[3.18] Wallach's Siege Ballista Hierophant (Enjoy Consistent Character Balance)

Hey folks,

Welcome to the latest edition of my Siege Ballista Hierophant guide! This guide is current as of patch 3.18 (Sentinel League).

Notes for 3.18

Since there are no balance updates whatsoever in Sentinel league, this build is 100% good to go and should be a very strong build for 3.18 overall.

In my opinion this is a very satisfying, all-around type build that has solid mapping and bossing performance. It also plays nicely with the newly added controller support, since we drop our totems directly at our feet rather than needing to precisely place them like spell totems. It may actually be slightly more convenient even on a controller since they'll auto-aim your manual casts of Sniper's Mark, instead of needing to precisely click on them with keyboard and mouse.

Currently my favorite build in Path of Exile as a totem enthusiast, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to those that are looking to play softcore trade. If you want a totem build that has a nice progression curve at every step of the game, this is a good choice.

As I've mentioned in my latest video, due to recent health issues I will be taking it pretty light for this league, so unfortunately I wouldn't expect a lot of videos or updates for Sentinel league specifically. Thankfully, since there are basically no changes to the game balance this patch, there's not much to update anyway!

Latest Videos:

[PoE 3.18] Sentinel League Start Progress #1

[PoE 3.18] Sentinel League & Channel Update

3.17 Siege Ballista Hierophant Update (3.18 Ready)

Build Overview


The general idea behind this build is based around the Iron Commander unique bow. This item allows you to gain +1 to maximum number of Siege Ballistae for every 200 Dexterity you have. So, building around this we stack as much Dexterity as we can (where opportunity cost allows), and look for other items or interactions that allow us to take advantage of that Dexterity to further scale our damage.

Hierophant is the Ascendancy of choice here simply because of the totem nodes, particularly Ritual of Awakening - this node grants 5% more damage, 1% life regeneration and .5% mana regeneration per active totem. Since we will be looking to stack a huge number of maximum totems (my level 100 character currently has 16), Hierophant becomes a pretty natural choice.

Defensively, we'll be leveraging the Magebane notable to cap our Spell Suppression at 100%, and the Iron Reflexes notable (since we've already sacrificed our Dexterity bonus towards Evasion in Magebane) to convert our Evasion into Armour. With Armour comes Molten Shell for a surprisingly beefy guard skill on top of our mitigation and excellent life regeneration. The build also has built in taunting when placing totems via totem mastery, as well as heavy Freeze and Chill application due to being almost entirely Cold damage, which are also great defensive tools that don't necessarily show up in the character sheet. Degen effects like Poison and elemental damage from attacks (which don't interact with Spell Suppression) can be somewhat dangerous for this build due to a mediocre life pool, but overall the build generally has enough defenses to do what it needs to do.

Overall, the build is fairly straightforward to play once put together, as ballistae are simply placed at your feet rather than at a targeted location like spell totems. Simply run around, dropping your Siege Ballista as you go, and use your Frenzy to generate charges and debuff enemies as needed. Check the videos section for footage of the build in action at various gear levels if you'd like to see it for yourself.



Skill Tree


Path of Building Import


Note: You need the Path of Building Community Fork to properly view my (and most build creators') latest Path of Building imports, as the original version of Path of Building is no longer fully maintained. If you don't have the Community Fork version, you can find that here.

https://pastebin.com/RDABttdR

This is a "standard" setup that extends up to level 96 with an example set of gear that should be reasonable to attain by that level in trade league. My own estimate was to be roughly at this gear level at the end of the first week, and wound up a good bit farther than that in reality. No particularly rare uniques are used in the core of this build (pending 3.17 surprises); you'll probably have a more difficult time securing good rare rings or the medium cluster than any of the uniques used here. Expect to pay much more than usual for an early Rain of Splinters jewel in 3.17 due to all the Explosive Arrow ballista videos being posted this league.






Gear


Helm


Fractal Thoughts is the easy choice in helm slot for this build. We can easily ensure our Strength remains above our Intelligence to secure the 15% Dexterity bonus, our Dexterity will certainly be higher than our Intelligence to always give us the critical multiplier bonus, and our overall Intelligence will still be enough to give us a decent life roll. On top of all this we get 1% increased Elemental Damage per 10 Dexterity, which makes this a pretty easy choice overall.

For your helmet enchantment, 15% Siege Ballista attack speed is generally the best choice.

Example:





Body Armour


Hyrri's Ire is my primary suggestion for this build, as it offers a nice selection of extremely desirable stats. A nice chunk of flat Dexterity, a huge amount of added flat cold damage, increased chill duration, 30% spell suppression to ensure you are spell suppression capped at lower Dexterity levels, and an enormous amount of evasion rating (which will in turn become an enormous amount of armour). Just an extremely strong chest overall both offensively and defensively, and especially in the early mapping phase will be a noticeable upgrade the sooner you can get into one.

Wildwrap is the other common choice for this slot, as it also offers a great selection of stats for this build. Attack speed, 15% increased Dexterity, Cold Resistance, movement speed and a juicy 1% increased damage per 15 Dexterity make it another all around great choice. The main downside to this choice is the significantly lower evasion rating compared to Hyrri's Ire. At the lower end of gear I'd tend to favor Hyrri's Ire, while at the high end it's mostly a decision between a bit more damage or a bit more defense. I generally favor Hyrri's overall but serious consideration should be given to this chestpiece at higher gear levels.

Example:





Gloves


Gloves are one of the few slots that will usually remain Rare at all gear levels.

For the baseline affixes, you're generally going to just be looking for things like Dexterity, Life, Mana, and / or good resist totals. As you can afford better options, there are some more specific affixes you can target which are useful for this build:

Just like with Freezing Pulse totems, the Incursion-specific Puhuarte suffix is a hybrid that grants both T1 cold resistance and up to 35-50% increased damage with hits against chilled enemies which works just fine with our totems. It can be useful to keep an eye out for a set of these gloves early on that have Dexterity and Life on them (or an open prefix to craft Life) as a quick and easy damage upgrade fairly early into a league.

Hunter influence gloves will likely be your main target for higher end gloves, as the Hunter-specific pool can offer up to 10% increased Dexterity as a suffix. Getting both flat Dexterity and % Dexterity can make your glove slot return a pretty massive amount of Dexterity overall while still leaving suffix room for something like a resist or increased attack speed. Slapping Hunter-influenced gloves with Sorrow essences are probably your best bet for trying to craft your own set of such gloves.

Example:





Boots


Garukhan's Flight are my main recommendation for this gear slot, as it can be difficult to get decent Life levels on this build, which these boots can go a long way towards solving with their +2 flat life per 10 Dexterity. On top of that you get 30% movement speed, decent evasion, and a very useful immunity to all forms of elemental ground effects (Shocked Ground, Burning Ground, Chilled Ground). Bear in mind that your totems will not gain this immunity, so particularly Chilled Ground can still be an annoyance, lowering your totems' action speed.

Rare boots with life, resists and as much movement speed as you can find will suffice until you can secure a set of Garukhan's. You could even consider investing into a decent pair of rare boots at the higher end, but personally I would plan to make the switch over to Garukhan's so that you don't become reliant on having more resistances in this slot later.

Example:





Main Hand Weapon


Iron Commander is one of the core uniques for this build and should be considered mandatory in context of this guide.

This bow doesn't have very impressive base damage, but the rest of the stats on this bow make up for it and ultimately give us the main build-defining gimmick of increasing our maximum totem count for every 200 Dexterity we have. While the physical damage also goes up 1-3 every 25 Dexterity, the physical component of this build really is never relevant at any gear level (at least in the context of this particular guide). This bow will enable us to easily get over a dozen ballistas, and each additional ballista is serving as a multiplying force for all of our other Dexterity stacking bonuses and flat damage sources throughout the build. The other upside to this bow is that it is very common, and consistently one of the cheapest 5L/6L items in trade league, so you shouldn't struggle too much to get your first 6L relative to other builds.

Example:





Off-Hand Weapon


Hyrri's Demise is our primary target for this slot, primarily for the +1-2 flat cold damage per 10 Dexterity. You also get a bit of flat fire and lightning from Strength and Dexterity, but we'll mostly be focusing on scaling flat cold damage in this build, which lines up well with our Dexterity stacking overall. You also get a nice chunk of all attributes and some attack speed to solidify this as a core piece of the build.

This item is a Prophecy fated unique, which means it is an upgraded version of the lower level Hyrri's Bite quiver. Thankfully, this quiver is both very common and even craftable via the following vendor recipe:

- 1 x Sharktooth Arrow Quiver
- 1 x Rare Onyx Amulet
- 1 x Rain of Arrows skill gem (at least 1% quality or higher)
- 1 x Orb of Chance

The prophecy to upgrade this unique to Hyrri's Demise is called "A Dishonourable Death" and requires you to kill The Dishonoured Queen boss in Mud Flats of Act 6 while you have Hyrri's Bite either equipped or in your inventory. This prophecy can sometimes be a little expensive to buy in the first few days of a league (~30c), so tossing any of your early Silver Coins to Navali to score one for yourself isn't a terrible idea while you upgrade other, less expensive slots first.

Hyrri's Bite is totally fine to use until you can acquire the prophecy and upgrade into Hyrri's Demise.

Example:





Rings


Rare rings are going to be your mainstay here for the most part, as there will be significant pressure on these slots to find elemental resists due to the relatively large amount of uniques being used in the build overall.

Your main priorities here are Dexterity, Life and as much elemental resistances as you can find. Damage is largely secondary in these slots for quite a long time. At the high end of things, you may even be able to use Synthesized base rings that have 6% Dexterity implicits for even more Dexterity, though it can be hard to find the resistance room for such things.

It's also highly recommended to try and get at least one Elreon craft for "Non-Channeled Skills have -6-7 Mana Cost", which will solve pretty much any remaining mana issues you might be having due to your extreme totem placement speed.

Early on, keep an eye on trade for Le Heup of All rings as well, as these have up to 30% increased damage, +30 to all attributes, and up to 30% all elemental resistances. These aren't always that cheap around league start, and the rolls have a fairly large amount of variance to them, but if you drop one or see a cheap one it can be a very good ring to hold you over until you can find a better rare. These have a low level 24 requirement which also makes them a pretty good choice if you want to twink level into the build as a second character (especially for Hollow Palm leveling).

Remember to use Intrinsic Catalysts on your rings for another 20% bonus to your Dexterity affixes on these slots.

Examples:





Amulet


Astramentis is pretty much a no-brainer for this build, as it offers a gigantic chunk of stats at a relatively cheap price. There's really not much reason to consider anything else for this slot due to the insane opportunity cost of trying to craft a better rare versus the price of this amulet. Remember to use Intrinsic Catalysts on this for an additonal 20% attributes from both the implicit and explicit affixes.

Example:





Belt


Cyclopean Coil is the easiest item to target for this slot, as it offers a large amount of flat life (which isn't necessarily easy to come by for this build), up to 15% increased attributes, and granting us Cannot Be Frozen since our Dexterity will always be higher than our Intelligence. Unfortunately you cannot get access to Cannot be Ignited or Shocked since we'll never meet those conditions, and Cannot Be Frozen can also be acquired from the Brine King pantheon upgrade, but the attributes bonus and flat life are enough to justify equipping this for quite a while. You'll see these start appearing in trade league fairly early as it is a common Elder boss drop; you may see the first ones in the ~30-40c range with high attribute rolls, but by the end of the first week these are usually going for less than 10c.

Down the road you'll likely want to upgrade to a Synthesized Rare belt that has 15% increased Dexterity as an implicit affix. This will allow you to still get a flat life roll in the prefixes, as well as a bunch of other stats like flat Dexterity, flask affixes, or needed resistances. Again, the Sorrow essences make crafting a decent belt with Dexterity a fair bit easier once you can get your hands on the Synthesized base.

Remember to use your Intrinsic Catalsyts on this slot as you can bump either option up to 18% increased attributes (as well as improving any flat Dexterity rolls on the Synthesized belt).

Example:





Flasks


Flasks are fairly flexible in this build in the current state of the game. I personally generally run one life flask and four magic utility flasks, but there are at least a couple strong unique options you can consider. Note: Magic affixes listed here are the lowest possible tiers of those affixes, and can be rolled for higher tier affixes on higher item level flasks. Suffixes can generally be moved around between utility flasks as is convenient. Increased duration is currently my preferred prefix for utility flasks, but the Apprentice's line (reduced charges used) is still a very strong choice as well. Experiement for yourself and see which you prefer!

Magic Flasks:

Prudent Divine Life Flask of Sealing - Non-instant life flasks received a huge buff in 3.16, and the Prudent line (increased recovery amount when used on Low Life) has proven to be my favorite. Since we also pick up a bit of flask recovery in the skill tree, these flasks will heal for massive amounts when hit under 50% health. The Sealing affix line is the new bleeding / corrupted blood removal affix, which is still necessary to deal with some of the nastier degens in the game.

Investigator's Diamond Flask of the Petrel - Despite the nerfs, Diamond Flask is still useful for serving as a damage flask that can carry any of the defensive utility flask affixes. Currently I run the Petrel line here for reduced effect of curses that, when paired with the upgraded Yugul pantheon, feels like enough to ignore curse effects while mapping.

Investigator's Granite Flask of the Conger - A solid defensive flask that will also buff up the value of our Molten Shell guard skills if they're used while this flask is active. Shock and Freeze protection are the most important of elemental ailments to solve for, and since we'll be using our belt and/or our Pantheon bonuses to solve for Freeze, a flask is used to cover Shock as much as possible (on top of any potential gem implicits or ailment avoidance bonuses elsewhere).

Investigator's Silver Flask of the Urchin - Until you have access to the Sleepless Sentries medium cluster node, you'll want a Silver flask to gain some access to Onslaught. Another elemental ailment is covered here in Ignite, as degens in general can be fairly dangerous for this build if not protected against properly.

Investigator's Jade Flask of the Urchin - Once you have acquired a Sleepless Sentries cluster jewel, I personally preferred to replace it with a Jade flask for even more evasion rating since this is converted to armour and essentially acts as a second Granite flask. Feel free to swap this out with the flask of your preference!

Investigator's Quicksilver Flask of the Skunk - Your final utility flask should generally be a Quicksilver just to improve your mapping experience. You could also consider dropping the Skunk suffix for the Hare line if you want even more movement speed and pushing your Skunk affix over to your Urchin flask, provided you have some other source of Ignite mitigation (such as multiple "reduced duration of Ignite" implicits on jewels from Harvest crafts).

Unique Flasks:

Bottled Faith Sulphur Flask - This unique flask offers a very potent critical strike chance and damage taken bonus to enemies within its massively increased consecrated ground effect. Not quite the powerhouse of a flask it was prior to 3.15, this is still worth considering if you're using this build as more of a dedicated bossing setup and not doing much mapping.

Dying Sun Ruby Flask - Similar to Bottled Faith, this flask is mainly for those that are using this build specifically for bigger bosses like Sirus or Maven. The additional projectiles combined with Barrage support can be a pretty significant single target increase, and could be the difference between Sirus being able to even get a special move off in the final phase of the fight at higher gear levels.



Jewels


Rain of Splinters is one of the jewels I'd consider a core item since it will give us early access to an additional 2 projectiles. Without this jewel, switching over to Siege Ballista can feel a bit scuffed for clear as they only shoot straight ahead by default. It also represents a big damage increase when you switch over to Barrage support for bossing. The reduced damage penalty on this jewel is very minor relative to the huge benefits offered to both clearing and bossing.

Fluid Motion is the other unique jewel I'd consider important, simply because it offers a huge amount of Dexterity at a very cheap price. This jewel must be slotted in the socket just to the left of the Scion life wheel with Consitution, where it will offer the most Dexterity.


Brawn is another handy jewel that offers up to 6% increased Dexterity and Strength, at the "cost" of reduced Intelligence. Since we have way more Intelligence than we actually need, and we want to ensure our Strength is always higher than our Intelligence for the purpose of Fractal Thoughts, this can be a pretty useful jewel to grab. Like Fluid Motion, this jewel is usually dirt cheap, but I wouldn't consider this one to be a core jewel as you won't always need the Dexterity to get over a 200 Dexterity threshold, and a rare jewel can often be a better choice if it would still push you over a threshold while offering additional stats like maximum life or resistances.

Rare jewels won't give you quite as much Dexterity as a Brawn, but can still offer a fair amount of Dexterity (a jewel can have both up to +16 Dexterity as well as up to +10 of Dexterity & Strength/Intelligence) while also offering up to 7% maximum life or additional resistances. In general, you should probably be trying to replace a Brawn with a rare jewel so long as it doesn't push you below a 200 Dexterity threshold or cause your Intelligence to go above your Strength.



Cluster Jewels


For now, my only core recommendation for clusters jewels is for a Increased Totem Damage medium cluster rolled for the following notables:

- Sleepless Sentries
- Ancestral Echo

Sleepless Sentries will give you 100% uptime on Onslaught, and Ancestral Echo is just a solid damage notable that grants even more attack speed.

You could relatively easily fit a small cluster on the other end of your medium (especially if you drop Alira late game), but you may feel too much socket pressure for late game items like Brutal Restraint or Watcher's Eye for it to make sense. For now I personally prefer the one medium cluster.




Gem Links


Main Gem Setups


Primary damage links in order of relative priority:

Siege Ballista -> Inspiration -> Added Cold Damage -> Cold Penetration -> Hypothermia -> Elemental Damage With Attacks

For bossing where you need max single target possible early on, swap out your Hypothermia for Barrage support.

While Inspiration is one of the weakest pure damage links in this setup, it confers a very large mana cost reduction that means you'll want it into the link as early as possible. Similarly, while Elemental Damage With Attacks is one of the better damage gems in this link, it would probably be the first gem I had to cut to drop to a 5L, because we'll still benefit more from being able to swap Hypothermia over to Barrage for single target fights that we need max damage for.

Anomalous Siege Ballista deserves special mention here - this alternate quality gem grants an additional projectile per 10% quality, while also reducing attack speed by 1% per point of quality. This trade-off is certainly worth it; while it'll be a slight loss of mapping attack speed, the projectile significantly outweigh the lost attack speed when it comes to single target damage with Barrage support linked. The attack speed penalty means that the optimal gem here is very specifically 21/20; a 21/23 gem will cost you an additional 3% attack speed while not offering anything in return compared to the 21/20.

It's also worth noting that pushing either version of Siege Ballista to level 22 grants you +1 to maximum number of ballistae; this can be accomplished with either a 20/20 gem and a +2 to Socketed Projectile Gems corruption on your chestpiece, or a 21/20 gem with a +1 to Socketed Gems corruption. The latter is preferable as it will also increase the damage contribution of your linked support gems like Added Cold Damage, but is obviously more expensive to set up due to the need of a 21/20 Siege Ballista gem.

Offensive Support 6-link:

Frenzy -> Cast on Critical Strike -> Sniper's Mark -> Greater Multiple Projectiles -> Increased Critical Strikes -> Frost Bomb

Your second six link should go towards this setup which you'll essentially use as your self-cast attack once your totems are down. Attack with Frenzy will build Frenzy charges on every hit, and Cast on Critical Strike will allow those hits to trigger Sniper's Mark and Frost Bomb for big single target damage increases against bosses. Greater Multiple Projectiles is there for QOL purposes so that you don't need to really aim to get your Frenzy charges, especially during mapping.

If you are extremely focused on mapping and not bossing, you can consider switching out your Sniper's Mark and Frost Bomb for Blood Rage and Frostbite, for even more mapping QOL.


Offensive Support 4-link:

Blood Rage -> Ensnaring Arrow -> Greater Multiple Projectiles -> Culling Strike

This support setup gives you access to self-cast Blood Rage (if you haven't slotted it into your Frenzy links above) as well as Ensnaring Arrow, which essentially serves as a secondary Sniper's Mark debuff on bosses that makes them take more damage from projectiles until they move far enough to break the snare. Culling Strike fits in here to give you access to easy access to culling for bosses; if you're getting culling from somewhere else (like a Scourged bow this league), you can swap this link to whatever you want, such as Mirage Archer to add some automation to Ensanring Arrow during bosses.

Utility 4-link:

Vaal Molten Shell -> Cast When Damage Taken -> Dash -> Second Wind

Since we're reaching decent levels of armour in this build, Molten Shell makes sense for our guard skill as it will reach much higher shield levels than something like Steelskin. Using the Vaal version will give you an additional button to press pre-emptively to give yourself a large shield before going into a dangerous situation, like opening a Heist door or entering the Scourge hellscape. We also need a movement skill so this is the easiest link to fit it; feel free to replace Dash with the movement skill of your preference.

Reservation 4-link:

Hatred -> Summon Skitterbots -> Enlighten -> Bonechill

Hatred and Summon Skitterbots are our offensive reservations, with Hatred supplying a huge amount of cold damage and enabling Watcher's Eye, and Skitterbots giving us access to a solid Shock for bossing. Enlighten is only really needed to fit Bonechill into this link for a single target increase through their Chill aura; even level 2 Enlighten should be enough provided you have an Elreon craft on one of your rings.



Awakened Gem Priority


Primary damage links:

Awakened Elemental Damage With Attacks, Awakened Added Cold Damage and Awakened Cold Penetration are the Awakened gem variants we can currently utilize in this build.

Awakened Cold Penetration is often very cheap, and an easy to recommend first upgrade. At level 5 it will gain a chance to apply 10% Exposure on hit, which is decent for clearing and cases where your Frost Bomb isn't landing.

Awakened Added Cold Damage and Awakened Elemental Damage With Attacks are generally much more expensive. Added Cold Damage will offer more raw damage per level, but we can't make use of the +1 to Cold Skills, whereas Elemental Damage With Attacks will make your totems immune to Elemental Reflect at level 5, making running those reflect makes significantly easier (though you still need to be careful with your Frenzy shots). Personally I would probably favor Added Cold Damage before Elemental Damage With Attacks as these gems take a long time to level and you'll just reroll most of your Elemental Reflect maps before then anyway.





Ascendancy


Pursuit of Faith -> Ritual of Awakening -> Conviction of Power -> Divine Guidance

Standard ascendancy order for Hierophant totem builds. It's worth noting however that we don't have much unreserved mana in this build, and Divine Guidance will cause you to take 10% of damage as mana instead of life; this means degens can sometimes sap your mana unexpectedly. That said, you still have a fair amount of mana regen in this build due to the amount of totems, and as soon as the degen is removed your mana will return in less than a second.

If you find yourself bumping into issues with being mana drained, you can also just choose to skip Divine Guidance and take two minor ascendancy nodes instead. You'll lose a small amount of damage (2-3%) from the loss of Transfiguration of Mind and have a bit less overall mana regen, but you'll avoid the issue of mana drain entirely. I've been running this way during Sourge league to deal with some of the heavy unremovable degen effects on some Scourged maps.

Last edited by Wallach on May 15, 2022, 7:55:25 AM
Last bumped on May 22, 2022, 7:21:29 AM
Alternate Quality Gems


Here are my recommendations for the alternate quality gems made available from Heist, broken down by their respective link setups. Note that most of these are pretty minor upgrades outside of Anomalous Siege Ballista, which is a notable single target increase. Aside from that gem specifically, these should be considered quite optional and not necessary for any level of progression.

Siege Ballista: Anomalous
Inspiration: Anomalous
Hypothermia: Default or Anomalous
Added Cold Damage: Awakened
Cold Penetration: Awakened
Elemental Damaage with Attacks: Awakened

Frenzy: Default or Anomalous
Cast on Critical Strike: Default
Sniper's Mark: Default
Frost Bomb: Divergent
Increased Critical Strikes: Default
Greater Multiple Projectiles: Anomalous

Dash: Default or Divergent
Second Wind: Default
Cast When Damage Taken: Anomalous or Divergent
Vaal Molten Shell: Default

Hatred: Anomalous
Summon Skitterbots: Default
Bonechill: Default or Divergent
Enlighten: Default

Blood Rage: Default
Ensnaring Arrow: Anomalous
Greater Multiple Projectiles: Anomalous
Mirage Archer: Divergent



Amulet Anointment


Shaman's Dominion - Anointment is pretty straightforward for this build in my opinion, as Shaman's Dominion represents too much damage for the modest oil cost of Clear, Azure, Silver. 60% critical strike chance and 20% critical strike multiplier is just hard to beat, even for the more expensive anointments available.



Pantheon


(Major) Soul of the Brine King - We don't get any stun immunity in this build, so Brine King helps prevent us from getting totally stunlocked in bad situations (along with some stun avoidance from the passive tree). As of 3.16 this now also grants Cannot Be Frozen when upgraded, giving us an important immunity for a wide variety of content. The reduced Chill effect is also good for a number of situations since we won't have any access to Chill immunity from a flask.

(Minor) Soul of Yugul - This minor is mainly used after upgrading for the additonal 30% reduced effect of curses. This along with a curse effect reduction flask makes any map with curse mods vastly easier to deal with, especially Elemental Weakness as sometimes our resistances are a bit tight in this build. The reduced reflect damage is somewhat relevant, though later on you will likely upgrade to Awakened Elemental Damage with Attacks, which confers full immunity to reflect for your totems anyway. It will however cut the damage you take from Frenzy's reflected damage, which is generally enough to prevent you from instantly killing yourself with it in Elemental Reflect maps.

Specifically for the Sirus encounter, I would consider swapping over to Arakaali (major) and Shakari (minor) once those are upgraded, as the chaos damage over time represents a very specific threat. You generally won't make use of Brine King in this fight as the "Die" beam will typically kill you before it would Freeze you anyway.



Bandits


Help Alira (5 Mana Regenerated per second, +20% to Global Critical Strike Multiplier, +15% to all Elemental Resistances)

Especially as a league starter, helping Alira is simply too beneficial to ignore compared to 2 passive skill points. The resists and mana regeneration are super useful at the start of the game and remain good bonuses all the way through Uber Elder, while critical strike multiplier is weak early but the strongest offensive stat available to us at endgame. At the high end of things, you may get more use out of 2 skill points, but even then Alira remains competitive in many cases.



Leveling Guide


Note: This leveling section is updated for 3.17 and may still be a bit rough around the edges. Feel free to ask questions or point out any typos / errors you find, thanks!

Act 1


After killing Hillock and entering Lioneye's Watch, take Purifying Flame as your first gem reward. This will be our basic damage spell until we swap over to Explosive Arrow ballistae. We'll be leveling with this alongside Holy Flame Totem until we get to that swap.

Other important gems you want to pick up from quests in this act are:

Mercy Mission (Killing Hailrake): Arcane Surge Support

Breaking Some Eggs (Opening Submerged Passage): Holy Flame Totem, Flame Wall, Frostblink, Steelskin, Molten Shell, Dash

The Caged Brute (Upon Entering Prison): Added Fire Damage Support, Combustion Support

The Caged Brute (After Killing Brutus): Flame Dash, Clarity, Precision

Frostblink, Flame Dash and Clarity don't need to be linked to anything, so just fit them in wherever you can in your gear. Precision can be ignored until later after you switch over to Explosive Arrow. Your damage spells however will want as many gem links as you can find for them (you will find up to 3-link items in this Act):

Purifying Flame ideal links: Arcane Surge Support, Added Fire Damage Support

Holy Flame Totem ideal links: Combustion Support, Added Fire Damage Support

Flame Wall ideal links: Spell Cascade Support

Flame Wall is a nice addition for early leveling; prior to taking Ancestral Bond it will deal some damage itself to any enemies standing in it, however its main benefit is that it provides a damage bonus to projectiles that are shot through the flames before striking their target. Holy Flame Totem's projectiles benefit from this, so try to drop your Flame Wall generally in front of your Holy Flame Totem to further boost its damage.

Early on, you can craft a wand that has flat damage to spells by vendoring any magic (blue) wand, a single Alteration Orb, and any elemental resistance ring (e.g. Ruby Ring, Sapphire Ring, or Topaz Ring). The rarity of the ring will determine the tier of damage to spells that is crafted onto the resulting wand, though it will increase the level requirement of the wand as well (levels 8, 14 and 20 depending on ring rarity), so make sure to check what wand the vendor is returning to you and make sure you can actually equip it. You can also craft any type of resistance ring if you can't find one by vendoring a white Iron Ring alongside any color of skill gem to create a matching color resistance ring (e.g. Iron Ring + Green Gem will create a Topaz Ring). These weapons are a big boost to your damage while leveling, so keep an eye out for these components!

You will also encounter your first Labyrinth trial in this act, within the Lower Prison. I'd recommend completing Labyrinth trials as you progress through the story rather than going back for them, as they are all very easy, and later trials will contain useful crafting recipes.

In terms of the passive tree, your primary goal is to head towards the Purity of FLesh notable, picking up all of the notables shown in the Act 1 passive skill tree such as Retribution and Holy Dominion along the way.

Skill point quests in Act 1 that should be completed:

The Marooned Mariner
The Dweller of the Deep
The Way Forward



Act 2


Two more Labyrinth trials are found in Act 2 - one in the Chamber of Sins Level 2, and one in the Crypt Level 1.

Important gems you want to pick up from quests in this act are:

Intruders in Black (After Killing Fidelitas): Herald of Ash

Sharp and Cruel (After Killing The Weaver): Elemental Focus Support, Elemental Damage With Attacks Support

Herald of Ash does not need to be linked to anything, so just fit it in anywhere you can (though ensure it isn't connected to a spare support gem that might increase its mana reservation). Elemental Damage With Attacks isn't something you'll need until you swap over to Explosive Arrow and can be ignored until then. You'll also want to shuffle your ideal links a bit with the new supports available:

Purifying Flame ideal links: Combustion Support, Arcane Surge Support

Holy Flame Totem ideal links: Elemental Focus Support, Added Fire Damage Support

Flame Wall ideal links: Spell Cascade Support

I highly recommend helping Alira during this act instead of killing all bandits for 2 passive skill points, especially if you are using this build as a league starter. The resists and mana regeneration are very powerful when your gear is at its worst, and the critical strike multiplier is very strong so the Alira choice remains competitive with 2 skill points even at endgame, even just in the context of raw damage.

In terms of the passive tree progression, finish up Purity of Flesh for some additional life, then grab Explosive Impact and the 20% Fire Damage Over Time Multiplier mastery, the head over and pick up Elemental Overload to help boost our damage further while leveling. You may want to look for an extra piece of Fire Resistance gear when you take this mastery to help offset the mastery's penalty; a Ruby Ring is usually enough to deal with it. After Elemental Overload, you'll want to start pathing towards Holy Fire.

Skill point quests in Act 2 that should be completed:

None (unless choosing to kill all bandits instead of helping Alira)



Act 3


Here in Act 3 you'll start finding more 4-link items, including gear pieces from the vendor Hargan in town. Each time you return to town (so long as you gained at least 1 level since the last time you checked the vendor), vendor inventories will refresh, so get in the habit of checking for 4-link armour pieces in town until you have 4-links for your primary skills. In particular, you'll want to start looking out for a 4-link with R-R-G-G link colors since you'll be swapping over to Explosive Arrow at the end of this act. You should also keep an eye out at the vendors in any act for any 1.45 or 1.5 APS bow base to have on hand for when you swap; even a Short Bow from act 1 is fine, especially if it has an attack speed roll.

Three Labyrinth trials are located in Act 3, and you'll want to complete them all so that you can access the Labyrinth for the first time near the end of the Act. The first trial is found in the Crematorium, the second within the Catacombs Level 1 (near the Marketplace waypoint), and the third in the northern corner of the Imperial Gardens. Make sure to check for crafting recipes within each of these trials so you don't have to come back for them.

Once all 6 trials are complete, you can enter the Aspirant's Plaza from within the town of Sarn. The first Labyrinth is level 33, so you may want to wait until you're near that level before you tackle it (generally I either do it right after killing either Piety or Dominus). For your first two Hierophant Ascendancy points you'll want to take Pursuit of Faith so you can pick up Ritual of Awakening after the Cruel Labyrinth. This node will greatly increase your totem placement speed and give you +1 to maximum totems, so you can place down an extra Holy Flame Totem for tough targets.

Important gems you may want to pick up from quests in this act are:

Lost in Love (After Returning Tolman's Bracelet): Flammability, Infernal Cry, Determination

A Fixture of Fate (Helping Siosa in the Library): Explosive Arrow, Siege Ballista, Lesser Multiple Projectiles, Ballista Totem Support, Added Cold Damage Support, Frenzy, Second Wind Support, Hypothermia Support, Cold Penetration Support, Increased Duration Support

Unlocking the Library is important as you don't have access to most of the Explosive Arrow main links until you complete Siosa's quest. If you do this quest before completing the first labyrinth and ascending to a Hierophant, you can hold off and swap over after you do so. You won't need the Hypothermia or Cold Penetration gems until later when you'd switch to Siege Ballista, but doing the Library quest allows you to buy leveled versions of these gems (including Second Wind) from Clarissa, making it easier to come back and buy them when you're ready to do so later. At minimum, you should buy an Added Cold Damage Support from Siosa and begin leveling it in your secondary weapon swap weapon set, so that when you switch to Siege Ballista down the road you have a leveled version ready to go (and this gem is important to not have underleveled compared to most support gems). If you can, go ahead and buy Explosive Arrow as well and do the same.

Purifying Flame ideal links: Combustion Support, Arcane Surge Support, Added Fire Damage Support

Holy Flame Totem ideal links: Elemental Focus Support, Added Fire Damage Support

Flame Wall ideal links: Spell Cascade Support, Increased Duration Support

After you complete the labyrinth and become a Hierophant, it's pretty safe to try and swap over to Explosive Arrow. Obviously, you'll need to have a bow & quiver to be able to do this in the first place, and you should probably hold out for a 4-link item that has the R-R-G-G colors mentioned above so you can immediately jump into a 4-link for Explosive Arrow. It's not absolutely necessary to swap right away, but the sooner the better so you can begin leveling your new ballista gems rather than the caster gems you are going to discard. Once you do swap over, these are the new links you're shooting for mainly:

Explosive Arrow ideal links: Ballista Totem Support, Lesser Multiple Projectiles, Elemental Damage With Attacks Support

Frenzy ideal links: Lesser Multiple Projectiles

After you swap, you can discard your Purifying Flame, Holy Flame Totem and Flame Wall links and supports as you won't need any of them. Don't discard your Flammability gem however since we'll continue to use that being entirely focused on fire damage. Herald of Ash and Clarity can continue to be used for now, and you should add Precision to help your chance to hit with your new attack skill. You can also go back and grab gems like Infernal Cry (sold by Clarissa) to give you a bit more damage against tougher packs or bosses as it covers enemies in ash when used, increasing their fire damage taken and causing them to explode when killed.

Also, it is important to note that once you swap over to Explosive Arrow, you need to ensure that you have absolutely no sources of Pierce. During the campaign this will mostly come from quivers that have Pierce as an implicit effect; these quivers must not be used with Explosive Arrow as it will cause your arrow to pass through the target rather than leave a fuse in them.

For your passive tree, after completing the Holy Fire wheel (making sure to take the 20% Chance to Ignite minor node route) your main goal is to grab Ancestral Bond for the extra ballista totem, then continue further down into Precision and Sanctuary near the Templar start. From here we're done investing in the Templar area and will be making the pathing trek towards the bottom right of the tree.

Skill point quests in Act 3 that should be completed:

Victario's Secrets
Piety's Pets



Act 4


No Labyrinth trials are located in Act 4, and only a couple more important gems remain to unlock from the story quests:

The Eternal Nightmare (Opening Entrance to Belly of the Beast): Cast When Damage Taken Support, Hextouch Support

With the addition of Hextouch Support, we no longer need to manually cast Flammability and can just focus on dropping ballistae and shooting Frenzy with the occasional Infernal Cry when bored:

Explosive Arrow ideal links: Ballista Totem Support, Lesser Multiple Projectiles, Elemental Damage With Attacks Support

Frenzy ideal links: Lesser Multiple Projectiles, Hextouch Support, Flammability

Cast When Damage Taken link: Steelskin

You'll likely still be doing some gear upgrading in this act as you swap over to Explosive Arrow. Try to start auditing your gear for added fire damage affixes; a couple acts later you'll be taking Elemental Equilibrium and you'll need to have those pieces replaced by then. Added cold or lightning damage is fine, it's only fire you need to avoid. Otherwise just focus on attack speed wherever you can get it (especially on your bow itself) and otherwise continue gearing up defensively for life, mana and resists.

In the passive tree your main target is the Constitution health notable in the Scion starting area.

Skill point quests in Act 4 that should be completed:

An Indomitable Spirit



Act 5


Now that we have all of our main gem links sorted (the rest of the campaign can easily be completed on 4-link setups), you can mostly just focus on quests, gear upgrades, and your skill tree progression. No Labyrinth trials are found in Act 5.

For reference, these are the gem links you are shooting for when evaluating gear pieces:

Explosive Arrow ideal links: Ballista Totem Support, Lesser Multiple Projectiles, Elemental Damage With Attacks Support

Frenzy ideal links: Lesser Multiple Projectiles, Hextouch Support, Flammability

Cast When Damage Taken link: Steelskin

Your next passive tree steps here will be picking up Sentinel, then heading further southeast, stopping to pick up Reflexes for some additional evasion rating and spell suppression.

Skill point quests in Act 5 that should be completed:

In Service to Science
Kitava's Torments



Act 6


Once you kill Kitava at the end of Act 5, you are inflicted with a permanent 30% penalty to all of your resistances. This means your first priority in Act 6 is to do what you can to offset this penalty and get yourself back to 75% elemental resistances. If you've been picking up crafting recipes along the way during story quests, you can try to craft additional resistances onto any rare gear pieces you have to help get your elemental resistances back to 75%. If you have to choose, I'd prioritize Fire and Cold resistance first as you'll encounter those damage types in Tukohama's areas (as well as Abberath), while Lightning resistance is more necessary a bit later when you face Shavronne in her tower.

Act 6 is also an opportunity to pick up any gems you didn't or couldn't fit in your gear prior to this; Lilly Roth will sell all available gems to you after you complete her initial quest to clear the Twilight Strand of undead. As your gem links expand you can always come back to her to purchase gems you skipped earlier in the game. Consider grabbing a set of 1-handed weapons for your weapon swap set to toss some of your future Siege Ballista setup gems into (such as Siege Ballista, Added Cold Damage, Cold Penetration, and Barrage) so they can start leveling in preparation of your eventual swap.

You'll also be taking Elemental Equilibrium during this act, which means Herald of Ash needs to be dropped if you are still using it, and you need to do a final check on your gear to make sure you don't have any added fire damage coming from anything. You can simply hover over the Explosive Arrow skill in your hotbar and check for any line that says "X to Y Fire Damage" - the only line that mentions fire damage should be the line that says "Explosions deal (X) to (Y) Added Fire Damage". To take advantage of Elemental Equilibrium, you also will need at least one source of either cold or lightning damage (or both). If you can't craft a Hyrri's Bite unique quiver (selling 1 rare Onyx amulet, 1 Rain of Arrows skill gem with 1% or more quality, 1 white Sharktooth Quiver and 1 Orb of Chance to any vendor), you just need to have one item that has "adds X cold / lightning damage" somewhere. That can be on your bow, your quiver, your gloves or a jewelry piece. This will cause your ballista arrows to deal cold / lightning damage on hit, which will in turn apply 25% Fire Exposure to the enemy. Your explosions will remove that exposure, but your ballistae will be firing so constantly that it will be immediately re-applied long before the next explosion.

Since we're dropping Herald of Ash here, you will have more mana available to swap to Determination for more armor (which I'd recommend), or something like Summon Skitterbots for more damage if you prefer. Determination will grant quite a bit of armor, but reserves more mana than Herald of Ash; you'll likely need to drop Clarity at this point as well, so consider keeping a mana flask around until you can get through Cruel Labyrinth in the next act which will solve most of your mana issues.

With the switch to Determination, you can also swap your guard skill from Steelskin over to Molten Shell if you want. Molten Shell is the guard skill you'll likely use when you swap over to Siege Ballista as well.

As before, these are the links you're mainly concerned about:

Explosive Arrow ideal links: Ballista Totem Support, Lesser Multiple Projectiles, Elemental Damage With Attacks Support

Frenzy ideal links: Lesser Multiple Projectiles, Hextouch Support, Flammability

Cast When Damage Taken link: Molten Shell

Reservations: Determination and Precision

In terms of your passive skill tree, start by heading down to Elemental Equilibrium, then pick up Avatar of the Hunt for a big boost of damage as well as some additional evasion rating and movement speed.

Skill point quests in Act 6 that should be completed:

The Father of War
The Puppet Mistress
The Cloven One



Act 7


The Labyrinth trials within Act 7 are located in the Crypt Level 1 and the Chamber of Sins Level 2, both of which also contain crafting recipes. Assuming you've completed all the trials up to now, you'll have the opportunity to hit the Cruel version of the Labyrinth for 2 more Ascendancy points. Once you complete it, you'll want to take Ritual of Awakening for another significant boost in totem strength, as well as additional life and mana regen. From this point on the rest of the story should feel pretty easy.

As far as the passive tree is concerned, head right over to Finesse, fill out Heart of Oak for some additional life and stun avoidance, then head right to One with Nature for some additional damage and elemental resistances.

Skill point quests in Act 7 that should be completed:

The Master of a Million Faces
Kishara's Star
Queen of Despair



Act 8


Worth pointing out that you can start finding 5-link items at vendors around this level, so you should continue to glance at the vendor when you are in town to see if they happen to be selling a 5-link Armour / Evasion chest piece. If you get lucky, I'd consider adding the Combustion or Inspiration gem (depending on socket color) to your Explosive Arrow links for a nice boost to finish the campaign. It certainly isn't necessary though, and I generally always just wind up finishing the campaign on a 4-link.

The Labyrinth trial in Act 8 is located within the Bath House (generally in the NW or NE corner); make sure you complete it and grab the crafting recipe within the trial before moving on.

In the passive tree, continue heading right and pick up Intuition, then furhter right to the Herbalism life wheel. Pick up all the life nodes in that wheel then exit on the right and start working towards Watchtowers.

Skill point quests in Act 8 that should be completed:

Reflection of Terror
Love is Dead
The Gemling Legion



Act 9


Make sure to hit the Labyrinth trial in Act 9, which is located in The Tunnel (between the Foothills and the Quarry). As with most Labyrinth trials, there is a crafting recipe to snag within the trial near the exit.

In the passive tree, finish up the Watchtowers wheel, then grab your first Totem mastery point here for "Totems taunt enemies around them for 1 second when Summoned". This mastery can be a big help in keeping enemies off you since you'll be placing down new ballistae all the time.

Queen of the Sands
The Ruler of Highgate



Act 10


Your last goals in the passive tree as you close out this act should just be to grab Thick Skin by travelling southwest along the outer edge from Watchtowers. After that you'll likely want to take the Magebane keystone we passed earlier, as you'll want to start building up more spell suppression chance as you get to maps.

You'll also find the final Merciless Labyrinth trial in Act 10 within the Bone Pits. I'd recommend trying to complete this before you fight Kitava and finish the campaign; you will get 2 skill points from killing Kitava, but you will also be inflicted with another permanent 30% resistance penalty on top of the one you received in Act 5. It'll likely be easier to defeat Merciless Izaro without that resistance penalty than it will with 2 more skill points, as there are a fair amount of possible elemental damage sources when facing Izaro depending on which version of Labyrinth is active that day. Once you do complete Merciless Labyrinth and receive 2 more Ascendancy points, they should go into Conviction of Power for easy generation of both Power and Endurance charges, as well as a bit more damage and mitigation for generating them.

Once Kitava is dead, grab your 2 skill points from Lani, head northwest in Oriath to grab the crafting recipe you always forget at league start, then talk to Kirac and follow his quest to unlock your map device and head into the endgame!

Skill point quests in Act 10 that should be completed:

Vilenta's Vengeance
An End to Hunger





Switching to Siege Ballista


Figuring out when to make the switch to Siege Ballista is fairly reminiscent of the same question posed to Freezing Pulse totems. There's a small checklist of things you will want to take care of before you try to make the swap:

Have the core unique items ready to go! There's not much point in trying to switch without at least a few of the core unique pieces that enable this build. The most important pieces I think you'll want to get online as early as possible are:

- Iron Commander
- Hyrri's Bite
- Rain of Splinters
- Fractal Thoughts

I personally wouldn't switch yet if you don't have the above pieces ready to go. Astramentis is also extremely useful to get as early as possible, as it will erase any of your potential gem attribute requirement issues, and usually will get you over your first 200 Dexterity threshold for an extra ballista totem immediately. Most of these pieces are quite cheap even very early into the league (other than Astramentis), so you shouldn't have too much of an issue gathering these pieces with your early findings in a league with a bit of trading.

Double-check your gem setups! Trying to make the swap to Siege Ballista without a properly leveled Added Cold Damage in particular can leave you lacking a lot of damage, especially if you don't yet have any of the unique pieces that contribute to your flat cold damage like Hyrri's Ire or Hyrri's Demise. Make sure you look over all of the other gem link setups too, so you don't get all the way to yellow maps before realizing you don't have a Hatred aura or a Cast When Damage Taken setup or something.

Check your resistances! Capping your elemental resistances is one of the most important defensive responsibilities put on any build in Path of Exile. Be sure to double check that your resistances are still in check when you start swapping rares with unique pieces early on.

Adjust your passive skill tree! If you leveled with Holy Flame Totem especially, there are a lot of points that need to be pulled out of the Templar starting area to reach further into the bottom right of the tree. Don't forget there are 20 respec points offered as rewards from optional story missions, so if you are trying to make the switch at league start I highly recommend doing these quests instead of skipping them so you have the respec points at the ready.

Check your attributes! If you're making the swap with an Astramentis amulet in hand, this will generally not be an issue. However, if you are trying to swap before acquiring an Astramentis, you may need to check if your Intelligence and Strength requirements are still being covered for gems in your support & reservation setups (Molten Shell, Increased Critical Strikes, Summon Skitterbots, etc).

Double-check your gem setups! Switching over doesn't mean just switching out your primary gem links. Make sure you look over all of the other gem link setups so you don't get all the way to yellow maps before realizing you don't have a Hatred aura or a Cast When Damage Taken setup or something.



High Budget Gearing Options


Note: This section is also very much a work in progress, as there are quite a few high budget options available to this build that are worth considering. I'll be going over the main ones I personally have used and found worth picking up in my time with this build; expect more updates here as I spend more time with the build.

Brutal Restraint - This is a pretty easy item to recommend for this build. There are a couple good locations for Brutal Restraint; personally I have been favoring the Thread of Hope setup (see below), so I've been using the southern-most jewel socket in Duelist to hit 4 notables in radius, with a potential 5th in Art of the Gladiator for level 100 setups. The basic idea behind Brutal Restraint is that it adds guaranteed Dexterity to all minor nodes (+2 to generic travel nodes, and +4 to any minor nodes within a cluster wheel), and then random bonuses from a specific pool to any notables within radius. We don't care what name or number is printed on the Brutal Restraint; the name only affects what keystones in radius will transform into (which we are not utilizing), and the number is a random seed which we can't glean anything from. What you're looking for in a Brutal Restraint is to socket the jewel and check what random bonuses have been granted to your notables - you're looking primary for 5% Dexterity or +20 Dexterity bonuses, though there are other solid bonuses like 4% maximum life, 25% increased critical strike chance, 20% increased projectile / elemental damage, and a few others. There are also a lot of useless bonuses to us like minion damage or poison damage; using a Divine Orb will reroll the seed of the jewel and change all of the random bonuses, allowing you to check the jewel again. You probably want at least 2 of the major Dexterity bonuses for a solid Brutal Restraint.

Thread of Hope - This Sirus-only drop comes with a 10-20% elemental resistance penalty in exchange for a variable size ring placed onto the passive tree that you can allocate nodes within without being directly connected to. There is a very juicy spot for a Thread of Hope in our tree on the eastern side in the Ranger starting area; a Large size ring Thread of Hope perfectly aligns with a grip of great notables that make this a solid upgrade (including One With Nature which will offset the resistance penalty of the Thread of Hope by 8%). Just make sure that switching to this jewel doesn't push you below a 200 Dexterity threshold and cost you a maximum totem, as that will eat up most of the value being gained. Hold off on using this until you are sure you won't lose a totem! This item isn't technically that expensive, but can be early on when trying to get one with a low resistance penalty, and it can take a fairly solid budget to be able to run this without losing a full totem, so I'll keep it here for now.

Watcher's Eye - One of the classic endgame jewels, there are some very powerful Hatred options in Watcher's Eyes that make this item desirable. Increased critical strike chance is usually the best individual affix on on this item if you can only afford one affix, but the +X flat cold damage and cold penetration options are also very strong. Unfortunately dual-affix Hatred Watcher's Eyes tend to be pretty expensive, especially with critical strike chance, but overall still a strong upgrade if you can afford to get one.

Hyrri's Ire (Corrupted) - As mentioned in the gem links section of the guide, getting a corruption of +1 to Socketed Gems or +2 to Socketed Projectile Gems on your chestpiece is an expensive but notable single target increase, as it will give you the ability to gain +1 to maximum number of ballistae by reaching level 22 Siege Ballista. Currently in Scourge League, this is actually not that hard to accomplish due to the ease of socket and link manipulation on corrupted items, meaning you can simply toss Vaal orbs at Hyrri's Ire (or Wildwrap if that's your preference) until you hit your desired corruption and using tainted currency to 6-link it after the fact. Not something I would consider until pretty late in the gearing process, but worth keeping in mind as you look to min-max your endgame setup.

Headhunter - Headhunter feels like it is worth mentioning for those coming over from spell totem setups, as usually Headhunter is kind of a mediocre chase item for those builds. This isn't really the case for Siege Ballista, as this is a projectile attack-based build that relies on elemental scaling, meaning quite a bit more of the effects stolen from rare monsters interact with this build. Plus there are simply many more maximum totems available to multiply the effects of these buffs, so active totems are not quite as often being interrupted to be replaced by new ones. Headhunter is by far the most powerful endgame upgrade you can make as far as pure mapping power goes, provided you can afford to juice up the maps at least moderately to ensure enough rare monsters are available to fuel it. Plus it is just a lot of fun to blast maps at mach five with twenty times your normal per-totem damage! Highly recommended if you plan to do a lot of mapping as an endgame goal.


Last edited by Wallach on May 14, 2022, 10:38:44 PM
Gear Upgrade Progression & Recommendations


This is a work-in-progress section, but should help to decide what pieces of gear you should be upgrading at different levels of progression. These are only rough guidelines, and things can change from character to character depending on your luck and available budget.

Story Acts 1-10


As of 3.17 I'm recommending you level primarily with Explosive Arrow ballistae after your first Labyrinth. Up until then, you can use the basic Holy Flame Totem + Purifying Flame setup and swap over after you unlock access to the Library in Act 3 (after you have ascended).

Once you swap over to Explosive Arrow, there are some things to know:

- You CANNOT HAVE any sources of Pierce on your character! Pierce will cause your arrow to go through your target rather than stick and leave a detonating fuse, which means you will basically deal no damage to what you're actually shooting at. During campaign, this mostly means to double check what implicit affix is on your quiver!

- Once you take Elemental Equilibrium, you DON'T WANT any added Fire Damage on your gear anywhere. This will prevent your arrows from applying Fire Exposure to buff the explosion / ignite damage. This also means you cannot continue to run Herald of Ash any longer once you take Elemental Equilibrium. Don't forget!

- You can craft a unique Hyrri's Bite quiver with the fairly simple recipe of a Rare Onyx Amulet, a white Sharktooth Quiver, a Rain of Arrows skill gem with at least 1% or higher quality, and an Orb of Chance. Vendor all 4 of these things at any vendor and you'll see the Hyrri's Bite in their offer window. This is a fine quiver to take you all the
way into maps, so keep an eye out for the Rare Onyx Amulet while leveling. You probably won't find a Superior Rain of Arrows gem yourself, but you can use a single Gemcutter's Prism to upgrade a regular Rain of Arrows purchased from Lilly Roth in Act 6. The Sharktooth Quiver can be bought in the Act 1 or Act 2 vendor usually.

- Your primary concern with a bow is the fastest attack speed possible, as you don't really care about the damage of the arrow itself, only the explosions (and resulting ignites) which are determined by the level of the skill gem itself similar to a spell. To this end, your best bases are going to be bows like Short Bow, Grove Bow, Thicket Bow
which have the highest base APS (1.5). Try not to go lower than 1.45 base APS on the bow itself (aka the Royal Bow line), and always try to get "increased attack speed" as a modifier on the bow, or craft it yourself once you have the recipe. You also ^xE05030MUST^7 remember to not have Fire damage on your bow either for the purposes of
Elemental Equilibrium.



Early Mapping


You should be trying to swap over to Siege Ballista right around the start of white maps, which means you're basically checking trade early on for the core components:

- Iron Commander
- Hyrri's Bite
- Fluid Motion
- Fractal Thoughts
- Rain of Splinters
- Astramentis

Your earliest Chaos and other basic currency should be focused on acquiring this set of items to make your Siege Ballista transition as smooth as possible. Astramentis is usually the most expensive of these items at league start, but its cost is somewhat kept in check by the Polymath divination card, which drops both in the story in the Reliquary zone (both act 5 and act 10 versions), as well as the Relic Chambers map. In general your best bet is usually to buy up a set of 3 of these cards rather than buy an Astramentis directly in the early days of a league, especially if you happen to get a lucky drop during story progression.

If you have already switched, then your priorities in the early mapping phase are mostly along these lines:

- Look for improvements to your rare slots; more life and mana while keeping your elemental resistances capped on your armour slots, and additional Dexterity wherever possible while those goals are being met.

- Keep an eye out for a 5-link Iron Commander; early Heisters will come across these, and Iron Commander is a very cheap and common unique so they don't tend to go for a lot even early on. Also remember to check your Harvests for 5-link recipes early on, though these are usually better spent on your chestpiece once you get your hands on a Hyrri's Ire.

- Continue trying to clean up your flask slots; you should generally be completly off mana flasks by this point, and use Beastcrafting to force suffixes onto your flasks for things like Bleed removal.

- Double-check your links; by this point, it shouldn't be too difficult to have all of your other slots fully linked and set up.



Midgame Mapping


At this point you should be getting into yellow tier maps and starting to scrape together more consistent currency while progressing your Atlas. Aside from the main basic goals of upgrades (more resists, more life/mana, more Dexterity etc), this phase of progression is generally about finishing out our unique slots, level progression in the passive tree, and thinking about goals like Labyrinth enchants:

- Start regularly checking for rare ring upgrades and/or using Sorrow essences to get your rare rings as strong as possible early on. You should be able to get away from Le Heup of All rings if you are still using them, as you'll start feeling the need for more flat life at this point of mapping progression. For now you should consider these slots entirely defensive other than Dexterity and especially should be trying to pack as much elemental resist into these slots as you can find. Dexterity, Life and Resistances; everything else is secondary to these stats for your rings until much later.

- Rare glove upgrade; around this point in league start progression, start keeping an eye out for Puhuarte gloves from Temple that have the "X% increased damage with hits against chilled enemies" affix. Much like with Freezing Pulse totems, these are relatively common but very powerful gloves for this build. Especially keep an eye out for gloves that have room to slap Dexterity onto, or already have a decent Dexterity roll on them. Puhuarte gloves also always come with a T1 Cold Resistance roll which helps a bit with early resist struggles.

- Rarer uniques like Hyrri's Ire, Cyclopean Coil and Garukhan's Flight; these pieces are very strong upgrades but tend to be a little less available in the first 3-4 days of a league. Thankfully since Iron Commander is relatively cheap for 5-6 links as uniques go, we don't really need a 5-6 linked Hyrri's Ire and you can just take the best rolled one you can afford. Similarly, Garukhan's Flight really has a small amount of roll variance and you can just take the cheapest set you can find. These are two big pickups that you'll feel immediately, especially Hyrri's Ire as it is a big jump in defense alongside Iron Reflexes and generally caps out your Spell Suppression alongside Magebane. The flat cold on Hyrri's Ire is also quite powerful early on in progression. Cyclopean Coil is an Elder-specific drop, but a common one and quite powerful for us early on. You can put this one off if you're having trouble meeting your resistance responsibilities, but if resistances are covered Cyclopean Coil gives a huge amount of Dexterity and a lot of flat life which are both very useful at this point of progression.

- Sleepless Sentries medium cluster; try to grab a 4-5 node totem damage medium cluster jewel that is item level 68 or higher when you can. Once you have one, dump every single Harvest alchemy/chaos recipe you can into it (only Physical and Critical cannot be used on this cluster) until you hit Sleepless Sentires. Ideally you'll hit another notable like Ancestral Echo, but even if you don't I'd consider using the cluster immediately, and buying a second totem medium base to continue to use your Harvest crafts on until you upgrade it. Getting Sleepless Sentries is powerful enough to justify it, as it will free up a flask slot for something better while giving you 100% uptime on Onslaught.

- Start filling out any other missing jewel sockets; Rain of Splinters and Fluid Motion should already be in your tree by now, but the rest of your jewel sockets should also be occupied as you can get either more Dexterity or more resists alongside more maximum life. Brawn is also a good pickup around this point if you haven't already - keep trying to push your Dexterity across those 200 Dexterity thresholds!

- Amulet Anointment; if you haven't already, get your Astramentis anointed with Shaman's Dominion

- Uber Labyrinth points; don't forget around this point to find one of the labyrinth trials in yellow maps and get your Uber Labyrinth done. Even if you just take the two minor points, it's a nice bump to your mana regeneration.



Endgame Mapping


Once you start getting into red tier maps, you're generally looking to refine and finish the uniques in this setup, still looking for rare item improvements where possible, and continuing to push your Dexterity as far as you can.

- Barrage support; if you aren't using it already, you should be leveling a Barrage support to start using for single target bosses. You'll want the additional single target damage right around the last set of Conquerors, and you'll definitely want a leveled Barrage support for your first Sirus run of the league. Hypothermia is the gem that should get swapped for this when dealing with these kind of single target boss encounters, just remember to swap back to Hypothermia afterwards as Barrage is pretty bad for mapping.

- Start looking towards a 6L Iron Commander; we don't necessarily need a 6L for our Frenzy, but getting your Siege Ballista into a 6L will be a solid improvement. Often times directly buying an Iron Commander is cheaper than trying to link one yourself since the unique is pretty common. At the moment in Scourge league, Tainted Fusing Orbs make this pretty trivial on a Corrupted item, but it remains to be seen if this will be a viable option in 3.17 and beyond (and I'd bet I'll have to edit this out come 3.17).

- Labyrinth boot enchant; if you've already picked up your Garukhan's Flight, it's worth considering running more Uber Labyrinths with any future Offerings (especially with Twice Enchanted prophecy) to try and get the "Damage Penetrates 10% Elemental Resistances if you haven't Killed Recently" enchant on your boots. We will occasionally kill weak mobs with Frenzy while mapping, but on boss fights where this actually matters, it'll have 100% uptime and be a very strong increase.

- Labyrinth helm enchant; while it's much harder to self-farm a particular helmet enchant from the Labyrinth, you should be keeping an eye out for Fractal Thoughts helms that have Siege Ballista enchants on them. 15% increased attack speed is the best one, but even a basic one like 40% increased damage is a nice boost at this point in progression and can often be found at reasonable prices.

- Hunter influenced gloves; around red tier maps you should be keeping an eye out for Hunter influenced gloves of item level 75 or higher. Provided your rings are in a solid spot, you can start tossing some top tier Sorrow essences at these gloves to try and get the T1 9-10% incresed Dexterity affix from the Hunter pool alongside the flat Dexterity from the Sorrow essence, hopefully with flat life (or open prefix room to craft life at least). Check trade as well for gloves with the combination of flat Dexterity and at least 9% increased Dexterity if you aren't having luck with essences.

- Another pass on your flasks; this is a good point in progression to stop and assess if you need to fix or just improve your flask setup. Degens like Ignite or Poison can be fairly dangerous for this build, so don't take any unecessary deaths because you didn't stop to properly protect yourself against them through your flasks. Also, remember that if you want to set up flask triggers, you can determinstically do this on the crafting bench for 5 Instilling Orbs and 5 Glassblower's Baubles per craft. These triggers can save you a lot of clicking, or ensure that your flasks always go off on certain effects like being Ignited to ensure these effects get removed if possible.

- Gem and level progression; This is also usually a good point to stop and double check that all of your gem setups are good, and start working on gem quality bonuses for gems that you won't be upgrading to Awakened versions (like Siege Ballista, Inspiration, Hypothermia, Barrage, etc). Also, don't forget that passive skill points are going to be pretty strong still at this point, and sometimes just getting a couple character levels can be a big upgrade to your damage. Defensively you should be hitting decent armour values thanks to Iron Reflexes and your flasks, which in turn should be giving you decent size Molten Shells. You should also be getting capped on Spell Suppression at this point through Magebane, Hyrri's Ire and the Entrench notable.





Crafting Tips


While this should be more fleshed out in the future, there are some specific item levels you want to look for on certain pieces before you start trying to craft on them. In particular:

- Medium Totem Damage Cluster (4-5 node): Item level 68 is required to be able to roll Sleepless Sentries

- Hunter Influenced Gloves: Item level 75 is required to hit T1 % Increased Dexterity

Generally, the higher the item level the better, but these are the minimums needed to start crafting.





Special Thanks


Thanks to Loloppe, Faust, OhHayCutie, HotPocketRemix, warmmachine, and any other folks I've forgotten both in-game and in Discord who have contributed to this guide in one form or another! Special thanks to Patrik for letting me use his Twitch channel!



Thanks for reading! Feel free to stop by my Twitch stream when I'm online if you have any questions about either build, or just want to chat:

http://www.twitch.tv/wallachtv
Last edited by Wallach on Feb 10, 2022, 6:30:13 AM
Reserved 3 (just in case).
Last edited by Wallach on Nov 17, 2021, 10:10:02 AM
ty
Thank you for your work still clear and details as always
Thank you for your thorough, well-written guides.
Been really enjoying playing this build along side you Wallach. Another great build on the books for totem gang!
How does this build perform as bosskiller (Sirus, Maven, Uber Elder mostly)? I was never zoom zoom player so i don't really care that much about clearspeed as long as its just decent.

Hovewer I'm pretty bad mechanically at bosses so I need something that can nuke them pretty quick so I won't have the time to make too many mistakes and waste all portals.
Thanks for the kind words, everyone! Hopefully folks find this guide useful; I'm especially interested in hearing feedback from anyone who uses the leveling advice.

"
Asag wrote:
How does this build perform as bosskiller (Sirus, Maven, Uber Elder mostly)? I was never zoom zoom player so i don't really care that much about clearspeed as long as its just decent.

Hovewer I'm pretty bad mechanically at bosses so I need something that can nuke them pretty quick so I won't have the time to make too many mistakes and waste all portals.


I think this build is actually quite good for boss killing. The single target scaling keeps up very well with investment, and the ceiling for that investment is extremely high. My high-end setup could be made significantly less expensive with only a few reductions (dropping one affix on my Watcher's Eye, gloves without attack speed) and would still easily clear 20m Sirus DPS. That character as-is kills A9 Sirus before he can finish casting Everlasting Fire if he opens the fight with it instead of an invulnerable move.

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