The Vortex & Creeping Frost Occultist Build Guide (PoE Harvest 3.11)

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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:

Introduction

With the launch of 3.5 Betrayal league, skills like Vortex Vortex and Creeping Frost Creeping Frost got a huge damage buffs. There also has been an indirect buff to such cold damage over time skills, and this is indeed the introduction of Cold damage over time multiplier stat. The Occultist ascendancy class also had some additions that complement cold damage over time themed builds, Void Beacon and Frigid Wake both improve the damage potential, along with bringing a lot of quality of life with the Chill and Freeze immunity.

When properly geared, the Vortex and Creeping Frost Occultist can easily achieve over 12k Energy Shield. Being very tanky is kind of mandatory when it comes to endgame in the Betrayal league, considering how hard some syndicate members hit. Your main damage source is Vortex, which has the potential to kill tough targets like The Minotaur in less than a minute. Creeping Frost Creeping Frost can be used in sticky situations in order to nuke enemies from a far. The build also utilizes strong curses in order to weaken the enemy even more.

Build Summary

The Vortex Vortex and Creeping Frost Creeping Frost Occultist can be very expensive when it comes to perfect endgame items, but can also be played on a budget. Before transitioning to Chaos Inoculation you can easily play hybrid up until level 70-75. The flat Energy Shield from both Wicked Ward and Vile Bastion will help a lot in the transition. With very little investment you can reach more than 7k Energy Shield by level 70. Some of the more expensive items when it comes to endgame are definitely the weapon and a well rolled Vaal Regalia.

Pros & Cons

Pros

+ Hardcore viable
+ Very versatile, can do most map mods
+ Can be started on a budget

Cons

- You have to spend a lot of currency to reach full endgame potential
- Damage over time build play style might not appeal to some players

Playstyle

The Vortex Vortex and Creeping Frost Creeping Frost Occultist has a different play style than most caster builds you have played. Your main goal is to get close to enemies and drop down a Vortex that will obliterate enemies shortly after. Utilizing Phasing, which removes unit collision, allows you to run through packs of monsters and drop a Vortex in the middle of a pack.

Offensively, Phase Run Phase Run will give you the needed Phasing in order to pass through enemies, the additional movement speed it provides is also very useful, considering you mainly depend on running around when it comes to mobility. Running in a pack of monsters and casting Vortex is the core of the play style of this build. Use Creeping Frost Creeping Frost to improve single target damage and clear from a far when needed. Elemental Equilibrium can be utilized by using Storm Brand Storm Brand and Orb of Storms Orb of Storms. Frost Bomb Frost Bomb can be used to reduce enemies’ cold resistances even further.

Defensively, the huge Energy Shield pool and the great amount of sustain you have by being an Occultist makes you very hard to kill. Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support and Immortal Call Immortal Call will prevent the occasional dangerous moments when killing porcupines. The build can run both Enfeeble Enfeeble and Temporal Chains Temporal Chains in order to make enemies very slow and reduce their damage done. Vigilant Strike Vigilant Strike with its threshold jewel is a great way of having Fortify effect all the time.

Passive tree

Here is an example of the endgame passive skill tree.

For more information, be sure to check out the passive skill tree page.

Passive 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, Bandits, Pantheons Page

Gems

We go over all of the gem links this build uses in the end-game on our Gem Link page.

Gem Link Page

Gear Summary / TL;DR

These items provide a good balance between offense and defense and are enough to deal with the endgame, although there is definitely a room for improvement. Please ensure you read the Gear, Jewels and Flasks page in its entirety.

Gear Page

Our recommendation:

Item Slot Item Name
Head Rare Helmet
Amulet Solstice Vigil Solstice Vigil
Chest Rare Vaal Regalia Vaal Regalia
Gloves Rare Gloves
Boots Rare Boots
Belt Rare Crystal Belt Crystal Belt
Rings Rare Rings
Weapon Rare Sceptre
Shield Rare Shield

Leveling

As a reminder, we have several guides to help you level up a character.

Leveling the Vortex Vortex and Creeping Frost Creeping Frost Occultist should be fairly easy. You can start using the skills as soon as you get them, they have enough damage to carry you through game’s leveling content. As long as you have good movement speed Vortex feels great while leveling since it is an instant cast and you can just run to next zone while dropping vortexes in order to kill enemies that follow you. You should play with a hybrid life pool until you are ready to spec into Chaos Inoculation. While leveling you should pick up some life nodes on the passive skill tree, which you will respec later on.

Leveling trees

Here is an early version of the passive skill tree prior to transitioning to Chaos Inoculation.

Useful Leveling Unique Items

As you begin a new character there are few unique items that can boost your power exponentially. Tabula Rasa Tabula Rasa allows you to have a 6-Linked skill as early as you get the gems. Wanderlust Wanderlust gives a decent movement speed, which will make your leveling that much more efficient. Goldrim Goldrim provides a lot of elemental resistances, this will let you worry less about gearing when approaching certain Act encounters. Lifesprig Lifesprig will help out with the damage output early on.

Gem Progression

Using Tabula Rasa Tabula Rasa will allow you to have 6-Link gem setups early on, which is why we show such examples below. If you cannot get Tabula Rasa (or another item with a 6-Link), then simply prioritize the first gems in each link provided below.

In order to acquire gems that are not available to your class as a quest reward, simply ask a friend to buy them off vendors for you, or buy them yourself from Sioasa in The Library in Act III Library.

From level 1, you should use the following link.

  1. Freezing Pulse Freezing Pulse
  2. Onslaught Support Onslaught Support
  3. Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support

At level 10, you are able to add Flame Dash Flame Dash, which will help with your mobility.

At level 12, you should pick up Creeping Frost Creeping Frost in order to level up the gem while you are progressing.

By level 18 your your Freezing Pulse Freezing Pulse link should look like this:

  1. Freezing Pulse Freezing Pulse
  2. Onslaught Support Onslaught Support
  3. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  4. Added Cold Damage Support Added Cold Damage Support
  5. Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support
  6. Faster Casting Support Faster Casting Support

At level 24 you can pick up Discipline Discipline for additional defense.

At level 28 you can pick up Vortex Vortex, which will replace your Freezing Pulse Freezing Pulse. Use the following link:

  1. Vortex Vortex
  2. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  3. Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support

At level 31 you are ready to use all the needed support gems for maximum damage output.

  1. Vortex Vortex
  2. Hypothermia Support Hypothermia Support
  3. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  4. Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support
  5. Efficacy Support Efficacy Support
  6. Swift Affliction Support Swift Affliction Support

Level 38 allows you to get Bonechill Support Bonechill Support, which will let you run the optimal gem setup for Creeping Frost Creeping Frost.

  1. Creeping Frost Creeping Frost
  2. Hypothermia Support Hypothermia Support
  3. Bonechill Support Bonechill Support
  4. Efficacy Support Efficacy Support

FAQ

When Should I go CI and How Much Energy Shield Should I Have at That Point?

If you have decent gear you can go Chaos Inoculation as early as level 60-70. Consider that you should have Wicked Ward and Vile Bastion if you want to do that first. You should also be using Dream Fragments Dream Fragments until you ascend into Frigid Wake. With decent gear you should easily achieve 7-8k Energy Shield at the very least.

What anoint to go for?

Void Barrier and Anointed Flesh are both great notables to go for.

Conclusion

The Vortex Vortex and Creeping Frost Creeping Frost Occultist is one of the safest builds to play at the moment – partially due to its high end damage potential, as well as its powerful disabling skills. With ample debilitating curses and Aspect of the Spider at its disposal, it hinders enemy movement considerably and renders them helpless to your Vortex onslaught.

Changelog
  •   

    Revisited and updated for Harvest 3.11. The build received a slight buff with the patch.

  •   

    Revisited and updated for Delirium 3.10. The build is expected to do very well in the new league.

  •   

    Revisited and updated for Metamorph 3.9. A very solid build for the league overall.

  •   

    Revisited and updated passive trees for Blight 3.8. Not much has changed for the build and it still remains very strong.

  •   

    Revisited and updated the build guide for Legion 3.7.

  •   

    Improved Gem, Gearing and Leveling sections.

  •   

    Updated passive trees.

  •   

    Revisited and updated for Synthesis 3.6. The recent changes to spells are buffs for the build.

  •   

    Made the playstyle section more descriptive, and improved the gearing section by providing more detailed recommendations.

  •   

    Reworked Gem Link and Gem Progression sections for improved visibility.

5
  1. Posts
    1

    Hi TS,
    Thanks for the build but can you help me putting all the gem in equipment slot. Having trouble putting all the gem provided.
    TIA

  2. Vvckd

    Moderator

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    1746

    Hello Tigasin, the only two mandatory link you need are Vortex Vortex and Cold Snap Cold Snap. Besides that you can improvise and socket gems wherever you have the sockets. You can drop things like the CWDT setup early on.

  3. Posts
    2

    Please update build and tree path as Wicked Ward is now changed and on the Passive Tree. (edit: Nvm. Must have missed it.)

    Edited by Misplaced Sapien on June 17th, 2019

  4. Posts
    2

    Though, your Vortex setup seems a bit off (my opinion). It seems that Concentrate Effect would be better in place of Elemental Focus. Elem. Focus is cancelling your Hypothermia Support’s ability to freeze. The damage you would get from Conc. Effect (35-54%) is greater than Elem. Focus (30-49%), with a small (very small, after the passives) hit to area of effect, and you wouldn’t have to sacrifice the ability to freeze from your Hypothermia (or any other skill/support that causes/aids with ailments). Just an idea.

  5. Vvckd

    Moderator

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    On 17/06/2019 at 11:26 PM, Misplaced Sapien said

    Though, your Vortex setup seems a bit off (my opinion). It seems that Concentrate Effect would be better in place of Elemental Focus. Elem. Focus is cancelling your Hypothermia Support’s ability to freeze. The damage you would get from Conc. Effect (35-54%) is greater than Elem. Focus (30-49%), with a small (very small, after the passives) hit to area of effect, and you wouldn’t have to sacrifice the ability to freeze from your Hypothermia (or any other skill/support that causes/aids with ailments). Just an idea.

    Hey Misplaced Sapien,

    The idea is good but clearing with Concentrated Effect Support Concentrated Effect Support can feel clunky at times, considering you also have to get close to targets in order to drop the Vortex Vortex too. The strong chill effect you apply in combination with the defensive curses should be enough to keep you safe. Feel free to use your setup and play that way, Path of Exile encourages improvisation and is very heavily based on personal preference.

  6. Posts
    2

    I like this build for the most part. Personally I prefer to use Frostbolt in combination with a Frozen Trail jewel to drop a line of Vortex for clearing instead of charging into a pack…but to each their own. I have been playing with the build for Legion and it is performing well.

  7. Posts
    2

    I’d recommend a Shavronne's Pace Shavronne's Pace for poor people on a league start. With the build’s focus on energy shield, its a solid 35% movement speed that can last until an end game option is available. I was able to CI at 41 with a ranged version of this build mostly due to using them.

    Edited by Arcelis on July 6th, 2019

  8. Vvckd

    Moderator

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    1746

    On 06/07/2019 at 4:14 AM, Arcelis said

    I’d recommend a Shavronne's Pace Shavronne's Pace for poor people on a league start. With the build’s focus on energy shield, its a solid 35% movement speed that can last until an end game option is available. I was able to CI at 41 with a ranged version of this build mostly due to using them.

    That is a good recommendation, thanks Arcelis!

  9. Posts
    1

    This build is good but I just want to ask what gems should i max and what gems should I not

  10. Posts
    8

    i was wondering why we are speccing into stuff like life and such while leveling and only switching to proper energy shield once we hit endgame or atleast maps and that stuff instead of leveling with it and just waiting with chaos inoculation ?

    when i leveled my energy shield necro i did so from the begining and did not feel unsafe at any point ?

  11. Vvckd

    Moderator

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    1746

    On 21/09/2019 at 6:53 PM, poextreme said

    i was wondering why we are speccing into stuff like life and such while leveling and only switching to proper energy shield once we hit endgame or atleast maps and that stuff instead of leveling with it and just waiting with chaos inoculation ?

    when i leveled my energy shield necro i did so from the begining and did not feel unsafe at any point ?

    Hey, you can definitely do that if you are feeling comfortable. I find it a bad idea especially for newer players (and Hardcore players) to run around at 1-1,5k Life while levelling because it is harder to rely on this amount of Life and you might die to some source of Chaos damage. You can definitely save up some regret points if you know the game well.

  12. Posts
    1

    Both the Vortex and the Cold Snap have damage that is classified as a “Hit”, will the elemental equilibrum not work against us?

  13. Vvckd

    Moderator

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    1746

    On 09/10/2019 at 2:19 PM, Furai29 said

    Both the Vortex and the Cold Snap have damage that is classified as a “Hit”, will the elemental equilibrum not work against us?

    Hey, it does but enemies are weakened before and after the Cold Hit is applied, therefore enemies will be weak against Cold damage any ways. Both Storm Brand Storm Brand and Orb of Storms Orb of Storms (whichever you choose to use) Hit very frequently.

  14. Posts
    1

    want to ask something can i use The Beast Fur Shawl Vaal Regalia as Body Armour ? its cheaper and i have 40 % spell damage

    Edited by moneday on October 21st, 2019

  15. Vvckd

    Moderator

    Posts
    1746

    On 21/10/2019 at 5:33 PM, moneday said

    want to ask something can i use The Beast Fur Shawl Vaal Regalia as Body Armour ? its cheaper and i have 40 % spell damage

    Hey, you definitely can!

  16. Posts
    7

    HI i have a recommendation about end game skill tree, that is changing the 4 points from Written in blood and add them to insightfullness since we go CI life nodes are quite not useful for us

    www.poeurl.com/cBY2

    Edited by PhillCR on November 3rd, 2019

  17. Posts
    1

    Hi there,
    This is my first league so don’t have a great understanding on the different mods for mapping. It would be great to know which mods i need to avoid while mapping, because i find i’m either a complete tank or die almost instantly and lose all my exp. Shield is over 7.5K and have a huge dps over time.

    Any help would be hugely appreciated

    thanks

  18. Vvckd

    Moderator

    Posts
    1746

    On 17/11/2019 at 3:57 PM, boshjurks said

    Hi there,
    This is my first league so don’t have a great understanding on the different mods for mapping. It would be great to know which mods i need to avoid while mapping, because i find i’m either a complete tank or die almost instantly and lose all my exp. Shield is over 7.5K and have a huge dps over time.

    Any help would be hugely appreciated

    thanks

    Hey, the build is versatile and can do most mods in general. There are some nasty combination of map mods that can get you killed easily though. For example, make sure you are Elemental Weakness capped when running such maps (you should have 105% resistance to all elements in order to not go below 75% when running such maps). -% Max resistance is also pretty scary, the Crit mod can also be very deadly. You should also skip Elemental Reflect. You will get better with understanding the game more as you become more experienced of course, let me know if you need more detailed explanation of certain game mechanics, I’d be glad to help.

  19. Posts
    1

    Where do we slot in The Vigil unique jewel so we get the 40 strength in radius? I couldn’t see a spot in the final passive tree that meets this requirement.

  20. Vvckd

    Moderator

    Posts
    1746

    On 18/12/2019 at 4:28 AM, LEGOBobaFett said

    Where do we slot in The Vigil unique jewel so we get the 40 strength in radius? I couldn’t see a spot in the final passive tree that meets this requirement.

    Hey, for that spend 3 points for the Jewel socket south from Faith and Steel.

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