Path of Exile 3.13 Ritual League Top Starter Builds
I first want to preface by saying we will not know the exact details of 3.13 until the official patch notes are released, but there are plenty of builds that will probably not be affected by any nerfs, and players have been posting requests for build recommendations in the most active POE-related community sites. My goal was to put together a compendium the community could reference as they plan for the 3.13 release, including builds they can “test” right now.
This overview is based on the stats of the most popular, played, delve, mapping, bossing and SSF/HC friendly builds from 3.12 and the impact of the 3.13 patch notes. We can learn a lot from these builds and how the most skilled players utilized them. The great news is 3.13 will see the return of Harvest in the form of pre-created gardens that can be farmed. This should enhance the overall ability to secure great items not only while leveling, but mapping as well.
01.16.2021 UPDATE! The below TR/CA Trickster Mine build from TriPolarBear is one of the best league starting builds I’ve played. I highly recommend it for SSF! Note it’s not built for HC, but fantastic for farming currency and gear for end-game builds; and it owns rituals!
01.13.2021 GGG published the new 3.13 Gem information page, complete with “Show Difference”. You can review the details here.
01.13.2021 ALL BUILDS UPDATED FOR 3.13! Please let me know if there are any issues with the links or content!
01.12.2021 I have upated each of the build sections with a note regarding the impacts of the patch, along with the build list order (from most recommended to least). You can review the patch notes here.
While there will be new skills introduced with 3.13 that could potentially end up being fantastic league starters, most players seem more interested in starting a league with something they’re familiar with.
I also want to share this great website which has numerous top tier starter builds with links to complete build guides on the GGG POE Forums: https://www.poebuilds.cc/
Before we begin, Path of Building (Community) 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.
Table of Contents
Qualifying the Builds
Here are the key requirements I use for qualifying these builds:
SSF/Starter (no equipment) viable to end-game.
Ease of leveling.
Hardcore-level survival (even for SC play).
Balance of map clear & bossing.
All content capable with self-found gear (A8 Sirus).
Delve capability in Hardcore (even for SC play).
I want to mention how important I believe a builds Delve capabilities are; Delve is one of the best tests for a build’s survival, especially in Hardcore. I use delve depth of 200 in HC as the lowest qualifier for a build to be viable.
Top Starter Builds
Here are my recommend top starter builds for the upcoming Path of Exile 3.13 Ritual League, based on the performance of the builds in 3.12 mixed with the released patch notes for 3.13.
Note the Delve Depths are based on HCSSF (showing Hardcore and self-found gear viability).
Earthquake / Lacerate Max Block Bleed Gladiator
Delve Depth: 599 SC, 502 HC Nerf Details: Even with the bleed damage nerfs, this build is still rock solid! It’s also important to mention that Reave received a buff, so Reave Block Bleed Gladiator is back on the table!Blood in Eyes (increases doubles bleed and blind chance), Gratuitous Violence (Removed 20% chance to bleed, 30% increased Damage against Bleeding, and 25% more Damage with Bleeding).
Both Earthquake and Lacerate were the top performing melee builds for 3.12, including Hardcore and Delving. Players can choose between the “thunk” based play style of EQ vs. the slashing style of Lacerate. Both are equally viable, can do all content, are HC and SSF friendly, and neither should see a nerf with 3.13. I also included a link to Esoro’s Impale Lacerate build for 3.13 for those who want to try a variation of the build that is hybrid impale/bleed focused.
Delve Depth: 818 SC, 301 HC Nerf Details: Chieftain survives damage nerfs! Will be fantastic starter!Chieftain: Tasalio (Removed 2% life Regen, increased Physical to Fire Damage taken from 10% to 15%).
I believe this will be one of the best league starters for 3.13, even with losing the 2% regen. The Chieftain (Fire) variation of BF/BB came out on top (for Heist), followed by the Poison Assassin (which was actually top for Flashback, but received a substantial nerf). I will admit, BF/BB was probably my favorite (and most fun) build of 3.12. Leveling is a bit slow in a new league, but once you get into Act II, all content simply melts away.
Delve Depth: 545 SC, 850 HC Nerf Details: Cyclone Champion is still awesome in 3.13.Master of Metal (Removed 20% chance to Impale, Impales last 1 additional hit vs. 2)
Another top performer for 3.12 was the Cyclone Impale Champion. While the Facebreaker version is the “overall best”, the 2H version works just fine, making it great for SSF, Deep Delving and all content.
Delve Depth: 336 SC, 231 HC Nerf Details: This build actually received a buff for duration, but took a slight hit with the increased damage. It’s still a great league starter for 3.13. Corpse Pact (Removed 30% increased Damage with Corpse Consumption), Mistress of Sacrifice (Removed Minion Duration, increased Skill Effect Duration)
Another crowd pleaser that can delve well, cremation has proven solid for 3.12 and survived the nerfs for 3.13. While it’s not the fastest mapper, it melts bosses. Cremation is very balanced and performs well for those who want a volcanic explosion decimating every enemy in the area.
Delve Depth: 685 SC, 207 HC Nerf Details: The damage nerf to Trickster isn’t near as bad as people think; it’ll still be a great league starter! Pathfinder also saw some damage nerfs while Raider received permanent buffs.Trickster: Patient Reaper (removed 50% increased DoT, recovers 3% on kill), Ghost Dance (Removed Movement Speed, 3% chance to evade), Escape Artist (Lowered Attack/Cast per Ghost Shroud, Removed 10% chance to dodge spell hits). Pathfinder: Nature’s Reprisal (Lowered Chaos Damage from 30% to 15%, 50% AoE to 30% AoE. Converts 40% of Physical Damage to Chaos Damage, Moved nearby enemies getting poisoned on death to Master Toxicist). Raider: Rapid Assault (Perm Onslaught, Added 50% increased Onslaught effect, removed 20% damage and 5% evade), Avatar of the Chase (Increased evade chance to 35%, removed 30% increased attack damage), Quartz Infusion (Removed 40% increased elemental damage, Added Perm Phasing, 15% chance to Dodge).
CA and/or TR are one of the best generic starters in the game. Damage scales well with self-found gear, projectile bubbles around enemies have no effect on the AoE damage (which can be annoying with Bleed Split Arrow), and these builds can do all content in HC and SSF. What’s interesting is the stats show that CA, or CA+Toxic Rain or CA+Essence Drain each seem to perform about the same; this means the player can adopt the play style they prefer. Trickster is more single-target focused while Raider is better for speed farming and Pathfinder is a bit tankier. All perform roughly the same in Delve. I will be running TriPolarBear’s TR/CA Trickster Mine build as my 3.13 league starter!
Delve Depth: 404 SC, 499 HC Nerf Details: Still viable! Instead of 10M Damage per golem at end-game (with BiS gear) it’s 7M.Liege of the Primordial (Increased Damage per Golem by 5%, Moved Golem Elemental Immunity. Golems automatically resummon after 4 seconds). Lowered damage of Golems by 20% for each summoned golem.
Another fantastic build that was one of the most popular in 3.12 because of how strong and easy it is with no gear requirements (making it great for SSF). Also, Claymaker drops are very common as well, so it’s easy to get +2 golems, even in SSF. Elementalist was the most popular because it’s SSF friendly and the easiest to get going, but once a player finds a Shavronne’s Wrappings, Necromancer comes out on top, and is capable of delving quite deep. For those who love this build, I recommend starting as an Elementalist, and when you get your wrappings, just make a new Necromancer. The build is still very viable in 3.13;
Delve Depth: 375 SC, 700 HC Nerf Details: The damage nerf to Trickster isn’t near as bad as people think; it’ll still be a great league starter!Patient Reaper (removed 50% increased DoT, recovers 3% on kill), Ghost Dance (Removed Movement Speed, 3% chance to evade), Escape Artist (Lowered Attack/Cast per Ghost Shroud, Removed 10% chance to dodge spell hits).
This was my top pick for a 3.12 league starter (and it worked great). It’s fun, diverse, melts mobs as well as bosses, and is a great delver. The cold freezes and shatters enemies, it levels smooth as butter (in SC, HC and SSF), and performs great as Life while easily transitions into ES for late maps and end-game bossing. Can also transition into Vortex for even deeper delving. It should be just as solid for 3.13.
Delve Depth: 524 SC, 175 HC Nerf Details: Still a solid league starter for 3.13!Blood in Eyes (increases doubles bleed and blind chance), Gratuitous Violence (Removed 20% chance to bleed, 30% increased Damage against Bleeding, and 25% more Damage with Bleeding).
This is a favorite league starter by many because of how easy it is to level and get into maps. It’s also fun to see all of the mobs run and bleed out, dying at your feet or before they reach you. The nice thing about this build is it can easily convert to a Max Block Bleed Earthquake or Lacerate build at late game.
Delve Depth: 574 SC, 409 HC Nerf Details: This build actually received a buff for duration, but took a slight hit with the increased damage. It’s still a great league starter for 3.13. Corpse Pact (Removed 30% increased Damage with Corpse Consumption), Mistress of Sacrifice (Removed Minion Duration, increased Skill Effect Duration)
This was one of the only meta builds I did not play in 3.12, so I was hesitant to add it to the list, but I know it performed very well in the league, able to reach 100 in HCSSF while melting bosses. I finally decided to add this to the list because Ziz just put a video guide out as a collaboration with SteelMage. Based on the statistics from 3.12 and the fact there wasn’t really any nerf to the build in 3.13, it will definitely be a solid performer in Ritual (especially with bosses) for those who don’t mind the 2-button play style.
Delve Depth: 237 HC 270 (Guardian 1112 HC), 550 SC (Guardian 852 HC) Nerf Details: While we lose the ability to automatically gain endurance charges, we get many more charges and can use Enduring Cry to secure them. The build is still solid!Conviction of Power (no longer grants Endurance Charges, but adds +4 minimum Endurance and Power Charges, and +1 to max).
While Ball Lightning received a nerf in 3.12, the build is still very strong. This bad boy melts all mobs including bosses. It’s ultra easy to level, and once you get The Agnostic, you can basically stand in Labyrinth traps and laugh. In 3.12, the Guardian version delved the deepest, and the Ascendant version was the highest DPS – but the Hierophant is the best league starter. For those who love Ball Lightning, I recommend first leveling the Hierophant version (which can do all content), and when you get solid leveling gear, if you want to try it out, make the Ascendant Variation and completely obliterate all game content.
The Ball Lightning Guardian holds the deepest delve record for Heist HCSSF at 1112.
Delve Depth: 693 SC, 846 HC Nerf Details: The damage nerf to Trickster isn’t near as bad as people think; it’ll still be a great league starter! Yes, Contagion takes a radius nerf, but ED should still be very popular. Trickster: Patient Reaper (removed 50% increased DoT, recovers 3% on kill), Ghost Dance (Removed Movement Speed, 3% chance to evade), Escape Artist (Lowered Attack/Cast per Ghost Shroud, Removed 10% chance to dodge spell hits). Contagion Radius Lowered from 20 to 17.
One of the best overall performers this league. The leveling process of ED was nerfed recently with the spellslinger changes, but players just went back to the standard ED/C leveling process, which works perfectly fine. Overall, it’s a tried and true gameplay style that’s capable of doing all content in HC and SSF. It also delves very well and converts to ES/CI (Energy Shield/Chaos Innoculation) for end-game survival.
Delve Depth: 477 SC, 186 HC Nerf Details: Damage nerfs, but mines should still be great performers this league. Born in the Shadows (Removed 30% increased damage, Always blind enemy on hit), Bomb Specialist (Increased AoE, Throwing Speed, Detonation Speed, Removed 40% Increased Damage), Pyromanic (Regenerate now 2% vs 1%, Removed 20% Reduced Mana/Reservation Cost), Explosives Expert (Removed 30% AoE, 8% Reduced Damage, Increased Critical Strike Multiplier by 10%).
Mines didn’t see nearly as much play in 3.12 as they have in the past, but for those who did embrace the Saboteur, the #1 choice was Glacial Cascade mines. This is a great league starter, requires little investment, and has fantastic damage. Toxic Rain Mines are also deadly and capable of doing all content in the game (for those who want to go the poison route). The only downside is the “clunky” play style of Mines, which puts off many people – but it’s been refined over the past few leagues to the point it’s quite smooth and enjoyable to play. For those who haven’t played a mine build before and are interested, definitely try this one out!
Delve Depth: 456 HC, 600 SC Nerf Details: MINIONS HIT HARD.Minion Damage Lowered (all 15% damage nodes now 10% damage for a total of 40% less damage), Max Spectre Level lowered 4 levels, which is the biggest hit. Default Spectre accuracy also lowered more than 30%.
Spectres dominated 3.12, mainly due to the broken Syndicate Operatives. There’s no question we’ll see some sort of nerf to Spectres, but we’re unaware of how far the nerf will go. I doubt that Spectres will be rendered useless or removed as a viable build, but I’m hoping they won’t dominate 3.13 as they did 3.12.
Delve Depth: 818 SC, 301 HC Nerf Details: Noxious Strike (Removed 50% increased poison damage, increased DoT multiplier by 5%), Toxic Delivery (Removed reduced DoT damage, gain 20% physical as extra Chaos, increased Critical Chance from 0.4% to 0.5%)
A fantastic build that’s both fun and awesome damage. The Chieftain (Fire) variation came out on top (for Heist), followed by the Poison Assassin (which was actually top for Flashback). Given the possible nerf to Poison tied to the Assassin ascendancy (discussed below), it’s hard to say if/how the Chieftain version will be nerfed, but it’s very powerful; a bit too powerful. I will admit, BF/BB was probably my favorite (and most fun) build of 3.12. I played Physical, Elemental, and Poison, and enjoyed Poison the most. I personally recommend the Chieftain Fire Version of this build as a league starter.
Delve Depth: 800 SC, 457 HC Nerf Details: See above Assassin Nerf Details. Will still work for 3.13, but the Elemental version will probably be the preferred Blade Vortex build in 3.13.
Players are destroying maps in 45 seconds with this build. While it’s squishy and isn’t the best for HC, it’s just too strong. As mentioned above, I think the incoming nerf could come twofold – adjusting the Assassin ascendancy, and then the way poison interacts with hits and BV. Either way, I’m confident Poison BV will be nerfed substantially. Note I played this in 3.12 and personally didn’t care for it because it’s so squishy, but it certainly melts all content.
Ground Slam / Earthshatter Call of Steel (CoS) Champion
Delve Depth: 594 SC, 871 HC Nerf Details: Call of Steel can now only be executed on impales within the last 4 seconds. Changes were also made to the cluster. The build isn’t dead; it’s just not nearly as strong as it was. Earthshatter Spikes now have an explosion radius of 18 (from 20).
The highest damage build in the game with the least investment, there’s no question the Call to Steel mechanic is not working as intended given many players can 1-shot end-game bosses. The nerfs will remove this as the highest damage build, but players who like the style and the Earthshatter skill can still enjoy the build in 3.13.
There’s a number of builds that aren’t quite Meta, but are fun and or solid starters and capable of doing most (if not all) content. None of these builds should see any type of nerf. Some may even see buffs!
Frost Blades Raider
Delve Depth: 327 SC, 216 HC Nerf Details: Loss of damage, but perm onslaught and phasing! Should still be very viable and fun!Rapid Assault (Perm Onslaught, Added 50% increased Onslaught effect, removed 20% damage and 5% evade), Avatar of the Chase (Increased evade chance to 35%, removed 30% increased attack damage), Quartz Infusion (Removed 40% increased elemental damage, Added Perm Phasing, 15% chance to Dodge).
Frost Blades is another very fun skill that is often overlooked because of how tough it can be to get single-target damage, and how squishy the build often is at end-game; but a player named Hachcom was able to reach level 100 in HCSSF and secure the #16 slot with this build, and Maxzz hit level 100 in Flashback SSF as the #10 slot. That’s very impressive. While it can take time and investment to make single target feel really good, the clear speed is outstanding, and Frost Blades is always satisfying to play (shattering the entire screen is simply awesome). It just requires more skill than other builds to dodge those nasty boss fight mechanics.
Delve Depth: 419 SC, 192 HC Nerf Details: Build is still solid! Nature’s Reprisal (Lowered Chaos Damage from 30% to 15%, 50% AoE to 30% AoE. Converts 40% of Physical Damage to Chaos Damage, Moved nearby enemies getting poisoned on death to Master Toxicist).
I was very surprised at how fun this build is. A player named Vilexica was able to take it to Level 100 in HCSSF and secure the #17 spot, showing how viable it is (overall). Start with Caustic Arrow (while leveling VS in offhand) and switch to VS once you get Melee Splash. Zip between mobs and melt them, using Claws to keep your health up. A great alternative to the traditional melee meta, and this build shouldn’t be changed at all in 3.13.
I wanted to try a different type of Spectre build and saw a L97 in HCSSF that was rocking the ladder named Kiom. I created a build based on his and it performs VERY well. While I don’t know how far the build can be pushed, it’s L100 viable in HCSSF and delves well. It’s similar to the old-school Cyclone Herald of Purity Guardian builds, but this time we use Zombies and Spectres. It clears well and destroys bosses.
Delve Depth: 502 SC, 219 HC Nerf Details: The 40% reduction in Minion Damage affects this build, but Skeletons received an awesome buff: Summoned Skeleton Mages (from Dead Reckoning unique jewel or Vaal Summon Skeletons) now deal 50% more damage, and their projectile speed has been doubled.
Want to play a Necromancer that isn’t Spectres or Carrion Golems, but can clear all content in the game while being SSF and even HC friendly? You can’t go wrong with Skeletons. Viperish took the #92 spot for reaching L100 in SSF Heist at L100, and Valek took the #72 spot in HCSSF. Try it out! You won’t be disappointed.
Delve Depth: 268 SC, 181 HC Note: Enki updated his guide to embrace the new 3.13 changes; this is one of the best beginner builds in the entire game – highly recommended! That and Elementalist received numerous buffs.
Arc is one of the most fun builds in the game, and Enki’s Arc Witch Beginner and SSF build guide is one of the best out there. If you’re new to the game or just want to play a fun skill with a great guide, I highly recommend this build! Just note it’s not very HC friendly, and struggles at end-game maps and bosses. But this build is solid for gathering currency and items for the next build!
Delve Depth: 265 SC, 222 HC Nerf Notes: This was ultimately a nerf of the build overall with no enhancements, which is unfortunate. It’s still viable, but not nearly as much as it was in 3.12.Unwavering Crusade (Removed 30% increased damage, raised Attack/cast/move Speed from 15% to 20%). With the multi-boss arena mechanics of Ritual and the Minion Damage node nerfs, SRS is not a recommended build for new players. Experienced players 3.13.
SRS is one of my favorite skills in the game, and a player named Cherd was able to reach level 100 in HCSSF as the #23 slot with the Guardian variation of this build. I’ve run Necromancer versions in the past, and while they are ultimately more powerful at end-game, they are squishy. This Guardian version is solid, tanky, and capable of doing most content in both SSF and HC.
There are TONS of other builds that are great starters, but I wanted to present a list based on personal experience, performance stats, and the potential 3.13 adjustments/nerfs that will impact some of the top builds in the game.
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!