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:
The Ethereal Knives Inquisitor shined brightly in the Abyss league, when Lightpoacher was way too strong. After the nerf of the helm this build still remains great at clearing and also has some decent single target damage output. Ethereal Knives is a physical spell that fires projectiles in a cone, when Ring of Blades is used, this cone becomes a nova around the character. This allows for much better area coverage. The skill has great base damage and the 6% critical chance is very solid when it comes to building a critical spell-based character.
The Inquisitor is a very powerful ascendancy class when it comes to critical-oriented builds that aim to scale a lot of elemental damage, simply because your critical strikes ignore enemies’ elemental resistances via Inevitable Judgement.
We fully convert Ethereal Knives’ physical damage into elemental damage by using Hrimburn and Physical to Lightning Support. By converting the damage we are able to ignore elemental resistances when we critically strike, at the same time this also allows us to deal great amounts of Lightning and Cold Damage, which essentially allows us to utilize very strong Shock and Freeze ailments.
In general, the Ethereal Knives Inquisitor requires few semi-expensive items in order to start clearing very fast, but it can definitely be started on a budget. Ring of Blades is an Act 5 quest reward, this unique jewel does not cost more than 1 Chaos Orb. Hrimburn gloves are “fated” version of Hrimsorrow, which means they are upgraded by using a Prophecy called “Fire and Ice”. Inpulsa's Broken Heart is one of the expensive items of the build that immensely boosts clear speed. Besides that, well rolled rare items will do the work.
Pros & Cons
+ Hardcore viable
+ Great clear speed
+ Can be played on a budget
+ Can Shock and Freeze most foes
- Lacks single target damage if not well geared
- Not ideal for killing high-end bosses
Offensively, the build has very active playstyle. Most of the time you move from pack to pack by using Shield Charge, exploding enemies with a single cast of Ethereal Knives. Using an attack like your movement skill is very important, considering the synergy between spells and attacks you gain from your ascendancy node Instruments of Virtue.
Defensively, you need to keep your distance, since you do not have many layers of defence. The build mainly relies on the fact that it deals tons of cold critical damage, which Freezes enemies before they have the chance to get to you. Running an Elder ring with Warlord's Mark on hit will allow you to have reliable life leech.
The Ethereal Knives Inquisitor is a caster that utilizes strong critical strikes in order to obliterate enemies. The build has the potential to be top-tier when it comes to clearing. Inpulsa's Broken Heart‘s lightning corpse explosion mechanic scales very well into late game, simply because the more life monsters have, the more damage explosions will do. When playing an Inquisitor, certain map modes like additional monster resistances are irrelevant, you also do not have to invest into any elemental penetration, which allows you to scale your damage even further.
This is what the endgame passive skill tree should look like.
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.
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.
|Item Slot||Item Name|
|Chest||Inpulsa's Broken Heart|
|Belt||Rare Stygian Vise|
|Weapon||Rare Rune Dagger|
As a reminder, we have several guides to help you level up a character.
- 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.
The character can be very easily leveled by using Vaal Blade Vortex. It has more damage early on compared to Ethereal Knives. Levelling items are helpful but not mandatory. We recommend having 300 life per Act, for example in Act VII you should have around 2100 life.
This is what your passive skill tree should look like around level 50-55. At that level you are ready to ascend into Inevitable Judgement and start building around critical strikes.
Useful Leveling Unique Items
As you begin a new character, there are few unique items that can boost your power exponentially. Tabula Rasa allows you to have a 6-Linked skill as early as you get the gems. Wanderlust gives a decent movement speed, which will make your levelling that much more efficient. Goldrim provides a lot of elemental resistances, this will let you worry less about gearing when approaching certain Act encounters. Socketing Blade Vortex into Lifesprig will fill your damage needs early on.
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.
Using 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.
At level 10, you should add Flame Dash for additional mobility.
At level 16, you should add Herald of Ice for additional damage.
At level 18, your Vaal Blade Vortex link should look like this.
- Vaal Blade Vortex
- Controlled Destruction Support
- Added Fire Damage Support
- Faster Casting Support
- Physical to Lightning Support
- Onslaught Support
At level 24, you should add Hatred for additional damage.
What map mods are impossible to do?
You will one-shot yourself to Elemental Reflect. No regeneration maps can be done but not in combination with Hexproof or Cannot Leech. Besides that anything else should be doable.
How bad is the single target at endgame?
Honestly the build’s single target is not that bad, it still has the potential to do the toughest of bosses, but with Ethereal Knives it will be clunky. If you want the build to do great amounts of single target damage you can swap Ethereal Knives and few of its support gems with a Blade Vortex gem setup. Both skills are physical spells and scale in similar ways and with Blade Vortex you will destroy bosses, but its clear speed is way worse compared to Ethereal Knives.
The Ethereal Knives Inquisitor is a very viable choice if you want to clear fast and efficiently. If you are looking for a self-casting killing machine, this build is a good choice.