With the changes to the passive tree and Cyclone in 3.7, The Whispering Ice builds received a serious boost in power level and clearspeed. Boasting a unique method of scaling and excellent defensive capabilities, the Mask of the Stitched Demon variant has performed admirably in all levels of content. Additionally, Glorious Vanity brings a new, powerful keystone to the table for this build in Corrupted Soul, granting 20% of maximum life as extra maximum Energy Shield, while ignoring the drawback. This provides a large boost to life regeneration thanks to Mask of the Stitched Demon, bringing life based The Whispering Ice builds up to compete with CI and low life variants in terms of survivability. With high damage, great survivability, and a fun playstyle, the Stitched Demon Icestorm Scion is a great choice for anybody looking to play a non-traditional cold caster build.
This build makes use a few powerful, build-defining uniques in Mask of the Stitched Demon, The Whispering Ice, and Cyclopean Coil, with the rest of its gear offering nearly endless scaling via the unique, intelligence-scaling offenses and defenses of the build. It is capable of reaching 8000+ life, with 7000 being easily accessible even on a budget, and utilizes a variety of sources of life recovery to maintain 1000+ life regenerated per second, before factoring in life on hit or leech. It is great at facetanking guardians and other difficult content, all while spinning up to several million DPS.
+ Extremely durable (7000+ life, 1000+ regeneration per second, access to other great recovery and mitigation sources)
+ Cyclone means you do not have to slow down to deal damage, alleviating the fact that Icestorm deals its damage over a duration
+ Nearly screen-wide AoE, thanks to Spell Cascade Support
+ Reasonably budget-friendly, with room for near endless growth on gear
- Not the fastest clearing build, thanks to the reduced movement speed from Cyclone, and the difficulty of accessing extreme move speed that other Cyclone build can
- Due to the mechanics of Icestorm, single target damage needs to be built up over a few seconds, starting at only a few hundred thousand (though able to ramp up to millions)
- Can cause performance issues
Playstyle and Core Mechanics
What exactly does Icestorm even do?
Icestorm is a unique skill granted by the The Whispering Ice staff. Put simply, it is a cold version of Firestorm. This is, however, only part of the story. It deals 1-3 cold damage per 10 intelligence, hits every 0.1 seconds, has a base duration of 1.5 seconds, and gains an additional 0.15 seconds of base duration per 100 intelligence. This means that at 1500 intelligence, easily achievable on entry level gear, Icestorm deals 150-450 base damage and has a base duration of 3.75 seconds. Comparing this to Firestorm‘s base of 200-300 and base duration of 2 seconds, it is clear why Icestorm is capable of scaling much higher. The high base cast time of 0.75 seconds can by bypassed using Cast while Channelling Support, bringing it down to 0.34 seconds, while not locking you in place thanks to Cyclone.
Thanks to Cyclone becoming a channelling skill, the playstyle of The Whispering Ice builds has moved from a stationary, slow, and often clunky one to a quick, mobile build. Spell Cascade Support allows you to quickly paint the world in ice, without actually increasing the area of effect of the skill, something that actually decreases its damage. Overall, it plays like a hybrid of a damage over time spellcaster and a traditional Cyclone build, rushing through packs and then leaving them to die to the rain of ice. It is also capable of activating Vaal Righteous Fire for a massive boost in DPS, and will restore the sacrificed life quickly.
Defensively, the build supports itself with Mask of the Stitched Demon‘s huge regeneration boost, along with a large life pool and your choice of guard skills. It is also capable of getting life gained on hit via a ring, which is very powerful on a skill that hits as often as Icestorm does, and life leech, which is always a nice benefit. Thanks to chilling enemies, it also has much more time to breathe between hits than other, comparable builds.
Ascendancy, Passive Tree, Bandits, and Pantheons
- Path of the Templar
The Scion Ascendant is chosen for this build, and outperforms anything else thanks to how much The Whispering Ice builds benefit from additional skill points, and the attribute bonuses from the ascendancy itself. This choice of ascendancy notables provides the best pathing of any option, and will generally improve the build’s performance by a larger margin than any other ascendancy choice can. In total, these choices provide 5 passive skill points, 16% elemental penetration, an additional golem, higher uptime on on consecrated ground, reflect immunity, and a 10% increased damage taken modifier to nearby enemies.
Obviously, the above skill tree only has 114 points allocated, rather than the 118 required to bring it up to level 90. This is the same reason that it takes Avatar of Fire: Glorious Vanity. When sacrificed in the name of Doryani, it offers the “Corrupted Soul” keystone, which is a massive boost to this build’s regeneration. Because this is being placed in the jewel socket behind the elemental damage nodes, in the top left of the tree, what your skill tree looks like will be different from anybody else’s. Be on the lookout for useful notables like Commanding Presence (increased aura effect) Revitalising Frost (cold damage and cold damage leeched as life) and Ritual of Stillness (cold damage and cold damage penetration). These notables are particularly potent on the 30-point stat nodes “Alacrity” and “Physique,” as they only take one point to access. If you cannot find any useful notables in range, or have leftover points, simply pick up additional life nodes until transitioning to the level 100 tree.
This tree picks up an additional jewel socket, and a bit more damage and life. At this point, most of your damage will be coming from improving your jewels, including your Glorious Vanity, so keep an eye out for great seeds or powerful rare jewels.
As a non-crit build, the default recommendation for this build is to simply kill all bandits. While elemental resistances are nice, even 2 traveling intelligence nodes are more powerful than anything that Alira, Kraityn, or Oak offer.
The default major god recommendation for this build is the Soul of Lunaris. It offers a bit of movement speed and physical damage reduction while clearing, and the Ambrius, Legion Slayer bonus allows you to avoid chained projectiles, particularly useful for if you are taking advantage of Elementalist’s extra golem.
No minor god offers a particularly necessary bonus for this build, so you are able to freely choose between any. Soul of Shakari offers immunity to poison and reduced damage taken from caustic ground – very useful benefits while delving. Soul of Ryslatha’s automatic flask regeneration can be quite useful in prolonged boss fights, or in the Labyrinth, so keep in mind what content you’re dealing with when choosing.
For all the gem links we provide below, keep in mind that we list the gems in order of priority, 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. 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.
Because it is granted by the The Whispering Ice unique staff, the links for this skill do not actually need to be linked, with the exception of Cyclone with Cast while Channelling Support. This means that there is no need to link the supports, and you only need a six socket item with two links. The recommended order of support gems is as follows:
- Cast while Channelling Support
- Spell Cascade Support/ Concentrated Effect Support
- Elemental Focus Support
- Controlled Destruction Support
- Hypothermia Support/ Cold Penetration Support
Spell Cascade Support is what’s recommended for most content, with Concentrated Effect Support coming in on sturdier bosses. The choice of Hypothermia Support and Cold Penetration Support is dependent on how much other penetration you have. With a Watcher's Eye with penetration while affected by Hatred, it is recommended you use Hypothermia Support, but before then, Cold Penetration Support offers higher boss DPS.
Several aura setups can work admirably on this build, but the recommended setup is to use Zealotry and Hatred linked with Enlighten Support at level 3. This will leave just enough mana to channel Cyclone and cast Flame Dash, as well as golems and Frost Bomb, if you choose to self-cast them. If you do not have the currency for a leveled Enlighten Support, simply take the mana reservation reduction cluster with Sovereignty. This is doable within the level 90 tree, without losing any important points.
Another viable option, especially before you can acquire a good Watcher's Eye, is to use Herald of Ice, alongside dual curses, supported with Blasphemy Support. If you take this approach, it is recommended that you use Frostbite, alongside a defensive curse like Temporal Chains. This will require an additional maximum curse, either from Whispers of Doom on the passive tree, or from a corrupt implicit or crafted mod on gear.
Arc is an optional inclusion in this build, mainly used to shock enemies and take advantage of Ascendant – Elementalist’s 10% guaranteed shocks. Arc can shock a decent area of the screen, and this is particularly helpful on bosses. The choice of Arc is for its base shock chance, and better functional area than Shock Nova. The recommended links for Arc are as follows:
- Arc (level 8)
- Cast when Damage Taken Support (level 1)
- Elemental Proliferation Support
- Innervate Support
This provides a 60% shock chance with a 20% quality Arc, and proliferates shocks to other nearby targets. While not needed, this is a helpful boost in DPS, especially on single targets.
Summon Stone Golem and Summon Flame Golem are the recommended golems for this build. Increased damage and life regeneration are simple more useful than anything else another golem can offer. These can be linked with Cast when Damage Taken Support to automate them, or simply manually cast.
Offensive Support Skills
The primary offensive support skills that this build takes advantage of are Frost Bomb and Vaal Righteous Fire. Frost Bomb applies cold exposure to enemies in its radius, reducing their cold resistance by 25%. This can be taken advantage of via manual casting, or linked with a Cast when Damage Taken Support to automate it. Vaal Righteous Fire provides a massive temporary boost to spell damage, at the cost of a chunk of your life and energy shield. It should be noted that, while Mask of the Stitched Demon makes it so you cannot gain Energy Shield, it is still there, so Vaal Righteous Fire will remove a larger amount of life than normal. Keep this in mind and activate it only when doing so will not put you in serious danger, and try to align it with life flasks to keep the danger window smaller. Vaal Righteous Fire should be linked with Increased Duration Support, allowing for a nearly ten second long window of boosted damage.
Defensive Support Skills
Any of the guard skills are functional on this build, but the default recommendation is Immortal Call. With a high base life pool and difficulties acquiring armour on gear, Immortal Call is capable of mitigating more damage than either Steelskin or Molten Shell, and its main drawback, a short duration, is mitigated by being doubled, thanks to skill effect duration on the tree and a linked Increased Duration Support. Immortal Call can be linked with Cast when Damage Taken Support or cast manually, but keep in mind your limited number of active skill slots.
When it comes to avoiding attacks, Flame Dash is recommended as the movement skill for this build, thanks to being instant-cast after the 3.7 movement skill rework. It can be linked with Arcane Surge Support, especially if you do not have a Watcher's Eye with an arcane surge modifier.
Finally, a curse can be used to help mitigate damage. If you choose to use one, it is recommended that you use Temporal Chains or Enfeeble, linked with Cast when Damage Taken Support, to automate its casting. You will likely have to choose between this and another setup on the build, and it will not work if you acquire Elemental Weakness on hit vaal implicit on gloves.
As an intelligence-scaling build, gear provides both offenses and defense in every single slot. 50 intelligence, easily acquired on nearly ever gear slot, becomes as much as 75 intelligence, depending on rolls on your gear, and that provides 37 flat life, 7 to 21 base damage to Icestorm, and 5% increased damage if you have the recommended rare amulet modifier. With only a few uniques, it should be easy to meet resistance requirements on your gear, and have plenty of room for intelligence and flat life in every slot. Keep in mind that it is largely not worth using any items without flat intelligence on them.
The weapon is, non-negotiably, The Whispering Ice. Make sure to get one with 18% increased intelligence. The Whispering Ice is common enough that you should have little trouble finding one, even without trading, thanks to how often The Incantation drops. If you want to farm one for yourself, Burial Chambers Map drops them like candy, and you should be able to find a perfect one in a few maps.
This build makes use of the unique Mask of the Stitched Demon, for its unique affixes “ maximum life, putting even Kaom's Heart to shame, and upwards of 10% life regenerated per second, depending on rolls on your other gear. It removes your Energy Shield as a defensive barrier, but with 7000+ life and 1000+ life regenerated per second, this is not as much of a drawback as it seems at first glance. The only stat with a roll range that matters on this helmet is intelligence, so aim as high as you can for this, though be sure you are not overpaying.
While this build does not have any required helmet enchantments, if you want to keep an eye out for one, “Arc has a +30% chance to shock,” “Hatred has reduced mana reservation,” or “Zealotry has reduced mana reservation” offer helpful benefits to the build, and any golem buff effect enchantment is quite nice.
The last important unique item on the build, Cyclopean Coil, rolls up to 15% increased all attributes. This alone is more than enough to cement the belt as the best in slot choice for almost any stat stacking build. It also provides other helpful benefits, such as elemental status ailment immunity (though not to freeze) and 1% increased damage per 5 of your lowest attribute. Look for as high an increased attribute roll as possible, and keep an eye out for helpful implicits, most notably “% increased intelligence”, when looking to min-max in endgame.
The amulet on this build is one of the most important DPS slots on this build. The addition of the “1% increased damage per 15 intelligence” shaper mod has taken the crown from Astramentis for stat-stacking builds, and they are often fairly cheap to acquire. Outside of this, a shaper amulet can provide leech, life, and flat intelligence of its own. The best base is Lapis Amulet, for its high flat intelligence, but any base that provides intelligence is perfectly usable. The recommended mod priority for rare amulets is as follows:
- 1% increased damage per 15 intelligence (shaper mod – if this cannot be acquired, use Astramentis instead)
- High flat intelligence
- Maximum life
- Elemental resistances
- % cold damage leeched as life
Thanks to Shaper bases and Syndicate modifiers, rare body armours can provide quite a bit of damage to this build. This build does not need a 6-linked body armour, so it is easy to find a rare with several useful modifiers. While the ideal combination of rolls on body armours is rare, it is generally not expensive, as life based intelligence stacking builds are fairly niche. The mod priority for rare body armours is as follows:
- % increased intelligence (Shaper mod)
- High flat intelligence
- High maximum life roll
- Elemental resistances
- An open suffix to craft “Gain % of maximum life as extra maximum energy shield” (Syndicate mod, from unveiling body armours dropped by Gravicius)
Rings are the best spot on this build to fill in resistances, but be sure to keep in mind intelligence rolls. Additionally, a shaper ring can roll the “+8-15 life gained for each enemy hit by your spells” modifier, which is an immensely powerful recovery tool for this build. In endgame, at least one of your rings should have this modifier. The recommended mod priority rare rings is as follows:
- High flat intelligence
- Elemental resistances
- High Maximum life roll
- Life gained on hit with spells (Shaper mod, important to get on at least one ring)
Once again, the best in slot option for this build is a rare pair of boots. They can roll intelligence, life, and up to 35% movement speed, and are often one of the first pieces of gear you should look to buy. The mod priority for rare boots is as follows:
- 25%+ movement speed
- High flat intelligence
- High maximum life roll
- Elemental Resistances
Gloves typically should have similar stats to other builds. However, one variant for the build is to use unique gloves, particularly Kalisa's Grace for the intelligence and flat life, with the vaal implicit “Curse enemies with level # Elemental Weakness on hit.” This provides a lot of damage, but can make some of your other gear slots stressed for resistances. This can also be acquired on rare gloves, but they are likely to be far more expensive than on uniques. The recommended mod priority for rare gloves is as follows:
- High flat intelligence
- Elemental resistances
- High Maximum life roll
This build does not need any unique flasks to function, but there are several useful options. Assuming balanced resistances, or cold resistance higher than the other two, The Wise Oak is a powerful offensive option. It grants a bit more elemental penetration, a stat that is practically never unwelcome. Defensively, Blood of the Karui and Forbidden Taste are the best options for life flasks on this build. If your chaos resistance is capped, a zero quality Forbidden Taste has little drawback and makes the ultimate panic button, instantly restoring all of your life. Otherwise, Blood of the Karui is the recommended life flask. It provides a large boost of healing, followed by instantly capping your health if you are taking sustained damage. Other instant flasks, such as a seething Divine Life Flask, simply do not restore enough health to be very useful to a build with this much raw health.
As for utility flasks, the best option is to use an alchemist’s Quicksilver Flask of adrenaline for movement speed, and then use any combination of Sulphur Flask, Basalt Flask, Stibnite Flask, and Silver Flask. Ensure that you have the staunching, warding, and heat suffixes, to provide immunity to bleed, curses, and freeze.
Be sure to check out our Flask Crafting Guide to learn everything you need to know about how to set up your non-Unique flasks.
Jewels are a very important part of this build, as you could likely guess from the 10 jewel sockets on the level 90 passive tree. There are four recommended unique jewels, with the rest of the slots being taken by rares.
First, the Pure Talent jewel provides 25 to all attributes and 5% elemental penetration, thanks to the routing of the passive tree. This is a larger boost than most jewels are able to provide, and will help in meeting the high dexterity requirement of Hatred and Hypothermia Support.
Second, a Glorious Vanity sacrificed in the name of Doryani is recommended, to provide the Corrupted Soul keystone discussed earlier in the guide.
Third, a Brute Force Solution in the jewel socket below Scion, pathing to Soul of Steel and Bloodless provides functionally 64 intelligence, a truly massive boost.
Finally, a Watcher's Eye with Hatred and Zealotry mods will offer a lot of damage, alongside a nice boost to your maximum life. This is the least important of the jewels when starting out, but is important for scaling into the endgame. The most important modifier is “damage penetrates 10-15% cold resistance while affected by Hatred,” with any other mods simply being a bonus.
Rare jewels will make up the rest of your jewels, either 7 or 6, depending on your gear level. They provide a lot of damage and survivability. Every single jewel should have both life and intelligence on it, followed by 1 or 2 other offensive mods. The recommended mod priority for rare jewels is as follows:
- Flat intelligence AND % increased life (jewels without both are generally not worth using, and getting both is inexpensive)
- % increased spell damage while holding a staff / % increased cold damage/
- Flat dexterity and intelligence / flat strength and intelligence
- % increased area damage / % increased spell damage / % increased damage
These are searches for items with the recommended modifiers. Be sure to note that you can and should be customizing these searches to ensure that you are capping your elemental resistances.
- Boots Search
- Gloves search
- Shaper Body Armour
- Non-Shaper LGOH Ring
- Shaper Life Gain on Hit Ring
- Damage Amulet (This search is intentionally for low quality amulets, be on the lookout for open affixes in which to craft)
- 3-property jewel search
As a reminder, we have several guides to help you level up a character.
- 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.
Thanks to the level requirement of The Whispering Ice, it is easy to equip it, alongside an Astramentis at fairly low levels. It is recommended that you buy and socket the staff before leveling, and simply use the endgame skill gem setup from when you can first equip it, and play the build from level 33 to endgame. Before then, your preference between Frostbolt, Freezing Pulse, or other preferred leveling spell is perfectly acceptable to use. Prior to the Eternal Labyrinth allows you to separate the Scion and Templar starting points, simply path up to the Witch and Templar area through the Shaper node by Scion.
What map mods do you need to avoid?
Thanks to Scion – Elementalist, you only need to avoid no regen maps, as nothing else presents a problem to this build.
Why not go crit?
While crit is an appealing option, stat stacking builds are typically stretched on the tree in such a way that it is hard to actually pick up enough critical chance to make it worthwhile, and Elemental Overload offers enough damage that you do not need to play a dedicated crit setup to deal more than enough damage for all content.