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Summon Skeleton Warriors Guardian Starter Build

Summon Skeleton Warriors Guardian Starter Build

A very powerful Starter Build where you summon Skeleton Warriors to deal massive Physical Damage amplified by Impale

Impaling Skeletons
Guardian Starter Build

Updated for Patch 3.18

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Guide notes
May 19, 2022
-Build created
Build overview



Boss DPS:



Summon Skeleton is currently among the most popular League Starter Skills in the game. It's a Spell that allows you to summon several Skeleton Warriors for a set duration to fight for you. A single Skeleton isn't exactly the most powerful ally, but you should be able to have around 10 of them summoned at the same time, and with the Vaal version of this Spell, you will be able to summon a big pack of additional Skeletons to help you against Bosses and tougher enemies. Primarily, this build is played with the Dead Reckoning Jewel, which allows you to summon Skeleton Mages instead of the regular melee ones'. While it's generally a better option, you must have that particular Unique Jewel equipped, which may be hard to get find on SSF mode, or simply very expensive during the first days of the League. The following setup requires literally no Unique Items. With a small investment in Cluster Jewels or some inexpensive Items, you will be easily able to farm Tier 16 Maps and Bosses (with further investments, farming Ubers should also be possible but wasn't tested yet). It relies on Skeletons dealing purely Physical Damage with a greatly increased chance to Impale - up to 100% with Cluster Jewels, making them a force to reckon with. 

Guardian as a Class plays a strong supporting role in Path of Exile and has Passives that greatly boost the DPS of all your Allies (including Minions obviously) and also ones' that increase your survivability, making it a very well-rounded choice for a non-Spectre Minion Build. It's also just next to most of the Minion-related Passives on the Tree, so leveling up such a character is basically the same as Necromancer. On the other hand, you can choose from a wide variety of defensive Passives and options, potentially giving you better survivability or team utility. 

This build also has a more powerful, end-game version, which utilizes full Physical to Chaos Conversion via Triad Grip with 4 White Sockets, and Iron Mass Unique Sword that significantly increases the base damage of your Skeletons and allows them to inflict Withered. This setup requires you to use those two Items, and change the Curse to Despair. Since you won't need the Impale anymore, you will be able to switch  Banner to Defiance one for extra defenses (remember to unlink it from Generosity then). 

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1. Gameplay

This is a very straightforward Minion build. You are going to progress through Maps while occasionally casting your Summon Skeletons to have a maximum number of them summoned at all times. In most cases, this will quickly drain your Mana so it's recommended to use a Hybrid or a Mana Flask unless you have gotten some extra Regeneration on your Rare gear. Utility Spells like Desecrate, Flesh Offering, and the Vulnerability Curse can be either triggered by your Wand (most expensive option), or you can use an Arcanist Brand to cast those for you. For the Auras, you should use Precision and Dread Banner linked to Generosity for extra effect, and Determination, Tempest Shield, and Vitality that will boost your own defenses. You might also be able to find an extra Socket (and Mana) for Clarity, to help you with Mana management. When it comes to Guard Skills, it's best to use Molten Shell, as it is simply the best for builds with high Armour Rating as this one. 


This video was recorded on a level 95 Guardian but equipped with only rare gear and Whakatutuki o Matua Shield. We intentionally used only budget items in order to showcase this build's potential as a League Starter, yet, we managed to easily progress through Tier 16 Maps and take down some Bosses and Guardians (no Ubers were tested, and it most likely wouldn't be an appropriate pick for that type of content)

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • requires literally no specific Crafted or Unique Items
  • budget-friendly
  • high single-target DPS with reasonable AoE
  • tanky with high Life, Block, Life Regeneration, and Armour Rating
  • potentially amazing team Utility (depending on your final setup)
  • has more powerful, end-game version accessible easily
  • Skeleton behavior may feel clunky
  • can run into Mana issues
  • mediocre mobility


3. Leveling tips

The leveling phase is basically the same as for a Minion Summoner Necromancer. You can use any of the Minion Spells available - Skeletons, Absolution, Zombies, Spectres, Raging Spirits to deal the damage, while you support them with Auras and Curses. You have very easy access to exact same Minion nodes as Necromancer, so if you are familiar with that playstyle, you should be more than comfortable leveling up as Guardian. If not, you can check the early-stage Passives Trees and some basic Skill Gems setups for the lower levels. While Absolution appears to be the single-best ability to level up with Minions, we still recommend using Skeletons, as they are the Skill that you will be primarily focusing on, so it's best to level up all the corresponding Gems as soon as possible. You can also find some very useful Unique Items listed that shouldn't drain your budget or can be found quite easily on lower levels. 

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Summon Skeletons setup
Summon Skeletons Summon Skeletons - it's not only your main skill in the later stages of the game, but it's also a great Spell for leveling
Melee Splash Melee Splash Support - Skeleton Warriors use single-target Attacks, so without Melee Splash, you will have a significantly lower clear speed. Pretty much a must-have for this setup
Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support - one of the best Support Gems to boost the damage of your Skeletons
Minion Damage Support Minion Damage Support - your Skeletons will deal more damage - a core damage multiplier Gem for all Minions
Raise Zombie setup
Raise Zombie Raise Zombie - summons a tanky MInions that will deal some additional damage and help you stay alive. They aren't that strong, but they shouldn't die so they are quite convenient to use
Minion Life Minion Life Support - boosts the survivability of your Zombies
Feeding Frenzy Feeding Frenzy Support - your Zombies will be able to grant you and your Allies the Feeding Frenzy buff which boosts the speed and overall DPS
Minion Damage Support Minion Damage Support
Utility Gems
Clarity Clarity - and Aura that increases your Mana Regeneration Rate and helps you manage it on lower levels
Vulnerability Vulnerability - the best Curse for this build which boosts the Physical Damage dealt to affected enemies
Precision Precision - one of the core Auras for this build which increases Accuracy Rating and Critical Strike Chance of affected allies. Should be linked to Generosity Support for a better effect
Summon Carrion Golem Summon Carrion Golem - the best Golem Spell for this build which Summons a Minion that adds extra Physical Damage to your other Minions


Kill all three Bandits for two additional Skill Points

Leveling Skill Trees:

32 Points Skill Tree
Take Spiritual Command, Sacrifice, Enduring Bond, Lord of the Dead, and Death Attunement. Fill in the Life Nodes like Discipline and Training and Heart and Soul whenever you need the extra survivability

63 Points Skill Tree
Get the remaining Minion DPS nodes including Redemption, Righteous Army, and Gravepact. Sovereignty will let you use additional Auras, and you can also grab Devotion for extra Life


Recommended leveling items:

SidhebreathSidhebreath - affordable Amulet that summoners like to wear during leveling. Not only does it boosts the damage of your Minions but also helps you manage your Mana
(20-30)% increased Mana Regeneration Rate
+25% to Cold Resistance
Minions have (10-15)% increased maximum Life
Minions have (10-15)% increased Movement Speed
Minions deal (5-9) to (11-15) additional Cold Damage
(15-10)% reduced Mana Cost of Minion Skills
Victario's FlightVictario's Flight - one of the best leveling Boots in Path of Exile. They increase your and your allies' mobility while offering extra Mana Recovery mechanic
+(20-30) to maximum Mana
+(25-30) to maximum Mana
(45-65)% increased Mana Regeneration Rate
2% increased Experience gain
2% increased Intelligence for each Unique Item Equipped
3% additional chance for Slain monsters to drop Scrolls of Wisdom
SkullheadSkullhead - good Helmet for Summoners, it increases your Minions survivability and gives you some defensive bonuses as well
(60-80)% increased Armour and Evasion
+(50-70) to maximum Life
+(50-70) to maximum Mana
+(10-20)% to all Elemental Resistances
Minions have +10% Chance to Block Attack Damage
Minions have +(300-350) to Armour
Minions Regenerate 2% of Life per second
Tabula RasaTabula Rasa - there is no better leveling Body Armour for this and many other builds
Item has no level requirement and Energy Shield (Hidden)
Item has 6 White Sockets and is fully linked (Hidden)

4. Final Skill Tree, Ascendancy Points, and Pantheon

Final Skill Tree:

91 Points Final Skill Tree (doesn't include Cluster Jewels)
118 Points Path of Building (PoB) link

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Radiant Crusade
  2. Unwavering Crusade
  3. Bastion of Hope
  4. Time of Need

Optionally, Harmony of Purpose can be taken if you have any way to constantly hit enemies - like Storm Brand with Hextouch Support to apple Curses and such. It would then offer much better Charge Generation for your Minions, and you would gain Endurance Charges for extra defensive purposes


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 Yugul: 50% chance to Reflect Hexes; You and your Minions take 50% reduced Reflected Damage


5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Summon Skeletons setup
Summon Skeletons Spirit Summon Skeletons - your primary DPS skill which will be sued constantly to summon new Skeleton Warriors to fight for you. In this setup, they will deal purely Physical Damage with up to a 100% Chance to Impale on Hit
Minion Damage Support Minion Damage Support - the Best Support Gem to increase Minion Damage
Impale Support Impale Support  - this Gem offers a lot of extra added damage from Impales. Replace it with Void Manipulation if using Triad Grip and the Chaos version
Multistrike Support Multistrike Support - makes the Attack of your Minions repeat additional times with increased Speed and Damage
Melee Splash Support Melee Splash Support - pretty much a must-have when it comes to AoE damage in this build. If you are going to kill Bosses only, you can use Melee Physical Damage Support instead
Critical Strikes Damage Support Increased Critical Damage Support - offers the highest DPS bonus out of all the Gems by increasing the Critical Strike Damage Multiplier
[UTILITY] Raise Spectre/Animate Guardian setup
Raise Zombie Raise Spectre - you should be able to summon up to 3 or 4 Spectres, and it's recommended to have the Carnage Chieftain and Host Chieftain summoned to generate Frenzy and Power Charges for your Minions
Animate Guardian Animate Guardian - if you can afford the Items that this Minion should consume to offer their bonuses, it can be one of the best additions to this build. Animated Guardian should "consume" Kingmaker, Mask of the Stitched Demon, Southbound Gloves, a crafted chest piece with "Gain 10% of your Maximum Life as Maximum Energy Shield" mod, and a random Boots with Resistances. Remember that you shouldn't use this Minion with just part of the gear, as it will be lost on the Minion's death
Minion Life Support Minion Life Support - makes the Spectres and potentially Animated Guardian more durable
Meat Shield Support Meat Shield Support - linked Minions will be more defensive and take less damage
[UTILITY] Carrion Golem setup
Summon Carrion Golem Summon Carrion Golem - a mandatory addition to this build which allows you to summon a Golem that adds extra Physical Damage to your other Minions
Feeding Frenzy Feeding Frenzy Support - your Carrion Golem will grant the Feeding Frenzy buff boosting the speed and damage of your other Minions
Minion Life Support Minion Life Support
[UTILITY] Desecrate, Flesh Offering, Curse
(socketed in Trigger Wand or cast manually)
Flame Dash Flesh Offering - the best Offering for this setup which increases the Attack and Movement Speed of all your Minions
Desecrate Desecrate - creates piles of corpses, which are necessary to recast your Flesh Offering, or create Spectres. If you are triggering it via the Wand, use a level 1 Gem Desecrate to limit the Mana Cost
Vulnerability Vulnerability - a Curse that increases Physical Damage taken by affected enemies. If you are using Chaos Conversion Skeletons, make sure to use Despair instead
[UTILITY] Generosity Auras
Precision Precision - greatly boots the Accuracy Rating and Critical Strike Chance making it the core DPS Aura for this setup
Dread Banner Dread Banner - increases the Chance to Impale and its effectiveness of affected allies. Use Defiance Banner for increased Armour and Evasion if you are using the Chaos Conversion variant (and unlink it from Generosity Support in such case)
Generosity Support Generosity Support - will increase the effect of Precision and Dread Banner on your Minions, but make those have no effect on your character
Vitality Vitality - Vitality Aura increases your Life Regeneration Rate which is one of the core defensive mechanics in this build
Determination Determination - a mandatory Aura that increases your Armour Rating to mitigate Physical Damage Taken
Tempest Shield Tempest Shield - boosts your Chance to Block Spell Damage, which sadly, is one of the few ways to reduce Spell Damage taken in this build
[UTILITY] single-socket Skills
Flame Dash Flame Dash - the recommended Movement Spell for this build which allows you to nearly instantly teleport to a nearby location
Molten Shell Molten Shell - the best Guard Spell for this build which grants a protective shield that absorbs a portion of incoming damage based on your Armour Rating

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6. Gear Setup

Below you will find the recommended Items for our Impaling Skeletons Guardian Build. As mentioned earlier, it requires no Unique Items, and the use of Cluster Jewels is optional - they are still recommended, even if with just 1-2 corresponding Passives to limit the initial cost. If you don't have the Cluster Jewels, it's best to pick up additional Life nodes like Tireless or go for Minion defense Passives so that your Skeleton doesn't die so easily against Bosses. It's still recommended to fill those Jewels as you progress with your character. 

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. Maximum Life
  2. Elemental Resistances
  3. Added Physical Damage for Minions
  4. Armour Rating
  5. Minion Damage/Movement Speed
  6. Chance to Suppress Spell Damage
  7. Mana and Mana Regeneration Rate
rare helmet(Helmet) Rare Helmet - just aim for extra defensive stats. You can also get an additional +# to Level of Socketed Gems to boost the stats and number of your Spectres

Min. requirements:
+# to Level of Socketed Minion Gems
+60 to Maximum Life
60% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Chance to Block Spell Damage
Socketed Gems are Supported by Level 20 Minion Life

Helmet enchantments:
Skeletons deal 40% increased Damage
150% increased Effect of the Buff granted by your Carrion Golems
wand(Weapon) Rare Wand - obviously the best Weapon will be the Convoking Wand with extra Minion modifiers. Minion Damage, Gem Level, and Attack Speed are the best mods here. You can also get the "trigger" on it so that you don't have to use that many Spells yourself
Min. requirements:
+1 to Level of all Minion Skill Gems
Minions deal 50% increased Damage
Optional affixes:
+1 to Level of all Spell Skill Gems
Trigger a Socketed Spell when you Use a Skill, with a 8 second Cooldown (crafted)
Minions have 15% increased Attack Speed
Minions have 15% increased Cast Speed
The Iron Mass(Weapon) The Iron Mass - this Weapon massively boosts the base damage of your Skeletons and allows them to apply Withered on Hit. Because of that and its' high price, it's best to use it if you are converting 100% of Skeleton's Damage to Chaos via Triad Grip for the best performance
40% increased Global Accuracy Rating
(140-175)% increased Physical Damage
(14-18)% increased Attack Speed
Unholy Might
(20-25)% chance to inflict Withered for 2 seconds on Hit with this Weapon
Summoned Skeleton Warriors wield a copy of this Weapon while in your Main Hand
Summoned Skeleton Warriors deal Triple Damage with this
Weapon if you've Hit with this Weapon Recently
Shield(Shield) Rare Shield - basically for high defensive stats like Life, Armour Rating, and possibly Spell Block Chance. You can also get the Mana Efficiency mod here, allowing you to use all the Auras without Mana issues
Min. requirements:
+90 to maximum Life
Recover 5% of Life when you Block
Optional affixes:
Socketed Gems have #% increased Reservation Efficiency
Elemental Resistances
Spell Block Chance
#% increased maximum Life
Whakatutuki o Matua(Shield) Whakatutuki o Matua - one of the best Shiels for this Minion build which costs nearly nothing. Not only it boost the damage of your Socketed Minion Gems (preferably Carrion Golem here) but also the effect of your Auras on Minions. It also grants insane Life Regeneration
(5-10)% increased Spell Damage
+3 to Level of Socketed Minion Gems
+(40-80) to maximum Energy Shield
(40-80)% increased Energy Shield
+(15-25) to maximum Mana
20% increased effect of Non-Curse Auras from your Skills on your Minions
20% increased effect of Non-Curse Auras from your Skills
Spreads Tar when you Block
If you have Blocked Recently, you and nearby Allies Regenerate 5% of Life per second
Armour(Body Armour) Rare Body Armour - using a Rare check with an increased number of Maximum Skeletons and extra defensive stats is the best option
Min. requirements:
+90 to maximum Life
+1 to maximum number of Skeletons
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
#% increased maximum Life
Gain #% of your Maximum Life as Maximum Energy Shield
Alberon's Warpath(Boots) Alberon's Warpath - you can use Alberon's Warpath for extra maximum Skeleton. These boots offer somewhat decent defenses and Movement Speed as well
Adds 1 to 80 Chaos Damage to Attacks
+(180-220) to Armour
+(9-12)% to Chaos Resistance
20% increased Movement Speed
+1 to maximum number of Skeletons
(15-18)% increased Strength
Rare Boots(Boots) Rare Boots - a more defensive-oriented option with potentially much higher defensive stats. Make sure to get at least 25% Movement Speed bonus here as well
Min. requirements:
+60 to maximum Life
25% Increased Movement Speed
60% Total Elemental Resistances
30 Intelligence
Optional affixes:
Chaos Resistance
Triad Grip(Gloves) Triad Grip - if you want to play the Chaos Conversion setup, this pair with 4 White Sockets is mandatory. It allows converting 100% of the Skeletons damage to another type based on the socket colors
(80-120)% increased Armour and Energy Shield
Minions convert 25% of Physical Damage to Fire Damage per Red Socket
Minions convert 25% of Physical Damage to Cold Damage per Green Socket
Minions convert 25% of Physical Damage to Lightning Damage per Blue Socket
Minions convert 25% of Physical Damage to Chaos Damage per White Socket
Minions have (5-10)% chance to Freeze, Shock and Ignite
Rare Gloves(Gloves) Rare Gloves - simply aim for high defensive stats. Those can also be crafted with Fossils for extra Minion Damage
Min. requirements:
+70 to maximum Life
80% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Minions deal #% increased Damage
Chaos Resistance
Stygian Vise(Belt) Stygian Vise - Stygian Vise is the best choice for a belt when no Unique seems to fit. Look for Maximum Life, Resistances, and Minion Maximum Life. Hunter's influence allows you for even more Maximum Life
Min. requirements:
+70 to Maximum Life
+50% to Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
#% increased maximum Life
Minions have #% increased maximum Life
Chaos Resistance
Amulet(Amulet) Rare Amulet - Use a base that grants you Dex or Int, or both. An Elder Prefix that allows you to have more Skeletons is highly desirable, besides that look for Maximum Life and Elemental Resistances
Min. requirements:
+70 to Maximum Life
+40% to Elemental Resistances
+1 to Maximum Number of Skeletons
Optional affixes:
+1 to Level of all Intelligence Skill Gems
Minions have 28% increased Movement Speed
Chaos Resistance
Recommended Anointments:
Juggernaut (budget-friendly)
Golem's Blood
Rings(Ring) Rare Rings - basically look for high defensive stats and missing Attributes. You can also have those crafted using Essences for increased Minion Movement Speed
Min. requirements:
+60 to Maximum Life
+50 to Dexterity and intelligence
+60% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
+#% to Chaos Resistance
Minions have #% increased Movement Speed
Minions deal #% increased Damage
Cobalt Jewel(Jewel) Rare Jewels - they should provide extra Life, Elemental Resistances, Minon Damage, and Attributes. However, flat added Damage from Abyssal Jewels offers better scaling
Min. requirements:
#% increased Maximum Life
Minions deal #% increased Damage
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Minion's Attack and Cast Speed
Ghastly Eye Jewel(Jewel) Abyss Jewels - look for extra Life and high added Physical Damage to your Minions. Skeletons have high damage effectiveness, so it's good to invest in those Jewels a bit more
Min. requirements:
+30 to Maximum Life
Minions deal # to #additional Physical Damage
Optional affixes:
Minions deal #% increased Damage if you've used a Minion Skill Recently
Elemental Resistances
Large Cluster Jewel(Jewel) Large Cluster Jewels - the best way to increase your Minions' damage further is via Cluster Jewels. Ones with just two extra Passives shouldn't cost too much. Look for Impale Chance in Physical Version or extra Crit when playing Chaos one
Recommended Passives:
1 Added Passive Skill is Rotten Claws (Physical only)
1 Added Passive Skill is Renewal
1 Added Passive Skill is Vicious Bite
1 Added Passive Skill is Feasting Fiends
1 Added Passive Skill is Call to the Slaughter
Medium Cluster Jewel(Jewel) Medium Cluster Jewels - best way to scale your Minion's Damage at higher levels. It's good to grab one with Blessed Rebirth so that your Skeletons gain 4-second immunity when spawned
Recommended Passives:
1 Added Passive Skill is Blessed Rebirth (just 1)
1 Added Passive Skill is Renewal
1 Added Passive Skill is Feasting Fiends
Fortress Covenant(Jewel) Fortress Covenant - noticeable damage bonus for your Minions at a small cost of making them take more damage for each Notable Passive Skill in Radius. Put it inside a Cluster Jewel to completely disable its negative effect (or somewhere with no notables around)
Minions deal (35-45)% increased Damage
Minions have +(10-12)% Chance to Block Attack Damage
Minions have +(10-12)% Chance to Block Spell Damage
Notable Passive Skills in Radius are Transformed to
instead grant: Minions take 20% increased Damage
Quickening Covenant(Jewel) Quickening Covenant - works in a similar fashion to Fortress Covenant but instead of damage it increases the Attack and Cast Speed of your Minions
Minions have (12-16)% increased Attack Speed
Minions have (12-16)% increased Cast Speed
Minions have (10-12)% chance to Dodge Attack Hits
Minions have (10-12)% chance to Dodge Spell Hits
Notable Passive Skills in Radius are Transformed to
instead grant: Minions have 25% reduced Movement Speed
 Rumi's Concoction(Flask) Rumi's Concoction - one of the best defensive flasks in the game, it increases your Armour and Blocks Chance
Buff grants +1500 to Armour
+(8–12)% Chance to Block Attack Damage during Flask effect
+(4–6)% Chance to Block Spell Damage during Flask effect

Other suggested Flasks:

  1. Enduring Hallowed Hybrid Flask with any suitable suffix
  2. Flagellant's Quartz Flask with random ailment removal/immunity
  3. Flagellant's Basalt Flask with random ailment removal/immunity
  4. Flagellant's Quicksilver Flask with bleeding immunity/removal

Obviously, you don't need to get the Flagellant prefix right away, and while progressing/leveling you can use lower Tier prefixes that will grant you fewer Charges when Hit

Rumi's ConcoctionHybrid FlaskQuartz FlaskBasalt Flaskquicksilver 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.

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

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