Storm Brand is an entirely new skill, released for the launch of the current league, Patch 3.5 Betrayal. While all of the recently introduced Brand skills are well suited to Betrayal’s league-specific mechanics, Storm Brand is perhaps the strongest candidate among them overall. This build is a perfect choice for this league, utilizing a great “do-all” style skill that excels at clearing, boss-killing, and surviving.
+ Fantastic clear speed
+ Great boss killing potential
+ Deals with the Immortal Syndicate with ease
+ Extremely formidable defensive capabilities
+ Great league starter
+ Plenty of investments to make throughout the league
+ Accessible for all levels of player
+ Excellent “all-rounder”; great for Exiles that want one character to work on
- Not specialized for delving past depth ~600
- Utilizes traps for additional single target damage
Storm Brand is a skill that can clear extremely quickly and safely, and feels vaguely similar to a self-cast Arc build, albeit with a ton of additional advantages. For example, during early gearing progression, tougher opponents can be easily dealt with by attaching your brands before retreating to a safe distance. This style of guerrilla play is especially beneficial versus the Immortal Syndicate, some of which can be quite lethal to a mid-geared Exile first approaching Elder maps.
General mapping gameplay matches the style of other fast-clearing spells, with much of the focus being on the correct utilization of movement skills. Storm Brand itself will typically deal with all standard packs, including Rare enemies, in only a single cast. This allows for a greater focus on speed and positioning, which allows for superlative efficiency in clear and a really entertaining and “zippy” playstyle.
Passive Skill Tree
This is our recommended tree for this build. As you may notice, it has many similarities to other popular Elementalist builds, such as our Triple Herald Blade Vortex Elementalist, utilizing the newly introduced Brand notables to specialize our damage. Stacking Life, Mind Over Matter, and Phase Acrobatics grants us three primary layers of defense that even the toughest bosses will struggle to completely penetrate. While this build is not invincible, nor a “facetank the world” build, there are few enemies that can one-shot it without leaving room or time for counterplay.
If it is early in the league, or currency is tight, save some of the Jewel sockets for a last layer of icing on the cake once you are in the 90s. You will want to invest into Acrobatics fairly early on, as it greatly eases the leveling process and removes much of the potential of troublesome stun-chains.
Here are our recommended links for your final end-game build. Storm Brand is our primary skill for clearing, and should also be kept active on single targets at all times. We also use Lightning Spire Trap as a secondary skill to boost our single target damage without the need for a second 6-Link.
|Storm Brand||Elemental Focus Support||Added Lightning Damage Support||Controlled Destruction Support||Added Cold Damage Support||Hypothermia Support|
Shield Charge is our primary mobility skill, mainly due to its speed and ability to proc Fortify Support. Whirling Blades is a perfectly viable alternative, should you prefer it, but requires different gearing.
|Shield Charge||Faster Attacks Support||Fortify Support||Blood Magic Support|
Lightning Spire Trap 4-Link
This link will help bolster your single target damage immensely early on, although it is not entirely necessary once strong end-game gear is required. Since there are not a lot of other competitive options, we recommend using this link even with strong gear, as it eases the difficulty of many bosses and allows you to lay down a lot of damage in advance (Izaro, for example).
|Lightning Spire Trap||Lightning Penetration Support||Added Lightning Damage Support||Controlled Destruction Support|
This can be easily turned into a pseudo 5-Link by obtaining a pair of Shaped gloves that have the Trap and Mine Damage Support suffix. This can be further upgraded to a pseudo 6-Link by additionally obtaining the Faster Casting Support suffix, although finding a pair of gloves with both and a good Life roll can be somewhat of an investment.
This is a standard link for many builds, and can be adjusted as you see fit. Warlord's Mark and Flame Dash, for example, can be replaced with Increased Duration Support paired with a Vaal skill of your preference.
|Cast when Damage Taken Support||Immortal Call||Warlord's Mark||Flame Dash|
Flame Dash is often used in our builds that utilize either Whirling Blades or Shield Charge as the primary mobility skill, due to their severe limitations in certain environments, such as the Labyrinth along with many map tilesets (Shrine, for example).
Herald of Thunder 3-Link
Herald of Thunder is a nice damage boost, and applies curses to enemies at range, further boosting our clear speed.
|Herald of Thunder||Curse On Hit Support||Elemental Weakness|
Arcane Surge 3-Link
|Arcane Surge Support||Brand Recall||Empower Support|
Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheon
1. Shaper of Desolation
2. Beacon of Ruin
3. Pendulum of Destruction
4. Mastermind of Discord
Elementalist is the ideal Ascendancy choice for this build, as it compliments ailment builds very well and offers a significant amount of additional damage andquality of life.
The actual order of Ascendancy is not of particular importance for this build, as all four nodes offer strong but varied benefits that can be altered based on preference or available leveling gear. Having access to a Tabula Rasa early on, for example, greatly increases the effectiveness of Beacon of Ruin, due to the additional cold gems you will be using.
Shaper of Desolation is the first node we recommend taking, offering a consistent benefit through ailment application. While not a spectacular node in and of itself, it is a noticeable power increase and, more important, unlocks the way forward to Beacon of Ruin.
Beacon of Ruin is a superb Ascendancy node for our build, empowering our ailments. While this is certainly a welcome damage injection, it is also a healthy increase to our defense potential via the spreading of chill and freeze effects. The spreading of our Freeze and Shock effects, in particular, is immensely valuable.
Pendulum of Destruction grants a cycling buff, alternating between increased Area of Effect and increased Elemental Damage, both of which are consistent increases to clear speed and damage.
Mastermind of Discord grants 25% penetration on virtually all of our damage output, a very valuable addition when facing bosses, in particular. The reduced Mana reservation is a nice bonus, allowing for a larger unreserved Mana pool to act as a buffer for Mind Over Matter.
Deal With the Bandits Reward
You should kill all three bandits for the Passive Points it provides. Alira is an alternative choice, which can be extremely valuable for league-starters or solo-self found characters, mainly due to the large resistance bonuses it provides. Once end-game is achieved, and proper gear acquired, however, it is recommended to shift to the 2 Passive Points.
As with many builds, Pantheon choices are rather flexible and can be adjusted to suit the situation and personal preference.
- Soul of Arakaali is a great all around choice in Betrayal, especially when fully upgraded.
- Soul of Lunaris is a good choice for general clearing and mapping, offering a stable all-round damage intake reduction.
- Soul of Solaris remains a great choice for general bossing when fully upgraded.
- Soul of Shakari is a good all purpose choice, particularlywith the Incursion league being added as a permanent fixture. The upgrade, granting Poison immunity, is particularly good and removes a map affix from any sort of relevance entirely.
- Soul of Tukohama is a good choice for certain bosses, such as Uber Elder.
- Soul of Ralakesh is a good choice for situations where you face lethal bleeds, such as Uber Atziri.
- Soul of Gruthkul is a good choice for general mapping if you feel you need the additional Physical reduction, and well paired with Lunaris.
Gear, Jewels, and Flasks
Some example gear used by our character has been included for reference. It is by no means the best available options, however, it is more than enough to reach Level 100 or farm Uber Elder. The sum cost of all the gear for our build was approximately 180 Chaos Orbs.
Carcass Jack is our go-to Unique chest, providing everything we could need. Extra Area of Effect and Damage, Life, Resists, solid defenses, and of course, Extra Gore. This is the best overall and readily available choice for mapping, leveling, and damage. Inpulsa's Broken Heart, while seemingly a tempting option, does not offer the same damage and clearing potential, as the explosions can occasionally disrupt your brand flickering, and lacks the area of effect bonus of the Carcass Jack.
Tabula Rasa is a perfectly viable option and should be preferred over a 5L Rare or Carcass Jack, particularly if Beacon of Ruin is already unlocked. Loreweave is a consideration for certain bosses, however, it loses out on value due to the fact that Critical Strike is not a worthwhile pursuit for our build. Defensively, however, it cannot be beaten for certain environments. Loreweave is only recommended as a chest swap if you are already extremely wealthy and can afford both.
This is a very flexible slot, and can be easily flexed for whatever your build needs at the moment. Our recommended Storm Brand enchant is Storm Brand has a 18% chance to Chain an additional time, as we are already supplementing our single target damage with Lightning Spire Trap, which is what the other enchants aim to bolster. With extremely potent gear, this enchant is even comparable or superior on single target as well. This optimization is a small one, however, and any enchant will work.
It is possible to craft a helmet with fossils that has -% Lightning Resistance to nearby enemies. This is done using the Metallic Fossil, and then reforging using resonators. While this affix is quite potent, it is not necessary to begin end-game mapping and can be saved for a later upgrade. We crafted this helm ourselves for only a few chaos.
Gloves can be filled by a variety of options early on, however, our ultimate plan is to upgrade to a pair of Shaped Rares that have the Trap and Mine Damage support suffix. This allows us to drop the Trap and Mine Damage Support gem from our Lightning Spire Trap 4-Link, replacing it instead with Lightning Penetration Support.
Prioritize the stats as follows:
1. Trap and Mine Damage
3. [Uncapped] Resistances
4. Strength/Dexterity (if needed)
5. Faster Casting
A Shaped pair of gloves supported by Trap and Mine Damage and Faster Casting is the best possible upgrade, however, it should not come at the expense of all your defensive rolls if leveling and/or survival is a concern.
Boots should be used to fill in Resistances and Life. Be sure you have a strong Movement Speed roll, as it is one of the most essential stats to boosting your clear speed. A luxury option is a Shaped pair of boots supported by Decoy Totem. A Multiple Totems Support gem will be necessary within the link, however, as the Runebinder keystone applies -1 to maximum number of summoned totems.
Weapons and Shield
It is best to use a Rare sceptre in the main hand, as it allows you to use Shield Charge. Sine we are not a Critical Srtike based build, Dagger implicits are not as valuable to us as they potentially could be. The Sambar Sceptre base is the best available option for jack-of-all-trades purposes, although the Void Sceptre base is a fine alternative.
Magna Eclipsis is an excellent option that combines offense and defense. The Elemental Aegis provides a fair amount of defense against “rogue wave” style one-shots, provided they are elemental damage. It feels especially good in Betrayal, with many of the current Syndicate members dealing massive amounts of burst elemental damage. The +2 gems is also a great combination with our Brand Recall, as it benefits quite noticeably from each increased level.
A Rare shield with the following stat prioritization is also a fine choice:
- [Uncapped] Resistances
- Spell Damage
- Lightning Damage
- Mana Regeneration Rate
- Cast Speed
A Rare amulet should be used.
Prioritize the stat distribution as follows:
1. [Uncapped] Resistances
2. Lightning Damage Leeched as Life
4. Lightning Damage
5. Spell Damage
7. Dexterity/Strength (if needed)
Rare Rings should be used. Fill in whatever stats you need, such as:
- Lightning Damage
- Mana Regeneration
A Stygian Vise should be used with the following stats prioritized:
4. Lightning Damage
We recommend using Rare Jewels with the following stat priority:
1. Maximum Life
2. Lightning Damage
3. Area Damage
4. [if Uncapped] All Elemental Resistances
5. Chance to Shock
6. Maximum Mana
7. Spell Damage
Here is our recommended Flask setup, although you can change them out based on personal preference of Flasks or Prefixes/Suffixes.
- Seething Divine Life Flask of Staunching
- Chemist’s Basalt Flask of Warding
- Experimenter’s Jade Flask of Reflexes
- Catalyzed Eternal Mana Flask of Heat
- Alchemist’s Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline
Once you reach a point of gear where you find a Mana flask unnecessary, you can swap it for a Stibnite Flask instead.
Start with Freezing Pulse, which will easily take you to Level 12. If you would like to level with Storm Brand, swap over at Level 12 when it can be obtained from Nessa. Link it with Added Lightning Damage Support and Added Cold Damage Support until the recommended gems can be acquired later in Act II.
Once you reach Level 28, be sure to get Lightning Spire Trap from Maramoa after dealing with General Gravicius. This will greatly bolster your single target damage and make Normal Lab a complete pushover. Link it with Trap and Mine Damage Support, Added Lightning Damage Support, and Controlled Destruction Support when possible.
This setup should carry you all the way until maps.
Can I Level with Storm Brand?
Yes, absolutely. Storm Brand feels quite comfortable while leveling, even if it is not the absolute best leveling skill out there. As long as you have a second link for Lightning Spire Trap, you should have little trouble with any bosses all the way until mapping.
How Should I Play in Maps?
Create a few Storm Brands, then Shield Charge around the map, slamming Brand Recall as often as possible. Ensure you have good flask uptime, and you should feel quite tanky with the Fortify Support buff active, even in minimal gear.
How is This Build in Delves?
This build delves quite comfortably, although the maximum depth is quite variable based on gear. So far, the deepest we have experienced is around depth 600.
About the Author
Furty has been playing Path of Exile since the release of the Onslaught League in 2013, and has a deep and diverse well of experience within the game. Equally comfortable playing on Hardcore, Softcore, and Solo-Self Found Leagues, Furty finished the Betrayal League at Rank 186 on the ladder playing Elemental Hit. You can follow him on Twitter, or check out his occasional streams on Twitch.