[1.1.0] Endgame Incinerate Totem Guide w Videos (Level 91, 57k dps, 8.6k life, 187/116 IIR/IIQ)

Hi, I'm Chris Wilson from Grinding Gear Games. Actually, I'm just writing in his voice for now - at least until he lends it to me willingly. The build I would like to introduce you to today is not new. It is something there have been whispers about since the beginning. The reason I'm making this guide is that, though it's a known build, it seems no one quite knows just how good it is, so I thought I'd use this forum to make a case for my pet build.

The build I run is dual incinerate totems. This build has the potential to do it all: to have incredibly high dps for fast clear speeds, to have the ability to run high levels of MF, and to have the ability to have very high survivability, all at the same time. And I'm going to walk you through how to do it.

Please note that if reading the big walls of text is not for you, there's a video section below with some samples of my normal play, as well as an especially vulnerable "near naked" series I put together to showcase the build's ability with little to no gear.

A note on 1.1.0

Yes, I am still viable, and still doing just as well in high level maps with Incinerate Totem. The day of the patch I did a GMP Residence Map and despite one or two scary moments, I did fine.


Note: I also have moved onto 77-78 maps without too much trouble. I can't do some bosses with some mods, but I can do the base bosses, which is more than a lot of builds can say.

Also, to speak to those who would suggest avoiding Incinerate Totem (and spell totem in general, I just made a video describing my comparison of Incinerate Totem v Flame Totem:


Totem Stats from the youtube video


1024.1 corrected tooltip dps = 4096.3 total dps (with 3 incinerate stacks, after 1.85s)
60 range (84 with 20q)
43 mana

Flame Totem

2953 tooltip dps
100 range
99 mana
+1 support gem

I tend towards Incinerate Totem. I prefer damage with ramp-up time, because I use Frost Walls to protect my totems. Also, I can just about spam Incinerate Totems (not that that’s a good idea), whereas Flame Totems require me giving my mana pool some time to recover. Flame Totem offers a bit more flexibility, but not more damage, and you do pay more mana for it.

Text Guide and Discussion
Skills Used

First and foremost, let's talk skills. Obviously, there is incinerate + spell totem. Connecting allows us to bypass two of incinerate's major drawbacks (lack of mobility and mana consumption - which is insanely low when used this way), while adding some new ones. But incinerate totem is not very good if you can't protect it, so we also take some protective frost skills including my personal favorite: Frost Wall. Here's my soloing setup (I've been able to solo, one way or another, just about every map I've come across, with the only exceptions being particularly painful bosses like Shock and Awe or the Jungle Valley boss - though that problem may be solved now):

Incinerate + Faster Cast + GMP + Spell Totem + Added Chaos + Item Quantity
Frost Wall + Enfeeble + Ele Weakness + Inc Duration
Cold Snap + Trap + Ele Prolif + Cold Penetration
Haste + Purity + Reduced Mana

Since most people don't run a Kaom's + Staff, most people can also add Skeleton Totem (with a zombie linked, too, for corpse disposal) and fire trap (for times when incinerate's dps isn't enough or for lightning thorns).

Generally speaking, the way to play this build to peak efficiency is by keeping totems out and charged, keeping walls and curses up and using walls and using Cold Snap trap for added control to keep as much damage off the totems (and you) as possible.

Adding Enfeeble as a mitigation curse can be a good way of moving into higher level maps than you'd normally be able to run.

Passive Tree

My current passive tree looks like this:


You'll notice a number of unusual things about my passive choices. First, you'll notice I'm not shy about taking elemental resistance passives. I have 44% to each one, and my reason for this is that doing so allows me to specialize my gear for things I can't take passives for - such as flat life bonuses and item finding stats.

In addition, I take 57% mana cost reduction for 10 points (in conjunction with only 8% increased mana for 1 points). 8% more mana and 43% spell cost gives me effectively a mana pool that is 151% larger (getting this would require nearly 19 nodes if we just made the 8% mana gain per node that most mana nodes give, and we get it for 11).

Also, for the bandits:

Normal - Oak
Cruel - Alira
Merc - Kill all

My Gear

Note: Before looking at my gear, please note that my experience in mid-level maps primarily comes from very low gear (pre-life change, I was running about 2.8k health, with 2.3k being my entry level health). This is a build that works well with little gear - that's how I got the gear I had. This wasn't a character that was built off of another character's success.
Note: I think a 6-link soul mantle with dual wands would also make for quite a strong setup. It would allow you to sub in another dps support gem, or (my personal preference) blind. The dual wand setup would also let you run with more spell damage, albeit with far less health. The biggest problem with Soul Mantle is when you're out of ways to remove curses.


Magic Find

I currently run 187% item rarity (250%+ when using the rarity gem for item find) and 116% item quantity. This means that (before diminishing returns), I would get 216% of "normal" white/currency items and 2.87*2.16 = 6.2, or 620% of the magic/rare/unique items. Players running 400%/80% will likely have something more like 900% (50% more items than I get) - but then, those are generally builds which deal very small amounts of dps, and therefore need to party, which cuts into their item acquisition (not to mention high rarity took a hosing in a previous patch, while high quantity is still as good as it ever was).

Clear Speed

As others have noted, incinerate fully charged deals a ton of damage - and because the spell requires you to be stationary, using it on a totem allows you to gain the spells major advantage (the damage) without it's major drawback (being stationary for notable periods of time).

Explanation of Incinerate's dps:

Incinerate gives your totems a buff that increases all damage done by 100%, and this stacks additively with additional stacks, up to three (which means 300% more - or 4x - damage). Therefore, when your tooltip dps is only 500 dps, your damage when charged is 2k dps - and thats per totem per projectile stream: meaning if both totems are around a large melee enemy absorbing all the streams, you're looking at about 20k dps ( x2 totems, x5 projectile streams). When your tooltip dps is 1k, therefore, you can be dealing up to 40k dps before resists.

Added damage gems have a nice interaction with incinerate - though their damage contribution is cut to 30% originally, the damage ramps up with incinerate stacks, meaning that at 3 stacks, it contributes 120% of the listed damage (every fraction of a second). This is the reason why my dps increases from 630 dps to 960 (a gain of over 50%) when I use added chaos. Something like added cold/lightning would probably add more damage against non-curse immune enemies, but would also be a liability against ele reflect, and it's reasonably hard to keep your totems up during ele reflect as is.

I do 1463 dps tooltip, which actually should be 1024 dps tooltip including the 30% less cast speed on Spell Totem (not factored in for some reason), 681 is fire and 343 is chaos. That means that against a cursed enemy with 0 fire resist and 0 chaos resist who is being shotgunned by both totems, my damage could be as high as 681 x 4(incin stacks) x 5 (streams) x 2 (totems) * 1.59 (ele weakness on a mob with 0 resist) = 43.3k fire dps. 380 chaos dps x 4(incin stacks) x 5 (streams) x 2 (totems) = 13.7k chaos dps

Giving us a maximum theoretical dps of 57k dps. Not that this is a number I expect to attain frequently (the 15k - 25k region is far more likely), but it conveys the general idea: these totems deal a ton of damage in situations where they can do their thing.

Frost Wall

Speaking of ways to let incinerate totem do their thing, Frost Wall is a major player in doing just that, in keeping enemies close to be hit by many streams of damage, or (most of the time) keeping them away to prevent the totems from taking damage.



Since a lot of people have measured Frost Wall and found it to be lacking, I thought I'd devote a separate section to discussing its uses. Frost Wall is not your intuitive skill - it does not deal high damage, nor does it allow for insane mitigation, nor is it easy to keep up - but if you can swing it, it can do no less than trivialize a great number of enemies, and is especially handy in this build to prevent your totems from being stunned, frozen, or dead. Totems don't move, so frost wall is the only way to avoid a large quantity of very incumbering attacks. Duration bonuses are big here (esp while levelling), because they allow you to spend more time casting other things, or being mobile.

A few uses for frost wall:

1. Placing them between your totems and the enemy - depending on the composition, you may want to completely wall off (if mostly ranged) or you may want to leave a few gaps in your wall (if mostly melee). The AI will run melee enemies away if you wall off completely. This can be obnoxious in large open zones. This is the most common use, as it deflect enemy projectiles, but not your own.

2. Placing them behind the enemy - this is particularly useful against enemies like Mer'Veil and the Graveyard boss, who are leader-types which will float away from you if you let them. Remember that if your cursor is over the enemy, you will put the wall between you and them, pushing them back. Instead, place one wall of to each side so that the connect in a 'v' behind the enemy. This can be very tricky to do.

3. Walling off a section of room - in tight areas, melee enemies move away from walled off areas. The result of this is that, if you have dangerous melee enemies in indoor areas (think Vaal Pyramid), you can wall, and they'll run, and then wall again, until eventually you've pressed them up again the back wall of the room. Then, you use your walls to keep them there and let the totems do their thing.

4. Walling off a room - often times, you'll want to retreat to a previous room and prevent your enemies from following you. Placing a wall right in the doorway accomplishes this perfectly. I personally have used this to great effect on the cells boss - who really should murder me every time. :)

5. Allowing your totems to charge - Walling first and then placing totems has the effect of letting them charge up without the risk of being frozen or stunned before the walls come down. Of course, you can continuously keep them up, but as I've said before, this can be a bad idea with melee enemies in certain situations.

6. Splitting melee enemies off from ranged - this is especially useful when you have lightning thorns packs in indoor areas, to kill the melee enemies away from those who would give them lightning thorns.

A note on chain - chain makes frost wall very difficult to use. Enemy projectiles will treat hitting the wall as though it were hitting an ally of yours - and will redirect a wide spray of projectiles at the nearest ally. Split Arrow archers and Lightning Arrow archers with the chain map mod are particularly deadly.

A note on doing nothing - Many maps have little pieces of terrain which cause your frost wall not to be placed, despite pressing the button. To get around this, move your mouse slightly before replacing it.

Videos of Standard Play

Near Naked Videos

I know many people look at these guides and they think to themselves "man, that looks cool, but look at all the gear that guy has! I'll never be able to run a build like that until I have that much gear!" This build is not one of them.

This build does have a number of life nodes in it, but I do think it gets a lot of its survivability from its active skills (frost wall and cold snap trap being my favored with freeze mine being another strong possibility) so that you don't NEED to have as much in the way of stats through gear to live through the same areas as someone whose primary active skills dealt damage.

Gear Used

Thanks for reading! Post below if you have any questions or comments about my build or this writeup and I'll be happy to reply.
My Shop - http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/524349
Incinerate Totem Guide - http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/781048
Last edited by TreeheadWoodfist on July 26, 2014 1:54 PM
A quick note on Curses, in response to some commentary from an in-game chat:

Flammability and Elemental Weakness are both fine choices for cursing in general. The main reasons I use Elemental Weakness (and believe in general that it's best for this build) are:

1. Since you're attacking very fast for small amounts, your burn damage will be very low. The quality bonus for flammability is duration of burns, so you don't get much from this.

2. Elemental Weakness, on the other hand, lowers resist further with quality, meaning that a 20% quality Elemental weakness adds at least another 6-ish percent damage.

3. When burns kill enemies, your IIR/IIQ does not apply to the drop. Burn damage is low, so I doubt this would impede item acquisition much, but all the same, it's something I'd rather not have to worry about.

4. When playing in groups, ele weakness is good for a variety of builds, including all spellcasters but EK-users and all builds using high levels of elemental damage (through conversion, auras, or items).

Until you've got a high quality ele weakness gem, you likely will not be able to tell the difference, but in the long run, Elemental Weakness is probably the way to go. If you're just starting this build and don't have an elemental weakness, level ele weakness on an off-hand and just use flammability until you have a level 10/20q ele weakness gem (or better).

If you find yourself in a fight against an ES boss (or rare) in which you need to prevent recharging, but need to disengage frequently (e.g. temple piety) you might find Flammability better because the burn gives you more chance to stay at a distance. I don't do this, but you might find it good.
My Shop - http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/524349
Incinerate Totem Guide - http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/781048
Could you address the armor/evasion factor in this build?

Could this build be viable with a shield?

Why do you start going towards the ranger instead of getting the marauder starting area?

Side note, seriously considering switching from searing bond (2x totem) to a variation of this. But all together i only have about 6 exalts.

In your youtube videos your hp really takes some dents some times. Are you not worried about desync / lag? I feel like running this build sub 5k hp would be dangerous especially with no armor

edit: i play HC / nemesis, is this build viable?
Last edited by rian4a on February 4, 2014 11:13 PM
I don't get much in the way of armor/evasion. I'm fundamentally not a big fan of the stats because they're so bad against large amounts of physical damage (and they do nothing to ele dmg of course). Not to mention, a lot of physical projectiles which can be problematic for most builds are mitigated by using frost wall.

I don't see any reason why you couldn't play it with a shield. Wand/Wand or Wand/Shield is probably even the suggested course if you don't have a Kaom's.

My going towards the ranger tree is for a few reasons: first, it has the totem range node nearby. Running incinerate without faster projectiles gem needs as much range as it can get. This node (and the 4x8 life nodes) are pretty close to the circle of life, so it's not out of our way. After that, we simply get more life for our buck going towards ranger, compared to going towards marauder (could be wrong, but I did the math at one point, and it seemed favorable to go that way). Also, it alleviates our needing to take dex nodes to run haste.

Running a lot of builds sub 5k life is dangerous. Leapers in particular seem to be problematic. But I do consider this to be HC viable (and if I had time to prove it, I would). Because our ability to throw down totems and use most of our actions to be defensive (Frost Wall/Cold Snap Trap/maybe Freeze Mine) give us the ability to run a bit lower on the health side than most builds do. That's my theory anyway. If sporkers/FT/Searing Bond can do it, I don't see why I can't.
My Shop - http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/524349
Incinerate Totem Guide - http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/781048
What did you do on the bandits?

Also I'm a noob and your build was the first one I read and not knowing any better or what the mechanics were I just started down the path you described. But I can't even use totem until 31? So what did you use for damage till then? Currently I am using ice nova, again not knowing any better, and it seems to be doing fine up till now it's losing steam. I use incinerate on single targets. Any suggestions?

Lastly, until I actually get to spell totem I just skipped all the totem nodes, the keystone at allows an extra totem but you can't do any spell damage yourself, when do I pick that up?

Zeddgara wrote:
What did you do on the bandits?

Also I'm a noob and your build was the first one I read and not knowing any better or what the mechanics were I just started down the path you described. But I can't even use totem until 31? So what did you use for damage till then? Currently I am using ice nova, again not knowing any better, and it seems to be doing fine up till now it's losing steam. I use incinerate on single targets. Any suggestions?

Lastly, until I actually get to spell totem I just skipped all the totem nodes, the keystone at allows an extra totem but you can't do any spell damage yourself, when do I pick that up?


Oh, I should add that to the text.

Normal: Oak
Cruel: Alira
Merc: Kill all

I levelled until mid-40s using mainly fire trap (and fireball too). Then I switched to frost wall and incinerate totem as my go-to combination.
My Shop - http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/524349
Incinerate Totem Guide - http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/781048
I´am also playing dual incinerate totem templar and just want to let you know that totem range node, you were talking about is only for totem "seeing" range , not for projectile range. So you can skip it and use that skill point somewhere else.

how about using searing bond for lvlling? it perfectly synergizes with ur skill tree
Why so much reduce mana passive ??

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