This guide will teach you all about the different gearing choices you can make for your animate guardian, and show you how to best utilise the insane increases to damage and defences that can be achieved with a properly geared AG.
Animate Guardian is one of the most insane buffs a minion build can make use of, giving large amounts of increased damage, as well as applying increased damage taken debuffs to enemies. Your AG can also decrease the offensive capabilities of enemies, whether by making them unable to deal Critical Strikes, or the redirection of Elemental Ailments like Shock to himself as opposed to us.
Your Animate Guardian’s gear equipped is limited by the level of your gem, at level 1 you can only equip items up to Item Level 33, his base life is also scaled by the gem level. As such, you will always want your Animate Guardian to be levelled up.
Below you’ll find videos made on this topic, however, do keep in mind that the video content MIGHT be outdated and you should always verify the context with this written guide as this will always be kept up to date for every league.
A more in depth video to this guide can be found here or on my Youtube Channel if you prefer a viewing format as opposed to a written guide.
Our Animate Guardian can hold a Weapon, Body Armour, Gloves, Helmet, and Boots. Outlined below are our recommended choices for each slot, and why we have chosen each of these.
Starting off with the weapons, we have a few different options here depending on your investment into the AG.
|Dying Breath||A low budget option giving us an 18% increased damage buff, as well as increasing the effectiveness of hex curses applied by the same amount.|
|Sign of the Sin Eater||This item allows us to move the elemental ailments inflicted onto us to be instead inflicted to the AG, though this has a low radius and can be annoying to manage|
|Kingmaker||A high budget weapon made from a recipe which include Soul Taker, Heartbreaker and an Orb of Fusing. By selling these items to a vendor you will get the Kingmaker back. This item gives us and our minions 10 stacks of Fortification, culling strike, and 50% critical strike multiplier. This is most likely a Best In Slot for our Animate Guardian.|
It’s important to point out that with the hex changes vs end-game bosses the Dying Breath is in more cases than not superior to the Kingmaker in terms of pure damage output, however, Kingmaker provides fortification for defensive layers as well as Culling Strike which is a very comfortable addition to your army, this comes with a much higher price-tag though.
HelmetsThe helmet slot can give our AG a lot of tankiness or a decent chunk of damage to us, depending on what we go for here.
|Leer Cast||This item gives us a flat 50% increased damage aura, the reduced damage dealt by the guardian is negligible as we don’t rely on him for damage, as such it is a pure buff|
|Crown of the Tyrant||This piece is best combined with a Gruthkul’s Pelt, it gives nearby enemies -10% to all resistances (this includes Chaos), as well as giving us and our minions a decent chunk of flat damage depending on the socket you put on him.|
|Rare Helmet with Influence||We can get a rare item with modifiers like “Nearby enemies take #% increased elemental damage” from the Shaper mod pool, which can also greatly augment our damage. This can be elevated from 6% to 9% for elemental damage, or from 9% to 12% for other damage types from this modifier.|
|Mask of the Stitched Demon||This item is great when combined with the Garb Of The Ephemeral, giving our guardian a large chunk of life% regeneration based on your Animate Guardian’s total energy shield. The Energy shield is effectively non-existent from this point on, and this item can cover the life regeneration of the Animate Guardian.|
Boots is a bit trickier yet rather straight forward. We can use literally anything that provides beneficial stats such as life and preferably a big portion of chaos resistances. There are however a couple of unique options as listed below.
|Rare Boots with Brittle implicit from Eldritch influence||These can be annoying to manage, but our Guardian can now apply the Brittle effect, giving us 2% flat critical strike chance which is scaled by all other modifiers after. This is an extremely easy way to cap our critical strike chance. This is most noticeable on bosses.|
|Windscream||This item allows us to apply an additional curse, if we have a curse on hit or from a glove implicit on our Animate Guardian, it will not overwrite the curse you’re applying.|
|Legacy of Fury||This item applies Scorch to nearby enemies, reducing their elemental resistances, do note that this has no effect when using Fleshcrafter, as the minions will ignore the monsters elemental resistances|
Our AG’s gloves can be used to further augment his defences, or apply debuffs like Unnerve or Intimidate. With the right combination of corrupted modifiers and items we can also make our AG apply additional curses, even if our character doesn’t have the capacity for additional curses.
The additional curse capability of the Animate Guardian heavily relies on the use of gloves corrupted with curse on hit, as well as the Guardian having the ability to apply more than one curse. As a baseline, both ourselves and the Guardian can only apply 1 curse, and each time we apply a curse it will overwrite the one that our Animate Guardian applies, the same goes for our Animate Guardian overwriting our curses.
This can easily be negated by having our guardian equip a piece with “You can apply an additional curse”. This makes it so that the curse we apply is not removed when our Animate Guardian applies their curse. This will require at least the Windscream boots mentioned above, or the Vixen’s Entrapment.
The Vixen’s entrapment setup is more difficult to execute as you need to acquire the gloves with the corrupted implicit of “Curse Enemies with X on hit”, which makes it a lot more difficult than simply finding a random pair of gloves with the desired curse, and then using Windscream.
|Southbound||Very easy bit of scaling to increase the HP of the Animate Guardian. These are the usual go-to for our AG.|
|Rare gloves with Unnerve/Intimidate on hit||Our animate guardian can apply unnerve on hit, applying 10% increased spell damage/ physical damage taken to enemies depending on which you go for. The Elevated hunter modifier for this is a 100% chance to apply the debuff on hit.|
|Vixen's Entrapment||The same deal as Windscream, we can get our guardian to apply a curse on hit without overwriting our own curses with this. Getting the implicit curse you want on the gloves can be difficult, that’s why it is usually recommended to buy a random pair of gloves with the curse you want, and using Windscream|
The Body Armour is arguably the most important slot on our AG and can decide in which direction we push the Guardian itself, we can opt in for a more tanky approach for the guardian itself, or achieving immunity to critical strikes through Garb Of The Ephemeral.
|Gruthkul's Pelt||Yet again, a generic piece that increases our Animate Guardian’s survivability, with some flat life as well as a chunky 10% of life regenerated per second.|
|Belly of the Beast||An inferior alternative to Gruthkuls, providing a Chunky 30-40% increased maximum life and some elemental resistances. This option offers no regeneration and should only be considered if Gruthkuls is expensive.|
|Doppelgänger Guise||Extremely efficient piece for a higher budget, giving our AG 10% life recovery when hit and 30-40% less physical and Chaos damage taken. Stats from this item concerning being “Insane” are ignored, as the Animate Guardian does not receive the Unhinge skill from the chest piece. It also opens up a lot of helmet choice|
|Garb of the Ephemeral||This piece is insanely good, giving the guardian a decent chunk of Energy Shield and applying a “Nearby Enemies Cannot Deal Critical Strikes” meaning all monsters near the Guardian cannot deal crits to you.|
Some of our newer users might be a bit intimidated by all of the options presented so far.
To give you the best possible time with your new-found buddy we will attempt to explain what stats really matter for him and provide an example itemset.
It is important to keep a few things in mind with the AG. He needs his resistance cap, preferably chaos resistance cap and he will need some physical mitigation.
At base our buddy has 40% elemental resistance, and 20% chaos resistance. This means we need to through his gear, and our gear, provide him with 35% elemental resistance (43 if you take the mastery) and 55% chaos resistance. It is also important to keep in mind that his primary source of defense outside of this, is Regeneration.
Ascendancy notables such as Necromancer’s Commander of Darkness and Guardian’s Radiant Crusade applies to the afformentioned caps. As does Bone rings used by players. It is adviced that you create your buddy and the items you intend to put on him in PoB and make sure it all checks out. Grave Intentions also warrants a mention here.
With that in mind, our reccomended items for a new players AG should look like this:
|Gruthkul's Pelt||or alternatively, if Gruthkul's Pelt is too expensive we use an Ambu's Charge|
|Rare boots with resistances, chaos resistance and possibly a life modifier|
|Rare gloves with resistances, chaos resistance and possibly a life modifier or Southbound|
Non Minion Build Use Cases
With the release of the Siege Of The Atlas expansion we can now run our Animate Guardian on every single build, sacrificing either a Ring Slot and a single gem slot, or simply a 4 link and a gem slot, if you’re running the Ashes of the Stars amulet.
Getting a lvl 20 or 21 Divergent quality Animate Guardian is required here as it greatly benefits from the additional quality granted by ashes of the stars, giving the Guardian a huge chunk of life. This huge chunk of life is important as the AG’s only source of health regen will be Convocation, unless we put on some defensive pieces.
There are a lot of fun offensive options that work well with an Animate Guardian on non minion builds, for instance you could equip the guardian with Gravebind and Inpulsa's Broken Heart, giving you an effective corpse removal and corpse explosions that can proliferate, as long as you can apply shock consistently. Beyond this, you can make use of Kingmaker’s buffs, and the other items described above.
Ring Slot setup
If we use a The Hungry Loop imbued with Empower Support , Minion Life Support, Elemental Army Support and Meat Shield Support, we can make our Animate Guardian borderline immortal with the right use of Convocation. This is all of the investment required to run an Animate Guardian on any non minion build if you can spare the slot. If we have “+2 to level of all minion skills on your helmet” we can opt out of Empower Support and give it some other supporting skill.
The Hungry loop setup can give us a lvl 26 Animate Guardian (considering lvl 21 gem, +2 from lvl 3 empower, “+2 to level of all minion skills” on your helmet, and +1 from Ashes Of The Stars).
Notes and Fleshcrafter
When you use a Fleshcrafter and have an animate guardian, be careful not to give it any form of chaos resistance, as this can very easily kill your AG. Nodes like Grave Intentions can completely ruin your AG’s survivability. Your Animate Guardian’s resistances are only scaled by his base resistances, his gear and modifiers like Grave Intentions, so avoid Chaos resistance on gear and the tree if you are running it.
The base 20% from your Animate Guardian skill gem is bearable and won’t completely ruin the AG if you are using the Fleshcrafter, so if you want to run a different pair of gloves, it won’t be an issue.
You can reduce the Chaos resistance of your AG by using Oskarm, this item would be used purely for the reduction and a tiny bit of spell suppression, as the Assassin’s mark granted by the item is a “Trigger” and our AG cannot trigger / cast skills in any scenario.
Animate Guardian can be extremely broken in terms of buffing us, our allies, and our minions, and his survivability doesn’t need to be a concern if you gear him properly.
As much as I love making guides, it is very crucial in a game like Path of Exile that you play the game the way you enjoy playing it. This guide merely describes the most effective approach to craft the best items.
I hope you found the guide useful, and I wish you all many Divine Orb drops!