Expedition League “Updates” & “Disclaimers”
While I generally put a lot of emphasis on updating all of my guides before a new league starts, I have decided against doing so at the moment. Many of the changes that came with PoE’s 3.15 Expedition league launch have pretty severe gameplay impact, which is incredibly hard to predict without having the appropriate software updated (like Path of Building). Therefore, I will give all my guides a pass and point out the obvious changes. Everything outside of this paragraph will stay untouched for 3.15 for now and will be updated accordingly over the course of the next weeks. This means that the information in this paragraph always supersedes anything written in the guide. Build updates will be prioritized in order of their popularity.
These are the changes I would undoubtedly make to this build:
- Swap out Awakened Controlled Destruction Support for Increased Critical Damage Support! (Yay, this one is a lot cheaper!)
- Find a way to get ailment immune. 30% From Astral Projector, 20% from Arrcane Swiftness. The other 50% is to be found on gear. You could grab a Chest Piece with a high amount, or go for the triple crafting route (Boots, Shield, Body Armour)
Honestly, even things that got absolutely gutted like Bottled Faith are still the same amount of DPS for this build. You’re still looking at a couple of million DPS easily. DP Totems are super fine! If you want to change it up, try out Forbidden Rite Totems by just swapping out the gems. It should work great as well!
One of the most classic build archetypes in Path of Exile are definitely Totem Builds. Totems have gone through a lot of iterations over the years, and other skills were popularized through skill balances, Ascendancy releases, and changes of mechanics. One of the most iconic builds in PoE is definitely “Pizza Sticks”, which is slang that was used for Flameblast Totems. While this might sound horrible in the current state of the game, Flameblast Totems were considered the most broken thing to ever have happened to Path of Exile when they were popularized. Obviously, Flameblast, Ignite, and spell totem were changed and the skill lost in popularity! All of this occurred before Dark Pact even existed, and even then it took the Path of Exile community quite a while to realize how to use it effectively with Totems.
This immediately brings me to my first important point about the build guide: this build requires an Astral Projector to function. Well, I guess that might be a little harsh, but the ring basically makes the build go from kind of subpar to absolute god-tier in every single aspect. Before you acquire this ring, Dark Pact will cast an AoE around your Totems which makes it rather awkward to clear an entire screen of monsters, as you’d have to put a totem on each pack. Astral Projector makes it so Dark Pact becomes targetable and castable away from you. Totems do use this mechanic fairly well, and start casting Dark Pacts well away from their base, and targeted at monster packs, to completely obliterate entire screens of monsters in seconds.
Other than the ring, the gear can be really cheap yet can be min-maxed fairly hard towards the endgame. The build relies on a combination of Energy Shield (with high regen), a decent Life Pool and Mind over Matter, which is incredibly strong paired with the Hierophant Ascendancy, to stay alive. It easily reaches over 7,500 Effective Health Pool, resulting in a fairly tanky character. By itself, there are probably a lot more tanky characters out there, but since you’re playing a Totem build, you’ll rarely be in the fray and will rarely actually get hit by stuff. Because of the Ailment avoidance on the Astral Projector, getting Ailment Immunity is easy enough that it’s always worth going for. Ailment immunity is incredibly strong and often overlooked and underrated. The build is incredibly safe, unless you decide to run ahead of your totems for some reason.
Pros and Cons
+ The skill feels amazing to play
+ Incredible Clear Speed
+ Ridiculous damage
+ After the Astral Projector, it blasts on any level of gear
+ Tanky through MoM and Hierophant’s MoM
– Requires an Astral Projector, which can be expensive, to feel good
– Because of the above, it’s hardly playable in SSF
– Can feel a little squishy at earlier stages of gear / levels
Map Modifiers to be Avoided
No Regeneration is annoying, but can be dealt with if you bring a Mana Flask. Otherwise, there’s nothing that’ll annoy you too much. Be careful for Elemental Reflect though; if you’re using a Trigger Wand, remove the Storm Brand as that will reflect its damage (which is fine if you keep it level 1, otherwise it might kill you).
Echoes of the Atlas Expansion Updates
With the introduction of Echoes of the Atlas Expansion, a couple of Ascendancies were heavily reworked. Hierophant was one of the Ascendancies that got one of these overhauls. Whilst I really don’t want to persuade you away from this build as I think it still is really solid at doing what most people want it to do, I can’t, for the life of me, understand why Hierophant needed such an annoying nerf. It’s not even a big nerf whatsoever, but it just makes stuff either clunky or unintuitive.
So, Hierophant overall got a little bit more damage when it matters by getting 2% More Damage per Totem (which is amplified by thee amount of Totems you get and we have a lot of them) but lost its “Increased Damage per Enemy Killed Recently”, which was fairly significant in the highest content mapping-wise (5 Orbed Delirium, T19s, etc.), but really didn’t matter while doing regular maps, as there wasn’t enough pack size to put this ahead of the More Damage it has gotten in this patch.
The most problematic change to Hierophant, though, and the one that is most upsetting to the general player base, is the removal of “Skills that would Summon a Totem Summon two Totems instead”, but since we already ran a Multiple Totems Support anyway, this really doesn’t affect us too much!
For this particular iteration of Hierophant, the single target got buffed a little bit while it lost a bit of potential in clearing very hard maps that have really high dense pack of monsters, due to the removal of increased damage per Totem. The build still remains a very strong build with excellent clear and boss damage! It probably now is hands down the best Totem build in the game, as long as you can acquire an Astral Projector.
Playstyle, Mechanics & Strengths
The playstyle of all Totem builds is fairly similar. Put your Totems down and watch them evaporate minions in the meanwhile. While your Totems go to town, you’re going to be casting Wither, which will cast Despair through the Cast while Channeling support gem. Other than that, your wand will have the trigger craft to automatically trigger a Storm Brand, which will take care of your Power Charge generation. This is a core enabler of the build, as without it we would never be getting close to the Critical Strike Chance cap.
Aside from the Wither casting, you don’t have anything to do, which means you’ll have a lot of downtime to move, dodge, and learn mechanics! This is one of Totem builds’ main features. It enables you to learn fights, mechanics, and just play the game in a better way in general as they allow you to have an easy time while they do your work for you. These totems push that fact to the next level, as they cast from a screen away and make it so you’ll rarely encounter monsters whatsoever.
The reason why Dark Pact scales so incredibly well with Totems is because it’s fairly easy to bump up Totem Life. Since Dark Pact gets its damage from “sacrificing” a part of your Life, (or in this case your Totems’ Life), scaling Totem Life is almost always your highest DPS-increasing stat. As Totems inherently have more HP than players do, the base damage Dark Pact gets from sacrificing parts of their HP is rather high and thus easier to scale up!
Passive Skill Tree, PoB, and Gem Links
You can find an optimized Path of Building here. Every build I release will use the community fork of Path of Building, which is maintained and updated in a much more regular fashion than the original one. You can find PoB’s Fork, by LocalIdentity, here.
If you are not comfortable with Path of Building, we also have a PoePlanner for you. Do note that PoE Planner does not support Cluster Jewels and some specific unique jewels and it is highly recommended you install Path of Building to follow builds most optimally.
More information about the Passive Skill Tree, as well as all the Gem Links can be found on our dedicated page.
Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheons
Our Ascendancy, Bandit, and Pantheon Power page goes into detail about all the choices you need to make in these regards.
Gear Summary / TL;DR
A lot of this is explained more in depth in the Gear Page, however we will provide you with a basic idea of what gear you’re looking for in this short summary.
|Item Slot||Item Name|
|Head||Rare Hubris Circlet 12% Dark Pact Cast Speed, Life, Resistances & Ailment Avoidance|
|Amulet||Citrine Amulet with Cast Speed, Crit Multiplier, Life and Resistances|
|Chest||Vaal Regalia with Spell Crit, Life and Life as Extra Energy Shield|
|Gloves||Sorcerer Gloves with High Life, Resistances and Ailment Avoidance|
|Boots||Any rare boots with Life, Resistances and Movement Speed|
|Belt||Stygian Vise with Life, Resistances and Mana|
|Rings||1x Astral Projector & 1x Ring with Life, Resistances and Dexterity|
|Weapon||Rare Profane Wand with Spell Damage, Cast Speed, Spell Crit|
Questions & Support
I made it a habit to check all comments in my guides on a daily basis. Obviously, there might be occurrences where getting a reply might take longer but I really do try to get back to you as soon as possible. I prefer you making remarks, suggestions or asking questions that way as it allows others to read through the comments, providing them with a potential answer to their question, without having to wait for me again. If I have somehow missed your question, you can try reaching me on our Discord.
If you enjoy my content to such an extent that you’d like to support me and my work, I have a Patreon you can check out. At no point should you feel pressured to contribute, but if you do, your support means more to me than you will ever imagine.
Since we are very adamant about trying to give you a leveling experience that lies as close to your endgame playstyle as possible, we will be providing you a way to level up with Freezing Pulse totems. If you are looking for the most optimal way to level a character to maps, we refer you to the following guides. You can swap to Dark Pact totems as soon as you can equip your Astral Projector at level 40, (or at level 28 when you get Dark Pact if you want to use Dark Pact).
- 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.
Getting to Brutus & Merveil
For starters, create a Templar in whichever league you want to start.
Pick up an Explosive Trap from the vendor to start your journey and go to kill Hailrake and clear Mud Flats. Set up the following links after Mud Flats:
After killing Brutus, you will be adding an Added Cold Damage Support to your Freezing Pulse.
Level 12 and Onwards Setup
From level 12, after killing Merveil, you’ll be setting up for your road to maps. It might be a little rough for some bosses, but you should eventually be fine with this setup.
- Spell Totem Support
- Added Cold Damage Support
- Freezing Pulse
- Elemental Focus Support
- Controlled Destruction Support
- Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support (unless you have a First Snow for leveling; use Increased Critical Strikes Support in that case)
Use the following on bosses:
Run the following auras: