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Path of Exile Beginner's Guide

Path of Exile Beginner's Guide by panplan

This is just a guide for new players to attempt at making a build which is at least viable before Merciless Act 3 and will not be too far off from a viable build to clear the game so you can always re-spec to make it complete.

I. Type of damage:
First off, you need to know about existing types of damage in this game so as to know how to defend yourself.

1. Physical damage: done by most mobs, including self-detonating mobs, can be decreased by Armor or Endurance Charge. A tip: Morten Shell (Strengh based skill gem) gives a huge amount of Armor Rating. All physical attack can cause Stun (unable to do anything)

2. Elemental damage: this includes Fire, Cold and Lightning. You can tell if a type of mob is doing certain elemental damage by hover your cursor over it and see in the description. With the exception of some unique mobs, most of them does range attack. Elemental damage can be reduced by Elemental Resistance up to 75% in normal condition. You can improve that cap with Elemental Adaptation node and Resistance Flask.

Aside the main damage, these elemental damage can also caused status ailment. Fire can cause Burning (30% of base Fire damage). Cold can cause Chill (slow attack and movement speed) and Freeze (similar to Stun). Lightning can cause Shock (+40% damage for each stack, max = 3 stacks)

3. Chaos damage: This type of damage bypasses all armor, energy shield and elemental resistance. There are chaos resistance notes in the passive tree. You can also increase your chaos resistance with equipment and flask. Sometimes this type of damage is unavoidable (mobs with chaos damage over time aura) so you cannot kite it. Other than stacking resistance there are 2 ways to mitigate it: have a lot of health and health regeneration or life leech and kill the mob before you are killed OR do an energy shield based build and take Chaos Inoculation passive node. The effect of this node is making you immune to chaos damage but reducing your HP to 1. So to survive against other types of damage while using Chaos Inoculation, you need a lot of Energy Shield, hence the ES + Chas Inoculation build.

II. The basis of all build: Survival
The reason for why 'Survival' is the basis of all build is because:
- You can't do damage if you die
- Your damage output is 60% based on equipments, 30% based on sustainability and 10% based on passive notes. Please don't question these figures, just my mental approximation. I will explain later.
- You are the enemy of yourself because there are mobs with reflect damage mod out there. So unless you balance offense and defense, you are going to kill yourself.

So knowing that you are going to take all 3 types of damage mentioned above, you need to balance your build to mitigate all of them. Which defensive style to take depends substantially on your choice of skill and class. The more face to face you are going against mobs, the more points you need to invest into defense.

Melee: Aside from Witch who lacks both Strength and Dexteriy, all other classes can effectively build Melee. However each differs in their style of defense.

- Templar: This class is closest to strong shield blocking and resistance nodes and also next to Marauder and Witch areas. Therefore you have 3 choices:
+ Hybrid: Scepter/Wand + Shield + good HP + armor (AR) based equipments + block + endurance charge + Elemental Adaption. Basically you utilize nodes mostly in your own area with a significant number in Marauder area and some in Witch area.
+ Strength: Scepter/Mace + Shield or 2-handed weapon + high HP + HP regeneration + maxed endurance charge + AR based equipment Elemental Adaption + Resolute Technique. A build for melee attack Templars who utilize nodes mostly in Marauder area.
+ Intelligence: Scepter/Wand + Energy Shield (ES) based equipments + high ES + Chaos Inoculation. Any ES based build is quite unfriendly to new players because you need to stack ES, which doesn't scale really well early game and you basically have 0 armor so it's like having a small pool of HP with 0 damage reduction. But at end game it's a pretty strong build.
(It is possible to build a bow Templar but you will have a hard time getting enough Dex to support your gem)

- Witch: This class has the least amount of survival choice. It only has access to weaker Life nodes (most are +8%), no life regeneration/life leech, lack of Strength so it's always recommended to do a ES + Chaos Inoculation build. However you can easily do a life based build if you are a summoner type.

- Shadow: This class is even more recommended for ES + Chaos Inoculation build because aside from ES, it also has high Evasion Rating (ER). Because Shadow is very far from both Blood Magic and Iron Reflex, and doesn't have access to high number of Strength node, it's difficult to do a life leech build. However, don't count too much on evasion, it's like cream on top of a cake but not the whole cake. If you have low life and ES, one unlucky hit and you're down for the count.

Actually both Witch and Shadow can do ES build without Chaos Inoculation. However you need to pick up at least 2 Chaos Resistance nodes and stack ES armors + Chaos Resistance nodes. Best to balance all resistances to make this work. Since you have a bigger 'life' pool than all other classes (HP + ES), less than maxed resistance is okay. Ghost Reaver is a good node to go with this build or even the ES + CI build.

- Ranger and Duelist: The reason for why I list these two together because they are relatively equally close to significant Life nodes, Resistance nodes, Blood Magic, Iron Reflect and Vaal Pact. Basically, all builds related to these 2 classes involve taking Iron Reflex as it grants them huge amount of AR, which could be greater than that of Templar/Marauder in full AR armor + shield, though the final damage reduction might not be as much due to not having access to Endurance Charge. Aside from that, you can do either of these builds:
+ Life leech: in other words, Blood Magic + Vaal Pact + Life Leech support gem. This is doable for both melee style and bow style.
+ Non-LL: without life leech, I don't think melee can survive without endurance charge, high HP and HP regeneration. Therefore it's only viable for bow build.

- Marauder: the toughest guy in the game. He starts out with life, armor and resistance and also surrounded by endurance charge. Also he's next to Templar and Duelist which gives him access to good enough amount of Dex and Intelligence for any skill (though still need Resolute Technique for melee). Not to mention that he's very close to minion related nodes too so he can also be a summoner. You can do many kinds of build with this guy except ER/ES based:
+ High HP + HP regeneration + block + AR + Elemental Adaptation + Endurance Charge
+ High HP + life leech (Blood Magic with/without Vaal Pact, if without, take HP regeneration) + Resolute Technique + Endurance Charge (if you want)
+ High HP + HP regeneration + AR + Elemental Adaptation + Dex + Int + Projectile Attack/Spell

Any out of ordinary build will be heavily influenced by gears to make up for your shortcoming. So consider first if you are experienced and patient enough to pull it off. The reason why a HP + shield block build only needs good instead of high HP is because when you get the Templar's Shield Master group of nodes, as Templar or Marauder or Witch. You will get +30% All elemental resistance, which let you invest more into chaos resistance in equipment. Also your 'reflected' elemental damage will deal less to yourself. A life leech build involves having enough HP for your skill casting as well as absorbing all types of damage while constantly leeching life from mobs to refill the HP pool. Another thing to remind you about LL build is that you also need very high attack speed or hitting multiple targets. Doing something like Infernal Blow + Blood Magic passive + Life Leech gem is not viable.

III. Offensive style:
There are three main concepts that affect how you will improve your damage output:
Note: any skill can be improved by increase critical strike multiplier so I won't mention this anywhere below.

1. Type of skill: Attack or Spell
- Attack: any attack based skill will more or less involve physical damage with the exception of Elemental Hit. Even the elemental damage portion will involve converting the base physical damage to elemental damage. However, there are some attacks that do chaos damage which cannot be increased by any means. Way to boost attack based skill, regardless of type of damage or characteristic of skill: Use Faster Attack gem.
- Spell: most spell does elemental damage with the exception of Ethereal Knives, Detonate Death, Shockwave Totem and Bear Trap. Among those 4, only Etheral Knives's physical damage can be increased with passive nodes. You cannot boost the damage of Bear Trap by any means. Way to boost spell based skill, regardless of type of damage or characteristic of skill: Use Faster Cast gem and/or Iron Will (if you have high Strength).

2. Type of damage:
- Physical damage: if it is an attack based skill then you need good weapon with high physical damage. Usually it's not achievable with the exception of 2-handed Staff/Mace/Axe. Therefore, most builds still rely on the elemental damage part. If it is a spell based skill (the 4 mention above), then, except for Bear Trap, read section 3. Characteristic of skill.
- Elemental damage: if it is an attack based skill, you can use Weapon Elemental Damage gem or Weapon Elemental Damage passive nodes. If it is a spell based skill, you can use weapon with Increase Spell Damage mod or Increaes Spell Damage passive nodes. Increase Elemental Damage passive or mod will boost the elemental damage of both attack based and spell based skills.

3. Characteristic of skill: Melee or projectile, single target or AOE
- Melee: Melee damage can be increased with Melee Physical Damage support gem.
- Projectile: Projectile damage can be increased with Faster Projectile, Lesser Multiple Projectile (LMP), Greater Multiple Projectile (GMP), Pierce, Fork, and Chain. With the exception of Faster Projectile, the others are modification to the projectile skill itself which can make a single target skill a semi-AOE skill. These effects cannot apply at the same time so when a projectile pierce, it cannot fork or chain and when a projectile fork it cannot chain. You need to use the appropriate support gem for each different projectile skill. For example Freezing Pulse has embedded Pierce effect so you can't use Pierce, Fork or Chain gem. This may look great but each support gem (except Faster Projectile) will decrease the damage effectiveness of each projectile and increase the mana cost. Most players choose LMP so that they can do a shotgun effect (hitting one mob with multiple projectiles) to increase damage. The latter are for crowd control purpose.
- Single target: just to differentiate from AOE skill, refer to Melee and Projectile for information.
- AOE: AOE or Area of Effect skills are those that hit multiple targets with one hit/wave (not projectile). There are of course projectile skill which is inherently AOE, such as Freezing Pulse, or part AOE/part single target: cold arrow, fire ball, infernal blow, etc. So for the AOE part of these skills, you can improve their damage substantially with the Concentrated Effect gem by 1.5x at level 1, and even higher at higher level.

Some examples:
- Lightning Strike: Lightning, Melee, Attack, Projectile: Melee Physical Damage, Faster Attack, Weapon Elemental Damage, LMP, Chain, Lightning Penetration, Increase Critical Damage, Life Leech. That's more than 6 lol, but they are not every gems usable. The more gems you can link, the better your skill will be.
- Fire Storm: Fire, Spell, AOE, duration: Concentrated Effect, Iron Will, Faster Casting, Increase Area of Effect, Increase Duration, Fire Penetration, Chance to Ignite, Elemental Proliferation, Increase Critical Damage, etc.

Don't forget about Curses. You can only apply one curse at a time unless you take Whispers of Doom node at top north of the tree. Choose which curse to use according to your type of attack and damage.

One more important thing to consider is whether your build involve enough base stats (Str/Int/Dex) for the skill/support gem that you want to use. Though this might be overcome by equipment.

IV. Sustainability:
By sustainability, I mean mana cost. The more gem you link, the more each use of skill costs you, mana or HP (if blood magic). Also if you use aura, they will reserve a portion or amount of your total mana thus further decreases your mana pool. Without these energy supply, you can't use skill, which makes your uber skill meaningless. There are several method to preserve mana.

- From passive nodes: Increase maximum mana by x%, Increase mana regeneration by x%, Reduce Mana cost by x%. These 3 will help you to sustain your normal use of skills. Although increase mana cost caused by support gem linked to aura/skill will increase their mana reservation, the reduced mana cost passive node will not decrease the mana reservation. For that, you need the reduced mana reservation nodes, which only exist in the Templar and Marauder area.
- Reduced Mana support gem: This will greatly reduce the mana cost and mana reserve cost of any skill that is linked to it. If you have 4L gloves for example, you can link Determination + Hatred + Purity + Reduced Mana to reduce the mana reserve of 3 Auras at the same time.
- Use totem: you can use Spell Totem support gem for Spells or Ranged Attack Totem for projectile attack skills. Basically, instead of using your skills directly, you will summon a totem which continuously use these skills for you at 0 mana cost, however at reduced speed and weaker damage. Other modification support gem can be linked to alter the skill effect used by totem too.
- Blood Magic: This is a totally different aspect. If you get Blood Magic node, your mana pool will be 0 and all mana cost and reserve will be taken from your HP pool instead. The benefit of this is that usually you will have high HP pool to follow this build (as in 4-6k) thus making your "mana" consumption less desperate. To refill this "mana" pool you can use either life leech or HP regeneration. Also another benefit is that you only have to carry one type of flask instead of 2. However if you have a templar + shield block build and manage to get hybrid sacred flask then going without blood magic might be better.

Another trick with Blood Magic is that if you have a High HP + HP regeneration build but not getting Blood Magic node, you can link some aura with non-percentage cost (Clarity for example, unlike Determination which reserve 40% of your mana) with Blood Magic support gem so that only that aura will reserve a small bit of your HP pool. Or you can link your active skills with Blood Magic gem and leave 100% of your mana for aura reservation.

- Eldritch Battery: The big node on the right of Whispers of Doom. It converts all of your ES into mana. This can gives you a huge mana pool which can be used to accommodate multiple aura at once. I'm not very experienced in the balance, or investment needed to make use of this passive so I just mention this so you have something extra to think about.

So you see, improving your DPS involves a very small investment into +x% Damage of y type skill with/without z weapon nodes in the passive tree. It's combination of gems, sustainability and only a bit of general type damage boosting nodes such as: elemental damage, spell damage, physical melee damage, projectile damage, increase critical chance/multiplier. However I do recommend getting some specialized nodes for a specific type of damage (burning damage, huge amount of critical damage multiplier for certain weapon) if it comes at cheap cost for you, not if you have to go off the track.

Last words, to make the best out of your build, do try to get as many related significant/notable nodes as possible. Avoid those +10 stats nodes if you can afford. If you do an ES + Chaos Inoculation build, focus your stats on Intelligence. However, if you don't, try to get as few Intelligence and Dexterity as possible, only enough for your skill/support requirement and sufficient accuracy, the rest go to Strength. Thus always try to look for those +30 stats node or Life node which includes + 20 Strength. Don't try to reach too far (off the track) to those +15% all elemental resistance if you have 2 groups of +15% x element resistance in your area. Finally, try to find the shortest but most beneficial route to those nodes which you have your eyes on.

PoE Class Builds

Duelist Builds
Path of Exile 2H Sweep Duelist Build
Path of Exile Dual Strike Duelist Build
Path of Exile Hardcore Race Duelist Build
Path of Exile Dual Wield Blood Rage Duelist Build
Path of Exile Duelist Bow Tank Build

Marauder Builds
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 Marauder 2H Leap Slam Build
Path of Exile Marauder 2H Axe Guide
Path of Exile Vaal Pact Marauder Build 
Path of Exile Bow Shock Marauder Build
Path of Exile Ultimate Hardcore Marauder Build

Ranger Builds
Path of Exile Elemental Bow Ranger Build
Path of Exile Dual Physical Wand Ranger Build
Path of Exile General Ranger Build
Path of Exile Physical Ranger Build
Path of Exile CI Lightning Arrow Ranger Build
Path of Exile Beginner's Bow Ranger Build
Path of Exile Dual Wield Sword Ranger Build
Path of Exile Beginner's Bow Ranger Build

Shadow Builds
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 EB Ethereal Knives Shadow Build #2
Path of Exile Cold Caster Shadow Build
Path of Exile Whirling Blades Shadow Build
Path of Exile Best Shadow Race Build

Templar Builds
Path of Exile CI Totem Templar Build
Path of Exile Shield Shock Block Templar Build
Path of Exile EB Frost Templar Build
Path of Exile CI Zealot's Oath Templar Build
Path of Exile Mace/Shield LS Templar Build
Path of Exile Charge Templar Build
Path of Exile Dual Wield Elemental Templar Build
Path of Exile Summoner Templar Build
Path of Exile Ice AoE Templar Build 

Witch Builds
Path of Exile Hardcore Necromancer Witch Build
Path of Exile Fire Witch Summoning Guide
Path of Exile Pure Summoner Witch Build
Path of Exile Summoner Arc Witch Build
Path of Exile Fire Witch Build (14k DPS)
Path of Exile Hardcore Frost Witch Build
Path of Exile Pure Summoner Witch Build #2

General PoE Guides
Path of Exile Act 3 Walkthrough
Path of Exile Easy Merveil Runs Guide
Path of Exile Mana Regeneration Guide
Path of Exile Crafting Resource Guide
Path of Exile Complete Skill Gem Quest Reward List

PvP Guides
Path of Exile Cold Witch PvP Guide
Path of Exile Dealing With Freeze in PvP

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