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Path of Exile Ascendancy Classes Guide - Best League Starter Builds & Rework Highlights

Look how they massacred your boy and plan accordingly ahead of release.

A brand new League, endgame content to pursue and farm towards, and all-new challenges are coming to Path of Exile: Echoes of the Atlas. This creates an opportunity for both experienced and newcomer players to start fresh and face new dangers, but it comes with the usual balancing costs that you’d expect from a major update. In this guide we’ll go over the best League starter builds, as well as a run down of the Ascendancy Classes that have been changed exponentially.

Best League Starter Builds – Path of Exile

It’s worth considering that this League will be focusing not only on mapping, but also bosses, so it’s a matter of balancing the speed required to complete maps several times while also focusing on damage and defense to sustain yourself during waves of boss fights that await from the Maven’s challenge.

Before we get started on some of the options that might prove worth pursuing depending on your playstyle, bear in mind that we’ll be doing overviews of each build, whereas specific passive abilities will be showcased using Path of Building, which is a community-based build planner that also provides recommendations on skills and gems. In order to make it more streamlined, we’ve included templates for each of the builds.

Bleed Bow Gladiator Build

This build has been one of the go-to builds for the last few Leagues amongst Path of Exile players, as it provides an interesting and streamlined way to stack bleed on enemies without sacrificing speed nor damage. Attacks will affect several enemies at once, leading to bleed explosions. It works even better with the Puncture skill, which does require more precision than the regular attacks but it’s completely worth the aiming effort.

Player mbXtreme suggested Essence Drain (often referred to as ED) as a different option. This skill fires a projectile which hits for a small amount of chaos damage and applies a heavy chaos damage over time effect. The curious thing is that it also regenerates a portion of that damage over time as life for your character, in case you need to balance your defense as well.

The Gladiator received some nerfs on the 3.13 changes, but it’s nothing major and the build should still be a reliable option. Sourced Path of Building (Fork) can be found here.

Blade Vortex Poison Assassin Build

This is a really fun build as it basically creates a vortex around the character that deals both damage and poison to enemies. It does require you to actually get close enough to the enemies as the surrounding area isn’t incredibly expansive, but once you do you can basically move on to the next mob group with ease while seeing all of them getting killed in your path. And yes, hitting multiple enemies at once also means you’ll be stacking up the poison as well.

The 3.13 changes here are probably the most prevalent ones of the builds we’re examining in this guide. The Assassin received several nerfs that go against its nature: it now has reduced movement speed, damage, and damage resistance. The percentages aren’t that high to completely turn this build around, but we’re yet to see the results of this until the expansion is finally out.

Sourced Path of Building (Fork) can be found here, although keep in mind it hasn’t been updated to reflect on the 3.13 changes as of yet – we’ll update accordingly once it is.

Toxic Rain Trickster Build

With this build, arrows rain down, dealing Chaos damage over time and causing explosions that overlap with one another. This creates stacked damage on single targets thanks to the use of spore pods.This combination has an area of effect, but there’s several skills that help to slow enemies, making targeting much easier in return. Esoro also recommends a Mirage Archer Support skill (which summons a ghostly character when the player hits an enemy with the supported skill) so you can escape from damage safely withouting having to cease the attack for a couple seconds.

This build is great for newcomers as there’s no need to fiddle with special flasks (used both health and mana) or particular buffs in order to get to the desired DPS, and you can expect to have a solid defense as well. Keep in mind that, compared to previous Leagues, the Trickster class has been nerfed in a number of traits: damage output, spell dodge chance, and movement speed were all lowered slightly, but the build should still be viable as the changes weren’t drastic. A specialized bow such as the Torment Breeze Thicket Bow is recommended. Sourced Path of Building (Fork) can be found here.

Ice Nova Hierophant Build

This build might seem ridiculous in action, but do bear with us. It focuses on ice novas that are casted repeatedly on frostbolt projectiles, an action that occurs automatically without continued casting as the frostbolt travels through the surrounding area. The continued casting is instead used to stack up these novas and create a chain reaction.

The Ice Nova Hierophant build does require particular flasks and buffs to maximize damage, but you can expect a hybrid between life, mana, and energy shield pool for your character’s survival, immunity to elemental ailments, decent block chance, and several other advantages.

Gear relies on rares and affordable unique items, either a rare wand, staff, or scepter should be enough for early mapping. As for Hierophant’s changes, Life Leech isn’t as approachable as before, but Arcane Surge is now easier to attain, as well as having an increased effect. Sourced Path of Building (Fork) can be found here.

What Are the Ascendancy Class Reworks?

So, first things first. If you’re new to the Path of Exile jargon, the game has a total of 19 Ascendancy Classes, which are specializations for all the base characters you start up with. For example, a Duelist can turn into a Gladiator, Slayer, or Champion, while the Witch can become a Necromancer, Elementalist, or Occultist, and so on.

To unlock these Ascendancy Classes, you must find the Altar of Ascendency at the end of the Lord’s Labyrinth. This is a randomly generated dungeon added in a past League specifically for unlocking these classes – throughout the game’s acts and maps you’ll come across puzzle segments called Trials of Ascendancy, and completing these unlock the various tiers of The Lord’s Labyrinth. Keep in mind that you first need to complete at least six trials to gain access to the Aspirant’s Plaza, which can be done through the Statue of the Goddess in the Sarn Encampment, and then take it from there.

All 19 Ascendancy Classes had changes, which you can read about in the official post. That being said, three of them had major reworks: these are the Elementalist, Inquisitor, and Deadeye. Here’s what you can expect from them in the upcoming 3.13 version of Path of Exile.

Elementalist Rework Details

The decision behind the Elementalist rework is based on the lack of specialized skills, rendering it a non-viable option for many builds. Now, you’ll be able to choose which elemental ailments to use, giving you the opportunity of further customization to better prepare the class for the upcoming update. In terms of elemental damage, Bastion of Elements seems to be the primary choice for those looking to resist said damage. In addition, if you’re eyeing a Golem build to summon an army of bulky companions, they’ll be automatically resummoned four seconds after they die thanks to Liege of Primordial. But, if you want for them to be immune to elemental damage, make sure to invest into Elemancer as well.

In terms of specific changes, the benefits from Shaper of Desolation are now part of their own branches, which culminate in Shaper of Flames, Winter, and Storm skills, this is where the ailment choices come into play. Chill, Shock, and Ignite can still be used and enhanced on any build.

Lastly, Mastermind of Discord no longer focuses on Heralds (which is a gem tag associated with active gems that grant players a damage buff and special effect after killing an enemy under certain conditions), while Pendulum of Destruction is now Heart of Destruction, focusing on elemental damage or area of effect.

Inquisitor Rework Details

The Inquisitor is another class that was feeling barebones. It will now focus on more offensive or defensive power, depending on where you’d want to push it. One of the main additions is Instruments of Zeal, which adds a brand new concept (yes, another one!) called Fanaticism, which grants 75 percent additional cast speed onto your spells with an increased area of effect and reduced mana cost.

Aside from this, there are several other changes. Pious Path no longer affects attack and cast speed, and instead allows you to double the potential recovery of Life Regeneration by having it apply equally to Energy Shield. On the other hand, Sanctuary no longer provides mana, but now has a larger damage bonus (up from 10 percent to 15 percent from Consecrated Ground.

Righteous Providence now scales critical strike chance by a percentage equivalent to either your Inquisitor’s strength or intelligence stats – it automatically picks the lowest of either. And it also provides +50 to these attributes, which is a decent bonus.

Lastly, Instruments of Virtue’ benefits no longer strictly apply when you’ve attacked or cast a spell, but in exchange it grants 10 percent more attack damage for each non-instant spell you’ve cast recently (up to a maximum of 30 percent). The skill also grants Battlemage, which adds spell damage equal to your main hand weapon’s damage.

Deadeye Rework Details

If you’re into ranger-type builds, the Deadeye’s rework might be just the thing. Far Shot now deals 30 percent more damage to enemies that are far away from the player (making for a total of 60 percent), but reduces 20 percent of damage for close-quarter enemies. Although the 30 percent increased projectile speed bonus has been removed, the spread from Barrages is no longer present.

Far Shot now deals 60 percent more damage to enemies far away from you (which is up from 30 percent before), but also now deals 20 percent less damage to enemies that are close. It no longer has a projectile speed bonus but now removes the spread from your Barrages (a ranged attack skill that fires all of your bow or wand projectiles fast and in succession).

Ricochet now allows for your projectiles to not only chain an additional time, but also give them a 30 percent chance to chain when colliding with terrain. Endless Munitions now fires two additional projectiles at the cost of losing the previously present 50 percent increased area of effect and +200 accuracy rating.

Occupying Force is a new skill that benefits Mirage Archers (ghostly archers that come from the Mirage Archer Support gem) by granting two more archers. They’re also no longer attached to your character, with the condition that you cannot summon more of them while you’re close to the active ones.

But wait, there’s more. Gathering Winds will now always grant Tailwind (a buff that increases action speed by eight percent for four seconds) to both the player and allies, and the increase to Tailwind effect per skill is now given by the Gale Force buff. Wind Ward enhances all of this by making the Gale Force more effective (three percent less damage taken per Gale Force) but makes you lose all the ones you have when hit.

Rupture is now called Rupturing, and critical strikes that used to inflict bleeding only will also inflict Rupture, making bleeding enemies to lose more life. The downside is that their bleed expires more quickly, which demands a faster reaction in return to keep that damage going. Lastly, Focal Point presents itself as a new skill (replacing Fast and Deadly) to improve the effect of Mark skills by 75 percent, as well as 25 percent less damage taken from other enemies near your marked enemy, which is great since the mark isn’t removed from dying mobs.

And that’s everything you need to know to start considering your build strategies ahead of the release of Path of Exile: Echoes of the Atlas. Keep an eye on this guide during the next couple of days as we continue to update with new details and information.

[Disclaimer: Tencent, the parent company that owns Fanbyte, is also a majority holder of Grinding Gear Games, the developer of Path of Exile. That being said, there is no direct nor indirect involvement in coverage whatsoever. We do share the love for hack-n-slash games, but that’s about it, really.]

About the Author

Diego Arguello

Featured contributor at Fanbyte focusing primarily on guides. Always procrastinating on Twitter.