TbXie's Cold DoT Vortex Occultist Build Guide (PoE Affliction 3.23)




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.

3.23 Cold DoT Nerfs, Changes and the effect thereof on this build.

As you might or might not have read in the Patch Notes, Vortex Vortex has been gutted a tiny bit. The instant case is removed & therefore it now follows castspeed rules and more importantly no longer functions by default on Left Mouse Button. However, there is hope. First of all, there’s close to 0% chance there’s not a Transfigured version of Vortex Vortex that mimics its old playstyle. Cause why wouldn’t they actually do that, right? They seemingly wanted to target Vortex Ignite builds, which we are not, so I bet you there’s some kind of “Instant Vortex” for Cold DoT which wouldn’t work for other uses cases.

Now, while you don’t have this gem, or worst case, if it doesn’t exist, you can keep Vortex on left click, and press Shift every so often. The only issue at this point is its cast time. You might have to pick up a little bit of cast speed left right and center on gear to make this not feel clunky, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Most likely, you’ll be doing .75 cast time Vortexes until level 50, and you’ll be able to buy such an instant gem at that point, right?

If you absolutely hate your life, and you are gutted by this change, I played the character showcased here underneath without Vortex whatsoever, and it’s fine. Obviously, it’s no longer as zoomie as before, and since Creeping Frost is a bit of a slower ability, you might need to play a tad slower & more cautiously, as your overall coverage went down, but it still cleared T16 juiced maps just fine.


With the Cold DoT archetype, which focuses mainly on Vortex Vortex, Cold Snap Cold Snap & Creeping Frost Creeping Frost, being as popular as it is nowadays and as strong as it is nowadays, we needed to provide you with a super comfortable character to play which allows you to breeze through content in a leaguestart and potentially even Solo Self-Found environment.

This character is tailored to be pretty durable whilst dishing out enough damage to make mapping really fast whilst being able to deal with all non-uber bosses in the game when mechanics are played correctly. Luckily for you, mechanics are easily learnt on this build as you only need to apply your DoT’s every so often to keep doing damage to the boss.

The build guide we have created for you today focuses on trivializing as many problems as possible through simple gear choices & passive skill tree choices, which is why this build is perfect for newer players and veterans alike. It gets all of its sustain from the passive tree, a recovery mod on a shield and alongside that some easier to acquire pieces of gear. Additionally, it hardly requires anything to get going and can be run through acts & early stages of progression on merely a few Chaos Orb Chaos Orbs.

Occultist vs Elementalist

While many people are nowadays opting into the Elementalist-route for Cold DoT casters, I personally still prefer being an Occultist. It just provides so much unconditional Quality of Life that I think it is most likely the better pick for most of you. In some fringe cases, you might actually be on the hunt for Elementalist’s Damage & Area of Effect, but at that stage, I think you’ll be very capable of figuring that out yourself, as the swap is very easy to make. Elementalist, in my opinion, generally also requires more complex gearing and more decision-making when gearing up, which is again why I think it is less tailored for all of you following a build guide.

Build Summary

Pros and Cons


+ Kills any non-uber boss in the game while staying safe
+ Solid choice to learn boss fights as you’ll have a lot of spare time
+ Doesn’t require any high end Rare items
+ Hardcore viable as it is incredibly tanky


Its damage has a cap which means it’ll never be dishing out millions upon millions of damage.
Its leaguestart gear has quite some suppression on items which can be a tad hard to obtain. You will most likely play uncapped for quite a bit, but that’s fine.

Gearing & Showcase Video

Map Modifiers to be Avoided

Elemental Reflect will kill you, and on top of that you should most likely avoid Less Recovery Rate as that kinda gimps your Energy Shield recovery and thus your ability to cast spells.

Playstyle, Mechanics & Strengths

When you cast a Vortex Vortex, it will place a pool of Cold Damage over Time under you which remains there for a duration. While the pool does initial hit damage, you’re going to only care about the Damage over Time portion of the skill. Because Vortex has a cooldown, it is often paired with other Cold skills to semi circumvent the inconveniences this introduces while mapping. We opted to use Vaal Cold Snap Vaal Cold Snap, because it helps significantly in generic mapping but is also useful to apply some debuffs on bosses, granting you frenzy charges and giving you a ton of damage and clear. Additionally, cCreeping Frost Creeping Frost is another skill you can throw out there to increase your single target damage. It’s mostly used on rares or bosses and shouldn’t be used much otherwise.

At the pinnacle of your front-loaded damage, the build deals just over 4 million boss damage while you are running around and dodging. The uptime of your damage therefore is incredibly high. Because of the uptime, I think you can compare that to almost double the amount on low-uptime builds. Most of the damage comes from the innate numbers on skills, curses through Occultist & some minor damage rolls on gear. This is important because that means you can focus on getting your defensive layers in order, allowing you to stack quite numerous layers of defense. The build runs Grace Grace, Determination Determination, Capped Block & Spell Block, Capped Spell Suppression, Recovery on Block and almost exclusively defensive Flasks to carry you through those nitty situations.

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. You can find PoB’s Fork, by LocalIdentity, here.

If you are not comfortable with Path of Building, PoePlanner’s website offers you a non-PoB alternative to import the code from the above link. 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.

Passive Skill Tree, PoB & Gem Links

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.

Ascendancy, Bandit & Pantheon Power Page

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.

Gear Page

Our recommendation:

Item Slot Item Name
Head Rime Gaze Rime Gaze
Amulet Rare Amulet with +1 to Level of Cold Skills, Attributes, Life & (Cold) DoT Multi
Chest Rare ES/EV Chest with Life, Suppression & Maximum Life
Gloves Rare Gloves with Suppression, Dexterity, Life & Resistances
Boots Rare Boots with Movement Speed, Life, Resistances & Suppression
Belt Rare Belt with Life, Armour & Resistances
Rings Mark of Submission Mark of Submission and a Rare Amethyst with necessary Attributes, Life & Resistances
Weapon +1 Spell/Cold Skills Wand with Cold DoT Multi & Spell Damage
Shield A rare Life Recovery on Block Shield with as much Life/Armour & perhaps Suppression you can find.

Questions & Support

If you enjoy my content to such an extent that you’d like to support me and my work, or you have a specific question you request my private time for, you can buy me a coffee over at Patreon. At no point should you feel pressured to contribute, but if you do, your support means more to me than you will ever imagine.

Even though we try to make our guides as complete as possible, obvioulsy it’s possible you still have questions. We have an entire mod-team readily available to support you & your questions on Discord. You can find us on the ARPG Vault Discord. Make sure to open a Guide Help thread so things stay clear in the main channels.


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 Vortex Vortex. If you are looking for the most optimal way to level a character to maps, we refer you to the following guides.

In order to level this build as a Vortex Vortex build, you need to make your way to level 28 to be able to use the gem.

Getting to Brutus & Merveil

For starters, create a Witch in whichever league you want to start. Pick up a Rolling Magma Rolling Magma and link it too an Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support.

Make sure you have two wands at all times while leveling for that extra chunk of Damage! Get a second one off of the vendor at Level 1 if you didn’t get one from Hillock. Use the following setup to kill Hailrake.

  1. Rolling Magma Rolling Magma
  2. Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support

After Hailrake & the Mud Flats, buy a Holy Flame Totem Holy Flame Totem and a Frost Bomb Frost Bomb and grab a Flame Wall Flame Wall and a Frostblink Frostblink from your quest rewards.
Generally, at this point, Frost Bomb + a Single Rolling Magma should kill simple packs. Every so often, drop a Totem so it kills all enemies its surrounded by. If you make it so your totem fires through your Flame Wall, it’ll do insane damage. To be safe, just spam your skills on mobs you want to kill.

When you arrive at Brutus you should aim to have all of these skills socketed. Being short on one of them will give you way less of a good time killing him. Put your Flame wall on him, make sure your totem shoots through him and spam Rolling Magma to delete him out of existence!

After killing Brutus, pick up a Flame Dash Flame Dash and replace it for your Frostblink Frostblink as well as an Added Lightning Damage Support Added Lightning Damage Support

When you enter Merveils Caverns, take the waypoint and talk to Nessa. Pick up a Creeping Frost Creeping Frost.

Your links should look like this:

  1. Creeping Frost Creeping Frost
  2. Efficacy Support Efficacy Support
  1. Flame Dash Flame Dash
  2. Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support
  1. Holy Flame Totem Holy Flame Totem
  2. Added Lightning Damage Support Added Lightning Damage Support
# Frost Bomb Frost Bomb

Tip: Make sure to check your venders for Sceptres or Wands with +1 to Cold Spell Skill Gems

Act 2, Post Fidelitas

Pick up a Cold Snap Cold Snap from the Quest Reward. Go on to buy a Herald of Ice Herald of Ice & Summon Skitterbots Summon Skitterbots from Yeena. Drop your Holy Flame Totem & put your Cold Snap in.

Act 2, Towards the End

You should pick up some gems from Quests and aim to have the following setup:

  1. Cold Snap Cold Snap
  2. Cruelty Support Cruelty Support (Quest Reward)
  3. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support (Buy from Vendor)
  1. Creeping Frost Creeping Frost
  2. Efficacy Support Efficacy Support

Adding on Supports

From here on out, you can start adding the supports you’ll need in the late game. By the end of act V, your character should be looking somewhat like this:

  1. Frost Bomb Frost Bomb
  1. Malevolence Malevolence
  1. Determination Determination
  1. Flame Dash Flame Dash
  2. Frostbite Frostbite
  3. Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support
  1. Cold Snap Cold Snap
  2. Cruelty Support Cruelty Support
  3. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  1. Creeping Frost Creeping Frost
  2. Vortex Vortex
  3. Efficacy Support Efficacy Support
  4. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  1. Shield Charge Shield Charge
  2. Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support
    Optional: If you like a lot of buttons, and you want to go a tad faster
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