[3.24] (UPDATED) Poor Man's Ward Loop: No Ward - 1 Button Auto-Caster - CWDT Saboteur

Read more about it here.


3.24 introduced a heavy nerf to this build in the form of the removal of 30% total reduced Mana Cost, loss of Charms and That Which Was Taken. The flask and jewel Mana Cost mods were removed. Significant changes all around.

The 3.24 PoB can be found below. I'll leave up the original PoBs, so you can compare them.

  • Minor update: Mastery exchanged. Fixed config.
  • Fixed a mistake in PoB. CWDT setups are now correctly staggered.
  • Cleaned up the PoB for visual clarity.
  • Fixed the wrong tattoos being applied. Tattoos also free up another passive point. ONLY spec out of the Charge Mastery once you have obtained "100% reduced Effect of Shock on you" with tattoos.
  • Specced out of Vampirism and Nimbleness. Re-invested those 6 points into Heart of Flame and Fire Mastery. 54% Recoup is enough to still easily tank Shaper beam. Tested & confirmed.
  • Volatile Dead and Desecrate are now used to "pre-load" against bosses such as Shaper and friends. Void MTX is your performance-friendly option.
  • The new belt base "Mechanical Belt" allows us to free up another socket.

  • Hi. My name is Baumi and this is my build.

    What I'm showcasing here is a type of build similar to the popular "Ward Loop" builds.

    However, this character doesn't use any Ward at all and mostly uses lvl 1 spells.

    Be warned: This build requires a good PC with a strong CPU and GPU (for a smoother experience)! However, you will run into game engine limitations even on the latest of hardware.






    3.23 Main (lvl 99)


    (1) Flasks I previously used had the Surgeon's prefix (% chance to gain a Flask Charge on crit). Use this if you don't have the belt mod (I crafted this belt myself and got lucky).

    (2) Wise Oak should only be used if you can balance your uncapped resists to be equal!


    3.23 Leveling (lvl 65)



    3.23 Leveling (lvl 32)


    Barely an inconvenience:
    • Monsters reflect X% of Elemental Damage
    • Monsters reflect X% of Physical Damage
    • Players are Cursed with Elemental Weakness
    • Players are Cursed with Enfeeble
    • Players are Cursed with Temporal Chains
    • Players are Cursed with Vulnerability
    • Players cannot Regenerate Life, Mana or Energy Shield
    • Players have X% less Recovery Rate of Life and Energy Shield (up to a point)
    • Area has patches of Chilled Ground
    • Area has patches of Shocked Ground which increase Damage taken by X%
    • Area has patches of Consecrated Ground
    • Players have X% reduced Chance to Block
    • X% less effect of Curses on Monsters

    Irritating but doable:
    • Monsters steal Power, Frenzy and Endurance charges on Hit (can get you Shocked)
    • Cannot Leech from Monsters (can get you Stunned)
    • Players cannot inflict Exposure
    • +X% Monster Elemental Resistances
    • Monsters gain X% of Maximum Life as Extra Maximum Energy Shield
    • Monsters gain an Endurance Charge on Hit
    • Monsters have +X% chance to Suppress Spell Damage
    • Monsters take X% reduced Extra Damage from Critical Strikes
    • X% more Monster Life
    • -X% maximum Player Resistances
    • Players gain X% reduced Flask Charges
    • Players have X% less Cooldown Recovery Rate (to a point)
    • Buffs on Players expire X% faster
    • Players have X% reduced effect of Non-Curse Auras from Skills
    • Players have X% less Area of Effect
    • Area has patches of Burning Ground
    • Area has patches of Desecrated Ground

    Basically bricked/Huge Lag:
    • Monsters have X% chance to Avoid Elemental Ailments (~50% and higher)
    • Any combination of less Recovery, -% max res, less CDR, no Leech
    • Any combination of extra Resistances, max Life as ES, more Life, Spell Suppression, reduced Damage taken from Crits

    • Overcapped Elemental Resistances
    • 110% reduced Reflected Elemental Damage taken
    • Immune to Freeze and Chill while Ignited
    • Bleeding cannot be inflicted on you
    • Corrupted Blood cannot be inflicted on you
    • -4.5% Effect of Curses on you
    • 6% reduced Elemental Damage taken if you have been Hit recently
    • 6% reduced Elemental Damage taken (while The Wise Oak is active)
    • 15% reduced Damage taken from Blinded Enemies
    • Consecrated Ground you create applies increased Damage taken to Enemies
    • Fire Exposure you inflict applies an extra -5% to Fire Resistance
    • Cannot be Shocked while at maximum Power Charges (optional)
    • 5% chance to gain a Power Charge on Hit (Assassin's Mark with quality)
    • 6 maximum Power Charges
    • Up to 54% Fire Penetration
    • Chance to Knock Enemies Back on Hit
    • Chance to Unnerve Enemies for 4 Seconds on Hit
    • Chance to Hinder Enemies on Hit with Spells
    • 54% of Damage taken Recouped as Life
    • 10% of Damage taken Recouped as Mana

    Enemy Negative Effects:
    • Unnerved (10% increased Spell Damage taken)
    • Exposed to Fire (-19% to Fire Resistance)
    • Scorched (-15% to Elemental Resistances)
    • Shocked (15% increased Damage taken)
    • On Consecrated Ground (12.5% increased Damage taken)
    • Mark the Prey (10% increased Damage taken)
    • Chilled (15% reduced Action Speed)
    • Hindered (30% reduced Movement Speed)

    Note: I'm using Wellspring of Creation (Monsters deal 25% less Damage, Monsters have 50% more maximum Life).



    (Important nodes highlighted)


    • Help Alira


    • Major: Soul of Lunaris
    • Minor: Soul of Yugul


    Saboteur (in order):
    • Perfect Crime
    • Like Clockwork
    • Born in the Shadows
    • Explosives Expert


    Classic Ward Loop vs Poor Man's Ward Loop

    Classic Ward Loop has skeletons despawn every X milliseconds and you take damage, creating a self-contained loop. My build is using a feedback loop instead, where you only take damage when you hit stuff, but taking damage causes you to continue to hit stuff, creating a loop.

    Classic Ward Loop is far more expensive to min-max and deals a lot more damage, but needs very specific things to work and is super sensitive when it comes to timings. You also need to calculate everything very precisely.

    They typically use Crystallised Omniscience and The Annihilating Light, which allows for far more damage as they can use lvl 21 spells in conjunction with Ward and thus have more base damage, and they suffer a lower damage penalty from being able to use higher level CWDT.

    In contrast, my build is really simple to set up and doesn't completely break with % less CDR mods (just gets lower DPS). It also costs a fraction to make. Hence the name of the build. On the flipside, my build probably can't do Ubers and isn't as tanky due to the lack of Ward, and it potentially causes more lag. But to each their own.

    How to start the Loop

    To start the loop, we self-cast regular Forbidden Rite. You might have to cast it more than once, depending on a few factors. The spell deals Chaos damage to you based on 40% of max HP and 25% of max ES.

    Quick sidenote: No need to do extra math; the game tells you how much damage you take when you hover over the skill gem in your hotbar. Take that number and reduce it by your Chaos resistance (i.e. 75% -> x0.25).

    For my lvl 99 character with over 4800 HP and 700 ES and 75% Chaos resistance, each cast deals ~526 Chaos damage to me. This then triggers all my gem lvl 2 (lvl 40) CWDT setups and below, as I'm using 23% quality gems (11% reduced damage taken required -> damage threshold of 583 * 0.89 = ~519).

    Lockstep vs Predictive (Networking Mode)

    Options -> Game -> Networking Mode

    Lockstep has the downside that it causes significantly more lag if your PC can't keep up. It also causes lag/performance dips much, much more quickly. Some content may be unabled to be completed due to too much lag. The upside is that you can dodge things more precisely and timers won't get out of sync.

    Predictive has the downside that it can cause desync that will port you back, and it adds a bit of "floaty" responsiveness. Flask timers will display incorrectly and so on. The upside is that the lag is manageable and might help you complete certain content such as Blight-Ravaged Maps (worked for me).

    I recommend staying on Predictive with this build. You will run into game engine limitations regardless, no matter the hardware. I tested this with an overclocked i7-13700K, RTX 4080 Super and DDR5-6000 CL36 RAM in 1080p and 4k with Ultra Low Latency Mode, ReBAR and so on. Makes no difference.

    CWDT Mechanics

    Cast When Damage Taken Support has a Cost & Reservation Multiplier of 250%. It also applies a global 250ms cooldown to any spell linked to it and applies a Less Damage modifier to triggered spells.

    Multiple copies of the same spell will not work if the cooldowns overlap. You only ever want to use 1 copy of a spell. Unless you cast them yourself; i.e. Ball Lightning + CWDT and self-cast Ball Lightning will work together.

    Trigger skills also have various breakpoints where their trigger cooldowns overlap with the server's "tick rate". To avoid this, we must adjust the cooldown thresholds accordingly.

    To overcome all of these downsides, we need to stack 52% increased Cooldown Recovery Rate, use spells with high Added Damage Effectiveness (i.e. Fireball has 370% = added flat damage gets multiplied by x3.70), reduce the Mana Cost and increase the (self-) hit rate as much as possible.

    Another strategy that needs to be considered is staggered CWDT setups. This way we can use a lower level CWDT setup to trigger the next higher one, rather than raise the thresholds for everything. Meaning that some setups have lower damage taken required, which triggers linked spells when the thresholds are met, then those spells damage us when we ignite, which then triggers the next tier of CWDT and so on. This is essentially what enables the "loop" mechanic, as each spell cast contributes to it in sequence. (This is irrelevant until you can wear Eye of Innocence where you will take many small amounts of hit damage in quick succession.)

    Core Mechanics

    The key item of the build is Eye of Innocence. Every time we ignite an enemy, we take a flat amount of Fire damage. I estimate the build to be able to inflict ≥1000 Ignites per second on a single target. With Turbulent Catalysts, we can increase the self-inflicted Fire damage to 120 per hit, which works out to 30 Fire damage taken after resistances.

    Triggerbots are essential here, as they double our total trigger rate, meaning that our potential hits per second are also doubled. This ensures that we can get the full 6 casts per second even on solo targets. That was the main drawback for different versions of the build I have made in the past. The build will cease to function if Triggerbots get removed.

    Cast When Damage Taken Support has damage thresholds. When spells are used in a way that respects these thresholds, we can work out that the spells we want to use operate in the level range of 38-44. Which is perfect for low level CWDT setups, as the gem can only trigger spells that are equal to or below the stated level.

    Increasing the thresholds makes it harder to maintain the full DPS on solo enemies. Counterintuitively, adding too much damage reduction (i.e. making the build more tanky) will actively hurt the build as you will no longer take enough damage per second to get the full casts off, effectively "wasting DPS".

    In order to benefit from the Chill/Freeze immunity from the staff and damage bonus/Leech from the amulet, we use a Replica Reckless Defence jewel to make the self-inflicted Fire damage ignite us. Beware that this item gives enemies a base chance to inflict certain elemental ailments, even when they normally don't have any. The jewel provides a +10% base chance (against the player) to any damage that can inflict said ailments. This includes (to my knowledge) other non-monster things such as strongboxes. Keep that in mind.

    Ngamahu's Sign counteracts the self-inflicted Fire damage. I highly recommend a roll of at least 30 Life recovered. If you cannot obtain a 30 roll, you have the option to only use as many Catalysts on your amulet to match it (i.e. 27 roll -> 8% quality amulet), or simply don't use any Catalysts at all. The minimum with a default amulet is a 25 roll (100 * 0.25 = 25). However, lowering the damage taken can negatively affect the overall performance of the build.

    Recoup effects are used to recover Life beyond said self-damage, and it also helps with Mana sustain. This mechanic is affected by Recovery modifiers, so beware of such mods in maps if you cannot fully sustain the build yet.

    Power Charges are essential to the build. They provide us with more damage, increased Critical Strike Chance and take care of Shock when used with the mastery. Inner Conviction allows us to "fake" the damage bonus gained from Frenzy Charges, while not having to invest into them, as Power Charges normally do not grant % more Spell damage. The Militant Faith Timeless Jewel also comes with very handy resistances and Mana Cost reduction. You can also find the keystone on Voll's Protector, which is another useful transitional unique item for this build.

    Returning Projectiles Support is later used to make projectiles return to the caster's location. Since Triggerbots are proxies and still count as you casting the spells, they will return to your location. This is what allows the character to "sweep" the map as you can see in the gameplay videos. The projectiles can also hit enemies again if they collide with them while returning, but only once per cast.

    Sniper's Mark is superior to Assassin's Mark once you switch to projectiles, though isn't strictly necessary. It just helps with clear speed at later stages and overall provides more damage. If you are struggling to pick up crit chance, i.e. are missing a spell crit chest piece, just stick with Assassin's Mark until you get high enough crit chance. It will do just fine.

    Pierce is required for Return to work on single targets, as the projectiles will only always pierce when returning (unless otherwise specified, i.e. Frostbolt has 100% Pierce chance). For example, Fireball's projectile will be destroyed on impact and thus cannot return, unless it pierces the enemy. Piercing projectiles also help with clearing, and in some cases aids the skill, i.e. Spark's projectiles can collide with an enemy one more time before being destroyed.

    Scaling Damage

    Spells (or skills in general) can have a damage multiplier called Added Damage Effectiveness, which dictates how much a skill benefits from flat damage added directly to it (gain X as extra Y is not scaled by this). Any such sources will contribute to a global damage pool that is added to the skill's base damage and will be scaled. If a skill has no stated Added Damage Effectiveness, it does not have one and flat damage applies as normal at 100% of its value.

    Martyr of Innocence grants a large amount of flat damage, which can be used to overcome most of what was lost through damage penalties. The Battlemage unique modifier adds its base damage to any spells we use.

    It's crucial to use lower level spells in this build. CWDT has a massive Cost multiplier, and since spells increase their Cost with levels, this can become a huge downside. Which is why we only increase the levels of spells where we actually benefit from it:

    Fireball is a Fire damage skill and it gains flat Fire damage per level, which is exactly what we are scaling in this build. It has a base Mana Cost of 6 at lvl 1, with 9-14 flat damage. At gem lvl 12 (lvl 40), this becomes 255-383 flat damage with a base Mana Cost of 16. Increasing its gem level here makes sense for the higher damage output.

    Soulrend of Reaping, however, deals 42-62 Chaos damage and has a base Mana Cost of 14 at lvl 1. At gem lvl 5 (lvl 40), it has 18 base Mana Cost and deals 133-199 Chaos damage. We barely have anything in our build that scales that damage, but the gem has a massive 400% damage multiplier for Added Damage. So, it makes much more sense in this case to keep the gem at lvl 1 to keep the Cost down.


    The Explosives Expert Ascendancy passive's bonus Elemental Penetration works only against chilled enemies. To guarantee this, we use Vortex to spawn Chilled Ground, which causes enemies standing in it to become chilled.

    Ice Nova of Frostbolts and Vortex of Projection can be used in conjunction, despite their anti-synergistic behaviors, but only when we add additional projectiles to our Frostbolt. Otherwise, Vortex would destroy the projectiles that Ice Nova needs to trigger from for the damage bonus and overlap.

    Knockback has another advantage against enemies that can be knocked back: Certain skills can "shotgun" enemies when they are pushed up against a wall or terrain. I.e. Fireball's explosions can overlap with enough AoE. Knockback effectively allows you to forcefully change an enemy's position.

    Noteworthy Mentions

    Critical Strikes are what makes this build work much better than any non-crit versions I have played in the past. And Triggerbots take care of the otherwise horrendous single target damage.

    Critical strikes with Fire damage also inherently ignite. Any extra chance to ignite (i.e. from ring and amulet) just adds to your average chance to ignite. You do not need to invest into extra sources outside of those.

    Phasing (i.e. from a Quartz flask) is very useful for mechanical reasons. It allows you to ignore object collision, which enables you to "clip" inside an enemy. Doing that nets you the highest potential from returning projectiles and it helps with (manually) avoiding damage from enemies. You also cannot get stuck between enemies or objects this way, you can simply walk through. In my opinion a rather underestimated mechanic.

    I overcap my Elemental resistances to account for Exposure, Curses (when not on Consecrated Ground), Altar downsides, debuffs from enemies (i.e. Phoenix) and the like. It never hurts to have headroom for resistances.


    Wellspring of Creation (Monsters in Maps have 50% more Life but deal 25% less Damage) is recommended because the build has no direct investment into defense, i.e. Spell Suppression or similar. You can opt out of this if you keep extra damage mods to a minimum or get too much lag. Once you have enough damage, this keystone shouldn't pose any issues even with high HP bosses.

    Quick sidenote: In contrast, having enemies die too quickly can actually make the build feel a bit janky because you'll have to recast Forbidden Rite way more often.

    Keep in mind that this doesn't apply to everything. To my knowledge, it does not affect Blighted Maps, Breachstones, Maven Invitations, instanced bosses such as Shaper/Elder and the like. It does, however, affect Guardian maps, i.e. Shaper/Elder/Conqueror and Synthesised maps. I'm not 100% sure about certain other content. Information on this is rather scarce. I prefer this keystone due to the somewhat squishy nature of the build.

    A Shock immunity flask is highly recommended because the Power Charge mastery "Cannot be Shocked while at maximum Power Charges" does not remove existing Shocks that have already been applied (Shocked Ground excluded, it has no duration). This includes non-damaging ailments reflected back to you through something like the Eater of Worlds altars.

    Hinder and Knockback are quite handy for survival. The movement slow hard counters any off-screen charging Rhoas when combined with Chill, and the Knockback keeps deadly enemies at a distance. They are very useful for crowd control in Blight, Delve or other tight areas.

    I have Convocation socketed in the weapon swap slot because Triggerbots are Minions and they tend to get stuck on certain terrain/ledges. It's why I hate running maps like Colosseum that have a lot of ledges. On the flipside, because they are Minions, they will also respond to any spells you (manually) cast and follow your cursor when you do. Use this for strategy.

    Technically, it would be easier for them to keep up with you if you were to invest into Minion Movement Speed affixes, but it's a suffix just like resistances/attributes, which imo are more important overall.

    Also, in rare instances they can get stuck outside of a boss arena or similar encounter, getting you killed. This is a remedy for that. I highly recommend using another Martyr of Innocence so you don't lose your damage when you need to swap weapons.

    Thank you for checking out my build. I hope you like it. Drop your questions down below. Cheers.
    Original creator of the "Poor Man's Ward Loop" build: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/3480922
    Windows 11 Enterprise 64-bit, i7-13700K 5.30GHz
    PNY RTX 4080 16GB GDDR6X, 32GB DDR5-6000 CL36
    Samsung 980 Pro, Seasonic Prime GX 850W Gold
    Last edited by BaumisMagicalWorld on Jun 14, 2024, 4:59:36 AM
    Last bumped on Jun 1, 2024, 12:26:14 PM
    Some items in this post are currently unavailable.
    Very interesting build! I've given it a try with a Sabo I have leveled with some changes, but I think the server-side issues are little too much for it currently.

    Will be following this one closely as it's such a cool mechanic!
    morkra wrote:
    the server-side issues are little too much for it currently

    Yeah, I'm getting a lot of lag, too. I had to resort to Chayula Breachstone spam to level to 98 for now. I would die too often to lag in regular maps.
    Original creator of the "Poor Man's Ward Loop" build: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/3480922
    Windows 11 Enterprise 64-bit, i7-13700K 5.30GHz
    PNY RTX 4080 16GB GDDR6X, 32GB DDR5-6000 CL36
    Samsung 980 Pro, Seasonic Prime GX 850W Gold
    May I ask why your support gems are lvl 10 only ? Talking about returning proj or GMP
    sbargogo wrote:
    May I ask why your support gems are lvl 10 only ? Talking about returning proj or GMP

    Lack of Dex. Dex is a suffix, so is Chaos res. I picked Chaos res. Not like it would give enough damage for that trade-off to be a net positive. Unless you can manage with your gear, since mine's a bit wonky and I have 20% overcapped Chaos res and no way of swapping that out.
    Original creator of the "Poor Man's Ward Loop" build: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/3480922
    Windows 11 Enterprise 64-bit, i7-13700K 5.30GHz
    PNY RTX 4080 16GB GDDR6X, 32GB DDR5-6000 CL36
    Samsung 980 Pro, Seasonic Prime GX 850W Gold
    I'm going to try this soon. I'd like to use my mageblood. Could I solve CDR through charms? There is a lot of utility that I'd miss out on by going this route, but I'd gain juiced mana cost reduction.

    I made some nice temple mod gloves that would do really well here!

    Last edited by Seufari on Jan 23, 2024, 1:43:32 PM
    Seufari wrote:
    I'd like to use my mageblood. Could I solve CDR through charms?

    I'd need to check how much CDR you can get this way, but yes, as long as you can reach 52% CDR, you are all set.
    Original creator of the "Poor Man's Ward Loop" build: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/3480922
    Windows 11 Enterprise 64-bit, i7-13700K 5.30GHz
    PNY RTX 4080 16GB GDDR6X, 32GB DDR5-6000 CL36
    Samsung 980 Pro, Seasonic Prime GX 850W Gold
    What are the desirable chest mods? Elevated Spell crit and res for suffixes? It seems the prefixes are flexible?
    Edit: This is dated info from a different setup. Disregard.

    Seufari wrote:
    What are the desirable chest mods? Elevated Spell crit and res for suffixes? It seems the prefixes are flexible?

    Yes. As high crit chance as you can get. Life, Chaos res, Dex if you can fit it in.

    You could do the math and get some ES to make the FR trigger the higher CWDT setups in 1 cast, or you could just cast it twice/let the Ignites do the rest. Your choice. It's really of no significance.

    With my current gear and levels, I take roughly 550 damage from a single cast of regular Forbidden Rite, which triggers all lvl 40 (gem lvl 2) CWDT setups and below. Then the Ignites keep the feedback loop going.

    Triggering the Forbidden Rite linked to CWDT lvl 1 triggers the lvl 3 setup. It's not quite enough to trigger the lvl 4, but the Ignites will do that.

    With my roughly 700 ES, the FR of Soul Sacrifice damages me for roughly 70 hit points. The lvl 4 requires 646 damage taken. So, we are just shy the equivalent of 1 Ignite to trigger the high damage setup.
    Original creator of the "Poor Man's Ward Loop" build: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/3480922
    Windows 11 Enterprise 64-bit, i7-13700K 5.30GHz
    PNY RTX 4080 16GB GDDR6X, 32GB DDR5-6000 CL36
    Samsung 980 Pro, Seasonic Prime GX 850W Gold
    Last edited by BaumisMagicalWorld on Feb 9, 2024, 11:04:13 AM
    Hey! I followed this build but overall the char is very squishy. How did you built up the defenses?

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