Path of Exile catch-all

When you are just starting to learn, it's a case of either not enough info (wtf is going on here?) or too much (wait, *why* did you run halfway across the skill map to get that node, again?) You need to tear down a few builds, even ones you will never actually play, before you can get to the actual meat - what skills do you absolutely need, and then what ones are available to you after those that makes you more powerful/interesting/safe?

It's funny, once you mess with it enough, it sort of pops into focus, and makes a lot of sense. The thing that helped it for me, after looking at the paths that people use for the popular builds, was to figure out what a build's primary need would be - Life regen, chaos resist, melee damage, whatever - and using the search box to find all the nodes for it. From that, you can see where your skills should run towards, and then you can look at other paths to other skills, and figure out perhaps a primary and secondary path with nodes to hit on the way.

By doing that, the design philosophy becomes clear. If you want to specialize, you won't be concentrating in any one area, but kind of running out like a vine. But a more general purpose build, emphasizing the basic strengths of a character type, will look more like a bush with a few tendrils sticking out of it. The whole design is intended to provide a challenge, but also to prevent the problem in some games of being able to just take everything.

Now, when I look at it, it's a thing of balance and beauty, and I love figuring out what I'd need to make a build work. "Path of Building" is also an amazing tool for learning and trying out builds.

So I am now level 20 (with 0 passives spent) and in act 2.
This is by far the highest and furthest I have gotten in PoE.
And I am flush with skill gems I have no idea what i want to do with.

I am running heavenly fire totem, zombies, skeletons and phantasms. I have summon weapon but it both isn't necessary and its mechanic would be much better if the summons was permanent or something like 5-10 minutes in duration...

I found my first vaal dungeon where I looted corrupted weapons and vaal skills.
I have completed the menagerie quest. I am assuming it is a temp/perm custom pet/companion summons?

I have also unlocked the astrology stuff I believe. (@level 20?)

I was really disappointed with orb of storms. Does attack speed effect it? I hope so because it is so slow...
I have a multitrap support gem that I am looking forward to using with flamethrower trap when I loot it.

I also have contagion and essence bond and a bunch of the different dashing gems which again I have no idea what to do with since I am doing fine with my minions and totem.

The game does have the double edged sword of having so much going on that it is exciting yet very difficult to tell what is going on.

No passives? I spend them as soon as I get them Probably why I wind up with weird builds.

I'll probably jump into this Friday night.

I have found some minion support nodes but no end class for it so I don't know where i want to put them.

So... Ignore all the fancy gems, put them in your stash for another character. Think about an aura that will buff your mana or critters. Get a good distance attack gem so you can back up your army.

Here's the deal. In general, one attack at any given range is better than two or 3. I like to have a distance attack (probably AOE, like fireball) and maybe a close-in AOE in case someone gets through my minions. However, since you're doing minions, screaming skulls (flaming? never can remember the actual name) will do all of that, and hang around a bit and attack stuff). So maybe don't worry about an elemental attack and just go with the skulls as your main attack.

Whatever you do, don't make the mistake of having like 5 cool attacks. That's not useful. It might be fun to throw traps and cast fireballs and have a bow, but if you think about it, those things overlap in functionality and which one enhances the others? You can't do them all at once. Build around a skill. If you want to do distance stuff without minions, grab a bow, use a poison AOE, use a totem to slow enemies down and traps to catch them while you shoot at them. Then enhance your abilities with an aura or two. That kind of build will be far more survivable than the "everything cool goes in the wand" approach lol.

Enjoy! And remember, the game intends you to have multiple characters, that's why you have the stashes. Experiment! Have fun.

The menagerie lets you challenge, capture and then fight beasties to use their body parts to create interesting new items. Allows you to more easily get a certain type of gear that you want, in other words. If the stars align and you have a bit of luck.

I'll look up some aura skills for sure. The other things I am looking into are: inferno summons, multi totem (I think I've seen this, I know there is multitrap), ignite/burning stuff (cuz I think my skellies are doing fire damage?)

And then there are brands right? Which are kind of like magic traps...

Like I said, so much is going on on screen that it is hard to tell what's going on.

There's a multi-totem node, I think; search for it. Not sure of other ways how to do it.

You'll get used to all the effects after a while, and they will be easier to sort out visually.

The only time I've ever successfully built a character of my own was after trying a few proven builds from other players to learn what works and what doesn't. The skill tree/skill gem interaction is complex for a new player. The main suggestion which you'll see everywhere is go for defense first. This is great advice.

Pick a skill that you want to try such as a specific totem, a specific mine, a specific melee or ranged skill, a specific summon. Plan to put that in your chest or two handed weapon for a potential 6 link. Skill ceiling comes from number of links. The improvement from 4->5 and 5->6 links is huge.

Pick some more skills that augment your chosen main skill. Auras, curses and sometimes a totem fit this description. There are also secondary skills that compliment that aren't in the above category but it requires a lot of knowledge to make these work. Your augment skills will more than likely be 3 or 4 links.

Look at the skill tree and find nodes that benefit your main skill. The search function will help here. You should have a target weapon type figured out as this will influence the nodes you need. Now start pathing though the bulk of those nodes while picking up as many life nodes as you can. Life will keep you from getting killed constantly. Offense is great, but life is better most of the time. Don't worry, there won't be enough life nodes along the way to prevent you from getting most of the damage nodes you want.

Resistances are the other important stats you need to cover to have a good experience. Gear should cover these. Assign the most value to gear with resistances and LIFE while levelling. Try to max your resists ASAP (don't worry about chaos it can be negative). When you get to the endgame (Level 75+) you can start trading off resists/life for damage and augmenting stats but again a little knowledge is needed to do this without really sacrificing durability.

I can't stress enough that life and resists are the most important thing. Aim for 5-6000 life as a level 85 character. The second most important thing is a 6 link with a focused main skill. Any skill in a six link with even a reasonably sensible skill tree will obliterate the game up until mid tier maps. Most skills in a 5 link will be overkill well into maps.

Homard speaks truthard.

Thank you for the heads up.

Right now, I am level 28-29 and not having any issues at all. Sure I die every now and then and the Act 2 boss had a few attacks that could 2 shot me. The most difficult one was the beam that would track you and prevent you from standing still while you minions beat on things.

I have a few things that boost attributes so that I can level up gems but I haven't really been paying attention to life or resists. (I know I have some just from equipping yellows)

The skills I am running: summon zombie, spell totem support with magma orb and summon phantasm, and summon skeletons. Oh and I have herald lightning. Magma orb is the skill I like the most as a totem. I've tried essence drain, firestorm (sp?), lightning tendril, flame surge, and arc. A lot of the skills would be okay but they have a big windup and I need something more immediate. Flame surge and fire storm were okay but essence drain's projectile was too slow that it often missed, and the lightning ones took so long to fire that the enemies were all ready dead. And lightning tendrils seemed bugged firing on things too close to the totem.

As mentioned, I died 4-5 times to the act 2 boss. But I had died less than 5 times up to that point. I really shouldn't count the time I died before level 5 because the champions are not crazy super charged but you only have a basic stick to whack them with. (and you can easily get surrounded trying to kite them)

Life and resists, well, they are always priorities *until* you know better.

I believe if you put the Summon Phantasms on the Zombie gem, every time the zombies kill something you have a chance for the phantasm to fire. Basically, if you use it to support the active skill you have that kills most often, you'll get the most phantasms.

I like the way you are thinking about the skills. That's the way to do it.

One thing you'll learn is that you should improve your gear every chance you get, early on. Another is that movement is life for casters. Once you learn how that boss attacks, and when to take out its minions, you'll find that it's a breeze. But having the best gear possible really helps, too. (This is why I like storing up multi-link yellows as well as uniques. Other characters can use them.)

But movement, yeah, the game definitely rewards you getting the heck out of the way of melee attacks.

Zombies are the longest lasting but the most likely to be drawn off by the boss's minions/summons. And since they require a corpse to summon, recasting to reposition is not likely.

I forget which skill I have tied to summon phantasms but it should be the skeletons since they do a lot of damage and are very easy to recast to reposition.

The totemed magma orb is: aoe, short or medium or long range, easily repositioned and contributes well to the passive damage theme of all of my skills.

Herald of lightning was an easy choice in that it basically enhances everything. And the reserved mana does not hurt my build's lack of need for much mana or mana regen.

I think the league is helping quite a bit too. I am level 28-29 and everything I'm fighting is level 22 so I know that killing the metamorphs is probably the main cause of that. It is amazing that PoE handles so well something that Torchlight 2 struggled with to the point where it caused me to stop playing.

Yeah, I think you have yourself together at this point. Now, with each act, you’ll be uncovering new mechanics and elements to the game. You are just at the beginning still.


The crazy thing is I just realized that linked skills are all linked. I though I needed the support skill to bridge between to skills, but I can put the support skill at one end and it will effect the skills that are linked.

The other cool thing is support totem can cast skeletons. At one point I had firestorm and skeletons linked to a totem support and when I cast skeletons, it summoned a totem that cast firestorm and another totem would summon skeletons for 8 seconds. That may not be a bad way to go TBH. For boss fights, I could summon my totems and run around for 8 seconds

PoE's skill system has alway been drool worthy. I am glad I am able to futz with it beyond a superficial level.

I could absolutely see myself getting lost in another build (or 10) with totems. But going with the green line this time. There are some cool skills like venom darts or knives or something that would be awesome with totems and maybe daggers for melee range.

Yep! From what I can see, you've graduated. If you don't like the game now, well, you've gotten an understanding of it, so fair play. I took *years* to get to the point you are, so well done!

Lol, technically it took years for me too...
Plus the release of other games that didn't quite hit the mark on their skill systems that pushed me back.

And, I think PoE has done a lot of improvements over the years. IIRC the early years didn't give you access to nearly as many skills at lower levels. Did they have a vendor that sold skills at launch? I don't think they did.

They have changed a lot, and for the better. It's pretty amazing. The best example of how to make a good FTP game out there, in my opinion.

And no, they definitely added more ways to get gems and gear as time went by, based on player reactions to various tests of new mechanics, via the Seasons.

Robear wrote:

They have changed a lot, and for the better. It's pretty amazing. The best example of how to make a good FTP game out there, in my opinion.

Would argue that example goes to Warframe devs, but yea PoE is right behind them in that regard.

Now that I have unlocked the hideout in PoE, I can't help but think it would be such an easy win for Diablo 3 that Blizzard passed up on. The crazy thing is Blizzard chose the auction house over this. It is such a simple non gameplay invasive source of income, I have to shake my head that they could make the Diablo 1 themed event, and the necro pack but they couldn't add this?

It is not a selling point for me but it doesn't cost me anything and it could easily tie into: seasons, banners, achievements, pets, the armory, crafting and the kunai cube...

Any good reason why I shouldn't be running Cyclone on a strength build with a giant two-handed axe? So far I'm virtually unkillable, playing around level 60ish. I forget what all else I'm using, I'll take a look tonight.

From the little bit of reading I've done, nobody seems to be running cyclone on a strength build.

Only reason I can think of is that Cyclone is Dex based, so there're probably some efficiencies in going for Dex-based skills and nodes for that and supporting skills. But Cyclone should be powerful enough to carry you into the end game, I would think. I wouldn't worry about it.

I might crunch the numbers to see. Sometimes games leave loopholes like this where they expect you to use a dex build, but that presumes dex weapon scaling, and it actually is a net gain if you go another route. Probably I'm just thinking I'm more clever than I am though

Thanks for the feedback!

I've never built a melee (or any other build) build based on a stat. Usually I'm trying to get enough int and dex to cover the skill gems at level 20/21 and then adding as much str as possible for the added life. I don't even know what dex does as far as effects. I've always considered stats just something that needs to be covered like basic resistances. Does stacking a stat make a difference outside of builds with an item that gives you explicit damage scaling based on a stat (The Baron)?

Homard wrote:

I've never built a melee (or any other build) build based on a stat. Usually I'm trying to get enough int and dex to cover the skill gems at level 20/21 and then adding as much str as possible for the added life. I don't even know what dex does as far as effects. I've always considered stats just something that needs to be covered like basic resistances. Does stacking a stat make a difference outside of builds with an item that gives you explicit damage scaling based on a stat (The Baron)?

Outside of the specific stat builds i don't think so, but the recent addition of new items has made STR and INT specific builds more viable and prevalent. I've seen calls for nerfs to the STR items because it's too OP.

I have seen some interesting uses of Cyclone with Cat While Channeling. For example, Desecrate and Blood offering for summoners.

I fired this up on a whim a couple days ago and the skill system finally clicked. I think it helped that I went with a Witch instead of one of the more martial classes. The support gem system seemed a lot more grock-able with the magic spells and summons and such. I managed to build myself a neat "direct attack spell" by having my skeletons set themselves on fire and then explode.

Holy hell there are a lot of systems in this game. The skill gems and the huge passive tree are one thing. That I've managed to get the hang of. And I've kind of figured out what sorts of items I want to use orbs on. But the hideouts, menagerie, mine, weird time-travel treasure hunting, lock boxes that can be upgraded with item upgrades, these weird cards that have started dropping, map fragments, all that... I hope I haven't goozled myself by ignoring all of it. When they do a new system for a new league do they just leave all the old league systems in the game? It sure seems that way.

I am doing the stuff with Tane since he shows up everywhere and the system is pretty easy to figure out. Come to think of it I believe all my best item drops have come from that, so maybe that's what actually got me to stick around.

Yep. And, you know, start adding systems in when you're curious, or at least when you are comfortable with the ones you understand. No rush, really.

One bit of advice, though - save as many orbs as you can until you understand which ones are valuable, and why. As a rule of thumb, the more common they are, the more you can use them without worrying you're burning something that might benefit you more in the end-game.

And if you find a six-link all white tunic, keep it. Very useful in ways that might not be obvious early on.

I've mostly been using orbs when I run across a piece of white gear that has more sockets than what I'm currently wearing. And I've done a bit of rerolling sockets on Uniques that seem useful. I'm not too worried about saving for endgame at this point. I figure with less than 10 days left in the league, learning what the consumables all do is more valuable than some hypothetical future use. Heck, I'm not even convinced that I'll stick with the game much after I get through the story. It probably depends on if/how quickly I find another build that clicks.

That's actually a good approach. Just remember, the more useful something is, the more likely you'll need it as you get more powerful and really need to tweak specifics on your gear.

There are sooooo many builds that it's hard to think that you'd only enjoy one.