This Heist league guide aims to teach you how to pull off the perfect heist, make the most out of your hard-earned currency, level up your Rogue companions efficiently and understand the whole concept of the 3.12 challenge league in general. We will make sure to update the guide as much as possible, to keep it up-to-date throughout the league’s lifetime.
While this page goes over most things about the Heist mechanics, we recommending checking out the dedicated Reward page of this guide for a full list of rewards.
The Heist League Mechanic
In Path of Exile: Heist (3.12), Grinding Gear Games is giving players the opportunity to live out their Ocean’s 11 dreams and pull off daring heists with a group of specialists, to bypass even the hardest and most ingenious of security systems.
Heist League also introduces a slew of entirely new items to play with, such as “Replica” unique items, alternative quality skill-gems, new item bases, as well as introducing the possibility for weapon and armour enchantments. Lastly, Heist also introduces a never-before-seen system of risk/reward in Path of Exile, with the introduction of the “Contraband Item” mechanic.
The league mechanic itself features no timers, so you can spend as much time as you want to get into or out of a heist. The only way to fail a heist is to die.
There is, however, one caveat to this rule. Each heist features an Alert Meter, which will limit the amount of options you have in each heist, as once it fills up 100%, the location will go on “Lockdown”, essentially disabling your access to the vault and artifact rooms. Once triggered, there is no way to go back, however you do have a very small window to pick up any nearby loot or artifacts, before the lockdown is in effect.
The Alert Level is affected by killing guards (as of writing this post, but might be removed in an update in the near-future), opening reward chests, opening side passages and some Rogues when performing their specialised skills. Killing enemies has a small effect on the alert level, while opening side passages and chests can result in larger increases. GGG has intentionally designed the league so that you can still kill a lot of monsters and earn a lot of items without worrying about this Alert Level mechanic too much. This means that the main thing you’ll need to consider is how much loot you’ll want to gather before you reach the Artifact.
During your time venturing through the bowels of Wraeclast, you will inevitably encounter other parts of the new league mechanic as well, by way of specific drops which are able to be acquired from regular monsters throughout the entire game, including the Labyrinth and even Delve!
These specific items come in three distinct forms.
These markers are a new type of currency, which represent the back-bone of the league mechanic. They are used to create a portal to the “Rogue Harbour” (the new main-hub for the league mechanic specific NPCs), hire specialists to assist you on your heists and acquire Intel for the planned heists or grand-heists. They can also be used to buy contracts, similarly to Zana’s Map Shop, in the Rogue Harbour itself.
You are also paid for the artifacts that you… “obtain”, during your contracts and blueprints in heist markers when you return them to the Rogue Harbour. One thing of note is that you ALWAYS get more heist markers from a successfully pulled off heist, than you can spend on the heist itself, meaning that you will always come out net-positive at the end of a successful one.
Their main usage is to unlock wings and intelligence for the “Grand-Heist” encounters. Those cost a very high amount of Heist Markers, so make sure to save up a ton of them beforehand or incrementally unlock the blueprints, instead of doing them all at once. One additional note here,
Contracts (read: Heists) are map-like items that require a certain amount of Specialist (read: Rogue Companions) stats to fully explore. They will be the major piece of content that players will interact with in this league. Similarly to maps, they will come with different attributes as shown above. They have varying layouts, iLvLs, skill requirements, targets and, of course, contract-specific mods.
Many of the mods that are applied to a contract, via the typical map crafting using the standard Path of Exile currencies, such as chaos orbs, will be very familiar to every player that has accessed the end-game mapping system before. However, some new, exclusive, modifiers have also been added to the contract-specific pool that can be rolled on each contract.
One such modifier would, for example, be: “Patrolling Monsters deal X% increased damage”.
At the moment they seem to drop very frequently in maps of any tier. At white-tier, you will get an average of around 1-2 contracts per map.
To run a Contract, you’ll need to take it to Adiyah, the Wayfinder in the Rogue Harbour. You’ll pay her a sum of markers to arrange the Heist, allowing you to select which specialised Rogue you’d like to take with you and handle transportation.
Blueprints are the big, end-game reward system for this league. They represent the Grand-Heists, which will require a larger crew of Specialists, more highly skilled ones, as well as a lot more preparation and time investment in general.
To run a Grand Heist, you need to pay Whakano, the Barber in markers for the intel he’s received from your earlier Heists. This intel can reveal escape routes, reward rooms and more. Alternatively, you can also choose either Gianna, the Master of Disguise or Niles, the Interrogator, in order to reveal intel about your Blueprints, if you’ve unlocked them already.
These two offer you a discount on all the intel they provide, depending on their main ability level. They should be used primarily to unlock the very expensive parts of the Blueprints, such as each Wing, or the Secret Rooms, while Whakano, the Barber should be used to unlock the cheaper intel, such as minor Secret Rooms or additional Escape Routes.
One quick tip: You can hold left ALT while hovering over your Blueprint in order to see what Secret Rooms can possibly exist on the Blueprint, even if they aren’t revealed yet. This can help you make a decision whether you want to reveal an additional Wing or not, if you aren’t very interested in the Curio rewards, but also see that the Secret Rooms have some poor rewards as well.
Reveal as much as you desire (or as much as you can afford) and then take the Blueprint to the Planning Room in the Rogue Harbour, where Kurai, the Administrator will help you arrange which NPCs you’d like to take with you and confirm the Blueprint. At this point, you can either trade the Blueprint to another player if you’d like, or take it to Adiyah, the Wayfinder to arrange transportation and begin the Grand Heist.
There are also some gameplay differences between Contracts and Blueprints but the main difference is that Contracts (read: Heists) lay the groundwork for Grand Heists (read: Blueprints) and yield Markers and other regular Path of Exile items as rewards, while Grand Heists yield exclusive rewards. These can include Trinkets, Alternate Quality Gems, Rare Body Armour and Weapons with enchantments, Experimented Base Types and Replica Unique items.
Be aware that Grand-Heists, due to them granting exclusive rewards, do not offer Artifacts at the end of their individual wings. This results in them being a major Heist Marker sink, as you will regain essentially no markers whatsoever, except for the stacks of 30 or so that drop on some unique mobs that get killed during the heist.
Note that you may also skip the “revealing” process entirely for Blueprints and jump right to locking in which NPCs you’ll take, but you’ll miss out on a lot of the value of the Blueprint in doing so. You can unlock as much as you want or can afford. The more you unlock, the more you’ll reap from your Grand Heist. It is thus, highly advised to always fully reveal your blueprints for the maximum reward per blueprint.
Revealed Blueprints also indicate which rewards are available from Curio Displays (the final reward of each Heist) but you won’t be able to tell what rewards are in chests, lockers and side-rooms along the way.
As a result, if you are specifically searching for one of the items exclusive to grand-heists, it might be possible to simply unveil the Curio Displays to farm for them, rather than needing to unveil the entire Blueprint each time.
You’ll have access to one Contract per area on average but the amount you get is affected by standard drop multipliers. You can get many per area in well-rolled maps. You can access a Blueprint for a Grand Heist approximately once per act or around every 12 maps.
Specialists (aka. Rogue Companions)
Every heist-boss requires a crew and it’s no different for our Exiles from Wraeclast. Inside the Rogue Harbour, you are able to acquire the services of 13 different rogue companions (for the right price… of course), with a total of 9 different fields of expertise.
To unlock them all, simply run all the contracts you can find! Bringing your Rogues on any mission has a random chance for them to bring a friend along, permanentely unlocking that friend as a new hirable Rogue in your Crew. Once a crew member has been unlocked, you are also able to get their respective special quest contract dropped in your maps or acts, in order to unlock the heist story fully and finish up your challenges!
Each Rogue has one main skill and up to three alternate skills. Their main skill is their specialty and has a higher experience cap than their secondary skills. Some Rogues share their skills however, so you will be able to mix/match your perfect squad to your hearts desire.
The Rogues level up their skills as you bring them on heists, depending on which skills they had to use during said heist. In a normal heist (read: contracts), you are only be able to bring one rogue companion with you, while grand-heists allow up to three rogues per wing. Additionally, there are specific “Quest” contracts, for each Rogue Companion, that give a really high amount of experience on completion for their main ability, making it easy to “catch-up” one character if they have fallen behind. These are random drops that seem to be obtainable from Rogue’s Stashes, which randomly spawn with a low chance in maps, exclusively.
While reading all of this, you might think to yourself “Oh god, not another Escort Quest…”. But, fret not. Inside of Heists and Grand Heists, Rogues are entirely impervious to damage and they cannot be killed. This is specifically not meant as an escort mission, but rather a fun heist experience. You do, however, have to protect them while they perform their task, as nobody can really pick the lock of a vault, while getting fireballs thrown at them…
As a reward for your heists, you will also sometimes acquire rogue-specific equipment, which will allow you to further specialise your Rogues for the heists to come.
As the League Mechanic is in a state of extreme flux at the moment of writing, I will not be providing a rundown on the best equipment for each Rogue and the best mods for them yet, as it’s unclear what mechanics even survive the re-balancing of this league. This will, however, be added at a later date, once the league mechanic has stabilised a bit and GGG is happy with its state in the game.
Rewards and Contraband
What would a heist be without an adequate reward for all your troubles?
Heist league features an absolute ton of different rewards and new toys to experience Path of Exile with.
Before we get into all of these however, we have to talk about Contraband.
During your Heists (either Contracts OR Blueprints), you acquire items with a lock icon on it and a red text that reads “Contraband”.
Every single item, currency and drop that appears in the Heists, has this contraband marking.
If you die during a heist, you will LOSE EVERY SINGLE CONTRABAND ITEM IN YOUR INVENTORY, essentially deleting them, unless you are playing in a party, in which case they’ll be dropped on the floor at the location of your death, meaning that your friends can still bring out the most valuable contraband you’ve collected. If you’ve been paying attention to what was just said, you will realize that the risk/reward system in this league is EXTREMELY punishing, if you fail.
If you acquire an exalted orb inside of a Heist, but you die before being able to extract… you lose it. If you acquire a coveted unique item inside of a Heist, but you die before being able to extract… you lost it.
As a result, you have to make educated decisions on whether a particular item that dropped is valuable enough to rush to the artifact and back to the exit or if it’s alright to continue and risk losing it all.
Once you’ve successfully extracted with contraband-marked items, they lose their contraband status permanently, making it possible to take them back into other Heists or trade them to other players without running the risk of losing them.
To check out our entire rundown of the reward types, specifics, tips for acquiring them and more, please refer to the Heist Reward sub-page of this guide.
General Tips & Tricks
- When you’re first starting off with the Heist mechanic, you will likely be encountering a lot of unknowns and confusion. Take your time and learn the enemies and their attacks. There is no direct timer on the Heist mechanic, so there’s nothing forcing you to rush through the content as fast as possible and potentially getting yourself killed.
- If you’re playing a summoner, it is advised to socket a Meat Shield Support, to prevent your minions from wandering TOO far and causing yourself to get too much of an Alarm Meter increase due to their killing sprees.
- Always aim to unlock all the doors first, especially the ones leading to the Artifact room. This will allow you to play a bit more fast and loose, when it comes to the Alert Meter, as you simply need to pick up the Artifact as long as the “lockout timer” is still running, in order to succeed.
- Don’t underestimate the value of the small chests. While they’re random in what they provide, they’re often times a superior choice to a LOT of other chest types you will find in the secret reward rooms (the rooms requiring your Rogue to open for you).
- Save up your Heist Markers for Grand Heists as much as possible, before you commit to one. This is especially true while you’re progressing your atlas simultaneously, as you will want to run the highest level Grand-Heist you have access to, if you’re already spending 5,000+ hard earned markers.
The Heist league mechanic seems to bring a breath of fresh air to a large portion of the game, with alternative versions of fan-favorite Uniques and skill gems, an intriguing storyline to explore, as well as an entirely new system of risk/reward with the Contraband items, which we have never been able to experience in Path of Exile before: a slight taste of the “hardcore” playstyle for everyone.
With the new skills gems, the reworked Steel and Curse (now: hex) skills all appearing to be quite potent as well, GGG has once again opened the gates for a vast amount of excitement and fun over the coming next 3 months.
Heist league has launched to a mostly positive reception by the Playerbase, on September 18th 2020 for PC and September 23rd 2020 for Consoles.
Be sure to check out our build guides for Heist 3.12 to get the best start possible on crushing the league mechanic.