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Essence Drain Trickster Build - Odealo's Crafty Guide

Essence Drain Trickster Build - Odealo's Crafty Guide

Essence Drain/Bane Trickster with insane defenses and unparalleled end-game melting potential

Essence Drain
Trickster build

Updated for Patch 3.12

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Estimated budget: medium
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Guide notes
September 19, 2020
-Updated for Patch 3.12
-Major changes: None, this still remain Top Tier Starter/farming build
September 26, 2020
-Updated gameplay video


Essence Drain is one of the most popular skills in Path of Exile, and the best Chaos/Damage over Time Spell overall. When used right after Contagion it melts entire screens of monsters regardless of the current Map Tier. Since your primary DPS comes from Passives and Active Gems, this build is perfect as a League Starter and with end-game equipment, you can reach level 30 on your Essence Drain Gem, which has simply absurd DPS.

On the other hand, this build utilizes Trickster Ascendancy Class for maximum DPS and mobility. This build is optimized for maximum clear speed with the use of Queen of the Forest, which also allows us to scale Evasion Rating up to nearly 50,000, which equals over 70% effective Evade Chance and up to 75% bonus Movement Speed from the Body Armour. 

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1. Gameplay

Essence Drain fires a single projectile that deals insane DoT to the first enemy Hit. While on its own it seems very unreliable, if you cast Contagion first, it will spread to enemies beyond your base Line of Sight and melt everything. For that purpose, we try to maximize Contagion's Area of Effect by linking it with Increased Area Support and Unleash

0:08 Tier 16 Iceberg
0:29 Tier 16 Park
0:55 Tier 16 Forge of the Phoenix
1:31 Tier 16 Shipyard
1:55 Tier 16 Siege

This video was recorded on a level 93 Trickster on Standard with a level 27 Essence Drain Gem. One Medium Cluster Jewel was used with extra Chaos DoT Multiplier

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • insane Damage over Time
  • good as a League starter build in a Wand + Shield variation
  • fully end-game viable
  • amazing clear speed
  • can do all Maps and Mods
  • offers captivating gameplay
  • requires multiple Chaos skills to be cast in succession for optimal single-target DPS


3. Leveling tips

Essence Drain is a perfect leveling Skill. It clears entire areas within seconds, and your only concern will be staying alive and increasing your Cast and Movement Speed to progress faster. Below you will find the base Skill Setups and several useful uniques that will help you level up faster. You can also follow the final Skill Tree without the necessity to refund any Passives, saving you a bunch of Orb of Regrets.

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Essence Drain setup
Essence Drain Essence Drain - your primary DPS Spell which deals insane Damage over Time and is spread by using Contagion first
Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support - increases Chaos Damage dealt with Supported Skills
Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support - grants very high Spell Damage at the cost of reduced Critical Hit Chance. While Spell Damage applies to Essence Drain's DoT, the downside is negligible since DoT can't Crit anyway
Contagion setup
Contagion Contagion - Contagion makes up for this build's insane clear speed by spreading your Essence Drain debuff to enemies in the radius
Increased Area of Effect Support Increased Area of Effect Support
Faster Casting Support Faster Casting Support
Utility Gems
Flame Dash Flame Dash - used for mobility on lower levels. Can be linked with low-level Arcane Surge for extra Spell Damage/Mana Regen. before you get Eldritch Battery later on
Malevolence Malevolence - most important Aura in this build which increases your Damage over Time and Skill Effect Duration
Despair Despair - recommended Curse for this build which increases the Damage over Time cursed enemies receive

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We recommend killing all the Bandits for two additional Passive Points

Leveling Skill Trees:

35 Points Skill Tree 
Priorities: 1) Trickery 2) Fangs of the Viper 3) Growth and Decay 4) Written in Blood

63 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Atrophy 2) Arcanist's Dominion 3) Cruel Preparation 4) Method to the Madness

Recommended leveling items:

LifesprigLifesprig - amazing leveling Wand which grants increased Spell Damage, Cast Speed and Life Regen. which is extremely useful on lower levels
(8-12)% increased Spell Damage
+1 to Level of Socketed Spell Gems
(20-28)% increased Spell Damage
(5-8)% increased Cast Speed
+(15-20) to maximum Life
+(15-20) to maximum Mana
Regenerate (6-8) Life over 1 second when you Cast a Spell
WanderlustWanderlust - amazing leveling Boots which grant high bonus Movement Speed and Freeze Immunity
+5 to Dexterity
(20-40)% increased Mana Regeneration Rate
+(10-20) to maximum Energy Shield
20% increased Movement Speed
Cannot be Frozen
GoldrimGoldrim - one of the best leveling Helmets which covers up your needs for 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)
PraxisPraxis - a great leveling Ring which makes you forget Mana-related issues during leveling
+(20-25) to maximum Mana
+(30-60) to maximum Mana
(3-6) Mana Regenerated per second
-(8-4) to Total Mana Cost of Skills
8% of Damage taken gained as Mana over 4 seconds when Hit




4. Final Skill Tree, Ascendancy Points, and Pantheon

Final Skill Tree:

No Cluster Jewels variant which

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

Cluster Jewels variant

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

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Patient Reaper
  2. Ghost Dance
  3. Escape Artist
  4. Prolonged Pain


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] Essence Drain setup
(in the recommended +3 Bow)
Essence Drain Essence Drain - your main DPS Spell. In this setup, it can reach up to level 30 which is the maximum possible and has simply insane DoT DPS
Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support - increases Essence Drain's Chaos Damage
Efficacy Support Efficacy Support - increases both Spell Damage and Damage over Time, both of which apply to Essence Drain
Empower Support Empower Support - a must-have in this build. Its level is further increased by the Bow Craft, and you can increase the Essence Drain's level by up to 7 that way
Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support - greatly increases supported skills' Spell Damage. Since Damage over Time cannot Crit. there is no downside from using this Support Gem
Swift Affliction Swift Affliction Support - increases your Damage over Time
[DPS] Bane/Despair setup
Bane Bane - Bane is used to apply your Curse and deal moderate extra Damage over Time
Despair Despair - recommended Curse for this build which increases Damage over Time and reduces affected enemies' Chaos Resistance
Efficacy Support Efficacy Support
Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support
Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
Swift Affliction Swift Affliction Support
[UTILITY] Wither Spell Totem setup
Spell Totem Support Spell Totem Support - summons a Totem which will cast Wither at your enemies for its' powerful debuff
Wither Wither - applies Withering stacks which increase Chaos Damage taken by affected enemies
Faster Casting Support Faster Casting Support
Multiple Totems Support Multiple Totems Support - doubles the number of Totems summoned with each cast, and lets you summon up to 3 Spell Totems
[UTILITY] Contagion setup
Contagion Contagion - AoE Spell which deals a small amount of Chaos DoT and spreads your Essence Drain effects across the area. It's your initiator which has to be followed up by Essence Drain to melt all the enemies on your screen
Increased Area of Effect Support Increased Area of Effect Support - increases Contagions Area of Effect
Intensify Support Intensify Support - again used to increase the radius of Contagion
[AURAS] various Auras
(in Devouring Diadem)
Malevolence Malevolence - Aura which increases your Damage over Time and Skill Effect Duration
Discipline Discipline - increases your Energy Shield Pool and makes Mind over Matter much more efficient in this build
Flesh and Stone Flesh and Stone - reduces your chance to be Hit by nearby enemies and reduces damage taken from enemies that are further away from you
Enlighten Support Enlighten Support - with level 4 Enlighten you will have enough Mana to use Aspect of the Spider in this build which increases your damage
Dash Dash - I personally recommend Dash for mobility, however, it's mainly used to quickly avoid big AoE Hits as you will most likely move faster than any available Movement Skill

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5. Gear Setup

Below you will find the recommended gear for this build. These are the end-game items based on an at least +3 Crafted Bow, though this build has more budget-friendly variations based on a either Wand and a Shield or a Staff. If you would like to have them included please leave a comment below. 

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The recommended items from our list will:

  1. Cap your resistances 
  2. Give you enough Energy Shield and DPS to start mapping

Stat priorities on items:

  1. Life
  2. Elemental Resistances
  3. Non-ailment Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier
  4. Chaos Damage/Damage over Time
  5. Cast Speed
  6. Evasion Rating
The Devouring Diadem(Helmet) The Devouring Diadem - grants Eldritch Battery which saves you three Passive Points. It also increases the level of Gems and reduces Mana Reservation allowing us to use three different Auras. For the Veiled Mod, it's best to pick Elemental + Chaos Resistance for the Veiled modifier
+1 to Level of Socketed Gems
Socketed Gems have 20% reduced Mana Reservation
Trigger Level 15 Feast of Flesh every 5 seconds
(180-220)% increased Energy Shield
10% chance for Energy Shield Recharge to start when you use a Skill
Eldritch Battery
<One Veiled Mod>
Helmet enchantment:
40% increased Essence Drain Damage
12% increased Contagion Area of Effect
Short Bow(Weapon Slot) Crafted +3 Bow - a crafted +3 Bow
Min. requirements:
+1 to level of Socketed Gems
+2 to level of Socketed Support Gems
+30% non-ailment Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier
Optional affixes:
Cast Speed/Chance to gain Arcane Surge on Kill
Chaos Damage
+1 to level of Socketed Strength or Intelligence Gems (Fossil Crafted)
Quiver(Quiver) Rare Quiver - used to stack as much Life and Elemental Resistances as possible. A Shaper quiver with a chance to gain Onslaught on Kill will be also nice
Min. requirements:
90 maximum Life
110% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Chance to gain Onslaught on Kill (Shaper Mod)
Increased Area of Effect (Elder Mod)
Queen of the Forest(Body Armour) Queen of the Forest - has very high base Evasion Rating, decent Life and Resistances, and on top of it, grants up to 75% bonus Movement Speed
(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 600 Evasion Rating, up to 75%
-(50-40) Physical Damage taken when Hit by Animals
Carcass Jack(Body Armour) Carcass Jack - greatly increases your damage and the radius of your skills. It's perfect for clearing screens ahead
(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 Boots(Boots) Rare Boots - preferably pair with some extra Evasion
Min. requirements:
75 maximum Life
30% increased Movement Speed
35% Fire Resistance
25% Chaos Resistance
Optional affixes:
Evasion Rating
Boot enchantment:
16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you've Killed Recently
Stygian Vise(Belt) Rare Belt - again, we try to grab one with the highest defensive stats
Min. requirements:
40 Strength
80 maximum Life
25% Chaos Resistance
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
increased Damage
Rare Amulet(Amulet) Rare Amulet - an Elder Amulet with non-Ailment Chaos Damage over Time multiplier will be the best in the slot. Some extra Attributes and Resistances will also come in handy
Min. requirements:
55 maximum Life
30 Strength
+10% non-ailment Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier
Optional affixes:
Cast Speed
Spell Damage
Elemental Resistances
Recommended Anointments:
Aspect of Stone
Two Stone Ring(Ring) Rare Ring - preferably an Elder Base Ring which will allow you to benefit from Mark of the Shaper's powerful bonuses
Min. requirements:
60 maximum Life
110% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Chaos Resistance
+#% Chance to Evade Attacks (Elder Mod)
Mark of the Shaper(Ring) Mark of the Shaper - grants up to 80% increased Spell Damage if your other Ring is and 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
ES Gloves(Gloves) Rare Gloves - once again you should look for an Elder pair with non-ailment Chaos Multiplier
Min. requirements:
60 maximum Life
12% non-ailment Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier
60% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
increased Spell Damage
Cobalt Jewel(Jewels) Rare Jewels - this should provide extra Life and damage bonuses
Recommended affixes:
increased maximum Life
non-ailment Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier
Optional affixes:
increased Chaos Damage/Spell Damage/Damage over Time
Hypnotik Abyss Jewel(Jewels) Abyss Jewels - you can use one Abyssal Jewel if you are using a Stygian Vise, otherwise, Rare Jewels will provide more DPS
Recommended affixes:
maximum Life
increased Cast Speed
increased Damage if you have Killed Recently
Optional affixes:
Evasion Rating
Medium Cluster Jewel(Jewels) Medium Cluster Jewels - the newly added Cluster Jewels can push this build's DPS to its maximum. They are quite expensive, but they are the only way to increase your DPS above the previous threshold because of giving you an additional way to scale Chaos Damage over Time
Recommended Notable Passives:
Exposure Therapy
Circling Oblivion
Small Cluster Jewel(Jewels) Small Cluster Jewel - if you are using Cluster Jewels at all, you should aim to get Small ones with Fettle Passive for high bonus Life
Recommended Notable Passives:
Transcendent Mind(Jewels) Transcendent Mind - socketed right above Witch's starting point will give you additional 24% Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier making it the best possible Jewel for this slot
-1 Intelligence per 1 Intelligence on Allocated Passives in Radius
+3% to Damage over Time Multiplier per 10 Intelligence on Unallocated Passives in Radius
3% increased Mana Recovery Rate per 10 Intelligence on Allocated Passives in Radius
2% reduced Mana Recovery Rate per 10 Intelligence on Unallocated Passives in Radius
Witchfire Brew(Flask) Witchfire Brew - a mandatory Flask which greatly increases your Damage over Time and grants extra Evasion
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
Cinderswallow Urn(Flask) Cinderswallow Urn - grants very high Life/Mana/Energy Shield Recovery which combined with this build's massive AoE will instantly replenish all three making it one of the best utility Flasks you can use for this build
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
<One Veiled Mod>
Other suggested flasks:
  1. Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Staunching (immunity to Bleeding)
  2. Ample Quartz Flask of Warding (immunity to Curses)
  3. Experimenter's Quicksilver Flask of Heat (increased Movement Speed and immunity to Freeze)
Witchfire BrewCinderswallow UrnLife FlaskQuartz FlaskQuicksilver Flask

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If you have any other build requests, please leave that in the comments below.

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

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