(Discontinued) Odif's Build Guides for Newbies: Skeleton Mage Necro

I give up.
For quite some time I have been making build guides for newbies.
My build guides sacrifice a significant amount of dps and survivabilty, in order to make them SUPER easy to use.


With the introduction of Archnemesis mods on Rares and Magic monsters, the margins are now too slim to make my trade offs viable enough.

I have been trying different things...and everything simply is too weak, and if I make it strong enough, its no different than any other (harder to use) build guide.

What is below, was my last attempt, and I did not even finish it, so use at your risk.

If things get easier in the future, I will come back to my "build guides for newbies" idea.

Hello Exiles!
Have you always wanted to try minions, but did not know where to begin?
Are you relatively new to the game?
Have you struggled in red maps with your previous builds?
Have you not even gotten to maps because you were so confused, or you did not know how to build a character?
Do you just want a league starter that will get you dominating red maps and killing endgame bosses with minimal investment?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then this build is for YOU!

Why did I make this build?

Over the years, with new league content continually added to the game, it has gotten harder and harder for newbies to get deep into endgame, it's all just too overwhelming.

So, I made this build, a simple and cheap build, with lots of details for newbies, that will allow newbies to get deep into endgame.

All my focus is to make this build the best possible build for newbies in the game.

Experienced users can use it also, of course.


This build is a newbie friendly, super low cost, league starter build.
It will get you deep into red maps with just the currency you get on the way.)
It scales with currency.
With further investments, skeleton mages are a top tier build.

It's a minion build, so if you don't like minion builds this is not for you.

Our main damage dealer are Skeleton Mages

We use Zombies as meat shields.

We use Carnage Chieftain Spectres to generate Frenzy Charges for our Skeletons to increase damage.

We use an Animated Guardian to provide buffs.

We use Vaal Summon Skeletons for Bosses and non moving events like Ritual, Blight, and Breach.

Vaal Summon Skeleton is one of the best "I WIN" buttons in the game. It is absurdly strong.

Skeleton Mages inherently do elemental damage. See the section below for more details on them.

We use Fleshcrafter body armor, which means we do not need to lower enemy elemental resists. More on that armor later in the guide.

We use Generosity boosted Zealotry aura to boost skeleton damage.

We use Tempest Shield to get more Spell Block and to be immune to shock

We use Determination Aura to have lots of Armor.

We use a Pantheon Power to be immune to Freeze.
We use a combo of Pantheon Power, ring craft, and points on the skill tree to get 100% reduced effect of curses on us, making us effectively curse immune.

We use a Stone Golem to buff our life regen.

For defense we use Bone Offering with Mistress of Sacrifice, And with a good shield can get max attack and spell block with over 100 life gained on block.

How do Skeleton Mages work?

Skeleton mages require a unique jewel, Dead Reckoning. Before you acquire it, you will be using melee skeletons.

When you socket the jewel, Dead Reckoning, into your passive skill tree, instead of summoning melee skeletons, you summon skeleton mages, up to 15.

(This limit only matters on Vaal Summon Skeleton, which at high level summons more than 15 melee skeletons, so only 15 of those get converted to skeleton mages. Vaal Summon Skeleton naturally summons a few skeleton mages, so you will get these plus the 15 converted ones.)

There are 3 types of skeleton mages.
Cold, Fire, and Lightning.
They each do a dart like spell, that hits a single target with the respective type of damage.
It counts as a spell projectile, and can be supported as such.
It is random which of the 3 types are summoned, so usually you get a mix.

In theory skeleton mages can walk around, but they rarely move very far. If they are aware of an enemy, they cast at an enemy.

Can I do this build in SSF?

SSF (Solo Self Found)
You can do this build SSF, if you ALREADY HAVE THE DEAD RECKONING JEWEL.
In 3.13 a player in SSF found a Dead Reckoning jewel, rerolled and followed my old guide and had a great time, did all content.

But the Dead Reckoning jewel has too low a drop rate to try this build in SSF without already having it.

Pros and Cons

Very newbie friendly, lots of details for first time players.
Very good for "stay in place" encounters like, Breach, Blight, Rituals and Ultimatum.
Very Low currency to go deep into red maps.
Scales with currency.
Relaxed minion play style.
Does not need empower.
OK defenses with minions to absorb hits, high block chance (attack and spell), good life pool, good life regen, OK life gained on block.

You have to use melee skeletons until you can get Dead Reckoning jewel. These can be VERY expensive the first week of a league, although they start dropping in price around day 4 or 5 of a league, and soon get down to less than 10 chaos.
Can't do No Regen Maps.
Struggles with elemental reflect maps, unless you get expensive rings. (I did some elemental reflect maps with this build to test it out, you can do them, but its slow, recasting skeletons constantly.)
Minion play style is not for everybody.
At very high wealth investment, other minion builds may do significantly better. (To make it newbie friendly, I compromised a bit on DPS)
(You can always transition, use this build until you are absurdly wealthy, then transition to another build.)

What is Fleshcrafter body armor?

Fleshcrafter is a unique body armor.

It is EXPENSIVE to get with 6 links.
It is REQUIRED for this build.
When you are starting out, and are short of currency, you can get by with a 5 link Fleshcrafter, or even a 4 link.
Buy a 6 link later when you get wealth.

Fleshcrafter sets ALL enemies elemental resists to 0, no matter what, so we dont need to try and lower enemies elemental resists. Instead we focus on buffing our skels crit chance and crit damage.

Note: Fleshcrafter makes it so if you get 50% chaos resist or more on your minions they DIE instantly. In particular it means you cannot use a Chaos Golem (they inherently have over 50%) and you CANNOT put gear on your Animated Guardian that has more than a total of 29% chaos resists. (they have 20% chaos resist inherently.)

PoB link
Maps starter, no Fleshcrafter

High investment, with fleshcrafter.
(there are many varients with fleshcrafter, I went for a high defense version, its VERY tanky.)
PoB link explanation

THe first above link is a snapshot of where my league starter for Archnemesis is at level 93.
It is NOT meant to be the best gear possible.
Other than a nice wand, the rest of the gear is cheap junk.
The second one has investment, uses Fleshcrafter, and is SUPER tanky.

er...What is PoB?

PoB is Path of Building, a third party software, that lets you plan and share builds.
It is completely optional.
There will be browser based skill trees linked below.

If you want PoB, make sure you download the community fork
(google search "path of building community fork")

Ascendancy, Bandits and Pantheon

Necromancer Ascendancy order
Mindless Aggression --> Unnatural Strength --> Commander of Darkness --> Mistress of Sacrifice

Kill All

Major: Soul of the Brine King
(Make sure to Capture Litanius to make you immune to freezing)
Minor: Soul of Gharukan
(Make sure to capture Piety the Emperyon for 30% reduced effect of curses)

Anoint for Amulet

Anoint Deaths Attunement on your amulet, as soon as you have a valuable enough amulet to justify the expense of the anoint. (Costs a clear, crimson and silver oil.)
See the Gear Upgrades section for what to look for in an amulet.

What is Anointing?

Randomly, in maps you can find Cassia, she gives you a mission to clear some corruption from the map. The mission can drop oils, which can be traded. After the first mission you can (and should) invite her to your hideout.
She has the ability to "anoint" an amulet with a Notable from the passive tree, but it costs 3 oils. Some anoints are cheap, some are expensive. Silver is the second most expensive oil, it can cost 30c at the start of a league, so its silly to anoint a 5c amulet with 30+c of oils.

We anoint Death Attunement on our amulet, and save 7 passive skill tree points.

Skill Trees (Including leveling trees)
Browser based, no third party software needed.

poeplanner.com links

15 skill points (mastery is for melee skels)

26 skill points

46 skill points

80 skill points

101 skill points

112 skill points (+4 points for a medium cluster jewel)
(This one has Mage Skel Masteries)

Map Starting

(Note: 5B/G stands for 5 blue sockets one green socket)
Chest (Skeleton Mages)
Colors: 6B OR 5B/G
Vaal Summon Skeleton linked to Spell Echo, Increased Critical Damage, Increased Critical Strikes, Summon Phantasm, (Predator OR Greater Multiple Projectiles.
(Supports are listed in order of importance, in case you do not yet have a 6l chest.)
Use Predator If you want better better single target damage. (gives you another button to push)
Use Greater Multiple Projectiles if you want better clear speed.

Helmet (Spectres and Animated Guardian)
Colors: 3B/R
Raise Spectre and Animated Guardian both linked to Minion Life. Convocation which does not need to be linked.

Colors: 2B/2R (BR linked, and BR unlinked)
Zealotry linked to Generosity and
(Determination and Molten Shell NOT linked to Generosity. )
Have Molten Shell on left click so it auto casts on movement.

First Weapon
Colors: G/2B
Desecrate (To make corpses to use Bone Offering)
Keep Desecrate at level 1 to save mana.
Bone Offering
Tempest Shield
None need be linked.

Colors: 2B/R
Sniper's Mark, and Flame Dash both linked to Lifetap.

Colors: 3B/R
Raise Zombie and Summon Stone Golem both linked to Feeding Frenzy and Meat Shield.

Base Gear

Required Unique
Dead Reckoning

That is the only unique item needed for this build.

OMG Dead Reckoning is SO expensive this league.
What do I do?


Use Melee Skeletons until you can afford the Dead Reckoning
Melee Skel links in order of importance
Skel/Multistrike/Melee Physical/Ruthless/Brutality/Faster Attacks
Use self cast Vulnerability aura.

Dead Reckonings come down in price as the league progresses.
Save up and you will be able to buy one soon.

Helmet with +2 to minion gems
Even with life and resists, these are crazy cheap, 2-3 chaos early league.
If it has a free prefix, you can benchcraft +1 max skeletons on it.
That benchcraft is unlocked via Syndicate missions.

6l chest
Buy a Fleshcrafter chest.
A 6 link Fleshcrafter will be too expensive at first, but a 5 link may be affordable.
A 4 link should be VERY cheap.
Do not try to 6 link a chest with fuses. It takes an average of 1000 or so fuses to get a 6 link.

You should get enough chaos for a chest pretty quick, maybe before you hit maps.
You can do white and yellow maps easy with a 4l. So don't worry if you don't have a 6l when you start mapping.

After you get your chest, buy a weapon that has "+1 all spell skill gems"
These vary greatly in price each league.
If they are too expensive, hold off on this and get other stuff first.
Save up to buy this, it makes a huge difference.

If you can afford it, get some minion damage/minion attack speed mods also, this will up the cost, so it's optional. (only available on wands)

Optional benchcraft for weapon, that is a HUGE quality of life increase

A free suffix so you can craft "trigger a socketed spell when you use a skill"
Note: this craft is unlocked via Syndicate mechanic, or you can purchase the craft from a trusted crafter.
To find a trusted crafter go to the trade section of the official forums.
Here is the link to a trusted bench crafter that I have used before.
It's a Scourge SC league link, so you will need to find one in the right league for you.

A high armor shield with life gained on block, +% attack block, +max life and resists is best. Get what you can afford. Getting 90+ life on block is the priority, get that if nothing else. You can also get up to 5% life recovered on block, but % life recovered is much more expensive than flat life recovered. Get what you can afford, but % is better.

Everything else is rares with life and resists.
You will need dex on at least one item.

Get 20% reduced effect of curses on one ring (its a bench craft)

Chaos resist is very nice, but not necessary. Try and get as much as possible, but its a lower priority than elemental resist capping and life.

It's preferable to get a stygian vice belt, it's a great place to socket in a jewel with minion damage mods on it.

If possible, get gear with armor, the more the better.

What order should I prioritize for getting the above gear?

1) Dead Reckoning unique Jewel (enables Skeleton Mages)

2) Fleshcrafter body armor.

3) +2 minion gems helm with life and resists
Get when you start mapping

4) Shield with life gained on block and if its not too expensive, +% block chance

5) +1 all spell skill gems weapon
Get as soon as you can afford it, after you get above items.
Melee one handers are usually a lot cheaper than wands with that mod.

Remember, in the last few acts and definitely for mapping, you need your elemental resists capped, so buying yellows to do that takes priority over the above list.

The above items, along with yellows that have life and resists is all you need to easily do t15 maps.

There is a section below for what upgrades to this base gear to buy as you gain wealth.

Cluster Jewel

You do NOT need a cluster jewel to make this build work, BUT it helps a LOT.
Eventually you will want a medium cluster jewel, 4-6 size, 4 preferable, a Minion Life cluster jewel with Blessed Rebirth.
Clusters with only this affix are not that expensive.
When you get wealthy, you can replace with one that has BOTH Blessed Rebirth AND Life From Death. (Very Expensive)

When you get Life From Death, you can spec out of the Mastery "minions recover 5% of life on minion death" and replace with "minions leech 1% of damage as life".


This build uses high block, both attack and spell, OK life gain on block, a good life pool, high life regen and decent armor, and defensive flasks.

Block Explained:
Bone Offering effects you at 50% effectiveness only AFTER you get Mistress of Sacrifice. (Merciless Lab)\
We have a Mastery that makes this 70%.
Bone offering benefits both from ascendancy +2 minion gem levels, and from +1 gem levels on wands.
A level 20 gem, thus goes to level 23, which is enough to get 36% attack and spell block on minions, and 26% attack and spell block on us with Mistress of Sacrifice.

You get 24% Attack block from our shield.
You can get another up to 12% attack block from an affix on our Shield.
You get around 26% attack block from Bone Offering.
You get 18% attack block from the skill tree.
This gives us max 75% Attack block (depending on shield, we need at least 7% block affix on shield)

You get 26% spell block from Tempest Shield.
You get 24% Spell Block from the skill tree.
You get around 26% spell block from Bone Offering.
This gives us max 75% Spell Block.

We also gain around 110 life every time we block (depending on our shield),
And 2.4% life regen for 4 seconds after blocking.

Minions will absorb a lot of hits, so the defenses are fine, unless you are doing something crazy dangerous like Sirius. But you can do Sirius if you are good at manually dodging.

Keep Bone Offering up at all times, it's crucial to your defense.

Keep moving. Movement is a key defense


Life flask with anti bleed/corrupted blood (anti curse here)
Quicksilver flask (+% movespeed is nice here)
Granite flask (+% armor is nice here)
Quartz flask (Anti curse is nice here)
5th flask can be your choice, life flask, mana flask, or another utility flask.

Flasks can now be crafted with Instilling Orbs which let you automate their use.
I like putting the granite and quartz flasks with "use when full", the life flask "use when bleeding"
This can be expensive depending on the price of Instilling Orbs, so probably not something you do right away.


Cast skeletons on each monster pack.

Cast Elemental Weakness on any Rare on Boss.

Quicksilver flask is your friend.

Use Vaal Summon Skeleton on Bosses and other encounters that stay in one place, Ultimatums, Rituals, Breaches, Blights, etc.

Keep Bone Offering up at all times, it's key to defense.

Keep moving. Flame Dash to avoid danger. Defensive flasks as needed.


We use Host and Carnage Chieftains to get power and frenzy charges for our skels.
Host Chieftains can be found in Act 7 Ashen Fields.
Carnage Chieftains can be found in Act 2 Old Fields or Act 7 The Ashen Fields

Spectre info for Newbies

To safely raise spectres:
If you have the Trigger craft in your weapon, you will have to remove the Bone Offering gem, and cast skeletons to trigger Desecrate, as spells in a weapon with the trigger craft cannot be self cast, only triggered.

Go to Old Fields or Ashen Fields, desecrate until you see the corpse of a Carnage Chieftain. (Hold "A" to see corpses)
Hovering over the Carnage Chieftain corpse, press the Raise Spectre button.
Repeat until you have the max allowed.
If you accidentally summon the wrong spectre, remove your spectre gem to unsummon all your spectres, put spectre gem back in, and try again.

When done, put removed gems back in place.
Remove raise spectre from your castbar, so you don't accidentally over write your Carnage Chieftain with some random lame spectre.

Once you have Carnage Chieftain, any zone you go into, including your hideout, gains the Carnage Chieftain as possible corpses you can desecrate.
So, if a Carnage Chieftain dies, you can right there, cast desecrate to get it back.
(You may have to cast desecrate many times, as it will not be a high chance.)

99.9% of monsters in the game, when raised as spectres, completely suck, but there are a few that are crazy OP.

Animated Guardian

Animated Guardians are made from gear you give them.
The gear can never be recovered.

The goal is to give the AG gear that buffs our other minions AND that make the AG very tanky, as AG death is expensive.

FYI: Gear that the AG has is locked to your toon. Swapping AG gems does not effect the gear. I.E. if you later on get a 21/20 AG gem, you can safely swap it in.

Cheap Gear AG

Leer Cast Helm
Ambu's Charge Chest
Dying Breath Weapon
Rare Boots with move speed and Life
Rare Gloves with life.

Expensive Gear AG

Doppleganger Guise Chest (this is KEY to keep it alive)
Crown of the Tyrant Helm (the -10% resists here means your Dead Reckoning needs at least 8% minion res to cap your AG's elemental resistances)
Kingmaker weapon (this is key dps item)
Legacy of Fury boots (nearby enemies are scorched)
Rare Gloves with life.

NOTE: If you use FLeshcrafter body armor on yourself, DO NOT PUT ANY CHAOS RESIST GEAR ON YOUR AG. You AG will insta die if chaos res gets to 50 or higher.

There are many opinions on what high end gear to get for your AG
Feel free to look at other's opinions on how to gear an AG.

Link to a Video Guide for the Animated Guardian by Ghazzy

Gear Upgrades

First upgrade your amulet
+1 all skill gems with as much life and resists as you can afford.
Your ammy should be your first upgrade, so you can justify spending the currency to anoint it with Death Attunement

Then upgrade your shield
Armor base
5% Life recovered on block, bonus Attack block, and Life with as much armor as you can afford. Resists are optional. High Armor is nice
Shaper influenced shields can get % max life recovered on block.

Then upgrade your body armor
Get a 6l Fleshcrafter

Then upgrade your weapon
Get a convoking wand with (+1 all skill gems AND/OR +1 all minion skill gems) AND (% minion damage AND/OR minion cast speed)
Get the best one you can afford.
Remember: It HAS to have a free suffix to craft the "trigger socketed spells when you use a skill."
If you want to put mega currency into your build, you can get a wand with BOTH +1 all skill gems AND +1 all minion skill gems, along with minion damage, and minion cast speed and a free suffix. These are hideously expensive.

Get your jewels AFTER you have an anointed amulet and after you have a stygnian belt.

Desired jewel mods in order of importance
Minion damage if you have used a minion skill recently
Minion cast speed
Minion damage %
Flat minion damage (fire or cold or lightning)
These can get VERY expensive, so buy what you can afford.
(Jewels need at least 2 good mods to justify spending 2 passive points to get the socket in the tree.)

Optional Upgrades
Armor base
% minion damage (Redeamer influence)
+1 level of socketed AoE gems (crafted prefix)

ES or Armor/ES hybrid base
Delve boots can drop with
+1 level of all intelligence skill gems
+2 level of socketed minion gems.
Get one of the above mods with move speed and life.
Getting more than one of these mods, with life and move speed would likely be way too expensive.

Awakened gems
Only get if they are not very expensive.
Awakened Fork is much better than Pierce, if it is not too expensive.

Upgrades beyond the above mentioned might not be optimal.
Instead of investing massive currency into this build you might be better off transitioning into a minion build designed for high investment.
Kay's minion builds
Ghazzy's list of minion builds

Global Chat Channel for this build
type "/global 8123" in chat (without the quotes)
This will let you discus this build with others.
(The channel is also used for my other newbie builds.)
I will be in this channel, when I am logged in.


Last edited by Odif on Jun 29, 2022, 2:28:45 PM
Last bumped on Oct 5, 2022, 1:08:39 PM
How to Level with this build (for Newbies)

I recommend doing all quests as you level, along with league mechanics. This will cause you to be over leveled, which helps a lot. This is NOT necessary, if you want to rush, you can.

When you get to town at level 2, check the wand vendor (nessa) and the armor vendor (tarkleigh) for linked BBR and BBB items.
If you already have Dead Reckoning, you will ALSO need a BBG item!
Do this EVERY time you go to town, until you get them.
BBB item is for zombies, BBR for Summon Raging Spirits --> Skeletons
BBG item is for skeleton mages
I cannot stress this enough, DO THIS EVERY TIME YOU GO TO TOWN, until you have both.
At low level, gem links are more important than stats.

(This assumes you are league starting. If you already have a Tabula Rasa and other leveling gear, you don't need to buy 3 link items.)

You will need some strength on gear early on.
I suggest buying a Heavy belt from nessa.
You will need dex on your gear in Act 2
(Act 1 if you have Dead Reckonoing)
I suggest buying a Jade amulet from Nessa.

Even white items are ok, you NEED the stats.
When you get your crafting bench in Act 2, you can craft strength and dexterity on your gear as needed.

You just killed Hillock and made it to the first town.

Take Freezing Pulse as your first reward.
Get rid of Fireball, link Freezing Pulse to the Arcane Surge you got on the way to Hillock.
Buy Raise Zombie from the vendor (nessa)
Head out into Act 1. (remember to check the vendors)

How do I buy gems?

In acts 1-4, the vendor that sells wands and flasks also sells gems (tab 2)
They sell all gems that are offered to you as quest rewards PLUS some others.
These gems are sold PARTIALLY LEVELED, so when you can buy from them do so. They do not sell all gems, which ones they sell are class dependent. I.E. if you are a Witch they sell mostly caster gems.

In act 3 there is a side quest in the Library. When you do this, you unlock a gem vendor in the library that sells all Acts 1-3 gems in the game except the few that are drop only.
This vendor sells all gems at level 1.
this vendor requires you have the currency in your inventory, which can be annoying.

In act 6, after you do some quests, a in town gem vendor is unlocked, She sells all gems in the game that are not drop only. She sells them at level 1.


You will need wisdom scrolls to buy the first few skill gems.
Later you will need transmutation orbs to buy skill gems.
Still later you will need alteration orbs to buy gems.
Transmutation orbs are a bit scarce early on so...

Sell unidentified blue items for transmutation scraps.
Sell identified yellow items for alteration scraps.
You need several transmutation orbs, so sell LOTS of unidentified blue items early on.
I recommend picking up ALL blue items in Act 1 and selling them unidentified.
Once you have a surplus of transmutation orbs, stop picking up blue items.

Sell armor scraps and blacksmiths whetstones to get more wisdom scrolls.

Later in the game you will get more transmutation orbs and wisdom scrolls than you can deal with, so the above only applies to the first few acts of the game. Later on, save your armor scraps and blacksmith whetstones, and stop picking up blue items.

You will always need Alteration orbs.
(crafting good flasks at high level can take hundreds of alteration orbs for each flask)
So make a habit of picking up yellow items, identifying them, and vendoring them.
To make for less trips to town, you can choose to only pick up the smaller items, gloves, helms, boots, daggers, wands, rings, amulets, and belts.

NOTE: In the below details, only quests that give access to needed gems are listed. I still recommend you do ALL quests.

Act 1


Goals for Act 1
Raise Zombie linked to Summon Phantasm and Added Lightning Damage
Summon Raging Spirit linked to Melee Splash and Added Lightning Damage.
Transition to Skeletons linked to Melee Splash and added lightning damage.
Holy Flame Totem (unlinked)
Movement: Frost Blink transition to Flame Dash
Auras: Vitality
Flesh Offering

(Only quests that give needed gem rewards are listed. Do all quests!

Do Medicine Chest quest
Take Quicksilver Flask and Summon Phantasm Support as reward.
Link to Zombies

Do Breaking some eggs quest
There are two rounds of rewards.
Take Summon Raging Spirit as the first round reward
Take Frost Blink as a reward in second round.
Link SRS to Arcane Surge
Get rid of Freezing Pulse
Buy a Holy Flame Totem if you have the currency

Note: Zombies are very squishy at low level.
Resummon when they die, if you can do so easily. Your SRS are what are doing most of the damage at this point.
Once you get the Vitality Aura (after killing Brutus), zombies rarely die.
Later, zombies get very tanky.

Enter Lower Prison and take Way Point back to town
Take Added Lightning Damage as reward
Buy a second Added Lightning Damage and link one to SRS and the other to Zombie.
Buy a Melee Splash from vendor and link to SRS.


You will need HFT to kill Brutus

Brutus kills your zombies right away, don't bother resummoning.
Just kill him with the totem and SRS. Keep the totem between you and Brutus, casting SRS only when the totem is up. Resummon the totem as soon as it dies.

After you kill Brutus
Take Flame dash as reward, replace Frost Blink.
EITHER buy Summon Skeleton from vendor
OR trade with another player to buy Vaal Summon Skeleton.

(It normally costs 1 alchemy orb early league, which you may have.)
(If you do not, trade for it as soon as you can)
Remove SRS and put skeletons in it's place.
Buy Vitality from the vendor.

Enter Cavern of Wrath and take waypoint back to town
Take Flesh Offering as a reward

Merveil (Final boss of Act 1) does only cold damage.
Buy 2 saphire rings from nessa, if you can, to make her fight much easier.
She will likely kill your zombies, but your skels will carry the day.

At some point in Act 1, get a shield.
You should be using weapon + shield from now on.

You have Dead Reckoning

Same as No Dead Reckoning except...
Support Skeletons with Pierce, Added Lightning Damage
(Pierce is not available to Witches in Act's 1 and 2. To get a Pierce before Library quest in Act 3, create a throw away toon, a Ranger, and get it to town, picking up the Pierce gem on the way to Hillock.)

Act 2:

No Dead Reckoning

Goals for Act 2
Raise Zombie linked to Minion Speed, Summon Phantasm
Skeleton linked to Minion Speed, Melee Physical, (Melee Splash)
Auras: Vitality, Tempest Shield
Movement: Flame Dash
Desecrate level 1
Flesh Offering

Binding orbs can be found as early as Act 2.
When used on a white item, they turn it yelllow, and FORCE 4 linked sockets on it.
If you should find some, use on a hybrid Armor/ES chest, for your Skeletons. It may be worth using chromes early on, on a 4 link, to get desired colors, BUT only if the item is the proper base. I.E. Armor/ES base items are more likely to get red and blue colors.


Do Sharp and Cruel quest
Take Minion Speed as reward, swap into Skeleton replacing Added Lightning.
Buy Melee Physical Damage Support from vendor, swap into Skeleton replacing Melee Splash. If you have a 4 link, continue using the melee splash for Skeletons.
Buy Minion Speed from vendor. Swap into Raise Zombie replacing Added Lightning.

Do Intruders in Black quest
Take Desecrate as reward, leave as level 1.

Do The Root of the Problem quest
Take Tempest Shield as a reward.

You Have Dead Reckoning

Same as No Dead Reckoning, except...
Support Skeletons with: Pierce, Minion Speed, (Controlled Destruction)
(Controlled Destruction can be bought from vendor after doing Sharp and Cruel quest.

Act 3

No Dead Reckoning

Goals for Act 3
Raise Zombie linked to Meat Shield, Minion Speed, and Feeding Frenzy
Skeleton Linked to Minion Speed, Melee Physical, Ruthless.
Raise Spectre
Movement: Flame Dash
Auras: Determination, Vitality, and Tempest Shield
(Auras listed in order of importance if you feel mana starved.)
You should be able to do them all AFTER you have the full aura Cluster (sovereignty)
Desecrate level 1
Molten Shell (on Left Click)
Flesh Offering

4 links start dropping in Act 3 and can sometimes be found in a Vendor. Keep your eye out for the right colors,


Do Lost in Love quest
Take Convocation as reward

Do Sever the Right Hand quest
Take Raise Spectre as a reward.
Carnage Chieftains can be found in Act 2, The Old Fields.
See the section on SPECTRES for specifics on how to summon them.

Do Fixture of Fate quest (Library)
Meat Shield as a reward.
Buy from Clarissa in town: Feeding Frenzy
Buy from Siosa in the Library the following gems: Determination, Ruthless, Vulnerability, and Molten Shell.
You will need to have the currency in your inventory to buy from Siosa in the Library.
If you don't have sockets for everything, that's ok.

You Have Dead Reckoning

Same as no Dead Reckoning, except...
Support Skels with: Pierce, Minion Speed, Elemental Army
(Elemental Army is bought from vendor after doing Library quest)

Use Elemental Weakness instead of Vulnerability

Act 4

No Dead Reckoning

Goals for Act 4
Zombie and Stone Golem both linked to Meat Shield, Feeding Frenzy
Raise Spectre linked to Increased Area of Effect.
Skeleton linked to Multistrike, Minion Speed, Melee Physical
Movement: Flame Dash
Auras: Determination, Vitality, and Tempest Shield
Desecrate level 1
Molten Shell
Flesh Offering


Do Breaking the Seal quest
Take Stone Golem as a reward

Do The Eternal Nightmare quest
Take Multistrike as a reward, link to skeletons.
Buy Increased Area of Effect from vendor, link to spectres.

You have Dead Reckoning

Same as no Dead Reckoning except...
Support Skeletons with: Pierce, Spell Echo, Elemental Army
(Take Spell Echo as a reward from The Eternal Nightmare quest instead of Multistrike)

Use Elemental Weakness instead of Vulnerability

Acts 5-10

You now have your base leveling skills, and its time to focus on life and resists on gear.
Killing Kitava at the end of act 5 will give you a permanent -30% to all resists, and Killing Kitava at the end of act 10 will give another permanent -30% to all resists, so you need to start looking for gear with the right sockets that also has life and resists on it. Elemental resists are more important than chaos resist.

The other thing is to start looking for is flasks with good mods, like a life flask with anti bleeding or an enduring mana flask.

You should do the rest of the campaign without difficulty, as minions will kill all enemies with ease.

Save up your currency, so you can go buy a DEAD RECKONING

If you get a Dead Reckoning, swap over to the gem links mentioned in the Act 4 section.

You have killed act 10 Kitava, what now?

Do the questline that gives you access to maps.
Do not buy ANYTHING but the minimal to cap your elemental resists at 75 UNTIL you have a DEAD RECKONING.
Do NOT switch to the gem set up listed in the Skills and Links section UNTIL you have a DEAD RECKONING.

Just do early maps with a 4 link melee skels and the gem set up described in the ACT 4 section in the leveling section.

After you get Dead Reckoning...

Try and get all the gear listed in the Base Gear section.

Make sure your elemental resists are at 75% or higher.
If you can, get chaos resist to 75, but this is optional.
You can use your crafting bench to supplement the gear you buy.

Since we are now shopping for our mapping gear, we drop Vitality. We get all the gear with all the colors listed in the BASE GEAR section.
We have Flesh Offering and Wrath-Zealotry equipped.
We dont start using Bone Offering until we do Uber Lab
We don't start using Zealotry until we have Dead Reckoning and the Armor Mastery that gives 25% mana reservation for Determination.
(Bone offering bought in act 1. Tempest Shield in act 2. Generosity and Zealotry in act 3)

I would avoid putting any gear into Animated Guardian until later, too much risk of it dying until the gem is at least 19/20.
The Minion Life support can be purchased in Act 1.

Start Mapping!

Last edited by Odif on Jun 18, 2022, 10:52:29 AM
This post is for generalized newbie help.

General Information for Newbies

Do not use the PoE wiki from the drop down menu in this forum. (pathofexile.fandom.com)
It is no longer supported, and is full of obsolete and wrong info, but PoE continues to link to it.
Use the following one instead, it is being supported.

Set your Left Click to MOVE ONLY

But wait, I am so confused I don't even understand the stuff in Odif's Skeleton Mage Guide!

PoE has an EXTENSIVE in game help system.
There is a little yellowish icon just to the left of your left click skill button.
Press it, read everything.
More stuff unlocks in the help as you progress, so keep referring back to it.
It has video explanations and is amazing.

Not all Play Styles are equal for newbies

For Newbies, and I emphasize for Newbies, I can only recommend the play styles, Minion and Damage over Time, totems and brands.
You CAN play a "hit" build, but it will be much much much harder.
Just know what you are getting into.
(Hit builds mean you scale the damage of hits you do yourself.)

Why are Minion , brands, totems, and DoT builds better for newbies?
Simple: Damage while moving.
Hit builds only do damage while you are standing still.
Minion, totems, brands, and Dot builds do damage while moving.
Standing still in this game is dangerous, even more so for newbies who are still figuring out defenses and boss fights.

Cast and move, cast and move. With minions and DoT builds, this is what you can do.

Loot Filter

Loot filters are fully supported by Path of Exile.
You NEED a loot filter to play this game
You NEED a loot filter to play this game
You NEED a loot filter to play this game, really.
I recommend Neversink's loot filters.
(There are many others you can use, but Neversink is best for newbies, IMO)

You can click "follow" to one of his filters, then it will show up in your list of possible filters in game.

Start with NeverSink-1regular-softcore
As you get more wealthy and want to filter more stuff out, you can go to level 2, 3, 4, etc.


A common newbie mistake is to wear all the unique items you find, as in most games, uniques are better than rares.
In PoE, most uniques you find are garbage.
They lack life and resists.
Life-resist-linked sockets
That is the trifecta of leveling gear, and most uniques you find can only have the linked sockets.
There are a small number of useful leveling uniques, but out side of those, you are better off wearing rare items (yellows)
The three most valuable and useful leveling uniques are:
Tabula Rasa https://www.poewiki.net/wiki/Tabula_Rasa
Wanderlust https://www.poewiki.net/wiki/Wanderlust
Goldrim https://www.poewiki.net/wiki/Goldrim

Attacks vs Spells

In PoE almost all damage dealing abilities are either SPELLS or ATTACKS.
These are distinct.
Increased Spell damage will NOT help attacks.
Faster Attack Speed will NOT help spells.

Know what your main damage dealer is, ATTACK or SPELL, and buff it accordingly, with gear bonuses, passive skill tree bonuses, and support gems.

Most Attacks use weapon damage as their base damage. A better weapon means more base damage.
Spells use the spell gem level as their base damage. A higher gem level means more base damage.

Buying Stash Tabs

If you are going to play PoE alot, you will need to buy stash tabs.
Free to Play, really means Free to Play for hours, but not days.
If you play PoE alot, you will NEED a currency tab and at least one premium tab.
Map tab is highly recommended.
Divination, Fragment and Essence tabs are recommended.
At least one quad tab is recommended.

One weekend a month, there is a sale on stash tabs.


Path of Exile is balanced around Trading.
As a newbie, you will need to sell stuff as you level through the campaign to have enough currency to buy the gear you need to start mapping.
Yes, you CAN play without trading, but it requires an expert level knowledge of crafting, something I doubt newbies have.

While you CAN sell stuff without a premium stash tab, its hard.
You have to make a post in the trading forums, format it so GGG's trade bot picks it up and lists it in their browswer based trading search function.

Or you can buy a premium stash tab, set it to public, and set prices on each item in the tab.

Knowing what is valuable is hard at first.
Most people use 3rd party software to price items.
Such software is NOT supported by GGG, but if the software is used ONLY to price things, it does not violate the ToS.

I used Awakened PoE Trade to price things.
(Remember, it only tells you the price things are LISTED at, not what they SELL at.)

Trading specifics:
The buyer should go to the sellers hide out, and wait for the seller to initiate a trade request.


There is no gold in this game.
There is a barter system, both when selling to NPC vendors, and for trading with other players.

The currency that is used to trade with other players, what is used to buy things from vendors, what vendors give you when you sell stuff, is CRAFTING MATERIALS.

So you can craft with your currency, or use it to buy stuff.

What should you do with all the currency you find?


Chaos orbs are the main trading currency in the game for most purchases from players.
You will likely find several as you level up.
Save them to buy gear when you are about to start mapping.

Exaulted Orbs are the trading currency for high end expensive gear. In league, exaulted orb prices vary, but are often worth over 100 chaos.
You will be lucky if you find one while leveling, but if you do, jackpot.

Save your currency when leveling.
Seriously, save it for mapping and/or gearing up for mappping.
Some exceptions:

Essences are level capped, the ones you find leveling are near useless at high level, so USE them. Best use is to use them on a white item with good linked sockets, or to use on white rings and amulets with a good implicit.

Essences come from those frozen statue like mobs you see on occasion. Click 3 times on them to unlock them, then fight them and their guards. An essence will ALWAYS drop, sometimes more than one.

Chromatic Orbs
If you find a really nice rare, with great mods and linked sockets, you MAY want to use chromatic orbs on it.
The colors that a chromatic gives are not fully random, they are weighted by the stat requirement of the item.
Energy Shield items are more likely to roll blue sockets.
Evasion items are more likely to roll green sockets.
Armor items are more likely to roll red sockets.
If you try to put blue sockets on a Armor item, you will use up all your chromatics and not get what you want.

In general, it is better to save your chromatics for end game, and just use the items that already have the colors you want. See the essence paragraph above.

Vendor Recipies

The game has certain vendor recipies, things you sell to a vendor, that give you back something valuable.
These are hidden, but luckily, there is a handy list of all known vendor recipies in the Wiki

The two most useful beginning recipies are:

Sell 3 flasks of the same type, and get back 1 of a higher type.
I.E. sell 3 small life flasks, and get back 1 medium life flask.

Sell an item that has a blue, red, and green socket linked together and get back a chromatic orb.
Your loot filter will highlight RGB linked items.

Bench Crafting

In Act 2 you will be given a quest to get a Hideout.
This is player housing.
Inside your hideout, you will be given a quest to install and use a CRAFTING BENCH!

Using the crafting bench will GREATLY help you leveling.

You can add an affix to a rare item with the crafting bench.
(As long as it does not have 6 affixes already.)
(A rare item can have at most 3 prefixes and 3 suffixes.)

The most common use of this while leveling is to add life or a resist to an item.

This is how you can cheaply and easily cap your elemental resists.

Be careful
Don't use expensive crafts on leveling items, I.E. if it costs a chaos orb.
Best use crafts that cost transmutes or chance orbs on low level items.

Note the level requirements.
Don't put a craft that has a level 24 requirement on an item when you are level 23. It will make the item unusable for you until you level up.

You will find more recipes as you progress through the campaign, and more recipies in maps.
Often recipies are found at major boss fights. Keep an eye out in your mini map for recipies, they are IMPORTANT.

In later acts and in mapping you will meet Jun, who will send on you Syndicate missions. These yield "veiled items"
When you unveil an item, you gain more recipes.

Beast Crafting

In Act 2 you will meet Einhar, who will give you a quest.
After doing that quest, he will give you a quest to go to the beast area, and do one beast craft.
After that, he will randomly pop up in zones, helping you, and capturing beasts.

Do these quests, capture as many beasts as you can while leveling.


At some point in the campaign, and opinions differ as to when, but certainly by mapping, you will NEED a flask with anti bleed, and a flask with anti freeze.

You can easily beast craft such flasks, assuming you have enough beasts captured.

Any non unique flask with a free suffix can be beast crafted to have anti bleed or anti freeze. (Also you can get anti poison, anti curse, and anti ignite.)

Anti bleed is called "of Sealing" or "Lizard"
Anti freeze is called "of Convection" or "Deer"

There are many other very nice beast crafting recipes, but getting anti bleed and anti freeze flasks is HUGE for late campaign. And in mapping you will want anti curse too.

Misc. Hints

Here is a link to a reddit list of TONS of newbie info.

Sell Unidentified blue items in early Act 1 to get transmution orbs.
You will likely need transmutes to buy skill gems.

Also in early Act 1, sell Armor Scraps an/or Blacksmith Whetstones to get Wisdom Scrolls.

Sell identified yellow items to get Alteration Orbs.
You will need a LOT of them later in the game, or you can sell them. They are always in demand.

There is a search bar in the passive skill tree.

You can sell a level 20 gem, with a gemcutter's prism, to a vendor and get back the same gem at level 1 with 20 quality. This is worth doing!

Trading up currency

You may not have enough chaos to buy what you need to start mapping, immediately after finishing the campaign.

One way to get those needed chaos is to trade lesser currencies for chaos.

Alteration Orbs are always in demand, and you may have a lot at this point.
See what you have and see what the prices are.

Some Basic Information on Minions

Unlike some games, like Diablo 3, the player's dps has NO effect on minions dps.
The only things that effect minions, are things that SPECIFICALLY say minions. (or Allies, minions count as allies, but NOT party members.)

Most minions scale REALLY well off of gem levels.
Most minions have a point of diminishing returns on gem levels. They will still get better, but only by a little.
Spectres get diminishing returns after gem level 25.
Skeletons, Zombies, and Golems get diminishing returns after gem level 30.
The monster level of Spectres, Zombies, Skeletons, and Golems is ONLY based on the gem level of the summoning gem.

Minions get much of their dps off of support gems.
Minions can be supported by Minion Damage Support AND any support gem that would work for the ability that they use.
Examples: Zombies do melee physical damage, so zombies can be supported by Melee Physical Damage Support or Multistrike Support. Slave Drivers use a lightning spell ability, so they can be supported by Spell Echo Support or Elemental Focus Support

Minions have a base resistance of 40% elemental resistance and 20% Chaos resistance. This is NOT effected by the killing Kitava resistance penalty that players get.

Minions are NOT effected by map mods that say "player". Such as "-12% to maximum player resistances" or "players are cursed with enfeeble" or "players have elemental equilibrium"

Minions that use attacks have a chance to miss. You need to get enough accuracy bonus for them, usually from the skill tree or jewels socketed into the skill tree. Zombie slam attack cannot miss.

Players gain no benefit from on kill or on hit effects from minions kills or hits. There are some uniques that grant minions on kill or on hit effects, and these effects will only be granted to the minion that made the hit or kill.
There is a unique gloves that gives players the on kill of minion kills.

Minions can get charges, frenzy, endurance, and power.
They get additional bonuses, more than what players get.
Each individual minion gets it's own charges.
Endurance charges:
+15% to all Elemental Resistances per Endurance Charge
15% additional Physical Damage Reduction per Endurance Charge

Frenzy charges:
15% increased Attack Speed per Frenzy Charge
15% increased Cast Speed per Frenzy Charge
4% more Damage per Frenzy Charge
5% increased Movement Speed per Frenzy Charge

Power charges:
200% increased Critical Strike Chance per Power Charge

Note on Fleshcrafter unique chest.
If you use this, you CANNOT let your minions have more than 49% chaos resist.
If they get to 50% or higher, they instantly die, as they have no life.

Last edited by Odif on Jun 18, 2022, 10:51:11 AM
Nice guide!

1 Question: In your PoB, you are using tempest shield instead of increased duration (suggested in the guide) in your wand. Which one are you using?

Nevare87 wrote:
Nice guide!

1 Question: In your PoB, you are using tempest shield instead of increased duration (suggested in the guide) in your wand. Which one are you using?


Tempest Shield makes you immune to shock and gives a bunch of spell block. Its what you should use.


Last edited by Tainted_Turkey on Jan 17, 2022, 11:54:35 AM
Nevare87 wrote:
Nice guide!

1 Question: In your PoB, you are using tempest shield instead of increased duration (suggested in the guide) in your wand. Which one are you using?


Thanks for pointing that out.
In an earlier version, I had Tempest Shield elsewere, and I did not update it properly.

I will fix it.
Last edited by Odif on Jan 17, 2022, 12:55:39 PM
Hey Odif, looking forward to trying this out!

How would you say your build differs from staples like Kay's?

AwesomeBaker wrote:
Hey Odif, looking forward to trying this out!

How would you say your build differs from staples like Kay's?


While I highly respect the builds of Kay and Ghazzy, the significant difference is focus.

My build is entirely focused on newbies, their needs, their difficulties.

Kay and Ghazzy are more concerned about making builds that do well in end game.

I believe their builds are better in end game, and mine are better for newbies.

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