Other than some small nerfs to Exposure, the build didn’t really lose much. Sure, Trigger wand got adjusted and it’ll now take a couple more seconds to get all of your buffs activated but like the Exposure this basically affects any Elemental build out there so we’re honestly all in the same boat. That doesn’t really push this particular build further behind.
Other than that, the build got a lot stronger with tech discovered last league so is in a great spot honestly overall! If you’re looking for over 10 million reliable DPS on a safe build, this is your pick!
One of the most classic build archetype in Path of Exile definitely are Totem Builds. Totems have gone through a lot of iterations over the years, and other skills were popularized through skill balances, Ascendancy releases, and changes of mechanics. One of the most iconic builds in PoE is definitely “Pizza Sticks”, which is slang that was used for Flameblast Totems. While this might sound horrible in the current state of the game, Flameblast Totems were considered the most broken thing to ever have happened to Path of Exile when they were popularized. Obviously, Flameblast, Ignite, and spell totem were changed and the skill lost in popularity! Freezing Pulse totems were looked at as more of a meme-build, which was only done with tremendous amounts of currency to make it look decent. Nowadays, however, it has gained a lot of popularity because it excels at getting stuff done easily, cheaply, and early!
This build guide covers Freezing Pulse Totems like I think they should be played, on a relatively small budget, not too insanely min-maxed, and as a tool to just kill everything fast. If you’re looking to spend 200 Exalted Orbs on a build, I would advise to look into something that scales a lot better off of gear. Even if some iterations of this build exist that use, for example, the very expensive Atziri's Reflection, they usually just bump up the damage of this build from about 10 Million Boss DPS to about 12-15 Million, with about triple to quadruple the investment. I stand to believe that a build that has incredible recovery and survives one-shots as well as this build does, especially on a build that has so much mobility as this one (because the totems do all the work for you), does not need more than a 10 million effective boss DPS to completely trivialize the game.
By not going the Atziri's Reflection route, we’re opening up our shield slot and you can do pretty crazy things with that. When I played the build, my shield slot gave me 100 Maximum Life, an extra maximum totem (or a 20% More DPS multiplier), 9% increased Cast Speed and 70% Increased Spell Damage, making it outperform any way, shape or form I tried making Reflection work. Overall, some pieces in the build might look a little bit expensive, but I’m including those just for those people who like pushing it a tad further. Generally, the build packs about 2 Million Damage per Totem. Since you have 5 Totems, you could practically get half of that and remain over 5 Million Shaper DPS on mostly gear you could pick up in Blood Aqueducts.
All of this got further amplified by the introduction of Viridi’s Veil. It replaces the Reflection at the “cost of a ring slot”. This offers you a way to scale in to the late game and easily push towards 15 million DPS. The gear swaps required to pull this upgrade off can be found in the gear section.
Pros and Cons
+ The skill functions on any budget
+ Feels like a lot of fun to have 5 Freezing Pulse Turrets
+ Viable in every scenario, be it SSF or HC
+ Scales well enough to kill every boss in the game, cheaply
+ Tanky through MoM and Hierophant’s MoM
– This version of the build pretty much caps out at 12-13 Million DPS
– Requires Soul Mantle & 2x Kikazaru’s, which can be annoying for SSF
– Can feel a little squishy at earlier stages of gear / levels
Map Modifiers to be Avoided
No Regeneration is annoying, but can be dealt with if you bring a Mana Flask. Otherwise, there’s nothing that’ll annoy you too much. Be careful for Elemental Reflect though; if you’re using a Trigger Wand, remove the Frost Bomb as that will reflect its damage (which is fine if you keep it level 1, otherwise it might kill you).
Echoes of the Atlas Expansion Updates
With the introduction of PoE’s 3.13 Echoes of the Atlas Expansion, a couple of Ascendancies were heavily reworked. Hierophant was one of the Ascendancies that got one of these overhauls. Whilst I really don’t want to persuade you away from this build, as I think it still is really solid at doing what most people want it to do, I can’t, for the life of me, understand why Hierophant needed such an annoying nerf. It’s not even a big nerf whatsoever, but it just makes stuff either clunky or unintuitive.
So, Hierophant overall got a little bit more damage when it matters, by getting 2% More Damage per Totem (which is amplified by the amount of Totems you get, and we have a lot of them) but lost its “Increased Damage per Enemy Killed Recently”, which was fairly significant in the highest content mapping-wise (5 Orbed Delirium, T19s, etc.) but really didn’t matter while doing regular maps, since there wasn’t enough pack size to put this ahead of the More Damage it has gotten this time around.
With the changes to Conviction of Power, the build’s damage mitigation profile changed a bit. Whereas it lost its 5% Reduced Elemental Damage taken, it has gained an additional 4% Physical Damage Reduction which generally would be considered a worthwhile change. It also locks the build into a less diversifiable profile, as Totem-builds now no longer have any interest in picking up Endurance Charges from the tree or other sources. Previously, you were generating charges which meant you could generate more than 4, while you’re now completely locked into having 4. Anyway, for our build in particular this is a small buff, as we didn’t invest into any extra Endurance or Power Charges.
The most problematic change to Hierophant, though, is the removal of “Skills that would Summon a Totem Summon two Totems instead”, which almost forces you into Multiple Totems Support. I checked out all the options and because of the buffs to damage of Hierophant, there are really two viable ways. You’re either doing over 10 Million boss DPS with 5 totems but you only put down 1 totem at a time while clearing maps (the overall time to put 5 totems down is still only like 1 second), or you swap to Multiple Totems and your damage drops to about 8 Million, but you put 2 totems at a time. The main issue with the second option is that this also divides your damage over 7 totems rather than only using 5, which means the effective DPS increase you’re getting from having 2 totems down isn’t as big as it should be. Therefore, you lose quite a significant chunk of “DPS Per Click” even if you use Multiple Totems. However, since you’re still grabbing a decent chunk of damage, you’re still putting down 2.3 million DPS per click, so the build will most likely be fine.
I’ll wrap it up by saying that I think the build is still completely fine, but that it felt rather annoying that Hierophant got nerfed while it wasn’t a broken class or anything! The build is going to still be really solid as a league-starter, and will probably just be a little bit less potent at blasting through stuff like 100% Delirious Maps and so on.
Playstyle, Mechanics & Strengths
Totems have became a lot more popular because of a couple of mechanics that were added not so long ago. First of all, because of the changes to Soul Mantle you’re now getting a 7-Link instead of having to link your Spell Totem Support manually, which has a pretty severe Less Damage modifier which meant you were effectively playing a 4-Link before Soul Mantle rework. Additionally, getting 100% reduced effect of curses, which was mandatory because of Soul Mantle, used to be impossible. The first way of achieving this was through the Guardian Ascendancy, which didn’t really feel great with totems or the Atziri's Reflection, which was a 200 Exalted Orb item at the time. Nowadays, with Prophecies dropping everywhere from league mechanics and the, I think, altered spawn chance of the prophecy, the shield has come down a bit making it much more accessible to builds for more casual players. However, with the addition of the Sanctum of Thought notable and even moreso when Thread of Hope got added, it became so easy to forego both the Reflection and the Guardian that builds like this one all of a sudden came online as early as Blood Aqueducts without any significant investments.
This spiked the attention of a lot of groups because it suddenly was a contender for their Day 1 and 2 bosskiller builds. Obviously, as soon as they picked up on it, everyone started noticing and the build rose in popularity. Immediately, because of being able to pick Hierophant over Guardian, the power it brought spiked tremendously and brought us to where we are today. Overall, the build kills everything in the game, including AL8, on a very very tiny budget, but requires a couple of Exalted Orbs investment if you’re not super familiar with the fight. Still nothing to sniff at, as there’s plenty of builds that require tenfold or more than that to shine!
With the introduction of Multiple Totems being summoned at once, Totem builds gained a lot more practical clear speed. You no longer need to put down a million Totems before your build starts doing something. You click once and two Totems appear, which will most likely decimate most of the screen. Worst case scenario, in very dense and high tier content, you might have to click twice per screen putting one of them left and one on the right side. This is a lot better than having to click four to five times. On bosses, you’ll spawn all of your totems in under a second, which is incredibly nice as well. Totem placement speed was a lot slower not too long ago, which made putting them on bosses incredibly annoying, and made it annoying to keep up the hexes of Soul Mantle. You’ll regularly want to replace your Totems to refresh the Hexes that have been placed on you to keep up all of your damage, if the fight lasts that long at least.
The build excels in fighting bosses with telegraphed attacks, because you’ll be able to address 100% of your focus to the boss, as your Totems will be doing their thing regardless. That’s probably the main reason why builds like Totems, Brands, DoT’s are generally considered strong bossers. The way this build survives those bosses is through making use of Mind over Matter in the tree, as well as Hierophant’s inherent Mana scaling and additional 10% of Damage taken as Mana before Life. This makes our +/- 5000 Health Build actually have just shy of 8000 effective HP, which is a lot more acceptable than the 5000 is. This makes it so you’ll never get one shot by mechanics that are unavoidable, and while you’re running a decent amount of recovery through Mana Flasks, Life Regeneration, and high innate Mana Regeneration, the build will feel safer than it initially looks!
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 PoePlanner for you. Do note that PoE Planner 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.
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.
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.
|Item Slot||Item Name|
|Head||Rare Hubris Circlet 12% Freezing Pulse Cast Speed, Life & Resistances|
|Amulet||Citrine Amulet with +1 to level of all Cold/Intelligence Skill gems, Dexterity, Life and Resistances|
|Gloves||Sorcerer Gloves with High Life, Resistances and Damage with Hits against Chilled Enemies|
|Boots||Any rare boots with Life, Resistances and Movement Speed|
|Belt||Rare Leather Belt with Life & Some Damagemods|
|Weapon||Rare Wand with Spell Damage, Cast Speed, +1 to level of all (Cold) Spell Skill Gems, Crit Multiplier|
Since we are very adamant about trying to give you a leveling experience that lies as close to your endgame playstyle as possible, we will be providing you a way to level up with Freezing Pulse. If you are looking for the most optimal way to level a character to maps, we refer you to the following guides.
- 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.
Getting to Brutus & Merveil
For starters, create a Templar in whichever league you want to start.
Pick up an 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:
After killing Brutus, you will be adding an Added Cold Damage Support to your Freezing Pulse.
Level 12 and Onwards Setup
From level 12, after killing Merveil, you’ll be setting up for your road to maps. It might be a little rough for some bosses, but you should eventually be fine with this setup.
- Spell Totem Support
- Added Cold Damage Support
- Freezing Pulse
- Elemental Focus Support
- Controlled Destruction Support
- Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support (unless you have a First Snow for leveling – use Increased Critical Strikes Support in that case)
Use the following on bosses:
Run the following auras:
How do I get my Freezing Pulse to become a Totem / Why does my Freezing Pulse deal no damage after I allocate Ancestral Bond
If you’re leveling as a Totem Build you will have to use a Spell Totem Support as long as you do not have access to the Soul Mantle. Soul Mantle inherently grants you this Support Gem and therefore removes the need of having the gem in your links. Before that you will need one or otherwise you will be manually casting Freezing Pulse whilst Ancestral Bond makes it impossible for you to deal damage.