The Trial of the Ancestors is the newest Path of Exile expansion which will feature the Ancestor League where you build a team of fighters to participate in Gladiator-themed tournaments, This leads us to believe, that the League mechanic will make you fight just a few enemies simultaneously, and possibly single-target damage will be more important than screen-wide AoE. Still, you will need to conveniently farm Maps and level up your character, so we are back to the typical PoE's conundrum, deciding on which aspect of your character you should prioritize. Either way, it should be fun...
The Patch itself doesn't offer almost any balance changes, and we won't be seeing any new Active abilities either. The most impactful changes are related to Chieftain and Guardian reworks, which are to say, arguable at best, and neither found a spot on our list. Other than that, we are getting several new interesting Support Gems which should enable several interesting builds, like Attack Ignite ones, but generally, we need to hope for League mechanic to keep us entertained in the following weeks.
Now, with no further delay, let's get to the actual Starter builds for the Trial of the Ancestors expansion!
Note: not all the builds are updated for Patch 3.22, but they all are in a state which will allow you to get started while we work on updating them
Our first recommendation is the simple Arc Elementalist. It's one of the most straightforward builds, which is an important quality when you're new to the game, or if you plainly like such archetypes. Here you will use the Arc Skill to deliver Lightning Damage, it's very efficient at that. Arc automatically seeks and targets enemies to chain off of, and does so extremely fast. You can obliterate a sizeable pack of enemies with just a single cast and move forward to the next one. Elementalist is great here not only because of the Shaper of Storms Keystone but also its synergy with Golems. We've employed five of these Minions that work pretty much like free Auras, granting offensive and defensive bonuses. The build is also easy to assemble. You can start with very basic and inexpensive items, there's an overabundance of cheap gear pieces that will improve your performance. It also leaves you with a lot of room for improvement later in the game, it's a build that you can use indefinitely throughout the whole league duration.
For the full Guide, you can check: Arc Elementalist
|FLICKER STRIKE SLAYER
Flicker Strike, being one of the fastest and most powerful Melee Skills, is also really fun. With it, you can instantly teleport and Strike an enemy, and by spending one Frenzy Charge to perform this Attack, you can bypass its Cooldown. There are multiple ways in which you can reliably generate Frenzy Charges - there's Oro's Sacrifice & Terminus Est Swords, Blood Rage, Mark Mastery, Raider Ascendency, and Farrul's Fur Armours. After this is taken care of you can reach a million DPS on day one or two. Bury in mind, this build is dangerous and you will die a lot. You have little control over your character, and if the Flicker decides to throw you into a pack of porcupines there's little to no hope for you. To make it more interesting, you can even implement the new Trauma Support Gem to deal even more damage - Flicker Strike is one of the fastest Attacks after all, so it scales greatly with Added Damage. It would require Axe, Mace, or Staff as a Main Weapon, all of those are rather unusual for Flicker, which makes it exciting to experiment with.
For the Guide please check: Flicker Strike Slayer
|ARMAGEDDON BRAND INQUISITOR
Armageddon Brand is an excellent source of damage, especially for a Hierophant during the early stages of the game. We do recommend switching to Inquisitor later, but starting as a Hierophant makes it much more approachable. You can get 4 Power and Endurance Charges from Conviction of Power for durability and damage, Sign of Purpose to enhance the Brand's Damage, and Arcane Blessing for more Damage and Arcane Surge buff. It will kickstart your character so that you may start doing tier 16 Maps on day one. Armageddon Brand is simply the best Brand Skill to use - it deals the most damage and you can abuse brand recall to force powerful bursts. There are also tons of Fire, Spell, Critical, and Brand nodes on the Passive Skill Tree, all in close proximity to the Templar's starting location, so you won't need Cluster Jewels. Eventually, you will want to switch over to Inquisitor for the amazing regeneration and bypassing enemy resistances, but at that point, you should be swimming in currency anyway.
Full Guide: Armageddon Brand Inquisitor
|FROST BLADES TRICKSTER/RAIDER
Frost Blades is a very popular early-game as well as late-league Skill. A simple Strike Attack which releases ice Projectiles while dealing Converted Cold Damage. What makes Frost Blades so great is not only the semi-ranged nature of a Melee Skill but also the possibility to combine it with Heatshiver Helmet and Yoke of Suffering Amulet. This way, after gathering enough damage to Freeze an enemy you shall also deal as much extra Fire Damage to them. This Damage can also Shock, applying all three Elemental Ailments, and causing opponents to take increased damage. Other cheap Uniques that you should use are Southbound Gloves and Tasalio's Sign Ring. Before acquiring the aforementioned Items, which aren't expensive, you will source the Damage from Trickster Polymath Keystone, Hatred Aura, Herald of Ice, both Ancestral Totems, and a Claw Weapon with flat added damage. There are a lot of tools you can use as you level up to progressively upgrade the build. We recommend picking up a Trickster due to the Polymath Keystone and great defenses, but a Raider or a Berserker will be equally good.
|DOOM BLAST OCCULTIST
Doom Blast is a skill that activates when a Curse linked with Impending Doom Support ends. It causes an explosion dealing Chaos Damage. You obviously don't want to wait for it to end, so triggering it by overriding the previous Hex with a new one is the most common solution. You can do it extremely fast with Spell Cascade Support, it causes a slight cast delay. This maneuver allows you to quickly stack Poisons on an enemy. The archetype works best on Occultists due to the improved Chaos Damage from Void Beacon and Withering Presence Keystones. Unholy Authority and Profane Bloom on the other hand have great synergy with Curse Skills. Vixen's Entrapment could fit this build like a glove, allowing you to apply three more Curses with each cast. It is a very common Unique Item, but nonetheless a bit overpriced at the league start due to this build's popularity. Definitely affordable after a day or two. It's a very good Build, the defensive Curses such as Enfeeble and Temporal Chains make bossing much easier.
Full Guide can be found here: Doom Blast Occultist
|POISONOUS CONCOCTION PATHFINDER
Poisonous Concoction Attack is superb for several reasons. It requires no Weapon, which is often expensive, and you can ignore the Life Flask Charges drain if you pick the Pathfinder class. It is known for its great Flask Charges recovery and increased Flask Effectiveness. Note that Poisonous Concoction consumes your Life Flask Charges each time you attack to increase its Damage. Investing in your Life Flask has great side effects. You will have great uptime on all your Utility Flasks, which can vastly improve your build's survivability. The most common tactic is to use a Magic Topaz Flask to take much less Lightning Damage and redirect most of the incoming Physical Damage to be taken as Lightning with a cheap Lightning Coil Armour. Pathfinders are predisposed to deal Chaos Damage due to their Master Toxicist and Nature's Reprisal Keystones, so you won't be struggling with Damage.
Full Guide: Poisonous Concoction Pathfinder
|SKELETAL MAGES NECROMANCER
Skeletal Mages are powerful ranged Minions. They deal Spell Damage of a random Element. Now as we all know the Vendor Recipe for Dead Reckoning Jewel, which is required to transform all your regular Skeletons into Skeletal Mages, we can recommend starting a Build with the intent of utilizing them. Minions, especially ones with a set Duration, have always been powerful. This league, with the introduction of Fresh Meat Support, these Minions might be even better. Fresh Meat grants freshly-created Minions Adrenaline and Weakened Fury, depending on their duration. Their base duration is 20 seconds, but you can extend it by a lot with passives, Support Gems, or the Queen's Decree Sword. Minion builds are easy to assemble - to start dealing any meaningful damage you won't need any expensive items, only later on this type of build becomes quite pricey if you plan to keep up with the aspirational content. It's a conventional Minion build that definitely is worth trying out if you haven't done so already. The Weakned Fury opens up the possibility to scale Critical Strikes, but it is something we yet have to test.
Full Guide can be found here: Skeletal Mages Summoner Necromancer Build
This is not exactly a great starter, but as a Champion, you definitely won't have a hard time leveling up. Facebreaker Gloves grant you a lot more damage, but to receive that bonus the character must stay unarmed. The damage boost is significant, but without a weapon, you won't have any flat damage, thus nothing to increase. That's why Facebreaker builds scramble for any source of flat damage, be it from Iron Rings, Abyssus Helmet, or Loreweave Armour. With the addition of Tattoos, we hope to get even more sources of this Flat Physical Damage by sacrificing basic Attributes. The new Trauma Support Gem can be used only with certain Weapon Types, but it looks strong enough to carry you until you get your final setup. Champion is our pick - it is extremely durable due to Fortify, extra Armour, and increased Effect of Auras like Grace and Determination. It has also solid Physical Damage with Master of Metal Keystone, which adds Flat Physical Damage per Impale. The Skill we've selected here is Earthshatter, but that's not set in stone, you can use pretty much any Physical Melee Attack that doesn't require a Weapon. You may be discouraged from running it as a starter due to the heavy gear requirements that we've mentioned, but depending on the availability of certain Tattoos, it can very quickly become viable.
Full Guide: Facebreaker Champion Build
|BLADE VORTEX ASSASSIN
Blade Vortex is a very popular Spell among players due to its easy playstyle. There are many ways to enjoy Blade Vortex, but the Poison variant is most accessible at a low budget. Other versions, such as Cold Conversion or Crit Impale require a solid foundation before they become fun to play. The main reason for that is the close range of this Spell which requires good Damage in order to stay safe. Fortunately, the Poison variant has very low requirements to get started. Unique Items such as Obliteration, Ming's Heart, or Asenath's Gentle Touch are all very cheap and easy to find and give a massive boost to your Damage and Clear Speed. With this Build you can almost always be on the move, only sometimes recasting it to keep up all stacks. With the return of Sanctum and its Unique Items, you can once again automate Wither Debuff to massively improve your sustained single-target Damage. The Assassin Ascendency offers a unique way of scaling Damage over Time effects through Critical Strikes and plenty of Speed via Elusive Buff.
Full Guide: Poison Blade Vortex Assassin
|EXPLOSIVE TRAP SABOTUER
Traps Builds remains on the top in terms of Boss potential. They allow you to preload all your Traps before the fight even begins in order to unleash a powerful burst of Damage, often resulting in an instantaneous knockout. For many Leagues, the spotlight of the best Trap belonged to Seismic Trap, but after a series of nerfs, it is no longer the case. The Explosive Trap offers amazing Single-target Damage and decent Clear Speed. It also is not limited by annoying Cooldown. It deals Physical Damage with half of it automatically Converted into Fire. You will need a way to Convert the remaining 50%, which can be done with Rare modifiers on Gloves or Avatar of Ash Keystone which can be found on Skin of the Lords or Xoph's Blood. You don't particularly need to convert it to Fire, using other Elements would allow you to benefit from Shock or Brittle effects, however, using only Fire makes it easier to scale Damage with Herald of Ash or Resistance Penetration. The Saboteur is still the go-to pick Ascendency for Traps, as it offers great survivability and Chain Reactions, which is very important for effective Damage, especially against smaller targets who do not always trigger all your Traps otherwise.
Full Guide: Explosive Trap Saboteur Build
|ICICLE MINE DEADEYE
Mines, while quite similar to Traps, are fundamentally different. You don't need to wait for Monsters to activate them, and by binding Mine Detonation to your left mouse button you basically don't have to remember about it at all. You can preload all your Damage in anticipation of the fight just as it were with Traps, but deploying all your Mines is more tricky, as it requires large amounts of Unreserved Mana. The main focus of Icycle Mines is smooth and fast Map Clear, with the ability to quickly take down any Boss that you might encounter on your way. The Deadeye Ascendency grants many useful boons for your Projectiles, such as Chains or additional Projectiles. It also improves your Action Speed, which affects Mine Throwing Speed. The Cold Damage of Icicles is also a great asset. Freezing all your opponents is one of the best forms of Damage Mitigation there is, and it can be used offensively by equipping Heatshiver, a cheap Helmet that easily doubles all your Damage. You can also reach out for alternative ailments instead. The Brittle effect will make capping Critical Strike Chance very easy, and you can still inflict Shock and Chill through your trusty Skitterbots. The new Support Gem that grants Returning Projectiles seems like a great addition to this Build, as it will greatly improve both the Clear Speed and Single-target Damage at once.
The full Guide can be found here: Icicle Mine Deadeye Build
|SPECTRAL SHIELD THROW RAIDER
While it is true that Crucible League set a new record for the absurdism of this Build, it is still a very solid pick for the new League. Spectral Shield Throw is a very special Attack Skill that uses your Shield instead of Weapon. With just the Emperor's Vigilance Shield equipped you can easily crush T16 Maps with ease, and it is just the beginning. Thanks to Elemental Conversion you can greatly scale Elemental Penetration or gain massive amounts of Extra Damage based on the enormous Physical Damage you already have. The Alternative Quality and the Seething Fury Jewel provide you with an abundance of Critical Strike Multiplier, but you can also lean towards the Bleeding Damage variant if you prefer so. The tricky aspect of Spectral Shield Throw is that you can't increase the amount of thrown Shields, additional Projectile count only towards the Split that happens when the main Projectile explodes. Aiming with the Shield is not hard, it just takes a while to get used to. The Raider Ascendency is famous for its Speed. You will have plenty of Frenzy Charges and permanent Phasing, which makes moving around dense Maps much easier. You can also opt for permanent Onslaught or its increased effect, especially if you have access to Forbidden Jewels later on.
Full Guide: Spectral Shield Throw Raider Build
|SUMMON RAGING SPIRIT NECROMANCER
Summon Raging Spirit is another Minion Skill that makes it to this list. It is a more active gameplay, as it requires constant resummoning of your Spirits. It often resembles a Spell Caster Build in that regard. By default, Raging Spirits deal only Fire Damage, but if you socket them inside of The Covenant Body Armour, they will gain tons of Chaos Damage, to such an extent that you can focus only on the Poison Damage. The Fire and Hit Damage still do plenty of Damage, so the usual ramp-up of Poison is not noticeable. It is a Build that can be started with no budget, and have many goals to work towards as you progress. You can also branch off to its sister Build that uses Arakaali's Fang to summon Spiders. It has a quite different playstyle, but most Items and Passives are shared, so you can try which one suits you best. As a Necromancer you are insanely tanky. You have easy access to both Attack and Spell Block, Spell Suppression, and plenty of Armour. You are also obviously guarded by your trusty army of Minions. The Clear Speed is not great, but it is decent enough. The same can be said about Bossing. It is a very balanced Build, excellent for both new and experienced players.
Full Guide: Summon Raging Spirit Necromancer
It might be a bit surprising that we did not include a Chieftain here. Generally, it is going to be still rather unpopular and weak character class, but the perks it offers will be amazing during the leveling phase. However, we find them to be useless beyond White Maps, and this is not exactly what most of you will expect from a decent Starter. We will, however, attempt to use the Chieftain class right after the Patch launches, to explore its true potential - so stay tuned.
As always, basically, all the builds mentioned here are described in full detail on our website and in their video counterparts. Our build guides will help you understand the purpose and inner workings of each element implemented, explain the leveling process step by step, and suggest minor changes if the build allows for any adjustments. If you enjoy this type of content, subscribe to our Youtube channel as we often cover the hot new popular builds as well as some niche and interesting ones you might find of interest. And don't hesitate to suggest the topics you'd like us to cover, leave feedback to let us know how's the work, or help us improve our presentation formula.
Pictures used in this article are the intellectual property of Grinding Gear Games.