Expedition League “Updates” & “Disclaimers”
While I generally put a lot of emphasis on updating all of my guides before a new league starts, I have decided against doing so at the moment. Many of the changes that came with PoE’s 3.15 Expedition league launch have pretty severe gameplay impact, which is incredibly hard to predict without having the appropriate software updated (like Path of Building). Therefore, I will give all my guides a pass and point out the obvious changes. Everything outside of this paragraph will stay untouched for 3.15 for now and will be updated accordingly over the course of the next weeks. This means that the information in this paragraph always supersedes anything written in the guide. Build updates will be prioritized in order of their popularity.
These are the changes I would undoubtedly make to this build:
- Swap Deadly Ailments Support for Added Lightning Damage Support as Deadly Ailments is no longer a viable support for skills that hit.
- Replace the Basalt Flask with an Enduring Mana Flask & Drop Clarity to regenerate more Mana. (Maybe have to play with this a bit, Enable Clarity and get some source of Mana Reduction for more free Mana due to the new Mana Multipliers)
If the mana is manageable through a Mana Flask, Penance will remain a sick build. It flies under the radar at the moment but it packs an insane amount of punch for being super tanky still! Sure, you lost elemental ailment immunity on Elementalist but it will still feel super tanky and incredibly fun to play!
With the introduction of the new Elementalist and the ability to Shock for 25% more Ailment effect and Ignite with the exact same skill, while also getting a 25% More damage multiplier for your Ignite, all of which comes from two Ascendancy nodes, I think a lot of theorycrafters immediately realized how busted this combination would be. A good friend of mine, Rhaegar, who is a very well-known source of information within the PoE Community (f.e., he’s the one who got Ignite damage to be capped because he broke the game with Explosive Arrow) immediately talked to me about Penance Brand Ignite. This obviously spiked my interest, as I am a grand Penance enthusiast and was looking into the new Elementalist mechanics at that point.
The result is a build that found the sweet spot damage-wise at 4M DPS, (which is an insanely high number for Ignite builds or DoT builds in general), and 23M Damage per Ignite (as a reference, the highest recorded Ignite build in Heist we could find was 1.4M) while being able to invest in an absolutely insane amount of defensives. The initial version of the build easily found 90% unconditional Physical Mitigation while maintaining Effective HP pools versus Elemental Damage that were competitive with builds that got to 90% Elemental Resistance. Obviously, that version used some “interesting” pieces of gear, as it was partly theorycrafted by someone who never had any issues buying any gear whatsoever (Synthesized +1 Endurance Charge Rings, for example).
Eventually we landed on dropping a tad of damage for a Basalt Flask to maintain the Physical Mitigation Cap, Elemental Mitigation as the damage the build brings is plentiful for a DoT-based build that gets to run around for 99% of a fight while the Ignite is rolling. Whereas you ideally want to grab a couple of Uniques, none of them are super required so the build is definitely strong in both league-start & SSF environments!
Pros and Cons
+ Exceptional across the board
+ Top 3 Starter Build for a new league
+ Unbelievably tanky
+ Doable in Solo Self Found
+ Great clear & single target
– Ignite Penance doesn’t get to run Holy Conquest
– Needs to wait a couple of seconds to deal damage
– Impossible to level with Penance Brand
Map Modifiers to be Avoided
Elemental Damage reflect is obviously impossible to run and Elemental Ailments avoidance should be rerolled too as that makes monsters immune to your damage. Other than that, this build excels at dealing with most map mechanics!
Playstyle, Mechanics & Strengths
While for a regular Penance Brand I’d argue a Holy Conquest Medium Cluster Jewel is almost mandatory, this build focuses on building stacks on a single enemy to build up as much damage as possible. That way, it creates a really spicy Ignite which then gets proliferated to other monsters. While its playstyle is definitely different from what we are used to from Brands, I’d argue that this build is one of the most potent all-rounders in he game at the moment!
The Mechanics behind the build are actually fairly simple. Because Elementalist has Shaper of Flames, you’re able to Ignite with any type of damage. This means that our Penance Brand, which first gets fully converted to Lightning Damage (through the Gem, Divine Wrath on the tree, and a Glove craft) and then gains some Elemental as Extra Chaos Damage (from Incandescent Heart – if you opt into it) gets to ignite for the entirety of its damage. Now, that by itself doesn’t sound too ridiculous, right? What we need to take into consideration is that this also means the Spell deals only Chaos and Lightning Damage, of which conveniently Lightning Damage is by far the highest. This enables Elementalist’s Shaper of Storms 25% More Ailment Effect which amplifies the Shock Effect we naturally pick up in the Skill Tree. Next up, because you’re dealing Lightning Damage on Hit and no Fire Damage whatsoever – make sure to never have any Fire Damage to Spells – you get a free 50% Resistance Reduction from Elemental Equilibrium! All of these more multipliers quickly add up on a Spell that inherently has high base numbers, which enables the focus on defensives.
For those defensives, the first thing we need to talk about is Golem Buff Effect. Elementalist gives you 50% Buff Effect per Summoned Golem through its Ascendancy Nodes, meaning you can scale Physical Damage Mitigation from Summon Chaos Golem to 25%. Since Physical Damage Reduction is incredibly hard to come by and generally is only found on Basalt Flasks or Endurance Charges, which we also already use in this build, getting to 90% Physical Damage Reduction due to a Summon Chaos Golem is quite exceptional. Builds that get to 90% Physical Damage Reduction notoriously got nerfed in the past. The good thing this one just uses a combination of mechanics that’d be really hard to nerf! On top of its Physical Damage Reduction, it mitigates incoming Elemental Damage through Incandescent Heart, which in combination with a Health Pool of over 7,000 makes the build rival builds that got to 90% Resistance before.
Level 88 A4 Veritania Map/Kill – Budget Gear
Passive Skill Tree, PoB, and Gem Links
You can find an optimized Path of Building here. Every build I release will use the community fork of Path of Building, which is maintained and updated in a much more regular fashion than the original one. You can find PoB’s Fork, by LocalIdentity, here.
If you are not comfortable with Path of Building, we also have a PoePlanner for you. Do note that PoE Planner does not support Cluster Jewels and some specific unique jewels and it is highly recommended you install Path of Building to follow builds most optimally.
More information about the Passive Skill Tree, as well as all the Gem Links can be found on our dedicated page.
Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheons
Our Ascendancy, Bandit, and Pantheon Power page goes into detail about all the choices you need to make in these regards.
Gear Summary / TL;DR
A lot of this is explained more in depth in the Gear Page, however we will provide you with a basic idea of what gear you’re looking for in this short summary.
|Item Slot||Item Name|
|Head||Rare Warlord’s Helmet with Life, -9 Fire Resistance & Enduring Cry Enchant|
|Amulet||The Primordial Chain|
|Chest||Skin of the Loyal with +2 corruption|
|Gloves||Sorcerer Gloves with Phys Conversion, Life, Dexterity & Resistances|
|Boots||Two Toned Boots with Life, Movement Speed, Maximum Endurance Charge & Resistances|
|Belt||Leather Belt with Life, increased max Life & Resistances|
|Rings||Rare Vermillion Ring with Life & Resistances|
|Weapon||2x Rare Wand with Fire DoT Multi – +1 Spell Skills – Cast Speed – Spell / Fire Damage|
Questions & Support
I made it a habit to check all comments in my guides on a daily basis. Obviously, there might be occurrences where getting a reply might take longer but I really do try to get back to you as soon as possible. I prefer you making remarks, suggestions or asking questions that way as it allows others to read through the comments, providing them with a potential answer to their question, without having to wait for me again. If I have somehow missed your question, you can try reaching me on our Discord.
If you enjoy my content to such an extent that you’d like to support me and my work, I have a Patreon you can check out. At no point should you feel pressured to contribute, but if you do, your support means more to me than you will ever imagine.
Even though we are very adamant about trying to give you a leveling experience that lies as close to your endgame playstyle as possible, we will recommend you to use the standard leveling setups until after act 10. Penance Brand just doesn’t function that well until you have some of your stuff going. Storm Brand is a very strong replacement until you get Cast Speed & Cluster Jewels. For more information about leveling, we refer you to the following guides:
- 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.
Getting to Brutus & Merveil
For starters, create a Witch in whichever league you want to start. Pick up an Explosive Trap from the vendor to start your journey and go to kill Hailrake and clear Mud Flats. Set up the following links after Mud Flats:
After killing Brutus, you will be adding an Added Lightning Damage Support to your Frost Bomb.
Level 12 and Onwards Setup
From level 12, after killing Merveil, you’ll be setting up for your road to level 28. You should be breezing through content at this point as these skills are really strong while leveling.
You are unlikely to use a 6- or a 5-link while leveling, so use as many support gems as your link allows.
- Storm Brand
- Added Lightning Damage Support
- Controlled Destruction Support
- Elemental Focus Support
- Swiftbrand Support
- Inspiration Support
Personally, I think you stick with Storm Brand or Armageddon Brand until you have completed Uber Labyrinth. If that is too long, I would recommend getting at least 2 Medium Clusters & 2x Cast Speed – Phys as Extra Weapons before swapping to Penance! Luckily, since there’s no re-speccing going on, you can freely swap back and forth to test when you prefer to swap around .