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Explosive Arrow Ballista Totem Elementalist Starter Build

Explosive Arrow Ballista Totem Elementalist Starter Build

Elementalist build that is widely considered to be the best starter for the upcoming League

Explosive Arrow Ballista Totem
Elementalist Starter Build

Updated for Patch 3.17

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Guide notes
February 03, 2022
-Build created
February 05, 2022
-Added gameplay video
Build overview



Boss DPS:



An Explosive Arrow is a Bow Attack that sticks the fired Arrow to an enemy and after a short delay of one second, or after it reaches the maximum of 20 stacks of Arrows attached to a single target - it explodes dealing AoE Fire Damage, and all the remaining Explosive Arrows are consumed. The more stacks you have, the higher the damage of the Final Explosion is, so prioritizing the rate at which you can Attack is very important. The usual way to achieve it is to get more Attack Speed, but for an Elementalist, the most efficient way is to Attacks via multiple Ballista Totems. What you have to keep in mind is that you have to apply 20 Stacks of Explosive Arrows before they Explode automatically - usually after one second, but that can be modified with Duration modifiers or Gem Quality itself - the regular Quality increases the Duration, but Divergent Quality reduces it (it's actually preferable because it also increases the number of maximum stacks by 0.2 per 1%). The Explosion Hit Damage is not important because it's an Ignite build that relies on Damage over Time caused by the aforementioned Explosion.

Elementalist is the go-to Ascendancy for Ignite builds - you have massively increased Ignite Damage and Chance to Ignite by Shaper of Flames, Mastermind of Discord, and Heart of Destruction. The Passives you want to allocate on your Passive Skill Tree are all over the place - you need Ancestral Bond on the top left, Dirty Techniques with Panopticon on the bottom, and Watchtowers on the bottom right. These will increase the Maximum number of your Ballista Totems. Allocate Keystones such as Elemental Overload and Elemental Equilibrium (you can't have added Fire Damage to Attacks). Get some generic defensive stats such as Life, Armour, and Spell Suppression. To get more Damage look for Attack Speed and Fire Damage over Time.

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1. Gameplay

Use your Totems to deal Ignite Damage, there is a small delay as you have to wait for Totems to start shooting and then for your Arrows to Explode. Apply a Flammability Curse to lower Fire Resistance with a Hextouch Gem, it can be linked to a Trap which is also used to generate Frenzy Charges and trigger Elemental Equilibrium. To apply Combustion against more resilient opponents use Traps that don't deal Fire Damage - for example, a Lightning Spire Trap. Use Auras such as Precision for more Accuracy Rating, and Defiance Banner with Determination for Armour. Malevolence increases your Ignite Damage.

Full gameplay video:


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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • Deals a lot of Ignite DPS
  • great defenses thanks to the high Maximum Life combined with Armour and Spell Suppression
  • can be played on a tight budget - one of the best starter builds with no special requirements or Cluster Jewels
  • Totems take some time to kill enemies so you might have to backtrack for loot


3. Leveling tips

Starting with a Fire Spell would be wise as you can quickly get some Passives to help you with Leveling. Start to specialize in Fire Damage over Time after the first Lab. Pick a Fire Spell such as Fireball, Armageddon Brand, or Purifying Flame. At level 28 you will be able to use Explosive Arrow, get some Fire Damage, Maximum Life, and Damage over Time. Quickly allocate Ancestral Bond and start using Totems, then look for more Attack Speed and Accuracy Rating. Be sure that your projectiles don't Pierce targets, Arrows have to stop at the first enemy. 

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Detonate Dead setup
Explosive Arrow Explosive Arrow - Start using it as soon as you can and link it with Ballistas after allocating the Ancestral Bond
Ballista Totem Support Ballista Totem Support - Explosive Arrows are fired by Ballistas
Additional Accuracy Support Additional Accuracy Support - if you need additional Accuracy use this Gem
Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support - Faster Attacks Support Gem is one of the best ways to increase your DPS
Multiple Projectiles Support Multiple Projectiles Support - more projectiles are used for wider coverage and to Hit more enemies
Auras, Curses, and Flame Dash setup
Flammability Flammability - Curse that lowers Fire Resistance of your enemies
Precision Precision - Precision is great early on when you lack Accuracy Rating
Flame Dash Flame Dash - instantly teleports you over a short distance


Kill all three bandits for two additional Skill Points


Leveling Skill Trees:

21 Points Passive Tree
Head for the Fire Damage Cluster as shown to pick some Maximum Life and other useful stats

44 Points Passive Tree
Go for the Ancestral Bond Keystone and allocate the nearby useful nodes

50 Points Passive Tree
Take Acrimony and Elemental Overload, respec Fire Walker and nearby nodes for they are no longer good with Attacks

87 Points Passive Tree
remove more points from the upper part of the tree to get to the Panopticon and Dirty Techniques, pick Elemental Equilibrium and Deadly Draw on your way there


Recommended leveling items:

Le Heup of AllLe Heup of All - grants more Damage, Attributes, and Elemental Resistances
Adds 1 to 4 Physical Damage to Attacks
+(10-30) to all Attributes
(10-30)% increased Damage
(10-30)% increased Rarity of Items found
+(10-30)% to all Elemental Resistances
GoldrimGoldrim - a Helmet to give you tons of Elemental Resistances and has no level restrictions
+(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 - you can six-link a setup from the start
Item has no level requirement and Energy Shield (Hidden)
Item has 6 White Sockets and is fully linked (Hidden)
Berek's RespiteBerek's Respite - Useful Ring to enhance your Clear Speed by inflicting Ignite more efficiently. It will be very expensive early in the league. Do not equip it after allocating Elemental Equilibrium.
+(12-16)% to Fire and Lightning Resistances
Adds (20-25) to (30-50) Fire Damage to Spells and Attacks
(25-30)% increased Lightning Damage
+(30-40) to maximum Mana
When you Kill a Shocked Enemy, inflict an equivalent Shock on each nearby Enemy
When you Kill an Ignited Enemy, inflict an equivalent Ignite on each nearby Enemy
LifesprigLifesprig - the best level one weapon for Spell-casters, but it becomes useless after level 28
(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
Quill RainQuill Rain - the two aspects of this Bow that makes it great is Attack Speed and Accuracy Rating - definitely worth acquiring
+(10-20) to Dexterity
100% increased Physical Damage
100% increased Attack Speed
+2 Mana gained for each Enemy hit by Attacks
(50-100)% increased Projectile Speed
+(25-50) to Accuracy Rating
30% less Damage

4. Final Skill Tree, Ascendancy Points, and Pantheon

Final Skill Tree:

116 Points Final Passive Tree (doesn't include Cluster Jewels)
116 Points Path of Building (PoB) link

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Shaper of Flames
  2. Mastermind of Discord
  3. Heart of Destruction
  4. Shaper of Storms


Major God: Soul of The Brine King: 1% You cannot be Stunned if you've been Stunned or Blocked a Stunning Hit in the past 2 seconds

Minor God: Soul of Abberath: 60% less Duration of Ignite on You


5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Explosive Arrow setup
Explosive Arrow Explosive Arrow - The primary damage source - it fires an Arrow that attaches to an enemy or a wall and then Explodes dealing Fire Damage and causing Ignite.
Ballista Totem Support Ballista Totem Support - It makes you summon a Totem that uses linked Attack instead of you using it
Multiple Totems Support Multiple Totems Support - you can summon two more Totems to stack the Arrows faster
Elemental Damage with Attacks Support Elemental Damage with Attacks Support - one of the best ways to increase your DPS is to simply increase the Elemental Damage with Attacks
Swift Affliction Support Swift Affliction Support - gets you more Damage over time, but less Skill Effect Duration so it requires you to have some Attack Speed already
Deadly AIlments Support Deadly Ailments Support - it's the best-in-slot Gem for a higher Damage with Ignite, you deal less Damage with Hits - that's not an issue
Situational Support Gems
Inspiration Support Inspiration Support - Skills cost less Mana and have increased Elemental Damage, use it if your Attack costs too much Mana
Burning Damage Support Burning Damage Support - Buring Damage is increased, one of the best Gems to increase your DPS, use it if you have an Awakened Version
Efficacy Support Efficacy Support  - increases Skill Effect Duration of DoT effects and the Damage of it, use it you have low Attack Speed
Ignite Proliferation Support Ignite Proliferation Support - it spreads the Ignite you caused to nearby enemies so it's useful when clearing maps, use it if you're not satisfied with your clear speed
Empower Empower Support - it's an expensive Gem, but one of the best ones to increase the Damage, use it if you can afford it
Lifetap Support Lifetap Support - Skill cost Life instead of Mana and deals more damage if you use it often - great if you have no Mana and good enough Damage
Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support - use it when can't get all the 20 stacks on a single enemy before they explode automatically, or when you can't get off-color sockets on your Bow
Additional Accuracy Support Additional Accuracy Support - use it if you have a very low Accuracy Rating or you can't get off-color sockets on your Bow
[UTILITY] Mana-reserving setup
Precision Precision - Depending on how much Accuracy Rating you already have, keep it between Level 1 - 20
Determination Determination - increases your Armour which is undoubtedly important
Defiance Banner Defiance Banner - more Armour and Evasion Rating, enemies are less likely to Hit you with Critical Strike
Malevolence Malevolence - increased Skill Effect Duration and Damage over Time
[UTILITY] Flame Dash setup
Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support - Keep it at a low level, it increases your Mana Regeneration Rate
Flame Dash Flame Dash - Flame Dash is used for mobility, but it also grants you Arcane Surge
[UTILITY] Combustion setup
Lightning Spire Trap Lightning Spire Trap - You have to cause ignite indirectly - due to Ancestral Bond you can't deal damage by self-casting, and you already use Totems. Lightning Spire Trap seems to have good AoE, it doesn't deal inherently Fire Damage, and should easily Ignite enemies.
Charged Traps Support Charged Traps Support - (optional) increases Trap Throwing Speed and generates Frenzy Charges
Combustion Support Combustion Support - if you Ignite an enemy with a linked Skill its Fire Resistance gets reduced by 10%
Cluster Traps Support Cluster Traps Support - (optional) you throw Traps quicker and more of them to Hit enemies with greater efficiency and to generate Frenzy Charges faster
Hextouch Support Hextouch Support - Curse is applied via Hit with a linked Skill
Flammability Flammability - Curse that lowers Fire Resistance of enemies, definitely the best one you can use
[UTILITY] Molten Shell
Molten Shell Molten Shell - mitigates a portion of incoming damage when active; it is more effective the more Armour you have, which you should have around 20k of


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6. Gear Setup

The base duration of an Ignite is 4 seconds, you should apply a fresh Ignite every one second or so, so don't be hesitant to reduce the Ailment Duration or to make it deal Damage Faster, it's hard to make it less than even two seconds. Your primary objective is to get a 100% Hit Chance with enough Accuracy and enough Attack Speed so that 20 Arrows can be stacked in one second. After that look for Fire Damage over Time and Elemental Damage with Attacks. Do not add Fire Damage to your Attack - it will ruin your Equilibrium as the Arrows deal no Fire Damage, only the explosion they cause do. Instead, get a small amount of added Cold or Lightning Damage that can be found on many gear pieces and Jewels. Maximum Life, Armour, and Spell Suppression are your main lines of defense. Additional Gem Level affixes now can be found on non-influenced Amulets - that's great news because the damage scales really good with the Level of Explosive Arrow so try to find one that fits your budget. If you need more unreserved Mana you can lower the Gem Level of Precision - you can go as low as level 1 given that you source a significant amount of Accuracy from 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. to cap your Elemental Resistances
  2. Maximum Life
  3. Accuracy until you reach 100% Hit Chance
  4. Attack Speed
  5. Gem Level of Explosive Arrow
  6. Ignite deals Damage faster
  7. Ignite, Burning, Fire, Elemental Damage
  8. Damage over Time Multiplier
  9. Dexterity
  10. Decreasing Mana Cost of Skills
  11. Armour
  12. Chaos Resistance
  13. Spell Suppression
  14. increased Skill Effect Duration (if you have low Attack Speed)
Rare Helmet(Helmet) Rare Helmet - a Helmet with high Maximum Life and Elemental Resistances is good for a start, you can later look for a mod that makes your Ignite deal Damage faster
Min. requirements:
+60 to maximum Life
+60% to Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Accuracy Rating
Ignites you inflict deal Damage faster
Nearby Enemies have -9% to Fire Resistance
Helmet enchantments:
Explosive Arrow has 15% increased Attack Speed
Explosive Arrow deals 40% increased Damage
Bow(Weapon) Rare Bow - a standards +2 Bow with Attack Speed and increased Fire DoT is good. You don't have to look for Crit mods, and definitely not added Fire Damage.
Min. requirements:
+2 to Level of Socketed Bow Gems
+15 % To Fire Damage over Time Multiplier (can be crafted)
9% increased Attack Speed
Optional affixes:
increased Fire Damage over Time
Accuracy Rating
increased Damage over Time
+1 to Level of Socketed Gems
Two-Point Arrow Quiver(Weapon) Rare Quiver - Two-Point Arrow Quiver and Artillery Quiver are the best bases here. you Should get some Accuracy Rating, Life, DoT, and Attack Speed.
Min. requirements:
+60 to maximum Life
+15% to Damage over Time Multiplier with Attack Skills
30% increased Elemental Damage with Attack Skills
Optional affixes:
increased Attack Speed
Accuracy Rating
Elemental Resistances
Bow Attacks fire an Additional Arrow
Kaom's Heart(Body Armour) Kaom's Heart - It will be expensive at the league start, but it definitely is the best Body Armour since you don't need another 6-link, you need Maximum Life, and you deal Fire Damage. Equipping it requires adjustment to the Lightning Spire Trap setup.
Has no Sockets
(20-40)% increased Fire Damage
+500 to maximum Life
Body Armour(Body Armour) Rare Body Armour - a regular Body Armour with a lot of Resistances and Maximum Life is a good choice
Min. requirements:
+80 to maximum Life
+180% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
chance to Suppress Spell Damage
increased Maximum Life
+1 to Level of Socketed Active Skill Gems
Boots(Boots) Rare Boots - focus on Maximum Life, Elemental Resistances, and increased Movement Speed
Min. requirements:
+50 to maximum Life
+60% Total Elemental Resistances
20% increased Movement Speed
Optional affixes:
chance to Suppress Spell Damage
Ignites you inflict deal Damage faster
Rare Gloves(Gloves) Rare Gloves - Besides Life and Resistances look for Fire Damage over Time Multiplier and Accuracy Rating. Apothecary's Gloves are the best base since these increase your DoT.
Min. requirements:
+60 to maximum Life
+60% to Elemental Resistances
+300 Accuracy Rating
Optional affixes:
Fire Damage over Time Multiplier
Dyadian Dawn(Belt) Dyadian Dawn - it's a nice boost to your Life, Strength, Resistances, and most importantly - your Ignites deal Damage much faster
+(25-35) to Strength
+(70-85) to maximum Life
+(20-40)% to Fire Resistance
+(20-40)% to Cold Resistance
1% of Attack Damage Leeched as Life against Chilled Enemies
Ignites you inflict with Attacks deal Damage 35% faster
Deal no Physical Damage
Rare Belt(Belt) Rare Belt - you should easily find one with Elemental Damage with Attacks, Maximum Life, and Elemental Resistances
Min. requirements:
+70 to maximum Life
+60% to Elemental Resistances
35% increased Elemental Damage with Attack Skills
Optional affixes:
increased Maximum Life
Rare Amulet(Amulet) Rare Amulet - You can now easily get the increased Level of all Fire and Dexterity Skill gems, previously these would have to be double-influenced so it's definitely worth looking for.
Min. requirements:
+50 to maximum Life
+50% to Elemental Resistances
+15% to Damage over Time Multiplier
Optional affixes:
+1 to Level of all Fire Skill Gems
+1 to Level of all Dexterity Skill Gems
Non-Channelling Skills have -7 to Total Mana Cost (crafted)
Recommended Anointments:
Searing Heat
Prismatic Skin
Explosive Impact
Rare Ring(Ring) Rare Ring - it's easy to get some Accuracy Rating Suffixes here as well as more Life and Resistances; you can later get a Flammability Curse on Hit.
Min. requirements:
+60 to maximum Life
+60% to Elemental Resistances
+200 Accuracy Rating
Optional affixes:
Curse Enemies with Flammability on Hit
Fire Damage Leeched as Life
increased Fire Damage
Non-Channelling Skills have -7 to Total Mana Cost (crafted)
Cobalt Jewel(Jewel) Rare Jewels - increase your Maximum Life, get missing Attributes, Resistances, Attack Speed, Totem Damage, Accuracy Rating, and for Damage prioritize "Damaging Ailments deal damage faster"

Recommended affixes:
increased maximum Life
Accuracy Rating
Fire Damage over Time Multiplier
Damaging Ailments deal damage faster
increased Totem Damage
Attack Speed

Rain of Splinters(Jewel) Rain of Splinters - increased number of Projectiles is always good for your clear speed
(50-30)% reduced Totem Damage
Totems fire 2 additional Projectiles
Watcher's Eye(Jewel) Watcher's Eye - it's an expensive item that you won't be able to afford initially, but the increased DoT with Malevolence will be a mod to strive for later
(4-6)% increased maximum Energy Shield
(4-6)% increased maximum Life
(4-6)% increased maximum Mana
<Two or Three random aura modifiers>
Recommended affixes:
1 Added Passive Skill is Fan the Flames
1 Added Passive Skill is Wasting Affliction
1 Added Passive Skill is Blowback
1 Added Passive Skill is Burning Bright
1 Added Passive Skill is Exposure Therapy
Dying Sun(Flask) Dying Sun - during the Flask's duration you fire more Projectiles with increased AoE and take less damage
+50% to Fire Resistance
20% less Fire Damage taken
(125-150)% increased Charges per use
(60-40)% less Duration
(10-20)% increased Area of Effect during Flask Effect
Skills fire 2 additional Projectiles during Flask Effect
Cinderswallow Urn(Flask) Cinderswallow Urn - For a modifier try to look for reduced Mana Cost of Skills during Flask Effect. It's a source of Onslaught and additional Damage against Ignited enemies.
+90 to Maximum Charges
Recharges 5 Charges when you Consume an Ignited corpse
(175-200)% increased Charges per use
Enemies Ignited by you during Flask Effect take (7-10)% increased Damage
Veiled Suffix
<One of the three modifiers>

Suggested Flasks:

  1. Life Flask with Bleeding immunity/removal
  2. Quicksilver Flask with random ailment removal
  3. Basalt Flask with random ailment removal
Cinderswallow UrnLife FlaskQuickilver FlaskDying SunBasalt 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.

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