Starter-Friendly Storm Brand Assassin Build Guide (PoE Ritual 3.13)

TbXie

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About the Author

TbXie has been playing Path of Exile since the release of Open Beta, playing a variety of leagues in which he has played Hard- and Softcore, Standard, and Solo-Self Found. He has a background in racing, winning Demigods in the early race seasons as well as finishing high up in recent Flashback ladders, such as Rank 1 Guardian (9th Overall), Rank 2 Berserker. He has experience playing solo and both in push and MF groups, while being notorious for his WorldFirst Delve 6000 with his team & farming multiple Mirror of Kalandra Mirror of Kalandras every league. You can follow him on Twitch and Twitter or ask him your questions in the PoE Vault Discord.

The Demigod winning characters

Ritual League Update

As per Ritual League, a lot of Ascendancies got completely overhauled / changed. Assassin was no exception and it got hit rather “severely” according to people, but objectively is completely fine! It lost a “lot” of Movement Speed modifiers, but effectively didn’t lose more than 10-15% total Movement Speed. Other than that, it lost a tiny bit of Damage Reduction through Elusive, but in return got back more Elusive Effect. What that effectively comes down to is that you’re more tanky whenever Elusive is at high effectiveness and become more squishy when your Elusive is at its lowest and is about to refresh. Honestly, no-one has ever played around its Elusive uptime and therefore I’d say that it is a slight nerf not to have the 8% damage reduction straight up, but it was a warranted nerf!

Damage-wise Storm Brand Storm Brand didn’t change whatsoever and still remains incredibly potent to both kill bosses and clear maps. It most likely has a lot more potential to reach its end game gear due to Harvest. Removing affixes to be able to craft stuff such as Minimum Frenzy Charges, or getting a Power Charge on a Helmet and even getting a higher amount of Life on certain pieces is just a lot more convenient when you have controlled options to remove & add affixes through Harvest.

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:

Gear, Jewel & Flask Page

Passive Skill Tree & Gem Link Page

Ascendancy, Bandit & Pantheon Power Page

Introduction

Storm Brand Storm Brand has always been the king of the early game. However, after people started (ab)using it with Archmage Support Archmage Support, the skill got reworked. While it no longer relies on Brand Recall Brand Recall and refreshing to feel great, through more activation speed it now feels like you’re just playing a spellcaster. While just spamming recall to drag along 5 Brands throughout a map was really nice, it honestly also was pretty overpowered. Nowadays, you’re going to have to launch a Brand per pack or every other pack. but on the upside its damage has stayed very relevant while its clear speed has gone up tremendously.

Because you’re focused on being a fast build and because of the way Brands gain their damage, going for an Assassin build seemed like a logical choice. I honestly don’t prefer writing guides from an Assassin point of view, because they usually require items that sync up very well with Power Charges. Obviously, you can take this as far as you really want by investing into stuff like Precursor's Emblem Precursor's Emblem or Badge of the Brotherhood Badge of the Brotherhood, but for Storm Brand specifically the only Power Charge interaction you’ll need is double Void Battery Void Battery. These generally are fairly affordable and after looking into Elementalist and Inquisitor, the conclusion was that Assassin is just a lot better and fulfills the builds needs a lot better.

While Assassin is notorious for playing squishy builds, I went to great lengths to try and include as much tankiness into the build as possible. I feel like most people who opt into Storm Brand generally are looking for something that is solid across the board and thus doesn’t fall flat at the tiniest of incoming damage. Through permanently freezing entire screens, incredibly damage and clear, decent chunks of Energy Shield and Health which both get replenished fairly reliably and a playstyle that is very safe as you can run around while your Brands kill everything, you reach levels of safety you wouldn’t otherwise expect from Assassins.

Build Summary

Pros and Cons

Pros

+ Really fast playstyle
+ Functions on very cheap gear
+ Very rewarding to min-max
+ Ridiculous single target & clear on relatively limited gear
+ Fairly safe for a build of its magnitude damage & clear-wise

Cons

To get brands to feel amazing you need Cluster Jewels
Assassin is fairly squishy before optimizing gear
Should be played with Void Batteries which are hard to obtain in SSF

Playstyle, Mechanics & Strengths

As mentioned before, Storm Brand Storm Brand has existed for a while but got reworked after people figured out how to massively abuse its scaling and detached duration. Because GGG thought it wasn’t intended that one could run around with a single set of Brands for almost half a minute and just keeping them on their targets by spamming Brand Recall Brand Recall. Because their Detached Duration was nerfed which basically means they last a lot shorter now and thus are less often recallable, luckily it got buffed in other ways. First of all, it gained .5% base critical strike chance. Whilst this doesn’t seem that impactful it actually equates to quite a significant amount of crit chance after all multipliers kick in!

Next up, Storm Brand gained base activation speed and Swiftbrand Support Swiftbrand Support was introduced to the game. While it’s very hard to explain why and how that affected Storm Brand for the better (or at least in did so in my opinion) but the only thing you should take away from this is that Storm Brand feels more like a regular caster build where you have to cast your spell on a pack of monsters. When doing that, however, I honestly think it got better rather than worse for most applications. Obviously, the completely busted Archmage mechanics are gone and the immortal 20K HP with 50+ Million DPS Hierophants have ceased to exist.

Assassin became the next choice because Storm Brand is a skill that needs damage scaling to feel great. It only has that good feel to it whenever monsters feel like they’re made of paper. Otherwise, especially in its current iteration, with Brand duration being as short as it is, you’re going to end up casting multiple brands per pack which will feel terrible. Hence, choosing one of the best scaling Ascendancies is only expected.

The problems that brings is that Assassin doesn’t offer a clear direction of how to become reasonably tanky. Additionally it’s a right-side of the tree build which already has a lot less access to gear. Lastly, because of the location of Runebinder, which you obviously need for the build to function, as it doubles your single target DPS, going for Evasion mechanics combined with stuff like Phase Acrobatics and Wind Dancer are out of the question. The best way to counteract this is to scale as much Energy Shield on top of the Health you already pick up. This also forces you into some choices. How much Clear Speed can you really stack before feeling like you’d rather not wear certain Unique item pieces but wear their Rare counterparts instead so you can focus on Life instead?

I think the recommendations I make in this guide offer a fairly well balanced build that tries to do everything decently well. It uses the Inpulsa’s for explosions and offers you the option to make the explosions chain by themselves. Other than that, most of its items are focused around stacking as much Life and Energy Shield as possible rather than focusing on really aggressive stuff like Power Charges or Resistance reductions on Helmets. Obviously, excessive damage is never bad but then you end up in situations where you run around with a HP pool that is under 4000 which I don’t think is recommendable if you’re not incredibly experienced at the game.

Between the Elusive Effect giving you Dodge and Spell Dodge, the massive amount of Energy Shield to supplement the 5000 Life, a boosted Aspect of the Spider, clever Flask usage and certain combinations of Cluster Jewels to permanently freeze the entire screen and guarantee your Storm Brand blasts everything fast this Assassin will fill great to play and will not feel like it is overly squishy or overly annoying to play!

Passive Skill Tree

You can find an optimized Path of Building here. Every build I release will use the community fork of Path of Building, which is maintained and updated in a much more regular fashion than the original one. You can find PoB’s Fork, by LocalIdentity, here.

If you are not comfortable with Path of Building, we also have a PoePlanner for you. Do note that PoE Planner does not support Cluster Jewels and some specific unique jewels and it is highly recommended you install Path of Building to follow builds most optimally.

Passive Skill Tree 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 & Pantheon Power Page

Gems

All of the gem link choices are thoroughly explained on our Gem Link page.

Gem Link Page

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.

Gear Page

Our recommendation:

Item Slot Item Name
Head Shaped Hubris Circlet Hubris Circlet with Life – ES – Resistances & a Storm Brand Penetration Enchant
Amulet Shaped Citrine Amulet Citrine Amulet with Life – Crit Multi & Min Frenzy
Chest Inpulsa's Broken Heart Inpulsa's Broken Heart
Gloves Storm's Gift Storm's Gift
Boots Fenumus' Spinnerets Fenumus' Spinnerets
Belt Stygian Vise Stygian Vise with Life – Mana – Resistances
Rings Rare Rings with Life Conductivity on Hit – Spider – Min Frenzies
Weapon 2x Void Battery Void Battery

Leveling

Since we are very adamant about trying to give you a leveling experience that lies as close to your endgame playstyle as possible, we recommend the following setups to blast through the game with Storm Brand Storm Brand. The skill is particularly potent at leveling up so at no point should you have any issues. For more information about leveling, we refer you to the following guides:

Getting to Brutus & Merveil

For starters, create a Shadow in whichever league you want to start.
Pick up an Explosive Trap Explosive Trap from the vendor to start your journey and go to kill Hailrake and clear Mud Flats. Set up the following links after Mud Flats:

  1. Frost Bomb Frost Bomb
  2. Onslaught Support Onslaught Support
  1. Explosive Trap Explosive Trap

After killing Brutus, you will be adding an Added Lightning Damage Support Added Lightning Damage Support to your Frost Bomb.

Level 12 and Onwards Setup

From level 12, after killing Merveil, you’ll be setting up for your road to level 28. You should be breezing through content at this point as these skills are really strong while leveling.

  1. Storm Brand Storm Brand
  2. Added Lightning Damage Support Added Lightning Damage Support
  3. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  4. Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support

Questions & Support

I made it a habit to check all comments in my guides on a daily basis. Obviously, there might be occurrences where getting a reply might take longer but I really do try to get back to you as soon as possible. I prefer you making remarks, suggestions or asking questions that way as it allows others to read through the comments, providing them with a potential answer to their question, without having to wait for me again. If I have somehow missed your question, you can try reaching me on our Discord.

If you for some reason enjoy my content to an extent that you’d like to support me & my work, I have a Patreon setup at http://patreon.com/TbXie. At no point should you feel pressured to participate but whenever you do, your support means more to me than you will ever imagine.

FAQ

What Anointment is Required / Preferred?

I prefer anointing Heart of Thunder over anything else as it offers you not only pretty solid DPS but some much needed Leech and Penetration. Since that’s a decent chunk of utility and it’s not too far behind the best anoints anyhow, I think it definitely is the pick!

What Map Modifiers are to be Avoided?

No regeneration is incredibly annoying to run as you’ll have to drop a Flask for a Mana Flask if you’re not already running one. Other than that, Elemental Reflect should obviously be avoided whatsoever. Physical Reflect can be run if you have no source of Physical Damage (which you shouldn’t). This can be checked by hovering your Storm Brand tooltip.

Changelog
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    Build added.

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  1. Posts
    2

    Hi

    Newbie here, so it might be my mistake, but the Path of Building Tree and the PoePlanner tree look very different. The Path of Building tree mentions “Vaal Small Nodes,” which I don’t see on my in-game tree. There is also a red circle around the starting of the Path of Building Tree. I am using the Poe planner version right now.

  2. TbXie

    Moderator

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    462

    On 11/01/2021 at 12:21 AM, Wardog said

    Hi

    Newbie here, so it might be my mistake, but the Path of Building Tree and the PoePlanner tree look very different. The Path of Building tree mentions “Vaal Small Nodes,” which I don’t see on my in-game tree. There is also a red circle around the starting of the Path of Building Tree. I am using the Poe planner version right now.

    Always use Path of Building and take a look at the Glorious Vanity Jewel :)

  3. Posts
    2

    OK, so if I figured it out correctly, the “Glorious Vanity Jewel” replaces the nodes within the red circle with new and better ones? So if I check off the corresponding nodes before I get the Jewel, I’ll still have the right build?

  4. TbXie

    Moderator

    Posts
    462

    On 11/01/2021 at 3:52 AM, Wardog said

    OK, so if I figured it out correctly, the “Glorious Vanity Jewel” replaces the nodes within the red circle with new and better ones? So if I check off the corresponding nodes before I get the Jewel, I’ll still have the right build?

    Not entirely. The Glorious Vanity gives you an extra, special notable so you wouldnt take the keystone that is allocated in pob unless u had the glorious
  5. Posts
    1

    hello sir i use Pob but i checked the planner link and its on trickster instead of assa just that u know

  6. TbXie

    Moderator

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    462

    On 13/01/2021 at 1:41 AM, AssAssasin69 said

    hello sir i use Pob but i checked the planner link and its on trickster instead of assa just that u know

    Woops! That one must have not gotten edited out from the example-skeleton I used! Fixed & Updated!

  7. Posts
    1

    Hey, I’m trying to use this build for league starting. Great stuff, easy to follow.

    I took a look at the POB though, and I was wondering if it would be better to replace one of the Remarkable nodes on the medium clusters with Holy Conquest instead. The movement speed seems pretty good, and I can’t think of an obvious downside to the target switching. What am I missing here?

  8. TbXie

    Moderator

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    462

    On 19/01/2021 at 8:51 PM, morellonomicon said

    Hey, I’m trying to use this build for league starting. Great stuff, easy to follow.

    I took a look at the POB though, and I was wondering if it would be better to replace one of the Remarkable nodes on the medium clusters with Holy Conquest instead. The movement speed seems pretty good, and I can’t think of an obvious downside to the target switching. What am I missing here?

    Storm Brand has such insane clear already that you really don’t need HQ. Feel Free to try it out though, I did not like it on Storm Brand (where as on Penance I wouldn’t ever play without it – unless ignite penance)

  9. Posts
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    Just a minor mistake in your guide, in minor gods you wrote Soul of Arakaali as your choice but I understood immediately that you meant to write Shakari because of your explanation why it is your choice

    Edited by Mickusorino on January 20th, 2021

  10. TbXie

    Moderator

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    462

    On 20/01/2021 at 1:42 PM, Mickusorino said

    Just a minor mistake in your guide, in minor gods you wrote Soul of Arakaali as your choice but I understood immediately that you meant to write Shakari because of your explanation why it is your choice

    Oh damn, that must be the case in a lot of them then, cause I love that pantheon. I’ll have to double check all of them :o

  11. Posts
    1

    Hi, I am newbie, I am trying to understand how to use your PoB, but every time I am trying to import your build, it appears error says I’m trying to load uses an unrecognized version of passive skill tree. How can I fix this?

  12. TbXie

    Moderator

    Posts
    462

    On 21/01/2021 at 9:34 AM, GinnG said

    Hi, I am newbie, I am trying to understand how to use your PoB, but every time I am trying to import your build, it appears error says I’m trying to load uses an unrecognized version of passive skill tree. How can I fix this?

    Make sure to download Path of Building from the link provided in the Passive Tree section & update it!

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