Triple Herald Blade Vortex Elementalist Build Guide (PoE Synthesis 3.6)

Furty

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Introduction

The Triple Herald Blade Vortex Elementalist has quickly become an iconic staple of the Path of Exile meta, and a fast favorite amongst exiles everywhere. Truly a capable jack-of-all-trades, this build feels comfortable in virtually all environments, whether you are blasting through a Shaper kill or disintegrating groups of enemies as you plough through maps. Perhaps most importantly, this build is a very viable League Starter and can be played to great effect in the SSF leagues. In fact, a variant of this build was the first to reach Rank 1 & 2 of the Incursion HCSSF ladder, which is a true testament to the build’s ability to excel in all environments.

Mapping

This build deals nearly exclusively Elemental damage, which stems from the Herald auras themselves as well as our Blade Vortex Blade Vortex damage, which is converted from Physical to Elemental. The high amount of Critical Chance we end up with allows us to move through maps like a blender, freezing and shattering the entire screen using Herald of Ice Herald of Ice, Herald of Ash Herald of Ash, and Herald of Thunder Herald of Thunder. A healthy amount of leech and Atziri's Promise Atziri's Promise ensure that we are always sitting at a comfortable amount of health, provided there is a target to hit.

Build Assessment

Pros

+ Very fast clear speed
+ Formidable defensive capability (7.0-9.0k EHP, able to utilize Mind over Matter and Acrobatics), powerful life leech
+ Good single target damage output, Guardians/Shaper are easily doable
+ Satisfying explosion chains
+ Immune to physical reflect

Cons

- Blade Vortex Blade Vortex mechanics can feel clunky to some players, particularly before you acquire Increased Duration nodes/enchant
- Melee build means that you actually have to do mechanics
- Certain map mods are not possible/not efficient (Elemental Reflect, Hexproof, No regen, No leech)

Playstyle

This build is very relaxing, and a ton of fun to play. Blade Vortex Blade Vortex plays similarly to Righteous Fire Righteous Fire builds, with the player dashing into packs with Shield Charge Shield Charge or Whirling Blades Whirling Blades while Blade Vortex and Herald chain shatters take care of the rest. The Triple Herald Blade Vortex Elementalist is a true all-rounder, but unlike others that fall into this category, it feels incredibly powerful in virtually all environments. This is a build for blasting through bosses and maps while satisfying explosions and colorful lights erupt all around you. Let us get started.

Skill Trees

There are a variety of ways to alter the build, depending on what league you play on, or how risk-averse you wish to play.

Classic

This version of the build excels in any environment, offering multiple layers of defense. Mind over Matter and Phase Acrobatics provide formidable reductions to incoming damage, while 186% increased maximum life offers you a nice buffer for anything that does make contact. Phase Acrobatics, or Acrobatics entirely, can be dropped depending on your personal preference and how aggressively you intend to play. Additional points after level 91 can be used to acquire Devotion for additional safety while leveling throughout the 90s, as well as an additional jewel socket.

This is our recommended “standard” build, and works for both Softcore and Hardcore, as well as both versions of SSF, respectively. This is the ideal choice if you plan on farming more difficult bosses, such as Shaper, as it offers great damage despite its formidable defensive capabilities.

Increased Duration/Quality of Life

This variant of the build is intended for players who just want to turn their brain off and farm through maps. This is also a great choice for players who find Blade Vortex to be clunky, and do not like having to spam the skill to keep your stacks active — Exceptional Performance feels amazing for both Blade Vortex Blade Vortex and Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support. Sentinel and Profane Chemistry offer some additional survivability, and the additional Resistances feel really nice, allowing you some more flexibility and economy on other pieces, such as Accessories. It still has plenty of damage output and defensive capability, even without Acrobatics, and offers great quality of life.

Acrobatics is entirely optional, but you’ll have to sacrifice some nice nodes to get it until the very late game.

Elemental Overload/Hardcore

This is a variation on the builds that reached Rank 1 and Rank 2 of the Incursion Hardcore ladder, with the main focus being on survivability and defense. Do not let yourself be deceived, however, as it can still pump plenty of damage and have you zipping through maps with little trouble. This variant utilizes Elemental Overload instead of building towards heavy Critical Strike. As with the other variants, Acrobatics is entirely personal preference, and the points could instead be allocated for additional damage and/or life.

Gems

Vaal Blade Vortex Vaal Blade Vortex is used as our main skill for all situations. We prefer the Vaal version of the skill over a Level 21 corrupted version due to the extreme burst potential and convenience. There are a lot of adjustments that can be made to the support gems in the Blade Vortex links, but we find our default recommendation to be the best choice for players that want to tackle every type of content while simultaneously having the best possible quality of life.

As the title of the guide suggests, we run three Herald auras; Herald of Ice Herald of Ice, Herald of Ash Herald of Ash, and Herald of Thunder Herald of Thunder. We also use Warlord's Mark Warlord's Mark as a curse, in two separate links, to provide us with stable and consistent leech. as well as Endurance charges, which are consumed by Immortal Call Immortal Call in our Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support setup and provide extended immunity to Physical damage. Fortify Support Fortify Support can be procured by linking it with either Whirling Blades Whirling Blades or Shield Charge Shield Charge. We also use Blood Rage Blood Rage to generate consistent Frenzy charges, and a combination of Orb of Storms Orb of Storms and Power Charge On Critical Support Power Charge On Critical Support to generate Power charges.

Overall, many of the links for this build are malleable and can be changed or adjusted to suit your preference.

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.

Vaal Blade Vortex 6-Link

This is the basic setup for our build. If you have not unlocked Beacon of Ruin yet, Added Fire Damage Support Added Fire Damage Support is likely to be a better option than Hypothermia Support Hypothermia Support. Once Beacon of Ruin is available, transition over to Hypothermia Support Hypothermia Support for the increased freezing potential and shatter chains.

Vaal Blade Vortex Vaal Blade Vortex Physical to Lightning Support Physical to Lightning Support Hypothermia Support Hypothermia Support / Added Fire Damage Support Added Fire Damage Support Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support Increased Critical Strikes Support Increased Critical Strikes Support Efficacy Support Efficacy Support

Concentrated Effect Support Concentrated Effect Support should be used in place of Efficacy Support Efficacy Support for tough bosses, as it boosts your damage considerably. Increased Critical Damage Support Increased Critical Damage Support is also an excellent choice for mapping in place of Efficacy Support Efficacy Support, but is not necessarily better depending on your gear. The skill effect duration bonus of Efficacy is a nice quality of life boost and makes the build play smoother, which is another reason why we recommend it as the go-to choice.

You can also adapt the build more towards charges as you see fit using Ice Bite Support Ice Bite Support or Power Charge On Critical Support Power Charge On Critical Support. Invest a few points into additional charges in the Witch and/or Shadow starting areas and you are good to go.

Elemental Overload Variant

Ice Bite Support Ice Bite Support can be swapped out for Added Cold Damage Support Added Cold Damage Support or Efficacy Support Efficacy Support, however, this is a loss in defensive potential. Ice Bite’s chance to freeze actually adds a fair amount survivability to your build, but the value is a bit hard to quantify and depends largely on the situation.

Vaal Blade Vortex Vaal Blade Vortex Hypothermia Support Hypothermia Support Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support Physical to Lightning Support Physical to Lightning Support Ice Bite Support Ice Bite Support Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support

Cast When Damage Taken 4-Link

The Warlord's Mark Warlord's Mark here is actually quite important, as it guarantees you will always have leech available regardless of whether or not Herald of Thunder Herald of Thunder is triggering. Feel free to adjust your CWDT gem level to a threshold that suits your comfort.

Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support (Level 12) Immortal Call Immortal Call (Level 14) Warlord's Mark Warlord's Mark (Level 14) Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support

Herald of Thunder 4-Link

This link curses all enemies with Warlord's Mark Warlord's Mark while Herald of Thunder Herald of Thunder is triggering. The Blind Support Blind Support provides additional survivability for your character, but can be swapped out as you see fit for gems such as Culling Strike Support Culling Strike Support.

Herald of Thunder Herald of Thunder Curse On Hit Support Curse On Hit Support Warlord's Mark Warlord's Mark Blind Support Blind Support

Mobility 4-Link

Blood Magic is usually necessary if you are flying through maps. If you have plenty of Mana regeneration, you could also opt to use Culling Strike Support Culling Strike Support instead, or move this link to your weapon as a 3-Link.

Whirling Blades Whirling Blades or Shield Charge Shield Charge Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support Fortify Support Fortify Support Blood Magic Support Blood Magic Support

Arcane Surge 3-Link

This setup maximizes mobility and is our default recommendation, as Whirling Blades Whirling Blades and Shield Charge Shield Charge alone both have severe limitations as your only mobility skill. Blood Rage also offers some extra damage and mobility via the movement speed from Frenzy Charges.

Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support (Level 6) Blood Rage Blood Rage Flame Dash Flame Dash

Power Charge on Critical 3-Link

If you are farming difficult bosses, such as Shaper, or are comfortable using Whirling Blades Whirling Blades as your only mobility skill, use this setup in one of your weapons instead of Flame Dash Flame Dash.

Orb of Storms Orb of Storms Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support (Level 6) Power Charge On Critical Support Power Charge On Critical Support

Heralds 3-Link

Herald of Ash Herald of Ash Herald of Ice Herald of Ice Summon Lightning Golem Summon Lightning Golem

Summon Stone Golem Summon Stone Golem can be used here as well, particularly for Hardcore players.

Alternative Herald 4-Link

This setup offers a little more damage at the cost of higher Mana reservation and noticeable drop in defensive capability.

Herald of Ice Herald of Ice Ice Bite Support Ice Bite Support Innervate Support Innervate Support Increased Critical Strikes Support Increased Critical Strikes Support

Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheon

Ascendancy

Ascendancy Information

  1. Pendulum of Destruction
  2. Mastermind of Discord
  3. Shaper of Desolation
  4. Beacon of Ruin

Additional Information

Elementalist is the ideal candidate for this build, as it offers a variety of nodes that have superb inherent synergy with skills that work off of Area of Effect and Elemental Damage.

Pendulum of Destruction is the natural first choice, granting a cycling buff that alternates between increased Area of Effect and increased Elemental Damage every 5 seconds. The Area of Effect bonus is excellent for clear speed and propagating additional Herald explosions, while the Elemental Damage further empowers all our output and boosts our single target damage as well.

Since our build uses all three elements to deal damage, as well as Herald of Ice Herald of Ice, Herald of Ash Herald of Ash, and Herald of Thunder Herald of Thunder, the Mastermind of Discord node has maximum value for us. This means that we have 25% penetration on virtually all of our damage output, which results in a massive boost in our damage capability. The reduced Mana reservation is also notable, as it allows us to run Mind Over Matter in addition to our auras. The minor nodes, offering additional Elemental Damage, Attack Speed, and Cast Speed, also add some nice damage and smoothing while you are leveling up.

Shaper of Desolation and Beacon of Ruin form a powerful combination, spreading elemental ailments to any targets you come into contact with, causing them to proliferate to nearby enemies organically. The increase in the potency of your elemental ailments is another nice perk, granting you a lot of extra damage and some survivability.

Ascendancy is quite important to this build. If you are leveling as Blade Vortex, you will want to run Normal Labyrinth as soon as you are able, as Pendulum of Destruction is very helpful. Running the Eternal Labyrinth early is important for maximizing clear speed as well, as the Beacon of Ruin node lends a very large boost to the reliability of your shatter chains via Herald of Ice Herald of Ice.

Deal with the Bandits Reward

Saving Alira is the standard choice for this build, as the Critical Strike Multiplier and Elemental Resistances are very desirable, and the Mana regeneration is a nice bonus.

Pantheon Bonus

Major Gods

  • Soul of Arakaali: Reduced damage over time is always useful, and some of the secondary bonuses can be incredibly strong in the right situations.
  • Soul of the Brine King: The elimination of stun chains can be influential, although the secondary benefits of this one are not stellar.

Minor Gods

  • Soul of Shakari: Immunity to Poison can be a huge boost to survivability, and the chaos damage/caustic cloud damage reduction is enormous in some maps.
  • Soul of Gruthkul: Useful for additional Physical damage reduction, although that is rarely an issue for this build.

Gear, Jewels, and Flasks

Armor

Chest

Inpulsa's Broken Heart Inpulsa's Broken Heart is the core item the entire build pivots around, and is a mandatory unique for the build to function properly. It offers everything we could ask for: vastly improved Shock, permanently damage buff while you are shocking enemies, and some additional maximum Life. You should swap to Inpulsa immediately when you reach level 68, if possible. If you are not able to acquire Inpulsa immediately, we recommend using Tabula Rasa Tabula Rasa or any Rare/Unique chest with good defenses, depending on what your current gear situation is.

Inpulsa

Gloves

Hrimburn Hrimburn is the other core item of the build, allowing us to become Physical reflect immune and boosting our Elemental damage. The Ignite from Cold Damage is an added bonus, particularly on single targets. The non-fated version, Hrimsorrow Hrimsorrow, is practically free and very easily obtained, even on SSF, and should be used from level 12 onwards (or whenever you start using Blade Vortex Blade Vortex). Upgrading to Hrimburn Hrimburn is only a small boost, and there is no need to prioritize it over other core pieces of gear.

Hrimburn

Finding a pair with a high Strength roll is helpful.

Helmet

Starkonja's Head Starkonja's Head is a cheap and effective option. Strong maximum Life, Critical Strike chance, high Evasion, and (perhaps most importantly) a large injection of Dexterity. Using Starkonja’s also makes it significantly easier to obtain a lab enchantment, as it is a popular item that lab runners use to fish for desirable enchants.

A Rare helmet with Dexterity, Life, and Resistances can also be used in place of Starkonja's Head Starkonja's Head, although it is likely it will cost more and be less effective.

Starkonja's Head

Recommendations for lab enchants:

  • 30% increased Blade Vortex Duration is the best choice. Highly recommended if you are playing without Exceptional Performance on your tree, or Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support in your main link, as you will definitely notice the improved quality of life.
  • 40% increased Blade Vortex Spell Damage is fine as an alternative and generally a little cheaper to obtain.

Boots

Any pair of Rare boots will do with 70+ Life, 25%+ Movement Speed, and solid Resistances. The Movement Speed is very important for this build for both clear speed and defense.

Rare Boots

Recommendations for lab enchants:

  • End Game Bossing: Damage Penetrates 10% of Enemy Elemental Resistances if you have not Killed Recently
  • Clear Speed: 16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you’ve Killed Recently
  • Budget: Adds 45 to 68 Fire Damage if you’ve Killed Recently

Weapons

Rare Daggers and Scepters

Ideal weapons should be Rare Daggers and/or Scepters. You will need at least one dagger if you plan on using Whirling Blades Whirling Blades. Look for the following stats:

  • % Increased Critical Strike Chance for Spells
  • % Increased Attack Speed
  • % Increased Spell Damage
  • Gain % of Physical Damage as Extra Elemental Damage
  • % Increased Global Critical Strike Multiplier
  • Adds # to # Elemental Damage to Spells

Here are some effective options that we obtained for an Exalted Orb Exalted Orb or less:

Shaped Dagger Shaped Sceptre

Critical Strike Chance, Spell Damage, and Increased Attack speed are the most important affixes to start with. Once you can afford to upgrade to a shaped weapon, you’ll want at least one Gain % of Physical Damage as Extra Elemental Damage affixes, and two if you are very rich or very lucky.

Dual wielding weapons results in the highest possible damage output.

Shields

Shields offer faster clear speed in most maps, and noticeably greater survivability. If you are using a shield, you should swap over to Shield Charge Shield Charge as your primary mobility skill. Using a Rare shield is recommended for most players, as the difference in damage is not significant and clear speed is advantageous. It is also more economically viable early on, as a solid shield is much cheaper than a shaped weapon. The extra resists will also give you a lot more freedom on your Accessories and other rare items. Look for the following stats on shields, in order of priority:

  1. +# to Maximum Life
  2. % Increased Spell Damage
  3. % to Elemental Resistances
  4. % Increased Lightning or Cold Damage
  5. % Increased Mana Regeneration Rate
  6. # to Maximum Mana

Additionally, Brightbeak Brightbeak offers the highest possible clear speed when paired with a shield and Shield Charge Shield Charge. This is a great option for SSF leagues, as it will likely remain your best choice for clear speed for the entire league. If you do decide to use Brightbeak, it is advised to have a weapon swap for beefy bosses, as your single target damage will be noticeably weaker.

Accessories

Amulet

For our amulet, we’ll be using a Rare in most cases. You will want to prioritize stats as follows:

  1. +# to Maximum Life
  2. % to Elemental Resistances (if you are uncapped)
  3. % Increased Global Critical Strike Chance
  4. Gain % of Physical Damage as Extra Elemental Damage
  5. % Increased Global Critical Strike Multiplier
  6. % Increased Spell Damage
  7. Adds # to # Elemental Damage to Spells
  8. % Increased Mana Regeneration Rate

Shaped Amulet

Rings

Rare Rings are generally the best choice available, offering much needed resistances and maximum life. Once you are stable defensively, start looking for Critical Strike and damage modes to fill out your build. You will want to prioritize stats as follows:

  1. +# to Maximum Life
  2. % to Elemental Resistances (if you are uncapped)
  3. % Increased Global Critical Strike Chance
  4. % Increased Global Critical Strike Multiplier
  5. % Increased Elemental Damage
  6. % Increased Spell Damage
  7. % Increased Lightning or Cold Damage
  8. % Increased Attack Speed
  9. Adds # to # Elemental Damage to Spells
  10. % Increased Mana Regeneration Rate

Ring 1 Ring 2

Curse Enemies With Level 12 Warlord’s Mark on Hit is an Elder affix that allows you to drop the Warlord's Mark Warlord's Mark gems from your gear. This may or may not be advantageous depending on how you prefer to fill out your remaining links or your chosen build variant. Mark of the Shaper Mark of the Shaper is an excellent pairing, due to the potent 80% Spell Damage increase.

Mark of the Shaper

Ming's Heart Ming's Heart was a popular ring for dealing with Chaos damage during the Incursion League, and remains an option (as an item swap) for maps or bosses with heavy Chaos damage.

Belt

A Rare Stygian Vise or Leather Belt is recommended. You will want to prioritize stats as follows:

  1. +# to Maximum Life
  2. % to Elemental Resistances
  3. % Increased Spell Damage During Any Flask Effect
    $ % Increased Physical Damage

Belt

% Increased Lightning or Cold Damage is icing on the cake.

Bisco's Leash Bisco's Leash is a great choice for SSF Leagues if obtained, as it gives Quantity and a potent Rarity increase.

Jewels

Make sure all standard jewels have % Increased Maximum Life (preferably 7%). Fill out the other slots with damage affixes or resistances. Here are some examples:

  • % Increased Global Critical Strike Chance
  • % to All Elemental Resistances
  • % Increased Global Critical Strike Multiplier
  • % Increased Spell Damage
  • % Increased Elemental Damage (Lightning or Cold preferably)
  • % Increased Physical Damage

Intuitive Leap Intuitive Leap can be used to great effect and is recommended unless you can afford a better Rare jewel. Use it to acquire Overcharged, Melding, and Dreamer (if you are using Mind over Matter)

Intuitive Leap Jewel

You can also spec out of Mind Over Matter and instead use a Watcher’s Eye with the “% of Damage taken from Mana before Life while affected by Clarity”. This is generally not recommended unless you have a clear picture of exactly what you want to do and how this will help achieve it, as this build is not an effective user of Watcher’s Eye mods.

Flasks

Here is our recommended Flask setup, although you can change them out based on personal preference of Flasks or Prefixes/Suffixes.

Flasks

Replace the Taste of Hate flask with Alchemist’s Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline until you can afford it. Fit a Experimenter’s Granite Flask of Iron Skin in if you are not using Acrobatics.

Solo Self Found

  • Seething Divine Life Flask of Staunching
  • Chemist’s Basalt Flask of Warding OR Experimenter’s Diamond Flask of Warding
  • Experimenter’s Jade Flask of Reflexes OR Experimenter’s Granite Flask of Iron Skin
  • Chemist’s Sulfur Flask of Heat
  • Alchemist’s Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline

FAQ

How Many Stacks of Blade Vortex Should I Clear With?

Depending on the Map tier, you will need varying levels of Blade Vortex stacks to instantly kill packs, but 2-3 stacks is generally suitable. With many Path of Exile builds, the true optimization comes through managing your flasks correctly, and this one is no exception — do not overlap whenever possible, but do not let your charges stack up and get munched.

Should I Keep Arcane Surge Active?

Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support is not necessary for clearing, but should consistently procced during bosses for the additional damage bonus. If you’re using Flame Dash Flame Dash to proc Arcane Surge, you can keep it active for clearing without any loss in clear speed.

5-Link Inpulsa vs. Tabula Rasa

In most situations, the 5-Linked Inpulsa's Broken Heart Inpulsa's Broken Heart will outperform the Tabula Rasa Tabula Rasa, or indeed, any Rare or Unique 6-Linked Chest. On single targets such as bosses, the difference is a little murkier, and the 6-Linked Chest will likely outperform Inpulsa. Regardless, we always recommend making the swap to Inpulsa as soon as you are able to purchase and equip one.

How Much Currency Will it Cost Before I Can Blow Up My Entire Screen?

Not very much, although the exact cost varies from league to league. Inpulsa's Broken Heart Inpulsa's Broken Heart is the only real item necessary to kick the build into high gear, and even then, it is possible to continue leveling without it (if you are SSF, for example). You should easily be able to kit yourself out for less than 2 Exalts and be blasting through maps in no time.

Acrobatics and Mind Over Matter — Optional?

Yes, Acrobatics is entirely optional. In fact, having both Mind over Matter and Acrobatics is not necessary, particularly for experienced players, although if you feel your damage is adequate for the content you are aiming to clear, there is not much a reason to swap them out. A potential alternative when dropping Acrobatics and Phase Acrobatics is to acquire more Life, damage, and an extra Jewel slot.

Yes, Mind Over Matter is also an optional keystone. While most players opt to have at least one of Mind Over Matter or Acrobatics, the build clears fine and still feels very stable with neither. If you’re struggling with Mana reservation, for example, consider dropping Mind Over Matter temporarily. You should aim to have a minimum of around 450 unreserved Mana to consider running Mind Over Matter. While you will often be “out of Mana”, Blade Vortex Blade Vortex does not have a high cost to cast, and lasts for a reasonable amount of time once active, especially with skill duration nodes and helm enchant. This is another reason why linking Blood Magic Support Blood Magic Support to your mobility skill is advised. If you decide to drop Mind Over Matter, you can also feel free to drop Notables such as Deep Thoughts and Dreamer (if Intuitive Leap Intuitive Leap is used). This allows you to reallocate 4-7 points for additional utility, maximum Life, or pure damage.

We recommend doing some testing for yourself once you’ve reached the end-game, and see what you feel most comfortable with.

But What About This Shaped Item?!

There are virtually limitless ways to optimize gear in Path of Exile, and with some of Shaper, Elder, and Delve mods available, there are some ultra-rare and one-of-a-kind items out there. These are not really suitable as guide “recommendations”, but if you spot a juicy piece that fits into the build, make sure you test it in Path of Building first, or ask here in the comments!

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.

Betrayal

Changelog
  •    Updated for Synthesis 3.6.
  •    Added a new section offering additional insight into the gem links of the build!
  •    Added a new introduction.
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