Shockwave Totem Hierophant Build Guide (PoE Blight 3.8)

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Introduction

Shockwave Totem Shockwave Totem has been a decent skill for long time, but the great buff to base damage that came in patch 3.6 really made it viable. This totem deals physical damage in a nova; scaling physical spell damage with passive nodes, support gems, and items proves to be easy and efficient.

When it comes to playing spell-based totem builds, Hierophant is one of the best ascendancy class choice because of all the totem perks. This ascendancy also allows for a very easy transition into Chaos Inoculation or Low-Life via the Sanctuary of Thought ascendancy node.

When it comes to late game, the build has great damage potential, along with a respectable effective life pool. Combining a decent life/energy shield pool with a great amount of mana and Mind over Matter can result in over 9k effective life, easily.

Build Summary

The Shockwave Totem Shockwave Totem Hierophant is very budget-friendly build that can be played as a league-starter. Early on you would want to play as a life-based character with Mind over Matter. A simple Tabula Rasa Tabula Rasa can easily carry you all the way up to red maps. Once you have a decent amount of currency, you can transition into low-life by using Shavronne's Wrappings Shavronne's Wrappings; this transition will boost your damage exponentially.

Pros & Cons

Pros

+ Hardcore viable
+ Budget friendly early on
+ Great clear speed while also maintaining respectable single target damage

Cons

- Playing a low-life totem build requires good positioning and different playstyle compared to other builds

Playstyle

Offensively, a single cast of totems will be enough to kill a pack of monsters. When fighting bosses, you have the freedom to move around and dodge fatal game mechanics while your totems take down the target.

Defensively, keeping your distance is the most important thing you should do. Blocking projectiles and other kinds of incoming damage will easily prevent you from taking unnecessary damage. Keeping up a good amount of placed totems will provide a good amount of life and mana regeneration via the Ritual of Awakening ascendancy node; this is a good source of sustain.

For Playstyle, placing totems in the center of a monster pack would be ideal when clearing. You should use Flame Dash Flame Dash to move around quickly and keep up the Arcane Surge buff. Rallying Cry Rallying Cry provides additional damage and mana regeneration.

Ascendancy, Passive tree, Bandits and Pantheons

Ascendancy

  1. Pursuit of Faith
  2. Ritual of Awakening
  3. Divine Guidance
  4. Sanctuary of Thought

Pursuit of Faith provides a great amount of totem duration, +1 to maximum number of totems, attack and cast speed and increased damage per enemies your totems have killed recently; this is a great ascendancy node, especially while leveling.

Ritual of Awakening gives a lot of life and mana sustain, along with more damage per placed totem, additionally you can place two totems instead of one, which is very efficient when it comes to mana cost and saving time. The totem placement speed is also very significant.

Divine Guidance essentially boosts your mana pool even further and improves the effect of Mind over Matter by a third.

Sanctuary of Thought reduces mana cost of skills by a great amount while also providing an immense amount of energy shield, which is based on your maximum mana. This ascendancy node will allow you to smoothly transition into low-life.

Passive tree

Due to the nature of the build we will provide two different endgame passive skill trees.

This is the life-based Mind over Matter passive skill tree.

This is the low-life Mind over Matter passive skill tree.

Bandits

For this specific build we should help Alira in Act II. The critical multiplier, flat mana regeneration, and 15% all elemental resistances are stronger than the 2 passive skill points.

Pantheons

Major: Soul of the Brine King will allow you to not use Eye of Chayula Eye of Chayula while playing low-life. Other major gods can be chosen based on personal preference.

Minor: Soul of Abberath will solve issues with burning ground, which can be annoying while playing low-life.

Gems

Shockwave Totem Shockwave Totem is your signature skill, which should ideally be used in a 6-Link. For mobility, use Flame Dash Flame Dash. Rallying Cry Rallying Cry provides a temporary buff, which should be kept up whenever possible. When you go low-life, you will be able to use Clarity Clarity, Discipline Discipline, Zealotry Zealotry.

For all the gem links we provide below, keep in mind that we list the gems in order of priority (starting from the top left, going to the right on each row of the links), meaning that if you lack the required number of sockets to fit all the gems, the first ones to drop are the ones at the bottom (with the bottom right being the last). Also note that in-game, as long as the sockets are linked, it makes no difference at all what order the gems are placed in.

Shockwave Totem (6-Link)

Shockwave Totem Shockwave Totem is a totem skill that deals physical damage in a nova by default. The base critical chance of the skill is 5%, which kind of forces us to use Increased Critical Strikes Support Increased Critical Strikes Support. We recommend two different links for clearing and single target.

For single target, use the following link.

  1. Shockwave Totem Shockwave Totem
  2. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  3. Increased Critical Strikes Support Increased Critical Strikes Support
  4. Physical to Lightning Support Physical to Lightning Support
  5. Faster Casting Support Faster Casting Support
  6. Concentrated Effect Support Concentrated Effect Support

For clearing, use the following link.

  1. Shockwave Totem Shockwave Totem
  2. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  3. Increased Critical Strikes Support Increased Critical Strikes Support
  4. Physical to Lightning Support Physical to Lightning Support
  5. Faster Casting Support Faster Casting Support
  6. Increased Area of Effect Support Increased Area of Effect Support

Note: You can also experiment with Multiple Totems Support Multiple Totems Support.

Flame Dash (3-Link)

Flame Dash Flame Dash is a mobility skill that will also give you the Arcane Surge buff for a short duration after every cast.

  1. Flame Dash Flame Dash
  2. Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support
  3. Faster Casting Support Faster Casting Support

Orb of Storms (4-Link)

Orb of Storms Orb of Storms can be dropped on the ground in order to curse enemies and provide Power charges.

  1. Orb of Storms Orb of Storms
  2. Power Charge On Critical Support Power Charge On Critical Support
  3. Curse On Hit Support Curse On Hit Support
  4. Assassin's Mark Assassin's Mark

Other Gems

Rallying Cry Rallying Cry will provide a little amount of damage increase and some mana regeneration. Summon Lightning Golem Summon Lightning Golem will give you a decent amount of cast speed. Zealotry Zealotry and Clarity Clarity should be used as auras, once you transition into low-life you can reserve your life by using Discipline Discipline with Blood Magic Support Blood Magic Support. Steelskin Steelskin can be used for additional damage mitigation.

Gearing

Capping your elemental resistances is essential and it should always be your top priority in any build; it should be the first thing you do when gearing up a character. Obtaining a 6-link, while very powerful and certainly recommended, can potentially be very expensive (requiring an average of 1500 Orbs of Fusing, obviously depending on your luck); as such, this should not really be a goal for you while gearing up, and you should instead settle for a 5-link until you have enough resources. While playing the life-based version of the build, a simple Tabula Rasa Tabula Rasa will carry you a long way. Once you decide to transition into low-life, Solaris Lorica Solaris Lorica in combination with a helmet crafted with Essence of Insanity. The body armour will prevent you from getting killed by chaos damage, while the helmet will act as a 5-Link until you are able to afford Shavronne's Wrappings Shavronne's Wrappings and link it.

Helmet

A rare helmet is best in slot. For labyrinth enchant, look for any of the Shockwave Totem uber lab enchants, as they are all useful.

Life-based Rare Affix Priority

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. +# to maximum life (90)
  3. +# maximum mana
  4. % to Chaos Resistance
  5. # to Dexterity, Strength

Low Life-based Rare Affix Priority

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. Maximum energy shield (at least 250)
  3. +# maximum mana
  4. % to Chaos Resistance
  5. # to Dexterity, Strength

Body Armour

When it comes to body armours we have few choices. For Low Life we definitely need Shavronne's Wrappings Shavronne's Wrappings or Solaris Lorica Solaris Lorica. For life, you can play with Loreweave Loreweave, Carcass Jack Carcass Jack, Cloak of Defiance Cloak of Defiance or any other unique you prefer. Use rare body armour with life and resists until you can afford these; a rare Shaper-based body armour can also be very good. Tabula Rasa Tabula Rasa is also a great choice early on. The Rare Affix Priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. +# to maximum life (90)
  3. Spells have +#% to Critical Strike Chance (Shaper Suffix)

Gloves

A rare pair of gloves is best in slot for both Life and Low-Life variants.

Life-based Rare Affix Priority

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. +# to maximum life (70)
  3. +# maximum mana
  4. # to Dexterity, Strength
  5. % to Chaos Resistance

Low Life based Rare Affix Priority

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. Maximum Energy Shield (at least 100)
  3. +# maximum mana
  4. # to Dexterity, Strength
  5. % to Chaos Resistance

Boots

For the Life-based version you can choose Kaom's Heart Kaom's Heart. It provides stun immunity and a lot of flat health.

For Low Life, Skyforth Skyforth is definitely the best choice; it will deal with the stun problems which lets you drop Eye of Chayula Eye of Chayula. Skyforth Skyforth can be very expensive though. Instead of them you can use Steppan Eard Steppan Eard. The best boot enchant from the labyrinth is “Damage Penetrates 10% of Elemental Resistances if you haven’t killed recently”, which is active at all times since you never kill; your totems do. For a rare pair of boots, use any that have life/energy shield, elemental resistances and movement speed. The Rare Affix Priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. +# to maximum life (70) / Maximum Energy Shield (at least 100)
  3. Movement speed (at least 20%)

Belt

A well rolled rare belt is best in slot. You can use Stygian Vise Stygian Vise for an additional abyssal socket, which might be the most beneficial choice. Consider Leather Belt Leather Belt and Crystal Belt Crystal Belt for additional survivability.

Life-based Rare Affix Priority

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. +# to maximum life (80)
  3. % increased Flask Duration
  4. % Reduced Flask Charges used

Low Life-based Rare Affix Priority

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. +# to maximum Energy Shield
  3. % increased Energy Shield from Body Armour (Dense Fossil)
  4. % increased Flask Duration
  5. % Reduced Flask Charges used

Amulet

When it comes to the Life variant of the build, a rare amulet is best in slot. For Low Life you will probably have to play with Eye of Chayula Eye of Chayula or Presence of Chayula Presence of Chayula for the stun immunity, or you can just deal with stun in another way, like Skyforth Skyforth, Valyrium Valyrium or Soul of the Brine King.

Life-based Rare Affix Priority

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. +# to maximum life (50)
  3. Gain % of physical damage as extra elemental/chaos damage
  4. # to Maximum mana
  5. % to Global Critical Multiplier
  6. % increased Critical Chance
  7. # to Dexterity, Strength

Low Life-based Rare Affix Priority

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. % increased maximum Energy Shield
  3. Gain % of physical damage as extra elemental/chaos damage
  4. # to Maximum mana
  5. % to Global Critical Multiplier
  6. % increased Critical Chance
  7. # to Dexterity, Strength

Rings

For the Life-based version of the build rare rings are best in slot. For Low Life version you can use unique rings like Dream Fragments Dream Fragments, Lori's Lantern Lori's Lantern and Valyrium Valyrium.

Life-based Rare Affix Priority

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. +# to maximum life (50)
  3. # to maximum Mana
  4. % increased Cast Speed
  5. # to Dexterity, Strength
  6. % to Chaos Resistance

Low Life-based Rare Affix Priority

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. # to maximum Mana
  3. % increased Cast Speed
  4. # to Dexterity, Strength
  5. % to Chaos Resistance

Weapon and Shield

We recommend using a Shaper-based Dagger for the additional damage gains that the Shaper mods provide. When it comes to the Shield slot, use anything with defensive stats, Energy Shield bases can also roll Spell Damage and Increased Critical Chance with Spells, which is very handy.

Rare Dagger Affix Priority

  1. % increased Spell damage (at least 40%)
  2. % Increased critical chance with spells (at least 80%)
  3. % to Global Critical Multiplier
  4. % increased Cold damage
  5. % increased Attack speed (for Shield Charge)

Rare Shield Affix Priority

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. Maximum Life (at least 80) / Energy shield (at least 250)
  3. % increased Spell damage (at least 40%)
  4. % Increased critical chance with spells (at least 80%)

Note: For single target Glacial Cascade Glacial Cascade you can benefit greatly from a shaper stat-stick weapon. Replace your Dagger with it or you can even go full glass cannon by dual wielding two shaper stat-sticks.

Flasks

Life and Mana flasks are mandatory when playing the Life variant, if not just drop the Life flask. Diamond flask is mandatory in most critical-based builds. Silver flask – There is no other way to gain the Onslaught effect so we chose to have it via a flask effect. Last flask slot is up to personal preference, use any utility flask you prefer for the particular content you are doing. For more offence, we recommend Atziri's Promise Atziri's Promise and Taste of Hate Taste of Hate, or Rumi's Concoction Rumi's Concoction for more survivability.

Jewels

As in every totem build, we recommend using Spire of Stone Spire of Stone. Your totems can get stun locked sometimes and it feels very clunky and annoying when this happens. A Watcher's Eye Watcher's Eye with Clarity Clarity, Discipline Discipline or Zealotry Zealotry mods can be used, but it can get very expensive.

Regular Jewel Affix Priority

  1. % Increased Maximum life/Maximum energy shield
  2. % increased Maximum mana
  3. Critical modifiers
  4. % increased Totem damage
  5. % increased Increased Damage
  6. % increased Cast speed

Abyssal Jewel Affix Priority

  1. # to Maximum life (at least 30)/Maximum energy shield (at least 30)
  2. # to Maximum mana
  3. Critical modifiers

Leveling

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

Shockwave Totem Shockwave Totem is an amazing leveling skill, but it requires level 28. Until then we recommend using Storm Brand Storm Brand.

Leveling Trees

This is what your passive skill tree should look like early on. We rush to Ancestral Bond as soon as possible, which will allow us to start using Shockwave Totem Shockwave Totem at level 28 as main skill. Then we pick Mind over Matter, which acts as a life buffer.

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, which 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), 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

Using Tabula Rasa Tabula Rasa will allow you to have 6-Link gem setups early on, which is why we show such examples below. If you cannot get Tabula Rasa (or another item with a 6-Link), then simply prioritize the first gems in each link provided below.

In order to acquire gems that are not available to your class as a quest reward, simply ask a friend to buy them off vendors for you, or buy them yourself from Sioasa in The Library in Act III Library.

From level 1, you should use the following link.

  1. Freezing Pulse Freezing Pulse
  2. Onslaught Support Onslaught Support

At level 4, you can add Frost Bomb Frost Bomb for additional single target damage. War Banner War Banner can be picked for the Adrenaline buff it provides for a short duration when dropped.

At level 10, you should add Flame Dash Flame Dash for additional mobility; you should also add Clarity Clarity at this point.

At level 12, you should replace your Freezing Pulse Freezing Pulse with Storm Brand Storm Brand.

  1. Storm Brand Storm Brand
  2. Onslaught Support Onslaught Support
  3. Added Lightning Damage Support Added Lightning Damage Support

By level 18, your Storm Brand Storm Brand link should look like this.

  1. Storm Brand Storm Brand
  2. Onslaught Support Onslaught Support
  3. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  4. Concentrated Effect Support Concentrated Effect Support
  5. Added Lightning Damage Support Added Lightning Damage Support
  6. Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support

Finally, at level 28, you are ready to transition into your signature skill: Shockwave Totem Shockwave Totem. You should drop your Storm Brand Storm Brand and use the following Shockwave Totem link instead.

  1. Shockwave Totem Shockwave Totem
  2. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  3. Increased Critical Strikes Support Increased Critical Strikes Support
  4. Physical to Lightning Support Physical to Lightning Support
  5. Faster Casting Support Faster Casting Support
  6. Concentrated Effect Support Concentrated Effect Support

FAQ

When can I transition into Low Life?

This really depends on the currency you have. You can respec into Low Life with very little currency by just using Solaris Lorica Solaris Lorica, Eye of Chayula Eye of Chayula and an Essence of Insanity Helmet. You should be able to reach at least 5-6k Energy Shield with bad gear. It is better to farm up with the life-based version before you decide to do the transition though.

What map mods are impossible to do?

No regeneration maps are very annoying, as you will mostly have to rely on the base Energy Shield recharge and use a mana flask to refill your mana. Reflect mods will make your totems damage them selves, which is kind of annoying but it is also doable.

Conclusion

The Shockwave Totem Hierophant is a spell-based totem build which has great endgame potential. The buff to Shockwave Totem Shockwave Totem‘s damage make the skill viable for even the toughest encounters in Path of Exile.

Changelog
  •   

    Revisited and updated for Blight 3.8. The build received a buff via the changes to Hierophant.

  •   

    Revisited and updated for Legion 3.7.

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  1. Posts
    4

    Fairly new to the game so forgive me if this seems obvious… but how come the low life version goes for the Spiritual Aid and Righteous Army nodes?

    I was under the impression that Minion Damage didn’t apply to Totems.

    Am I missing something?

  2. Posts
    4

    Another question, while I’m at it… Is there any reason this build can’t swop out for another totem? Like Holy Flame?

  3. Vvckd

    Moderator

    Posts
    467

    On 04/07/2019 at 2:04 PM, nomadD79 said

    Fairly new to the game so forgive me if this seems obvious… but how come the low life version goes for the Spiritual Aid and Righteous Army nodes?

    I was under the impression that Minion Damage didn’t apply to Totems.

    Am I missing something?

    Hey, there Spiritual Aid allows Minion Damage to apply to any type of damage you or your Totems/Traps/Mines etc. are dealing. Minion damage nodes are also more point-efficient in general so if you are near Spiritual Aid it is never a bad idea to pick it up in order to augment your damage.

  4. Vvckd

    Moderator

    Posts
    467

    On 04/07/2019 at 2:10 PM, nomadD79 said

    Another question, while I’m at it… Is there any reason this build can’t swop out for another totem? Like Holy Flame?

    You can do that, although if you want to try out Holy Flame Totem Holy Flame Totem I’d recommend checking out this guide.

  5. Posts
    3

    Hey, first – this build looks really great.
    I wanted to play SWT again for quite some time now, and as I’ve never had a LL build I guessed I try that finally.

    Just one question: I usually start most of my builds with all the skills I’ll later use, and it seems there is still a 4-link free to use.
    What should I put there? CWDT + Immortal Call + Vortex + Inc. Duration works fine on my Champion, but I don’t know if it’s worth without Endurance Charges.

    Thanks in advance!

  6. Vvckd

    Moderator

    Posts
    467

    On 05/07/2019 at 7:08 AM, GosuSan said

    Hey, first – this build looks really great.
    I wanted to play SWT again for quite some time now, and as I’ve never had a LL build I guessed I try that finally.

    Just one question: I usually start most of my builds with all the skills I’ll later use, and it seems there is still a 4-link free to use.
    What should I put there? CWDT + Immortal Call + Vortex + Inc. Duration works fine on my Champion, but I don’t know if it’s worth without Endurance Charges.

    Thanks in advance!

    Hey, you can use whatever gems you want in the free sockets, I would recommend Steelskin Steelskin linked with Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support. You can also simply level gems in these sockets.

  7. Posts
    3

    On 06/07/2019 at 4:20 AM, Vvckd said

    Hey, you can use whatever gems you want in the free sockets, I would recommend Steelskin Steelskin linked with Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support. You can also simply level gems in these sockets.

    Thanks! I level two Inc. AoE now, which seemed like a good idea.

    Another quick question. Why don’t we take the “Pain Attunement” Keystone in the low-life variant? Does it not work with Totems? It should, right? Since SWT is a Spell, that should be quite a Damage Boost, no?

  8. Vvckd

    Moderator

    Posts
    467

    On 08/07/2019 at 5:56 AM, GosuSan said

    On 06/07/2019 at 4:20 AM, Vvckd said

    Hey, you can use whatever gems you want in the free sockets, I would recommend Steelskin Steelskin linked with Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support. You can also simply level gems in these sockets.

    Thanks! I level two Inc. AoE now, which seemed like a good idea.

    Another quick question. Why don’t we take the “Pain Attunement” Keystone in the low-life variant? Does it not work with Totems? It should, right? Since SWT is a Spell, that should be quite a Damage Boost, no?

    We do, that is the main reason for going Low Life in first place.

  9. Posts
    3

    On 08/07/2019 at 7:45 AM, Vvckd said

    We do, that is the main reason for going Low Life in first place.

    Oh damn, I see it now. I probably misclicked in PoB, sorry for the inconvenience :)

  10. Posts
    4

    So I’m in the process of trying this with some variations.

    I found the shockwave totems work really well… but require that they are positioned just right. And having both the increased and decreased AoE versions means either carrying both sets of 6 links (I used a 6 link staff for the 2nd set) or stop-starting to switch out the gems.

    So I started off taking the concentrated area version for bosses and a holy flame totem for clearing packs. Eventually I realised I was using only the flame totem and so I dropped the shockwave.

    The only Tree change I made was to drop some of the AoE nodes – Righteous Decree, Lethal Assault, Blast Radius – and pick up some fire damage nodes – Divine Judgement and [somehow] Heart of Flame.

    Oh… and also instead of Orb of Storms for the Curse on Hit set up, I find Volatile Dead to be a great option. Just stand over a pile of corpses and trigger the skill to produce monster seeking orbs that apply curses on contact. No aiming required.

    Edited by nomadD79 on July 8th, 2019

  11. Vvckd

    Moderator

    Posts
    467

    On 08/07/2019 at 10:24 AM, GosuSan said

    On 08/07/2019 at 7:45 AM, Vvckd said

    We do, that is the main reason for going Low Life in first place.

    Oh damn, I see it now. I probably misclicked in PoB, sorry for the inconvenience :)

    No worries!

  12. Vvckd

    Moderator

    Posts
    467

    On 08/07/2019 at 4:03 PM, nomadD79 said

    So I’m in the process of trying this with some variations.

    I found the shockwave totems work really well… but require that they are positioned just right. And having both the increased and decreased AoE versions means either carrying both sets of 6 links (I used a 6 link staff for the 2nd set) or stop-starting to switch out the gems.

    So I started off taking the concentrated area version for bosses and a holy flame totem for clearing packs. Eventually I realised I was using only the flame totem and so I dropped the shockwave.

    The only Tree change I made was to drop some of the AoE nodes – Righteous Decree, Lethal Assault, Blast Radius – and pick up some fire damage nodes – Divine Judgement and [somehow] Heart of Flame.

    Oh… and also instead of Orb of Storms for the Curse on Hit set up, I find Volatile Dead to be a great option. Just stand over a pile of corpses and trigger the skill to produce monster seeking orbs that apply curses on contact. No aiming required.

    Interesting, glad you are experimenting.

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