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Shrapnel Ballista "Shotgun" Champion Build

Shrapnel Ballista "Shotgun" Champion Build

Most likely the highest single-target DPS in the entire game

Shrapnel Ballista
Champion Duelist build

Updated for Patch 3.9

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Guide notes
January 5, 2020
-Build created


Patch 3.9 introduced several new Ballista/Totem Skills which offer completely new and unique playstyle. We have decided to try out the Shrapnel Ballista which ended up being one of the hardest hitting Skills in Path of Exile. It deals simply absurd damage against Bosses and Metamorphs but lacking clear speed that you can be used to as a Bow-user. We called this a "Shotgun" build, as Shrapnel Balistas bear a close resemblance to it, offering MASSIVE damage in close range, but is relatively slow, and ineffective against faraway targets.

At the same time, this build offers insane defenses thanks to permanent Fortify and very high Armour Rating, allowing you to stay in the close range most of the time and farm any content in the game.

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1. Gameplay

This is is a Totem build that requires you to place your Totems in melee range for massive damage thanks to Point Blank and Arborix bonuses. Also, Shrapnel Ballistas can hit the same enemy with multiple projectiles, so close-range is where it truly shines. We call this "Shotgun" build since it actually only works in close-range. Shrapnel Ballistas will not even try to hit enemies on the edges of your screen, making it rather slow during leveling and farming Maps. It's the Boss damage that makes this build interesting. It fits the current content perfectly, where Bosses are harder than before. 

0:07 Tier 16 Pit of the Chimera
0:32 Tier 16 Lair of the Hydra
0:52 Tier 16 Maze of the Minotaur
1:15 Tier 16 Forge of the Phoenix
1:40 Tier 17 Shaper

This video was recorded on a level 91 Champion on Standard using Arborix and Lioneye's Vision Chestpiece. The tooltip DPS was around 15k but it has nothing to do with the actual DPS of your character. It's extremely hard to accurately calculate Shrapnel Ballista's DPS with Impale and Pride

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • insane single-target DPS
  • extremely tanky
  • can do all content
  • high Physical Damage mitigation
  • can do most Map mods
  • great Bossing capabilities
  • Totems will die instantly on Physical Reflect Maps
  • slow Life Recovery/Leech
  • Mana Management may be difficult without proper equipment


3. Leveling tips

Leveling is the slowest part of this build. Not only Shrapnel Ballistas (if you decide to level up using them) have rather slow clear speed, but also you won't get many Bow/DPS nodes early on. You should try completing the first Lab as soon as possible to get the extra added damage from Master of Metal, which will be a game-changer at that point. However, this build makes up for slow clear speed, with amazing defensive capabilities. On top of Ballistas (both Shrapnel and Siege Ballistas will work), you should use another attack for some extra DPS. We recommend using Split Arrow for higher DPS and decent AoE or Ensnaring Arrow for more utility and to level up the Gem that you will be eventually using in your final build. 

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Spit Arrow setup
Split Arrow Split Arrow - one of the first Bow Attacks that you will find in the Path of Exile. It now has flat added Physical Damage at all levels making it a great choice for early levels
Mirage Archer Support Mirage Archer Support - allows you to progress through campaign while Mirage Archer uses Split Arrow to take down enemies
Vicious Projectiles Support Vicious Projectiles Support - increases Physical Damage dealt by Projectiles
Shrapnel Ballista setup
Shrapnel Ballista Shrapnel Ballista - one of the first Ballista Skills available after you reach level 4. It has very high Damage in close-range, offering amazing single-target DPS. If you feel like you need faster progression, you can use Siege Ballista during the leveling phase instead
Lesser Multiple Projectiles Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support - great choice of Support Gem if you need faster pack clearing when leveling
Mirage Archer Support Vicious Projectiles Support
Brutality Support Brutality Support - grants more Physical Damage dealt with Supported Skills
Utility Gems
Summon Lightning Golem Summon Lightning Golem - the recommended Golem for this build which increases your Attack and Cast Speed
Herald of Purity Herald of Purity - grants added Physical Damage to your Attacks
Dread Banner Dread Banner - grants you increased chance to Impale 
Clarity Clarity - even a low-level Clarity will make a big difference on lower levels


We recommend killing all the Bandits for two additional Passive Points

Leveling Skill Trees:

32 Points Skill Tree 
Priorities: 1) Bravery 2) Fury Bolts 3) Surveillance - Panopticon - Ironwood 4) Point Blank

62 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Far Sight 2) Thick Skin 3) Watchtowers 4) Herbalism

Recommended leveling items:

Meginord's Girdle Meginord's Girdle - grants very high bonus Damage and Life making it one of the best leveling Belts in PoE for Physical Attack builds
+(25-35) to Strength
+25 to Strength
Adds 5 to 15 Physical Damage to Attacks
10% increased maximum Life
+(10-20)% to Cold Resistance
25% increased Flask Life Recovery rate
Victario's FlightVictario's Flight - an amazing pair of Boots which provide high Movement Speed bonuses, extra Int, and Mana Recovery (all very important when it comes to Ballistas)
+15 to Dexterity
+15 to Intelligence
(100-150)% increased Evasion Rating
5% increased Movement Speed
(5-10)% of Damage taken gained as Mana over 4 seconds when Hit
10% increased Movement Speed
10% increased Movement Speed for you and nearby Allies
Karui WardKarui Ward - amazing DPS and Movement Speed bonuses makes it one of the best leveling Amulets for Bow builds
+(20-30) to Dexterity
+(20-30) to Strength
+100 to Accuracy Rating
30% increased Projectile Speed
10% increased Movement Speed
30% increased Projectile Damage
SilverbranchSilverbranch - a great leveling Bow, which on top of solid base DPS, increases to the level of Gems. The Mana gained on Kill is also salvation for this Champion build
+1 to Level of Socketed Bow Gems
(80-100)% increased Physical Damage
10% increased Attack Speed
+10 Mana gained on Kill
+30 to Accuracy Rating
GoldrimGoldrim - the best leveling Helmet in Path of Exile which grants very high Elemental Resistances bonuses, allowing you to ignore this stat on your gear nearly entirely during the leveling 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:

116 Points Final Skill Tree
116 Points Path of Building(PoB) link 

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Master of Metal
  2. Inspirational
  3. Unstoppable Hero (getting Hardened Scars may be a good idea or this Passive will grant nothing for quite a while)
  4. Fortitude


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] Shrapnel Ballista
Shrapnel Ballista Shrapnel Ballista - the primary source of DPS in this build. Shrapnel Ballistas deal massive Physical Damage in close-range, and if you calculate multiple Projectiles hitting the same target with 100% Chance to Impale, we are talking about millions DPS
Brutality Support Brutality Support - grants the highest DPS bonus to Shrapnel Ballistas
Maim Support Maim Support - increases Physical Damage dealt, and Maim enemies - slowing them down and increasing Physical Damage they take
Viciouls Projectiles Support Vicious Projectiles Support - increases your Projectile Physical Damage
Impale Support Impale Support - increases the effect of Impale which adds a ton of extra damage. You can also use Slower Projectiles for higher DPS bonus, but it will reduce the effective range of your Projectiles
Increased Critical Strikes Support Increased Critical Strikes Support - increases your chance to Critically Hit with Shrapnel Ballistas. If you have hard times getting the Blue Socket on your Chest, you can also replace it with Chance  to Bleed Support
[UTILITY] Ensnaring Arrow setup
Ensnaring Arrow Ensnaring Arrow - used to apply debuffs and your Curse. It will deal a moderate amount of damage, just enough to get you some extra Life and Mana Leeched
Greater Multiple Projectiles Greater Multiple Projectiles - increases the number of Ensnaring Arrow's Projectiles
Curse on Hit Support Curse on Hit Support - will cause Ensnaring Arrow to apply your linked Curse
Assassin's Mark Assassin's Mark - the recommended Curse for this build which generates Power Charges and increases your chance to Critically Hit enemies
Maim Support Maim Support
Faster Attacks Faster Attacks Support - since you don't have much Attack Speed from other sources, this makes using Ensnaring Arrow much smoother
Herald of Ice Precision - grants increased Crit. Chance and Accuracy Rating. It can be used at low levels (1-4) so that it doesn't Reserve too much Mana but that will depend on your actual Items
Flesh and Stone Flesh and Stone - Aura Spell which will increase your DPS while in Blood Stance
Pride Pride - the best DPS Aura for this build which increases in effect as you stay in close-range to your enemy. It also makes it possible to use Watcher's Eye which increases the maximum number of Impale stacks on your enemy
Enlighten Support Enlighten Support - reduces the amount of Mana Reserved by Supported Skills
[UTILITY] Molten Shell
Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support - will trigger Molten Shell when you take enough damage for the Gem's threshold
Molten Shell Molten Shell - grants extra Armour Rating and a very potent protective Shield based on it
Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support - increases the duration of both Vaal effects
[UTILITY] Golem setup
Cast when Damage Taken Cast when Damage Taken Support - will automatically resummon your Golem after you take a certain amount of damage
Summon Lightning Golem Summon Lightning Golem - grants increased Attack and Cast Speed
[UTILITY] Golem setup
Cast when Damage Taken Cast when Damage Taken Support - will automatically resummon your Golem after you take a certain amount of damage
Summon Lightning Golem Summon Lightning Golem - grants increased Attack and Cast Speed
[UTILITY] Dread Banner
Dread Banner Dread Banner - increases the effect of your Impale, and its effect
Dash Dash - the recommended Movement Skill which will slightly increase your mobility
[UTILITY] Blood Rage
Blood Rage Blood Rage - grants you increased Attack Speed, Life Leech, and generates Frenzy Charges when you kill enemies

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5. Gear Setup

Below you will find the recommended gear for our Shrapnel Ballista "Shotgun" Champion build. The only item that you shouldn't go without is the Arborix Bow. Obviously, this build will work with any high Physical DPS Bow, but without Arborix you would need to find an alternative way to increase the number of your Projectiles - most likely via Greater Multiple Support Gem, which will reduce your DPS output. All other Items in this build can be Rares with appropriate stats.

The recommended items from our list will:

  1. Help you cap your resistances 
  2. Give you enough DPS and Life to start mapping successfully
  3. You will save at least a couple of hours since all the item requirements are listed

Stat priorities on items:

  1. Life
  2. Elemental Resistances
  3. Added Physical Damage to Attacks
  4. Critical Strike Multiplier
  5. Critical Strike Chance
  6. Accuracy Rating
  7. Attack Speed
Starkonja's Head(Helmet) Starkonja's Head - very solid Helmet which grants very high defensive utility and is relatively cheap
50% reduced Damage when on Low Life
+(50-70) to Dexterity
10% increased Attack Speed
25% increased Global Critical Strike Chance
(100-130)% increased Evasion Rating
+(80-100) to maximum Life
150% increased Global Evasion Rating when on Low Life
Rare Helmet(Helmet) Rare Helmet - you should try getting Delve Crafted Helmet which increases Physical Damage taken by nearby enemies. It should also carry some extra Life and Resistances
Min. requirements:
70 Maximum Life
35 Dexterity
Nearby enemies take 9% Increased Physical Damage
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Helmet enchantment:
Shrapnel Ballista has 30% increased Projectile Speed
Arborix(Weapon) Arborix - the best weapon for this build (except for Mirror-level Physical DPS Bows). It increases the number of your Projectiles, grants very high bonus DPS in close-range, and carries very high defensive utility
Adds (95-115) to (240-265) Physical Damage
(60-100)% increased Evasion Rating
Bow Attacks fire 2 additional Arrows
Every 16 seconds you gain Iron Reflexes for 8 seconds
30% more Damage with Arrow Hits at Close Range while you have Iron Reflexes
30% increased Attack, Cast and Movement Speed while you do not have Iron Reflexes
You have Far Shot while you do not have Iron Reflexes
Rare Quiver(Quiver) Rare Quiver - the most convenient choice is a Rare Quiver with high Life and DPS bonuses 
Min. requirements:
80 Maximum Life
30% Global Critical Strike Multiplier
Optional affixes:
Global Critical Strike Chance
Added Physical Damage to Attacks
Accuracy Rating
Elemental Resistances
Lioneye's Vision(Body Armour) Lioneye's Vision - our top recommendation for the Body Armour slot. It grants high Armour, Life, and Pierce Support, which is very useful for your Shrapnel Ballistas - without Pierce it has even lower clear speed 
Socketed Gems are Supported by Level 15 Pierce
(200-250)% increased Armour
+(60-100) to maximum Life
0.4% of Physical Attack Damage Leeched as Mana
+160 Dexterity Requirement
Enemy Projectiles Pierce you
Rare Boots(Boots) Rare Boots - primarily look for high bonus Life and Movement Speed, then just try to add missing Resistances and possibly Chaos Resistance
Min. requirements:
70 maximum Life
70% Total Elemental Resistances
30% increased Movement Speed
Optional affixes:
Boot enchantment:
16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you've Killed Recently
18% reduced Mana Cost of Skills if you've been Hit Recently
Stygian Vise(Belt) Stygian Vise - Abyssal Socket makes this Belt the best possible choice for this build
Min. requirements:
80 maximum Life
100% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Armour Rating
Maximum Mana
Rare Amulet(Amulet) Rare Amulet - the best choice for this build unless you want to make your other Rare equipment much more expensive
Min. requirements:
60 maximum Life
50 Intelligence
28% Global Critical Strike Multiplier
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
added Physical Damage to Attacks
Recommended Anointments:
  • Assassination
  • Revenge of the Hunted
  • Heart of the Warrior
  • Discipline and Training
Steel RingSteel Ring(Ring) Rare Rings - preferably Steel Rings which grant high bonus damage via their Implicit modifier
Min. requirements:
60 maximum Life
70% All Elemental Resistances
Non-channelling skills have -# to Total Mana Cost
Optional affixes:
added Physical Damage to Attacks
Gloves(Gloves) Rare Gloves - just aim for high defensive stats and possibly high Accuracy Rating
Min. requirements:
60 maximum Life
400 Accuracy Rating
35 Dexterity
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Added Physical Damage to Attacks
Watcher's Eye(Jewels) Watcher's Eye - possibly the best Jewel in the game for this build. Top Tier ones may cost hundreds of Exalted Orbs though, but getting a random one which increases the maximum number of Impale stacks won't cost a fortune, and will provide a significant damage boost
(4-6)% increased maximum Energy Shield
(4-6)% increased maximum Life
(4-6)% increased maximum Mana
Impales you inflict last 2 additional Hits while using Pride
Abyss Jewel Bow(Jewels) Rare Abyss Jewels - with high flat Physical Damage added to Attacks/Bow Attacks and Life
Recommended affixes:
maximum Life
added Physical Damage to Attacks/Bow Attacks
increased Critical Strike Multiplier
Optional affixes:
Chance to grants Onslaught for 4 seconds on kill
Cobalt Jewel(Jewels) Rare Jewels - this should provide extra Life and damage bonuses
Recommended affixes:
increased maximum Life
increased Damage with Bows/Projectile Damage
increased Global Critical Strike Multiplier
Optional affixes:
Dying Sun(Flask) Dying Sun - increases the number of your Projectiles, making it one of the best Utility Flasks for this build
+50% to Fire Resistance
20% less Fire Damage taken
(-10-10)% increased Charges used
Skills fire 2 additional Projectiles during Flask Effect
(15-25)% increased Area of Effect during Flask Effect
Suggested Flasks:
  1. Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Staunching (immunity to Bleeding)
  2. Experimenter's Granite Flask of Warding (Curse immunity)
  3. Ample Diamond Flask of Adrenaline (increased Movement Speed)
  4. Ample Sulphur Flask of Heat (Freeze/Chill immunity)
Dying SunLife FlaskGranite FlaskDiamond FlaskSulphur Flask

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

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