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Herald Stacking Ethereal Knives Guardian Build

Herald Stacking Ethereal Knives Guardian Build

Check out the single-best build for Patch 3.10 and the Delirium League

Herald Stacking
Ethereal Knives Guardian Build

Updated for Patch 3.10

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Estimated budget: very high
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Guide notes
April 13, 2020
-Build created


With the introduction of Cluster Jewel System in Patch 3.10 and the Delirium League, Guardian became the single-best and most powerful character class in the Path of Exile. Thanks to reduced Mana Reservation and Heraldry Passive, you can use all available Heralds in the game and dozen of different Auras for various bonuses. However, this build is extremely expensive as it requires you to get three Voices Unique Jewels which cost between 6 and 400 Exalted Orbs each depending on the number of empty Passives they add. Thanks to it, you should be able to use 9 Medium Cluster Jewels and stack the following Passives:

  1. Heraldry - which reduces Mana Reservation Cost of Herald Spells;
  2. Purposeful Harbinger - which increases the effect of non-Curse Auras you use for each Herald on you;
  3. Endbringer - which increases your damage for each Herald affecting you.

This combined, allows you to deal Millions of DPS with pretty much any skill that can be used with Wands. We have made this build around Ethereal Knives with a relatively cheap Jewels (each added 7 Passives so they were the cheapest ones) and the tooltip DPS was at 900k for Ethereal Knives which we Supported with Chain and added Ring of Blades Jewel to make it fire in a nova.

This build requires a number of specific Uniques that offer insane synergies between one another. The following setup works best with Spells/Attacks that have base Physical Damage as we benefit multiple times from Damage Conversion bonuses.

You can also check our other Path of Exile builds right here: Odealo's Crafty Guides - Full List


1. Gameplay

This is a very simple and straight forward build. You simply run around Maps with a nearly immortal character and dish out Millions of Damage on your entire screen obliterating everything. Because of all the Auras with greatly increased effect, you have over 60% Physical Damage mitigation, 90% All Elemental Resistances (the hard cap) very high Energy Shield regeneration, and tons of DPS. Playstyle is plain and simple after you understand the build's concept and get all the items and synergies in place.

0:08 Tier 14 Spider Forest
0:29 Tier 15 Necropolis
0:50 Tier 15 Primordial Pools
1:05 Tier 16 Forge of the Phoenix
1:43 Tier 16 Waterways

This video was recorded on a level 92 Guardian with a "budget" build. It used the cheapest Voices Jewels with a total of 10 Passives and reached over 900k Ethereal Knives Tooltip unbuffed DPS

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • unlimited DPS
  • nearly immortal status
  • can use most of the available Auras making it one of the best Supports at the same time
  • insane clear speed with Chain and projectiles firing in all directions
  • quite an easy leveling for a character that complex to make
  • the single-best build for Patch 3.10
  • can be hard to build it with less than 50 Exalted Orbs


3. Leveling tips

You should level up your Guardian using the Herald of Agony which is available after you reach level 16. It's one of the best skills for leveling as it offers very high DPS regardless of your gear and allows you to reach level 80 and higher with ease, and you can respec to the Ethereal Knives/Herald Guardian whenever you feel comfortable enough. If you already have currency for the final Items, you can also use Calamitous Visions which grants Lone Messenger Passive. It will greatly increase the effectiveness and DPS of your Herald of Agony. Until you reach level 16 you can use any Spell you want, Ethereal Knives or Freezing Pulse will work just fine. You should use Storm Brand with Lesser Poison and Poison Support Gems to generate Virulence. When you are around level 50 you should try getting a Medium Cluster Jewel with the Grand Design Passive which will greatly increase the rate at which you Poison enemies. 

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Ethereal Knives setup
Ethereal Knives Ethereal Knives - primary Spell used in this build which deals base Physical Damage in an area in front of you. While it's not the best leveling tool, you can get a couple of those to level 20 while leveling, and have a  chance to get level 21 Gems by Vaaling them later on
Added Lightning Damage Added Lightning Damage Support - adds flat Lightning Damage to Supported skills greatly increasing its DPS
Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support - increases your Spell Damage and Mana Regeneration Rate after you spend a certain amount of Mana on Supported Spell. You don't have to upgrade this Gem too often, just enough to have it triggered frequently (after every few casts)
Herald of Agony setup
Herald of Agony Herald of Agony - whenever you Poison an enemy, Agony Crawler will spawn and fight for you. It deals a lot of damage as long as you can keep your Virulence stacks high, which shouldn't be hard with Storm Brand and 100% Chance to Poison
Minion Damage Support Minion Damage Support - well-round offensive Support Gem for your Minions
Pierce Support Pierce Support - greatly increases the clear speed offered by Herald of Agony by making the Crawler's projectiles pierce enemies
Vicious Projectile Support Vicious Projectiles Support - increases the DPS of your Agony Crawler
Storm Brand setup
Storm Brand Storm Brand - very high Storm Brand's Hit frequency makes it a perfect Spell for generating Virulence stacks
Faster Casting Support Faster Casting Support - increases the activation frequency of Storm Brand
Lesser Poison Lesser Poison Support - grants added Chaos Damage and 40% Chance to Poison on Hit
Lesser Poison Poison Support - grants 60% to Poison
Utility Gems
Clarity Clarity - grants increased Mana Regeneration which might be extremely useful on lower levels
Brand Recall Brand Recall - recalls your active Brands to your locations refreshing their cooldown slightly
Hatred Hatred - one of the best Auras for your Agony Crawler as its base DPS is 100% Physical

You should kill all the Bandits for two additional Passive Skill Points

Leveling Skill Trees:

34 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Discipline and Training 2) Enduring Bond 3) Cruel Preparation 4) Ravenous Horde

60~ Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Runebinder 2) Spiritual Aid 3) Purity of Flesh - This Tree assumes you will have one Medium Cluster Jewel at this point, preferably with the Grand Design Passive or Pure Agony/Disciples Passives

Level 80+ Skill Tree - Skill Tree at around level 80 when you should respec to Low-life/Voices version. Initially, you should have two Voices ready at that Point and several Medium Cluster Jewels to input in them
Level 80+ 2x Voices Passive Tree - this is what you should have when respeccing into Low-life Shavronne's with two Voices Unique Jewels filled with Medium Cluster Jewels with at least 4 Heraldry Passives and Purposeful Harbinger/Endbringer (each Voices setup should take approximately 20 Passives Points)

Recommended leveling items:

SidhebreathSidhebreath - a very cheap Amulet that helps a lot with Mana Management and gives you extra Minion Damage
(20-30)% increased Mana Regeneration Rate
+25% to Cold Resistance
0.2% of Physical Attack Damage Leeched as Mana
Minions have (10-15)% increased maximum Life
Minions have (10-15)% increased Movement Speed
(15-10)% reduced Mana Cost of Minion Skills
Minions deal (10-15)% increased Damage
Axiom PerpetuumAxiom Perpetuum - a great leveling Sceptre which makes your Storm Brand actually deal some decent damage on its own
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
PraxisPraxis - a great leveling Ring which reduces the Mana Cost of all abilities. It makes leveling much smoother
+(20-25) to maximum Mana
+(30-60) to maximum Mana
(3-6) Mana Regenerated per second
-(8-4) to Mana Cost of Skills
8% of Damage taken gained as Mana over 4 seconds when Hit
GoldrimGoldrim - one of the best leveling Helmets in the game which offers a lot of 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)
Victario's FlightVictario's Flight - a very useful Boots which grant very high bonus Movement Speed both to yourself and your Agony Crawler
+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


4. Final Skill tree, Ascendancy Points, and Pantheon

Final Skill Tree:

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

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Radiant Crusade
  2. Unwavering Crusade
  3. Harmony of Purpose
  4. Bastion of Hope
  5. Refund the first two and pick Radiant Faith and Unwavering Faith after you start stacking Heralds and Auras at 80+


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 Gruthkul 1% additional Physical Damage Reduction for each Hit you've taken Recently up to a maximum of 5%


5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Ethereal Knives
Ethereal Knives Ethereal Knives - your primary source of DPS. It's a Spell that fires multiple Ethereal Blades in a Nova around you, dealing high base Physical Damage. Thanks to multi-layer Damage Conversion, we get to reach millions of effective DPS with it
Physical to Lightning Physical to Lightning Damage - allows you to convert nearly 100% of Ethereal Blade's base DPS to Lightning type
Spell Echo Support Spell Echo Support - makes you cast Ethereal Knives multiple times in a quick succession greatly increasing your DPS
Energy Leech Support Energy Leech Support - lets you Leech Energy Shield based on the damage dealt by Ethereal Knives. It's also a very substantial DPS buff
Hypothermia Hypothermia Support - greatly increases your DPS against chilled enemies and since you deal mainly Cold Damage, enemies will be chilled most of the time
Reduced Mana Support Inspiration Support - increases your Elemental Damage and reduces Ethereal Knives' Mana Cost
[UTILITY] Auras 1
(in Boots - Doryani's Delusion)
Vaal Impurity of Fire Vaal Impurity of Fire - the regular Aura increases your Fire Resistance and Maximum Fire Resistance. You can also use the Vaal part for a very slight bonus against Bosses and immunity to Ignite
Vaal Impurity of Ice Vaal Impurity of Ice - same as above, but this time it works for Cold Resistance
Purity of Lightning Purity of Lightning - this Spell should be granted by Doryani's Delusion Unique Boots
Clarity Clarity - just use a low-level Clarity so that it doesn't reserve too much of your Mana while giving you enough Regen for Ethereal Knives spam. It will still grant all the bonuses that refer to "each buff affecting you" and Unwavering Faith
Enlighten Support Enlighten Support - reduces the amount of Mana Reserved by all Supported Auras
[UTILITY] Auras 2
(in Prism Guardian)
Zealotry Zealotry - this Aura increases your Spell Damage and Spell Critical Strike Chance
Wrath Wrath - increases your Lightning Spell Damage. It also allows you to convert up to 40% of your Physical Damage to Lightning via Watcher's Eye which is a must-have for this build
Hatred Hatred - adds very high bonus Cold Damage based on Ethereal Knives Physical Damage, and increases Cold Damage globally
[UTILITY] Auras 3
(socketed in your Helmet)
Vaal Haste Vaal Haste - you can use the Vaal part of this Skill for some extra speed, or if you have end-game Corrupted Jewels with extra Mana Reservation Cost Reduction, you could possibly use the regular Aura as well
Precision Precision - Aura which increases your Critical Strike Chance and Accuracy. You can use a lower level Gem here not to reserve too much Mana by it 
Vaal Discipline Vaal Discipline - grants very high bonus Energy Shield. You can try to get a level 21 Discipline (you could skip the Vaaling part then or if you can afford it, just get a Lvl 21 Vaal Discipline) as it's one of the primary sources of Energy Shield for your character
Blood Magic Support Blood Magic Support - causes the above Auras to Reserve Life instead of Mana
[MOBILITY] Flame Dash
Flame Dash Flame Dash - the recommended Movement Skill for this build. It allows you to progress faster through Maps and gain the Arcane Surge buff for extra Spell Damage and Mana Regen.
Arcane Surge Arcane Surge Support - keep this Gem at level 6 so that it triggers which each Flame Dash cast
[UTILITY] Herald Spells
(fill in all empty sockets, don't require links)
Herald of Ash Herald of Ash - grants extra Fire Damage based on your Physical Damage and causes AoE Explosions around your targets
Herald of Ice Herald of Ice - grants extra Cold Damage and causes AoE explosions on killing Frozen enemies
Herald of Thunder Herald of Thunder - adds Lightning Damage
Herald of Purity Herald of Purity - adds Physical Damage to Spells and Attacks
Herald of Agony Herald of Agony - its bonuses are irrelevant, but we need all Heralds active for massive DPS buff

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5. Gear Setup

Now onto the most important and expensive part of this monstrous Guardian Herald Stacking Build. Sadly, this build offers near to none flexibility when it comes to item choices, and it uses only one Rare Item in your core equipment (Boots). Most of the listed Items are mandatory and finding alternatives would cost us hours to make proper calculations on whether it's worth it or not. Keep in mind, that this is one of the most expensive builds currently with an estimated minimum budget of 50 Exalted Orbs, with no upper limit on how much it can cost. On the other hand, it's the closest you will find to "immortality" in the of Exile with nearly endless damage-scaling capabilities.

We guarantee that our list will:

  1. Cap your resistances 
  2. Give you enough DPS and Life to start mapping successfully
  3. Save you at least a couple of hours!

Stat priorities on items:

  1. Reduces Mana Reserved
  2. Maximum Energy Shield
  3. Spell Damage
  4. Spell Critical Strike Chance
Alpha's Howl(Helmet) Alpha's Howl - one of the best Helmets for this build, and at the same time, one of the cheapest Items you can use here. It grants a very high reduction to global Mana Reservation Cost making it easier to use all the recommended Auras
+2 to Level of Socketed Aura Gems
(80-100)% increased Evasion Rating
+(20-30)% to Cold Resistance
25% chance to Avoid being Chilled
Cannot be Frozen
8% reduced Mana Reserved
Helmet enchantment:
40% increased Ethereal Knives Damage
Helmet corruption:
+2 to level of Socketed Aura Gems
Shavronnes Wrappings(Body Armour) Shavronne's Wrappings - a must-have for every Low-Life build out there. It allows you to use additional Auras which Reserve Life as Chaos Damage won't bypass your Energy Shield
(3-10)% increased Spell Damage
(100-150)% increased Energy Shield
10% faster start of Energy Shield Recharge
+(30-40)% to Lightning Resistance
Reflects 1 to 250 Lightning Damage to Melee Attackers
Chaos Damage does not bypass Energy Shield
Nebulis(Weapon) Nebulis - the best in the slot weapon for this build. It grants simply insane bonus damage as we benefit from both Cold and Lightning Damage Increase thanks to Call of the Brotherhood's Conversion, as well as the bonus is at its highest as you will be running at 90% Maximum Resistances
40% increased Elemental Damage
<One to three random synthesis implicit modifiers>
(15-20)% increased Cast Speed
(15-20)% increased Cold Damage per 1% Cold Resistance above 75%
(15-20)% increased Lightning Damage per 1% Lightning Resistance above 75%
Prism Guardian(Shield) Prism Guardian - a must-have. It gives you Blood Magic for all Socketed Auras and reduces their Mana Reservation Cost. Also, it increases the level of all those Auras, giving you more Energy Shield and DPS bonuses
+12% to all Elemental Resistances
+2 to Level of Socketed Aura Gems
Socketed Gems have Blood Magic
Socketed Gems have 25% reduced Mana Reservation
+(20-30) to Dexterity
+25% to all Elemental Resistances
Doryani's Delusion(Boots) Doryani's Delusion - another mandatory Item for this build which grants one of the core Aura Spells. It also offers decent Energy Shield and high Movement Speed bonus
(180-220)% increased Energy Shield
+(50-70) to maximum Life
30% increased Movement Speed
<One Purity of # mod of one element and One Added # damage mod of one element>
Boot Enchantment:
16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you've Killed Recently
Regenerate 2% of Life per second if you were Hit Recently
Bated Breath(Belt) Bathed Breath - a very solid Belt which isn't that expensive and you could try Corrupting it for some nice additional bonuses
+(9-20) to maximum Energy Shield
+(15-25) to Intelligence
10% increased Damage
+(20-30) to maximum Energy Shield
20% increased maximum Energy Shield
50% increased Energy Shield Recharge Rate
Presence of Chayula(Amulet) Presence of Chayula - the BiS option for this Low-Life build. It grants insane amounts of extra Energy Shield and Stun Immunity
+(10-16) to all Attributes
30% increased Rarity of Items found
+60% to Chaos Resistance
Cannot be Stunned
20% of Maximum Life Converted to Energy Shield
Recommended Anointments:
Champion of the Cause
Call of the Brotherhood(Rings) Call of the Brotherhood - those Rings allow you to convert nearly all Lightning Damage to Cold, and benefit an extra from all Converted Damage bouses
+(12-16)% to Cold and Lightning Resistances
+(15-25) to Intelligence
(15-25)% increased Lightning Damage
(30-40)% increased Mana Regeneration Rate
40% of Lightning Damage Converted to Cold Damage
Your spells have 100% chance to Shock against Frozen Enemies
Maligaro's Virtuosity(Gloves) Maligaro's Virtuosity - one of the best possible Items for the Gloves slot. It sets your Crit. Multiplier to 300% and since you have no way to increase it by Passives, it's way higher than you would get by any other mean available
+(20-30) to Dexterity
5% increased Attack Speed
50% increased Global Critical Strike Chance
(60-80)% increased Evasion Rating
Your Critical Strike Multiplier is 300%
Cobalt Jewel(Jewel) Rare Jewels - you will try to get Energy Shield and at least one damage Boosting modifier
Recommended affixes:
maximum Energy Shield
Spell Damage/Spell Damage while holding a Shield
Optional affixes:
Abyss Jewel(Jewel) Rare Abyss Jewel - flat Added Physical Damage gives you the highest DPS bonus
Recommended affixes:
maximum Energy Shield
Added Physical Damage to Spells
Optional affixes:
Damage if you have killed recently
Unnatural Instinct(Jewel) Unnatural Instinct - this Jewel, socketed to the bottom-right of Witch's starting point (right below Melding) will grant insane bonuses including 15% Maximum E0S, 18% Maximum Mana, 9% Maximum Life, and 4% to gain all three kinds of Charges on kill
Allocated Small Passive Skills in Radius grant nothing
Grants all bonuses of Unallocated Small Passive Skills in Radius
Voices(Jewel) Voices - this entire build is centered around using three of those Jewels to socket 9 Medium Cluster Jewels with all the Herald-related Passives on them. They are quite expensive, and ones that add the most empty Passives will cost at least a couple of Exalted Orbs
Adds 3 Jewel Socket Passive Skills
<Random empty passive skill node mod>
Ring of Blades(Jewel) Ring of Blades - Ethereal Knives threshold jewel which makes it fire in a nova around your character. It has to be socketed on the way to Ranger's part of the Tree left to Charisma Passive
(10-15)% increased Global Physical Damage
With at least 40 Dexterity in Radius, Ethereal Knives fires Projectiles in a circle
With at least 40 Dexterity in Radius, Ethereal Knives fires 5 additional Projectiles
Watcher's Eye(Jewel) Watcher's Eye - getting Watcher's Eye with Physical to Lightning Conversion is a must
Recommended affixes:
(25-40)% of Physical Damage Converted to Lightning Damage while affected by Wrath
Gain (15-25)% of Physical Damage as Extra Lightning Damage while affected by Wrath
Mantra of Flames(Jewel) Mantra of Flames - this is a budget option for this build. Since you use a lot of Auras and Heralds, it adds quite a bit of flat Fire Damage
Adds (3-5) to (8-12) Fire Attack Damage per Buff on you
Adds (2-3) to (5-8) Fire Spell Damage per Buff on you
Efficient Training(Jewel) Efficient Training - in case you are missing Strenght for Gem and Items requirements, it's one of the easiest ways to fix it
+(16-24) to Strength
Intelligence from Passives in Radius is Transformed to Strength
Split Personality(Jewel) Split Personality - this is an extremely powerful Jewel in this build as you are going to reach the completely opposite part of the Skill Tree. If rolled correctly, it can grant very high bonus Energy Shield or Attributes
This Jewel's Socket has 25% increased effect per Allocated Passive Skill between
it and your Class' starting location
<Two random modifiers>
Recommended modifiers:
Energy Shield
Medium Cluster Jewel(Jewel) Medium Cluster Jewel - you will need to get a total of nine Medium Cluster Jewels with Damage from Heralds with the Passives listed below. Each Jewel should have two of the listed Passives and the extra Jewel
Min. requirements:
1 Added Passive Skill is Heraldry
1 Added Passive Skill is Purposeful Harbinger
1 Added Passive Skill is Endbringer
1 Added Passive Skill is a Jewel Socket
Bottled Faith(Flask) Bottled Faith - this is one of the best utility Flasks for this build which grants insane DPS bonus and extra Life Regen
40% increased Damage
Creates Consecrated Ground on Use
(30-50)% increased Duration
Consecrated Ground created by this Flask has Tripled Radius
+(1-2)% to Critical Strike Chance against Enemies on Consecrated Ground during Effect
Consecrated Ground created during Effect applies 
Atziri's Promise(Flask) Atziri's Promise - this Flask grants insane bonus Damage as we benefit from it several times thanks to Damage Conversion
+35% to Chaos Resistance
2% of Chaos Damage Leeched as Life during Flask effect
Gain (15-20)% of Physical Damage as Extra Chaos Damage during effect
Gain (10-15)% of Elemental Damage as Extra Chaos Damage during effect
Taste of Hate(Flask) Taste of Hate - a great utility Flask for Damage Conversion builds like the one here
+50% to Cold Resistance
20% less Cold Damage taken
20% of Physical Damage from Hits taken as Cold Damage during Flask effect
Gain (15-20)% 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. Experimenter's Diamond Flask of Warding (Curse Immunity)
  2. Ample Quicksilver Flask of Heat (Freeze immunity)
Bottled FaithTaste of HateAtziri's PromiseDiamond FlaskQuicksilver Flask

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If you have any feedback about this build or suggestions for the next one, please let us know in the comments below! 

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

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