Welcome to the Path of Exile Trial of the Ancestors Week 2 Meta Report and Maxroll news wrap-up. This is a special episode highlighting interesting builds and mechanics from Solo Self-Found and Hardcore!
Trial of the Ancestors SSF
It's time to break down some of the differences between Trial of the Ancestors SSF builds, and those from Crucible. Mainly the Trial of the Ancestors Mechanic, and Passive Skill Tattoos (along with new supports) have had an interesting effect on the meta here.
5 Crucible SSF Builds Week 2
- Boneshatter Juggernaut/Slayer
- Righteous Fire Juggernaut
- Lightning Arrow Deadeye/Champion
- Toxic Rain Pathfinder
- EA Ignite Champion/Elementalist
5 Ancestors SSF Builds Week 2
- Boneshatter Juggernaut / Slayer
- Explosive Arrow Ignite Champion/Elementalist
- Righteous Fire Inquisitor / Juggernaut / Chief
- Summon Raging Spirit Guardian / Necromancer
- Lightning Arrow Deadeye
Note: To get a consistent comparison, we looked at level 90+ builds that resulted in 8,440 Characters in Trial of the Ancestors vs 8,649 in Crucible.
Explosive Arrow, and Summon Raging Spirit Guardian both stand out as exceptional builds in 3.22. Explosive Arrow excels at the league mechanic, by proliferating Ignites through the entire enemy team, leaving you free to click their Ancestral Totems. Champion gets solid defenses with Fortify, Armor, and Evasion, so he feels like a natural Ascendancy choice over the squishier but higher damage Elementalist. The primary Unique items used by this build are Quill Rain, and Dyadian Dawn, but neither are required for the skill to function. If you want to continue min-maxing the build Explosive Arrow Champion can do all content, and utilizing multiple Ballista Totems allows you to cover the screen in fiery doom!
On the other hand, Poison Summon Raging Spirit has been popular for a few leagues now, but with the reworked Guardian ascendancy hit-based Summon Raging Spirit gained a ton of damage. It's a lot easier to scale, because there are no mandatory Uniques, and you get Hatred, Wrath, and Anger for your Minions from your Unwavering Crusade Ascendancy Notable. These powerful Auras more than make up for the Minion Gem levels lost from Necromancer's Unnatural Strength rework in 3.19. With additional Block and a helpful Sentinel of Radiance taunting for you the build has cozy defenses.
Less Popular Builds
Toxic Rain Pathfinder fell out of the top 5. Between the rising popularity of Explosive Arrow, and Poison Pathfinder there's less reason to play Toxic Rain despite the fact that it continues to be a solid league starter. In general what Toxic Rain lacks in comparison to alternatives is lategame scaling. It works really well on a budget, but without access to the crafting and Uniques you can obtain by trading with other players it tends to hit a wall after pinnacle bosses / tier 16 mapping content. Similarly, Lightning Arrow Deadeye is less popular in SSF than before. It's easier than ever to play a bow build in the early game, however the high end scaling is also fairly difficult without trade. With a slow but steady increase in build diversity from things like the Ascendancy Reworks and new Support Gems, a few builds account for less of the meta. With that said, if you really want to play Toxic Rain or Lightning Arrow both are still great choices.
SSF Build Highlights
Since the Ancestor League Meta Report Week 2 focuses on Solo Self-Found, we also want to highlight a few interesting mechanics players are using to solve problems they ran into when crafting their builds.
Impending Doom Base Damage
In Softcore Trade players use Gem Level scaling to increase the base damage on their Impending Doom Support Pathfinders. However, in SSF you aren't able to easily Corrupt Chestpieces for gem level scaling. Some players have taken to using Spellblade Support to apply the base damage of their weapon. This opens up a wide variety of alternatives to the Apep's Rage used by many builds in Softcore Trade. All you need is a weapon with high Physical or Chaos damage. You'll still want Vixen's Entrapment for optimal damage but this clever combination is a great way to add base damage to your Poisons without needing gem levels.
Note: Grinding Gear Games confirmed that the interaction between Impending Doom Support and Spell Cascade Support guaranteeing overlaps was not intended. It will remain for 3.22 before being fixed in 3.23 so if you have any interest in Impending Doom play it soon!
Storm Burst Totems
There are a lot of skills in Path of Exile, which aren't quite as strong as the best option, but remain competitive. Storm Burst Spell Totem is a great example of this. Storm Burst hits frequently, and relies on scaling as much Cast Speed as you can get! For defenses you can scale Mind Over Matter with Divine Guidance. Alternatively, you can grab Conviction of Power to go Critical Strike Chance/Damage for further damage scaling while still getting the defensive benefits of Endurance Charges. This provides a great alternative to the popular Ice Spear and Freezing Pulse Totem builds.
Skill Tattoos in SSF
It's difficult to stack Tattoos in SSF, so they fill a somewhat different role than Softcore Trade. Many SSF builds use Tattoos to fix Fire, Cold, and Lightning Resistances, or using powerful Notable Skill Tattoos to get +1 to the level of their Strength, Dexterity, or Intelligence Skill Gems. This adds a lot of flexibility to your gearing in Solo Self-Found, because any attributes on gear free up more travel nodes on your tree to be converted to crazy Tattoo effects. The more Tattoos which apply to your build, the easier this is to maximize!
Trial of the Ancestors HC
The Trial of the Ancestors league mechanic provides Hardcore Players with an easy and safe way to level up. If you die (outside of bugs) you don't lose your character, nor do you lose experience for dying or failing a round. But whenever you successfully complete a round in the Trial of the Ancestors tournament you gain experience!
5 Crucible HC Builds Week 2
- Boneshatter Juggernaut
- Righteous Fire Juggernaut
- Explosive Arrow Champion
- Lightning Arrow Champion
- Summon Raging Spirit Guardian / Necromancer
5 Ancestors HC Builds Week 2
- Summon Raging Spirit Guardian / Necro / Champ
- Explosive Arrow Ignite Champion
- Boneshatter Juggernaut
- Righteous Fire Juggernaut / Inquisitor
- Detonate Dead Elementalist
Note: To get a consistent comparison, we looked at level 90+ builds that resulted in 8.931 Characters in Trial of the Ancestors vs 9,854 in Crucible.
There won't be a biggest winner or loser here because the meta didn't change by that much, with the most notable change being an increase in the number of Summon Raging Spirit Guardian players, for the same reasons we saw with the SSF Meta. Because a single mistake can cost you your character, the League Start meta in Hardcore tends to be more stable. As the league progresses, and many players finish their first build, we'll start to see a greater diversity in the Hardcore meta. Events like the Gauntlet also frequently lead to a meta shakeup as crazy powerful new builds burst onto the scene!
Overall Champion and Juggernaut remain excellent league start choices, but Guardian is far more popular than it was before, which in turn lead to an increased number of players using Minion builds. The Guardian's new Sentinel of Radiance provides a lot of safety to both the low level, and endgame experience. One extremely notable Hardcore build from Crucible which isn't present in 3.22 is the "Explody Totem" build. This is because that relied on a Crucible Tree modifier, and while GGG said they may bring back Crucible modifiers in the future there's currently no way to play the build outside of Standard.
HC Build Highlights
For the Ancestor League Meta Report Week 2 we've taken a look at Hardcore builds. Let's dive a bit deeper into 2 setups of particular interest!
If you like Boneshatter then Trauma Support looks pretty attractive. Before the League started, Goratha spent some time theorycrafting a Glacial Hammer Trauma Juggernaut. The build capitalizes on some easy to find Unique items like Tanu Ahi and Frostbreath. This gives Adrenaline for speed, damage, and defenses combined with Double Damage for your main skill. The build also leverages Heatshiver for a massive damage boost against Frozen enemies.
Trauma stacks give base Physical Damage, which is converted to Cold Damage, as this scales with your Attack Speed it becomes easier to Freeze enemies to enable Heatshiver's 100% of Cold Damage as Extra Fire Damage. The build layers several defenses to become nearly impervious to damage. With Spell Suppression, additional Elemental Damage Reduction, and 124k Armor this build defends well against Physical and Elemental damage, while being slightly weaker to Chaos damage than most Boneshatter Juggernaut setups.
Skeleton Mage Revival
Summon Raging Spirit isn't the only Minion build seeing renewed attention. Dead Reckoning transforms your Summon Skeletons into powerful Skeleton Mages who unleash Elemental Projectile spells. As a result they scale incredibly well from the Auras provided by a Guardian don't scale Skeletal Mages quite as well as they scale Summon Raging Spirit, but still provide a consistent damage increase.
The new Fresh Meat Support gives easy Critical Strike scaling to temporary Minions, along with giving them the Adrenaline buff (which greatly increases their movement speed). Summoned Skeletons have a base duration of 20 seconds making them an ideal choice for the Support Gem. At 10% of the Minion's duration this is a base 2 second duration for the buffs, which are further increased by modifiers to Skill Effect Duration. While we're showcasing a Hardcore build here, this works in Softcore trade as well and excels at some of the hardest content Path of Exile has to offer. If you're feeling nostalgic for the good old Skelly Mage Necromancer, or you hate having frames and seeing your screen grab a Dead Reckoning and start leveling your Guardian.
See Tenkiei's thoughts on the SSF and Hardcore meta in 3.22 along side some of the interesting mechanics players are using to overcome the adversity imposed by these game modes!
Hungry for More?
That's a wrap for the Meta Report for Trial of the Ancestors Week 2 including, top builds, and interesting mechanics from Solo Self-Found and Hardcore. Look forward to next week's episode, which focuses more heavily on Passive Skill Tattoos and clever uses players found for them!
Ancestor Week 1
New Skill Tattoos
Top 5 HC Builds
Then head over to our Discord and select the Path of Exile role in #roles to stay up to date with our content development. Stay sane, Exile!
Written by: Tenkiei
Reviewed by: Dredscythe