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The Ultimate Molten Strike Gladiator - Odealo's Crafty Guide

The Ultimate Molten Strike Gladiator - Odealo's Crafty Guide

One of the best Melee Starter builds in Path of Exile

The Ultimate
Molten Strike Gladiator
Starter build

Updated for Patch 3.6

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Guide notes
March 7, 2019
-Updated for Patch 3.6
Changes in 3.6:
-Increased effectiveness of Curses against end-game Bosses which now makes Poacher's Mark much more viable and the build does not require an Elder Ring with Life gain on Hit to deal with Guardians/Shaper/Elder

Molten Strike is the best Melee skill in Path of Exile. It grants very good AoE Damage and clear speed, as well as it provides insane single-target DPS. It has been one of the most popular skills for quite some time now, and now we have decided to make a sturdy Starter build for Patch 3.5 and the Betrayal League. Gladiator is a very durable class and provides unparalleled defenses with high Life, Armour Rating, and over 70% Block Chance that applies to both Attacks and Spells. On top of that this build utilizes Arctic Armour, Enfeeble curse and insane Life and Mana recovery per second. With all the recommended gear you can easily manage to create nearly 100 Molten Strike projectiles. 

What makes this build special? It reaches 100k DPS per Molten Strike's Projectile (!!) without Elder/Shaped gear and is nearly on par with MS Juggernaut defenses

You check our other Path of Exile builds right over here Odealo's Crafty Guides - Full List

1. Gameplay

This is a very powerful and Tanky build which is designed to facetank any opponent in the game. With high Life and Physical Damage mitigation, it is also a very efficient Uber Labyrinth farmer and can earn you a lot of money early on in the League. With all the required items, you should be able to reach approximately 12 Attacks per second, creating about 8 Molten Strike projectiles each (even more with Grelwood Shank swords). Each of the balls will recover your Life and Mana thanks to the Poacher's Mark Curse, granting instant recovery and nearly immortal status. On top of that, you will have over 70% Block Chance, Endurance Charges, Frenzy Charges, over 70%  Physical Damage mitigation, and on top of that, permanent Enfeeble Curse Aura. This build can be played with either Grelwood Shank Swords (more balls, lower DPS) or Nebuloch Elder Maces (fewer projectiles, over double the DPS of each projectile). With any weapon type, the Skill Tree is the same, except for the Point Blank Passive which you can skip when using Grelwood Shank.

0:06 Tier 15 Carcass
0:44 Tier 15 Palace
1:21 Tier 15 Sunken City
1:49 Tier 16 Pit of the Chimera

This video was recorded on a level 86 Gladiator. He has corrupted Tombfist with Enfeeble curse, and Poacher's Mark Aura. Next step for us is to get an Elder Ring with Life on Hit and replace the second curse

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • terrific DPS both single-target and AoE
  • very good clear speed
  • rock solid defenses making your character nearly immortal
  • good mobility thanks to high Attack Speed
  • great League Starter build
  • vulnerable to elemental reflect and reduced life recovery map mods
  • using two Curses simultaneously will require several specific unique items and expensive glove corruption

3. Leveling tips

Molten Strike is a skill that you will be using right from the start. It is a reward from the first quest in the game. In general, leveling is very easy, Gladiator provides very good defenses right from the start via Block mechanic. You just have to follow the Leveling Skill Trees below and focus high Life, Elemental Resistances on rare equipment and high Physical DPS on Weapons. 

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Molten Strike setup
Molten Strike Molten Strike - your primary attack skill. You can use it during the leveling phase too 
Ancestral Call Ancestral Call Support - makes your Molten Strike attack additional two targets and create additional projectiles for better AoE
Added Fire Damage Support Added Fire Damage Support - adds additional Fire Damage to your attacks
Faster Attack Support Faster Attacks Support - greatly increases the Attack Speed of supported Gems
Leap Slam setup
Leap Slam Leap Slam - great mobility skill for a dual-wielding character. If you are using Swords, you can replace it with Whirling Blades
Faster Attack Support Faster Attacks Support
Utility Gems
Herald of Ash Herald of Ash - adds additional Fire Damage to your Attacks and Spells
Ancestral Protector Ancestral Protector - a Totem skill that grants you increased Attack Speed when you are near it
Stone Golem Summon Stone Golem - Stone Golem increases your Life Regeneration per second
Flammability Flammability - recommended Curse for this build during the leveling phase


We recommend helping Oak for additional Physical Damage mitigation and Life Regeneration

Leveling Skill Trees:

32 Points Skill Tree 
Priorities: 1) Art of the Gladiator 2) Dervish 3) Fury Bolts 4) Born to Fight 5) Barbarism

60 Points Skill Tree 
Priorities: 1) Lava Lash 2) Bloodless 3) Ambidexterity 4) Blade Barrier 5) Golem's Blood

Recommended leveling items:

The Tempestuous SteelThe Tempestuous Steel - very powerful sword on lower levels. It completely fixes your Accuracy issues and grants very high DPS bonuses
40% increased Global Accuracy Rating
Adds (5-8) to (15-20) Physical Damage
(8-14)% increased Attack Speed
Hits can't be Evaded
Attacks with this Weapon Penetrate 30% Elemental Resistances
Gain 15% of Physical Attack Damage as Extra Lightning Damage
Gain 15% of Physical Attack Damage as Extra Fire Damage
Ewar's MirageEwar's Mirage - another powerful sword that works best in the off-hand slot where it grants additional Molten Strike projectile
+25% to Global Critical Strike Multiplier
(40-55)% increased Elemental Damage with Attack Skills
Adds 1 to (45-55) Lightning Damage
(16-22)% increased Attack Speed
Attacks Chain an additional time when in Main Hand
Attacks fire an additional Projectile when in Off Hand
GoldrimGoldrim - the best leveling helmet in Path of Exile. Will grant enough Elemental Resistances to reach level 50+
+(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)

GiantsbaneGiantsbane - extremely powerful leveling gloves for Molten Strike builds

Adds (3-6) to (10-12) Physical Damage to Attacks
+(30-40) to Strength
(80-100)% increased Armour
Iron Grip

Karui WardKarui Ward - one of the best leveling amulets for this build. Movement Speed is essential for fast leveling, and the extra projectile damage is nice to have

+(20-30) to Dexterity
+(20-30) to Strength
+100 to Accuracy Rating
30% increased Projectile Speed
10% increased Movement Speed
30% increased Projectile Damage

4. Final Skill tree, Ascendancy Points, and Pantheon

Final Skill Tree:

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

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Painforged
  2. Violent Retaliation
  3. Versatile Combatant
  4. Outmatch and Outlast


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 Tukohama While stationary, gain 2% additional Physical Damage Reduction each second, up to a maximum of 8%

5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Molten Strike setup
Molten Strike Molten Strike - your primary Attack Skill
Elemental Damage with Attack Skills Elemental Damage with Attack Skills Support - increases Elemental Damage dealt by supported skills. Mandatory Gem for this build
Ancestral Call Ancestral Call Support - greatly increases your clear speed. You can replace this Gem with Vicious Projectiles or Fire Penetration Gems versus Bosses (or if you simply feel like it)
Multistrike Support Multistrike Support - causes your Molten Strike to repeat itself twice with greatly increased Attack Speed. Multistrike is extremely important since it triples the amount of projectiles shot
Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support - greatly increases your Elemental Damage
Concentrated Effect Support Concentrated Effect Support - increases Molten Strike damage, but reduces its area of effect
[UTILITY] Golem setup
CwDT Support Cast when Damage Taken - will resummon your Golem automatically
Lightning Golem Summon Lightning Golem - Lightning Golem increases your Attack Speed which is essential for this build
[MOBILITY] Shield Charge setup
Leap Slam Leap Slam -  your primary movement skill
Faster Attacks Support Faster Attacks Support
Fortify Support Fortify Support - melee hits with Leap Slam will grant you the Fortify buff for additional damage reduction
[CURSE] Poacher's Mark
Poacher's Mark Poacher's Mark - grants nearly instant full Life and Mana recovery, what else do you need to make this char immortal?
Blasphemy Blasphemy Support - makes Poacher's Mark work as an Aura around you
[UTILITY] Vaal Haste/Phase Run
Vaal Haste Vaal Haste - grants increased Attack, Movement, and Cast Speed for a short duration. Do not use the regular Aura
Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support
Cast when Damage Taken Cast when Damage Support - auto-casts supported skills after a certain amount of damage is taken by your character. Keep it at level 6
Phase Run Phase Run - grants increased Movement Speed for a brief duration. Keep this Gem at level 8
[UTILITY] Ancestral Protector
Ancestral Protector Ancestral Protector
[UTILITY] Enduring Cry
Enduring Cry Enduring Cry - helps you generate Endurance Charges
[UTILITY] Blood Rage
Blood Rage Blood Rage - increases your Attack Speed and generates Frenzy Charges
[UTILITY] Arctic Armour
Arctic Armour Arctic Armour - reduces Fire and Physical Damage taken while stationary. This means it even further increases your defenses, and if you are using Nebuloch Maces, greatly reduces the damage they deal to you

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5. Gear Setup

Below you will find all the recommended gear for this build. This is a very versatile build as you can use any one-handed weapon type. It is very convenient during the leveling phase as you can simply pick the weapon with the highest base DPS, as well as gives you much more options in late-game. However, it still is intended to be played with either Grelwood Shank or Nebuloch

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Our recommended items will:

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

Stat priorities on items:

  1. Life
  2. Elemental Resistances
  3. Physical/Fire/Projectile Damage
  4. Attack Speed
  5. Block Chance
Devoto's Devotion(Helmet) Devoto's Devotion - great helmet for leveling, but since it's lacking defensive stats, it may not be enough to farm end-game content
10% reduced Global Physical Damage
+(50-65) to Dexterity
16% increased Attack Speed
(150-200)% increased Armour and Evasion
+(15-25)% to Chaos Resistance
20% increased Movement Speed
Mercury Footprints
Starkonja's Head(Helmet) Starkonja's Head - the best in the slot. It grants high Life and DPS bonuses
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
Helmet enchantment:
Molten Strike fires 2 additional Projectiles
Grelwood Shank(Weapon) Grelwood Shank - one of the best weapons for this build. It increases the number of your projectiles by two which is the bonus it grants. Of course, it also has a decent DPS on its own
+475 to Accuracy Rating
(185-215)% increased Physical Damage
(15-20)% increased Attack Speed
80% increased Armour while stationary
Skills fire 2 additional Projectiles if you've been Hit Recently
Point Blank
Iron Reflexes while stationary
Nebuloch(Weapon) Nebuloch - another extremely powerful weapon for this build. It grants the highest possible DPS but will deal damage also to your character
10% reduced Enemy Stun Threshold
Adds (45-60) to (100-120) Physical Damage
Gain (30-40)% of Physical Attack Damage as Extra Fire Damage
+4% to Chaos Resistance per Endurance Charge
1% reduced Elemental Damage taken when Hit per Endurance Charge
Adds 5 to 8 Physical Damage per Endurance Charge
+500 to Armour per Endurance Charge
200 Fire Damage taken per second per Endurance Charge if you've been Hit Recently
Belly of the Beast(Armour) Belly of the Beast - one of the best armours for this build. It grants insane amount of extra Life
3% reduced Movement Speed (Hidden)
(150-200)% increased Armour
(30-40)% increased maximum Life
+(10-15)% to all Elemental Resistances
50% increased Flask Life Recovery rate
Extra gore
Rare Armour(Armour) Rare Body Armour - good leveling/low-tier mapping option
Min. requirements:
1200 Armour Rating
90 maximum Life
20% Fire Resistance
20% Cold Resistance
20% Lightning Resistance
Windshriek(Boots) Windshriek - allows you to use two Curses simultaneously. If you don't need that (just yet) replace it with a random Life/Res/Movement Speed pair of boots
(200-250)% increased Armour
+(10-15)% to all Elemental Resistances
25% increased Movement Speed
(10-20)% increased Elemental Damage
Enemies can have 1 additional Curse (Hidden)
60% increased Area of Effect of Curse Skills
Boots(Boots) Rare Boots - with Life, Elemental Resistances, and bonus Movement Speed
Min. requirements:
70 maximum Life
20% Fire Resistance
20% Cold Resistance
20% Lightning Resistance
25% Movement Speed
Boot enchantment:
16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you've Killed Recently
Leather Belt(Belt) Rare Belt - with high defensive stats and increased Elemental Damage with Attack Skills
Min. requirements:
120 maximum Life
35 Strength
350 Armour Rating
30% Fire Resistance
30% increased Elemental Damage with Attack Skills
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Tombfist(Gloves) Tombfist - the best in the slot. A pair with two Abyss sockets and Enfeeble curse may be very expensive, but you can also play with an uncorrupted pair and just one socket
Has 1 or 2 Abyssal Sockets
(6-10)% increased Attack Speed
(4-6)% increased maximum Life
With a Murderous Eye Jewel Socketed, Intimidate Enemies for 4 seconds on Hit with Attacks
With a Searching Eye Jewel Socketed, Maim Enemies for 4 seconds on Hit with Attacks
Corrupted modifier:
Curses enemies with level # Enfeeble on Hit
Steel Ring (Rings) Rare Steel Ring
Recommended affies:
Adds 11 Physical Damage to Attacks
40 Strength
50 maximum Life
10% to all Elemental Resistances
25% increased Elemental Damage with Attack Skills
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Life gained on Hit (Elder affix)
Rare Ring(Amulet) Rare Ring
Recommended affies:
Adds min. 7 Physical Damage to Attacks
40 Intelligence
60 maximum Life
45% Cold Resistance
45% Lightning Resistance
Optional affixes:
Elemental Damage with Attacks
Life gained on Hit (Elder affix)
Carnage Heart(Amulet) Carnage Heart - a decent Amulet for this build. Grants very high bonuses while Leeching
+(10-16) to all Attributes
+(20-40) to all Attributes
+(10-20)% to all Elemental Resistances
(1.2-2)% of Physical Attack Damage Leeched as Life
50% increased Life Leeched per second
(30-40)% increased Damage while Leeching
Extra gore
Amulet(Amulet) Rare Amulet - good for starters, eventually try to upgrade it 
Recommended affies:
Adds min. 7 Physical Damage to Attacks
40 Intelligence
60 maximum Life
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Elemental Damage with Attacks
Wildfire(Jewels) Wildfire - threshold jewel for Molten Strike. You can only use one of this as of patch 3.5
(10-15)% increased Fire Damage
With at least 40 Strength in Radius, Molten Strike fires 2 additional Projectiles
With at least 40 Strength in Radius, Molten Strike has 25% increased Area of Effect
Abyss Jewels(Jewels) Abyss Jewels - the preferred choice of Jewels for this build which should grant Physical Damage to Attacks and maximum Life bonuses
Recommended affixes:
maximum Life
added Physical Damage to Attacks
Optional affixes:
chance to grant Onslaught on kill
increased Damage if you have killed recently
Cobalt Jewel(Jewels) Rare Jewels - used mainly to provide more Life and DPS
Recommended affixes:
increased maximum Life
increased Block Chance while Dual-wielding
increased Generic/Physical/Projectile Damage
Optional affixes:
increased Attack Speed
Dying Sun(Flask) Dying Sun - the best Flask for this build. It can get very expensive and it's worth every penny you spend
+50% to Fire Resistance
+6% to maximum Fire Resistance
(-10-10)% increased Charges used
(15-25)% increased Area of Effect during Flask Effect
Skills fire 2 additional Projectiles during Flask Effect
The Wise Oak(Flask) The Wise Oak  - another very powerful Flask for this build. Remember you need to have you Fire Resistance's value the highest out of all other resistances to make it work
+35% to all Elemental Resistances
During Flask Effect, 10% reduced Damage taken of each Element for which your Uncapped Elemental Resistance is lowest
During Flask Effect, Damage Penetrates (10-15)% Resistance of each Element for which your Uncapped Elemental Resistance is highest
Atziri's Promise(Flask) Atziri's Promise  - exceptional Flask for the majority of Path of Exile builds. It grants very high bonus DPS and Life Leech
+35% to Chaos Resistance
2% of Chaos Damage Leeched as Life during Flask effect
Gain (15-20)% of Physical Damage as Extra Chaos Damage during effect
Gain (10-15)% of Elemental Damage as Extra Chaos Damage during effect
Rumi's Concoction(Flask) Rumi's Concoction - amazing Flask for any Block-based build
+3000 to Armour
+(14-20)% Chance to Block Attack Damage during Flask effect
+(6-10)% Chance to Block Spell Damage during Flask effect
Other suggested Flasks:
  1. Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Staunching (immunity to Bleeding)
  2. Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Heat (immunity to Freeze and Chill effects)
  3. Ample Granite Flask of Iron Skin  (increased Armour Rating)
  4. Experimenter's Silver Flask of Gluttony (Life Leech and Onslaught buff)
Dying SunThe Wise OakAtziri's PromiseRumi's ConcoctionDivine Life Flask

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

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