Impale Cleave Champion Build Guide (PoE Blight 3.8)

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Introduction

The Cleave Champion is a melee type of character that excels at dealing tons of physical damage by utilizing the Impale mechanic. For this purpose, we choose to dual wield Swords and scale Critical Strikes. The Champion ascendancy synergizes very well with everything we want to do, since we have the Fortify buff for free from Overwhelming Odds Overwhelming Odds and the Champion provides additional perks while you have Fortify. This ascendancy also improves our Impales by a great deal and solves our Accuracy Rating issues; overall this class provides great balance between offense and defense.

Build Summary

The build only requires the Cleave Cleave‘s threshold jewel – Overwhelming Odds Overwhelming Odds. Besides that you can even play the character as a league-starter since it does not require any rare or hard to obtain gear. When it comes to the endgame, The Cleave Champion has a lot of potential and scales very well with exceptionally rolled gear.

Pros & Cons

Pros

+ Hardcore viable
+ Decent clear speed while maintaining very respectable single target damage
+ Decent damage mitigation
+ Playing a pure physical build means you will not be slowed down by Monster Resistances in Maps

Cons

- Obtaining very good gear as exceptional Rare Physical Swords can be expensive

Playstyle

Offensively, you should Leap Slam Leap Slam into packs of monsters and shred them with your Cleave Cleave; the more monsters are nearby, the bigger your Cleave area of effect will be, because of the Overwhelming Odds Overwhelming Odds threshold jewel. Blood Rage Blood Rage provides a decent amount of additional damage along with a very reliable source of Life Leech. Ancestral Warchief Ancestral Warchief provides additional damage whenever needed.

Defensively, you must make sure your Fortify buff is always up. Defensive flasks like Basalt Flask Basalt Flask and Granite Flask Granite Flask should be used for additional physical damage mitigation. A Vaal Molten Shell Vaal Molten Shell is a great Guardian skill choice for the build.

For playstyle, stunning enemies with Leap Slam and killing the whole pack with one or two Multistrikes of Cleave is what you should be doing. When you encounter tougher foes you should place down your offensive totem and stack up your Impales by attacking rapidly: the more you attack, the higher damage you will deal. This is why the first few attacks might feel weak but the damage ramps up very fast after that. You should get used to swapping between Blood and Sand stance whenever needed.

Ascendancy, Passive tree, Bandits and Pantheons

Ascendancy (Duelist – Champion)

  1. Master of Metal
  2. Unstoppable Hero
  3. Conqueror
  4. Worthy Foe

Master of Metal provides an insane amount of damage in the form of additional hits for Impale, additional physical damage per Impale, 20% Chance to Impale and additional Armour if you’ve Impaled recently, which is pretty much all the time.

Unstoppable Hero most importantly makes you immune to Stuns if you have Fortify; beyond that the offensive and defensive stats it provides are also very good.

Conqueror mainly focuses on improving your survivability.

Worthy Foe allows you to always hit enemies that are Taunted by you, which solves all your Hit Chance issues, which this is especially strong for Critical-based builds.

Passive tree

This is the endgame passive skill tree for the build. We focus on picking up all the efficient Impale and Sword nodes along with a decent amount of Life. There are nodes such as Twin Terror that can also be considered and some Life can be dropped in order to pick them.

Bandits

For this specific build we should help Alira in Act II. The critical multiplier and 15% all elemental resistances are stronger than the 2 passive skill points.

Pantheons

Major: Soul of Lunaris is a great Pantheon choice for the build, as it provides important Movement Speed along with additional Physical damage mitigation.

Minor: Soul of Shakari – Poison immunity is always a good addition to a build. Other minor gods can be chosen depending on personal preference.

Pantheon powers can be upgraded by using Divine Vessel in the Map Device while you are activating the particular Map that contains the boss you need. Once you’ve killed the boss and captured his soul, you need to deliver the vessel to Sin in Oriath.

Gems

Cleave Cleave is your signature skill, which should ideally be used in a 6-Link. For mobility you should use Leap Slam Leap Slam. Blood Rage Blood Rage is an offensive buff that should be active all the time once you have enough Life Regeneration to sustain it. Vaal Molten Shell Vaal Molten Shell provides great amount of on-demand damage mitigation. Dread Banner Dread Banner should be used until you have picked enough Chance to Impale on the passive tree, after that your ideal buff setup looks like this: Pride Pride, Blood and Sand Blood and Sand and Flesh and Stone Flesh and Stone.

For all the gem links we provide below, keep in mind that we list the gems in order of priority, meaning that if you lack the required number of sockets to fit all the gems, the first ones to drop are the ones at the bottom. Also note that in-game, as long as the sockets are linked, it makes no difference at all what order the gems are placed in.

Cleave (6-Link)

Cleave Cleave is a melee attack that can be used with both Two-Handed and One-Handed melee weapons. For this particular build we dual wield One-Handed swords, which allows us to stack Impales very fast. The threshold jewel of the skill – Overwhelming Odds Overwhelming Odds is very powerful and should be socketed as soon as possible. We recommend one link that works great for both clearing and single target.

  1. Cleave Cleave
  2. Impale Support Impale Support
  3. Multistrike Support Multistrike Support
  4. Brutality Support Brutality Support
  5. Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support
  6. Ruthless Support Ruthless Support

Ancestral Warchief (4-Link)

Vaal Ancestral Warchief Vaal Ancestral Warchief can improve your single target damage output by a great deal, even on a 4-Link.

  1. Vaal Ancestral Warchief Vaal Ancestral Warchief
  2. Brutality Support Brutality Support
  3. Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support
  4. Ruthless Support Ruthless Support

Leap Slam (4-Link)

Leap Slam Leap Slam is your mobility skill which will let you dodge lethal game mechanics and make you more time-efficient in general.

  1. Leap Slam Leap Slam
  2. Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support
  3. Blood Magic Support Blood Magic Support
  4. Endurance Charge on Melee Stun Support Endurance Charge on Melee Stun Support

Molten Shell (2-Link)

Vaal Molten Shell Vaal Molten Shell provides great damage mitigation when needed, the skill must be activated manually for maximum efficiency.

  1. Vaal Molten Shell Vaal Molten Shell
  2. Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support

Other Gems

Pride Pride, Blood and Sand Blood and Sand and Flesh and Stone Flesh and Stone is your ideal buff setup; Dread Banner Dread Banner can be used before you have reached 100% Chance to Impale. Blood Rage Blood Rage should be active all the time.

Gearing

Capping your elemental resistances is essential and it should always be your top priority in any build; it should be the first thing you do when gearing up a character. Obtaining a 6-link, while very powerful and certainly recommended, can potentially be very expensive (requiring an average of 1500 Orbs of Fusing, obviously depending on your luck); as such, this should not really be a goal for you while gearing up, and you should instead settle for a 5-link until you have enough resources.

Helmet

A well rolled rare Helmet is best in slot; Starkonja's Head Starkonja's Head can also be used. Any Cleave Cleave helmet enchant is useful, but the attack speed is best of all. The Rare affix priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. +# to maximum life (90)
  3. % Increased Maximum life (Pristine Fossil)
  4. Nearby Enemies take #% increased Physical Damage (Jagged Fossil)

Body Armour

A well rolled rare Body Armour is ideal, it can act as a psuedo 7-Link. The Rare affix priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. +# to maximum life (100)
  3. % Increased Maximum life (Elder mod, Pristine Fossil)
  4. Socketed Gems are supported by Level 1 Maim (Serrated Fossil)

Gloves

Well rolled rare Gloves should be used, there are no particularly powerful unique ones. The Rare affix priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. +# to maximum life (60)
  3. % Increased Attack speed
  4. Adds # to # Physical damage to Attacks

Boots

Well rolled pair of Boots is best in slot. Kaom's Roots Kaom's Roots can also be considered. For labyrinth enchant, look for “% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you’ve Killed Recently”. The Rare affix priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. +# to maximum life (80)
  3. % increased Movement Speed (at least 20%)

Belt

A well rolled rare Belt can be very powerful for the build. The Rare affix priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. +# to maximum life (80)
  3. % increased Global Physical Damage

Amulet

A well rolled rare Amulet is best in slot. The Rare affix priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. +# to maximum life (50)
  3. Adds # to # Physical damage to Attacks

Rings

Well rolled Steel Ring Steel Ring can provide a great amount of damage. Considering the build does not utilize any curses you can also use a Curse on Hit ring with Warlord’s Mark, for example. The Rare affix priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. +# to maximum life (at least around 50)
  3. Adds # to # Physical damage to Attacks

Weapon

Unique Swords like Scaeva Scaeva and Ahn's Might Ahn's Might can carry you a long way. Your ideal endgame weapons are well rolled Rare Swords, look for at least 350pDPS and at least 6% Critical Chance.

Flasks

As in every Critical-based build, a Diamond Flask Diamond Flask is mandatory. Instant or half instant Life flask is also very important to have. Lion's Roar Lion's Roar provides a good amount of damage and defense. Other utility flasks like Basalt Flask Basalt Flask, Silver Flask Silver Flask, or any other based on content and personal preference can be used.

Note: Make sure to have bleed and freeze immunity on your non-unique flasks.

Jewels

Overwhelming Odds Overwhelming Odds is the only mandatory jewel the build needs. Having a Watcher's Eye Watcher's Eye with Pride Pride mod for additional Impales can be very powerful, but expensive.

Regular Jewel Affix Priority

  1. % Increased Maximum life
  2. % increased Physical Damage
  3. % increased Physical Damage with Swords
  4. % increased Physical Damage while Dual Wielding
  5. % increased Melee Damage
  6. % increased Damage
  7. % increased Attack Speed with Swords
  8. % increased Attack Speed while Dual Wielding
  9. % increased Attack speed

Abyssal Jewel Affix Priority

  1. Maximum life (at least 30)
  2. % Chance to gain Onslaught on kill (at least 4%)
  3. Adds # to # Physical Damage to Attacks
  4. Adds # to # Physical Damage to Attacks with Swords
  5. % chance to Blind Enemies on Hit with Attacks

Leveling

As a reminder, we have several guides to help you level up a character.

The character can be leveled with its signature skill since level 1 and feels good to do so.

Leveling Trees

Here is an early passive skill tree that picks up all the foundational passive nodes needed in the beginning of the character.

Useful Leveling Unique Items

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 resistances, this will let you worry less about gearing when approaching certain Act encounters.

If you are a new player (or if this is your first character for the league), then note that obtaining these items will be very difficult, if not impossible. They are rare drops, which you can otherwise only acquire if you have saved up currency, so do not focus on them too much, and instead simply look for items that match the affix priorities listed in the gearing section above.

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.

  1. Cleave Cleave
  2. Onslaught Support Onslaught Support
  3. Chance to Bleed Support Chance to Bleed Support

At level 4, you should add War Banner War Banner and Ancestral Protector Ancestral Protector for additional damage. Dash Dash helps out by improving your mobility early on. Blood and Sand Blood and Sand should be only used accordingly to the your current needs (stay in Blood stance while fighting tough enemies and switch to Sand stance while clearing). Molten Shell Molten Shell can be used whenever you need the damage mitigation.

By level 8, your Cleave Cleave link should look like this.

  1. Cleave Cleave
  2. Maim Support Maim Support
  3. Added Fire Damage Support Added Fire Damage Support
  4. Ruthless Support Ruthless Support
  5. Onslaught Support Onslaught Support
  6. Chance to Bleed Support Chance to Bleed Support

At level 10, you should add Leap Slam Leap Slam for additional mobility.

At level 16, you should add Flesh and Stone Flesh and Stone.

By level 18, your Cleave Cleave link should look like this.

  1. Cleave Cleave
  2. Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support
  3. Maim Support Maim Support
  4. Added Fire Damage Support Added Fire Damage Support
  5. Ruthless Support Ruthless Support
  6. Onslaught Support Onslaught Support

At level 24, you should add Pride Pride for additional damage improvement. You should also replace War Banner War Banner with Dread Banner Dread Banner.

At level 28, you should replace your Ancestral Protector Ancestral Protector with Ancestral Warchief Ancestral Warchief.

At level 31, you should be able to do your normal Labyrinth and ascent into Master of Metal, this allows you to start heavily investing into Impales and your Cleave Cleave link should look like this.

  1. Cleave Cleave
  2. Impale Support Impale Support
  3. Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support
  4. Maim Support Maim Support
  5. Ruthless Support Ruthless Support
  6. Onslaught Support Onslaught Support

At level 38, you are also able to make great use of Multistrike Support Multistrike Support and Brutality Support Brutality Support support. Your Cleave Cleave link should look like this.

  1. Cleave Cleave
  2. Impale Support Impale Support
  3. Multistrike Support Multistrike Support
  4. Brutality Support Brutality Support
  5. Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support
  6. Ruthless Support Ruthless Support

FAQ

How to deal with Mana problems? The skill tree does not have a single node of Mana Leech.

Having a single jewel with “% of Physical Attack Damage Leeched as Mana” will solve all your Mana problems, or this can also be rolled on Rings or Amulet.

What Map mods should be avoided?

The build cannot do Physical Reflect and Cannot Leech. Another rough, but manageable mod is No Regeneration.

Conclusion

Get close and personal with enemies and slice them in half. The Cleave Champion excels at dealing physical damage and makes great use of the Impale mechanic while maintaining very respectable survivability.

Changelog
  •   

    Revisited and updated for Blight 3.8. The build remains as solid as before.

  •   

    Build added.

  1. Posts
    16

    Gonna try this build out for sure. Any unique Body Armor you recommend until I can get a well rolled rare one?

  2. Vvckd

    Moderator

    Posts
    467

    On 09/07/2019 at 3:31 PM, ThamHanks said

    Gonna try this build out for sure. Any unique Body Armor you recommend until I can get a well rolled rare one?

    Belly of the Beast Belly of the Beast is never a bad option. Anything with Life and Resistances will do the work pretty much.

  3. Posts
    1

    On 09/07/2019 at 3:31 PM, ThamHanks said

    Gonna try this build out for sure. Any unique Body Armor you recommend until I can get a well rolled rare one?

    i know it might be a little late but Craiceann’s Carapace is what i am using until i get that perfect rare the immunity to bleed is really nice the skill it provides is useless but the rest is solid

  4. Vvckd

    Moderator

    Posts
    467

    On 08/08/2019 at 6:43 AM, mushysnugz said

    On 09/07/2019 at 3:31 PM, ThamHanks said

    Gonna try this build out for sure. Any unique Body Armor you recommend until I can get a well rolled rare one?

    i know it might be a little late but Craiceann’s Carapace is what i am using until i get that perfect rare the immunity to bleed is really nice the skill it provides is useless but the rest is solid

    Awesome!

  5. Posts
    1

    So I have been playing this build over the weekend, atm I am lvl 88 the build is fun.

    How do you feel regarding using Mark of the Elder Mark of the Elder combined with a shaped ring.
    Right now I am looking for my 6-linked body armor, but I don’t know what base I should go for. I am swinging between Astral Plate Astral Plate or Glorious Plate Glorious Plate. For the moment I don’t have any problems with resistances so a 7-linked Glorious could be ideal combined the extra armor i gives more than the astral plate so my Vaal Molten Shell is more beefy.
    But I might in the future be needing the extra +12% all resistance if I would change my other gear.

    Lastly any unique amulets?

  6. Vvckd

    Moderator

    Posts
    467

    On 16/09/2019 at 7:23 AM, SenorRaven said

    So I have been playing this build over the weekend, atm I am lvl 88 the build is fun.

    How do you feel regarding using Mark of the Elder Mark of the Elder combined with a shaped ring.
    Right now I am looking for my 6-linked body armor, but I don’t know what base I should go for. I am swinging between Astral Plate Astral Plate or Glorious Plate Glorious Plate. For the moment I don’t have any problems with resistances so a 7-linked Glorious could be ideal combined the extra armor i gives more than the astral plate so my Vaal Molten Shell is more beefy.
    But I might in the future be needing the extra +12% all resistance if I would change my other gear.

    Lastly any unique amulets?

    Hey, glad to hear you like the build. When it comes to jewelry some uniques might have synergy with the build but well rolled rares with as much flat Physical damage added to attacks beats everything. When it comes to the Body Armour, you can use both bases, depending on your needs.

  7. Posts
    2

    Hey! I really like this guid but I have a question. You say – “Dread Banner Dread Banner should be used until you have picked enough Chance to Impale on the passive tree”

    How much chance is “enough”? Cause even with full passive tree I have only 60% Impale without Dread Banner. I took Swift Scewering (20% chance) and Foreceful Scewering (20% chance) on tree also Ascendency give me around 20% of Impale chance. Should it be 100% or 60% is pretty fine?

  8. Vvckd

    Moderator

    Posts
    467

    On 21/09/2019 at 8:08 AM, Bremedy said

    Hey! I really like this guid but I have a question. You say – “Dread Banner Dread Banner should be used until you have picked enough Chance to Impale on the passive tree”

    How much chance is “enough”? Cause even with full passive tree I have only 60% Impale without Dread Banner. I took Swift Scewering (20% chance) and Foreceful Scewering (20% chance) on tree also Ascendency give me around 20% of Impale chance. Should it be 100% or 60% is pretty fine?

    Hey, the Impale Support Impale Support provides additional 40%. You can keep using Dread Banner any ways since it provides additional Impale effect, it is based on your personal preference really.

  9. Posts
    2

    Thanks! I forgot to ask, what is the best amulet anointment notable for this build? Cant find info on the internet cause its new mechanic in the game

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