Shockwave Totem, a tale as old as time. Once reigned the kind of totems, being knocked down for the longest of time but recently making its reappearance in the list of builds you can’t miss out on. One of the strongest skills in the game right now and because of that, it’s here to stay. They could be changing the skill or nerfing it five times over and it would still be good enough to write a guide about.
Shockwave Totems, to me, goes back all the way to 2014, Torment League. Back then, the skill wasn’t considered overpowered but it was considered allright to leaguestart with as it would do great without too much gear invested. I leaguestarted it back then for the first time and ever since have looked at that leaguestart as one of my best & most smooth early character progressions ever.
This guide will be focusing on taking your hand and guiding you through the steps of progression for a character that can do ludicrous things in the endgame whilst being a powerhouse early on that will get you there smoothly. All of that while remaining, relative to the average totem build, obscenely tanky. I really went out of my way to find the most tank possible but obviously, a Hierophant Totem boy is not really inherently tanky. Through stacking multiple layers of defenses on top of the small perks of being totems, the build can take a bit of beating but in the end it’s not supposed to be in the fray too much as your totems should be clearing up most of the things before you ever become a target.
Solo Self-Found Viability
While this guide will not focus on the options you can exploit on SSF it really is doable in that environment. Obviously, obtaining the builds biggest power spike, Astral Projector is going to be hard. It is a Metamorph only unique, so you’re going to have to really like Metamorph if you want to hunt this in SSF. Other than that, the build abuses the Divergent alternate quality of the gem, which is something that also isn’t easy to obtain, but is a lot more convenient to hunt for, if you’re a real SSF grinder.
Day 2 Crucible League (48hours in) – T16 mapping
Day 4 Guide Wrap up
Quick Gear Breakdown for Day 3
To give you an idea of the currency sank into the build, because not everyone can as be efficient at leaguestart as veteran players, I’m giving you an idea of the cost per item.
- Dagger – 55 Chaos Orb
- Helmet – 15 Chaos Orb for the base, 5 Deafening Essence of Loathing, 100 or something Eldritch Ichors to get reservation – Total cost: +- 150 Chaos Orb
- Shield – 30 Chaos Orb
- Armour – 20 Chaos Orb and 1 Deafening Essence of Loathing
- Astral Projector – 72 Chaos Orb on Day 1
- Rare Ring – 5 Chaos Orb
- Gloves – 1 Chaos Orb
- Boots – Spammed some resistance essence & got really lucky.
- Amulet – 60 Chaos Orb – Anoint 60 Chaos Orb
- Belt – 9 Chaos Orb
- Cluster Jewels – 300 Chaos Orb
- Militant Faith – 150 Chaos Orb
- Rare Jewlels – 10 Chaos Orb each
Total Budget: 800 Chaos Orb (Or +- 5 Divine Orb) on Leaguestart – A lot of these items become widely more available and will be A LOT cheaper if you get them later on (or the pieces you might actually want in there, which are BiS, will no longer be 10 Divine Orbs forcing you into replacements.
One of the main reasons Shockwave Totems saw a sudden rise in popularity was becaues of very popular & likeable creator, Mathil, (ab)using the Divergent Shockwave Totem. This fairly newly introduced Alternate Quality opened up an entire new way of building, using & scaling the totem skill. Because of that, all of a sudden people were theorycrafting itterations of it that had hundreds upon hundreds of millions of damage to the point where it became one of, if not thé, go to build if you wanted to delete content before it got a chance to do anything.
This got further extrapolated in the Forbidden Sanctum. That league had a mechanic where it required you to complete a lot of zones without ever being hit. Shockwave Totem excelled at that because you could put up your totems from behind a corner & they would just delete everything so you could easily walk through. Those builds invested only into damage because their run was over if they got hit anyhow. As there are most likely already a dozen of guides out there who try to explain to you how to completely optimize every single point of DPS in a buld like this at the expense of having no defenses whatsoever, that is not what I’m going to try to present here.
The build I want to lay out before you here in this guide tries to find an acceptable balance between damage, quality of life & durability. Whilst that is not always easy said & done, mostly because definitions of damage and survivability vary from reader to reader, I do think we’ve hit a sweet spot where there is something to enjoy for everybody out of this build.
Pros & Cons
+ When properly built, this build can tackle all content in the game, ubers included
+ While it can do all content, unlike some other builds, it’s not a piece of paper
+ Incredibly leaguestart viable
+ Super easy & smooth to play
+ Isn’t particularly weak in specific scenarios
+ Very new player friendly
+ It’s a totem build – not everyone likes that
+ You don’t deal damage yourself – You need to get used to that
+ It gets huge powerjumps from 2 hard to obtain items in SSF
Playstyle, Mechanics & Strengths
As we already touched on, Shockwave Totem is mostly in its current spot because of its alternate quality version. The Divergent alt quality converts a portion of the gems damage to cold damage, which allows for physical & elemental scaling where as back in the day, you could only scale Shockwave Totems through physical damage, which by itsself brought forward a ton of issues with the build. That however is completely gone and while the build has more than enough damage early on, as pure physical, to farm your upgrades, it now also provides a clear path into the endgame by using this conversion mechanic.
The second strong interaction one needs to talk about is Astral Projector. This item makes it so your “Nova Skills” as poe calls them are no longer targeted around the caster, but are target at minions up ahead, behind or anywhere around you. This is an incredible difference in playstyle because before you obtain this ring, you’ll have to aim your totems at monsters rather than them aiming for themselves as your Shockwaves will be happening only around your totems, rather than bein targeted. Luckily, Astral Projector, nowadays, has come down from its pedestal and is no longer tens upon tens of divines at leaguestarts. Therefore, after saving up a few chaos orbs, or maybe maximum 2 Divine Orbs worst case scenario, you’ll be able to experience the true joy of nova skills.
On top of that, the build invests into some decently rolled pieces of gear, worry not though, most of them are super easy to acquire & wont break your bank and still offers you options to scale beyond that. It uses a single Large Cluster Jewel setup to maximize its output and enjoyability.
Defensively, we really went out all the way. I don’t see a convenient way to make a Hierophant more tanky than I did with this build as the Ascendancy’s most defensive selling point, Mind over Matter, is in a terrible spot at this current time. The way we countered this is by investing into Mana Reservation, allowing us to run the trifecta of defenses, Grace, Determination, Defiance Banner. Additionally, it picks up a relatively okay amount of life, some defensive Flasks & a surprisingly strong Less Damage taken node by abusing a Totem Mastery. All in all, the builds’ numbers, defensively, look pretty solid.
Passive Skill Tree, PoB, and Gem Links
If you are not comfortable with Path of Building, PoePlanner’s website offers you a non-PoB alternative to import the code from the above link. 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 Helmet with Reservation Efficiency, Life, Resistances & a Shockwave Totem Enchant|
|Amulet||Rare Amulet mostly with Life, Levels of Gems & necessary Attributs|
|Chest||Corrupted Skin of the Loyal|
|Gloves||Rare Gloves with Resistances, a Focus Mod, double conversion|
|Boots||Rare pair of boots with double ailment avoidance, life, movement speed and attributes|
|Rings||Astral Projector & rare ring with Life, Resistances & Attributes|
|Shield||Rare Influenced Shield with +1 Totems, 30% Reservation and ideally Life, Damage, Resists|
Questions & Support
If you enjoy my content to such an extent that you’d like to support me and my work, or you have a specific question you request my private time for, you can buy me a coffee over at Patreon. 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 try to make our guides as complete as possible, obvioulsy it’s possible you still have questions. We have an entire mod-team readily available to support you & your questions on Discord. You can find us on the ARPG Vault Discord. Make sure to open a Guide Help thread so things stay clear in the main channels.
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 Shockwave Totem. 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.
In order to level this build as a Herald of Agony build you need to make your way to level 16 to be able to use the gem, and you’ll need a Quill Rain for the most optimized HoA leveling. If you’re not planning on getting a Quill Rain at level 16, you want to delay the transition until level 28 when you can get Cyclone.
Getting to Brutus & Merveil
For starters, create a Templar in whichever league you want to start.
Your main goal here is to get to act 3 and complete your first Laybirinth so you can swap to Shockwave Totems. The gems & links you want to prioritize in act 1 are as follows.
Make sure to place your Flame Wall in between your target & your totem and yourself so you can make sure all your projectiles (both Rolling Magma & Flame Totem) go through.
This setup should carry you to Act 3, after which you’ll be swapping to Shockwave Totems. The hardest part of this progression will be Normal Lab because you kind of want that before you swap. Pick up the Ancestral Bond keystone when you make the switch.
- Shockwave Totem – Physical to Lightning Support – Added Fire Damage Support
- Elemental Weakness – Frost Bomb
Further on, whenever you can get the Lifetap support, you want to reserve all your mana and cast from Life. Make sure to have the right Life Flasks for your levels!
- Shockwave Totem – Physical to Lightning Support – Added Fire Damage Support – Lifetap Support
- Hatred – Summon Skitterbots linked to Bonechill Support
- Elemental Weakness – Frost Bomb
- Vitality linked to Arrogance Support to sustain casting
Changes to make further on:
-> After allocating the Sovereignity Wheel, you can swap Skitterbots for Determination for higher survivability. After influence, you can add Herald of Purity.
Converting your damage will always be a priority. There’s a Cold Mastery that converts 40% to Cold Damage which you should take unless you are running Hrimsorrow gloves. You’re using Hrimsorrow’s until you have Divergent Shockwave Totem (or double conversion gloves + mastery)
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