The 3.2 Bestiary release of PoE saw major changes to every Ascendancy, resulting in substantial enhancements across the board for many builds. While Righteous Fire, Tornado Shot, Wanders, Sunder and Spectres continue to dominate (in both normal and Hardcore), we are seeing more variation in builds that are end-game viable due to the ascendancy changes. This is a very good thing.
The core goal of this post is to provide links to solid, viable, fun, good starting and end-game viable build guides. If you have any changes, additions or recommendations, please comment below!
So far with the 3.2 Bestiary league, I have taken the following builds to end-game: Melee Skeletons, Sunder, Cyclone, Molten Strike, Tornado Shot, Righteous Fire, Wander, and Frostbolt Totems.
I first 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” 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 that are more complex (and sometimes powerful), but they generally require respecing, farming specific items/uniques/item rolls, and other factors — but the reality is most of these builds don’t provide enough of an advantage to the core requirements to outperform the below recommendations.
The below list was created based on a combination of my personal experience with the builds, the experience and recommendations of my friends and colleagues in PoE, comments and feedback from players in Reddit and the PoE forums, builds run by active PoE streamers taken to end-game, and cross-comparing to the top 100 leaderboard builds.
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 guide 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 100 Builds
Before I present the list, I want to say something very important: just because it’s on the top 100 list doesn’t mean it’s a “best build”. Many (if not most) of the top 100 players run builds that are designed solely to push 100 and nothing more (farming specific maps) – however many of these builds are capable of doing all content, including Shaper. People on the top 100 list are hardcore (play style not HC mode), experienced, and pushing 100 is an art all of its own that generally has no application to the average player – but we can still learn from these builds. I also want to elaborate on how I interpreted the top 100 build from the leaderboards. These characters can be found on poe-racing.com. 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 one of the best indicators of being solo-viable. Just because a character/build isn’t in SSF doesn’t mean the character was played in an Aura/Support group – but that must be taken into account. 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 for the poe-racing site of the top 100 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.
Bestiary No worries about dying, can group, and can trade with others!
Top 5 Skills: Tornado Shot, Barrage, Kinetic Blast, Sunder, Cyclone
Top 5 Ascendancies: Deadeye, Ascendant, Pathfinder, Occultist, Raider, Guardian
HC Bestiary Dying is a no go – but can still group and trade.
Top 5 Skills: Righteous Fire, Sunder, Barrage, Tornado Shot, Reave
Top 5 Ascendancies: Juggernaut, Guardian, Ascendant, Necromancer, Deadeye
SSF Bestiary Dying is just fine, but no grouping or trading.
Top 5 Skills: Righteous Fire, Reave, Raise Spectre, Blade Flurry, Glacial Cascade
Top 5 Ascendancies: Juggernaut, Necromancer, Hierophant, Champion, Deadeye
HC SSF Bestiary No trading, grouping or dying allowed!
Top 5 Skills: Sunder, Raise Spectre, Righteous Fire, Reave, Freezing Pulse
Top 5 Ascendancies: Juggernaut, Necromancer, Hierophant, Trickster, Champion
What can we learn from this? Juggernaut with RF/Sunder is king if you’re pushing 100 and doing SSF or HC. The top folks (level 100) in Bestiary (normal and hardcore) generally run in groups, which includes aura bots. In normal, a player hit 100 in 3d8h where Hardcore was 4h18h (with the others averaging 8d) – no question they were grouping. Hierophant also joined the top 5 list due to the totem buff, and Deadeye is one of the most used ascendancies (overall).
The Build List
Because of the ascendancy changes of 3.2, I wanted to wait a few weeks before I compiled and finalized the below list. For clarity, this list is not created solely based on the top 100 builds from poe-racing; it’s based on many additional factors (covered above) including player support/recommendations, end-game viability, overall fun, and personal experience. Here we go!
Best all-around Builds
Sunder still holds the top spot for softcore and hardcore “all around” gameplay. Sunder is also one of the most beginner friendly builds in PoE. The most popular Sunder builds are Gladiator and Champion, but it can be played as Slayer and Juggernaut as well.
Righteous Fire is the end-game king in 3.2 when it comes to all-around gameplay. Mapping, Eternal Lab, Uber Atziri, Guardians and Shaper; this is the build of choice by some of the most experienced players. While Juggernaut is the most popular ascendancy, the top players to reach 100 in HC and SSF (Aila did it in just 5d12h in SSFHC) used an Occultist variation of Righteous Fire – but this play style requires crazy flask management and is only for those most experienced with PoE. The Juggernaut style is much more relaxing and laid back, and the preferred choice by most RF players. For those who are interested, here’s the English translation of Aila’s Occultist RF guide.
Melee Skeletons are decimating end-game and a blast to play with the Ascendancy changes in 3.2. My personal opinion is they are more fun than Spectres because the player doesn’t have to wait for them to move around and catch up, and they can be cast in strategic locations. Put them in the middle of a blue group and watch the entire group explode in one shot. Cast twice around a boss and watch it melt. Melee skeletons are the most fun I’ve had this league and the mapping speed is quite good (6 out of 10). Boss killing? I’d rate it a 9 out of 10, and the build runs Eternal Lab with ease.
Molten Strike with leech is crazy powerful and one of the best all-around builds available in PoE able to do all content. I actually completed the storyline and got to mapping faster with this build than any other (with 0 deaths). While the clear speed isn’t top tier (I’d give it a 5 out of 10), the boss melting and survivability is top notch. Plus it’s just fun to watch everything melt while sucking your victims life away.
While I love skeletons, there no question Spectres are still exceptional for completing all content in the game. While players (like myself) are jumping on Melee Skeletons (as the new meta in 3.2) because they’re “new”, Spectres will always be a solid choice.
With the ascendancy changes to Hierophant, Totems are more powerful than ever. The most popular are either Freezing Pulse or Frostbolt because of their clear speed, however these builds have issues with the end-game bosses and are more for mapping and general clearing/leveling (but the FP build can down shaper). If you want a Totem build that melts bosses, can do all content in the game, but clears maps a little slower, you can go with Glacial Cascade Totems. Milky’s Righteous Fire Totems are also very powerful and fun for those who like totem builds.
Essence Drain is still going strong and is one of the best league starters around; it also does a very good job of clearing maps, but requires substantial investment to complete Guardians and Shaper.
Wanders (Kinetic Blast) come in second for speed farming and end-game mapping. People prefer Windripper for the magic find, but Kinetic Blast can clear faster than Tornado Shot, but it is not a boss killer. The Queenliness Wanderfinder is also a long-standing and classic wander guide.
Reave has replaced Sunder as the end-game melee speed farming skill because it has a wider strike radius than Sunder (and can thus kill faster). Most players start with Sunder and convert to Reave when they have upgraded/optimized their gear (around L75). Here’s the Champion Guide and Gladiator Guide.
Frost Blades has great clear speed and is fun, but survivability and single target damage can be a bit of a problem without expensive gear; but I list it here because it’s fun and a lot of people really enjoy Frost Blades (I also played it last league). The two recommended builds are Fiver’s Raider version and Reload’s Assassin version.
Lighty’s 2H RT Cyclone build is a classic loved by many, and very fun to play. However, to do end-game maps (T14+) and Shaper, etc. you really need an Atziri’s Disfavor, which costs more than 4 exalts, and that’s not even linked. Ahfack’s Crimson Cyclone is another great guide, but if you want to do Shaper, etc. you’ll need a Starforge and/or other extremely expensive gear.
There are definitely other great builds that could have made it on the list, but I think the above recommendations are solid for this league.
Each one of the above mentioned builds also works great as a starter or first build; they are fun, powerful, and capable of taking both new and veteran players alike to end-game. Additionally, each build is solid for SSF (solo self found) play as well.
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!