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Blade Blast Chieftain Starter Build

Blade Blast Chieftain Starter Build

Extremely tanky Chieftain build with strong AoE and some massive Fire Damage from Blade Blast's explosions

Blade Blast
Chieftain Starter Build

Updated for Patch 3.14

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Estimated budget: high
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Guide notes
January 20, 2021
-Build created
January 24, 2021
-Added gameplay video
April 17, 2021
-Updated for Patch 3.14


Blade Blast is a very interesting Physical Spell that detonates nearby Ethereal Blades created by Bladefall, Blade Vortex, or Ethereal Knives. The more Blades you have created with any of those Spells, the more damage you will deal with the explosion and it will have increased radius per Blade detonated this way. Blade Blast offers solid single-target damage and amazing AoE, and as it deals base Physical Damage it works great for damage conversion builds. Because of that, and the need for strong self-sustain this Patch, we have chosen Chieftain for this build. Chieftain offers very high bonus Fire Damage Conversion and very high Life Regeneration which is perfect for the current League's mechanics. It also makes a perfect Starter build with very low gear requirements and very high cost-effectiveness.

All this combined, makes this build offer high DPS, mainly AoE, but also decent single-target and amazing defenses. It may be quite hard to find a better Marauder Starter build in this budget.

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1. Gameplay

This is a very tank Spell-caster build that offers amazing AoE and strong single target damage. You will be using Bladefall to create Ethereal Blades - thanks to the use of Spell Cascade and Unleash, their number will be greatly increased with each cast, and then manually detonating them using Blade Blast. The only downside to this build is that you need to use two different Spells manually, and the Cast animation of Bladefall will look quite clunky, but it works pretty smooth anyway. For the defenses, this build offers a very high Life Pool and high Block Chance thanks to the use of Shield and Glancing Blows Passive. Combined with Enduring Cry, Endurance Charges, and very high Life Regeneration, you will be extremely hard to kill even by the toughest Bosses.

0:08 Tier 16 Maze
0:37 Tier 16 Lair of the Hydra
1:00 Tier 16 Maze of the Minotaur
1:50 Tier 16 Forge of the Phoenix
2:34 Tier 16 Siege

This video was recorded on a level 92 Chieftain with 6,700 Maximum Life and a maximum DPS at around 14.5kk (at 50 Blades detonated which is possible but very inconsistent). Only Random Rare gear was used on that character 

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • interesting and non-meta playstyle
  • solid AoE and clear speed
  • easy to level up
  • budget-friendly
  • one of the best Starter builds for its class
  • vulnerable to Elemental Reflect
  • clunky animation and mobility


3. Leveling tips

You can level up this Chieftain in plenty of ways, though playing it an Elemental Spell Caster is the best and most efficient way, as you should be able to follow up the Passive Tree directly with just a few cheap Uniques. Initially, the best way to level up is using Freezing Pulse. Most of the Passives on your Tree increases all Elemental Damage and Life, so you can basically use most of the Spells in the game for that purpose and Freezing Pulse has very powerful and inexpensive threshold Jewels for them. You can also possibly add Searing Bond Totem, as you should be able to tank most of the Bosses during the campaign, and its base damage has been significantly increased in 3.13.  Below you will find some basic Gem setups that you can use and several very useful and cheap Uniques that will help you quickly progress through the lower tier areas.

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Freezing Pulse setup
Freezing Pulse Freezing Pulse - one of the best Spells for leveling. Even though it deals Cold Damage, most of the Passives will increase all the Elemental Damage you deal, so you can surely use that with your Chieftain
Added Cold Damage Support Added Cold Damage Support - adds additional Cold Damage
Added Lightning Damage Added Lightning Damage Support - adds high flat Lightning Damage to your Blade Blast Spell
Faster Casting Support Faster Casting Support
Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support - greatly increases Elemental Damage dealt, and its one of the core Gems you will use on higher levels
Searing Bond Totem setup
Searing Bond Totem Searing Bond Totem - creates a link between your character and the Totem, which deals massive Fire Damage over Time and since you should be able to tank most of the content, it will be a great addition when fighting Bosses
Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support
Burning Damage Support Burning Damage Support - significantly increases DoT caused by your Searing Bond Totem
Utility Gems
Clarity Clarity - grants increased Mana Regeneration which might be extremely useful on lower levels
Herald of Ash Herald of Ash - the best Herald for this build as it grants damage bonus based on your Skill's base Physical Damage
Flame Dash Flame Dash - the best mobility skill for this build
Elemental Weakness Elemental Weakness - if you need some extra DPS against Bosses you may pick up this Curse for the leveling phase. Later on, it's replaced with Flammability

You should kill all the Bandits for two additional Passive Skill Points

Leveling Skill Trees:

35 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Warrior's Blood 2) Divine Judgement 3) Constitution 4) Tireless

60 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Light of Divinity 2) Retribution 3) Divine Fury 4) Barbarism

Recommended leveling items:

GoldrimGoldrim - one of the best leveling Helmets in Path of Exile as it covers up basically all the needs for Elemental Resistances on lower levels
+(30-50) to Evasion Rating
10% increased Rarity of Items found
+(30-40)% to all Elemental Resistances
Reflects 4 Physical Damage to Melee Attackers
Level Requirement reduced by 100 (Hidden)
Axiom PerpetuumAxiom Perpetuum - one of the best leveling Weapons for Spell Casters which adds a ton of flat Elemental Damage to your Spells
12% increased Elemental Damage
Adds (2-3) to (5-6) Fire Damage to Spells
Adds (2-3) to (5-6) Cold Damage to Spells
Adds 1 to (10-12) Lightning Damage to Spells
(4-6)% increased Cast Speed
(100-140)% increased Critical Strike Chance for Spells
PraxisPraxis - a great leveling Ring that reduces the Mana Cost of all abilities. It makes leveling much smoother as you won't get much Mana/Mana Regen from your Passive Tree
+(20-25) to maximum Mana
+(30-60) to maximum Mana
(3-6) Mana Regenerated per second
-(8-4) to Mana Cost of Skills
8% of Damage taken gained as Mana over 4 seconds when Hit
Victario's FlightVictario's Flight - a great pair of Boots that offers very high bonus Movement Speed, Mana Recovery, and some Attributes
+15 to Dexterity
+15 to Intelligence
(100-150)% increased Evasion Rating
15% increased Movement Speed
(5-10)% of Damage taken gained as Mana over 4 seconds when Hit
10% increased Movement Speed for you and nearby Allies


4. Final Skill Tree, Ascendancy Points, and Pantheon

Final Skill Tree:

116 Points Skill Tree 
116 Points Path of Building(PoB) link (includes Cluster Jewels)

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Valako, Storm's Embrace
  2. Ngamahu, Flame's Advance
  3. Hinekora, Death's Fury
  4. Tasalio, Cleansing Water


Major God: Soul of Solaris 6% additional Physical Damage Reduction while there is only one nearby Enemy; 20% chance to take 50% less Area Damage from Hits

Minor God: Soul of Gruthkul 1% additional Physical Damage Reduction for each Hit you've taken Recently up to a maximum of 5%


5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Blade Blast
Blade Blast Blade Blast - your primary DPS Spell. It's will detonate all nearby lingering Blades, so you initially have to create them with Bladefall
Concentrated Effect Concentrated Effect Support - grants very high bonus AoE Damage but reduces the explosions' radius
Controlled Destruction Controlled Destruction Support - grants high Spell Damage bonus at the cost of reduced Critical Strike Chance
Inspiration Support Inspiration Support - reduces the Mana Cost and increases Elemental Damage of your Blade Blast
Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support - grants very high bonus Elemental Damage but renders Blade Blast unable to apply Ailments
Fire Penetration Support Fire Penetration Support - makes Blade Blast ignore some of the monsters' Resistance to Fire
[DPS] Bladefall setup
(in Helmet)
Bladefall Bladefall - creates plenty of lingering Blades which you have to Detonate using Blade Blast. It has to be cast manually before BB for the entire combination to work
Spell Cascade Support Spell Cascade Support - makes Bladefall create tons of extra blades by repeating itself in two nearby areas
Unleash Support Unleash Support - it makes Bladefall build up stacks when you don't use it, creating new instances of the Spell when you finally Cast it
Combustion Support Combustion Support - enemies Ignited by Bladefall will have their Fire Resistance lowered. It also increases Bladefall's damage
Support Gems granted by Elder Helmet:
Concentrated Effect Concentrated Effect Support
[UTILITY] Gems in "trigger" Sceptre
Flammability Flammability - the recommended Curse for this build which greatly reduces the Fire Resistance of affected enemies. Like all the other Spells in this setup, it will be triggered by your weapon
Wave of Conviction Wave of Conviction - inflicts Fire Exposure to enemies, reducing their Fire Resistance even further
Tempest Shield Tempest Shield - increases your Chance to Block
[UTILITY] Heralds
Herald of Ash Herald of Ash - increases your Fire Spell Damage and enemies slain cause additional fiery explosions
Herald of Purity Herald of Purity - increases your Physical Damage which is then converted fully to Fire
Summon Skitterbots Summon Skitterbots - summons two invincible Minions that Chill and Shock nearby enemies
Enlighten Support Enlighten Support - reduces the Mana Reservation Cost of linked Spells
[UTILITY] Dash/Warcry
Dash Dash - the recommended Movement Skill for this build. It allows you to progress faster through Maps and avoid heavy damage
Enduring Cry Enduring Cry - generates Endurance Charges and grants instant Life Recovery
Second Wind Support Second Wind Support - increases the Cooldown Recovery Speed and adds an additional charge on Dash and Enduring Cry
[UTILITY] Vaal RF/Immortal Call
Cast when Damage Taken Cast when Damage Taken Support - automatically triggers linked Spells when you take a certain amount of damage. Use this Gem below level 20 or get a level 21 Vaal Righteous Fire, so that the regular RF doesn't get triggered by it
Immortal Call Immortal Call - grants a very potent damage reduction buff which is extended for each Endurance Charge you have
Increased Duration Increased Duration Support
Vaal RF Vaal Righteous Fire - you will be automatically using the Vaal part of the skill to gain a high Spell Damage bonus. Make sure the level of this Gem is higher than the threshold on your CWDT Gem so that the regular part of this skill doesn't get cast automatically

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5. Gear Setup

In this section, you will find the required Items for our Blade Blast Chieftain Starter build. This build can be basically played with random rares and there are just two optional Uniques that you can use to boost your stats, and again, at a very reasonable cost. Overall this build offers great flexibility when it comes to item choices, and since it's an Elemental Conversion build, you can easily scale your damage to some crazy numbers with better Crafted and Influenced Rares.

We guarantee that our list will:

  1. Cap your Elemental Resistances 
  2. Give you enough DPS and Life to start mapping successfully
  3. Save you at least a couple of hours!

Stat priorities on items:

  1. Elemental Resistances
  2. Maximum Life
  3. Increased Spell Damage
  4. Added Physical > Added Elemental Damage to Spells
  5. Cast Speed
Formless Inferno(Helmet) The Formless Inferno - grants some crazy Armour bonus and overall great defensive utility. At the same time, it will cost near to nothing
(80-120)% increased Armour
+(40-50) to maximum Life
-30% to Fire Resistance
8% of Physical Damage from Hits taken as Fire Damage
Armour is increased by Uncapped Fire Resistance
Rare Helmet(Helmet) Rare Helmet - can give you more Life and Resistances, and if you can invest some extra Currency, you can also boost your damage here. You can also get some additional Support Gems for your Bladefall setup
Recommended affixes:
70 Maximum Life
Socketed Gems are Supported by level # Concentrated Effect
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Helmet enchantment:
Blade Blast deals 40% increased Damage
Bladefall has an additional Volley
Rare Body Armour(Body Armour) Rare Body Armour - the best all-round Armour you can use for this build
Recommended affixes:
110 Maximum Life
6% Maximum Life
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Carcass Jack(Body Armour) Carcass Jack - great pick if you want to maximize your clear speed when farming lower-tier content
(120-150)% increased Evasion and Energy Shield
+(50-70) to maximum Life
+(9-12)% to all Elemental Resistances
(40-50)% increased Area of Effect
(40-50)% increased Area Damage
Extra gore
Rare Sceptre(Weapon) Rare Sceptre - the best possible pick, again you can just do with a "basic" one initially and get more valuable affixes as you build-up your wealth
Recommended affixes:
60% Spell Damage
Added Physical/Fire Damage to Spells
Trigger Socketed Spells when you use a Skill
Optional affixes:
Cast Speed
+1 to All Physical Spell Skill Gems
Rare ES Shield(Shield) Rare Shield - the best in the slot. We need a lot of defensive stats, and it can also give you a high Spell Damage bonus
Recommended affixes:
105 Maximum Life
60% Spell Damage
Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Recover 5% of Maximum Life when you Block
Rare Boots(Boots) Rare Boots - pick a pair with the highest Life/Resistances combo with at least 25% bonus Movement Speed
Recommended affixes:
70 Maximum Life
25% Increased Movement Speed
90% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Boot Enchantment:
16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you've Killed Recently
Adds 45 to 68 Fire Damage if you've Killed Recently
Stygian Vise(Belt) Stygian Vise - the best option for this build
Recommended affixes:
100 Maximum Life
Optional affixes:
Global Physical Damage/Fire Damage
Chaos Resistance
Elemental Resistances
Rare Amulet(Amulet) Rare Amulet - the BiS option for this build. You should aim to get most of the required Attributes from this piece of gear
Recommended affixes:
50 Maximum Life
50 Dexterity
20 Intelligence
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Spell/Area Damage
Recommended Anointments:
Arcane Swiftness
Golem's Blood
Mark of the Shaper(Rings) Mark of the Shaper - grants very high bonus Spell Damage if your other Ring is an Elder Item
(15-25)% increased Elemental Damage
20% chance to Trigger Level 20 Summon Volatile Anomaly on Kill
Adds (13-18) to (50-56) Lightning Damage to Spells
(6-10)% increased maximum Energy Shield
(6-10)% increased maximum Life
(60-80)% increased Spell Damage if your other Ring is an Elder Item
Cannot be Stunned by Spells if your other Ring is a Shaper Item
Opal Ring(Rings) Rare Ring - basically stack defensive stats (Life and Resistances) and you can pick an Elder Ring if you are going to use Mark of the Shaper
Recommended affixes:
70 Maximum Life
60% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Spell/Elemental Damage
Chaos Resistance
Rare Gloves(Gloves) Rare Gloves - once again aim for high defensive stats
Recommended affixes:
70 Maximum Life
90% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Chance to Unnerve Enemies for 4 seconds on Hit
Abyss Jewel(Jewel) Rare Abyss Jewel - flat Added Physical Damage gives you the highest DPS bonus thanks to Damage Conversion
Recommended affixes:
maximum Life
Added Physical Damage to Spells
Optional affixes:
Increased Damage if you have killed recently
Intuitive Leap(Jewel) Intuitive Leap - allows you to allocate several useful Passives that don't have to be connected to your Tree. They aren't mandatory, but will definitely let you boost your stats. It has to be socketed right above Witch's starting point
Passives in Radius can be Allocated without being connected to your tree
Allocated Passives:
Mystic Bulwark
Prodigal Perfection
Discord Artisan
Blast Radius
Cobalt Jewel(Jewel) Rare Jewels - just get Max Life and Spell Damage here
Recommended affixes:
maximum Life
Spell Damage/Spell Damage while holding a Shield
Optional affixes:
Increased Damage/Global Physical Damage
Cast Speed
The Wise Oak(Flask) The Wise Oak - since your Fire Resistance is most likely going to be the highest, this Flask can offer some serious DPS boost
+35% to all Elemental Resistances
During Flask Effect, 10% reduced Damage taken of each Element for which your Uncapped Elemental Resistance is lowest
During Flask Effect, Damage Penetrates (10-15)% Resistance of each Element for which your Uncapped Elemental Resistance is highest
Other suggested Flasks:
  1. Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Staunching (Bleeding Immunity)
  2. Ample Basalt Flask of Heat (Freeze Immunity)
  3. Ample Silver Flask of Quickening (inc. Cast Speed)
  4. Experimenter's Quicksilver Flask of Warding (Curse immunity)
The Wise OakLife FlaskBasalt FlaskSilver FlaskQuicksilver Flask

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If you have any feedback about this build or suggestions for the next one, please let us know in the comments below! We are always glad to make all kinds of build guides, from end-game monsters to beginner-friendly and budget builds just as this Blade Blast Chieftain!

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

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