The newest 3.16 Expansion - Scourge, introduces many changes to the existing game, most notably a revamp of the Passive Skill Tree - it's now slightly altered and if you're familiar with it, you might notice some small changes. Each cluster - a circular body of small nodes with one or two notable Passives with an effect - now contains a Mastery. To unlock a Mastery you have to get to the notable passive in the given cluster, it typically requires you to spend a few Passive Skill Points on the small nodes leading to it. Unlocking a Mastery costs you one Passive Skill Point and the effect of it reflects the merits of the cluster, making it a very useful asset in most situations. For Example - a cluster that grants you Maximum Life has a heart icon on it, after allocating the biggest node (a notable) in that cluster, you can click on this icon to choose between six Life Masteries, each of them granting you more Maximum Life, Life recovery, and other bonuses correlating to this theme. There is more than one Life cluster in the Passive Skill Tree, but a specific mastery can be chosen only once, so after allocating some of them, you might be left with the ones you don't need anymore, and that's the situation where you typically don't allocate the Mastery - it cost a valuable Passive Skill Point after all. As a result of this procedure, your build can now be more flexible, efficient, and it opens more possibilities for builds previously looked down upon. Just like with regular Passives, you can use the search tool to look for specific Masteries.
The main theme of the Scourge League is a demonic invasion whereas you kill enough monsters on a map, you will be able to shift into a new environment where your task is to kill the freshly spawned hellish creatures within the given time limit. The deaths of these monsters are used to transform items - you can put an item you'd like to be transformed into a special tab, and after a certain amount of slain Scourge enemies, it will change by gaining new modifiers, which are not Implicit or Explicit - these are a brand new type of mods. One of them will always grant you some sort of positive effect, while the other is an undesirable mod. The best-case scenario is to have a negative mod that won't really affect your build, for example rendering you unable to deal cold damage, while you don't deal any cold damage anyway. The item itself will become corrupted, but not in a way it's usually done - by risking the usefulness of the whole item; the only aspects of the item that can be transformed are the Scourge modifiers. A set of new Tainted Orbs is introduced along this league to help you modify these corrupted items - for example, a Tainted Exalted Orb that works just like a regular Exalted Orb but on corrupted items only. An Item can be scourged more than once - up to three times, in fact; each time it gains a next Scourged tier making it potentially more or less valuable - Scourging an item to a higher tier can be more beneficial, and more detrimental at the same time, depending on your luck. Note that Scourging the item for the second and third time won't upgrade the Scourge Mods in a linear way, these will be replaced completely with a pair of new ones, but potentially much more powerful as some mods can be only encountered at the higher tiers. Transforming a map can be especially rewarding, as the mods it can gain are one of the most unique and valuable.
Few new Skills have been added - Tornado, Energy Blade, Temporal Rift, Poisonous Concoction, and three link-type Skills designed for party play. Tornado is a Duration type Spell that deals Physical Damage and can be hit by your projectiles - think of it as a Hydrosphere. Energy Blade is a Spell that enhances your weapon to deal more Lightning Damage based on your Energy Shield, which is now lowered, in a similar fashion to a Reservation type Spell that reserves 80% of your Maximum ES. Temporal Rift Reserves 10% of your Mana and gives you the ability to "rewind time". You can use this Spell to revert your character to the state in which they were last time an afterimage was created - restoring your Mana, Life, and ES too, but the surrounding remains unchanged. Poisonous Concoction is a Spell similar to Explosive Concoction introduced in 3.15, but it consumes Charges from Life Flask and deals Chaos Damage with a high chance to Poison. The Link Spells allows you to Link yourself to a party member granting buffs for both of you, but when the character who's been linked to dies, the user dies as well.
Almost none of the builds has been nerfed (one might argue that Minion Builds lost a lot of damage that could previously be found on a passive skill tree), but some specific ones have received more attention than the other. Defensive stats such as Armour, Evasion Rating, and Energy Shield are improved. Armour grants more Physical damage mitigation, Evasion Rating - more chance to evade hits and Spell Suppression, which gives you a chance to take only a half of the Spell Damage. Energy Shield is now less reliant on Leech - the base recharge effect is easier to get from gear and from the passive skill tree. Ailment mitigation is now too easier to get from various sources, and Ward items grant now more base Ward. Builds that rely on Damage over Time, especially Elemental (especially Ignite), are predicted to be one of the most powerful ones in relation to their previous state. Elemental DoT is no more reliant on Keystones such as Elemental Overload and Elemental Equilibrium, you can pick more specific and suitable effects from Mastery. Picking Maximum Life from Clusters, especially on the left side of the skill tree is now more beneficial due to the Mastery that can provide you with even more Maximum Life, it opens a possibility for Life-based builds that fit entirely within the left part of the skill tree.
The Endgame content has changed as well - Atlas has now fewer maps and the number of regions has been cut in half, so completing the whole atlas won't involve as much grinding as it has been, the passive skill trees for regions have been adjusted, removing some of the Maven's boons from the game completely. There are new chase unique items - ones that are of high value but extremely rare at that, for example, an Amulet with a socket in it that behaves like an additional socket at your Body Armour, making it a 7-link. There is the new, highest tier of Breachstones, Blighted Maps, Timeless Emblems, and Simulacrums. These encounters are extremely formidable, reserved only for the best of the best, a player that's not dedicated fully to the game might stand to chance against this exceptionally dangerous end-game content. There are some minor changes too - Delve has been adjusted so it's easier to start Delving even at high levels, Cadiro Perandus and Perandus Coins have been removed. Unveiling an item unveils all the tiers at once, reducing the grinding. Sacred Blossom boss fight is more rewarding, Guilds can have their own hideouts, Atziri drops has been changed to encourage players to fight this particular boss. You won't need to complete the randomly appearing Ascendancy Trials to unlock the highest tier of the Labyrinth. All these changes have been positively received by the community deeming it already to be one of the best expansions.
Below, we are presenting our top Build Recommendations for the upcoming Scourge League. With all the major changes in Skills, and Passives, it's currently impossible to determine the very best setups for those builds, and with the new Mastery system, there will be plenty of new ways each of the following builds can be made, with very small differences between each approach. We will surely try to update those builds as soon as we get the thoroughly test them, but even if some of those may not be the optimal setup, you can't really go wrong following them in the early stages of the League.
BEST STARTER BUILDS FOR 3.16 AND THE SCOURGE LEAGUE
Toxic Rain Champion - Toxic Rain has always been recognized as one of the best league-starter builds, this time is no exception. DoT passives have been improved, there are now more options to choose from, and the existing clusters are improved. Fortify, and consequentially Champion Ascendancy has been reworked - choosing this class results in a lot of protection against Hits and tons of Armour and Evasion Rating, the stats which have been immensely improved. Maximum Life is now easier to get for builds allocating passives on the right side of the skill tree, creating a character with really solid defenses. Build requires no Uniques nor any expensive gear, making it one of the best league starters.
Toxic Rain is a Bow Attack that creates Spore Pods on the ground, these will deal a lot of Chaos Damage over Time before expiring. Note that the Spore Pods damage can overlap, so stacking AoE, increased Duration, and Attack Speed are especially beneficial. Chaos Damage, Damage over Time, and Level of Toxic Rain will be the other stats to look for. Maximum Life, Evasion Ragin, Armour, and Capped Resistances are the stats to boost your survivability.
For the full Guide, you can check: Toxic Rain Champion Starter build
Essence Drain Trickster - In Patch 3.16 Damage over Time builds has received a buff by allowing players to allocate more points on their skill tree that improve this type of damage with more options to choose from. Base defense stats such as Evasion Rating and Energy Shield are elevated to a layer of defense equal to Maximum Life. Trickster being an Ascendancy that specializes in dealing Damage over Time while relying on Evasion Rating combined with Energy Shield is now in a much better state than he was before. Using Contagion and then Essence Drain with Blight was the most popular way to play Trickster back then, it was a cheap and powerful build that required no Uniques - now it will be even better than it was before.
Use Contagion and then Essence Drain on a pack of mobs. Contagion applies a debuff that upon the death of its target will spread to all the nearby enemies along with Essence Drain, which is the Spell dealing a lot of Chaos Damage over Time. Groups of enemies affected by these Skills will die almost instantly. To deal with Bosses use Blight and the Vaal version of it. Vaal Blight is especially good here since it doesn't require being Channeled and Hinder enemies, greatly reducing their speed.
You can check this build right here: Vaal Blight/Essence Drain Trickster Build for Patch 3.1. The following guide covers all aspects of the build including leveling phase, skill gems, and item choices
Seismic Trap/Exsanguinate Saboteur - Seismic Trap, combined with Exsanguinate Traps for clearing is a strong contestant for the best Saboteur build to start the League with. Previously it has been one of the best Starter Builds - it has high single target damage, great clear speed, and excellent survivability - all of it at a very low cost, you can assemble the build with the items you craft as you progress through the game. The build hasn't changed much in this path, but it's certain that your Evasion Rating will be more impactful, subsequentially Blind debuff will alter your defenses - it now is more effective the more Evasion you have, but it's still a build that mostly relies on your Maximum Life. It's overall a simple and well-rounded build that will lead you to the endgame with no issues.
It's a Physical Trap build with a high Crit Chance. Traps you're using are also Spells, so seek Spell and Physical Damage stats on your gear. Later on, you should get a pair of Cold Iron Point Daggers to increase the Gem Level of your Trap Skills - it's one of the most important aspects when it comes to increasing your damage. Place Seismic Traps with Bear Trap when fighting with Bosses, and Exsanguinate Traps for killing packs of weaker enemies.
For the full Guide, you can check: Seismic Trap/Exsanuinate Saboteur Starter build which is already a freshly updated 3.16 Build
Bane Occultist - Bane is an Area Chaos DoT Spell that also scales with Curses, making it an excellent choice for Occultists, which is an Ascendancy that specializes in dealing Chaos Damage over Time, Curses effectiveness, and after allocating Profane Bloom the clear speed becomes really good. It's a Life build with high Block Chance, Ghost Dance, and Energy Shield to supplement your Maximum Life. When compared to the state of this build from the last league - it's now lacking Dodge, which got removed, but it uses Chance to Block instead - nodes granting these stats are easy to grab from a specialized cluster near Witch's starting location. Generally, the damage and survivability of this build remain relatively unchanged, and you can tweak the build in the ways that suit you thanks to the new Mastery system. The build is cheap to start with and has the potential that grows with your investment.
When fighting Bosses use Bane and Vaal Blight. These Spells will deal a lot of damage; Wither from your Ascendancy makes your opponent take more Chaos Damage, Vaal Blight Hinders it, and Bane - due to multiple Curses - lasts long enough to cast all the other Spells in time. Clearing maps is much simpler - just use Bane on packs of enemies as you go.
You can check the complete in-depth Guide in the following article: Bane Occulist Build Guide
Armageddon Brand Elementalist - Armageddon Brand and Ignite as mechanics themselves have just received a giant buff, making builds such as Armageddon Brand much more powerful. Elementalist as the name of the Ascendancy suggests specializes in Elemental Damage and is the recommended Ascendancy, but this build can be played by Hierophant - which specializes in Brands, or Chieftain - his main theme is dealing damage through Fire Skills. Brand clusters on your skill tree now offer some very unique Specializations that will surely be of use. It's a Life build with a very high Block Chance, it's an easy-to-get defense layer that works great if you're using a Staff. The recommended Unique items are The Searing Touch - a cheap Staff for all kinds of builds based on Fire Damage, and Emberwake - a common Ring that allows you to Ignite your foes twice. The build is extraordinarily simple and has a lot of variations making it a great choice for a starter.
A brand is a type of Spell that attaches to an enemy to rapidly trigger and deal damage, and if the enemy dies, it attaches to the next one that's alive. Armageddon Brand deals Fire Damage by bombarding enemies with fiery meteors causing Ignite, which the build relies on the most. With applied Exposure and some other Spells to supplement your damage, the total DPS can get really high.
We have just recently finished updating the Text Guide for this build which can be found here: Armageddon Brand Elementalist Starter build
If you have any suggestions about other interesting Builds and/or Starter Builds for the Scourge League we would love to hear your feedback! The patch introduces a major rework of the Passive System, so it will take a bit longer than usual to test all the possible setups, so if you have any suggestions please let us know in the comments below! Obviously, we will be updating all our Guides over the course of the Scourge League
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