Indigon Agnostic Shock Nova Hierophant Build Guide (PoE Blight 3.8)

Lydia

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Introduction

After receiving some nice buffs in 3.8.0, the Hierophant Ascendancy improved at a role it was already potent, making use of its massive mana pool to boost your damage astronomically via the unique helmet Indigon Indigon. Alongside this, the defensive powerhouse that is the Agnostic keystone, granted by a Militant Faith Militant Faith that glorifies Venarius, grants a huge regeneration pool, allowing the build to survive extreme situations that are often brutally difficult for other builds.

Build Summary

With high damage, an enormous AoE, and great recovery, this build is a great all-rounder in the current league. It is capable of taking on all content deathless, and Shock Nova Shock Nova is a fun, versatile, and quite underrated skill. Indigon Indigon offers a massive boost to your damage in fights against high health enemies, like the Shaper or Elder.

Pros

+ High damage, capable of scaling upwards of 2 million DPS
+ High recovery (1200+ life per second)
+ Durable even on fairly budget gear
+ Screenwide AoE

Cons

- Ramping mana cost forces you to play carefully in difficult sitations
- Makes a poor league starter, due to requiring an Uber Elder drop

Playstyle and Core Mechanics

The core gameplay while clearing is to simply position yourself near enemies and cast Shock Nova Shock Nova. The build has enough damage for this to kill any normal trash mobs with no fuss. Against harder enemies, placing your Precision Precision totem, activating Vaal Righteous Fire Vaal Righteous Fire, and properly lining yourself up to deal maximum damage is key to killing quickly. This setup enable huge burst damage, with very little risk as long as you pay attention to your mana.

Defensively, the build is reliant on its high recovery rate and functional health pool in excess of 7500 EHP, allowing it to tank most content in the game. It can also make use of defensive curses, such as Enfeeble Enfeeble, alongside Immortal Call Immortal Call or Steelskin Steelskin, to augment its survivability. Finally, Indigon Indigon turns any mana flask you use into a potent source of recovery.

Shock Nova Mechanics

Shock Nova Shock Nova has some slightly unusual mechanics that make its damage much higher than what your tooltip will tell you. In addition to the main nova, it also generates a ring, which will deal 50% of the damage that the full nova deals. This means that, if you position yourself correctly, the skill will actually deal 150% of its damage to the target, making it important to pay attention to where you are standing when dealing with tough content.

The Agnostic

The Agnostic is not a node that is on the tree by default, and is instead the result of a transformed keystone with a Militant Faith Militant Faith that glorifies Venarius. It sets your maximum energy shield to zero, and in exchange, when not on maximum life, you sacrifice 20% of your maximum mana per second to restore that much life. At 6000 mana, this grants 1200 life regenerated per second, which can be stacked with other forms of recovery, including that from your mana flask, leech, and regeneration, if you are not wearing Skyforth Skyforth.

Ascendancy, Passive Tree, Bandits, and Pantheons

Ascendancy

Ascendancies should be taken in the following order:

  1. Divine Guidance
  2. Sanctuary of Thought
  3. Illuminated Devotion
  4. Conviction of Power OR Arcane Blessing

Divine Guidance grants the extremely powerful Transfiguration of Mind bonus, giving 30% of increased mana as damage, as well as a small Mind Over Matter effect. Because this build is scaling mana as highly as it is, this makes for a great offensive and defensive bonus.

Sanctuary of Thought is taken entirely for its 100% increased area of effect, as the extra energy shield is sacrificed due to the effect of The Agnostic. The 50% less mana cost of skills is slightly annoying, but actually keeps the mana cost from ramping as high as it otherwise might, which is helpful in sustained fights.

Illuminated Devotion offers a bit more area of effect, life leech, and 40% increased spell damage while you have Arcane Surge, which should be all the time.

Your final notable is a choice between Conviction of Power and Arcane Blessing. If you have a reliable way to gain power charges, or are using a Power Charge On Critical Support Power Charge On Critical Support setup, Conviction of Power offers immunity to elemental status ailments, freeing up flask affixes for offensive ones, and allowing for the use of Vessel of Vinktar Vessel of Vinktar or The Wise Oak The Wise Oak. Arcane Blessing is recommended if you are simply looking to play a more defensive variant, or if you do not have any other way to generate power charges. The constant flow of power and endurance charges while clearing is nice, but they are not very consistent on single targets without lots of adds, so keep that in mind when making your choices.

Passive Tree

Recommended level 90 skill tree

Since this build is using The Agnostic keystone, you will need to place your Militant Faith Militant Faith in either the top left or top right node, and take the keystone at the location of Chaos Innoculation or Avatar of Fire.

This tree picks up fairly little life, but as 50% of damage should be taken from your mana before life, the 275% increased mana is enough to keep you extremely durable through all content. The rest of the tree is a fairly low damage critical caster tree, since Indigon Indigon functionally turns your mana into damage at a fairly efficient rate.

Recommended level 100 tree

As you reach level 100, simply picking up some more life, and a bit more mana flask effect is the best option.

Bandits

As a critical build, Alira is the best bandit to help. All three bonuses are great for this build, as it uses a lot of uniques, making the resistances useful, any amount of flat mana regeneration is great, and the critical multiplier is one of the best ways to scale the build’s damage.

Pantheons

No specific pantheon powers offer amazing bonuses to this build, though several offer useful bonuses. Due to the low life total of this build, before obtaining Skyforth Skyforth, Soul of the Brine King is a good option for avoiding chain stuns. Soul of Solaris is always a good generic option, granting several useful bonuses for mitigating damage in dangerous situations.

For minor deities, Soul of Ryslatha and Soul of Shakari are the best general-use gods, offering minor but welcome bonuses in hard boss fights or general mapping, respectively.

Gems

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.

Shock Nova

Shock Nova Shock Nova is a highly effective DPS skill, and is capable of hitting most of the screen at once on this build. As mentioned earlier, it is important to position yourself properly, so the ring hits important single targets, in order to maximize the build’s damage.

  1. Shock Nova Shock Nova
  2. Spell Echo Support Spell Echo Support
  3. Lightning Penetration Support Lightning Penetration Support
  4. Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support
  5. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  6. Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support

While this build gains Arcane Surge from other sources automatically, any source other than the the support is capped at 10% more damage and 10% increased cast speed. When taking into account the effects of a level 20 Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support and the increased Arcane Surge effect from Arcane Capacitor on the tree, this support totals up to 34% more damage, 14% increased cast speed, and 1% extra mana regeneration per second. This is, in total, more than any support will offer other than Concentrated Effect Support Concentrated Effect Support, which lowers your clearspeed, and is thus not recommended for general use.

Precision Totem

While linking an aura to Spell Totem Support Spell Totem Support may seem odd, this build wants a way to kick-start the bonus from Indigon Indigon, and a three link Precision Precision will spend just over 1000 mana. With a perfect roll, this adds an extra 125% increased damage, and 300% increased mana cost. This is more than enough to get your damage rolling, and the Precision Precision critical chance increase will be welcome for a short time as well.

  1. Precision Precision
  2. Spell Totem Support Spell Totem Support
  3. Multiple Totems Support Multiple Totems Support

Vaal Righteous Fire

Vaal Righteous Fire Vaal Righteous Fire is a powerful damage boost for any spellcaster, and this build is no exception. It grants a massive 29% more damage at level 20, even higher if linked with Empower Support Empower Support. This build is actually capable of sustaining the regular Righteous Fire Righteous Fire, though it is not recommended that you use this while playing most content, as it will remove the majority of your regeneration.

  1. Vaal Righteous Fire Vaal Righteous Fire
  2. Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support
  3. Empower Support Empower Support

Auras

This build will always want to run Clarity Clarity. It provides mana reservation and allows us access to multiple useful Watcher's Eye Watcher's Eye mods. Make sure that it is low enough level that you do not dip below 5000 unreserved mana at endgame, to maintain the maximum bonus from Sanctuary of Thought.

If you are making use of Essence Worm Essence Worm in your ring slot, you should include a Zealotry Zealotry or Wrath Wrath aura as well. Either is a great boost to your damage, and the main choice is reliant on whether you can find a Watcher's Eye Watcher's Eye with relevant modifiers. By default, Wrath Wrath provides slightly more damage, but Zealotry Zealotry offers more critical chance, so it is a reasonable option as well.

Movement Skills

Flame Dash Flame Dash is truly the king of movement skills, making you highly mobile without needing more than a single socket on your gear. It is highly recommended that you never drop it from your gear. Quality offers cooldown recovery speed, a nice luxury stat, though it is not a high priority.

Offensive Support Skills

Any offensive curses, including Assassin's Mark Assassin's Mark Elemental Weakness Elemental Weakness, or Conductivity Conductivity, can be used to boost your damage higher. These can be linked to a number of Curse On Hit Support Curse On Hit Support setups, or self-cast. They are also a reasonable way to bump the damage bonus from your Indigon Indigon, as curses have a high cast speed and mana cost. This is largely redundant with the Precision Precision totem, however, and is usually a worse replacement for the same goal.

Summon Lightning Golem Summon Lightning Golem offers a decent amount of damage, and as this build has plenty of available gem slots, it can be linked with Minion Life Support Minion Life Support and Elemental Army Support Elemental Army Support, which will allow it to apply Elemental Exposure for lightning damage, and make it considerably more durable. While this is potentially powerful, golems have a tendency to die quite quickly, so expect to recast them frequently.

Finally, an Orb of Storms Orb of Storms setup can provide a decent chunk of extra damage, even in a simple four link setup. This can also be a great place to generate power charges, thanks to Power Charge On Critical Support Power Charge On Critical Support. This can augment your damage by 500K+ on single target, a huge boost, and often overlooked by many people.

  1. Orb of Storms Orb of Storms
  2. Lightning Penetration Support Lightning Penetration Support
  3. Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support
  4. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support OR Power Charge On Critical Support Power Charge On Critical Support

Defensive Support Skills

Steelskin Steelskin, Immortal Call Immortal Call, and Molten Shell Molten Shell are all reasonable choices, depending on your gear choices. If you want to use Molten Shell Molten Shell, be sure to use it alongside a Granite Flask Granite Flask, while Immortal Call Immortal Call makes the best Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support setup.

A defensive curse, either Enfeeble Enfeeble or Temporal Chains Temporal Chains, makes a great Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support setup, providing relief from damage both while clearing and against single targets.

Gear

This build makes use of many unique items, which means that capping your elemental resistances can be tough. Several slots are not required uniques, and early in gearing, you should prioritize rares in those slots, for the ease of getting resistances. Keep in mind that capping your elemental resistances is the number one priority for mapping!

Helmet

This build’s single most important piece of gear, the helmet is non-negotiably Indigon Indigon. The mechanics of this item are what the build revolves around, with ramping mana cost and damage. On its own, this item provides roughly 800-1000% increased spell damage on average in combat, a truly potent source of damage.

Weapon

Shimmeron Shimmeron is the easiest weapon to use for this build, with great overall bonuses, offering lots of flat lightning damage to your spells, a decent boost to your base critical chance, up to 30% critical strike multiplier, with the only drawback being a largely negligible degeneration effect. If you are looking to improve on this, it will likely take an extremely powerful wand, so be prepared to spend a lot for that. Ideally, you will want to make use of a Profane Wand Profane Wand for the cast speed implicit, or a Sambar Sceptre Sambar Sceptre, for the penetration. The ideal mods on a rare weapon are as follows:

  1. +1 to level of lightning spell skill gems
  2. Global critical strike multiplier
  3. Flat lightning damage to spells
  4. Cast speed

Shield

While you can dual wield, this build has a low enough life total that it is highly recommended you use a shield instead. Ideally, you will be looking for a Archon Kite Shield Archon Kite Shield for the high all elemental resistances implicit, though tower shields are not a bad option, for their life roll. The recommended mod priority for rare shields is as follows:

  1. Elemental resistances
  2. High flat life roll
  3. Cast speed (If using an energy shield or hybrid energy shield base)

Body Armour

On a budget, the best body armour option for this build is a Cloak of Defiance Cloak of Defiance. It grants an additional 10% of damage taken from mana before life, allowing you to reach 50% Mind over Matter effect, which is great for this build.

However, when pushing into harder endgame content, it is recommended that you buy or craft a body armour with the Lucent Fossil Lucent Fossil % of damage taken from mana before life modifier, high life, and elemental resistances. This will be a significant buff to your survivability, and is reasonably easy to do on a budget. Simply buy a six link (Pure energy shield bases are the best choice, for ease of coloring), and craft with a two socket resonator, using a Pristine Fossil Pristine Fossil and a Lucent Fossil Lucent Fossil. This will generally be able to hit the desired results within a few attempts, and you should look for the following modifiers on your armour:

  1. % of damage taken from mana before life
  2. High flat life roll
  3. Elemental resistances
  4. +# to level of socketed active gems (Shaper modifier)

Gloves

This build can make use of unique or rare gloves, depending on preference and budget. On a low budget, rare gloves with life and resistances are your best choice. When looking at improving the build, there are two good options, Voidbringer Voidbringer and Kalisa's Grace Kalisa's Grace. Voidbringer Voidbringer offers critical chance, +1 to level of socketed elemental gems, and most importantly, increased mana cost of skills. Kalisa's Grace Kalisa's Grace offers some flat life, and a huge 2% increased base critical chance, as long as you have spent 200 mana in the past 2 seconds, a condition that will be met pretty much constantly.

Another huge benfit to using unique gloves is the ability to buy them corrupted with useful implicits. Look for “Curse enemies with level # Elemental Weakness Elemental Weakness on hit,” “Spells have +# to critical strike chance,” increased cast speed, or increased maximum life.

The recommended mod priority for rare gloves is as follows:

  1. Elemental resistances
  2. High flat life roll
  3. High flat mana roll

Boots

As with gloves, there are good options for both unique and rare boots. Starting out, you will want to find rare boots with life, high movement speed, and elemental resistances. Alternatively, you can make use of Dance of the Offered Dance of the Offered, which offers semi-permanent fortify, a bit of flat mana, and a small reduction to your mana regeneration.

On a higher budget, Skyforth Skyforth is generally the best pair of boots you can get. Power charge generation, high flat mana, 30% movement speed, and functional stun immunity are a great set of affixes, and it only requires you to sacrifice your life regeneration. This build already largely ignores mana regeneration, so this drawback is functionally meaningless. Note that the life recovery from The Agnostic keystone is NOT regeneration, and is therefor not stopped by this.

The recommended mod priority for rare gloves is as follows:

  1. 25%+ movement speed
  2. Elemental resistances
  3. High flat life roll

Rings

Essence Worm Essence Worm allows you to run a 50% reservation aura with no real cost other than a ring slot. This is a significant boost to your damage, especially if you have a Watcher's Eye Watcher's Eye that offers bonuses based on your aura. Your other ring slot should be taken by a rare ring, likely a resistance base. The recommended mod priority for rare rings is as follows:

  1. Elemental resistances
  2. High flat life roll
  3. High flat mana roll
  4. Global critical strike multiplier (Essence of Scorn mod)

Amulet

The default recommended amulet for this build is Atziri's Foible Atziri's Foible. It offers a huge flat mana roll, high % increased mana, and a huge amount of mana regeneration rate. It is also quite cheap to get, even early in a league, and thus is a good option to buy and corrupt in large quantities, looking for powerful affixes, particularly 1% to all maximum resistances or enemies can have 1 additional curse.

Belt

There are no particularly important unique belts for this build, so it is recommended that you make use of a rare belt. The % increased mana recovery rate is an excellent mod to get here, and will provide a decent boost to your survivability and comfort with the build, but it can be expensive to find on a belt early in the gearing process. It is recommended that you use a Leather Belt Leather Belt, as the flat life is very useful. The recommended mod priority for rare belts is as follows:

  1. Elemental resistances
  2. High flat life roll
  3. % increased mana recovery rate (Shaper OR Lucent fossil mod)

Jewels

This build uses most or all of its jewel sockets for unique jewels. Most importantly, Militant Faith Militant Faith offers The Agnostic Keystone. Look for one with the name “High Templar Venarius,” and if you have the luxury of choice, look for “Regenerate 0.6 mana per second per 10 devotion” and/or “2% to all elemental resistances per 10 devotion.” While you will likely only have 30-40 devotion, small bonuses are always nice to have.

As your second set of required jewels, you want to use 3 Grand Spectrum (Gain Mana) Grand Spectrum (Gain Mana). These three provide 270 flat mana, a huge boost to your damage and survivability on this build. You should also be running at least one, if not two Fevered Mind Fevered Mind jewels, to make up for the loss in mana cost from Sanctuary of Thought.

Finally, a Watcher's Eye Watcher's Eye is capable of offering significant benefits to this build, most importantly the 20-30% increased mana recovery rate while affected by Clarity Clarity mod. If you cannot afford multiple useful mods, this is by far the most important one. Other useful modifiers include practically any other applicable Clarity Clarity, Wrath Wrath, or Zealotry Zealotry modifier. For pure tankiness, 6-10% of Damage taken from mana before life while affected by Clarity Clarity is the best option. Offensively, either elemental penetration modifier for Zealotry Zealotry or Wrath Wrath is a great option.

Flasks

This build does not typically want to make use of a life flask. Instead, it is recommended that you use a Catalysed Eternal Mana Flask Eternal Mana Flask, ideally with the “of Staunching” suffix. Indigon Indigon will instantly restore a portion of your life when you use a mana flask, and will cause all the recovery from the flask to also apply to your life. It is also recommended you use an Alchemist’s Quicksilver Flask Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline, to ensure your movement over long distances is not too slow. The next most important flask is a Diamond Flask Diamond Flask, which makes your critical chance lucky, rolling twice to see if you critically hit. This is a huge boon on any critical build, and this is no exception.

If you have Arcane Blessing, it is recommended you make use of a Vessel of Vinktar (Damage Penetrates Lightning Resistance during Flask Effect) Vessel of Vinktar (Damage Penetrates Lightning Resistance during Flask Effect). Otherwise, a The Wise Oak The Wise Oak is a safer option, if you have lightning as your highest resistance.

For your last remaining flask slot, if you are using Molten Shell Molten Shell, it is recommended that you make use of a Granite Flask Granite Flask, otherwise you should use a Basalt Flask Basalt Flask or Silver Flask Silver Flask, depending on personal preference and how squishy you feel.

On your Magic flasks, make sure you get immunity to Bleed, Curses, and if you do not have Arcane Blessing, Freeze.

Be sure to check out our Flask Crafting Guide to learn everything you need to know about how to set up your non-Unique flasks.

Levelling

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

This build is a bit awkward to level with, as your core gear and mechanics do not become available until fairly high levels. Fortunately, lightning casters have access to the strongest levelling skill there is, Storm Brand Storm Brand. It is generally recommended you use Spark Spark, Freezing Pulse Freezing Pulse, or whatever your preferred levelling skill is until level 12, when you can switch over to Storm Brand Storm Brand.

From here, link it with Added Lightning Damage Support Added Lightning Damage Support, Increased Critical Strikes Support Increased Critical Strikes Support, and as you gain access to them, Faster Casting Support Faster Casting Support, Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support, and Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support. At level 16, you gain access to Brand Recall Brand Recall, which super-charges your levelling speed. Simply cast your brands, then run through the area, casting Brand Recall Brand Recall as you find packs.

As for your tree, it is recommended that you path similarly to the endgame tree, ignoring any jewel sockets. Path towards the witch area at the start, taking Explosive Runes on the tree for extra damage and an additional brand. Then head towards Runebinder, which is the best damage node on the tree while running any brand. From that point, path towards the shadow area of the tree, picking up life and damage nodes as you need them.

An appropriate leveling tree for this approach will look roughly like this

FAQ

What map mods does this build need to avoid?

Elemental reflect will kill you pretty much instantly, and so should be avoided. “Players cannot regenerate life, mana, or energy shield” makes it functionally impossible to sustain mana, and is also not reasonably doable with this build.

What anointments should I use?

If you do not need the elemental resistances from Diamond Skin or Cloth and Chain, the best option without requiring high tier oils is Battle Rouse. It offers flat and % mana, but more importantly, 8% of damage taken gained as mana over 4 seconds when hit. This is a helpful source of sustain, and provides the build with the ability to tank even more than it already can. On a sky-high budget, Soul of Steel outperforms basically any other anointment, with 1% to all your maximum resistances, and 6% reduced physical damage taken.

What other skills can this build use?

If it deals damage in an area and can critically hit, this build can use it effectively. Blade Vortex Blade Vortex, Glacial Cascade Glacial Cascade, Ice Nova Ice Nova, Storm Brand Storm Brand, and Divine Ire Divine Ire will all work fine with only minor adjustments to the build, and have all been used (by me) to defeat t16 guardian maps with no problems.

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