Herald of Agony Occultist Build Guide (PoE Betrayal 3.5)

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Introduction

Here we are looking at very interesting and different skill. Herald of Agony Herald of Agony summons a crawler based on how many times you have poisoned an enemy recently. The crawler gets stronger and faster the more poisons you apply. Each poison is a stack of virulence, each virulence stack is a flat amount of physical damage and percent attack speed for the crawler. In order to build around that skill the main thing you have to focus on is keeping virulence stacks as high as possible. Virulence stacks cap at 40, and the more stacks you have, the faster they fall off. Essentially keeping them above 35 is not easy.

The build is tailored to excel at the harder content of the game. Profane Bloom is immensely powerful in any build that struggles with clear speed, especially this one. By going Occultist you can also manage go for at least 10k energy shield pool with ease; you also do not worry about stuns, and the sustain via Wicked Ward and Vile Bastion is incredible.

Build Summary

Overall it is not expensive to play a build like this, the only mandatory thing is the specific jewel that adds chaos/physical damage to spells, which is very easy to obtain. Basically you only need the Hypnotic Eye base, which you can roll yourself. For the build to be playable in maps you need to invest no more than 30c. The unique body armor The Coming Calamity The Coming Calamity is the best choice because of the 2 additional levels to herald gems and more importantly, no matter how many support gems you apply to Herald of Agony Herald of Agony it always reserves 45% mana, which also lets us run Discipline Discipline. The other things to look for early on is elder gloves with the “Socketed gems are supported by level # Poison” and the unique ring Dream Fragments Dream Fragments , which solves all our problems with being frozen and chilled.

The skill chosen for poison application is Ball Lightning Ball Lightning. Due to its mechanic you can apply multiple poisons with a single cast, which is exactly what we are looking for. The only thing that we need to work on is to make it possible for such lightning based skill to apply poisons. In order for a skill to poison, you need to know two things. First, only chaos and physical damage can poison, and the second thing, you need chance to poison. In order to make Ball Lightning deal chaos or physical damage we socket a single Hypnotic Eye abyssal jewel with a specific mod that adds physical or chaos damage to spells. Now that Ball Lightning deals the type of damage we need in order to poison all we need is poison chance. The way this build acquires poison chance is via an elder based gloves rolled with the mod “Socketed gems are supported by level # Poison”. This simply allows you to socket Ball Lightning in your gloves and have 60% chance to poison simply by being supported by the Poison Support Poison Support. Herald of Agony gives you additional 20% chance to poison with hits while active. At 80% chance to poison it is more than enough to be playable. If you want to improve the chance further you can look for 5% chance to poison on jewels, preferably combined with percent energy shield. The build also specializes heavily in applying strong curses via curse on hit setups.

Pros & Cons

Pros

+ Hardcore viable
+ Great for endgame content
+ One of the best sustains in the game
+ Very easily obtains huge energy shield pool

Cons

- Relies on minion AI
- Can feel clunky to some people that are new to the skill

Playstyle

Offensively, your job is to curse whole packs of monsters to make sure they will explode via Profane Bloom when hit by your crawler. Passively you will trigger Flesh Offering Flesh Offering when hit via Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support setup. Cursing enemies with Projectile Weakness Projectile Weakness is essential, this lets your crawler pierce while also using a bigger damage multiplier than Pierce Support Pierce Support.

Defensively, great energy shield pool combined with the Occultist’s sustain proved time and time again it is very hard get kill. The nature of the build lets us run only defensive flasks which make you not even feel most hits, or just block them instead of taking the damage at all. Zealot’s Oath makes use of some life regeneration you have here and there, and also applies the life regeneration you get from your Summon Stone Golem Summon Stone Golem to your life pool instead. Well optimized character will also be running highly effective Temporal Chains Temporal Chains and Enfeeble Enfeeble , which makes enemies very weak and slow.

Ascendancy, Passive Tree, Bandits, and Pantheons

Ascendancy (Witch – Occultist)

  1. Profane Bloom
  2. Wicked Ward
  3. Vile Bastion
  4. Malediction

Profane Bloom is allowing you to clear content much smoother as long as there is applied curse on enemies. Wicked Ward provides a lot of flat energy shield and great sustain mechanic to the build. Vile Bastion. At this point you are ready to transition into Chaos Inoculation. Malediction increases your maximum curses by one and improves their effectiveness even further.

Passive Tree

Here is an endgame version of the passive tree.

Note: For passive skill tree prior to the absolute endgame refer to the leveling section down below.

Bandits

The Act II quest Deal with the Bandits presents few character choices for us. Considering the build does not benefit from helping any specific bandit we choose to kill them all.

Pantheons

Major: Soul of Solaris is what suits the build best. If something kills the build it is most likely going to be one shot mechanic, this major god power helps to prevent that from happening.

Minor: Soul of Aberath is very useful for every Chaos Inoculation build. Stepping on burning ground stops your energy shield recharge rate, which can be very annoying at times. With this pantheon you do not worry about it at all. Other minor gods can be chosen based on personal preference.

Gems

The build’s main skill is Herald of Agony Herald of Agony, which should ideally be used in a 6-Link. The Curse On Hit Support Curse On Hit Support with Ball Lightning Ball Lightning is applying strong offensive and defensive curses. For mobility, use Shield Charge Shield Charge in combination with Flame Dash Flame Dash. Vaal Discipline Vaal Discipline allows for great energy shield sustain on demand. Immortal Call Immortal Call can prevent deaths from Porcupines.

Herald of Agony (6-link)

Herald of Agony Herald of Agony is what the build is all about. The more poisons you apply, the stronger the agony crawler gets. The following gem link works great for both clearing and single target. If you do not have access to Empower Support Empower Support level 3 or 4, simply use Vile Toxins Support Vile Toxins Support in its place.

Herald of Agony Herald of Agony Empower Support Empower Support Damage on Full Life Support Damage on Full Life Support Minion Damage Support Minion Damage Support Vicious Projectiles Support Vicious Projectiles Support Maim Support Maim Support

Ball Lightning (4-Link)

Ball Lightning Ball Lightning is simply used in order to curse via Curse On Hit Support Curse On Hit Support and apply poison stacks. In order to poison this gem setup should be socketed in Elder-based gloves with the mod “Socketed gems are supported by level # Poison”. You also need to have some source of physical or chaos damage that is applied to your spells, for example Hypnotic Eye Abyssal jewel with “Adds # to # ChaosDamage to Spells”. The Projectile Weakness Projectile Weakness is mandatory, this allows you to not run Pierce Support Pierce Support in your Herald of Agony Herald of Agony gem setup and run a bigger damage multiplier instead. Temporal Chains Temporal Chains is simply used for the defence aspect.

Ball Lightning Ball Lightning Curse On Hit Support Curse On Hit Support Temporal Chains Temporal Chains Projectile Weakness Projectile Weakness

Shield Charge (3-Link)

Shield Charge Shield Charge is your main mobility skill. This is also how you get the Fortify effect, which is just one of your many layers of defence.

Shield Charge Shield Charge Fortify Support Fortify Support Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support

Discipline (2-Link)

Vaal Discipline Vaal Discipline is useful in hairy situations, use it in combination with Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support for obvious reasons.

Immortal Call and Flesh Offering (3-Link)

Immortal Call Immortal Call in combination with Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support is a standard gem setup that prevents deaths from Porcupines, Flesh Offering Flesh Offering is used to empower your agony crawler even further.

Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support Immortal Call Immortal Call Flesh Offering Flesh Offering

Other Gems

Convocation Convocation is pretty much mandatory, the agony crawler’s AIis not that good, and sometimes he falls behind. An instant cast of Convocation will bring him next to you so he can keep killing everything. Flame Dash Flame Dash can be used to jump over obstacles, which you cannot Shield Charge Shield Charge through.

Gearing

The Coming Calamity The Coming Calamity will improve crawler’s damage output tremendously. The Elder-based gloves mentioned below should be one of the first important items you should look for. For more energy shield look for decent helmet, boots and shield early on.

Helmet

When it comes to helms, you should look for a Hubris Circlet enchanted with “Ball Lightning fires an additional projectile” or “Summoned Agony Crawler fires 2 additional Projectiles”. Craft as much energy shield and resists on it as possible. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Energy shield(minimum 250)
  2. Elemental resistances

Body Armour

The Coming Calamity The Coming Calamity is simply the best in slot chest for the build. Corrupting the chest with +1 of socketed gems would be ideal.

Gloves

For gloves we are looking for very specific ones, this might be the item that will be hardest to obtain when it comes to perfect roll combination. We are looking for elder energy shield gloves with a specific elder mod. A corruption on the gloves allows you to run a third curse, before having such gloves speccing into Whispers of Doom is useless. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Socketed gems are supported by level # Poison
  2. Energy Shield(preferably at least 100)
  3. Elemental resistances
  4. Dexterity

Boots

A rare pair of boots with as much energy shield and elemental resistances as possible. Movement speed is not mandatory since you move around with Shield Charge Shield Charge, which is not affected by movement speed modifiers since patch 3.4. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Energy shield ( 200+)
  2. Elemental resistances
  3. Movement speed (not mandatory)

Belt

Crafted Crystal belt provides a lot of energy shield, along with some elemental resistances and other fancy mods. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Energy shield
  2. Strength
  3. Elemental resistances
  4. Reduced flask charges used / increased flask charges duration
  5. Increased energy shield from body armour
  6. Armour

Amulet

Since we are immune to stun via Vile Bastion we do not have to run Eye of Chayula Eye of Chayula, instead look for a rare amulet. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Dexterity
  2. Strength
  3. Elemental resistances
  4. Energy shield (flat amount)
  5. Energy shield (percent, crafted via master crafting)

Rings

Dream Fragments Dream Fragments is strongly recommended. The other ring should be rare with elemental resistances, energy shield modifiers and desired attributes. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Elemental resistances
  2. Strength
  3. Dexterity
  4. Energy shield (flat amount)
  5. Faster start of energy shield recovery (percent, crafted via master crafting)

Weapon

Main-Hand

Heartbreaker Heartbreaker and Arakaali's Fang Arakaali’s Fang are the only two weapons that should be considered. These daggers can eventually be corrupted for “Adds # to # Chaos damage” in order to drop the mandatory Hypnotic Eye jewel.

Shield

A rare shield with as much energy shield and elemental resistances as possible is the best choice. Atziri's Mirror Atziri’s Mirror can also be considered but having its immense price in mind you better skip investing into it. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Energy shield (preferably 350+)
  2. Elemental resistances

Flasks

Due to the nature of the build you do not need to use any offensive flasks, we focus on survivability and utility. Rumi's Concoction Rumi’s Concoction helps get block chance higher, also provides 3000 armour. Basalt flask provides a good amount of physical mitigation. Quartz flask provides additional dodge chance and removes unit collision. Sapphire flask for additional cold damage mitigation. Silver flask makes the build feel smoother via the additional cast, attack and movement speed. Other flasks can be used based on personal preference and content. Having bleed, curse, shock and burning immunity on flasks is recommended. This makes you immune to all ailments.

Jewels

The only mandatory jewel is Hypnotic Eye with a specific roll. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Adds physical damage to spells while holding a shield
  2. Adds chaos damage to spells while holding a shield
  3. Adds physical damage to spells
  4. Adds chaos damage to spells
  5. Energy shield

Recommended Unique Jewels

  • The Golden Rule The Golden Rule will allow you to have much more reliable poison stacking mechanic without the downfalls of the jewel, since you are immune to chaos damage while using Chaos Inoculation any ways.
  • Energy From Within Energy From Within
  • Watcher’s Eye (this will be expensive) , with at least one of the following mods:
  1. Gain % of maximum mana as extra energy shield while affected by Clarity (simply run level 1 clarity to keep this active)
  2. (20-30) Energy shield gained for each enemy hit while affected by Discipline
  3. (1,5-2,5)% of maximum energy shield regenerated per second while affected by Discipline
  4. (20-30)% increased energy shield recovery rate while affected by Discipline
  5. (30-40)% faster start of energy shield recharge while affected by Discipline

For other jewel slots simply socket rare jewels with the following mods. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. % increased maximum energy shield
  2. 5% chance to poison on hit
  3. Attack and cast speed
  4. Dexterity
  5. Elemental resistances

Leveling

Even though the build can be leveled with the herald from level 31, it might feel clunky to some. You can also choose to level with skills like Summon Raging Spirit Summon Raging Spirit or any overpowered leveling skill like Blade Vortex Blade Vortex.

Leveling trees

Before transitioning to Chaos Inoculation.

After transitioning to Chaos Inoculation.

The minion damage is not mandatory at all in the early levels. Focus on picking life and energy shield nodes in order to stay safe, the crawler will obliterate enemies as long as you have decent poisons per second.

Useful Leveling Uniques

As you begin a new character there are few unique items that can boost your power exponentially. Tabula Rasa Tabula Rasa allows you to have a 6-Linked skill as early as you get the gems. Wanderlust Wanderlust gives a decent movement speed, which will make your leveling that much more efficient. Goldrim Goldrim provides a lot of elemental resistnaces, this will let you worry less about gearing when approaching certain Act encounters. Use Quill Rain Quill Rain with Rain of Arrows Rain of Arrows and Lesser Poison Support Lesser Poison Support in order to accumulate large amount of poisons as early as level 16. Here is the gem setup you should have for Herald of Agony Herald of Agony at level 16:

Herald of Agony Herald of Agony Pierce Support Pierce Support Minion Damage Support Minion Damage Support Damage on Full Life Support Damage on Full Life Support

This setup can easly carry you to maps. Just make sure to put The Coming Calamity The Coming Calamity and socket the herald into it at level 53.

Gem Progression

Using Tabula Rasa 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.

Freezing Pulse Freezing Pulse Onslaught Support Onslaught Support Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support

At level 10, you are able to add Flame Dash Flame Dash, which will help with your mobility.

At level 16, you can start obliterating the leveling content by using the following gem links. At this point you need to be wielding a Quill Rain Quill Rain. At this point you should also add Blink Arrow Blink Arrow for additional mobility.

Vaal Rain of Arrows Vaal Rain of Arrows Lesser Poison Support Lesser Poison Support
Herald of Agony Herald of Agony Pierce Support Pierce Support Minion Damage Support Minion Damage Support Maim Support Maim Support

At level 18, your Herald of Agony Herald of Agony link should look like this.

Herald of Agony Herald of Agony Pierce Support Pierce Support Minion Damage Support Minion Damage Support Damage on Full Life Support Damage on Full Life Support Vicious Projectiles Support Vicious Projectiles Support Maim Support Maim Support

At level 38, you have access to Curse On Hit Support Curse On Hit Support, which will slightly change your game play. At this point you ascend into Occultist – Profane Bloom. This allows you to start running a curse on hit gem and drop Pierce Support Pierce Support from the Herald of Agony Herald of Agony link.

Vaal Rain of Arrows Vaal Rain of Arrows Poison Support Poison Support Curse On Hit Support Curse On Hit Support Projectile Weakness Projectile Weakness
Herald of Agony Herald of Agony Minion Damage Support Minion Damage Support Damage on Full Life Support Damage on Full Life Support Vicious Projectiles Support Vicious Projectiles Support Maim Support Maim Support Vile Toxins Support Vile Toxins Support

FAQ

The build looks like it needs a lot of investment and specific items, is there an easier way to start playing it?

In the beginning, all you need is 4-Links Quill Rain Quill Rain. With this setup you can build around Herald of Agony Herald of Agony at level 16 and you will destroy the leveling content. At level 53 you can put your herald gem into The Coming Calamity The Coming Calamity and this will be more than enough damage in order to progress through the endgame. Here are the following two gem setup links you need in order to start playing at level 16:

Vaal Rain of Arrows Vaal Rain of Arrows Lesser Poison Support Lesser Poison Support
Herald of Agony Herald of Agony Pierce Support Pierce Support Minion Damage Support Minion Damage Support Damage on Full Life Support Damage on Full Life Support

Conclusion

This build, even though heavily improvised, turned out to be very fun to play while also end game viable. The play style feels very good, the character is insanely hard to kill. Managing to tank Shaper’s slams and other heavy hitting mechanics feels great. You can run most map mods except for no regeneration, even though even this is manageable.

Changelog
  •    Reworked Gem Link and Gem Progression sections for improved visibility
  • Changed gem link priority and some recommended items for better efficiency.
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