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Path of Exile Crit Dagger Shadow Build

Path of Exile Crit Dagger Shadow Build by Invalesco

Warning: This is by no means an easy build to achieve or master. It will be very tough early on, especially in Cruel and Ruthless. Be prepared to die a lot of times if this is your first try with a shadow. If you want to play this in HC, I recommend you practice it in default first.

Note: CI stands for Chaos Innoculation. It's on the passive skill tree:
-Maximum Life Becomes 1
-Immune to Chaos Damage
-50% more Energy Shield

Is this build gear-dependent?

Because this is a CI-based character, you will find yourself more dependent on certain types of gear as opposed to others.

Does this build require OP gear to succeed?
Nope. I admit my gear is pretty high-end. However, it's pretty much overkill to be honest. You don't ordinarily need such high DPS or ES to succeed. Although the better your gear, the more fun you'll have, but that's no different from other builds.

Can this build succeed with semi-decent gear and how long does it take this character to farm the gear required to reach end-game content?
This was the question I asked myself, so I took part in a 1 Week HC Race where everyone starts with zero orbs and nothing in their stash.

Managed to finish as top shadow and 9th best character at Level 77 after 80 hours of gameplay.

Most of my HC race gear was obtained after only 30 hours of gameplay. You can view it here.
 How dagger shadows compare to the other Shadow Types (in my opinion)


Daggers VS Claws
In a nutshell, Claws provide higher %lifesteal and hence increased survivability but overall lower critical chance and DPS. Daggers on the other hand do not provide %lifesteal but make up for it with an overall higher critical chance and DPS.

What is this build about?
It's a build that focuses on building the shadow around a CI build, focusing mainly on high crit chance/crit multiplier with Surgeon's Granite Flasks, ES with high ES regen, evasion, block chance, and ES steal (yes, I know all you folks want to try out the new keystone so I put it in!), while using Lightning Strike as the AOE CC skill, Viper Strike/Elemental Hit/Double Strike as the main dps skill in 1v1 bosses/pvp situations and Flicker Strike as a high DPS spam skill when needed.

DPS-wise it leans heavily on criticals and hence revolves around a high crit-chance and high crit damage multiplier build for dealing damage while taking advantage of the criticals to recharge granite flasks quickly.

I like a balance of ES regen and ES leech, hence you will notice my investing in ES regen nodes as well. ES regen is important especially since as a melee you'll be in the thick of the action most of the time.

Always kill all the bandits for the free skill points since you'll be heading towards CI, except maybe in a race whereby helping Kraityn for the +8 resists might arguably be better.

Skill Tree Progression
31 Points Approx Level 28, just before facing Normal Vaal Oversoul
44 Points Approx Level 37, just before facing Cruel Vaal Oversoul
59 Points Approx Level 48, just before facing Ruthless Vaal Oversoul [NON-CI]
59 Points Approx Level 48, just before facing Ruthless Vaal Oversoul [CI]
74 Points Approx Level 59, just before facing Merciless Vaal Oversoul
84 Points Approx Level 69, End-game build
100 Points Approx Level 85, End-End-game build v1 (High Survivability/Tank Route)
100 Points Approx Level 85, End-End-game build v2 (Pure DPS/GR-based defence Route)

Note: those levels are meant to be guidelines on when to start facing Vaal, but if you're not confident and do not have enough resists yet, don't force it. Also, if you don't have any decent ES gear waiting for you in Ruthless, DO NOT PERSIST AND FORCE SPEC INTO CI YET! Instead, pour more points into %HP nodes to get your HP high enough to survive Act2 and face the chaos mobs that Ruthless Vaal summons. You can spec back into CI in Merci act2 later on.

Alter the build in terms of your preference
1. Need more mana, spend 2 points and branch downwards from the ES tree to increase your maximum mana by 20%.
2. Want to go full ES steal and to heck with ES regen? Respec the ES regen points into DPS nodes
3. Need resists because your gear is lacking in resists? There are resist nodes within 2 points away at the ES tree section and at the dex section

Pros and Cons of this Build
1. An extremely fun build, yielding very high DPS
2. High survivability, with high ES, evasion chance and constant Damage Reduction
1. Base accuracy is abit low due to the lack of Dex nodes, (chance to hit is about 78%), but that can be countered by getting a Circlet with +accuracy
2. Might find it a bit difficult-going mana wise, but that is in turn countered by the Mind Drinker node and subsequent Mana Leech gems.

Usable in
1. Hardcore
2. Default
3. 1 Week HC Races
4. PvP

I have 2 dagger shadows at the moment. One is a Level 77 Shadow residing in the Hardcore League after finishing 9th in the Sep 12th One Week HC Race. The other is a level 71 dagger shadow in default (newly migrated to legacy) league - which I am mainly talking about in this thread.

Invalesco Level 72

Note: even though my gear is in Legacy league at the moment, none of the mods on them are pre-patch mods with the exception of the IIR mod on my chestpiece and belt and perhaps the 6-80 lightning damage mod on the topaz ring, hence they are all still craftable currently.

Post-CI Gameplay Style


Usage of Flasks
Using the Granite Flasks constantly will keep you either at >70% damage reduction or >55% DR and +24% resistances all the time, and as they recharge one charge everytime you deal a crit strike, feel free to use them generously!
Similarly, using the Evasion/Resistance Mana flasks constantly will also keep you at a high dodge chance or at high resistances.

In short, you become a high DPS ES/Evasion/Armoured Tank!

Credit to hexaste for the idea

Auras and Active Skills
Grace, Wrath, Discipline and Hatred.
Grace and Discipline for survivability. Wrath and Hatred for added DPS. If you do not have a RMC gem yet, Wrath takes priority over Hatred.

Blood Rage
Need I say more? You're CI, this skill is what makes you awesome! Switch it on, kill a few mobs, watch the frenzy charges pile up, get the bonus ES steal and be even more awesome!

Critical weakness will complement this build nicely because of the high crit multiplier/crit chance of the build and is the curse of choice.
Elemental weakness is also another useful curse

Versus Mobs
Lightning strike will be your main skill. There's no need to tank the enemies. You can just stay from distance, curse them, hold down shift and then press whatever button it is that controls your lightning strike and watch it
annihilate the mobs!

Some pointers to take note regarding LS
Best LS main support combinations, in descending order
1. Lightning Strike + LMP + Chain
2. Lightning Strike + LMP + Fork Projectiles
3. Lightning Strike + Chain
4. Lightning Strike + Fork

- It is always useful to get a weapon/amulet/ring with cold damage and fire damage as well so you can freeze your enemies and burn them (remember, your crit chance is very high so you'll be crit-ing very very often
- if it is heavy in terms of mana usage, throwing in a mana leech will always help!

1v1 Bosses
Viper Strike. Best early-game and arguably mid-game skill when you're still weak and need to kite bosses to stay alive. Also a super useful skill for elemental resist rares and bosses like Vaal where you're constantly trying to avoid their high elemental damage skills.

Elemental Hit. Best mid-game skill when you no longer need to kite bosses that much and would rather kill them face to face. The added elemental damage helps in freezing/shocking/burning your opponent when you crit. It is most effective with a fast weapon as a fair amount of damage dealt is skill-based and is independent of your weapon damage. (in that sense it is somewhat similar to viper strike except viper strike is capped at 4 buffs/second)

Double Strike.Best end-game skill when your base damage is high enough such that 2 x 70% of your base damage (level 1 gem) still yields higher damage than the extra damage provided by Elemental Hit and the extra chaos damage provided by Viper Strike. Better yet, the mana cost is so low as to be negligible in late game. Also, since double strike processes as 2 hits and the second hit will always be a crit if the first one is, it allows for shock-stacking and double charging of surgeon's flasks whenever you crit

Flicker Strike
Always a useful spell when you want to catch/hit an opponent who is running away, be it a ranged mob or an enemy player. Not just that, it has tremendous dps as well, especially if you link more damage based gems to it. (note that I did not add many DPS gems to it and it still deals a heck load of damage)

Usage Methods
- If you get bored of owning mobs with LS and want to give yourself a mild headache, top up your frenzy charges and let loose with flicker spam! 0 cd with your charges up and if you get to KO enemies with 1 hit, which is often the case as you crit often, your frenzy charge recharges and you get to flicker more. My flicker usually lasts on average 8 times before exhausting all my charges.
- If you find yourself in a situation where you get punctured (CI's WORST ENEMY) and you cannot move (or else you'll take added damage) while mobs are starting to surround you, use flicker to get out of trouble by flickering to a ranged mob outside of the pack surrounding you, or just spam flicker strike and flicker till the puncture cds, allowing you to deal damage and avoid damage from puncture and from most normal hits/spells. (you don't take damage from puncture while flickering, but you will if you whirl out of battle)

Escape Method
Whirling blades, that is all
Early Game Gameplay Tips
The difficult part of this build is actually being able to progress through the earlier levels. If you can get through that you'll do fine.

In this section I will attempt to outline the early game gameplay of this build.

Early Game Gear
Focus on gear that gives you +life, namely leather belts with +life and rings/ammys with +life.

At this stage, ES gear is weak, so I would recommend you to stack Armour, resistances and HP to improve your survivability. Main objective here is to survive till late game where you can get good ES gear. Weapon-wise, don't be picky. Get anything that gives you higher DPS, although it would be better if you focus on Claws/Swords/Daggers for the purpose of allowing you to use Whirling Blades as well as Viper Strike. There is no need to single-mindedly specialise into daggers so early in the game and if you notice, I did not spec points into dagger nodes early on as well.

3 HP Flasks, 2 Mana Flasks. (Can be 2/3 if you wish, judge for yourselves as appropriate)

The first HP Flask for me is always a panicked flask. For the rest of my flasks I tend to prefer useful mods such as Dispel Frozen and Chilled.

Skill Gems

You will not be getting Lightning Strike as a quest gem till somewhat later in the game. If you want it earlier, you can always level a templar till level 10, kill Brutus, get it as a quest gem and then transfer it to your stash for usage by your shadow or simply trade for it from another player.

Some pointers to take note regarding LS
Best LS main support combinations, in descending order
1. Lightning Strike + LMP + Chain
2. Lightning Strike + LMP + Fork Projectiles
3. Lightning Strike + Chain
4. Lightning Strike + Fork

Before you get LS though, there are a few options you can go for:

For levels 1-10 Freezing Pulse will be the best option
For levels beyond, Fire Trap when used in combination with a weapon AoE would also be a good option.

If you're using a sword, get Cleave (my favourite option). You can get it by creating a duelist.

If you're using a claw, Whirling Blades will be the best AoE for you early on in the game.

Bosses/Individual monsters
From normal all the way to end cruel, dual wield weapons and use Dual Strike. The DPS benefit which allows you to speedrun through the earlier levels much faster far outweighs the paltry defensive bonuses provided by the low level shields. However, make sure you keep a Viper Strike gem socketed and continue to level it. You will need it once you switch to 1h + Shield.

Summon Skeletons. Especially useful against flicker mobs and Kraitlyn as it gives them an additional target to flicker to and spares you the agony of being spam flickered to death.

Summon Skeletons is a Normal Act2 Baleful Gem quest reward.

Ruthless Onwards
Spell Totem + Summon Skeletons will be your best friend. This spell summons a totem which will summon skeletons around enemy monsters, thus shifting aggro away from you.

Spell Totem will be a ruthless Hailrake quest reward.

Temporal Chains if you need survivability (best option in HC)
Elemental Weakness once you get LS
Critical Weakness is only for late game when you more or less complete the crit build.

Playstyle Versus Bosses
This is pretty much the same in most AARPGs. You will be very weak early on. Your key to defeating the bosses will be to kite them. Viper Strike them to 4 charges, switch to Dual Strike, then escape to recharge HP/ES when you get low, then repeat cycle till they die.

Against elemental bosses such as Merv and Vaal, stack resist rings. Versus Merv, get cold resists. Versus Vaal, get BOTH Fire and Lightning Resists. (Very important)
When do I Respec to CI?

First off, whenever you're nearing a situation where you want to respec to CI, make sure your build is just 6 points away from CI and Ghost Reaver (so you can respec the 6 HP points into the above), you possess the Blood Rage gem, and most importantly, you have good ES gear waiting for you!

I would recommend 2 guidelines to go for CI.

1. it is usually safe to go for CI if you fulfil a criteria of having 1K ES or so (with our without discipline) as once you put a point in the CI node your ES rises again dramatically. (this option is however not my favoured option, and I do not use this in hardcore)

2. this is my favoured option and is the one I use in hardcore mode. CI is not chosen just because it's awesome and allows you to use blood rage, it is chosen because of increased survivablity, which is the most important aspect in hardcore, mainly due to Chaos immunity. Even if you find yourself at a stage whereby you have more than 1K ES, around half of that as HP, (approx. 700 hp or so) you will still be able to survive the chaos dps dealers in the whole of cruel difficulty as long as you keep an eye on your hp bar, use your flasks and be aware of the viper strike arachnids in weavers chamber whilst kiting and NOT TANKING the vaal constructs in the ancient pyramid and vaal ruins. However, once you get to ruthless, you will not be able to survive the chaos dpsers with that amount of HP, so it will be a good time to switch to CI just before silk's spear quest in ruthless.

My route of action everytime I reach act2 (no matter what difficulty) is usually to do all the east side quests first. Meaning I grind at fellshrine to a decent enough level before heading to chamber of sins quest and kill kraitlyn. I only switch to CI when I feel I can no longer handle the chaos aspect of act2, which is usually by the time you get to silk's spear quest in ruthless difficulty or vaal ruins/ancient pyramid in cruel difficulty.

By the time you reach Merciless Vaal you should have at least 4k ES and be able to max Fire and Lightning Resists.

This build is definitely viable in HC, and I used it in the 2 Week HC race, switching to CI only in ruthless difficulty (because I loved my panicked HP flasks) at weavers chamber. At that time I was at 700 odd Hp and 1.5k ES. 
End-Game Gear

Amulet: Get either Eye of Chayula or any ammy with +crit chance and +crit multiplier

Rings: Resists are a must. The rest are in order of descending priority: +Lightning damage, +Mana, Increased Attack Speed.

Belt: 21-30% Elemental Damage with Resists and +ES

The defensive gear types I would advise you to go for would be:
Pure ES Chest
Pure ES Shield
Of the remaining three pieces, (Boots, Head, Gloves) go for 1 Pure ES, 1 Pure Evasion, and 1 Hybrid

Why not 3 Hybrids?
Because 1 pure ES and 1 pure Evasion will always yield better defensive stats as compared to 2 Hybrid pieces and are easier to craft/find.

Why that 1 Hybrid piece then?
Because if you noticed how I link my Flicker Strike, I need 2 Reds, 1 Green and 1 Blue socket. Pure Evasion pieces have a higher chance to roll Green sockets, ES - Blue sockets and Armour - Red sockets.

It is nearly impossible (or just damn expensive) to roll 2R 1G and 1B on a pure Evasion or pure ES gear and resorting to using a pure Armour piece for that wouldn't be worth it.

However, Hybrid gears have a higher chance of rolling all the different combination of colours, hence my reason for using at least 1 piece of hybrid gear.

as with most builds, having great gear is key to success. Even more so in this build as having great gear will amplify exponentially the fun you will have with it.

How do I get better gear?
Trading for better pieces of gear will be your main source. However, there will come a point when you realise that you can no longer get better gear through trading, and that is where crafting comes in, as explained in the next section.

some advantages u will have over other classes in this build
- mobility! in PVP, u can further insert a phase run gem to make yourself run faster, and less easier to target. Which means, the opponent should be running from you! because once you flicker beside them, ranged users in particlar will have trouble defeating you due to your high dps and high as. Frost wall will be useless against you as you can just whirling blades through it
- high block chance and evasion i put in quite alot of points into my ES recovery delay nodes and block nodes and am going to put in more as well. In PVP, you can always decide to remove some points from other nodes and put them into the block chance nodes as well.

Some advantages u will have as a CI user over normal hp/armour/evasion flask users in the case of PVP
- you get to have more slots for granite and diamond flasks, effectively granting you more damage reduction and dps. in other words, you could have 10k armour on top of your high evasion (probably around 30% dodge chance, might be scaled down in pvp but could still be crucial in dodging critical hits, etc.) and on top of your high ES, in this case I had 6.3k, which effectively is 6.3k HP, which is a huge amount.

- your ES regenerates quickly and does not need flasks. you can outlast your opponent this way because with a high energy shield delay recovery increase (mine is 125% which allows me to recover my ES after not taking damage for about 1.5 seconds but you can throw in another point to put it to 140% which makes it even faster) In other words, every 1 or 2 attacks that your opponent misses or gets blocked (which is highly likely considering your high evasion and block chance, or every time they use 1.5 seconds or more to try to manoeuvre themselves around the battlefield, you regain your ES! if you play it right against a strong enemy, making use of your mobility, you can draw out the battle and force them to use all their hp flasks whereas you'll basically be as strong as you were at the start. The only time this ES recovery might not work will be against those players with resolute technique. But hey, they don't even have crit? just stay there, tank them and crit them to death. if they keep all 5 flask slots as hp slots and spam them, whirl away, phase run for a bit, after 1.5s --> full ES again.

-chaos immunity don't underestimate this attribute. For enemies that use viper strike or added chaos gem, this effectively takes out one of their main dps skills/gems. Also, always keep a viper strike gem with you and level it. It will come in useful eventually at higher level. 200 chaos damage per second, stacked 4 times = 800 chaos damage per second, ignoring armour reduction and going thru ES is going to cause alot of problems for other non-CI users

In terms of gear, that will be a gamble for you the same way it will be for other players. It kinda is a case on whoever takes the most risk will be able to reap the best rewards. However, that said, you have less reliance on your gear in this build as compared to your armour/hp/strength counterparts. Why? there are two reasons I can think of:

Vitality, determination, hatred are percentage based auras. they can only be as good as a character's gear is. The poorer your opponent's gear, the less effective they are. On the other hand, wrath, grace and evasion are more flat value auras. They are independent of your gear whilst still producing a lot of damage/survivability. I'll provide values to act as comparison. Level 16 wrath will provide up to 6-92 extra lightning damage. as compared to level 16 hatred which will require a weapon with 283 physical damage to produce 92 cold damage. granted, there might be more consistency to the damage dealt out by hatred as compared to wrath, but can you see an opponent carrying around a top tier 283 physical damage weapon around in a cut-throat event?
Determination is based on a percentage value of armour. The less risk your opponent takes, the less effective this gem gets. On the other hand, grace provides 1100 extra evasion rating at level 15, which multiplies to 1963 based on this build's percentages, which leads to an increase of 9% in the dodging capability. Vitality similarly acts on how much hp the opponent has and how much high hp items he puts on him. Discipline at level 15 gives me 330 extra ES, which translates to 1183 based on the percentage increases in this build alone (this was calculated without any kind of gear which increases maximum ES percentage). every 1 extra ES you put into your char is going to yield 3.584 effective ES which is not a number to be scoffed at.

Both Viper Strike and Elemental Hit provide flat amounts of DPS independent of your weapon's dps. and elemental hit's added lightning damage will get multiplied further by the arcing blows passive node.

In conclusion, it rather much depends on how much risk you take, or rather how little risk you take as compared with your opponent. But that said, with this set of skills and build, a certain level of risk for you would tend to yield a higher gain as compared to someone else taking approximately the same amount of risk.

In terms of gear, focus only on DAGGERS! high physical damage and crit chance would be even better. Get the Krises. Copper/Golden/Platinum as they tend to have the highest innate mods for crit chance. Defense wise, just focus on stuff with ES, Evasion and resistance. taking note that whatever values in there (ES and evasion rating) low as they might seem, will end up being multiplied by the build anyway.

1v1, I don't see any reason to lose as long as you play smart and utilize the shadow class and build's strength. If you're ganked 2v1 or 3v1, just run if you're not confident enough.

Other Path of Exile Articles:
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Path of Exile Dual Strike Duelist Build
Path of Exile Hardcore Race Duelist Build
Path of Exile Marauder Ground Slam Build
Path of Exile 1H Mace Hardcore Marauder Build
Path of Exile General Marauder Build Guide
Path of Exile Elemental Bow Ranger Build
Path of Exile Dual Physical Wand Ranger Build
Path of Exile General Ranger Build
Path of Exile Crit Dagger Shadow Build
Path of Exile Coldfire Crit Caster Shadow Build
Path of Exile EB Ethereal Knives Shadow Build
Path of Exile CI Totem Templar Build
Path of Exile Shield Shock Block Templar Build
Path of Exile EB Frost Templar Build
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Anonymous said...

Is this build still viable in current patch 0.11.1b ?

Anonymous said...

This is a slight modification to yours
[url=""]Deadly crit[/url]