LIVE

Skeleton Mages Necromancer


WARNING: THIS GUIDE IS OUTDATED. WE DO NOT RECOMEND PLAYING THIS BUILD.

Introduction

The Summon Skeletons Mages Necromancer is a league start bossing specialist that excels at clearing non-Uber bosses on a low budget, and Uber bosses with a high budget. You are a summoner with a totem playstyle. Cast your Skeleton Mages, Curse the boss, and watch your Minions do all the heavy lifting. Equipping the Fleshcrafter lets your minion’s bypass monster’s resistances, giving us a ton of free damage and making short work of tanky monsters.

Mid Game Gear Overview

Strengths and Weaknesses

Difficulty
Moderate
Budget
Low
Mapping
Low
Bossing
Amazing
Defence
Great

Skills Breakdown

Skeleton Mages

Call forward your Summon Skeletons Mages that fire piercing elemental projectiles to tear through packs of monsters. Fill your Vaal Summon Skeletons with the souls of fallen enemies to unleash a Skeletal army led by a powerful general that heeds your call.

Raise Spectre

Raise Spectre summons a ghostly copy of an enemy from their corpse to fight on your behalf. The best Spectres to raise are the Carnage and Host Chieftain. These give our minions Frenzy and Power charges which boost their Critical Strike Chance, Cast Speed, and damage.

Utility And Auras

Keep all of your Aura gems active at all times, and re-activate them after death. Molten Shell activates a shield. Shield Charge and Flame Dash should be used whenever to assist with movement. Use Convocation to easily recall your Raise Spectre and Animate Guardian to your location, keeping them out of danger and granting extra Life Regeneration.

Absolution

Absolution is how you level Skeleton Mages and progress early atlas until you can buy the "3 key items".Absolution calls down awesome Lightning power that applies a debuff. Enemies killed with that debuff active will have their corpse consumed to summon Sentinels of Absolution. Attacking Unique enemies also has a chance to summon Sentinels. Sentinels last for a long duration which allows you to play without worrying about constantly re-summoning them.

Sniper's Mark

When battling high Life enemies, casting Sniper's Mark causes them to take increased Projectile Damage from your  Summon Skeletons Mage’s Projectiles. The Projectiles that hit an enemy Marked with Sniper's Mark split into additional projectiles that spread in every direction, giving you additional coverage.

Animate Guardian

Animate Guardian summons a special minion that wears pieces of gear you choose to give them. Our Animate Guardian will be decked out with specific items to give our character and minions Offensive + Defensive buffs.

Bone Offering

A staple of all necromancer builds is the use of offerings. Bone Offering grants our minions and character additional Attack/Spell Block and Cast Speed. The boost to our survivability means we block 75% of all spells and 50% of all attacks. Put Desecrate and Bone Offering into a trigger wand to cut down on required button presses.


Ascendancy Breakdown

The Necromancer is the choice as it offers many speed mapping enhancements as well as modest defensive bonuses

  • Mindless Aggression gives minions increased Damage, Attack, Cast and Movement speed.
  • Unnatural Strength adds 2 levels to all Minion Skill Gems, granting additional damage and survivability.
  • Commander of Darkness gives additional damage, Attack/Cast Speed and an Elemental Resistance aura to you and your Minions.
  • Mistress of Sacrifice allows your Offerings to also affect you. It also gives extra Skill Effect Duration for your buffs and Minions.

To learn how the Labyrinth works, feel free to consult our Labyrinth Guide!


Playstyle

When playing as the Summon Skeletons Mages Necromancer your primary focus is to summon your Skeletons every 4-5 seconds to keep up the Rebirth Cluster node making your skeletons immune to damage. Activating Vaal Summon Skeletons costs Vaal Souls which are obtained by killing monsters, or dealing damage to Unique Bosses. Use Vaal Summon Skeletons when mapping on big juicy packs early, but make sure you save a use for the Map Boss to quickly delete it.

Level and play as Absolution until you obtain the "3 key items" . The Absolution playstyle relies on the damage of the Gem killing a target until the Absolution sentinels are summoned. They continue to use this ability, but not apply the debuff themselves, for a set duration. Activate your temporary aura and curse the boss to give a boost in damage. Once you get your trigger wand (1st step in "Milestones") you only have to activate your Aura, Curse the enemies and  your Absolution Sentinels take care of the monsters for you.

Mapping

When mapping, summon your Summon Skeletons Mages and Shield Charge to the next pack of monsters re-summoning them as you go. Whenever taking on strong monsters, cast your Sniper's Mark before laying into them. Make sure to have a use of Vaal Summon Skeletons ready for the map boss to nuke it down.

Bossing

When dealing with tougher enemies, make sure to cast your Sniper's Mark and walk over the boss with your Brittle Boots. If you have the higher budget variant of this build, your Animate Guardian handles the Brittle Boots debuffing for you. Your goal is to keep your skeletons as summoned recently which means in the last 4-5 seconds so that they are always immune to damage.


Build Scaling

Offence

Summon Skeletons Mages are Minions, Spells and Casters. Because of these tags, focus on the following modifiers to improve your damage:

  • Increased Minion Damage
  • + Levels of Spells and Minion Skill Gems
  • Increased Minion Cast Speed
  • Zealotry Aura
  • Sniper's Mark Enemies take increased Projectile Damage
  • Charges and buffs from our Raise Spectre summons.
  • Sources of additional maximum skeletons from our Helmet Craft and our Anointment.

Scaling Minion Damage is unique compared to other builds. Only mods that specify Minion will apply to your Minions. Getting 8% increased Cast Speed does not apply to Minions, but getting Minions have 8% increased Cast Speed applies to them now that it specifies.

Defence

Necromancer's have good access to a wide variety of defences from gear and passive Skill tree.

  • Armour from Determination combined with Molten Shell and hybrid Armour /Evasion pieces
  • 50%+ Attack Block and 75% Spell Block
  • 100% Spell Suppression
  • Freeze, and Shock Immunity
  • 10 Fortification stacks
  • 5% Life or 2% of Armour as Energy Shield on Block from your Shield
  • 90% Maximum Elemental Resistances
  • Critical Strike Immunity

The above defenses grant the build really solid mitigation against bosses since most boss abilities are spells and amazing recovery against rapid hits you'd encounter in maps from your recovery on block shield.


Leveling Section by tytykiller

Key Leveling Notes

Absolution is currently the best way to level minions. Despite being a minion gem, Absolution has a 200% Effectiveness of Added Damage. This means that the wand craft and Added Lightning Damage Support add a substantial increase to the initial hit of Absolution. If the initial hit kills a target, it will activate Onslaught Support, provided they are linked together. While the summoned minions are important, they only help on longer fights.

This build will do Library in Act 3 to gain access to Shield Charge and Physical to Lightning Support. Onslaught makes Shield Charge one of the best movement abilities in the game, even early on.

The "Wand Craft" is the easiest way to make any caster leveling better. Selling a magic wand, an Orb of Alteration, and a normal Topaz Ring produces a wand like this: Snapping Driftwood Wand.

If you need a magic wand, purchase a 3-linked wand from Nessa with favorable colors, those being Blue-Blue-Green, Blue-Blue-Blue, or Blue-Green-Red. Then use an Orb of Transmutation on it. If you need a Topaz Ring, you can sell an Iron Ring with any Skill Gem that is colored Green.

Note: Selling rare items identified they will give you Alteration Shards, while selling them unidentified gives Transmutation Shards.

Campaign Step By Step

Beginner players should follow Enki's Campaign Progression guide.

The levels listed below are based on speedrunning. Always be greater or equal to the levels listed.

Step-By-Step Absolution Skill Gems
Open leveling skill tree in new tab

Mapping Preparation

You're done with the Campaign and are ready to take on the Path of Exile Endgame. Priority 1 is to ensure your Elemental Resistances are capped (75%) and have sufficient Attributes to continue leveling your Skill Gems. Use Essences you have gathered on any item that is not Magic or Rare already. Items with an open modifier slot can be crafted on. Head to the Crafting Bench and craft Resistances wherever possible according to what you need, and Life wherever else possible.

From this point, you can grind your Atlas out by progressing Maps until you've obtained enough money to buy the "3 key items". On the first day of the league these are expensive, but by day 3 they are easily obtainable. If you wish to purchase them as soon as possible on league start, Heisting and doing the Chaos Orb recipe is a great and easy way to obtain currency.

Map Modifiers

Take note of the below modifiers as they should be avoided or run with caution when they appear on your maps:

  • Avoid Elemental Reflect because Absolution deals Lighting Damage (This can be ignored once you swap to Skeleton Mages)
  • Watch out for Beyond because the monsters can easily kill your character until you get a Life on Block Shield.
  • Less Armour and Block Chance reduces your main defence, so it should be avoided at all costs.
  • Reduced Effect Of Auras eliminates your defences.

Recommended Farming Content

First step is to progress through the Atlas following our Atlas Progression Guide. As a bossing focused character, you should focus on gearing your character with strong pieces to prepare yourself to tackle the non-Uber bosses once the low budget gear is acquired. If you're struggling in higher tier content, go a step back and farm up more Currency and Gear. Clicking the League Mechanics below takes you to either a full Explanation Guide or a detailed Currency Farming Guide based around maximising your profits from that mechanic or content.


Pantheon

For information about the Pantheon and how it works, consult our Pantheon Guide!

For Major Pantheon, select Brine King to gain Immunity to Freeze and Reduction of Chill Effect. This bonus is not available at first. It’s acquired with Divine Vessel.

For Minor Pantheon, select Shakari and upgrade it. This grants less duration of Poisons and reduced Chaos damage taken.


Skill Gems

Gems are a fundamental part of your build. Getting the correct link setups before entering Maps and leveling those Gems as you progress through the Atlas is one of your main goal. The Socket pressure on Minion builds is extreme. You need every single Socket on your gear, and an Unset Ring as well.

Use Slider to see Skill Progression

Main Damage Setups

Use Absolution until you purchase the "3 key items". Link Physical to Lightning Support to convert Physical to Lightning damage to take full use of -resistances. Summon Phantasm Support summons small minions that deal extra damage. Spell Echo Support provides a Cast Speed bonus to Minions and players. Increased Critical Damage Support gives all the Critical Strike Multiplier needed.

Once you obtain your "3 key items" swap to Skeleton Mages. There is 1 important Skill Gem swap to do for Skeleton Mages on pinnacle bosses. Swap Greater Multiple Projectiles Support for Hypothermia Support since an enemy can only be hit by 1 projectile per cast.

Raise Spectres and Zombies

Use Raise Spectre to summon the Carnage, and Host Chieftains to give Frenzy and Power Charges to our Minions. Use Raise Zombie for extra muscle to get that initial kill for our Absolution Minions to spawn. Link Feeding Frenzy Support to give ALL Minions a damage and Cast Speed buff. Elemental Army Support gives Minions extra Maximum Resistances and allows them to inflict Exposure, taking away a portion of monster Resistance.

When you swap to Summon Skeletons Mages exchange Raise Zombie for Summon Stone Golem to get a Life Regen buff. Swap Elemental Army Support for Minion Life Support because you don't need exposure anymore.

Trigger Wand

The wand setup is VERY important. Obtain Trigger a Socketed Spell when you Use a Skill from Unveiling Wands so Desecrate and Bone Offering are automated. Desecrate spawns corpses on the ground, which are consumed by Bone Offering to give Attack and Spell Block once you do Uber lab.

Once you swap to Summon Skeletons Mages use Lifetap Support in the Wand your Mana is not stressed. This makes our Bone Offering and Desecrate cost Life instead of Mana.

Utility and Auras

Put Molten Shell on left mouse button to proc a shell to absorb damage. Use Determination and Defiance Banner to mitigate Physical Damage. Conductivity is a Curse that lowers the enemy Lightning Resistances. Tempest Shield gives Spell Block and Immunity to Shock.

For Summon Skeletons mages swap Conductivity for Punishment to give our Minions extra damage against enemies when they're less than 50% Life.

Movement

Use Shield Charge and Flame Dash as movement abilities for all versions. Convocation calls your to Minions to you, keeping them safe and increasing clear speed.

Additional Utility

Absolution uses Eldritch Battery combined with with Life as Extra Maximum Energy Shield obtained by Unveiling Gravicius Body Armors from Syndicate Missions to spend Energy Shield before Mana for Skill costs. Link Divine Blessing Support with Wrath to create a temporary Aura. Normally you reserve all Mana and don't have enough use, Divine Blessing Support, but since Energy Shield is now a huge Mana pool you get a free Aura. Link Generosity Support to Wrath to boost our Minions Lightning Spell Damage.

After swapping to Summon Skeletons Mages, replace Wrath with Zealotry still keeping Generosity Support linked to only this Aura.

Unset Ring 1

Obtain an Unset Ring as soon as possible to fit in Assassin's Mark for extra Critical Strike Chance and Multiplier with Vixen's Entrapment to allow an automatic additional cursing of enemies when you curse with Conductivity.

Once you swap to Summon Skeletons Mages swap Conductivity for Punishment and Assassin's Mark for Sniper's Mark

Unset Ring 2

Once you hit the "endgame" gear setup you'll need two Unset Rings. This is because you need to fit in an Animate Guardian in your Helmet.


Skill Tree Progression

Skeleton Mages

3 Key Items

Summon Skeletons Mages requires 3 key items to function. You must start the with a different ability until you obtain the "3 key items." Level as Absolution which can carry you all the way through Red Maps and can even complete your early Bossing Invitations on a budget. There is no worry if your build is lacking before being able to swap. Absolution can even be played on its own as a full build but it doesn't have as good a playstyle, coverage and clear, or ease of damage as Skeleton Mages.

The "3 key items" are as follows

  • Dead Reckoning jewel allows you to summon Summon Skeletons Mages instead of Warriors with Summon Skeletons.
  • Fleshcrafter causes your Skeleton Mages completely ignore Elemental Resistances while your Summon Skeletons have Energy Shield. This is what gives our Skeleton Mages easy damage. It lets the tri-elemental damage of the Mage’s projectiles work at maximum efficiency.
    • The downside is that our Minions Life is converted to Energy Shield and they need to maintain their Energy Shield to ignore the monster’s Elemental Resistances:
  • Here's where Rebirth Cluster comes in! Now minions can't be damaged if they were summoned recently. This grants minions a 4-second window where they’re invincible AND they’re guaranteed to ignore monster Elemental Resistance

IMPORTANT! Once you swap to Fleshcrafter DO NOT give any Chaos Resistance to your Minions. Extra Chaos Resistance causes them to convert too much of their Life. Without an easy source of Energy Shield Leech or Regen your Raise Spectre and Animate Guardian dies much quicker, or even as soon as you summon them if you've converted all of their Life to Energy Shield.

AND ONE MORE THING When summoning your Spectres, take out Bone Offering and Desecrate from your trigger Wand. Put Desecrate in a different socket (temporarily) so you can freely cast it and so that Bone Offering doesn't consume the corpses you're spawning.


Spectres

Wait until you're level 60 and have a level 14 Raise Spectre Gem before using this Skill.

The Spectres you use for Absolution and Summon Skeletons are the Carnage and Host Chieftains. These are obtained in the Ashen Fields zone from Act 7.

Raised Spectre - Carnage and Host Chieftains

Use Desecrate on the ground and use the corpse targeting hot key (default "A"). Move your cursor until you see the correct name plates pop up. Then use Raise Spectre on the corpse to summon a copy of that monster.

Double up on the Carnage Chieftains when your max Spectre limit is 3, then double up both once you obtain a max limit of 4. These are an amazing choice because they give Frenzy and Power charges to allies.

Charges are 10 second buffs that stack up to (default max) 3 times for each Charge type, and are so much more powerful for Minions compared to players. Frenzy Charges give Minions 5% More Damage, 15% Attack/Cast and Movement Speed per charge! Power Charges give Minions 200% increased Critical Strike Chance per charge!

With 3 Power Charges our Minions have 600% increased Critical Strike Chance, which combined with the extra base Critical Strike Chance from Brittle Boots gets our Minions close to the Critical Strike Chance of 100%.


Animate Guardian

Animate Guardian is only used when you have the upgrades in the “Skeleton Mage Swap” section. Equip your Animate Guardian with Kingmaker, Garb of the Ephemeral, a pair of Brittle Boots and Unnerve Gloves with NO CHAOS RESISTANCE but at least 30% Elemental Resistance for each Element between the Boots and Gloves.

  • Kingmaker gives 10 Fortification Stacks which means you take 10% Less Damage from Hits. Minions also gain 50% Critical Strike Multiplier and Culling Strike Support which automatically kills enemies that are <=10% Life.
  • Garb of the Ephemeral provides Action Speed cannot be modified below Base Value letting you ignore slows and Nearby Enemies Cannot deal Critical Strikes to help prevent one-shots.
  • Equip Animate Guardian with Unnerve Gloves chance against unique enemy gloves by grabbing a pair off the trade site.
    • Unnerve makes enemies take 10% increased spell damage from our Skeletons.
  • Mask of the Stitched Demon is a bit confusing but the TLDR is; Animate Guardian 's Energy Shield is not usable, but it instead regenerate 1% Life for every 500 maximum Energy Shield it had. With Fleshcrafter 40% of it's maximum Life is converted to Energy Shield because it has a base Chaos Resistance of 20%.
    • This gives Animate Guardian >30% Life regenerated each second!
  • Use Brittle Boots. Get at least 4 seconds of Brittle Ground.
    • Brittle Ground causes Enemies to have +5% Base Critical Strike Chance against them

Character Progression


Video Guide

Video coming after patch notes.


Summary

When you start this build you must play Absolution until getting the "3 key items", but after completing this guide you will be ready to slay all the Uber bosses in the game and farm any bossing content with Summon Skeletons Mages. You can take this completed build into nearly all the content in the game, letting your Summon Skeletons do all the work while you easily relax and pick up the loot afterwards.

If you have any questions, come ask them on my livestream Twitch.tv/TriPolarBear

If you're looking for what bosses to farm, and how to make currency check out our invitation or boss farming guides


Credits

Written by Tripolarbear.
Reviewed by MacroBioBoi.


Changelog

Feb 26th 2022
Atricle Published