Winter Orb has notoriously been one of the best mapping skills in the game. This is because it “double dips” from cast speed benefits in such a way that you want to invest into it to make your channeling faster, meaning less time not spent moving through a map, whilst also increasing your damage significantly. The biggest issue with Winter Orb however is, and has been for the longest of times, most likely since a certain nerf, that it was very hard to scale the skill up to nowadays’ Path of Exile. Since I personally would rate Winter Orb as one of my top 3 favourite builds ever, I tried to come up with an itteration that does exactly what I want it to do. Zoom.
If you’re looking for a hyper-glass cannon build that does maps in 30 seconds, this is not it. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, looking for something that literally can go AFK in a map while you are making coffee, this is not it. Are you looking to clear superjuicy T16 maps in under 2 minutes, exploding multiple screens of monsters through Heralds, moving decently fast and being squishy, but not squishy enough to ever die unless you make a mistake? Then you’ve came to the right place. This is exactly where Winter Orb Hierophant will bring you to.
This build makes use of some gimimcky tech to get to where it’s supposed to be. Please make sure to read through the guide at least a few times to understand what it’s doing and why it is doing it as ignoring even the slightest piece of the puzzle can make you feel very weak. Additionally, while doable from leaguestart (people have done it before), it will not be performing the way it would if you rerolled into it. You kind of need a couple of key items to lift it off the ground rapidly but if you’re comfortable leaguestarting a bit slower, farming some lower tier content to get a few Divine Orbs to get your few key pieces to get rolling, then this is by all means a really good starter as it will allow you to catch up the curve very fast once it gets going.
Grand Design Juiced T16 with 100% packsize and a lot of Altar Downsides
Pros and Cons
+ Best mapping skill combination in the game
+ Makes use of so many fun and little interactions
+ Can be played on a budget
+ Deletes maps in a jiffy
– If you make a mistake, such as tank an Ice Nova box, you will die
– Therefore NOT HC Viable
– Not strong enough to kill anything outside maps
Map Modifiers to be Avoided
Honestly, I rolled all my maps 25% pack size & just went. There’s a few modifiers I would argue that are annoying, but since I didn’t care about exp & ran a Cast on Death Support with a Portal setup for the moments where I did die (so I could instantly go back in and pick back up where I left off), I just put things in the device and didn’t care.
Obviously, if you don’t have the sextants ready to ignore them, you can’t be doing Elemental Reflect maps. Additionally, you cannot run a map that has both No Leech & No Regeneration as you will die on every pack, that just doesn’t work. Either of those modifiers by itsself is very annoying.
Other than those, the only annoyances you can get are Eldritch Altars (multiplier per power charge, spell suppression, …) that lower your damage because you don’t have overkill of that. So, sometimes, when you’re not paying attention, and you’ve clicked to many of those annoying Altars, you might end up feeling like you do no damage which is annoying because your build is tailored to kill stuff. Keep that in mind.
Playstyle, Mechanics & Strengths
This paragraph will be a bit longer than it would be for most builds as I feel like there’s a lot to explain. First of all, let’s talk about charges. Endurance, Power & Frenzy charges were initially introduced in the game as non-permanent buffs. You would have to use a Frenzy skill or use a skill linked to a non-damage support in Power Charge on Critical to generate them for very short amounts of times. Eventually the game evolved, and we ended up in a state where builds get created around those charges being permanently available. Now GGG wouldn’t be their usual selves if they didn’t try to sometimes make us play the game in their style which is, in my opinion, why some items try really really hard to make you use those charges as temporary buffs. Three items in our build have a way to make us lose Power Charges. For example, the wand, Tulfall, will make you lose charges when you reach your Maximum amount of Power Charges. However, because it has that downside, its upsides usually are gigantic. In this case, it adds a ridiculous amount of flat cold damage to spells per Charge.
Interesting, you might say, but I don’t want power half of the time and you’re right, cause neither do I. We abuse those 3 items by making sure we have an absurd amount of minimum power charges. Let me explain! Path of Exile characters come with a standard of 3 Maximum Charges of each type. This means that when you’re generating charges, such as Frenzy charges through for example Blood Rage, without investing into more maximum charges, you would gain up to 3 charges. Now, if you take an extra maximum charge (for example, in the passive skill tree), you would be able to gain up to 4 Frenzy Charges. Now, in order for us not to be able to lose the charges we gain, due to Tulfall, Malachai's Loop & Willclash we need to make sure that we can’t lose those charges. This is done by making sure your minimum charges are equal to, or at least high enough so that you don’t mind it when you lose the other ones, your maximum charges.
Generally speaking it’s fairly hard to get minimum charges for a build, and this is where the build gets rather expensive. Or well, not expensive, at least not here, but this is where its steep “investment” point arrives. We are using 4 minimum charges from the Hierophant, 1 from the Passive tree and 6 from Grand Spectrums (of which we only use 5, sadly, because the 11th Power Charge is too expensive to find). In order to get 6 from Grand Spectrum, you need 2 copies of the Minimum Power Charge variant & a 3rd other Grand Spectrum to enable them (I ran the Elemental Damage one, the Frenzy one is absolutely bonkers but usually goes for 15 orso Divine Orbs and I ended up playing something else before getting to that investment). While obviously, those are BiS and incredible, I have a solution for you to farm lower content through. If you drop those jewels, you can use rare jewels, grabbing you life and resistances. You should then, very easily be able to open up 3 suffixes on your Amulet & Rings. On those, with an open suffix, you can benchcraft the “1 Minimum Power Charge” craft which would net you 3 from your gear, resulting in a total of 8 minimum Power Charges which will get you through the content needed to farm currency for upgrades.
Now that we’ve established how we’re maintaining 10 Power Charges, we should talk about why we want those. The total benefits from these things, when invested into them, are kind of ridiculous. Dumb amounts of Crit Chance, Crit Multiplier, Damage per Charge, Capped Spellblock, heaps of Elemental Damage, 160% spell Damage from a shield, 50% Movement Speed, good life regen and last but not least close to 600 flat cold damage to spells. Combining all of these things basically takes care of all your damage, and layers a decent amount of defenses on top of it too.
Defenses are where this build becomes interesting though. You’re going to be running around with 1000 Life in T16 juiced maps. And you know what? It’s actually going to feel great (most of the time). The way I went about layering defenses in this build was simple. First of all, the build uses Cloak of Defiance & Hierophant’s Ascendancy to take a decent portion of incoming Damage from Mana, or, in our case, Energy Shield, because we use the Eldritch Battery keystone. Therefore, half of the damage we take, when possible, gets taken from our Energy Shield, which is on mana. Because it is on Mana, it recharges fairly often & we no longer have to worry about Mana sustain just because we have so much ES (Having a lot of ES & Eldritch battery makes your recharge/second high enough not to care about Mana anymore). Additionally, we layered Petrified Blood on top of that. This is, because we want to abuse being low-life for damage. However, in this case, not taking Damage instantaneously actually helps quite abit because we have access to Life Recoup in the tree, and have 2.5% natural Life regeneration (which becomes 5%, given that you’re reserving half of your life yet only take half of the damage instantly and you’re still regenerating based on the total life pool). With a bit of Cold Leech on Gloves, basically anything that doesn’t oneshot you, can’t kill you. In order to not get one shot, we have to take into account that there’s a couple of ways to take damage. First of all, there’s incoming Spells, which we mitigate through capping Spell Block (55% from Helmet + Tempest Shield). Next up, there’s attacks, mostly mitigated through a tiny bit of Evasion, a decent amount of Armour and & this cannot be stated enough through movement speed. Attacks in PoE are generally aimed somewhere and they aren’t following you or whatever. So by not standing still and running around while casting, attackers will miss 95% of their projectiles. Obviously, when one does hit you, you wouldn’t instantly fall over, but avoiding those by moving is pretty important for fast mappers and even more so obviously, you’re not supposed to get hit by melee attacks as you’re suposed to play from ranged.
Other than that, Winter Orb is mechanically a fantastic skill to play around with. You get to just channel and run for a bit. Sadly, a bit less long than generic Winter Orb builds because there’s no way for us to invest into Duration stacking to make the Winter Orb have more duration. I however didn’t find this clunky at all and it plays more so like a spellcaster now than an autobomber but boy does it feel amazing to clear maps with!
Passive Skill Tree, PoB, and Gem Links
You can find an optimized Path of Building here. Every build I release will use the community fork of Path of Building, which is maintained and updated in a much more regular fashion than the original one. You can find PoB’s Fork, by LocalIdentity, here.
If you are not comfortable with Path of Building, PoePlanner’s website offers you a non-PoB alternative to import the code from the above link. Do note that this does not have the same amount of Support as Path of Building has and it is highly recommended you install Path of Building to follow builds most optimally.
More information about the Passive Skill Tree, as well as all the Gem Links can be found on our dedicated 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.
Gear Summary / TL;DR
A lot of this is explained more in depth in the Gear Page, however we will provide you with a basic idea of what gear you’re looking for in this short summary.
|Corrupted +1 Power Charge Willclash
|Citrine Amulet with +1 to Skill Gems, Crit Multi & Necessary Attributes
|Cloak of Defiance
|Rare Gloves with Resistances, Life & Necessary Attributes
|Replica Inya's Epiphany
|Darkness Enthroned with Life, Damage, Resists & Attribute Jewels as necessary
|Rare rings with Life/Resistances, A single minus mana craft & A Fire/Lightning Damage craft
Questions & Support
If you enjoy my content to such an extent that you’d like to support me and my work, or you have a specific question you request my private time for, *you can buy me a coffee over at Patreon *. At no point should you feel pressured to contribute, but if you do, your support means more to me than you will ever imagine.
Even though we try to make our guides as complete as possible, obvioulsy it’s possible you still have questions. We have an entire mod-team readily available to support you & your questions on Discord. You can find us on the ARPG Vault Discord. Make sure to open a Guide Help thread so things stay clear in the main channels.
I highly recommend levelling this build as a non-Winter Orb character. Given the nature of this build, it’s fairly hard to make it work without a few pieces of gear which will only be obtainable after campaign. I recommend you resort to a generic Hierophant levelling strategy to pull this off and respect either whenever you’re ready to go to the starting budget gear or respec at the start of maps when you can afford a few of the unique items.
- 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.
A huge shoutout goes to the unknown player who initially played this build on the ladder, making it possible for me to pick up his gearing choises by checking out his character and building upon that.