Cast on Critical Strike (colloquially known as CoC) builds have long been one of the iconic build archetypes in Path of Exile, offering an engaging and very unique experience that can tear through maps and decimate bosses with little effort. Cast On Critical Strike Support reigned triumphantly as one of the most potent and entertaining build archetypes in the 3.11 Harvest league, but changes to the Thread of Hope gem have shaken up its defenses somewhat. This guide has received a considerable overhaul for and remains a heavyweight bosser despite some light nerfs, continuing to return as a potent powerhouse ready to leave a frozen wake of shattered enemies.
This build is one of incredible power and potential, that feels capable with only a few core investments, but scales into a monstrously powerful end-game that hardly any builds can match. Incredible offensive firepower is distilled into a simple and engaging end point, allowing you to annihilate bosses like The Shaper in seconds. Survival, however, is often just as important as the raw attack power of your exile, perhaps even more so. Fortunately, this build feels stable and can withstand any attacks enemies manage to get off against you.
Overall, this build can be one of the most fast-paced, exciting, and well rounded in the entire game. It excels in practically every respect, and has plenty of changes and permutations that can be made to customize it to preference, or upgrade it further towards god status.
3.14 Ultimatum League Changes
Assassin Ascendancy further nerfed:
- Ambush and Assassinate: Now grants 15% more Damage with Hits and Ailments against Enemies that are on Low Life (previously 25%).
Overall this is not a massive hit to the build and also makes Mistwalker an even more attractive alternative prospect, depending on your preferences.
+ Incredible damage output
+ Well-rounded defenses
+ Melts all types of content; Bosses, Mapping, Delving, Labyrinth, etc.
+ Extremely fast clear speed
+ Extremely fast kill times (Uber Elder, Sirus, Aul the Crystal King, Mastermind, etc.)
+ High movement speed
+ Viable as both league starter and league finisher — functions a budget, but has plenty of investments to continually elevate the build
– Moderate cost required to get rolling in the end-game ( Cospri's Malice, Chaos Innoculation)
– Cyclone requires prescient positioning on spooky bosses
– Can feel squishy when league starting or if you cannot afford baseline gear
Path of Building
Path of Building for the Chaos Innoculation (recommended) build can be found here.
Included are the skill trees, gem links, and an example set of gear with room for upgrades. Resistances have been excluded as they can be filled in on any piece as needed and available.
We use the Path of Building Community Fork for all of our builds, which is highly recommended. If you are encountering errors importing the build, please ensure you are .
This build clears everything extremely quickly, whether you are farming your T16 Maps or farming the Uber Elder. Players who love smashing through content but have a measured and precise style of play will enjoy this build the most, as it does require and reward careful movement in certain cases.
Cyclone is used as the trigger spell for our CoC build, due to its extremely high attack speed and relatively generous range of effect. Cyclone is technically a movement skill, and it can be a polarizing choice for this reason. That said, the sheer power of Cyclone when compared with alternatives, such as Blade Flurry, make it the clear winner.
Each time you approach an enemy, activate Cyclone, ideally clicking close to your character to afford the most precise movement, affording you more agency to avoid dangerous abilities and ensuring you are not slowed for any longer than necessary. This will trigger our Ice Novas, which are socketed in both our main 6-link (with Cyclone and Cast On Critical Strike Support) as well as Cospri's Malice, our weapon of choice. Frostbolts, also socketed in Cospri’s, will trigger additional Ice Novas, resulting in a satisfying helping of freezing and screen shattering that absolutely tears apart the enemies on screen.
This build also incorporates skills like Vortex to increase our damage on sturdy targets and bosses. There are plenty of personal adjustments and customizations to be made, if desired, allowing you to adapt the build to further specialize towards a specific style of play. For example, if you really enjoy the security of playing with a Decoy Totem on tough bosses, there are multiple “optional” gems that could be swapped out to accommodate personal preference.
Cerebral use of Flasks is relatively important to maintaining maximum damage and clear speed, as we do rely on The Wise Oak and the Diamond Flask quite heavily to maintain our absurd damage output. While liberal use is advised, be careful not to “munch” charges by re-activating them too early and wasting any remaining duration. Additionally, due to Cyclone’s status as a movement skill, certain care must be taken when using flasks that affect movement speed. Using a Quicksilver Flask will cause your character to travel farther and faster, which can be detrimental for uptime on a boss. There is no hard and fast rule; becoming comfortable with the skill and how your character moves is the main optimization and can only be developed with practice and muscle memory.
Passive Skill Tree
This is our recommended skill tree for the (recommended) version of the build.
This is our recommended skill tree for the (cheaper) version of the build.
For more details on the Passive Tree, an early game Life version, skill acquisition order, and more, be sure to check out the Passive Skill Tree page for in-depth information.
We go over all of the gem links this build uses in the end-game on our Gem Link page.
Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheon
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
These items strike a balance between power and cost-effectiveness. If you want to explore more options for Gear (both budget and high-end), Flasks, or get more information on alternatives and specialty items, please ensure you read the Gear, Jewels, and Flasks section in its entirety.
|Item Slot||Item Name|
|Head||+1 Maximum Power Charge Hubris Circlet|
|Amulet||+1 Cold Skill Gems Citrine Amulet|
|Chest||500+ Energy Shield Vaal Regalia|
|Gloves||Rare Fingerless Silk Gloves_|
|Boots||Rare Tailwind Boots ( Sorcerer Boots or Two-Toned Boots (Fire and Cold Resistances)|
|Belt||Rare Crystal Belt|
|Ring 1||Circle of Fear (Reduced reservation / Cold damage)|
|Ring 2||Rare Ring|
|Weapon 1||Cospri's Malice|
|Shield||Socketed Gems Have 15% Reduced Mana Reservation Shield ( Titanium Spirit Shield preferred|
Example end game gear used by our character:
|Item Slot||Item Name|
|Chest||Loreweave (bossing) or Carcass Jack (all-round)|
|Gloves||Atziri's Acuity or Rare Fingerless Silk Gloves|
|Boots||Rare Boots or Bubonic Trail (2 sockets)|
|Belt||Rare Stygian Vise|
|Ring 1||Mark of the Shaper|
|Ring 2||Elder Rare Ring|
|Weapon 1||Cospri's Malice|
|Shield||Light of Lunaris|
For much more detailed information on the best gear, jewels, and flasks to use, be sure to check out our Gear Page section in its entirety.
As a reminder, we have several guides to help you level up a character.
- 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.
We recommend starting with Freezing Pulse, which works well with Lifesprig if you have one. If you have another character to pass Storm Brand to you at Level 12, this is ideal for leveling. Alternately, you can opt to use Freezing Pulse until Act III where Storm Brand can be acquired from the Fixture of Fate Library quest. Blade Vortex is another great option that can be used until Act III (or all the way until maps if you choose) as either your primary leveling skill or as an additional means of boosting single target damage in an off-link.
Use this Level 48 Passive Tree as a general reference if you are leveling with Storm Brand. You will need to respec a few points later, but nothing drastic.
In order of priority, the Storm Brand links are:
- Storm Brand
- Elemental Focus Support
- Added Lightning Damage Support
- Controlled Destruction Support
- Added Cold Damage Support
- Hypothermia Support
If you are using a Tabula Rasa, simply fill in the other gem sockets with whatever supports are available from the vendors until you reach Act II and Act III for the other gems.
- Lightning Spire Trap
- Added Lightning Damage Support
- Controlled Destruction Support
- Trap and Mine Damage Support
You can play Storm Brand into early mapping if you like, which may be easier for league starter characters until Cospri's Malice can be acquired. Take a look at our full Storm Brand guide for tree reference if you plan on respeccing later.
You can transition to Cast On Critical Strike Support as early as level 44, when Widowmaker can be acquired. Ideally, you will also want to have a Diamond Flask, which is really essential before you get your second Ascendancy node, Deadly Infusion. Refer to the links and Passive Tree earlier in the guide for more details. Instead of Herald of Thunder, use Frostbite with Blasphemy Support instead to provide you with a nice damage boost. Enfeeble or Temporal Chains are also great alternatives if you feel like you need a bit of extra defense.
Which Annointment Should I Use on my Amulet?
There are plenty of options for utility and defense, but from a damage perspective these are our recommendations:
- If you are , then the notable is your best bet.
- Heart of Ice: Hands down the best damage option due to the damage, cold penetration, and energy shield leech.
- Arcane Potency: Not far behind Heart of Ice for damage, but loses on bosses and lacks the leech. Possibly a better option in lesser gear when Critical Strike is still very desirable and not yet close to cap.
- Eagle Eye or Depth Perception: Budget options that can be used to cap Accuracy if needed and grant some Critical Strike.
Chaos Innoculation or Life?
Chaos Innoculation is a safer way to play the build and recommended if you can afford the gear. Life is a little easier to setup with similar or better damage potential, but much more squishy.
Cast on Critical Strike Mechanics Explained
Cast On Critical Strike Support can only trigger a maximum number of times per second, which is just over 6 times per second, due to an internal cooldown. Cyclone hits twice with every hit, and therefore we want to have a “Attacks Per Second” (APS) of 3.0, which would result in 6 total attacks per second. Since this is just under the maximum trigger rate of Cast on Critical Strike, this gives us the best chance of attaining the maximum possible triggers since there is almost no overlap.
This means that using a Silver Flask will actually reduce your damage output, since your Cyclone hits will no longer cleanly line up with the Cast On Critical Strike Support internal cooldowns, which will result in slight delays between some triggers and a sizeable amount of lost damage potential. You will essentially be wasting every 7-8th “attack” from Cyclone, as Cast on Critical Strike would be on cooldown for that period. In order to not exceed this limitation, you should not purchase a Cospri's Malice with an Attack Speed value that exceeds 9%, and avoid Attack Speed on Rares.
There is a way around this, however, and it is explained in our Belt section. A Shaped Rare belt with Increased Cooldown Recovery Speed (ICRS) of at least 14% will increase the maximum number of Cast On Critical Strike Support triggers to ~7.60 per second. This means our optimal APS value would become around 3.75, giving us 7.50 attacks per second, once again just beneath the maximum trigger rate for the smoothest triggers.
If you have 14% ICRS, you can upgrade your Cospri's Malice to a maximum Attack Speed roll (14%). You can also swap your Basalt Flask for a Silver Flask for a sizeable damage boost, but at a loss to defensive capability.
How Do I Calculate DPS?
Calculating DPS for this build is not as simple as merely ticking the right boxes in Path of Building. You will have to done a daisy chain of napkin math — none of it particularly complex — to accurately account for the various effects of the build. I made a comment demonstrating to a reader how to calculate DPS which I have re-pasted here for your convenience. When inputting your Ice Nova and Frostbolt damage you (taking the multiplier into account) because we nearly always deal Critical Strikes. We then multiply by a decimal of our Critical Strike (e.g. 0.95) to account for the percentage of times that we do not crit. If you are using a second Cospri's Malice with Elemental Focus Support you will also need to take this into account.
Originally posted by Furty on June 23rd 2019:
Using my gear from Synthesis League:
Cyclone: 47,000 DPS
Cospri's Malice Frostbolts: Frostbolt hit (69,433) * 7.57 (triggers per second with CDR) x 0.95 Crit Chance) = 499,327 DPS — Divide by two, since Cospri's Malice procs alternate between socketed gems — 249,664 DPS
Cospri's Malice Ice Nova: Ice Nova hit (52,766) * 2 ( Frostbolt procs) * 7.57 (triggers per second with CDR) * 0.95 (Crit Chance) = 758,933 DPS — Divide by two, since Cospri's Malice procs alternate between socketed gems — 379,466 DPS
Combined DPS Calculation: 3,883,697 DPS
Shock: 5,048,806 DPS * 1.2 = 6,058,567 DPS
Vaal Righteous Fire: 6,058,567 DPS * 1.4 = 8,481,994 DPS
Righteous Fire 6,058,567 DPS * 1.4 = 8,481,994 DPS
These calculations were done with Concentrated Effect Support as my 6th link, as “Shaper DPS” should be calculated using gems I would use on Shaper or Uber Elder. This is an extremely complicated build with many layered interactions between damage, ailments, and triggers — unfortunately, there is no way in Path of Building to automate this calculation. Good luck!
What About Lycosidae?
Lycosidae is still a perfectly viable choice and can be used all throughout the end-game if you prefer not to mess around with Accuracy.
Cospri’s Malice Explained
Gems trigger from top to bottom in Cospri's Malice, as explained earlier in the guide. This item will trigger automatically from our Cyclone, so there is no need to do anything beyond socketing the gems. The gems socketed in Cospri's Malice alternate between triggers, therefore the Ice Nova socketed in Cospri’s will trigger half as many times as your main 6-Link.