Molten Strike Pathfinder — Deepest Delver Build Guide (PoE Synthesis 3.6)

Furty

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About the Author

Furty has been playing Path of Exile since the release of the Onslaught League in 2013, and has a deep and diverse well of experience within the game. Equally comfortable playing on Hardcore, Softcore, and Solo-Self Found Leagues, Furty finished the Betrayal League at Rank 186 on the ladder playing Elemental Hit. You can follow him on Twitter, or check out his occasional streams on Twitch.

Betrayal

Introduction

In the once great words of Saruman, “You fear to go into those mines … the dwarves delved too greedily and too deep.

Fortunately, no depths are too deep for our Molten Strike Pathfinder. Delving can be a unique and highly enjoyable avenue of the game for some, but to reach the deepest depths in the Azurite Mine, a specialty build is necessary. Molten Strike Molten Strike has long been the premiere skill for Delving, largely due to the ludicrous damage and hits per second that are possible. Since clear is not as much of a concern while Delving, as the monsters typically come to you, most of the disadvantages that the skill experiences in mapping are removed entirely.

This is also a great build for killing bosses, due to its near-impregnable defenses and absurd single target damage. The tankiest of bosses melt away in mere seconds under the pressure of 10 million or more Molten Strike Molten Strike DPS. Even the great Aul, the Crystal King, can be fought at depths of 800+ with the right gear.

Build Assessment

Pros

+ One of the current best Delving Builds in the game
+ Peerless defenses (75% Attack Block, 50%+ Spell Block, 10-16k+ Energy Shield, tens of thousands of Energy Shield gained on hit)
+ Amazing single target DPS (13M+ DPS possible), absolutely melts bosses
+ Solid lab farmer

Cons

+ Very expensive
+ Mediocre mapper due to low clear speed
+ Build does not come online without specific items

Playstyle and Build Mechanics

Molten Strike Molten Strike is a fairly straightforward skill; most of the time, you will be standing still, spewing out molten orbs like a volcano while everything in melee range melts away. Due to the Attack Speed, number of hits, and pure damage output of this build, it is very rare that anything will survive for more than a few moments. This is the perfect build for slaughtering bosses in addition to its superlative Delving potential.

This offense is the foundation of a large part of our defense; with the new Energy Leech Support Energy Leech Support and nodes on the tree, combined with the Energy Shield Gained for Each Enemy Hit While Affected by Discipline, means that as long as we are hitting, we are surviving. While Delving deep, where the pack size is highest, we can easily replenish well in excess of 10k Energy Shield per second.

If you do not believe it, consider that you can easily reach over 8 attacks per second with Molten Strike Molten Strike (and even in excess of 10 per second with Mirror level gear). The magma balls proc at just over half the rate per second, and for the purposes of this example we will call it an even 4 attacks per second. If you have the Watcher's Eye Watcher's Eye, you will be generating 360 Energy Shield on hit per second on one target with one magma ball. Turn this into a (extremely modest) pack size of 25, which most deep delves far exceed, and that is already 9000 Energy Shield, on hit, per second. This does not include Energy Shield leech, which will be capped around 2500-3500 per second, depending on your maximum Energy Shield. Believe us when we say you will be restoring more than your maximum Energy Shield every second, simply by hitting monsters.

For additional defense, we rely on avoidance and block chance, which keeps us from being instantly killed before we can start spitting out the damage. A variety of auras and curses also serve to empower our exile, as well as debuff our enemies. A rotation of Vaal skills, like Vaal Grace Vaal Grace and Vaal Immortal Call Vaal Immortal Call, also serve as another line of defense to keep us from dropping when the going gets heavy. As a Pathfinder, we also have greatly increased effectiveness of our Flasks, which translates into a significant amount of extra offense and defense.

Passive Skill Tree

This is our recommended Level 100 Skill Tree.

There is not a lot of room for flexibility in the tree, as we are essentially moving from Jewel socket to Jewel socket. Alchemist is a required node due to its effectiveness and synergy with our Ascendancy. Blast Radius is unnecessary, and you can opt to spec out of the notable and the area of effect node and simply path through it towards Alchemist. This allows you two extra points to allocate towards whatever you feel you need.

Gems

Molten Strike Molten Strike is, of course, our main source of damage in all situations. Support links are relatively flexible, depending on the situation, and can be adjusted to suit the situation if you can get some white sockets on your Vaal Regalia Vaal Regalia using Vorici’s Syndicate reward. Vaal Double Strike Vaal Double Strike adds a significant amount of damage on-command, which helps as a distraction when Delving gets hectic. Tempest Shield Tempest Shield also provides a bit of extra damage and can be kept active near constantly via Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support. Finally, Vaal Ancestral Warchief Vaal Ancestral Warchief and Ancestral Protector Ancestral Protector are used for bossing to buff up your damage.

A variety of auras are necessary, not only to keep us safe and healthy, but to take advantage of certain Watcher's Eye Watcher's Eye mods. Discipline Discipline, Hatred Hatred, Clarity Clarity, Herald of Purity Herald of Purity, and War Banner War Banner are all used in this build. Whirling Blades Whirling Blades and Phase Run Phase Run are our movement skills of choice.

Molten Strike Molten Strike 6-Links

This is the ideal setup for Delving:

Molten Strike Molten Strike Multistrike Support Multistrike Support
Damage on Full Life Support Damage on Full Life Support Elemental Damage with Attacks Support Elemental Damage with Attacks Support
Ancestral Call Support Ancestral Call Support Energy Leech Support Energy Leech Support

This is the ideal setup for Bossing and Labyrinth:

Molten Strike Molten Strike Multistrike Support Multistrike Support
Damage on Full Life Support Damage on Full Life Support Elemental Damage with Attacks Support Elemental Damage with Attacks Support
Concentrated Effect Support Concentrated Effect Support Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support

Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support 4-Link

A regular Immortal Call Immortal Call should be used for bossing or Labyrinth. For Delving, Vaal Immortal Call Vaal Immortal Call is a fantastic panic button that can give you the necessary time to stabilize.

Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support (Level 1) Vaal Immortal Call Vaal Immortal Call (Level 3)
Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support Tempest Shield Tempest Shield (Level 7)

Auras 4-Link

Discipline Discipline Hatred Hatred
Herald of Purity Herald of Purity Enlighten Support Enlighten Support (Level 4)

Vaal Link Options

If you want to switch between them based on the situation, you should socket these in your Shaper's Touch Shaper's Touch or Skyforth Skyforth, as they are the cheapest and most replaceable items. We can also switch boot enchants based on whether we are Delving or Bossing, furthering this advice.

Vaal Double Strike Vaal Double Strike 4-Link

This is the standard choice for Delving:

Vaal Double Strike Vaal Double Strike Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support
Damage on Full Life Support Damage on Full Life Support Elemental Damage with Attacks Support Elemental Damage with Attacks Support

This is to be used as a distraction and a cavalry call if the mobs start to overwhelm you or appear in massive densities while delving. You can use it twice in a row to summon four clones total.

Vaal Ancestral Warchief Vaal Ancestral Warchief 4-Link

This is the standard choice for bossing and Labyrinth:

Vaal Ancestral Warchief Vaal Ancestral Warchief Ancestral Protector Ancestral Protector
Multiple Totems Support Multiple Totems Support Minion and Totem Elemental Resistance Support Minion and Totem Elemental Resistance Support

These totems are mostly used to buff your own Molten Strike Molten Strike Attack Speed and melt down tough targets.

Mobility Links

Vaal Grace Vaal Grace 3-Link

This is the standard choice for Delving:

Phase Run Phase Run Vaal Grace Vaal Grace Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support

A true mobility skill is not necessary while Delving, especially for an immobile build like Molten Strike Molten Strike. Instead, we have Vaal Grace Vaal Grace to rely on to smooth incoming damage.

Whirling Blades Whirling Blades 3-Link

This is the standard choice for bossing and Labyrinth:

Whirling Blades Whirling Blades Phase Run Phase Run Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support

For mapping, bossing, and Labyrinth, we can swap in Whirling Blades Whirling Blades to help us get around quickly.

War Banner War Banner 3-Link

| War Banner War Banner | Clarity Clarity (Level 1) | Enlighten Support Enlighten Support (Level 4)

Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheon

Ascendancy

Ascendancy

The Ascendancy order is not particularly important for this build, as you will want all four Ascendancy keystones before you start Delving and Boss Slaying in earnest regardless. If you are leveling as Molten Strike Molten Strike or another melee skill, we have found these to provide the fastest route to the end-game.

  1. Nature’s Adrenaline
  2. Nature’s Boon
  3. Master Alchemist
  4. Veteran Bowyer

Deal With the Bandits Reward

Kill all three bandits for the 2 Passive Points.

Pantheon

Major Gods

  • Soul of Lunaris is generally the best choice for Delving.
  • Soul of the Brine King may outpace Lunaris for Delving if you do not have much Stun and Block Recovery yet, or are struggling with Stuns.
  • Soul of Solaris, fully upgraded, is the best choice for bossing.

Minor Gods

  • Soul of Gruthkul (upgraded) is the best choice for Delving.
  • Soul of Aberrath is the best choice for mapping.

Gear, Jewels, and Flasks

Armor

Chest

A Vaal Regalia Vaal Regalia with as much Energy Shield as possible should be used. You will need 5 Red sockets, so it is often easier to buy the chest un-linked and then get your colors using the Vorici Method on the crafting bench before linking it. Ideally, you also want to craft White sockets onto it once you have 5 Red and 1 Blue socket using Rank 3 Syndicate Vorici, as you are then guaranteed to be able to use the same chest for both bossing and delving without worrying about color swapping.

You want to aim for a Vaal Regalia Vaal Regalia with at least 800 Energy Shield and at least one Resistance. Stun and Block Recovery is also helpful to increase the rate at which you can block, but not necessary. Crafting +# to Strength/% to Quality is helpful for ensuring you can use all your red gems and increasing the Energy Shield on your helmet.

Helmet

The best base for Energy Shield is the Hubris Circlet Hubris Circlet. When starting out, you should be looking for a helmet with 250+ Energy Shield, and upgrade later as your funds allow. This can even be crafted relatively easily using Orb of Alteration Orb of Alterations and a Regal Orb Regal Orb. The more Energy Shield you can squeeze out of your helmet, the better. Stun and Block Recovery is also helpful to increase the rate at which you can block, but not necessary.

An ideal Hubris Circlet Hubris Circlet will have at least 400 Energy Shield.

The Labyrinth Enchantment we recommend need is Molten Strike fires 2 additional Projectiles.

Crafting +# to Strength/% to Quality is helpful for ensuring you can use all your red gems and increasing the Energy Shield on your helmet.

Gloves

Shaper's Touch Shaper's Touch are the best possible gloves for several reasons:

  • Massive influx of Accuracy
  • Large Energy Shield gain
  • Affordable
  • Availability of Corruptions

Even though the first two points are the most important, the availability of Corruptions is actually a very big deal for this build. Having Temporal Chains Temporal Chains on hit on your gloves allows you to incorporate a powerful defensive curse without having any links involved. For bossing, Elemental Weakness Elemental Weakness on hit is the best choice.

Boots

Skyforth Skyforth is essentially required when playing a Chaos Innoculation build that is not an Occultist, in order to prevent your exile from being constantly stunned. The Power Charge generation is an immense boost to our damage, as is the Mana injection. Perhaps most importantly, the reduced Mana Reservation is necessary to run all of our auras.

The best enchantment for Delving is 16% Increased Attack and Cast Speed if You’ve Killed Recently, while the best enchantment for bossing is Damage Penetrates 10% of Enemy Elemental Resistances if You Haven’t Killed Recently. If you do not want to acquire both, we recommend going with the Attack Speed enchant.

Weapon and Shield

Weapon

A lot of your damage will be based on what kind of weapon you can afford. The best bases are Apex Rapier Apex Rapier and Harpy Rapier Harpy Rapier, but any Global Critical Strike Multiplier base will do. Ensure you have the Dexterity; Harpy Rapier, for example, has a very high requirement if you choose to use it. Here is an example weapon:

Weapon

Prioritize the stats as follows:

  1. % Increased Physical Damage
  2. Adds +# Physical Damage
  3. % Increased Physical Damage / +# to Accuracy
  4. % Increased Global Critical Strike Multiplier
  5. % Increased Attack Speed
  6. % Increased Global Critical Strike Chance
  7. Gain % Physical Damage as Extra Fire Damage

You can craft around to get what you need as necessary. The reason Gain % Physical Damage as Extra Fire Damage is relatively lower priority than you might expect is because we ideally want three Physical prefixes (the top three on the list) as this results in a massively increased amount of Physical damage, and we gain enough conversion from other sources, such as the Ascendancy and Taste of Hate Taste of Hate.

Shield

We want to use a Rare shield with a high amount of Energy Shield (400+) and Spell Block. We recommend the Titanium Spirit Shield Titanium Spirit Shield base.

  1. % Increased Energy Shield
  2. +# to Energy Shield
  3. % Increased Energy Shield / % Increased Stun and Block Recovery
  4. % Chance to Block Spell Damage
  5. Resistances
  6. % Increased Stun and Block Recovery
  7. % Increased Fire Damage
  8. Strength

Accessories

Amulet

We use a Rare amulet. There are a plethora of options for amulets, and they vary wildly in price and purpose. We recommend prioritizing stats as follows:

  1. % Increased Energy Shield from Body Armor (Delve)
  2. % Increased Global Critical Strike Multiplier
  3. Gain % of Physical Damage as Extra Cold Damage (Shaped)
  4. 10% Chance to Gain a Power, Frenzy, or Endurance Charge on Kill (Shaped)
  5. Gain % of Physical Damage as Extra Lightning Damage (Shaped)
  6. % Increased Elemental Damage with Attack Skills
  7. % Increased Global Critical Strike Chance
  8. Adds # Physical Damage to Attacks
  9. Resistances
  10. % Increased Fire Damage
  11. % Increased Maximum Energy Shield
  12. +# to Energy Shield

You can re-prioritize as your gear allows. The Delve suffix provides such a massive amount of Energy Shield that it is hard to argue with, however, if you feel stable enough defensively, you could instead option for another damage suffix, of which there are many desirable options. Ideally, you want to budget all your amulet affixes towards damage except for the Delve suffix, but a high tier Resistance roll would be fine as well.

Rings

We use Rare rings, ideally with Resistance bases to minimize how much we need to budget towards Resistances, or a Diamond Ring Diamond Ring. As with amulets, Rings have so many combinations you will have to look for the best combinations available at the time. Prioritize stats as follows:

  1. % Increased Energy Shield from Body Armor (Delve)
  2. [Uncapped] Resistances
  3. % Increased Elemental Damage with Attack Skills
  4. % Increased Global Critical Strike Multiplier (Essence/Elder)
  5. % Increased Attack Speed
  6. +# to Accuracy
  7. % Increased Maximum Energy Shield
  8. Adds # Physical Damage to Attacks
  9. % Increased Damage
  10. % Increased Fire Damage

Once again, feel free to re-prioritize depending on what you need more of to fill out your build. Early on you will certainly need more defense and less damage, however, as your items improve and you reach stability and comfort while Delving you will find a natural equilibrium between damage and defense over time.

Belt

Headhunter Headhunter should be used if you can afford it; it is simply too strong while Delving.

A Crystal Belt Crystal Belt should be used if you cannot afford Headhunter Headhunter. Prioritize as follows:

  1. % Increased Energy Shield from Body Armor
  2. [Uncapped] Elemental Resistances
  3. Flat Energy Shield
  4. % Increased Maximum Energy Shield (Shaped)
  5. Strength
  6. % Increased Energy Shield Recovery Rate

Alternatively, a Stygian Vise Stygian Vise may be used, although this should only be considered if you already have a high amount of Energy Shield and defenses without a belt slot.

Jewels

Unique Jewels

A Watcher's Eye Watcher's Eye is virtually required in order to Delve past depth 1000. The important affix is Energy Shield Gained for Each Enemy Hit While Affected by Discipline — the pack sizes become so large that the Energy Shield gained per cast of Molten Strike Molten Strike becomes absurd. In order for maximum effectiveness, you also need the affix Gain % of Maximum Mana as Extra Maximum Energy Shield while affected by Clarity. These two affixes are not cheap on the same Jewel, however, together they make your build extremely strong defensively, and give you the necessary fortitude to push past depths 1200+. If you are extremely rich, your third mod should be a Hatred Hatred affix.

Conqueror's Potency Conqueror's Potency is a great Jewel for this build, as we benefit from everything it provides. Finding a great corruption is also fairly easy and not very expensive, relatively.

One Energy From Within Energy From Within Jewel is used to transform the Life from the Melding wheel into additional Maximum Energy Shield.

Energy from Within

Unnatural Instinct Unnatural Instinct should be placed near the Scion starting wheel.

Unnatural Instinct

Standard Jewels

Prioritize affixes as follows:

  1. % Increased Maximum Energy Shield
  2. % Increased Attack Speed while Holding a Shield
  3. % Increased Critical Multiplier with Elemental Skills
  4. % Increased Attack Speed
  5. % Increased Global Critical Strike Multiplier
  6. % Increased Global Critical Strike Chance

Early on you can work in any other damage mods, as well, until you can afford properly itemized Jewels.

Flasks

Flasks are a huge part of this build, as the main advantage of playing a Pathfinder revolves around enhancing the power of your flasks. For this reason, we largely use Unique flasks to abuse their effects. Since we already have Elemental Ailment immunity from Pathfinder, of Heat and other ailment flasks are unnecessary. Curses are also less common in Delve, voiding the need for an of Warding flask, and getting a Corrupted Blood Cannot be Inflicted on You corruption on one of your Unique jewels eliminates the need for a bleed flask.

Delving

This setup works for Delve bosses, too. You can also swap out the Diamond flask for The Overflowing Chalice The Overflowing Chalice for very deep depth Delve bosses in order to help with Flask uptime.

  1. Taste of Hate Taste of Hate
  2. Rumi's Concoction Rumi's Concoction
  3. Dying Sun Dying Sun
  4. Vessel of Vinktar Vessel of Vinktar (Flat Lightning Damage)
  5. Experimenter’s Diamond Flask of the Order

You can also use an of Adrenaline suffix, if you prefer.

Uber Elder, Maps, or Labyrinth

  1. Taste of Hate Taste of Hate
  2. Rumi's Concoction Rumi's Concoction
  3. Dying Sun Dying Sun
  4. Alchemist’s Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline
  5. Experimenter’s Diamond Flask of the Order

Leveling

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

If you have access to leveling Uniques, such as Brutus' Lead Sprinkler Brutus' Lead Sprinkler and Tabula Rasa Tabula Rasa, you can easily smash your way through the leveling process. Adding a Wildfire Wildfire Jewel early on makes it even easier.

Your links should look as follows, in order of priority:

Molten Strike Molten Strike Multistrike Support Multistrike Support
Ancestral Call Support Ancestral Call Support Elemental Damage with Attacks Support Elemental Damage with Attacks Support
Concentrated Effect Support Concentrated Effect Support Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support

Early on, you should use gems like Onslaught Support Onslaught Support, Maim Support Maim Support, Added Fire Damage Support Added Fire Damage Support, or Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support until you meet the full level requirements.

FAQ

What Does Stun and Block Recovery Do For Me?

Stun and Block Recovery is very helpful for this build, as we have a high block chance and no stun immunity. If you block an attack that would have stunned you, the block animation plays, which functions as a mini-stun of sorts. This stat reduces the animation that occurs when you are stunned or the block animation plays, increasing damaging uptime.

Why Pathfinder?

Pathfinder has some incredible advantages, and as you may expect, many of them are related to Flasks. Not only is our uptime on them extremely high, but we gain a huge boost in damage, movement speed, and defense. The placement on the tree is also ideal to facilitate a build with a lot of damage as well as still being able to play Chaos Innoculation effectively. This is one of the best Ascendancy classes to take advantage of the new Energy Shield leech mechanics, as well as the general empowerment that Chaos Innoculation builds have received recently.

Changelog
  •    Updated Gear, Jewels, and Flasks section and added About the Author.
  •    Build added.
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