About the Author
Furty has been playing Path of Exile since the release of the Onslaught League in 2013, and has a deep and diverse well of experience within the game. Equally comfortable playing on Hardcore, Softcore, and Solo-Self Found Leagues, recent ladder results include finishing at Rank 5 on the Legion SSF League playing Essence Drain and the Betrayal League at Rank 186 playing Elemental Hit. You can follow him on Twitter, or check out his occasional streams on Twitch.
Headhunter. The very name conjures mythic superstition and awe within Path of Exile. Players thirst after this item like no other. Owning one is the end goal of many, though few attain it. In Path of Exile, this item is considered the holy grail.
Not every new player understands the fabled power of this item. So what is Headhunter, exactly?
The Headhunter Leather Belt is an item that was introduced in the second ever set of Challenge Leagues — the Nemesis league. Nemesis was a league, and Headhunter could only be acquired within Nemesis, and not its softcore counterpart Domination. In this era of Path of Exile, the hardcore and softcore challenge leagues always had separate league mechanics as well as exclusive unique items.
When you kill a Rare enemy with Headhunter equipped, you gain for 20 seconds. This is not a mutually exclusive effect, either — you can acquire the mods of — limited only by the 20 second timer. Not only can a player with Headhunter deal monstrous damage, but they can move through the Map at completely unparalleled speeds.
Possible Methods of Acquisition
As we established, the Headhunter belt is a . So how can it still be acquired in the modern challenge leagues?
Since Headhunter became such a phenomenon in the community, there are now a wide variety of ways to acquire this item, though all of them require either extreme amounts of time or luck, and in most cases both.
Here are the ways of acquiring Headhunter without the use of Divination Cards:
- Chancing Leather Belts (or using an Ancient Orb on Leather Belt uniques such as Wurm's Molt) in Maps with the Nemesis mod applied by Zana (on the map table).
- Headhunter can drop in Maps with the Nemesis mod applied by Zana (on the map table), though the chance is extremely low.
- The Sacrificial Chamber in the Temple of Atzoatl (Incursion) can provide league-specific drops when upgraded to Level 2 or Level 3. At Level 3 the return will also be the same item type (e.g. sacrificing a belt guarantees another Unique belt) which increases the chance of Headhunter.
- Certain Legion Rares can drop league-specific items, though these monsters are uncommon and the chance of Headhunter is very low. The Time-Relic incubators (incubating a very valuable Unique item) can also provide Headhunter.
- Shaper Strongholds can drop Headhunter from the final boss, as they can allow league-specific drops.
- Cameria on Transportation in the Immortal Syndicate drops a Time-Worn Relic item, which has the low possibility of being Headhunter.
Here are the ways of acquiring Headhunter via Divination Cards:
- Turning in 8 The Doctor cards, which can be obtained as an extremely Rare drop in the Burial Chambers Map and the Spider Forest Map. The Doctor can also be obtained by turning in 8 The Nurse cards (and therefore 64 total The Nurse cards for a Headhunter) or from The Gambler (though the chances of this are infinitesimally low).
- Turning in 11 The Fiend cards, which can be obtained as an extremely Rare drop in the Shrine Map and The Putrid Cloister.
- Turning in 8 of The Valkyrie cards has the uncommon possibility of resulting in a Headhunter return.
- Turning in 5 of The Undaunted cards has the uncommon possibility of resulting in a Headhunter return.
- Turning in 6 of The Wretched cards has an extremely low possibility in resulting in a Headhunter return.
- Turning in 10 of the Time-Lost Relic card will extremely rarely result in a Headhunter.
- Turning in 4 of the Jack in the Box card will extremely rarely result in a Headhunter.
- The Void and Arrogance of the Vaal can also result in Headhunter, although this is also an extraordinarily low chance.
What are the Best Ways to Acquire Headhunter?
After reading through the lists in the section above, you might be thinking that there are a lot of ways of acquiring this legendary item. In truth, however, many of those possibilities occur with such infinitesimal frequency that you would have a better chance of simply stumbling upon a Mirror of Kalandra on the floor. So what are the most reliable ways of acquiring Headhunter?
- Unsurprisingly, simply buying a Headhunter outright is the easiest and fastest way to get your hands on the item. Farming areas of the game that are not directly related to Headhunter, such as the Uber Elder or the Eternal Labyrinth, can be some of the fastest ways to generate currency, which you can eventually use to purchase this fabled item.
- Farming The Doctor is a popular strategy for Magic Find builds. Specific Atlas strategies are used to allow the farming of Shaped Burial Chambers Map in perpetuity — see our Advanced Atlas and Map Strategies guide for detailed information on how to facilitate this. This is a reliable way of generating profit and will eventually result in a full set with enough time investment. In certain leagues this can be one of the best ways of generating currency, depending on the price of Headhunter itself.
- In challenge leagues that allow the Nemesis mod on Zana’s Map table (not Legion 3.7), using Orb of Chances on Leather Belts (or Ancient Orbs) is actually a fairly legitimate strategy. The cost investment is low and with enough attempts you give yourself a reasonable chance (still not “high”) of stumbling on to Headhunter. This strategy is especially prevalent on SSF leagues, as you can bank the Leather Belts over time and then chance many of them in a single map without losing potential profit by wasting time.
- Farming The Fiend is also a possibility, like The Doctor, that results in a guaranteed Headhunter. This is less common, however, as Shrine Map is universally considered a slower and more difficult Map to farm, and the set requires even greater cards.
Inspired Learning is a Unique Jewel that many have come to call Headhunter Lite, or mini-Headhunter. Instead of gaining all the mods of a Rare monster you defeat, one of them is randomly selected and applied to the player.
This is a fantastic gem to use in combination with Headhunter as the effect .
Inspired Learning is commonly placed in the location above, as it is a very popular Jewel among Ranger builds in particular and all of these notables are popular and efficient uses of points, but there are six possible sockets where it can be activated.
What Builds Use Headhunter Best?
That said, Headhunter is a hell of a lot of fun to play with, and players that have the currency to use it will often incorporate it into their end-game builds, even if it harms their overall damage. Stealing the speed aura, in particular, allows you to zip around the map at speeds that make it feel as if you were hacking, and stealing Soul Eater causes your character to grow to leviathan sizes.
There are a variety of builds, however, where Headhunter is far and away the best option. Generally speaking, the more of the monster mods your build can actually make use of, the better Headhunter is as an item. Ranger builds, in particular, tend to utilize this item more often than others. It comes as no surprise that for boss killing, as there are typically no Rare monsters to steal mods from.
In contrast, it is a far more popular choice for builds that focus on clearing activities, as is arguably the best in the game when it comes to pure clear speed. This in large part due to the speed aura that can be stolen, but some of the damage and defense effects are extremely powerful in their own right. Here are a few examples of builds that work great with Headhunter:
- Bow builds are the most famous users of Headhunter — in particular, builds like our Tornado Shot Deadeye are the quintessential users of the item. Somewhat ironically, the builds that use Headhunter best are also the builds that farm The Doctor best, as it boosts clear speed so immensely.
- Delving builds, such as our Molten Strike Pathfinder, often utilize Headhunter. There are a huge amount of Rares during deep delves, and some of the defensive auras that you can steal (for example, the additional Energy Shield) can be essential to your survival in addition to the huge injection of damage.
- Wander builds, such as our Kinetic Blast Pathfinder, also make great use of Headhunter and its effects.
- Auto-bomber builds often incorporate Headhunter into their end-game for the purposes of improving clear-speed.
- Builds that abuse Shackles of the Wretched and self-reflecting Temporal Chains often see Headhunter as an endpoint, such as our Winter Orb Juggernaut. The Temporal Chains curse allows these build types to extend the Headhunter buffs from 20 seconds to over 90 seconds in some cases. These builds are typically designed purely around abusing these kind of effects and are very non-traditional in that sense.
These are just a few of the possibilities — there are quite a few builds that make great use of the item, and countless more who incorporate just for fun or as a show of wealth. Totems are the main loser when it comes to Headhunter, however, as they cannot gain any of the buffs.
As you might have noticed by this list, Headhunter pairs best with builds that rather than bossing.
Are There Mods that Headhunter Can’t Steal?
The only Rare mods that Headhunter cannot procure are the on death mods, such as Fractured, Soul Conduit, and Inner Treasure. These mods have no combat benefits anyways, and only trigger when the Rare monster is defeated. Everything else is fair game for this belt!
How do I Ever Get Enough Currency to Buy a Headhunter?
Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to this item, unless you are one of a handful of people in history that plucked one from The Void. For the overwhelming majority of players, the only path to this item is the old-fashioned one: a whole lot of grinding. The sad reality is, if you do not have the time to invest and the determination to farm the currency, it is unlikely you will ever own this belt.
Your best chance to get a Headhunter if you are a more casual player is to save every Leather Belt you come across in your stash, and chance them in Nemesis maps (Zana modded, not the Map affix itself). The exact rate — some players have done it in a hundred Orb of Chances, others have gone over 25,000 without success — is unknown, but if you do this every league you play, you have the most respectable chance you can give yourself of eventually landing on Headhunter.
Headhunter holds a special place in the Path of Exile community. A large number of players — especially players who have never actually owned or used a Headhunter before — attribute inconceivable power to the item, and believe that it will confer near god-level damage unto your exile.
In reality, Headhunter is not as massive of a power increase as you might believe, but it is an absolute riot to play with. That said, in Patch 3.7.0 Legion, Headhunter is stronger than ever due to the sheer number of Rares released from monoliths, and its price has skyrocketed into the stratosphere.
When you get your Headhunter, expect to move through Maps faster than ever before. This is an item for those who want to go zoom zoom through Maps and enjoy some serious shenanigans (exiles growing to the size of a house while moving at light speed) while doing so.
Good luck on your quest for this legendary unique!