Hey there, welcome to another Path of Exile guide, this time I’ll be covering everything you need to know about Delve. In this guide I’ll talk about the basic Delve mechanics, fossil crafting, hidden nodes, as well as some general tips and tricks. I’ll also cover the Endless Delve race event and how it differs from normal delving. Before I dive in, just remember, if anything is unclear or you have any questions about Delve or even Path of Exile in general, you can find me streaming on Twitch at twitch.tv/navandis (link to the schedule in the pinned comment and video description). I’m generally live 4 or 5 times a week and I’m always happy to help new players better understand this game. Okay, with that out of the way, let’s talk about Delve. Delve was a league that launched more than two years ago, and it quickly became one of the most successful and appreciated league mechanics ever introduced in the game. You normally gain access to the Delve after encountering the NPC Niko in act 4. Afterward you’ll have a chance to encounter him in almost any map, whether during story mode or in the Atlas.
Maps where Niko is found will spawn 3 voltaxic sulphite piles, a resource required to progress in the mine. Once you’ve met Niko you’ll also be able to teleport to the mine encampment, the staging area for delving. Here you’ll have access to the other half of Delve which is the actual mine. This is a huge network of nodes, connected by tunnels, spreading out downward as well as to the left and right. You travel between these checkpoint nodes by following a mine cart, or mine crawler, which uses sulphite as fuel. The mine cart will keep moving independently of you, as long as you’re in a certain range from it.
If you lag behind or go too far from the cart, it will stop and wait for you. The crawler also illuminates an area around it, protecting you from darkness. If you step outside lit areas you take increasingly high damage over time in the form of a stacking debuff. However, as soon as you go back into the light all the debuff stacks are instantly cleared.
Monsters inside dark areas are immune but they can actually deal damage to you. Once the crawler reaches the node you’ve selected, you’ll generally need to clear several waves of monsters and then you’ll get a loot explosion, as well as access to various treasure chests or containers. These reward containers are based on the type of node you’ve completed, so, a weapons node for example, will have various boxes containing weapons. Now, if you’ve looked over your delve map, you’ve surely noticed these blue Azurite nodes, which come in 3 different tiers. Completing these will provide a delve specific resource called Azurite, which is used to purchase upgrades at the Voltaxic Generator found in the mine encampment.
The first thing you can upgrade is the sulphite capacity, allowing you to stockpile more of it while mapping, before having to delve to consume it. Then there’s darkness resistance, a stat which only applies to delving and reduces the damage you take from the darkness debuff. While it caps at 75%, as you go deeper into the mine you’ll receive an ever increasing penalty to your darkness resistance, so you’ll have to keep upgrading to maintain it above that value. Light Radius increases the illuminated area around the mine cart, as well those of the floor lights connecting completed nodes. This stat caps at 150% and, similar to darkness resistance, has to be constantly upgraded as you go deeper to keep up with the penalty. Then you have flares which are consumable light sources that can be thrown on the ground to illuminate an area for a short duration.
Standing near a flare will remove any existing darkness debuff stacks and prevent new ones from being applied. Apart from upgrading your flares cap, their light radius and duration, azurite is also used to actually purchase them. So why would you need flares when you have the mine cart to light your way? Well, apart from the nodes themselves, the most valuable rewards in delve are generally found in dark side areas. These can range from small pockets to long and complex corridors filled with mobs, which will require several flares to navigate and stay alive. A special type of dark side area you’ll encounter will be hidden behind fractured walls. These will show up on your minimap when you get close enough and their outline will be highlighted when you hover your mouse cursor over them.
Fractured walls can be destroyed using dynamite purchased and upgraded from the Voltaxic Generator. While dynamites can affect mobs as well, upgrading their damage and radius is only really worth it for certain very deep delve strategies. All walls can be broken with a basic dynamite, so you should generally only look into upgrading the capacity. Dark areas, and especially behind fractured walls, is where you’ll find Delve specific crafting materials called fossils and resonators. Now, if you’re totally unfamiliar with POE crafting and don’t yet understand an item’s structure or notions such as affixes, implicits, item level, mod tiers and so on, I strongly recommend watching my basic crafting guide first by clicking on that “i” thing in the upper right corner. I’ll also link the guide in the pinned comment and video description. Without this basic crafting knowledge you’ll likely not understand much of what I’m about to describe now.
So, there are 25 different types of fossils that can be used for crafting, each influencing the outcome in a certain way. For example, a metallic fossil increases the chance of rolling lightning mods, while blocking any physical affixes. Unlike other crafting currency, fossils cannot be used directly on an item, but have to be socketed inside a resonator first. Resonators can have between 1 and 4 sockets, allowing you to group several fossils and use them at once as a single crafting tool. So, let’s say my aim is to craft a decent pair of boots; I’m looking for some movement speed, maximum life and resistances.
Using chaos orbs to roll random mods would be highly inefficient and costly as the chance to obtain all those stats at once is quite low. While using fossils won’t guarantee an exact outcome, it’s still a much more surgical method of crafting. For crafting that pair of boots I’d use Shuddering plus Pristine plus Prismatic fossils. So why did I choose this combination in particular? First, I know that the only speed modifier on regular boots, without any influence, is movement speed. So, using a Shuddering Fossil on boots directly increases the chance to obtain movement speed and no other mod. It also prevents mana mods from rolling, meaning the total pool of possible outcomes is reduced, indirectly increasing the chance of obtaining the affixes I want. I also know that maximum life and life regen are the only life mods that can appear on boots, so I wanted to increase the chance of getting the first one. Removing armour, evasion and energy shield mods, aka defence ones, has a similar effect as preventing mana mods from rolling: less affixes the game can choose from to roll for the outcome.
Finally, resistances are the only elemental mods that can roll on regular boots which is why a Prismatic Fossil was chosen. While in time you’ll know these things by heart, until then I recommend using the excellent poedb website and its mods page. Here you can select the item type you’re looking to craft, in this case some armour + energy shield base boots. As the boots don’t have any influence on them such, as shaper, elder or guardian, we can collapse these sections as the item can’t roll any of those mods. The same for incursion or crafting bench ones, so we’re left with the only mods these boots can actually roll. Most affixes will have a list of tags that indicate which types of mods they are. Looking at fire resistance for example, we can see it’s an elemental, fire and resistance type of mod. So this is how I knew that using a Prismatic fossil will increase the chance to obtain resistances on a pair of boots. The red number for each mod indicates how likely it is for it to roll in the first place.
That tells us for example that maximum mana is two times more common than a movement speed affix. Selecting fossils in this menu will hide mods that can no longer roll and increase or decrease the weight or probability for affected affixes to appear. To sum it all up, we end up with a 10 times higher chance to roll maximum life and movement speed, and 6 times higher to obtain resistances than you would with regular crafting.
We also reduce the total pool of possible mods from 18 to 13. Finally, in game, go to Options → UI → and make sure you have “Advanced Mod Descriptions” checked. With this, holding the Alt key pressed while hovering over an item will show additional useful information, including any tags each mod might have. So, now that we’ve covered fossil crafting, let’s go back to delving and talk a bit about the so called “delve cities”. These are special nodes which generally spawn grouped up in a zone delimited by this yellow border.
Each node is an underground chamber that contains a large number of treasure chests with various rewards. These chambers also contain several light pads that you can stand on for a few seconds to illuminate a portion of the room so you can kill monsters lurking in the dark. You can of course use flares as well, but the pads are free. There are three different types of delve cities: vaal outposts, abyssal cities and primeval ruins, with the last being the rarest and most difficult.
These cities can also spawn bosses that drop exclusive uniques, some of them being quite valuable. As you go about your business exploring the mine, you’ll also come across hidden nodes that have no existing roads leading to them, such as these here. In reality, these nodes are always connected to one of the surrounding nodes, but the road is blocked by a fractured wall so it’s not yet visible. To access such a node you’ll need to start directly from one of the surrounding ones and explore the darkness until you come across a fractured wall. Once you blow it up, the road to the hidden node will be revealed and you can reach it with your mine cart.
While you can randomly start exploring from each nearby node, there’s a better method than just relying on pure luck. With very few exceptions, each delve node must be connected by either 1, 3 or 4 roads. Unless a bug occurred, delve nodes cannot be connected to others by exactly two roads. In addition, the path to hidden nodes cannot intersect existing roads. So, using this particular case the two rules provide us some valuable information that helps eliminate the vast majority of nearby nodes.
These ones, that are currently connected by a single road, cannot lead to the hidden node as that would then cause them to be connected by exactly 2 roads, thus breaking the rule. Then there are these which now have 4 roads leading to them. Connecting such a node to the hidden one would put them at 5 which doesn’t abide to the rule. Now, in my experience, when 4 roads connect to a node they are disposed in a cross pattern, roughly like north, south, east, west.
I’ve never seen two roads connected to the same node going parallel with each other, so I’m quite certain we can eliminate these as well. So we’re left with just these 4 nodes, a much more manageable number. I can now teleport to one such node and explore the darkness surrounding the starting point, searching for a fractured wall. Once I find it, I can blow it up, return to the mine crawler, and then select the previously hidden node as my next destination. There are of course situations when it’s much more obvious than this.
For example, here you can see I have two hidden locations but also two nearby nodes that are connected by two roads. It’s immediately obvious that this one leads to the hidden currency node and this to the fossil one. With the basics out of the way here are a few random tips and tricks. Apart from Delve cities, the other nodes will always spawn in a specific biome, depicted by a different background color on the map. These are fungal caverns, petrified forest, abyssal depths, frozen hollow, magma fissure and sulfur vents. These dictate the type of mobs that spawn in them, the general layout, as well as increasing the chance for specific fossils to drop. For example, frozen hollow biomes have a very straight and even layout, they mostly spawn monsters dealing cold damage and favor frigid fossils. Petrified forests on the other hand are convoluted mazes where you’ll find more bound and jagged fossils.
On top of that, there are special nodes which will only spawn in a specific biome. For example, “contains fire items” will always spawn in magma fissure, aka the fire biome. It will never spawn anywhere else, so if you’re looking for something like a “flammability curse on hit” ring, you should look for magma fissure biomes. So, knowing these will allow you to target farm certain fossils and items and that can be especially useful in solo-self-found leagues. By default, flares and dynamite are bound to 6 and 7 keys, both quite far away and awkward to press. You can however set them to other keys by going to Options → Input and changing the settings for “Use Temp Bound Skills”.
Even if you have absolutely no interest in delving, you should keep in mind that several very useful crafting recipes for your hideout crafting bench are unlocked in the mine. Pretty much all the sockets, links and socket color recipes are found at various depths and nodes while delving. Two of them, the 6-sockets and 6-links recipes are found in delve cities. If you spend a lot of time delving, you’ll eventually finish upgrading most of the things on your Voltaxic Generator and you’ll find more than enough azurite to keep light radius and darkness resistance capped. However, you can use any excess azurite to buy resonators and sometimes even fossils from Niko.
While it’s not some get rich fast method, this can be useful in solo-self-found as his shop resets each time you complete a delve node. As you keep going deeper and deeper you’ll encounter the rarer, exotic nodes more often, as they start replacing shittier nodes like weapons or armour. However, mobs’ HP and damage will scale as well, at a much faster pace. At some point your character will definitely hit a wall where you’ll simply get one shot and won’t be able to clear even thrash mobs. Deep delving is done with highly specialized builds and gear and using specific tactics for each node, something that’s beyond the scope of this guide. In addition, at lower depths you’ll start noticing that most biomes have extra mods on them, similar to magic or rare maps on the Atlas. This can make monsters even deadlier and at the same time harder to kill. My advice is to hang around depth 260-270 max and go sideways instead of downward. You’ll still get a lot of good drops and it won’t be a forever uphill battle and struggle.
OK, so now that we’ve covered normal delving let’s talk a bit about the endless delve race. This event will last for a week and will be an entirely separate league, so your existing characters or items will not be accessible. It is also a voided event, meaning everything related to it, characters, items, delve progress, etc. will be permanently deleted after the race ends. In addition, it’s a solo-self-found league, so trading or partying with other players is disabled. The event is called “endless” because running Delve nodes will not cost sulphite, so you’re basically only limited by your time and patience.
However, the entire world of Path of Exile will be reduced to the mine encampment and the delve itself. Absolutely nothing else will be accessible in this race: no story mode, no towns, no hideout, no Atlas, no nothing. You’ll live in the mine, die in the mine, eat in the mine and shi..ver in the mine. You’re stuck there and cannot get out. An NPC selling all normal gems will be added in the mine encampment so people can play any skill they want. The passive points you’d normally get from story mode quests will be awarded at certain delve depths or character levels instead. The same goes for your ascendancy points, but you’ll also get the -60% resistances penalties, similar to the ones inflicted after killing Kitava in Acts 5 and 10. In addition, each character will start with some unique items that were specially designed for this event.
While they’re specific to each class, so presumably a ranger will always get a bow + quiver, you can create multiple characters and use the stash to give them to your main. However, for all these quality of life bonuses there’s a metric ton of things that will be missing: you won’t have access to the hideout crafting bench, to Pantheon, cluster jewels, Alva’s temple, timeless jewels, conqueror influenced items, anointing or catalysts, beast crafting, Heist, etc.
Other mechanics will be technically enabled but you won’t be able to use them. For example, divination cards will drop but you won’t have access to any NPC to turn them in. Same goes for silver coins or prophecies. Atlas maps will also drop but there’s no map device, so you can’t use them. A huge number of uniques will be impossible or nearly impossible to acquire and stuff like Elder or Shaper influenced items will be extremely rare as well. Crafting will be limited to fossils, essences and regular currency. Getting a 6-link item will be very difficult and mostly based on your luck, so be ready to accept a 5-link as a decent compromise. I suggest you look for a good, high item level, 6 socket base and try to link it using fusing orbs. Keep in mind that item quality directly influences the chance of obtaining more links, so try to get as close to 30% as possible using perfect fossils. Considering all these limitations and restrictions, the best advice I can give you is to adjust your expectations accordingly.
You will not be able to run your favorite builds without heavily adapting and modifying them. You’ll need to be able to make a build work with hobo level of gear and at most a 5-link setup. On the other hand, be ready to improvise and adapt if some amazing unique does drop. For example, I will likely run a toned-down version of a Dominating Blow build. If I get lucky enough and a Soulwrest staff drops, which is a Delve specific item, I’ll absolutely transform my entire build into a Soulwrest Phantasm necromancer. All in all, this event will be a very challenging one and for me personally this will make it incredibly fun and rewarding. I strongly recommend everyone to give it a try, at the very least to experience everything Delve has to offer, without being limited by gathering sulphite. So, are you gonna participate? What build do you plan on playing and what’s your backup if that doesn’t work out? Let me know in the comments below so I can maybe steal some ideas!