Essence Drain & Contagion Occultist Build Guide (PoE Metamorph 3.9)

Vvckd

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Guide Format

This build guide is split over multiple pages, both to prevent it from getting too long, as well as to help you better find the information you are looking for. In addition to the current page, which presents general information about the build and also contains a Leveling and FAQ section, we have the following pages:

Introduction

The combination of Essence Drain Essence Drain and Contagion Contagion has been strong for a long time. Contagion is an AoE skill that applies a DoT when an enemy is hit by your Essence Drain and dies, which causes Contagion to spread both itself and Essence Drain to nearby enemies. This allows for a very satisfying and efficient way to clear packs of monsters. Essence Drain is also a great single-target damage output skill, one of the strongest when it comes to Damage-Over-Time Chaos skills.

The Occultist ascendancy class has great perks when it comes to building around Chaos skills and provides a lot of defensive power for every Energy-Shield-oriented character. It also makes going Low Life very easy compared to other ascendancy classes; going Low Life can improve your damage by a great deal in this particular case.

Build Summary

The Essence Drain & Contagion Occultist does not require any initial investment in order to start. When it comes to endgame, there are some expensive items you can save up currency for. Shavronne's Wrappings Shavronne's Wrappings will allow you to transition into Low Life. Presence of Chayula Presence of Chayula will help out a lot with the Chaos Resistance and the additional Energy Shield, but is not mandatory since you are immune to Stun via the Occultist ascendancy anyway. Decently rolled Energy Shield gear can also be pricey.

Pros & Cons

Pros

+ Hardcore viable
+ Cheap to start
+ Good balance between clear speed, single target, and defense

Cons

- Using two skills instead of one in order to clear can feel clunky to some people

Playstyle

Offensively, your main goal when clearing is to apply Contagion Contagion to enemies and then hit one of them with Essence Drain Essence Drain. This will allow your Essence Drain to affect all enemies and basically degenerate their life in a second. Against single targets you do not have to use Contagion at all, instead you can have a Vaal Blight Vaal Blight you can use in your spare time.

Defensively, even though you can take a lot of damage in a short amount of time, it is a good idea to keep your distance. Both your main skills have good range and you only need to be near enemies when casting Blight Blight. Occultist’s Wicked Ward and Vile Bastion will prove to be very powerful defensive mechanics over the course of your character’s lifetime.

For playstyle, apply Contagion and then Essence Drain when clearing. For single target, make sure you have good Essence Drain uptime on the monster; in the free time you have, use Vaal Blight Vaal Blight and its normal version in order to augment your single target damage output even further. Vaal Discipline Vaal Discipline will allow you to tank immense amounts of damage in a short period of time.

Passive tree

This is the endgame Low Life passive skill tree.

For more information, be sure to check out the Passive Skill Tree page.

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.

Gems

We go over all of the gem links this build uses in the end-game on our Gem Link page.

Gear Summary / TL;DR

These items provide a good balance between offense and defense and are enough to deal with the endgame, although there is definitely a room for improvement. Please ensure you read the Gear, Jewels and Flasks page in its entirety.

Our recommendation:

Item Slot Item Name
Head Heretic's Veil Heretic's Veil
Amulet Rare Amulet
Chest Shavronne's Wrappings Shavronne's Wrappings
Gloves Allelopathy Allelopathy
Boots Sin Trek Sin Trek
Belt Rare Crystal Belt Crystal Belt
Rings Lori's Lantern Lori's Lantern and a Rare Ring
Weapon Breath of the Council Breath of the Council
Shield Rare Shield

Leveling

As a reminder, we have several guides to help you level up a character.

The Essence Drain & Contagion Occultist can be leveled with its signature skills since the beginning.

Leveling Trees

Here is an example of the early passive skill tree, before you are ready to transition into Low Life / Chaos Inoculation.

Useful Leveling Unique Items

As you begin a new character, there are few unique items that can boost your power exponentially. Tabula Rasa Tabula Rasa allows you to have a 6-Linked skill as early as you get the gems. Wanderlust Wanderlust gives a decent movement speed, which will make your leveling that much more efficient. Goldrim Goldrim provides a lot of elemental resistances, this will let you worry less about gearing when approaching certain Act encounters.

If you are a new player (or if this is your first character for the league), then note that obtaining these items will be very difficult, if not impossible. They are rare drops, which you can otherwise only acquire if you have saved up currency, so do not focus on them too much, and instead simply look for items that match the affix priorities listed in the gearing section above.

Gem Progression

Using Tabula Rasa Tabula Rasa will allow you to have 6-Link gem setups early on, which is why we show such examples below. If you cannot get Tabula Rasa (or another item with a 6-Link), then simply prioritize the first gems in each link provided below.

In order to acquire gems that are not available to your class as a quest reward, simply ask a friend to buy them off vendors for you, or buy them yourself from Sioasa in The Library in Act III Library.

From level 1, you should use the following link.

  1. Blight Blight
  2. Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support

At level 4, you should pick the Contagion Contagion gem.

At level 10, you are able to add Flame Dash Flame Dash, which will help with your mobility.

At level 12, you can start using your signature skill, Essence Drain Essence Drain.

  1. Essence Drain Essence Drain
  2. Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support

By level 18, your Essence Drain Essence Drain link should look like this.

  1. Essence Drain Essence Drain
  2. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  3. Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support

At level 24, you should add Malevolence Malevolence or Discipline Discipline.

By level 31, your Essence Drain Essence Drain gem setup should look like this.

  1. Essence Drain Essence Drain
  2. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  3. Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support
  4. Efficacy Support Efficacy Support
  5. Swift Affliction Support Swift Affliction Support
  6. Energy Leech Support Energy Leech Support

FAQ

What map mods are impossible to do?

No regeneration is rough, but doable if you run a Mana flask.

Conclusion

The Essence Drain & Contagion Occultist specializes in applying very powerful Chaos damage over time effects upon enemies. The build has decent clear speed and very good endgame potential when it comes to killing bosses.

Changelog
  •   

    Revisited and updated for Metamorph 3.9. The build remains very solid and has not been changed.

  •   

    Revisited and updated passive trees for Blight 3.8. The character still remains a very solid choice when it comes to Chaos Damage over Time builds.

  •   

    Revisited and updated for Legion 3.7.

  •   

    Build added.

  1. Posts
    1

    In the level 1 gem setup, there is no need to support Blight with Onslaught, since Blight can’t be supported by Onslaught.

  2. Vvckd

    Moderator

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    682

    On 25/04/2019 at 4:48 AM, radulf said

    In the level 1 gem setup, there is no need to support Blight with Onslaught, since Blight can’t be supported by Onslaught.

    Will fix that, thank you.

  3. Posts
    2

    Hi. Wicked Ward is not a Ascendancy (Witch – Occultist) on my Skill tree in game ……

    Edited by Samwolf82 on June 11th, 2019

  4. Vvckd

    Moderator

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    682

    On 11/06/2019 at 10:27 AM, Samwolf82 said

    Hi. Wicked Ward is not a Ascendancy (Witch – Occultist) on my Skill tree in game ……

    As of 3.7 Occultist got reworked, you can now pick up Wicked Ward on the passive tree. We are working hard on updating 3.6 builds but it takes time.

  5. Posts
    1

    I’m using this build to start and having a great time with it, so thanks. My question is that I don’t have enough Dex to support my gems – am I missing something? The tree only has very few dex nodes so do I need to lock the gems before they reach a certain level?

  6. Vvckd

    Moderator

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    682

    On 14/06/2019 at 10:04 PM, Aquinbean said

    I’m using this build to start and having a great time with it, so thanks. My question is that I don’t have enough Dex to support my gems – am I missing something? The tree only has very few dex nodes so do I need to lock the gems before they reach a certain level?

    You should acquire the Dex you need mainly from Amulet and Rings, getting a single 30Dex node on the tree is fine but we aim to bypass wasting points on that.

  7. Posts
    9

    Hey can I ask what support gems for blight if used Allelopathy Allelopathy

  8. Posts
    2

    On 12/06/2019 at 11:01 AM, Vvckd said

    On 11/06/2019 at 10:27 AM, Samwolf82 said

    Hi. Wicked Ward is not a Ascendancy (Witch – Occultist) on my Skill tree in game ……

    As of 3.7 Occultist got reworked, you can now pick up Wicked Ward on the passive tree. We are working hard on updating 3.6 builds but it takes time.

    Thx u :D

  9. Posts
    3

    Hey there! Thank you for the build. Might be a stupid question, but can you explain why take Righteous Army and Spiritual Aid passives? As I don’t see any minion abilities in this build.

  10. Vlad

    Moderator

    Posts
    65

    On 18/06/2019 at 8:48 PM, kudlajz said

    Hey there! Thank you for the build. Might be a stupid question, but can you explain why take Righteous Army and Spiritual Aid passives? As I don’t see any minion abilities in this build.

    I can answer this! The Spiritual Aid node makes it so that “Increases and Reductions to Minion Damage also affect you”. So, every minion damage increase you have (like from Righteous Army and the other baby nodes around there) will boost your own damage once you have Spiritual Aid. It’s most likely recommended because mathematically, it provides the biggest damage increase you can get, even considering you don’t benefit from some parts of those nodes (like the minion life, minion accuracy rating).

  11. Posts
    3

    On 19/06/2019 at 5:37 AM, Vlad said

    On 18/06/2019 at 8:48 PM, kudlajz said

    Hey there! Thank you for the build. Might be a stupid question, but can you explain why take Righteous Army and Spiritual Aid passives? As I don’t see any minion abilities in this build.

    I can answer this! The Spiritual Aid node makes it so that “Increases and Reductions to Minion Damage also affect you”. So, every minion damage increase you have (like from Righteous Army and the other baby nodes around there) will boost your own damage once you have Spiritual Aid. It’s most likely recommended because mathematically, it provides the biggest damage increase you can get, even considering you don’t benefit from some parts of those nodes (like the minion life, minion accuracy rating).

    Wow, you’re right! I totally missed the “also affects you” part of the skill. Now it makes sense. Thank you!

  12. Posts
    2

    Ok love the build so far just got up to lvl 80 have all but a few pieces for the build so far my only question is how do you get the build to go low life and stay there.

    Edited by sirgrumpy88 on June 25th, 2019

  13. Posts
    2

    Ok love the build. One major question how do you get the build to go low life mode and stay there?

  14. Vvckd

    Moderator

    Posts
    682

    On 25/06/2019 at 6:00 PM, sirgrumpy88 said

    Ok love the build. One major question how do you get the build to go low life mode and stay there?

    Shavronne's Wrappings Shavronne's Wrappings allows you to stay on Low-Life without dying to Chaos Damage, you are staying Low-Life by reserving a portion of your with a combination of a mana reservation gem and Blood Magic Support Blood Magic Support. For example:

    1. Discipline Discipline
    2. Blood Magic Support Blood Magic Support

    Edited by Vvckd on June 26th, 2019

  15. Posts
    1

    Hello ^^
    I don’t really understand how you use the “Profane Bloom” Ascendancy, because I can’t find a way I could curse enemys within the guide. Would be nice if someone could help me with that :).

  16. Vvckd

    Moderator

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    682

    On 02/07/2019 at 4:30 PM, Flinkfuß said

    Hello ^^
    I don’t really understand how you use the “Profane Bloom” Ascendancy, because I can’t find a way I could curse enemys within the guide. Would be nice if someone could help me with that :).

    Hey, if you are high enough level you can use Witchfire Brew Witchfire Brew. Heretic's Veil Heretic's Veil is another great unique item which will allow you to utilize Curses very efficiently. If you do not have these, simply run one of the three on Blasphemy Support Blasphemy Support: Enfeeble Enfeeble, Temporal Chains Temporal Chains, Despair Despair.

    Edited by Vvckd on July 3rd, 2019

  17. Posts
    2

    Hey, I don’t really understand how we utilise Malediction when we have presence of chayula, what curses would we be running and where do they fit in considering there isn’t any spaces left for extra skills. I am running blood magic with both auras in the remaining 3 link, is there something I should drop in favour of some curses?

    just in general I see we have a lot of things that mention curses but there isn’t a single curse as part of the gem setup

    Edited by umbraj on July 13th, 2019

  18. Vvckd

    Moderator

    Posts
    682

    On 13/07/2019 at 8:49 AM, umbraj said

    Hey, I don’t really understand how we utilise Malediction when we have presence of chayula, what curses would we be running and where do they fit in considering there isn’t any spaces left for extra skills. I am running blood magic with both auras in the remaining 3 link, is there something I should drop in favour of some curses?

    just in general I see we have a lot of things that mention curses but there isn’t a single curse as part of the gem setup

    Hey, if you are high enough level you can use Witchfire Brew Witchfire Brew. Heretic's Veil Heretic's Veil is another great unique item which will allow you to utilize Curses very efficiently. If you do not have these, simply run one of the three on Blasphemy Support Blasphemy Support: Enfeeble Enfeeble, Temporal Chains Temporal Chains, Despair Despair.

  19. Posts
    2

    still not making any sense to me, what gem setup do I not use instead? with the spare 3 link we have to use malevolence + discipline + blood magic. I don’t see how these curses can fit in anywhere

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