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.
July 23rd Update:: Everything got nerfed damagewise, so tankiness becomes a lot more necessary and wanted. This is why I believe DD will remain king of the world.
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.
July 23rd Update: Minions had excess damage and could afford to lose some. They will most likely control the entire meta.
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.
July 23rd Update: Number one leaguestarter according to many players. DoT builds kind of survived most of the nerfs and were already really solid starters.
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.
July 23rd Update: Hiero got nerfed a little bit, Totems generally weren’t nerfed too badly cause they used little damage multiplicative support gems anyway. Therefore, Totems should remain in a great spot.
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.
July 23rd Update: This is honestly a harder one. I’m fairly confident it deserves a place here because of how functional it is on very little gear. It probably wont be as insane anymore in the later stages though.
Poison Blade Vortex still 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.
July 23rd Update: Brands almost didn’t get nerfed and were in a great spot to begin with. I generally feel like brands are in a decent spot.
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.
July 23rd Update: Interestingly enough, bow skills mostly survived the changes. Since TR was dominant before, I see little reason why it wouldn’t now. The only reason it’s not an S+ is because of its mana hunger.
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.
July 23rd 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.
July 23rd Update: Dominating Blow has proven to be an insane starter buld which I can recommend trying out if you’ve never played it before!
Thanks to the straightforward design of the ability, we are able to tweak this build into some pretty juicy defensive styles allowing it to be a solid first choice for starting a league in Hardcore as well! Packing a punch both damage-wise and defensively, this build warranted a spot here.
July 23rd Update: We’ve demonted this build a tier – I believe Blade Blast will still be a strong starter but will fall off a little bit in the lategame.
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.
July 23rd Update: Carrion Golems were better than expected last league and have gotten nerfed a bit. Therefore, they’ve moved to the A-Tier.
Summon Carrion Golem has been nerfed quite “significantly” in the last patches. 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.
July 23rd Update: As one of the builds that got hit the least by the generic changes, this will do fine in leaguestart scenarios.
This old school goodie build uses Summon Raging Spirits (SRS) without Minion Instability to make our minions deal the damage output consistently and more reliably.
July 23rd 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.
July 23rd Update: As expected, Slayer is mostly dominating the Cyclone meta after the changes and will remain to do so for a decent while.
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.
July 23rd Update: With the amount of insane bossing being around in the current state of the game, Vortex has shifted up in priority in the tier list. It has moved to the A-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.
July 23rd Update: This one took a serious hit downgrading it from S to B. This is because it completely lost it’s Aspect of The Spider & was forced into less optimal supports cause of mana changes. It should however still clear all content.
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.
July 23rd Update: It is unthinkable of that we wouldn’t have poison bfbb in this list so I moved it down to the lowest tier. It should honestly play fine considering how broken it actually was.
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.
July 23rd Update: Bleed Bow builds have been popping off lately to the point where they’ve never been as popular as they were the past leagues. Even with nerfs, we expect them to thrive early game.
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.
July 23rd Update: A new build last 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 & the changes to swiftbrand hurt it a decent amount.
As long as you understand the mechanics 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.
July 23rd Update: We excpect Glacial Cascade to be the most popular Saboteur / Miner build as of now – However, mana costs will be gatekeeping Miners fairly hard.
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.
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.
- Cyclone Champion
- Cyclone Gladiator
- Shattering Steel Champion
- Earthquake Juggernaut
- Scourge Arrow Pathfinder
- Soulrend Trickster