Animate Weapon has always been an insane boss-killing ability. With recent blade-oriented changes removing the restriction of being forced to have identified (or white) weapons on the ground to summon them, they are now finally functional for instanced boss fights such as Uber Elder, Shaper, or Sirus. It’s one of the cheapest summoner builds that can reach multiple millions of Shaper DPS without clearing out your currency tab.
As with all my build guides, there are multiple ways to approach this build and I will be focusing on the version I personally prefer to play, which is the Impale approach. The Cold Conversion PoB can be found in the PoB Section of this guide. What makes the Animate Weapon build so beautiful to me is that it’s literally the closest playstyle you can compare to the old school Diablo 2 Skellymancer.
Below you can see the build in action from my YouTube guide. Do note that the video might be outdated in terms of information, and you should always look at this guide to make sure you have the updated version.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ghazzy clocked over 25K hours in PoE, with the main focus of creating helpful content for new players & veterans alike in the form of guides in general for the community. He hosted the Build Creation Panel at ExileCon 2019 and now creates guides here on PoE Vault for your pleasure. You can follow him on Twitch, YouTube or Twitter. You can also join his Discord Community.
This build guide is split over multiple pages, both to prevent it from getting too long, as well as to help you better find the information you are looking for.
In this section I will outline the pros, cons, & the general playstyle. This will allow you to determine if the build is for you or not!
+ Beefy – Despite being a minion build, it packs a very comfortable eHP # as well as mitigation, allowing it to function in Hardcore very well.
+ League Starter – The only true mandatory item for this build is super cheap even during the first few days of a league release.
+ Bosser – Minion builds are in a current state of bliss where bosses simply just melt with the damage output available.
+ Nostalgia – In my personal opinion this is the closest you’ll get in PoE to the classic Diablo 2 Skellymancer playstyle.
– Ramp-Up Time – The build requires you to consistently re-summon weapons from either identified weapons or from blades created by a blade ability.
– Minion Build – Since your minions are doing the heavy lifting, defensive layers such as leeching are not possible in this build; this means you don’t want to be having any kissing sessions with packs of enemies or bosses.
– Damage Halts – In super low budget, you might encounter bosses with heavy AoE damage, and if the map modifiers are nasty there’s a risk that your entire army gets wiped out, forcing you to re-summon your minions again. This is a rather rare situation, mostly solved by scaling the level of your Animated Weapon gem through Cold Iron Point together with the Ascendancy nodes.
Despite being a very generic minion-oriented build, this build does come with a niche playstyle since they remade the blade abilities ( Ethereal Knives, Bladefall & Blade Vortex) to leave blades on the ground that are either used as ammunition for Blade Blast, or in this case, ammunition for our Animate Weapon. The good thing about this change is that we can summon an entire army in instanced fights such as Sirus, Uber Elder, or Shaper and we are no longer gated behind hoping for identified weapons to drop when you’re clearing a map to sustain your army.
However, the downside of this is that you are forced to use an ability to create the blades in the first place, which can be seen as a rather annoying nuisance. Then again, the duration the build brings to the AW allows you to not be forced to re-summon them that often, and it is even better if you summon new weapons here and there whilst you’re clearing a map, so that you never risk losing all your summoned weapons at the same time.
DAMAGE SCALING AND DEFENSIVE LAYERS
The build pumps up a beautiful eHP count of 7-8K Life whilst dual-wielding Cold Iron Points, however you have the option to lower your damage output to equip a Shield, which allows for easier block capping using Glancing Blows Keystone with the combination of a Rumi's Concoction. Other than that, the build uses flasks and the bench-crafted modifier on rings & amulet that grants “+1 to minimum Endurance Charge”, which not only increases resistances but ups the Physical Damage mitigation; with enough investment you will reach the 90% cap combined with 77% elemental resistance cap on all 3 elements. The build not only packs a nice punch, but feels very reliable even for Hardcore.
The damage scaling is very straightforward in this build, as it is ultimately a very generic minion-oriented build.
With an army of minions preventing stray projectiles from even reaching you, you can utilize modifiers such as Blind & Taunt on Hit from Ghastly Eye Jewels, which diminishes the threat enemies pose to you. The impale version has a higher roof of potential damage and works best with bursting enemies down as fast as possible, whilst the Cold Conversion playstyle offers defensive layers in the form of Chill and Freeze effects on enemies hit. For higher budget versions, one can scale Critical Strike Chance, allowing them to have a more reliable Freeze occurrence, making Porcupines’ threat completely voided.
The Spirit Guards Threshold jewel allows you to vastly increase your clearing efficiency no matter what version you play, which helps the burst sequence on boss fights that are not instanced such as Uber Elder, Shaper, or Sirus.
CURRENT LEAGUE TIPS & TRICKS
3.13 Ritual League is all about killing monsters within a circle and dodging the totem’s abilities, which this build has no problems dealing with as the damage output is from our minions, allowing us to freely move to avoid incoming damage.
PoB, PASSIVE SKILL TREE & GEM LINKS
The PoB community fork created by Localidentity is the only version being kept up to date, so make sure you have the correct version: PoB Community Fork.
You can find more information about this, as well as about the gem links for the build, on our dedicated page.
You can read more details about our gearing recommendations on the dedicated page, but for now you can see a summarized version below.
|Item Slot||Item Name||Rarity|
|Head||Life then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Amulet||Life then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Chest||Life then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Gloves||Life then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Boots||Life then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Rings||Life then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Weapons||Cold Iron Point||Unique|
ASCENDANCY, BANDIT & PANTHEON RECOMMENDATIONS
You can read about the recommended Ascendancy, Bandit choice, and Pantheon Power recommendations for this build on our dedicated page.
The current meta of leveling through the Campaign Acts 1-10 is to simply never use minions. However, this guide is not designed to guide you to finish Kitava in 2 hours. It is a build guide, and luckily Animate Weapon is an ability you can use to level with even if it is somewhat slower than the generic spell-oriented meta ways of leveling.
GETTING TO THE WEAPONS
Before you are able to utilize Animate Weapon for your leveling experience you will need to make sure they function for actual clearing this means giving them tools to use for hitting multiple targets and you also need to create blades on the ground that you then use to summon the weapons from. This means you are able to level with the Animate Weapon as early as level 8. The skills listed below are the ones I prefer to use til I hit level 8:
- Stormblast Mine for single target
- Freezing Pulse for clearing
- Frost Bomb for clearing when you get it instead of the Freezing Pulse
Once you reach level 8 you are able to receive or purchase the required blade ability to generate the blades on the ground for your weapons, in this case that is Ethereal Knives. However, we still need to make sure the weapons have a splash effect, this is sorted by buying a Melee Splash Support which can be done at level 8 for a Orb of Transmutation. Any gems providing extra damage for your minions are preferable after the splash, if you have the links; the most important one to get is Minion Damage Support. Other gems that work very well are:
- Added Cold Damage Support
- Added Lightning Damage Support
- Added Fire Damage Support
- Melee Physical Damage Support
Do keep in mind that if you feel like you’re lacking single target damage vs any boss during the acts, you can always change your Melee Splash a red damage support gem such as Added Fire Damage Support or Melee Physical Damage Support.
Auras in general comes down to running Wrath for the extra added flat damage until you’re able to get the Dread Banner setup going for the Impale strategy later.
For more general leveling advice, we recommend the following guides.
- Our step-by-step leveling walkthrough, which allows even more experienced players to save time and speed through the leveling process.
- Our guide to Unique Items for leveling, which helps you gear up your characters for the leveling process.
- Our beginner leveling guide, which answers many of the questions new players might have and will set you on the right path.
To guarantee that my guides are tools you can utilize to enhance your experience in Path of Exile, all you need to do is post your question in the comments and I will personally attend to them as soon as possible.
As much as I love making build guides, it is very crucial in a game like Path of Exile that you play the game the way you enjoy playing it. With that said, if you’ve made any tweaks to the build compared to what I’m showing in this guide I would love if you’d posted it in the comments! It’s an effective way to show other approaches and it helps me grow as a build guide creator!
I hope you found the build guide useful and I wish you all many Exalted Orb drops!