[ 3.15 ] Poison SST Pathfinder - 10M+ DPS. Amazing clear. Offscreen kills. All content. SUPER fun
Update for 3.16:
I don't expect this build to be very good in 3.16. SST was pretty much gutted. This build is probably viable but I personally am not going to run it. If you do, switch to an armour-based shield to make up the DPS loss. Lower flat damage also means that Deadly Ailments is probably back on the table.
This league I will try Poison Spectral Helix using this same shell, with Void Fangs for weapon. If it works I'll update the main post with a link to a new guide.
Have fun in the next league guys. If you played this build, hopefully you enjoyed it :)
Hi! Welcome to my Poison Spectral Shield Throw (SST) Pathfinder guide. This is my first guide, so be gentle.
When the patch notes for 3.15 were released there were two things that popped into my head:
1) Poison is going to be great
2) SST is going to be great
The change to poison made in 3.15 (30% base damage, up from 20%) completely changes the way that poison functions in the game. After spending way too much time in PoB I came to the conclusion that Perfect Agony with high crit multi was not the way to go, especially with Coralito's Signature being nerfed. Instead, focusing on flat damage and attack speed was the best way to stack big poisons quickly.
The change to SST basically means that, with Awakened Fork and the +5 shards helmet enchant you get... a lot of projectiles. In a full pack I think it's over 100 projectiles, and that's before you even take pierce into account. (If someone can Math this for me please do)
All of this adds up to amazing clear speed with offscreen potential. It feels a lot like Burning Arrow from 3.14 with better single-target.
Pros & Cons
+ Top tier clear. One click destroys packs. Even on juiced delirium maps or Valdo harbinger maps it's a dream. Offscreen potential, you'll clear packs you didn't even know were there.
+ Very high survivability with 75% attack evade chance, 65% attack / 55% spell dodge, and 20% block chance.
+ Decent bossing. I've been able to kill all bosses in the game (A9 Sirus, The Feared, Maven, Uber Elder w/ Maven Witness, etc). A gem swap from Fork to Anomalous Vile Toxins or Withering Touch is necessary for single target.
+ Fun as hell. I like zooming around maps and killing tons of things. GGG tried to kill zooming, but they failed.
+ Can do almost all map mods. Phys reflect is the only one that is an absolute no-no. No regen and no leech are annoying (on no leech don't use Blood Rage) but doable. Everything else is totally fine.
+ Can get started on a low-to-mid budget (10 ex or so). The only mandatory big ticket item is a helmet with the "Spectral Shield Throw Fires 5 Additional Shard Projectiles" enchantment.
+ No need for 4-socket wither totems (will explain more below), giving you more space to be creative with utility skills.
+ Much of the gear is easy to craft yourself.
- Needs a lot of intelligence from gear. Hitting 150 intelligence for Dendrobate, especially earlier on, can be challenging. You might need to put Intrinsic Catalysts on a Lapis amulet just to get by.
- Need to pay quite a bit of attention to secondary skills to make sure you're maximizing uptime. Juggling Blood Rage, Plague Bearer, and keeping your Lightning Golem up takes some getting used to.
- Can get very, very, expensive if you want to run t17+ maps or kill Sirus comfortably. I've put probably 200 ex into my build so far. Improving gear is easy to do incrementally, though.
- SST will probably get nerfed, so who knows if this build will be viable in 3.16+
- The build is really great in open, flat maps. However, maps that have a ton of doors or narrow corridors are going to be slower. Maps with many stairs or other obstacles are super awkward with whirling blades, and will take some getting used to.
4th Pathfinder to level 100 in Expedition League.
View on poe.ninja
Note: I'm constantly playing around with and testing out new items and combinations of gems. If you look at poe.ninja it's very likely you'll see some "works in progress" which may or may not be any good.
Path of Building
Path of Building is essential in understanding how the build works, and the impact any piece of gear will have on the build as a whole.
The Community Fork is required. You can get it here.
You can import the build into PoB using this pastebin link. There are 5 trees included where you can see my recommendations for progression with leveling and different endgame combinations.
My current PoB is here. I keep this relatively up to date with my current gear and gem setups.
A Primer on Poison
When looking at your gear and figuring out how to improve your DPS, here are the keys to ramping up poison DPS.
For a single target, poison DPS is: Damage per poison * attack rate. There's no limit to the number of poisons that can be applied to an enemy.
Pretty simple, right? Well, maybe not. Let's break it down.
Damage per poison
Damage per poison is: Hit damage * 0.3 * Poison duration * Sum of increases/decreases * EACH more * damage over time multiplier.
Hit damage is the Physical plus Chaos damage of the hit itself. The important sources are YOUR SHIELD(!), unholy might, and any added flat damage or damage increases from your gear. "Increased attack damage" only impacts this part of the equation.
Poison DPS was changed in 3.15 from 20% to 30% of the hit, subsequently hit damage became much more important relative to the other parts of this equation.
Duration is the length of time that each poison lasts for. Notably, this is unrelated to your "skill effect duration", so be careful and look for "ailment duration" or "poison duration". Temporal chains increases the duration of poison by 40%, which is why it's worth it to go 4 passives away to get Whispers of Doom so you can apply both Despair and Temporal Chains.
Total Increases/decreases. The sum of your increases/decreases is multiplied in the damage per poison equation. The important sources are the tree, Dendrobate, and Circle of Nostalgia.
More. Each "More" value is multiplied individually in the damage per poison equation. In addition to your support gems, your sources are Frenzy Charges, Malevolence, and Herald of Agony.
Damage over time multiplier. DoT Multi is much less important here than would be typical in poison builds prior to 3.15. You still will end up with a multiplier of at least 2.5 from the tree, jewels (especially when you get a watcher's eye), weapon, or wherever you can fit some in.
Attack speed is literally 50% of the DPS equation, so it's very important!
Unlike most attack skills, the attack speed of SST is not based on your weapon (your shield has no local attack speed). This means that your attack rate calculated as:
Base rate * 0.9 * Sum of increases
Base rate is 0.6 at gem level 20, 0.59 at level 21.
Vicious Projectiles support is 10% less attack speed.
The important sources of increased attack speed outside of the normal tree are:
1. Frenzy charges
2. Onslaught (from boots or silver flask)
3. Blood Rage
4. Base jewels. "Attack Speed" and "Attack Speed While Holding A Shield" together give you 11% increased attack speed per jewel.
5. Tailwind (if you can get it on your boots)
6. Ice Golem
7. Cluster notables like Feed the Fury
Since SST isn't available until Level 28, and a high evasion shield is required, you need to use another skill to start. I personally like Cobra Lash, but you can pick your favorite physical or poison skill and it will work for the early game.
You'll want to start with a claw, as the life gain on hit makes the leveling process a lot smoother.
For movement you should start with Whirling Blades as your primary movement skill. Link it with Faster Attacks as soon as possible.
A secondary movement skill like Smoke Mine is necessary for crossing gaps or weird stairs or whatever. Flame dash works as well, this one is really up to your preference.
You'll want to pick up Withering Step as soon as possible, and VERY IMPORTANT: put it on left click. The speed, elusive, and wither stacks are all relevant.
In Act 2 pick up Herald of Agony and Herald of Purity. The two heralds add up to more damage than Malevolence, and Sentinels of Purity take some of the heat off of you during boss fights. If you link Withering Touch support to both it will help with area bosses.
Once you hit your mid 30s you'll want to do your first Lab. At this point you should take Nature's Reprisal for phys->chaos conversion. If you're wanting to speed through acts, Nature's Adrenaline will work just fine.
Pick up Summon Ice Golem for additional accuracy. Summon Lightning Golem works as well, and is what is used in the end-game. Putting it in a 4-link with your heralds and Withering Touch is also good.
In your mid-40s you can craft a reasonable shield by using an Enameled Shield base and essences of Doubt. At this point you can swap to Spectral Shield Throw. Link it with Added Chaos Damage and Chance to Poison
(flat damage is very important early on). Then add Unbound Ailments, Vicious Projectiles, and Void Manipulation as they become available and as your sockets allow.
The rest of the acts are pretty straightforward. Get bigger shields where possible. Try to get good global stats in your main hand (look for global accuracy, Chaos DoT multi and DoT multi).
Link Fortify with Whirling Blades for more survivability.
Start using Blood Rage as soon as your passive life regen will allow it (so you don't die if you're not in combat).
As soon as you can afford it, get a 6-link Dendrobate. At this point you can drop the now-redundant Chance to Poison and replace it with Fork to dramatically improve your clear speed.
For the remaining ascendancies you'll want to pick Master Toxicist, Nature's Adrenaline, and Nature's Boon in that order.
Use Soul of Lunaris for your major. You can swap to Solaris for bosses if you like.
Choose a minor to your liking (I prefer Soul of Shakari), but it's up to you. Yugul and Ralakesh are both good options depending on the situation.
Kill all. The two added skill points are very valuable.
Gear and Gems
VERY IMPORTANT! Crafting your own shield
The Shield is by far the most important piece of equipment. Get a shield with >2200 evasion minimum, and preferably at least 2400. If you're having DPS problems of any kind, especially single target, look at your shield. Fortunately, it's very easy to craft.
1) Get an UNINFLUENCED ilvl 86+ Lacquered Buckler. Uninfluenced bases have a higher % chance to roll the evasion mods, ilvl 86 is required for t1 % increased evasion, and Lacquered Bucklers have the highest evasion base. These cost about 8-10c and drop regularly from lv84+ maps if you change your loot filter.
2) Use Perfect Fossils to get quality to at least 28
3) Spam Deafening Essence of Doubt. You can get them for 2c individually or 3-4c in bulk. This gives 400+ flat evasion, which is higher than the t1 prefix equivalent. You'll want to spam them until you hit the 100%+ increased evasion rating t1 prefix. According to CraftOfExile it will take, on average, 31 tries, which is 70-100c. See here.
4) If you have an empty prefix, bench craft (18-21)% increased Evasion Rating, +(14-16) to maximum Life. Or, if you have an empty suffix you can craft +(21-25) to Intelligence, +(15-18)% to Quality. The suffix will also help with your Dendrobate intelligence woes.
This will give you a shield with at least 2,200 evasion for about 100c on average.
You can go further in the endgame by:
5) Using T4 Hillock to get 30% quality. You can do it yourself by putting Hillock in Fortification, leveling him to rank 3, and then killing Catarina. However, you can just buy it from TFT, where the going rate is about 1 ex.
6) Keep spamming essences until you also hit %inc evasion/block recovery. Then bench craft +int +quality suffix. This will take 100 essences or so.
7) Five of the seven Redeemer suffixes are good, so if you have an extra suffix use a Redeemer's Exalted Orb
Perfectly rolled you will end up with 2,610 evasion on your shield. My shield is 1% off of perfect, which comes out to 2,601. This is 1,508 to 2,089 base damage from your main skill alone. It took about 4ex to craft, which is significantly cheaper than any shield on trade that has anywhere near this amount of evasion.
Evasion base shield with as much evasion as you can possibly get. See above for how to craft one.
Until you can get a shield with more than 2,000 evasion, it's advisable to use an armour-based shield. You can get a shield with 2,800 armour for less than 1 ex.
In the final build the evasion from your shield accounts for almost half of your total evasion rating, so it's worth it to switch once you can get a high-evasion shield.
6-Link Dendrobate. This is mandatory, and will provide a bigger DPS boost than (almost) any rare chest you can craft. Luckily it's also pretty cheap, at around 50c. They're even cheap enough to temple double corrupt, if you've got the dough. It took me 4 tries to hit a relevant implicit (41% increased damage), but of course this is all RNG.
Starkonja's Head with Spectral Shield Throw Fires 5 Additional Shard Projectiles enchant. These run 5-7ex. The enchant is very, very important.
There aren't a ton of relevant mods on rare helmets, and the ones that are relevant are very hard to roll. Subsequently, I wouldn't worry too much about upgrades here unless you find yourself lacking in resists from your other gear.
Any dagger or claw which has relevant global stats. In order of importance:
1) Chaos DoT multi suffix
2) DoT multi suffix
3) Physical damage as extra chaos damage prefix (or an open prefix to bench craft it) or hunter suffix
4) Increased chaos damage veiled prefix
5) Increased chaos DoT hunter prefix
4) Global accuracy suffix
5) Life or mana leech prefixes
Rare amulet with intelligence, life, and resists. Anoint with Dirty Techniques.
When upgrading look for the following mods:
- Projectiles pierce an additional target
- Chaos DoT multi
- Non-chaos damage as extra chaos damage
- +1 Level to all Dexterity Skill Gems
For both slots you'll want Circle of Nostalgia with the mods increased chaos damage while affected by Herald of Agony and Herald of Agony has increased buff effect. These start at about 10c. You can get a variety of synthesis implicits, such as % increased life, % increased damage while leeching, % increased chaos damage, % increased damage with ailments, and so on.
High evasion gloves with life, resists, attack speed, and accuracy.
If at all possible get gloves with the Curse enemies with Despair on hit corrupted implicit. If you don't have this you can link Hextouch and Despair to either your heralds or lightning golem. Or you can self cast, if that's your bag.
If you want you can get a Hands of the High Templar with Despair on Hit, Temporal Chains on hit, and other relevant implicits (+1 maximum frenzy charges, % increased attack speed, % increased life, relevant socket levels, etc). Note that Temporal Chains increases poison duration in addition to providing the defensive benefits, so it's an excellent curse for this build. If you get two curses on hit you should allocate Whispers of Doom, which is only 4-5 passives away.
A Stygian Vise with life, resists, and flask buffs. You can get an ilvl 86 Stygian Vise for 1c and Harvest reroll it with life or chaos (for resists) until you get something you're happy with.
When upgrading look for these two mods:
- % increased maximum life hunter prefix
- % increased chaos damage hunter prefix
Socketed into it, find an Abyss jewel with + life, flat physical or chaos damage, increased accuracy, and other marginal attack bonuses such as attack speed if you've dealt a critical strike recently. here's the filter I use on pathofexile.com/trade
Look for Life, Resists, and Movement Speed. Bench crafted +%20 movement speed, %12 to gain onslaught on kill is acceptable, and maybe even preferable, to a natural movement speed affix.
When upgrading, look for:
- Tailwind on crit
- Poison deals damage #% faster (helps with clear)
- Projectiles pierce # additional targets
You can craft these in Harvest by buying Hunter influenced Slink Boots as a base and rerolling speed, life, or chaos. You get decent boots surprisingly quickly this way.
You'll want jewels with +% increased life, attack speed, attack speed while holding a shield, and chaos damage multi. here's the filter I use on pathofexile.com/trade.
If/when you switch to Malevolence you want a Watcher's Eye with the mod +# % to Damage Over Time Multiplier While Affected by Malevolence.
Large Cluster Jewel
You'll want an 8-passive jewel with 3 notables. There are four different types you can go with, all of which have roughly similar DPS stats. Take whichever type of jewel meets your preferences and budget. The three types are:
- Grim Oath
- Battle Hardened
- Master the fundamentals
- Grim Oath
- Unwaveringly Evil
- Wicked Pall
- Feed the fury
- Martial Prowess
- Fuel the fight (if you have mana issues) or Devastator (improves clear)
Attack damage while holding a shield
- Feed the fury
- Martial prowess
- Fuel the fight (if you have mana issues) or Devastator (improves clear). If you're having survivability issues you can take Veteran Defender or Gladiator's Fortitude, but there is a tradeoff with DPS.
These cluster jewels start at about 75c. Here are two trade searches I use:
- Physical and chaos damage
- Attack damage
Medium Cluster Jewels
For the Medium Clusters you'll want 4 or 5 passive Chaos DoT jewels. The best notable to look for is Circling Oblivion. Wicked Pall, Steady Torment, and most of the other notables on this type of cluster jewel will work just fine.
Here's the pathofexile.com/trade search I use. As of right now they can be had for about 15c.
Despite the flask nerfs, they're still incredibly important to the build.
Seething Divine Life Flask. Staunching the preferable suffix.
Jade flask. Heat is a good suffix.
Sin's Rebirth. Gives unholy might, which is a massive DPS boost.
Enduring Eternal Mana Flask. Warding is a good suffix
For your fifth flask slot you can flex. If you don't already have a consistent source of Onslaught (such as on your boots), get a Silver Flask with the increased attack speed ("of Acceleration") suffix.
- If you want more defense, you can pick up a Quartz flask.
- If you want more offense, you can use a Sulphur flask with the increased attack speed ("of Acceleration") suffix, or (my preference) an Atziri's Promise (phys as extra chaos is massive amounts of damage).
Note that I prefer not to use a Quicksilver flask. Running speed is not super relevant to the overall speed of this build (attack speed for whirling blades is much more important), so in my opinion it's not worth the slot.
For the enchantments on the utility flasks it's up to you. I prefer Used when you Hit a Rare or Unique Enemy, if not already in effect as in higher-tier maps this basically means they're always on, and they're saved for when it's important. Plus, you never have to manually use your utility flasks, which makes maintaining Plague Bearer easier on your brain/fingers.
6-Link Chest: Spectral Shield Throw-Vicious Projectiles-Void Manipulation-Fork-Unbound Ailments-Added Chaos Damage. Swap Fork for Anomalous Vile Toxins or Withering Touch when single-target damage is needed.
4-Link #1: Herald of Agony-Herald of Purity-Withering Touch-Summon Lightning Golem
3/4-Link #1: Cast When Damage Taken-Immortal Call and whatever other utility gems you find useful. You can link your golem here if you don't want to re-cast it all the time (but the lower level will be a small DPS hit).
3-Link #1: Withering Step-Plague Bearer-Increased Area of Effect. IMPORTANT: Put withering step on left click.
3-Link #2: Whirling Blades-Fortify-Faster Attacks
Put in other sockets where convenient:
There's a lot of open space for experimentation and personal play preferences. There are plenty of handy supports like Second Wind (link w/ smoke mine) and Culling Strike (link w/ either heralds or golem) that you can play around with.
My final gem setup
6-Link Chest: Divergent Spectral Shield Throw-Awakened Vicious Projectiles-Awakened Void Manipulation-Awakened Fork-Awakened Unbound Ailments-Awakened Added Chaos Damage
4-Link #1: Anomalous Herald of Agony-Anomalous Herald of Purity-Malevolence-lv4 Enlighten
4-Link #2: Blood Rage-Anomalous Summon Lightning Golem-Enhance-Culling Strike (Currently playing around with the Culling Strike slot, there are lots of options)
4-Link #3: Anomalous Withering Step-Divergent Plague Bearer-Awakened Increased Area of Effect-Enhance
3-Link: Whirling Blades-Anomalous Fortify-Faster Attacks
2-Link: Cast When Damage Taken-Immortal Call
Unlinked or whatever: Smoke Mine
Why not Deadly Ailments?
While Awakened Deadly Ailments is more DPS (swap it in on PoB to see the difference), it feels/plays significantly worse. It would typically replace Awakened Added Chaos Damage. The loss of physical hit DPS in particular makes the leech benefit from Blood Rage almost disappear, which makes it much harder to stay alive in heated battles. And it just generally feels bad. I won't fault you for using Awakened Deadly Ailments, but personally I prefer not to.
That said, the hit reduction is valuable when fighting Atziri/Uber Atziri, so maybe keep one handy.
A note about Auras
You'll notice that I've been prioritizing the use of Herald of Purity over Malevolence. This is because the damage of Malevolence is only marginally better (~4%) than Herald of Purity, without the side benefit of the taunting sentinels. Malevolence only becomes worth it once you get the appropriate Watcher's Eye.
Once you can afford them, get a level 4 Enlighten, and then swap out anything you had supporting the heralds and put in Malevolence. At this point get a Watcher's Eye with the mod +# % to Damage Over Time Multiplier While Affected by Malevolence.
Going this route, however, is a 15-20ex investment, which is why I don't recommend it by default.
The 4-link is: Herald of Agony-Herald of Purity-Malevolence-Enlighten.
Alternate Quality Gems
The following alternate quality gems are recommended, but not strictly required. I would upgrade in this order:
- Divergent Spectral Shield Throw. Increased attack speed is way more impactful as a quality stat.
- Anomalous Withering Step to get more wither stacks.
- Anomalous Herald of Agony to add additional wither stacks on hit.
- Divergent Plague Bearer to increase your poison multi while infecting (which should be at least 95% of the time).
- Anomalous Herald of Purity to taunt on hit, which helps keep bosses off of you surprisingly well.
- Anomalous Summon Lightning Golem to increase buff effect.
- Anomalous Fortify for increased fortify duration.
- Divergent Smoke Mine's attack speed boost makes the 1-2 combo with Whirling Blades feel pretty smooth. Definitely optional, though.
Linking Enhance supports to these alternate quality gems can be very powerful. Since there is plenty of socket space you can add it in to two 4-link setups.
What, no wither totems?
Typically these types of builds use Wither linked with Spell Totem, Multiple Totems, and perhaps Faster Casting. This is used for bosses to quickly rack up wither stacks.
However, personally I find managing these totems to be a pain in the ass.
Luckily you can still get plenty of wither stacks by using Anomalous Withering Step linked with a level 3+ Enhance which allows for 9 wither stacks per use. Anomalous Herald of Agony can add a few more.
Veritania in 10 seconds
Drox in 25 seconds
3 minute clear of super juiced Desert map with Delirium Mirror and Metamorph
Deathless Catarina. Testing Withering Touch as the Fork swap. Seems decent.
I'll be adding more as I go along.
Thanks for reading, I hope you find the build to be fun and the guide to be useful. Let me know what you think! Like I said, this is my first time, so I'm totally open to feedback and suggestions.
Last edited by subwindow on Oct 21, 2021, 11:38:33 PM
Last bumped on Oct 22, 2021, 1:27:27 PM
on Aug 16, 2021, 3:50:17 AM
Build looks decent just leveling it with low budget whats the ascendancy order?
on Aug 16, 2021, 12:38:10 PM
I would go with Nature's Reprisal, then Master Toxicist, then Nature's Adrenaline, and finally Nature's Boon.
If you're having mana or flask uptime issues you can allocate Nature's Boon earlier.
on Aug 16, 2021, 1:43:14 PM
Since its a pure physical scaling, why dont you use Withering Touch on main link in place Vile Toxin? It basically another Unholy Might and help stack up Wither faster.
on Aug 16, 2021, 2:04:17 PM
I've played around with Anomalous Withering Touch and it's OK. I prefer the extra hit damage from Vile Toxins (especially for leeching), but both are totally viable.
Edit: Superior Withering Touch is more DPS than Anomalous as I was misreading the alternate quality (Skill Effect Duration does not increase poison duration). I'll try out Withering Touch again and will update here.
Edit 2: Withering Touch is pretty good (see my Catarina video linked in the main post), but I've not noticed a significant difference between it and Anomalous Vile Toxins. I'll keep testing, though.
Last edited by subwindow on Aug 18, 2021, 1:14:10 PM
on Aug 16, 2021, 2:24:56 PM
The map clear looks amazing with poison prolif and plague bearer ofc but I'm a bit worried about single target dmg. Is hydrosphere not worth it as poison for more dmg with shard projectiles bouncing off of it ? All other SST builds I've seen are using it. Oh also the PoB you have scared me a bit you had lvl set to 45 instead of 100 so it was showing 3k hp instead of 5k lol and you have 126/123 pts
on Aug 17, 2021, 12:32:01 AM
Build looks very fun.
I am doing SSF HC and was just wondering your thoughts? Any changes you would make or if you think its viable to get to late game in HC doing this build? (I have a dendrobate that I found, not a 6 link mind you).
on Aug 17, 2021, 1:57:37 PM
really nice build. thx for it
on Aug 17, 2021, 4:23:49 PM
I had never thought of hydrosphere, I'll try it out. Thanks for the suggestion.
Sorry about the POB, I've never worked with more than one tree before. I updated the link in the post, the fixed link is: https://pastebin.com/JzsC7gHk
on Aug 17, 2021, 4:49:25 PM
For SSF I think the build is marginally viable. The trickiest part is getting an acceptable helmet enchant. If you concentrate on Haewark Hamlet you can use harvest rerolls to craft most of the gear, and hopefully get enough Essences of Doubt to do a good shield.
I'm not sure the build is viable in HC as-is. It only has 4500-5000 hp, so it can be squishy at times. It might be a better choice to use an armour-based shield (in which case you'll want Essences of Dread). I'd look into moving into the bottom part of the tree where you can get more health nodes and the shield defense nodes, and abandon the top right part of the tree.
on Aug 17, 2021, 4:56:40 PM