Due to the latest balancing changes, we do not recommend playing this build anymore, as it does not meet the high standards we apply to our guides in terms of fun and performance. We are leaving it up as a reference and it might be revived in a later patch.
This Chaos DoT build is a classic league-starter build that has been among the smoothest & easiest league-starter builds ever since the Chaos DoT abilities were introduced to the game. The build offers not only a great start available for even SSF leagues but also comes with a super high roof in terms of high budget end-game investment possibilities. You can go to CI, Low-Life or stay life based and upgrade your items significantly to reach millions of DPS. The low budget approach is more than capable of reaching end-game and will scale very well with upgrades as you go.
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 Do note that the video might be outdated in terms of information, and you should always look at this guide to make sure you have the updated version.
In this section I will outline the pros, cons, & the general play-style. This will allow you to determine if the build is for you or not!
+ Fast – The build is designed to spread the main source of damage via Contagion so if enemy packs are close to each other you can chain your damage across wide areas clearing multiple packs in just 2 casts.
+ League Starter – There are no mandatory items to make this build work, which makes it a very solid league-starter.
+ Unique Play Style – The original version of the build is based around casting 2 different spells that interact with one another provides a unique play-style to the build. If this is not something you’d like to do there is an option to opt out of Contagion and use another ability for clearing which is Bane
– End-Game – Higher end-game will require you to start upgrading your gear as the low budget style doesn’t hold up against the higher tier content. Luckily this isn’t a very expensive problem to have.
– 2-buttons – If you stay with the original approach of using Contagion the build will require 2 buttons to clear packs with.
There are 2 different play-styles offered in this guide, both will be using Essence Drain for the sake of single-target damage. However, you can use Bane to clear with which doesn’t offer any specific play-style changes. Or you can use the original style which is to cast Contagion which is requiring you to cast that spell first and then connect it with a cast of Essence Drain, once the target you hit with Essence Drain dies, the Contagion will spread the DoT to every enemy within it’s radius and continue to spread each time an enemy dies affected by Contagion
What’s really cool with this play-style is that enemies affected by Essence Drain also grants you a #% life regeneration based of the damage dealt by the spell. Obviously this is not the case in maps with the “No life regeneration” modifier!
DAMAGE SCALING AND DEFENSIVE LAYERS
Since we are only scaling chaos damage over time from spells it is crucial for us to increase the level of the skills and get modifiers that provides chaos damage as well as damage over time to increase our efficiency. The more damage we deal the more life regeneration we receive thanks to the design of Essence Drain.
Defensively the build is a Hybrid utilizing the new “Recoup” mechanic which with the tree investment let us recoup(regenerate) 50% of damage taken from hits over the course of 4 seconds. This combined with Petrified Blood allows us to be considered “low life” which enables Pain Attunement for extra damage but Petrified Blood also mitigates 40% of incoming damage taken from hits and then it will do damage to us over the course of 4 seconds based of a % of the mitigated 40% damage prevented this way. The recoup mechanic is entirely countering the Petrified Bloods negative mechanic and adds even more life recovery on top of that, this combined with us consistently ramping up life regeneration effect by hitting enemies with our Essence Drain makes the build extremely sturdy. Besides this we’ll run Energy Shield base items due to requiring a lot of blue sockets which will grant us a nice layer of Energy Shield on top of all this.
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 this, as well as about all of the build’s gem links, on our dedicated page.
A lot of the end-game gear can easily be crafted, to learn how to craft as well as 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, but for now you can see a summarized version below.
|Item Slot||Item Name||Rarity|
|Head||Life & ES then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Amulet||Life & ES then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Chest||Life & ES then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Gloves||Life & ES then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Boots||Atziri's Step or a rare with ES then Res/Attributes as needed||Unique/Rare|
|Belt||Life & ES then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Rings||Life & ES then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Weapon||+ level of gems, Spell, Chaos or Over Time Damage modifiers (High budget wants to use a Bow)||Rare|
|Shield||Life & High Energy Shield is the name of the game here||Rare|
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 go with a so called Chaosslinger approach which basically means we use Spellslinger with a variety of Chaos DoT abilities which creates a very smooth leveling experience and once you reach the stage of mapping you can then switch to the normal self-casted approach.
BEFORE YOU GET SPELLSLINGER (LvL 24)
Spellslinger is not available until level 24. The skills listed below are the ones I prefer to use until 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 4 you are able to purchase Swift Assembly Support; this will be of great addition to your Stormblast Mines for single target. At level 8 you will be able to purchase Added Lightning Damage Support & Added Cold Damage Support, both of which will be very solid to put together with both Stormblast Mines as well as your Frost Bomb for clearing.
Either one of these or both if you have a 4-Link:
At level 12, you will be able to enable Storm Brand and later on you will be able to purchase Brand Recall, which will be very helpful as you are leveling through the early acts. Do note that you get some re-spec points from just doing the mandatory quests through the acts; with this in mind you can deviate slightly from the leveling trees and pick up some extra spell/elemental or Lightning damage early on to do more damage if you feel safe enough. The Brand Recall can be in any blue socket in your gear without any links.
In Act 2, you can pick up some better support gems for your damage output such as:
Either one of these or both if you have a 4-Link:
Since the decision is to use the skills all the way to level 24, we would want to run some Herald skills available to use during Act 2 after Chamber of Sins (level 16):
In Act 3, we get to pick up some juicier Auras. We either keep our Heralds or switch to Wrath. I prefer to keep the Heralds personally.
Once you reach level 24 we will at this point switch to using our actual end-game abilities but in the form of using Spellslinger to speed up the leveling process. First of all we need a set-up to trigger our spells which generates Frenzy charges for us, the links will be the following:
This leads us to the Chaos DoT abilities that we will be utilizing whilst leveling. I would suggest to only using 2 of these and if you feel a lack of damage you can always opt to add mana reservation nodes from the skill-tree to allow for more support gems. This is the links I would suggest for the following 2 abilities, make sure you use both abilities and only add support gems as long as your mana reservation allows for it. Do however prioritize the Bane & Despair links. It’s very important to understand that you don’t just reserve your mana pool to play a Spellslinger, you are also paying the mana cost for the spells that are automatically triggered, so always keep a keen eye on your mana pool so you have enough mana to actually trigger the abilities, adjusting the tree to pick up some mana reservation is one solution, another is to run a mana flask to sustain the mana cost. If you don’t like the slinging strategy you can always play as a self-cast Essence Drain with Contagion and follow the end-game gem link set-up.Soulrend
- Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support and later Greater Multiple Projectiles Support
- Efficacy Support
This will be used all the way to the point where we switch to our standard set-up of using Essence Drain & Contagion do keep in mind that abilities you plan on using in the end-game that isn’t used whilst leveling needs to be socketed in a pair of off-slot weapons to keep their level on par when you do the switch.
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!