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Creeping Frost Occultist Starter Build

Creeping Frost Occultist Starter Build

One of the most cost-effective Spell Caster builds in PoE based on various Cold Damage over Time Spells

Creeping Frost
Witch Occultist Starter Build

Updated for Patch 3.16

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Guide notes
September 18, 2020
-Build created
September 19, 2020
-Added gameplay video
January 18, 2021
-Updated for Patch 3.13
April 17, 2021
-Updated for Patch 3.14
December 17, 2021
-Updated for Patch 3.16


Creeping Frost is supposedly the most underrated Spell in the Path of Exile. It's just started getting noticed recently when a few powerful builds emerged based on it, however, still, just a handful of players use it. Creeping Frost fires a projectile, which upon impact creates a chilling area where enemies take high Cold Damage over Time. The damage of this spell comes mainly from Skill Gems, and Passive Skills, which allows you to easily reach a few Million DPS without any expensive equipment while offering a solid defense. This build utilizes several other Cold DOT Spells like Vortex and Cold Snap, which add more punch to your single-target DPS. Overall, this is a very enjoyable build with a smooth playstyle, good clear speed, which costs near to nothing on lower levels, and has the potential to take down most of the Bosses in the game with some investments in gear. 

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1. Gameplay

Creeping Frost Occultist is a typical Spell Caster build. You are going to self-cast Creeping Frost mainly, as it's more than enough to take down packs of regular enemies, and you can add Vortex for some extra AoE DPS which is cast underneath you. Vortex is cast instantly, making it a very smooth combination. Other Spells, like Frost Bomb, Cold Snap, and Arcanist Brand, will be triggered by your crafted Wand. Frost Bomb applies Cold Exposure, reducing monsters' Cold Resistance, Cold Snap deals some extra Cold DoT and occasionally generates Frenzy Charges. For the defenses, this is a casual Hybrid Build, which offers between 6-8k combined Life and Energy Shield depending on your equipment. With a high Chance to Block Attacks and Spells, you should be able to easily take some hits even from high-level enemies and Bosses. Combined with extra Regeneration from Occultist's Ascendancy, this build actually feels quite tanky for a budget Starter one. 

0:08 Tier 15 Crimson Temple
0:33 Tier 16 Iceberg
0:53 Tier 16 Siege
1:28 Tier 16 Toxic Sewer
1:46 Tier 15 Caldera

This video was recorded on a level 93 Occultist with 8000 Combined Life and Energy Shield and approximately 2.5kk DPS on Creeping Frost's DoT effect. Snakepit and Rime Gaze were the only Unique equipment used. The video was recorded in Patch 3.12 but the gameplay hasn't changed much since

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • good clear speed from multiple Icy areas covering your screen
  • solid DoT from multiple sources allows you to take down most Bosses in the game
  • high Life and Energy Shield combined, with decent Regen from Occultist Ascendancy
  • smooth playstyle
  • requires no specific Uniques and costs pretty much nothing
  • Mana Management can get tricky
  • mediocre single-target DPS against end-game Bosses


3. Leveling tips

It's recommended to level up using Creeping Frost, as it's a type of Spells that requires a bit of practice to use properly. It fires a projectile that creates a damaging area upon impact with an enemy, or under your cursor. It has to be targeted correctly to deal sufficient damage to enemies as sometimes it's better to aim at a specific area instead of the enemy directly. When you have the DoT active, you can use other Cold Spells to help you out in taking down enemies and Bosses, life for example Freezin Pulse - after all, most of the Cold DoT multipliers and powerful Gems will be available at higher levels. Focus on increasing your Cold Spell Damage initially, as it will also apply to the Damage over Time effect of Creeping Frost and Vortex. 

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Freezing Pulse setup
Freezing Pulse Freezing Pulse - a great leveling Cold Spell which has solid base damage. You can use it (or basically any other Cold Spell) to deal extra damage against enemies already within the radius of your Creeping Frost's DoT
Added Cold Damage Support Added Cold Damage Support - adds flat Cold Damage to your Spells
Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support - increases Spell Damage and Mana Regeneration Rate whenever you spend a certain amount of Mana on linked Spell. Make sure to keep this Gem at a low level so that you gain the benefits every few casts
Faster Casting Support Faster Casting Support
Creeping Frost setup
Creepin Frost Creeping Frost - the primary Spell used in this build. It fires an icy projectile that creates an AoE effect where enemies are health high Cold Damage over Time
Hypothermia Support Hypothermia Support - increases Cold Damage you deal against chilled enemies
Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support - increases your Elemental Damage
Efficacy Efficacy Support - increases both Spell Damage and Damage over Time making it a core Support Gem in this build
Vortex setup
Vortex Vortex - it's another core Spells in this build that is cast instantly in your current position making it very convenient to use even on lower levels
Bonechill Support Bonechill Support - increases the effect of Chill and Cold DoT taken by enemies chilled with Vortex
Efficacy Efficacy Support 
Utility Gems
Frost Bomb Frost Bomb - Frost Bomb increases the damage you deal to enemies in its radius and deals a moderate amount of additional Cold Damage
Frostbite Frostbite - the best Curse for this build which reduces Cold Resistance of affected enemies
Flame Dash Flame Dash - recommended mobility Spell


We recommend killing all the Bandits for two additional Passive Points

Leveling Skill Trees:

34 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Frost Walker 2) Heart and Soul 3) Cruel Preparation 4) Heart of Ice 5) Elemental Overload

66 Points Skill Tree 
Priorities: 1) Breath of Rime 2) Melding 4) Arcane Sanctuary 5) Season of Ice 6) Written in Blood 7) Arcane Guarding

Recommended leveling items:

Spine of the First ClaimantSpine of the First Claimant - the best leveling Weapon for this build which will work just fine even on Maps
14% increased Elemental Damage
(100-140)% increased Physical Damage
40% increased Damage with Hits against Frozen Enemies
(30-50)% increased Cold Damage
(5-10)% increased Attack Speed
(4-8)% increased Cast Speed
5% chance to Freeze
+(25-35)% to Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
PraxisPraxis - amazing Ring for leveling as Spell Caster. Will help you spam your Spells by increasing your Mana and reducing the Mana Cost of Spells
+(20-30) to maximum Mana
+(30-60) to maximum Mana
Regenerate (3-6) Mana per second
-(8-4) to Total Mana Cost of Skills
8% of Damage taken gained as Mana over 4 seconds when Hit
Victario's FlightVictario's Flight - another great leveling Item, which not only increases your Movement Speed but also grants an additional Mana Recovery mechanic
+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
GoldrimGoldrim - the best and the most popular leveling Helmet in Path of Exile which grants very high Elemental Resistances
+(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 (doesn't cover Cluster Jewels and Thread of Hope Passives)
123 Points Path of Building(PoB) link

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Void Beacon
  2. Frigid Wake
  3. Vile Bastion
  4. Malediction


Major God: 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%

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] Creeping Frost
Creeping Frost Creeping Frost - your primary Spell used in this build. If you are using Snakepit in your left Ring Socket, you can skip increasing the number of its projectiles via Greater or Lesser Multiple Projectiles, as the Fork and Dying Sun will be more than enough to clear Maps quickly
Elemental Focus Elemental Focus Support - greatly increases Elemental Damage dealt by Supported Spells but makes Creeping Frost unable to Chill
Controlled Destruction Controlled Destruction Support - increases Spell Damage greatly at the cost of reduced Critical Strike Chance which is negligible in this build
Empower Support Empower Support - increases the level of your Creeping Frost and by extension your damage
Efficacy Support Efficacy Support - increases Spell Damage and DoT which both apply to Winterbrand's damage
Swift Affliction Support Swift Affliction Support - increases the Damage over Time from Supported Spells greatly
If you can afford it, Elemental Focus, Controlled Destruction, and Swift Affliction all have Awakened Gem variants
[DPS] Vortex setup
(Socketed in Rime Gaze)
Vortex Vortex - your secondary DPS Spell, which on top of dealing decent AoE damage grants you Arcane Surge buff and increases your Cold Damage over Time
Efficacy Support Efficacy Support
Bonechill Support Bonechill Support - increases Vortex's effect of Chill and increases all Cold Damage over Time enemies affected by it take
Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support - grants a strong buff that increases your Spell Damage, Cast Speed, and Mana Regeneration Rate. Just make sure to match the Gems level so that it's triggered every time you cast Vortex (usually the Gem should be at level 9)
Gems granted by the Rime Gaze Helmet:
Concentrated Effect Concentrated Effect Support - greatly increases Area Damage and the cost of reducing the affected skill's radius
Malevolence Malevolence - increases your Damage over Time greatly and opens up an additional way to gain DoT Multiplier via Watcher's Eye Jewel
Discipline Discipline - increases your maximum Energy Shield, making it one of the most important Auras for this build
Enlighten Support Enlighten Support - reduces the Mana Reservation cost of linked Auras
[UTILITY] Clarity
Clarity Clarity - Clarity regenerates Mana which is very important to sustain your high Mana Cost of multiple Skills
[UTILITY] Flame Dash and Enduring Cry
Flame Dash Flame Dash - recommended Mobility Skill for this build
Enduring Cry Enduring Cry - generates Endurance Charges and regenerates Life quickly. Even with the current nerfs in Patch 3.12 it's still a good idea to bring this skill along
Second Wind Support Second Wind Support - reduces the Cooldown of your Enduring Cry and Flame Dash
[UTILITY] Tempest Shield
Elemental Weakness Elemental Weakness - you can cast up to two Curses, it's a second-best choice right after Frostbite, it makes enemies take more damage
Tempest Shield Tempest Shield - increases your Block Chance. Your Shield can Stikre enemies with an Arc-like Skill that will Curse them. If you prefer a more reliable way to Curse enemies, use a different Spell that you will cast manually.
Curse on Hit Hextouch Support - will make hits from Tempest Shield apply your linked Curse
Frostbite Frostbite - the recommended Curse for this build which reduces the monster's Cold Resistance. If you manage to get the Curse as a Ring affix, you can replace it with a low-level Immortal Call
[UTILITY] Spells triggered by your Wand
Frost Bomb Frost Bomb - reduces Cold Resistance of enemies in its' radius making it a must-have Utility Spell for Cold/Spell builds
Arcanist Brand Arcanist Brand - Brand will canst linked Spells periodically when attached
Cold Snap Cold Snap - deals AoE Cold Damage over Time, and enemies that die in its radius can generate Frenzy Charges for more damage

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5. Gear Setup

Below you will find the recommended equipment for our Creeping Frost Occultist Hybrid Starter build. This build uses mainly random rares, and only the Rime Gaze helmet is heavily recommended (not only it's very strong, but also very cheap). Most of the Cold Damage over Time multiplier comes from Rare gear anyway, so there is not much diversity in that matter if you want to push your DPS to its maximum.

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The recommended items from our list will:

  1. Help you cap your Elemental Resistances 
  2. Give you enough DPS, Life, and Energy Shield to start mapping successfully

Stat priorities on items:

  1. Life
  2. Elemental Resistances
  3. Energy Shield
  4. Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
  5. Cold/Spell Damage
  6. Cast Speed
Rare Helmet(Helmet) Rare Helmet - a very reasonable option that offers very high defensive Utility, and you can try getting Delve crafted one which will reduce the Cold Resistance of nearby enemies for extra DPS. It should be used on Solo Self-Found mode, as in any other case Rime Gaze will be a better budget option
Min. requirements:
100 Energy Shield
70 Maximum Life
75% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Nearby enemies have -#% Cold Resistance
Rime Gaze(Helmet) Rime Gaze - our top recommendation for the Helmet slot. It grants very high bonus damage and has a decent Energy Shield. At the same time, it's very cheap even with nearly perfect rolls
Socketed Gems are Supported by Level 20 Concentrated Effect
30% increased Cold Damage
(180-200)% increased Energy Shield
50% reduced Energy Shield Recharge Rate
+(40-60) to maximum Mana
+(16-22)% to Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
Helmet enchantments:
40% increased Creeping Frost Damage
Creeping Frost's Chilling Area has 38% increased Movement Speed
Rare Wand(Weapon) Rare Wand - the best in the slot option. You can easily craft or obtain a basic Wand with just Cold Damage Multiplier and "Trigger Socketed Spell..." affix to automatically Cast all the important utility Spells
Min. requirements:
20% Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
40% Spell Damage
Trigger a Socketed Spell when you Use a Skill, with a 8 second Cooldown
Spells Triggered this way have 150% more Cost
Optional affixes:
+1 to Level of All Spell Skill Gems
+1 to Level of All Cold Spell Skill Gems
Rare Shield(Shield) Rare Shield - aim for the highest possible Energy Shield and Life bonuses with some additional Resistances
Min. requirements:
250 Combined Life/Energy Shield
50% Spell Damage
Optional affixes:
increased Cast Speed
Elemental Resistances
Sadist Garb(Body Armour) Rare Body Armour - preferably an INT Base with high Energy Shield
Min. requirements:
500 Energy Shield
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Maximum Life
Amulet(Amulet) Rare Amulet - aim for Cold DoT Multiplier and extra Life and Energy Shield bonuses
Min. requirements:
20% Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
50 Maximum Life
20% Maximum Energy Shield
Optional affixes:
Attributes (Strength/Dexterity)
Elemental Resistances
Spell Damage
+1 to Level of All Intelligence Gems
Recommended Anointments:
Command of Steel
Rare Ring(Ring) Rare Rings - pick any base you want (Opal for DPS, Moonstone for Energy Shield, or Two-Stone for the highest possible Resistances)
Min. requirements:
40 Energy Shield
75% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Cold/Spell Damage
Snakepit(Ring) Snakepit - a great and inexpensive option for your Left Ring Slot. When socketed there it will make your Creeping Frost's projectiles Fork, greatly increasing your clear speed
+(20-30)% to Cold Resistance
(20-40)% increased Spell Damage
(5-10)% increased Cast Speed
Left ring slot: Projectiles from Spells cannot Chain
Left ring slot: Projectiles from Spells Fork
Right ring slot: Projectiles from Spells Chain +1 times
Right ring slot: Projectiles from Spells cannot Fork
Projectiles from Spells cannot Pierce
Rare boots(Boots) Rare Boots - it's a good idea to pick a pair of Boots with a chance to gain Elusive (this can get expensive though). Elusive grants a high defensive bonus, by increasing your Chance to Dodge
Min. requirements:
50 Maximum Life
25% increased Movement Speed
Optional affixes:
Chance to gain Elusive on Critical Strike
Elemental Resistances
Boot enchantment:
16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you've Killed Recently
10% Chance to Dodge Attack Hits if you've taken a Critical Strike Recently
Rare Belt(Belt) Rare Belt - aim for the highest Life and Energy Shield combined
Min. requirements:
140 Combined Life/Energy Shield
90% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Abyss Socket
Increased Damage/Elemental/Cold Damage
Gloves(Gloves) Rare Gloves - the best would be to get a pair with 100+ combined Life/Energy Shield, Cold Damage Multiplier, and Chance to Unnerve enemies on Hit,  or if you can't afford such a pair, just aim for higher defensive bonuses
Min. requirements:
100 Combined Life/Energy Shield
14% Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Chance to Unnerve enemies on Hit
Large Cluster Jewel(Jewel) Large Cluster Jewel - we recommend using one Cluster Jewel for additional Cold Damage Multiplier as the options on your Skill Tree get limited the higher the level you have
Recommended affixes:
1 Added Passive Skill is Cold-Blooded Killer
1 Added Passive Skill is Deep Chill
1 Added Passive Skill is Disorienting Display
2 Added Passive Skills are Jewel Sockets
Medium Cluster Jewel(Jewel) Medium Cluster Jewel - you can use up to three Medium Cluster Jewels in this build. It's best to pick ones that increase Cold DoT Multiplier for the highest possible DPS bonuses
Recommended affixes:
1 Added Passive Skill is a Jewel Socket
1 Added Passive Skill is Deep Chill
1 Added Passive Skill is Exposure Therapy
1 Added Passive Skill is Brush with Death
Cobalt Jewel(Jewel) Rare Jewels - simply get extra Life or Energy Shield and DPS bonuses (preferably Cold DoT Multiplier)
Recommended affixes:
Maximum Energy Shield/Maximum Life
Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
Optional affixes:
Spell Damage/Area Damage/Damage over Time
Replica Conqueror's Efficiency(Jewel) Replica Conqueror's Efficiency - decreasing the Mana Cost of your Skills is important and this Jewel does just that
4% increased Skill Effect Duration
+5 to Maximum Rage
Non-Channelling Skills have -9 to Total Mana Cost
Watcher's Eye(Jewel) Watcher's Eye - it's a great pick for this build which grants very high bonus Damage when you are affected by Malevolence
(4-6)% increased maximum Energy Shield
(4-6)% increased maximum Life
(4-6)% increased maximum Mana
<Two or Three random aura modifiers>
Recommended modifier:
+(18-22)% to Damage over Time Multiplier while affected by Malevolence
Dying Sun(Flask) Dying Sun - an amazing Utility Flask for this build which increases your clear speed by a ton by increasing the number of your Creeping Frost's projectiles
+50% to Fire Resistance
20% less Fire Damage taken
(125-150)% increased Charges per use
(40-60)% reduced Duration
(10-20)% increased Area of Effect during Flask Effect
Skills fire 2 additional Projectiles during Flask Effect
Suggested Rare Flasks:
  1. Bubbling Divine Life Flask with Bleeding immunity/removal
  2. Silver Flask with random ailment removal
  3. Sulphur Flask with random ailment removal
  4. Quicksilver Flask with random ailment removal
Dying SunLife FlaskSilver FlaskSulphur FlaskQuicksilver Flask

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

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