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Bladestorm/Blood and Sand Gladiator build

Bladestorm/Blood and Sand Gladiator build

Versatile Melee build with insane mobility and very high sustained DPS

Blood and Sand Gladiator build

Updated for Patch 3.14

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Guide notes
June 8, 2019
-Build created
April 24, 2021
-Updated for Patch 3.14
April 26, 2021
-Updated gameplay video


Bladestorm is one of the Melee Skills that got introduced in Patch 3.7. It's a Melee attack which creates up to three spinning tornadoes that periodically deals 50% of your Weapon's damage. Bladestorm offers very high sustained single-target damage if you get all three of them to damage the same enemy while in Blood Stance, as well as amazing mobility and area coverage if you switch to Sand stance for increased AoE and Movement Speed. Overall, this build provides great mobility for a Melee class, good clear speed, and very high DPS. It's also fully viable for a Starter Build, since Gladiator is one of the most durable classes thanks to Block mechanic, and can do just fine with just self-found equipment. This build does exceptionally well without any expensive equipment, but if geared properly will allow you to take down any Boss in the game deathless. That's a very versatile build that has been now thoroughly reworked for the current content. 

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1. Gameplay

This is a very fast-paced and versatile melee build. You Charge between packs of enemies with greatly increased speed thanks to Close Combat Support Gem and leave deadly tornadoes behind you to obliterate everything. This build also utilizes the new Stances; you should use Blood Stance against Bosses, when you need more single-target damage, and switch to Sand Stance for greatly increased mobility and area coverage. For the defenses, this build uses high Life, max Block Chance, and some additional Physical Damage mitigation from Passives and Armour Rating.  You will also need to master the use of "Attack in place" button (default "Shift" on PC) as the targeting sometimes feel way off, and you will find yourself circling around monsters instead of obliterating them.

We have also decided this Gladiator to dual-wield One-hand Swords which offer the highest DPS when you utilize high Critical Strike Chance and Multiplier. You can also choose to use random high Physical DPS swords or Items like Paradoxica and The Saviour for the best end-game effectiveness.

The video was recorded on a level 93 Gladiator on Standard Softcore mode in Patch 3.14 - it's the newest version of the build with high Physical DPS Jewelled Foil and the Saviour. In the other slots, you will find just random Rare equipment and Pride/Impale Watcher's Eye Jewel

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • extremely high damage due to multiple tornadoes hitting the same enemy simultaneously
  • capped Attack and Spell Block Chance which makes up for this builds' solid defenses
  • good mobility and very high clear speed on Maps
  • one of the most interesting new Melee builds out there
  • great damage scaling with Impale
  • cannot do Physical Reflect Maps
  • mediocre clear speed as you can hit enemies in melee range only
  • requires some setup to run all the Auras


3. Leveling tips

Leveling Gladiator is very easy. You should mainly focus on increasing your Physical DPS by upgrading the weapon and getting Rings and Gloves with flat added Physical Damage to Attacks. Your core defenses come from your Passives, so you should do just fine in that matter just with the gear you find while completing the campaign. As always, getting extra Movement Speed is always great for leveling which can be achieved by getting the Uniques listed below.

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Cleave setup
Cleave Cleave - one of the first Melee attacks available in Path of Exile. Grants decent damage and good AoE which makes it a solid leveling skill
Ruthless Support Ruthless Support - great buff to your DPS which increases the damage of each third hit
Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support - increases the Physical Melee Damage you deal with supported skills
Maim Support Maim Support - this Gem will increase your damage and maim enemies on hit, which slows their movement speed and increases the damage they take
Bladestorm setup
Bladestorm Bladestorm - core skill used in this build. It creates three spinning tornadoes which deal a portion of your weapon's damage with each Hit. It should be used as soon as you reach level 28
Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support
Pulverise Support Pulverise Support - grants very high bonus DPS at a cost of reduced Attack Speed
Close Combat Support Close Combat Support - grants high bonus damage as well as increases your Attack Speed with Movement Skill for a short duration allowing faster travel between packs
Utility Gems
Ancestral Warchief Ancestral Warchief - summons a Totem which increases your Melee Damage
Vulnerability Vulnerability - recommended Curse for this build
Herald of Purity Herald of Purity - grants very high bonus DPS based on your Physical Damage
Leap Slam Leap Slam - recommended Movement Skill used in this build
Ice Golem Summon Ice Golem - recommended Golem for the campaign which increases your Accuracy Rating and Critical Strike Chance


It's recommended to kill all the Bandits for two extra Passive Points, however, you can also help Alira for the extra Crit. Multiplier if you have a very high Critical Strike Chance

Leveling Skill Trees:

35 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Art of the Gladiator 2) Master of the Arena 3) Dervish 4) Golem's Blood 5) Ambidexterity and Blade Barrier

62 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Gladiator's Preservance 2) Constitution 3) Bloodless 4) Blade Master

Recommended leveling items:

BlackheartBlackheart - great physical DPS leveling Ring. It is available as soon as level one, and it grants amazing DPS bonuses
Adds 1 to 4 Physical Damage to Attacks
5% increased Physical Damage
Adds 1 to 3 Chaos Damage to Attacks
+(20-30) to maximum Life
(2-4) Life Regenerated per second
10% chance to Cause Monsters to Flee
Meginord's GirdleMeginord's Girdle - powerful Belt which grants a lot of flat Physical Damage and Life
+(25-35) to Strength
Adds 5 to 15 Physical Damage to Attacks
+25 to Strength
10% increased maximum Life
+(10-20)% to Cold Resistance
25% increased Flask Life Recovery rate

RedbeakRedbeak - first Unique Sword we suggest to use, you can start using since level 1

40% increased Accuracy Rating
100% increased Damage when on Low Life
50% increased Physical Damage
Adds 2 to 6 Physical Damage
10% increased Attack Speed
+(20-30) to maximum Life
+2 Life gained for each Enemy hit by Attacks

Lakishu’s BladeLakishu’s Blade - has very high Physical DPS and you can socket your Ancestral Warchief in here for the extra Support Gem

+190 to Accuracy Rating
(60-80)% increased Physical Damage
Adds (5-8) to (10-14) Physical Damage
(10-15)% increased Attack Speed
(40-30)% reduced Stun and Block Recovery
20% chance to Avoid being Stunned
Socketed Gems are Supported by Level 1 Multistrike

Seven League StepSeven League Step - they are quite expensive, but they provide the highest possible Movement Speed bonus out of all Boots in Path of Exile

50% increased Movement Speed
Level Requirement reduced by 100 (Hidden)


4. Final Skill Tree, Ascendancy Points, and Pantheon

Final Skill Tree:

116 Points Final Skill Tree
116 Points Path of Building(PoB) link 

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Painforged
  2. Violent Retaliation
  3. Versatile Combatant
  4. Arena Challenger


Major God: there are two choices depending on if you are grinding Maps or want to challenge end-game Bosses.

Maps: Soul of Lunaris 1% additional Physical Damage Reduction for each nearby Enemy, up to 8%; 1% increased Movement Speed for each nearby Enemy, up to 8%

Bosses: Soul of Solaris 6% Physical Damage Reduction if 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] Bladestorm setup
Bladestorm Bladestorm - your primary DPS skill used in this build. Use it in Blood Stance against Bosses and Sand Stance when leveling and farming. It creates multiple tornadoes that can hit the same enemy simultaneously so getting the Helmet enchantment with +1 Bladestorm greatly increases your DPS
Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support - one of the core Support Gems for all Melee/Physical skills
Brutality Support Brutality Support - grants a very high Physical DPS bonus but makes your Bladestorm unable to deal other types of damage
Close Combat Support Close Combat Support - increases your Melee Damage based on proximity, and causes your Movement Skills to have greatly increased Speed
Fortify Support Fortify Support - increases your Melee Damage but also grants a very powerful defensive buff that reduces all the damage taken by your character
Impale Support Impale Support - greatly increases your Chance to Impale with Attacks which is a great way to scale your DPS
Pride Pride - the best Aura for this pure-physical build which increases the damage you deal to enemies in the radius. The bonus is increased over time, for example against Bosses
Flesh and Stone Flesh and Stone - increases your damage further while you are in Blood Stance. It also Maims enemies which bonus effect can be increased by linking this Aura to Maim Support
Maim Support Maim Support - increases the damage you deal to enemies Maimed by Flesh and Stone Aura. If your Mana is too low, just skip this Gem and try linking Maim to your Ancestral Totem
Enlighten Support Enlighten Support - reduces the amount of Mana Reserved by supported skills
[UTILITY] Various utility Gems
(no links required)
Ancestral Warchief Ancestral Warchief - this Totem increases your Melee Damage while active. In most cases, you will only need it against Bosses
Dread Banner Dread Banner - increases your Chance to Impale enemies on Hits with Attacks. This is yet another Gem that can be skipped if you don't have enough Mana
Blood and Sand Blood and Sand - one of the core Auras used in this build which increases your AoE damage at the cost of slightly reducing the radius of your Skills
Blood Rage Blood Rage - increases your Attack Speed, Life Steal, and generates Frenzy Charges for an extra DPS bonus. It deals moderate amount of damage to your character which can be ignored thanks to your high Leech
[MOBILITY] Leap Slam
Leap Slam Leap Slam - the best Mobility Skill used for this build which will help you jump over cliffs and obstacles
Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support
Lifetap Support Lifetap Support - causes Leap Slam to cost Life instead of Mana allowing you to feely spam it
[UTILITY] Molten Shell
CwDT Cast when Damage Taken Support - will auto-cast Molten Shell after you take a certain amount of damage
Cast when Stunned Cast when Stunned Support - it should increase the frequency at which Molten Shell is triggered, and since you should have empty sockets, why not add it?
Molten Shell Molten Shell - a great Guard Spell which grants a protective shield that absorbs incoming damage based on your Armour Rating
[UTILITY] Riposte setup
Riposte Riposte - a counter-attack that can be triggered very often dealing extra damage and offering additional bonuses like Culling Strike and Power Charges
Culling Strike Culling Strike Support - makes Riposte instantly kill enemies below 10% Life
Brutality Brutality Support - grants the highest DPS bonus out of all possible Support Gems
Power Charge on Critical Power Charge on Critical Support - generates Power Charges on Crits. with Riposte

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5. Gear Setup

This Bladestorm Gladiator build is very easy to gear up and quite flexible in terms of item choices. We have decided to base it on the Ahn's Might swords which have very high base DPS and grant amazing bonuses when your maximum Frenzy Charge count equals 0, but this build will do just fine with any Rare/High Physical DPS Swords.

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Our recommended items will:

  1. Cap your resistances 
  2. Give you enough DPS/Life to start mapping successfully
  3. Save you at least a couple of hours on planning your build!

Stat priorities on items:

  1. Life
  2. Elemental Resistances
  3. Physical Damage
  4. Critical Strike Chance & Critical Strike Multiplier
  5. Accuracy Rating (you should aim at 100% Chance to Hit)
Abyssus(Helmet) Abyssus - the best in the slot in terms of raw DPS. It increases your Physical Damage taken, but with most hits getting blocked you should be able to live with it
Adds 40 to 60 Physical Damage to Attacks
+(20-25) to all Attributes
+(100-125)% to Melee Critical Strike Multiplier
(100-120)% increased Armour
(40-50)% increased Physical Damage taken
Helmet(Helmet) Rare Helmet - the most universal choice for the Helmet slot. You can get just a random one with high defensive stats (Life/Resistances) but also an end-game Helmet with Crit. Multiplier and other expensive affixes on it
Min. requirements:
90 Maximum Life
80% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Nearby enemies take #% Increased Physical Damage
Critical Strike Multiplier
Helmet enchantment:
+1 to maximum number of Bladestorms
40% increased Bladestorm Damage
The Saviour(Weapon) The Saviour  - one of the best end-game weapons for this build which creates two illusions that will mimic your Attack and deal extra Damage
40% increased Global Accuracy Rating
Triggers Level 20 Reflection when Equipped
(40-50)% increased Physical Damage
Adds (16-22) to (40-45) Physical Damage
(8-12)% increased Attack Speed
(8-12)% increased Critical Strike Chance
Jewelled Foil(Weapon) Rare One-Handed Sword  - just aim for the highest Physical DPS. Jeweled Foil is a very solid base thanks to the implicit Crit. Multiplier bonus
Min. requirements:
400 Physical DPS
1.75 Attack Speed
Optional affixes:
Increased Critical Strike Multiplier
Increased Critical Strike Chance
Loreweave(Body Armour) Loreweave - a good all-around Armour that grants added Physical Damage, Crit, and all kind of attributes. Most importantly, it increases your Maximum Elemental Resistances, but the bonus Elemental Damage is negligible for this Gladiator
Has 6 Sockets
Adds (4-10) to (14-36) Physical Damage to Attacks
+(8-24) to all Attributes
(20-60)% increased Global Critical Strike Chance
+(15-50) to maximum Energy Shield
+(20-60) to maximum Life
+(20-50) to maximum Mana
(6-30)% increased Rarity of Items found
(15-50)% increased Elemental Damage
Your Maximum Resistances are (76-78)%
Rare Armour(Body Armour) Rare Body Armour - possibly the BiS option which can grant tons of Life and Defensive stats on top of extra Attack Crit. Chance and possibly flat Mana Cost Reduction of socketed Attacks
Min. requirements:
110 Maximum Life
10% Maximum Life
Optional affixes:
Attacks have +# to Critical Strike Chance
Elemental Resistances
Socketed Attacks have -15 to Total Mana Cost
Belly of the Beast(Body Armour) Belly of the Beast - great well-rounded Body Armour which grants very high bonus Life
3% reduced Movement Speed (Hidden)
(150-200)% increased Armour
(30-40)% increased maximum Life
+(10-15)% to all Elemental Resistances
50% increased Flask Life Recovery rate
Extra gore
Rare Boots(Boots) Rare Boots - get pair with the highest maximum Life bonus you can afford
Min. requirements:
80 maximum Life
25% increased Movement Speed
75% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Cannot be Frozen
You have Tailwind if you have dealt a Critical Strike Recently
Boot enchantment:
16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you've Killed Recently
Stygian Vise(Belt) Stygian Vise - again, aim for high defensive stats - increased Damage/Global Physical Damage will be also very useful
Min. requirements:
100 maximum Life
80% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
increased Damage/Global Physical Damage
Maximum Life%
Belt of the Deceiver(Belt) Belt of the Deceiver - despite being very cheap, it’s an extremely powerful Belt. Intimidating enemies grant very high additional DPS as it's multiplicative with other bonuses. It's a great addition to low-budget builds
(25-35) to Strength
(15-25)% increased Physical Damage
You take 30% reduced Extra Damage from Critical Strikes
+(30-40) to maximum Life
+(10-15)% to all Elemental Resistances
Nearby Enemies are Intimidated
Rare Amulet(Amulet) Rare Amulet - the BiS option, you can either focus DPS-oriented stats or get some extra Mana Reservation Cost reduction to use all the recommended Auras
Min. requirements:
60 maximum Life
30% increased Global Critical Strike Multiplier
Optional affixes:
#% Reduced Reservation of Skills
Non-channelling Skills have -# to Total Mana Cost
Recommended Anointments:
Blade of Cunning
Steel Ring(Ring) Rare Rings - Steel Rings are the best possible base. You should aim to get one Ring with Assassin's Mark or you would have to apply it in another less convenient way
Min. requirements:
60 maximum Life
80% Total Elemental Resistances
Trigger Level 12 Assassin's Mark when you Hit a Rare or Unique Enemy 
Optional affixes:
Non-channelling Skills have -# to Total Mana Cost
Accuracy Rating
Added Physical Damage to Attacks
Spiked Gloves(Gloves) Rare Gloves - you are looking for high defensive stats and the highest Accuracy Rating bonus possible
Min. requirements:
75 maximum Life
400 Accuracy Rating
70% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
added Physical Damage to Attacks
Attack Speed/Melee Damage
Cobalt Jewel(Jewels) Rare Jewels - this should provide extra Life and damage bonuses
Recommended affixes:
Maximum Life
Physical/Melee/Area Damage
Global Critical Strike Multiplier
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Murderous Eye Jewel(Jewels) Murderous Eye Jewel - try to get at least one Abyssal Jewel with a chance to gain Onslaught on kill for extra DPS bonus
Recommended affixes:
Maximum Life
Chance to gain Onslaught on kill for 4 seconds
Global/Melee Critical Strike Multiplier
Optional affixes:
Added Physical Damage to Attacks/Sword Attacks
Watcher's Eye(Jewels) Watcher's Eye - this Jewel with Pride modifier that increases the maximum number of Impale stacks is one of the best DPS amplifiers for this build
(4-6)% increased maximum Energy Shield
(4-6)% increased maximum Life
(4-6)% increased maximum Mana
<Two or Three random aura modifiers>
Recommended Aura modifiers:
Impales you inflict last 2 additional Hits while using Pride
(8-12)% chance to deal Double Damage while using Pride
Cinderswallow Urn(Flask) Cinderswallo Urn - one of the most popular Utility Flasks in Path of Exile. Grants insane Life/Mana Recovery on Onslaught buff
Recharges 1 Charge when you Consume an Ignited corpse
Enemies Ignited by you during Flask Effect take 10% increased Damage
Recover (1-3)% of Life when you Kill an Enemy during Flask Effect
Recover (1-3)% of Mana when you Kill an Enemy during Flask Effect
Recover (1-3)% of Energy Shield when you Kill an Enemy during Flask Effect
Veiled Suffix
Lion's Roar(Flask) Lion's Roar - grants a very high bonus Melee Damage and Armour Rating. It's one of the Best utility Flasks for Melee builds and mandatory in this case
+3000 to Armour
Adds Knockback to Melee Attacks during Flask effect
Knocks Back Enemies in an Area when you use a Flask
75% chance to cause Enemies to Flee on use
(20-25)% more Melee Physical Damage during effect
Other suggested Flasks:
  1. Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Staunching (Bleeding immunity)
  2. Experimenter's Diamond Flask of Warding (Curse immunity)
  3. Ample Quicksilver Flask of Heat
Cinderswallow UrnLion's RoarLife FlaskDiamond FlaskQuicksilver Flask

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