Beginner’s tips to play your own build.
In this guide I'd like to speak about some important questions that each build maker should ask himself and decide on an answer before starting a build, if he wish to succeed. A lot of sections contains the info on how game mechanics work that is not obtainable in game. This info was given to the community by GGG in the Mechanics thread on official forum. Knowing this info is crucial to making some parts of late game work. You should not be aiming for all the points in each section but planning ahead on having some of them will greatly help your build. I sorted them from most common and build independent to less common and build specific.
This guide is available for offline reading as a part of POEMate mobile builder app that you can find on App Store and Google Play.
Disclaimer: English is not my first language, so gramma mistakes or awkward phrasing are unfortunatly inevitable. If something like this catches your eye and you like it to be corrected feel free to email me at POEMate@xavdev.net
This section is for absolute beginners. You just started the game and have no idea what to expect. Here's some basic info you should know.
- POE is a repetitive sandbox game. You kill monsters to get loot to get better at killing monsters. That is all there is. Just like all there is in a Lego is clipping same blocks together over and over just to disassemble them in the end and start anew. The goal is to set your own goal and to achieve it in a creative and satisfactive way. If that is not what you are looking for in a game, POE is not for you, just play something else.
- POE is not an MMORPG. Every char you play should be able to deal damage, heal himself and tank some hits in order to be effective. Classical stereotypes like Mage=glass cannon, rogue=not get hit, fighter=can stand and not die do not apply here restrictively. Your starting class determine only your starting position on a huge skill tree making it easier for you to take some stereotypical nodes before the others. Expect that you will need to take nodes near other classes as well to be effective, so you will need to travel across tree at least to a neighboring classes. You starting class also give you some unique specialization nodes in the form of Ascendancy that i will talk about later, as they are not available from the start.
- Game will have 4 acts, and 3 difficulty stages (Normal, Cruel, Merciless) with monsters getting tougher and loot better. After you'll reach Act 3 Merciless you will get access to maps - end game content. That's a system where you enchant maps you get from killing monsters so they have dangerous mods, like "monsters move faster", "your curses do not work", "you have less armor" etc. With the danger comes more loot and a chance to get a map of a higher tier. At the last tier of maps there's a very difficult boss with some exclusive only to him loot that only the best of the best can beat.
- POE is an economy heavy game. All the loot you get is balanced around trading with other players. Playing without trading is a self-restrictions that some might enjoy, but it makes the game more difficult and feels like game do not drop you anything good for most of the time. Never go to trade chat, it's full of people preying on new players who don't know the value of things and waiting to scam them. Use poe.trade website instead. Look into "How to afford gearing your character?" section of this guide for more details.
- POE has no gold. Instead it has crafting orbs, and when you sell gear to a vendor you get pieces of these orbs. This orbs can be used to enhance existing items and to trade for items with other players. It is always better to use most of these orbs only for crafting top end gear and buy anything else from other players, in exchange for the orbs. The most commonly used orb for trading is a Chaos orb. For rates of other orbs and advices on how to get them check "How to afford gearing your character?" section.
- The game starts slow. You move slowly, monsters move slowly, you attack slowly and not hit a lot of monsters with your attacks. And there are not a lot of monsters to hit actually. The game starts this way to not overwhelm new players. Expect game to become a lot faster, expect screens full of monsters and your attacks blowing them all to shread and loot explosions while you zip through the map like the Flash.
- Your character will have around 100 points to invest into skill tree at level 80. This is the point when your build should be almost finished and be effective and reliable. Don't expect to get to lvl 100, getting to 90 might take some time and only the most dedicated and experienced players can reach lvl 100, and only if they set it as a goal for themselves.
- You will get 24 respec points from quests. You can get more from Regret Orbs. This points allow you to deselect a node on a skill tree. What this mean is changing your mistakes are possible but resetting entire character is expensive, so plan ahead. Use POEMate mobile/tablet app, POESkillTree desktop app or POEPlanner website to plan a build. Use search function available in these tools to find nodes with key features for your build idea, like "fire damage", "critical chance", "life". These nodes will be highlighted and you won't be lost and overwhelmed by the tree.
- Your primary attributes are strength, dexterity and intelligence. They give small negligible bonuses to different stats of your character but their main goal is to allow you to wear certain items and use certain skill gems. So usually you only need enough to equip what you need for your build.
- Expect to be lvl 40 by the end of Normal, lvl 55 by the end of Cruel and lvl 70 by the beginning of Maps. It might take you days or weeks to reach that point on you first playthrough and your first character might not be optimized and very effective as you are still learning. Know that if you will feel that your char didn't worked out as you expected you can level new one a lot faster with some advices from "How to level faster?" section. Leveling char to 70 can be done in around 8 hours. But don’t spoil anything for yourself on your first char - just explore the game in a pace you prefer, rushing to endgame is for later.
- If you only focus on offence you experience will be very frustrating because of constant oneshots. You might get away with this at first but as soon as you stop oneshotting monsters (because they got tougher) they will start
oneshotting you. And you wont be able to oneshot bosses so they will punish you for no defences
- Elemental damage in this game can rip you to shreds if you don't have resistances. Always have 75% resistances vs elem damage you are fighting against or you will get destroyed. Thankfully resistances are easy to come by on rare gear and jewels, just remember to always have them capped when you change your gear. Also you will get resistance penalties on cruel (-20%) and merciless (-60%) difficulty.
- Most dangerous magic and rare monsters will have mods on them that do something when you hit or kill them. Like reflecting portion of damage you deal to them back, putting bleeding stack on you each time you hit them, exploding on death or leaving a bomb on the ground. Read carefully monster mods as you encounter them, and if you die always ask yourself why.
- Dying on default league has a price. You don't lose anything on normal, 5% of your exp to next level on Cruel and 10% exp to next lvl on Merciless. In might not be scary at first but if you lose 10% exp on lvl 85 it's like playing 2-3 more maps to get that back. And if you are dying once in 3 maps on lvl 85 you will never reach 86. Exp penalty does not lower your exp below your current level so if you are close to leveling up do it before attempting something risky like a boss fight or a tough map. Oh and apart from default there's also hardcore league. Dying there means losing your char. It is transported to standard league on death, a god forsaken attic where forgotten chars are piling up after 3-month league ends. You can play there but not many do and economy is twisted there. So treat a death on hardcore like losing your char.
- You refill flasks by killing monsters so don't be greedy to use them.
- Most of your life and resistances will come from rare items. Unique items usually give some unique and build defying qualities but lack life and resistances on them. When you plan your build keep in mind that you need to balance rares and uniques.
- Any char can use any skills by equipping skill gems. You get gems by completing quests or as drops from monsters. Each time you do a quest that gives gems an even larger amount of gems is added to flasks vendor second tab. Some gems are restricted to certain classes and do not appear as quest rewards or for sale for your character. This does not mean you can't use them. That just mean you have to trade for them with other players. Ask in general chat if anyone can buy the gem for you from a vendor - you will always find someone willing to help.
- You will do more damage by improving in 3 different areas. Damage bonuses from tree and gear, like 10% increased fire damage. Leveling a skill gem to a higher level by killing monsters. Linking your skill gem to support gems. Attack skills also use your weapon damage as base to determine skill damage, while spells ignore weapon damage and only use bonuses like %increased spell damage/cast speed. For more details look into "How to maximize damage?" section.
- Some Gems are support gems. They do not work by their own, instead they improve other gems if you link them together. To link gems you need an item with sockets that are connected. You can link 2 active skill gems and 2 support gems to each other and this will make each of the skills to be augmented by 2 support gems you linked. But best practice is to have 1 active gem and all other supports in an item to maximize skill effectiveness.
- You can craft linked items. Use Jewelers Orb to create a random number of sockets in an item, and use Orb of Fusing to create random connections between sockets. Improving item quality to 20% will increase the odds of getting max sockets/links. You should expect to spend ~4 fusing orbs to create 4 links, ~150 fusing orbs to create 5-links and ~1200 fusing orbs to create 6-links. Unique 5L items are a lot cheaper to buy from someone who was trying to do 6L but got 5L on the way, they sell them for fraction of the cost to cover their losses. White 5L items that drops in linked state are sold very cheaply by players. You can buy one for around 5-10 fusings and then spend few orbs to give it at least some properties. Usually 5L is more important than other properties on an armor so try to get one at lvl 60-65.
- On your journey you will meet Masters. They are NPC that give you small tasks you need to complete to gain some reputation with them. There are 8 levels of reputation and each gives you various bonuses. Most important bonus is the ability to craft specific mods on gear. Like missing resist or more attack speed, very helpful to full the gaps in your stats. On levels 3,5,7 masters also give you access to hideouts - your personal base of operations. You can decorate it however you like, invite masters there, put crafting benches, stash and open portal to endgame maps from there. So leveling masters is an important part of the game. Each master in your hideout give you a special quest once per day and effective way to level masters faster is to gather 6 people and share these quests between them. Players use specific channel "global 820" to team up for this purpose. Same channel is used to seek or provide help with league challenges. To join the channel type: /global 820 and to return to basic general chat type: /global 1
- In different areas of the world you will find trials of Ascendancy. They are rooms filled with traps. There are 6 trials per difficulty level (normal, cruel, merciless, maps) you need to pass once each league to open a Labyrinth in Act 3 town. This place is full of traps and monsters and you will encounter a difficult boss 3 times. When you beat it you will gain access to Ascendancy - a special subclass specializing your character in some unique way. After you gain Ascendancy you can invest up to 8 special point into very powerful Ascendancy tree. You will gain 2 point by completing your first Lab on each of the 4 difficulties. Respecing ascendancy nodes cost 5 respec points so choose wisely. If you undo all 8 nodes you can change your Ascendancy by doing the Lab again.
- Some more info about the Lab. If you die in a lab you need to start over. This might make it very frustrating for a new player. Don’t rush. Traps do percentage damage. If you get hit by a trap for 1/3 of you life no amount of leveling will change that, learn to avoid them or quickly run through them and heal. Lab boss will be encountered 3 times. Each time he will have some form of help. You fight with him until you take 1/3 of his life then he run away KEEPEING ALL THE FUNCTIONING HELP from this phase in the next encounters in addition of what he would normally get. So make sure you destroy/disable whatever is helping him before you push him over 1/3 health and he runs. Lab layout, Boss help and his fighting style stay the same for 24 hours and then change to something new. While they are the same this is for all players not just you. What this means is others can run the lab and tell you where to go today and what to expect. There's a community site for that POELab.com. Also while you still new make sure you overlevel the lab by at least 10 levels before you decide to try it. If you still feel it's too difficult you might want to try next day, when he will have another help and fighting style that is easy to deal with for your char. A lot of people are willing to help you with the Lab, ask in general chat for some help, someone might find the time to run you through the lab.
Have a large HP pool
- You will get hit, your goal is to survive that. The best way is to have as high health pool as possible, to allow yourself to do a mistake and still survive. Even on softcore dying on a lvl 85+ is usually cost 1-2 full map clears in experience lost and needs to be avoided if you like to progress in levels.
- For hp pool progression it looks something like this: 1K for end of normal, 1.7K for end of cruel, 2.5K for merciless dried lake, 3K for white maps, 4K for yellow maps, 5K for red maps. As a ES (Energy Shield) based you can’t pop a flask to instantly heal yourself and you don’t have armor/evasion so your ES pool better be around 40-50% more than expected life pool.
- If you are life based get life on every piece of gear you can, help oak on normal for some more life and take all %life increase nodes you can get.
- If you are ES based get good es gear and % es increases from tree. Stay life based until you start merc dried lake farming as you can’t have good es gear pieces before that and life would be easily sustained by flasks.
Avoid being hit as much as possible
- Avoid losing control of your character. Freeze and stun make you unable to control your character. By default, you will be frozen (crits with cold) /stunned (any damage) if damage you get in 1 hit will be large enough compared to your max life pool. Having high enough life pool would make this very rare. Unfortunately, not all characters can afford a very large life pool and ES/hybrid characters have it very small and will get stun/freeze very often.
- To deal with freeze you can roll “of heat” on any of your flasks making you freeze immune during flask effect and unfreezing you on use.
- Also there are uniques like Alpha’s Howl and Dream Fragments that make you freeze immune but usually flask is enough.
- You can become stun immune with Unwavering stance keystone, Unbreakable Juggernaut ascendancy node, or Eye of Chayula unique amulet.
- You can also have chance to avoid stun by having energy shield not depleted (50% chance to avoid stun), taking Heart of Oak cluster, and having boots lab enchant “65-85% chance to avoid stun if killed recently”.
- Playing as an ES you can use Valirium unique ring to turn stun chance calculation to be based on your max ES rather than max life.
- Reducing stun duration is an option not worth pursuing in my opinion, better focus on avoiding it altogether.
- Don’t be the target. Have a Totem and a Golem to make enemies hitting someone else. Decoy totem taunt is sometimes ignored by Guardians and always ignored by Shaper but great on all other bosses and lesser enemies.
- Move faster. Movement Speed allows you to run from projectiles and a lot of boss attacks. Get it as high as you can without sacrificing your other stats. Always aim for 25-30% movement speed on boots and try to grab movement nodes if you are near them on your tree. Also having Quicksilver flask of Adrenaline helps a lot. Movement speed also very nice in the lab to run through traps faster and take less damage.
- Movement skills gives you bursts of speed when most needed. If you are using Attack based movement skill, support it with faster attacks and Fortify. Spell based movement skill is best supported by faster casing.
- Control the enemy. Temporal chains curse will slow down enemy’s movement and attacks so you have easier time avoiding them or even killing them before they do anything. Important thing to remember is that bosses have 60% less curse effectiveness on them, so all curse values would be less than half lower on bosses.
- Chilling and Freezing enemies can give you a lot of hit avoidance. To chill you just need to hit with cold hard enough, this will slow monster down. To freeze you need to crit with cold or have some freeze chance to freeze even on non-crits. When building freeze char, you should know that freeze/chill duration is the most important stat for your build (comes from tree/jewels and some uniques and skills) as it allow you to have less damaging hits freezing stuff. Also be aware that most top tier bosses (Shaper, Guardians, Atziri) are freeze/chill immune, but apart from them everything else is freezable in place, even T15 bosses. Very strong mechanic if done right.
- Hitting a monster with a good damaging hit will stun them. Same as freeze but works on all forms of damage. More difficult to pull off on bosses but less bosses are immune to this. Most important stat for this build is “reduced Enemy Stun Threshold” that can be found on tree, uniques and skill gems.
- Playing indirect damage build like totem, trap/mine, minions or damage over time builds allow you to be on the move while still dealing damage to your enemies.
Lower damage taken
- Resistances will save or doom you. You should always have minimum 75% all elemental resistances on merciless. Monster damage was is balance around this value. That’s 135% total resistance on gear and tree to have that on merciless/maps with merciless penalty. It’s advised to have some overcap to be able to ignore elemental weakness curse. You will need 169% for that.
- Armor will reduce damage from small hits considerably. You should know that armor works in a way that weak hits are mitigated a lot better than strong ones. So if you see 40% phys reduction from armor in your char sheet that’s for weak hits. It might not be more that 10% for bosses and rares. It still great for a lot of fast hitting small hits so don’t neglect armor If you can.
- Evasion will help lower incoming damage by avoiding some hits. You can treat it as % lower damage per second. But not per hit. Also Evasion only works for attacks, not spells. Evasion is not entirely random. If you have 33% to evade then out of 3 sequential hits one will be guaranteed miss and 2 guaranteed hits, only the order is random.
- Endurance charges (4% per charge) and basalt flask (20%) provide flat physical reduction. This reduction is not dependent on how big or small the hit is, and it also reduce damage from physical degen like bleeding, blood rage and lab traps. Great thing to have and is a lot more effective than armor for bosses. To generate Endurance charges the easiest way is to use Enduring Cry gem or Warlord’s mark curse. Endurance charges also give +4% all elemental resistance so they can be used as a source of overlapped resistances until you get better gear.
- Convert a portion of incoming physical damage to elemental. Hard physical hits get absorbed poorly by armor. By converting a portion of heavy physical hit to elemental remaining physical part gets better absorbed, while elemental part gets greatly reduced by resistances. Some unique items (Lightning Coil, Cloak of Flame) and flasks(Taste of Hate) proved this type of conversion. Usually they are not cheap as this is the most reliable and universal method of surviving hard physical hits and is desirable by a lot of builds.
- Block/spellblock/dodge/spelldodge is a great additional way to mitigating damage. It is not guaranteed as evasion is so it might be 3 blocks in a row followed by 3 non-block in a row. If you rely on this layer of defense, try it to be as high as possible to increase consistency. And mixing dodge with block is usually bad idea as dodge keystone lower your block chance. You can have block with dual wielding, using a staff or a shield. In all other cases it’s only dodge you can have. When using block Rumi's Concoction unique flask is a great temporary way to get more block. For temporary dodge use Vaal Grace gem.
- Fortify buff lowers all hit damage by 20%. That does not include degen. It’s a great idea to have movement attack skill with fortify gem on every char that could use them. Putting fortify in your main skill setup is usually not a great idea as you might want to have better dps for things to die faster and not kill you.
- Enfeeble curse lower all damage that is dealt to you, and chance attacks hit you. Great way to survive. Especially combined with blinded enemies with the help of Blind support gem on secondary attack/totem or Stibnite Flask. Important thing to remember is that bosses have 60% less curse effectiveness on them, so all curse values would be less than half lower on bosses.
- Mind over Matter keystone make 30% off damage you receive to be taken from mana before life, effectively increasing your life pool. Great on builds with lots of unreserved mana, high mana regen and/or Eldritch battery keystone making your energy shield protect your mana before life.
- Increased max elemental resistances. The game is balanced around you having 75% elem resistances. This means that having +1% max resistance is equal to taking 4% less elemental damage. So unique and auras that give you +max resistances are really great if you can fit them in your build, but they usually have too much opportunity costs and should not be a priority. Resistance flasks on the other hand give +5 max resistance temporarily and that’s 20% less elemental damage taken for you, so you can use these in a specific fights with elemental damage that is difficult for your build without them.
- Chaos resistance should come at the lowest priority as chaos damage is rare, but if you build and gear allows certainly go for it. Exception to this rule is for hybrid builds (life + energy shield) not using Shavrone’s Wrapping or Solaris lorica. Chaos damage ignore energy shield and might kill you very quickly if you don’t have chaos res. If you building a hybrid make chaos res a priority. You can also become immune to chaos damage by taking Chaos Inoculation keystone. This way you get only 1 life and need to rely on energy shield to survive.
Auto react on damage taken.
You can set up a few gems to trigger when you receive damage with Cast on Damage Taken gem. I will mention a few.
- Immortal Call will consume all your endurance charges and give you a brief moment of physical immunity. Very useful on low defence builds to survive a pack of archers shooting you at once or you killing a pack of porcupines.
- Frost Wall will create impenetrable obstacle for enemies forcing them to run around it and giving you time to heal or kill them before they reach you.
- Arctic Skull with GMP will fill the whole screen with chilled ground slowing enemies.
- Curse will be cast on top of enemy that triggered CWDT. Great with defensive curses.
Surviving Reflect damage
- Use indirect skill for reflect monsters like totem or trap.
- Having good physical mitigation from armor and flat phys reduction will reduce physical reflect.
- To lower physical reflect you can switch your blue gem to “physical to lightning” or your red gem to “weapon elemental damage” to lower your phys portion and increase your elemental portion of the damage.
- Pop resistance flask to your attack element to increase your max resistance and reduce elemental reflect.
- Having Vaal Pact and high leech will help greatly in surviving reflect.
- Reflect damage can be blocked and dodged.
- Convert a portion of your damage to chaos. Chaos damage is not reflected. There are unique items that do the conversion.
- Use Sibyl's Lament unique ring to lower reflect damage by 30%.
- Slayer’s Headsmen ascendancy node lowers physical reflect by 50%. Elementalist’s Paragon of Calamity ascendancy node lowers elemental reflect by 50%.
Healing as Life based
- Life regeneration gradually recover fixed amount of life per second. Life regen is usually comes in a form of % of max life. So increasing your life pool will have great effect on your regenerative ability.
- Life leech gives you percentage of damage dealt as life back. Leech has a 2% max life per second cap per instance and 20% max life per second cap total. So you if have 5K life, 100K dps and 2% leech you will never leech more that 1K per second on packs and 100 life/sec on a single attack agains lone boss, even if 2% leech from 100K should give you a whopping 2000 life/sec. There are nodes on a tree that increase this limit but not but much. Best way to increase this limit is by having a large life pool. You can also remove this limit altogether with Vaal Pact keystone, but that also disables all life regeneration.
- Flasks can be used to instantly heal or gradually restore life. Instant heals are most valuable. Two most useful instant heals comes from Panicked (25% less heal, instant on low life) and Seething (66% less heals, always instant) mods. You can increase amount flasks heal by taking flask nodes on the tree. Know that all utility mods (like curse immunity, etc.) on life flasks works only while flask is active, and flasks deactivates prematurely when your life reaches maximum. Third great way for instant heals if you have a large heal pool is Forbidden Taste unique flask, it heals for 75% of your max life, but then degen 8% of your max life as chaos damage per sec for 4 secs. Great on builds with high life, high regen and high chaos res.
Healing as ES based
- After 2 seconds of not taking any damage your ES will start to recharge at the speed of 20% max ES per second until all shield is restored or any damage is taken. There are nodes on the tree and mods on some unique that both decrease this 2 sec delay and increase per second recharge rate. Also Occultist ascendancy node Wicked Ward Ensure that ES recharge will continue for the first 4 seconds after it started even if damage is taken.
- Life regeneration can be turned into energy shield regeneration with Zealot’s Oath keystone. Doing this your % based regeneration will use your ES pool to get regen value.
- Life leech can be turned into ES leech with Ghost Reaver keystone. All leech caps will be then calculated from your max ES pool instead of Life pool. If you are not using Zealot’s Oath keystone it is a good idea to take a Vaal Pact along with Ghost Reaver and sustain your ES pool with high dps.
- Vaal Discipline gem gives you a temporary max Energy Shield and immediately starts ES recharge. Also while it is active ES recharge is not stopped by damage taken.
- Aegis Aurora unique shield restore 2% of your armor value as ES each time you block. Very effective on High Armor/High Block characters.
Healing as Hybrid based.
- Playing as a hybrid character you rely on both your life and ES to survive. You can use all of the above tactics to heal yourself with 1 important addition: Coruscating Elixir. This unique flask instantly removes all but 1 life and restore same amount to energy shield over 2 seconds. Also while flask is in effect chaos damage does not bypass ES. Very effective if combined with Panicked Life flask to instantly get a good portion of life back.
Area of Effect
- Taking AOE increasing nodes from tree is very important, try to take at least Templar cluster as attack build and both Templar and Witch cluster as a caster. Consider increased AOE from mace passive and fire damage passive if that is your type of attacks. Getting Scion cluster is usually not worth it if you are not Scion.
- Use Increased Area of Effect support gem.
- Strongly consider Carcass Jack unique chest if you are life based or Beast Fur Shawn unique chest if you are ES. The greater your AOE the faster will be your clear speed and more enjoyable will be your mapping experience in general.
Projectiles with Lesser/Greater Multiple Projectiles for wide coverage and pierce/chain for distance coverage
- Very important here is to know if your projectiles travel further the more projectile speed you have, and if they do consider making Projectile Speed on tree and gear a priority.
- Also if your projectiles do not pierce it is crucial to make them pierce 100% or close if you not planning to chain them. Apart from skill tree a good source of pierce are Pierce gem and Projectile Weakness curse, as well as Poacher’s Aim unique jewel.
Futher increaseing AOE with on kill effects
- Herald of Ice damage enemies around killed frozen target
- Herald of Ash ignites surounding enemies with overkill attack damage. Overkill is portion of damage dealt surpassing target life.
- Elemental proliferation spread ignite to enemies surrounding a corpse (don’t work if corpse is destroyed on kill)
- Abyssal Cry place a debuff on enemeies making them explode on kill. This deals 8% of target max life as chaos damage to surrounding enemies.
- Contagion spread effect of itself and essence drain to surrounding enemies on kill.
- Enemies killed with Obliteration unique wand equipped has a 20% chance to explode, dealing 25% max life as chaos damage to surrounding enemies
- Poisoned enemies killed with Bino’s Kitchen Knife unique dagger equipped spread the poison to surrounding enemies
Same skill as packs.
- Good idea is to do gem swaps before the boss fight. Changing Increased AOE to Concentrated Effect, and changing LMP/GMP to any green damage gem that you don’t have yet on your setup.
Separate single target skill
- If you have free sockets and your pack skill isn’t good enough on bosses or scales from the number of targets, it’s good idea to take separate single target skill for bosses and tough rares. If you have 2 handed weapon it’s a good idea as you can have 2 separate skills 5L-6L. If you don’t it might be better to stick to your pack skill for bosses as being in 5L or 6L it will outdamage your 4L setup.
- Some 4L items have mods giving you a free linked gem or gem like effect for gems socketed inside them. You can try using this pseudo 5L setup for your pack skill. If damage on blue packs will be ok for you then use chest links for boss skill.
Do more damage temporarily
- To increase your damage on bosses use the following: Vaal Lightning trap (enemies on shock ground get shocked, taking 50% more damage), Vaal Haste (very large attack/cast speed boost), damage totem (Melee totems in particular) are great way to boost your damage on bosses.
To sustain your mayhem your skill cost * skills per second should be less then your regen + your leech. The more support gems you link to your skill the more it will cost to cast it. You can use nodes on tree to reduced its cost. Using reduced mana support gem is not advised as you giving up on potential damage support.
Having skills cast of mana give you an ability to reserve most of your mana pool to useful stuff like auras or aura curses while having small and never ending portion of the pool to cast all your skills.
- You char have a base regen of 1.75% your max mana per second. So increasing your max mana is one way to increase your mana regen. You get +6 mana per level so you can sustain better at high levels thanks to mana pool. Clarity aura adds flan amount of mana regen per second. You can then increase both Clarity regen and base char regen by taking increased Mana regeneration rate on tree and gear.
- As with life you have a cap of 2% your max mana to leech per target/sec and 20% total/sec. Increase your mana pool if you like to increase your leech rate. You can also take leech rate increasing nodes near duelist.
- You also have an option to drink flasks to sustain mana, and that might be very useful if you do reduced regen maps or just don’t have gear/level to sustain on your own. Try choosing the right flask for your needs, ideally it should not fill your mana pool fast while you use your skills because as soon as it fills completely flask effect will end prematurely.
Having skills cast of life make a lot easier to sustain, thanks to higher levels of life regen and leech. To pay for skills with life you need to have blood magic.
- It can be Blood magic keystone on tree. Taking it you give up all mana and need to reserve life to have auras or don’t use them at all. To have 1-2 auras on a blood magic build with no mana you can use 1-2 Essence Worm unique rings.
- You can also use blood magic gem. You will pay with life only for linked skill but at more than doubled cost. Not advised for main skill as you giving up damaging support for that, but a good idea for movement skill to be able to dodge / run away even if you’re out of mana.
- Finally, a property of an item can give blood magic to all your skills (removing mana as keystone) or enable paying with life just for skills socketed in the item.
If you take Eldritch Batter keystone you will have your ES protect your mana instead of life. This meant that any mana loss including paying for skills will come from ES first. Having ES for mana you can reserve all your mana for useful stuff. To sustain you have these options:
- Use Zealot’s oath to turn life regen into ES regen.
- Use Shavronne's Revelation unique ring and/or Inquisitor’s Pious Path ascendency node to get some ES regen per second.
- Use Vaal Clarity to allow ES recharge naturally. It lasts for 9 seconds and make all your skills free. So you spend ES to kill stuff and get souls for Vaal Clarity, then pop it and continue to kill stuff while your ES pool fully regen itself. By the time it depletes again you will have your Vaal Clarity recharged and you can repeat.
- By reducing mana cost of your skill from tree and gear and then using flat mana cost reduction mod from Elreon on rings and amulet you can reach a fully free skill and not worry about paying for them. But Elreon jewelry that does that AND have good stats cost a lot.
- Another costly option is to use Soultaker unique axe. As long as you have it in hand even if you don’t use it for attacks (off hand) you can do your skills even if you don’t have a mana for them.
- Tooltip deceives you. Tooltip is a good way to compare how much more damage you get with a new node on tree or piece of gear upgrade. But do not try to compare different builds based on in-game tooltip because a lot of factors that affect final damage are not included in the tooltip. For example, 10K tooltip dps 5-curse build would outdamage by far 20K tooltip single-curse build.
- Difference between “more” and “increased” keywords. If you have 3 more and 3 increased modifiers to damage final damage will look like this: Base damage * (Increased1+Increased2+Increased3) * More1 * More2 * More3. “More” is almost always better and has a constant value. If its 10% more damage your final damage will go up by 10%. If it’s 10% increased damage your final damage will go up by 10% AT BEST, and only in the case when you had no increase modifiers before. The more increased modifiers you had before these additional 10% the less they would actually affect your final damage increase.
- How damage Conversion work. Modifiers adds up on conversion. If you had 100 cold damage and converted it all to fire your final damage would be base damage*(increased cold + Increased fire), not (base damage * Increased cold) * Increased fire. In other words, for each chunk of damage all history of conversions is looked up and all relative increases are combined before multiplication.
- Lowering resistances is always better that increasing damage by the same amount. If you have 40% more damage that is basically the same as having 0% enemy lose 40% resistance – it will take 40% more final damage compared to 0% res. But if the enemy was at 40% resistance and you lowered that by 40% to 0% then the enemy would take 100 (damage at 0% res)/ 60 (damage at 40% res) =1.66. That’s 66% more damage compared to 40% we would get with blunt more damage. This means if you do a single elemental damage then Penetration support gem is your best damage increase gem despite the fact that it does not affect your tooltip.
- Damage vs Speed. Your final dps is your “damage per swing” * “swings per second”. Sometimes increasing “swing per second” by taking more attack/cast speed give you more final increase in dps that increasing damage. It might be better to focus on damage if one-shooting packs is within reach in your build current state, and the focusing on speed to increase dps on bosses.
- Hit chance. Playing as melee you need to connect attacks that monsters try to evade with their evasion stat. To do this you need to have a high hit chance that is increased by your accuracy. You get 2 accuracy per level and 2 accuracy per dexterity point, with remaining coming from gear and accuracy % increases. The higher level of enemy you are hitting the more accuracy you need to sustain a good hit chance. Your character sheet shows you the chance of hitting regular mob of your current level. Missing too much is very bad for dps and survivability. A good way to deal with the accuracy is to get Resolute Technique keystone. With it you always hit and never crit.
- Going crit will almost always give you better damage in the end with a good gear if you can achieve near 100 crit chance and stack a lot of crit damage multiplier. To get there focus on choosing a good base crit skill/weapon as this is the value that will get multiplied by all your crit chance increases to reach desired cap. Best crit classes are Assassin for having a way to increase base crit chance of a skill and Inquisitor for ignoring all elemental resistances on crit. You can also increase base crit chance with Increased Critical Strikes support gem. Assassin’s Mark curse will give you a flat increase to your final crit chance, increase your crit damage and help generate power charges that give +50% increased crit Chance each. Be sure to use it. Also look for ways to generate power charges on hit rather than on kill to help sustain them on bosses. There are unique, nodes and Power charge on Critical support gem for that. Incredibly helpful for a not completely crit-capped builds are Diamond flasks. Diamond flask makes you roll for crit twice during its effect and take the best roll to determine if you crit.
- Going crit as attack based holds additional challenge. Your attack crits needs to be confirmed with your hit chance. If you have 60% crit chance and 85 hit chance, you would need to roll a hit with 85% chance, a crit with 60% chance and confirm a crit with 85% chance to actually crit. So accuracy is twice as important on a crit attack build.
- If you have very small crit chance but didn’t went to get Resolute Technique you can utilize it to a nice damage boost by taking Elemental Overload keystone. This way instead of doing increased damage on your rare crits you will activate an 8 sec buff on crit that give 40% more elemental damage on all your hits during its effect. A good way to getting and sustaining this buff is having this gem links in some items: Cast When Damage taken + Ice Spear + Greater Multiple Projectiles + Increased Critical strikes. With this setup you will almost always have Elemental Overload buff on.
- Curses can give you a lot of additional damage in the form of weakening the enemy to your damage type and generating you charges that increase your own damage output. Monsters can have only 1 curse by default but this can be increased from tree and gear. Monsters can be hexproof, and to be able to apply curses to such monsters you would need Cospri's Will unique chest. Be sure to plan for this item if you rely on several curses in your build. Always plan at least 1 curse for your build, as well as curse delivery method which may include: manual casting, Cast when Damage Taken, Cast on Hit from heralds and Blasphemy aura.
- Damage over time (DOT) include Ignite, Poison and Bleed. They are lingering damage effect that stays on target after initial hit and continue to do damage for a few more seconds. The best and most important aspect of Dots is that they double dip on a lot of increase modifiers. What this means is that modifier is used to increased damage of the initial hit, then based on this hit a portion of the damage is used to create a lingering damage effect on target, then this effect is increased by some of the initial hit modifiers AGAIN. For all 3 dots these double dipping increases include unspecified “% damage increased” and “% Area / Projectile / Trap / Mine / Totem / Minion damage increased”. Also double dips “%Fire/Elemental damage increased” for ignite, “% Chaos Damage increased” for poison and “% Physical damage increased” for bleed.
- Poison is a stacking debuff so a lot of fast attacks is is beneficial to maximize damage. Bleed and Ignite are non-stacking debuffs so slow hard hitting attack are better for them. To get ignite you need to crit with fire or have a “chance to ignite” on fire hits. For poison it’s “chance to poison”, that works on physical and chaos hits and for bleed its ”chance to bleed” that works on physical hits. Look for these modifiers on tree, gear and gems if you want to apply these dots.
- Shock is a status effect that make a target take 50% more damage. To apply it you need to crit with lightning or have a “chance to shock” on non crit lightning hits. Duration is based on how big your hit was compared to target health so shocking bosses might be a problem. To work around it use Vaal Lightning Trap that leaves shocked ground, applying shock on every monster standing on it including bosses. Also you can Use Vessel of Vinktar to apply shock while it’s in effect, but that flask is not cheap.
- Frenzy charges give you +4% increased attack/cast speed and +4% More damage per charge. For any attack build the best way to sustain them is Blood Rage gem. Others ways to get them include chances to get them on hit form tree and gear, Frenzy and Ice Bite gem, and Poacher’s Mark curse but the curse is rarely a good idea as it doesn’t give anything else useful in the current state of the game.
- Temporary buffs can give you a lot of damage when needed the most. These buffs usually come from flasks that add damage, curse enemies, apply shock (+50% more damage), give onslaught (+20% move/attack/cast speed), reroll your crits to make them more consistent. Vaal Haste gem is a great attack/cast speed buff to go along with the flasks mentioned. Try to apply damage and speed buffs at the same time to get maximum dps out of them.
If you playing your first character, please skip this section and explore the game on your own. You won't get a second chance for a first impression. But if it’s not your first character and you just want to get to endgame faster to see how your build idea works out, you should know that you can get a new char to merciless dried lake in about 7 hours of play. Here’s how to speedup leveling:
- You need to move fast. Prioritize getting 2 quicksilver flasks. Do Medicine Chest quest (first side quest) for a flask if it’s your first character in a league. Learn to always be under the effect of these flasks. As you will kill monsters flasks will recharge. Id blue boots until you get a movement speed bonus on them. If you come across any spare quicksilver flasks you can use them to create or upgrade your movement speed boots by vendoring a white boots (create)/blue boots with move speed (upgrade) + Augmentation Orb + Quicksilver Flask. If you leveling your second+ char buy him Karui Ward unique amulet and WanderLust unique boots.
- Don’t kill everything. You need to prioritize running forward over killing stuff. Try to kill only enough stuff to be around 4 levels lower that the zone you are currently running. Don’t waste time killing rares, try to aim for killing as much monsters per skill use as possible. If you fall behind in levels you might catch up in zones with high mobs density like act 2 Northern Forest and act 4 Dried lake.
- Don’t waste your time in town. The less you are looking into vendors and organizing your stash the faster you will get to endgame. Also minimize picking up items and going to town to sell them. Do it only to get orbs you need to do your vendor recipes or potential upgrades to your current gear. You will get a lot more currency farming dried lake if you get to it fast.
- Skip all side quests. You can do them later when you have faster movement and can ignore mobs because you’re overleveled.
- Skip all masters. You get masters ex based on the zone level master is in. So doing your first mission in merciless can instantly set your master to level 2-3.
- Skip doing lab until you are over leveled by 10+ levels at least. If you feel your surviving/killing while your leveling is ok and don’t need a boost don’t bother with the lab until merciless dried lake.
- Try to use skills that allow movement while damaging. Earthquake/Warchief Totem for melee, Firetrap/flame totem/firestorm for spells, Caustic arrow for bows. This way you’ll be on the go while you’re gaining exp and have an easier time killing bosses underleveled by not being hit. Alternatively use skills with as much area coverage as possible.
- Prioritize damage over survivability while you level. Take damage nodes on the tree even if you are not planning to use them in your build later on. Remember you have 24 respec points from all side quests so it is perfectly normal to have a leveling build till you merciless dried lake and then respect to your actual endgame build you have planned.
- Keep your life flask up to date. Selling 3 of the same flasks will give you flask of 1 tier higher.
- Use 4L for your damaging skills as soon as you can. Exception is for casters with +level of gems weapons, in this case you will have 3L in a weapon and that will be enough.
- Keep your weapon up to date. If you’re using attack you need a weapon with good physical damage. If you’re short on finding one it’s a good idea to use a vendor recipe to get one.
- Sell white weapon + magic/rare rustic sash + Blacksmith's Whetstone and get a weapon with increased physical damage.
- If you are using spells the best way to go is to have +1 gem level weapon that you can get with vendor recipe: Magic Wand/Scepter ruby/topaz/sapphire ring + Orb of Alteration will give you a weapon with + 1 level to socketed fire/lightning/cold gems (depending on the ring used). To get this ring earlier you can use vendor recipe: iron ring + red/green/blue gem gives ruby/topaz/sapphire ring (depending on gem used)
- If you can afford to buy a good leveling unique weapon do it.
- Melee: Limbsplit->Geofri’s Baptism->Cauterizer. Cauterizer is Limbsplit upgraded with Severed Limbs prophecy, cheaper to buy the prophecy and upgrade yourself.
- Spells: 2x Lifesprig is all you need till merciless dried lake. Can also change 1 Lifesprig to Reverberation rod later if 1 of your leveling skills benefits from spell echo.
- Bow: Storm Cloud->Doomfletch/Death’s Harp->Infractem/Doomfletch Prism/Death’s Opus. Doomfletch Prism is Doomfletch upgraded with Ancient Doom prophecy. Death’s Opus is Death’s Harp upgraded with The Bowsting’s Music prophecy. Upgrade prophecies might not be cheap but you can use these bows in end game.
- Tabula Rasa is a 6-linked unique chest with no defensive stats. Will give you A LOT of damage. Especially good with Elreon rings that lower your skill costs by up to 8 mana per ring. Oh and it’s 6 sockets are all white so you can put any gems there.
Some builds require quite a few unique items that can be expensive for a new player. In this section I will talk about some of the most common things for a beginner to know to afford gearing up a char. I must say that flipping (buy low sell high) is the most efficient way of getting currency in POE but it turns the game into economy sim. Here i will talk about how to get some currency while actually playing ARPG. But even so the first advice is:
- Embrace trading. POE is balanced around trading. It drops you items needed for other builds, it drops you maps you overgrown but someone else didn’t, it drops you div cards you’re not interested in collecting, etc. You need to remember: the game is balanced to drop enough stuff for the whole community, not for individual players. Playing self-found is possible but it would always be slower and feel less balanced and unfair than playing trading game.
- Use poe.trade website to search for an item you like to buy. You can search items there based on stats you want. Like boots with +30% movespeed, at least +50 life and at least +80% pseudo total elemental resistance (will find stuff like 30 fire+20 cold+30 lightning). When you find an item you like just click “Whisper” in the item description and a chat request to buy the item will be generated and copied to your clipboard. All you need to do is paste it in chat in Path of Exile. You don’t need to type who to send it to as it will be done automatically. When seller reply you can meet up and trade. It is expected that buyer go to seller’s hideout for a trade.
- On poe.trade use monitoring to buy cheaper. You can search for an item and put a price limit on that and even if you won’t find anything you can press “Click here to perform this search in Live mode” line to turn the search into monitoring. As soon as an item you want in the price range you selected will become available you’ll get notification.
- Set up a loot filter. Game drop tons of stuff, most of it is useless. To filter this out and focus your attention on something useful use a loot filter. Neversink’s is usually always up to date and follows current meta. There’s a section in his thread about how to set it up. It’s very simple, just need to download a file and put it in Path of Exile folder in “My Documents”.
- Know currency recipes. There are few vendor recipes that give different currencies. I will mention the most commonly used ones.
- Full rare set (aka Chaos Recipe). Vendor rare helm + chest + boots + gloves + 2x ring + amulet + belt + 2h weapon (or 2x 1h weapons) to get a currency orb depending on the lowest item level of mentioned items. You will get Chance orb if at least 1 item is below ilvl 60, Chaos orb if all items are between ilvl 60 and 74, and Regal orb if all items are ilvl 75+. You can see item ilvl by holding alt, it’s equal to the level of monster that dropped the item. If you sell all of the above items without identifying them, you will get 2 orbs instead of 1. This recipe is most commonly used to farm chaos orbs and is usually referred to as chaos recipe.
- 6 socket item gives 7 Jeweler orbs. Always pick these up and sell them.
- 3 linked sockets of different colors (Red+Green+Blue) will give you Chromatic orb.
- 6-linked item gives 1 Divine. Useful for selling 6L corrupted crap items you might get from using Vaal orb on a strongbox before opening it.
- Quality recipe. If you vendor quality items with combined quality value of at least 40 you will get 1 item that increase quality of item type you used in the recipe: Armors-> Armourer's Scrap, Weapons-> Blacksmith's Whetstone, Gems->Gemcutter’s Prism, Maps-> Cartographer’s Chisel, Flasks-> Glassblower's Bauble. Most commonly used with Flasks and Gems.
- Chisel recipe. Vendor any map + 20% quality Stone Hammer/Rock Breaker/Gavel will get you Cartographer’s Chisel
- lvl 20 Gem+Gemcutter’s Prism gives same gem with lvl 1 and quality 20. This way you can level all the gems from 1/1 to 20/20 state. That’s also a great way to make some currency as popular (as in used in meta builds) 20/20 gems could cost around 1 ex each to sell. so just put 6 gems in weapons on swap and play the game. at some point they will get to 20/20 state and you just sell them for a nice currency boost. It’s take a lot of time but you don’t need to do anything but play the game.
- Wisdom scroll. You can vendor portal scroll to get wisdom scroll or vendor Transmutation orb to get 4x Wisdom Scrolls.
- Know Vendor Rates. Some Currency can be bought from vendors in towns. Rates are:
- 8x Orb of Alteration -> 4x Jeweler’s Orb ->1x Orb of Fusing.
- 8x Orb of Chance -> 2x Orb of Scouring ->1x Orb of Regret.
- 24x Armourer’s Scrap->8x Blacksmith's Whetstone -> 1x Glassblower's Bauble
- Buy currency at discounts from masters daily. At lvl 6 each master start selling currency once per day at discount rates. Most notable are Vorici for selling 20 orbs of fusings for 64 Jeweler’s orbs instead of 80 you would pay at regular town vendor.
- Know currency exchange rates. Currency rates do vary but they close to this for season leagues: 1 chaos = 2.5 fusing. 1 regret = 1 vaal = 1.5 chaos. 1 chaos = 1 regal =1 gemcutters prism. 1 chaos = 3.5 alchemy. 1 chaos = 3 chisel. 1 Divine= 14 chaos, 1 Exalted = 65 chaos. Always check current rates at poe.trade before actually exchanging currency with someone.
- Be efficient to amass currency faster. It is more efficient to run an extra map then to carry out all drops from a map that you just finished. Try to limit your loot to 1-2 portals per map, taking only the most expensive stuff. In the time you would spend to take, id and sell random rares you could kill some mobs, get a chaos/6s drop and gain more in terms of income that these few alts you got from rares. Doesn’t matter if you are running dried lake, maps or lab to farm currency. Just spend more time actually killing stuff than sitting in your hideout or playing inventory tetris in a cleared map.
- Set up a shop. You can setup a shop using third party apps like Acquisition but less clunky way that works in game is to use premium stash tabs. You can buy them for real money from GGG micro transaction shop. So as soon as you decide to spend any money on POE this needs to be the first thing you buy. Occasionally there’s a weekend sale of those. Having a premium stash tab, you right click it and make it public. Now you can right click any item in the tab and put a price on it. Or you can put a price on a whole tab and each items in that tab will be priced accordingly. That’s it, you’re selling stuff.
- Learn to set reasonabe prices. To price an item choose what you think are the main useful stats on an item, and do a poe.trade search for these stats with values 10% lower than what your item has. You will see a lot of similar items and their prices. Just remember that items that stay on poe.trade are the one that is not great in terms of price. Great are gone very fast so you might want to put your item lower than what you see there.
- For pricing uniques, gems, and divination cards you can also use POE Trade Macro. You will run it and just press ctrl+c to see a popup with info from poe.trade about the items prices. It only works if POE is in borderless window, not fullscreen. You won’t get banned for it as it does not create any server action.
- Do not waste your currency on craft. Buying is usually cheaper than crafting. Do not attempt to craft or 5-6L gear until you have a char that can comfortably run most maps. Crafting is a high risk high reward process. If you try to craft anything ask yourself if its ok for you to lose all your currency and not get a result. If it is as you can farm some more, then your char is geared good enough for you to enjoy playing and you can do some high risk stuff. For me personally this moment is after I get my first 6L in a league, which I always buy, never craft.
- Do not waste your currency on rolling maps. Maps can be a huge currency waste or a great profit place. The key is to have a build that can run most map mods without rerolling them. And if you need to chisel or reroll ask yourself how much a white map you working on cost. If it’s cost 2c and you reroll it 3 times it would have been cheaper to just vendor bad rolled map and buy a clean one. Also 3 chisel=1 chaos=15% quality. If map cost 2c chiseling it is like buying 30% of the new full map for the cost of the full map, totally not worth it.
- Invest into atlas. When you start running maps it is very good investment to get atlas to at least 80 by buying different maps (1 per type) and running them for the bonus. This will ensure you would be getting a good map return from your map farming. Say you decided to farm some T10 maps. Make sure you have at least one T11 and one T12 opened for you so you don’t lose potential map drops when your bonus triggers. You can sell them for a nice profit.