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.
The Raise Zombie gem, which is the cornerstone of this build, was historically in an awkward place and more of a niche build than anything else. Minions as a whole received a complete rework with the release of 3.8 Blight League and immediately rose to being the most popular Archetype in Path of Exile. While this build focuses on Zombies to deal the majority of your damage, it is amplified by a variety of other summons such as an Animate Guardian, a Summon Carrion Golem and some utility Raise Spectres.
The main upside of playing a Summoner Archetype is being able to have your Minions deal the damage while you stay out of the fray. Since your Minions are incredibly tanky and almost impervious to damage, they can be sent into the battle and have a 100% uptime on their damage. This results in a very reliable build that is able to clear all content with relative ease and makes it so it is very recommended for newer players to get familiar with all endgame content. It has maintained such high damage and survivability numbers that even the most veteran players often utilize it to tackle the hardest challenges.
Since you will summon your entire army of Minions beforehand, you will only be focused on utility skills and positioning while clearing maps. By using Convocation to position your minions and a Cast while Channelling Support setup to keep all your buffs up, we will keep ourselves busy while our Minions kill everything that there is to be found.
As for the Ascendancy, the Necromancer is impossible to go without. It will offer you 2 extra gem levels on all of your Minion Gems, which makes them really hard to kill and scales their damage up quite significantly. Next up, you’ll also be granting your Raise Zombies more Attack Speed and Resistances. Lastly, we’re offering you a choice. Whether you pick Bone Barrier or Mistress of Sacrifice is completely up to you yet we will be presenting you with the differences and benefits / downsides later on in the guide.
A Necromancer Raise Zombie build such as this one really requires no high-end gear to function on a higher end level. Next up, it has no difficult mechanics tied to it so it is incredibly suited for newer players playing their first (or first couple) builds. It provides you with an acceptable leveling experience assuming you can at least get The Baron. Otherwise, you’ll have to resort to other types of Minions to get to your endgame setup.
At its peak, in 3.9 Blight League, this build trivialized the entire game on a reasonably low budget. Players were running multiple clients to literally “AFK” Blighted Maps or went to get a drink while their Minions finished off the last Sirus Phase. Obviously, a build that could kill the endgame bosses & endgame content without the player being at his computer was going to get nerfed. As expected, in 3.10 Delirium it got hit really hard. The Baron took a significant hit, mainly making it so you require 500 Strength instead of 300 Strength to get an extra Zombie. This ends up costing you about 3 Zombies at endgame gear and thus +/- about 20% damage. On top of that, the other relevant modifiers on The Baron now do roll instead of being a fixed stat. This means that a really high roll Baron is now a little harder to acquire.
Obviously, a 20% damage nerf for a build that trivialized the game to an extent that a Zombiemancer could wasn’t enough, so the Raise Zombie gem also got significant nerfs to both the way the Minion Life and damage worked. It lost around 25% damage on the gem and most of its Minion Life scaling. Luckily, even after all these nerfs the build remained very playable and strong on a reasonable amount of gear. Additionally, after the 3.11 Harvest Expansion and the introduction of Cluster Jewels, it is possible to min-max it to the same level as it was before.
Pros & Cons
+ Very suitable Hardcore build
+ Great at killing bosses through its damage uptime
+ Incredible sustain through The Baron
+ Easy & simple to play and execute
– Minion builds are sometimes boring to play for some
– This variation of a Summoner requires specific items to work
– Requires some optimization to tackle the hardest content
Playstyle, Mechanics & Strengths
As one would come to expect out of most Summoner Archetypes, you intend to raise an army of Summons to help you in battle and do most of the heavy lifting for you. Since the cornerstone of the build is The Baron Unique, we’re looking to find as much Strength as we can without compromising other stats. This means that, through Strength adding Flat Life, it is really easy to achieve a high amount of Life on the build. On top of that, through usage of specific Unique items (such as Geofri's Sanctuary and Shaper's Touch) we can add a surprising amount of Energy Shield on top of that to create an even bigger layer of defense.
Being a Necromancer also offers us the possibility to use the Glancing Blows keystone in combination with Mistress of Sacrifice as an Ascendancy Node and Bone Offering if we want to go even more defensive with our choices. Since we can only activate a single Offering skill at the same time, that forces us to forego the Flesh Offering skill which is a significant boost of damage to our Zombies. Which choice of Offering skill you take is entirely up to you and depends on whether you feel like picking up some more defenses or being a little more on the offensive side. Luckily, this just involves a 5-10 Skill Point and a single gem swap so you could easily swap back and forth to test out both avenues yourself.
Other than potentially running max block and Bone Offering, this build offers an obscenely high effective Life pool. Getting up to 6000 Life as well as 4000 Energy Shield isn’t hard to achieve and, since your Zombies will leech Life to you through The Baron and you will have Energy Shield regeneration through Zealot’s Oath, you will be topped up the entire time during most encounters.
Contrary to what one might think, Convocation also offers a decent amount of survivability. Whilst it is mainly used to position your Minions while you are running around through maps / encounters, it can also be used as a panic button whenever you find yourself alone for some reason. Minions do tend to go and do awkward things sometimes so it’s nice to have this skill to be able to bring them back to you instantaneously.
Playstyle-wise, you’re really just running around using Desecrate and either Bone Offering or Flesh Offering, as you chose. This keeps the selected Offering up at all times as well as guaranteeing uptime on all Corpse-related mechanics that Necromancer gives you.
To further increment our damage and the Army of Summons that’ll protect us at all costs, we’ll be running a Raise Spectre, Summon Carrion Golem, and Animate Guardian setup. The Raise Spectres are used to summon two Host Chieftains, a Carnage Chieftain, and a Merveil’s Retainer. These are merely utility Spectres and will be linked to Lifetap Support just so they can spam out their abilities more often. By doing so, they will grant your Zombies Power and Frenzy charges and curse enemies with Vulnerability to further increase the damage your Zombies deal.
The Summon Carrion Golem just grants your Minions a really nice amount of Physical damage. Since our Zombies mainly deal Physical damage, this is quite a significant buff and scales your damage very well.
The Animate Guardian is the last piece in your puzzle and fulfills the role of being a Lieutenant for your Army. Through specific item choices it will grant you and your Zombies Culling Strike, Fortify and a decent chunk of Critical Strike Multiplier. On top of that it will also blind all enemies in its range. The rest of the items we use for the Animate Guardian are solely focused on keeping it alive and protecting the items you consume through summoning it.
As you already figured out, aside from keeping bone offering up and watching your army of Minions absolutely destroy the game, you’re free to do as you wish! The build plays very relaxingly and is very recommended for players who like to play at a decent pace yet don’t want to be pressing a multitude of buttons all the time.
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, we also have a tree for you on the Path of Exile website. Do note that PoE’s website 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.
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|
|Head||The Baron – Look for High Rolls across the board|
|Amulet||Rare Warlord Citrine Amulet with High Strength & %Increased Strength – Annointed with Death Attunement|
|Belt||Rare Elder Heavy Belt with High Strength and %Increased Attributes|
|Rings||2x Rare Two-Stone Ring (Cold / Lightning Resistances) with High Resistances & Strength|
|Weapon||Any Well Rolled Multimodded 2-Hander with Minion Damage and +1 to level of Socketed Gems (Ideally a Synthesized base)|
Since we are very adamant about trying to give you a leveling experience that lies as close to your endgame playstyle as possible, we will be providing you a way to level up with Raise Zombie. If you are looking for the most optimal way to level a character to maps, 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. Optionally, you can create a Templar and kill Hillock quickly to be able to rush the Mud Flats quest while taking Smite as a quest reward from killing Hillock. You want to get a Summon Holy Relic from the quest reward so you can start using Zombies earlier. Witch can’t access this gem otherwise until Act III. Make sure to store the Summon Holy Relic and Smite gems and swap back to your Witch to start leveling.
You will want to start out by buying two Wands from the vendor. On top of that, you want to buy an Explosive Trap as well. After you’ve run the Mud Flats, you’ll proceed to kill Hailrake in the Tidal Island with Explosive Trap.
From there on, you’ll be able to pick up your first Quicksilver Flask and a Frost Bomb from your quest rewards, linking it to Arcane Surge Support and Onslaught Support. It’s important that you never level up your Arcane Surge Support for now. One Frost Bomb and a single Explosive Trap should kill most packs.
After killing Brutus, you will be adding an Added Lightning Damage Support to your Frost Bomb links replacing the Arcane Surge Support. The Arcane Surge Support will be linked to a Flame Dash, which is also available as a quest rewards after killing Brutus. You will stick to this setup until level 12 and until you have killed Merveil.
Changes at Level 12
After we’ve killed Merveil we will try to have the necessary links and currency to get ourselves the following link if you decided against picking up a Summon Holy Relic:
If you did go for the Templar Mule, you could run the following Raise Zombie links:
You can also use Summon Skitterbots to supplement our damage until level 28. After we’ve set ourselves up for success till level 28, we can prepare to start the Zombie gameplay.
Transition to The Baron
Make sure to socket your Raise Zombie links in The Baron so they benefit from the Helmet’s inherent Minion Skill Levels. You can drop your Summon Raging Spirit, Explosive Trap and Frost Bomb, and end up with the following link:
- Raise Zombie
- Minion Damage Support
- Minion Speed Support
- Melee Physical Damage Support (or ###item:Melee-Splash-Support)
Something fun you can add to your Zombiemancer to add a bit of spice while leveling are the Summon Holy Relics.
If you attack with Static Strike and link it to Increased Duration it will keep pulsing the AoE attacks for a while, which will activate your Summon Holy Relic for an extensive duration, making it so they clear packs and keep your Zombies alive.
- Summon Carrion Golem at level 38.
Here’s a Path of Building with all leveling gem setups and a Passive Skill Tree that will get you through the leveling process. If you’re not used to using Path of Building, you can use this Passive Skill Tree instead.
Useful Leveling Unique Items
As you begin a new character, there are a couple of items that can make your leveling process a lot smoother. Tabula Rasa allows you to have a 6-Linked skill as early as you are able to use specific support gems. Wanderlust gives a decent amount of movement speed, which will make your leveling that much more efficient and a Goldrim provides a lot of Elemental Resistances which help a great deal during the leveling.
If you are a new player (or if this is your first character for the league), note that obtaining these items will be very difficult, if not impossible. They are rare drops, which you can otherwise only acquire if you have saved up currency, so do not focus on them too much, and instead simply look for items that match the affix priorities listed in the Gearing section.
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.
Why Would Zombies be Chosen over Spectres?
Spectres have been gaining popularity ever since Zombies took a hit in Delirium League. While they both accomplish the same in terms of damage and playstyle, I think Zombies are easier to gear for. Zombies generally get you to endgame on a medium budget yet still carry on to the highest content on that budget when Spectres are cheap to get into but can also get a lot more expensive on the very top end of gearing. Next up, playing a Zombiemancer does feel a lot different from a Spectre Summoner and in a game like Path of Exile diversity is king!
Reaching 1000 Strength Seems Hard, at What Level Should this be Achieved?
This shouldn’t be an issue at all as of level 70-75. Obviously, depending on your gear levels, you might have to forego some optimal nodes to pick up more Strength first. Reaching 1000 Strength is really important though, and should be prioritized above anything else when it comes to gearing / passives.
Our Zombiemancer Necromancer is a new player-friendly character that really feels like a Classic Summoner. Your army of minions will surround you, protect you and go to war for you. Whilst they are busy fighting off your enemies, you will be supporting them with Auras, Offerings, Buffs and whatnot. This build handles all content in the game very well and is an excellent recommendation for people who would like to get in to learning the game better. It also provides a very steep min-maxxing game at the very highest levels of gear for those who enjoy that last 5% optimization.
It can be really strong as a League-Starter, yet shouldn’t be played in a Solo-Self Found environment as it requires The Baron to work!