Path of Exile: Cyclone/Ice Nova/Frostbolt CoC Assassin Re-Reviewed

Despite my initial misgivings with the Assassin CoC Cospri’s Malice Ice Nova/Frostbolt/Cyclone build, I still felt a certain emptiness driving me to give it a second chance. I knew that upon getting certain items, the potential of the build would be unlocked but the real trick was getting over that initial hump. In turn, I decided to re-create my character from the start and trying a slightly different path to getting him towards that end goal.

A few things that happened while I was fumbling around my initial Assassin. First, I managed to make a ton of munz selling off scarabs. As a result, I could fund some of the necessary gear that acted as a carrot-on-the-stick for me to give this build a second try. For instance, I immediately decided to grab a Lycosidae shield and level with it.

Second, I used a two different build guides with two separate leveling strategies. Initially, I used Frostbolt to do some of the early levels. However, Frostbolt, even with the Frozen Trail jewel proved inadequate, especially in the realm of single target. So roughly around act 3, I decided to completely ditch Frostbolt and move to Storm Brand.

Moving to Storm Brand as a leveling skill made everything 100% times smoother. I was still able to use the main CoC tree with one exception: I picked up Runesmith. The idea here is that I could respec later down the road once I made that switch. But the trick was in deciding the switch off to CoC and Cyclone.

While some guides say that you can level with Cyclone and CoC from the mid-40’s or so, I think it’s actually a really bad idea. The truth is that Cospri’s Malice really is a build enabling item. It’s practically the most important item next to Lycosidae. Without that and good enough critical hit, the build just falls flat. And many of the items that are suggested end up being usable around the 60s. So there’s really zero reason to switch to this build format until you’re able to use Cospri’s Malice.

Even when I was able to equip Cospri’s Malice, I was pretty hesitant about Cyclone and the build in general. I’ve never really had good experiences with PoE’s Cyclone since the channeling aspect locks your mouse up if you keep your right click down for too long. Honestly, it’s one aspect that Diablo 3 managed to get right with Whirlwind by comparison.

So once I hit 68, I felt that I needed some practice. I pretty much farmed Blood Aqueducts from 63 or so until level 70. But man, what a difference the build becomes when you have the main pieces together! Sure, Cyclone still is awkward to use but compared to the earlier stages, it felt a LOT better.

A few things that I did to deal with situations that I had problems with earlier was to improve my life pool when I took damage. The biggest two things I did here were to add Life Leech to my Cospri’s Malice in linking it to Ice Nova and Frostbolt and changing Concentrated Effect to Fortify. While I lose a bit in damage, what I make up is in tankiness.

Thus far, I haven’t had any major issues with getting chunked compared to when I was missing these. Also, I started with a Warlord’s Mark connected to Blasphemy. However, it felt redundant having that with Life Leech so I swapped that out for Enfeeble.  At this point, I still conduct enough damage to not worry about killing enemies fast enough.

Syndicate members don’t cause me as much headaches compared to before too. They pretty much die quickly and my health doesn’t dip. Of course, this is still early on compared to later maps so things might change quickly.

Now, I have seen some people using Vortex with Bonechill but I’ve opted not to take this route for now. Instead, I’ve linked Herald of Ice to Onslaught for the extra movement speed and Bonechill as well as Elemental Proliferation. Not sure if Bonechill nor Elemental Proliferation will benefit Herald of Ice but I have two extra slots and decided to give this a shot.

I’m still in the process of optimizing gear, skill gems and whatnot. So far, the main item I’m missing from the core meta build is a Pandemonius. As that amulet is quite expensive, I’ll need to work a bit to obtain one. But with 15-16 days left in the league, I’m not sure I’ll be able to get one before then.

Overall, I’m far more impressed with the build now that things have come together. I think the key was finding the right leveling spec to allow myself to swap over. In some ways, this build felt like how I dealt with Soulwrest; the lower levels were very painful and it took some experimenting before stumbling upon Storm Brand as the main ingredient to get me over the hill. The explosions from Frostbolt and Ice Storm are very satisfying. Running through mobs and just watching the screen get cleared are fun experiences that made my perseverance worth it.

 

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