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Caustic Arrow Shadow Trickster build - Odealo's Crafty Guide

Caustic Arrow Shadow Trickster build - Odealo's Crafty Guide

Try out one of the fastest Caustic Arrow builds out there. Our CA Trickster is capable of clearing all the content with proper investment

Caustic Arrow
Trickster-Shadow build

Updated for Patch 3.5

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Guide notes
August 16, 2018
-Build created
August 27, 2018
-Added gameplay video
December 19, 2018
-Updated for Patch 3.5

Caustic Arrow was reworked in Patch 3.4 and now it has increased Damage over Time, and additional initial Hit that also deals damage allowing Caustic Arrow to proc ailments and other on Hit effects (however, this build does not utilize it). Caustic Arrow has been one of the most popular Damage over Time skills, and with the recent changes, it can be also used in higher Tier content if you manage to get the right gear. While Caustic Arrow's DPS comes mainly from Gems and Passives, you can focus to squeeze as much defensive stats, Movement Speed and Magic-find attribute including Increased Item Rarity and Increased Item Quantity from all the other gear parts. This build focuses on maximizing defenses and Movement Speed bonuses by using Queen of the Forest and very high Evasion Rating gear while maintaining high Caustic Arrow's damage. We have also decided to use Trickster for this build, as it provides the highest Damage over Time bonuses, additional Frenzy Charges which grant higher bonuses, and very high Attack Speed bonus, which allows stacking Withered with Toxic Rain very fast.

You may also want to check out our other Path of Exile builds at Odealo's Crafty Guides - Full List

1. Gameplay

Our Caustic Arrow Trickster build relies on high Damage over Time caused by Caustic clouds. On top of that, you use Toxic Rain with greatly increased Attack Speed and number of Projectiles to slow down enemies and apply the Withered debuff to them which increases Chaos Damage they take. Most of the enemies will die nearly instantly in the cloud allowing you to progress faster. On the defensive part, this build utilizes very high Evasion Rating, Dodge Chance and insane Movement Speed (approximately 200% with all the gear and Flasks enabled). Keep in mind that Caustic clouds don't stack, so there is no point spamming the skill against the same target.

0:06 Tier 12 Defiled Cathedral
0:43 Tier 14 Colosseum
1:07Tier 15 Lair of the Hydra
1:39 Tier 15 Maze of the Minotaur

This video was recorded on a level 87 Trickster equipped with +3 Bow to maximize Caustic Arrow's Damage over Time

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • high AoE Damage
  • extreme Movement Speed increased by up to nearly 200%
  • very solid defenses with over 5,000 Life, 75% Chance to Evade and 75 Chance to Dodge Spells and Attacks
  • immune to reflect map mods
  • all content viable with proper investments in gear
  • can be played as a Magic-find character since most of your DPS and defenses come from Passives and Gems
  • need high investments in Essence Crafted, Elder, and Shaped gear to maximize DPS against end-game Bosses

3. Leveling

Leveling your character for this Trickster build is very easy. Caustic Arrow is one of the first skills that you can pick up as a quest reward, allowing you to use the core skill early on. Same goes for Toxic Rain, which becomes a nice addition to your DPS as soon as you reach level 12. Also, Caustic Arrow does not require any specific unique items to be powerful, it does not cost much Mana either, allowing you to use pretty much any items you find during leveling. You should feel comfortable as long as you can get some Life and Resistances on gear, and Movement Speed on your boots.

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Caustic Arrow setup
Caustic Arrow Caustic Arrow - your primary attack skill in this build
Mirage Archer Mirage Archer Support - summons a Mirage Archer on your back that uses the supported skill with slightly reduced Attack Speed and Damage
Void Manipulation Void Manipulation Support - increases Chaos Damage dealt
Physical Projectile Attack Damage Support Vicius Projectiles Support - increases the damage of your Projectiles, and the DoT they inflict
Toxic Rain setup
Toxic Rain Toxic Rain - used for some extra DPS and slow 
Physical Projectile Attack Damage Support Vicius Projectiles Support
Void Manipulation Void Manipulation Support
Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support
Utility Gems
Blink Arrow Blink Arrow - the only Movement Skill that can be used with Bows
Clarity Clarity - helps a lot during leveling to sustain your Mana
Hatred Haste - great Aura for leveling
Stone Golem Stone Golem - grants increased Life Regeneration


Kill all the Bandits for two additional Passives Points

Leveling Skill Trees:

31 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Blood Siphon 2) Entropy 3) Fangs of the Viper 4) Fatal Toxins 5) Blood Drinker

57 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Heavy Draw 2) Finesse 3) Aspect of the Eagle 4) Toxic Strikes 5) Thick Skin

Recommended leveling items:

SilverbranchSilverbranch - the first unique Bow that you can use. Silverbranch of Silverbough (Fated version) can be used for the entire leveling phase
+1 to Level of Socketed Bow Gems
(80-100)% increased Physical Damage
10% increased Attack Speed
+30 to Accuracy Rating
+10 Mana gained on Kill

Quill RainQuill Rain - one of the best leveling weapons in Path of Exile. It reduces your global DPS but grants the highest Attack Speed bonus in the game

100% increased Physical Damage
+(10-20) to Dexterity
100% increased Attack Speed
+(25-50) to Accuracy Rating
+2 Mana gained for each Enemy hit by Attacks
(50-100)% increased Projectile Speed
40% less Damage

Karui WardKarui Ward - the best leveling Amulet for this build. It will work well until the mid-tier mapping

+(20-30) to Dexterity
+(20-30) to Strength
+100 to Accuracy Rating
30% increased Projectile Speed
10% increased Movement Speed
30% increased Projectile Damage

GoldrimGoldrim - the best leveling Helmet in Path of Exile

+(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)

4. Final Skill Tree, Ascendancy Points, and Pantheon

Final Skill Tree:

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

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Patient Reaper
  2. Prolonged Pain
  3. Weave the Arcane
  4. Swift Killer


Major God: 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 Garukhan +5% chance to Evade Attacks if you've taken a Savage Hit recently

5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Caustic Arrow
Spectral Throw Caustic Arrow - your primary source of DPS. All the Support Gems used are meant to increase the damage of the Chaos DoT effect
Vicious Projectiles Support Vicious Projectiles Support
Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support
Swift Affliction Support Swift Affliction Support - greatly increases Damage over Time
Damage on Full Life Support Damage on Full Life Support
Concentrated Effect Concentrated Effect Support
[UTILITY] Toxic Rain
Toxic Rain Toxic Rain - Frenzy is used to 
Greater Multiple Projectiles Support Greater Multiple Projectiles Support
Withering Touch Support Withering Touch Support - grants a chance to apply the Withered debuff when you Hit an enemy, increasing Chaos Damage it takes for each stack
Increased Area of Effect Support Increased Area of Effect Support - increases the radius of Toxic Rain
[CURSE] Despair Aura
Despair Despair - recommended Curse for this build which increases Damage over Time the cursed enemies take
Blasphemy Support Blasphemy - makes supported Curse work as an Aura around you
[UTILITY] Vaal Grace and Immortal Call
Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support - will auto-cast supported skills. Keep this Gem at level 1
Immortal Call Immortal Call - grants brief immunity to Physical Damage. Keep this Gem at level 3
Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support - increases the duration of both Vaal Grace and Immortal Call
Vaal Grace Vaal Grace - Grace is used both as the regular Aura that increases your Evasion Rating and Movement Speed, as well as, the Vaal Aura which grants high Dodge Chance for a brief duration
[UTILITY] Phase Run and Vaal Haste
Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support - will auto-cast supported skills. Keep this Gem at level 7
Phase Run Phase Run - grants Phasing, which increases your Movement Speed and makes you less visible to enemies. Keep this Gem at level 9
Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support
Vaal Haste Vaal Haste - Vaal Aura that increases your Movement, Cast, and Attack Speed
[MOBILITY] Blink Arrow
Blink Arrow Blink Arrow
Blink Arrow Faster Attacks Support

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5. Gear Setup

Below you will find the recommended gear for your Caustic Arrow Trickster build. Since Caustic Arrow DPS comes from Gems and Passives mainly, most of the items can be replaced with pretty much anything (Rare Gear, Magic-find gear etc.). However, the items listed below will grant nearly 200% Movement Speed Bonus, 75% Chance to Evade, cap your Dodge Chance, and still maintain very high Caustic Arrow DoT Damage.

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Our recommended items will:

  1. Cap your resistances 
  2. Give you enough DPS/Life to start mapping successfully

Stat priorities on items:

  1. Life
  2. Elemental Resistances
  3. Chaos/Damage over Time
  4. Evasion Rating
Starkonja's Head(Helmet) Starkonja's Head - one of the most popular Helmets in Path of Exile. Grants very high defensive bonuses
50% reduced Damage when on Low Life
+(50-70) to Dexterity
10% increased Attack Speed
25% increased Global Critical Strike Chance
(100-130)% increased Evasion Rating
+(80-100) to maximum Life
150% increased Global Evasion Rating when on Low Life
Helmet Enchantments:
40% increased Caustic Arrow Damage
Bow(Weapon) Rare +3 Bow - the best in the slot
Min. requirements:
+1 level to Socketed Gems
+2 levels to Socketed Bow Gems
Optional affixes:
increased Damage over Time - Master crafted
Silverbough(Weapon) Silverbough - is a rather cheap +2 Bow that greatly increases your DPS at the cost of reduced Attack Speed
+1 to Level of Socketed Gems
+1 to Level of Socketed Bow Gems
(80-100)% increased Physical Damage
Adds (15-25) to (50-60) Physical Damage
10% increased Attack Speed
+30 to Accuracy Rating
+10 Mana gained on Kill
Two Point Arrow Quiver(Quiver) Rare Quiver - used mainly for defensive stats
Min. requirements:
80 maximum Life
35% Fire Resistance
35% Lightning Resistance
35% Cold Resistance
Optional affixes:
increased Global Accuracy Rating
Queen of the Forest(Body Armour) Queen of the Forest - mandatory item for this build. It grants very high Evasion Rating and Movement Speed bonuses
3% reduced Movement Speed (Hidden)
(200-240)% increased Evasion Rating
+(60-70) to maximum Life
+(6-10)% to Fire Resistance
+(26-40)% to Cold Resistance
+(11-25)% to Lightning Resistance
25% reduced Movement Speed
1% increased Movement Speed per 450 Evasion Rating, up to 100%
-(50-40) Physical Damage taken when Hit by Animals
Atziri's Step(Boots) Atziri's Step - one of the best in the slot for this build. This pair grants high Movement Speed, Evasion Rating, and extra Dodge Chance
180% increased Evasion Rating
+(55-75) to maximum Life
30% increased Movement Speed
(14-16)% chance to Dodge Spell Hits
Boots Enchantments:
0.6% of Damage Leeched as Life and Mana if you've Killed Recently
80% chance to Avoid being Stunned if you've Killed Recently
Leather Belt(Belt) Rare Belt - with high defensive stats
Min. requirements:
80 maximum Life
35 Strength
30% Fire Resistance
30% Lightning Resistance
30% Cold Resistance
Optional affixes:
increased Life Flask Recovery Rate
Impresence(Amulet) Impresence (Chaos) - is one of the best picks for this build. It greatly increases Damage over Time and lets you use Despair Curse/Aura without the Mana Reservation cost
+(10-16) to all Attributes
(30-40)% increased Damage over Time
Adds (17-19) to (23-29) Chaos Damage
+(50-70) to maximum Life
+(17-23)% to Chaos Resistance
100% reduced Despair Mana Reservation
Gain Maddening Presence for 10 seconds when you Kill a Rare or Unique Enemy
Rare RingRare Ring(Ring) Rare Rings - with high defensive stats
Min. requirements:
55 maximum Life
100 Evasion Rating
35 Intelligence
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Chaos Resistance
Gripped Gloves(Gloves) Rare Gloves - used mainly for the defensive stats, but can also provide increases DPS if you manage to find a proper pair of Gripped Gloves
Min. requirements:
55 maximum Life
380 Evasion Rating
25% Fire Resistance
25% Cold Resistance
25% Lightning Resistance
Optional affixes:
increased Projectile Damage
Jewels(Jewels) Rare Jewels
Recommended affixes:
maximum Life
Chaos Damage/Damage over Time/Projectile Damage
Witchfire Brew(Flask) Witchfire Brew - the best utility Flask for this build. It greatly increases your Damage over Time
100% increased Evasion Rating
Creates a Smoke Cloud on Use
50% increased Charges used
(25-40)% increased Damage Over Time during Flask Effect
Grants Level 21 Despair Curse Aura during Flask Effect
Other suggested Flasks:
  1. Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Staunching (Bleeding immunity)
  2. Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Heat (Chill and Freeze immunity)
  3. Ample Jade Flask of Reflexes (increased Evasion Rating)
  4. Ample Quartz Flask of Adrenaline (Dodge Chance and Movement Speed)
Witchfire's BrewLife FlaskLife FlaskJade FlaskQuartz Flask

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