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Path of Exile 3.11 Harvest Top Builds

Continuing the 3-month content release schedule players have been enjoying for years, the Path of Exile Harvest League launched on June 19, 2020. It’s the first building-based league where players create connected structures focused on seed-planting and harvesting, all tied to enhanced item crafting. Harvest appears to be more about overall balance and a few reworks than anything else as there were no major additions or changes to the game like there were with previous leagues. This is fine since there is so much content in PoE, and balance is critically important.

Links to numerous complete guides for some of the strongest builds in the game can be found below.

Below is a snapshot of the buffs, nerfs and other adjustments this league.

BUFFED: Unleash received strong buff. Numerous elemental skills buffed, such as Ball Lightning, Freezing Pulse, Fireball, Frostbolt, etc. Energy Shield builds easier to grow in passive tree. Two-handed Weapons re-balanced & enhanced.
NERFED: Brands reworked (big nerf to Storm Brand). Cyclone no longer grants stun immunity. Spectres, Zombies & Skeletons nerfed, but still solid for end-game. Headhunter nerfed. Archmage nerfed.
MORE: Warcry Redux (including new support gems). New Brands Added (Penance, Wintertide, Arcanist, Swiftbrand). Earthshatter new melee skill. Delirium added to core game. Vaal side areas in maps improved. Visual effects changed for many skills (like Earthquake. Firestorm, Arc, etc.).

The launch of Harvest was quite smooth, especially compared to the myriad of problems we saw during the launch of Delirium. Part of this is due to the fact Harvest revolves around building and farming, which is a controlled interaction players can choose to participate in. There have been a number of patches since the release of Harvest, and overall, the league is in a good position, especially for supporting SSF play due to its crafting focus.

While last league (Delirium) was all about Cyclone and Storm Brand, the top skill this league is Volatile Dead, however, we have more of a diverse range of follow-up skills than last league, including Essence Drain, Earthquake, Raise Spectre, Ball Lightning, Toxic Rain, Earthshatter, and more.

While the War Cries saw a big redux, which has greatly enhanced survival and melee skills as a whole, the new skill introduced with 3.11 that’s being used the most is Earthshatter.

The complete 3.11 patch notes can be found here.

Let’s dive into the league!

Introduction

Quick Links!
Leaderboard & Stats
Favorite Builds
Top Builds from Stats

While Volatile Dead is dominating this league, there is a lot of variation in builds in Harvest, which is a good thing. I started playing Harvest a bit late (roughly two weeks into the league), and have taken the below builds to end-game:

  1. Creeping Frost / Vortex / Cold Snap Trickster [Favorite Build]
  2. Bladefall / Blade Blast Assassin [Second Favorite Build]
  3. Ball Lightning Hierophant [Third Favorite Build]
  4. Volatile Dead Necromancer
  5. Essence Drain Trickster
  6. Caustic Arrow/Essence Drain Trickster
  7. Rain of Arrows/Puncture Gladiator
  8. Caustic Arrow Trickster
  9. Ball Lightning Saboteur
  10. Spellslinger Soulrend/ED/Contagion Trickster
  11. Perforate Gladiator
  12. Toxic Rain/Caustic Arrow Trickster
  13. SRS Guardian
  14. Lacerate Block Gladiator
  15. Bladefall / Blade Blast Chieftain (Assassin is better!)
  16. 2H Axe Impale Cyclone Champion
  17. Zombie Necromancer
  18. HoAG Necromancer (Zombie performed better!)
  19. Earthquake Juggernaut

Relative to this overview, I want to acknowledge how important play style is. Some people hate totems while others only play totem builds. Some like Melee while others love bow builds. The diversity of PoE is one of its greatest features, but also one of the most complex aspects of the game. While a build may be listed as “best” or “top”, some players may disagree because of the style(s) they prefer – but one thing is assured – the builds listed herein are all rock solid and viable for their represented roles. There are other more powerful builds, but they generally are much more complex, expensive, require respecing, and specific uniques — but the reality is most of these builds don’t provide enough of an advantage to the core requirements to outperform the below recommendations.

Before we begin, Path of Building is a very important tool to have when following a build guide since many of them share PoB links. Additionally, make sure you have a good loot filter. I personally recommend NeverSink’s Loot Filter.

Getting to maps and farming while surviving and having the ability to do all end-game content are key requirements for each of the recommended builds. This guide does not include ultra expensive builds for players who have accumulated a large amount of currency. This overview is perfect for new players, late league starters, or those who just want to try another build that will work for end-game and is fun.

The Leaderboard and Top Builds

Before I present the list, I want to say something very important: just because it’s on the top list doesn’t mean it’s a “best build”. Many (if not most) of the top players run builds that are designed solely to push 100 and nothing more (farming specific maps and pulling in a minimum XP/h amount); however many of these builds are capable of doing all content (Shaper & Uber Elder), and delving deep. People on the top list are hardcore (play style not HC mode), experienced, and pushing 100 (while also delving) is an art all of its own that generally has no application to the average player – but we can still learn from these players and builds. I also want to elaborate on how I interpreted the top build from the leaderboards. These characters can be found on poe.ninja builds. There are three core categories to consider: Softcore, Hardcore and SSF (and variations of each). Keep in mind those who are 95+ and do not play SSF often group with others (including aura bots), which includes sharing items and maps. This augmentation can misrepresent the viability of an end-game build and its capability to run without a party and reach 100 as quickly as it has. This means SSF is the best indicator of a build’s capability to progress without aura bots and party support. SSF players that push 95+ are a special breed of dedicated folks who usually put 8-12+ hours of game time in each day. These are not average players; but average players can learn from them.

Below are the statistics pulled from the poe.ninja builds top characters in each league subsection. Note many profiles are set to private, so this data is only based on public profiles that have their skills shared with the community. The below list is in order of popularity and use.

Path of Exile 3.11 Harvest Top Skills List

As we can see, Volatile Dead is king this league; this is because it’s cheap, strong, reliable, steady and easy to gear for. Spellslinger is what makes Volatile Dead so viable, casting three spells with the single click of a button. Summoner (Spectre) builds come in second (considering both Softcore and Hardcore), followed by Essence Drain and Earthquake. Cyclone is still used, but not nearly as much as last league, and both Blade Vortex and Ball Lightning are still quite popular.

Path of Exile 3.11 Harvest Top Ascendancies List

Once again, Necromancer is the dominant Ascendancy by far due to its Volatile Dead, Spectre and Zombie support. Trickster comes in second, with Juggernaut third.

The follow-up most used skills for Softcore are:

  1. Volatile Dead
  2. Raise Spectre
  3. Ball Lightning
  4. Essence Drain
  5. Cyclone
  6. Earthquake
  7. Toxic Rain
  8. Earthshatter
  9. Blade Vortex
  10. Raise Zombie

The follow-up most used skills for Hardcore are:

  1. Volatile Dead
  2. Earthquake
  3. Essence Drain
  4. Raise Spectre
  5. Cremation
  6. Ball Lightning
  7. Armageddon Brand
  8. Earthshatter
  9. Lacerate
  10. Blade Blast

When it comes to Delving in Softcore, Icicle Mines lead the pack with a depth approaching 3,000. Ice Shot Deadeye runs as a close second.

Looking at Delving in Hardcore, a Vortex/Vigilant Strike build has outperformed everyone else with a depth below 700. The closest after the Vortex build is a Earthquake build at 402. In the 300’s Bladefall/Blade Blast is performing very well, along with Volatile Dead.

My Favorite Builds from 3.11 Harvest

Before I dive into the Top build list from the statics, I wanted to share my favorite builds from Harvest so far.

  1. My favorite build this league was the non-meta Creeping Frost / Vortex / Cold Snap Trickster. It’s like Vortex, but with ranged DoT on top. It’s tanky, fun (we bind Vortex to the left click so it casts seamlessly as you run), and can do all content in the game. It’s also HC and SSF viable. Here’s a PoB based on GIPPOOO’s build, complete with leveling trees and notes (including how to transition from Life to ES).
  2. The second most fun (and powerful) build I played this league is the Bladefall / Blade Blast Assassin. Not only is it SSF viable, it is also one of the best delvers for HC, which shows the overall power and diversity of the build. AhhCrying was one of the first players to reach level 100 in HCSSF, and when he did, he held first place in delving. That speaks for itself. There’s no official build guide, so I put together a PoB based on AhhCrying’s build with notes and skill tree phases. It’s awesome. If you haven’t played a Bladefall/BB build, I highly recommend it.
  3. The third most fun and enjoyable build I played this league was the self-cast Ball Lightning Hierophant. It’s tanky, SSF viable, HC viable, and can do all content (including Delve). It’s steady, fun, zappy play. I’ve put together a PoB complete with leveling trees and notes (thanks to KooArchmage).
  4. One of the most resilient HCSSF builds for all content this league is the 2H Axe Earthquake Bleed Juggernaut. With crazy damage absorption and solid reliable DPS, it’s a great build for those who like steady progression. Here’s a PoB completely with leveling trees and notes based on one of the first HCSSF builds this league.
  5. The 2H Axe Impale Cyclone Champion is rock-solid this league with the buffs to 2H damage and stun resistance of Champion to counter the loss of stun resistance from Cyclone. While it can be tough to manage DEX and INT and mana, once synergy is achieved, the build tears apart everything and is extremely tanky; enough to do all content in SC, HC, and SSF. Here’s a PoB complete with leveling trees and notes (based on the first L100 HCSSF, Natty).
  6. I’ve always loved SRS, but it’s generally too squishy for HC and deep delving. Well, the Guardian variation of SRS is not only HC, but all content viable. While it doesn’t have the crazy DPS a Necromancer can reach, for those who want to enjoy SRS in a HC environment, it’s awesome. I’ve put together a PoB complete with leveling trees and notes (thanks to pjn76).
  7. The Caustic Arrow / Toxic Rain Raider is performing fantastically this league, capable of doing all content, HC and SSF viable, and delves very well. Here’s a PoB I put together complete with leveling trees and notes.
  8. Ball Lightning Saboteur rocks this league due to the skill buff. It melts bosses and pretty much all content on the screen, and is both HC and SSF viable. Maining created a great Video Guide for a Ball Lightning/Arc Saboteur build. Also, here’s the PoB Maining put together (with notes from me).
  9. Caustic Arrow/ED Trickster is fantastic. Clears all content, is HC/SSF viable, and quite powerful. It can also do all content in the game. Here’s a custom PoB with notes based on the #1 CA/ED build in SSF.
  10. Spellslinger Soulrend/ED/Contagion Trickster was a lot of fun, and I put together a PoB based on the first L100 SSF ED build in Harvest (Wyssfbtw).
  11. Lacerate Block Gladiator is one of the top melee builds this league due to its steady and survival play-style paired with bleedsplosions. Capable of doing all content, Harvest allows for much easier crafting of 1H Axes than ever before. I put together a PoB based on the top HCSSF build, complete with leveling trees and notes.
  12. Both Zombie and Herald of Agony Necromancer are very strong this league for HC, SSF, and all content. While the Zombie build performs better at end-game (DPS wise), it requires a Baron to be fully effective, making HoAG a potential better choice for a 1st SSF build, but I found Zombies to perform better than HoAG, even without a Baron. I have a PoB for both the HoAG Necromancer, and the Zombie Necromancer.

Top 3.11 Harvest Builds List

As mentioned, the below list is based upon the Statistics pulled from poe.ninja; not just normal mode, but hardcore as well (which indicates fantastic survival). I will include links to what I consider to be the best build guides, many of which I have used myself.

  1. Volatile Dead Necromancer is top tier this league because of its steady survival, DPS and bossing. I can vouch for its effectiveness, but the constant screen clutter can be quite overwhelming. ShamefulPenguin wrote a solid build guide.
  2. Essence Drain is still one of the most popular skills this league due to its great clear and reasonable bossing paired with the DOT and run play style. I recommend Darkxellmc’s Ultimate ED Trickster Guide.
  3. An alternative to the standard above Essence Drain build is the Caustic Arrow/Essence Drain combo build, which is also rock solid and fun to play (and doesn’t require to constant 2-cast Cont/ED style). It also has great clear due to the pierce creating multiple CA clouds. Here’s a custom PoB with notes based on the #1 CA/ED build in SSF.
  4. As mentioned above, Blade Blast / Bladefall is amazing, and one of the best builds for SSF, HC, and Delving. There’s no official build guide, so I put together a PoB based on AhhCrying’s build with notes and skill tree phases.
  5. Even though Cyclone received a nerf through the removal of stun immunity, it’s still a top tier skill this league. The most popular ascendancy is Champion, and people are mainly running 2H Axe and Duel Wield variations. Strangely enough, there aren’t any build guides on the forums for these (that I could find). As such, here’s the the PoB I put together for a 2H Axe Champion complete with leveling trees for 3.11.
  6. Earthquake Juggernaut (for HC) and Gladiator (for SC) are the top new melee builds. Both use 2H weapons, and both are capable of doing all content. Kogaras created a great Build Guide for his max block Bleed Earthquake Gladiator, which also features an updated PoB for 3.11. Here’s Angry_Roleplayer’s EQ Jugg build guide (v3.0 for 3.11).
  7. Toxic Rain has been one of the most reliable and solid starter/SSF builds out there, and it continues to perform great in 3.11. Here’s a link to typicaldemon’s Toxic Rain + Caustic Arrow build.
  8. Earthshatter is a new skill introduced with 3.11, and it’s actually seeing some solid use. For hardcore, the Juggernaut is the most popular. Here’s Aziire’s Earthshatter Juggernaut build. For Softcore, the Berserker is the most popular. Here’s a solid Build Guide for an Earthshatter Berserker.
  9. Ball Lightning Mines are top tier this league due to the buff to Ball Lightning. The best combined guide is BeerLeague’s All Content Miner (any skill) Build guide (updated for 3.11).
  10. Even with the Necromancer nerf, Raise Spectre is still very popular. I recommend Kay’s Spectre Summoner build guide.
  11. Lacerate Gladiator is still one of the most popular builds and is always reliable for all content, both in hardcore and standard. While it hasn’t been updated for 3.11, Turtroll’s Lacerate Block Gladiator Build Guide should still work just fine in Harvest. For those who want to try Rain of Arrows, here’s DankawSL’s Crimson Bow RoA + Puncture build guide.
  12. Bleed Split Arrow / Rain of Arrows / Puncture Gladiator/Champion is still awesome, and one of the most popular builds this league. For some reason, very few people are running Champion this league (even in HC) so it seems Gladiator is the focus. Here’s a Bleedsplosion Split Arrow Bow Gladiator build guide by ShamefunPenguin. Rain of Arrows is also great, and recommended. Here’s the Crimson Bow Gladiator RoA + Puncture guide by DankawSL.
  13. Cremation is performing very well this league, especially in Hardcore, and Necromancer is the ascendancy of choice. If you want to cast volcanic mounds of flesh melting fireballs, this build is for you! Here’s a link to Gryph’s Thirsty Archmage Cremation Necromancer build guide.
  14. Blade Vortex is still popular this league because of its poison proliferation. While Gr00bs has written a great guide, I found his build (albeit fun) to be squishy. My preferred build is one based on a top HC character, which emphasized the HC viability. Here’s the custom PoB from 3.10 complete with leveling trees and notes. It should be just as solid for 3.11.

There are definitely other great builds that could have made it on the list, but the above list represents the most popular (and “meta”) builds players are embracing this league.

I hope this list helps the PoE community; here’s to the continued success of Path of Exile and the fantastic job Grinding Gear Games has done with the game!

  1. I was thinking of trying CoC Ice Nova, so i’m a bit surprised it didn’t make the list. You think it’s not as strong as in past leagues? Thanks a lot for the 3.11 build compilation.

  2. The reason I omitted it from this list list is because it’s quite expensive and is not SSF viable. It’s a ton of fun, and a meta build, but there are so many other builds that can do just as much that are SSF, HC and Delve viable, I wanted to focus on those instead.

  3. Nice! Yup, there are many build specifically tailored for unique items. This is one of the fun aspects of SSF; each league, depending on what drops, the player can embrace completely different builds. Thanks again for the support, and happy hunting!

  4. Ah, I’d been waiting for this, even though I’m sitting this league out. Great read, thanks!

  5. Your PoE posts always come at the perfect time when I’m looking to run a second character. Thanks as usual!

  6. Under “My favorite builds from Harvest” there’s a sentence that references the Metamorph league, but I’ve been waiting to see this list, thanks.

  7. First, thank you for always having such an awesome summary! Love trying some of these builds out every season. Second, I’m trying your BladeFall/BB build out! Love the setup and footage i’ve seen. I’m working towards the last piece which is the amulet and still need last lab. The question was, how do i balance mana?? I am quickly running out and needing to rely on enduring mana flasks. Couldnt find the answer in your POB. Thanks as always and looking forward to making this build work!

  8. Thanks for the support! BF/BB is definitely my favorite build this league. Unfortunately, I don’t know what could be causing your mana issues – I don’t have any on my end. Are you sure the issue isn’t you’re getting hit a lot and MoM is draining it? Honestly, the entire build was smooth as butter for me with no mana issues at all… My apologies for not being more helpful…

  9. Not sure if I’m missing something but the Bladefall / Blade Blast Assassin PoB only shows like 20 nodes for me?

  10. Check the dropdown to the lower left of the tree; there’s multiple phases to help with the leveling process (showing which order you should take the nodes). I hope this helps!

  11. I am playing your Blade Blast / Bladefall, it is really strong but the delay of casting Blade Fall every time is really annoying. I just hit lvl 60, does it get faster/better later on? I am currently on 0.56 second cast time.

  12. Strange; I have absolutely no issue. Within SSF I 1-shot all white/blue mobs with one cast of BF, and easily 1-shot yellows with BB. I never had any strange lag or latency issues, and 1 click covered nearly the entire screen. Stick with it! You won’t be disappointed πŸ™‚

  13. Was hoping you could maybe provide some advice on my blade blaster build? I’m only 82, using Divine Flesh with 75/75/75/85 resists but I feel like there’s something I’m doing wrong. It’s still super powerful but I can die quick if I don’t pay attention.

    https://pastebin.com/6Kdy1VK5

  14. Can’t decide between Bladefall/BB Assassin or Self cast ball lightning hierophant for making a push to 100. Which would you say is the better mapper?

  15. Ohh that’s tough! Both have been taken to L100 in HC/SSF. I think the BF/BB will be faster – and more people have taken that to 100, so I’d recommend that build. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  16. Morning! The only issue I see is your life is quite low compared to an end-game version (which has nearly 8,000 life). Your DPS is also about 1/5th of what it should be for end-game as well, so it could be a damage issue (part of the survival of this build is that it kills everything long before it can reach you). Your Fire Res isn’t capped, either. Your Chaos res is awesome though… So that’s all I can see – I hope it was helpful!

  17. Thanks for the reply! Yeah, I’m level 90 now and my life is only at 4500. I fixed the fire res, not realizing a gear change had dropped it below 75. For life, there’s a few life nodes I still need to pick up by 100 but not a bunch. I guess I just need vermillion rings with +% maximum life in addition to higher overall life rolls on stuff? I am just really confused at where to get so much more DPS.

  18. The PoB shows how to achieve nearly 8K life; the best thing I can recommend is really study not just the items but look at the Calcs section as well (that’ll breakdown the details). First thing you can do is import your current character into PoB and then compare it side by side with the calc of the final build. For example his final build has roughly 850 life just from gear, and a total increase amount of 251%. That’s a lot of health πŸ™‚ I hope this helps – let me know what you discover!

  19. Let’s see… I have 669 life from gear, 127% inc from tree… although that’s not entirely accurate because some of my tree has been adjusted because of my timeless jewel. There are a few things missing though that will change that to… 174%. Not sure what I’m missing and I’m actually going to have to lose 2 passives somewhere because I took Alira as my bandit reward. I had to spend quite a few points getting some leech in my timeless jewel nodes, but if I can get that on an amulet I can get those points back.

  20. Great read! Thanks for the post! Only suggestion would be to remove the facebreaker cyclone build as it’s no longer viable thanks to the nerf on Herald of Purity (no longer provides flat physical)…. hopped on my build from last league just to see the nerf and dps is literally 1/2!

  21. Oops! Thanks for bringing that up! I meant to replace it with my 2H Axe Cyclone build; just updated it. Let me know if you notice any other issues. Have a great week!

  22. Hi.I have question regarding tree for Creeping Frost / Vortex / Cold Snap Trickster [Favorite Build].In PoB i see that you add ,,thread of hope” but I don’t see any not conected passive in radius. This should be like that? I will be gratfull for your feedback. Thanks!

  23. Creeping Frost / Vortex / Cold Snap Trickster [Favorite Build]

    lost one main skill in body armor, what is the main skill?

  24. I think he is talking about the skills on the body armor of the vortex build that is linked, where there is only passive skills and no active skills so it looks like it doesn’t do anything.

  25. Apparently PoB won’t allow Creeping Frost to be socketed in the chest; that’s the only missing skill (it’s in the notes). Apologies for that oversight – sadly, it seems PoB won’t let me correct it.

  26. On the GIPPOOOO creeping frost build, the ES variant takes Elemental Equilibrium in the tree. How is that proc’d and isn’t that a problem for all the cold skills?

  27. > If I recall, the autocast of Storm Brand (Shock) is what triggers the EE. I hope this helps!

    OK so looking at PoB, it seems the EE debuff from lightning dmg outweighs the EE buff from cold dmg (which makes sense since the debuff is -50% and the buff is +25%). The PoB DPS confirms this too. Worth noting that you should only check “Enemy was hit by lightning damage” in the “Configuration” section, **not** “Enemy was hit by cold damage” since the “Calcs” section already adds a +25% cold resistance from EE when the selected skill is “Creeping Frost” (hover over the “Effective DPS Mod” for “Cold” in the Calcs to see this).

  28. Honestly I’d have to really dive back into the build again to confirm its effectiveness; the build was based on a L100 build (top tier player) so I know it’s a good choice, I’ve just played so many builds since then I can’t remember any additional details.

  29. Hey mate! πŸ™‚

    Tried your Bladefall/ Blade Blast Assassin and it was an absolute blast (as the name suggests;-)) – many thanks for the idea! Now I am looking for a new starter build for 3.12 which is why I am looking at your page again. Two questions:
    1. Are you gonna make a 3.12 Best Starter Builds? If not, please do at least a 3.12 Best Builds! I am already looking forward to it, you are my most trustworthy site for builds. Over the last seasons I have always chosen at least two of your recommended builds and they never disappointed!:-)
    2. I guess I choose a Creeping Frost Trickster or Vortex Cold Snap Occultist as a starter (I finally wanna do CI) but can’t decide between the two. Do you have any recommendations?:-) (e.g. which one is better at bossing or something like that)

    Best regards

  30. Thanks for the kind words; I’m glad the build works great for you! Not sure if I’ll be making a 3.12 starter build guide – it depends on my schedule this month. As for the builds you asked about, definitely go with the Creeping Frost Trickster πŸ™‚ Have a great weekend and happy hunting!

  31. Many thanks for the quick response, highly appreciated! Guess I have my starter then. Really looking forward to give it a try! πŸ™‚

  32. You can definitely do trial runs now – just ignore the Harvest mechanics. So far, the CF/Vortex build is my fav SSF 1st char league starter. Even with bad gear, it performs VERY well and is very safe due to the freezing.

  33. For Creeping Frost / Vortex / Cold Snap Trickster build I am having a hard time finding any information on the skills to use for leveling. Do I just use whatever works until I have access to the ones in the build?

  34. where d I get the builds from please? I knw it’s at the end of this season, but I just came back t game and want to do as much as I can before it ends. fancy playing bladefall assassin, but I can’t find any links to the actual build and what character to start with.

    been away from game for at least 5 years.

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