Ultimatum League Updates
Given the nerfs to Hardened Scars, we will no longer be “exploiting” this notable to gain Fortify from it. To counteract the loss in overall survivability, we dropped a Jewel Socket & some resistances nodes (putting more pressure on your gear for Resistances) but picked up Crystal Skin to provide another layer of Elemental Damage mitigation. Additionally, through anointing Aspect of Stone we recover the Physical Damage mitigation we lost through the removal (or nerf, call it as you may) of Hardened Scars. Other than that, the build remained largely fine & will play very similar to how it played before.
This Scourge Arrow Pathfinder is a character that would fit in the Bow – Ranger Archetype, yet doesn’t really feel like a standard Archer/Ranger. Scourge Arrow has a very specific playstyle and since you’re mainly dealing Poison damage and almost no on-hit damage, you’re not going to feel like you’re playing a standard Bow character. Nonetheless, these types of builds can be extremely fun to play and a nice change of pace from builds you might have already played.
Through getting a 100% Chance to Poison and scaling only Poison and Chaos Damage, you are getting about 6 to 8 Million Boss DPS out of this build. It will be using decent pieces of gear but nothing impossible to acquire even for newer players who want to push this build to the higher levels. Should you be scared about gear that costs more than a couple Chaos Orbs, worry not as we’ll be providing a very basic version too that is very easy to gear and that is Solo-Self Found viable.
Even at Solo-Self Found levels of equipment this build can achieve respectable damage while being incredibly tanky. Most people wouldn’t expect a Ranger build to ever be able to tank most of the incoming hits in the game but this build definitely does. It relies on Pathfinder mechanics in combination with Evasion & Dodge to have ridiculous amounts of sustain and anti-one shot mechanics. Through playing this build you will for sure be surprised as to how strong a Ranger build can really get on the defenses part!
The main advantages of Scourge Arrow, a relatively new skill that has really gotten a lot of help to be an enabler for Poison builds as of 3.9 Metamorph League, are the stages the skill has and the multiplier it provides. Through scaling Poisons off of the stages we can get really high damage numbers even though we’re a Poison build. Also, since Scourge Arrow has so many mechanics that synergize with the mechanics of Poison, we get to Poison multiple times with a single channel of Scourge Arrow. This means we can guarantee high amounts of Poisons on all enemies and great uptime. Due to the Pathfinder Ascendancy we also get to proliferate our Poisons, which makes our clear even better.
This Scourge Arrow guide really gets going after it completes all of Labs and gets a decent amount of gear. However, it’s very playable on starter gear as it doesn’t require any pieces or rolls to make the build function. On day 1 gear (even Solo-Self Found) one could easily get 2 million DPS and around 5.5K Life with a ton of extra layers of defense. While upgrading gear will definitely feel nice since you’re usually in the fray as your Poisons take time to kill your enemies, this type of build should easily get you to early red maps and get you to some currency to get the upgrades you need/want.
Besides running Scourge Arrow, there are a couple of other things you’ll be doing to amplify your Poisons. For starters, you’ll be running a Malevolence Aura to give you more Damage over Time and Poison Duration! Other than that, you’re running a medium-leveled Precision to cap your chance to hit. You really don’t want to worry about your hit chance and Precision is a great way to guarantee that. Lastly, we’re running a Herald of Agony linked to some utility supports for the Chance to Poison and the “more Poison Damage” multiplier.
Since you’re playing a Chaos Damage-based build, as all Poison Damage is Chaos Damage, we want to somehow fit in a Wither setup. Even though nowadays some people opt for some crazy shenanigans to guarantee more uptime on Wither stacks, we feel like having them on a button and up on a boss should be more than convenient enough. We don’t feel like it’s a necessity to have them up on white monsters throughout a map. This is why you should be running a Wither linked to Spell Totem Support, Multiple Totems Support, and a Faster Casting Support. This guarantees you the fastest Wither stacking on bosses (or whenever you put the Totem down).
Pros & Cons
+ Really acceptable single target on a budget
+ Very hardcore viable as it is incredibly tanky
+ Reasonably good clear speed
+ Immune to map mods (at high gear levels; in basic gear it is almost immune)
+ Permanent Flask uptime – you can almost spam as much as you want
+ With the right items it becomes the tankiest Ranger build ever
– Relies on Damage over Time to kill monsters, so can fill clunky
– Being a Pathfinder, most of our build focuses on Flasks which you have to keep up
– Scourge Arrow needs some time to get used to as it is an awkward skill at first
– Getting a really high-end Rare Bow might be very expensive
Echoes of the Atlas Expansion Updates
Even though Pathfinder underwent a decent chunk of changes in the Echoes of the Atlas Patch Notes, the build basically remains completely unchanged. Where we lost some damage in one side of the Ascendancy, we gained some elsewhere. Other than that almost nothing has changed for Pathfinder that impacts us whatsoever.
Since none of the Skill Gems or items the build used changed, it’s fairly safe to say that the build will perform at its pre-Ritual levels, which mean it still is incredibly tanky while dishing out multiple millions of DPS and is very suited for anyone who wants to play a Bow character that feels strong all around.
Playstyle, Mechanics, Strengths
The mechanics behind this build are fairly simple. We’re trying to apply a lot of Poisons on a monster to ramp up the damage we deal them. Since there are no limits to the amount of Poisons a monster can have, Scourge Arrow lends itself really well to fulfill this role. If set up correctly, we can apply a lot of Poisons through one channel of Scourge Arrow.
This is where the first important mechanic of our builds comes into play. You need to find at least a single source of Additional Arrows. The reason why is if you don’t have any of these, Scourge Arrow will fire one arrow which will create its pods in a straight line between your character and your cursor. Since the projectiles fire in a Nova around the Pods you create there’s a certain angle they’d need to fire in in order to hit their Single Target enemy. The 3rd pod in a row will miss your enemy regularly. If you have 1 Additional Arrow, Scourge Arrow starts shooting 2 Projectiles in a V-Shape, meaning that all 6 of the Pods should be hitting your enemy.
Luckily for us, there are a lot of sources of Additional Arrows available. Whether we want to use a Dying Sun or an Additional Arrow on a bow or a Quiver is completely up to you. As long as you know that you really want to find one (or more) of these modifiers, you’re golden.
Next up I’d like to talk about defenses. First of all you’re going to anoint Aspect of Stone. This replaces a once very powerful Hardened Scars anoint. To further make up for that, the build picks up Crystal Skin as an extra layer of defense so it balances out its mitigation versus Elemental and Physical Damage.
Next up, since you’re scaling Flask effect through Pathfinder, flasks like Basalt Flask, Quartz Flask, or Hallowed Hybrid Flask will greatly be increased in effectiveness. This build packs quite a punch when it comes to Life recovery and hit mitigation. When built correctly and on a reasonable budget, we can achieve an effective Health Pool of around 100.000 versus Elemental Damage and Chaos Damage, and 35.000 versus Physical Damage. Do note that there is a lot less incoming Physical Damage than there is Elemental Damage in the game. These numbers make us obscenely tanky unconditionally!
As for playstyle, you really just want to channel 5 stages of Scourge Arrow to make maximum use of the “More damage per stage” mechanic before you release. A single release/channel should clear and entire screen through Poisons and proliferates, due to Pathfinder’s Nature Reprisal. On bosses, try to make sure as many Pods as possible have at least the possibility to hit one of their arrows. Otherwise, your damage will feel very sub-optimal. This is mainly relevant before you get sources of Additional Arrow(s).
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 & Pantheon Powers
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||A Rare (Ideally) Lion Pelt with high Life, “Nearby Enemies have -#% to Chaos Resistance” and Ailment Duration while Focused Bench-craft|
|Amulet||A Rare Agate Amulet with high Life, Resistances & Crafted Added Chaos Damage to Attacks|
|Chest||A Rare (ideally) Assassin's Garb with very high Life, some Resistances and “#% of Physical Damage taken as Fire Damage”|
|Gloves||The Embalmer with “Curses Enemies with level # Despair on hit” Corruption|
|Boots||A Rare pair of (ideally) Slink Boots or Two-Toned Boots with Movement Speed, Life, & Resistances|
|Belt||A Rare Leather Belt with high Resistances & Life|
|Rings||One Circle of Nostalgia and a Rare Two-Stone Ring with Intelligence, Resistances and high Life (and optionally a “Channelling skills have -3 to Total Mana Cost” mod)|
|Quiver||A Rare Quiver with “Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier” (Hunter), “Bow Attacks fire an additional Arrow” (Shaper), “High Life and a 5% Frenzy Charge on Critical Strike” Bench-craft|
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.
Since we are very adamant about trying to give you a leveling experience that lies as close to your endgame playstyle as possible, we will be providing you a way to level up with the Poison-Based Toxic Rain/ Scourge Arrow. If you are looking for the most optimal way to level a character to maps, 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 Ranger in whichever league you want to start. You will want to start out by buying two Iron Rings and a Rustic Sash from the vendor if you can afford them. Ideally, you also want to find a 3-Linked item with 3 green sockets. We can link Caustic Arrow to Pierce Support and Lesser Poison Support there.
Once you get all of this set up, go complete the Mud Flats & Kill Hailrake. Caustic Arrow should feel reasonably powerful at this stage of the game.
After killing Brutus, you’ll be changing your links to the following to deal more damage:
Changes at Level 12
After we’ve killed Merveil, we will try to have the necessary links and currency to get ourselves the following links:
Make sure to drop your Wither totem for Boss fights.
Additionally, you need to use Summon Skitterbots and Herald of Agony to supplement our damage until level 28. Blood Rage is really nice as it grants Attack Speed & Frenzy Charges but also degens your Life which can be annoying to deal with.
Swapping to Scourge Arrow
While you could swap to Scourge Arrow at level 28, I’d recommend you wait until you can get an Added Chaos Damage Support in your links, and until you have at least a 4-Link to go with. Typically, this will put you around level 31. Your entire setup should look something like this (the 5th and 6th gems in the main link are really a luxury should you somehow have the links to accommodate them):
- Scourge Arrow
- Added Chaos Damage Support
- Deadly Ailments Support
- Lesser Poison Support
- Mirage Archer Support
- Unbound Ailments Support
Finally, the following 4 gems should be used wherever possible (they do not need to be linked):
We’ve created a Passive Skill Tree. for +- Level 60 for you to follow. In case you like a Path of Building better, here it is. It is still using our endgame gear setup though, so don’t worry if your actual numbers are lower while leveling up.
Useful Leveling Unique Items
As you begin a new character, there are a couple of items that can make your leveling process a lot smoother. Tabula Rasa allows you to have a 6-Linked skill as early as you are able to use specific support gems. Wanderlust gives a decent amount of movement speed, which will make your leveling that much more efficient and a Goldrim provides a lot of Elemental Resistances which help a great deal during the leveling.
If you are a new player (or if this is your first character for the league), note that obtaining these items will be very difficult, if not impossible. They are rare drops, which you can otherwise only acquire if you have saved up currency, so do not focus on them too much, and instead simply look for items that match the affix priorities listed in the Gearing section.
The build has Little Upfront Damage; Since you Cannot Rely Mainly on Leech, Where Does the Sustain Come From?
Combining Acrobatics and Phase Acrobatics with an Alchemist’s Quartz Flask and Pathfinder’s Flask Effect will give us about 57% Dodge and 47% Spell Dodge. On top of that, you have a decent amount of Evasion and a Less chance to get hit when it matters through Wind Dancer. This effectively makes us have a 83% chance to not get hit by either Melee or Projectile Attacks and a 47% chance to not get hit by Spells or Spell Projectiles.
Afterwards, you have sick mitigation through Aspect of Stone & Crystal Skin and a permanent 6% Reduced Elemental Damage Taken (Pathfinder) and 8% Less Chaos Damage Taken (Infused Channeling). Next, you’re converting a decent chunk of incoming Physical Damage to be better mitigated to Chaos (through Darkscorn) and Fire (Body Armour) Damage which results in an overall very high effective HP pool for all types of incoming damage. Lastly, you’re permanently keeping up your Hallowed Hybrid Flask which grants you about 2500 Life per second through Flask Effect scaling.
Why Would I Choose to play a Poison Build? It is Generally Slower Than Most Instant Damage Builds.
As mentioned before, Poison really has to be something you want to play. It has its upsides, for sure, mainly that it is capable of scaling very well on a reasonable gear budget and reasonably few nodes in the Passive Skill Tree. There’s very little pathing going on, which allows us to build a lot more defensive character in general. As indicated before, this probably is the tankiest Ranger build you’ll ever play.
My mana feels kind of annoying on bosses cause I run out of Flask Charges
If you’re playing a lot of bosses, and you feel like you are not getting enough uptime out of this flask (you should only lose a very minor amount of Flask Charges per second though due to Nature’s Boon), you will need to find additional sources of mana. Other than -mana crafts on rings and amulet, base mana scaling from leveling there really isn’t a great deal you could do though. In this case, you’d be looking to get a chest piece with -15 mana cost. Other than that, if that is out of range, you could swap out your Cinderswallow Urn for a The Overflowing Chalice to grant you more uptime on your Enduring Mana Flask.
The Scourge Arrow Poison Pathfinder excels at dealing massive Single Target damage which it proliferates to clear entire screens. It relies on stacking Poisons on enemies and watch them try to resist as they inevitably go down. Whilst putting out very respectable DPS numbers, it is among the most tanky characters in Path of Exile. It can clear all content and excels at most of it. Whether you want to go Delve, Map, or kill some Uber Elders, this character does it all and will make you feel happy about yourself all day every day.
It is viable in both league-starting and Solo-Self Found environments, as it scales up with gear but is very playable on random Rare pieces. The hardest piece to acquire as a Solo-Self Found player (or someone who generally doesn’t generate a lot of currency in a trade league) will be a bow. Other than that, all of your items are super cheap and even if you go for cheap alternatives, the downswings in your damage won’t be as impactful.