When it comes to tier lists, I will not argue to have a monopoly on wisdom, as a lot of this is vulnerable to bias and preference. Especially in Path of Exile, you should not constrain yourself to only playing S-Tier builds & Ascendancies. If, however, you are adamant about playing a top tier build, the following list will help you pick one, as it is regularly updated when new builds rise to the surface.
Best League Starter Builds
This page covers the builds that we have picked out to be excellent choices to play in Solo Self-Found. Whilst some of them are more notorious for being strong early game, others might have risen up there because they bring a decent early game but scale into the end game so easily. Note that within each tier, the builds are not in order.
TL;DR Build List
You can read below to get more details about each of the builds we mentioned.
About the List of Builds
Hello, I’m TbXie, someone who has sunk over 25.000 hours in Path of Exile as of when I started to write Guides. That experience as well as getting as much insight as possible from other potent and top tier Path of Exile players is what determines whether a build guide is warranted a higher or lower ranking on this page. Whilst all of the writers, including myself, put in a tremendous amount of effort to get their guides updated before a new League, it’s important to us that this page helps you understand why and how you should be picking a build.
The build tier list has different subsections that will rank builds as per their strengths. A build might qualify as a top tier mapping build but not be considered any good for starting in a new and fresh economy or killing bosses. Overall, the emphasis on the build and whether you want it to be more defensive or offensive depends on the ultimate goal of the build and whether that includes tough content or just farming some extra currency.
Understanding your own goals
While I could go on about why you could want to play the better tier of builds it is of utmost importance for you to understand what your goals are in the game. If you don’t mind having to play through the game at a slower pace or if you’re just in it to play whatever skill is fun, any of the Guides on this page have been written by exquisite players and will all get you to the endgame sufficiently. Sure, there might be a discrepancy between how fast, cheap and easy they are to play but by no means should you feel pressured to play S-Tier builds exclusively. Generally, it is recommended to play Spellcasters or Minion builds before dabbling into Melee or Bow archetypes as they are usually way harder to gear for and execute.
April 16th Update: Detonate Dead has positioned itself at the very top of the peoples’ tierlists and thus remains an S+ pick in our books even after being changed a bit.
After being rediscovered recently by some hardcore players, Detonate Dead Necromancer has proven to be incredible across the board. Bossing, Clearing and Tankiness on a low budget – it has it all.
April 16th Update: Poison BV remains one of the strongest builds in SSF because how common the items are you require & how strong the build is even though Blade Vortex took a reasonably big hit.
Assassin might have gotten changed, but we still believe this is an S+ tier pick for you to enjoy Solo Self-Found Leagues. Given there’s a couple of uniques that synergize well with it and that they are super easy to acquire in SSF, this build packs a large chunk of punch.
April 16th Update: Given the current state of the META, the nerf it took wasn’t big enough to push this skill away from its spots in Tier List.
Blade Blast still remains one of (if not the) strongest skills in the game. The Poison variant gets a bit more damage & clear at the cost of a bit of tank stats.
April 16th Update: In the current state of the game, the Chieftain variation of Blade Blast will see just as much play as it did before its changes.
With Blade Blast being as strong as it is, people tend to go towards a more beefy iteration of the build. That’s exactly what the Chieftain version does for you. It provides you with enough damage at incredible tankiness.
April 16th Update: Spectres still seem to be having their place at the top of the list despite all of the nerfs in past patches.
Raise Spectre builds will always remain strong as long as Spectres can live & you can build the character tanky enough. As far as we can tell, the build will still be perfectly fine.
April 16th Update: Vortex has been a solid build throughout the years & the necessity for bosskills made it a popular pick in the current era.
Vortex has been an awkward skill. People either love it or hate it. However, the more necessary tank stats become to kill bosses, the more Vortex rises to the occasion. Since the current state of the game requires both, we’ve put it rather high up the list.
April 16th Update: The Hierophant nerfs have made the build way less popular but recent changes to it make it a lot more potent than before. Unlike popular opinion, we still feel this build is an exquisite choice.
Ever since the build saw its first signs of play, it has been picked up by a lot of top end players as a leaguestarter, bosskiller, Solo Self-Found build. The changes to Hierophant will definitely make it a little less reliable to clear maps but it’ll definitely be top of the pack for a SSF environment still.
April 16th Update: Toxic Rain remains a top notch pick for Solo Self-Found environment as will be shown in the popularity graphs when the new League starts.
The way Toxic Rain scales is a little bit awkward in SSF leagues but because of how strong it is, it’s perfectly executable even without trade. Therefore, the build provides to be an excellent way to start in SSF whilst providing a good amount of scaling.
April 16th Update: Because of how reliable this build is without much gear, it remains one of the only viable melee choices in the list. Given that it got a tremendous buff, it only will be getting better.
Bladestorm is generally considered one of the better picks as far as melee goes in both League Start & SSF environments. Because it synergizes so well with certain mechanics / supports, this is one, if not the only, melee build that doesn’t rely on a super expensive weapon.
April 16th Update: Whilst still rivaled by other mining skills, Glacial Cascade remains accessible and therefore remains at the top of our list.
Ever since its rework, Glacial Cascade has provided a mean to combine significant clear with capable boss killing potential. Since it requires almost no specific items, you’re going to have a great time regardless of being able to trade or not.
April 16th Update: As the league is around the corner, Essence Drain will always gain popularity.
Poison Blade Vortex packs a decent amount of mapclear at the very early stages of the game. It requires virtually no investment to get going and will only get better when your character progresses. It will, however, at no point rival the very best builds for speed but it’ll get close at way less of a budget.
April 16th Update: Like many builds, the popularity of this one diminishes as people get more options as the league progresses. Nonetheless, this remains a very viable SSF option.
As probably one of the strongest SSF starter builds out there, this build demanded a slot in the best SSF builds. It requires almost nothing to get going and none of it is gated behind highly difficult / inaccessible content.
April 16th Update: Because of the buffs to Slayer last expansion, Cyclone has now taken an even more prevalent role in the top tier builds.
Because of the changes to Slayer it is the most reliable way to play Cyclone in an SSF environment. It requires much less of an insane weapon to feel great, therefore making it the best iteration of the build for SSF.
April 16th Update: As per usual, Caustic Arrow escaped all nerfs and will once again be a solid starter.
Caustic Arrow is just such a strong skill mechanically that it could make it in the list on quite a few different iterations. Tricksters however are notoriously strong contenders for Solo Self-Found builds and this one is no exception.
April 16th Update: Spellslinger notoriously doesn’t require a whole lot of gear, which makes it a very competent SSF build.
Focusing on map clear, Coldslinger Occultist packs a decent amount of punch and is something we recommend trying out if you haven’t yet.
April 16th Update: Not many of these builds out there as of now as the Elementalist meta is dominated by Ignite shenanigans. Build still remains super solid though and deserves its spot in this list.
Because we feel like you need to get a solid clearing option as well, this Spellslinger build provides you with a balance between having a fast and easy to play build that has enough endgame potential to go anywhere you want to take it. All of that, whilst requiring almost no gear whatsoever.
Aside from the top picks in the list, there’s multiple other guides that can be played as a league starter. However, they might require you to farm some a couple of Chaos Orbs whilst leveling up to pick up a necessary unique, fall of after the story line or rely on some skill swaps to make them feel great. They’ve therefore not made an appearance in the Best League Starters but still deserve to be referenced on this page. More information about them is to be found inside the guide.