[3.16] Glacial Hammer Shieldmaiden Scion Build - Endgame and End of League Update

Welcome everyone to literally my first build-related post. Been out of the game for a while, after taking a break when Delirium came to a close, and came back highly interested in the changes to the skill tree. It was a bit of a shock to find so many overall nerfs in the game, but after a lot of fiddling with different builds and searching guides for things I could "borrow" (*cough* steal *cough*), I've come up to happily settle with this one.

The main draw for the build is blocking. Max out your block. That was the start of it, chiefly because of the number of builds out there that seem to be walking around with "max block but using Glancing Blows". I personally think Glancing Blows, well, blows. The increase in block at the expense of letting some damage through might be attractive, but the 65% completely ruins for me. Going from 50% block to 75% block essentially halves incoming damage, so going from 50% to 75% but letting 65% of damage through is actually worse overall.

"Normalizing" the incoming damage to be less spiky is nice, I'll give them that.

So in the quest for max block I realized that all the good block nodes are on opposite sides of the tree.

That's not a problem for a Scion.


12/1/21: Original.
12/7/21: Removed mistake on shield crafting, Redeemer Exalt is NOT guaranteed to give elemental damage (just has good odds).
12/7/21: Added section on harvest crafting.
12/10/21: Added Elemental Overload, small tree tweak. A8 Sirus done \o/
12/22/21: Added cluster jewel tree, endgame thoughts, work to be done.
12/23/21: Flasks update, big "duh" I missed.
1/5/21: Final Update before next league. Maven done. 4M+ DPS. Build is officially endgame viable.

Pros and Cons

+ You can punch way above your weight with a small investment.
+ It's a really tanky build. Old school tanky.
+ The build can be used with just the tree to do its thing, not hinging on particular overpriced items. Even the cluster build is (relatively) cheap.
+ You have very deep multilayered defenses. At times you'll feel like there's nothing you can't block.
+ It is very straightforward, so it's very easy to change and fit your playstyle without breaking some weird interaction or particular must-have tree nodes.

- It's slow*. There's no getting around it, which can be a problem for some of the content.
- There's an expensive (regrets-wise) tree switch in the middle of it after ascendancies.
- Gear is very niche, which makes it hard to find - likely having to rely on self crafting.
- Damage comes late after the tree switch.

*On Slowness.

I feel the need to clarify this, because I don't want to give the impression that this build is somehow clearing maps at a speed of a single mob per hour.

General map clearing is just fine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZ_pYRQ0lbg

However, it's Glacial Hammer. The splash damage is not as big as the big AoEs out there, and you have to stop and swing, you don't kill on the go. This is fine in general, but there's some content that'll give you trouble even if things are dying on contact:

- Breachstones: Even at die-on-swing DPS (which is achievable given the level and toughness of those mobs) you are going to be hard pressed to keep up, simply because you have to stop and swing.

- Legion: The frozen mobs have to be chased down and are not clumped together, so yeah.

- Incursions: They can be hit or miss depending on where the Architect is, and whether there's other juicy mobs around him. I've had times where mobs are exploding around me and I still got kicked out.

This of course makes complete sense given how GGG have repeatedly said they want to slow the game down.

On the other hand, you can facetank Sirus even before the build is finished.


With the league soon coming to a close, here's what I've personally done and tested: A8 Sirus, A8 Maven, Shaper, Elder, Uber Atziri. More thoughts below.

A8 Sirus: EZ no death facetank fight. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C7_iZDOFGA

Maven: Took four tries, which were my first four times doing the Maven fight, but got it done. Aside from the memory game, the fight hinges on the arena management to not brick the area with the degens, and on being able to hammer the brain while bosses pelt you with stuff. This build excels at getting pelted with stuff and not giving a flying headcrab. Hence, it's all about managing the last phase. And got it done.

Also done The Feared and The Twisted, which is probably about as far as I'll go this league. Here's The Twisted fight: https://youtu.be/wKvL-qJT9wo

Shaper, Elder: Both fights are more about managing the arena than actually fighting them. I've done both successfully. I haven't tried Uber with both at the same time, but it can't be easy. The megabeam cannot be blocked, it's just a plain degen. I find the whole arena micromanagement irritating, but I know I'm in the minority there.

Uber Atziri: Zero trouble. Awakened Elemental Damage nullifies reflect at max level at it's not an expensive Awakened gem. Moreover, it's entirely possible to freeze her when she splits in four, so just choose whichever reflection annoys you the most and pretty much permafreeze her so her power never fires. Makes the split phase so much easier.

Catarina: You can literally facetank everything she throws at you, so you don't even have to worry about the mechanics of this fight other than the pylons.

Enriched Lab: You can get unlucky and be one-shot by Izaro depending on HP and what upgrades he has, other than that I was doing the enriched labs as far back as level 82.

Simulacrum: Oh boy. <rant> Sim is perfectly fine until you find Kosis in the late 20s rounds (27 in my case), at which point the whole thing grinds to a halt not because he'll kill you - he might, and I spent a few portals testing how well I could tank it, but his damage and attacks are manageable even that late in the Sim - but because he's got a MASSIVE freaking bag of hitpoints and energy shield, and the latter gets refilled to full no matter what on the regular. So unless you have this much DPS, you're literally SOL. I might not have as many hours as the long-timers put in the game, but I've got a few thousand under my belt, and I've never had such a disgustingly blatant roadblock thrown at my face, nor have I ever abandoned an unfinished fight with such a bitter taste in my mouth or so little desire to find a way to finish it.</rant> So yeah, the Sim will be fine until Kosis appears in the late 20s. Feel free to waste some time hammering at him, then realize you're done and go do something more productive, such as watching paint dry.

Path of Building

This is PoB using items I have plus items I wish I had, plus some aspirational items. I'll go over it in detail:


Previous versions:




As an aside, I plan on revamping this for next league (just don't see the point on doing it so late in this league when we still don't know how things will change later on). I think I have a better solution for the double-curse setup, and a viable path to 5M DPS without excessive expenditure. But it's still half cooked in my brain.

My current build is a little different, using Tempest Shield to max out block and a lot of very expensive stuff, which manages to push me past the 4M DPS mark. The use of Tempest Shield changes a lot of things, including gems and mana reservation, so it's not a small thing, nor is it cheap. I've spent a lot of currency this league not only buying expensive stuff, but also crafting (and learning a lot), courtesy of a random Mageblood drop from Harvest which I sold for a king's ransom. But I think the results are great.

Path of building for the end-of-league live build: https://pastebin.com/k6B1rtRW

Anyway, going back to the standard build, some general remarks:

The things to note are that you start going down the Duelist tree, and you stay there for a while. This is a perfectly fine build as is, but we want that Plus Ultra extra goodness of capping block without the need for Versatile Combatant, which you do when you split the tree in two.

This means Ascendancies are chosen by need: Gladiator and Inquisitor, with Path of the Templar at the end.

There's other very nice things to note from the tree. First, you have huge elemental resistance bonuses from it, so you'll have literally zero trouble capping your Elemental Resistances - I'm so overcapped it's not even funny. Second, you are all over the tree, which means your attributes are all over the place - you can use anything you please and you'll have the attributes for it.

So how does it play? You're a tank. Even if your defensiveness is but a shadow of what the great tanks of the past achieved, you're a true tank, one of the few remaining. You stand your ground and you hammer away, clearing massive groups one swing at a time, and laughing in the face of those who fancy themselves the bosses of the packs of mobs. Sure, they won't die in three seconds flat like the powerbuilds out there, but you can bet your bottom dollar they'll die. It's an absolute inevitability.

You can still die if you get stupid though, so don't get cocky. Additionally, just like Achilles, you have a weakness: Degen effects that bypass all protections. Since they go straight for your HP bar, they can be quite painful.

Elemental Overload

I've tweaked the tree a little to add Elemental Overload to the build, which means critical multiplier is dead weight now. The thing about Elemental Overload is that it adds a lot of damage to this build on paper. To "activate", you need to score a critical hit, and your chance to crit is low since it's not a crit build. This is fine for map clearing, and if you're fighting a boss where you stand your ground and swing away. If you're in a fight where you have to constantly dick around and you don't do more than a few swings at a time (*cough* Sirus *cough*), it might not really add that much. It costs an extra point for the tree, which I took from Block Mastery.

By the Numbers

Since the introduction of the new "Bigger Hit" mechanic for defense, it's hard for me to tell how much real mitigation you'll have, but you should see:

- 80% Block Chance.
- 75% Spell Block Chance.
~ 15k Armour, plus Fortification and Endurance Charges. On paper you should easy be at 90% help-screen reduction most of the time.
~ 25k Evasion Rating.
- Standard and, typically, seriously overcapped Elemental Resistances.
~ 2-2.5M DPS, which is a bit low.

It's all about the block and the multiple layers.


Several things to go over here. First, that's my basic "full" gear, with more aspirational gear in the PoB build. Second, in general I need more life (with good life mods in your gear you should be able to get over 6k, which is not great but it's livable), that's one thing you'll be chasing forever.

Here is in detail what the "basic" set of gear should look like. I'll go over more endgame and expensive options afterwards.


1. Frostbreath: There is no better weapon for Glacial Hammer than FB. The double damage is awesome, and it does everything you want. It's cheap as dirt - with a caveat. I have a corrupted version that adds 15% chance to Fortify, which is FANTASTIC, and it's krangled for the extra cold damage. And even after all that, I bought this thing for like half an Exalted Orb. If you can't find it, at the very least try to get the Fort corruption, which you might have to do yourself. Luckily the base Frostbreath comes free in every cereal box - it's that cheap and common.

This also goes hand-in-hand with the Mace Mastery option of "All Damage with Maces and Scepters Always Chills", which you also want to get ASAP. That means double damage pretty much at all times.

2. Key Items: There's two key items in the build, the Body Armor and the Shield. Both of these can have the #% Chance to Block Spell Damage, and you want both of them at Tier 1 and at their max value. Don't worry if you can't get max value at first, you can reroll with Harvest until you max it out as long as they're tier 1. High life is also a must.

Other things to chase after, if you can find them, are #% Additional Physical Damage Reduction, high Life, #% Chance to Suppress Spell damage, and in the case of the shield, the Redeemer increased Elemental damage AND the Redeemer increased effect of ailments. Double Redeemer shield is rare and expensive, and likely has to be crafted purposely because it's quite niche. But the only thing you really *need* is the chance to block spells.

3. Gloves: Spiked gloves with cold damage and attack speed. An interesting option is Hrimburn, corrupted for attack speed, then krangled for either damage or life. Hard to find, but the base is cheap as chips if you want to try it yourself. Over and over (see the trend?).

4. Helmet: You absolutely need some mana reservation on the helm. Good news is, that's about the only thing you desperately want. Spell suppression would be nice, life is of course nice (you can craft a decent amount though), but the reservation is the one thing. Since it's just one thing, you can buy a massive stack of Screaming Essences of Loathing on the cheap and get 6% without much issue. I'll talk more about mana reservation later.

5. Boots: Lots of desirable things, nothing particularly needed other than running speed. Your patience and budget will determine what goes here, with one caveat: You really, really want a base synthesized pair of boots that have +2% to block spell damage. That 2% is a huge help to round off your build and reach max block, giving you flexibility with your tree.

6. Amulet: Oh boy! A good amulet can have a LOT of desirable traits. Added cold damage (flat and #%), added elemental damage with attacks, added armor/evasion, added life, and if you go the double-Redeemer way again, Grace mana reservation and increased ailment effect, both extremely desirable. And I haven't talked about anointments yet! So this one will be as good as your budget allows, and you might have to craft that double-Redeemer yourself if you're a rich boy.

7. Rings: A good Circle of Fear is your #1 Choice™. Second will again be Life, Cold and Elemental damage in some form (again, essences can help since the flat cold damage essences are cheap), and rounding up your resistances if needed.

8. Belt: I have a hideously expensive belt on display, and that's because you can get a lot of life out of a good Stygian Vise. The Jewel of choice is quite cheap so that's fine. There's also the possibility of having increased elemental damage with attacks, which is very desirable, and even #% cold damage (Subterranean, though). Overall this is pretty straightforward.

9. Flasks: While I haven't put much thought into it, there's an obvious thing that I missed for an embarrassingly long time. The prefixes that have "gain # charges when hit" actually trigger, and give your flask charges, when you get hit (duh?). Blocking something still counts as being hit. And you block a LOT. So grab some Flagellant's flasks (7 charges per block) of your favorite kind and suffix and go to town. Enchant them with either "use when full" or "use when hitting a rare or unique enemy" as you prefer (latter is generally better for boss fights). It's lit, trust me. I also have taken to carrying two flasks of healing with the "instant heal when on low life" and using the minor Soul of Ryslatha to get free charges - this is specifically for boss fights, and depending on DPS you can probably get away with using only one. One of the flasks removes ignites, you can grab whatever suffix you prefer (bleed or sock are also great). Honestly, I probably put more thought into it, specially looking at unique flasks, but this is working well for me at this point. Do NOT enchant them with increased effect since that means no charges from blocking while in use, which sucks for this build.

10 Jewels: There's two, and they're very straightforward. The first one is going to be Winter Burial. Splash damage for your Glacial Hammer and it's super cheap so it's a great place to waste Vaals until you get Corrupted Blood immunity (or if you're feeling rich and adventurous, go for a double corrupt). The second one is going to have 1% Spell block and #% life, so round it off with some damage. It's not a popular combo so it's not expensive. Note that both are prefixes, so you can't really get them with the usual Orb of Alteration jewel crafting technique.

The Jewel

That's right, this bad boy gets its own section. At the beginning of the build, and for a while, I didn't bothered with it because I thought it'd be expensive (being a Heist-only drop and all). Turns out that no, it's not expensive. It's very affordable, which I realized only after I got it as a drop.

Two features you want from it. Attack and Spell block, 4%, and 30% damage, both which you get due to your tree connections. This will replace the 1% block/life/damage jewel I mentioned earlier, and if you want to use it as soon as you find someone willing to sell it, then go for it. Otherwise, you'll be running heists till you get it (both for this and the few alternative quality gems that'll come later).

It's literally made for us. Love it.


There's a lot to unpack here, so we'll go one group at a time.

1. (Anomalous) Glacial Hammer = Multistrike = Inspiration = Hypothermia = (Awakened) Added Cold Damage = (Awakened) Elemental Damage with Attacks

Your bread and butter. DPS-wise, Inspiration falls short of Ruthless support, but the whole third-swing thing is a lot less reliable for general purpose clearing than it is when fighting big chunky bosses. It's up to you.

Alternatively, specially early on, stick a Fortification support in there. Again, less damage boost than either ruthless or inspiration, but it does have some damage boost and it'll up your defensive capabilities before you get that corrupted Frostbreath.

Early on, before you split the tree, you can replace it with a critical support gem since you'll have the very attractive option of hitting critical damage nodes on the duelist side of things, and it'll have very good synergy.

Anomalous Glacial Hammer is great. Awakened cold and elemental damage are not the most expensive awakened gems, and you can farm for them yourself by the time you're late in the build and have installed clusters. Awakened Multistrike is incredibly expensive, so while I do have it, I honestly wouldn't in general.

2. Grace = Herald of Ice = Hatred = Enlighten. Goes on helmet. Not much to say here, defences and damage.

3. Vortex = Hextouch = Frostbite = Bonechill on boots, PLUS, (Divergent) Riposte = Hextouch = Elemental Weakness.

Okay, so to unpack this, let's talk about your Amulet Anointment.

Normally, you can only have one curse. There's ways to get a second one to stick, and one of them is to Anoint Whispers of Doom on your amulet. Which is literally the most expensive anointment in the game. Thing is, you block. A lot. If it's coming your way, chances are you're going to block it. Hell, the stupid traps in the lab that pop out of the ground get the curse icon on them as I run past because even that can be blocked. It's awesome. And Riposte can see a lot of use because of it.

On the other hand, not only the expense is off-putting, but during general clearing you might hit patches where there's not much point. Frozen enemies can't hit you, so if you're having a fight with a beefy enemy that keeps getting frozen, you won't be Riposte-cursing him. Hence, you might be better off with a more general purpose anointment. For that, there's two options: Galvanic Hammer, and Fangs of Frost. Conveniently on almost opposite sides of the tree. Also conveniently, you'll run near them on your way to blocking Goddesshood. In the tree I picked Galvanic Hammer and anointed Fangs of Frost because there's nicer goodies on the smaller nodes this way, but you could go for both if you wanted at the expense of a little tankiness and anoint a third.

Another option is to get Riposte on a 4-link, and add melee splash support so you can curse multiple targets. You do that at the expense of Steelskin (below), or just by disposing of the vortex cursing setup completely.

4. Molten Shell = Cast when Damage Taken, Steelskin, Precision.

I like Steelskin when I know there's a big hit coming I want to mitigate. MS(10) + CwDT(1) is a good general-purpose mitigation pair. Note that level 20 Steelskin won't interfere with level 1 CwDT, so it doesn't matter if they're linked. If you don't see the point, you can skip it.

Now, let's talk about Mana Reservation.


Precision reserves a fixed amount of mana based on its level. That means you can scale it up (as in, you can level it up without leaving you with no mana to operate) in two ways: Get more (absolute) mana, or increase your mana reservation efficiency to free up more mana for higher levels of Precision - which grants accuracy AND critical strike chance, both of which are favorable to more DPS. Even in this case where we're using Elemental Overload, a nice bonus to chance to crit means it's a lot easier to activate it and keep it activated.

So this is one of the places where a higher budget for better mana reservation will see dividends. While so far unmentioned, you're going to need accuracy in your gear *somewhere*. It's not specific and there's lots of places to get it, so it's not a big deal. Higher Precision level means you need less, which frees up your gear. And of course the damage is nice.

Anomalous Precision has increased mana reservation efficiency. It's also hideously expensive.

5. Blood Rage, Defiance Banner, Flame Dash.

To Blood Rage or not to Blood Rage. That is indeed a question.

See, you have *some* energy shield, and you have Safeguard allocated: "Recover 50 Energy Shield when you Block Spell Damage". That is super nice when you're getting pelted with not-so-dangerous individual spell shots, as you'll be blocking lots of them and replenishing your ES buffer as you do. And the recovery is instant.

However, the moment you hit that Blood Rage button, the Energy Shield will be lost to the degen effect. Literally. If you block and replenish it, it'll drain so fast you will likely miss it. Life regen will keep it in check beyond the Energy Shield, so it's not dangerous to you per se. So it's a matter of personal preference, whether you think the situation warrants keeping the buffer, or if you can go Full Monty with Blood Rage.

Defiance Banner for the defensiveness, Flame Dash for mobility. Simple.

6. Now, let's talk Culling Strike. Instead of the double-curse setup I have above, you can swap things around and go for the following combo:

Blood Rage = Defiance Banner = Enhance , PLUS , Flame Dash = (Divergent) Riposte = Culling Strike

Glacial Hammer has culling strike built-in, instantly killing things that are at less than 1/3 of their health (which is a VERY FREAKING GENEROUS culling strike). But there's a caveat. To cull something, you have to freeze it first. While the Frostbreath setup is pretty good for this, some enemies just won't freeze, just chill (see what I did there? I kill me, I really do). So you'll have to work those enemies down to zero.

Instead, you add Culling Strike Support to Flame Dash and Riposte. Having it on Flame Dash is as hilarious as it is useful and exhilarating, because with this setup it means you'll dash THROUGH bosses to finish them off... IF you think they're below 10% health, which is the Culling Strike Support threshold to kill things. If they're not, then you'll have to deal with the consequences of dashing through a boss at that particular time, be them "meh" (just switched sides) or "holy freaking crap" (just dashed through Veritania and into the storm and she's not dead - yes, I've done that).

Riposte, on the other hand, will cull bosses when they hit you and you block. Which is pretty neat and requires zero thought - just that for some bosses it's easier to dash than to block.

Note that this whole song and dance is for culling bosses and only bosses. Everything else dies too fast or gets culled by Glacial Hammer itself, so it doesn't come into play.

7. We're using Divergent Riposte, if possible, because it has a high chance to give you Onslaught, which is handy when you're not killing things fast. Namely boss fights.

Your Shield.

I changed the name of the build because the more I play it and tune it, the more I realize the key piece of equipment, after Frostbreath, is your shield. Getting the "perfect" shield is not easy, but it's doable when you consider the following:

1. The base item should have a big chunk of life and Tier 1 Spell Block.

2. The next thing you want is a good suffix. Most accessible are extra physical damage reduction, or even more interestingly, extra block (as in plain block, not spell block). The latter is very rare, go to poe trade and you'll be disappointed at the options if you look for both block and spell block (with spell block at Tier 1). However:

3. If you manage to get plain block, and enough of it, you can remove the block small passive on the Sanctuary group, AND the +block Shield Mastery, getting you to that jewel socket and letting you max out spell block.

4. But if you go a step further, and your plain block is high enough that you're still overcapped after removing those two points, you can remove the small +health next to Devotion (since your Jewel should have #% max Life) and put it on Shield Mastery, to bring your block maximum up an extra 2% for a total of 82% to block. This is the dream, but is very hard to achieve.

5. Regardless of all that, let's talk Influence.

If your shield item level is under 86, but higher than 83 (you need a minimum of item level 84 to get Tier 1 Spell Block), and if your shield has three suffixes and room for at least one more prefix, then an exalt slam with a Redeemer Exalt has 75% chance to give you the "#% increased Elemental Damage with Attack Skills" (there's three tiers, so you might get the lower tier), and 25% chance for either +1 or +2 max cold resistance.

A second option with the exact same circumstances is the Crusader Exalt, which can give you "1% increased Damage per 1% Chance to Block Attack Damage". However, the odds are just 50% since it's competing with the two lower tiers of "+#% maximum lightning resistance".

Personally I'd slam the Redeemer, but it's up to you and how much you enjoy risk.

6. If you stick to chasing after three modifiers (life, spell block, regular block), to follow-up with a Redeemer/Crusader Exalt slam (block the suffixes first with a random craft), plus a crafted +%defenses, then crafting the shield is not out of the realm of possibility. It'll just be time consuming and a bit expensive.

7. A possible shortcut for this is to use Harvest crafting.

Use the "Reforge a Rare item, being much more likely to receive the same modifier types" option to your advantage. When you use this crafting option, there's a high chance you'll get the same modifiers at a random tier.

You can start with a shield that has three and only three of the modifier types you want (use orb of alteration + regal method, or orbs of annulment on a rare shield that has more mods), regardless of tier. Then, add a fourth type with the crafting bench - the cheapest tier of the modifier you want.

When you use this harvest option, if everything goes well, the crafted modifier will be re-crafted as an actual modifier. Now you have room to add a fifth modifier. And so on. You'll fail a few times, and you'll have to start over, and it might take a few tries before you get high tiers on life+spell block. But the end result can be exactly what you need:

Yup, it's not perfect but it's damn close. Took quite a few harvest, a few orbs of annulment, and maybe a few hundred orbs of alteration + a couple dozen regals and scours, plus a literal crapshoot 50/50 annul to get rid of a reflect prefix and make room for the Redeemer exalt slam. But the overall expense was substantially less than buying it outright - assuming one can even find it! I really haven't seen many double-block shields with a good base like this out there, and I've been looking.

The key is that with harvest crafting, you don't really care which tier of the modifier you get while constructing the shield itself. You could get +1 to life and +1% to block spell damage, and that's a perfectly good place to start crafting. It saves a LOT of effort.

The chest.

Getting that 10% spell block means getting a chest piece that had a veiled mod, which limits your options considerably. Even veiled chaos spam or, heavens forbid, Aisling's T4 workbench, will be a bit of a challenge.

You can craft 8% block, however, opening your options considerably, specially pre-clusters where you have more room to play with. It'll put more pressure on getting not just the max spell block on the shield, but probably the boots and even constraining options for when you transition to jewel clusters. But it's a LOT more accessible, and finding a chest piece with a T1/T2 life + T1/T2 defences and a free slot for crafting is less challenging.

Jewel clusters.

You can't really go to Jewel Clusters confidently until you get a double-block shield, with at least 7% attack block I'd say. After that, it's a matter of making sure you get enough block from the notables and topping it up with the best damage notables you can find.

You'll need:

- Large Jewel Cluster, Attack Damage while Holding a Shield.

- Small Jewel Cluster, 1% Chance to Block Spell Damage.

- Second small jewel cluster for blocking spell damage, or even better, a Megalomaniac.

You need three notables with 3% chance to block both attack and spell damage. My preference are Second Skin and Prodigious Defense. Getting either in a small cluster is no problem. The large cluster can have Prodigious Defense. Megalomaniac can have anything.

You'll also need two sources of leech, one for mana and one for life. Notables with leech also provide damage, so they're pretty good, and you can recoup the one point you had to leech down in the Duelist area of the tree. I find Fuel the Fight excellent because of the flat attack speed boost regardless of whether you'll be leeching or not. Doryani's Lesson also provides a boost that doesn't depend on leeching.

Here's the thing: If you look at leech notables, they provide bonuses "while leeching" or "while on full life". Thing is, you'll never be at full life if you bloodrage, and you are not leeching most of the time. Going strictly by mana usage, you use a chunk of mana when you Vortex, which should be constantly ~once per second, and it'll last long enough for the next swing; realistically, you're only leeching 20% of the time.

There's one exception: Essence Rush. It increases damage and attack speed while leeching energy shield, plus lets you leech energy shield with spells. Sounds boring, except that you do have a spell: Vortex. It also doesn't do a lot of damage, so it won't leech a lot. And your energy shield is constantly drained by Bloodrage. The combination should have you leeching energy shield forever if you balance the vortex damage (damage isn't important, vortex is there to deliver the curses) and the bloodrage drain.

Other notables to look for: Heraldry, Blanketed Snow, Prismatic Heart, Calamitous, Gladiator's Fortitude (lower damage but +life, so you can recoup tree points to place somewhere), Martial Prowess, Overlord (alternative source of Fortify), Astonishing Affliction.

Most of that only matters if you're going with a Megalomaniac. If you're using two small cluster jewels, you'll be picking Prodigious Defence/Second Skin (2 of your favorite or 1 of each, depending on whether you want more defense or more damage), and keep leeching based on the small node in the Duelist part of the tree.

One more thing to consider: With a good enough attack block mod on the shield, and potentially one point on shield mastery to increase it (attack block, NOT spell block), you can skip the 3% attack/spell block notables and go straight for the plain block spell ones that give a bigger boost (such as Mage Hunter or Conjured Wall) possibly freeing up some space in the build and lessening the requirement for spell block somewhere else (boots, the chest piece being able to use the crafted 8% spell block instead of the unveiled 10%, etc.).

The Last Piece: Watcher's Eye

No need to spoiler this: These things are expensive. Your #1 choice is "Adds # to # cold damage while affected by Hatred", plus whatever combination of extra damage you can find (You get damage boosts while affected by hatred, herald of ice, and precision; you can also get attack speed while affected by precision). Overall this should come up in today's prices to 10-20ex. You can skip it of course, it's the biggest one piece boost to your damage but also the most expensive one bar Awakened Multistrike.

Beyond 2M DPS

I have a few ideas, some possibilities for how to boost damage past the current point. Even my live build with more time invested than I'd like to admit tops up at 2.3M and could reach 2.5 if I find the right Megalomaniac. But caveat, everything that'll push this build further will be expensive AF.

You have two shortcomings: You don't have a way to generate frenzy charges when it matters (fighting bosses), and the uptime of Onslaught during boss fights can be spotty (since you rely on Onslaugh on Kill and Divergent Riposte for it).

There's two ways to fix the Frenzy issue:

1. Minimum frenzy charges. It can appear on rings and amulets easily enough, and a +2 can be synthesized on the shield (at the expense of not being able to Redeemer-slam it for elemental damage). This easily sets you at 3 minimum and bam, done.

2. Gain frenzy charges on HIT. This is (I believe) exclusive to a Redeemer suffix on your chest piece for rare items. Getting this AND the 10% AND the life and the partridge in the freaking pear tree is a little much. BUT! If you go the crafted 8% Spell Block for the chest way (which requires a bit more work on the clusters), all you do is find chest pieces in the open market with the T1/T2 life + T1/T2 armor prefixes and a free prefix slot, which are considerably less rare in the open market, craft some mana to block the prefixes, and Redeemer exalt slam it for the frenzy suffix.

Done like this you'll have to go through 10-20 of them at the minimum, so it's not cheap, but once you have it, it's a whole new ballgame. There's a +1 max frenzy charges node right there in the Duelist tree. Bring on the warlord gloves and the Darkrays, because you'll be at full frenzy charges pretty much all the time, and those things add up FAST in the damage department.

Alternatively, go the awakening orb route, with a double influence of your choice. Looking at prices, it's probably a wash as to which way is cheaper.

Another way is to go the way of the Precursor's Emblem. Again, not cheap for a good one, and a bit more limiting IMO, though it is by far the less intrusive way to add it to the build.

Other tweaks include corruption. You can get extra block from a corrupted shield (attack and spell), but given how hard it is to get the damn thing in the first place, I won't be touching that. Corrupting gems for the extra levels and quality, corrupting the chest piece for gem levels, we're already corrupting the Frostbreath for Fortification, and so on. And I have to look deeper into gloves, helmet, and belt to find more sources of damage, as they're so far merely good supporting actors with very specific and limited requirements.

But that won't be this league :)

Getting There

You start life as a Duelist Scion, which is a very comfy way to start life to be honest. Early on you rely on Versatile Combatant, and you're spoiled for choice when it comes to how you want to boost your defense and damage. You will have to respec out of it, as mentioned, but you have a sizeable amount of refunds out of questing anyway, so don't be afraid of it.

You want your Frostbreath as soon as you're strong enough to wield it. Another item I strongly recommend, and even kept in the PoE build, is the Lycosidae Unique Shield.

The one I had is particularly juicy with the corruption, but even the standard one will do. It's got life, it's got block, and it's got Your Hits can't be Evaded, which is what it's all about. That's absolute gold when leveling, as you won't have to worry about your accuracy at all. Definitely invest in that extra degree of freedom.

When to switch is a good question. I did so as soon as I had the points to get the Spell Block I wanted (68% to be precise), and there is a noticeable dip in damage but uptick in survivability when you do. I was clearing red maps 3-5 levels above my own at that point. A bit slow, but rather safely.

If you can't get that block yet, don't be shy about investing in a high +def/eva - #%def/eva piece of body armor and putting it on. You're hitting a lot of defensive nodes on your way to tankiness, your gear gets a strong multiplicative effect. Use it.

How Tanky is Tanky?

An image is worth a thousand words:

It's not going to impress you with big numbers because that's not the point. What I want to show you is my Scion, at the end of the new level 83 Lab, being level 83 herself (started at level 82, that buffed XP gain in the new Lab is made of pure love), while missing a whole lot of nodes in her tree and not even having 6-linked the chest yet.

In action it's slow, but it only gets better with more DPS. As I said early on, damage comes late. But the tankiness is there.


And as mentioned earlier, general clearing is plenty of fast.

What Comes Next

I'm still workshopping this, and of course ideas/feedback would be awesome, but I have to say I'm enjoying what I'm getting. It's not my 4M DPS CoC Ice Nova screen buster, but it's supremely comfy playing and feeling safe. While pavement kissing is inevitable in PoE, it's rare enough that I'm more surprised than frustrated these days.

If you made it to the end, go back and read the parts you skipped.

Just kidding (mostly at my expense, I know it's long and rambly), thanks for reading and hopefully you'll find this useful!

Peace out-
Last edited by Walkiry on Jan 7, 2022, 11:44:02 AM
Last bumped on Dec 30, 2021, 11:30:07 PM
Thanks for the novel build. Will try it out
Thanks for the novel build. Will try it out

At first I thought you meant it reads as a novel because it's long LOL. I'd love to hear how it works out for you, I'm still tweaking it. Just added Elemental Overload, which is working great for me.
An update on this is that I'm playing the Atlas Invasion event for fun. It's got a super rough start, but it becomes very smooth sailing very fast. For a number of reasons:


These things are dropping faster than the vaal orbs people use to boost them. So, 6-link as soon as you can buy any support gems. Glacial Hammer itself is the starting skill of the Templar, so you can just make one and throw it in the stash.


There's really no good starter maces/scepters for this. So I did Spectral Throw with the toucan for a couple of acts. Brightbreak is pretty good once you get it, so at level 20-ish you can swap. Because they drop a LOT.


I only became aware of the massive boost Tempest Shield received last week, and I've been working on how to put it into the main build (you can and will give a good DPS boost by freeing tree points, but it's tight and it's expensive - there's a reason people do life reservation for that much aura stacking). But as a starter? Well, that's a different story. By the time you hit the second Lab you'll max out attack block and with those three get close to the 50% spell block you'd get with Versatile Combatant, so the starter build becomes even easier. Even without the shield (which has the higher level requirement of those three) you can still do better than you would with Versatile Combatant thanks to the amulet and TS.

A few of the bosses are still overtuned, but this is the perfect event to try out this build quick. Got Frostbreath one level later than the minimum level requirement, been swimming in Lazwhars, it's seriously so smooth. And it's hilarious to be walking down a corridor and suddenly have a bright yellow beam fill it because you've got a Shaper at the end of it beaming you down LOL.

Here's what it looks like at 62, facerolling everything... with 10 unallocated points: https://pastebin.com/cXxJuciD
Last edited by Walkiry on Dec 25, 2021, 8:37:17 PM
Thank you for the build idea, playing it in Atlas Invasion and may do it as a league starter next league for the stress free nature of it.

I have one question about the Mace Mastery that makes all damage with maces and sceptres chill. I dont know if Im missing an interaction but isnt that a wasted point since we already chill everything anyway just by doing cold damage?

Artophwar wrote:
Thank you for the build idea, playing it in Atlas Invasion and may do it as a league starter next league for the stress free nature of it.

I have one question about the Mace Mastery that makes all damage with maces and sceptres chill. I dont know if Im missing an interaction but isnt that a wasted point since we already chill everything anyway just by doing cold damage?

Thanks for the feedback. It worked really well for me in Atlas Invasion too, though with the holidays I decided not to try and sink too much time into it.

I might be wrong about this, but I'm not sure if chill has 100% chance of happening depending on damage and mob resistances. I freely admit that my testing has been quite subjective: Running through maps with and without it and seeing whether more "stragglers" remain in big groups after hammering them. The idea was, given that chill = double damage, there should be more survivors if I don't double the damage, which happens if they're not chilled.

So it's been a very subjective test. If I'm misunderstanding the mechanics then that's one point in the tree that can be recouped, and there's plenty of good places to put it! :D

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