This build guide is split over multiple pages, both to prevent it from getting too long, as well as to help you better find the information you are looking for. In addition to the current page, which presents general information about the build and also contains a Leveling and FAQ section, we have the following pages:
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. Alongside this, the defensive powerhouse that is the Agnostic keystone, granted by a 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.
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 is a fun, versatile, and quite underrated skill. Indigon offers a massive boost to your damage in fights against high health enemies, like the Shaper or Elder.
+ High damage, capable of scaling upwards of 2 million DPS
+ High recovery (1200+ life per second)
+ Durable even on fairly budget gear
+ Screenwide AoE
- 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. The build has enough damage for this to kill any normal trash mobs with no fuss. Against harder enemies, placing your Precision totem, activating 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, alongside Immortal Call or Steelskin, to augment its survivability. Finally, Indigon turns any mana flask you use into a potent source of recovery.
Shock Nova Mechanics
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 is not a node that is on the tree by default, and is instead the result of a transformed keystone with a 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.
For more information, be sure to check out the Passive Skill Tree page
We go over all the end-game gem links in our Gem Link page
Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheon
The Ascendancy, Bandit, and Pantheon Powers page covers everything you need to know about setting up those parts of the build.
For an in depth look at the recommended gear, check out The gear page, but we have some basic outlines here.
|Item Slot||Item Name|
|Chest||Cloak of Defiance or rare ES Body Armour|
|Gloves||Kalisa's Grace or Voidbringer|
|Boots||Skyforth or Rare Boots|
|Belt||Rare Leather Belt or Stygian Vise|
|Rings||Essence Worm and a Rare Ring|
|Shield||Rare Archon Kite Shield|
As a reminder, we have several guides to help you level up a character.
- Our step-by-step leveling walkthrough, which allows even more experienced players to save time and speed through the leveling process.
- Our guide to Unique Items for leveling, which helps you gear up your characters for the leveling process.
- Our beginner leveling guide, which answers many of the questions new players might have and will set you on the right path.
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 one of the strongest levelling skills there is, Storm Brand. It is generally recommended you use Spark, Freezing Pulse, or whatever your preferred levelling skill is until level 12, when you can switch over to Storm Brand.
From here, link it with Added Lightning Damage Support, Increased Critical Strikes Support, and as you gain access to them, Faster Casting Support, Controlled Destruction Support, and Elemental Focus Support. At level 16, you gain access to Brand Recall, which super-charges your levelling speed. Simply cast your brands, then run through the area, casting 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.
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, Glacial Cascade, Ice Nova, Storm Brand, and 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.