.
Your craft that you want will be % increased damage or attack speed. You can also craft chaos resistance as needed.
Endgame*: Circle of Guilt is a great damage boost, but as we progress it'll be more and more difficult for us to cap our resistances if we're replacing items with Uniques. Ryslatha's Coil is a higher priority than this, but if you can fit them both in without sacrificing resistances, then add this in. Otherwise, use a rare ring with resistances.
Vulnerability Ring: A vulnerability on hit ring is very easy to come by once you find and/or buy a Warlord's ring ilvl 75 or higher. Use Reforge Caster on your ring in Harvest for a pretty decent chance on getting Vulnerability on hit. Normally it takes me about 6-8 tries to hit something, and about 20ish tries to get something that isn't super bad. Assume you will not get extra life or resistances (unless its an implicit) on the ring while you do this.


Priority - Stygian Vise or other belt with Life and Resists, Hunter Influence for more Life if you want. Increased global physical damage is also an option (Delve).

Budget - Standard belt with Life and Resists

Endgame - Ryslatha's Coil OR Arn's Anguish

Honorable Mentions: Soul Tether (bosses)

Explanation: Stygian Vise is best in slot for life and resistances. Soul Tether is great for bosses because of overleech, which is great against dot abilities (shaper beam).

Endgame: Rhyslatha's Coil is considered our endgame reach due to Violent Retaliation's changes, but we do lose resistances as a cost to it.

Arn's Anguish gives us ~10% more DPS in exchange for some slight passive tree juggling and lower defenses. This will make you squishier, but if you know and understand the boss fights, it won't matter all that much at the end of the day.

Abyss Jewel

Priority - Life, Increased Attack speed or increased physical damage

Budget - Life and Resistances/Attributes

Explanation: More Life and Defenses. This makes life easier for us. We only use Abyss Jewels if we also have a Stygian Vise.
Abyss Jewels are also a great option to help band-aid things such as attributes and resistances.


Divine Life Flask of Staunching (Corrupted Blood + Bleeding) TOP PRIORITY
Basalt Flask
Quartz Flask of Heat (Freeze) PRIORITY FOR MAPS
Granite Flask

Levelling: Quicksilver Flask of Heat

Staunching Life Flask to deal with Corrupted Blood + Bleeding. We are weak to DoT effects. This is a must by maps.
Basalt Flask for extra defenses
Granite Flask for more Armor Beef
Quartz Flask for Phasing and a little bit of Spell Suppression
We use Rotgut due to consistent Frenzy charge generation via Blood Rage, which in turn gives us consistent Onslaught effect during mapping. This isn't required by any means, but the Onslaught benefits feel very good to use.
Lion's Roar is something that you can consider, but I would not recommend this, personally. It has anti-synergy with our build due to the knockback knocking rares out of our shotgun damage.
Blood of the Karui option for Panic Flask if you take a big hit.
Forbidden Taste with 'use upon taking a savage hit' for better survivability and one-shot protection. NOTE: It is REQUIRED to have 75% chaos resistance (35% + Pantheon) for this to work properly.
Remember that you can use the Menagerie (Bestiary) to craft flask suffixes for immunity to elemental ailments. Don't burn all your alts on flasks if you don't have to.
I would recommend having Grounding (shock) and Dousing (ignite) on the Basalt and Granite Flasks. It doesn't matter where the suffixes are at, as long as you're able to use the flask that has the suffix on it. Shock immunity is a higher priority than ignite.
'What about Quicksilver Flask?'
We turn our Quicksilver Flask later on into Rotgut, but a Quicksilver Flask isn't required for this build once we get into maps. Rotgut is optional.


Timeless Jewel: Lethal Pride
Priority: Viridian Jewels with %life and 1 or 2 of the mods listed below:
Increased Attack Speed
Increased Attack Speed while holding a Shield
increased Melee damage
increased attack damage while holding a shield

Honorable Mentions: % of attack damage leeched as mana (You do not need this if you are using another form of mana leech)

Corruptions to keep in mind: Corrupted Blood Immunity

Explanation: Jewels get more pricey the more mods you look for in them, so start with %life and one of the listed modifiers above then work up from there. Jewels are also a great spot to band-aid things such as resistances or attributes.
Do not look for % of attack damage leeched as mana along with %life, they're expensive. Choose mana leech + an offensive mod instead.

Lethal Pride: Lethal Pride is a fantastic Jewel that we can use for the multiple effects that we get from notable bonuses. These bonuses include: Increased Physical Damage, Increased Melee Damage, Increased Maximum Life, % chance to deal double damage, and life regen. Because of passive masteries and Awakened Melee Physical Damage, we no longer need to search for Intimidate on Hit.

The Trick with Lethal Pride is that you will have to socket it into your passive tree to see the stats. You will NOT be able to see the stats within PoB and will have to set them yourself. The best socket location for Lethal Pride is South of Duelist Start, as we get 7 notables that Lethal Pride hits for bonuses. We get a lot of free stats.

You can set the stats in PoB by right clicking the notable passives in Lethal Pride's radius, then applying the proper mod that you can see in-game on your passive tree. The provided PoB jewel only simulates a single 5% chance to deal double damage node.

Watcher's Eye:
% chance to deal double damage while using Pride - Cheaper damage boost since we attack so much
Impales you inflict last 2 additional hits while using pride - Expensive, but a really good damage boost. This is our endgame version.


Priority: 8 Passive Feed the Fury and Fuel the Fight Jewel (increased attack damage or increased attack damage while holding a shield)
Martial Prowess as the 3rd slot if you want to invest.

Explanation: Feed the Fury and Fuel the Fight give us attack speed, leech, and bonus damage while leeching. It's everything we want. As long as we are leeching, which we should be due to general mana leech or Immortal Ambition, the bonuses apply.


Priority: 2 Passive Adrenaline or Fettle Jewel

Explanation: Good life nodes. Fettle Jewels are pricey, and Adrenaline Jewels should be cheaper.
Fettle gives us more life. Adrenaline gives us damage and attack speed.


Helmet: 'Blood and Sand has X% increased effect' OR 'Ancestral Protector gives X% increased attack speed while active' OR 'Blood Rage gives X% increased attack speed' OR 'X% increased Shield Crush Damage' OR 'X% increased Shield Crush Attack Speed'

Explanation: We have lots of options here, and they are all about the same on DPS. Ancestral Protector is the best on paper, but I would personally recommend Blood and Sand due to mapping QoL. Use whatever you find first or what is cheapest, as the 'best' only matters for min-maxing.

The build feels the best with Shield Crush Attack Speed or Blood and Sand Effect followed by Ancestral Protector Attack Speed.

The best damage is Ancestral Protector Attack Speed followed by anything else listed (the damage difference is too minimal to matter for everything else).

Boots: 'X% increased attack and cast speed if you have killed recently' OR '10% chance to freeze, shock, ignite if you haven't crit recently'
Explanation: Attack Speed gives us the best general feel. % chance to shock gives us some damage boost against bosses, even though it's not all that much.

Gloves: This doesn't matter. Do what you like. The damage increase is so minimal that it doesn't matter too much.


There are two viable options listed in this build: Slayer and Gladiator.

Slayer is better for bosses due to the overleech and also has nice area of effect for mapping; however, it is more difficult to get off the ground due to the sluggish feel of Shield Crush without Challenger Charges early on. Slayer feels better over Gladiator once you reach ~3m Sirus DPS.

Gladiator is better in the beginning due to Challenger Charges smoothing out the build and feel in early mapping. The damage ends up being about the same as Slayer, but we trade defenses and ignoring physical damage reduction for better AoE, 20% cull, and overleech.

You can do either option, and there are no real changes to the build regardless of the ascendancy.


Skill Order:
Arena Challenger > Painforged > Reigning Veteran > Blood in the Eyes. Swap to Violent Retaliation after Ryslatha's Coil.

Arena Challenger - Challenger Charges for movespeed and attack speed. Best for going through acts.

Painforged - On the way to Versatile Combatant, which is where all our defense is at.

Reigning Veteran - Most of our defense. Just in time for maps where defense really matters.

Blood in the Eyes - We get Blood in the Eyes first for two reasons: The first reason is for Haemophilia map clearing early on if we need it. The second reason is that the damage is better compared to Violent Retaliation before we get Rhyslatha's Coil. Once you get Ryslatha's Coil, respec into Violent Retaliation as the damage is better.

Violent Retaliation - This makes mapping very smooth once we get to the damage we need, and also makes Ryslatha's Coil much better due to the lucky rolls on damage which works with Ryslatha's. Only use this ascendancy once you get a Coil, as before the belt, Blood in the Eyes is better damage. At this point 10 Orbs of Regret shouldn't be an issue for you to obtain.


Skill Order:
Brutal Fervor > Bane of Legends > Headsman/Impact > Impact/Headsman

Brutal Fervor - Lots of reliable leech and overleech during the acts. This will make the acts feel much safer.

Bane of Legends - More damage against bosses. Bosses can start to feel a little beefy around Act 8/9 (Arakaali onwards).

Headsman - Movement Speed, Attack Speed, and Culling by the time we hit maps. Mapping feels much better with this.

Impact - Since we get Ascendancy Trials much quicker now, it's fine to save Impact to last since the aoe isn't as problematic in earlier maps.

You are free to choose between Headsman or Impact as the 4th ascendancy. It's your preference on more aoe vs faster rare/boss killing.

Pantheon and Bandits
Soul of Arakaali - Block builds are weak against DOT effects. This is the best major keystone to help us mitigate that.

Honorable Mentions:
Soul of Solaris - Big Bossing (Maven, Sirus, etc)

Soul of Shakari - More DOT and Chaos Damage mitigation

Primary: Kill All - We need the passive points.
Last edited by OMFGaTaco on May 6, 2022, 8:59:23 PM
Last bumped on Jun 21, 2022, 4:38:24 PM
Levelling Section
Weapon Slot During Levelling
For levelling, we are going to level with the Steel Skills until about Act 9, in which we will swap to Shield Crush after getting a decent shield to use.

It is important to use swords with '% increased global accuracy rating' as we do not rush for Resolute Technique anymore, as it makes the first 2-3 acts feel pretty sluggish. Make sure to grab a decent sword base from Vendors and use the Vendor recipe for guaranteed increased physical damage % on your sword. It makes levelling feel way better.

You can still level through the acts with Shield Crush if you wish, but it can feel clunky and a little bad due to the low attack speed and the need to regularly upgrade your shield without any form of vendor recipe to do it reliably. The PoB no longer supports a levelling tree to support Shield Crush. We make the switch to Shield crush at Act 9 Blood Aqueduct / Level 60.

White Weapon + Magic/Rare Rustic Sash + Blacksmith's Whetstone

Levelling Tree Details

The core goals that we want while levelling is to get high damage while mitigating how much we want to respec once we hit Blood Aqueduct. In order to do this, the levelling tree has been adjusted to prioritize the best things along the way we can hit for Shattering Steel, which is the main skill we will run while going through the acts. Once we hit Act 4, we will be using our second weapon set to level the skill gems we don't use in the Shattering Steel version, and then replace and adjust once we hit Act 9.

Our main goal is to pad up damage as much as possible, while still being able to hit defensive nodes where we can if we're feeling squishy during the levelling process. We will want about 25-40% unreserved mana until leech is reliable, which should kick in around act 6 or 7. Until then, pick up high level mana flasks as you go. It's easiest to get these from Vendors.

Around level 55 or 60 you can start putting points into the Mana reservation Efficiency cluster. Once the cluster + mastery is added, you can use all 5 Auras with ~15% open mana, which is how much we want due to the CWDT mana costs.

Uniques to Consider while Levelling
Goldrim - Self Explanatory. Lots of Resistances

Karui Ward - Strength and Dex at Level 5, and 10% movement speed. Makes early acts smooth.
Daresso's Salute - Good damage and resistances early on. Get this if Carnage Heart somehow costs too much.
Carnage Heart - Gives us everything we could want at a cheap price. This is the almost always our best option for amulets.

Blackheart - A bit of extra damage at level 1.
Praxis - Helps with mana cost management if that's an issue for you.
Le Heup of All - Increased Resistances, Attributes, and Damage. Probably best for ring slot for levelling process.
Thief's Torment - Takes two ring slots, but fixes all mana problems. Also gives good resistances.

Body Armor:
Tabula Rasa - Self Explanatory.

Lochtonial Caress - Charge generation from level 1. Nice QoL.
Slitherpinch - A bit of attack speed and fixes our leech and dexterity problems.

Wurm's Molt - Like the other options, it gives us a lot of leech and some attributes early on.
The Magnate - Lots of resistances and increased damage. We easily get 200 strength by wearing this to get the benefits.
Belt of the Deciever - Similar to Magnate, but we get Intimidate as well, which gives us a great damage boost until we get the passive mastery.

Wanderlust - 20% movespeed and no freezing at level 1. Excellent levelling item.
Seven League Step - 50% movement speed. Best levelling item for boots.
Wake of Destruction - Added Lightning Damage on hit. Useful until Brutality at level 38.


Lycosidae - 200+ armor at level 11 for shield crush? SIgn me up.
Titucius' Span - Bonus life and 500+ armor for shield crush at level 30. Awesome damage option.
Lioneye's Remorse - Tons of life and up to 1700 armor. This will probably be pricey at league start, but will fizzle down over time.
Magna Eclipsis - Elemental Damage shield instead of a big life bonus, and 5% less block chance. Good defensive option, but Lioneye's is probably better.


Why don't we use Call of Steel?

You can use Call of Steel along with a Lord of Steel jewel early on if you are having problems with pack clearing, but it does make the build feel a bit clunky. That being said, it can make maps faster.

You'll want to throw in a steel skill in your Weapon/Prismatic Eclipse so you can get the skill to use.

Where's Fortify?

Due to passive masteries, Fortify is built in through the passive tree now, as Shield Crush is a melee attack. You must have the passive mastery to enable fortify on melee hits in order to get fortify.

I have extensively tried and verified that Fortify does work and is reliable with this build.

How do I get a good Lethal Pride?

You have to purchase a lethal pride and socket it into your Passive tree in-game to check what stats it gives. Path of Building DOES NOT simulate what the lethal pride jewel will give, you have to add that in yourself manually.

As long as you get at least 1 5% chance to deal double damage, the jewel is worth it. Intimidate on Hit is valuable until we get Awakened Melee Physical Damage, in which we don't need that bonus anymore.

How can I get Frenzy Charges on bosses?

Frenzy (skill) is your cheapest option. The high attack speed and guaranteed frenzy charges on hit makes it easy to hit 3 frenzy charges then go back to shield Crush damage. You can also add in Culling Strike support to give Frenzy a 10% cull if you don't have culling strike gloves. The PoB does not have Frenzy Charges selected for the sake of simulating boss dps without jumping through hoops.

I want to ask you a question, how can I do that?

The best way to contact me for questions and whatnot is either through messages on the PoE forums, or through whispers in game when I am online. I can't reply to everyone in the replies of this forum post, but I try my best to hit the most important pieces.

Why don't we use Shield Charge?

You can use Shield Charge instead of Leap Slam if you'd like, but remember that you can't go over terrain with Shield Charge. Using a damage 4 link with Shield Charge can help with clearing trash mobs if you'd like to do that.

I prefer Leap Slam and it feels better than Shield Charge, which is why Leap Slam is in this build.

Why don't you use X anoint/enchant/jewel? I think it's better.

Then try it, make this build your own! You don't need to follow this build one to one to make it work, but I have done a lot of work to optimize this version so its workable for all types of players.

My Shield Crush damage is really bad and I don't know why. Help!

There are lots of little things in this build that add together to make Shield Crush good. These things include, but are not limited to:
Maim / Intimidate
Attack Speed
100% Impale Chance
Totem Uses
I'm happy to take a look at some PoBs to see what's going on, but please do not expect quick replies if you are to send one.

Last edited by OMFGaTaco on May 4, 2022, 8:32:07 PM
Was fun to tinker with this. Let's go!
How safe is it to start with this build for SSF? Don't want to use like 50-60+ regrets later on since they are a bit more hard to come by in SSF (can just buy them in trade league).

Is the LL version you mentioned a completely different build, as in a different class for example which would require me to reroll?
Last edited by InsaneX3 on Jul 24, 2021, 9:08:38 AM
InsaneX3 wrote:
How safe is it to start with this build for SSF? Don't want to use like 50-60+ regrets later on since they are a bit more hard to come by in SSF (can just buy them in trade league).

I would say that it's pretty good to start, as you can easily build up your own shield. You can farm for a Lioneye's Remorse via 'The Lion' prophecy in Act 6 Mud Flats (from the mob that drops the eye to allow you to get to Tukohama). You can also use Harvest Crafting to get a decent shield pretty easily (Defenses is common in Blue nodes).

Apart from that, just working your way up and upgrading shields makes the process pretty smooth. You get about the range of Lacerate (which is roughly 40-50) once you hit maps as long as you have Pulverise and the Brinkmanship cluster.

InsaneX3 wrote:
Is the LL version you mentioned a completely different build, as in a different class for example which would require me to reroll?

It only requires slight tweaks to the current PoB listed with minimal regrets. Most of the changes come from socket color and gem changes. The LL version is something I will recommend to Pivot into once you get proper health and resistances. I haven't done enough research on Petrified Blood yet to say its EXPLICITLY better overall, but I do know that it is stronger in the damage department by quite a big margin due to our totems giving us a helping hand. For the time being I'd recommend sticking to the current PoB and levelling up that way into white/yellow maps.
Last edited by OMFGaTaco on Jul 24, 2021, 11:00:12 AM
I personally enjoy shield charge more than leap slam for travel skill when trying to finish the campaign.

With the shield damage tree we're getting and once Arena Challenger kicks in, I'm just ramming things to death and just shield crush any leftovers.

Of course the cliffs is going to be your bane but with the movement speed buff, it felt trival.
Last edited by bobohead1988 on Jul 24, 2021, 11:05:50 AM
What about facebreakers is this build?
P0IS0N wrote:
What about facebreakers is this build?

Shield Crush is not an Unarmed skill, so this does not work.
Playing it rn, big mana costs btw D:

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