Path of Exile: Post Incursion League Character Thoughts

I did my general thoughts about Incursion league. In this post, I wanted to go over the various builds that I attempted. Some were failures in experimentation, others I would halt half way and a few I managed to get into maps. How did each compare at the end of the day?

Necromancer/SRS/Zombie Barons

This wasn’t a build I started with at the beginning of the league. However, I wanted to start off by saying if I had to start from scratch based on what I know now, this would have been a good pure starting build for a witch. The thing I found decent was the combination between SRS and Zombies. What made this build notable as a league starter is that you allow the AI to handle mobs and bosses while you sit away at a safe distance.

As an Incursion type of build, it was terrible because of the slow clear speeds from poor AoE. The little rooms and timer made this build fail to clear the Incursions in a reasonable manner. Also, gear-wise, there wasn’t a lot that I found useful from Incursions.

The build I ended up going with was very unique dependent and left very small wiggle room to fit in must-have uniques that could help out pad my resistances. Instead, I was very strength starved and had difficulties pushing my strength to certain break points to allow the Baron’s life leech ability to kick in for my zombies.

Perhaps with the upcoming modifications for witches and minions in Delve, this build might be more suitable, especially as a league starter. One thing though is that I probably wouldn’t do zombies again. Or if I did, it would be with the intent of switching to something that could clear better and have less dependencies on certain uniques.

Flameblast Totem Hierophant

This was my next major mapper. One I got a Tabula Rasa (among other things), the leveling process really smoothed out. What’s nice about this build is that it’s easy for a league starter as you really don’t need any uniques to get a basic build going. In fact, even at the end, you don’t need any uniques. Just a LOT of cast speed.

What’s great about this build is that you can access 4 totems just through Ancestral Bond and the hierophant specific ascendancy nodes. For bosses, the only thing you need to change out is Area of Effect for Concentrated Effect. It can get a bit annoying swapping all the time but it’s nice just having your totems do all the main work.

One thing I added was the Item Rarity support gem with Flammability. Since you really can’t do much else besides drop totems and curse, you might as well add a bit of MF to the mix.

Like my SRS/Zombie necromancer though, I found this build to be unsuitable for Incursions. It worked well for leveling and basic mapping. However, room clears really required something else.

Later, I discovered that Arc was the way to go and felt stupid. Since Arc wasn’t nerfed (yet), I feel that Arc Totems might be a great league starter for the upcoming Delve league.

Ancestral Warchief Chieftain

I probably have tried this build around 4-5 times. I had been trying to make it work for a while and had numerous false starts, including going a 2H version with a booger hammer to boot. However, the version that I enjoyed the most was the Facebreaker one with Tukohama’s Fortress.

While some say that the Berserker can scale damage better, it just didn’t feel right in terms of the ascendancy. I think the biggest appeal for me was switching the ascendancy to use the taunt for the totems. With three totems up and a Belly of the Beast as your armor, it’s just a very nice tanky build.

This isn’t a great map clearer nor is it good for Incursions. There’s just not enough AoE and I doubt adding a fourth totem would do any good. However, for bosses, this build is amazing. Pretty much you’ll be shield charging around the map to gain the Fortify buff and dropping Vengeance curses on the enemy while your totems handle the rest. With Concentrated Effect, you’ll nuke a boss down quite quickly and zip around to only occasionally maintain your Fortify buff.

I think once Delve comes out with the new Vaal Ancestral Warchief, we’ll see a resurgence in this build. Slow and tanky will be the new meta and pretty much that is what defines this build.

Arc Trapper

Easily, this was my favorite build for Incursion. I mourn for the fact that I did not start off with this build. I did feel that the first 12 levels were very painful due to mana regeneration issues and the lack of AoE compared to the traditional molten strike or bow builds. But once you get your Fencoil/Mirebough linked up with arc, it’s game over.

This was the most satisfying build with regards to leveling using Incursions. For the most part, with a good layout, you could finish up with 20-30 seconds remaining just due to the way Arc could zap entire sections of areas in a single go. Against bosses, you could just depend upon this, although some people used Lightning Spire in conjunction with this and some +1 trap gloves.

The main weakness I found was just survivability. Pretty much if you couldn’t get your traps out fast enough, there would be a high likelihood of you getting one shot. In Incursions at higher levels, this was the case. A bad layout meant you would be instagibbed and there would be nothing you could do about it.

That’s why I’m a bit miffed that GGG is nerfing traps. I thought they were in a very good place. Maybe for Delve it would defy certain mechanics but the basic playstyle was good. Arc Trappers had their own issues despite what the community seem to say. I felt that the whole premise of an arc trapper type of build was the old wild west scenario: kill or be killed.

I think the only sadness for me is not being able to see the full potential of what a properly geared up almost maxed out Arc Trapper could have been. However, I was pretty satisfied. I just won’t be using one for Delve.

Cold Conversion Vaal Rain of Arrows

I started a bow build before this one using Rain of Arrows. However, I could not find any decent guides when I began and ended up switching a few times, once to Tornado Shot and later to Elemental Hit. I found both switches to have been huge mistakes. So I ended up re-creating my ranger as a pure Vaal Rain of Arrows and getting up to the last act or so. I was impressed by Mathil’s play through which inspired me to give this one a try.

For the most part, I thought this was a decent build. It wasn’t as good at clearing compared to Arc Trapper nor as safe. However, early leveling was very satisfying and not having to deal with the possibility of handling 2 six linked items made the build highly appealing to me. You can be sloppy and allow for the large hit radius of Rain of Arrows and your Mirage Archer to compensate. When you fight a boss, you can use the Vaal Rain of Arrows as a cooldown to just burst them down.

The only two items I felt were really necessary were a Death’s Opus and Hrimsorrow gloves. I had a few other items but those two in particular were the build makers. At the time of writing this, I was still on my Tabula Rasa and Goldrim. I feel those easily can be replaced once I start mapping. Most likely, I’ll switch the Tabula Rasa to a Queen of the Forest and swap out my Belt of the Deceiver for Stygian Vise with decent elemental resists. I could use a Lightpoacher but don’t think there’s a point.

For Delve, I think this build would end up at the same place. It’s good for clearing rooms, really isn’t a fast one but would require the proper pieces and gems to get going. It’s not a league starter and I only did it because of all the gear I accumulated.

Righteous Fire Juggernaut

I had in my mind to create a Righteous Fire build for a while now. Up until this point, I never had the proper gear nor knowledge of how to start. Because of all the gear I found, I decided to give it a shot. I did it twice I think. Once for the Flashback and once for the normal incursion league.

I found that this build wasn’t great as a league starter just because of the gear necessary to really make it work. Even with the proper gear, it was a major pain because the guides I found focused on compensating the degenerating aspects of Righteous Fire, leaving little room for damage on the tree. When I found Malachai, for instance, it was embarrassingly painful. He couldn’t do a  thing to me nor could I to him!

Around level 40 is where most guides recommend you can switch. So I went Righteous Fire at 38. I still degenerated a bit but it wasn’t too bad with all my gear. However, clear speeds were still abysmal compared to what I would see at the high end. Part of that was due to the small radius of damage and the lack of fire damage nodes.

Once I surpassed a certain threshold of health and damage nodes, the build started smoothing out. I think what helped out the most was getting the Elemental Equilibrium and Elemental Overload keystones. Those made my damage go through the roof.

I bought a last minute Kaom’s Heart which also pushed my damage very high. Around that point, clearing was cake. I skipped over Incursions since this build just felt horribly awkward for the longest time. It’s not a slow build by any means once you get it going but I think it has a niche.

For Delve, I don’t see this as a good build at all. It’s neither a good league starter nor something where you would want to charge into darkness. So I’m staying clear. For myself, it was just a novelty.

Vaal Double Strike Gladiator/Champion

I got far enough as a Gladiator where I started to enjoy the build. But I think I could’ve messed up as I’ve read how Champion works better. Originally, I started out as a Champion using a shield in following a guide. Later, I changed my mind and went Gladiator. I don’t think it was a great idea but it worked up to a  point.

I think part of my problem was the initial feeling of how Double Strike by itself just wasn’t clearing fast enough by itself. Leveling with it seems natural as you get the basic Double Strike early on. But Vaal Double Strike soars with the Vaal part in place. That’s the mistake I was having in trying to get the build to work.

Now, the place where I started to realize I was having problems was not using Increased Duration support. I actually have a corrupted Tabula Rasa with +2 to socketed increased duration gems. So if I could fix my build, it would be to connect that some how. Or at least having a secondary setup, say on my gloves, to get that increased duration support somewhere when launching Vaal Double Strike.

As a league starter, this is something I wouldn’t mind trying again with Delve once I get a Vaal gem. I think you can even just go Sunder (despite the nerf) and have Vaal Double Strike in your side pocket on some gloves. I don’t know if I’ll do this for Delve but it’s definitely a higher possibility than other builds at the moment.

Vaal Reave Ascendant

Reave had been on my mind for sometime after watching Alkaizer play it. It looked fun and his comment, “I don’t think GGG has produced anything as satisfying” really set the tone for me.

Well, I gave it a try and just couldn’t get into it. I probably switched too early on my Scion. They recommended around level 40 and I swapped during the end of Act 2. It just felt horribly weak at that level. I continued to persist with it and would swap in Blade Flurry for single target.

Even with reasonable starter gear, I just felt impotent. The radius was there but something was lacking. Perhaps, the Ascendant was the wrong choice for this type of skill but it was one of the available ideas I saw for Reave and for Scion. Maybe a skill like this should be taken at an even higher level once you get your basic stuff filled in. It could be like Righteous Fire where a certain threshold is required to kick things up a notch. Either way, I’m not doing this again.

I will say that I hope to get this character up to where I can feel the potential for Vaal Reave. Maybe that threshold is around level 60 where you get better damage nodes. Also, maybe my weapons just aren’t great for it. I read one post about using a White Wind dagger for a duelist. It’s something I actually own so I’m certain it can work for Reave.

Ascendant Elemental Hit

This is probably going to be my big rant. Originally, I wanted to just have some form of a scion to say I had a scion. So I looked around and found some Ice Storm staff version. I leveled her to around 14 and gave up because it just was bad all around. The next one I created was the aforementioned Vaal Reave character. I hit a wall with Reave and just gave up.

Somewhere in there, I heard about this Elemental Hit meme build. Well, I had already gave it a shot with my ranger and that was a massive failure. My coworker/friend/PoE mentor inquired, “Did you have the gems?” What gems?

So after doing some research, I found out that the proper way to do Elemental Hit in the Incursion League was to acquire two fire conversion gems along with getting the Avatar of Fire keystone, which was FAR easier as a Scion than as a ranger. Guess what? OP time!

This was my last character created in Incusion and fittingly so as pretty much the build will die out due to some stupid nerfs to the two conversion gems. Yes, Elemental Hit was extremely powerful. Yes, you could destroy things. But guess what? It’s not cheap nor a league starter build by far, so I don’t get the nerfs GGG.

I have been leveling up my Scion and clearing basic maps and am sad that I no longer have access to the Incursions. I started to see the true potential of this build once I had my two conversion gems and Avatar of Fire keystone in place. I made a few goof ups but once I had my gear and skills set up, the leveling process became extremely smooth.

The one area I found myself struggling with was lab. The trap gauntlets were pretty pain because this isn’t a fast build. Blink Arrow just sucks for movement so you bottleneck becomes movement. Damage-wise, you can just use GMP for everything, even though you can take things down even faster with Damage at Full Life. But I just found not switching to add less headaches.

I only have been pushing this build a bit recently just because I wanted to see what it could be prior to the patch coming out. It’s not without its weaknesses such as movement. You have no life regeneration and are forced to face tank things. So if your mouse clicking finger isn’t up to par, you’re in for a very bad time.

Again, I really don’t get the purpose of nerfing a build/skill like this. I don’t have issues with the conversion. It still is difficult to obtain those gems without some level of investment. And it’s not like people are going to be leveling with this at the start of a new league. I think it’s just that GGG are easily influenced by stupid people and twitch streamers all complaining about this or that being OP. I think at the end of the day, if people manage to highlight something as being fun, they shouldn’t change what’s there. That means they have successfully created a good product. Instead, they Blizzard’d this route. But what can you expect from weak minded developers?

Poet’s Pen Inquisitor

I did this one a bit earlier than the Scions but mostly because I found a Poet’s Pen and heard about its value. I bought a second one and decided to give it a shot after viewing RaizQT’s leveling guide on youtube. I will say this had to be one of the more satisfying builds around….up until a certain point.

So I went the traditional route using Volatile Dead and Unearth as opposed to the new Arc version. My coworker mumbled something about an Arc version but I did not encounter it until too late. Not to mention the Arc version seemed to require 4 Poet’s Pens for fast switching. That seemed like a pain.

Anyway, Poet’s Pen is something. Very fast clearer with you zipping around using Bodyswap. I found the Bodyswap to be annoying and unpredictable. A few times it got me killed just because I would end up behind a mob that was ready for me. I did acquire a Lightpoacher as per RaizQT and it made the build even more fun with the little spirit balls assaulting the screen.

I especially found Temples towards the end to be really bad for this build. I would remove Bodyswap with Elemental Focus to avoid teleporting into an impossible to kill mob with too much life that could one shot me or equally bad, some trap. That probably was the stopping point for me since I was ready to push into maps. But I pretty much needed to finish up Merciless lab and kill Kitava. Neither should be difficult but I’m pretty drained.

I think this is a fun build to try out but not one for Delve due to the Darkness mechanic. Also, it’s definitely NOT a league starter as you are required to have too many uniques, especially dual Poet Pens. I would have liked to have tried the Arc version as I believe the setup would have been better with even higher damage. I would like to finish up the one I have just to see how it would perform in maps.

Arc Elementalist

This was a last minute decision just to check out a possible elementalist. There were three options: 1) Golemancer; 2) Vaal Fireball; 3) Vaal Arc. I ended up going for the meta build. Only made it to Act 4 or so and got my Ascendancy before getting bored. Maybe I was expecting too much after playing my Arc Trapper. AoE clears was good but the single target stunk.

I might revisit this character down the road. She might turn out to be a very good league starter but I felt that the boss aspect wasn’t there for one reason or another. Not sure what it was. Again, maybe I needed to swap some gem to get the effect I’d been craving.

On a side note, I did socket my Arc into an Amplification Rod just because I wanted the extra three “free” support gems. I think this would have worked fine if I could have found a good single target setup to work along side. I just wish that the Amplification Rod could have a better leveling setup the way the Mirebough worked. Maybe I was too spoiled by then.

Cyclone Slayer

I didn’t create this guy on Incursion but had a higher level duelist sitting around with a free passive reset. I had been wanting to try Cyclone for sometime and figured it would be good just to see this one in action. There was a spare Ngahamu’s Flame lying around so I decided to take this build for a literal spin. Pretty much this build wrecks things.

I had procrastinated on getting the normal Ascendancy and just went for it. It wasn’t even a challenge. I probably should just do Cruel as I don’t think it will be that much more difficult for his level. But with the gear I have, things just melt.

I suppose the main two things that present problems are 1) mana; 2) channeling. Mana is a manageable aspect of the game but channeling is not. The reason why I point this out is that it’s easy to compare a build like this to Whirlwind barbarian from Diablo 3. Now, here’s where Blizzard nails their games: it’s about the smoothness.

Cyclone is fun no doubt just in the few moments I gave it a shot. But what I didn’t like and was a huge turnoff was the continuous channeling after I would lift my finger. I felt that there is a disconnect in the interface between what one intends and the commands sent to the server. Because of this disconnect, what you see isn’t necessarily what you want and it makes online channeling type of play styles in general harder to pull off.

Glacial Hammer Gladiator

This is a novelty build that I found. I had another moderately high level duelist lying around in Standard league that I felt deserved some attention with the free passive respect. Since I got my Cyclone craving out of the way, I decided to look into more esoteric builds.

This build ended up being pretty fun but nothing too attention grabbing. It cleared things fast, moved smoothly and had some tankiness with the ability to face tank bosses. I didn’t have to do any oddball gem swapping nor weapon swapping. I could just use my basic setup for bosses and clearing which made me very happy.

It wasn’t as fast as say Arc Trapper but it performed reasonably well. I had a one of the skill tree jewels lying around to make the build function nicely. However, I am missing a few core gear pieces, none of which hurt the build at this stage. I forget which act I ended up at but I might pick up this build again in the future. Not necessarily the best league starter in my book but you could make it work given the basic required setup.

Vaal Blade Vortex Elementalist…Er Witch

So everyone was raving about Vaal Blade Vortex. I vaguely remember trying out Blade Vortex a long time ago and recalled it being clunky. Supposedly, they fixed the core problem which was the 20 stacks and reducing it down to 10. However, the basic build for me still feels clunky.

The way I describe this build is like an even more awkward version of Righteous Fire. Righteous Fire is awkward due to the amount of compensation you require to stop degenerating. But once you get that set, you’re smooth sailing. Vaal Blade Vortex has that mechanic of moving from pack to pack but you need to keep your Blade Vortex up. I think the channeling aspect once again makes this build feel bad.

The thing is that after trying it out, I felt discouraged and gave up. I had a spare witch on standard that I figured would be at a good level just to see if there was any potential. Pretty much I feel that you need to start leveling with it early on to get a good grasp on the physical mechanics. It’s definitely not something you should dive into if you’re not used to the basics.

That’s probably why people were raving over it since it could be used as a league starter. And that’s probably where it really belongs, although it looks good for end game. I think you either start with a build like this and get used to things or find something else for your play style.

Vaal Fireball Elementalist

Here’s my last character I created. It was just an experimental one prior to Delve league. But the premise was that I simply wanted to see how Vaal Fireball felt. A lot of people mentioned it’s not a great build with mediocre DPS and a poor leveling choice.

In my case, I had more than sufficient uniques to do something with a basic build. So I added stuff like Volley and LMP early on. It felt a bit like Split Arrow minus Mirage Archer. I added the two unique gems for Fireball into my skill tree to grow my fireballs and I also tried a suggestion in using Poet’s Pens for a small bit.

In the end, I ended up going with just a simple ignite style fireball. The Vaal portion is useless since you spin around. So against bosses, you won’t gain anything. For that, I use Scorching Ray with a spell totem support. With my fire damage being high along with ignite passives, I can burn down bosses within reason.

It’s not an entirely impressive build but does well for what it’s worth. I can’t see it as a meta build unless single target gets buffed somehow. It’s more for novelty and something different.

Poison Spectral Throw Assassin

This is the absolute last one I’ll write about. I spent probably an hour or so just tinkering with this. Of course, anytime I create a scion, I have to use Spectral Throw. It feels like ass on a scion when you start and it feels like ass once you have some links going.

I guess I just don’t know what to do with this build. I was bored, had a spare shadow lying around and wanted to see if this build was worth anything. Nope. Maybe he’s too low level but I can feel something lacking. Visually, it’s nice with the little purple poison splotches left from hitting things. But beyond that I found the build to be unremarkable. Again, maybe the problem is that I needed to use something else for leveling until I hit a certain level. But I feel that it’s pointless getting into something without trying it out a bit.


Overall, that’s a fuck ton of builds that I tried. You can say that I was completely unfocused this league but the main thing has been that I’ve simply wanted to have an opinion on all these skills/builds by trying them out. There’s very few left where I have a deep desire to give it a spin. Maybe another marauder or two since I have a few lying around.

The other reason for me wanting to trying all this out is just that I never had the real opportunity to see the game from start to finish. Either there was something else to play or my computer would crash horribly, leaving me unmotivated. This league and my current setup allowed this huge wave of content to crash down simultaneously.

Also, since I acquired so many items throughout the league and began using trading, the experience for me is akin to being a child in a toy store. There’s so many paths to go down and opportunities whereas before I just had garbage items and no context to use them.

I am no expert by far. However, at this point, I can get around as I need and know what I have to do to progress. Playing all these setups also allowed me to overcome my nervousness against fighting certain bosses or facing lab. While I still do not enjoy the bear boss nor lab’s traps, I can handle them.

Finally, even if I skip Delve league (which I am not sure of as of yet), I have a ton of characters in standard to choose from now that allows me to learn more about the game and practice against mechanics.






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