Shattering / Splitting Steel Impale Champion Build Guide (PoE Heist 3.12)

LunaWolve

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The Author

LunaWolve has been playing Path of Exile religiously since the release of the 3.0 expansion and the Harbinger challenge league. Having focused primarily on Softcore gameplay with attack-based and usually short-ranged builds, he has gained a proficiency in managing and creating builds that excel in both offensive and defensive power for those ranges.

Additionally, he has also created a weekly softcore economy-focused series called “The Chaos Report”, in which he covers the weekly ongoings in the economy and the meta for the first 5-6 weeks of each league in the softcore challenge leagues.

You can follow along with the progress on his builds over on his Twitch Stream. This way, you will always have the most accurate and up-to-date information, as you can simply ask him about his real-time opinion and changes to builds he might be considering. He always welcomes any and all questions and is happy to elaborate on concepts that might be confusing.

Guide Format

This build guide is split over multiple pages, both to prevent it from getting too long, as well as to help you better find the information you are looking for. In addition to the current page, which presents general information about the build and also contains a Leveling and FAQ section, we have the following pages:

Passive Skill Tree + PoB & Gem Link page

Ascendancy, Bandit, and Pantheon Powers

Gear, Flasks & Jewels

Introduction

The Champion ascendancy from the Duelist class is one of the best choices when you choose to build an Impale Support Impale Support-oriented character.

For this particular character we choose to dual wield One-Handed Swords, as they currently represent the strongest and most versatile option out of any dual-wieldable bases in the game.

If you follow along with this guide, it should be fairly easy to roughly mirror my setups, as I’ve league-started this particular build during Heist League as well, making every item I list in this build a “realistic” option to acquire for you during a league start as well.

Build Summary

The build does not require any build-enabling items, as I am setting it up as a league starter. We will be making use of the new and reworked STEEL abilities (mainly Shattering Steel Shattering Steel OR Splitting Steel Splitting Steel, as well as the in-built ability “Call of Steel”, which you will automatically acquire when you equip any of the new Steel gems.

There are, however, two important jewels that should be acquired as soon as possible and socketed into the passive tree:

  • Viridian Jewel Viridian Jewel with “#% of Physical Attack Damage Leeched as Mana”. This will be your ENTIRE Mana sustain. If you do not have this jewel, you will run out of Mana CONSTANTLY.
  • Lord of Steel
    with the mods “Call of Steel has 95-100% increased Use Speed” as well as “Call of Steel causes 45-49% increased Reflected Damage”.

For more information on these, please refer to the Gear Page.

For the gear pieces, we are looking for Armour and Evasion bases with as much Life as possible.

Having Rings and an Amulet with decently-rolled flat Physical amount added to attacks is likely going to be ideal.

Our optimal weaponry setup will be a main-hand Paradoxica Paradoxica and an off-handed The Saviour The Saviour. Of course, these will be the absolute end-game options and aren’t required.

Some more budgets options are Ichimonji Ichimonjis or Beltimber Blade Beltimber Blades. You can read more about the progression and the exact setups in the Gear page.

Pros & Cons

Pros

+ Easy to follow along with a high ceiling
+ Amazing scalability due to being a league starter
+ Absolutely ridiculous clear speed and fun mapping
+ Decent damage mitigation, thanks to Armour base + Champion ascendancy
+ Playing a pure Physical build means you don’t care about “Elemental Reflect” mods
+ EXTREMELY fun playstyle, with the ballista-like projectiles shooting out at high speeds, coupled with the “popping” of enemy packs thanks to Call of Steel

Cons

Potentially awkward scaling, due to pure Physical focus
Expensive to max out entirely, due to rare Uniques being BiS
Bad-Mediocre Bossing damage, depending on which Steel ability you’re using.

Playstyle

Mobility wise, you will want to use Leap Slam Leap Slam and potentially (based on personal preference) Smoke Mine Smoke Mine to get around the maps; both abilities allow you to cross chasms and other environmental objects, allowing for a very fast traversal. If you DO opt into the Smoke Mine, make sure pick up a “Divergent” alternative quality version of it, as it will also permanently give you a free 10% attack speed bonus!

Offensively, you will want to keep your distance from enemies, as you do have some range on the abilities and standing near enemies in Path of Exile is oftentimes a fairly bad idea. Try to keep up your Blood Rage Blood Rage permanently for the increased Lifesteal, Frenzy Charge generation and overall attack speed steroid it provides.

Additionally, you will be able to place down an Ancestral Protector Ancestral Protector in order to vastly improve your attack speed against tough monsters or bosses, as it applies its attack speed increase to any friendly targets nearby.

If the gem-slots allow, we might also consider adding a Vaal Double Strike Vaal Double Strike in order to call in THE BOYS for some additional burst potential for the odd tough monster or map boss. You can drop the CWDT setup for a 4-link BOYS setup, if you don’t think you will require the additional defenses.

Defensively, you will have to keep up your Fortify Support Fortify Support using your Leap Slam Leap Slam in order to permanently reduce incoming damage by a considerable amount.

We will also be making use of a couple of defensive flasks like a Granite Flask Granite Flask of Ironskin. Vaal Molten Shell Vaal Molten Shell is a great Guard skill choice for the build, as we will naturally be accruing a lot armour and it does incredibly well with the previously-mentioned defensive flasks.

For playstyle, you will first want to Leap Slam Leap Slam into a pack of enemies, to:

It is better to use more Leap Slamming on enemies rather than too little, as it is IMPERATIVE to have the Fortify buff up AT ALL TIMES.

Outside of those specific situations, you will want to mostly keep your distance from enemies, managing your Steel Shards (max: 12) properly while also using the “Call of Steel” ability whenever you want to move on from a pack or require additional shards to clear an existing one. Keep in mind that you will likely be able to move on from a pack before entirely clearing it, as the “Call of Steel” will deal a non-insignificant amount of damage in an AoE around A: all impaled targets, as well as B: all impaled CORPSES. We want to try and avoid destroying corpses outside of our “Call of Steel” ability, in order to maximise the AoE damage that we can deal with our existing impales.

Passive tree

This is the Endgame Goal Passive Skill Tree for the build. We focus on picking up all the efficient Impale, Sword and Crit nodes along the way, as well as a ton of health, some defensive clusters, such as “Soul of Steel”, as well as all the relevant Keystones (Call to Arms, Wind Dancer, and lastly Point Blank).

For more information, be sure to check out the passive skill tree page.

Passive Skill Tree + PoB & Gem Link 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.

Ascendancy, Bandit, and Pantheon Powers

Gear Summary / TL;DR

These items provide a good balance between offense and defense and should be moderately easy to acquire throughout the first few weeks of the league and will carry you to most of the endgame.

For budget options, you can refer to the Gear, Flask and Jewel page below.

Our recommendation:

Item Slot Item Name
Head Rare Helmet
Amulet Rare Amulet
Chest Rare Body Armour
Gloves Rare Gloves or Great Old One's Tentacles Great Old One's Tentacles
Boots Tailwind Rare Boots OR Atziri's Step Atziri's Step
Belt Rare Belt OR The Nomad The Nomad
Rings Rare Rings
Weapon Ichimonji Ichimonji -> Paradoxica Paradoxica OR Jewelled Foil Jewelled Foil
Weapon Ichimonji Ichimonji -> The Saviour The Saviour

Gear, Flask & Jewel Page

Leveling

For your leveling tree, focus on getting the “Impaler” Keystone. Once you’ve acquired it, you can easily one-shot every pack during your leveling, with a single attack + Call of Steel combo. Keep that keystone until around level 40, then simply refund it and use other things, as it’s a bad keystone overall.

Focus on moving towards “Call to Arms” and “Point Blank” as early as possible, while picking up the nearby minor nodes. Aim to acquire “Point Blank” at around level 30~ or so, it’s a HUGE damage upgrade for the build.

Once you got “Call to Arms”, make sure to get yourself an “Enduring Cry” from act 3 and put it on your left-click, to use as a movement button. It will trigger on CD, keeping you healthy over your playtime.

Focus on getting all the attack-speed, dexterity and intelligence upgrades first. My path looked a bit like this.

Then moving on towards the other nodes that haven’t been picked up yet. Leave the scion life-wheel for a later time and focus on the rest of the tree first.

Useful Leveling Unique Items

As you begin a new character, there are few unique items that can boost your power exponentially. Tabula Rasa Tabula Rasa allows you to have a 6-Linked skill as early as you get the gems. Wanderlust Wanderlust gives a decent movement speed, which will make your leveling that much more efficient. Goldrim Goldrim provides a lot of elemental resistances, this will let you worry less about gearing when approaching certain Act encounters.

If you are a new player (or if this is your first character for the league, just as it is mine), then 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 above.

Gem Progression during Leveling

You should be able to simply use Splitting Steel Splitting Steel from the very beginning, as we get it immediately on our arrival in Lioneye’s Watch as a Duelist. Make sure to choose it as the reward!

Try to focus on any sources of “flat added damage” of any kind for your support gems. Added Cold Damage Support Added Cold Damage Support is usually a great choice for the early start.

Try out different setups and pick up all the gems listed in the gem page along the way. Those will very likely be your best-in-slot support gems, the second you can acquire them.

Once you clear the “Siren’s Cadence” quest in Act 1, you will be able to acquire the Shattering Steel Shattering Steel, which will likely be our main gem for the remainder of the game, but I’ll update this section with a definite answer once I’ve tried both of them out.

Gem setups for early leveling:

Level 1-8

Level 8-18

Level 18-31

Level 31-38

Level 38+

Lancing Steel Lancing Steel is fairly weak at the moment and should be avoided, in my opinion.

FAQ

How to Deal with Mana Problems? The Skill Tree Does Not have a Single Node of Mana Leech.

Having a single jewel with “% of Physical Attack Damage Leeched as Mana” will solve all your Mana problems, so try to get one as soon as possible. It should be extremely easy to acquire, even on your first character for the league, by simply hitting a “Viridian” jewel with a few Orb of Alteration Orb of Alterations or Chaos Orb Chaos Orbs, at best.

Alternatively you can also just buy a jewel like this for peanuts on the trade websites, they’re extremely common.

During single-target fights (usually bosses), make sure to apply your Poacher's Mark Poacher's Mark in order to sustain your mana, as the leech provided by the jewel will not be enough to sustain you.

What Map Mods Should be Avoided?

The build cannot do Physical Reflect.

Other mods that should be avoided but CAN be finished (with some hardships): Cannot Leech, No Regeneration, and Cannot Taunt.

What do we Anoint?

There are a couple of choices, mostly Crit Chance or Multiplier related, but my personal favorite is “True Strike”, as it’s very cheap and extremely effective.

Conclusion

This is a character to deal with all the content in the game and offer a great amount of scalability for the players that don’t want to start over with a new character every 2 or 3 days.

The Steel Impale Champion excels at dealing Physical Damage and makes great use of the Impale mechanic while maintaining very respectable survivability throughout the leveling process up to and including the endgame.

Changelog
  •   

    Updated "Current" POB. Added more detail to end-game gem section.

  •   

    Replaced "Greater Volley Support" with "Greater Multiple Projectiles".

  •   

    Updated POB and Passive Trees. Added even more in-depth leveling advice, including a gem guide for levels 1-38+. Added important gear information. Added Gear Page.

  •   

    Update #1: Added more in-depth leveling advice, after playing through all 10 acts with the build.

  •   

    Updated with some of the new gem information.

  •   

    Fixed the links on the page to lead to the proper sub-pages. Removed "Pinpoint" support from recommended gems, as it's not usable with the skill.

  •   

    Build added.

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  1. Posts
    7

    Sounds very good

    i like it to start with a build who is still in progress – it promises that it will be actual with all advantages.

    I am with you – its excciting:)

  2. Vlad

    Moderator

    Posts
    139

    On 16/09/2020 at 5:26 PM, Rippi said

    Sounds very good

    i like it to start with a build who is still in progress – it promises that it will be actual with all advantages.

    I am with you – its excciting:)

    That’s great to hear. The build will definitely be updated often and you can also watch LunaWolve playing it!

  3. Posts
    5

    I am pretty hyped for the new steel skills. Looking forward to how this turns out. Quick note, I know it is a work in progress. You have an Axe tree, and swords as main weapons throughout. I get it, as axes to get through the acts are superior, BUT… you might want to clarify in the guide or present a final sword tree. Just trying to be helpful – and good luck!

  4. LunaWolve

    Moderator

    Posts
    39

    On 17/09/2020 at 2:55 AM, Aldenier said

    I am pretty hyped for the new steel skills. Looking forward to how this turns out. Quick note, I know it is a work in progress. You have an Axe tree, and swords as main weapons throughout. I get it, as axes to get through the acts are superior, BUT… you might want to clarify in the guide or present a final sword tree. Just trying to be helpful – and good luck!

    OH DAMN. I just realised the links all lead to my Impale Cyclone guide for some reason?!

    It will be fixed immediately, thanks for pointing this out.

    Right now all the buttons link to the Impale Cyclone guide. Please use the Table of Contents on the right, to navigate to the proper sub-pages of the STEEL guide, until it’s fixed! :<

  5. Posts
    1

    Very nice Luna! What order do you recommend for upgrading gear in – save up right away for the BiS weapons or try to upgrade rings/craft a chest first, something else?

  6. LunaWolve

    Moderator

    Posts
    39

    On 17/09/2020 at 5:53 AM, MisterPyro said

    Very nice Luna! What order do you recommend for upgrading gear in – save up right away for the BiS weapons or try to upgrade rings/craft a chest first, something else?

    I’d recommend going for some in-between gear before saving up for the big spenders (Saviour, etc.).

    Order of operations:

    1. 5-link chest piece
    2. Weapon Upgrades to around 350pDPS (main/off)
    3. Get a good amulet (crit multi, flat phys, life, stats)
    4. 6-link corrupted chest piece
    5. Weapon Upgrades to around 420pDPS or listed Unique Weapons (main/off)

    And upgrading the rest of the gear as you try to hit those milestones, making sure elemental resistances are capped at all times.

  7. Posts
    6

    Just letting you know that the leveling skill tree link gives a page not found, the other skill tree links do work for me

  8. LunaWolve

    Moderator

    Posts
    39

    On 17/09/2020 at 7:01 AM, Gedaning said

    Just letting you know that the leveling skill tree link gives a page not found, the other skill tree links do work for me

    Checking! Thanks for the heads-up.

  9. Posts
    2

    I’m new in Poe and wanted to ask if it worth it to put impale support with splitting steel even though it has impale chance in itself?

  10. LunaWolve

    Moderator

    Posts
    39

    On 17/09/2020 at 7:27 AM, Alizalanic said

    I’m new in Poe and wanted to ask if it worth it to put impale support with splitting steel even though it has impale chance in itself?

    Hey there! Welcome to Path of Exile, hope you’ll love it as much as I do!

    To your question: Yes, it’s absolutely worthwhile.

    The main benefit of the Impale Support (outside of the impale chance, of course) is the “Impale Effect”.

    Impale Effect is an extremely rare stat, that only exists on a handful of items, skills and passives in the game. While it’s rare, it’s equally as powerful, however, as it acts as a multiplicative multiplier to all of your impale damage.

    To give you an easy example:

    • Assume we deal 1000 physical damage with our attacks and have a 100% impale chance.

    Our Impale now has 100 damage (10% of the pre-mitigation physical damage dealt) stored. With a maximum number of 5 impales (default), that means we deal 50% more damage than normal, once we have all 5 of them stacked up, with every consecutive hit. (Math: 1000 + (1000 × 0.1 × 5) = 1500 dmg)

    If, however, we have 100% Impale Effect on top of that, the calculations look like this instead:

    1000 + (1000 × (0.1 + [0.1 × 1]) x 5 = 1000 + (1000 × 0.2 × 5) = 2000 dmg

    What this means is that impale effect directly scales the “more” multiplier our impale applies.

    With 100% increased Impale Effect, our Impale is TWICE as strong.

    That’s why we want the Impale Support Impale Support, as it provides 49% Impale Effect, on top of the other benefits it provides.

  11. Posts
    6

    you say to have an Enduring Cry Enduring Cry on the left click, do you still suggest that considering you can now get 0 endurance charges if there are no monsters nearby.

    Edited by Damien on October 2nd, 2020

  12. LunaWolve

    Moderator

    Posts
    39

    On 17/09/2020 at 8:02 AM, Gedaning said

    you say to have an enduring cry on the left click, do you still suggest that considering you can now get 0 endurance charges if there are no monsters nearby.

    I still think it’s the proper way to use it, as we’re very starved on hotkeys already, with the addition of “Call of Steel” to our hotkey bar.

    We’ll also gain a lot of Endurance Charges from our Leapslam setup, so Enduring Cry is not our only source of them.

  13. Posts
    2

    i think i will try this one as starter, if it sucks i can easy switch to cyclone impale the gear is nearly the same and the tree too. i can’t be worse than my “elehit” starter without the combatfocus jewels or a good bow..boy that was a new record for me with over 100 deaths until mapping.

  14. Vlad

    Moderator

    Posts
    139

    On 17/09/2020 at 3:47 PM, Kelandi said

    i think i will try this one as starter, if it sucks i can easy switch to cyclone impale the gear is nearly the same and the tree too. i can’t be worse than my “elehit” starter without the combatfocus jewels or a good bow..boy that was a new record for me with over 100 deaths until mapping.

    Sounds like a plan ;)

  15. Posts
    2

    Hey LunaWolve,

    im really looking forward to this and the new steel skills, this is gonna be my league starter.
    Ive found some things in the guide you might wanna clean up tho.
    1. The “Back to main Page” Buttons redirect to your cyclone guide
    2. The leveling skill tree and the endgame skilltree on the main page are way different to the pob and skill trees on the extra page, also different ascendency
    3. On the main page you say you take axes with the notes and resolute technique, which you dont use in the different tree where also take hella crit

    Im assuming that the other tree with RT and Fortitude is still from the cyclone build or an older version

    Edited by Streicher on September 17th, 2020

  16. Vlad

    Moderator

    Posts
    139

    On 17/09/2020 at 4:00 PM, Streicher said

    Hey LunaWolve,

    im really looking forward to this and the new steel skills, this is gonna be my league starter.
    Ive found some things in the guide you might wanna clean up tho.
    1. The “Back to main Page” Buttons redirect to your cyclone guide
    2. The leveling skill tree and the endgame skilltree on the main page are way different to the pob and skill trees on the extra page, also different ascendency
    3. On the main page you say you take axes with the notes and resolute technique, which you dont use in the different tree where also take hella crit

    Im assuming that the other tree with RT and Fortitude is still from the cyclone build or an older version

    Thanks for that, I think we’ve fixed everything now :)

  17. Posts
    5

    is this build ok going dual wield glad with max block?
    I’d also like to take some leech nodes (Vaal pact, vitality void etc.); is that a good idea?

  18. Posts
    1

    On 18/09/2020 at 5:42 AM, mimivirus2 said

    is this build ok going dual wield glad with max block?
    I’d also like to take some leech nodes (Vaal pact, vitality void etc.); is that a good idea?

    Probably not, as you wouldn’t be able to make use of the bleed nodes, because we don’t want corpse remove as we need corpses for call of steel.

  19. Posts
    6

    I know everything about this build is a work in progress but are will you be posting guidance on the priority of passive skill nodes to take after the initial leveling process?

  20. LunaWolve

    Moderator

    Posts
    39

    On 18/09/2020 at 5:42 AM, mimivirus2 said

    is this build ok going dual wield glad with max block?
    I’d also like to take some leech nodes (Vaal pact, vitality void etc.); is that a good idea?

    It would absolutely work as a max-block glad, yes. However, make sure to not take the bleed-explosion nodes, as you require the corpses for “Call of Steel”. I usually don’t like the leech nodes, as they’re superficial recovery at best, normally Enduring Cry + the normal amount of life leech + life regen is enough to keep you alive.

    On 18/09/2020 at 6:25 AM, Gedaning said

    I know everything about this build is a work in progress but are will you be posting guidance on the priority of passive skill nodes to take after the initial leveling process?

    There is an end-game skill tree available on the passive tree subpage. Unless you’re asking for something else?

    If so, my apologies, but I’m not entirely sure what you mean with “priority of passive skill nodes after initial leveling”, outside of an endgame tree.

    Edited by LunaWolve on September 18th, 2020

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