Recently, I’ve seen a huge influx of new players over on Twitch for Path of Exile. While it is an exciting time to be a Path of Exile fan, it can be a frustrating time for the new player as well as veteran players barely able to contain holding their tongue while they watch new players make pretty severe mistakes. The Delve league itself, while not horribly tough, does require a reasonable amount of time to understand the basic mechanics. If you started late in the game, then some of those mechanics can be pretty unforgiving. Hence, I wanted to write up an article based on my experience as a mid-experience player and how I would have approached this league a little better in retrospect, especially with the new league starting soon.
The first thing is that hindsight is always 20/20 and what I know now is stuff that I learned from watching others make mistakes, videos and experiencing the league right from the start. But I think as I mature as a Path of Exile player, I’m beginning to see a few certain patterns emerge with each new league/expansion.
For myself, the biggest thing was just choosing a good league starter. People talk about making mistakes and fucking up on your first build. That’s true if you’re absolutely new to the game. Luckily, by now I’m far past the intro part where fucking up on my first build is a non-issue.
That said, I would recommend poebuilds to find a league starter type of build. Not all builds are listed but for someone just wanting to get into the game, it’s not a bad place to look. Also, I might refer to Odealo’s guides. It’s not the best but the main list is easy to understand, even though many of the guides might be outdated.
No matter what though, you really want something that you’re cool with in terms of play style. I like totems and minion type of builds just because the AI can help mitigate mistakes you make during boss fights. And there are some boss fights that are pretty rough early on, especially if you don’t understand the core mechanics nor if you lack gear. So the AI compensates by knowing what exactly to target.
When you compare Delve to say Incursion, one thing you have to realize is that the meta for the game will change. So relying on last league’s builds might not necessarily be the best. For instance, Arc Traps received some heavy nerfs. But in the case of Arc Traps, it mostly was good due to the revised trap mechanic along with the improvements to Arc. Also, for Incursion, the little rooms made Arc Traps very strong. With Delve, defense has been the biggest key, which is why Juggernaut took off.
For my starter, I went with Arc Totems knowing how strong it was last league. While Arc Totems itself didn’t receive any nerfs, Shimmerons did so I could only take my build so far. I still think it would be a good league starter because you really don’t require a lot of gear to get it going. Otherwise, the other strong league starter for me would’ve been Sunder Juggernaut.
Sunder Juggernaut is good, despite the main nerf to the length of Sunder, because it’s a reliable skill and easy to play. Juggernaut is great to get through lab early on and with the revision to Ancestral Warchief via Vaal, this build is pretty decent. What that means is that you can still use a totem to do more of your single target damage if you have problems with the main mechanics of fights. At the same time, the Juggernaut Ascendancy is strong and gives you very good damage mitigation. Over time with certain pieces of equipment, you can repurpose this type of character for a better end game build.
The next thing is just understanding the core league mechanic. Delving itself really isn’t tough; the difficulty comes into play with resource management and strategically picking out the right nodes to farm. Early on, your real goal should be to build up your Darkness Resistance, Sulfite capacity and Light Radius for your cart.
While fossil and resonator farming are fun activities, those are better saved for later game just because your Delve specific attributes will be low (especially your Darkness Resistance). I would suggest focusing on Azurite nodes early on to build up your attributes and try to maximize those. Once you have sufficient Darkness Resistance, Sulfite capacity and Light Radius, then you can begin building up your flare capacity, flare light radius, dynamite damage and dynamite capacity, roughly in that order.
Also, rather than Delving every single time you encounter Sulfite, you’ll want to do it when you fill up large capacities so you can focus on Delve activities all at once. In my case, with my current capacity and Delve attributes, I tend to Delve during leveling after Act 3, Act 6, Act 9 and when I’m full after story mode is complete.
My break down goes along those lines for story mode because those are the key times I want to push for certain levels just before making my lab runs. Also, I try to Delve around or slightly over my level, depending on cost and difficulty during story mode. The XP in those zones can be quite good and it generally can take 2-3 Delves to get a single level.
For fossil and resonator farming, I only start if I see long stretches between Delves. The longer the stretch, the more likely you can find a juicy wall or alcove of items. But just make sure you have around 7 flares minimal. They go very quickly, which is why you shouldn’t do Delves until your basic attributes are built up.
Another thing that I wish I had known about was just the mechanics of Fossil Crafting. ZiggyD has a good video on the subject. But the real MVP is poedb.tw. This site shows you the mods on items and has a fossil crafting checkbox section above that allows you to figure out ahead of time the type of mods you potentially can get on an item. This part is critical because you don’t want to waste fossils for the sake of having them. Knowing that you can get a certain attribute or being able to cancel out irrelevant attributes are a huge part of the crafting process. While you’re still unlikely to get the ultimate item you’d want, your chances of getting a reasonable item will be higher just having this information available.
The other aspect that was uncovered was how mapping and cities were heavily tied together. I read that map drops were nerfed within maps themselves because they wanted you to enter cities to obtain them. That made map sustain a little more difficult once you got into red maps.
In general, I thought that the best stuff just were in Delves. Almost all my 6-Linked items were from Delves and I even found a Reliquary Key. But to really get good benefits from Delve, you needed to continue to push downward, which meant resource management along with good planning.
The problem with Delve wasn’t really the Darkness mechanism since that ended up being just an annoyance. It was the little critters exploding around you or pillars of lightning and invulnerable mobs that surrounded you. Those along with extremely high health spiders, etc. made Delve difficult as you could easily forget to flask or get 1-shot without knowing why. The real solution for this is just ensuring that you have as tank of a build as possible and reading the mods on each zone as you went deeper.
For the most part, I’ve gotten used to the basic mechanics for the league so much of this no longer bothers me. But I do realize that things I would have tried in Incursion probably wouldn’t have worked out so well here. There were some people who mentioned going slower was going to become the new meta for this league along with being tanky. That was only half right though. For instance, I thought Vaal Ancestral Warchief Chieftain was going to become a thing.
Now, the intriguing thing is figuring out how these aspects will blend into Betrayal. We know that both Incursion and Delve will return. How will one work with the other? Will Betrayal provide new metas? Will we slow down? Will tankiness still be a thing? We’ve only been given a small taste of what’s to come. But we know it’s all coming.