The Tankiest Essence Drain Contagion Trickster Build Guide (PoE Scourge 3.16)

TbXie

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Scourge League “Updates” & “Disclaimers”

Yep. ED Contagion is an S-Tier build once again. It gained damage, tankiness and a ridiculous amount of cool stuff from the patch. It recovered its ailment immunity, now packs a whopping 6.7K Life whilst still having all its defensive layers it had before! Definitely something I would recommend.

Introduction

Essence Drain Essence Drain is a widely-recognized and appreciated build by a large chunk of the community. It is generally perceived well because of its potential in all areas of the game. When built correctly, it excels in clear speed, killing bosses, and staying alive. While there is a ton of Essence Drain content out there, I feel like a lot of it focuses on non-optimal things. I feel like scaling Essence Drain out of control through investing in the most nutty perfect items to do what is, in a best case scenario, about 10-15% more damage while giving up survivability will just result in you playing a build that still doesn’t do top tier damage but feels more squishy than it should. The skill / build archetype was not made to be a top tier damaging build, but focuses on doing its damage rather safe and maintaining its top tier clear speed perk. So, rather than grabbing that 10% or so extra damage, I went all out and stacked as many defenses as possible. The most optimal defensive setup requires you to go for Atziri's Step Atziri's Step and a Thread of Hope Thread of Hope to allocate Phase Acrobatics, but that most likely was a little bit too far-fetched so I ended up being happy with running capped Block & Spell Block, Energy Shield on Block, 31/47 Dodge, over 50% Chance to Evade and a total Health Pool of almost 9,000. All of these defenses, layered on top of each other, will make it borderline impossible for you to die.

The best part about tackling the build in this way is that almost all your gear is self farmable or craftable and can easily be purchased for relatively cheap as well. The build runs a single Unique item which is easily obtainable from killing normal Atziri, and most of its Rare items are literally just some resistances, Life and a benchcraft. If you’re looking for something that is fairly durable, excels at clearing maps and kills bosses at a decent pace while being nearly impossible to kill, this Essence Drain variation is definitely what you’re looking for!

Build Summary

Pros and Cons

Pros

+ Exceptional map clear
+ Functions on very cheap/accessible gear
+ Does very potent DPS on bosses while being durable
+ Ridiculous single target & clear on relatively limited gear
+ Really solid at pushing clear-speed on league starts

Cons

2-Button build – you need to spam both to clear maps
Some multimod pieces can be a tad annoying to acquire

Map Modifiers to be Avoided

No Regeneration is incredibly annoying to run as you’ll have to drop a Flask for a Mana Flask. Other than that, this build excels at dealing with most map mechanics!

Playstyle, Mechanics & Strengths

Essence Drain’s playstyle is highly dependent on Contagion Contagion. When you cast an Essence Drain Essence Drain, it’s going to just fire a single projectile into a massive amount of mobs. As you expected, that’s not going to go well. However, as you cast a Contagion Contagion into a pack and then Essence Drain into it, you’re going to proliferate your damage making it so you can clear multiple screens at once. Contagion will expand as monsters die while being influenced by it. That is why this build requires you to press two buttons almost all the time.

On bosses, however, you’re just using one Essence Drain every couple of seconds while casting Blight Blight on the boss as much as possible. This not only activates your Cluster Jewel by Hindering the enemies, but also just deals a decent amount of damage once you give it time to ramp up. As casting multiple Essence Drains on a boss doesn’t really help your cause, you might as well channel some Blight damage into them. Outside of the extra DPS you’re getting from Blight, you mainly get to just dodge mechanics while Essence Drain deals damage over time to the boss(es). This allows you to play fairly safely when you need to, and aggressively when you can!

As you’re playing a Trickster, you’re already innately fairly tanky through Ghost Shrouds and Energy Shield recovery every 2 seconds (provided you’re actually taking damage). Since Trickster also scales very well with Damage over Time, they’re a match made in heaven. Because of the Evasion you naturally stack on Trickster, it usually is more of an archetype that wants to avoid as much damage as possible and stack just about enough health pool to survive the content you’re tackling to never get one-shot. However, since Essence Drain doesn’t require any Unique items and has a decent amount of leeway to stack health passives in the skill tree.

That all leads to a character that already has a reasonably amount of effective health before all of the mitigation layers that you’re stacking. Since you also automatically recover your Energy Shield, you’ll stay topped up throughout most of your playthrough. Obviously, like any build, you shouldn’t be tanking the most dangerous, most telegraphed boss mechanics out there!

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, which is maintained and updated in a much more regular fashion than the original one. You can find PoB’s Fork, by LocalIdentity, here.

If you are not comfortable with Path of Building, we also have a Tree from PoE’s website for you. Do note that this does not support Cluster Jewels and some specific unique jewels and 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, Jewel & Flask Page

Our recommendation:

Item Slot Item Name
Head Hubris Circlet Hubris Circlet with Life – Chaos Res and as much Energy Shield as you can find
Amulet Turquoise Amulet Turquoise Amulet with Life – +1 Chaos Skills & Maximum Energy Shield
Chest Sadist Garb Sadist Garb with Evasion/ES – Ailment Avoidance & Life/Life as Extra Maximum Energy Shield
Gloves Fingerless Silk Gloves Fingerless Silk Gloves with Dexterity, Life, Chaos Res
Boots Slink Boots Slink Boots with Life, Movement Speed, Resistances & Ailment Avoidance
Belt Leather Belt Leather Belt with Life & a lot of Resistances
Rings Rare Rings with Life – Resistances & Mana Regeneration
Weapon Rare Wand with Chaos DoT Multi – +1 Spell Skills – Spell Damage – Damage over Time Multi
Shield Rare Titanium Spirit Shield Titanium Spirit Shield with Life – Spell Block & ES Recovery when you Block

Questions & Support

I made it a habit to check all comments in my guides on a daily basis. Obviously, there might be occurrences where getting a reply might take longer but I really do try to get back to you as soon as possible. I prefer you making remarks, suggestions or asking questions that way as it allows others to read through the comments, providing them with a potential answer to their question, without having to wait for me again. If I have somehow missed your question, you can try reaching me on our Discord.

If you enjoy my content to such an extent that you’d like to support me and my work, I have a Patreon you can check out. At no point should you feel pressured to contribute, but if you do, your support means more to me than you will ever imagine.

Leveling

Since we are very adamant about trying to give you a leveling experience that lies as close to your endgame playstyle as possible, we recommend the following setups to blast through the game with Essence Drain Essence Drain. The skill is particularly potent at the later parts of the story but at no point should you have any issues. For more information about leveling, we refer you to the following guides:

Getting to Brutus & Merveil

For starters, create a Shadow in whichever league you want to start.
Pick up an Explosive Trap Explosive Trap from the vendor to start your journey and go to kill Hailrake and clear Mud Flats. Set up the following links after Mud Flats:

  1. Blight Blight
  2. Infused Channelling Support Infused Channelling Support
  1. Contagion Contagion
  2. Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support

After killing Brutus, you will be adding some Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Supports gems to your links.

Level 12 and Onwards Setup

From level 12, after killing Merveil, you’ll be setting up for your road to greatness. What’s important here is that you’re going to use Contagion as your clear skill without having to use Essence Drain as long as you can. Eventually, Contagion wont be able to one-shot white monsters anymore at which point you’ll move your Essence Drain up to have the damage supports and link supports such as Increased Area of Effect, Arcane Surge, Item Rarity on Contagion to help out. Before that though, use the following links:

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

Changelog

  • Build updated for Scourge 3.16.

  • Updated for Scourge 3.16.

  • Build added.

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  1. Posts
    3

    if you cant afford a lvl 4 empower, what would be the next best replacement?

  2. TbXie

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    1443

    On 24/01/2021 at 8:46 AM, Tha_Vampyr said

    also you cant seem to get +1 to socketed on wands anymore…


    +1 Socketed is not what you want. You want +1 to all spell skills or +1 to chaos spell skills for ED levels :)

    You could us an Empower 3 untli yuo can afford a 4!

  3. Posts
    1

    I am also curious about the empower replacement. I am playing SSF Ritual league, I have six-links and have not seen an empower gem. The RNG gods did give me two Enhances within 15 minutes of each other.

  4. TbXie

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    1443

    On 25/01/2021 at 6:23 PM, meowzerzguy said

    I am also curious about the empower replacement. I am playing SSF Ritual league, I have six-links and have not seen an empower gem. The RNG gods did give me two Enhances within 15 minutes of each other.

    20/20 Arcane Surge I think is the only effective alternative :(. Empower is big though.

  5. Posts
    2

    How do you manage the mana regen problems? Or do I just have to adjust how I play

  6. Posts
    2

    On 01/02/2021 at 11:15 AM, Yohanananana said

    How do you manage the mana regen problems? Or do I just have to adjust how I play

    nvm. I recently just got Patient Reaper and I basically have zero mana problems now.

  7. Posts
    1

    Am I missing something with your recommended body armor? It has 4 prefixes…

    Life
    Evasion & Energy shield %
    Resist Ailments and stun
    Energy shield from Life %

    All of these are prefixes so unless I’m wrong you can’t have such an item. Please tell me I am wrong cause I already spent the 2 ex on my body blindly following <<

  8. Posts
    1

    I would like to know some gear options for leveling, as i would like to use some of the later game gems to enhance my dps and make my clear speed a bit faster.

  9. TbXie

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    1443

    On 02/02/2021 at 5:20 AM, Ank180 said

    I would like to know some gear options for leveling, as i would like to use some of the later game gems to enhance my dps and make my clear speed a bit faster.

    Tabula Rasa for a Six-Link so you can use more gems then can help.

  10. TbXie

    Moderator

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    1443

    On 02/02/2021 at 1:46 AM, Googie said

    Am I missing something with your recommended body armor? It has 4 prefixes…

    Life
    Evasion & Energy shield %
    Resist Ailments and stun
    Energy shield from Life %

    All of these are prefixes so unless I’m wrong you can’t have such an item. Please tell me I am wrong cause I already spent the 2 ex on my body blindly following

    Yep, you’re right. The Ailment affix got moved recently, my bad. Just drop any of the crafts that isn’t the ailments and craft something useful as a suffix (Resistances, for example can help)

  11. TbXie

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    1443

    On 03/02/2021 at 2:56 PM, Xephael said

    How does this build compare to Furty’s?

    You would have to play it to know that. I obviously like mine better, otherwise I wouldn’t have written a version of it myself. But there’s probably arguements to be made for both versions!

  12. Posts
    2

    On 03/02/2021 at 10:51 PM, TbXie said

    You would have to play it to know that. I obviously like mine better, otherwise I wouldn’t have written a version of it myself. But there’s probably arguements to be made for both versions!

    I suppose that was sort of a silly question lol. I was mainly wondering because on paper a lot of the main numbers seem strictly better in this build, so I feel like I must be missing some trade-off.

  13. TbXie

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    1443

    On 04/02/2021 at 5:14 AM, Xephael said

    On 03/02/2021 at 10:51 PM, TbXie

    You would have to play it to know that. I obviously like mine better, otherwise I wouldn’t have written a version of it myself. But there’s probably arguements to be made for both versions!

    I suppose that was sort of a silly question lol. I was mainly wondering because on paper a lot of the main numbers seem strictly better in this build, so I feel like I must be missing some trade-off.

    I don’t exactly know what his builds do / play for. Might be movement speed / aoe maybe?

  14. Posts
    3

    just wondering if there are suggestions/help for blighted maps? when ive encountered blight in a map, i seem to be fine, so far ive done up to level 12 maps, ive done various 3 and 4 boss maven fights, everything seems fairly smooth, but for the life of me i cant seem to stay on top of even level 1 blight maps..

  15. Posts
    3

    theres so much to improve on this build, its not complete.
    what about ED damage enchant on helm, and damage over time multiplyer on amulet, and why not use whitcffire brew and cast when dmg taken, and more…

  16. TbXie

    Moderator

    Posts
    1443

    On 05/02/2021 at 9:03 PM, Tha_Vampyr said

    just wondering if there are suggestions/help for blighted maps? when ive encountered blight in a map, i seem to be fine, so far ive done up to level 12 maps, ive done various 3 and 4 boss maven fights, everything seems fairly smooth, but for the life of me i cant seem to stay on top of even level 1 blight maps..

    I don’t think ED is the best for doing blight maps though as you’ll fall behind fairly quickly :(.

  17. TbXie

    Moderator

    Posts
    1443

    On 06/02/2021 at 9:43 AM, Philex said

    theres so much to improve on this build, its not complete.
    what about ED damage enchant on helm, and damage over time multiplyer on amulet, and why not use whitcffire brew and cast when dmg taken, and more…

    “So much to improve – It’s not complete” makes it sound like you are going to come with things that I obviously missed and that the build guide is bad.

    For your first suggestion, You’re saying people should use an ED Enchant on Helmet. That’s just outright wrong, because y ou should use a Despair Curse Effect helmet if anything. However, before getting to the enchant there’d be a million other things you would much rather have on your helmet. Because this is a league starter build focused around getting stuff done easily, I chose to not over complicate things for people by saying you want a helmet with 120 Life, Ailment Avoidance, -9 Chaos Resistance, 30+ Chaos Res & DoT Duration while Focused because that serves no purpose to 99,99% of the people playing the build.

    What most people do, instead of calling me out on it, is ask if I think x or y is a good idea. Obviously, you already know what you want to do, so I’m not sure why the comment was posted whatsoever.

    If you want to use a Witchfire Brew at the cost of 15% Phys Mitigation, 30% of your effective HP & Recovery, 65 Movement Speed or 20% Dodge then be my guest but please don’t come and tell other people that is what they should be doing because it’s outright wrong my dear friend :(.

    Lastly, you say “why not cast when damage taken” – Now I went and double checked and last time I checked I can’t magically make another 3 to 4 sockets appear to put gems in. Since your sockets are all filled, I suggest you enlighten us about how you feel like you’re going to put in a cwdt setup and more so what you think is important enough to use in it and what other socket you would give up for that.

  18. Posts
    2

    Hello can anyone tell which build is better in tanky and satisfying kills between this build and poison blade vortex. I know the title of this build says tankeist but I just want to know which of the two is better.

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