Champion saw a number of changes heading into Ritual league, most of them seemingly nerfs, at least to the more popular playstyles for the ascendancy. A loss of attack damage on one ascendancy node, the cutting of an impale stack on another – but alongside these nerfs came buffs that are fairly potent if you can take advantage of them. Fortify effect was shoved into some of the small traveling points (10% worth) and the loss of attack damage was compensated for with extra attack speed. That, along with the massive buffs to Ballista Totem Support are what this build sets out to take advantage of, since every single nerf to the ascendancy is completely irrelevant to this character, and each and every buff is pretty darn helpful. Briefly, this build is a twist on both typical champion setups and typical Toxic Rain setups, using the tankiness of champion (and the synergy it has with totems) to push massive survivability, while using the scalability of Toxic Rain and buffed ballistae to solve both single-target and clear.
This character actually makes use of Toxic Rain twice over, with a five or six link setup for it socketed both in the body armor and the bow. In the body armor is a self-attack Toxic Rain setup, linked with damage supports and a Mirage Archer Support that is used to clear trash, while in the bow is a Toxic Rain linked up with damage supports and Ballista Totem Support which is ready to be dropped in a moment if anything puts up more of a fight. The extremely rapid placement speed of Ballistae with even just a bit of placement speed scaling on the tree means that despite some of your damage being bound up in the totems, you still get comfortable clear (thanks mostly to the self-attack) while also getting to overpower bosses with a rain of toxic vines from yourself alongside 5 totems worth of supporting fire.
Pros and Cons
+ Easy Leaguestart
+ Scales well
+ Very tanky
+ Blasts Rituals
– Single-target relies on Totems
– Relies on gear to truly solve sustain
Map Mods to be Avoided
This character can run the majority of map mods, with the only truly impossible mod being Players cannot regenerate life or mana – as this shuts off our ability to place totems. As always though, be cautious when running maps with too many damage mods compounding, as this can be quite dangerous.
As mentioned earlier, this build uses Toxic Rain twice over, once in a six-linked bow and again in a six-linked body armor. The Toxic Rain in the bow, which has the benefit of gem level scaling to push damage, is used to push single-target damage and is supported by Ballista Totem Support. However, since Toxic Rain is already a skill with some delay on the damage (due to it being focused on damage over time) and Ballistae naturally have some delay on damage, the totems are not an excellent tool for clearspeed. As a result, it is necessary to use the second six-link afforded to the build for a ‘self-attack’ Toxic Rain setup, using Mirage Archer Support in the links to get good clearspeed to deal with swarms of trash monsters quickly. The general mapping playstyle focuses on this ‘self-attack’ setup doing most of the work, with Ballistae being available to be quickly placed if anything puts up something of a fight. Thanks to the naturally quick placement speed of ballista totems and a couple of investments on the tree into placement speed, it can easily take less than a second to have your full arsenal of five totems active and firing at anything that doesn’t immediately fall over.
Another couple of mechanics worth briefly touching on specific to the scaling of Toxic Rain are the potency of Area of Effect, Duration, and projectile count on single-target damage.
The basic behavior of a Toxic Rain shot is as follows – you fire arrows into the air which, on landing, spawn a pod which clutches at all nearby enemies with deadly vines. These vines do damage over time and vanish when the pod explodes, dealing a combination of Physical and Chaos damage with the explosion. Those vines, and the damage over time that they deal, are what we will focus on in this build. This has a few implications – firstly, we want as much damage out of a single pod as possible, which means that scaling duration in order to delay the pod’s explosion and keep the vines active gives us additional damage from each shot, translating into single target damage.
Secondly, the vines’ reach is improved with AoE scaling, meaning that we can get vines from multiple pods to grasp the same enemy if we scale enough area of effect – thus making AoE a single-target scaler. This is absolutely key to this build, as Champion does not itself scale AoE, making it supremely important to get it wherever we can. Scrounging for AoE out of the amulet slot, glove or helmet crafts, and fitting in Flesh and Stone to use the new Versatile Stance cluster below duelist that grants AoE in sand stance is quite important.
Passive Skill Tree, PoB, and Gem Links
I’ve also provided a “visual tutorial” (below) on how to swap between different passive trees within Path of Building, so you can check out the various leveling trees for the build. The gear provided in the PoB should match the options provided on our gear page, but please, feel free to mess around with options and try swapping in some of your own ideas. Play with the build and see what works, that’s the advantage of a simulator.
The configuration should already be set for having five overlapping pods on your enemy, which is what this build can achieve with all the pieces together. If you want to see damage numbers before having all the AoE in place, set the configuration to having four overlapping pods instead. This option is only available in the community fork version of path of building, linked just above.
Use this drop-down menu to access different variants of the passive tree depending on what you’re after.
Select the tree you’re interested in!
If you’d prefer to use POEPlanner to glance at a passive tree, this is the endgame version
Do keep in mind that POEPlanner does not have support for anoints – this version of the passive tree would need to anoint Hired Killer. Once you have the endgame chestpiece detailed on our gear page, you’ll want to change this anoint over to Watchtowers, which will save a considerable number of points. Doing so allows you to pick up the Versatile Stance cluster and reach the AoE breakpoint needed to overlap five pods, which is quite a DPS boost. For more information on the tree, and leveling skill trees, check out the Passive Tree page for the build (and the Path of Building link posted above).
You can find more information about the passive skill tree as well as the recommended Gem Links on our dedicated page.
The build’s itemization is covered in depth on the gear page. If you just want a quick cheat sheet to look over though, I suggest glancing through this image gallery which has references for low budget, big budget, and massive budget versions of gear in each item slot.
This passive tree is an example of a good leveling tree for this build.
Very early on, out the gate of Act 1, I would suggest using Caustic Arrow linked to Pierce Support and eventually either Mirage Archer Support or Volley Support – I prefer volley, but both are perfectly reasonable. On a four link, consider both until you get access to Vicious Projectiles Support in act 2 and swap Volley Support out for that. Also in act one, pick up a couple of Iron Ring and as well rolled a Rustic Sash as you can find. Also, if you have access to really low level essences of contempt, those are great to throw at an iron ring or a bow to get started. As usual, Wanderlust, Goldrim and Karui Ward are all great leveling tools, if you got em.
For your bow, anything with +1 level of socketed bow gems is ideal (provided you can 4-link it and get your main gems in there) and even just a +1 gems 4-link ought to carry you through the story. A Silverbranch is great for this, and Silverbough can even pull you into early maps. I’d suggest swapping to Toxic Rain and off of Caustic Arrow around early act 3 at the earliest but ideally not until around act 4. You should, however, dedicate at least a 3-link to Toxic Rain ballistae as early as end of act 2, though, with Toxic Rain linked to Vicious Projectiles Support and Ballista Totem Support. Eventually, once you’ve got the 4-link for it, throw in Void Manipulation Support.
When you do swap off of Caustic Arrow and begin clearing with Toxic Rain as well as using the ballistae, you’ll want to use Mirage Archer Support, Vicious Projectiles Support and Void Manipulation Support. If you’re leveling with a six link due to a Tabula Rasa, throw in Efficacy Support and Swift Affliction Support as well, in that order of priority.
For auras, I would suggest using a Summon Skitterbots and Flesh and Stone as you get access to them, as well as a Vitality partially leveled, to help keep you topped up. If regen allows, also consider using a Blood Rage for frenzy charge gen and some extra attack speed – Vitality is very good for enabling this. Steelskin on your left mouse button is a great brainless defensive layer for leveling as well, though I do prefer it in a Cast when Damage Taken Support setup for the endgame.
The tree you ought to have by early mapping should look something like this
If you have any other questions about leveling or the build in general, feel free to ask, either here or on my stream !