All Around Wintertide Brand Occultist Build Guide (PoE Ritual 3.13)

TbXie

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About the Author

TbXie has been playing Path of Exile since the release of Open Beta, playing a variety of leagues in which he has played Hard- and Softcore, Standard, and Solo-Self Found. He has a background in racing, winning Demigods in the early race seasons as well as finishing high up in recent Flashback ladders, such as Rank 1 Guardian (9th Overall), Rank 2 Berserker. He has experience playing solo and both in push and MF groups, while being notorious for his WorldFirst Delve 6000 with his team & farming multiple Mirror of Kalandra Mirror of Kalandras every league. You can follow him on Twitch and Twitter or ask him your questions in the PoE Vault Discord.

The Demigod winning characters

Ritual League Update

Ritual League introduced a bunch of changes to Ascendancies and Occultist was no exception. Whilst a lot of Ascendancies had a lot of numerical changes, some swapping around of tags on notables and what not, Occultist kept it fairly simple. The main change that affects us for this build is Frigid Wake’s change to no longer grant Cold Damage over Time Multiplier but More Cold Damage instead. For this build, changing both the small node from DoT Multi to increased Cold damage and the Frigid Wake change is an effectively neutral change. The DPS difference is within 0,5% and it’s nothing one should be worrying about.

Other than that, Occultist has received some minor QoL. Profane Bloom, which causes monsters to explode for a quarter of their HP on kill has been buffed to have a higher procrate. I don’t think this was needed but I’m not complaining! Other than that, Vile Bastion has became twice as efficient as before making you only need 5 monsters killed recently to cap out its 10% Energy Shield Regen.

Very uneventful changes for this build & it’ll still be as good as it was before all of these changes!

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:

Gear, Jewel & Flask Page

Passive Skill Tree & Gem Link Page

Ascendancy, Bandit & Pantheon Power Page

Introduction

If you have ever wanted to try a damage over time (DoT) build that doesn’t feel clunky because it is rather squishy, you’ve come to the right place! This Occultist combines so many layers of Defenses that I’d argue its nearly unkillable. Between a decent chunk of Armour through the Memory Vault Memory Vault helmet, a decent chunk of Energy Shield recovery on Block paired with a fairly reasonable amount of Block Chance and Spell Block, Immunity to Chaos Damage, and a part of incoming Elemental Damage taken as Chaos, all while being an Occultist with superb Energy Shield recovery and an Energy Shield pool of about 7,000, it is fair to say that this is probably one of the more tanky builds you’ll ever play.

Scaling-wise, Cold Damage over Time scales best with Cold DoT Multiplier, which is why Occultist is the ascendancy pick of choice! It gives you a pretty big amount of damage while, as mentioned, also adding to your defensive capabilities quite a lot. If you push the gear an extra mile, this build really goes a long way. On budget stuff, you’ll be able to kill everything that’s in your way, but if you start to invest into your items a little more, you’re more then likely going to be taking this build further than you’ve previously had on other DoT builds. For example, it is one of the best non-meta (where you go 0HP and kill stuff) delving builds out there because of its innate tankiness and the way Wintertide Brand Wintertide Brand scales.

Build Summary

Pros and Cons

Pros

+ Strong bosser with great clear
+ Relies on very cheap gear to get going
+ Required Uniques are not sought-after, thus league-start viable
+ Loads of HP Pool / Block Chance to make for a smooth playstyle

Cons

Pretty heavy on the Uniques – not SSF-friendly
Damage over Time builds aren’t for everyone

Playstyle, Mechanics & Strengths

While brands have to existed for a decent chunk of time, a couple new brands were introduced in PoE’s 3.11 Harvest League. These brands brought new brand mechanics in the sense that they were scaling with attachment duration. Wintertide Brand Wintertide Brand is no different, as it gains damage for every stage it reaches. For it to reach stages, it needs to be active for a while. Other than, for example Penance Brand Penance Brand, Wintertide actually remains stacked while being detached, making it a little less important to instantly scale all its stacks up.

Wintertide Brand more particularly gets an extra stage of damage for every time it activates. It activates 4 times per second as a baseline and has a maximum of 20 stages (or 24 stages if you have a Helmet enchant), which means it would take up to 5 seconds for the brand to reach its maximum DoT DPS. Luckily, these brands that scale with attachment duration usually scale their activation frequency by increasing cast speed! Therefore, cast speed is a significant More damage multiplier for Wintertide Brand Wintertide Brand and even moreso the biggest quality of life increase you could ever get. By getting extra cast speed, the build gets its maximum damage output in under 2 seconds instead of having to wait 5 seconds, which is why we prioritize picking up a decent amount of cast speed.

Other then that, Wintertide Brand has a couple of very clear benefits. One of them is the fact that it does no hit damage, and thus cannot apply any Elemental Equilibrium! This means it’s incredibly easy to guarantee EE to proc on a non-Cold Element, and thus increasing your damage tremendously. Another benefit is how well it pairs up with Vortex Vortex and Vaal Cold Snap Vaal Cold Snap to amplify its damage. Vortex is the easiest way to make use of the damage multiplier of Bonechill Support Bonechill Support, and is an easy source of Arcane Surge for that juicy Spell Damage multiplier! Cold Snap gives you Frenzy Charges whenever enemies stand in its area, making for another way of greatly amplifying your damage! Since Vortex is an instant cast, you can easily bind it to left mouse button which will make it proc when you’re walking for 100% uptime!

All in all, I personally feel like this is a very balanced and well-rounded build that deals with all the game’s content fairly well! It is really nice for those who want to learn how to deal with Chaos Innoculation builds, as most of its pieces are easy to obtain / Unique items which means you don’t have to worry to much about Energy Shield’s complicated gearing process! Since it combines Block with Mitigation and Recovery, it’s most suited to tank a lot of monsters simultaneously without issues, and therefore really forgiving to play. And all of that is while maintaining multiple millions of Shaper DPS.

Passive Skill Tree

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, we also have a PoePlanner for you. Do note that PoE Planner does not support Cluster Jewels and some specific unique jewels and it is highly recommended you install Path of Building to follow builds most optimally.

Passive Skill 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, Bandit & Pantheon Power Page

Gems

All of the gem link choices are thoroughly explained on our Gem Link page.

Gem Link Page

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.

Gear, Jewel & Flask Page

Our recommendation:

Item Slot Item Name
Head Memory Vault Memory Vault
Amulet Citrine Amulet Citrine Amulet with a lot of Attributes, Resistances and % maximum Energy Shield
Chest Incandescent Heart Incandescent Heart
Gloves Sorcerer Gloves Sorcerer Gloves with as much Resistances & Energy Shield as possible
Boots Rainbowstride Rainbowstride
Belt Bated Breath Bated Breath
Rings Mark of the Shaper Mark of the Shaper & Rare Elder Influenced Ring w/ Resistances
Weapon Rare Wand with Spell Damage, +1 Cold Skills, Cast Speed and Trigger Mod
Shield Aegis Aurora Aegis Aurora

Questions & Support

I made it a habit to check all comments in my guides on a daily basis. Obviously, there might be occurrences where getting a reply might take longer but I really do try to get back to you as soon as possible. I prefer you making remarks, suggestions or asking questions that way as it allows others to read through the comments, providing them with a potential answer to their question, without having to wait for me again. If I have somehow missed your question, you can try reaching me on our Discord.

If you enjoy my content to such an extent that you’d like to support me and my work, I have a Patreon you can check out. At no point should you feel pressured to contribute, but if you do, your support means more to me than you will ever imagine.

Leveling

Even though we are very adamant about trying to give you a leveling experience that lies as close to your endgame playstyle as possible, we will recommend you to use the standard leveling setups until after Act 10. Wintertide Brand Wintertide Brand just doesn’t function that well until you have some of your stuff going. For more information about leveling, we refer you to the following guides:

Getting to Brutus & Merveil

For starters, create a Witch in whichever league you want to start. If you want to make use of the Onslaught Support Onslaught Support you’ll need to make a Scion to quickly run to town and store one as Witch doesn’t get access to this gem until act 3.

Pick up an Explosive Trap Explosive Trap from the vendor to start your journey and go to kill Hailrake and clear Mud Flats. Set up the following links after Mud Flats:

  1. Frost Bomb Frost Bomb
  2. Onslaught Support Onslaught Support
  1. Explosive Trap Explosive Trap

After killing Brutus, you will be adding an Added Lightning Damage Support Added Lightning Damage Support to your Frost Bomb.

Level 12 and Onwards Setup

From level 12, after killing Merveil, you’ll be setting up for your road to level 28. You should be breezing through content at this point, as these skills are really strong while leveling.

  1. Storm Brand Storm Brand
  2. Added Lightning Damage Support Added Lightning Damage Support
  3. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  4. Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support

At level 28, swap your Storm Brand Storm Brand for Armageddon Brand Armageddon Brand as it is a bonkers leveling skill.

_ Whenever you’ve completed your second Labyrinth is when I’d recommend (or “allow”) the transition to Wintertide Brand. Before that, it’ll feel very bad._

Questions

I made it a habit to check all comments in my guides on a daily basis. Obviously, there might be occurrences where getting a reply might take longer but I really do try to get back to you as soon as possible. I prefer you making remarks, suggestions or asking questions that way as it allows others to read through the comments, providing them with a potential answer to their question, without having to wait for me again. If I have somehow missed your question, you can try reaching me on our Discord.

FAQ

What Anointment is Required / Preferred?

The best anointment available is definitely Tranquility but if you think that’s too expensive Command of Steel is a very solid placeholder while you save up for the double Golden Oil Golden Oil!

What Map Modifiers are to be Avoided?

No Regeneration is incredibly annoying to run, as you’re relying on ES regeneration quite a bit. Otherwise Elemental Reflect is a no go. Other then that, be careful not to use Orb of Storms (or keep it at level 1) in Elemental Reflect maps!

Changelog
  •   

    Updated for Ritual 3.13.

  •   

    Build added.

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  1. Posts
    1

    Is there enough damage here to run up to at least Sirus A0 without cluster jewels and thread of hope? Or would it be better to do a vortex/coldsnap occultist and transition after obtaining cluster jewels?

    Also, is there any advice you can give on leveling with Armageddon brand? Is it enough to just do the vendor added fire damage craft, or is there another damage stat that’s better for Armageddon brand leveling?

  2. TbXie

    Moderator

    Posts
    462

    On 06/01/2021 at 4:57 PM, keanue7 said

    Is there enough damage here to run up to at least Sirus A0 without cluster jewels and thread of hope? Or would it be better to do a vortex/coldsnap occultist and transition after obtaining cluster jewels?

    Also, is there any advice you can give on leveling with Armageddon brand? Is it enough to just do the vendor added fire damage craft, or is there another damage stat that’s better for Armageddon brand leveling?

    Wintertide should normally be very satisfying without those things for lower end content such as Sirus0. Do note that Sirus is a fight that relies on mechanics and knowledge and that almost no build will be able to delete it / facetank it.

    Armageddon Brand should do fine with just Fire Damage crafts yes! It’s extremely solid for levelling. If ever you need more boss damage, Cremation with Desecrate is fairly strong too

  3. Posts
    1

    Any reason you don’t take pain attunement ? Am I missing something ?

    Looking for a different build for 3.13, thanks for the work and effort on this.

  4. TbXie

    Moderator

    Posts
    462

    On 07/01/2021 at 3:08 PM, Sulaa_73 said

    Any reason you don’t take pain attunement ? Am I missing something ?

    Looking for a different build for 3.13, thanks for the work and effort on this.

    Cause we’re not low-life? :o Pain Attunement doesn’t do anything :)

  5. Posts
    2

    What about the holy conquest cluster jewel. I saw a lot of other wintertide build using it for clear is it necesarry ?

  6. TbXie

    Moderator

    Posts
    462

    On 13/01/2021 at 9:04 PM, Pokito said

    What about the holy conquest cluster jewel. I saw a lot of other wintertide build using it for clear is it necesarry ?

    I personally don’t think it’s a necessity on Wintertide (or any brand other than Non-Ignite Penance Brand) but that’s such a hard question for someone to answer in someone else’s place.

    Honestly, if you’re about to play it, I’d love it if you tested it and told me what you thought to see if that lines up with how I felt about it! I think you’re just spamming Wintertide enough for HQ not to matter.

  7. Posts
    2

    Since this build works as soon as you swap to it after the Acts, you’ll be completely fine regardless, but I’ll leave you with this “Path of Building(https://pastebin.com/MSXmADeN)” to give you an idea as to what I would suggest your tree looks like at the beginning of maps.

    I think this is a really interesting build and I wanna try it for my 3.13 league start! I’ve been trying it out in Standard but am finding levelling through the story and pre-CI difficult because the two POB links you’ve provided have identical trees (although the links are different) – both with no life nodes, Thread of Hope, the cluster jewel setup and all uniques in-place. Is there supposed to be a version that’s life-based and c. lvl 60-65 for when you hit maps?

    Edited by Yunikawn on January 14th, 2021

  8. TbXie

    Moderator

    Posts
    462

    On 14/01/2021 at 7:50 AM, Yunikawn said

    Since this build works as soon as you swap to it after the Acts, you’ll be completely fine regardless, but I’ll leave you with this “Path of Building(https://pastebin.com/MSXmADeN)” to give you an idea as to what I would suggest your tree looks like at the beginning of maps.

    I think this is a really interesting build and I wanna try it for my 3.13 league start! I’ve been trying it out in Standard but am finding levelling through the story and pre-CI difficult because the two POB links you’ve provided have identical trees (although the links are different) – both with no life nodes, Thread of Hope, the cluster jewel setup and all uniques in-place. Is there supposed to be a version that’s life-based and c. lvl 60-65 for when you hit maps?

    The only thing the Progression PoB Does is show you what skill tree to follow +/-. If you’re not used to playing CI builds and are not sure exactly how to optimize for it, just play LIfe until like level 80ish when u can afford the whole 50-60 regrets instead of a couple to just refund some life nodes :)

  9. TbXie

    Moderator

    Posts
    462

    On 14/01/2021 at 7:50 AM, Yunikawn said

    Since this build works as soon as you swap to it after the Acts, you’ll be completely fine regardless, but I’ll leave you with this “Path of Building(https://pastebin.com/MSXmADeN)” to give you an idea as to what I would suggest your tree looks like at the beginning of maps.

    I think this is a really interesting build and I wanna try it for my 3.13 league start! I’ve been trying it out in Standard but am finding levelling through the story and pre-CI difficult because the two POB links you’ve provided have identical trees (although the links are different) – both with no life nodes, Thread of Hope, the cluster jewel setup and all uniques in-place. Is there supposed to be a version that’s life-based and c. lvl 60-65 for when you hit maps?

    The only thing the Progression PoB Does is show you what skill tree to follow +/-. If you’re not used to playing CI builds and are not sure exactly how to optimize for it, just play LIfe until like level 80ish when u can afford the whole 50-60 regrets instead of a couple to just refund some life nodes :)

  10. Posts
    2

    On 14/01/2021 at 9:28 AM, TbXie said

    On 14/01/2021 at 7:50 AM, Yunikawn

    Since this build works as soon as you swap to it after the Acts, you’ll be completely fine regardless, but I’ll leave you with this “Path of Building(https://pastebin.com/MSXmADeN)” to give you an idea as to what I would suggest your tree looks like at the beginning of maps.

    I think this is a really interesting build and I wanna try it for my 3.13 league start! I’ve been trying it out in Standard but am finding levelling through the story and pre-CI difficult because the two POB links you’ve provided have identical trees (although the links are different) – both with no life nodes, Thread of Hope, the cluster jewel setup and all uniques in-place. Is there supposed to be a version that’s life-based and c. lvl 60-65 for when you hit maps?

    The only thing the Progression PoB Does is show you what skill tree to follow +/-. If you’re not used to playing CI builds and are not sure exactly how to optimize for it, just play LIfe until like level 80ish when u can afford the whole 50-60 regrets instead of a couple to just refund some life nodes :)

    OK – thanks for the guidance and for all the hard work :)

  11. TbXie

    Moderator

    Posts
    462

    On 14/01/2021 at 9:50 AM, Yunikawn said

    On 14/01/2021 at 9:28 AM, TbXie

    my pleasure

    On 14/01/2021 at 7:50 AM, Yunikawn

    Since this build works as soon as you swap to it after the Acts, you’ll be completely fine regardless, but I’ll leave you with this “Path of Building(https://pastebin.com/MSXmADeN)” to give you an idea as to what I would suggest your tree looks like at the beginning of maps.

    I think this is a really interesting build and I wanna try it for my 3.13 league start! I’ve been trying it out in Standard but am finding levelling through the story and pre-CI difficult because the two POB links you’ve provided have identical trees (although the links are different) – both with no life nodes, Thread of Hope, the cluster jewel setup and all uniques in-place. Is there supposed to be a version that’s life-based and c. lvl 60-65 for when you hit maps?

    The only thing the Progression PoB Does is show you what skill tree to follow +/-. If you’re not used to playing CI builds and are not sure exactly how to optimize for it, just play LIfe until like level 80ish when u can afford the whole 50-60 regrets instead of a couple to just refund some life nodes :)

    OK – thanks for the guidance and for all the hard work :)

  12. Posts
    2

    @Yunikawn This will be my levling ( lvl 70 ) tree before switching to CI probably just before Map hope it can help

    https://pastebin.com/Eg2rdYqm

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