Hello and welcome to another Path of Exile build guide, this time with Zombiemancer?s younger brother, the Skelemancer! With most content becoming more difficult and enemies? health pools increasing dramatically, you need a build that can easily crush bosses on a budget. Well, the Skelemancer does exactly that, easy and reliably. An amazing league starter, this build doesn?t require any mandatory gear or unique items at all. On top of that, even the best-in-slot items are actually quite cheap so it works great even on lower budgets or playing solo-self-found. As with most summoner builds, it has plenty of defense mechanisms as well as an army of minions that distract enemies or create a meatshield around you, body-blocking incoming hits. As such it does really well in Hardcore and you might even survive disconnects and crashes as your undead army will generally kill anything that gets close to you. Summoning skeletons doesn?t require corpses so even if a few of them die or expire, you can immediately raise more. This, combined with the insane DPS output, makes the build an amazing boss killer, regardless of the encounter.
In fact, most bosses melt almost instantly without getting a chance to cast their spells or use any abilities. On top of that, since skeletons are expendable, you can run pretty much any map mod, including damage reflect. All in all, it?s a care-free playstyle, excellent for beginners or players that want to run a very chill build. So, with this being said, let’s see how you actually go about getting all that. The guide is divided into seven main sections: build overview, passive tree and leveling, ascendancy, pantheon, gems and links, gear flasks and jewels and finally “pros & cons”. In the video description below you’ll find a link for importing the entire build guide in “Path Of Building” tool.
It includes the passive tree broken down into level brackets, example gear and a detailed “Notes” section on gearing, stats priorities and gems. With that out of the way, it’s time to lay out the build overview. The build revolves around summoning skeletons but also a whole bunch of other minions that buff them or help you in different ways. Skeletons are a temporary type of minion, meaning they expire a relatively short time after you?ve summoned them. They also have a limited roaming range so they won?t follow you very far and you generally can?t control their actions too much.
However, summoning them also doesn?t require corpses and at higher gem levels you get 4 new bois with each cast. This offsets the constant need to resummon skeletons and overall results in a very smooth playstyle. At max gem level and after getting most of the main passives you?ll end up with 10 to 12 skeletons. Ideally you should use the Vaal Summon Skeletons version of the gem which can actually be quite easily obtained through ?The Bones? divination card. If you?re unfamiliar with Vaal gems, they?re basically a 2 in 1 kind of deal: within the same gem you get both the regular skill as well as a Vaal version of it, which is sort of the same ability but on steroids.
The Vaal part has a cooldown and also needs soul charges which will be gathered as you kill mobs or damage bosses. In this particular case, Vaal Summon Skeletons can raise an additional 40 or so minions for a short duration which is perfect for boss fights or any other heavy-duty static fight such as delve nodes or syndicate encounters. It?s not a huge deal or mandatory thing, but it can definitely help deal with more difficult content. By default, your skeletons deal physical damage but you?ll also be adding a lot of extra cold damage with Hatred aura and ?Grip of the Council? gloves. Apart from your skeletons you?ll have a whole bunch of other minions, each providing a different benefit. While they?re not exactly mandatory, there?s absolutely no reason not to use them – after all you have to fill your gem sockets and every bit of extra damage or defenses will help. Since the build uses a 2-handed weapon where you socket your Skeletons gems, you can then use a second 6-link setup and that will be Raise Zombies.
These guys will be there mostly as a meat shield around you as well as adding some extra damage against tougher targets or anything that gets too close. While they?re quite tanky and have a large HP pool, every now and then a few zombies might die. However, unlike the Zombiemancer build, this won?t cripple you much as skeletons are in fact your main weapon. As is the norm with most summoner builds, you?ll also use specters and Animated guardian along with a whole bunch of auras. Everything is designed to squeeze out additional damage or add extra defensive layers for yourself and your minions. While it sounds like a lot to take it, don’t worry, as always, I will talk about all these in much greater details in the passives, gems and gearing sections respectively.
And speaking of that, let’s actually start with the passive tree and leveling. Starting off as a Witch, in Act 1 you immediately go for a few significant passives such as ?Grave Intentions? and ?Lord of the Dead?. These will boost the max number of both skeletons and zombies as well as their damage and defenses. However, you’ll likely notice that at this stage in the game your minions tend to die quite easily and you need to resummon them often.
They also don’t deal too much damage yet and this will be the case up to around level 25 or so. As such I recommend you temporarily level up using Freezing Pulse or Arc until then. You can have zombies and skeletons around as meatshields but don’t rely on them to do much else yet. That being said, moving on through Act 2, you’ll get some HP and resistances through ?Cruel Preparation? and its adjacent nodes while pathing towards the excellent ?Death Attunement? minion wheel. This will grant you one additional skeleton, zombie and spectre as well as boost their damage and life. This act also brings with it the ?Deal with the Bandits? quest and the decision here is simple: kill them all. The bonuses they would provide are pretty much useless for summoners so the two passive points are clearly the way to go. In acts 3 and 4 continue buffing your zombies by taking notable passives ?Spiritual Command? and ?Sacrifice?. Remember to also take the small minion life leech node next to Sacrifice; it really helps with keeping them alive.
Afterwards grab ?Quick Recovery? to get a bit of life and mana regen for yourself. Lastly, invest into ?Ravenous Horde? cluster, greatly improving minions’ movement speed and granting them a chance to gain Onslaught when killing enemies. This buff further increases their attack and movement speed. Going through acts 5 and 6, take ?Enduring Bond? wheel, ?Retribution? and ?Aligned Spirits? for some great bonuses to minion damage. You also get increased minion duration and reduced mana cost making summoning skeletons much smoother. As encounters get a bit tougher, ?Discipline and Training? comes in handy as a significant boost to your own HP.
At this stage in the game you should be more or less in full summoner mode and not dealing any direct damage yourself. As such it is a good time to take ?Elemental Equilibrium? keystone. This seemingly complicated passive is actually quite simple: when you deal damage with a certain element, let’s take for example fire; so, when you deal fire damage to an enemy, Elemental Equilibrium increases that monster’s fire resistance while lowering their cold and lightning ones by a very large amount. So how is this useful? When you pair your zombies with Hatred Aura, they deal additional cold damage on top of the default physical. If you, the summoner, deal fire or lightning damage to enemies, Elemental Equilibrium lowers their cold resistance, greatly boosting the damage dealt by zombies. Thankfully minions themselves do not trigger Elemental Equilibrium in any way but they DO benefit from its effect. I will however talk a bit more about using Elemental Equilibrium in the gems and gearing sections respectively. In acts 7 and 8 continue buffing your zombies both defensively and offensively with ?Indomitable Army? and ?Gravepact?.
The first brings a large amount of life, resistances as well as physical damage reduction while the second will take care of your bois’ accuracy. Finally, balance it out with a bunch of life and Energy Shield for yourself through ?Sanctity? and ?Purity of Flesh?. You also get a decent amount of chaos resistance which has become a bit more important lately. As you approach the end of story mode and difficulty starts ramping up, it’s a perfect time to invest in some HP through ?Heart of the Warrior? and ?Warrior’s Blood?. You also get quite a bit of life regen which helps offset stuff like poison, bleeding or burning damage. Then pick up ?Righteous Army? for even more regen for both yourself and minions as well as some extra damage for your bois. Lastly grab two sockets where you can drop some Ghastly eyes or any jewels which grant minion stats or life for yourself. As always, I’ll go into more details about these in the Gearing section.
Around this point you should have finished the campaign and start progressing through the first few tiers of Atlas maps. So, a balanced approach is optimal: get ?Constitution? for a huge amount of life for yourself and then take ?Redemption? to further boost your minions’ damage and movement speed. The less time they spend running from target to target the faster you’ll clear each map. And since it’s already on the way, take this jewel socket as well. It can help to temporarily cap resistances or get some additional Dex, depending on what you need at that point.
The overall DPS of your undead army should be more than plenty at this point so working on survivability and defenses is the optimal choice. Take all those juicy life nodes around Constitution and an additional jewel socket. From this point on, probably the best investment is to get ?Devotion? and its adjacent life nodes as well. For the final points it mainly depends on what weapon you’ll be using: the staff or the sword.
If you go with the staff then take ?Whirling Barrier? for some decent amount of block chance. If you opt for the sword get ?Combat Stamina? instead, stacking some additional life regen and armour. Lastly, you have the option of taking ?Mind over Matter? once you have the best in slot helmet, ?The Devouring Diadem?. While it adds almost 1000 effective HP, you also run the risk of ending up completely out of mana when you take too much damage. This can prevent you from flame dashing away or summoning new skeletons and that’s more or less a death sentence.
Totally up to you if you want to use it or not. And that’s about it for the passive tree and leveling. In the next section I’ll be covering the Ascendancy class which improves pretty much every single aspect of this build. Summoning dead stuff to fight for you is clearly the signature of a Necromancer so that is what we’re picking for the Ascendancy class. First points go to ?Mindless Aggression?, a clear-cut and efficient passive: it simply buffs the damage as well as attack and movement speed of your minions. Nothing really complicated. After completing Cruel Labyrinth spend the points on ?Unnatural Strength? which grants +2 levels to all active minion gems you’re using. While this doesn’t seem like a big deal, keep in mind that minions actually gain most of their damage and HP from gem levels. Even if this bonus doesn’t apply to support gems, having higher level skeletons, zombies, spectres and animated guardian will make them much stronger and resilient. Third passive is ?Bone Barrier?, a really strong defensive layer for both yourself and your minions.
First, you get a whole bunch of physical damage reduction, life and energy shield recovery and elemental resistances. This makes gearing much cheaper and easier and allows you to use additional unique items that provide special bonuses. In addition, you also get the ?Bone Armour? skill ? when activated it creates a shield on yourself and each of your minions, absorbing up to 22 hundred damage from hits. Just make sure you actually put the ability on your skillbar and use it ? unfortunately I noticed a lot of people end up taking the ascendancy passive but never actually use the active part. Don?t be one of those. With the final Ascendancy points grab ?Commander of Darkness? – both yourself and your minions get a large amount of damage and attack speed, as well as elemental resistances. With the ascendancy out of the way, we can take a quick look at the Pantheon choices.
Generally speaking, Pantheon choices are situational and there isn’t a “best” pair that will outperform all others in any scenario. However, there are certain options that complement specific builds quite well in a wide range of situations. For this particular case, here are my recommendations: For the major god, Soul of Lunaris: it’s probably the best defensive pantheon for builds which operate mostly in melee range. Since you’ll generally stick close to your minions or Flame Dash through enemies to apply Elemental Equilibrium, the ?nearby enemies? condition will be always met. Another good option is Soul of the Brine King for some additional protection against stuns and freezes. While this won’t provide full immunity, it’s still a noticeable difference and will certainly prevent some unnecessary deaths. As for the minor god, the optimal choice is Soul of Shakari: chaos damage in general and poison in particular are encountered quite often while mapping.
These deal a very large amount of damage so mitigating or completing ignoring some of that is more than welcome. Having covered the pantheon choices, we can now focus on one of the most important aspects of any build: gems and links. Before I begin, I just need to remind you that there are Awakened versions for a few of the gems used in this build. Awakened gems are a stronger variant of their base, but at the same time much more expensive. Needless to say, if you can afford them or get a lucky drop, just replace the base gem with the awakened version. With that out of the way, as usual I’ll start off with the main skill, Summon Skeletons and its supports. As mentioned in the build overview section, you should ideally go with a Vaal Summon Skeletons variant. Then, the first support gem is ?Minion Damage? – a very simple and obvious choice, it just adds a huge amount of damage without any downside.
2nd support is ?Melee Splash? – skeletons have no area of effect ability so clearing large packs of mobs would be quite slow without this. It doesn’t unfortunately add any damage but you definitely need it whenever you’re dealing with more than one target. Against bosses you can replace it with ?Ruthless? support for a very solid damage increase. Just remember to switch back to Melee Splash afterwards.
Up next is ?Deathmark? support which is actually also an active ability. You use it to mark an enemy and your skeletons will immediately switch targets. They also gain a very large damage boost against that particular enemy, making it excellent versus bosses. It also helps tremendously with steering, herding your minions and generally making them do what you want. 5th support gem is ?Multistrike? which makes skeleton attacks repeat two additional times. While each repeat deals lower damage than normal, overall it still ends up as a a huge amount of extra damage. And finally, the last support is ?Melee Physical Damage?, another clear-cut DPS boost. By default, skeletons deal only physical damage so this gem will have excellent effectiveness. Since this build uses a two-handed weapon, you can have a 2nd 6-link setup and that is ?Raise Zombies?.
Their main purpose is to actually act like a meat-shield around you and provide some additional DPS. The first support gem is ?Minion Life? – as the build doesn’t use any reliable way of spawning corpses you want to keep them alive as much as possible. Resummoning zombies in the middle of a boss fight is really not something you want to deal with. And since they’re not the main damage dealers, you’re also not aiming for highest possible DPS. A balanced approach is likely the best in this case. 2nd support is ?Feeding Frenzy?, a very interesting gem. With it zombies will have a 25% chance to grant you the ?Feeding Frenzy? buff.
This in turn boosts the movement speed, damage and attack speed of all minions, even those that are not linked with the support gem. While you could add Feeding Frenzy to the skeletons setup, there are better damage gems for them and we can use zombies to trigger this buff. Last 3 support gems are similar to the ones used in the skeletons setup: Multistrike, Minion Damage and Melee Physical Damage. They?re here for the exact same reason: add a boatload of damage. If you?re using the best-in-slot recommended armour, Rotting Legion, then make sure you socket Raise Zombie setup in it so it benefits from the ?supported by Meat Shield? affix. Either way, I?ll talk a bit more about this in the gearing section. Next gem setup brings a few additional minions whose sole purpose is to buff the skeletons and yourself. First is Animate Guardian, one of the most interesting minions in the game. The guardian is summoned by casting the spell on items dropped on the ground which the resulting minion will actually equip and use.
As such you want to give him gear that grants bonuses to allies, aka you and the other minions. I will go over the best items to be used by the Guardian in the Gearing section. For now, I’ll mention that it can use weapons, shields, helmet, body armour, gloves and boots. However, be warned that if the Animated Guardian dies all its gear is permanently lost.
While leveling only give it random rare items or cheap uniques that you don’t need or would otherwise vendor. Later in the game with enough minion defense and health passives as well as leveling the gem itself, the Guardian will have over 100 thousand HP and survive pretty much anything. At that point it’s worth giving it more expensive and better items that will greatly buff the other minions. However, just because I?ve seen this happen so many times before: DO NOT take your animated guardian into Halls of the Grandmasters map. It?s a PVP map and it will die and you?ll lose all its gear.
The same applies to some of the toughest boss fights where you can?t control where your minions stand. If your Guardian walks inside an Awakener storm it will die very quickly no matter how much life it has. Then 2nd gem in this setup is ?Raise Spectre?, another really cool minion which is summoned using the bodies of dead monsters. As the name implies it, this minion is a ghost of that respective monster and, unlike zombies, it will inherit all the attributes and skills it had while it was alive. Since you’re not looking for damage dealing spectres but rather ones that will help the other minions, the best options are 2 Carnage Chieftains and 2 Mortality Experimenter.
The chieftains periodically cast a spell which grants Frenzy Charges to all allies. These provide a great deal of damage and attack speed, excellent for both yourself and the rest of the minions. As for Mortality Experimenters, they curse enemies with Temporal Chains, drastically reducing action speed, a great defensive tool in your arsenal. Carnage Chieftains can be found in Act 2, Old Fields area and the experimenters in Act 3, Lunaris Temple level 1. Bear in mind that it’s not necessary to actually go kill these mobs to obtain their corpses. It?s sufficient to teleport in these areas and cast Desecrate with a backup gem that you can carry with you. This will spawn corpses that belong to that zone. Hold the ?A? key pressed and select the appropriate corpse, then cast Raise Spectre. And that’s about it. The good part is that once a certain monster has been added to Desecrate’s ?corpse pool?, it will appear when using the skill in other areas as well. Anyway, don’t worry too much about this entire process since spectres will die very rarely, if at all, unless you really mess something up.
Now, coming back to the gems setup: so far you have Animated Guardian and Raise Spectre. The third gem is ?Blood Magic? – this allows your spectres to spend a small amount of HP instead of mana to cast their spells. It?s quite an important piece of the puzzle since you want them to constantly spam their abilities. Last gem in this setup is ?Minion Life Support? ? these summons are not there to deal damage but only as sort of buff bots, so you need to make sure they survive. You also don’t want to go through the hassle of re-summoning them too often or losing gear from Animated guardian. Up next are the auras: first is ?Hatred? which provides a large amount of cold damage to skeletons, based off their physical damage. This is then linked with ?Generosity? support which further increases Hatred’s damage bonus without increasing its mana reservation cost. Believe it or not, this gem alone will add about 8% total DPS for the entire build so don?t ignore or replace it with some other flashier options. 2nd aura of the build is the very interesting ?Summon Skitterbots?.
In practice this summons two permanent and invulnerable minions. The first one generates a chilling aura, reducing enemies? movement and attack speeds while the second shocks nearby enemies, greatly increasing the damage they take from any source. Now, if you?re using the recommended best-in-slot helmet, Devouring Diadem, auras socketed in it will reserve much less mana, allowing you to squeeze in ?Flesh and Stone? as well. This aura has two modes or stances, Blood and Sand, and you can toggle between them by simply pressing the skill button again. In Sand stance you blind nearby enemies, drastically reducing their accuracy. On top of that you also take reduced damage from monsters that are further away. This is a great defensive stance which I generally recommend for mapping as your damage should already be overkill for trash mobs. In Blood stance nearby enemies are maimed and take additional physical damage from any source, including your minions. As such it’s very good against bosses as you should generally be on top of them most of the time, meaning that Sand Stance’s defensive bonus would be wasted anyway. Up next is a ?Cast When Damage Taken? setup which is used to instantly trigger all other active gems linked with it, after receiving a certain amount of damage. The first one is ?Desecrate? which creates a bunch of corpses on the ground that are going to be used as fuel for the next gem, ?Spirit Offering?.
This will add a solid amount of energy shield to all your minions as well as some additional chaos damage. And the more corpses it consumes, the larger the effect of the buff. Finally, there are 3 other skills that will vastly improve the build. You have 1 socket left on the regular gear and will need two unset rings to fit all these gems. The most important one is Flame Dash ? not only is it incredibly useful for quickly moving around or getting out of harmful stuff, but, you also need it to trigger Elemental Equilibrium. Any enemy that you pass through when using Flame Dash will have their cold resistance drastically reduced so your minions will deal increased damage against them. While you don?t need to do this against regular mobs, you definitely should when fighting bosses or other tough enemies. In fact, Elemental Equilibrium accounts for around 20% of the build?s damage output so not using Flame Dash to trigger it is a huge DPS loss. The other really useful gem you should have is Convocation ? this summons the zombies, spectres and Animated Guardian around you and gives them a large life regeneration buff. This is a really versatile tool which allows you to better maneuver and herd your minions, pull them out of dangerous stuff and heal them.
It can also be used as a defensive mechanism, pulling everyone around to taunt and kill whatever was attacking you. Finally, the last gem is Dread Banner, an aura which gives your minions a small chance to Impale enemies. Without going into details, Impale is a sort of physical damage-over-time debuff, with some extra steps. Since physical is your skeletons? main damage type, this aura is really powerful for a such a small investment. With the gems out of the way, it’s time to take a look at what you’ll be wearing leading your undead army in battle.
Gearing up for this build is quite straight-forward with the majority of best-in-slot pieces being unique items that are always cheap and in abundance. In this section, for each gear slot I will outline three tiers: basic, mid-tier and best-in-slot. Generally speaking, prices increase significantly with each tier, but so do the benefits that the items bring. With this build you don’t care at all about any kind of affixes that add damage to yourself, but only ones granting attributes, defenses and maybe some minion damage or movement speed, if you can afford those. Your main goal is to cap your resistances and get as much life as possible while equipping as many of the best-in-slot unique items as possible.
In the end you can easily achieve that with just two rare rings and a stygian vise belt. Starting from the top, a very good basic-tier helmet is the unique Skullhead ? it provides decent life and resistances along with a whole bunch of defensive stats for your minions, keeping them alive while you progress through harder content. A mid-tier helmet should have some maximum life, resistances along with some +X to level of socketed minion gems and you can temporarily place the raise specters + animate guardian setup in it. Ideally the base should be a Bone Helmet for the minion damage implicit. As for best-in-slot, the optimal choice is Devouring Diadem which should always be relatively cheap. The first great bonus it provides is 20% reduced mana reservation cost for auras that are socketed in it. This bonus alone allows you to squeeze in an extra aura, namely Flesh and Stone, a hugely beneficial addition to the build. The helmet also grants one extra level to gems socketed in it, further boosting auras bonuses. In addition, it has the ?Feast of Flesh? ability, an automatic skill which triggers every 5 seconds and consumes up to 10 nearby corpses, healing 400 life for each corpse.
In most heavy combat situations this means a 4000 life heal every 5 seconds, an amazing defensive mechanism. But wait, there?s even more! Devouring Diadem also provides ?Eldritch Battery? keystone. With this passive you first spend energy shield to cast spells instead of mana. This in turn allows you to reserve your entire mana pool with auras as you don?t need to keep any mana for your abilities. Energy shield recharge and regeneration are also much faster than mana regeneration so you no longer have to worry about the cost of summoning skeletons. Finally, Eldritch Battery allows you to use Mind over Matter even if you have zero mana left: that 30% damage will be taken from Energy Shield instead. So, to sum it all up: you can reserve the entire mana pool with auras while still being able to cast spells and use Mind over Matter. This single item solves so many issues for the build and provides countless benefits that you should prioritize getting it as early as possible.
Moving on to your weapon, for basic tier the best option is ?The Queen?s Decree? 2-handed sword. It provides bonuses to minion life and damage as well as one extra skeleton, zombie and spectre. You can also use it from level 27 so it makes for a great leveling weapon as well. In fact, this item is so good that it can serve as a mid-tier one as well until you get the best-in-slot weapon. And speaking of that, you have two options: either ?The Queen?s Escape? or ?Femurs of the Saints? staff.
As you?ve very likely noticed, Queen?s Escape is an upgraded version of Queen?s Decree, adding a huge amount of movement speed to your minions. This in turn translates into much more efficient map clearing and is the reason why you?re no longer forced to use Feeding Frenzy support in the skeletons? setup. On the other hand, Femurs of the Saints staff is a more defense-oriented option, granting a large amount of block chance and life regen, further boosting your survivability.
And while the DPS is slightly higher with the staff option, you are losing 1 spectre, so you?ll have to drop one of the Mortality Experimenters. Finally, the gem setups and the passive tree shown earlier in the guide were for the Queen?s Decree option. If you?re opting for Femurs of the Saints staff instead, check the Path of Building link in the video description and pinned comment. It contains an optimized version for that as well. But enough with the weapon, let?s move on to the body armour. A basic one should have some maximum life and resistances and at least 5 links. Even in the first few days of a new league something like that should cost at most 10-15 chaos orbs. On top of those a mid-tier chest piece should have ?Minions have X% increased maximum Life?, an empty prefix where you can craft ?+1 maximum skeletons and zombies? or both. Ideally these should be on an armour/energy shield base, but that?s less important. And the best-in-slot option is the excellent ?Rotting Legion?: first, active gems socketed in it are supported by ?Meat Shield?, which is why the zombie setup needs to be placed in the body armour! With ?Meat Shield? your zombies will act more defensively, taunt enemies on hit and deal extra damage against targets that are close to you.
They also take significantly less damage, preventing them from dying when you need them most. Lastly, you also take less elemental damage for each raised zombie and gain a sizeable chunk of armour. All in all, a very good package deal and at the same time quite a common and relatively cheap item. A pair of basic gloves need some maximum life, elemental resistances and maybe some dexterity to help you level up the green gems. For mid-tier and best-in-slot it?s the same item: Grip of the Council. They?re cheap enough that you can get them quite early on so there?s no need to look for intermediary options. They add a huge amount of extra cold damage to your minions, amounting to over 10% of the build?s total DPS.
And while it does slightly lower their movement speed, the tradeoff is totally worth it. On top of that you also get a bit of life and a solid chunk of cold resistance, offloading the pressure from other items when looking to cap your resistances. And if you want to squeeze everything out of these gloves, you can try corrupting them to gain a useful implicit such as ?% increased maximum life? or ?+1 to level of socketed gems? With boots the choices are quite simple: basic and mid-tier ones need some movement speed, maximum life and resistances.
The more, obviously the better. As for best-in-slot, a pair of Alberon?s Warpath is the optimal choice. While they?re not exactly spectacular, they provide an extra skeleton along with some movement speed and decent amount of life. Lastly, some chaos resistance and a solid chunk of armour add a bit more value to the item. Unfortunately, there aren?t too many useful options for this slot and so this is pretty much as good as it gets. Moving on to the belt slot, a basic tier one needs about 70+ life and 70+ elemental resistances. You can also craft some dexterity on it to help you level up your green gems. A mid-tier one has pretty much the same affixes but with higher numeric values along with at least one flask mod such as ?%increased life recovery from flasks? or ?%increased flask duration?. Finally, for best-in-slot you want all these on a Stygian Vise belt which comes with an extra Abyssal Socket. Jewels are a great way of boosting your minions damage or HP, as well as plugging any resistance hole you might have. With basic amulets it’s the same familiar story: life, elemental resistances, perhaps some dexterity or some chaos resistance.
As much as you can afford of each. You can even find a low-priced talisman with these affixes and a +1 zombie implicit on top of that. Mid-tier and best-in-slot are one and the same item, the fairly common ?Jinxed Juju? ? its main selling point is that 10% of incoming damage will go to your spectres instead of you, divided among all of them. That might not sound like much but it?s almost the same as having 10% more life while at least one spectre is alive. On top of that it buffs the effect of your auras by quite a bit and since the build sports a few of those it does adds up to a significant amount of damage. Finally, it comes with a whole bunch of int and dex as well as chaos resistance, all more than welcome for this build. Blight league has introduced a new crafting method called ?anointing? which uses oils dropped from Blight encounters to add a notable passive to amulets, without changing the item in any other way.
For this particular build the best option is ?Soul of Steel? for some amazing physical and elemental damage reductions. While it might seem too expensive, it?s one of the best defensive passives in the passive tree. A cheaper but still decent alternative is ?Golem?s Blood? for a very large chunk of HP and life regen. While I don?t recommend it, since the build is really not lacking in that department, a full DPS option would be ?Influence?, pushing your auras to eleven. Moving on to rings, their purpose is to help you cap elemental resistances, get enough DEX to level up your gems and as much life as possible. So, for basic tier, look for at least 60+ life, and over 60 total elemental resistances. Since you don?t care at all about damage affixes for yourself, it should be really easy and cheap to find such rings.
Mid-tier ones have pretty much the same affixes with higher numeric values and on an ?Unset Ring? base. These come with a socket where you can place the utility skills I?ve mentioned in the ?Gems? section. Finally, best-in-slot rings are similar with mid-tier ones but with an open suffix where you can craft ?+1 to Minimum Endurance Charges?. This mod provides a guaranteed, permanent, endurance charge which you don?t need to generate and it?s never consumed. In turn, endurance charges grant you additional physical damage reduction and elemental resistances. Thus, having one from each ring will actually boost your defenses by quite a bit. Up next are jewels, an excellent source of DPS, life (for both yourself and minions) and utility. They really add up so don?t ignore or downplay their importance. Even a shitty 2-mod jewel is still better than an empty socket. Since there aren?t any unique jewels worth using, you?re mostly looking for Ghastly Eyes. The absolute most important affix on these is ?+X maximum life? or what?s generally called flat life. This is what gets added to your base life and is then multiplied by all those ?% increased life? passives.
So, if you have too few sources of flat life, the % increases are far less effective. So, make sure each and every one of your jewels has flat life on it. Another very important mod is ?minions have X% chance to blind on hit?. While ?Flesh and Stone? aura blinds nearby enemies when you?re in sand stance, you might not always be close enough to enemies to apply that. It?s sufficient to have this affix on a single jewel and most mobs will be permanently blind. On top of these, other great affixes are ?Minions Deal X to Y additional physical damage?, ?Minions have % increased attack speed?, ?Minions have % increased damage if you?ve used a minion skill recently? and pretty much any other minion damage mods. You can also use jewels to plug any resistance holes you might still have or missing dexterity. Moving on to flasks, there aren’t unfortunately any minion specific ones for some strange reason, so you’ll be using them mostly as utility and defensive tools for yourself. The first flask is a Seething Divine Life flask of Staunching.
Instant healing is a real life saver and bleeding removal is absolutely mandatory while mapping. Second one is a Chemist?s Sulphur Flask of Warding. This is pretty much the only flask which provides some benefits to minions through Consecrated Ground, mostly for the life regeneration buff. Warding suffix is also mandatory while mapping, for curse removal and immunity. If you’ve ever crawled around on maps with Temporal Chains curse, you understand exactly why. Up next is a Chemist’s Quicksilver flask of Adrenaline to help you move around faster. Since your boots only have 20% movement speed, this flask will offset that downside to some extent. 4th flask should be a Chemist?s Basalt Flask of Heat for some additional physical damage reduction as well as Freeze immunity. Getting frozen is pretty much a death sentence in high level maps so this provides a reliable way of preventing that. Finally, the last flask is pretty flexible: if you?re using a staff as your weapon, then the best option is Rumi?s Concoction for some additional chance to block and armour. If you went for the sword then go for an Experimenter?s Granite Flask of Iron Skin for a huge amount of extra armour, turning it into a great panic button.
Now, as promised in the Gems section I will also briefly cover the best gear for your Animated Guardian: The cheap setup is made out of Leer Cast helmet, Dying Breath staff, Victario’s Flight Boots, Southbound gloves and any rare or cheap unique body armour that provides large amounts of life and armour. For the optimal gear replace the weapon with the amazing Kingmaker axe. This provides a permanent Fortify buff to nearby allies, yourself included, which is an insane defensive tool for such a small investment. The axe also gives your minions Culling Strike ? any hit that brings an enemy below 10% life will instead instantly kill them. And yes, this applies to bosses as well. The best-in-slot body armour for Animate Guardian is Gruthkul’s Pelt.
Finally, add a rare helmet with ?Nearby enemies take 9% Increased Physical Damage? affix which can be obtained through crafting using a Jagged Fossil. These items are clearly more expensive but with this gear your Animated Guardian will have around 100 thousand HP and I haven’t seen one die until now so I feel like the investment is worth it. If you?re afraid your guardian might die you can just unsocket the gem and that will simply unsummon it. No items are lost this way. To wrap up the gearing section, here are some excellent levelling uniques which will help you easily progress through the campaign: With the gearing out of the way, it is time to take a final look at the pros and cons of the build so you can better understand if it’s what you’re looking for.
Starting off with the Pros: One of the easiest and smoothest summoner builds out there. No complicated combos or summoning rituals, everything can be done on the fly. Incredibly efficient boss killer. Unlike many other summoner builds this one is not crippled if one of your minions dies. You can always get some more skeletons as summoning them doesn?t require anything special Really cheap considering its performance. Most best-in-slot items will cost you just a few chaos orbs and the only thing above that are 6-link items.
Insane overall damage ? the build?s total output is around 10 million DPS, without requiring mirror-tier items or sacrificing your defenses. An excellent Hardcore build, you have to play really carelessly to die. As long as you?re familiar with the encounters and game mechanics you should be able to easily get level 90+ It can run all map mods, including reflect, no regen or no leech. Some of these might slow you down a bit, but they?re more of an annoyance rather than a blocking point. As for the cons: Minions AI is not exactly brilliant. While it has been improved significantly with Blight league, there are still some pending issues. The labyrinth and some boss fights can feel quite awkward with all the minions getting in the way and obscuring certain mechanics. Finally, there’s the summoner play-style; this is not everyone’s cup of tea as it might seem a bit lazy or uninvolved. On the other hand, some people want exactly that and since you’ve made it so far, I’ll assume that you’re one of them..