Essence Drain/Contagion and Blight Trickster Build Guide (PoE Delirium 3.10)

Furty

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About the Author

Furty has been playing Path of Exile since the release of the Onslaught League in 2013, and has a deep and diverse well of experience within the game. Equally comfortable playing on Hardcore, Softcore, and Solo-Self Found Leagues, recent ladder results include finishing at Rank 5 on the Legion SSF League playing Essence Drain Essence Drain and the Betrayal League at Rank 186 playing Elemental Hit Elemental Hit. You can follow him on Twitter, or check out his occasional streams on Twitch.

Author

Guide Format

This build guide is split over multiple pages, both to prevent it from getting too long, as well as to help you better find the information you are looking for. In addition to the current page, which presents general information about the build and also contains a Leveling and FAQ section, we have the following pages:

Passive Skill Tree and Gem Links


Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheon Powers


Gear, Jewels, and Flasks Breakdown

A Note on This Build

This build was requested by readers after Furty finished the Legion League. Instead of presenting a build that meets popular consensus or aims to provide the highest damage possible, this build is as close as possible to Furty’s character from the league. The top priorities when designing the blueprint were clear speed and safety while still having enough damage to clear end-game bosses such as the Uber Elder. There are many other viable configurations to this build and archetype, however, they will not be included here.

Introduction

Essence Drain Essence Drain and Contagion Contagion have long formed a powerful tag team, presenting the player with near unparalleled clear speeds and experience per hour. While this pairing did not functionally change at all in Patch 3.7, Legion introduced a new league mechanic that plays exactly to this build’s strengths. There is no better build for reliably breaking every Legion mob from their monolith stasis, and better yet, it does it all automatically. Essence Drain Essence Drain was truly the king of Patch 3.7, and remained a strong choice in Blight and Metamorph.

With monoliths and blight gone core and no real nerfs to the capability of this build, our Essence Drain Essence Drain Trickster remains a powerful choice to tear apart maps with near unmatched clear speed. A great league starter at a bargain price, this build scales well into the end-game and feels satisfying as it spreads its deadly chaos damage, devouring pack after pack with ease. In Patch 3.10 Delirium this build remains one of the best in the business for screen clear and near unmatched experience rate.

This build was used by the author, Furty, to hit Rank 5 on the Legion Solo Self-Found Ladder, and has once again become one of the most meta builds available. Viable in all leagues — Softcore, Hardcore, and Solo Self-Found — the Essence Drain Essence Drain Trickster is one of the best candidates in the current meta for reaching Level 100, if not the superlative article itself.

Uber Elder

What really makes this build special is its flexibility across the board. Trickster is one of the strongest defensively-oriented Ascendancies in the entire game, even despite the (repeated) Ghost Shroud nerfs, and it offers offensive choices that play directly into Essence Drain Essence Drain‘s strengths. We are looking at a build that feels incredibly stable to play, even against some of the game’s most lethal opponents — heavily modded Betrayal mobs, monolith rares, Uber Elder , you name it — this build feels formidable in the hands of any player. Our Essence Drain Essence Drain Trickster is the perfect choice for anyone who wants to experience clear speed at its finest, climb to the highest levels possible, annihilate monoliths, and do it with the fastest experience per hour we can deliver.

Build Assessment

Pros

+ Exceptional clear speed and experience per hour rates
+ Essence Drain Essence Drain + Contagion Contagion is the absolute best way to deal with monoliths and similar league mechanics (breaches, incursions, etc.)
+ Extremely safe build — great defenses, mobility, immune to all reflect and map mods, and able to off-screen with DoT damage
+ Viable for Hardcore and Solo Self-Found
+ Great league starter
+ All damage penetrates proximity shields
+ Gearing path is very flexible
+ Cheap

Cons

Single target damage does not scale as well as top tier bossing builds
Allies Cannot Die aura is a pain to deal with (prevents Contagion Contagion from spreading Essence Drain Essence Drain)
Does not deal burst damage (can struggle in situations like Shaper opening portals to attack Zana if your gear is not good, although Blight Blight mitigates this somewhat)

Playstyle and Build Mechanics

This build pairs together two skills to deal the bulk of its clear: Essence Drain Essence Drain and Contagion Contagion. When an enemy dies while affected by Contagion Contagion, the debuff and associated degeneration effects (namely Essence Drain Essence Drain) spread to nearby enemies. This causes your debuffs to cascade outwards through an enemy pack and sometimes across several screens at a time. Here is an example of dealing with an entire Legion on a heavily modded Tier 15 Summit Map Summit Map:

Summit Map

Vaal Blight Vaal Blight is also incorporated to add a ton of extra damage in an AoE, which helps a lot when dealing with particularly tanky enemies such as Betrayal squads or monolith rares. This build has two curses, although we do not use a multi-curse node to have them applied simultaneously, such as Whispers of Doom. Instead, Despair Despair can either be applied manually, or by Witchfire Brew Witchfire Brew if you are opting to use that flask. Temporal Chains Temporal Chains is linked to a Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support gem which helps us deal with bursts of damage or ranged enemies.

Our Ascendancy Nodes of Ghost Dance and Escape Artist go a long way to providing a suite of defenses — a ton of bonus Evasion and Energy Shield, and automatically regenerating Ghost Shrouds that replenish our entire Energy Shield on-hit every 2 seconds. The Flesh and Stone Flesh and Stone aura is also invaluable for reducing ranged damage and providing permanent Blind Support Blind Support to nearby enemies. Most of our flasks are defensively oriented, as our clear is already more than enough, adding another layer to the defense of the build.

If you like builds or archetypes that rely on combos, this is one of the most engaging and active builds you will have to opportunity to play. You will constantly need to fire off Essence Drain Essence Drain and Contagion Contagion a fraction of a second apart — if you have quick fingers, you can shoot off an Essence Drain Essence Drain and quickly land Contagion Contagion for an instant spread. Essence Drain Essence Drain kills most enemies so quickly, however, that the safer combination for most players is to land Contagion Contagion and then immediately Essence Drain Essence Drain. You can manually apply Despair Despair on packs that do not immediately die, such as monolith rares.

Vaal Blight Vaal Blight should generally be used as often as possible, unless you are anticipating a difficult fight in the near future, such as a Betrayal encounter. Blight Blight should also be used when appropriate, and is an essential component of our single target damage for bosses. Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support should also be kept up as often as possible, which is much easier now with the instant-cast Flame Dash Flame Dash changes. The infusion buff, should you opt to use Infused Channelling Support Infused Channelling Support in your Vaal Blight Vaal Blight link, should also be kept active on tanky bosses, such as the Shaper or the Uber Elder.

Path of Building

Here is Furty’s Rank 5 character from the SSF Legion League: https://pastebin.com/Fkprwxny

This can be used as a reference point, however, bear in mind that not all gear used is absolutely ideal as it is a Solo Self-Found character. It will not be updated for future patches.

Passive Skill Tree

This is our Level 100 Passive Skill Tree.

For more details on the Passive Tree, skill acquisition order, and more, be sure to check out the Passive Skill Tree page for in-depth information.

Passive Skill Tree and Gem Links

Gems

We go over all of the gem links this build uses in the end-game on our Gem Link page.

Passive Skill Tree and Gem Links

Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheon

Our Ascendancy, Bandit, and Pantheon Power page goes into detail about all the choices you need to make in these regards.

Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheon Powers

Gear Summary / TL;DR

These items strike a balance between power and cost-effectiveness. If you want to explore more options for Gear (both budget and high-end), Flasks, or get more information on alternatives and specialty items, please ensure you read the Gear, Jewels, and Flasks page in its entirety.

Our recommendation:

Item Slot Item Name
Head Rare Hubris Circlet Hubris Circlet
Amulet Impresence (Chaos) Impresence (Chaos) OR Rare Amulet
Chest The Perfect Form The Perfect Form or Hyrri's Ire Hyrri's Ire
Gloves Rare Fingerless Silk Gloves Fingerless Silk Gloves
Boots Atziri's Step Atziri's Step OR Rare Boots
Belt Rare Stygian Vise Stygian Vise
Rings Rare Rings
Weapon Multi-modded Opal Wand Opal Wand
Shield Zeel's Amplifier Zeel's Amplifier

For much more detailed information on the best gear, jewels, and flasks to use, be sure to check out our Gear Page in its entirety.

Gear, Jewels, and Flasks Breakdown

Historic Legion Jewels

The new Legion Jewels present a variety of unique opportunities to augment your build in powerful but unpredictable ways. For example, Furty’s Rank 5 Solo Self-Found character managed to procure the Glorious Vanity Glorious Vanity Jewel shown below, with some of the Notables pictured so you are able to see the potency.

Historic

There are numerous Jewels that can be placed all over the Passive Tree that have enormously powerful influence over your damage and defense. The seed for the above Jewel is pictured below.

Glorious Vanity

Be sure to experiment with Jewels you find or see on the market, as they can transform your build in ways no other items can match.

Leveling

As a reminder, we have several guides to help you level up a character.

We recommend starting with Freezing Pulse Freezing Pulse, which works well with Lifesprig Lifesprig if you have one. Blight Blight can also be acquired at Level 1, but should instead be purchased as soon as possible from Nessa instead of being chosen as the Hillock quest reward, as it is an inferior leveling skill. You will want to acquire Vaal Blight Vaal Blight as soon as possible and replace Blight Blight once you have it.

Contagion Contagion can be acquired at Level 4 from the Breaking Some Eggs quest, which you should socket immediately while continuing to clear with Freezing Pulse Freezing Pulse.

You can switch to Essence Drain Essence Drain as early as Level 12, and it is obtained from The Siren’s Song quest from Nessa after entering the Cavern of Wrath.

Essence Drain Essence Drain Links for Leveling in order of priority:

  1. Essence Drain Essence Drain
  2. Efficacy Support Efficacy Support
  3. Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
  4. Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support
  5. Swift Affliction Support Swift Affliction Support
  6. Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support

If you are league starting and operating on a 3-Link, link Essence Drain Essence Drain, Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support, and Efficacy Support Efficacy Support as soon as possible and you are set to start ripping apart packs. Follow the advised links for Contagion Contagion, but in Act I you can make do with Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support and Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support. Blight Blight should be linked with Infused Channelling Support Infused Channelling Support and Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support in Act I if you have the links to spare.

Grab Flame Dash Flame Dash as soon as possible in Act I and link it to Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support (only level this one to Level 2). Dash Dash is a good mobility skill to make use of in the time before Flame Dash Flame Dash can be acquired.

Be sure you have all the gems you need before leaving Act II (Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support, Faster Casting Support Faster Casting Support).

In Act III, acquire Malevolence Malevolence and Despair Despair immediately after Lost in Love and start using them. It is worth doing The Library quest on Solo Self-Found, and even if you are league starting on a trade league (especially Hardcore) to pick up Flesh and Stone Flesh and Stone as well, along with Swift Affliction Support Swift Affliction Support and Efficacy Support Efficacy Support.

Make sure to get Spreading Rot Spreading Rot in Act V after killing Innocence and socket it as soon as possible.

Leveling is pretty straightforward with this build, and the gameplay is the same as in the end-game: apply Contagion Contagion, fire off your Essence Drain Essence Drain in the same moment, and watch it spread. Blight Blight is to be used for tanky enemies and bosses and Izaro.

FAQ

What Annointment Should I Use on my Amulet?

There are several strong options to consider:

  • Whispers of Doom: Overall the best choice, particularly if you are using Impresence (Chaos) Impresence (Chaos) or Witchfire Brew Witchfire Brew.
  • Constitution: A good defensive option to add a large chunk of additional Life. A good option if your damage is sufficient and you are grinding towards 100, but lack the currency to use Whispers of Doom or do not want to enchant an amulet you will replace.
  • Hunter’s Gambit: Some decent bonuses to damage and skill effect.
  • Graceful Assault: Adds free Onslaught during clear (more movement speed and clear speed) but no real offensive or defense power. This is purely for adding experience per hour.

In general, defensive options are better than offensive ones for this build (excepting Whispers of Doom, which improves both) as our tree already has virtually all of the nodes that improve Essence Drain Essence Drain‘s damage directly. Since this build focuses primarily on clear speed and the survivability to get to Level 100, we recommend selecting a defensive or utility option that will fill in any cracks your build may currently have.

How About Using a +Level Gems Bow or Cane of Unravelling Cane of Unravelling?

These are both fantastic options for damage and are perfectly viable choices. In most cases you will lose a bit of clear and survivability but gain noticeably higher single target and bossing capability.

Are There Any Map Mods This Build Has to be Concerned About?

This build can deal with every mod without issues, but we recommend avoiding No Regeneration maps. They are somewhat inconvenient as you can not afford to waste Mana on Flame Dash Flame Dash, and despite Patient Reaper refilling your Mana and Life every pack you can still find yourself in uncomfortable situations. They are very doable if you take it slow, but generally not worth the extra annoyance.

Check out the rest of the guide for more information:

Passive Skill Tree and Gem Links


Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheon Powers


Gear, Jewels, and Flasks Breakdown

Changelog
  •   

    3.10 Delirium; Initial updates, including tree, format, FAQ, build assessment, and more.

  •   

    Initial updates for Metamorph 3.9: Gear, Passive Skill Tree, Introduction, Build Assessment, FAQ, and Annointment Advice.

  •   

    Updated leveling advice.

  •   

    Updated for Patch 3.8 Blight League — Skill Tree, Build Assessment, Gearing Recommendations, Ascendancy Information, Gem Links, Jewels, and more.

  •   

    Updated gear recommendations!

  •   

    Updated multi-mod Wand crafting advice.

  •   

    Added Uber Elder example.

  •   

    Updated and added a new section on Legion Jewels!

  •   

    Guide added!

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  1. Posts
    2

    I love the guide however I have a question I am going with The Perfect Form. So what gem should i switch out to use Arctic Armour? The Flesh and Stone?

  2. Posts
    2

    So im trying to use the perfect form armor. I can not get the right color combo after many many tries. Is it not able to go 2g 3b 1r?

  3. Posts
    2

    So im trying to use the perfect form armor. I can not get the right color combo after many many tries. Is it not able to go 2g 3b 1r?

  4. Posts
    3

    Hi Furty,

    Thanks for this excellent guide!
    I also play SSF (but SC) and it would be very interesting for me to know the steps you took during your SSF roadtrip. Basic information about what to chance, your atlas strategy, how did you modify your loot filter to suit to your build, etc, etc…

    A kind of diary or roadmap of your journey to 100 but especially SSF oriented.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. Furty

    Moderator

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    1084

    On 06/07/2019 at 2:51 AM, Junim said

    So im trying to use the perfect form armor. I can not get the right color combo after many many tries. Is it not able to go 2g 3b 1r?

    Yes, any item can have any combination of colors. The Perfect Form The Perfect Form is a dexterity chest, meaning Green sockets is heavily preferred, but 4 “off-colors” is still fairly easy to achieve. I recommend using either the Vorici method if your chest is not already linked, or alternately using the chromatic calculator (do a quick google search for it) to determine the cheapest way of coloring it via Chromatic Orb Chromatic Orbs.

  6. Furty

    Moderator

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    1084

    On 06/07/2019 at 10:20 AM, Asmo57 said

    Hi Furty,

    Thanks for this excellent guide!
    I also play SSF (but SC) and it would be very interesting for me to know the steps you took during your SSF roadtrip. Basic information about what to chance, your atlas strategy, how did you modify your loot filter to suit to your build, etc, etc…

    A kind of diary or roadmap of your journey to 100 but especially SSF oriented.

    Keep up the good work!

    I’ll consider writing up a post if I have some extra time — it actually sounds a little fun and cathartic to catalogue the journey. Thanks for the feedback!

  7. Posts
    1

    hey furty, great build. quick question for you. the mods on the wand, how did u get the +65 chaos damage + 12 skill i cant seem to find it, only for axes? thanks!

  8. Posts
    1

    any chance you may be able to show reccomended items if your not ssf
    thx

  9. Furty

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    1084

    On 06/07/2019 at 9:54 PM, brandonsb said

    hey furty, great build. quick question for you. the mods on the wand, how did u get the +65 chaos damage + 12 skill i cant seem to find it, only for axes? thanks!

    Hey, those are two separate crafts (one is a prefix, one is a suffix) — the first is a Syndicate Prefix craft that gives 45-50% Increased Chaos Damage and 11-12% Skill Effect Duration, the second is a standard Helena Suffix craft found on a crafting recipe tablet that adds 13-16% Increased Chaos Damage. When you craft them together, the Increased Chaos Damage numbers combine!

  10. Furty

    Moderator

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    1084

    On 07/07/2019 at 12:58 PM, occ1993 said

    any chance you may be able to show reccomended items if your not ssf
    thx

    I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand the question. There are recommended items shown in the Gear, Jewels, and Flasks section, and my personal SSF gear in the Path of Building section.

  11. Posts
    2

    Hey Furty
    Very nice build, really enjoying although I am still leveling it. I was wondering if it would be possible to use bain in this build and how you would integrate it into this build

  12. Furty

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    1084

    On 09/07/2019 at 8:18 AM, MasterOfTrollz said

    Hey Furty
    Very nice build, really enjoying although I am still leveling it. I was wondering if it would be possible to use bain in this build and how you would integrate it into this build

    If you did it would be really button heavy on bosses, but totally workable. I would drop the Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support link in favor of a Bane Bane 4-Link. This would be easiest to facilitate using Impresence (Chaos) Impresence (Chaos), since you could then also apply Despair Despair for free at all times. Alternately, you’d have to apply it manually or use Witchfire Brew Witchfire Brew.

  13. Posts
    2

    On 09/07/2019 at 8:35 AM, Furty said

    On 09/07/2019 at 8:18 AM, MasterOfTrollz said

    Hey Furty
    Very nice build, really enjoying although I am still leveling it. I was wondering if it would be possible to use bain in this build and how you would integrate it into this build

    If you did it would be really button heavy on bosses, but totally workable. I would drop the Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support link in favor of a Bane Bane 4-Link. This would be easiest to facilitate using Impresence (Chaos) Impresence (Chaos), since you could then also apply Despair Despair for free at all times. Alternately, you’d have to apply it manually or use Witchfire Brew Witchfire Brew.

    I have seen someone drop the contagion 4-link in favor for the bane one linked with despair, but not sure how that would be for clear speed

  14. Furty

    Moderator

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    1084

    On 09/07/2019 at 10:38 AM, MasterOfTrollz said

    On 09/07/2019 at 8:35 AM, Furty said

    On 09/07/2019 at 8:18 AM, MasterOfTrollz said

    Hey Furty
    Very nice build, really enjoying although I am still leveling it. I was wondering if it would be possible to use bain in this build and how you would integrate it into this build

    If you did it would be really button heavy on bosses, but totally workable. I would drop the Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support link in favor of a Bane Bane 4-Link. This would be easiest to facilitate using Impresence (Chaos) Impresence (Chaos), since you could then also apply Despair Despair for free at all times. Alternately, you’d have to apply it manually or use Witchfire Brew Witchfire Brew.

    I have seen someone drop the contagion 4-link in favor for the bane one linked with despair, but not sure how that would be for clear speed

    Contagion Contagion is basically the core of your clear speed since it spreads Essence Drain Essence Drain. The build and the proliferation of Essence Drain Essence Drain does not work without it, so your primary clear would have to then be Bane Bane with Essence Drain Essence Drain being used as supplementary damage for single target only. This is an entirely different type of build, since Essence Drain Essence Drain would no longer be your main skill. For a build such as this, where Essence Drain Essence Drain comprises the bulk of your damage, Contagion Contagion is non-negotiable.

    I can advise you on how to set up a Bane Bane build but in most cases you will be cutting your clear speed by about 75%. This is an unfair comparison, however, since the Essence Drain Essence Drain + Contagion Contagion combination has always been one of the top experience per hour generators in the game across all builds. In most cases I recommend only using Bane Bane as a means of applying curses or as a secondary skill, and always having a “main” skill for the bulk of your damage and clear, such as Soulrend Soulrend or Essence Drain Essence Drain.

  15. Posts
    7

    This is such an incredible guide. I saw RaizQT playing a similar build on the league launch and he ended up dying before he could get it going properly, but it looked like a whole lot of fun. I tried respeccing my freeze pulse assassin to Trickster but it’s going to be a lot of work before I get it properly online … I think I might revisit it if there’s a proper flashback this league.

    If I want to use Impresence and Blasphemy, what links should I sacrifice to fit them into my build?

  16. Furty

    Moderator

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    1084

    On 15/07/2019 at 6:13 PM, Artorias said

    This is such an incredible guide. I saw RaizQT playing a similar build on the league launch and he ended up dying before he could get it going properly, but it looked like a whole lot of fun. I tried respeccing my freeze pulse assassin to Trickster but it’s going to be a lot of work before I get it properly online … I think I might revisit it if there’s a proper flashback this league.

    If I want to use Impresence and Blasphemy, what links should I sacrifice to fit them into my build?

    Check the Rings section of the guide for more information on how to facilitate this!

  17. Posts
    7

    On 15/07/2019 at 8:20 PM, Furty said

    On 15/07/2019 at 6:13 PM, Artorias said

    This is such an incredible guide. I saw RaizQT playing a similar build on the league launch and he ended up dying before he could get it going properly, but it looked like a whole lot of fun. I tried respeccing my freeze pulse assassin to Trickster but it’s going to be a lot of work before I get it properly online … I think I might revisit it if there’s a proper flashback this league.

    If I want to use Impresence and Blasphemy, what links should I sacrifice to fit them into my build?

    Check the Rings section of the guide for more information on how to facilitate this!

    Ah, awesome, thank you!

  18. Posts
    5

    Hi furty and thanks for this build
    I’ve completed it and I’m very strong now, even if I started playing with this league, but anyways i want to improve and do some changes, I’ve got a wand like yours so I can’t put arcane surge on it, but i also want to change my flame dash for shield charge, can you help me in these?I can swap to witchfire brew if slots for gems are needed

    Again on gems, many level 100 uses Discipline/vaal Discipline and Steelskin, can I have any explanation?

    Oh and btw I use malevolence with an unset ring, zodiac leather and impresence

    Edited by Fury28 on July 20th, 2019

  19. Posts
    5

    On 17/07/2019 at 4:17 AM, Fury28 said

    Hi furty and thanks for this build
    I’ve completed it and I’m very strong now, even if I started playing with this league, but anyways i want to improve and do some changes, I’ve got a wand like yours so I can’t put arcane surge on it, but i also want to change my flame dash for shield charge, can you help me in these?I can swap to witchfire brew if slots for gems are needed

    Again on gems, many level 100 uses Discipline/vaal Discipline and Steelskin, can I have any explanation?

    Oh and btw I use malevolence with an unset ring, zodiac leather and impresence

    Done by putting arcane surge support on helmet with contagion instead of efficiency

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