3.15 Gon’ Give It To Ya
– Unique items are untouched, specifically the Soul Mantle Combo + Astral Projector
– Cluster Jewels are untouched
– Hierophant Ascendancy untouched… well just the parts we care about
– Huge flask nerfs that impact every build, especially crit builds like this. No idea what a proper flask setup looks like now. Don’t be afraid to run double Quicksilver, etc.
– Crafted ‘Avoid Elemental Ailments’ is reduced, but is now available to craft on Boots and Shields.
– Virtually every support gem now has a higher mana multiplier.
– Spell Totem Support has a larger Cast Speed penalty, now -40% from -30%; we do gain 2% More Damage though!
– Controlled Destruction should now never be used, except when using Elemental Overlord during the acts.
– Conc Effect loses 15% Damage
– Void Manip and its Awakened version both lose 5% Damage
– Added Chaos Support, Increased Area of Effect, and Multiple Totem Support all unchanged?
It’s not clear what the best 6 or 7-link combo for Dark Pact looks like. Will need to see what Path of Building thinks!
Our biggest loss of power comes from the flask changes, since so much DPS and QOL was associated with ‘skillful’ uptime of flasks. That’s now all gone. Surprisingly the support gem changes aren’t all that bad, but it hurts to lose Awakened Controlled Destruction since that was a very good gem to use. Dark Pact continues to have a lack of strong, solid support gem options.
I expect Viridi’s Veil helmet, for the Soul Mantle Combo, to be significantly more expensive in 3.15. Players are nerfed, and the helmet is a Maven endgame drop. Players also want curse immunity, which the helmet provides. Likewise, any totem character is going to be desperate for the Soul Mantle Combo, if they want to stand a chance of clearing juiced T16s comfortably.
This is a new skill, added in 3.15, that seems primed for exploitation with totems. It scales similarly to Dark Pact, with a bigger tax on Totem Life and Totem Chaos Res, for potentially a bigger DPS upside. The skill is scaled by everything that scales Dark Pact, in addition to Projectile Damage.
While the skill is given in Act 2, I don’t think the skill will be truly usable until you are into maps and you specifically have two Medium Cluster Jewels, both with ‘Ancestral Preservation’. The two other notables you’d want would be ‘Sleepless Sentries’, and then whatever else you want like ‘Ancestral Reach’ or ‘Ancestral Echo’. Until then, the skill will simply nuke your Totems too fast for it to be enjoyable or powerful.
Projectiles – The skill always launches one projectile where the totem is targetting. There will be additional projectiles launched for nearby enemies, and there will always be a 2nd projectile if there is only one enemy in range. It is unlikely that increasing your projectile count will improve single target DPS, and the skill tooltip says there is built-in 7 extra projectiles.
AOE – Each projectile’s explosion is AOE damage, like Dark Pact. We are assuming that the AOE explosions of each projectile can overlap its damage. If that is the case, then increasing Area of Effect radius will be incredibly important for most any situation.
Cast Speed – The skill has a longer casting time than Dark Pact, and 3.15 is also increasing the Cast Speed penalty for Spell Totems. This will be a slow skill early on, and the projectiles aren’t instant once cast (Dark Pact is instant). Likewise, if you scale Cast Speed too high without also increasing your overall DPS, then your totems will nuke themselves long before any beefy enemy is dead. So you’ll need a balance here.
Projectile Speed – There is also travel time of the projectiles (Projectile Speed), which you could think of as a second type of Cast Speed. There’s no efficient way for us to scale Projectile Speed, and GGG has nerfed this many times already. So probably don’t worry about this.
This is a guide for Dark Pact Totems, Hierophant ascendancy. I was very impressed with how mechanically strong and sound this build was after playing it to Level 100 and 40/40 challenges in 3.12 Heist league, and also Level 100 in 3.14 Ultimatum! Original inspiration came from Mathil’s version of the build in 3.11 Harvest.
Ranged, safe playstyle
Reliable DPS uptime
Able to do ALL map mods
Life and Mana based gear (simple)
Cluster Jewels are straight-forward and reasonably cheap
Elemental Ailment immunity (shock, freeze, ignite)
Totem builds generally ignore bleed, except for Sirus fight
Good amount of Life and Mana regen; no mana sustain issues
Tabula-focused budget version is very strong, and the Soul Mantle version becomes affordable later in a league
Open maps feel really good
Simple spell visuals, so it’s easy to see WTF is going on
Able to pick up loot, take a sip of beer, all while your totems kill stuff around you
Requires the Astral Projector ring, but this is now cheap
League starting is an awkward transition, but 100% feasible
Not able to life leech, life gain on hit, etc.
The map mod “no life/mana regen” makes dying more likely
We don’t stack block, or that much dodge
Cramped maps feel a little clunky
Can never have enough Chaos Res
Mind over Matter approach means we shouldn’t use offensive auras
How does Dark Pact work and scale?
Dark Pact is cast by your totems with the Spell Totem Support gem. The Astral Projector ring turns this into a ranged spell. This spell instantly ‘explodes’ on a targeted enemy. The size of this explosion is scaled by area effect, and can obliterate small packs of mobs with a single cast. There is no inherent chaining, projectiles, proliferation, damage over time, or whatnot. The totems will keep machine gun casting until all enemies are dead, or until the totems run out of their own Life from casting.
Dark Pact has built-in flat Chaos damage and a “More with Hits” multiplier, that increases with spell gem level. Dark Pact also gains extra damage based on the Life pool of the totem! This doesn’t scale with the Dark Pact gem level, but it does scales with the Max HP of your spell totem, and Spell Totem gem level!
Dark Pact DPS is scaled by, in no particular order:
Gem Level. Totem Life. Totem Damage. Spell Damage. Chaos Damage (not DOT). Area Damage. Cast Speed. Critical Strike Chance and Multiplier. Chaos Resistance Penetration. Wither Stacks.
PoB, Skill Tree:
https://pastebin.com/RRZTT8mt leveling tips
For posterity, here is a link to my character’s profile from 3.12 Heist.
T16 Drox https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EamKla8TYbo
T15 Baran https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRqK0NoIMZw
A8 Sirus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo6OfWJQSNQ
T16 Uber Elder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKzI5qaCUAY
T16 Heist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7xqxmc6QQE
T16 Summit (1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MozysFrSmQQ
T16 Summit (2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWeVN_cipf8
Here’s a clip from 3.14, where a guide follower takes on Awakener 9 Sirus.
Mathil also has two videos from 3.11 that do a very good job of showcasing the mechanics and playstyle of this build.
For third lab, ‘Conviction of Power’ is a strong and simple choice. This gives us 4 Endurance Charges and 4 Power Charges. This gives us offense, defense, and helps with elemental resistance!
For fourth lab, ‘Divine Guidance' is the only choice left. This increases our EHP, increases our Mana Regen, makes our MOM more balanced, and throws in a little DPS with the Transfiguration of Mind.
Kill All for the +2 passives points is also acceptable.
For the Minor, I prefer Shakari because we don’t stack a lot of Chaos Resistance, and we need help in that department. Garukhan is the zoom zoom choice.
Astral Projector & Bench-Crafting Concepts:
Astral Projector is a unique ring that is mandatory for this build. The cheapest way to get this ring, especially early in a league, is to gamble with the Div Card “Haunting Shadows”. Try not to overpay for this ring, because it will drastically drop in price if you give it a little time.
Our other ring, and our amulet, have open suffixes so we can craft +1 Minimum Frenzy Charge. This lets us sneak in a good chunk of DPS, at the opportunity cost of not being able to craft more resistances.
Our helmet and gloves have open suffixes, so we can craft “chance to Avoid Elemental Ailments”. Combined with the Astral Projector ring, and taking ‘Arcane Swiftness’ on the passive tree, this makes us immune to elemental ailments. Once you’re on the ‘Soul Mantle Combo’ version, you won’t be able to craft on the helmet. So you’ll have to buy/roll Shaper-influenced boots that have 25%+ Avoid Elemental Ailments (a roll with 23 or 24% can be Divine Orb’d up to 25%).
Natural Progression of the Build:
Leveling ==> Budget ==> Soul Mantle Combo ==> $$$ End-Game Options
The passive tree, jewels, gem links, and general playstyle of the build do not really change between these versions. Only specific gear pieces change!
The ‘Leveling’ version isn’t Dark Pact, more details in the Leveling section. The ‘Budget’ version is centered around a Tabula Rasa, preferably with +2 AOE Gems implicit. The ‘Soul Mantle Combo’ version is a 6-Link Soul Mantle chest, the Viridi’s Veil helmet, a magic-rolled ring, Coward’s Legacy belt once your budget and resistances can allow, the Self-Flagellation jewel, and new boots that have Avoid Elemental Ailments.
You transition from whatever Leveling character you are using into the Budget version, once you have the Astral Projector ring and are at least Level 40. I also recommend a Tabula at this time, or a usable 6-link corrupted chest. The rest of your items will be decent rares, with Life + Mana + Resistances. You'll want a +1 Totems shield as soon as they come on the market, and it's OK to use a decent DPS wand here in the meantime. You might also consider crafting the Elemental Ailment Immunity, and Frenzy Charges, if you feel like your gear is good enough for it.
Transitioning into the Soul Mantle Combo involves changing a lot of gear, and I recommend trying to do it at all at the same time. The belt, Coward's Legacy, can be saved for a later time if you don't have the currency for it, or you can't balance your Life/Mana/Res with it yet. The Soul Mantle Combo also becomes cheaper over time, so you do save currency by waiting!
[the ‘Skin of the Loyal’ version of this build has been officially retired]
Soul Mantle 6-link is what you should seek after you’re done with the +2 Tabula. Soul Mantle is always strong for any Spell Totem build, and Dark Pact is no exception. The +2 AOE Gems corruption here is also nice, but is quite rare and totally not required for end-game.
Before you can afford the full Soul Mantle Combo, you can slum around with a Curse flask and try your best not to die while using this chest 🙂 This works fine during mapping, with diligent use of flasks. But things will be rough for long bosses like Sirus.
Because of the challenges of using the Soul Mantle chest, I don’t recommend bothering with a 5-link version. Best to run around with a +2 Tabula until you can afford to properly switch over to Soul Mantle 6-link, and preferably with the other items that go with it.
A rare 1H wand is best here. Most any Implicit here is decent too.
You want large rolls for Spell Damage, Cast Speed, and Critical Strike Chance for Spells. You really want +1 Level of all Chaos Spell Skill Gems. The 5th roll is a prefix, best of which is +1 to All Spells. More economical choices here can be something like +Mana or added elemental damage to spells.
The 6th roll is a suffix, and Crit Multi is best here. In the past I would craft ‘Trigger Socketed Spells’ here, but that has been nerfed.
For a unique/budget option, Apep's Rage wand is a good choice, especially if you're not ready to invest and commit to this build yet. The weapon adds flat Chaos Damage, Cast Speed, and Spell Damage, to increase DPS. And a splash of Chaos Res. I've seen people dual-wield these in early league, before +1 Totem Shields come online. The main downside is the Mana cost increase to skills, which this build can handle because of mana regen and mana flask.
The minimum requirement for the shield slot is the Shaper-influence mod, “+1 to maximum number of Summoned Totems”. The rest of the shield can be junk, as long as you have this mod. Crafted Life is then what you would put on this shield.
Trade link for ultra basic shield: https://www.pathofexile.com/trade/search/Ultimatum/92PJ0mHK
The next step up is to look for some bonus elemental resistance on the shield, in addition to +1 Totem, and both Life and Mana if you can get it.
When you are ready to spend more currency on a shield, you want to look for these affixes: +1 to Level of all Chaos Spell Skill Gems, maximum Life/Mana, Critical Strike Chance for Spells, Spell Damage, and other useful stuff like resistances.
Basic rare, preferably with the Dark Pact enchant for Damage or Cast Speed. You want big life, some mana, two rolls of elemental resistance, and an open suffix for crafting “chance to Avoid Elemental Ailments”, which needs to be 25%.
Once you switch to the Soul Mantle Combo, you will also wear the Viridi's Veil helmet. This helmet gives us curse immunity when we use a magic ring, which is the main synergy with Soul Mantle. This item is expensive in the first week of a league, so do not be in a rush to burn currency on this!
Basic rare. Big life, some mana, two rolls of elemental resistance, and an open suffix for crafting “chance to Avoid Elemental Ailments”, which needs to be 25%. Also nice to sneak in some Dexterity here.
I need to list examples of expensive end-game gloves!
Basic Rare. 30% movement, big life, some mana, two rolls of elemental resistance, and an open suffix for crafting even more resistances.
Once you switch to the Soul Mantle Combo, I recommend getting Avoid Elemental Ailments here on Shaper-influenced boots.
My two preferred lab enchants are the Crit Strike Chance one, and the Movement Speed one.
Before the Soul Mantle Combo, any good Abyss belt will do. Big life, some mana, and it’s really nice to score some Strength here. Elemental resistances, and an open suffix to craft more resistances. Catalyst quality for either Life/Mana or Resistances can also be used here.
Once you go Soul Mantle Combo, you will want to use the Coward’s Legacy belt. Take note that this belt has no EHP and no resistances! You can also catalyst quality for some extra attributes, or 2% movement speed. Don’t forget to spend the passive point on ‘Pain Attunement’, on the passive tree!
The best Belt enchant from the Super Uber Lab is “Enemies Withered by you have -6% to all Resistances”. It’s nice to have if you can get it, but don’t sweat it. “15% increased Area of Effect while you have Arcane Surge” is second best.
Headhunter does work with totem builds, and works perfectly fine on this build for clearing maps. So aim for this if you want to!
Dark Pact doesn’t scale the best from gem levels, so seeking out a +1 or a +2 amulet is not as strong as you might think. Still an option though!
A more economical approach is to look for an amulet that is generically good. Big life, some mana, Spell Damage, Cast Speed, Crit Multi are all fine here. Also useful here is Strength and Dexterity, if you need more of these stats.
We also want an open suffix on our amulet, for the +1 Minimum Frenzy Charge craft, which does limit our options. Catalyst quality for either Life/Mana or Attributes are both strongly recommended here.
The anoint you want is “Primal Manifestation”, which is cheap and gives a big chunk of DPS.
Your spare ring is a standard rare ring. Big life, some mana, a lot of elemental resistance, and an open suffix for +1 Minimum Frenzy Charge craft. Catalyst quality for either Life/Mana or Resistances are both strongly recommended here.
When you make the switch to the Soul Mantle Combo, your rare ring with 6-mods will need to become a magic ring with 2-mods. Plan accordingly!
The other ring is Astral Projector. Do not put Caster quality on this ring; it will increase the Less Area multiplier!!
The regular jewels have Maximum Life and Totem Life for their prefixes. The suffixes are your choice, and can be elemental resistance, strength/dexterity, crit multi, crit multi for spells, critical strike chance, area damage, and anything else you think might be good. I tend to find Elemental Resistances really helpful here.
Trade link with a variety of suffixes: https://www.pathofexile.com/trade/search/Ultimatum/DYzyBOgU5
The abyss jewel is similar to a regular jewel. I like Life, Mana, Str/Dex, and Crit Multi. This is also a good place to buy a Corrupted Blood abyss jewel, which you slot in exclusively for the Sirus fight.
Once you are using the Soul Mantle Combo, you will want to use the Self-Flagellation jewel.
The full skill point cost of 1 Large Cluster, 2 Medium Clusters, and their empty jewel sockets being filled, is 18 skill points. That’s a bargain for what they offer! Before you can afford the full set of Cluster Jewels, I would recommend using a single Medium Cluster that has ‘Sleepless Sentries’ on it; the Onslaught proc is just so nice to have ASAP!
The Large Cluster jewel comes from the Chaos Damage family. You want it to have “Adds 8 Passive Skills”. The best roll has 3 notables on it, two of which are Prefixes, and one of which is the Suffix ‘Unholy Grace'.
For the two Prefixes, you want two of the four ‘Dark Ideation', ‘Touch of Cruelty', ‘Unwaveringly Evil', and ‘Wicked Pall'. Go for what feels best for your character, and of course is affordable 🙂
Trade link for the crafting base: https://www.pathofexile.com/trade/search/Ultimatum/9adWadzUK
Trade link for ideal jewel: https://www.pathofexile.com/trade/search/Ultimatum/vwXVnmBcE
The two Medium Cluster jewels are your bread and butter, and they come from the Totem Damage family. They can have 4 or 5 “added passives skills”, but you do not want 6. Each can have 2 notables, which means you will have a total of 4 notables to work with. That means you want 1 each of: Ancestral Echo, Ancestral Preservation, Ancestral Reach, Sleepless Sentries.
Trade link for the crafting base: https://www.pathofexile.com/trade/search/Ultimatum/yp3bZyeUR
Trade link for ideal jewels: https://www.pathofexile.com/trade/search/Ultimatum/yVleyJBhR
Below is a link that helps detail these medium Cluster jewels.
Small Cluster jewels should generally be avoided, in my opinion. They just cost too many passive points to use.
We use both a Life and Mana flask. Since we are MOM, the mana flask acts as a type of life flask, and works synergistically with our life flask. You can choose to not use a Mana flask, since the build only uses it for EHP sustain, and not for actual mana sustain.
The utility flasks are Diamond, because we are crit, and Quartz, because reliable phasing is just too good to not use. The last flask should be a Quicksilver, because we want to be fast!
We have a lot of choices for our flask suffixes, since we are elemental ailment immune. If you need Curse Immunity, I recommend putting that on the Mana flask. The Catarina flask craft from unveiling a Cinderswallow Flask is really strong here, especially if you can get the Crit Chance one.
Eternal Life Prefix: Bubbling, Catalysed, or Panicked.
Eternal Life Suffix: Staunching, though we don’t really need it
Eternal Mana Prefix: Enduring, for the always-on effect
Eternal Mana Suffix: Warding, if not using Soul Mantle
Diamond Prefix: Experimenter’s, generally best here
Diamond Suffix: Cast Speed, a good Catarina craft, or your choice
Quartz Prefix: Experimenter’s or Chemist’s
Quartz Suffix: Cast Speed, a good Catarina craft, or your choice
Quicksilver Prefix: Experimenters, Chemist’s, Alchemist’s, Ample
Quicksilver Suffix: Adrenaline
Lastly, this build does benefit from a Bottled Faith flask. I’d drop the Mana flask, because standing on the Consecrated Ground gives 6% Life Regen, and partially makes up for losing the ‘regen’ from the Mana flask. Bottled Faith can be a little awkward to use, because we need to get closer to scary bosses in order to get the benefit. But boy is it strong when you get everything working!