[Invasion] Sarah the Self-found Solo Summoner

Level 40-42

Time to grind again. Won't hit the reduced-XP level penalty in the Upper Sceptre of God until I'm level 42, and while I could go see Dominus at a lower level, it's an unnecessary risk and avoiding those is good. The Sceptre is a horrible area to grind since there's so much resummoning when multiple Evangelist fireblasts/frog leaps/voidbearer incinerates wipe the minions out, but I really have no other place to go. At least the invading Brooding Tarantulas make a nice easy change of pace every once in a while. Sceptre of God waypoint to the Dominus-zone-barricade runs to hit 42: 6. Invasion bosses encountered (not every run spawned one, probably they were hiding in a room I missed):

The Bolt Juggler - Found him through the first door as I entered the Upper Sceptre, so turned around and reset the zone. No invading boss spotted in the new instance, must have been in some side room.
The Bolt Juggler - Again. Saw him before I opened a door on the second Upper level, so just went back to town for a reset.
The Firestarter - Was tempted to avoid him, but given my level advantage I decided to fight. Hardest part was taking out all the monsters around him, since the minions were all spread out and easy targets for the firebombs. Did a lot of resummoning until it was just the boss, then it was fairly standard skeletons-in-his-face-until-dead.
Genesis Paradisae - Making a visit to see his cousin Paradisae Venenum, perhaps? Seeing both of these in the same zone made for an interesting comparison of the Invasion bosses vs normal uniques, since both do pretty much the same things. Took about twice as long to take out Genesis, even with me removing corpses as quickly as I could to prevent regen.
Corrector Draconides - Fun room here with this guy, Paradisae Venenum, and a rare frog (with haste aura) all together. Sent in the minions, ran away, resummoned, and came back slowly in order to get the Corrector by himself and kill him, then finished the other two.

No usable rares dropped with any decent mods. I did find a 4-linked Bone Armour, but the mods after an alchemy and a chaos were awful, so no upgrade there. Got a Sapphire Flask, which completes my set of elemental resistance flasks. And found Zandethus' Cassock, which has some nice energy shield and chaos resist for a level 37 item, but given I primarily need life and elemental resistances on my armor, it's not really useful. Keeping it in the stash anyway, just in case.

At level 41 picked up Shaper, which is a real boon to the mana globe (especially since I have no Clarity gem). At level 42 started in on the Gravepact cluster. And then immediately after reaching level 42...Dominus. As is the case on most characters, the first and third phases were the most challenging.

I had a full slate of minions out when the initial three bosses came out, and Draconarius Wilhelm Flamebrand was down almost immediately. Took a good long time for the other two, though. The spark totems kept killing skeletons and the zombies didn't last long against the freezing cyclone. Eventually I got enough spirits out to take down Compulsor Octavia Sparkfist while the decoy totem kept Imperator Stantinus Bitterblade busy, and then he was easy pickings alone.

None of the second set of bosses was particularly memorable. As long as you don't get caught in the crossfire from Kali the Crazed while cursed by Alal the Terrifying, it's fairly safe. All three down fairly quickly.

Third phase was the longest. I went back to town to get my Topaz Flask, since getting caught in the lightning stream can be deadly, and went to the Lunaris temple to resummon zombies/spectres while I was at it. With enfeeble on Dominus, the zombies could mostly live until they got caught in his "touch of god" slam attack, and so they kept the miscreations busy while I summoned raging spirits. Did a lot of running away when that miscreation-kamakazi mark came out. Had to leave and resummon once more before the spirits finished the job.

Last phase didn't last long at all. He stood up, the minions beat on him down to about 1/3 life, he cast his bleeding rain which hit none of the horde since they were all next to him, then he died. Difficult phase only if you're underpowered in terms of damage, so that he gets a bunch of minions and/or moves out into the rain before you can kill him.

So the grinding to get to +6 levels really paid off. Got slight upgrades to helm and boots from the drops; nothing spectacular but a few extra percentage points of elemental resists, though I'm still down to 32/64/41/-12 in Cruel.

Went to the Cruel Strand and killed Hillock, and was rewarded with yet another pair of nice boots plus an upgrade to my life flask. Swapped a ring around to get resists to 31/67/40/-12, a slight improvement, but the big bonus is the move speed. Picked up Grace from the Hillock reward (on the off chance that I someday see a Reduced Mana and can run multiple auras) and put both Grace and Purity of Lightning on weapon switch for leveling.

Also found the Overlord's Strange Sinkhole of Lightning: shocking ground and unique boss damage/speed buff. Tempted to go in, but considering the boss is Mother of the Hive, with the cannot die aura and many spawns, it's a bad idea. Don't have the minions yet to both hold off a horde and go after the main boss, especially with the hitpoints these unique bosses have.

Into the Coast, where everything was easy pickings until I saw a group of rock elementals. Stayed just long enough to confirm it was Granitecrush before running, which was just barely soon enough as he managed to get one Discharge off that wiped every minion and took me to half life. Fortunately he wasn't in a position to block me from proceeding to the Mud Flats.

First monster group in the Mud Flats contained Bladetooth, who burnt my zombies to a crisp but was a fairly easy kill for a bunch of skeletons supported by a totem. Rest of the run through was uneventful, got the glyphs and into the cave. Decided during this time to respec out of Minion Instability and move that point into the Gravepact cluster. The minions aren't dying much any more in normal fighting, there are enough passive tree bonuses now to make it worthwhile to keep them ambulatory as long as possible, and the bosses now have enough HP that a few explosions aren't doing much anyway.

In the Lower Submerged Passage, found my old buddy the Guardian of the Mound, fortunately announced in advance by a vanguard of goats. Turned right around and ran away, with my piddly 31% fire resist and very flammable zombies. Found a Screaming Eagle unique axe, into the guild stash. Got a much better shield in terms of evasion rating and resistances, but it needed more dexterity, so decided it was finally time to ditch the Sidhebreathe and get a new amulet. Ended up with +22 dex, +22 int, and 22% fire resist, which will serve until something better comes along. Resists up to 74/61/45/-12, and evasion is at 37%.
Level 42-44

Back through the Mud Flats for another shot at the cave passage. Ran across Mother of the Hive, who was a royal pain to defeat even with lots of room to maneuver. Very glad I didn't try to fight her in a the corrupted cave I found earlier. Killed the unique giant rhoa while I was at it. This trip into the Lower Submerged Passage was much better, with Spinesnap (easy kill, lost no zombies) instead of fireball goats.

Upper Submerged Passage went easily enough with no invasion boss, although I did see a goat and turned right around...may have been the guardian again, felt no need to find out. Hit level 43 just as I found the exit. Got to the Ledge and fought past Konu, Breaker...I mean Maker of Wind. He really enjoyed jumping out of a horde of minions to land on me, happened at least 3 different times, but fortunately he wasn't doing much damage on each hit and there was no serious danger.

Back to the passage to search for the crab. Was jumped just off the waypoint by Eoin Greyfur, which turned out to be a bad move on his part as I just moved away a bit and threw spirits at him until he keeled over. He dropped a rare ring with 10% to all elemental resists, but unfortunately the other mods are pretty bad. Found the Flooded Depths and killed many squids, then Ossecati, Boneshaper on my way to the crab. The big skeleton hits really hard but was no problem against the many skeletons and zombies, especially when I cast decoy totem over to the side and he spent most of his time walking around trying to get to it. He dropped a +1 to minion gems helm with a bit of life on it, but I can't use it yet due to not having proper links on my gear. Will correct that when I get more orbs. Crab was a pushover, got my skill point from Tarkleigh and spent it on Gravepact. Zombie #7!

Went back to clear out the early side quests. No issues in the Tidal Island as Hailrake showed up almost right away, no invading boss spotted. Took a Fire Penetration from Bestel since I might use it with the spectres someday. The Fetid Pool was a bit more difficult. Kadavrus the Defiler was even easier than last time, since my minions are stronger now, but Mother of the Swarm spawned in a spot where I had to keep killing her minions to get to her, and eventually I just gave up and reset rather than risk being hit with super-speed fireballs. Got the same boss again next time, but I was able to pull the minions far enough that she didn't get the Soul Eater bonus from the initial horde, and that made all the difference.

Ledge time again, on my way to the Climb. No need for farming here, already 6 levels above the zone. Ran into Nighteater, who dropped a unique...the Queen's Decree. Well, that would be cool and all, but only if I get a ton of orbs to 5-link it (too low item level for 6) and have enough life/resists that I don't need a shield, neither of which is happening any time soon. But I'll toss it in the stash.

Made my way through 90% of The Climb with no issues, including getting past Ironpoint the Forsaken easily. Hit 44 along the way. Last monster group was rock elementals with Granitecrush again, though. Didn't want to have to redo the zone, so I carefully dropped enfeeble on him, then once he wiped the minions ran away to resummon. Second set of minions was enough to kill him.

Lower Prison went by without seeing anything more dangerous than a shrine, but Wonderwalker made an appearance in the Upper Prison. Had to pull him away from a rare necromancer to get him alone, easy after that. The Warden died in about 5 seconds; doesn't take much with a bunch of overleveled minions. And finally, I obtain Clarity thanks to the quest reward. A few levels on that should make mana management much easier.
Level 44-45

Prisoner's Gate, Ship Graveyard, The Coves...pretty much nothing of any interest all the way through. Invasion bosses: Harbinger of Elements in Prisoner's Gate, Balus Stoneskull in the graveyard, Glassmaul in the Coves. Most exciting thing to happen was an Ice Nova drop, so now I have a level 1 that costs 8 mana instead of the level 5 that costs 14 for use in barrel-breaking. Woo! Boring fights is the price of being up six levels on the zones; a price I gladly pay for the increased survivability.

More importantly, now that I have the Cavern of Wrath waypoint, Nessa gave up a Spell Totem gem. Very short on Jeweller/Fusing orbs, so had to waste a bunch of Chromatics re-rolling my evasion boots to get a red-blue link, but it's worth it to have skeleton spell totem. Will keep Decoy Totem around for a few levels for situations where max skeletons are already out and something needs distracting, but eventually I can drop it. In addition to being great aggro control, skeleton totem is a big DPS boost in any kind of extended fight, because it frees me up to cast more raging spirits.

Ran into one of those extended fights right away in the graveyard cave, as Strangledrift made an appearance. Had to recast the totem a couple of times when he lightning warped onto it, and dodge said warp a few times myself, but otherwise all went according to plan. Death by zombie and raging spirit, with lots of distracting skeletons. Rest of the cave was easy, Fairgraves was put down, got to level 45, and off I go back to town and my skill points.

Time for some passive tree decisions. At some point I need to go over and get Grave Intentions, to the right and down from my starting area. I also want to get the life node cluster by Written in Blood. Got three Minion Life nodes and a Minion Damage node to pick up, and I'd eventually like to connect the two sides of my tree so I can get rid of those six nodes I spent from my left starting spot. For now, I think I'll head up to Deep Wisdom, then I can go up and around past Eldritch Battery (unlikely to take that, no need unless I really have mana issues) to link up the tree near the Death Attunement cluster. That lets me respec out those six nodes, and then go back and head right to Written in Blood and down to Grave Intentions. If I live that long, next I can pick up the remaining minion nodes, and head up toward Sovereignty and maybe grab Elemental Adaptation (handy once I have Purity of Elements running). Current tree looks like this. You'll note that I'm not really taking anything to boost energy shield; since my primary defense is the minions, and secondary is having a metric boatload of life, it's not really needed. Frees up points for other things, and also means I can use non-ES equipment without feeling like I wasted points; important on a self-found character since you can't be sure what you'll be using.

Level 45-46

Went into the Cavern of Anger and fought Alpha Paradisae, Minara Anemina, and Amarissa in fairly quick succession with no issues. (Although I do have to admit the frogs supporting Alpha Paradisae gave me a bit of a start when they jumped on me.) Had to switch characters for a trade over in Ambush league (more XP, no big deal), so did the zone again. This time, no uniques at all, hooray randomness. Cavern of Wrath contained my old buddy, the Harbinger of Elements. Defeated him and Ambrosia, then on to Merveil. She survived a little longer than Brutus, but not much. Suppose she probably has more hit points. No interesting drops, sadly.

Went into the Southern Forest expecting monkeys and got Balus Stoneskull instead. Beat him up, then proceeded to the monkeys (and some invading snakes), and on to the Forest Encampment. Found a +24 str/+24 dex citrine amulet and decided to roll an alchemy on it, and was happy I did: +49 life, 28% mana regen, and 25% lightning resist.

North through the Old Fields to the Crossroads waypoint, met nothing special except Gneiss, who collapsed under a pile of minions in short order. Then headed east through Fellshrine to the Crypt waypoint, no invading bosses here either. Hit 46 on the way.
Level 46-47

Chamber of Sins, all three levels. Normally I stop at level 2 and come back after some other quests, but since I was already 3 levels above Chamber level 3, no need. Ran into Strangledrift and Mammothcage, smoked 'em. Saw The Revenant too, but since he spawned in the same room as the unique poison zombie on level 1, decided to skip that fight. Made quick work of Fidelitus. Greust gave me a crappy rare wand, so I gave it right back to him.

Time to head west. Found a couple of nice gems in the Riverways: a Lightning Warp which goes on my weapon switch for easy movement in certain areas, and a 14% quality Molten Shell which goes in the stash in case I ever find a Cast on Damage Taken. Beat up Glassmaul in the Blackwood, and hit level 47 on the way to the Western Forest. Walked through there and opened the passage without seeing anything more dangerous than Wounddrool the rare goat. Got my skill point, then went back and killed Alira in the Western Forest and the spider off the Blackwood. Was fortunate in the spider cave not to run into any invading bosses, since that place is a tactical nightmare with minions running off into side rooms and getting themselves killed. Took Minion Damage from Silk, since this is my last opportunity to get a second one, and gave it to the zombies in place of minion life (which I moved to the weapon switch to keep leveling, just in case I decide to use it again).

Level 47-48

Killed the tree and forward into the Vaal Ruins. Projectile constructs to revive, yay! (Although I'd been finding enough invading Avian Retch birds to do fairly decent on spectres even in the earlier zones.) Was attacked by Konu in the ruins level 1, in a small enough room that he wiped out every minion with his fire leap and molten shell explosion. Had to retreat to a larger space where I could cast the totem out of that molten shell range and tease him into following, then he was fairly easy pickings.

No invading boss in the ruins level 2. Made level 48 just before exiting into the Wetlands. Found the waypoint, then ran into Guardian of the Mound and ran right on back away from him. He still managed to kill off half my zombies and both spectres before I ran out of range; those fireballs do crazy minion damage. Found Oak after escaping the goat, killed him off in short order. Good break point; next time I can go back and finish off all the lower quests before proceeding to the pyramid.
Greust gave me a crappy rare wand, so I gave it right back to him.
This made me smile. Those quest rewards, I swear. You come back all bruised and battered and then they give you crap. I have to do them all too, even the 'get the plum' one. I hate that level with a bottom level of Hell hate.
Arguing on the Internet: What's the point when you can't punch them in the face when they really piss you off?
Thank you for this write up, I appreciate your efforts. I do indeed like to read it rather than having to spend the time watching it. I've not run a summoner in PoE, but I think I'd like to try now. :)

Keep posting those trees too, I like seeing the progression.

Completed 8 Challengesfazlez1 wrote:
Greust gave me a crappy rare wand, so I gave it right back to him.
This made me smile. Those quest rewards, I swear. You come back all bruised and battered and then they give you crap. I have to do them all too, even the 'get the plum' one. I hate that level with a bottom level of Hell hate.

I hear that. Wish they'd shift the random-rare rewards to some sort of currency (or gems, of course). I'd usually rather have an alchemy orb than the item, at least then I can choose which type it is.

And I resemble that remark about doing all the side quests, even if the reward sucks. I might leave it until I'm well over-leveled in some cases (and the Hedge Maze is such a case in higher difficulties, with that ridiculous unique worm) but I always go back. Just can't stand seeing those unfinished quests.

Completed 18 ChallengesBarkskin wrote:
Thank you for this write up, I appreciate your efforts. I do indeed like to read it rather than having to spend the time watching it. I've not run a summoner in PoE, but I think I'd like to try now. :)

Keep posting those trees too, I like seeing the progression.

Glad you're enjoying it! Note that there are some better passive build options if you're not going to be self-found. For instance, you can save a few nodes by connecting the two sides of the tree through the big ES wheel below the witch start instead of going way up top, if you will have the ES gear to make those nodes worth taking. There's some good ideas in various build posts, mainly in the witch and scion forums.
Level 48-49

Went out into the Old Fields to find the Den. Took forever, must have run past it a few times before getting close enough that it showed on the map. Killed Bladetooth along the way right after finding an acceleration shrine, that was fun. The Den was fairly straightforward except for finding Mother of the Hive. Easiest way to deal with her is drop the skeleton totem behind her so that some of her minions go to that side, curse everything, and then throw spirits at her until they stop doing damage (because there are too many of her minions in the way). Then run away far enough that all your minions warp to you, go back up and repeat. Eventually the spirits will find their way through and get her. Got a useless ring from Yeena, had life but no resistances.

Headed north to the Broken Bridge, got to the end without seeing an invading boss, and killed Kraityn by the simple expedient of burying him under a pile of minions. He dropped a Jade Flask, which is the first of those I've seen, and I rolled it a few times to get 21% charge recovery and 26% elemental resists. With the skill point, I decided to grab the +6% to all elemental resists node just below Grave Consequences, which puts me at 60/67/75/-12. I haven't been finding resistances on gear, and I'm not particularly comfortable fighting the Oversoul with less than max lightning resist, so this seemed like a good investment.

Into the Crypt for the last side quest. Found Simi the Nature Touched on level 1, and though the minions were holding their own for a while, decided to run when he started moving really fast. Didn't want to risk him deciding that I was a good target, since I wasn't sure I'd have time to run. Was easy enough to make my way around him. Also ran across Ion Darkshroud, no trouble with him. He dropped nothing useful, but I did find a 9% Quartz flask in a sarcophagus.

Ran into some dancing swords and a boss I hadn't seen before in the crypt level 2, which was interesting. Forget his name now, but it wasn't too difficult once I resummoned a few minions that were killed off in the initial exchange of blows. Hit level 49, then found the end area. Didn't even bother drawing off the blue guys, just dropped a totem, walked forward enough to aggro the spiders, and let the minions run wild. Turned the hand in for my two respec points, and that takes care of the act 2 side quests.
Level 49-50

Took a walk through the Wetlands and Dread Thicket, just for the XP. Good zones for a summoner to farm (barring bad invading bosses) since the spawns are fairly good-sized and nothing does crazy AoE. Plus the snakes make decent revives. Just keep an eye out for minions that get lost in the bushes. I can get to 52 before diminishing returns on XP kicks in for the Wetlands, so I'll probably be back to do this a bunch more times later. Fought Bladetooth again in the thicket, in the same room as Nadia and Aidan, which required one round of minion resummons but was otherwise unremarkable. He dropped a Vaal Caress, which is an interesting set of gloves that I hadn't seen before.

I think I'll actually use them until I find something with better life/resists, even though I have no Vaal skills to buff. Swapped out my shield also to a kite shield, and alchemied up a fire/cold resist ring, which improves resistances to 75/70/75/-12. Evasion is down to 27%, but I have 13% armor physical damage reduction now. Doesn't sound like much, but every little bit helps, especially when your defenses just need to survive that one hit before you can run.

On through the Caverns to get the waypoint on level 2. Level 1 was a royal pain, with invading devourers and Rima as the invading boss. I've mentioned before how little I like devourers, and a cramped cave map does not make them any better; one group actually popped up when I was passing a narrow spot and trapped me. My initial reaction to getting hit by any enemy is to run away, but with devourers that usually is the wrong move since they can hit you again as you go back past them. Glad I had four levels advantage. Rima was a royal pain as she always is; took three minion wipes before I could kill her. Fortunately the first half of level 2 was easy and the waypoint was obtained.

Rima was worth fighting because she dropped a unique Paua Ring, Doedre's Damning. Now here's a potentially build-defining item! I still only have Enfeeble and Flammability curse gems at the moment, but I'm sure I'll find more. A Temporal Chains would be ideal to combo with Enfeeble for massive monster DPS debuffing. I'm already planning to be up near Hex Master on the passive tree, so I can invest a point there later. And if I live long enough, maybe even go for Whispers of Doom, although I'm more likely to go after more aura nodes than triple curses. Nice to know I'll have the option, though.

Back to Wetlands/Thicket exploitation. Found a curse gem right away; it's a useless-to-me Frostbite, but it gives me hope that the RNG will be kind. Runs to hit level 50: 4. Notable encounters:

Thornrunner - Found him in the thicket in a narrow passage, and decided to pass on fighting. The thorn-storm and multiple projectiles are bad enough in the open; in tight quarters, they're deadly.
Inti of the Blood Moon - Spawned by two rares that gave him elemental resists and haste, on top of his soul eater. Ran away.
Alpha Paradisae - Spawned right in the middle of one of those camps in the Wetlands, so it took me a while to clear out corpses to stop his regen. He killed a lot of zombies with that chaos damage aura, but I was resummoning them anyway, and they took him down once he was out of corpses to eat.
Mother of the Swarm - Potentially nasty, but I got lucky when she spawned in the thicket near only one other monster group, so her Soul Eater bonus wasn't too bad. Didn't even need to resummon zombies.
Level 50-52

More Wetlands/Thicket wandering. Hit level 51 on my 4th run, and was at 92% toward 52 after my 7th. Notable encounters:

Harbinger of Elements - First invasion boss spotted right out of the Wetlands waypoint, and he drops a Temporal Chains! Ah, RNG, you're so good to me (sometimes).
Grath - Found in the thicket. Had to run around a bit to get a horde of other monsters away from his cannot-die aura, but once that was done, easy pickings.
Pewterfang (twice) - Found him in both the Wetlands and the Dread Thicket. Dropped an Aurseize, which can go into the stash for possible use later if I can afford to trade life for magic find.
The Sunburst Queen (twice) - Don't recall seeing this one before. Fairly sure I'd have remembered all the fire. The minions like to suicide right into the incinerate nova. First time, the spectres and raging spirits were able to do the necessary damage while a skeleton totem kept throwing cannon fodder at her. Second time, she spawned in the middle of a bunch of other monsters, including those water elementals that cast elemental weakness. Not a good combination there, so I went around.
Inti of the Blood Moon - Right inside the thicket entrance. Thought I might have a shot at taking him this time, as the minions were hitting him pretty well and he hadn't gotten too big from soul eater, but then a bunch of bears walked in from a side passage and split the minion attention. Decided to just reset the zone rather than risk an accident, and didn't see an invasion boss in the new instance.
Orra Greengate - Found this rogue exile in the Wetlands, and she did a number on the skeletons and spectres with that rain of arrows. Zombies had enough HP to stay upright for a while, though, and combined with Temporal Chains and spirits, took her down.
Konu Maker of Wind - Heard some goats in the thicket and proceeded very cautiously in case it was Guardian of the Mound, but was relieved to see Konu instead. And then he almost killed me, with a leap away from the minions and onto me, followed by a Molten Shell burst that took me down to about 1/4 life. Hit all the flasks and ran, resummoned, and finished him off while standing around a corner so he couldn't see me to jump.
Granitecrush - Saw him coming around a corner in the Dread Thicket and ran away. Extra fast discharger in cramped conditions where I might not be able to flee properly...not a fight I care to take on.
Spinesnap - Minions found him in the thicket and got themselves decimated by that Leap Slam-Multistrike he uses. Ran away, no need to mess around with that.

Finally swapped into that +1 minion helm I've been holding onto, after spending a fusing and a couple of chromatic orbs to get a link on it. Lost a little armor and fire/cold resist, but gained about 50 life and a level for my zombies (and their linked minion damage) and raging spirits. Was able to swap rings around to get back up to 62/75/75/-12 resists and 1701 life.

Onward and upward to the Ancient Pyramid. Hit 52 as I made my way from the waypoint to the stairs. No invading bosses spotted on the way up. The Vaal Oversoul summoned minions twice and shook rocks off the ceiling twice, then he was dead. Dropped a 4-link Silken Wrap with 76 life and 15% fire resist which I put to good use. That maxes out all three elemental resists at 75, and I'm up to 1791 life. Linked up Spectre-Raging Spirit-LMP-Minion Damage in that new chest armor.

Quick run through the City of Sarn (with a stop to kill Alpha Paradisae) and I'm ready to start Act 3.

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