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The Iron Mass Skeletons Guardian Build

The Iron Mass Skeletons Guardian Build

A powerful Summoner build for a Guardian that summons powerful Skeletons wielding Iron Mass Unique Sword

The Iron Mass Skeleton
Guardian Build

Updated for Patch 3.23

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Guide notes
December 14, 2022
-Build created
Build overview



Boss DPS:



The Iron Mass is the weapon this whole build revolves around. It's worn by the character and his Skeletons, who deal triple damage with it after the player hits something. This condition is easy to fulfil with a Leap Slam & Resolute Technique. The Triple Damage doesn't affect Ailments like Poison, so to make a proper use of this damage bonus we need to gain a lot of Flat Damage. It can be easily sourced from Guardian's Elemental Relics. The Auras granted by these Minions add flat Fire and Lightning Damage to Attacks while Hatred offers only Cold Damage sourced from base Physical Damage. Another source of damage is The Covenant Armour with its Chaos Damage. Chaos Damage is especially good because of the Withered debuff that's baked into the weapon. More Chaos Damage is sourced from Aul's Uprising with its Envy Aura, and the new Dead Reckoning Jewel that adds Chaos Damage to Minions based on the Energy Shield on the Shield. Carrion Golem adds another layer of flat damage.

The overall damage output is unusual as we focused on the quantity, not the type. To penetrate all types of Resistances simply use Exposure and many Curses. We can afford to do so with Anathema Ring and extra Maximum Power Charges that will also benefit Ancient Skull Helmet. The Skeleonts need it for Attack Speed, which is also gained from Feeding Frenzy, Adrenaline, and Haste. The Critical Strike bonus will not be wasted, we can reach close to 100% Crit Chance with Spirit Offering, Assassin's Mark, Precision, Wakened Fury, and some passives.

The build is a hybrid one due to the abundance of ES on nearly all of the aforementioned Unique Items. The Maximum Life is still an important part of it. The total Life Pool is not particularly high and the build cannot be classified as exceptionally tanky, but with capped Block Chance against Spells and Attacks and some Armour, it's rather enough for all the content in the game. Furthermore, the 10 Fortification stacks from AG's Kingmaker, Sentinel that absorb 20% of the damage, and the Time of Need passive for Life Recovery offer an overall pleasant experience where we won't die too often.

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1. Gameplay

Summon Skeletons every couple of seconds - they're slow and re-summoning them will activate the Fresh Meat bonus for more DPS. During boss fights summon more of them with Vaal version of this Skill and cast Spirit Offering. Your Animated Guardian and Carrion Golem must stay up constantly for various bonuses. To move around and apply two of your Curses use Leap Slam linked to a Hextouch. Use this Attack at least once every 4 seconds to get the bonus Attack Block Chance and to increase your Minions' Damage. Assassin's Mark linked to Mark on Hit will too be cast on Hit. Elemental Weakness and Despair should be cast on Hit with Gloves' Implicit. You can even wear Hands of the High Templar and get both. Your Auras are Haste, Determination, Tempest Shield, and Precision. Sentinel is optional.

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • very high damage of various types
  • good defence
  • can be a good starter on a shoestring budget
  • requires specific unique items to reach high damage
  • skeletons are slow and onerous


3. Leveling tips

Use our Sentinel of Radiance Guardian Starter Build for as long as you need before making a switch. After the first Lab, you will be rewarded with Sentinel of Radiance which you should take advantage of. Start using Iron Mass after acquiring the key Items and no sooner than after the second Lab when you will allocate the Unwavering Crusade passive.


you should kill all three Bandits for two additional Skill Points

4. Final Skill Tree, Ascendancy Points, and Pantheon

Final Skill Tree:

115 Points Final Skill Tree (doesn't include Cluster nor Unique Jewels)
122 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


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] Summon Skeletons setup
Summon Skeletons Summon Skeletons - Melee Skeletons can wield The Iron Mass, they will use it with their basic Melee Attacks. Use the Vaal version to summon tons of them during boss fights.
Minion Damage Minion Damage Support - Grants more Damage, but reduces Minions' Maximum Life.
Multistrike Multistrike Support - Attacks repeat additional time with magnified Attack Speed.
Ruthless Ruthless Support - Every third Attack deals 100% more Damage.
Fresh Meat Fresh Meat Support - Skeletons have a base Duration of 20 seconds, which you can increase. For the first 10% of this Duration, they will gain Adrenaline, additional base Crit Chance, and Crit Multiplier. If you don't want to rely on this fleeting but powerful buff, use Hypothermia Support Hypothermia Support or Elemental Damage with Attacks Support Elemental Damage with Attacks Support.
Critical Damage Increased Critical Damage Support - Increases Critical Strike Multiplier for your Skeletons.
[UTILITY] Various Minions setup
Summon Carrion Golem Summon Carrion Golem - Carrion Golem grants more Damage to your Skeletons - this bonus should be capped at 50% with 9 Skeletons and Animated Guardian. It also grants them base flat Physical Damage.
Animate Guardian Animate Guardian - Use the Tanky/Optimal Guardian setup which you can find here - Animated Guardian - Best Items and Setups Guide. You can equip it with Legacy of Fury boots, or Rare Boots with Brittle.
Feeding Frenzy Feeding Frenzy Support - Feeding Frenzy grants more Damage, Movement, and Attack Speed for all your other Minions.
Minion Life Minion Life Support - Grants more Maximum Life to the linked Minions.
[UTILITY] Spirit Offering
Spirit Offering Spirit Offering - Minions have increased Critical Strike Chance and bonus Critical Strike Multiplier. It requires a Corpse.
[UTILITY] Minion's Auras setup
Haste Haste - Haste increases Movement and Attack Speed for your Skeletons.
Precision Precision - Precision adds Accuracy Rating and increases Critical Strike Chance.
Generosity Generosity Support - Linked Auras will affect only your Allies and their Effect gets increased. You can unlink Haste from it if you want to go faster and deal less damage. You can also unlink Precision and give up this Gem Slot completely - Accuracy is somewhat needed for Leap Slam (unless you have allocated Resolute Technique). If that's the case, replace Generosity with Molten Shell Molten Shell​​​​​.
[UTILITY] Assassin's Mark setup
Assassin's Mark Assassin's Mark - Damage against Marked enemy has increased Crit Chance and Crit Multiplier.
Mark on Hit Mark on Hit Support - We've used Mark on Hit to cast Mark automatically with Leap Slam. You may want to cast Assassin's Mark manually and replace this Gem Slot with Desecrate Desecrate to cast Offering in boss arenas.
Lifetap Lifetap Support - Linked Skills cost Life instead of Mana.
[UTILITY] Auras setup
Determination Determination - Adds and increases your Armour so that you can tank more Physical Hit Damage.
Tempest Shield Tempest Shield - Grants Shock Immunity and a lot of Spell Block Chance. You may now be able to cap it at 75%.
Enlighten Enlighten Support - Linked Skills Reserve less Mana.
[UTILITY] Curse/Atack setup
Flammability Flammability - Lowers Fire Resistance of your enemies. If you don't have Gloves that apply Despair Despair and Elemental Weakness Elemental Weakness (both), replace Flammability with one of these Curses.
Conductivity Conductivity - Lowers Lightning Resistance of your enemies.
Hextouch Hextouch Support - Linked Curses will apply if you Hit an enemy with a linked Attack. Your Accuracy is low, so allocate the Resolute Technique. You cannot use Spell, Leap Slam is the only Attack we can afford to use to activate the Block Chance bonus from Bastion of Hope and bonus damage from The Iron Mass.
Leap Leap Slam - It's an Attack used as a Movement Skill and to apply Hex Curses. It cannot be swapped for Shield Charge, we need to attack with a Weapon, not a Shield to activate its bonus.
[UTILITY] Gloves Curse
gained from Gloves' Corrupted Implicit
Despair Despair - This Curse should be applied via Gloves' Corrupted Implicit. It lowers Chaos Resistance and it's the most important Curse.
[UTILITY] Gloves Curse
gained from Gloves' Corrupted Implicit
Elemental Weakness Elemental Weakness - It lowers all Elemental Resistances. This one also should be applied via Gloves' Corrupted Implicit. You can get two of these Curses with an extremely lucky double Corruption, or with the Hands of the High Templar, which is much easier to do.

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6. Gear Setup

Gearing up may be slightly difficult if you don't want to get the Supreme Ostentation. Because of the abundance of Unique items, it's even hard to cap the Elemental Resistances at 75%. Your Rare gear pieces already require these Resistances at high tiers, otherwise, you would need to gain them from Jewels, which is something that should be avoided. Jewels are to be used offensively. It's a version of the build where we don't use Fleshcrafter, but it can be implemented with some minor changes. The reason for not using it is The Covenant. It adds tons of Flat Damage which this build needs the most. All the added Damage is thrice as effective. The Iron Mass has base Physical Damage that we can convert to something else with Triad Grip. It's not necessary as most of the DPS is added from Auras and Covenant, but we still encourage wearing cheap Unique Gloves that you can Corrupt for Curse on Hit. Other Uniques are much more important - Ancient Skull, Anathema, and Aul's Uprising are what we recommend. The Unique Jewels we have listed are very expensive so leave them for later. Rare Jewels can be upgraded gradually. It's possible to assemble this build on a low budget, you can even start without core items, Skeletons are great on their own.

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. Minion Added Damage
  4. Minion Attack Speed
  5. Chaos Resistance
  6. Minion Damage
  7. Reduced Mana Cost of Skills
  8. Skill Effect Duration
  9. Mana Reservation Efficiency
Ancient Skull(Helmet) Ancient Skull - Ancient Skull is by far the best option. Your Minions hear whispers and have 50% increased Attack Speed and Damage. They're disposable, you should summon a new batch of Skeletons every 2 - 2.5 seconds anyway to maximize your DPS from Fresh Meat. It's one of the reasons we go for 5 Maximum Power Charges - to get increased Crit Chance for Minions.
Minions deal (15-20)% increased Damage
(150-200)% increased Armour and Energy Shield
Minions have (40-20)% reduced maximum Life
Minions have (15-25)% increased Movement Speed
Minions have 50% increased Critical Strike Chance per Maximum Power Charge you have
Minions can hear the whispers for 5 seconds after they deal a Critical Strike
The Iron Mass(Weapon) The Iron Mass - Iron Mass will be worn by you and your Skeletons. The Triple Damage only affects Hit Damage and will not translate into Ailment Damage. The caveat is, that we need to Hit an enemy once every 4 seconds to get this bonus. Use Leap Slam on enemies to achieve it.
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 and Soldiers wield this Weapon while in your Main Hand
Summoned Skeleton Warriors and Soldiers deal Triple Damage with this
Weapon if you've Hit with this Weapon Recently
Emperor's Vigilance(Off-hand) Emperor's Vigilance - It's cheap and grants up to 385 Energy Shield, resulting in a lot of extra Flat Damage from Dead Reckoning. You can get more from a good Rare Shield.
(16-22)% Chance to Block Spell Damage
1000% increased Armour and Energy Shield
Damage taken from Blocked Hits cannot bypass Energy Shield
Damage taken from Unblocked hits always bypasses Energy Shield
Glancing Blows
Shield(Off-hand) Rare Shield - Get a Rare Shield with over 400 Energy Shield. For Suffixes, seek +1 to Level of all Minion Skill Gems, Elemental or Chaos Resistances.
Min. requirements:
at least 400 Energy Shield
30% Total Elemental or Chaos Resistances
Optional affixes:
Elemental or Chaos Resistances
Block Chance
faster start of Energy Shield Recharge
+1 to Level of all Minion Skill Gems
The Covenant(Body Armour) The Covenant - The Covenant grants simply the most Damage, which is then tripled. It's what we recommend. If you use the Replica version, which is a bit worse, be sure to use Frostbite Curse.
Socketed Gems are Supported by Level 29 Added Chaos Damage
+(20-30) to Intelligence
(210-250)% increased Energy Shield
10% increased maximum Life
Skills gain a Base Life Cost equal to 100% of Base Mana Cost
Fleshcrafter(Body Armour) Fleshcrafter - Fleshcrafter alters the whole build, but it's what we would recommend for a start, it's simpler and cheaper. If you plan to use it you have to give up your Flammability, Conductivity, and Elemental Weakness Curses. You will now only use Assassin's Mark and Despair so you won't need Anathema, Whispers of Doom will be enough.
(100-150)% increased Energy Shield
Minions Convert 2% of their Maximum Life to Maximum Energy
Shield per 1% Chaos Resistance they have
Chaos Damage taken does not bypass Minions' Energy Shield
Minions have (50-100)% faster start of Energy Shield Recharge
While Minions have Energy Shield, their Hits Ignore Monster Elemental Resistances
Triad Grip(Gloves) Triad Grip - Physical Damage on your Minions is undesirable, but there's not much of it. By Converting their damage you gain some extra DPS. Remember to Corrupt them for a Despair or Elemental Weakness on Hit.
(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
Hands of the High Templar(Gloves) Hands of the High Templar - These Gloves are comparable to the Triad Grip. They have good base stats and you can Corrupt them many times to apply Curses on Hit, gain increased Maximum Life, Energy Shield, or increase the level of socketed Gems, which can include Enlighten Support. We recommend getting Elemental Weakness and Despair on hit here.
Can be modified while Corrupted
Can have up to 5 Implicit Modifiers while Item has this Modifier
(150-200)% increased Armour and Energy Shield
(7-12)% increased maximum Life
+(20-30)% to Fire and Lightning Resistances
Boots(Gloves) Rare Boots - Regular Boots are enough - just get Maximum Life, Resistances, and Movement Speed here. For an Eldritch Implicit get Scorched or Brittle Ground. If your AG is wearing Legacy of Fury the ground is already Scorched, so in such case go for Britlle.
Min. requirements:
70 maximum Life
70% Total Elemental or Chaos Resistances
25% Movement Speed
Optional affixes:
Elemental or Chaos Resistances
Cannot be Frozen
Darkness Enthroned(Belt) Darkness Enthroned - Abyss Jewels are a major source of damage so we naturally go for the Darkness Enthroned. Put your best Jewels here.
Has 1 Abyssal Socket
Has 1 Abyssal Socket
(50-100)% increased Effect of Socketed Abyss Jewels
The Jinxed Juju(Amulet) The Jinxed Juju  - It's the cheap Amulet that increases the effect of Auras on Minions. It also grants some Attributes and Chaos Resistance.
+(16-24) to Strength and Dexterity
+(30-40) to Intelligence
+(23-31)% to Chaos Resistance
(10-15)% increased effect of Non-Curse Auras from your Skills
10% of Damage from Hits is taken from your Spectres' Life before you
Aul's Uprising(Amulet) Aul's Uprising (All Attributes)  - It's an expensive Amulet, but the free Envy Aura it grants is an enormous boost to your DPS. It adds flat Chaos Damage. We recommend switching to it at some point.
+(10-16) to all Attributes
Grants Level 15 Envy Skill
+(15-20) to all Attributes
+(50-70) to maximum Life
(15-20)% increased Global Defences
Envy has no Reservation
Recommended Anointments:
Exceptional Performance
Ring(Ring) Rare Rings - Rare Rings should provide you with Maximum Life and as much Resistances as you can afford. If you struggle with Mana, craft the Prefix to reduce Mana Cost of Skills. If you use Bone Rings, seek a mod that increases Minions' Attack Speed. If you don't use Supreme Ostentation, look here for Dexterity.
Min. requirements:
60 Maximum Life
80% Total Elemental or Chaos Resistances
Optional affixes:
Non-Channelling Skills have -(7-6) to Total Mana Cost (crafted)
Minions have increased Attack and Cast Speed
Anathema(Ring) Anathema - Anathema will allow you to apply five Curses. Skeletons deal four types of Damage with nearly 100% Crit Chance, so we need Elemental Weakness, Assassin's Mark, Despair, and two other Hexes to lower specific Elemental Resistances. Allocate Instability and Overcharge notables to extend your Power Charge cap from 3 to 5. The most important Curses are Elemental Weakness, Despair, and Assassin's Mark. If you're using Fleshcrafter, you won't need this Ring nor Maximum Power Charges.
+(15-25) to maximum Energy Shield
+(30-40) to Intelligence
(10-15)% increased Cast Speed
(10-20)% chance to gain a Power Charge when you Cast a Curse Spell
Your Curse Limit is equal to your maximum Power Charges
 Ghastly Abyss Jewels(Jewel) Rare Ghastly Abyss Jewels - These Jewels will be very important. For their Prefixes look for Maximum Life to your character or various types of added Damage for your Minions. For Suffixes, get missing Resistances, increased Attack Speed for Minions, or increased Minions' Damage if you've used a Minion Skill Recently.
Min. requirements:
30 maximum Life
Minions deal additional Damage (any type)
Minions have increased Attack Speed
Optional affixes:
Elemental or Chaos Resistances
Minions deal 20% increased Damage if you've used a Minion Skill Recently
Elegant Hubris(Jewel) Elegant Hubris - Caspiro's flavour lets you ignore Attribute Requirements with his Supreme Ostentation, which is good as we don't have a lot of opportunities to gain them from items. If you're willing to gather the missing 85 Dexterity you won't need it. Another Reason for using Elegant Hubris is to allocate a lot of "Slum Lord" notables via Impossible Escape. It's an expensive endeavour, but keep this possibility in mind.
Commissioned (2000-160000) coins to commemorate Caspiro
Passives in radius are Conquered by the Eternal Empire
Impossible Escape(Jewel) Impossible Escape - The Necromantic Aegis variant of Impossible Escape is expensive, but with a good Elegant Hubris socketed near Shaper notable it can vastly improve your Minions' Damage. It's completely optional.
Passive in Radius of <Keystone> can be Allocated without being connected to your tree
Dead Reckoning(Jewel) Dead Reckoning - The new Dead Reckoning is a major reason to try out this build now. It adds tons of flat Chaos Damage to your Minions' Attacks, given you have a Shield with a lot of Energy Shield.
Skeletons to gain Added Chaos Damage equal to 20-30% of Maximum Energy Shield on your Equipped Shield
Large Cluster Jewel(Jewel) Large Cluster Jewel - If you can afford a Large Minion Cluster Jewel with 12 Passives, each with increased effect, go for it. The more reasonably priced Jewel with 8 passives and 3 notables will also do fine.
Recommended affixes:
1 Added Passive Skill is Feasting Fiends
1 Added Passive Skill is Raze and Pillage
1 Added Passive Skill is Call to Slaughter
Added Small Passives also grant Minions have 3% increased Attack and Cast Speed
Added Small Passives have increased Effect
 Progenesis(Flask) Progenesis - It's the best Flask in the game so we have to include it as an aspirational option. It redirects a portion of incoming Hit damage to be taken as unavoidable DOT over the next 4 seconds.
+35% to Chaos Resistance
(20-10)% reduced Charges per use
(-35-35)% increased Duration
When Hit during effect, 25% of Life loss from Damage taken occurs over 4 seconds instead
Rumi's Concoction(Flask) Rumi's Concoction - The build needs only a bit of extra Attack and Spell Block Chance to reach the 75% cap, you can gain it from this Flaks.
+1500 to Armour
+(8-12)% Chance to Block Attack Damage during Effect
+(4-6)% Chance to Block Spell Damage during Effect
Starlight Chalice(Flask) Starlight Chalice - Use it only to apply all three types of Exposure. Exposure lowers Resistances. The Guardian's Elemental Relics makes you deal all three types of elemental Damage. Cold Damage from Hatred is based on Physical Damage before Conversion, so it will be there even with no Green sockets on your Triad Grip.
+200 to Ward
Restores Ward on use
(20-30)% increased Charge Recovery
Inflict Fire, Cold and Lightning Exposure on nearby Enemies when used
(20-30)% increased Effect of Non-Damaging Ailments you inflict during Effect

Other suggested Flasks:

  1. Basalt Flask with increased Armour
  2. Life Flask of Staunching
  3. Quicksilver Flask with increased Movement Speed
Life FlaskStarlight ChaliceRumi's ConcoctionProgenesisBasalt 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.

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