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The Best League Starter Builds for the Sentinel League and Patch 3.18

The Best League Starter Builds for the Sentinel League and Patch 3.18

Our list of the best League Starter Builds for the upcoming Sentinel League

The Best Starter Builds
for Sentinel League

The Sentinel league has been revealed, and with it, the most significant upcoming changes to the game - the most surprising of which - no changes to the existing meta. Every build remains generally untouched, with an exception of the possibility of integrating new items into already existing builds. These are our picks to start the new league with. Links to the full guides are provided under each listed build.

The Sentinel League Mechanics can be boiled down to simply augmenting nearby enemies with a press of a button, which will result in more rewards. It's pretty basic stuff and it will hardly reshape the builds meta in any substantial way. League Mechanics brings no changes to the meta, but the new Atlas Passive Tree surely will.

This expansion introduced the new challenges - every pinnacle boss has now an Uber version of it which you're able to allocate via Atlas Keystones, it's an especially challenging version of the regular boss fights which we were used to, but one yielding much better rewards. These can not be empowered with Sentinels, but if you want to experience all of them, prepare a build that's suited for boss killing. That's why we don't recommend builds such as Righteous Fire - it would take forever to kill an Uber Pinnacle Boss with it. However, if you don't plan to kill these bosses, it's obviously a very good, meta build. One of the most popular builds last expansion. General's Cry Blade Flurry Berserker, Cast-on-crit Forbidden Rite Occultist, or Lightning Strike Raider are some of the builds with high single target damage. Omniscience-stacking builds are a good example of high-cost builds, which we assume would be capable of dealing with the new end-game content. That absolutely doesn't mean that the clear speed-focused builds with become obsolete. The prospect of improved content customization is expanded further since the last patch - the atlas skill tree has changed a lot. You can now play even more niche and specialized build and go only for the content you want to play thanks to the new Atlas Tree. You can, for example, completely disable game mechanics such as Harvest. Check the new Atlas Skill Tree by clicking this link.

For the full list of our build guides, each rated on the merits of budget, boss damage, clear speed, and defenses, visit this link. Overall, the feedback to the announced league is overwhelmingly positive, and we cannot wait to deliver more build guides.




Explosive Arrow Ballista Elementalist - Explosive Arrow Ballista Elementalist is one of the more interesting builds which experienced a surge in popularity and was deemed by many to be the best starter build for the previous patch. The build shares a lot of similarities with a totem playstyle, but in contrast to Hierophant, this one uses Attacks. The core mechanics revolve around stacking 20 explosive arrows on an enemy, which will then explode causing Ignite. As was already stated, there are no nerfs in this patch, which makes it viable, despite it being very specific and unintuitive to assemble. It requires a lot of passives which are located on many corners of your passive skill tree, which makes the leveling process much more complex. For its full potential, it requires a few unique items - Dyadian Dawn, Rain of Splinters, and Polaric Devastation. It's safe to assume that these items will be pretty expensive during the first few weeks. The price is high, but the build's performance is amazing. It's recommended for the players wanting to quickly get to the good part of the game.

For the full Guide, you can check: Explosive Arrow Ballista Elementalist Starter Build

Toxic Rain Champion - It's the first build that comes to one's mind after thinking of an easy way to start a league. A staple of a cheap, and affordable build that you can run on a ranger or duelist. It's a Chaos Damage over Time Attack which requires a Bow, preferably one with high attack speed, such as quill rain. The skill creates a number of pods in the ground, these deal damage to the enemies around it, and - here's the best part - the damage can overlap, making it one of the best skills for dealing with bosses. the clear speed is great too since assembling it requires investing in an area of effect, not only to have higher boss DPS but also more efficient clear speed. It's usually set up in such a way that uses two skill gem setups, one for your attack, and the other for your ballista totems. There is a wide selection of ascendancies to choose from. You can pick Pathfinder, Raider, or a Champion, each pick has its own merits. Champion is one of the best ascendancies to pick, due to the easily-accessible defensive passives. The only downside might be the mana management, and the popularity of the build, which will result in an inflated price of items - that is if you plan to buy them. The build does not require specific unique or expensive items and is perfectly suited for a late game. One of the best and safest starters overall.

For the full Guide, you can check: Toxic Rain Champion Starter build

HierophantSpell Totem Hierophant - Hierophant is often called the best ascendancy for Spell Totem builds. The class is able to pick three very beneficial Keystones from its ascendancy tree. You will have great Mana and Life sustain and easy access to some of the best passive skills. It is very easy and intuitive to equip such a character. The build has good late-game potential, it can be expanded on indefinitely. The Totem playstyle has its inherent limitations, mostly when it comes to clear speed. It requires you to place a totem quite often, which is the only way in which you can deal damage. It might not be suited for everyone, especially the fast-paced gameplay enthusiasts. Nonetheless, the totem playstyle also has its virtues - it's very safe, as long as you place totems ahead of you. As for the specific Spell, we recommend Holy Flame Totem and later switch to a shockwave totem. You can also make use of a Spell Totem Support Gem and link it to any Spell you desire. We recommend Freezing Pulse or Arc. Almost every Spell Totem build follows roughly the same path on a skill tree, the only difference between them is caused by the type of elemental damage you're dealing. It's the obvious pick for the totem enthusiasts.

For the full Guides, you can check:

  1. Holy Flame Totem Hierophant
  2. Freezing Pulse Totem "Low Life" Hierophant Build
  3. Shockwave Totem Hierophant Build

Physical Traps Saboteur - Seismic Trap and its supplementary Exsanguinate are an inseparable pair of Skills often used at the start of a league on a Saboteur. This Ascendancy is the only viable choice for any trap build, it provides you with damage, and defensives from the keystones such as Perfect Crime or Born in the Shadows. Dealing damage via traps is much like casting a spell, except the spell is being cast after the enemy interacts with the trap. It might sound like it's slow and clunky, but in fact, it's one of the fastest builds on the list. Exsanguinate is a Spell that deals Physical Damage, and Damage over time which is increased by your Spell Damage. It creates tendrils, behaving similar to projectiles, but moving much faster. This Skill is used for clearing and can remain as a four-link. Seismic Trap is a skill with the purpose of dealing with bosses. It creates multiple waves of damage during the trap's duration. At some point you will have to get two Cold Iron Point Rune Daggers, these will be expensive at the start of the league, so bury that in mind. It's a great build for the players willing to quickly get to the red maps and farm them for some time, before switching to some other, more expensive build.

For the full Guide, you can check: Seismic Trap/Exsanuinate Saboteur Starter build

GladiatorBleed Bow Gladiator - Bleed Bow Gladiator has been a popular choice for a starter for some time now. Gladiator is an ascendancy specializing in dealing damage via Bleeding - it's a physical, damage over time effect. You will apply it via Tornado Shot - it's a skill that creates tons of Projectiles which will then Chain off of enemies. Because of that, it's the best build on this list when it comes to clear speed. You will consistently slay enemies off-screen, which might be a downside. You may not notice some of the more expensive drops. What makes this build deal real damage is Corrupting Fever Skill. It's a Buff that deals an additional layer of physical damage over time. You don't have to worry about casting it constantly, because it refreshes after you spend some Life on your Skills. Because of this, you also won't have to worry about your Mana management. The downside of the build is mediocre single-target damage. Overall, It's a good build that indisputably is played even after the initial few weeks, and it's great for the players valuing clear speed above all else.

You can check the complete in-depth Guide in the following article: Corrupting Fever Gladiator Starter build

Poisonous Concoction Pathfinder - Poisonous Concoction is a well-rounded build that deals chaos damage over time via Projectile Attacks. It requires your character to be unarmed, it cannot wield a weapon. Normally, it would be a downside, if not for the inherent to skill high base damage and the additional chaos damage sourced from the Life Flask. As was the case with Toxic Rain, the damage of multiple projectiles can overlap. more specifically - the explosions caused by projectiles after shattering on the ground. It shares a lot of similarities with Toxic Rain, both of these skills deal chaos damage over time, but where the Poisonous Concoction shines the most, is the accessibility. the build can be assembled out of nothing, it requires no specific unique items, and the number of beneficial stats is very high. Picking the pathfinder Ascendancy grants some basic damage and mobility bonuses, and it also guarantees a steady stream of Flask Charges, which is immensely helpful during boss fights. It was one of the most popular builds for the siege of the atlas expansion. It's probably the best pick for the SSF players.

You can check the complete in-depth Guide in the following article: Poisonous Concoction Pathfinder Build

Skeleton Mages Summoner Necromancer - Necromancer is also a popular pick, if not one of the most popular ascendancies in general. Usually, Necromancers choose between Zombies, Skeletons, or Spectres, but the most popular archetype is the Summoner of Skeletal Mages. It was actually the most popular starter last patch. It's undoubtedly one of the best choices, but it requires a Dead Reckoning Unique Jewel. Due to the high demand for this item, its price is usually very high at the start, it might be worth over 100 Chaos Orbs during the first week. However, you should not be discouraged, the build works fine without this jewel up to red maps. Having ranged minions, and dealing spell damage at an astounding rate surely makes it the best build on the list in terms of damage, survivability, and growth potential. The unpleasant part is its price, as some of the best unique, and rare items may be far beyond your price range. If you don't mind the necromancer's playstyle - which is not the most engaging one - and the high expenses, it's a definitely 

You can check the complete in-depth Guide in the following article: Summon Skeleton Mages Necromancer Build

Arc Elementalist - Arc Elementalist is a default Spell Caster. Arc is a Spell praised for its near-instantly damage delivery as it auto-targets enemies with lightning speed. It's also simple to assemble, just look for the spell, lightning damage, and critical strike modifiers. You can pick an Inquisitor for this role - it will do just fine, but what we recommend is an Elementalist, it has better late-game potential, and better overall damage. One of the more significant downsides of this build is its lack of easily-accessible defensive capabilities. One of the few options is allocating Bastion of The Elements, creating a Hybrid, or even Energy Shield build - which is expensive and complicated. Its single target damage is also poor at the start, it will probably require you to swap the Arc skill for a more suitable Ball Lightning for the tough bosses. It's a build perfectly suited for players who want to get over the leveling phase quickly, but also desire to keep the character and upgrade it in a steady manner as you go.

You can check the complete in-depth Guide in the following article: Arc Elementalist Starter Build


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If you have any suggestions about other interesting Builds and/or Starter Builds for the Sentinel League we would love to hear your feedback! The patch introduces no changes, but some new, build-defining items will be added, and so there might be some hidden synergies in there that we simply don't notice yet! Obviously, we will be updating all our Guides over the course of the newest League to match the current update, but the ones performing well in 3.17 will stay exactly the same, so you don't have to worry about builds being outdated since the previous patch.

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