Archmage Bladefall/Blade Blast Hierophant Build Guide (PoE Ultimatum 3.14)

Brittleknee

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Disclaimer

This build is not currently updated for Scourge league. We will attempt to play it once the league is live and, if still viable, update this guide.

Introduction

Hierophants are definitely not just for totems and brands! In this build we combine the accessibility of a MoM/Archmage build with the powerful and popular skill combination, Bladefall and Blade Blast. What results is a build that’s fantastic for new players and veterans alike. It scales both defenses and damage with the same major modifier: Mana. Therefore, picking out upgrades or crafting is intuitive from the leveling process to the end game. If you’re a up for a fair bit of crafting instead of using a few of the recommended uniques, it’s approachable in SSF, in addition to being a viable league starter for Softcore and Hardcore alike. During Ritual league, I took this build to level 100, and spent about 70% of the XP from 99 to 100 farming Simulacrums to demonstrate how tanky the build is.

A friendly reminder that this is a two skill build. If you haven’t played one before, make sure you split up the skills so you use different hands. If your BF and BB are on the same hand you run a considerable risk of a Repetitive Stress Injury. I use Bladefall on right mouse button and Blade Blast on Space Bar to split the skills across my hands.

Build Overview

This video will provide an adequate overview so you can make an informed decision if this is the right build for you. Note that this was published last league and on week 1 gear, but everything here is still accurate. I’ll be making another video showing its actual end-game damage soon.

Build Considerations

While these do not cover every advantage and disadvantage of this build, I believe these are the important points of consideration, especially when playing for league start and not for curiosity.

Pros

+ Bosser – Has cleared all boss content including The Maven, All Invitations (The Feared Deathless btw), Uber Elder, Uber Atziri, Shaper, Elder, All the Guardians and even went down into Delve and stomped some bosses.
+ Defensive – In the endgame your damage has to jump through a plethora of defensive layers to actually reach you. You’ll have Fortify, Glancing Blows, Mind Over Matter with 60% of incoming damage taken from mana. The build has absolutely crazy amounts of recovery and regen, with leech, endurance charges and ailment immunity. Oh, and don’t forget 6000-7000+ Arcane Cloak on top of that. The build is also capable of working in Divine Flesh as well!
+ Fun Mapping – From the moment you hit maps til you’re farming the end-game, Bladefall and Blade Blast is a seriously gratifying combination to play.

Cons

Requires Workarounds – You’re susceptible to a few map mods such as phys and spell reflect, but everything can be worked around. Sybil’s + Reflect Pantheon takes care of Elemental Reflect and for Phys reflect, you swap your Blade Blast for a Lvl. 1 gem.

Playstyle

The BF/BB Hiero is a build that is a jack of all trades: it can do everything reasonably well and excels in most things.

The build doesn’t come online until Act 4 with the acquisition of Unleash support from the reward vendor. Until then you run Stormblast Mine and Orb of Storms. There will be a detailed leveling section, don’t worry!

Once the build is online, you’ll weave between packs, blanketing enemies in blades and causing devastating explosions. While there is no “explode effect” such as from Profane Bloom or Herald of Ice, the impressive amount of AoE you have as a Hierophant is still capable of clearing out entire screens of enemies in a single cascade and blast.

Bladefall and Bladeblast are merely vectors for delivering the massive amounts of flat lightning damage we gain from Archmage, Arcane Cloak and Sigil of Power. We don’t even convert as it is less than 4% of our damage at gem level 20 and moderate gear. While your acquire upgrades through the end game, you’ll get tougher and more powerful with every bit of mana you accumulate.

For bosses, the playstyle can be as rewarding as lining up buffs and flasks just right to cause massive damage, or as brain dead as face tanking Shaper slams. Its up to you! You can do either/or, or both!

Damage Scaling and Defensive Layers

The fundamental defensive mechanic for this build takes the form of ‘#% of Damage is taken from Mana before Life’ modifier, which we find on the Mind Over Matter keystone, Hierophant’s Divine Guidance, Cloak of Defiance and Watcher’s Eye. This redirects 60% of incoming damage to mana, effectively multiplying our life pool by 2.5, from around 5,000 in the endgame to 12,500 hit points.

Very high mana pool and mana recovery allow us to utilize two other related mechanics. For one, thanks to The Agnostic, we recover 20% of mana per second any time we’re not on full life. This can mean about 2000 life regenerated per second. Then, Arcane Cloak provides a similar buff to Steelskin, granting us additional hit points in a varying amount depending on our current mana – even up to ~3.5 times as much as the latter at level 20, i.e. around 7,500.

The character can afford to accumulate a respectable chance to block attack and spell damage. Glancing Blows elevates them both to over 65%, smoothing out the pattern of damage taken, but increasing its net value. We counter this downside by using a shield which recovers #% of life and #% of mana each time we block.

Additionally, due to Conviction of Power, we constantly have at least 4 Endurance Charges, which provide additional 16% physical damage reduction. Occasionally, especially in static encounters, we can utilize Sigil of Power, which reduces enemies’ damage by 20% in its area at maximum stages. Last but not least, the character can relatively easily incorporate the Fortify buff through Shield Charge or Vigilant Strike while using the Vigil. This further (multiplicatively) lessens any hit damage we take by 20%.

All in all, Shaper’s Slam shouldn’t pose a threat for our exile. If you’re wanting to be even tougher, then scaling things like Fortify Effect or Phys Taken as Lightning, or accommodating Divine Flesh would be the way to go.

Current League Tips and Suggestions

In Ultimatum league, this build shines. It combines very powerful defense with very consistent offense. This build is already quite fantastic at farming Simulacrum encounters, which is very similar to this currently league mechanic as it also had waves of enemies and increasing difficulty. The changes to Blade Blade and other skills in the Ultimatum patch notes aren’t worth hesitating over. The build is still capable of 10+ million DPS against bosses with reasonable investment.

PoB, Passive Skill Tree, and Gem Links

This is the PoB for the end-game version of build with . There’s plenty of room to grow from here, however, should you love the build enough to further advance it.

To get a quick cursory glace at the passive three, here’s a planner link for the Archmage BF/BB Hierophant . Note that PoE Planner does not support the use of Cluster Jewel Setups, such as Large Cluster Jewel Large Cluster Jewel, Medium Cluster Jewel Medium Cluster Jewel and Small Cluster Jewel Small Cluster Jewel, so this is the tree without those, sadly.

Further Build Information

These sections cover everything else there is to know about the build! I’ve tried to be as detailed as possible from gear to some of the decisions you can make to customize this build even further to your needs and preferences as a player.

Gearing Overview and Detailed Crafting

Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheons

Leveling

This build has detailed leveling advice, which you can find here.

Check out my leveling guide if you are newer to PoE and wish to have a guided tour of Wraeclast:

Combine this with the leveling trees in the PoB & Gems section and you’ll be in maps in no time!

Otherwise, there are these additional guides on the website:

FAQ

Isn’t Poison BFBB Assassin more damage? Isn’t Chieftain Fire BFBB tankier? Isn’t Inquisitor BFBB better?

There are many flavors of BF/BB builds out there, which truly demonstrates one of the best things about Path of Exile. Comparatively, yes, there will be BF/BB builds out there that do more damage or mitigate more damage taken. It is true of any skill that achieves a fair bit of diversity among ascendancies. That being said, the Hiero’s appeal is the relative simplicity. The stats are easy to scale and understand. The crafting is non-specific, meaning you can use whichever methods you’re comfortable with, or materials you have on hand to create your gear. There’s alternatives to everything if you’re in an SSF environment, and you’re not reliant on a certain weapon drop or other such things.

Why are you using Glancing Blows, wasn’t that nerfed?

GB is still an option for builds with very high recovery, which we have lots off. Yes, you will technically take more damage overall, but most of the damage is completely buffed out our recovey. Lets take a 1,000 damage hit and ignore resistances for a moment. That damage passes through Fortify’s 20% at 800 before we block at 65% damage taken leaving 520. That gets split by Mind Over Matter leaving 208 damage actually reaching you. With 5% Life gained on block, you recover at least 200 life, closer to 250 in end game. At 10,000 damage, Fortify takes it to 8000, and blocking it reduces it down to 5,200. That then gets split by MoM leaving 2080 damage that reaches the life pool. the 250 recovery does not help nearly as much in this case, but Agnostic kicks in, recovering about 2000 life a second, with about 1k life leech going at the same time. You can take a 10k hit and barely blink an eye, things like Shaper Slams barely tickle!

How do I get around the Wand Trigger craft nerf?

If you’re no longer wishing to use WoC, you can get exposure from a notable on a Large Lightning Damage cluster jewel, and place a different spell in your mainhand, such as Tempest Shield.

What do I use instead of, or until I get my Cloak of Defiance or Atziri’s Foible?

Alternatives to everything will be listed in the crafting section for those league starting this or playing SSF.

Conclusion

I haven’t been much of a “spell person” but I’ve always liked the MoM/Agnostic playstyle, and BF/BB is extremely satisfying to play. I’m really proud of how this build came together and how tough it ended up being. It was the first time that getting to 100 did not feel like a total grind. The more powerful he got, the more I wanted to play him and nothing else. It’s my hope that you’ll enjoy the build just as much, and stomp the end game just like I did. Enjoy!

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  1. Posts
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    Great work BK!!!! This build is so fun and the way you set it up, and explain the play style helps so much.

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    I played the prototype version of this build in Ritual and it slapped hard.
    With way less than min-maxed gear it could handle the end-game invitations, all the Feared bosses, Maven, pretty much everything.

    Looking forward to league-starting on it again now for Ultimatum; feels like it’s going to fit in nicely in the league and I know it can boss and clear enough.

  3. Posts
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    I’m a newer player so forgive me if I’m just an idiot and overlooking something, but I’m in Act 4 and I don’t have anywhere near enough Dexterity to even use the Bladefall/Blade Blast gems. What am I doing wrong?

  4. Posts
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    @Tepy I’m also a newer player and was in the same position. I had to make a trade-off for dexterity (and overall +stats) items losing some resists till I could afford a better gear

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    Tepy V1ran1 get Careful Planning viridian jewel on www.pathofexile.com/trade and place it into the first jewel socket. It’s really cheap, costs just 1 chaos orb. See the full build in Path of Building (strongly rocmmend importing it in full)

  6. Brittleknee

    Moderator

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    17

    Hi there! I didn’t cover the change to BF/BB well and I’m sorry for that! You can use a Jade Amulet and a +30 Dex node (Agility), or put two points into Practical Application under Heart and Soul if SSF. Likewise, buying Careful Planning Careful Planning will completely solve this problem and you won’t need to invest points for stats except for maybe a single suffix craft. (It goes into the Jewel socket just Southwest of the Witch starting area near Quick Recovery and Forethought.

    I’ll take some time this afternoon to add a section about stats. As you have questions please keep replying so I know how to make the guide better. I appreciate the feedback and questions so far!

  7. Posts
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    Thanks for getting this up in time for 3.14! This is my second league so it’s really helpful to have such detailed insight into the concepts behind the build. Last league I started with a Molten Strike Juggernaut and played around with an Elemental Hit Dead Eye. Have been dipping my toes into this build while waiting for Ultimatum to hit consoles and loving it, will 100% be league starting this. Wanted something faster than the MS Jug and tankier than the Deadeye and so far this feels great. It took me a minute to figure out how to get the POB leveling links to work but once I did those were super helpful. Also just think the vibe is really cool, Hierophant is a wacky word and imho the best ascendancy name, and the skills are purty!

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    Thanks for the build, I’m having a blast with it!

    Though I haven’t played for a few leagues now and was surprised to find the ‘Trigger a Socketed Spell when you Use a Skill’ craft missing, the only one I can see is one with a 8 second cooldown. Is that a recent change? How much does this impact this build?

  9. Brittleknee

    Moderator

    Posts
    17

    @Krecik

    Yep! Its a change as of 3.14 Ultimatum

    The difference is that we now get our Lightning Exposure either from self-cast WoC or the cluster notable Corrosive Elements (WoC’s exposure was recently reduced as well so it makes most sources of Exposure equal) and Tempest Shield gets moved into the Trigger weapon. Basically, you want things that have durations > 8 seconds in your weapon now or you’ll have pockets of down time.

    The 4 second one requires new veiled modifier shenanigans.

  10. Posts
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    Hey, really appreciate the build with extensive notes. I’m new (like literally hitting act4 for the first time), so maybe I’m just not sure what’s going on but I had a question.

    The fundamental defensive mechanic for this build takes the form of ‘#% of Damage is taken from Mana before Life’ modifier, which we find on the Mind Over Matter keystone, Hierophant’s Divine Guidance, Cloak of Defiance and Watcher’s Eye. This redirects 60% of incoming damage to mana, effectively multiplying our life pool by 2.5, from around 5,000 in the endgame to 12,500 hit points.

    I’ve noticed that Mind Over Matter is not leveled in the images nor the PoB as far as I can tell, however it is called out as a fundamental part of defense in the build. Is that an oversight or intentional? If not Mind over Matter, is there another defense I should make sure to take into account as I’m feeling out the build?

  11. Posts
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    Hi, gonna swap to heiro from the ultra fragile inquisitor version everyone is running. Does the tree change much if you don’t have the radius jewels for it yet?

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    @Brittleknee

    Thanks for the clarification! I actually have one more question about the skills socketed in the weapon – why are we using cold snap? Damage isn’t that great without additional links and we don’t care about frenzy charges due to the ascendancy. Is it just for chill?

  13. Brittleknee

    Moderator

    Posts
    17

    @npcompleted – It’s left off because when you take MoM is up to your unique gearing situation. That’ll be dependent on a few factors, but mostly how your mana recovery is feeling. If you take MoM and you are completely out of Mana all the time or getting locked down where you can’t cast at all because the incoming damage is spending the mana faster than you regen it, then its a bit too early and you should address that recovery issue first. You’re generally safe to take it once you have Dynamo. Early on while leveling you can use whatever reserves you prefer, I take Herald of Thunder and Vitality/Clarity, then dump them once I get to Dynamo and link Arcane Surge to Arcane Cloak.

    @Ktemp89 – I’m not sure, you’ll have to compare the Low Investment tree to your current one to see.

    @Krecik – We only get Power and Endurance Charges from our Ascendancy, so we do care about Frenzy Charges (which scales generic damage)! It’s for extra power while clearing, and yes, chilled ground does affect mobs unless they are otherwise immune.

  14. Posts
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    @brittleknee thanks for the notes! I appreciate the help. I’m around lvl 45, I’ll aim to head down to dynamo+agnostic soon :)

  15. Posts
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    Thanks for putting this together, liking the build so far. Do you have a discord channel?

  16. Brittleknee

    Moderator

    Posts
    17

    @Ktemp89 – I am not sure site policy on this, let me ask if I’m allowed to directly link my media aside from what’s provided in the “About the Author” paragraph. In the meantime, you can find the link you’re looking for in the “About” section on my Twitch page if you follow the link there. There will be a little banner that says “Discord.”

  17. Posts
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    Was looking at the PoB links – do we drop Mind over Matter passive skill when we receive the cloak? Or should it be left? The build is amazing, the only struggle I had was the 6th hunter with this chaos damage. Also, if we should prefer one – mana flask or life flask? I think I need Atziri’s promise but I can’t find a place for it (along with Rumi, sulphur and quicksilver)

  18. Posts
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    Hi there, First of all thanks for contributing with new builds to the community. This one picked my interest and I am now here trying to make it work :D.

    I am facing quite a few problems and I would love any kind of guidance:

    - Clunky-ness: Bladefall takes some time to activate and sometimes even would kind of queue and make it difficult to predict when/where it will land. You also need to time bladeblast nicely to get most of the damage.
    - Arcane cloak buff: When active, I feeel the damage, but there is always 5+ seconds where you are buffless/defenseless. Is this expected?
    - Mana issues: I have MoM and dynamo, but it seems I occasionally run out of mana. Maybe I am being hit too much?
    - Direct kill: I have resists capped to 75% (except chaos), and I am doing magic level 1 maps. I get insta killed quite often, mostly during those seconds of clunky-ness or buffless I mentioned above. But still, last season build I tried did not die until red-corrupted maps… so I must be doing something wrong.

    Details:

    - I have not done ascendancies or pantheon

    - I have 3k life and 3.5k mana so far

    Sorry for too many details haha, but I am lost and currently out of ideas.

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