The Vortex/Cold Snap Occultist Build Guide (PoE Blight 3.8)

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Introduction

With the launch of 3.5 Betrayal league, skills like Vortex Vortex and Cold Snap Cold Snap 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 Cold Snap 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. Cold Snap 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 Cold Snap Cold Snap 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 Cold Snap Cold Snap 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 Cold Snap 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.

Ascendancy, Passive Tree, Bandits and Pantheons

Ascendancy (Witch – Occultist)

  1. Void Beacon
  2. Frigid Wake
  3. Vile Bastion
  4. Profane Bloom

Vile Bastion provides stun immunity when you have Energy Shield, which is mandatory for every Energy Shield-based build. The additional way of sustaining your Energy Shield pool and the flat 150 amount is also great addition. Void Beacon acts as a debuff aura to nearby enemies, reducing their cold resistance and stopping them from regenerating life. Frigid Wake adds a lot of cold damage over time multiplier, which improves the builds damage a lot. Freeze and Chill immunities frees up ring slot, since you would have to use Dream Fragments Dream Fragments otherwise. Every 4 seconds you also have chance to Freeze even bosses, which proves to be very powerful in certain situations. Profane Bloom improves and smooths out clear speed by a great deal.

Passive tree

Here is an example of the endgame passive skill tree.

Note: For passive skill trees prior to the absolute endgame refer to the leveling section of the guide.

Bandits

The Act II quest Deal with the Bandits presents few character choices for us. Considering the build does not benefit from helping any specific bandit we choose to kill them all for the two additional passive skill tree points.

Pantheons

Major: Soul of Solaris is very good when it comes to raw damage reductions. When this pantheon is fully upgraded it is best in slot for this particular build.

Minor: Soul of Abberath is good in every energy-shield-based build for the immunity to burning ground. Soul of Gruthkul provides additional physical damage reduction which can be useful, considering you are running into melee range.

Gems

The build’s main skill is Vortex Vortex, which you should ideally use in a 6-Link. Cold Snap Cold Snap works as a secondary damage source. For mobility you should use Flame Dash Flame Dash, which will also provide Arcane Surge basically for free. Both Temporal Chains Temporal Chains and Enfeeble Enfeeble are extremely strong defensively and will render your enemies hopeless. Vigilant Strike Vigilant Strike is used for the long Fortify you get, especially when combined with The Vigil The Vigil. Phase Run Phase Run helps out by providing additional movement speed and make you less likely to get hit. Gems that are triggered by your Scepter with the mod “Trigger a socketed spell when you use a Skill” are simply used in order to proc Elemental Overload and lower enemies cold resistance via Frost Bomb Frost Bomb. The usual Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support and Immortal Call Immortal Call gem setup is used in order to prevent deaths from Porcupines.

Vortex (6-Link)

Vortex Vortex is your main skill. You should run into packs of monsters and drop down a Vortex, which will obliterate every foe with its powerful degeneration effect. The following gem link is universal and can be used for both clearing and single target encounters.

  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

Cold Snap (4-Link)

Cold Snap Cold Snap is the secondary damage source of the build, which is useful if you need additional damage for a tougher foe, or you just need to nuke something from afar. We recommend the following link:

  1. Vaal Cold Snap Vaal Cold Snap
  2. Hypothermia Support Hypothermia Support
  3. Bonechill Support Bonechill Support
  4. Efficacy Support Efficacy Support

Flame Dash (3-link)

Flame Dash Flame Dash is your mobility skill. It will help you jump over some map terrain, which will save you time. It is also providing Arcane Surge with every cast, which gives additional mana regeneration and spell damage. Make sure to keep the Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support gem at low level in order to trigger it with every Flame Dash cast.

  1. Flame Dash Flame Dash
  2. Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support
  3. Faster Casting Support Faster Casting Support

Curse gem setup (4-Link)

Temporal Chains Temporal Chains slows down enemies’ action speed while Enfeeble Enfeeble reduces their damage done and accuracy rating. Both curses allow you to run around monsters and feel safe while doing it.

  1. Temporal Chains Temporal Chains
  2. Enfeeble Enfeeble
  3. Blasphemy Support Blasphemy Support
  4. Enlighten Support Enlighten Support

Other Utility Gems (3-Link)

Phase Run Phase Run provides additional movement speed while Vigilant Strike Vigilant Strike helps you keep up the Fortify effect for additional damage reduction.

  1. Phase Run Phase Run
  2. Vigilant Strike Vigilant Strike
  3. Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support

Gems that should be socketed in your Scepter

The following gems should be specifically socketed in your weapon because they can be triggered when you cast a spell via the recommended crafted mod “Trigger a Socketed Spell when you use a Skill”.

  1. Orb of Storms Orb of Storms
  2. Storm Brand Storm Brand
  3. Frost Bomb Frost Bomb

Discipline

Vaal Discipline Vaal Discipline is used for the additional flat amount of Energy Shield it provides along with the great sustain that comes with the vaal version.

Gearing

Capping your elemental resistances is essential and it should always be your top priority in any build; it should be the first thing you do when gearing up a character. Obtaining a 6-link, while very powerful and certainly recommended, can potentially be very expensive (requiring an average of 1500 Orbs of Fusing, obviously depending on your luck); as such, this should not really be a goal for you while gearing up, and you should instead settle for a 5-link until you have enough resources. When it comes to defensive capabilities you should spend your currency first on a high Energy Shield Vaal Regalia and 300+ Energy Shield off-hand Shield. For more damage output you should spend your currency on a Scepter.

Helmet

A well rolled Energy Shield helmet is best in slot for the build. When it comes to enchantments from the labyrinth you can use any Vortex Vortex enchant or you can look for an Enfeeble Enfeeble, Temporal Chains Temporal Chains, Discipline Discipline enchant. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. Energy Shield (at least 250)
  3. # to Dexterity / Strength

Body Armour

Well rolled Vaal Regalia is the best in slot chest piece. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. Energy Shield (at least 500)

Gloves

Well rolled Energy Shield base is best in slot for Gloves. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. Energy Shield (at least 100)

Boots

As other items, well rolled rare Energy Shield boots is best in slot. Meanwhile you can use Sin Trek Sin Trek. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. % increased Movement speed (at least 25%)
  3. Energy Shield (at least 150)

Belt

Any well rolled Crystal Belt or Stygian Vise can be used early on. For a complete endgame goal you should look for a rare belt with “Grants Level # Aspect of the Spider Skill”. Bated Breath Bated Breath can be used before any of these rares. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. % increased Energy Shield from Body Armour (Dense Fossil)
  3. # to Energy Shield
  4. % increased Cold Damage (Frigid Fossil)
  5. Grants Level # Aspect of the Spider Skill

Amulet

Solstice Vigil Solstice Vigil is the best in slot amulet for the build, although it can be expensive. Essentially it allows you to run Aspect of the Spider along with your curses on Blasphemy Support Blasphemy Support and Discipline Discipline. Prior to this amulet you can use any rare amulet with desired attributes and resistances. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. # to Energy Shield
  3. % Increased Energy Shield
  4. % Increased Cold Damage
  5. # to Dexterity / Strength

Rings

Considering the build is kind of socket-starved one of the rings should be Unset Ring. The other should be a regular well rolled resistance ring. You do not need to use Dream Fragments Dream Fragments since you are immune to Chill and Freeze via the Occultist’s Frigid Wake. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. % Faster start of Energy Shield recharge (crafted via crafting bench)
  3. # to Dexterity / Strength

Weapon

A well rolled rare Scepter can provide a lot of damage to the build. Spine of the First Claimant Spine of the First Claimant is a great leveling/budget choice. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. Trigger a socketed spell when you use a Skill (crafted)
  2. % to Cold damage over time Multiplier
  3. % increased Damage on Full Life (Pristine Fossil)
  4. % increased Minion damage (Bound Fossil)
  5. % increased Damage over time

Note: The minion damage also affects you via the passive skill tree node Spiritual Aid.

Shield

Well rolled rare shield is best in slot. You can try to roll one by yourself, use Dense Fossils on a Titanium Spirit Shield iLvl 86. The Rare Affix priority is:

  1. +#% total Elemental Resistances (until capped)
  2. Energy Shield (preferably 300+)

Flasks

Playing Chaos Inoculation build allows you to use only utility flasks. Considering you mainly rely on running for mobility Quicksilver flask is mandatory for the build, it should be rolled with additional movement speed. Quartz flask provides additional dodge chance and Phasing, which will allow you to run through monsters in order to drop a Vortex Vortex in middle of monster packs, it should be rolled with Shock immunity. Stibnite flask creates a smoke cloud, which blinds nearby enemies, it should be rolled with Bleeding immunity. Basalt flask provides 15% physical damage reduction, it should be rolled with Burning immunity. Sulphur flask has a great duration, this is why it should be rolled with Curse immunity. Witchfire Brew Witchfire Brew can be used for the great amount of damage over time it provides.

Jewels

The only unique jewel that is recommended for the build is The Vigil The Vigil, which allows for an easier way to have the Fortify effect up most of the time. Besides that, rare jewels should be used for additional offense and defense.

Regular Jewel Affix Priority

  1. % Increased Energy Shield
  2. % increased Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
  3. Any Spell/Damage Over Time increase
  4. Elemental resistances

Abyssal Jewel Affix Priority

  1. % Chance to gain Onslaught for 4 seconds on Kill
  2. Energy Shield (at least 35)

Leveling

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

Leveling the Vortex Vortex and Cold Snap Cold Snap 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 16, you should pick up Cold Snap Cold Snap 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 defence.

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 forVaal Cold Snap Vaal Cold Snap.

  1. Vaal Cold Snap Vaal Cold Snap
  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.

Conclusion

The Vortex Vortex and Cold Snap Cold Snap 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 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.

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  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

    Posts
    603

    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

    Posts
    603

    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

    Posts
    603

    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
    4

    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

    Posts
    603

    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

    Posts
    603

    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
    603

    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
    3

    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

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