About the Author
Furty has been playing Path of Exile since the release of the Onslaught League in 2013, and has a deep and diverse well of experience within the game. Equally comfortable playing on Hardcore, Softcore, and Solo-Self Found Leagues, recent ladder results include finishing at Rank 5 on the Legion SSF League playing Essence Drain and the Betrayal League at Rank 186 playing Elemental Hit. You can follow him on Twitter, or check out his occasional streams on Twitch.
There is a vast variety of bow builds in Path of Exile, and many of them share a common flaw — they struggle to deal with the toughest bosses, and they get slapped around in difficult maps. This build is a fine answer; sporting excellent clear speed, potent single target damage, the unique kiting a bow build provides, and a healthy Life pool to ensure you can tackle any challenge without fear. Our Elemental Hit Ascendant is a unique and interesting twist on the conventional bow builds floating around the game, and will empower you to take on some of the game’s most deadly encounters.
Although this build is a difficult league starter, there are a variety of investments that you can make throughout the league to produce an indestructible exile that can find success in virtually any environment. Fortunately, Scion is the most flexible of classes, and our chosen Ascendancy points are suitable for a variety of popular leveling skills, should you wish to play this character from day one. Once this character starts coming into its own, you will have little trouble dispatching some of the game’s most lethal, such as the Guardians, Uber Elder, and Uber Atziri.
+ Great boss damage (~4.5m Shaper DPS in average gear, up to 10m+ in “GG” gear)
+ Formidable survivability; Slayer overleech, large health pool, high Evasion/Dodge, and exceptional mobility
+ Top-tier clear speed
+ Satisfying pops when enemies die; Pyre causing them to explode in gory chunks (also eliminates risk of Detonate Dead)
+ Flexible tree choices and Ascendancy
+ Plenty of investments to further empower the build later in the league
+ Hardcore viable
– Requires a few Exalted Orbs worth of capital to get started
– Difficult to level (as Elemental Hit)
– Requires at least Merciless lab to come online
– Two weapons are necessary for maximum effectiveness
This build clears through all maps without any issues, even on minimal gear. The ridiculous amount of Life Leech we can acquire, combined with the gratifying Slayer overleech, ensures that we rarely feel in danger, even against the toughest opponents or map mods. This feels especially comfortable while Delving, as you can venture into the darkness for quite a while without your health pool so much as budging, due to the overleech.
Mirage Archer Support also provides us with an incredible amount of damage and leech, which gives us an incredible amount of freedom to reposition without loss of uptime throughout your battles. Since we also get Culling Strike Support from the Slayer Ascendancy, this actually leads to some amusing moments where the Mirage Archer solos down the last 30% of the boss and then culls it instantly while you are repositioning.
Since Elemental Hit is both our clearing and bossing skill, it does not take long to become comfortable with the style of play. This build has an old school feel since it plays fairly simply and straightforward, but it boasts incredible power and top-tier single target damage and clear speed, forming an extremely satisfying combination.
This is our recommended skill tree for the build. Since we already have plenty of damage, there is not much need to invest into Critical Strike; for this reason, we take Resolute Technique, ensuring accuracy is not an issue. The highest priorities will be to pick up Acrobatics and Avatar of Fire immediately, grabbing all the Life Leech nodes such as Vaal Pact on the way. You will need both Jewels very early on the left arm of the tree for your double_*Combat Focus*_ Jewels. Herbalism, Bravery, Blood Drinker, and Golem’s Blood are the first Life nodes to pick up, You should also acquire Lava Lash early for additional damage and penetration. Finish filling out the Life nodes before grabbing Celestial Judgement, which provides further damage for durable bosses. Pick up the Frenzy charges last, as additional icing for the build.
Recent changes to Mortal Conviction allow us to run an Aura free of charge. Since this node used to provide a large amount of % Increased Maximum Life, this Aura should be used to compensate for this lost defense, rather than boost our damage which is already exceptional.
For additional damage once you are into the 90’s, invest into the Attack Speed and Jewel socket near the Scion starting area, the Jewel socket above Acrobatics, or pick up the Holy Fire notable near Avatar of Fire. Unfortunately, there are no real easy ways to acquire Constitution and the “Wheel of Life” or Discipline and Training — any path typically results in multiple wasted points that are simply not worth the extra Life pool.
if you do not have a Corrupted Drillneck.
Elemental Hit is the only skill we use to deal damage in this build. It is important to have two separate 6-linked weapons, or be using a 6-link chest such as Farrul's Fur, as Greater Multiple Projectiles Support is necessary for clearing, but a crippling disadvantage on single targets. Since we use a lot of Abyss Jewels in items such as Tombfist and Bubonic Trail, this build does not have a lot of secondary skills or gems. Blink Arrow should be linked to Faster Attacks Support to help you get around the map quickly, and dodge dangerous boss abilities such as the Shaper Slam. Blood Rage and Decoy Totem have no need of being linked, but can be used as means of providing additional damage and defense to your build, particularly on bosses.
Since our available sockets and links are limited, we also combine our Cast when Damage Taken Support + Immortal Call link with our Vaal skill. Vaal skills do not trigger from Cast When Damage Taken, but still benefit from the Increased Duration Support gem that is part of the link. Vaal Skills can be adjusted to your preference, but we often recommend either Vaal Grace (clearing) or Vaal Cold Snap (frenzy charge generation for bosses). Due to Mortal Convinction now providing a free Aura, we will also make use of the active component of Grace at all times to keep us healthy and safe.
For all the gem links we provide below, keep in mind that we list the gems in order of priority (starting from the top left, going to the right on each row of the links), meaning that if you lack the required number of sockets to fit all the gems, the first ones to drop are the ones at the bottom (with the bottom right being the last). Also note that in-game, as long as the sockets are linked, it makes no difference at all what order the gems are placed in.
Elemental Hit Clearing 6-Link
- Elemental Hit
- Greater Multiple Projectiles Support
- Elemental Damage with Attacks Support
- Mirage Archer Support
- Combustion Support
- Damage on Full Life Support
Elemental Hit (Weapon Swap) 6-Link
Fire Penetration Support is used here as this setup is typically only used for bossing, allowing you to significantly amp up your output.
- Elemental Hit
- Elemental Damage with Attacks Support
- Mirage Archer Support
- Combustion Support
- Damage on Full Life Support
- Fire Penetration Support
Cast When Damage Taken 4-Link
Alternative Aura Setup
This setup offers a little more flexibility and damage for bossing, but less survivability than Grace.
- Cast when Damage Taken Support (Level 10)
- Immortal Call (Level 12)
- Blasphemy Support
- Elemental Weakness (Bossing) or Enfeeble (Clearing)
Blood Rage / Decoy Totem
These are recommended for bosses, or once you have adapted the build for Frenzy Charges. You can also use this as another Vaal link, such as either Vaal Haste and/or Vaal Grace. The sockets do not have to be linked.
An alternative to Decoy Totem for bossing — if you do not want to rely on the totem — is Vaal Cold Snap, which helps provide Frenzy Charge generation even when there are no enemies for Blood Rage to generate them. The choice is more of a personal one, and there is no right or wrong answer; Decoy Totem takes some of the pressure off of you and may allow more damage uptime, while Vaal Cold Snap can provide higher damage potential on bosses that have no adds.
Blink Arrow 2-Link
Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheon
1. Passive Point
2. Slayer Ascendancy
3. Path of the Duelist
4. Pathfinder Ascendancy
Pathfinder is an optional choice here, but the most recommended for this build as it excels at dealing with tough bosses. Raider is another great option and superior for general mapping, offering the fastest clear speeds.
Ascendant gives us a lot of unique options when approaching this build. Slayer Ascendancy, in particular, is a large power spike and an essential part of our defense. Combined with the Leech Nodes on the tree, we can achieve up to 46% of Life Leeched per second, which is an incredible amount of defensive potential when coupled with the overleech Slayer provides. This can be further increased using Soul of Arakaali, upgraded with Captured Soul of the Arachnoxia, further increases this overleech via our Hematophagy notable. This is reliably activated by our low level Immortal Call in our Cast when Damage Taken Support link while Blood Rage is active. All told, an incredible amount of overleech is possible and it can last for a significant duration of time, which makes the build feel especially great while Delving, as you can venture around in the darkness for some time while the overleech sustains you. The Culling Strike is an added bonus, and feels great on beefy bosses.
Path of the Duelist is necessary for us to reach Avatar of Fire and Acrobatics while still acquiring all the damage and Life we need. There is not a great deal of reason to attempt this build before this node is acquired, as you will have neither the points necessary to reach the mandatory keystones and notables nor the correct starting position on the passive tree. Fortunately, you can easily level Scion as a completely different build and the Slayer Ascendancy will still be of high value throughout the leveling process.
Pathfinder Ascendancy is the best choice for finishing the build if Uber Elder, Shaper, or other boss hunting will be your focus. The elemental penetration and flask empowerments are very powerful tools and should not be undervalued.
Raider Ascendancy is the best choice for finishing the build if clear speed and maximum experience per hour is your focus. The organic Frenzy Charge regeneration is also a nice quality of life bonus for some bosses, and allows for Vaal Cold Snap to be completely dropped in favor of another Vaal skill.
Deal with the Bandits Reward
Kill all three bandits for the Passive Points.
- Soul of Arakaali: Upgrade as soon as possible with Captured Soul of Arachnoxia from Toxic Sewer. The other upgrades are all generally useful defensively, and worth seeking out, but not necessary. This is the best option for bosses such as Uber Elder due to the many DoT effects that can proc the regeneration.
- Soul of Solaris: The best option for safety while leveling or clearing once upgraded. The upgrade that prevents Critical Strike chains is by far the most useful, and makes you feel very sturdy and safe in maps.
Minor Gods are a matter entirely of preference, so feel free to choose based on your personal liking. Soul of Shakari’s reduced Chaos Damage is our preference, and the Poison Immunity acquired from the Captured Soul of Terror of Infinite Drifts (Desert Spring) is one of the best upgrades in the Pantheon. Soul of Yugul is a great option for the Uber Elder.
Gear, Jewels, and Flasks
Kaom's Heart is the only real choice for bossing and the end-game, as we have no real need of a second six link due to our use of Chin Sol. As we deal exclusively fire damage, this unique is perfectly suited to both offense and defense. There are also some very nice corruptions possible, such as the increased damage or increased maximum resistance.
Queen of the Forest is another option for clear speed and general mapping. It can acquired before Kaom’s and used earlier in the league.
Bubonic Trail are the best option available, offering a very high amount of life (including the jewel sockets) and excellent move speed. The damage bonus per each type of Abyss jewel is significant, as we use all four types within the build.
A one socket version is fine early on, as we can still get all four types of Abyssal Jewels using a Stygian Vise.
Tombfist are simply the best choice in the current metagame, especially as users of Bubonic Trail. The massive amount of Life and built in Maim and Intimidate are simply too good to pass up, in addition to the damage they provide.
The best corruptions to acquire, if you have the funds, are:
- Attack Speed
- Elemental Weakness on Hit
- +1 to Maximum Frenzy Charges
A rare helmet with Life and resists is typically the best choice, as we are already using a lot of uniques in other slots.
The best enchants are:
- Elemental Hit has 15% increased Attack Speed
- Elemental Hit deals 40% increased damage
The author has played Elemental Hit to Level 100 several times and has found no discernible difference between these enchants (<1% DPS). Some players prefer the Attack Speed as they feel it plays a little smoother, while others favor the larger individual hits on bosses where repositioning often is necessary. We recommend simply choosing whichever enchant is more readily accessible.
Devoto's Devotion is an option for clear speed if you cannot afford the Abyss gear yet, as you can use Rare boots instead for resistances.
Crafting +3 Bows
For more information on how to craft +3 Bows easily and reliably, see our Crafting a +3 Gems Bow section in our Fossil Crafting Guide.
Imperial Legacy can be a relatively affordable method of obtaining the base to craft off of.
You will want to be using a +3 gems bow for clearing. The only stats of consequence are the levels to gems and Attack Speed.
A +3 Bow is the best option for single target as well, due to Chin Sol nerfs. This bow is preferred as a weapon swap, as it allows us to use different colors for our Elemental Hit 6-Link, dropping Greater Multiple Projectiles Support in favor of Fire Penetration Support. Combined with Point Blank, this weapon will decimate bosses.
Chin Sol is an affordable option and is still very strong, allowing for some exceptional damage output and overleech. Chin Sol works fine on a 5-Link early on and can be used throughout the entire end-game once 6-Linked — despite the nerfs, it is still a potent alternative to a +3 Bow and is superior to a +2 bow for single-target.
A corrupted Drillneck with Point Blank is a highly effective option combined with you single-target bow. The corruption is not necessary, but a useful upgrade to pursue once you have the currency, saving you a Passive Point as well as allowing you to play without Point Blank when you are using your clearing weapon.
For your clearing weapon, a variety of options are suitable. Rigwald's Quills is exceptional for clear, but extremely expensive. Shaped Quivers are also great options to consider, but also require currency. Using a second Drillneck, or simply swapping your quiver between weapons, is perfectly fine as well; you will not notice much difference when clearing as nearly all enemies will be instantly obliterated regardless of your choice.
Yoke of Suffering is used in this build. providing solid damage and valuable resistances. Since Avatar of Fire is not too far out of our way, Xoph's Blood is not necessary. The primary stats it provides are also quite valuable to our build, as we run low on Strength and Intellect, especially.
Pyre is used in one of our Ring slots in all situations.
A Rare with Life, Resistance, Elemental Damage with Attack Skills, and Fire Damage. As we use Resolute Technique, Critical Strike has no benefit for us, which can make finding a powerful ring significantly cheaper.
A Rare Stygian Vise should be used with high Life, Resistances, and Elemental Damage with Attack Skills.
For Rare Jewels, look for items with:
- % Increased Maximum Life
- Increased Attack Speed with Bows
- Increased Attack Speed
- Increased Fire Damage
You will want to use one of each type of Abyss Jewel for the bonus from Bubonic Trail, and a second Searching Eye Jewel for the Bow mods. Resistances on Jewels is very important as the build incorporates a large number of Uniques; the Abyss Jewels allow us to recoup resistances that cannot be obtained from Armor slots. Having Onslaught on at least one Jewel is a very nice bonus to clear speed.
Here is our recommended Flask setup, although you can change them out based on personal preference of Flasks or Prefixes/Suffixes. Your Resistances must be balanced, or Fire Resistance must be your highest Resistance for The Wise Oak to properly work.
- Seething Divine Life Flask of Staunching
- The Wise Oak
- Chemist’s Quartz Flask of Heat
- Perpetual Basalt Flask of Warding
- Alchemist’s Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline
Which Annointments Are Best for my Amulet?
- Constitution — A great all purpose choice and adds a huge amount of beef to the build that we could not access before this patch
- Heart of Flame — Best possible damage node that is not regularly accessible to this build
- Disciple of the Slaughter — Highest DPS if you are using the Raider Ascendancy instead of Pathfinder
Can I Level as Elemental Hit?
While it is, of course, possible to level using Elemental Hit, it is not recommended. If you are set on playing a Bow build throughout the entire leveling process, it is advised you instead use Rain of Arrows, for example. It is generally easiest to level with a melee skill with high base damage, such as Blade Vortex, so you can acquire the life and tankiness surrounding the Marauder starting area. Our Ascendancy allows us to play nearly any build to great effect, so do not feel any rush to respec into the full Elemental Hit build until you have the levels and currency to support it.
Can I Make This Build Work With Only a Single Weapon?
It is difficult to play this build to any level of effectiveness without using a Chin Sol weapon swap, which rely on for our powerful single target damage and overleech. Being able to have two differently colored 6-links is also a huge advantage, allowing us to use Greater Multiple Projectiles Support in our clearing link while maximizing our boss damage with Fire Penetration Support in our Chin Sol. You should obtain a 6-link clearing bow before aiming for 6-link Chin Sol, as it can be more easily obtained by using the method described in the Weapons section of the guide.
Which Map Mods are Most Difficult?
Elemental Reflect is not possible using this build, and should always be avoided in any circumstance. No Leech is a risky mod to attempt, but possible with patience and good flask play. Monsters have 90% chance to Avoid Elemental Ailments is an inconvenient affix and should be rerolled if you can spare the currency.
Which Bosses are Most Difficult?
This will vary from player to player, but I find Guardian of the Phoenix to be one of the most dangerous, especially with turbo mods or increased area of effect. The general zoning of the boss makes abusing Chin Sol a difficult game plan, and the phoenixes, which can easily stun you with their damage, must be periodically cleared using your Greater Multiple Projectiles Support bow. The phoenix’s can be very dangerous if the map is rolled with additional projectiles mods, and should be cleared immediately. Guardian of the Phoenix can be dealt with safely and easily, but it must be played more slowly and patiently than most bosses.
How Do I Approach Uber Elder?
Uber Elder should be played very aggressively, as most of our defense relies on the powerful overleech we sustain through our Chin Sol damage when we are right next to the target. This build can push through phases quickly, and afford to make a few mistakes, but it can still be easily one-shot if you are unfamiliar with the mechanics of the encounter. Using Kaom's Roots will reduce your damage, but remove possible RNG overlaps between Shaper and Elder’s mechanics that result in one-shots. If you do die during the encounter, you will need to be very careful when re-entering the fight, as your powerful overleech will not be ticking and you can die very quickly to some of the ground effects. When dealing with null portals and adds, try to move in a circular pattern around the top half of the arena to allow you to continually dodge Shaper orbs without having to pay much attention to them.