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Shield Crush Gladiator Build

Shield Crush Gladiator Build

A Duelist build that uses the Shield instead to deal damage. The newly added Shield Crush Skill allows you to scale in a new way

Shield Crush
Gladiator Build

for Patch 3.18

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Guide notes
July 28, 2021
-Build created
July 04, 2022
-Updated for Patch 3.18
Build overview



Boss DPS:



It is a heavily defense-oriented build for a Gladiator that uses the Shield Crush Skill. It's an Attack with a built-in base flat damage and added more physical damage per Armour or Evasion Rating that's in your Shield. That's why having a  lot of Armour on your Shield is one of the most important factors that add to your total damage. The highest amount of Armour you can score on a Shield is around 3500, but realistically it will be around 2000. With 4 to 6 added Physical Damage per 15 Armour, it will be something like 530 to 800 added Physical Damage to Attacks, that's over ten times more than Abyssus Unique Helmet. With the rest of your gear oriented to deal more Physical Damage, added Impale, and other such modifiers this build can be very tanky and have a huge DPS at the same time.

The build has a very high Block Chance as it is a popular defensive mechanism for Gladiator builds. Maximum Life at the build completion should be around 7k. Combined with high Armour and Fortify this build can face tank all the Attack Hits in the game. Offensively - you should rely on the Armour that's in your Shield and Physical Damage with Attacks. The build is mechanically the most similar to Lacerate, here however you're not dealing damage with your weapon. Use Resolute Technique to never have your attack be Evaded and not to worry about Accuracy Rating. Additionally, Impale mechanics will be used - combined with high Attack Speed and Attack Damage its damaging potential is enormous. 


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1. Gameplay

Use Leap Slam to travel and Shield Crush to fight. Your other Skills are Ancestral Totems to boost your Melee Damage and Attack Speed - use them occasionally when you're fighting with a boss or in a small area. Blood Rage should stay enabled at all times - remember to turn it on as you enter a map and during longer fights with one enemy.

This video was recorded on a level 93 Gladiator wielding Prismatic Eclipse and random rare equipment. Surprisingly enough, that was sufficient to face tank most of the content, and we may be looking into further options to increase this build's DPS

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • very resilient due to high Maximum Life and Block Chance
  • very high DPS
  • easy mechanically
  • can't do No Leech and Physical Reflect Maps


3. Leveling tips

Shield Crush can be used right from the start - use it combined with a Shield that has high Armour, the weapon doesn't really matter as the modifiers are usually local but you can look for a mod "Attacks have a chance to cause Bleeding" or other such mods being global, not local. Equip Prismatic Eclipse at level 53 with 3 green or two green and one blue socket if you don't have any Mana Leech - this weapon will be used in the final version as well and it will be the only required unique item. Before that, use Redbeak Unique Sword with Petrified Blood Skill Gem. You can use Essence of Dread on your Shield for more Armour.

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Shield Crush setup
Shield Crush Shield Crush - if you manage to find a good shield to match your build, you can start with this Skill
Ruthless Support Ruthless Support - Support Gem available right at the beginning that can be used to increase your damage
Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support - for even more damage use Melee Physical Damage Support
Maim Support Maim Support - another Support Gem you can find early on that's good at the beginning
Leap Slam setup
Leap Slam Leap Slam - leap slam seems like the best option, it allows you to jump over the ledges with is useful during Labirynth Trials
Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support - link it with Leap Slam so you can use it more frequently
Lifetap Support Lifetap Support - Leap Slam will no longer cost you Mana, but Life
Utility Gems
Pride Pride - an Aura that increases the Physical Damage your opponents are receiving
Dread Banner Dread Banner - gives you chance to Impale enemies, reduces the Accuracy Rating of nearby enemies, and increases the Impale effectiveness
Vulnerability Vulnerability - Cursed enemies will receive more Physical Damage, and hitting them can cause Bleeding


We recommend killing all the Bandits for two additional Passive Points

Leveling Skill Trees:

32 Points Skill Tree
Take Attack, Life, and Shield nodes, additionally allocate the Fortify Mastery which will grant you Fortify on Hit

61 Points Skill Tree
Go for Resolute Technique Keystone, Armour Mastery for more Armour from Shield, and Shield Mastery for increased Damage from Shield

Recommended leveling items:

Wurm's MoltWurm's Molt - use it to boost your Attributes and acquire some Life and Mana Leech
+(25-40) to maximum Life
+(20-30) to Strength
+(20-30) to Intelligence
+(10-20)% to Cold Resistance
0.4% of Physical Attack Damage Leeched as Life
0.4% of Physical Attack Damage Leeched as Mana
GoldrimGoldrim - the best leveling Helmet to keep your Resistances high you can use at level 1
+(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 - use Tabula Rasa Body Armour to gain six white sockets which are already linked
Item has no level requirement and Energy Shield (Hidden)
Item has 6 White Sockets and is fully linked (Hidden)

RedbeakRedbeak - An optional Sword you can use to increase your Damage by 100% when on Low Life. Combine it with Petrified BloodPetrified Blood to have this buff always enabled. Works pretty well between levels 24 and 53.

100% increased Damage when on Low Life
50% increased Physical Damage
Adds 2 to 6 Physical Damage
10% increased Attack Speed
+(20-30) to maximum Life
+2 Life gained for each Enemy hit by Attacks


4. Final Skill Tree, Ascendancy Points, and Pantheon

Final Skill Tree:

112 Points Final Skill Tree (does not include Jewels)
112 Points Path of Building (PoB) link 

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Painforged
  2. Versatile Combatant
  3. Violent Retaliation
  4. Arena Challenger


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


5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Shield Crush
Shield Crush Shield Crush - The core ability used to deal with all the opponents. By standing Close to the target, it can hit multiple times with just one attack making it really great when combined with Impale.
Brutality Support Brutality Support - it's a pure Physical Damage build and Brutality is specifically made for such builds
Pulverise Support Pulverise Support - More Melee Damage and more Area Damage - both will benefit Shield Crush. It lowers your Attack Speed by 15%.
Multistrike Support Multistrike Support - makes your Attack repeat 2 times after the first cast with increased Attack Speed, each Attack in the sequence dealing more damage
Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support - lowers your Attack Speed, but grants a lot of Melee Physical Damage
Impale Support Impale Support - Increases your chance to Impale and its effectiveness. This Gem also grants you more Physical Damage and Overwhelms Physical Damage Reduction - great for pure Physical builds.
[MOBILITY] Leap Slam
Leap Slam Leap Slam - The mobility attack that's used to activate your Fortify and move at a faster rate, it allows you to jump over obstacles making it one of the best movement skills.
Fortify Support Fortify Support - after hitting an enemy with Leap Slam you'll receive a Fortify buff for the next few seconds
Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support - the Gem that makes you Attack Faster, it's especially good when linked with Mobility Attacks as is the case here
Lifetap Support Lifetap Support - when you use this setup constantly it can heavily impact your Mana sustainability, use Lifetap to pay with your Life instead of Mana
[UTILITY] Curse and Guard Spell
Vulnerability Vulnerability - the Curse that's the most effective for Physical builds - your enemies take more Physical Damage and each hit against them has a chance to cause Bleeding
Hextouch Support Hextouch Support - Link the Curse with a Skill that can Hit enemies - Reckoning in this case. The Curse will now be applied with Hit of that Skill.
Reckoning Reckoning  - an Attack that's automatically used when you Block a Hit, with a high Block Chance it will proc often, especially against bosses
Steelskin Steelskin  - a Guard Skill that doesn't have to be linked with the rest of this Setup, it grants you Damage Reduction against Hits, you can also use Molten ShellMolten Shell
[UTILITY] Ancestral Totems
Ancestral Warchief Ancestral Warchief - the Totem that gives you Melee Damage as you stand near it for the duration it stays active
Ancestral Protector Ancestral Protector - the Totem that gives you Attack Speed as you stand near it for the duration it stays active
Multiple Totems Support Multiple Totems Support - with two casts you're now able to summon both Totems, for Attack Speed and for Melee Damage
[UTILITY] Aura, Banner, Stance
Pride Pride - the most beneficial Aura for Physical builds that makes enemies near you take more Physical Damage the longer you stay in their proximity.
Dread Baner Dread Banner - Banner that's highly recommended for builds that use Impale - it increases the chance for it and its effectiveness, it also reduces the Accuracy Rating of nearby enemies
Flesh and Stone Flesh and Stone - Arena Challenger Keystone requires you to have a Blood or Sand Stance to work, the best way to achieve it is Flesh and Stone. Use it to render nearby enemies Maimed and more susceptible to Physical Damage.
Enlighten Support Enlighten Support - linked Mana Reserving Spells Reserve now less Mana
[UTILITY] Blood Rage (socketed in Prismatic Eclipse)
(due to the mechanics of the Prismatic Eclipse this setup needs specific sockets limiting your choices)
Blood Rage Blood Rage - Blood Rage drains your Life at a rate depending on Gem Level, but it grants you in return more Attack Speed, Life Leech, and a Chance to gain Frenzy Charge on Kill.
Enhance Support Enhance Support - Increases the Quality of Blood Rage which gives you even more Attack Speed
An empty Blue or Green Socket any Gem that fits your Blue or Green Socket - Green socket will grant you Attack Speed, while Blue - Mana Leech


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5. Gear Setup

By far the most important here is the Armour on your Shield - your damage relies on it so aim for as much as possible. Secondary to that is of course Life - your main layer of defense, and Elemental Resistances until capped. Seek Armour to mitigate Physical Damage and Chaos Resistance. The weakness of this build is DoT - try to avoid this type of damage. To gain Bleed, Poison, and Ignite immunity modify your Flasks. With a high Block Chance from your Skill Tree, you should be able to sustain a lot of damage. The gear is really basic with no need for expensive mods - it should be overall really cheap.

Using this opportunity, we would love to invite you to visit our Path of Exile Marketplace where you can buy cheap PoE Currency in case you can't afford all the items for your character. You can find 

Our recommended items will:

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

Stat priorities on items:

  1. Armour on Shield
  2. Life
  3. Elemental Resistances
  4. Intelligence, around 90 is required
  5. Global Physical Attack Speed and Damage
  6. one source of Mana Leech
Rare Helmet(Helmet) Rare Helmet - You're interested in Maximum Life and Elemental Resistances the most, other mods are not as important. A Strength base should be the best option since the majority of your skill setups require red sockets.
Min. requirements:
90 maximum Life
80% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
increased Armour
Chaos Resistance
Chance to Block Spell Damage
You have Chilling/Shocking Conflux for 3 seconds every 8 seconds
Helmet enchantments:
40% Increased Shield Crush Damage
Ancestral Protector Totem grants 18% increased Attack Speed while Active
Prismatic Eclipse(Weapon) Prismatic Eclipse - One of the few weapons with modifiers affecting Global stats, not just the stats of the weapon. Prismatic Eclipse is especially good since you can modify the effect it has by changing the color of Sockets. Green Sockets are the most recommended, you can keep one of them Blue if you have no Mana Leech.
+8% Chance to Block Attack Damage while Dual Wielding
Adds (60-70) to (71-80) Physical Damage
25% increased Global Physical Damage with Weapons per Red Socket
12% increased Global Attack Speed per Green Socket
0.4% of Physical Attack Damage Leeched as Mana per Blue Socket
+2 to Melee Strike Range per White Socket
Shield(Shield) Rare Shield - No Shield offers as much Armour as a Rare one. There are many mods that add to your Armour, they can be found or crafted with Essences or on a Crafting Bench. Armour can also be found as a Synthesised Implicit Mod. Increasing the Quality of a Shield gives you more Armour as well.
Min. requirements:
2000 Armour in total
Quality (crafted)
Optional affixes:
more Armour
Body Armour(Body Armour) Rare Body Armour - Maximum Life and Elemental Resistances are the most important aspects of your Body Armour. Try to get Armour base as you will need five red sockets here.
Min. requirements:
100 Maximum Life
70% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
increased Maximum Life
Nearby Enemies are Blinded
increased effect of Non-Curse Auras from your Skills
Rare Boots(Boots) Rare Boots - Life, Resistances, and Movement Speed are the three most important stats for this gear slot. Later in the game, you will be able to afford some more expensive mods.
Min. requirements:
70 Maximum Life
70% Total Elemental Resistances
25% increased Movement Speed
Optional affixes:
chance to gain Onslaught for 4 seconds on Kill
Freeze and Chill immunity
Boot enchantment:
16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you've Killed Recently
belt(Belt) Rare Belt - Stigain Vise has the unique advantage of possessing one Abyss Jewel Socket where you can allocate some really good mods or the stats you need at the moment and swap it later with another Abyss Jewel. Look for Life and Resistances.
Min. requirements:
100 to MaximumLife
100% Increased Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Maximum Life %
Rare Amulet(Amulet) Rare Amulet - Maximum Life is by far the most important stat to look for, but there are many others that would be useful, such as reduced Pride Reservation - it can be found on Warlord's influenced Amulets.

Min. requirements:
60 maximum Life
Optional affixes:
Pride has reduced Reservation
Elemental Resistances
Adds Physical Damage to Attacks
increased Armour
Chaos Resistance
increased Area of Effect
increased Attack Speed

Recommended Anointments:
Coral Ring(Ring) Rare Rings - Try to get as much Maximum Life and Elemental Resistances as you can afford. Other common modifiers you can look for are added Physical Damage to Attacks, Attack Speed, and Physical Attack Damage Leeched as Mana.
Min. requirements:
70 maximum Life
60% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Adds Physical Damage to Attacks
increased Attack Speed
increased Attack Speed if you've been Hit Recently
% of Physical Attack Damage Leeched as Mana
reduced Effect of Curses on you
increased Area of Effect
Gloves(Gloves) Rare Gloves - Defensive stats such as Life and Elemental Resistances are the priority, after that look for some other mods that'd be useful such as Attack Speed
Min. requirements:
70 maximum Life
80% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Adds Physical Damage to Attacks
Attack Speed
Cobalt Jewel(Jewels) Rare Jewels - Try to get extra Life -  7% increased, and some Damage mods such as Attack Speed or Melee Damage, Corrupted Blood Immunity is a great addition to your survivability.
Recommended affixes:
increased maximum Life
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
increased Melee/Physical Damage
increased Attack Speed
Cluster Jewel(Jewels) Large Cluster Jewel  - You can find useful Notable Passives, but the build works fine without Cluster Jewels. Fuel the Fight is recommended as a source of Mana Leech. All of the mentioned Passives can be found on a base that grants Attack Damage while holding a Shield.
Recommended affixes:
1 Added Passive Skill is Fuel the Fight
1 Added Passive Skill is Veteran Defender
1 Added Passive Skill is Advance Guard
1 Added Passive Skill is Gladiator's Fortitude
1 Added Passive Skill is Prodigious Defense
1 Added Passive Skill is Strike Leader
Watcher's Eye(Jewels) Watcher's Eye - as you're using only Pride you don't have too much of a choice here, the best mod you can find is "Impales you inflict last 2 additional Hits while using Pride"
(4-6)% increased maximum Energy Shield
(4-6)% increased maximum Life
(4-6)% increased maximum Mana
<Two or Three random aura modifiers>
Lion's Roar(Flask) Lion's Roar - it offers a great boost to your damage and survivability by adding damage and knockback to your Attacks
+1500 to Armour
Adds Knockback to Melee Attacks during Flask effect
Knocks Back Enemies in an Area when you use a Flask
75% chance to cause Enemies to Flee on use
(7-10)% more Melee Physical Damage during effect
Other suggested Flasks:
  1. Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Heat (Freeze immunity)
  2. Ample Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline (Movement Speed)
  3. Experimenter's Silver Flask of Warding (Curse immunity)
  4. Basalt Flask Staunching (Bleeding immunity)
Lion's RoarLife FlaskBasalt FlaskQuickSilver FlaskSilver Flask

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

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