The Guardian ascendancy received a bit of a revamp last patch and I briefly gave it a spin. However, I didn’t push him into maps nor did I finish up getting even the Merciless Ascendancy. This league I decided out of boredom (and because I had some gear lying around handily) to give this build another shot.
Dominating Blow/Herald of Purity is quite an amazing combo used in conjunction with the Guardian ascendancy. Radiant Crusade and Unwavering Crusade are what gives the edge to this combination. You gain AoE and regeneration along with increased minion accuracy as some of the highlights, along with increased effect for Herald of Purity.
Gearing is easy. There really aren’t any mandatory uniques for this build but I would say that for starters Sidhebreath, Skullhead and Chaber Cairn are excellent starter options in terms of their bonuses to minion damage and life. Also, it’s very easy to get your resistances up along with life because of the lack of need for specific pieces of gear.
I ended up buying a 5 linked Chaber Cairn since I couldn’t get the Chober Chaber prophecy. But having both allowed a very smooth transition in leveling. They both provide great sources of minion life and melee/minion socketed gem levels. Also, they have very good damage. For this, I put my Herald of Purity along with Fortify, Minion Damage, Faster Attack and Ruthless.
My chest piece was a very well rolled Astral Plate that I crafted and got a spectacular +150 life roll along with double resist (and a crafted +35% to cold) which made for a good starting chest piece. I put Dominating Blow on that with Multistrike, Culling Strike, Melee Physical and Melee Splash. The idea here is to quickly generating minions and deliver finishing blows to get better quality minions as I go through packs of mobs.
In terms of potential upgrades in the future for my own build, I think that an Atziri’s Disfavor could be quite good here. I can imagine doing something like an Empower gem to boost up your Herald of Purity if you could manage to obtain a 6L version. Or you could find a minion helm like an Elder Bone Helmet with minion damage and minion life socket support and place your Herald there. Then with that use a Kaom’s Heart and put your Dominating Blow into your Atziri’s Disfavor.
Because this is a minion build, I put a lot of emphasis on minion damage, including the wheel with Spiritual Aid. It allows me to get damage for myself along with the normal damage for minions along with any other minion damage nodes. I take the major ones that supplied me with more zombies. In that sense, I did take some zombie gems with a little extra linkage as more meat shields.
The only movement choice for me here was Leap Slam. It’s pretty painful due to the slow weapon speed. I’m sure adding more attack speeds node should help but this really isn’t a fast clearing build.
However, this build is quite tanky. What’s nice is that once you have all your minions up, you pretty much eat through everything around you. You don’t get elegant and clean screen clears but you do have a small army at your disposal. Also, it’s not that difficult to conjure up a new army, even when fighting a multiphased boss (except for the zombie portion).
What I really enjoyed about this build more than anything was the leveling process. I started off with both smite and zombies. With smite you can link it to Ancestral Call from level 4 so it makes your early game leveling extremely fast. The zombies only act as an auxiliary source of DPS and to avoid wasting those initial minion nodes you pick up early on.
I suppose the real downside to this build is trusting the AI to do the right thing. It is a big mess with all the minions running around. In a congested situation, they become somewhat useless and confusing. A good example of this occurring is during Syndicate encounters within a tiny fortress. You may occasionally find yourself lodged right up against a Syndicate member uncertain who is doing what. This can get dangerous if you don’t know what ability might strike next. Also, when you move around far, you may distract your minions from finishing off opponents. This might make kill large packs of mobs seem a bit sloppy.
While I didn’t try this build out as a league starter, I can see the potential for it becoming one. Herald of Purity has become one of my favorite heralds in the game due to the minion summoning aspect. Combining that with a minion focused build gives it a bit of an edge early on, especially for those lacking skill caps (e.g. me). I don’t know how this build will perform in the end game but I suspect it eventually hits its limits with higher level bosses due to the nature of being forced to summon minions on the spot, which means taking time to ramp up damage in comparison to other builds which have very high DPS out the door.