[Proof of Concept] Winter is Coming: a glacial hammer freeze lock build

IMPORTANT NOTE: THIS IS NOT A 99999k DPS CHARACTER. It is a quirky little thing I threw together for no good reason other than I am a serial reroller and theorycraft addict. It is definitely possible to minmax further.

Fair warning, requires a 5L. Also fair warning, the build works fine in blue 66-68 maps, within reason; beyond that, it hasn't been tested. I don't think I can reasonably expect to clear Shipyard while the character is level 67, anyway.

Updated for 1.0.0.

Because I wanted a melee staff build, and a glacial hammer build, and it all went downhill from there when I decided to combine them. I'm something of a fan of freeze/shatter builds too. Turns out it can be done without a staff, if you're a maces kind of guy.

What exactly is this build?
The idea is to freeze all the things, all the time. As melee.

Pros and Cons
- freeze lock

- not all that much damage, though sufficient for soloing lower maps

Skills and supports
Multi-target: Glacial Hammer - Melee Splash - Multistrike - WED - Elemental Proliferation
Single target (optional): ditto - Melee Physical Damage - Added Fire Damage - Faster Attacks or Multistrike
Auras: Reduced Mana - Hatred; consider running Clarity/Determination/Haste/Purity
More damage: 20Q Shock Nova - Spell Totem - Elemental Proliferation - Faster Casting
Other utility: Leap Slam, Flicker Strike, traps, curses, coldsnap/freezemine
Extra defenses: Enduring Cry, Immortal Call, Molten Shell

Notes on skills:

For a sixth gem linked to the AoE Glacial Hammer, I would use Melee Physical Damage. Another option is Faster Attacks - but as the build relies on freeze locking, I would greatly favour getting big numbers per attack over higher attack speed. Q20 Added Cold is nice, but I find it not strictly necessary.

An interesting trick with the Multistrike gem is that you can target click anywhere, and even if the first attack hits air (as it does about half the time, silly melee) the other two will still connect to nearby mobs.

I still swear that melee splash builds aren't playable without MS, but if you feel otherwise, this would be the first gem to take out and replace. This is because freeze builds favour high damage per hit, in order to increase freeze duration.

Yes, it's a melee build without HP return on the primary AoE. Mostly I get away with this by freezing everything and having a lot of HP regen. Gear leech also helps, even though it only applies to part of the damage dealt. The alternative is to remove WED or Multistrike (or MPD if you have a 6L) and replace it with a Life Leech gem.

The totem serves two purposes: to draw aggro from you, and to spread shock. It has to be a quality shocknova, because you will never proc shock the regular way due to RT. Quality Arc also works, but I feel that shocknova is better as it has more chance-to-shock and hits more enemies.

You may be able to get some use out of cold snap and freeze mine; the optimal linking of these skills will be left as an exercise to the reader. (Hint: Elemental Proliferation.)

This character can be built from a Templar, Marauder or Duelist start.

Remember, all of the build links are SUGGESTED builds, and you should always seek to tailor a build to your own play style, available gear and acceptable level of risk.

Leveling up, first go for RT. Fill in the rest depending on what you need at the time: you should end up with AoE in templar, IR below duelist, and HP nodes in between. And lots of regen, never forget the regen.

Besides that, what you want to build is situational. For staff builds, I recommend taking at least the one block chance cluster. If using a shield, get shield block. Maces have incredible numbers of fairly efficient damage nodes, if you're so inclined.

I do recommend picking up the really good reduced mana reservation cluster near templar, if you can spare the points. You probably can.

This build does not go anywhere near EB or CI. It can pass near BM, if you are willing to give up the bonus damage from Hatred.

Bandit rewards
Normal: 40 HP (Oak)
Cruel: 18% IPD, 8% IAS or skill point (Oak, Kraityn or kill all, respectively)
Merciless: Endurance Charge or skill point (Oak or kill all, respectively)

When in doubt, just take the skill point. It's fine.

Stats to look out for on equipment:
Get a high physical damage weapon as your first priority. I favour a staff, but there's more damage in maces or a Marohi, and of course you may choose to go the 1h+shield route, in which case sceptres aren't half bad. And when I say high physical damage, I mean the actual X-Y DAMAGE, not DPS. Freeze duration is based on damage PER HIT.
Pick up a couple of % mana leech on gear, it really helps. Life leech too, and for this one don't stop at a couple of %.
Naturally, you want as much of HP and resists as you can get.
Added mana and % mana regen are also good stats to look for, if you can get them in addition to the above.

Uniques good for the build:
- Kaom's Heart (self explanatory) if going 2h
- Carcass Jack (one can never get enough AoE radius) if going 2h and can't afford Kaom's
- Marohi Erqi
- Hrimsorrow, Goathide Gloves. Yes, you read that right. Who wouldn't want extra cold damage for even more freeze? The trade-off is that I deal less physical damage to leech HP and mana from.

Leveling up
Do whatever you like until you get access to Melee Splash. Get the 5L as quickly as possible. At early levels, the WED gem isn't strictly necessary with a decent weapon (Geofri's Baptism is amazing for its level, by the way) so feel free to use LL in that socket or just skip it entirely for a 4L. Probably still not strictly necessary even through Piety merciless, but this being an RT build, damage is a perpetual issue.

Walk up to them. Start attacking, secure in the knowledge that they're probably all going to die way before they unfreeze.

In case of more dangerous situations, raise a shocknova totem to distract them from you, and then go nuts on them. The totem both acts as a distraction and increases your freeze duration with shock.

How do you get dex?
Good flippin' question. I cheated and used an Astra, but there are enough dex nodes nearby. And of course the road to IR is pretty much all dex past a certain point.

Why not crit?
It's an additional layer of complexity on an already somewhat tricky craft, and I don't really like making crit builds on the left of the tree due to persistent accuracy issues. While I'm sure it can be made to work, I just didn't bother, particularly considering the chance-to-freeze intrinsic to glacial hammer. RT is so much simpler, and it turned out to have sufficient damage to get the job done.

What gear are you using?

yes, I know that doesn't add up to 75% all resists, yes, I do have gear that does, but this is what's currently on my character and I'm currently farming docks so I don't need the resists.

How's the build working out for you?
Cleaned up Piety in act 3 merciless at level 60, and then started actually tweaking the build for defenses. Doing blue 66-68 maps just fine.

About the author
Kiri is a reroll addict with a penchant for big numbers, less popular skills, and building around specific items and playstyles.

Kiri is happy to take PMs and in-game questions, and will stream on request.
How to make a build: http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/510084
Current guides: N/A
Last edited by Kirielis on Nov 18, 2013, 12:32:20 PM
Added a core build...gonna watch as it gets destroyed by the patch. Just path-wise, I think the number of connecting nodes is similar going by a route that doesn't pass through the centre, but I'll miss the lots and lots of HP in that circle.
How to make a build: http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/510084
Current guides: N/A
Look's nice kiri keep up the good work ! i love winter
IGN:Hauntworld - ICU Omniscient PvP guild
PvP Low life crit caster / Gear -->/1829851
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Went on an updating spree today, decided I might as well finish the job.

This build is now known as Proliferate All The Things.
How to make a build: http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/510084
Current guides: N/A
Have you really tried it?

I have done it.
I have a lvl 63 Marauder 1h mace+shield with glacial hammer.

I put it on hold because it is just not working.
I can only chill white mobs(in Merciless Fellshrine) and it suffers from the same lag/desync problem as Infernal Blow(even with shift+attack). So you will see yourself missing even with RT.

My problem was I just didn't have sufficient gem slots to get good damage.
You definately don't want Multistrike as it lowers your cold damage that is already low due to Melee Splash.

I leveled as Blood Magic char and it was fine.
After 60 I specced out of BM to get auras. With release this is an even worse idea.
Why? you give up a gem slot for BM gem. This price is to high.

I have 4L is damage is crap. Without at least 5L you can't get decent damage.
You need something like this:
Glacial Hammer:
+Melee Splash(mandatory)
+Faster Attacks (maces are slow)
+Life Leech

I am already at 6L and have no room for Elemental Prolif.

Area is small. Tried to use Carcass Jack but I couldn't get so many red sockets. I need 5R1G. That's impossible on CJ, I couldn't get more then 3. My DPS is about 1.8K which is pitiful in Merciless.

So this is one of the most difficult builds to pull off and extremely gear dependent.

I was aiming for Aegis Aurora and max block + spell block also.

I think you get the whole picture...

I would love to get it working.
My Gear for reference

Gems are misplaced as I was trying different things.
Even if I don't want to admit it, Infernal Blow does a MUCH better job on this build(not updated for release).

EDIT: please post a video to see how it performs at level 60-70+ if you can get it to work.
Last edited by nebunelux on Oct 29, 2013, 5:34:06 AM
I'm hoping you used your free respec wisely, then. But let me just counter your points.

Firstly, YES, I did it. I stopped playing the character after level 67 when it reached the endpoint I specify for my builds: this character shall beat merciless Piety* and be able to clear blue 66-68 maps in reasonable time which do not have build-killer mods. For this build, that would be ele reflect and ele equilibrium. Probably a few more, but those are the ones I remember.

*Piety is where act 3 ended when the build was made. I did not solo Dominus. Half the builds in existence cannot solo Dominus. Half the builds in existence also cannot solo Megaera or Shrine Piety or even the Weaver.

So, point by point.

1. I'm using a 350dps 1.0aps staff with +2 melee gems, and Hrimsorrow. Ergo, my current per-hit cold damage is easily double of yours, even taking multistrike into account. I had no trouble freezing mobs in the above-mentioned maps, and no trouble freezing mobs in Lunaris or the Docks.

Thanks for pointing this out though, I'll make a note that the weapon should rather have high damage low aps than the other way around.

1a. I happened to have a 5% glacial hammer and 17% elemental proliferation. So I used those.
1b. I am, in fact, using multistrike.

2. I did specify that a 5L was necessary. And yes, I do feel the gem socket squeeze. My current setup doesn't even have MPD or LL, though that's more because I'm a multistrike nut doing easy zones/maps.

3. For Carcass Jack, I was kind of assuming use of a 2h weapon and no access to Kaom's. Thank you, I will note this in the OP as well.

3a. Where did I ever even imply that it isn't gear dependent? If there is one thing I never had much of, it's currency, so my builds are all as gear-independent as I can make them. Therefore, this counts as highly gear-dependent. (I mean, I spent 3 ex on that staff! For just 1-2 more, which I didn't have at the time, I could've gotten a 5L Marohi! Don't look at the rest of my gear now, really, just don't...fine, it's linked in the OP under the Q&A section, and don't say I didn't warn you.)

Thank you for your comments. While I do see how a video could be helpful to you, I have never made a video so I have no clue where to start. Other than streaming a docks run and then saving the video to YT, will that do?
How to make a build: http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/510084
Current guides: N/A
Last edited by Kirielis on Oct 29, 2013, 8:47:54 AM
Sorry for the tone in my post.
I am just a bit disappointed that it didn't work the way I wanted to...

I was aiming for freeze-lock GL(Frostbite curse obviously) + max block + decent spell block (Aegis Aurora and the unique amulet).

Regarding your gear, except for your chest, it is very good. I'm not gonna say anything about the OP Astramentis :P

Just out of curiosity, can you try your build with 1h+shield? Can you still freeze?

I haven't used my free respec yet and I won't until I am certain what direction I will go.

1 mistake I made was ignoring completely the Endurance charges. I think it's pretty easy to take +3 end from passives and use Cast on Damage taken + Enduring cry.

Auras: Hatred(mandatory) + another aura of need (grace / determination / purity / clarity).

This is the tanky freeze-lock build(hopefully, eventually). It's very tight on the points...

Currently I don't have the currency for this build.
Aegis Aurora is at least 8 exalts.
Not to mention a 5L high roll ar/es with high life. (Or I could go for AR chest and Rainbow Strides)
Maybe one day I will be rich.
Last edited by nebunelux on Oct 29, 2013, 9:13:29 AM
I was very satisfied with how it worked out, personally. And LOL, my gear good? You have to be kidding. You're kidding, right? It's not even good enough for me to list in my shop, and I sell 4 chaos value items.

Seriously, use poe.xyz.is, it will be your best friend.

I haven't a 1h mace/sceptre usable for this build, I think. Not sure if/when/whether I'd get one and what I'd do with it after that. I mean, it's nice to consider, but don't hold your breath.
How to make a build: http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/510084
Current guides: N/A
Heres what I am planning on rolling out for this type of character as I think it will completely dominate with high regen both healt and mana I plan to link with faster attacks melee splash elemental proliferation melee physical and glacial hammer

glacial will be NUKING with high end health to keep in those massive fights and everything will be frozen

I will not be using weapon elemental damage because I am focusing on the skill itself and it will be doing high end phys anyways. with a 6link i might just throw a 2nd melee physical on it or a 2nd attack speed.

Edit:might actually be using weapon elemental

Last edited by salias on Oct 30, 2013, 4:41:13 PM
My 2 cents:

I also use glacial hammer. I love that it has an improved built-in "culling strike" when the mobs are frozen. I also chose criticals over resolute technique.

I have pretty mediocre gear so I chose 1hander with shield. I also use freeze mine to contribute to glacial hammer. It is hilarious, everything is frozen for 7-8 sec. The trick is elemental proliferation and the use of Icetomb. If a regular mob is frozen by freeze mine, and e.g. Kole walks in, he will be frozen for the same amount of time. The only thing I need to be careful is not to kill the mob early and to refresh freeze mine every 5 sec or so.

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