path of exile

Path of Exile: Glacial Hammer Champion, Toxic Rain Trickster and Blade Vortex Elementalist Thoughts

Recently, I hit a point in the current Delve league where I felt my main started to bore me a bit. Mostly, it was just hitting a ceiling in terms of feeling I couldn’t push without better gear and leveling from 92 had become dreary, especially after dying a few times and losing a ton of experience. That made me turn to a few alternative projects after seeing a few Youtube and Twitch clips. In turn, I decided to try a Glacial Hammer Champion, Toxic Rain Trickster and Blade Vortex Elementalist.

First, I wanted to start off on the Glacial Hammer Champion. I played around with one on standard league and thought the basic mechanics were straight forward. Mathil did a build for a few days and uploaded a YouTube guide highlighting his progress. For the most part, the build is your average melee build with some big damage coming from critical hits with freezing mechanics.

In my original play through, I used a Gladiator build that I found on My main issue was lacking better AoE. Mathil’s guide differed slightly in taking multistrike to help with the AoE attacks that compliments both Ancestral Call and the Winter Burial gem. I used two for the cold conversion along with Hrimburn gloves. Later, I switched from Hrimburn to Spiked Gauntlets and swapped gear around since my build felt sluggish. I ended up using just a Devoto’s Devotion because Leap Slam still performed poorly.

Unfortunately, in moving away from the main gearing suggestions from, I found that my DPS dropped while my health barely climbed up after getting a 6-Linked Belly of the Beast. The various gearing problems and an untimely death demotivated me around level 82 and made me decide to put this project on hold for a bit.

I do think that the build might be better once I get more life. It’s been a struggle but as it stands, I feel that the play style was too close to the way my Sunder main had been. The main difference for me was that my Sunder character has better overall gear and probably is the best investment to date. So if I want to push someone, it would be that character.

With my progress halted on my Glacial Hammer Champion, I decided to take out my Shadow. I had been wanting to do some form of a Trickster or Assassin all league but never really found a build that seemed spectacular. After watching one of the Engineering Eternity videos on Trickster + Toxic Rain, I decided to give Toxic Rain a second try.

I already have a Toxic Rain character in the form of a Pathfinder. While that character had been fun early on, the later stages of the game began to wear me out due to low health and my inability to get around dying frequently. Part of it is just trying to decipher better gear that would help get me out of the situation along with certain bad dependencies (like Wurm’s Molt, Tabula Rasa and The Embalmer).

With the Engineering Eternity video, one thing that I thought was interesting was the employment of Mind over Matter by either taking the skills or by using a Cloak of Defiance. This was not an option in the other Pathfinder Toxic Rain builds I’ve seen but that along with my recent discovery of a Bulbonic Plague boots motivated me into giving this version a try.

In my original Pathfinder version of Toxic Rain, I had only employed Toxic Rain with a 4-linked Herald of Agony. In this version, the build actually does not use Herald of Agony in the build guide but employs a ranged totem connected to another Toxic Rain gem. I decided to keep the Herald of Agony gem but without linking it since I had the available space. I think the combination is a nice little boost to overall DPS at the moment.

The thing with the ranged totem is that it’s connected to Withering Touch. For the most part, it’s really unnecessary at lower levels with good twink gear. But I do pull it out for boss fights since it adds a nice debuff in addition to helping with a little extra damage.

One thing that I prefer about this build is the mandatory Quill Rain bow. What’s nice about this is that it’s straight forward as opposed to trying to craft a +3 bow. That along with a few other items make this build very clear cut in terms of basic gearing.

I’m still working on getting this guy through the story mode. But thus far, he’s been melting every piece of content. I do think a lot that has to do with my twink gear. So we’ll see how this character turns out once I get into maps and deeper delves.

Lastly, I started working on an Elementalist Triple Herald Blade Vortex character. Part of it was done because of sheer boredom. But at the same time, I managed to acquire an Inpulsa and I really wanted to do something with it. I had tried something like this on Standard but it didn’t feel right. In retrospect, the main problem was that I took an existing character and swapped in the gear and gems which made playing the build feel awkward.

This time through, I decided to go Vaal Blade Vortex from level 12. The idea here is that I wanted to start from scratch and feel the build and get used to the mechanics immediately. Even with good twink gear, the build does start off really slow. Early on, I had mana issues and keeping stacks up was a pain. Not to mention, the area was so small.

However, at the moment, I’ve started Act 4 and hit the mid 40s or so. The main differences are increasing the area effect and duration while having better overall mana sustain. In addition, I had a spare level 2 Enlighten Support gem, which allowed me to put all three heralds to use. So right now, the content is clearing a lot faster, even though Whirling Blades and sustain issues with Blade Vortex still persist.

I am about to do normal lab which I think will help a bit. But I think the real boon will occur once I get the second Ascendancy with Mastermind of Discord. The benefits to your heralds from that Ascendancy pretty much defines this build. So I think once I get to that stage, I’ll be able to run through content much faster (not to mention just having better overall gear and levels to Whirling Blades and Faster Attack Support to make diving into mobs less awkward).

One other thing that really struck out for me that I missed in my initial play through was the Spell Echo Support gem. That support gem is so important to helping your sustain since hitting the higher stacks of Blade Vortex can be painful. It’s kinda reminds me of SRS where getting up to high levels of flaming skulls would be painful without that support gem.

Another thing that I’m having issues with is just low overall dexterity. I’ve got a few items to help compensate (including an Atziri’s Foible). However, being dexterity starved can present pretty big problems for improving your Blade Vortex.

Lastly, I am a little concerned about certain bosses like Kitava where you need to get up close. This might be problematic where dodge mechanics come into play. Righteous Fire had a similar problem early on for me but the main difference was the sheer tankiness of the Juggernaut RF style build in having a huge health pool on top of high life regeneration. So we’ll see how those fights end up.

With around 20 or so days left remaining in the league (probably less), I’m at the point where I’ve done most of the main builds that interested me. Maybe the only one left remaining is an Elementalist Golemancer type of build. However, I’m still missing some key pieces (like the necklace, the anima stone or another stone that would allow me to create an anima stone). I couldn’t really find a good Guardian build so I might just leave that one out for now. Overall, I’m hoping to get a little more leveling done and with Thanksgiving coming up, I’d like to push these characters to at least the map system.

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