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Beginner's Guide to Path of Exile Classes and Ascendencies

Beginner's Guide to Path of Exile Classes and Ascendencies

Detailed overview of all Path of Exile's Classes and Asendencies

Path of Exile
Core Classes and Ascendancies Guide



Every player's adventure in PoE starts exactly the same - at the character creation screen. The choice of class is often regarded as extremely important, especially by new players who are custom to other action RPG titles. In PoE, this choice is a bit less important as skills are not class-specific and can be used by anyone (to a varying degree of success, of course). 

There are seven playable Core Classes in Path of Exile, all of which have one or more main attributes assigned as their primary (main attributes are Dexterity, Strength, and Intelligence). Three of the Classes are so-called "pure" - they have a single primary attribute (Ranger - Dexterity, Marauder - Strength, Witch - Intelligence), three of them are two-attribute hybrids (Templar - Intelligence/Strength, Duelist - Dexterity/Strength, and Shadow - Dexterity/Intelligence), and a single Class is aligned with all three attributes (Scion - Dexterity/Strength/Intelligence). Each class starts from a different spot on the Passive Skill Tree (more on the tree itself later), has different starting statistics, attributes, and quest rewards, and has access to a different set of Ascendency Subclasses*

*Ascendencies are special subclasses that grant access to character-specific Ascendency Skill Trees. You unlock your character's Ascendency Class (each Core Class, except Scion who has 1, has 3 Ascendancies to choose from) and its Ascendancy Skill Tree by completing the Labyrinth (a type of a randomly generated dungeon) for the first time; for the first completion, you will also get two Ascendancy skill points. The first three Labirynths are unlocked by simply progressing through the Story Acts (for a total of 6 Ascendancy skill points) and the final "Eternal Labirynth" can be unlocked in the end-game via special maps (these are used to create randomized instances). This means that each player character gets a total of 8 Ascendancy skill points to allocate on their specific tree. 

We'll talk about the Ascendancy skill tree as well as the Passive Skill Tree on another occasion, now let's take a closer look at each of the 7 Core Classes and 19 Ascendancies: 


Core Classes and their Ascendancies


Wilderness is the Ranger's home. Years spent in harsh conditions, away from civilization, have hardened her spirit and her body. She has mastered a wide range of weapons - it was a necessity, given the conditions and things that dwell in dark forests. Ranger prefers to stay out of sight and sting her enemies from a distance with her trusty bow, but she is capable of defeating most enemies in melee if given no other choice. 

"No life can be owned. Not a deer's. Not a rabbit's. And not mine. Every creature has a birth-given right to live however it will. However it can." - a fragment of the Ranger's intro speech. 

As the pure Dexterity Class, Ranger is fast, agile, and capable of delivering devastating critical strikes. Unlike most other classes, she can avoid incoming damage with relative ease thanks to high Evasion (Every 10 dexterity grants 2% increased Evasion Rating which is huge for a Dexterity-based Class) and extra Dodge that's found in Ranger's part of the Skill Tree. Ranger is very proficient with Ranged Weapons and can obliterate any enemy from afar, but she does not shy away from melee weapons either. Being all about Dexterity, she utilizes Evasion-based Armors which are her main weakness - they help avoid physical attacks but any hit that goes through the defense is devastating as there is no damage mitigation, moreover, evasion-based armors do not protect against spells. 

Ranger's Ascendancy Classes

Pathfinder's passives increase the effectiveness of Flasks in various ways; She has a chance to not consume a flask charge on use and her flask charges recover without the need for killing enemies (thanks to Nature's Boon Ascendancy passive skill) and gets increased flask charges through the Veteran Bowyer passive. Offensively, She benefits from increased Chaos Damage, thanks to passives like Master Toxicist and Nature's Reprisal (Poison Damage gets the highest damage boost from these). Moreover, she gets various offensive and defensive buffs while under the effects of flasks (including elemental ailment immunity - Master Alchemist, attack speed, and movement speed increase - Nature's Adrenaline, and flask generation on Criticals - Master Surgeon. All of the above make Pathfinder very versatile and capable of performing well when built for attack damage as well as for spells. 

For the most part, you will either pick Pathfinder for Attack/Poison builds. However, thanks to this class's Unique Flask-related bonuses, you can play it as almost any build. Having obtained powerful Unique Flasks and maintaining 100% uptime even against Bosses makes it a very flexible class that can be played even as Spell Caster characters. The most popular builds you can play as Pathfinder are:

  1. Toxic Rain Pathfinder - one of the best Starter builds in PoE which use Toxic Rain to deal scalable Chaos Damage over Time from the exploding pods each Arrow creates
  2. Scourge Arrow Pathfinder - a very popular Poison Bow Attack that is used to scale Poison Damage. It's a channeled Attack that creates multiple spore pods when released. The pods explode firing plenty of projectiles in all directions, with greatly increased damage
  3. Viper Strike Pathfinder -  yet another example of a powerful Poison Build. This build showcases one of the most unique defensive mechanics which utilize Pathfinder's Flask effectiveness to boost the defensive capabilities of your character via Transcendence and Iron Reflexes Passives
  4. Lightning Strike Pathfinder - while we don't have a complete guide for this build just yet, it's worth mentioning here. Pathfinder, thanks to the Flask bonuses it provides, makes it one of the best classes for Vaal Skills. By using Hateforge Gloves and Soul Catcher Flask you are able to spam powerful Vaal Lightning Strike making it an exceptionally powerful (and expensive) build

Raider revolves around Frenzy Charges (temporary increase in character's capabilities which provides 4% Attack Speed, 4% Cast Speed, and 4% Damage per each charge), attack speed (gained through Onslaught buff which is easy to activate thanks to her Rapid Assault), avoidance (including Phasing which allows you to move through enemies), and attack damage. She generates her Frenzy Charges with the Way of the Poacher passive and gains additional benefits, from each charge, through Avatar of the Slaughter. Effects of Onslaught, on her, are boosted by the Avatar of the Chase passive which also increases her evasion. She can gain the Phasing buff through the Quartz Infusion; the benefits gained are increased further with the Avatar of the Veil. Overall, Raider is a great choice for dodge-based and Evasion-based builds that utilize attack damage. 

Raider is among the most flexible and versatile Classes in the game. It offers second-to-none mobility and speed. Thanks to the increased effectiveness of Onslaught, if you are looking to prioritize your clear speed, you can play this class as both Attack build and a Spell Caster. It's also fully viable as both a Physical and Elemental damage dealer. The most popular builds are:

  1. Toxic Rain Raider - while Raider provides no direct bonuses to Chaos DoT, the massive speed this class offers makes it one of the best options for Toxic Rain. In this version, you are simply scaling the DPS by creating more pods to explode thanks to greatly increased Attack Speed
  2. Elemental Hit Raider - this is one of the most powerful, and the most popular Raider build in quite some time now. Elemental Hit's base damage comes mainly from the Skill itself and Damage Conversion through Combat Focus Jewels, so increasing your Attack Speed and mobility via Raider's Ascendancy is the best and most efficient way to play this build which can offer tens of millions of DPS
  3. Flicker Strike Raider - being the most Frenzy Charge-oriented class, makes it the best pick for playing Flicker Strike which is one of the most unique and enjoyable Melee Attacks that can expand Frenzy Charges to bypass its' cooldown
  4. Blade Blast Raider - another example of how versatile the Raider Class is. It's a typical Spell Caster build that uses Bladefall and Blade Blast consecutively to unleash devastating explosions. Again the extra Movement and Cast Speed bonuses from Raider class, makes it one of the best choices to use with Blade Blast

Deadeye is a master of projectile damage (her Projectile bonuses apply not only to Bows but also to projectiles fired from wands as well as some spell projectiles). Her main strengths include a high accuracy rating, great utility, and various passive modifiers that add extra projectiles to attacks or give projectiles various bonus characteristics, like AoE damage, pierce, or chain effects. She also highly benefits from Bleeding effects, thanks to the Rupture passive. As a class that focuses on ranged combat, Deadeye is very quick (thanks to Gathering Winds passive) and has a very high attack range (thanks to Far Shot passive). If you are looking for a ranged class that focuses mainly on offense, Deadeye is a great choice. 

Deadeye is your go-to class when you want to play a standard old-school Bow character. In general, this archetype has somewhat lost its' position in the meta currently, but it still remains one of the fastest characters when it comes to farming low and mid-Tier content. It also finds some uses for Projectile-based Spell Caster builds, and while playing those builds is very enjoyable thanks to amazing mobility and clear speed, you may find that Deadeye is not exactly the Path of Exile's powerhouse anymore. 

The most popular Deadeye builds are:

  1. Tornado Shot Deadeye or Ice Shot Deadeye are the two most popular Bow Attacks in the game currently. Most of the players play it as Dexterity stacking to maximize the DPS output, where substantial investment in gear is required to do it. You can still play those builds casually, and the Tornado Shot one linked is exactly oriented on that
  2. Cast on Crit Ice Spear Deadeye - a very powerful Bow build that deals damage with Cold-based Spells. Our recommended setup is based on Ice Spear, but you can also use Freezing Pulse or even Frostbolt as all of them use Projectiles to deal damage and will be affected by Deadeye's Passive bonuses




Marauder lives to fight and fights to live. Cries of battle are music to his ears, screams of pain drive his rage. His scars are a testament to his ability to survive, even when all odds are stacked against him. Marauder's posture is not only imposing but also terrifying, his tribal tattoos often enough to make his enemies cower in fear. In battle, he prefers to wield heavy two-handed maces or axes - none of those girly swords that dull after the first hit or cowardly ranged weapons; a real man should charge to battle in the first line, with a battle cry on his tongue and a delightful smile on his face. 

"I am a warrior, raised to honor my Ancestors, to die with a weapon in my hand and the Karui Way in my blood." - a fragment of the Marauder's intro speech. 

Marauder is a purely strength-based class which makes him tougher than his peers and able to dish out some serious damage. He takes the fight to his enemies, dealing devastating single-target melee damage and clearing groups of enemies with powerful area of effect skills. His battle cries and shouts can rally allies and demoralize or flat out terrify enemies and make them flee in terror. Being reliant on strength, Marauder uses armors that grant physical damage reduction which is generally more reliable than Ranger's evasion-based equipment but still almost useless against magic. 

Marauder's Ascendancy Classes

Berserker focuses on offense and completely disregards defense. His passives greatly increase his offensive power but also make him more vulnerable (Aspect of the Carnage, for example). While in combat, He accumulates Rage that increases his Attack Damage and Movement Speed and provides various additional bonuses (and drawbacks) thanks to passives like War Bringer and Rite of Ruin

Berserker is mainly played as vicious Melee fighters that strongly follow the "The best defense is a good offense" principle in combat. While technically you could play a Berserker with Bows, this is purely ineffective, so you should stick to Melee builds when choosing a Berserker. In most cases, you will be using various Warcries when playing a Berserker to boost the damage of your Attacks by Exerting them and increasing your Rage quickly. The most popular builds are:

  1. Cyclone Berserker - obviously, as a Berserker you can use the most iconic Melee Attack in Path of Exile with great results. This build relies on pure Physical Damage with increased Chance to Impale and Critically Hit
  2. General's Cry BF Berserker - currently the most powerful Berserker build that utilizes the unique General's Cry Warcry. It creates Mirage Warriors from nearby Corpses that will use Blade Flurry with greatly increased damage. This build unleashes the true potential of this class
  3. Vaal Ground Slam Berserker - a great example of a powerful Melee build that utilizes multiple Warcries with War Bringer Passive to boost the DPS of Slam Attacks (in our case Vaal Ground Slam). This build also carries the potential to spam Vaal Ground Slam when equipped with Hateforge Gloves for simply massive destruction of any in-game content

Chieftain is all about Fire Damage and Totems (which are special types of Spells that can attack enemies, cast spells, or project beneficial auras until they are destroyed or their duration expires). He offers strong Fire Damage increasing passives, like Ramako, Sun's Light, and has to access to skills that convert attack damage into fire damage (Nagamahu, Flame's Advance). Moreover, he has the ability to partially ignore the enemy's Fire Resistances with the Ramako, Sun's Light passive. Chieftain can also enhance his totems to leech life from enemies or weaken them with Takohama, War's Herald, and Arohongui, Moon's Presence. Defensively, Chieftain is surprisingly tough thanks to a plethora of life regen and life leech sources as well as the ability to generate Endurance Charges. 

Chieftains can be used for almost any Physical to Fire Damage conversion builds, whether it's an Attack or Spell oriented build. High Damage bonuses and good survivability make it also a good pick for beginners and as a League Starter character. Currently, the most popular Chieftain builds are:

  1. Avatar of Fire Cyclone Chieftain - a powerful Melee build that utilizes 100% Physical to Fire Damage Conversion and increased Critical Strike Chance with powerful Two-Handed Staves. Nothing fancy here, just tons of Area DPS and high Leech that makes it a true no-brainer type of build
  2. Blade Blast Chieftain - another great League Starter build based on the Blade Blast Spell. Chieftain enhances it with its' Fire Damage conversion and added Fire Damage based on Blade Blast's base Physical DPS
  3. Blade Vortex Chieftain - again, Blade Vortex is another powerful Spell that deals base Physical Damage which can be converted by Chieftain to greatly scale its DPS output

Juggernaut excels at mitigating damage and withstanding blows that would obliterate any other class. His passives provide him with a high armor boost (Unbreakable), ways of generating Endurance Charges* (Unflinching) while making them much more effective (Unrelenting), damage reduction, and protection against some forms of Crowd Control (Unstoppable). Moreover, Juggernaut possesses unmatched Life regeneration capabilities. Juggernaut's Endurance Charges also provide him with much-needed offensive power, thanks to passives like Unyielding and Undeniable

Juggernauts are primarily built as tanky characters and their defensive nature makes it quite expensive to reach satisfactory levels of DPS with it. Nevertheless, it's still a viable Melee class, just simply overwhelmed by other classes currently, and the game pace that's much more oriented on scaling damage currently. You will find that the most popular Juggernaut builds are:

  1. Molten Strike CI Juggernaut - surprisingly enough, the most popular Juggernaut currently is not oriented on Life and raw Physical Damage, but scales the Intelligence Attribute, utilizes Energy Shield, and deals purely Elemental Damage. However, thanks to the strong Accuracy and defensive bonuses from this Class, make this entire setup possible to work with the limited number of Passives allocated on the Skill Tree
  2. Ahn's Might Cleave Juggernaut - a great example of a cheap and beginner-friendly Melee build based on the Juggernaut class. The damage output will be lower than many classes, but this build allows you to steadily progress through content without excessive investments in gear
  3. Righteous Fire Juggernaut - high Life pool and insane Life Regeneration from Passives and Endurance Charges, makes Juggernaut one of the top picks for the self-degenerating Spells like Righteous Fire for example. Again, this build doesn't deal crazy damage, but its tankiness offer a smooth and safe playstyle




Being different has made her an outsider; she was laughed at and ostracised, "normal" people were pointing fingers at her and telling their children she's a monster. But she wasn't - at least not until they made her into one. After they've burned her home and drove her away from the village, she had lost control and unleashed powers of shadow, frost, flame, and disease upon her tormentors - she got even, and she got exiled for that. The Witch may look weak and frail, but that's because her power does not come from physical strength. Instead, she wields dark powers she barely can control, and, when she unleashes them, the world burns. 

"They were right to fear me. [...] The elements are my allies, the dead are my servants, and fear will be my closest friend." - - a fragment of the Witch's intro speech. 

Witch is a class that is based purely on Intelligence which makes her a true master of the dark arts and a wielder of elemental powers. The nature of her magic allows her to strike her enemies from a distance while protecting herself with powerful barriers that absorb incoming damage - Witch becomes vulnerable to attacks only after her barriers are pierced. When raw magic damage is not enough, she can also bestow curses and afflict her enemies with terrible diseases that will slowly drain their life essence. 

Witch's Ascendancy Classes

Elementalist wields, well... the power of the elements and, thanks to her passives, is a powerful hybrid of combat Caster and a Summoner. Elementalist is primarily focused on dealing Elemental Damage. Elementalist is currently among the most popular Classes. She is often seen playing as a Golem Summoner, but not for the purpose of having your Minions deal damage, but grant insane bonuses from Liege of the Primordial and Elemancer Passives. This combination allows you to summon between 4 to 9 Golems depending on your setup, and not only gain the benefits of several different Golems but also have their effectiveness greatly increased alongside your Global Damage. This makes Elementalist one of the most flexible classes, as you can play Elementalist as pretty much any build including ranged character, wander, summoner, caster, and even a melee fighter.  Elementalist is also very focused on Elemental Ailments, whereas you can greatly boost their effect via Shaper of Flames, Shaper of Winter, and Shaper of Storms Passives, which sequentially boost the effect of Ignite, Chill, and Shock. 

You can also amplify your Elemental DPS by increasing the effectiveness of Elemental Exposure effects via Mastermind of Discord Passive or sequentially increases your Area of Effect and Elemental Damage bonus via Heart of Destruction. As an Elementalist, You can also use Bastion of Elements, which offers a very strong Elemental Damage mitigation buff

The most popular Elementalist builds currently are:

  1. Burning Arrow Ignite Proliferation Build - the best example on how to utilize the Elementalist's Golem summoning Skills with her increased effectiveness of Ignite Damage. This build offers simply massive Fire DoT Damage and good defenses from summoning a total of 9 Golems with greatly increased effect
  2. Arc Elementalist - a great example of a solid Spell Caster build. It's based on self-casting Arc which has increased damage via Archmage Support Gem and increased Maximum Mana pool. Arc Elementalist is considered a great beginner-friendly build 
  3. Armageddon Brand Elementalist - another example of a fast-paced Ignite build which utilizes high Fire Damage over Time to obliterate enemies all over your screen

The Necromancer is a master of the dark arts who relies on her minions to do most of the fighting. She has access to passives that enhance her minions which makes her perfect for builds based on summons (Mindless Aggression and Unnatural Strength). She can boost her minions and Allies even further with powerful Auras which are radically improved with her Commander of Darkness passive. Moreover, she gets tougher as her undead army increases in size, thanks to the Bone Barrier. She also makes use of one of the most abundant battlefield resources - corpses of fallen enemies, which she can utilize in Offerings (which are boosted by her passive, Mistress of Sacrifice), or use to demoralize enemies and buff herself (Plaguebringer, Corpse Pact). 

Necromancers are nearly solely focused on Minions. You will occasionally find some Necromancers utilizing the Essence Glutton Passive for insane Energy Shield and Mana Recovery that can be beneficial for some Agnostic, Mind over Matter, or even Archmage Spell Caster builds. The most popular builds for this Class are: 

  1. Raise Spectre Necromancer - pretty much the best Minion build in the game currently. It's among the most popular builds in the game for around a year now, and when you try this one out you will quickly understand why
  2. Carrion Golem Necromancer - another powerful Minion/Summoner build that has many variations and iterations. It's a very reliable Starter build with no gear requirements but can be also played as an Aura Stacking Support build, that also happens to deal decent damage on its own
  3. Summon Skeleton Mages Necromancer - this was our favorite Necromancer build we made in Patch 3.14 with very reliable single-target DPS and amazing clear speed with tons of projectiles flying all over your screen
  4. Cremation Archmage Necromancer - this build showcases the real potential of Necromancer Spell Caster. Essence Glutton allows you to easily maintain the high damage bonus from Archmage Support, and you increase your DPS by increasing the Life of Desecrated Corpses via Corpse Pact Passive

Occultist's gameplay revolves around afflicting enemies with ailments that deal Chaos and Cold Damage over Time (Frigid Wake and Withering Presence passives ensure that Occultist's Damage over Time is extremely devastating) or apply various crippling Curses (Malediction and Profane Bloom passives amplify the effectiveness of all Curse-based Occultist builds). Occultist's offensive power is further enhanced by her ability to reliably generate Power Charges, which provide increased effects thanks to the Forbidden Power. Defensively, Occultist is a rather hard nut to crack, thanks to her insane Energy Shield Regeneration. making her a perfect choice for Chaos Inoculation or Low-Life builds. 

You will find the Occultist to be a very popular pick for plenty of Cold and Chaos Damage builds. While you would expect these to be mainly Damage over Time oriented builds because of the nature of her Passives, Occultist renders her viable for plenty of other builds. She is among the top choices for builds that utilize Power Charges and benefit from increases to AoE. Her popular builds currently are:

  1. Creeping Frost/Vortex Occultist - one of the best Starter builds for this Class which displays how powerful Cold DoT Spells are even when played on a budget. It offers an easy transition to the following Vortex/Cold Snap build thanks to similarities in Gems and some Items used
  2. Vortex/Cold Snap Occultist - another Cold DoT build that utilizes Shavronne's Wrappings and its' potential to play as a constant Low-Life character that uses additional Auras that Reserve Life to boost one's damage. It's a true Boss killer build
  3. Winter Orb Occultist - this build displays the true power of stacking Power Charges as an occultist. You gain some insane bonuses and increased radius, which allows Winter Orb to simply melt all the enemies all over your screen including end-game Bosses



  1. Templar

He may look old and wizened, but that's just appearance and appearance can be very deceptive. Templar's rags hide the body of a man who has decades of hard work and asceticism under his belt. His body still wields the power of a young warrior, but his mind is all but young and reckless - age has granted the Templar an old man's tact and wisdom. In battle, he combines his well-preserved physicality and powers of his experienced mind - he strikes down his enemies with cold steel and protects himself with a shield of righteousness. To many, Templar is just a religious fanatic, a zealot who will fight against anyone and anything that stands opposite of his beliefs - this singularity of thought and purpose is what has ultimately led him to exile. 

"I fought, wept, and bled for God and the Order. I would have died for my Templar brothers, every single one. And how do they reward my piety, my devotion? They exile me to the land of the damned. To Wraeclast." - a fragment of the Templar's intro speech. 

Templar is a hybrid class that combines Intelligence and Strength attributes. This unusual mix results in him being a skillful frontline fighter, well-trained in a wide range of melee weapons, who has an ability to augment his physical strength with a plethora of magical buffs. Templar can become a powerful spellcaster or a fierce warrior who combines elemental damage with devastating melee attacks. He prefers to fight with staves and scepters but does not shy away from a more defensive approach and feels at home with a shield in his off-hand. Templar's unbreakable will and considerable strength allow him to take considerable punishment and withstand hits that would squish any other champion. 

Templar's Ascendancy Classes

Guardian has the ability to increase the power of his Allies via Radiant Crusade, Unwavering Crusade making it a good option for a Minion Summoner build. In most cases, you will find Guardians playing as tanks/supports for Minions created by Herald of Purity or Herald of Agony Skills, other Unique Items like Arakaali's Fangs, or Spectres possibly. When compared to Necromancer, for example, you will find Guardian to be a much tankier character thanks to bonuses provided by basically all the other Passives at his disposal which include: Harmony of Purpose (generates all types of charges for your and your party), Radiant Faith and Unwavering Faith (that grant various bonuses based on the number of used Auras and Reserved Life and Mana on your character, that are the core Ascendancy Passives for all Aura-stacking Support Guardians), Time of Need (insane Life Regeneration and reduced Curse effectiveness), and Bastion of Hope that boost Block Chance for your and your allies. 

Overall, it's a very unusual class that doesn't find many places for itself in the "medium Tier" builds. For the most part, you will see Guardian used as League Starters with Herald Minions, or end-game, crazy sick, Aura stacking builds that are accessible to less than 1% of players. The most popular builds for this class are:

  1. Herald of Purity/Dominating Blow Guardian - one of the best League Starter builds in the game. As a Guardian, you are very tanky by default, and Sentinels of Purity combined with Sentinels of Dominance, dominate the battlefield and allow you to steadily progress through content and the Atlas
  2. Aura Stacking Ethereal Knives Guardian - one of the most powerful builds in the game, which pretty much is immortal with all the necessary equipment. You are, however, looking to spend hundreds of Exalted Orbs on all the gear that will allow you to simultaneously use all the Auras in the game which boost both your defenses and DPS 
  3. Herald of Agony Guardian - another solid League Starter build, where you can easily stack Virulence by Spells with a high on-hit frequency like Ball Lightning and Herald of Agony with the extra bonus DPS from Radian and Unwavering Crusade Passives will do the job for you

Hierophant is an unconventional spellcaster who relies on Mana-related passives which increase his mana pool (Divine Guidance) and provide various mana-related bonuses, including improved magic shields and Area of Effect boost (Sanctuary of Thought). He combines these bonuses with spell casting Totems (Pursuit of Faith, Ritual of Awakening) and the Arcane Surge* buff which he obtains through Arcane Blessing passive and gains additional bonuses from it, thanks to the Illuminated Devotion

*Arcane Surge increases Spell Damage, Casting Speed, and Mana Regeneration Rate with further boosts core stats for most Spell Caster characters

Hierophant is quite a popular character since the introduction of Archmage Support Gem or the Agnostic Passive. Those two, heavily benefit characters with high Mana Pool. Nearly always, Hierophant will aim to utilize high Mana and Mana Regeneration, and these types of builds are currently most popular for that class. That includes:

  1. Freezing Pulse Totem Hierophant - that's presumable the most popular Totem build currently which offers loads of damage from multiple Totems that fire insanely fast Projectiles from Freezing Pulse Totem. Our recommended setup utilizes the Low-Life status for extra Spell Damage bonus and defensive utility via Viridi's Veil Unique Helmet
  2. Ball Lightning Archmage Hierophant - that's a great example of how beneficial high Mana Poo and Mana Regeneration can be if played properly. The bonus DPS from Archmage Support puts Ball Lightning in the Top Tier when it comes to killing Bosses while offering a decent clear speed
  3. Fire Elemental Hit Totem Build - another great example of how you can utilize Totems with the Hierophant character. You don't really need thousands of Mana to boost your DPS and you can easily scale the damage of your Spell Totems via Hierophant's Ascendancy and bonuses to Spell Critical Strike Chance that's found around Templar's part of the Skill Tree
  4. Storm Brand Hierophant Build - another type of Spells that you can build your Hierophant around are Brands. You get extra bonuses from the class itself, but also all the core Passives can be found near your starting point and slightly over to the Witch's one

As Inquisitor's Minor Passives suggest, he mainly focuses on dealing Elemental Damage and manipulating elements and elemental resistances to his favor. His Sanctuary passive promotes rather defensive and slow gameplay, but when combined with Pious Path it allows Inquisitor to deal and withstand surprisingly high amounts of Damage while enjoying the extra utility from Consecrated Ground created by his abilities. Having your Life Regen apply to Energy Shield makes it one of the best, defense-wise, classes to play Hybrid characters. 

A lot of Inquisitor builds will rely on high Critical Strike Chance, which thanks to the use of Righteous Providence and Inevitable Judgement will ignore the monster's Elemental Resistances. Inquisitor also offers a very Unique Passive Battlemage, which allows you to gain the base damage of your main-hand weapon as added Spell Damage. While it finds some uses in the actual gameplay the entire section of the Passive Tree that includes Instruments of Virtue and Instruments of Zeal, is rather a niche, as there are no known builds that utilize both Attacks and Spells to deal damage nearly simultaneously, 

Currently, the most popular Inquisitor builds are:

  1. Blade Blast Inquisitor Build - one of the most powerful Templar builds currently. It utilizes Physical to Fire Damage conversion to benefit from the Inevitable Judgement Passive. It's also a Hybrid build based on Corrupted Soul and dual-leech and dual-regen which makes it one of the tankiest Spell Caster builds out there
  2. Righteous Fire Inquisitor - against, thanks to playing Hybrid and utilizing dual Regeneration from Pious Path, you end up with one of the most powerful Righteous Fire setups out there that can easily sustain the self-degen while dealing solid Area Damage constantly
  3. Detonate Dead Inquisitor Build - another powerful Spell Caster build that utilizes Damage conversion to deal massive Fire AoE Damage that ignores monster's Resistances




Duelist is just as hot-headed as he is skilled in combat, and barely anyone can pose a challenge to him... His confidence and tendency to seek out conflict often result in people seeing him as an arrogant troublemaker; in his eyes, he is just a thrill-seeker hungry for adrenaline. His recklessness caused him trouble countless times and his skill has gotten him out of them countless times... except that one time which resulted in his exile. The Duelist is a master-at-arms, unmatched in close-quarters combat. His strength and dexterity allow him to strike with deadly precision while avoiding most retaliations. 

"I care naught for riches, little for friendship. The duel is all I need. I may be an exile, but I will carve a road back to Oriath, one foe, one victory at a time. Ill fortune may have banished me to Wraeclast, but I will live to hear them scream my name in the great arenas again." - a fragment of the Duelist's intro speech. 

Duelist is a hybrid class that combines Dexterity and Strength. This combination makes him a fierce melee fighter who is unmatched at dealing and avoiding damage. His combat experience allows him to use all kinds of melee weapons to their full potential; if he wanted to, he could also use a shield very effectively, but he prefers dual-wielding and two-handed weapons. The combination of Dexterity and Strength also makes him very lethal at long ranges - Duelist is familiar with a Longbow and can use it if necessary. His defenses are also very solid; his high reflexes allow him to dodge attacks and his strength, combined with raw skill, is enough to reliably parry incoming blows. Duelist is armored enough to withstand incoming damage and yet agile enough to simply avoid most of it completely, which makes him unmatched in melee combat.

Duelist's Ascendancy Classes

Champion is a master of hand-to-hand combat that can overpower any opposition and defend against even the strongest of attacks. In a group, he can easily act as a Tank, thanks to his Taunts (provided by Conqueror passive and improved by Worthy Foe passive) and permanent Fortify with increased effect thanks to Unstoppable Hero and Fortitude. Champion is the top pick for Impale-oriented builds that deal purely Physical damage to enemies. Master of Metal is the core Passive from the Champions Tree that boosts the effect of Impale by adding extra damage to Attacks He can also boost the effect of Banner Skills to increase his own and nearby allies stats thanks to Inspirational Passive. He also has unique access to Adrenaline buff via his First to Strike, Last to Fall Passive. It also causes your Attacks to Intimidate enemies, making this one of the best Passive to boost one's damage. 

You will most commonly see Champions as Impale/Attack builds (both with Melee Weapons and Bows) that deal purely Physical Damage. Thanks to all the party buffs, you can also occasionally see Minion Summoner Champions, but they are quite rare with all the recent buffs to Necromancer. Overall, the most popular builds are:

  1. Impaling Cyclone Champion Build - one of the most versatile Cyclone builds out there that can scale the DPS to some crazy numbers via Impale
  2. Earthshatter Facebreaker Champion - this build displays how powerful the added Impale Damage can be. Playing Unarmed with the Unique Facebreaker Gloves grant an insane Physical Melee Damage multiplier, and the extra added Damage from Master of Metal and Impale allows you to reach tens of Millions of DPS with end-game equipment
  3. Lancing Steel Champion Build - Lancing Steel is one of the best Impale-oriented Attacks that got introduced into the game alongside that entire mechanic. Lancing Steel allows you to cover your entire screen in steel shards it creates and offer insane clear speed thanks to the extra Chain. The Boss DPS is also great thanks to Impale with increased effect

Gladiator is an all-rounder who prefers to fight with two one-handed weapons or with a classic sword and board setup. For defensively-oriented setups, the Class offers various powerful Block-related bonuses (Violent Retaliation, Versatile Combatant, Painforged), while the more offensive Dual-Wield-based passive (Outmatch and Outlast) gives it access to Frenzy and Endurance Charges. With the Arena Challenger passive, Gladiator also has access to Challenger Charges that increase Attack and Movement speed making it one of the fastest Classes when geared properly. Moreover, as an experienced fighter, Gladiator has access to passives that enhance Bleeding effects (Blood in the Eyes and Gratuitous Violence). Overall, you will often see Gladiator as a recommended choice for Beginners and League Starter Builds. Block is a very reliable mechanic that allows you to take plenty of Hits before going down even with literally 0 equipment. Gladiator is also the most popular class for nearly all Bleed-oriented builds out there. The most popular Gladiator builds are:

  1. Lacerate Gladiator Starter Build - the best example of how efficient and inexpensive Gladiator builds can be. It's one of the best League Starter builds for a Melee character which allows you to progress with nearly 0 gear 
  2. Puncture/Split Arrow Bleeding Gladiator - presumably, the best Bleeding build in Path of Exile. Not only it offers solid single-target DPS from Puncture, but also great clear speed thanks to Split Arrow and bloody explosions from Gladiator's Ascendancy
  3. Bladestorm Gladiator Build - a very powerful build that allows you to quickly scale your damage via Impale from multiple spinning Bladestorms. Thanks to Gladiator's amazing defenses you can easily face-tank Bosses and his increases to Physical DPS directly boosts your performance

The stronger the enemy, the more enjoyment Slayer takes from defeating it. He specializes in slaying bosses, and his Headsman and Bane of Legends passives reflect that boosting your DPS against Unique enemies. Offensively, Slayer focuses on Attacks, Critical Strikes (Overwhelm), high damage-per-hit, and bonuses based on the previous three characteristics (which include Life Leech based on Overkill Damage from Endless Hunger and overhealing, as well as damage increase, from Brutal Fervour). He is also effective at engaging multiple enemies at a time, thanks to His Area of Effect bonuses (Impact), and can take advantage of Endurance Charges (Masterful Form) making it the best class for specific builds that specialize in stacking Charges (it's the only class that can reach 11 of each three types of charges simultaneously). 

Slayer is most commonly used as Melee class for builds that rely on Life Leech for defenses. Most common builds would be based on Impale and Physical Damage because Slayer can offer immunity to Physical Damage Reflect, but he is also fully viable as an Elemental Damage dealer. Occasionally you can see players use him with Bows or even Spells - but those are very niche builds usually oriented around his Masterful Form Passive. 

Currently, the most popular Slayer builds are:

  1. Cyclone Slayer - well, basically like 80% of Slayers use Cyclone, making it the most popular class for this extremely enjoyable Melee Attack. You can either use it as a League Starter with Resolute Technique by following this guide or you can try out the end-game version which utilizes two-handed Staves and increased Critical Strike Chance for greatly increased damage output explained in this article End-Game Cyclone Slayer Build




He hides in the shadows and strikes like a snake - suddenly, without a warning, and with deadly precision. Shadow prefers subtlety and subterfuge over open combat, as fair fights are for losers and he definitely isn't one. If he can't reach his target directly, he will find another way - be it a trap, a poisoned dart, or an unfortunate accident; if Shadow picks someone as a target, they are already dead - they just don't know it yet. Shadow lives to inflict pain and suffering on any who dare to oppose him. Being exiled will not stop him. He has chosen his path and he will overcome any inconvenience, no matter the cost. 

"A Simple job, I was told. Silence a big mouth. Get a big payout. [...] I would have kept my mouth shut. Professional integrity, it's called. Unfortunately not something my employers believed in. [...] The next thing I know I'm on this stinking crate bound for exile. It's not a complete loss, I suppose. The way I hear it, there'll be plenty of work for a man of my talents in Wraeclast." - a fragment of the Shadow's intro speech. 

Shadow is a hybrid Class that combined Intelligence and Dexterity. In combat, he relies on his swiftness and precision; his favorite weapons are claws and daggers - light, fast-hitting, and perfect for dealing surprise attacks. When the direct approach is too risky, he can dart out of combat and lay deadly Traps for his enemies, which makes him great at controlling the flow of battle. Being purely focused on the offensive, Shadow is very fragile - any mistake can lead to his demise (this results in him being difficult to learn, but also extremely powerful in the right hands), but he has some defensive tricks up his sleeve as well - his ability to dodge attacks and an energy shield that can save him on occasion. His most effective style of combat can be best described as guerilla-like; he jumps into melee, dishes out substantial damage or leaves deadly Traps while dashing out of the danger zone. 

Shadow's Ascendancy Classes

Assassin is a master of Critical Strikes that mainly focuses on offense and eliminating enemies before they can retaliate. He takes full advantage of Power Charges that greatly increase his effectiveness in combat (Unstable Infusion, Deadly Infusion). Assassin also specializes in taking down full-health enemies against which he gets multiple powerful bonuses from the Ambush and Assassinates passive. The Opportunistic passive ensures that Assassin’s Critical Strikes will not be reflected and are even deadlier against Bosses. If raw offensive power and devastating Critical Strikes are not enough, he can ensure the fate of his enemies with deadly poisons that gain powerful characteristics from Toxic Delivery and Noxious Strike passives; the latter also provides Assassin with Life regeneration on kill. To bolster his defenses, Assassin utilizes the Elusive buff which increases his Movement Speed and gives additional chance to Dodge Attacks and Spells (Mistwalker passive).

Assassin is your go-to Class if you want to deal high Damage with Critical Strikes and benefit from Power Charges. It works for both Melee and Spell Caster builds, simply if you want to invest and min-max your build that utilizes Crits, in most cases, Assassin will yield the best results. It's also a top-class for Poison-oriented builds, which thanks to Passives like Dire Torment, Haemorrhage, Perfect Agony (and some more, less commonly used ones) also can benefit from high Critical Strike Chance and Multiplier to boost the DOT effects applied to enemies. The most popular builds for this Class are:

  1. Cospri's CoC Ice Nova - builds that utilize Cast on Critical Strike Support Gem are extremely popular for Assassin (because of this Class's aforementioned perks). By using Cospri's Malice you can trigger even more Spells simultaneously, making it one of the most enjoyable and smooth builds to play currently. Our variant revolves around Life and Dodge, but more end-game oriented (or just with higher DPS) can rely on Energy Shield and Low-Life status to benefit from additional Auras
  2. Blade Vortex Poison Assassin - Balde Vortex is a very popular Spell for Assassin. You can either set it up for Poison (more budget-oriented and League Starter approach) or Damage Conversion and greatly increased Critical Strike damage (end-game, higher DPS version). It's one of the most popular builds in the game with a lot of powerful variations
  3. Herald of Thunder Auto-Bomber Build - another example of how smooth and powerful Assassin can become with some investments in gear. It's a very unique build that basically allows you to run through Maps without casting any skills, while everything dies because of several Triggering mechanics used in this build that get proceed by Herald of Thunder's hits and Storm Secret Rings

Saboteur shies away from head-to-head combat and prefers more... unfair ways of defeating his targets. He specializes in placing deadly Mines and dangerous Traps for unsuspecting enemies. His Chain Reaction and Perfect Crime passives ensure that anyone who triggers his trap will instantly regret it (if he lives long enough to do so), while Demolitions Specialist and Bomb Specialist provide strong synergy with Mines. Moreover, his Pyromaniac passive provides high Life regeneration effects for both Mines and Traps, while also making them more mana-efficient. To disrupt his targets even further, Saboteur also has access to the Born in Shadows passive which enables him to Blind enemies and reduce incoming damage taken. To spice things up just a bit more, He also deals increased AoE damage and has various synergies with elemental ailments (thanks to the Explosives Expert passive). 

Overall, Saboteur is a Top Tier Class for League Starter builds. It can be only played with Traps or Mines, but the damage mainly comes from Passives and Ascendancy, offering amazing damage and solid defenses with literally 0 equipment. Sadly, as a Class, it offers close to none build diversity, as it's either Traps or Mine, and that's it. But if you want to play any of those two, you almost always are going to pick that Class. The most popular builds Currently for Saboteur are:

  1. Glacial Cascade Miner Saboteur - one of the best Starter Builds in the game. It lets you get into Maps with basically no investments in gear, and later on, offers an easy transition to end-game when you can boost the Damage Conversion offered by Glacial Cascade Spell via Watcher's Eye, Crafted Rares, and influenced Items
  2. Blazing Salvo Miner Saboteur - another solid Miner build that this times utilizes Fire Elemental Spell with amazing area coverage and solid single-target damage from multiple Blazing Salvo projectiles hitting the same enemy simultaneously
  3. Lightning Trap Saboteur - currently, the best and most popular Trapper build. It revolves around Lightning Trap which fires Lightning projectiles in all directions offering amazing clear speed. We don't have a guide ready for this one, but this will be introduced on our website in patch 3.15

Trickster is the kind of enemy you don't want to meet on the battlefield - elusive to the point you can't reliably engage him, fast enough to avoid being encircled or outmaneuvered, and extremely deadly because of his Damage over Time-based bonuses. His Weave of the Arcane passive ensures that he can stay mobile all of the time without worrying about his mana pool, and Escape Artist, combined with the Ghost Dance, ensures that most of the hits that reach him deal close to no damage or are completely evaded. Offensively, Trickster relies mainly on Damage over Time effects that are supported by his Prolonged Pain and Patient Reaper passives but he can also rely on direct damage, boosted by insane mobility and high Attack/Cast Speed bonuses from various sources. The end-game damage scaling potential of Trickster is mediocre at best, but this class is second to none when it comes to mobility and flexibility. It's a perfect Class for League Starter builds, and plenty of builds simply rely on his speed and defensive factors to quickly get into higher Tier content without excessive investments in gear. 

Currently, the most popular Trickster builds are:

  1. Essence Drain Trickster Build - the best Chaos DoT Spell build in the game. It has many variations and iterations and can be played by several Classes, but Trickster is one of the most popular ones. After all, Essence Drain is all about clear speed, and Trickster being one of the fastest classes truly shines here. You can play this as a standard Life build following this ED Trickster Guide or a more end-game oriented, and hence expensive, Chaos Inoculation Vaal Blight/Essence Drain Trickster Build
  2. Caustic Arrow Trickster Build - again a combination of Trickster's mobility with increases to Damage over Time makes up for this build's amazing performance versus low and mid Tier content. Again, it's primarily set up as a League Starter and Budget build that will most likely require a respecc to deal with end-game Bosses. Our guide is a bit outdated and will be "refreshed" for Patch 3.15 soon




She was once a part of a noble house - the youngest daughter of a respected and powerful family; she has lived in luxury, away from the day-to-day chores, oblivious of the dangers of the outside world. It all changed in one night; she was forced to marry a man she didn't want - a common practice among the aristocracy where marriage is just a part of politics and children are just assets that can be expended by their parents to bolster their social and political positions - and ended his life on their wedding night. As a result, she was exiled to Wraeclast, and her previous life is now just a fading memory. 

"There seems to be no limit to what I can do, no walls containing my talents. To my parents, I was a raw nugget to be battered and molded into a prize for admiration, for envy... for sale. That life died on a wedding bed in Theopolis." - a fragment of the Scion's intro speech. 

Note: Scion can be unlocked in Act 3; she can be found in a cage, in the Upper Sceptre of God. 

Scion is very unique, as she is aligned with all three core attributes - Intelligence, Strength, and Dexterity (because of this, she also starts in the center of the Passive Skill Tree which allows for almost any type of build, but also results in a "jack of all trades, master of none" syndrome). Unlike other Classes, She is not available to new players and must be unlocked through the game's story. At the start, Scion is not associated with any armor type; the type of gear she wears depends on her chosen build, instead. 

Scion's Ascendancy Class

If there is one word that would perfectly describe the Ascendant, it is "Flexible". She can pick passives based on all the other Ascendancy Classes, which means that she can, theoretically at least, specialize in anything. The drawback is, effects offered by her passives are weaker than the real Ascendancies they are based on. Moreover, only one Ascendancy Class passive, from each base Class, can be taken (so, no Inquisitor + Guardian, Assassin + Trickster, etc.). Ascendant can pick a maximum of two passives based on Ascendancy Classes, and she can develop one class's path which, in turn, allows her to use that base class's passive skill tree starting point (as a second one, her first starting point is located in the middle of the tree). 

Overall, it's one of the most popular Classes in the game among the top players. On higher levels, she can allocate the most Passive Points which often results in more Jewel Sockets, and the fact of having min-maxed end-game equipment impacts Ascendant the most. Thanks to the class's flexibility, you can play it as literally any other build in the game, but without the proper setup, she will often stay slightly behind the "original class" if not geared properly. The most commonly used builds are:

  1. Indigon CoC Ice Spear Build - this build relies on a high Mana Pool, and thanks to Scion's starting point on the Passive Tree, you have easy access to pick up all the Mana-related nodes from various parts of the Tree. Overall, it's similar to the Assassin build, but with higher DPS and, if geared properly, also more reliable defensive mechanics
  2. Nebulis Spark Aura-stacking Build - Ascendants are known for their Aura-stacking capabilities because of the increased number of available Passives and more flexibility to play around the Passive Tree. This build is ridiculously expensive, but with all the Auras in the game, with increased effect, you end up having Millions of DPS and pretty much your character becomes immortal
  3. Ball Lightning Ascendant - can be played as a standard Spell Caster but also cast Ball Lightning via Mines. Both options revolve (again) around Scion's capabilities of stacking Mana and gaining extra damage from Archmage Support, and defensive bonuses from Agnostic Passive



We hope that you have found this guide useful and informative. We will be happy to receive constructive criticism that will help us improve our future work so leave your suggestions in the comments section below.  We are going to release a lot of other Guides for Path of Exile about other aspects of the game, so make sure to check out the Path of Exile's compendium for new updates!


Pictures used in this article are the intellectual property of  Grinding Gear Games. 

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