[3.18] Gryph's Tank Simulator - A Detonate Dead Ignite Elementalist

Hey everyone! 3.16 Scourge League was a little rough at the start for me as GGG keeps nerfing my builds league after league after league....so yeah, I was struggling to find something that I wanted to play because, truthfully, I want my cake and I want to eat it too!

3.18 Thoughts on League Starting
If you plan to league start with this build, I would recommend using Desecrate+Bugged Spectres until you can get Phantasmal Unearth.

3.17 Nerfs and some of my thoughts:

First of all, DD Ignite is not even close to dead. It is, however, no longer super duper cheap and easy to get insane damage numbers on literal zero gear.
First of all, Ignite damage was globally nerfed by 28% to compensate for the massive buff to spell damage and effectiveness. AKA: -28% damage for us. RIP
Spectres+Desecrate were hit harshly and rightly so. It basically means that you're doing about 33%-ish of the damage you would be before and with less QoL (specters only have 15% chance to desecrate).
Unearth setup was ONLY hit by the ignite damage nerf. And that is completely fine. this takes my curreny Scourge DD ignite from 40m-ish DPS to 30m-ish DPS....oh noooooo. Here's my (minmaxed character) POB with 28% less damage with ignites slapped into the configurations to emulate 3.17 nerf:

Some further thoughts on the matter can be found here:
Big Pic of Thoughts

Also I made a brief video outlining about when you would want to swap to Unearth if you are thinking to league start with this:

Story Time!
So after playing a few different characters I landed on the idea to use Detonate Dead with Ignite. truthfully, my brother had given me the idea in passing and while I was looking at a POB for a friend to help optimize their Flame Burst Ignite tree I thought to myself "I wonder...how much damage with an ignite off of a DD do when I explode a Stoneskin Flayer/Lithomancer?" After all, ignite got a massive buff this league and a great way to scale damage in this game is to abuse corpse life with DD and Vaal DD. It was very high. And thus I knew there was potential for a very strong build. Insert about a week of trial and error with different methods (CWC Staff+Corpsewalker boots, spellslinger+poet's pen, desecrate+specters etc...) I landed on just self casting Desecrate with Specters and Self Cast Detonate Dead. This was temporary as I knew I would want to go Unearth Eventually, but needed to put the items together.

From there is was a battle of getting the defenses right. I remember cycloning around with Corpse Walker boots channeling Detonate Dead and dying 3x per map. It was greeeaaaaat...but the concept *worked* the damage was there and there was more to the puzzle. I swapped back and forth between Necromancer and Elementalist a bit until I finally was happy with my defenses as a Necro.
I had gotten to armour stacking with recovery on block shield (The Surrender) and that felt good for defenses. At the time my dps was abysmal though so I swapped to Aegis Aurora, Glancing Blows, and Elementalist. This ended up getting me almost double my damage and with Aegis recovery I felt nearly unkillable.

I was able to start farming comfortably. I eventually managed to switch to Unearth which OMG felt amazing and then I started improving my gear one piece at a time.

The rest is history! Now I can compile it all into one big ol' block of text for you!

Thanks for reading, Exile!

Path of Building

A Disclaimer
My POBs are not guides, they are reference points and should be treated as such. If you have questions, check the guide, and then ask me if your question wasn't answered in the guide.

My character as she is currently (including 3.17 damage nerf):

This is approximately how I plan to progress this build as a league starter (Naked Character)
Includes leveling progression for that the acts up to about level 85.


- We take advantage of a powerful mechanic (corpse life) to gain massive damage. This means we can focus more on defenses.
- Obviously the defenses on this character are quite insane for the level of damage output.
- Ignite Prolif means clearing is surprisingly smooth. Not a zoom zoom build, but not slow either.
- Just kidding! If you invest into Explosions(Chest/Obliteration Wand) the build will clear 2-3 screens at a time! ZOOOM!
- Most gear slots are very flexible/uses a lot of rares. This brings down the overall cost of entry.
- HC Viable. Would make some changes, but definitely HC viable.
- Uses a Level 1 Vaal DD. xD
- It's fun to stand in Sirus Die beams! :D

- Damage over time can be rough. Though we take measures against this.
- Glancing Blows. While this is fantastic with Aegis Aurora and Armour stacking, it's not my favorite thing in the world to have to take. That said, it enables Life Recoup as a great defense against chaos damage and degens. We're always taking damage from hits to our ES and thus get a hefty amount of life recovery for when things DO hit our life pool.
- Getting the high end "required" items can be difficult/expensive depending on the market. Makes an SSF version a little tricky (though not impossible)
-3.17 Nerfs mean starting with Spectres is not as easy and overpowered as before. Feels kinda...normal until you get Unearth going. level to maps as Arma brand+Cremation anyways :P

The Concept
The idea here is very simple. I wanted a tanky character with decent damage to enjoy a more relaxed and carefree playstyle. Ignite is great for this as the proliferations make clearing feel pretty smooth even with the 2-button playstyle.

That said, the idea here is very simple:
Use Unearth for consistent, non-variable ignite damage. Scale it via Gem level and corpse life. To do this I am using a Phantasmal Unearth (2% increased corpse life per 1% quality) socketed into a pair of +5 Hands of the High Templar. Further boosted by Enhance and Empower:

This exact setup with a 21/20 Phantasmal Unearth gets me to a level 30 gem. Level 30 is the goal because after that, it takes 2 gem levels to raise the corpse level by 1, while up until that point it's a 1:1 ratio. Level 30 gem=level 90 corpses. To get higher, you need 2 additional gem levels to get 1 corpse level.

We then get an additional +5 to corpse levels (level 95 corpses) with the helmet enchant:

And that's really it. Use Vaal Detonate Dead on Bosses and scale Unearth Corpse life for huge ignites.

Elementalist provides the most damage and is why I chose her for my ascendancy. Necromancer can also be used as a more defensive option especially in a Solo Self Found environment where you might not be able to get your hands on an Aegis Aurora.


So defenses on this build all come from gear and gem choices. We are aiming to stack a decent amount of armor for physical mitigation as well as ES recovery from Aegis Aurora.

We do this with:
Defiance Banner
Flasks that auto use and refill themselves...

And the Glancing Blows keystone to make sure our chance to block is very high.

Tempest Shield for huge spell block and Shock immunity.

Watcher's Eye modifier for Determination with "Take 60% reduced extra damage taken from critical strikes while affected by Determination."
and an additional 30% from the tree from Sanctum of Thought.

A grasping mail with "100% increased global defenses" goes a long way for scaling more armour and ES for us.

A Chest with Explosions and Aura Effect will give insane clear while still scaling your armour from the aura effect.

But you could also use the Brass Dome, Skin of the Loyal, Incandescent Heart, or a generic rare.

Lastly I use a Small Cluster jewel with Enduring composure for 100% uptime on Endurance Charges and a hefty boost to armor at the same time.

I am using a Topaz and Ruby Flask on autofill+use to balance out my elemental mitigation as we get +5% max cold res from Aegis.

One last layer of defense that we implement is the Vampirism Wheel (Next to Undertaker) for the life gain on kill and 20% of damage taken from hits recouped as life. We are CONSTANTLY taking damage and out-recovering it with Aegis. Hits very rarely actually touch our life pool. However, when there are chaos damage hits or chaos dots we have this recoup that is constantly building up to keep us topped off.


Current Gear

Required Uniques

It should be noted that you can play this build without the "required" uniques. You do not *need* +5 Hands of the High templar to play the build. It's a min-max option for best damage output. Consider gloves with +1 Socketed and +2 Prof or AOE if you're on a budget. Just keep in mind, each gem level on Unearth is worth about 8-10% more damage up until gem level 30.

Aegis is simply part of the defense setup. Not terribly expensive. Go get it. :D


Most important thing:
"Unearth Spawns Corpses with +5 Level" Enchant.
Literally 50% more damage. Thankfully not an expensive enchant. You want this on an armour base.

For minmaxers, -9-12% fire res and faster ignite helmet like the one above is great.

Hrimnor's Resolve and Brine Crown are both solid budget options. Brine Crown in particular gives an insane boost to armour and is the best pure defensive option.


Ashes of the Stars is BiS for this build as it utilizes every stat.
+1 Skills helps alleviate the stress on other gear slots to boost Unearth OR helps bring it up to level 32.
Mana Reservation Efficiency means we don't need Enlighten at all.
And +30% Quality=+60% Corpse Life.

You can still use a generic DoT Multi amulet of course.

Or super budget can use this one for good EO procs.

Dirty Techniques is best for damage.
Soul of Steel for more armour and +1 Max Res.
Searing Heat for budget damage anoint.
Consider anything that gives you what you might be lacking.


Lots of flexibility here. You can use Berek's Respite to help with clearing if you need it. I used it for the longest time.
Synthesized ring with faster ignites and crafted with Essence of Delirium is best for damage.
I have decided that I really need that Unset Ring so that I can put faster attacks support on shield charge. This helps with mapping a lot as well.

Getting +1 Minimum Frenzy Unveiled is nice as it comes with Frenzies on kill and that is great for mapping and any content with a lot of monsters (Simulacrum, I'm looking at you).

Try to get Dexterity here somewhere if you can.=


Razor of the Second Sun is a great budget weapon that has some cheeky insane recovery attached to it. remember, Shaper of Flames means everything Ignites. When you block, Tempest Shield procs and ignites, recovering some life in the process.

Doryani's Scepter is another great budget option and comes with some life leech and global crit.

Obliteration can be used as a budget Explosion source. Combine with Berek's Respite and Fan the Flames cluster jewel notable for multi-screen clear.

Generally speaking you want:
Fire Damage over time Multiplier
Fire Damage %
Burning Damage
Fire/Ele as extra Chaos Damage
Spell Crit (helps with EO)

Gem levels are not good (unless you need +phys for Unearth to get to level 30).
Detonate Dead can be level 1 and it does the same damage as a level 21 gem because we are scaling based off the CORPSE EXPLOSION. So don't waste your currency on some sick +2 Sceptre thinking it's BiS for all ignite builds.


+5(really 6) Hands of the High Templar are the highest level boost for Unearth you can get currently.
That said, the new implicits from the Eldritch mod pool have made me reconsider what is BiS for gloves:

+2% Max Cold Resistance is for those who are utilizing the Melding of the Flesh unique jewel as it then reads "+2% Max Ele Res"
Furthermore, getting Fire Exposure on hit means we can drop all other sources of exposure (no need for the rare Master of Fire mod on cluster jewel!).
All of that and you still get +5 to Unearth.
Crafting These Gloves

So the goal here is to craft the suffixes:
"+1 to level of socketed Strength Gems" to boost Empower
and "+1 to level of socketed Dexterity Gems" to boost Unearth and Enhance.
+1 Int Gems is useless! You don't need/want it.
And once you've gotten those we'll add:
"+2 to level of Socketed AoE OR Projectile Gems"
Finishing off with bench crafting "+1 to level of socketed AoE (or Projectile Gems)"

This is what results in a total of +5 to Unearth.
Step 1: Preparing Your Base

First thing's first: we gotta make a base.
You can start it one of two ways:
1) Buy a base with +1% max Cold Res (Grand)
2) Buy a base with Fractured mod that you want:
Life, a res, ES, etc...
If you go with method 2, you will need to spam either Grand or Exceptional Eldritch Embers until you hit +1% to max cold res.
Special Note
If you don't want to use melding of the Flesh or don't care about the +2% max res, you can always roll for Fire Damage Over Time Multiplier on the Eldritch Embers instead.

Once you've gotten your desired base, hit it with a Greater or Grand Eldritch Ichor for a random second implicit. This will be overwritten eventually. Then, once this is done will need to make it blue and imprint it with a Craicic Chimeral (link to trade) via the Menagerie.
The imprints will make the next steps a lot simpler...
Now that you have an imprint:

The goal is to use these to raise the tier of your Exarch Implicit to the desired tier (5 for res, 6 for DoT multi).
Imprint -> Orb of Conflict (OOC from now on)
If you drop a tier on the initial try, hit it again with an OOC to try to bring it back as they are cheaper than imprints. If you downgrade AGAIN, go back to your imprint, make another imprint, and try again.
Every time you successfully raise your Exarch implicit up a tier, make a new imprint. Repeat processes until you're satisfied.

Once you've gotten your desired Searing Exarch implicit, you can spam Greater(-12%), Grand(-13%), or Exceptional(-14%) Eldritch Ichors until you get the "Inflict Fire Exposure on Hit" modifier.

And just like THAT the base is ready for crafting!

Step 2, Fossil Crafting

This next step is probably the most expensive part of this process. You will need:
4 socket resonators socketed with:
Faceted Fossil
Corroded Fossil
Dense Fossil
Pristine Fossil

This is a look at the odds from https://www.craftofexile.com/en/:

Now that you've gotten +1 Str and +1 Dex, do you have an open suffix? If no, go to the next step. If yes, craft "Can have up to 3 crafted modifiers" to fill that suffix and move on to the next step.

Step 3, Unveiling

Now that you've got +1 Str and +1 Dex with either the multimod or another random suffix, craft "Suffixes Cannot be Changed" for 2 Exalts at the crafting bench.

You can now either Aisling or use a Veiled Chaos Orb. I would recommend the Veiled Chaos orb as they are cheap by comparison and can roll you a good extra prefix like life.

Optionally block a mod via crafting bench to increase chances. Don't do this if you multimodded to fill your suffix. Unveil.

This may take a few tries, but odds are fairly decent to hit EITHER +2 AoE or +2 Projectiles. If you fail to hit it, recraft suffixes cannot be changed and try again. If you also happen to fill prefixes with a veiled chaos orb, you will have to "reforge a rare, keeping all suffixes" via Harvest to try again.

After that's done, bench craft the other +1 gem mod and you're done! If you used a fractured base then you'll be full up on mods. If you have a free prefix you can always Harvest Augment/Leo Slam/Eldritch Exalt and see what happens.

You can use Asenath's Gentle Touch for explosions. best if combined with another source of +socketed gems for Unearth. I would even consider +2 socketed gems Honourhome as a cheap options for extra levels. Viridi's Veil and the Vertex also give gem levels. Vertex is pretty solid if you want to go Grace instead of Malevolence as it has a hefty amount of evasion on it. They tend to be fairly plentiful too so it's not unreasonable to double corrupt one for +4 gems later in the league.

Otherwise, use a rare with life fire+lightning res. You may want to keep the resists on your gloves similar to what HoTHT have to make future upgrades easier.


Elevated Faster Ignite is great as it also gives ignite duration (we have pretty short duration with how much faster ignite stats we accumulate). Increased Effect of non-damaging ailments is another damage boost as we shock everything.

Otherwise, get you some res, life, movement speed (with onslaught on kill preferably).
Generic good boots are great! This is a nice place to get resists/attributes if you are not trying to minmax DPS.

Body Armour

Alright. so if you can afford a fractured 100% increased global defenses grasping mail. Get one. Use Essences to craft it and slap on 10% of max life as extra ES for a huge boost to ES and Armour.

Incandescent Heart is great for damage and comes with some decent armour+ES as well. Great budget option--just make sure chaos res is capped.

You can also use The Brass Dome. Less life/ES but gives crit immunity and more armour. +5 Max Ele Res is also pretty insane. Low life pool makes this less than ideal but it's solid.

My current ideal is to use an explosion chest with aura effect (big armour boost) on either an ES or Armour Base. Explosions+Berek's Respite+Fan the Flames ignite prolifs will clear multiple screens of monsters and make the build feel almost like an autobomber.

Otherwise, this slot is really flexible. Get a rare with high armour and energy shield as 6L if on a budget.


I like the "Gain Charges when hit by an enemy" mod combined with "Use When Charges Reach Full" Enchant. You can craft the enchant via bench craft.

You want to use a Basalt, Granite, and Quicksilver. One of which should have increased armour during flask effect.

The other 2 slots are up to you. I use a diamond flask to help with EO procs. This can also be a Bottled Faith instead, which is good for like 20% more damage or so as well.
we get +5 Max Cold res from Aegis so I like to use Ruby or Topaz at any given time to balance out damage taken.

Gems and Links

Chest 6L:
Level 1 Vaal DD is intentional. Keeps mana cost low and the only thing you gain from levels for this build is some AOE.

4L Auras

You can get away without using Enlighten, but the mana is a little tight. (I end up with 53 mana left without it). If you have a level 4 Enlighten you can replace the mana reservation mastery with the Aura Effect one.

This is flexible. You can choose to put this as an arcanist brand instead of CWDT with Flame Surge if you want or self cast it with Hextouch+Flammability. I also put Flame Dash in these links as an additional way to apply Combustion Debuff.
4L Phantasmal Unearth

Ideally these go into a pair of HoTHT gloves. But if you're running another +gem levels setup then you'd naturally put this there.

3L Arcanist Brand

Arca Brand to proc Flame surge on the enemy periodically for 25% more damage. Flammability for curse. As mentioned above, you can also 4L this with WoC if you want to. Flexible slot.
2L Shield Charge for mobility

You can use any movement skills you like. I personally like to use Shield Charge supplemented with Flame Dash. You do you Boo.

Single Sockets looking to Mingle!

These gems do not need to be linked to anything and can be placed in any of your spare sockets/unset ring(you will need 1 unset ring if you are running Enlighten). Flame Dash likes to be paired with the CWDT WoC+Combustion as an additional way to proc the debuff.

Ask away!

Calculating Corpse Life

Video Explanation
When calculating the corpse life of our Unearth corpses there are three things to consider:

Level of the Corpse
% Increased Corpse Life.
Area Level of the Zone you're in.

So, basically, the level of the corpse is noted on the Unearth gem itself when you scroll over it in game. This will take into account all sources of boosted level etc...At gem level 30, Unearth will spawn level 90 Bone Archers.
Combine that with the helmet enchant mentioned earlier and you end up with level 95 Bone Archer corpses.

This gives us the *base* stats of monsters up to level 100. At level 95 a monster has base life of 31,220. We want to then take this number and factor in the 140% of base life multiplier from the Bone Archer stats (x1.4)=43,708 life for a level 95 Bone Archer.

You can then, once again, check the Unearth gem for the increased life value that it's generating:

Take this value (170% in my case) and add another 70% to it from the tree and Corpse Pact Ascendancy(If you're Necro or have the forbidden jewels, otherwise it's 20%) for your total %Increased Corpse Life.

I get 148,607 corpse life in the above example.

From there, you want to go to:
And look up the Area level for the content that you are doing.

So with the above example of 148,607 life, if I were in a level 83 zone (T16 map) then I would multiply by 2.09 for a total of 310,588.

Leveling/League Starting

league start leveling progression. Includes tree progression for all the acts up to level 85-ish. From there you'll want to refer to the end game POB. This is a naked character. Ooh la la. xD

League Start Guide
For Wave of Conviction Ignite+Armabrand Leveling:
Act 1 - Make sure to pick up Essences as you see them. Will need for later.
Grab Explosive Trap and use until level 4/Med Chest
Submerged Passage pick up Flame Wall, HF Totem, and keep Explosive Trap for Single Target
Look for BBG, BBR, and GGB
Prison level 8 - Combustion linked to HFT
Efficacy on Flame Wall if possible and/or link to Arcane Surge
Act 2
After saving Helena, Herald of Ash+Purity and use. Pick up WoC to level.
18 Grab Cruelty. WoC+Combustion+Cruelty.
Make 2x Wands with Fire to spells on or before level 20. (Rare Ruby Ring+Alteration+Magic Wand)
ZOOM! -> Act 3
Level 24 pick up Flammability
Level 28 Pick up Cremation+Arma Brand, go back to act 2 for Desecrate+Faster Casting and Act 1 for LMP
Do Normal Lab ASAP.
After Lab, look for 4L: BBBR -> WoC, Ignite Prolif(level 38), Added Fire(Library and purchase), and Cruelty
4L Cremation: GGBX: Cremation, LMP/GMP, Combustion, Cruelty/Conc Effect
ArmaBrand - hextouch - Flammability - Ignite Prolif(4th Link) BBBB
Delete remaining acts.

When to swap to Unearth+DD

Made a video talking about this briefly, but basically you want to wait until you have a skill level 20 on Unearth...at minimum. Ideally, you wanna swap after you ALSO have a +5 Corpse Level Helmet Enchant for a good boost to damage.

Last edited by Gryphenprey on Jul 3, 2022, 1:27:00 AM
Last bumped on Dec 12, 2022, 4:39:35 PM
Hey, thank you for the build, looking great! Could you also put up a video of a higher tier map please? Have you tried simulacrum yet?
This looks very cool, thanks for sharing !

I am wondering how the clear feel with only Ignite Prolif. Is it too costly stats wise to swap in a Berek's Respite ?
Interesting! How is the clearing tho?
+1 vouch, top notch production quality here!
FlickerCoC Ice Nova / Spear Assassin: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/3225536
🔨⚡CWC Lightning Conduit Mjolner Trickster: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/3300148
VD Arcanist Brand Necromancer: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/2911667
primaeva wrote:
+1 vouch, top notch production quality here!

Hey! Long time! :D Thanks! I've got another doozy of an idea coming down the pipeline too. Still all very theoretical though. Hehe.

thomzon wrote:
This looks very cool, thanks for sharing !

I am wondering how the clear feel with only Ignite Prolif. Is it too costly stats wise to swap in a Berek's Respite ?

I used Respite for a long time actually. I just found it wasn't needed for me personally.

Starbuckz42 wrote:
Hey, thank you for the build, looking great! Could you also put up a video of a higher tier map please? Have you tried simulacrum yet?

I have done wave 30 Simulacrum with 1 death from a screen freeze (curse you lag!). Entire run was deathless up to that point.

Uploaded a Minotaur Map run. I was half asleep when doing this so don't mind the "I guess I'm going to run through and then backtrack" silliness. xD

Alright, I'll go.

I've swapped builds to various witch builds over the last few weeks.

This is the first one where I've felt good in terms of tanking content and damage.

I'm using nothing but the budget build and doing t14-t16 content pretty easy at level 91.

My only gripe is mana and stats, but I think thats more based on my gear above all. I took so max mana nodes to fix the mana issue which worked, and unfortunately have to take the +30 str/dex nodes due to using so many uniques in the budget form.

I wasn't able to get a large cluster with master of fire, but am using a cheaper large cluster with sadist + doryanis, which is more damage on the POB by about 200k.

So far so good, will continue to ask questions as I go along. Thanks for the build!
thedukey wrote:
Alright, I'll go.

I've swapped builds to various witch builds over the last few weeks.

This is the first one where I've felt good in terms of tanking content and damage.

I'm using nothing but the budget build and doing t14-t16 content pretty easy at level 91.

My only gripe is mana and stats, but I think thats more based on my gear above all. I took so max mana nodes to fix the mana issue which worked, and unfortunately have to take the +30 str/dex nodes due to using so many uniques in the budget form.

I wasn't able to get a large cluster with master of fire, but am using a cheaper large cluster with sadist + doryanis, which is more damage on the POB by about 200k.

So far so good, will continue to ask questions as I go along. Thanks for the build!

A solution to the mana issue is to use a low level Vaal DD. We don't care about level so all you lose is the AOE. takes me from 54 mana cost to 14 for perspective. Master of Fire is just convenience for me.
Thanks, I may do that when I get more clusters.

I just stumbled on the large cluster being more damage because master of fire was really expensive. I'm still trying to roll one with harvest crafts.

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