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Path of Exile 3.5 Betrayal Best Builds

Betrayal is one of the largest sub-expansions to be released for Path of Exile in recent time. It contains a complete Master/Crafting revamp, new skills, and re-introduces Incursions and Bestiary while also including Delve into the core game. It also introduces the new Syndicate mechanic system. As such, there are now numerous (and dangerous) leveling and end-game systems a player needs to plan their builds to handle.


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Betrayal will be know as the “Arc Mine” league because more than 20% of all build are Arc based, and the majority of those builds are Mines. Not because Arc received a buff or change from 3.5 but because it didn’t receive a nerf, and is capable of handling all of the new content. However, the new Winter Orb and Brand (Storm and Armageddon) skills are some of the strongest and most enjoyable as well, bringing new play styles to the game.

Playing Betrayal since launch, I have taken the following builds to end-game: Storm Brand, Armageddon Brand, Winter Orb, Molten Strike, Holy Relic, Arc Mines, Vortex (CI) and Tectonic Slam. This includes variations of the new skills (two of Winter Orb and three of Storm Brand).

It’s also important to acknowledge the complete crafting and master overhaul in 3.5. It’s fantastic, and allows players to craft even more powerful rare and never seen before combinations that greatly empower a wide variety of builds. This is a factor in this league’s dominating builds because the multi-crafting ability for the new crafting augments make both new and last league’s builds even stronger.

Relative to this overview, I also 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 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 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 (Shaper & Uber Elder), and delving deep. People on the top 100 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 builds. I also want to elaborate on how I interpreted the top build from the leaderboards. These characters can be found on 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 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.

No worries about dying, can group, and can trade with others!
Top 5 Skills: Arc (20%), Winter Orb (9%), Blade Vortex (9%), Molten Strike (6%), Tie: Elemental Hit (5%) / Vortex (5%)
Top 5 Ascendancies: Elementalist (18%), Saboteur (17%), Ascendant (13%), Occultist (13%), Juggernaut (8%)

Hardcore Betrayal
Dying is a no go – but can still group and trade.
Top 5 Skills: Arc (18%), Winter Orb (10%), Vortex (6%), Blade Vortex (5%), Storm Brand (5%)
Top 5 Ascendancies: Elementalist (18%), Occultist (15%), Juggernaut (12%), Saboteur (11%), Hierophant (10%)

SSF Betrayal
Dying is just fine, but no grouping or trading.
Top 5 Skills: Arc (24%), Winter Orb (9%), Storm Brand (7%), Blade Vortex (7%), Vortex (6%)
Top 5 Ascendancies: Elementalist (24%), Hierophant (15%), Saboteur (13%), Occultist (12%), Trickster (4%)

HC SSF Betrayal
No trading, grouping or dying allowed!
Top 5 Skills: Arc (21%), Storm Brand (12%), Winter Orb (9%), Blade Vortex (7%), Vortex (5%)
Top 5 Ascendancies: Elementalist (21%), Saboteur (13%), Occultist (13%), Hierophant (13%), Trickster (6%)

What can we learn from this? Arc is the most popular skill across the league and Elementalist is the most popular ascendancy (overall). Now that we are in a league that isn’t focused solely on delving deep (and the best money is currently made by delving at shallow levels), diversity in build capability is now more important due to the combined Syndicate, Delve, Incursion and Bestiary content.

Unfortunately, the new skills Shattering Steel, Lancing Steel and the war banners are seeing very little use.

As mentioned above, Betrayal will be known as the league of Arc Mines and traps.

My Favorite Builds from 3.5 Betrayal

Before I dive into the recommended build list, I wanted to share my favorite builds from the 3.5 Betrayal league so far.

  1. Storm Brand Elementalist is currently my favorite build, mainly because it’s a new and fresh style of play. It is also very powerful, has great survival, and can do all end-game content, including Uber Elder. A L73 player actually killed Uber Elder Deathless using Storm Brand. Crazy and fun! Also a fantastic league starter as Storm Brand is now held as one of (if not the) best leveling skills.
  2. Winter Orb Elementalist is my second favorite build, not only because it’s also a new skill, but because it’s fantastic for speed mapping and clear. The freezing/cold also help greatly with survival, slowing bosses, and completely immobilizing trash and even rares. It’s a lot of fun to watch the screen shatter in unison.
  3. I also really enjoyed the Occultist CI Vortex build. It may not have the clear speed of the other builds, but the focused cold DoT damage paired with the survivability make it great for handling all content. You basically phase run through groups, dropping a Vortex as you move through them, which will instantly melt the group. The cold damage also slows and freezes many bosses, and CI is the best for survival in this league.
  4. I also tried a Trickster DoT Armageddon Brand build, and it was a blast. I got to end-game with no deaths because it uses Patient Reaper, which recovers both life and mana on kill. It’s a lot of fun and does a great job of melting mobs, however to get great melting damage on end-game bosses, a substantial investment is required. While it doesn’t have the “speed” of Storm Brand (due to the delay between cast and hit), it’s just a lot of fun to play and I highly recommend it.
  5. And finally, we have my favorite from last league, the Holy Relic Guardian. I used it as my league starter for Betrayal and it performed fantastically, even with the shift of “all damage” to “physical damage” for Herald of Agony and Herald of Purity. It uses Cyclone with Life Gain on Hit for movement, Herald of Agony for bosses/tough targets (with Phantasms for distraction), Herald of Purity and Holy Relics for additional damage. This is one of the best builds I’ve played, and a great league starter. It’s fully end-game viable, can do all content, is SSF friendly, and fun to play. I killed Minotaur in under 15 seconds with this build and took it below delve 300 (others have taken it 600+) without issue last league.

The Best 3.5 Betrayal Builds List

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

  1. Arc Mines (Normal #1, HC #1, SSF #1, HC SSF #1) is the top build this league because of its ability to dominate all content, clear maps quickly and melt bosses with the Spire trap. The only downside is the “style” of play can be clunky for many, requiring the player to drop a mine and detonate it manually. Second to Arc Mines (39%) is Arc Traps (34%), nearly as potent as mines, it can clear with the best and is fantastic in bossing. The third most common Arc build is Arc Totems (20%); while it’s not nearly as potent for completing all game content, it’s a more laid back play style that doesn’t require constant detonation.
  2. Winter Orb (Normal #2, HC #2, SSF #2, HC SSF #2) is taking over as the second most used skill in the game across normal, SSF and hardcore. The main reason is the clear speed, chilling slow, and the ability to pump out some crazy damage with the right items. It’s also a new style of gameplay.
  3. Blade Vortex (Normal #3, HC #4, SSF #4, HC SSF #4) is the third most popular skill, just as powerful as it was last league. Elementalist is the ascendancy of choice.
  4. Storm Brand (Normal #7, HC #5, SSF #3, HC SSF #2), is another new skill that is a ton of fun to play and probably the new best leveling skill in the game; it is also great for end-game farming and bossing and allows the player to survive most encounters by constantly staying mobile.
  5. Vortex (Normal #6, HC #3, SSF #4, HC SSF #5) has become one of the most popular builds due to its damage and survivability, with more than 90% of all builds being Occultist CI.
  6. CoC Cyclone (Normal #8, HC #6, SSF #7, HC SSF #7) Assassin is now shining with the new cold adjustments, allowing for slow/freezing Cast on Crit. There is also an Ascendant version, but it’s not as popular.
  7. Molten Strike (Normal #5, HC #7, SSF #12, HC SSF N/A) still holds its place in the top builds list with the most popular variation being that of the Juggernaut. The two most popular versions are the Grelwood Shank and Shield, and the Dual Nebuloch.

There are definitely other great builds that could have made it on the list, but I think the above recommendations are overall the best for the Betrayal 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!

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