This build utilizes the “recoup” mechanic, which recovers a set % of damage we’ve taken from hits over a 4 second time frame, and aims to recover 50% of this damage. The recoup mechanic combined with Petrified Blood allows us to mitigate huge amounts of incoming damage and regenerate more health per second than the damage we’re taking over time. The build is designed to be a pure hybrid build where we are going to invest in Energy Shield Leech mechanics to sustain a high pool of Energy Shield. You can level with Dark Pact once you are able to pick it up at level 28 allowing you to use the same abilities whilst leveling as you will at endgame.
Since this build has a very niche playstyle, I would strongly recommend watching the video linked below to see if it’s something you’d find enjoyable to play. Besides watching that video I will list a couple of great videos outlining gear progression but most importantly in-depth explaining how both the defensive & offensive mechanics are scaled & utilized in the build as it can be very complex:
Below, you can see the build in action from my YouTube guide. Do note that the video might be outdated in terms of information, you should always look at this guide to make sure you have the updated information.
In this section, I will outline the pros, cons, and general playstyle. This will allow you to determine if this is the right build is for you!
+ High Sustaining – We are setting up the build to essentially passively counter damage taken by recoup by boosting regeneration of our Life pool and benefiting from Energy Shield leech mechanics to sustain our Energy Shield pool.
+ League Starter – The build lacks specific mandatory uniques and therefor works very well in league start scenarios as well as in SSF.
+ Bosser – The damage output this build can achieve even in low budget is completely absurd.
+ Unique Play Style – You will summon skeletons and then cast Dark Pact which is chaining between your skeletons offering not only an unique playstyle but also a unique approach to gearing.
– Unique Play Style – Due to the nature of this build’s playstyle, it is a build that not everyone will find enjoyable. I strongly recommend watching the gameplay video before starting this build.
– Cluster – For endgame, it is crucial that you get yourself a medium cluster jewel with minion Life to get the node Blessed Rebirth, which is very easily crafted and/or super cheap to purchase. This jewel is absolutely required for the higher endgame content to avoid having your skeletons die before you get to dish out some damage with Dark Pact.
The playstyle is based around summoning your skeletons on the field and then directly connecting them by casting Dark Pact, chaining between your skeletons and dealing massive amounts of damage.
Damage Scaling And Defensive Layers
The build uses the new mechanic that recoups damage taken from hits. We will have 50% of incoming damage taken recovered as life back to us over a 4 second time frame which we will combine with the effects of Petrified Blood. We will also leech our damage dealt to our Energy Shield to properly sustain a high amount of both Life and Energy Shield. On top of this, we have a layer of skeletons in-front of you that enemies will target rather than yourself. Our primary damage is dealt by casting Dark Pact on our skeletons causing the spell chain between them. Each chain can hit the same target(s) per chain making Chain Support an incredibly strong support gem. Since Dark Pact deals a base chaos damage based on the max life our skeletons have, we will want to ramp up minion life across our skill-tree as well as via support gems and gear.
The defensive layers on this build are VERY tricky to grasp. The easy part is building for high block chance against both attacks and spells. Chaos damage over time can be especially scary with low chaos resistance making that a desired stat to have if possible on your gear. With this build, we are using Petrified Blood which works in this way:
Our Life is cut in half putting us at “Low Life,” allowing for the use of Pain Attunement and increasing our damage dealt. The only way we can go above 50% of our maximum Life is with the use of a Life flask. Upon doing so, all of our spells gain a Life cost on top of the mana cost to cast. This requirement is removed when we are back down to 50% of our life.
While Pain Attunement requiring Low Life may seem daunting, Petrified Blood allows us to hit that benchmark while maintaining a similar effective health pool by preventing a portion of damage from hits and transferring into a damage over time effect. Thanks to our build recouping 50% of damage taken from hits as life, though, we can easily handle the degen. Combined with high Energy Shield, which we sustain with Energy Shield Leech, we end up with a very high effective health pool despite our Low Life status.
PoB And Passive Skill Tree
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.
This low budget PoB provides leveling trees as well as skills to use throughout the campaign and the end-game gear with a budget friendly approach: https://pobb.in/z6Zyrw_P25V8
For higher budget options I would strongly suggest the defensive version of the following 2 and to take the first initial steps from the low budget to either of these you’ll simply grab the Timeless Jewel & Cluster Jewels first after that it doesn’t matter which item you upgrade next as they mostly provide the same level of efficiency.
Defensive version: https://pobb.in/ZiONCujt7J27
Offensive version: https://pobb.in/wU47GYQoV7ko (note that this is a glass cannon)
You can find more information on our dedicated page, along with all the recommended gem links.
A lot of the endgame gear can easily be crafted. For a general overview of crafting and to 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. You’ll find a summarized version below.
|Item Slot||Item Name||Rarity|
|Head||Life then Res/Attributes as needed (For high budget you can get a helmet with “+ level of socketed minion gems)||Rare|
|Amulet||Life then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Chest||Life then Res/Attributes as needed (or a Tabula Rasa||Rare/Unique|
|Boots||Life then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Rings||Life then Res/Attributes as needed||Rare|
|Weapon||Rare with + level of minion and/or spell skills||Rare|
|Shield||High life, ES base preferably with Spell crit chance||Rare|
Ascendancy, Bandits & Pantheon Recommendations
You can read about the Ascendancy, Bandit choice, and Pantheon Power recommendations for this build on our dedicated page.
You can easily level with generic spells until you reach level 28 and gain access to the Dark Pact skill. While leveling, be sure to complete Siosa’s quest in the Library of Act 3 to purchase Feeding Frenzy for our skellies and then start casting that on your skeletons instead. An important note to remember when playing this build is that mana problems are very common and there are a few solutions to this that are both easily accessible and cheap. One solution is to use a mana flask during the campaign acts and later get an “Enduring” prefix rolled mana flask. It’s important to point out that leveling with Dark Pact can be very clunky at first and quickly becomes smoother and smoother as you progress. However, for new(er) players it can in many cases be smoother to stick to Absolution all the way till level 60-70 even before switching. In the PoB the Dark Pact leveling can be found in the skill-section whilst the Absolution is generically listed below here in the written guide.
Act 1 – 3
A baseline effective way of leveling in the early acts is to utilize Freezing Pulse, Stormblast Mines, Frost Bomb, Frost Blink and Orb of Storms. A useful method of dealing with tougher enemies, such as Brutus, is to include a Holy Flame Totem which not only deals damage but also works as a decoy for the boss(es) to hit rather than yourself.
For levels 1-8, you will use the following gems:
- Stormblast Mine for single target.
- Freezing Pulse for clearing.
- Frost Bomb for clearing when you get it instead of the Freezing Pulse.
- Holy Flame Totem
Once you reach level 8, you are able to get support gems in the form of Added Lightning and Added Cold. This is where Stormblast Mines starts to take over and become the main source of your damage as you progress through the Acts.
- Added Lightning Damage Support
- Added Cold Damage Support
- Flame Dash (After Brutus we switch our Frostblink to this instead.)
When you reach level 12 and have entered the caverns leading to Merveil you can grab Absolution as your main source of damage with the following links:
The Absolution will carry you to maps if you wish but it’s way more fun to use the ability the build is supposed to use for the end-game so you can switch to Dark Pact after reaching Act 3, level 28. The Aura decision comes in Act 2, which is when we can enable Herald of Purity & Summon Skitterbots.
In Act 3, you’ll want to reach Siosa in the Library, who allows us to purchase any and all gems we might lack from previous gem vendors. This allows for the purchase of Physical to Lightning Support which we’ll use for our Absolution but also adding Feeding Frenzy Support to our golem or zombies to give ourselves more minion damage.
- Minion Damage Support
- Physical to Lightning Support
- Added Cold Damage Support or Added Lightning Damage Support
Later you can switch the added damage support gem with Spell Echo Support (LvL 38)
The Aura changes will be to remove all heralds and replace them with Zealotry. In some cases, you might want to consider still using one or two of the previous heralds if possible with your mana. Opening up your mana pool helps a lot to sustain the mana problems normally solved with mana flask(s) (preferably with an “Enduring” prefix). Avoid reserving too much mana and preventing your ability to effectively deal damage.
At this point of your progression you simply just need to follow the endgame tree and gem links to further enhance your character throughout the Acts and into the hardest endgame content.
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 it if you share 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!