Due to the latest balancing changes, we do not recommend playing this build anymore, as it does not meet the high standards we apply to our guides in terms of fun and performance. We are leaving it up as a reference and it might be revived in a later patch.
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, 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, all while being an Occultist with superb Energy Shield recovery and an Energy Shield pool of about 8,000, 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.
Pros and Cons
+ Decent Pinnacle killer with great clear
+ Relies on very cheap gear to get going
+ Loads of HP Pool / Block Chance to make for a smooth playstyle
– Pretty heavy on the Uniques – not SSF-friendly
– With the rework of Determination, Aegis Aurora is now a tad expensive
– Damage over Time builds aren’t for everyone
Map Modifiers to be Avoided
No Regeneration is incredibly annoying to run, as you’re relying on ES regeneration quite a bit. Otherwise Elemental Reflect is annoying because Vortex will kill you so you’d have to not use Vortex or any other skills that hit (basically anything but Wintertide).
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 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, 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 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 how well it pairs up with Vortex and Vaal Cold Snap to amplify its damage. Vortex is the easiest way to make use of the damage multiplier of Bonechill Support 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, PoB, and Gem Links
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. 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.
|Item Slot||Item Name|
|Amulet||Citrine Amulet with a lot of Attributes, Mana Reservation Efficiency, Resistances and % maximum Energy Shield|
|Chest||Vaal Regalia with as much Energy Shield as possible, resistances and some attributes|
|Gloves||Sorcerer Gloves with as much Resistances & Energy Shield as possible|
|Rings||Mark of the Shaper & Rare Elder Influenced Ring w/ Resistances|
|Weapon||Rare Wand with Spell Damage, +1 Cold Skills, Cast Speed and Trigger Mod|
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.
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 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:
- 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.
Getting to Brutus & Merveil
For starters, create a Witch in whichever league you want to start.
Pick up an 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:
After killing Brutus, you will be adding an 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.
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 & 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.