Essence Drain/Contagion and Blight Trickster Build Guide (PoE The Forbidden Sanctum 3.20)




Due to the latest balancing changes, we do not recommend playing this build anymore, as it does not meet the high standards we apply to our guides in terms of fun and performance. We are leaving it up as a reference and it might be revived in a later patch.

If you’re looking for a build to leaguestart Essence Drain Contagion like the good old days, I would suggest you check out Tbxie’s guide for the skill.

Essence Drain Essence Drain and Contagion Contagion have long formed a powerful tag team, presenting the player with near unparalleled clear speeds and experience per hour. The denser the monsters, the more this potent combo shines, playing wonderfully into many of the league mechanics that go core league by league. There is no better build for reliably breaking every Legion mob from their monolith stasis, and better yet, it does it all automatically. Essence Drain Essence Drain was truly the king of Legion League, and has remained one of the strongest and most popular league starters to this day.

Over the last couple years, we have seen various builds come and go while other remained to be present and viable, but not always “meta”. However, there has been one build that has remained sustainably reliable and consistently available but has lost some of its appeal due to recent league mechanics and exposure from some of the top end content creators. With that, we bring back to you the revitalized and reworked version of a pure ED/Contagion Trickster!

Build Assessment


+ League Starter – You get Essence Drain Essence Drain at about level 12 and Contagion Contagion just before that and with no required items to enable the build!

+ Extremely safe build — great defenses, mobility, immune to all reflect and map mods, and able to off-screen with DoT damage

+ SFF and HC Viable – Very few builds can easily sustain the trials of the AN mobs, however, with proper care and gameplay, this build can carry you to t16 maps in both SSF and HC.

+ Non-meta – Due to not being a meta designed build, we can make or find items for cheap that can take the build from low budget into high budget with ease.

+ Unconventional Clear – Considering the zoom zoom designed meta of PoE, in 2 casts, mobs literally disappear is a matter of seconds across the entire screen and then some!


- End Game – While on low budget, your DPS will feel very lack luster against Pinnacle bosses, but due to the design of the build, we can at least be sustainable in these fights. This would require us to potentially swap a flask for an Enduring Mana flask while still in low budget.

Allies Cannot Die aura is a pain to deal with (prevents Contagion Contagion from spreading Essence Drain Essence Drain)

- 2 Button Play – We have to hit two skills to enable the clearing of the build, however, this can be bypassed if you like the main skill but would rather use only 1 button for general map clearing.

Path of Building

Here is a link to our PoB:PoB Link

This can be used as a reference point, however, bear in mind that not all gear used is absolutely ideal as it is a Solo Self-Found character. It will not be updated for future patches.

Playstyle and Build Mechanics

There are 2 different playstyles offered in this guide, both will be using Essence Drain Essence Drain for the sake of single-target damage. However, you can use Bane to clear with which doesn’t offer any specific play-style changes. Or you can use the original style which is to cast Contagion which is requiring you to cast that spell first and then connect it with a cast of Essence Drain, once the target you hit with Essence Drain dies, the Contagion will spread the DoT to every enemy within its radius and continue to spread each time an enemy dies affected by Contagion

What’s really cool with this playstyle is that enemies affected by Essence Drain also grants you a #% life regeneration based of the damage dealt by the spell. Obviously, this is not the case in maps with the “No life regeneration” modifier!

Damage Scaling and Defensive Layers

While most builds make use of the left or right side of the passive tree to scale their defenses, we will effectively be using every form of defensive layer available to us, other than the recently demolished “Spell dodge” mechanic.

While in low budget with gear that can easily be crafter or purchased, our EHP is 100k+, lowest max hit being fire damage at 60k+, 75%+ evade chance, and 65% physical damage reduction. In addition to all these mitigations, we utilize the Life Recoup from the tree, and the roughly 2,500 life regenerated from Essence Drain, we can effectively remain at full hp throughout an entire boss encounter and easily accomplish this while clearing maps. We would still like to state that with the current state of PoE with AN mobs and the Lake being very difficult, that smart gameplay is always key to surviving the trials and tribulations of Wraeclast.

Passive Skill Tree

This is our PoB for the passive trees

For more details on the Passive Tree, skill acquisition order, and more, be sure to check out the Passive Skill Tree page for in-depth information.

Passive Skill Tree and Gem Links


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

Passive Skill Tree and Gem Links

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.

Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheon Powers

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 page in its entirety.

Our recommendation:

Item Slot Item Name
Head Rare Evasion/Energy Shield Helmet
Amulet Rare Amulet
Chest Rare Evasion/Energy Shield Chest
Gloves Rare Evasion/Energy Shield Gloves
Boots Rare Evasion/Energy Shield Boots
Belt Rare Stygian Vise Stygian Vise
Rings Rare Iolite Ring Iolite Ring and Rare Unset Ring Unset Ring
Weapons Rare Prophecy Wand Prophecy Wand

For much more detailed information on the best gear, jewels, and flasks to use, be sure to check out our Gear Page in its entirety.

Gear, Jewels, and Flasks Breakdown


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

Our leveling is very simple. You have 2 routes, you can take the generic caster leveling set up of Freezing Pulse Freezing Pulse, Frost Bomb Frost Bomb, Orb of Storms Orb of Storms, and Frostblink Frostblink until you are comfortable with the damage of Essence Drain Essence Drain.

However, we would recommend that you follow the following way to level the build:

Start out with getting Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow and getting an item with 2 green sockets, and link Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow with Chance to Poison Support Chance to Poison Support. After Hailrake, pick up , Pierce Support Pierce Support, and Volley Support Volley Support. ###item:onslaught-support### and Volley Support Volley Support for clearing (or ###item:onslaught-support### and Pierce Support Pierce Support if you don’t want to swap gems), and ###item:onslaught-support### and Pierce Support Pierce Support for single target. Next pick up Frostblink Frostblink for movement. Don’t forget to grab a Contagion Contagion after Breaking some Eggs to level up.

After Brutus, we swap Frostblink Frostblink for Flame Dash Flame Dash, grab Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support, Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support, and an Efficacy Support Efficacy Support. Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow + Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support + Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support for clear, Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow + Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support + Pierce Support Pierce Support for single target/boss.

When you enter the Cavern of Wrath, go pick up Essence Drain Essence Drain, link that with Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support and Efficacy Support Efficacy Support, dual wield some magic wands with % spell damage and you are off to the races!



Check out the rest of the guide for more information:

Passive Skill Tree and Gem Links

Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheon Powers

Gear, Jewels, and Flasks Breakdown


  • Complete Rework for 3.19!

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