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[3.17] Hiltless Viper Strike Pathfinder

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Update: With the removal of the Flask prefix "Gain 7 Charges when you are Hit by an Enemy," this build is pretty much dead. Would not recommend.
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Teaser Video: Sirus, Uber Elder, Writhing Hunger, The Formed

Preface

I've been having a blast clearing all content with my Hiltless Viper Strike Flaskfinder. A few people have been asking if a guide exists (one does not) so I decided to go ahead and write one myself. This build won’t be the quickest, tankiest, or all-around most optimized build out there, but if you’ve got a penchant for a strong off-meta melee build, this might just be the build for you. The build is not a league starter, but the transition to Viper Strike from Poisonous Concoction is fairly easy and would be my recommended route. Read on for more details… or just copy the POB below:

https://pastebin.com/rhWENhU9

Additional Videos:
Simulacrum
Lair of the Minotaur
General Alch N Go Mapping
Maven: The Twisted
Maven: The Feared

Pros:
1. Excellent DPS
2. Fun and unique playstyle
3. Easy to upgrade gear as funds permit
4. Capable of doing all map mods (outside of -% Resistances and Searing Exarch Altar flask mods)
5. Capable of doing all endgame content with investment

Neutral:
1. Modestly expensive to get started
2. Mapping isn't ultra zoom zoom
3. Delayed poison dps takes some getting used to
4. Fairly tanky once invested

Cons:
1. Without significant investment into defenses you're susceptible to 1-shots
2. DoTs and Degens are lethal without anything to hit (no flask charge generation)
3. Some people hate melee builds


Overview
Spoiler
The build revolves around abusing the interaction between Hiltless {Enemies you attack reflect 100 physical damage to you}, the Flagellant Flask prefix {Gain 7 charges when you are hit by an enemy}, and Pathfinder’s Master Surgeon {Recover 6% of life when you use a flask}. Attacking causes you to gain 7 flask charges, and with sufficient attack speed, you’ll be constantly using all your flasks. The result is an insane amount of life recovery… as long as there’s something to hit!

To go along with insane life recovery, the build utilizes both Determination and Purity of Elements for a ton of armour and ailment immunity. The Brass Dome provides critical strike immunity and a chunk of max elemental resistances (in the end we have 82% max res). Stun immunity and curse effect reduction are achieved via flask suffixes and jewel implicit modifiers. Finally, Circle of Nostalgia bumps our chaos resistance to 75%.

I went with Viper Strike as the skill of choice, but other popular variants do exist. Molten Strike is a popular choice if poison isn’t your thing. You can also roll this as a Champion abusing Adrenaline and Olroth’s Charge. The benefit of poison is that you can easily transition from Poisonous Concoction and it’s fairly straightforward to scale poison dps. The bare minimum gear required to run this build includes:

1. 5L+ Hiltless (6L if you don’t have gloves with +1 strike)
2. Brass Dome
3. Circle of Nostalgia, Amethyst Ring
4. Five Utility Flasks with at least 6 charges gained when hit

As I mentioned in the preface, I used this build to clear all content in 3.17. I won’t sugar coat things – the build requires some serious investment to clear The Feared and full Wave 30 Simulacrums. However, the build is more than capable of farming T16 maps and generating that currency on much cheaper gear. For the person looking to play one build all league, this is definitely capable of being that build. I’ve included a ton of videos giving an example of the build’s ability to clear endgame content. You’ll likely be much faster than me!


Offensive Mechanics
Spoiler
In this build we’re scaling poison dps. It’s a little misleading quoting POB’s “Total DPS” value (spoiler: I’ve got it at 18.4M with my min/maxed setup) because that value assumes you’re standing still attacking the boss for all of eternity. While this build can facetank most bosses… they usually die before your poisons are fully ramped up. Regardless, there’s more than enough dps to clear all content.

The key to maximizing our dps relies on a couple primary stats that we look for:

1. Attack speed & Frenzy Charges
2. Damage over Time Multiplier & Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier
3. % Increased Chaos Damage & # Chaos Damage to Attacks

Base jewels and cluster jewels are extremely strong for this build. I’m running essentially 4 copies of the exact same Viridian Jewel {Damage over Time Multiplier, Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier, 2H Attack Speed, % max life}. As for cluster jewels, Unholy Grace, Circling Oblivion, and Flow of Life are all very strong.

An interesting thing to note: a lot of those jewels are the same jewels you’d be accumulating if you league started with Poisonous Concoction! However, do try and gobble up the jewels with that 2H attack speed. It’s a wasted stat for everyone except all you brave Hiltless abusers.

We use Ancestral Protector linked to Withering Touch and Multiple Totems to quickly stack up Withered debuffs (each stack of Withered increased chaos damage taken by the target significantly). Withering Step provides additional stacks of Withered. I currently have Despair linked to Leap Slam via Hextouch, so you’ll have to leap slam the boss upon engagement. Finally, Malevolence is linked to Divine Blessing for a significant boost to dps at the expense of a single cast (I only use it for bosses).


Skill Tree
Spoiler

https://pastebin.com/rhWENhU9

Since this isn’t a league starter, I suggest following your favorite Poisonous Concoction build up until you’ve acquired the bare minimum gear. The skill tree will be very similar, so it’ll only take a handful of Regrets to switch.

The key areas you’ll be focusing on are Frenzy Charges, Jewel Sockets, Damage over Time Multipliers, and % Increased Maximum Life. Included in the POB are my suggestions for Level 80 and Level 90, but you can alter to fit your playstyle. I tend to prefer larger life pools, so you’ll see I’ve taken 101% Increased Life from Tree at Level 80, 120% by level 90, and 150% at level 100. Alternatively, if you don’t have the cluster jewels, you can skip those and spread their allocated passives elsewhere until you do pick them up.

As for your Ascendency passives, you'll want to grab Nature's Adrenaline, Master Surgeon and Master Toxicist first. Master Surgeon provides the life recovery and Master Toxicist spreads the poison on kill. I'd go with Nature's Boon as the 4th since it provides some additional elemental damage reduction and the chance for flasks to not consume charges is basically an extra 6% life recovery. While Nature's Reprisal does improve our dps, I don't feel it outweighs the defensive benefits from Nature's Boon.


Gear
Spoiler

We’re using Hiltless as our 2H weapon. Hiltless has a level 1 lifetap built into the weapon. A well rolled 6L Hiltless should run about 1EX a week or so into the league. Once you’re at the point where you’re starting to min/max your gear, getting a corrupted Hiltless with “Socketed Gems are supported by Level 10 Fortify” will help both your dps and your survivability. At level 10, Fortify gives 14% more melee damage / damage with Ailments. Additionally, you can get ~15+ stacks of Fortify during mapping, but don’t count on them for bosses.


Our helmet slot is fairly simple. We’re looking for a T1 life roll and a bunch of resistances. We’ll also need some Int to round out the build and I’ve chosen to pick it up on the helmet slot, but you can easily pick it up elsewhere. Since the helm is not influenced, spam your Ichors and Embers until you get something nice. I’ve gone with % increased effect of non-damaging ailments and increased despair curse effect.


We’re using The Brass Dome for our Body Armour. Focus on finding one with +5 to all max elemental resistances. It’s not required to get a 6L. A 5L will work just fine (just don’t use Enhance).



The glove slot is extremely important simply because we want that “Strike Skills Target # Additional Nearby Enemies”. This is a Searing Exarch implicit. I bought a +1 strike glove early on for about 60c and then spent about 6ex mid-league for the +2 implicit. Otherwise, the gloves are fairly easy to craft yourself once you get that implicit modifier. Spam it with Deafening Essence of Greed (for that high life roll) until you get a couple decent resistance suffixes.


For the boot slot, much like the helmet slot, focus on getting a T1 life roll and a couple decent resistance suffixes. I’m also picking up a high tier strength roll to round out my strength requirements. I suggest using the Movement Speed / Onslaught bench craft to finish the item.


The belt slot is another opportunity to pick up a T1 life roll and a bunch of elemental resistance suffixes. Once you save up some currency, you can bench craft the % increased damage prefix. You can also slam it with a Hunter Exalted Orb and hope for % Increased Maximum Life or % Increased Chaos Damage. Both are good options. Alternatively, you can scour the trade site and pick up one for a couple exalted orbs. Most are trying to hit the % Increased Maximum Life, so you’ll be buying up the failed slams. Like they say: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!


The amulet slot is an opportunity to squeeze out some dps on our build. In addition to that T1 life roll, focus on getting damage over time multiplier and/or chaos damage over time multiplier. As you accumulate currency, you can upgrade the tiers of those affixes over time. For our anoint, we’re going with Prismatic Skin for additional max elemental resistances.


One ring will be the Circle of Nostalgia, Amethyst Ring. You’ll want to pick one up with both increased chaos resistance while affected by Herald of Agony and increased chaos damage while affected by Herald of Agony. The increased chaos resistance is crucial for both our survivability and our damage since we’ve taken the 1% chaos damage over time multiplier per 4% chaos resistance mastery. If you’ve got a mount of exalted orbs lying around, feel free to pick up one with some sweet implicit modifiers. The other ring is a Vermillion Ring with a T1 life roll and resistances to fill out your build.


For the Flagellant Utility Flasks, you’ll want to go with a Granite Flask, a Quicksilver Flask, a Jade Flask, and a Basalt Flask. My 5th flask is a Sulphur flask, but you can swap that for an Onslaught flask if you didn’t pick up onslaught elsewhere. For the suffixes, I recommend increased movement speed, increased attack speed, increased armour, reduced effect of curses, and chance to avoid being stunned.


For the base jewels, we’ll want to focus on these 4 mods: damage over time multiplier, chaos damage over time multiplier, 2H attack speed, and % increased life. For the Large Cluster Jewel, Unholy Grace, Wicked Pall, and Unwavering Evil are all good options. For the Medium Cluster Jewel, pick up Circling Oblivion and Flow of Life.

You'll also need an Inertia Crimson Jewel, which transforms dexterity in radius to strength. This'll help offset the strength requirement of The Brass Dome.

As for a Watcher's Eye, "Additional physical damage reduction while affected by Determination" will go a long way for your survivability. I also picked up precision attack speed.

Note: Our stun immunity comes from one of the flask suffixes, the Heart of Oak passives on the tree, and the implicit modifiers on our jewels. You'll need about 30% stun avoidance on your jewels, which equates to two jewels with the stun avoidance implicit.


Gem Links
Spoiler

Our primary 6L will be in our Hiltless Reaver Sword to take advantage of the built in lifetap (and eventually Fortify) supports. Along with Viper Strike, we’re going with Added Chaos Damage, Multistrike, Void Manipulation, and Unbound Ailments. For the 6L, there’s some flexibility here. I’d go with Ancestral Call until you get the +1 strike gloves. Melee Physical Damage is a decent choice once you drop Ancestral Call. I don’t recommend using Deadly Ailments Support because it’ll prevent you from achieving any sort of Fortify stacks while mapping. When you have the budget, pick up the awakened versions. Awakened Added Chaos and Awakened Melee Physical Damage are typically fairly cheap.
Viper Strike - Awakened Added Chaos Damage - Multistrike - Void Manipulation - Unbound Ailments

Our first 4L setup will be Determination, Purity of Elements, and Herald of Agony linked with Enlighten. A level 3 Enlighten is sufficient.
Enlighten - Determination - Purity of Elements - Herald of Agony

Our second 4L setup will feature both Molten Shell and Malevolence + Divine Blessing linked with Lifetap. I’ve put Molten Shell on my left clock button and only use Malevolence before bosses.
Molten Shell - Divergent Malevolence - Divine Blessing - Lifetap

Our third 4L is broken into a 3L featuring Ancestral Protector, Multiple Totems, and Withering Touch. We’re using Ancestral Protector to stack up the Withered debuff. Multiple Totems helps stack them faster. The fourth gem is Precision. Level 16 should be sufficient to cap hit chance. Since the totems aren’t linked to lifetap, you need to keep just enough mana available to cast your totems.
Anomalous Ancestral Protector - Multiple Totems - Divergent Withering Touch

Precision

The 6 sockets in our body armour allows for some flexibility. Three of those sockets are used to apply Despair. Linking Despair with Leap Slam via Hextouch allows us to apply a max level Despair curse on the enemy. The downside is that you’ll likely forget to leap slam on the boss (at least that was my issue). We’ve also squeezed in Withering Step to apply some additional stacks of Withered. The fifth gem is lifetap, which is a theme of the build. That final socket, if you do have a 6L, can be filled with whatever you want. I found that Enhance provides some decent utility when linked with Despair and Withering Step.
Despair - Hextouch - Leap Slam - Lifetap - Anomalous Withering Step - Enhance

An alternative setup for the lazy would be to ditch Malevolence and Divine Blessing. This would allow you to link Molten Shell with CWDT and fit Leap Slam in that 4L as well. You’d then set up your Brass Dome 6L as CWDT + Hydrosphere + Hextouch + Despair + Lifetap (and Withering Step to get Lifetap). This would automate the application of Despair without the need to leap slam the boss. If you do go this route, you can also swap Malevolence in for Purity of Elements, but you’d need to pick up your ailment immunities elsewhere.


Reducing Costs
Spoiler

I typically play one character per league, so the ability for a build to scale over the course of the league is important. This build is a prime example of a build that can start out OK, but then can be easily min-maxed over time. The POB I posted earlier has my full min-maxed gearset. Here would be my recommendations for cutting costs so that you can switch over from Poisonous Concoction ASAP.

1. Focus on T1 life rolls, resistances, and enough str / int to satisfy gem requirements. You don't need anything else on your Helmet, Boots, Gloves, Belt, Ring.
2. You can get by with a ghetto Amulet, but I'd try to at least get one of the damage over time suffixes.
3. Brass Dome only needs to be a 5L
4. The flasks can be fairly cheap if you don't need T1 prefixes and suffixes. I wouldn't go below 6 charges when hit, but definitely sacrifice on the suffixes.
5. If you can't get a Large Cluster Jewel with all 3 notables, find one with Unholy Grace and then upgrade later.
6. The base jewels will be significantly cheaper if you only pick up one of the damage over time multipliers.
7. Don't bother with expensive Awakened Gems or alternate quality gems.
8. Leverage as much of your Poisonous Concoction gear as possible!

One last tip: Passive points are extremely valuable. I'd recommend spending your upgrade money first by joining some Coward's Trial ROTAs.
Last edited by Thorence on Aug 3, 2022, 8:23:18 PM
Last bumped on Aug 5, 2022, 6:22:03 PM
That's interesting. I was planning an Hiltless VS PF (among other Hiltless PF builds), and I was going the poison-explosion route, with Divergent Herald of agony + ashes of the stars (giving a nice boost on VS, ancestral totem and divergent plague bearer, so it's actually fairly competitive for pure bossing dps as well) + Asenath for explosion. Divergent HoA allows for 100% poison chance on asenath, and you can scale the damage extremely well (>50% mob life per second).

Of course, the setup is useless for pure bossing like invitation, so you can use others gloves during these.

Don't you think it could be a nice way to massively improve the clearing, since Asenath allows for infinitely chaining explosions as long as mobs are close enough?
Last edited by Keyen on Apr 30, 2022, 4:05:25 PM
I think that's an interesting concept. However, my concern with using a unique set of gloves is the lack of extra strike targets. I guess you'd have to try it out and see how it feels.
Will it be hard to write a poision concoction leveling guide with migration to viper strike?
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expanda wrote:
Will it be hard to write a poision concoction leveling guide with migration to viper strike?


There are a bunch of excellent PC Pathfinder guides out there. Any of them will work fine until you switch to this build.
looks cool ^^ might try it
Hey, first of all cool build idea!

I'm going to try something very similar once I gather enough currency to switch from Poisonous Concoction.

My question is : I see you put despair as your preferred curse and go for Nature's Boon since as you said it's better for survival than Nature's Reprisal.

Why not go for temporal chains to help in the survivability and get Nature's Reprisal?

As you said Nature's Boon acts like a 6% life recovery and 6% less damage taken, whereas temp chains is 14% less action speed (for rares and uniques to make similar comparisons), which practically gives you 14% more effective hit pool. On top of this, switching the ascendancy points gives you roughly 10-12% more damage than your original combo (20mil vs 22 mil).

So to sum up, would you consider 6% less ele dmg taken and 6% life recovery to be better than 14% less action speed and 10% more dmg?

"
Milgi wrote:
Hey, first of all cool build idea!

I'm going to try something very similar once I gather enough currency to switch from Poisonous Concoction.

My question is : I see you put despair as your preferred curse and go for Nature's Boon since as you said it's better for survival than Nature's Reprisal.

Why not go for temporal chains to help in the survivability and get Nature's Reprisal?

As you said Nature's Boon acts like a 6% life recovery and 6% less damage taken, whereas temp chains is 14% less action speed (for rares and uniques to make similar comparisons), which practically gives you 14% more effective hit pool. On top of this, switching the ascendancy points gives you roughly 10-12% more damage than your original combo (20mil vs 22 mil).

So to sum up, would you consider 6% less ele dmg taken and 6% life recovery to be better than 14% less action speed and 10% more dmg?



Interesting thought. It sounds like it might be a good idea, especially if the numbers check out, but I think it'd be something you just need to try and see how it feels. I tried out Nature's Reprisal and it didn't feel as smooth, but I wasn't running Temporal Chains.
Last edited by Thorence on May 17, 2022, 6:55:44 PM
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Milgi wrote:
Hey, first of all cool build idea!

I'm going to try something very similar once I gather enough currency to switch from Poisonous Concoction.

My question is : I see you put despair as your preferred curse and go for Nature's Boon since as you said it's better for survival than Nature's Reprisal.

Why not go for temporal chains to help in the survivability and get Nature's Reprisal?

As you said Nature's Boon acts like a 6% life recovery and 6% less damage taken, whereas temp chains is 14% less action speed (for rares and uniques to make similar comparisons), which practically gives you 14% more effective hit pool. On top of this, switching the ascendancy points gives you roughly 10-12% more damage than your original combo (20mil vs 22 mil).

So to sum up, would you consider 6% less ele dmg taken and 6% life recovery to be better than 14% less action speed and 10% more dmg?



I think there's more than just that when it comes to tradeoffs. Nature's boon is always on, and helps significantly more with one shots and the like. Temp chains might slow down the enemy, *theoretically* reducing their dps by 14%, but in practice, if they throw out a big fireball that does 10k damage, slowing that doesn't help as much as mitigating another 6%. Plus you have to hit them to get the effect, which doesn't help much for ranged enemies, and as a melee char you're going to get poked from further away more often.

At least, that's my take on the matter. Of course, if you feel tanky enough anyways, might as well just take nature's reprisal and temp (or keep despair for extra extra damage)
.
Last edited by Gangrelet on Jun 6, 2022, 3:22:35 PM

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