Storm Brand released in Patch 3.5 Betrayal, and has already become one of the most popular and all-round powerful in the game, as well as one of the best skills for leveling and league-starting. While it did receive a few small tweaks in Patch 3.6 Synthesis, which hurts the clear of the build a little bit early on, though it remains quite good overall relative to other builds. Shifting the build to a more Critical Strike based version gives more punch and feels a little smoother once you hit the proper end-game gearing phase. Overall, Storm Brand is still a very high-tier build as an all-in-one character that can function on any level of budget.
+ Great clear speed
+ Strong on most bosses (Uber Elder, Uber Atziri, Shaper)
+ Deals with the Immortal Syndicate with ease
+ Quick in Synthesis Memory Fragments
+ Good overall defenses, extremely mobile
+ 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.
Most of your clearing is done by activating several Storm Brands, then using Shield Charge to enter packs and proc Fortify Support. After charging into a pack, immediately hit Brand Recall to bring all your damage to bear. You will generally be hitting your Brand Recall nearly on cooldown, hence when Empower Support is used to further lower the recharge period. Storm Brand is only really used to “maintain” your brands, so that they are active, but is not used as the primary clearing button itself.
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.
Storm Brand and Brand Recall are our primary skills for clear, while Lightning Spire Trap is used to provide additional damage for bosses. We only run a single aura; Herald of Thunder, which is used to apply Elemental Weakness via Curse On Hit Support. Shield Charge helps us get around quickly while maintaining the Fortify Support buff.
For all the gem links we provide below, keep in mind that we list the gems in order of priority (starting from the top left, going to the right on each row of the links), 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 (with the bottom right being the last). 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.
Storm Brand 6-Link
|Storm Brand||Elemental Focus Support|
|Added Lightning Damage Support||Controlled Destruction Support|
|Added Cold Damage Support||Hypothermia 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.
Shield Charge 4-Link
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|
Cast When Damage Taken 4-Link
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|
Arcane Surge 3-Link
|Arcane Surge Support||Brand Recall|
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 and quality 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, particularly with 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. In Synthesis we will prioritize Critical Strike
Loreweave is now the best chest for damage and still provides excellent all around Defense, despite recent nerfs.
Carcass Jack is our go-to budget Unique chest, providing everything we could need. Extra Area of Effect and Damage, Life, Resists, solid defenses, and of course, Extra Gore. This is a good chest to use while getting into Maps, and look to upgrade to Loreweave once you can afford to itemize more heavily into Crit/Crit Multiplier on your Jewelry.
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.
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 Strike 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. Prioritize the stats as follows:
- % Increased Lightning Damage + # Added Lightning Damage to Spells (Incursion Prefix)
- % Critical Strike Chance for Spells
- # Added Lightning Damage to Spells (Crafted Affix, stacks with the above)
- % Increased Attack Speed
- % Increased Spell Damage
% Non Chaos Damage as Extra Damage
- % Increased Cast Speed
- Gain % Non-Chaos Damage as Extra Chaos Damage
- % Increased Mana Regeneration Rate
- # to Maximum Mana
The first two stats together are more than enough to create a potent weapon, and the rest can be crafted using the bench. Such weapons are usually very cheap early in the league, and can be purchased for a fraction of an Exalted Orb.
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:
- Lightning Damage
We recommend using Rare Jewels with the following stat priority:
- % Increased Maximum Life
- % to Critical Multiplier with Lightning Skills
- % Critical Strike Chance with Lightning Skills
- % Increased Lightning Damage
- % Increased Area Damage
- [if Uncapped] All Elemental Resistances
- Chance to Shock
- Maximum Mana
- 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
- The Wise Oak
- Experimenter’s Diamond Flask of Warding
- Chemist’s Silver Flask of Heat
- Alchemist’s Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline
Early on, you may want to swap out the Silver Flask for an Eternal Mana Flask.
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.
We recommend starting with Freezing Pulse, which works well with Lifesprig if you have one. Once you are Level 12, and enter the Cavern of Wrath, pick up Storm Brand from Nessa and start using it as your main clearing skill.
In order of priority, the Storm Brand links are:
|Storm Brand||Elemental Focus Support||Added Lightning Damage Support||Controlled Destruction Support||Added Cold Damage Support||Hypothermia Support|
If you are using a Tabula Rasa, simply fill in the other gem sockets with whatever supports are available from the vendors until you reach Act II and Act III for the other gems.
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. This should replace your Blade Vortex link:
|Lightning Spire Trap||Added Lightning Damage Support||Controlled Destruction Support||Trap and Mine Damage Support|
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.