Chaos DoT Occultist Build Guide (PoE Sentinel 3.18)



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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 Do note that the video might be outdated in terms of information, and you should always look at this guide to make sure you have the updated version.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 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 Essence Drain for the sake of single-target damage. However, you can use Bane 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 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!


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 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.


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.

Here is the Chaos DoT Low Budget PoB, and for a quick glance over the finished skill tree for this version, check out this link.

You can find more information this, as well as about all of the build’s gem links, on our dedicated page.

Chaos DoT Occultist PoB, Passive Skill Tree & Gem Links


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.

Chaos DoT Occultist Gear, Jewels & Flasks

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 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


You can read about the recommended Ascendancy, Bandit choice, and Pantheon Power recommendations for this build on our dedicated page.

Chaos DoT Occultist Ascendancy, Bandits & Pantheon Powers


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 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.


Spellslinger Spellslinger is not available until level 24. The skills listed below are the ones I prefer to use until I hit level 8:

Once you reach level 4 you are able to purchase Swift Assembly Support 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 Lightning Damage Support & Added Cold 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.

Stormblast Mines

  1. Stormblast Mine Stormblast Mine
  2. Swift Assembly Support Swift Assembly Support

Either one of these or both if you have a 4-Link:

  1. Added Lightning Damage Support Added Lightning Damage Support
  2. Added Cold Damage Support Added Cold Damage Support

Frost Bomb

  1. FFrost Bomb Frost Bomb
  2. Added Lightning Damage Support Added Lightning Damage Support
  3. Added Cold Damage Support Added Cold Damage Support

At level 12, you will be able to enable Storm Brand Storm Brand and later on you will be able to purchase Brand Recall 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.

Storm Brand

  1. Storm Brand Storm Brand
  2. Added Lightning Damage Support Added Lightning Damage Support
  3. Added Cold Damage Support Added Cold Damage Support

In Act 2, you can pick up some better support gems for your damage output such as:

Storm Brand

  1. Storm Brand Storm Brand
  2. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  3. Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support

Either one of these or both if you have a 4-Link:

  1. Added Lightning Damage Support Added Lightning Damage Support
  2. Added Cold Damage Support Added Cold Damage Support

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):

  1. Herald of Ice Herald of Ice
  2. Herald of Thunder Herald of Thunder

In Act 3, we get to pick up some juicier Auras. We either keep our Heralds or switch to Wrath 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:

  1. Frenzy Frenzy
  2. Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support

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.


  1. Soulrend Soulrend
  2. Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support and later Greater Multiple Projectiles Support Greater Multiple Projectiles Support
  3. Efficacy Support Efficacy Support


  1. Bane Bane
  2. Despair Despair
  3. Efficacy 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.


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 Exalted Orb drops!

  1. Posts

    Hi Ghazzy,

    Really enjoying the build! Learning lots, having fun but hit the wall at maps…

    Used 2 wands and Bane/Soulrend/Storm Brand/Heralds along with a cheap 5 link chest with Essence Drain which really wasn’t much help. Figured ED would shine once I got to maps and the POB ED setup. BTW the guide and the POB trees and links are quite different – figure the POB setup is most current.

    Once I got to maps, I found I was getting killed a lot so I made the leap to the POB setup – Contagion/ED with Wither Totems, Withering Step, Stone Golem, Enfeeble and AA ( Flesh & Stone one socket color away).

    At L73 my life is 4k with 420 regen. POB says 228K DOT but I am only barely surviving on Life and Mana flasks atm. XP gain has all but stopped with many deaths in T1 maps. Not sure adding a 6 link chest with Empower will help much with my lack of killing power from ED.

    Did I make the transition to the final POB setup too soon? Is ED the only damage skill we use? Maybe I’m missing something(s) obvious… Any help would be appreciated.

    My POB –


  2. GhazzyTV




    Are you comparing the gameplay video vs what’s in the guide or any other links you’re spotting differences in? The video as stated in the guide can absolutely be outdated so always check the written guide here to make sure you have the most up2date version of the build!

    GGG just recently nerfed a lot of the one-shots happening in the Scourge mechanic that even killed the build I’m playing on stream atm which is extremely tanky and even that still died. Now after the changes things are much better.

    The staff Cane of Unravelling Cane of Unravelling even on a 5-Link would be a DPS increase for you. Gem levels is very strong and you only have a level 17 gem. You could buy a new amulet for ~1 chaos with much more life to help survivability a bit.

    You shouldn’t have any problems in t1 maps, are you dying to the regular map or the Scourge mechanic? If Scourge, have you tried after they made it more balanced?

    Keep me posted so we can get you on the right path with the build!

  3. Posts

    Great Ghazzy!! ;-)
    Woohoo back on track. POB mislead me with the Cane vs my two wands. Way better with a 5 link Cane.
    Picked up a failed corruption level 21 ED gem and a cheap all blue 6 link chest then rounded it off with a better amulet.
    Back to generating XP and currency again. Following the guide more carefully now… TY
    Very grateful for your advice and quick response. Thank-you!!

  4. GhazzyTV




    My pleasure man, just let me know if you need help & keep me posted here! :D

  5. Posts

    I am having extreme difficulties with this build.
    I currently have 3k health and 2k energy shield. All my resistances are capped, except chaos, which is at 49% atm. I also have all the flasks from the guide.
    1. i have a lot of mana problems, 252 unreserved mana after all auras. I often times just cannot escape from mobs or cast spells and then I just die.
    2. When mobs get to hit me, there is nothing I can do. Cannot recover from hits fast enough to be able to cast anything.
    3. I get one shotted a lot by multiple mechanics.

    everything is just a huge struggle. I know damage will get better when i get my gems to lvl 20 or so, but the survivability is the biggest issue. Casting essence drain feels like an eternity and contagion cannot clear anything by itself.

    I am also a bit confused on flame dash vs withering step

  6. Posts

    Hey Ghazzy, I think you need to go over the gear part of this page. You have some Escape Artist references and there’s a pair of boots in the belt section. :)

    Anyways, chose this as my league starter and am having a good time. It’s a bit of a struggle as Lada mentions but after some gear tinkering, it eventually worked out.

  7. Posts

    If you dont mind me asking, how much hp and energy shield do you have? and are you having mana issues or issues when mobs get to hit you? Also, are you using ezomyte staff or wand?

    On 29/10/2021 at 12:14 PM, lightspeed1001 said

    Hey Ghazzy, I think you need to go over the gear part of this page. You have some Escape Artist references and there’s a pair of boots in the belt section. :)

    Anyways, chose this as my league starter and am having a good time. It’s a bit of a struggle as Lada mentions but after some gear tinkering, it eventually worked out.

  8. GhazzyTV



    LadaPaappa & Lightspeed1001:

    Would you mind providing your PoB’s. It would be good for me to see where the struggle began and how I can improve the guide if needed or if it’s a matter of clarifying segments of the guide in a better way. I tried both Wand & Staff set-ups and I do prefer the wand myself however, it does put a bit more pressure on offensive gearing since a lot of the damage comes for free with the staff (so to say).

  9. Posts

    I guess the biggest issue for me is the physical damage reduction. Elusive from withering stop + atziri’s step is just not enough for me atleast. If mobs are able to come and melee me, im usually dead, and they are because how the league mechanic works.

    Also the escape artist you are talking about in chest section is for trickster, so occultist doesnt have it, or am i just confusing something?

  10. Posts

    I have ~3k hp/1k es. I have a mana flask, so mana isn’t really an issue, only when I forget to chug. Wand + Shield. Working on the staff, but it’s being annoying and not giving me 6 slots.


    I had issues at first, but I slapped +HP on all my things, found a slot for the stone golem and played a bit more carefully. I’m handling T3 maps okay now. Been really unlucky with map drops so I’m just farming them.

  11. Posts

    So i have a bit better gear and 6 linked chest. 2k es and 3.2k life atm. Also the flask section is confusing, do these flasks even exist anymore? I got all the flasks, but im struggling in getting the correct mods on them.

    Edited for flask mods: the flask mods got renamed, so the name of the flask mods that are in this guide are wrong.
    new flask mod names here:
    for example, “of heat (immune to freeze…” = “of the deer”, “of the walrus” & “of the penguin”

    I have a very strong feeling Ghazzy is mixing up occultist and trickster (the video is also from Trickster so not camparable to occultist?) Also i dont think this guide is actually updated to 3.16.

    Lightspeed, we should not be struggling on tier 3 maps, they should be overrun with build like this and with the gear I have. The struggle should start to appear on way later map tiers.

  12. Posts

    LadaPaappa, yeah that’s true. This is the first time in a while I’ve had trouble progressing in maps, but it’s just so satisfying to watch the contagion spread. Might swap to minions or something. :shrug:

  13. GhazzyTV



    LadaPaappa & Lightspeed1001:

    It’s updated for 3.16. You’re right though, the flask renaming completely slipped my mind during the update process. I’ll see what I can do there to make it look better. That problem goes for a few other builds so thank you for pointing that out!

    The damage for pretty much all DoT builds in 3.16 is gated heavily from gear, running a staff should help that part a lot specially as the unique option Unraveling gives a ton of damage for free so to say. Wand is essentially better later but requires a lot of strong / high tier modifiers before it can outperform the staff set-up and even then you have the choice to run a rare staff with strong modifiers as well at that point.

    You’re absolutely right that the build should be running through the early tier maps which is the case as well. Looking at the POB provided above I can tell you that the Wake of Destruction boots doesn’t bring anything but 15% movement speed to the table. A rare pair of boots for 1-2 chaos would bring a ton more life, movement speed as well as resistances which will help a LOT. Another big thing to mention in this case is your actual resistances, you are not capped in neither Fire or Lightning res. In PoE it is absolutely crucial that you cap your resistances, even a couple of #% makes a huge night/day difference in terms of surviving.

    Your helmet has no life on it, Body armor only has 44 life but it is 5-linked. I would rather use a Tabula over that to make sure you have a 6-link or getting a 5-Linked Unraveling staff.
    Gloves has bench-crafted life with dexterity, the resistances are a bit low but it’s alright. Amulet has a little bit of attributes, benched HP & barely any resistances. You are most likely able to find a massive upgrade for an alch orb or essence/alch orb a white amulet from a vendor to get a vastly superior one. Your “Morbid Turn Two-Stone Ring” is looking VERY good, resistances are “ok” but the life is great and some extra mana, you can even bench-craft some extra energy shield on that later if you want. The other ring however, 0 life, low resistances and should be replaced. If currency is a problem, bench-craft HP on it as it has an open prefix slot.

    Belt is a great item slot to grab tons of HP, in your case you have a juicy amount of early game strength and “ok” resistances from your belt but the life itself is only 8 when it should be 70-100 life.
    The Ghastly jewel you’re running only has a bit of resistances & flat HP rest of the modifiers does nothing for this build. You’re also using a unique jewel called “Assassin’s Haste” this one gives you a little bit of mana regen, cast speed & movement speed and is ultimately a wasted jewel to use. Specially when you need to solve other problems such as resistances, life & damage output.

    Having 3k life with 1k ES and not capped resistances is the biggest reason you’re having troubles surviving, the comments made above should give you a good idea of which items to “fix” first. I would suggest looking at how much currency you have then buy the cheapest items possible because you’re still at low tier mapping and making that functional requires you to sort fundamental pieces of your character, namely resistances & higher life count. You shouldn’t have any problems finding cheap items in the range of 1-3 alch orbs or worst case scenario 1-2 chaos per item.

    Let me know if that helped and keep me posted on your progression!


    Please do provide me with your PoB and I’ll gladly take a look at what we can improve from there. I will adjust the flask modifier segment fot the build guide in the meantime!

  14. Posts

    Hey thanks man. I’ll have a look at this better tonight!

    I’m pretty much just working with what drops, because I’m quite lazy when it comes to buying stuff. I hate buying stuff in PoE, so I kind of just avoid it (unless it’s some specific unique).
    I didn’t realize how good that ring was until you mentioned it, but it has been replaced with a more resist heavy ring (only missing 4% lightning now). But yeah, gear isn’t great but I’ve had better success with similar gear in other leagues.
    Guess it’s time to suck it up and buy stuff from the market.

    Once again, thanks for that write-up!

  15. Posts

    I still think you are mixing up occultist and trickster, since you are talking about Escape Artist in chest section (occultist doesnt have escape artist). I have all resistances capped out, 3.3k hp and 2.1k es, still not surviving good enough in t3 maps. My damage is fine though. I lost my hope and made a new character, so noneed help anymore.

  16. GhazzyTV




    Trading in PoE has always been atrocious :|

    Do keep me updated so we can make sure you don’t have any problems moving forward. It’s important to me that my guides are of the utmost highest quality I can make them so update me and I’ll see if there’s anything else we can improve on!


    I’m very sorry to hear that. I’ve adjusted the chest part which was a miss on my end, you’re absolutely correct it was a left-over from when this build was a Trickster prior to 3.16!

  17. Posts

    I added one question on your other build, but have one question for that build too :P

    I played Bane some time ago (1-2 years), and now I see there’s is Contagion + Essence Drain, but the dmg is like 0. I make Contagion then spam ED, and HP is dropping very slowly when compare it to the Bane dps. What can I do wrong here?

  18. GhazzyTV




    Bane / ED is a classic set-up you can run with as well in this build I prefer the ED/Contagion in many cases which is what I’ve been focusing on in this build guide.

    Please do provide me with your PoB for your character and I’ll gladly take a look at it to see what you can improve on to make the build perform better :)

  19. Posts

    But I have 76%(90%) Chaos resistance and I couldn’t find there perks for wand I have added in game:
    +17% to Quality
    +14% increased Chaos damage
    +21% increased damage over time

    PS. Oh and I forgot about flasks, but they’re normal, nothing special. Healt/Mana/MovSpeed/Onslaught/Cold resist (for deleting freezing effect)

  20. Posts

    Hi Ghazzy! I’ve made a couple of past characters and generally plodded along doing my own thing, but this time I decided to follow a guide and chose your chaos Occultist one because it looked really interesting! I’ve just started mapping and currently have close to 5k HP and 1k ES. Things have been going very well so far, but I just have a couple of questions regarding attack combinations. I understand that Contagion into Essence Drain is the go to, so how do the Wither Totems fit into this? Is this to only be used against bosses/very tough enemies? And my second question is about Enfeeble. Unless I am misunderstanding, this is the only Hex that we have. So to proc Profane Bloom’s effect and cause enemies to explode should my clearing be Enfeeble into Contagion into Essence Drain?

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