Animate Weapon has always been an insanely effective 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, 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 in the process.
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 Do note that the video might be outdated in terms of information, and you should always refer to this guide to make sure you have the updated information. Also keep in mind that even if the game-play remains mostly the same the latest version of this build will be utilizing poison as the main source of damage output!
In this section, I will outline the pros, cons, and general playstyle. This will help you to determine if this is the right build is for you!
+ 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 absolutely 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. You’ll have to make sure to keep your distance from large packs of enemies or bosses.
– Damage Halts – If playing 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 very rare situation to find yourself in and gets automatically solved by the level of your Animate Weapon gem.
Despite being a very generic minion-oriented build, this build does offer a niche playstyle since blade abilities ( Ethereal Knives, Bladefall & Blade Vortex) were reworked to leave blades on the ground. These can be used as ammunition for Blade Blast or, in this case, as 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 no longer have to hope for identified weapons to drop when clearing a map just 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 a nuisance. Thankfully, the duration the build brings to the Animated Weapon means you aren’t forced to re-summon them too often. It’s good practice to summon new weapons occasionally while clearing a map so that you never risk losing all your summoned weapons at the same time.
Damage Scaling & Defensive Layers
The build pumps up a beautiful HP count of 6-7K Life. You’ll be getting the block cap with help of a Rumi's Concoction. The build uses flasks and the bench-crafted modifier on rings and 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 the block cap & a recover life on block shield to reliably sustain your eHP. 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 reaching you, you can utilize modifiers such as Blind and Taunt on Hit from Ghastly Eye Jewel, which diminishes the threat enemies pose to you.
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.
The PoB for this build covers the details of LvLing & end-game setup for the low budget: https://pobb.in/ZuDcIlIBxvhh
For a quick glance over the finished skill tree for this version, check out this link.
For medium & high budget you’ll use this PoB: https://pobb.in/GWh_KF3Q3ocz keep in mind that this PoB has a different configuration set in the custom modifier box that reflects the higher budget version of the Animate Guardian
You can find more information about this, as well as about the gem links for the build, on our dedicated page.
A lot of the end-game gear can easily be crafted. For a general overview of crafting and to learn how to craft specific items, check out my crafting guides here.
You can read more details about our gearing recommendations on the dedicated page. You’ll find 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|
|Gloves||Life then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Boots||Life then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Rings||Life then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Weapon||+1 level of spell or minion skills 1H weapon||Rare|
|Shield||The Surrender (or a rare with life recovery on block)||Unique/Rare|
Ascendancy, Bandits & 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 never use minions. However, this guide is not designed to guide you to finish Kitava in two 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 methods 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. Your minions will require tools to use for hitting multiple targets, and you’ll need to be able to regularly create blades on the ground for summoning. 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 till 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, Ethereal Knives. However, we still need to make sure the weapons have a splash effect for optimal damage output. 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, most important being 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 versus any boss during the acts, you can always change your Melee Splash to a red damage support gem such as Added Fire Damage Support or Melee Physical Damage Support. For auras, you’ll want to run Wrath for the extra added flat damage.
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 it if you’d posted it in the comments! Sharing this information is an extremely effective way to help other players 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!