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Ethereal Knives Trickster Build

Ethereal Knives Trickster Build

A very expensive Trickster build that scales damage via Frenzy and Power Charges

Ethereal Knives
Trickster Build

Updated for Patch 3.21

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Guide notes
March 24, 2022
-Build created
May 07, 2023

-Updated for Patch 3.21
Build overview



Boss DPS:



It's one of the few still viable Trickster builds, one that uses Power Charges with Void Batteries. It's a very expensive build, it requires a lot of good Rare Items, and a Badge of the Brotherhood for 12 Power and Frenzy Charges. It's capable of reaching over 10mil of mixed Damage - mostly Physical, Cold, Fire, and Chaos. You can easily reach 100% of Critical Strike Chance and 500% Critical Multiplier with your Ethereal Knives - it's a Spell that fires multiple Projectiles which deals Physical Damage, that will become a base for multiple other types of damage which are sourced from it by Auras, Support Gems, Flasks, and Keystones. We also heavily encourage investing in Forbidden Flesh and Forbidden Flame to allocate Unstable Infusion. It's a Life build with 10k Armour and fast Life Regeneration after allocating proper Keystones. The defensives are clearly not the main focus of this glass cannon build, but hopefully, you won't need any, as most of the bosses die instantly. Combined with Herald of Ash and Herald of Ice it results in an amazing Clear Speed.

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1. Gameplay

Ethereal Knives are used as the only Damaging ability, combined with Flame Dash for faster movement the build has quite good clear speed. During boss fights use Tornado to boost your DPS, link it with Culling Strike and Onslaught for enhanced performance. For a Guard Spell use Molten Shell or Steelskin, depending on how much Armour you have. For a Curse use Sniper's Mark to improve your Projectile Damage and resources sustain. The Mana-reserving Skills that are best suited for this build are Determination, Herald of Purity, Herald of Ash, Herald of Ice, Clarity, Defiance Banner, and Hatred which is linked to Divine Blessing.

This video was recorded on a level 94 Trickster with 12 total Power Charges from a Helmet affix, Synthesised Ring, and Infusion Passive from Forbidden Flesh/Flame Jewels. All around this was one of the most expensive builds we ever made, but it offered a very enjoyable and smooth playstyle for a character that many believe not to be a playable class anymore

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • very high DPS
  • deals four types of damage making it good against all types of opponents
  • excellent clear speed
  • great mana sustain thanks to Weave the Arcane and Patient Reaper
  • very expensive
  • glass cannon, low survivability
  • can't do Elemental or Physical Reflect Maps


3. Leveling tips

Ethereal Knives are available since level 1, so you can start with this Skill right after killing Hillock. Allocate the Swift Killer after the first Lab, and immediately start to expand on the Power Charge mechanics. It will make the leveling process smooth and there will be no sudden changes and respecing Skill Points. Equip Badge of the Brotherhood at level 60, and Void Batteries at level 68 - right after you start mapping. AS you level up look mostly for Spell Damage mods.

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Ethereal Knives setup
Ethereal Knives Ethereal Knives - leveling with this Spell is a recommended option since it's available early on and is one of the very few Physical Spells
Inspiration Support Inspiration Support - the cost of linked Skills is lower while Elemental Damage and Crit. Chance gets increased
Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support - grants you a Buff to increase the Spell Damage and mana Regeneration Rate
Added Fire Damage Support Added Fire Damage Support - adds Fire Damage sourced from your Physical Damage
Power Charge on Critical Support Power Charge on Critical Support - scales your damage with Power Charges, and generates them on Critical Strike
various Gems
Steelskin Steelskin - a Guard Spell that mitigates some of the damage you take from Hits
Sniper's Mark Sniper's Mark - a Mark that makes the target more vulnerable to Projecuitles and refills your Flasks
Flame Dash Flame Dash - used for mobility
Herald of Purity Herald of Purity - it's used for more Physical Damage
Herald of Ash Herald of Ash - use it for more Fire Damage, sourced from your Physical Damage, and for better clear speed
Clarity Clarity - it regenerates your Mana every second


Killing all Bandits for two additional Passive Points is the best option

Leveling Skill Trees:

31 Points Skill Tree
Get the Maximum Life, Assassination, Charisma, and Infused

68 Points Skill Tree
Allocate more Maximum Life, Critical Strike nodes, Power Charges nodes, Herald Cluster, and Force Shaper


Recommended leveling items:

Storm PrisonStorm Prison - great Wand to have as soon as you start investing in Power Charges
(11-15)% increased Spell Damage
(40-60)% increased Physical Damage
Adds 1 to (35-45) Lightning Damage
(15-25)% increased Mana Regeneration Rate
+1 to Maximum Power Charges
(25-35)% chance to gain a Power Charge on Kill
PraxisPraxis - grants more Mana and lowers Mana cost of Skills
+(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
Axiom PerpetuumAxiom Perpetuum - one of the best leveling weapons for a build dealing more than one type of damage
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
GoldrimGoldrim - A helmet that's good for leveling due to the abundance of 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)
Tabula RasaTabula Rasa - allows you to link any six Gems from the start
Item has no level requirement and Energy Shield (Hidden)
Item has 6 White Sockets and is fully linked (Hidden)

4. Final Skill Tree, Ascendancy Points, and Pantheon

Final Skill Tree:

116 Points Final Skill Tree (doesn't include Unique or Cluster Jewels)
123 Points Path of Building (PoB) link

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Polymath
  2. Escape Artist
  3. Soul Drinker
  4. One Step Ahead


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 Garukhan: 60% reduced Effect of Shock on you, Cannot be Blinded, You cannot be Maimed


5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Ethereal Knives setup
Ethereal Knives Ethereal Knives - a Projectile Spell that deals Physical Damage via multiple Knives, you should be able to cast it 7 or more times per second
Added Fire Damage Support Added Fire Damage Support - adds Fire Damage based on Physical Damage, it's recommended to use the Awakened version for extra Gem Level of Ethereal Knives
Power Charge on Critical Support Power Charge on Critical Support - makes you deal more Damage per Power Charge
Spell Echo Spell Echo Support - the most efficient way to increase Spell Damage is to cast it additional time with increased Cast Speed
Increased Critical Strike Damage Support Increased Critical Damage Support - your Critical Strike Damage has increased Multiplier
Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support - grants you Arcane Surge Buff for more Spell Damage and increased mana Regeneration Rate
[UTILITY] Tornado setup
Tornado Tornado - Tornade is able to chase enemies and collide with your Projectiles to deal increased Damage and Hinder opponents
Culling Strike Support Culling Strike Support - Skill instantly kill any opponent below 10% of their Maximum Life
Onslaught Support Onslaught Support - Tornade grants Onslaught for increased Cast and Movement Speed
[UTILITY] Sniper's Mark setup
Sniper's Mark Sniper's Mark - the Curse makes your Projectile Split, deal more damage, and grants Life and Mana Flask Charges
Mark on Hit Support Mark on Hit Support - linked Mark is applied on Hit with any Skill that's able to Hit
[UTILITY] Auras setup
Herald of Purity Herald of Purity - creates Minions and grants you more Physical Damage, which is the most valuable stat
Determination Determination - adds and increases your Armour
Herald of Ash Herald of Ash - Increased Fire Damage, Spell Damage, Burning Damage, and extra Fire Damage based on Physical Damage. It also burns enemies on kill for extra AoE.
Enlighten Support Enlighten Support - linked Skills reserve less Mana
[UTILITY] Auras setup
Herald of Ice Herald of Ice - adds and increases Cold Damage, it also allows you to Shatter enemies for extra AoE
Clarity Clarity - Use Clarity for better Mana Regeneration, which will be needed. You can keep it at a low level.
Defiance Banner Defiance Banner - increases your Armour and Evasion Rating while reducing Crit. Chance for nearby enemies
Enlighten Support Enlighten Support
[UTILITY] Hatred setup
Hatred Hatred - adds extra Cold Damage sourced from your Physical Damage, and makes you deal more Cold Damage
Divine Blessing Divine Blessing Support - linked Aura is temporary and lasts for 10 seconds each time you use it, but its effect is increased and it doesn't reserve Mana
Lifetap Lifetap Support - Hatred cost Life instead of Mana. If you have Eldritch Battery, don't use it.
[MOBILITY] Flame Dash
Flame Dash Flame Dash - Flame Dash is one of the best Movement Skills used to quickly teleport
[UTILITY] Molten Shell
Molten Shell Molten Shell - a Guard Spell that prevents a portion of the damage you take from hits for a short duration

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6. Gear Setup

Physical Damage with Spells is one of the most important stats to look for but you won't need to convert it to any other type of damage, as you're not specialized in any in particular. Focus on Critical Strike Chance and Multiplier instead. Void Batteries and Badge of the Brotherhood are mandatory Uniques - this setup grants you two additional Maximum Power Charges and Frenzy Charges equal to Frenzy Charges. With three additional Maximum Power Charges from your Skill Tree, two from Ascendancy Keystones, one from Helmet, and one from Ring you're able to get up to 12 Charges. Your main line of defense is Maximum Life, but you can also get some Energy Shield since it will stay up at all times thanks to Patient Reaper. The build requires 155 Strength because of Determination, you will have to look for it on your gear.

Our recommended items will:

  1. Cap your resistances at 75%
  2. Provide you with enough DPS and Life to start mapping

Stat priorities on items:

  1. Elemental Resistances
  2. Maximum Life
  3. Critical Strike Chance (until reaching 100%)
  4. Critical Strike Multiplier
  5. Physical Damage
  6. Spell Damage
  7. Strength
  8. Chaos Damage
  9. Cold Damage
  10. Cast Speed
  11. Fire Damage
  12. Armour
  13. Chaos Resistance
Rare Helmet(Helmet) Rare Helmet - it's supposed to grant you an additional Maximum Power Charge, Resistances, and Maximum Life
Min. requirements:
+70 to Maximum Life
+60% to Elemental Resistances
+1 to Maximum Power Charges
Optional affixes:
Global Critical Strike Multiplier
Chaos Resistance
Lightpoacher(Helmet) Lightpoacher - Lightpoacher massively increases your Damage with EK, but be sure to have a lot of Abyss Jewels on.
Has 2 Abyssal Sockets
Trigger Level 20 Spirit Burst when you Use a Skill while you have a Spirit Charge
+(10-15)% to all Elemental Resistances
+1 to Maximum Spirit Charges per Abyss Jewel affecting you
Gain a Spirit Charge on Kill
Gain 5% of Physical Damage as Extra Damage of each Element per Spirit Charge
Helmet enchantments:
40% increased Ethereal Knives Damage
Void Battery(Weapon) Void Battery - It scales with Power Charges if you have a lot of them, which you obviously have. Equip two for even more damage.
(36-40)% increased Spell Damage
80% reduced Spell Damage
(10-20)% increased Cast Speed
(50-65)% increased Global Critical Strike Chance
+(40-50) to maximum Mana
+1 to Maximum Power Charges
25% increased Spell Damage per Power Charge
Rare Body Armour(Body Armour) Rare Body Armour - It's your only source of Frenzy Charges, you will need the mod "10% chance to gain a Frenzy Charge on Hit" for it. It should also increase your Critical Strike Chance for Spells.
Min. requirements:
+80 to maximum Life
+1.5% to Spell Critical Strike Chance
10% chance to gain a Frenzy Charge on Hit
Optional affixes:
Gain 10% of Maximum Life as Extra Maximum Energy Shield (crafted)
Increased maximum Life
Elemental Resistances
Shroud of the Lightless(Body Armour) Shroud of the Lightless - Use it in combination with multiple Abyss Jewels to penetrate Elemental Resistances, and for more Life.
+(20-25) to maximum Mana
Has 3 Abyssal Sockets
Penetrate 4% Elemental Resistances per Abyss Jewel affecting you
20% chance to Trigger Level 20 Shade Form when you Use a Socketed Skill
(160-180)% increased Evasion and Energy Shield
3% increased Maximum Life per Abyss Jewel affecting you
3% increased Maximum Mana per Abyss Jewel affecting you
boots(Boots) Rare Boots - seek Life, Resistances, Movement Speed, and for the more high-end mods get Tailwind on Crit. and Onslaught on Kill
Min. requirements:
+60 to maximum Life
25% increased Movement Speed
+50% to Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Chaos Resistance
chance to gain Onslaught for 4 seconds on Kill
You have Tailwind if you have dealt a Critical Strike Recently
Cannot be Frozen (crafted)
Bubonic Trail(Boots) Bubonic Trail - If you have a copy with two Abyss Sockets, put both kinds there for relevant bonuses. It's great with Kurgal's Gaze Jewel too.
Has 2 Abyssal Sockets
Triggers Level 20 Death Walk when Equipped
(24-32)% increased Movement Speed while affected by a Magic Abyss Jewel
(40-60)% reduced Duration of Elemental Ailments on You while affected by a Rare Abyss Jewel
(16-24)% increased Reservation Efficiency while affected by a Unique Abyss Jewel
Rare Gloves(Gloves) Rare Gloves - get some more Life, Resistances, and increased Cast Speed or Spell Damage which is a base Implicit on Fingerless Silk Gloves
Min. requirements:
+60 to maximum Life
+60% to Elemental Resistances
increased Spell Damage
Optional affixes:
increased Global Critical Strike Chance
increased Cast Speed
Stygian Vise(Belt) Rare Belt - Get as much Maximum Life and Resistances as you can, it's also a good opportunity to get the necessary Strength
Min. requirements:
+70 to Maximum Life
+70% to Elemental Resistances
40 Strength
Optional affixes:
increased Damage
increased Maximum Life
Badge of the Brotherhood(Amulet) Badge of the Brotherhood - it allows you to have 12 Frenzy Charges instead of 4, which is great since each increases your Cast Speed and adds more Damage
+(16-24) to Dexterity and Intelligence
(7-10)% increased Cooldown Recovery Rate of Travel Skills per Frenzy Charge
(7-10)% increased Effect of Elusive on you per Power Charge
(20-25)% chance to lose a Frenzy Charge when you use a Travel Skill
(20-25)% chance to lose a Power Charge when you gain Elusive
Your Maximum Frenzy Charges is equal to your Maximum Power Charges
Recommended Anointments:
Ring(Ring) Rare Ring - you don't need to have the additional Maximum Power Charge since it's expensive, but it's the best upgrade you can get. Look for the Regular defensive stats, Strength, and reduced Mana Cost of Skills
Min. requirements:
+60 to maximum Life
+60% to Elemental Resistances
+1 to Maximum Power Charges (Synthesised Implicit)
Optional affixes:
increased Global Critical Strike Chance
Non-channeling Skills have -7 to Total Mana Cost (crafted)
increased Spell, Elemental, or Chaos Damage
Nimis(Ring) Nimis - Nimis would be great to effectively double your damage with returning Projectiles.
+(20-30)% to Lightning Resistance
+(30-50) to Dexterity
(25-35)% increased Projectile Damage
Projectiles Return to you
Projectiles are fired in random directions
Precursor's Emblem(Ring) Precursor's Emblem - another very expensive Ring that can grant you additional Power Charge-related bonuses including + to Maximum Power Charges. It also grants extra Life, Energy Shield, and moderate Resistances 
+(20-30)% to Lightning Resistance
+20 to Intelligence
5% increased maximum Energy Shield
5% increased maximum Life
<Three Power Charge mods>
Cobalt Jewel(Jewel) Rare Jewels - they should provide extra Life and some other various stats like Strength or Crit. Multiplier. Abyss Jewels are much better if you're using Abyss-themed items.

Recommended affixes:
Maximum Life
Elemental Resistances
Increases Projectile Damage
Increases Critical Strike Multiplier

Forbidden FlameForbidden Flesh(Jewel) Forbidden Flame & Forbidden Flesh - those expensive end-game Jewels can grant you an extra Power Charge if you get both of them with the Unstable Infusion Passive from the Assassin's Ascendancy
Requires Class <<Random Character Class>>
Allocates <<Random Ascendancy Notable>> if you have the matching modifiers on Forbidden Flame/Forbidden Flesh
Kurgal's Gaze(Jewel) Kurgal's Gaze - Increases the Effect of Arcane Surge which is rather easily acquired. Use it with five rare Abyss Hypnotic Eye Jewels.
+(10-20) to Intelligence
8% increased Effect of Arcane Surge on you per Hypnotic Eye Jewel affecting you, up to a maximum of 40%
Watcher's Eye(Jewel) Watcher's Eye - you're using Hatred and Determination so you can pick up some mods for these Auras
(4-6)% increased maximum Energy Shield
(4-6)% increased maximum Life
(4-6)% increased maximum Mana
<Two or Three random aura modifiers>
Large Cluster Jewels(Jewel) Large Cluster Jewels - Physical Damage Jewel is a great addition to the build
Recommended affixes:
1 Added Passive Skill is Iron Breaker
1 Added Passive Skill is Battle-Hardened
1 Added Passive Skill is Force Multiplier
Bottled Faith(Flask) Bottled Faith - the Critical Stike Chance and Consecrated Ground effect can increase your damage substantially
40% increased Damage
Creates Consecrated Ground on Use
(30-15)% reduced Duration
Consecrated Ground created by this Flask has Tripled Radius
Consecrated Ground created during Effect applies (7-10)% increased Damage taken to Enemies
(100-150)% increased Critical Strike Chance against Enemies on Consecrated Ground during Flask effect
Atziri's Promise(Flask) Atziri's Promise - adds Extra Chaos Damage based on 8% of your Physical and Elemental Damage, which is a lot
+35% to Chaos Resistance
2% of Chaos Damage Leeched as Life during Flask effect
Gain (5-8)% of Physical Damage as Extra Chaos Damage during effect
Gain (5-8)% of Elemental Damage as Extra Chaos Damage during effect
Taste of Hate(Flask) Taste of Hate - adds extra Cold Damage based on your Physical Damage and some extra defensive mods
+50% to Cold Resistance
20% less Cold Damage taken
(10-15)% of Physical Damage from Hits taken as Cold Damage during Flask effect
Gain (10-15)% of Physical Damage as Extra Cold Damage during effect
30% chance to Avoid being Chilled during Flask effect
30% chance to Avoid being Frozen during Flask effect

Other suggested Flasks:

  1. Life Flask of Staunching for Bleed removal
  2. Quicksilver Flask with Immunity to Poison during Flask Effect
Life flaskBottled FaithAtziri's PromiseTaste of HateQuicksilver Flask

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If you have any other build requests please leave that in the comments below. We are always open to suggestions and constructive feedback.

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

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