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Lacerate "Budget-Slicer" Gladiator Starter build

Lacerate "Budget-Slicer" Gladiator Starter build

Budget-friendly build that uses the new Lacerate Gem with greatly increased damage from Bleeding effects

Lacerate "Budget-Slicer"
Bleed Gladiator build

Updated for Patch 3.23

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Guide notes
February 5, 2024
-Updated for Patch 3.23
-Added support for the newly introduced Lacerate of Haemorrhage Gem
Build overview



Boss DPS:



Gladiator is a typical sword & board type of character that offers very solid defenses regardless of your equipment. Thanks to Passive skills that increase your Block Chance, Gladiator is a perfect character to level up in new Leagues and/or play in the SSF mode. This build has very solid DPS and defenses, and with Melee changes introduced in Patch 3.7, it's a fully end-game viable build. For 3.17, we've decided to switch it to a mostly Bleed-based build, with no Implae mechanics implemented - it's able to reach over one million DPS with very basic gear this way. It's also moderately tanky, with over 5k of Maximum Life and high Block Chance. With the Affliction League came other major changes, mostly to Skill Gem setups.

We have decided to build this Gladiator on The Bringer of Rain, in order to drastically cut costs. A fully geared character that can clear Maps up to Tier 15 with ease will cost just a few Divine Orbs, making it one of the cheapest builds for low and mid-tier farming. The Bringer of Rain is a unique Helmet that offers a 7-link setup for just a few Chaos Orbs but makes you unable to use Body Armour. With it missing, you lose a bunch of valuable defensive stats that are compensated by Gladiator's high chance to Block and Armour Rating. As for patch 3.17, we've decided to include the setups with a regular Helmet and Body Armour since it is in a way just a better version of the build that you can upgrade to later.

You can check our other Path of Exile builds right here


1. Gameplay

Lacerate Gladiator is a typical Melee character. It utilizes a one-handed Axe and Shield to slice through enemies. Lacerate attacks twice with your main-hand weapon creating two waves. Enemies right in front of you can be hit by both waves simultaneously. The Lacerate Attack also deals more damage against bleeding targets. This build uses the Resolute Technique Passive, which saves you a lot of effort (and money) to reach enough Accuracy Rating on your gear to efficiently kill your enemies. While it is an insane damage buff up to mid-tier Maps, it limits your maximum possible DPS by making you unable to Critically Strike.

This is an outdated video from several Leagues back, it should be updated shortly

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • good sustained damage
  • capped chance to Block Spells and Attacks making up for amazing defenses
  • good as a League starter build
  • budget-friendly with no expensive item requirements
  • moderate AoE
  • at its current state, it has limited end-game Bossing capabilities


3. Leveling tips

Leveling with Gladiator is a very easy task. You should have enough defenses just from following the recommended Passive Skill Trees and upgrading your gear with self-found stuff once in a while. Your main priority should be increasing your DPS output by upgrading the weapon (aim for one-handed Axes with the highest base Physical DPS) and getting equipment with flat Added Physical Damage to Attacks, and increases to Attack Speed. Below you will find several useful unique items that will greatly boost you during the leveling phase. 

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Lacerate setup
Lacerate Lacerate - primary Attack used in this build. It is recommended to upgrade it at the same time you level up your character. Use the Lacerate of Haemorrhage as soon as you can afford one.
Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support - primary Support Gem for any Melee/Physical build
Multistrike Multistrike Support - makes you attack two more times with a greatly increased Attack Speed and slightly reduced damage
Maim Support Maim Support - Maims enemies, which increases the Physical Damage they take and slows them down
Shield Charge setup
Shield Charge Shield Charge - your primary mobility skill
Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support - increases your movement speed with Shield Charge
Utility gems
Ancestral Warchief Ancestral Warchief - allows you to create a Totem that increases your Melee Damage
Vulnerability Vulnerability - the recommended Curse for this build
Herald of Purity Herald of Purity - grants more Physical Damage


We recommend killing all the bandits for two additional Passive Points

Leveling Skill Trees:

23 Points Skill Tree
At this stage, the build is suited for any Attack Skill with a Shield and one-handed Weapon

54 Points Skill Tree
Go for the Resolute Technique, the Axe Cluster, more maximum Life, and generic Melee Damage nodes

84 Points Skill Tree
Now the build is adjusted to deal mostly Bleed Damage

Recommended leveling items:

BlackheartBlackheart - one of the best leveling Rings for melee classes
Adds 1 to 4 Physical Damage to Attacks
Adds (10-15) to (20-25) Chaos Damage to Attacks
Regenerate (10-15) Life per second
10% chance to Cause Monsters to Flee
Meginord's GirdleMeginord's Girdle - an extremely powerful Belt, which equipped on level 8 will serve you for many many levels. You can easily keep it until you reach low-level Maps
+(25-35) to Strength
+25 to Strength
Adds 10 to 20 Physical Damage to Attacks
10% increased maximum Life
+(10-20)% to Cold Resistance
25% increased Flask Life Recovery rate
Crest of PerandusCrest of Perandus - the best low-level Shield which grants very high bonus Life
3% increased Movement Speed
+(60-80) to maximum Life
Regenerate (5-7.5) Life per second
+30% to Lightning Resistance
0.6% of Physical Attack Damage Leeched as Life
+5% Chance to Block

Screaming EagleScreaming Eagle - one of the first unique Axes that can be used. It also increases your Movement Speed which is a perfect attribute for leveling faster

Socketed Gems are supported by Level 2 Chance to Flee
Adds (10-15) to (25-30) Physical Damage
+(10-15) to maximum Life
Gain (5-7) Life per Enemy Killed
10% increased Movement Speed
GoldrimGoldrim - the best leveling Helmet in the game. It grants very high All Elemental Resistances bonuses, which makes it very useful until the early mapping phase
+(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:

108 Points Final Skill Tree
123 Points Path of Building (PoB) link

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Blood in the Eyes
  2. Gratuitous Violence
  3. Painforged
  4. Violent Retaliation


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 Shakari 5% reduced chaos damage taken 25% reduced chaos damage over time taken while in a caustic cloud


5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Lacerate setup
socketed in The Bringer of Rain
Lacerate of Haemorrhage Lacerate of Haemorrhage - your primary DPS skill. It's a swift Melee/AoE attack. The Haemorrhage variant has lower damage and less AoE, but has higher Attack Speed and deals more Damage with Bleeding.
Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support - increases Melee Physical Damage of supported skills
Multistrike Support Multistrike Support - makes you repeat the Attack more times with increased Attack Speed
Brutality Support Brutality Support - use it to deal more Physical Damage and limit yourself only to this one type of Damage
Support Gems granted by The Bringer of Rain:
Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support - grants increased Attack Speed with supported skills
Blind Support Blind Support - grants a chance to Blind enemies on Hit
Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support - increases Melee Physical Damage of supported skills
[DPS] Alternative Lacerate setup
for when you're not using The Bringer of Rain, but a 6-link Body Armour
Lacerate of Haemorrhage Lacerate of Haemorrhage
Volatility Volatility Support - Your Bleed instances are restricted to 8 with Crimson Dance. Use this Support Gems to sometimes roll higher numbers, the low-damage Bleeds won't be taken into account (works similarly to the Ryslatha's Coil).
Multistrike Support Multistrike Support
Brutality Support Brutality Support
increased Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support
Chance to Bleed Support Chance to Bleed Support - you have a higher chance of causing Bleeding, added Physical Damage, and more Bleed Damage
[UTILITY] Reckoning/Ancestral Protector setup
can be socketed in The Surrenderer
Ancestral Protector Ancestral Protector - summons a Totem for more Attack Speed
Maim Maim Support - The Maimed enemy takes increased Damage and moves slower.
Lifetap Support Lifetap Support
  Support Gem granted by The Surrender:
Reckoning Reckoning - Counter-attack skill which is granted by The Surrenderer shield. If you don't have it yet, just keep the other two Gems as listed above and add Reckoning to the setup.
Vulnerability Vulnerability - the recommended Curse for this build. If you manage to get the right Impresence Amulet, you can use it as an Aura around you, but it also can be gained from the Replica Witchfire Brew. Otherwise, link it to a low-level Cast when Damage Taken Gem or try to get it via Gloves Corruption.
[MOBILITY] Leap Slam setup
Leap Slam Leap Slam - recommended Movement skill used in this build. You can also use Shield Charge which is faster but won't allow you to jump over cliffs and other obstacles
Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support - you can Leap much faster
Lifetap Support Lifetap Support - allows you to pay no attention to Mana when moving, as you spend Life on the linked Skills instead
[UTILITY] Auras setup
Pride Pride - It's the default Aura for Melee Physical Builds, the enemies nearby take more Physical Damage
Determination Determination - Adds and increases Armour to take less Physical Hit Damage.
Herald of Purity Herald of Purity - it grants you more Physical Damage and creates Minions that can be used to divert the enemies' attention from you
Enlighten Enlighten Support - The most efficient way to fit in all the Auras, they Reserve less Mana.
[UTILITY] Various Gems
War Banner War Banner - enemies near you take increased Physical Damage, while you gain Accuracy
Blood Rage Blood Rage - grants increased Attack Speed, Frenzy Charge generation, and Life Leech. Use level 13 of the Blood Rage Gem
Enduring Cry Enduring Cry - Quickly Regenerates some of your Life. It has no Cast Time with Call to Arms so set it up as your movement key.
Enhance Enhance Support - The Quality of Gems in this Setup is valuable, so we recommend increasing it with this Support Gem.
[UTILITY] Molten Shell setup
Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support  - auto-casts all the supported spells whenever you take a certain amount of damage. Keep this Gem at level 10
Molten Shell Molten Shell - A protective barrier that absorbs incoming damage for some time, or until it can take no more.
Increased Duration Increased Duration Support - Molten Shell lasts longer.

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5. Gear Setup

Below you will find all the recommended items for this build. Keep in mind that this build is very straightforward and ALL the items listed below can be replaced with cheap Rares. If you decide not to use The Bringer of Rain just use a Body Armour that increases your Life and Elemental Resistance like Belly of the Beast (highest bonus Life), Carcass Jack (extra DPS), Daresso's Defiance (Onslaught buff), or similar. You won't need any Accuracy or Crit mods. Later on, seek Spell Suppression Chance - it doesn't have to be capped.

Our recommended items will:

  1. Cap your resistances 
  2. Give you enough DPS/Life to start mapping successfully

Stat priorities on items:

  1. Maximum Life
  2. Elemental Resistances
  3. Physical Damage
  4. Damage over Time or Bleed Damage
  5. DoT Multiplier
  6. Spell Suppression Chance
  7. Mana Reservation Efficiency
  8. Intelligence
  9. Chaos Resistance
  10. Armour
Bringer of Rain(Helmet) The Bringer of Rain - a cheap seven-link option for the primary DPS setup. It's good for a budget version, quickly becoming replaceable as you start dealing with the end-game content.
Socketed Gems are Supported by Level 30 Melee Physical Damage
Socketed Gems are Supported by Level 30 Faster Attacks
Socketed Gems are supported by Level 30 Blind
6% Chance to Block Attack Damage
Adds 20 to 30 Physical Damage to Attacks
(200-300)% increased Armour and Evasion
+(200-300) to maximum Life
20% chance to gain an Endurance Charge when you Block
Can't use Chest armour
Extra gore
Rare Helmet(Helmet) Rare Helmet - If you decide to get a Rare Helmet, make sure it's a good one, it should provide a lot of Maximum Life and cause enemies to take at least 9% increased Physical Damage
Min. requirements:
+50% to Elemental Resistances
+60 to maximum Life
Nearby Enemies take 9% increased Physical Damage
Optional affixes:
Spell Suppression Chance
Helmet enchantment:
Lacerate deals (14-18) to (20-25) added Physical Damage against Bleeding Enemies
40% increased Lacerate Damage
Jack, the Axe(Weapon) Jack, the Axe - A decent pick for the weapon slot. Grants increased Life Leech, Bleed Chance, and much more Bleed Damage.
Grants Level 20 Thirst for Blood Skill
(130-150)% increased Physical Damage
Adds (11-14) to (18-23) Physical Damage
25% chance to cause Bleeding on Hit
+(25-35)% to Damage over Time Multiplier for Bleeding from Hits with this Weapon
Rare Axe(Weapon) Rare Axe - This can be potentially the best in the slot with high base Physical DPS, however, it will be also the most expensive option. you can seek many Bleeding-related mods and ones to increase your Physical Damage over Time.
Min. requirements:
400 Physical DPS
Optional affixes:
Increased Damage with Bleeding
Damage over Time Multiplier for Bleeding from Hits with this Weapon
Hits with this Weapon have Culling Strike against Bleeding Enemies
Physical Damage over Time Multiplier
Body Armour(Body Armour) Rare Body Armour - If you're not using The Bringer of Rain make sure you can make up for it with a good Body Armour. It should grant you a lot of Maximum Life. You can also use Unique Body Armours such as Belly of the Beast, Carcass Jack, or Daresso's Defiance.
Min. requirements:
+110 to maximum Life
+70% to Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
You can apply an additional Curse
Spell Suppression Chance
The Surrenderer(Shield) The Surrender - One of the best Shields for this build. It grants very high defensive utility and the Reckoning skill for some extra DPS. It's very expensive. Make sure you have a very high Block Chance before equipping it.
Grants Level 30 Reckoning Skill
(165-205)% increased Armour
+(65-80) to maximum Life
Recover (250-500) Life when you Block
+6% Chance to Block
Lioneye's Remorse(Shield) Lioneye’s Remorse - solid and budget-friendly option. It grants very high bonus Life but no Elemental Resistances and no offensive utility
(180-220)% increased Armour
20% increased Stun and Block Recovery
+(160-180) to maximum Life
5% reduced Movement Speed
-25 Physical Damage taken from Projectile Attacks
+5% Chance to Block
Rare Boots(Boots) Rare Boots - just aim for high defensive stats on a preferably Strength base for extra Armour Rating
Min. requirements:
70 maximum Life
25% Movement Speed
+60% to Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
High Armour Rating
Spell Suppression Chance
Boot enchantment:
16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you've Killed Recently
Ryslatha's Coil(Belt) Ryslatha's Coil - it's the best Belt for any Bleed build with a Crimson Dance by a long shot. It's also an expensive one. It keeps the Bleeds you caused by your best Attacks (which deal 40% more damage) resulting in a much higher DPS.
(20-30)% increased Stun Duration on Enemies
+(20-40) to Strength
(30-40)% more Maximum Physical Attack Damage
(40-30)% less Minimum Physical Attack Damage
Adds 1 to (15-20) Physical Damage to Attacks
+(80-100) to maximum Life
Gain 50 Life when you Stun an Enemy
Rare Amulet(Amulet) Rare Amulet - using a rare amulet with Attributes is a wise decision. Add to that some generic stats listed here.
Min. requirements:
60 maximum Life
40 Intelligence
40 Dexterity
Optional affixes:
Adds Physical Damage to Attacks
Damage over Time Multiplier
Physical Attack Damage Leeched as Mana
Recommended Anointments:
Master of Force
Revenge of the Haunted
Disciple of the Unyielding
Steel Ring(Ring) Rare Rings - The regular Life, Resistances, and some utility mods like Attributes or reduced Mana Cost of Skills should be sufficient
Min. requirements:
60 maximum Life
+60% Total Elemental Resistances
Non-Channelling Skills have -7 to Total Mana Cost (crafted)
Optional affixes:
Adds Physical Damage to Attacks
increased Attack Speed
Curse Enemies with Vulnerability on Hit
Physical Attack Damage Leeched as Life
Non-Channelling Skills have -7 to Total Mana Cost (crafted)
Circle of Guilt(Ring) Circle of Guilt - If you're using Herald of Purity, which you should, you can consider using this Unique Ring, it can increase the Herald's buff effect and your damage
<One to three random Synthesis implicit modifiers>
+(10-20) to all Attributes
Adds (8-10) to (13-15) Physical Damage
+(350-400) to Armour
<Two Random Herald of Purity modifiers>
Spiked Gloves(Gloves) Rare Gloves - preferably Spiked Gloves for extra Melee Damage. Other than that, you aim for high defensive stats and Attributes
Min. requirements:
70 maximum Life
+60% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Added Physical Damage to Attacks
Attack Speed
Spell Suppression Chance
Haemophilia(Gloves) Haemophilia - very good and inexpensive option for the Gloves slot. Haemophilia grants extra AoE by making slain enemies explode (similar to Gratuitous Violence Passive)
+(20-30) to Strength
25% increased Damage over Time
Attacks have 25% chance to cause Bleeding
(25-40)% increased Attack Damage against Bleeding Enemies
Bleeding Enemies you Kill Explode, dealing 5% of
their Maximum Life as Physical Damage
25% reduced Bleeding Duration
Cobalt Jewel(Jewels) Rare Jewels - These should provide extra Maximum Life and bonus Damage over Time for Bleeding. "Damaging Ailments deal damage faster" may be the best one if your Attack Speed is high enough.
Recommended affixes:
increased maximum Life
increased DoT/Bleeding Damage
Optional affixes:
Damaging Ailments deal damage faster
Large Cluster Jewel(Jewels) Large Cluster Jewels - Fuel the Fight and Feed the Fury will take care of your Mana sustain issue, while Feed the Fury will aid your Life Recovery. Use. Any Suffix notable is good, but Smite the Weak is the best one.
Recommended affixes:
1 Added Passive Skill is Fuel the Fight
1 Added Passive Skill is Feed the Fury
1 Added Passive Skill is Smite the Weak
Medium Cluster Jewel(Jewels) Medium Cluster Jewels - You can select Flask-oriented or Physical DoT Medium Cluster Jewels. Replica Witchfire Brew should stay on most of the time, so seeking generic Flask Effect Duration mods is wise.
Recommended affixes:
1 Added Passive Skill is Rend
1 Added Passive Skill is Circling Oblivion
1 Added Passive Skill is Peak Vigour
1 Added Passive Skill is Special Reserve
1 Added Passive Skill is Distilled Perfection
 Witchfire Brew(Flask) Replica Witchfire Brew - Curses nearby enemies with Vulnerability, which saves you a Gem Socket and a button to press. The extra Evasion and Smoke Cloud will be a good addition if you have some extra Evasion on your gear pieces (and Jade Flask).
20% more Evasion Rating
Creates a Smoke Cloud on Use
(-10-10)% increased Charges per use
Grants Level 21 Vulnerability Curse Aura during Effect
Other suggested Flasks:
  1. Bubbling Divine Life Flask with Bleeding immunity/removal
  2. Silver Flask with increased Attack Speed
  3. Granite Flask with increased Armour
  4. Jade Flask with increased Evasion
  Witchfire BrewGranite FlaskDivine Life FlaskSilver FlaskJade Flask

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