Path of Exile 3.15 Expedition Starter Build Compendium

The Path of Exile 3.15 Expedition League release brings with it some of the greatest core mechanic changes the game has seen in years, including global reduction in damage for all skills, and nerfs to key survival systems, such as Fortify. With 19 new gems, it’s impossible to predict what the new meta will be and what builds will become king based on the in-depth changes across the board.

For those who are curious, my League Starter will be Ice Traps!

The good news is with the release of patch notes and the updated Path of Building, we have an idea of what builds should still be “top performers” as league starters for normal, HC, and SSF.

Unlike my previous publications, this overview is mainly going to cover guides presented by the community – the main reason is the changes to 3.15 are so great it’s truly impossible to determine exactly how the majority of builds will perform. I have included two updated Path of Building links complete with leveling trees and notes (for Dominating Blow and Exsanguinate Totems).

Also note that none of the builds presented herein use the new skill gems (directly). This compendium is based on skills we already know how to use. If you want to try a new skill, be sure to search either Reddit or Youtube to see if somebody has put together a PoB for what you want to try out.

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.

Qualifying the Builds

Here are the key requirements I use for qualifying these builds:

  1. SSF/Starter (no equipment) friendly.
  2. Ease of leveling.
  3. Balance of map clear & bossing.
  4. All (or nearly all) content capable with self-found gear.
  5. Survival (as HC-viable as possible).

Due to the extensive changes in 3.15, until we’ve had a few days (and even weeks) to really play the league, it’s going to be difficult to determine what the new standards are for HC viability.

Recommended Starter Builds

Here are my recommend top starter builds for the upcoming Path of Exile 3.15 Expedition League.

Ice Trap / Fire Trap Saboteur

I league started 3.14 Ultimatum with Ice Traps, and it was awesome. The good news? It’s actually easier to freeze bosses this league than it was in Ultimatum! As such, Ice Traps will be a top performer this league. and I can attest this build is one of the best league starters I’ve ever used. I’m also including a Fire Trap build as well; Ice Trap is better for Survival/HC, Fire Trap is better for clear (not caring if you die).

Below is TriPolarBear’s 3.15 Ice Trap League Start Build Guide. This will be my league starter.

Want to burn things instead of freeze them? Jaamon’s 3.15 Fire & Flamethrower Trap build guide delivers, and should perform VERY well as a league starter.

Caustic Arrow / Toxic Rain

CA and/or TR have been the best generic starters in the game for years, and it’s no different with 3.15. There are numerous variations players can choose, ultimately coming down to style; Trickster, Pathfinder, and Raider are all viable ascendancies.

We’ll start with Zizaran’s Toxic Rain Raider 3.15 Leaguestarter Video Guide.

We also have Von Vikton’s TR Raider / Deadeye 3.15 League Starter Video Guide.

Trickster will also be very strong this league. Personally, I prefer Trickster over the Ranger variants because it has better survival. Even though Esoro’s below guide is for 3.14, it’ll be solid for 3.15 as well.

And finally, we have Crouching Tuna’s TR/CA Ballista Build guide. This should be solid for 3.15 and fun for those who want a hybrid Totem play style!

Dominating Blow Guardian

Dominating blow was one of the strongest builds in Ultimatum for SSFHC and should perform just as well in 3.15. It’s tanky, does a ton of damage, and is a nice mix of melee and minion. I like a video guide below, and have also included my updated PoB with notes below (outlining exactly how to level the build).

Ghazzy also posted an updated Dominating Blow build guide for 3.15, which has a link to the written guide in the video details.

Additional Build Link: My updated Dominating Blow Guardian PoB complete with Notes.

Minion Army & Skeleton Mage Necromancer

Kay made a Minion Army Necromancer build. Enough said. Kay is the go-to-lady for all builds that are Minion.

Von Vikton also released his Skeleton Mage League Starter Guide for Expedition.

Viper Strike Pathfinder

Poison got a 50% damage buff for 3.15, and Viper Strike was already a ton of fun. I enjoyed this build in the past, and it should perform great in Expedition.

Below is Navandis Gaming’s 3.15 Viper Strike Build Guide.

Freezing Pulse Hierophant

While Freezing Pulse has been nerfed along with the other skills (this is taking into account the changes to crit, flasks, etc.), the skill will still be very good towards mid-game (leveling as something else).

Fyregrass put together a fantastic league start video showing exactly how to level and push this build to end-game, leveling with Armageddon Brand and Cremation, then transitioning to Totems in maps.

As an alternative, here’s Shameful Penguin’s FP/Ice Spear Hierophant Totem 3.15 Budget Guide.

Essence Drain Trickster

Essence Drain will be one of the best league starters for 3.15. While the Spellslinger leveling process has been nerfed into the ground, players will just use the traditional ED/C 2-key play style to level and progress.

Here’s Zizaran’s 3.15 Essence Drain League Starter Build Guide:

Alternative Starter Builds

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!

Enki’s Archmage Hierophant (Arc & Ball Lightning)

Held as one of the best build guides ever made, Enki’s Archmage is one of the go-to builds for new and even returning players. This build will perform just fine in 3.15 and should be a good league starter for those who aren’t trying to push end-game as quickly as possible.

Build Link: Enki’s PoE Forums Written Build Guide

Molten Strike Raider

FastAF is known for his crazy fast builds. While most aren’t HC or SSF viable, he’s put together a solid league starter that could work perfectly fine for 3.15 players who want to slap fiery balls everwhere.

Spectral Shield Throw Gladiator

Spectral Shield Throw received a nice buff in 3.15, and playing Captain America style is just plain fun. Want to try something new that will probably be a good league starter and different from the previous meta? Here ya go!

Earthshatter Facebreaker Champion

Melee is still alive and well, and Earthshatter should perform very well this league. Granted it can take some time to get Facebreakers in SSF, I wanted to include this video because the build should perform very well!

Exploding SRS Necromancer

While minions, and especially popcorn SRS, took a substantial hit in 3.15 (the build can’t even use Minion Damage anymore), Zizaran published his updated guide to keep Popcorn SRS on the menu. He admits the build is best in trade league because of the need for Tavukai (the amulet); but it can be attained in SSF by spamming Heist contracts, looting all of the uniques, and leaving the contract unfinished. SRS is always a ton of fun, and if you haven’t played it, definitely give it a try!

Exsanguinate Totem Hierophant

This was my favorite build in 3.15. Great fun bloody clear, “good” bossing (with solid gear), and HC/SSF viable. Tatiantel2 took this build to level 99. It did get hit pretty hard with the 3.15 nerfs, but should still be fun for those who want to try something different.

Build Link: My 3.15 Exsanguinate Totem Hierophant Build complete with Notes

Summary

With all of the new skill gems, there’s no question there are TONS of other potentially great league starter builds, but I wanted to present a list based on personal experience, what we’re familiar with, and the application of changes in 3.15.

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!

  1. Awesome! Thanks for the great work. Found this post just in time for me to pick a build for 3.15 league start. 🙂

  2. Haaaa! i am back for this league.

    thank you so much once again for your guide!!!

    so lets go for Ice Trap !

  3. Would be cool if this site had more text and less videos. Hate watching videos.

  4. Is it possible to put the video’s in a Spoiler tag or hidden drop down menu, I really enjoy reading through your take in starters however it’s not pretty on the eye’s 😀

  5. I rarely embed videos like this; since it was a compendium of guides from multiple sources, I felt implementing the links this way was a good choice – don’t worry though, for future content that I create and share, I won’t be presenting it this way.

  6. Since most of the links in the compendium were videos, I wanted to try a new method of presenting them. Sorry the page ended up being so busy; future posts that have content I create will follow the previous format.

  7. Glad to see you back again David! Missed ya in Ultimatum 😛

    You’ve convinced me with Ice Traps, never played and I’m so excited to try it.

  8. Hey buddy – are you going to try out ‘New World’? You’re usually the ARPG/MMO type of guy and I started playing and thought you would have some first impressions up from the beta.

  9. Well not right now as it’s Bricking RTX 3090 video cards 🙂 I might check it out in the near future, but it just hasn’t caught my eye as of yet. The things I’m really waiting for are the Valheim expansion and the No Man’s Sky 5-year Anniversary release, which is supposed to add all sorts of awesome.

  10. Haha – I believe that is just a rumor, though if you’re paranoid I would completely understand as a 3090 costs as much as a used car these days. I actually think you would really enjoy it. People feel like its like runescape + albion + dark souls mixed together. You gather resources (chop wood/mine, etc.), and fight over territories and craft your own gear. It doesn’t sound very complicated but it is a lot of fun. It is the first game that I felt like I want to go back to whenever I have a free chance.

  11. Not a rumor; it looks like it could be a flaw specific to EVGA cards; even EVGA has acknowledged the issue and is cross-shipping replacements. I’m just waiting to make sure it’s specific to the EVGA cards and won’t impact my Founder’s Edition 🙂 New World officially launches in just a month, so I’ll probably try it at that time.

  12. You’re right. It has been bricking them! I think the temporary “fix” is to cap your FPS at 60, and if that doesn’t work then lowering the
    video settings (that worked for me), but I’ve heard 3090 users get a black screen even at the welcome screen. It’s a shame because the game is great. Servers need to be stabilized too. I’ve heard doom and gloom from the 3.15 patch for PoE, in your opinion, is it warranted? People from what I have read say the game is ‘too slow’ now. What do you think?

  13. I’ll just wait a few weeks after launch (for NW) 🙂 In regards to PoE 3.15, the numbers don’t lie: https://steamcharts.com/app/238960#1y. It’s not looking good, and the stats show an overwhelming use of SST compared to all other skills in HC, SSF, and HCSSF. That’s never good, because it shows a lack of end-game diversity. I don’t think the changes (making it slower) are bad at all – the problem is more isn’t always better, sometimes it’s just more. GGG needs to stop adding skills and refine the ones they have, focusing instead on core game balance, etc.

  14. Yah for a league starter, Ice Traps performed just fine, but for all (and end-game) focused content in HC, other builds are much more viable.

  15. Hi David! Glad to see you’re back! 🙂 Missed your input on Ultimatum League.

  16. Thanks! I skipped Ultimatum because IMO it was one of the worst leagues. Running in circles while in a grinder to get loot was such a terrible and lazy design, I lost all interest after a week or so. While the overall changes to 3.15 include a number of problems and concerns, I believe the actual mechanics of Expedition are far superior (and more enjoyable) than Ultimatum. I’m still playing it, but am undecided if there’s enough to warrant another build overview… I’ll know in another week 🙂

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