Legion has been one of the best expansions we’ve seen for Path of Exile yet. Paired with the melee rework, Legion is fun, rewarding and a very well-designed expansion. The incubators also added a new subsystem of item acquisition that is very rewarding. There’s no doubt in my mind the Legion mechanic will remain in the core game once 3.8 releases, and melee builds will continue to be viable long into the future. While there have been a number of hiccups with server stability and the melee enhancements as a whole, GGG is doing their best to fix the problems, and I believe within the next few weeks, we’ll have complete stability and smoothness across the board.
This league will forever be known as the “Cyclone League”, and for good reason. Cyclone is dominating every play style (SC, HC and SSF) because it’s just so much fun. There are also so many variations of Cyclone that work, players are having a blast experimenting with different ascendancies, weapons, configuations and defensive styles. Sadly, Winter Orb and Molten Strike are pretty much dead (but there are some deep delve pushers still using Molten Strike). That’s OK though, because they dominated the previous league so much, it’s nice to see some new meta.
We received some great new skill gems with this league, including: Steelskin, Bladestorm, Blood and Sand, Berserk, Rage, Precision, Flesh and Stone, Pride, Pulverise, Close Combat, and a few others. These gems have changed not only the way Melee is played, but also provided completely new defensive (and offensive) layers for both melee and non-melee builds (such as the Sand Stance blinding all nearby enemies).
Ultimately, Legion shines for nearly all players, even those who aren’t embracing the melee meta. Let’s dive into things!
To say Cyclone is dominating this league is an understatement. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a league where one skill is used across the board (SC, HC, SSF) so extensively. As mentioned, this is because it’s fun and smooth as butter to play.
Playing Legion since launch, I have taken the following builds to end-game:
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.
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 the top 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 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.
As we can see, Cyclone is king this league with Essence Drain far behind. Slayer is the most popular Ascendancy next to Trickster. People are staying clear of Berserker in Hardcore, and Juggernaut is not as popular as one would think for Hardcore players (which is surprising, but also showing the resilience of Slayer).
The numbers from this league are so lopsided in favor of Cyclone that players are generally either running Cyclone, perhaps Essence Drain, or … anything else.
My Favorite Builds from 3.7 Legion
Before I dive into the recommended build list, I wanted to share my favorite builds from Legion so far.
I’ll admit it. I love Cyclone now. Out of all the Cyclone builds I played, I enjoyed Slayer the most due to the AoE and DPS potential based on equipment upgrades. I chose DatModz’s version of Slayer (which he is playing in Hardcore and pushing to 100). I have a PoB of it here.
Freezing Scourge Arrow is simply amazing, and it’s not even expensive! With nearly 6M Shaper DPS, this bad boy can wipe the entire screen of Legion and perma freeze bosses. People with BiS gear were 1-shotting bosses up to T15 with this build. I’m not aware of an official guide, but I put together a PoB with leveling details in the Notes section. I enjoyed this more than any other bow skill and my favorite part is it melts bosses just as easily as it 1-shots the entire screen, all while being Tanky! Definitely Hardcore viable.
Once again, I can’t speak highly enough about Freezing Pulse Totems. With the enhancements to Freezing Pulse last league (and now they go through doorways easier), it’s completely overpowered with nearly no investment, and capable of reaching more than 600k per totem, which is 2.4M cold DPS. It shatters the entire screen, blows apart legions, and decimates bosses while the players just stands back and laughs (while picking up loot). Wallach made a complete guide on the forums. There is also a great Video Guide by jiangshaoyun.
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 the best build guides, many of which I have used myself.
Cyclone Builds. There are so many. Slayer, Champion, Berserker, Gladiator, Ascendant, Juggernaut. Some players have even made Cyclone Occultists. As mentioned, I’ve run many of these builds, so I will provide links to each. General rule of thumb is: Champion and Juggernaut are Tanky, Slayer and Gladiator are balanced (and Slayer has biggest AoE), Berserker is highest DPS but squishy (compared to the others), and the other builds can be variations of the standard Dual Wield or 2H meta (sword or Axe).
Ahfack’s Crimson Cyclone Slayer Guide has become a core staple in the Cyclone community. If you’re looking to play a balanced Cyclone build that can ultimately do all content with the right investment, this guide provides!
I also want to note that “Dan” is held as one of the best ED/Cont players in Path of Exile. If you want to see what min/max looks like, check out his account here.
Tornado Shot is always a crowd pleaser due to its clear speed, and with Legion, it’s great at quickly breaking open screens full of warriors. It takes some time to ramp up and doesn’t have the fun factor of Cyclone, but for those who want a ranged build, this works!
Bladestormwas introduced with 3.7 and is an interesting skill that releases a persistent ring of blades, and based on Blood or Sand stance, the rings either stay where you cast them or slowly move forward.
Lacerateis the king of bleed, paired with Gladiator for those beautiful bleedsplosions. Luckily the bleed bug with Legion is now fixed, and players can enjoy the blissful gory explosion of draining life not only from Legions, but all of their victims.