Caustic Arrow Trickster Build Guide (PoE Synthesis 3.6.)

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Introduction

Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow has been reworked and buffed several times over the years. It’s damage over time effect went from over 900 damage per second, to the whopping 1714 damage per second at gem level 20. This buff boosted the skill’s endgame potential tremendously, allowing it to be viable even when fighting the toughest bosses the game has to offer. The way that the Caustic Arrow Trickster scales its damage is by acquiring as many extra levels as possible on the skill gem itself, along with stacking chaos and damage over time both on gear and the passive skill tree. For survivability, reaching over 6.5k life is completely realistic. For layers of defence, the build mainly relies on Evasion Rating and Dodge Chance to attacks and spells.

Build Summary

The most important item that every Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow needs is a bow with additional levels to socketed gems. The Caustic Arrow Trickster can easily be played on a budget. The Silverbough Silverbough unique bow will provide +2 levels to your Caustic Arrow, which will be enough until you acquire currency to roll a decent rare bow. Considering this is a bow build and you only need one 6-Link for the build to function properly, you can easily use Kaom's Heart Kaom's Heart without any socket-starvation. The build does not depend on any build-enabling uniques, which makes it very versatile when it comes to gearing. Devoto's Devotion Devoto's Devotion boosts the clear speed, a rare helmet can be used for better survivability. A rare Elder gloves and amulet have the ability to roll “+#% to Non-Ailment Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier”. This multiplier is a huge damage boost for this particular build, it can also be crafted on rare bows via the crafting bench.

Pros & Cons

Pros

+ Hardcore viable
+ Very versatile when it comes to map mods
+ Has the potential to do all endgame content

Cons

- Damage over time builds might not be for everyone

Playstyle

Offensively, doing tremendous amounts of damage over time via the Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow‘s ground effect is what the Caustic Arrow Trickster is all about. Shooting once into a pack of monsters will be enough to take them down. When fighting tougher enemies, you have to make sure they are always standing on your caustic ground. Wither Wither can be used on a totem in order to increase enemies’ chaos damage taken by a great deal. The Despair Despair curse improves single target damage even further.

Defensively, the Trickster has a lot of sustain via the “on kill” life recovery. With this ascendancy class it is also easy to stack up Life Recovery, which also increases the life you gain from your life flask by a great amount. Besides that, having Acrobatics, Phase Acrobatics, along with great amount of Evasion Rating and Vaal Grace Vaal Grace on demand, makes foe’s attacks very unlikely to hit you.

The Caustic Arrow Trickster has an active playstyle, it is one of the few endgame viable options when it comes to damage over time bow builds. When properly geared, you will basically do so much damage that most monster packs will die in a second. As long as you have your caustic ground under tougher foes, you have some free time to move around and dodge game mechanics, which is very important. Most builds have to choose between moving around or dealing damage, this is not the case with this one since you can do both at the same time.

Ascendancy, Passive Tree, Bandits and Pantheons

Ascendancy (Shadow – Trickster)

  1. Patient Reaper
  2. Prolonged Pain
  3. Swift Killer
  4. Weave the Arcane

Patient Reaper provides great sustain via the “on kill” effects, along with a lot of Life Recovery if you’ve killed recently and 50% damage over time.

Prolonged Pain brings 15% more multiplier to damage over time effects. The 20% skill effect duration will make your caustic ground last longer, this is mainly a quality of life improvement, the 10% DoT mitigation is very handy versus poisons, bleeds, burns and some labyrinth traps.

Swift Killer will help with Frenzy charge sustain, you will also have +1 Maximum Frenzy charges and +5% Increased Damage per Frenzy charge. The Power charges are only used for the additional damage they provide per Power charge.

Weave the Arcane solves most of your mana problems. It also provides a lot of overall speed and some additional damage mitigation.

Passive Tree

This is the endgame passive skill tree.

We focus on picking as much life as possible along with Acrobatics, Phase Acrobatics, Piercing Shots and a lot of chaos damage over time increases and multipliers. Depending on your play style and personal preference, you can choose to drop all the Frenzy charges on the passive skill tree and pick up more life or damage nodes. Speccing into Piercing Shots allows us to not run Pierce Support Pierce Support in our main gem setup.

When it comes to early leveling and passive skill tree priority, you should pick up Growth and Decay; and Atrophy first. Then you should go for Piercing Shots and Acrobatics, Phase Acrobatics. After that, simply continue on your way to the Scion life wheel, pick up life and damage on the way.

Note: For leveling passive skill trees prior to the absolute endgame, please check out the leveling section down below.

Bandits

Considering the build does not benefit from helping any specific bandit we choose to kill them all for the two additional passive skill tree points.

Pantheons

Major: Soul of Arakaali provides 50% Life Recovery if your Immortal Call Immortal Call is triggered while you have Blood Rage Blood Rage up. This boosts the life you recover from your life flask by a great deal. Other major gods can be selected, based on content you are doing and based on personal preference.

Minor: Soul of Ryslatha empowers your life flask even further if you choose to depend on it a lot. Considering this build does not rely on leech mechanics in order to survive, it is always great to invest further into your life flask. All minor gods are useful for the build and can be selected based on personal preference.

Gems

Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow is your signature skill, which should ideally be used in your 6-Linked bow. For mobility, use Blink Arrow Blink Arrow. Phase Run Phase Run works as a utility skill, that allows you to move around faster and stay safe when needed. Wither Wither got buffed, since you can combine it with Multiple Totems Support Multiple Totems Support in order to summon two totems that spam Wither at the same time, this makes it way easier to stack-up wither stacks on bosses. For auras, the build does not really benefit from any offensive auras, mainly you focus on defensive ones. Vaal Grace Vaal Grace is helpful in sticky situations, Arctic Armour Arctic Armour and elemental purities can be used on demand. Keep in mind that you can always go for other mana reservation options like Blasphemy curses or Aspect of the Spider.

Caustic Arrow (6-Link)

Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow is your main skill. If properly built, the Caustic Arrow Trickster can achieve great amounts of damage via the ground effect of the skill. Shooting once into packs of monsters will be enough to clear. For tougher enemies, simply make sure the foe is always standing in caustic ground, this is how you will have damage dealt all the time, even when moving around and avoiding game mechanics. The skill greatly benefits from additional gem levels, this is why it is important to have your Caustic Arrow socketed in your bow. If you do not have high level Empower Support Empower Support, you can use Concentrated Effect Support Concentrated Effect Support instead. We recommend two different gem links for both clearing and single target.

For clearing, we recommend the following link.

Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow Empower Support Empower Support
Damage on Full Life Support Damage on Full Life Support Vicious Projectiles Support Vicious Projectiles Support
Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support Greater Multiple Projectiles Support Greater Multiple Projectiles Support

For single target, we recommend the following link.

Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow Empower Support Empower Support
Damage on Full Life Support Damage on Full Life Support Vicious Projectiles Support Vicious Projectiles Support
Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support Swift Affliction Support Swift Affliction Support

Blink Arrow (2-Link)

Blink Arrow Blink Arrow will boost your mobility by a great deal, allowing you to jump a screen away when needed. Keep in mind that the skill has 3 second cooldown, therefore it cannot be spammed.

Blink Arrow Blink Arrow Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support

Wither (4-Link)

The Wither Wither totems can boost your single target damage by a great deal. This gem setup can boost your damage by increasing your enemies’ chaos damage taken, potentially up to 80%.

Wither Wither Spell Totem Support Spell Totem Support
Multiple Totems Support Multiple Totems Support Faster Casting Support Faster Casting Support

Immortal Call (2-Link)

Immortal Call Immortal Call prevents deaths from consecutive physical hits, such as exploding Porcupines.

Immortal Call Immortal Call Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support

Other Gems

Vaal Grace Vaal Grace is the aura you should be running. Phase Run Phase Run allows you to ignore unit collision, while also making you less visible to enemies. Keep in mind that every time you use it, the skill will consume your Frenzy charges. Blood Rage Blood Rage provides additional attack speed and eases the sustain of Frenzy charges even further.

Gearing

Capping your elemental resistances is essential and it should always be your top priority in any build; it should be the first thing you do when gearing up a character. Obtaining a 6-link, while very powerful and certainly recommended, can potentially be very expensive (requiring an average of 1500 Orbs of Fusing, obviously depending on your luck); as such, this should not really be a goal for you while gearing up, and you should instead settle for a 5-link until you have enough resources. For better damage output, you should simply focus on crafting or buying a decent rare bow. A well rolled Elder gloves and amulet can also boost your damage by a considerable amount. For survivability, focus on buying high life items. Kaom's Heart Kaom's Heart is a great endgame choice for the body armour slot.

Helmet

Depending on the content you are running you have two choices. For clearing, Devoto's Devotion Devoto's Devotion is a great choice. When it comes to fighting tough bosses, use a rare helmet with a lot of life, Evasion Rating and resistances. For labyrinth enchant, use anything based on personal preference, there is not a particularly powerful enchant for the build. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Elemental resistances (until capped)
  2. Maximum Life (at least 90)
  3. % Increased Maximum Life (Pristine Fossil)
  4. Nearby Enemies have -9% to Chaos Resistance (Aberrant Fossil)

Body Armour

There are multiple chest pieces that synergize very well with the build. Kaom's Heart Kaom's Heart will improve your life pool by a great deal. Carcass Jack Carcass Jack improves clear speed by considerable amount. Queen of the Forest Queen of the Forest, Kintsugi Kintsugi, Loreweave Loreweave, The Perfect Form The Perfect Form,Lightning Coil Lightning Coil and Cherrubim's Maleficence Cherrubim's Maleficence are all body armours that can be used with the Caustic Arrow Trickster. You can always choose to use rare body armour. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Elemental resistances (until capped)
  2. Maximum Life (at least 100)
  3. % Increased Maximum Life (Pristine Fossil; Elder Prefix)

Gloves

Rare Elder gloves are best in slot. There are no unique gloves that are particularly strong for the build. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Elemental resistances (until capped)
  2. Maximum Life (at least 60)
  3. +#% to Non-Ailment Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier (Elder Suffix)
  4. Grants Level 20 Aspect of the Spider Skill

Boots

Rare boots are best in slot. Prior to a well rolled pair, you can use Atziri's Step Atziri's Step. For tough endgame bosses you can use Kaom's Roots Kaom's Roots for the Stun and Freeze immunity. For labyrinth enchants, look for life and mana regeneration, dodge chance, or attack speed if you’ve killed recently. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Elemental resistances (until capped)
  2. Movement Speed (preferably at least 30%)
  3. Maximum Life (at least 60)

Belt

A well-rolled rare belt is best in slot. You should ideally use a Stygian Vise for the Abyssal jewel socket. If you choose to use other belt, look for Elder-based Leather Belt. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Elemental resistances (until capped)
  2. Maximum Life (at least 80)
  3. % Increased Damage (crafted via crafting bench)
  4. % increased maximum Life (Elder Prefix)
  5. % increased Life Recovery rate (Elder Suffix)
  6. Grants Level 20 Aspect of the Spider Skill (if you do not acquire it in another way)

Amulet

A rare Elder-based amulet is best in slot. No unique amulet is particularly useful. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Elemental resistances (until capped)
  2. Maximum Life (at least 80)
  3. +#% to Non-Ailment Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier (Elder Suffix)
  4. % Increased Chaos Damage
  5. Attributes

Rings

For rings, we do not need anything fancy, simply look for as much life, resistances and any attributes you need. You can also use well rolled Ventor's Gamble Ventor's Gambles. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Elemental resistances (until capped)
  2. Maximum Life (at least 50)
  3. Attributes
  4. % increased Chaos Damage (crafted via crafting bench)

Bow

Early on, you can use Silverbough Silverbough. After that you should look for a well crafted bow or craft one yourself. The most efficient way to craft such a bow is by using Delve Fossils. Combining Metallic, Corroded and Prismatic Fossils in a single Resonator eliminates most of the mods that are useless for the build, allowing you to roll for +3 bow. Keep in mind that Elder-based bows can roll “Socketed Gems are supported by Level # Vicious Projectiles”, which essentially allows you to run Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow on a 7-Link. Few powerful mods can be crafted via crafting bench. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. + # to Level of Socketed Gems
  2. + # to Level of Socketed Bow Gems
  3. + # to Level of Socketed Support Gems (boosts up your Empower Support Empower Support; crafted via crafting bench)
  4. +#% to Non-Ailment Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier (crafted via crafting bench)
  5. Socketed Gems are supported by Level # Vicious Projectiles
  6. % Increased Damage per Frenzy charge

Quiver

A rare Shaper-based quiver is best in slot. The additional arrow in combination with Dying Sun Dying Sun allows you to drop Greater Multiple Projectiles Support Greater Multiple Projectiles Support and use another big damage multiplier instead. Ideally, you would want to corrupt the quiver for one additional arrow. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Elemental resistances (until capped)
  2. Maximum Life (at least 50)
  3. Bow Attacks fire an additional Arrow (Shaper Prefix)

Flasks

With the Caustic Arrow Trickster you have the freedom to use a variety of utility flasks. Witchfire Brew Witchfire Brew provides a lot of damage over time along with cursing nearby enemies with Despair Despair, this flask is very useful against tough enemies. Dying Sun Dying Sun and boost your clear speed by providing additional projectiles and area of effect. Quicksilver Flask is mandatory for the build, you are mainly running around and do not really rely on mobility skill. Considering the great amount of Life Recovery you acquire with the build, you can use Ethernal Life Flask. Rolling this flask with “% increased Amount Recovered / #% reduced Recovery Speed” can potentially make this flask recover more than 9k of your life in few seconds. Other utility flasks can be used based on content you are running and personal preference. Sapphite, Ruby(if you do not have Dying Sun), Topaz, Quartz, Jade, Basalt, Stibnite and Sulphur are all valuable choices.

Jewels

There are no unique jewels required for the build. Watcher's Eye Watcher's Eye with Grace Grace mods or any Purity mods that convert physical damage taken into elemental damage taken can be useful for the build.

Regular Jewel Affix Priority

  1. % Increased Maximum Life
  2. % to Non-Ailment Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier
  3. % increased Chaos Damage
  4. % increased Projectile Damage
  5. % increased Damage
  6. % increased Damage over Time
  7. % increased Area Damage

Abyssal Jewel Affix Priority

  1. Chance to gain Onslaught for 4 seconds on Kill (at least 4%)
  2. Maximum Life (at least 35)

Leveling

As a reminder, we have several guides to help you level up a character.

The Caustic Arrow Trickster can be leveled with its signature since the beginning, as long as you have at least Silverbranch Silverbranch. Single target damage will lack early on. You can always level as any other skill you prefer.

Leveling Trees

This passive skill tree represents where you should be at approximately 59 points spent. After that simply go to Master Fletcher and Avatar of the Hunter next. Druidic Rite will improve your flask uptime by a great deal. After that go to duelist starting area and pick up the life and damage nodes. This is what your passive skill tree should look like at this point.

Note: For endgame passive skill tree, please refer to the Passive Tree section.

Useful Leveling Unique Items

As you begin a new character, there are few unique items that can boost your power exponentially. Tabula Rasa Tabula Rasa allows you to have a 6-Linked skill as early as you get the gems. Wanderlust Wanderlust gives a decent movement speed, which will make your leveling that much more efficient. Goldrim Goldrim provides a lot of elemental resistances, this will let you worry less about gearing when approaching certain Act encounters. Silverbranch Silverbranch and Silverbough Silverbough will help you scale your damage early on by providing additional gem levels to Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow.

If you are a new player (or if this is your first character for the league), then note that obtaining these items will be very difficult, if not impossible. They are rare drops, which you can otherwise only acquire if you have saved up currency, so do not focus on them too much, and instead simply look for items that match the affix priorities listed in the gearing section above.

Gem Progression

Using Tabula Rasa Tabula Rasa will allow you to have 6-Link gem setups early on, which is why we show such examples below. If you cannot get Tabula Rasa (or another item with a 6-Link), then simply prioritize the first gems in each link provided below. For this specific build, using a 4-Link gem setups in Silverbranch Silverbranch and Silverbough Silverbough should give you enough damage in order to progress up until maps.

In order to acquire gems that are not available to your class as a quest reward, simply ask a friend to buy them off vendors for you, or buy them yourself from Sioasa in The Library in Act III Library.

From level 1, you should use the following link.

Explosive Trap Explosive Trap

By level 8, your |Explosive Trap Explosive Trap| link should look like this.

Explosive Trap Explosive Trap Added Fire Damage Support Added Fire Damage Support

At level 10, you should add Blink Arrow Blink Arrow for additional mobility.

At level 18, you should replace your trap setup with your signature skill. At this level you have access to enough support gems in order to deal a decent amount of damage with Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow.

Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow Vicious Projectiles Support Vicious Projectiles Support Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support Pierce Support Pierce Support Damage on Full Life Support Damage on Full Life Support

At level 24, you should add Grace Grace for additional defense.

By level 31, your Caustic Arrow link should look like this. At this point you should have spent some points into Piercing Shots, which allows you to drop the Pierce Support Pierce Support.

Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow Vicious Projectiles Support Vicious Projectiles Support Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support Swift Affliction Support Swift Affliction Support Damage on Full Life Support Damage on Full Life Support Concentrated Effect Support Concentrated Effect Support

FAQ

Why Life Trickster instead of Chaos Inoculation Occultist?

The Occultist is a very strong ascendancy class at the moment, you can have similar damage to the Trickster’s Caustic Arrow. You can also utilize strong curses and have great sustain via Wicked Ward and Vile Bastion. Considering Energy Shield builds are pretty “meta” at the moment, going Occultist can cost way more than rolling a Trickster. Also, as an Occultist it is very awkward going to the right side of the passive skill tree in order to pick up some damage over time/bow nodes. You also lose the ability to benefit from Acrobatics/Phase Acrobatics.

Problematic Map Mods?

The build cannot run no regeneration maps. Besides that anything else is doable.

Conclusion

If the chaos damage over time bow builds are your type of thing, you will definitely like this one. The Caustic Arrow Trickster has enough damage, survivability and mobility to deal with the toughest endgame bosses Path of Exile has to offer.

Changelog
  •    Updated passive skill trees.
  •    Revisited and updated for Synthesis 3.6.

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