When it comes to tier lists, I will not argue having a monopoly on wisdom, as a lot of this is vulnerable to bias and preference. Especially in Path of Exile, you should not constrain yourself to only playing S-Tier builds & Ascendancies. However, if you are adamant about playing a top tier build, the following list will help you pick one as it is regularly updated when new builds rise to the surface.
Best League Starters TL;DR
This page covers the builds that we have picked out to be excellent choices to be your League Starter. Whilst some of the are more notorious for being strong early game, others might have risen up there because they bring a decent early game but scale into the end game so easily. Note that within each tier, the builds are not in order.
You can read below to get more details about each of the builds we mentioned.
About the List of Builds
Hello, I’m TbXie, someone who has sunk over 25.000 hours in Path of Exile as of when I started to write Guides. That experience as well as getting as much insight as possible from other potent and top tier Path of Exile players is what determines whether a build guide is warranted a higher or lower ranking on this page. Whilst all of the writers, including myself, put in a tremendous amount of effort to get their guides updated before a new League, it’s important to us that this page helps you understand why and how you should be picking a build.
The build tier list has different subsections that will rank builds as per their strengths. A build might qualify as a top tier mapping build but not be considered any good for starting in a new and fresh economy or killing bosses. Overall, the emphasis on the build and whether you want it to be more defensive or offensive depends on the ultimate goal of the build and whether that includes tough content or just farming some extra currency.
Understanding Your Own Goals
While I could go on about why you could want to play the better tier of builds it is of utmost importance for you to understand what your goals are in the game. If you don’t mind having to play through the game at a slower pace or if you’re just in it to play whatever skill is fun, any of the Guides on this page have been written by exquisite players and will all get you to the endgame sufficiently. Sure, there might be a discrepancy between how fast, cheap and easy they are to play but by no means should you feel pressured to play S-Tier builds exclusively. Generally, it is recommended to play Spellcasters or Minion builds before dabbling into Melee or Bow archetypes as they are usually way harder to gear for and execute.
February 15th Update: To those who paid attention during the first days of the league, Poison BV once again was the most popular league starter.
Poison Blade Vortex packs a ridiculous amount of damage whilst staying relatively tanky even at the earlier levels of mapping. Since it’s useable starting from whenever you pick up the first labyrinth and stays potent right until the most endgames of encounters, it warrants a spot on top of the League Starters ladder.
February 15th Update: The guide has changed less than we would assume whilst reading Patch Notes and remained incredibly potent & popular.
Even after another set of really tough nerfs on the Necromancer Ascendancy & the Raise Spectre Gem the combination of the two still remains ludicrous. Spectre builds are still the top tier pick if you want a mixture between extreme bosskilling potential and clear speed at the earlier budgets.
We have a second Raise Spectre guide for you to enjoy, which focuses on Slave Drivers for a bit of a more nostalgic touch.
February 15th Update: The flavor of the month seems to be shifting a little bit towards inquisitors instead of necromancers so in the future we might end up pushing Inquisitors up. For now, Necromancer is still the S-tier build. .
Detonate Dead got rediscovered in Heist League and has quickly risen to be a top tier meta build ever since. Providing exquisite tankyness and scaling mostly through the Ascendancy & High Health Spectres it is very easy to play in any environment. Therefore, it definitely has its place in the S-Tier section of the Tier list.
February 15th Update: People seem to have taken a dislike for Hierophant & Totem builds. We’re still adamant about Totem builds and their strengths and will keep it here for that reason.
The Hierophant Ascendancy lost its biggest perk by the removal of the Ascendancy node that made you summon two Totems instead of one. This has altered the build a little bit but we feel very strongly about its potential, still, even after the changes. Because it’s a Totem build, it pops off relatively early, making it an incredible league starter.
February 15th Update: Eventhough the Assassin nerfs, people still take a liking for playing it as it does remain fairly strong. Obviously, BFBB has been on top of the meta and is destined to stay there for quite a while.
Being a Poison build and being able to stack Poisons on bosses is generally considered overpowered if the skill does well without Poison too. This is very much the case as you don’t need any ramping to kill trash packs so you basically get all your boss damage investment for free. A clear S-Tier pick in our book.
February 15th Update: The gear requirements of the build have proven to be lower than expected in this league as most items are a lot cheaper than they usually are. Therefore, this build has moved up to be an S-Tier pick now as it provides exquisite Clear, Speed & Damage on a relatively medium budget.
Storm Brand will almost always remain a top pick as long as the skill is functional & playable because of how it works mechanically. Being able to drop some brands and dodge on bosses whilst being able to control the environment with recalls, the playstyle just allows people to play a lot more aggressively than on other builds.
February 15th Update: As we predicted, the META is more shifting in favor of the Pathfinder as it was popularized by some other Build Guides. However, we still feel adamant about the fact that Pathfinder requires more investment to feel as good as Trickster.
Toxic Rain and its newly researched mechanics have not been changed whatsoever. This means that even though its Ascendancies got nerfed a little bit the build still packs plenty of bunch to be considered by a lot of people as a league starter. We predict the build to be very widely present and amongst the best builds in the game when it comes to clear and boss killing potential at the start of a new League.
February 15th Update: Usually, Toxic Rain mines flies a bit under the radar. This hasn’t changed whatsoever so far.
Toxic Rain has been rising in popularity over the last couple of leagues & the mine-route really has been seeing less play than it should have. Whilst being an unpopular build it will still remain top notch for those who want to play a miner.
February 15th Update: Being further in the league, the popularity of ED drops because it shines in scenarios where you don’t have a lot of currency to invest.
Essence Drain brings incredible clear speed through Contagion and respectable boss damage combined with Blight. On top of that, it lines up with a lot of Passive Tree pathing to get relatively tanky early on in a characters progress netting them a highly ranked overall spot.
February 15th Update: Given the recent changes to both Assassin and Chieftain both are fairly balanced out in terms of amount of people playing the builds. I would argue Chieftain is a lower tier because scaling Poison builds is just absolutely insane where as this build focuses more on being tankier.
Blade Blast remains one of the strongest skills in the game as it has the potential of deleting entire screens at once whilst having respectable boss damage even though it mostly invests into being tanky.
February 15th Update: As Arc remains a very warm welcomed skill for all sorts of players, it still has a spot amongst the most popular skills.
Arc and more in particular this iteration of the build packs an incredible amount of punch without being to complicated to gear making it exquisite all around for new or less new players.
February 15th Update: Carrion Golems are even stronger than we initially anticipated but can be a little tricky to push up to those levels of gear. Therefore, they’ve remained in the A-Tier.
Summon Carrion Golem has been nerfed quite “significantly” in the last patch. However, the build did ludicrous damage on a very acceptable budget and will still do very good damage on that budget even after the nerfs. The changes to Elementalist definitely helped the build’s defensive capabilities and allows it to mitigate both Elemental and Physical damage very adequately. We feel like the build definitely still warrants an A-tier mention.
February 15th Update: Whilst largely unpopular, we feel adamant about keeping a very high paced build in here as it still is as strong as ever.
Bladestorm and Berserker just go hand in hand when it comes to early game power. The combination of Berserk, Rage Support and Berserker’s Rage just make Bladestorm so incredibly powerful. Because of that, it’s less reliant on a very high end weapon to actually deal great damage.
February 15th Update: As expected, Slayer is mostly dominating the Cyclone meta after the changes.
Cyclone is and remains a crowd-favorite and Slayer has notoriously went hand in hand with the skill. This hasn’t changed and probably wont change anytime soon. Given that Attack builds always rely on weapons that are sometimes a little expensive, they’re usually never S-Tier ready.
February 15th Update: With the amount of insane bossing being around in the current League, Vortex has shifted up in priority in the tier list. It has moved to the S-Tier as it has proven to be a reliable build to kill the more challenging bosses.
Whilst being a very reliable build, Vortex builds are often overlooked. Especially when building it CI or Low-Life you’re getting a lot of defenses out of the build whilst getting a very respectable amount of offense. Because it relies on Damage over Time to kill monsters, it also gets you incredibly high uptime on bosses whilst dodging. It didn’t get tiered into the S-tier builds because it generally has a little bit less clear speed and is a little harder to pull of on League Start due to its CI/Low-Life nature.
February 15th Update: As expected, Glacial Cascade is the most popular Saboteur / Miner build as of now.
Glacial Cascade is in our opinion one of the strongest miner skills and its popularity has shown that a lot of people tend to agree. Ever since its rework & overlaps it packs a good amount of Clear Speed & Boss killing potential at higher levels of gear where it remains potent at doing the earlier game content very cheaply with no requirements whatsoever.
February 15th Update: Seeing the same amount of play as it usually does, Herald of Agony remains one of those special skills that gets you everywhere at a lower budget.
If you’re looking for something super tanky that kills everything in the game – and is minmaxable very far – this is a build that you’d want to play! Being a mixture of a Cyclone & Minion build, it also suits a lot of players very well.
February 15th Update: Spellslinger has lost a lot of popularity over the course of the last leagues but Fire Slinger has remained a solid leaguestarter regardless.
Fireball & Blazing Salvo, two Fire skills that work incredibly well together when being spell slung and don’t require much investment to get you through the earlier stages of your character’s progression. Therefore, we think it’s a very potent leaguestarter for both new & experienced players.
February 15th Update: Bleed Bow builds have been popping off lately to the point where they’ve never been as popular as they are right now.
Gladiator in combination with Bleed builds and even bows has been a decently strong build for quite a while now but as other builds get nerfed more and more, obviously others rise to peoples attention.
February 15th Update: A new build this league but it has risen to shine at the top of the buidlists. We keep it on a lower tier as it is quite complicated to get going.
As long as you understand the mechancis behind this build, it is incredibly potent and fun to play. It probably requires a higher tiering but because of those complicated mechanics, it remains here.
February 15th Update: We saw the build being played a lot by people who wanted to get to the endgame fast in Ritual League confirming what we said – it being a top tier skill early on.
Cremation is one of the best and most potent skills in the game when it comes to both early game potential & scaling. It doesn’t have the most insane clear speed but offers high bossing potential on quite a tanky build, netting it a spot in our best builds list.
Aside from the top picks in the list, there’s multiple other guides that can be played as a league starter. However, they might require you to farm some a couple of Chaos Orbs whilst leveling up to pick up a necessary unique, fall of after the story line or rely on some skill swaps to make them feel great. They’ve therefore not made an appearance in the Best League Starters but still deserve to be referenced on this page. More information about them is to be found inside the guide.
- Volatile Dead Slinger Necromancer
- Cyclone Champion
- Cyclone Gladiator
- Cyclone Berserker
- Explosive Trap Saboteur
- Shattering Steel Champion
- Soulrend Trickster
- Earthquake Juggernaut
- Scourge Arrow Pathfinder
- Warchief UberLabber Champion