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Viper Strike/Herald of Agony Pathfinder build

Viper Strike/Herald of Agony Pathfinder build

Powerful Melee/Poison build based on the swift Viper Strike skill which has millions of DoT DPS

Viper Strike/Herald of Agony
Pathfinder build

Updated for Patch 3.8

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Guide notes
September 11, 2019
-Updated for Patch 3.8


Viper Strike is one of the best Poison skills in the game. The Poison it applies has twice the base duration of a regular Poison, which allows us to endlessly scale its damage. This build, in theory, can apply up to 150 Stacks of Poison against single-target enemies - when it comes to AoE, and overlapping Attacks with Ancestral Call + Melee Splash, this number is even further multiplied. Your DPS gets higher and higher the longer the fight - each Growing Agony Jewel grants 2% increased Damage per Poison stack on the enemy without a cap. We also use Herald of Agony for some extra DPS and clearing power; Agony Crawler is an irreplaceable companion for the leveling phase.

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1. Gameplay

Viper Strike is a Melee Attack which has 50% of its damage converted to Chaos and applies Poison with twice the base duration of regular Poisons. In order to increase clear speed and AoE potential, we use Ancestral Call and Melee Splash which makes every Hit overlap on the same enemy, allowing us to stack multiple Poisons with each attack. It's advised to switch to Melee Physical Damage and Multistrike versus Bosses for maximum single-target DPS. With Herald of Agony active, every time we Poison an enemy, we get Virulence Stacks and have Agony Crawler summoned to aid us. Agony Crawler has very decent DPS and Maims enemies slowing them down and increasing your Physical Damage against them. 

This build also utilizes several defensive mechanics including high Life Pool, Dodge Rating, Evasion, Arctic Armour (assuming you decide to use The Perfect Form), and insane Life Recovery from equipped Claws (up to 80 Life for each enemy Hit with your Attacks).

0:06 Tier 14 Caldera
0:24 Tier 16 Guardian of the Chimera
1:11 Tier 16 Guardian of the Hydra
1:51 Shaper

The video was recorded on a level 89 Pathfinder dual-wielding The Wasp Nests and wearing Starkonja's Head and Belly of the Beast.

It was recorded pre 3.8, but the gameplay mechanics haven't changed since then

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • insane DPS
  • no expensive item requirements
  • great clear speed
  • amazing Flask sustainability
  • multi-layer defenses
  • smooth gameplay
  • budget-friendly
  • easy to level up
  • can do all Map mods
  • low Armour Rating


3. Leveling tips

When leveling you should try to increase your Movement Speed, and defensive stats(Life, Elemental Resistances) as you will notice that these are the attributes that you are heavily lacking on lower levels. On the other hand, your DPS will be based mainly on your Passives so you shouldn't worry about offensive stats at all - just make sure to upgrade your weapons once in a while. Low-level unique Claws are very cheap so you shouldn't have any problems acquiring them within hours after you start playing. You should also prioritize AoE clearing during this phase, so Ancestral Call and Melee Splash are the most critical Support Gems

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Viper Strike setup
Viper Strike Viper Strike - primary Attack used in this build which can be socketed right after you enter town on level 2
Ancestral Call Ancestral Call - makes your supported Attack Hit two additional enemies
Melee Splash Melee Splash Support - allows insane overlapping of attacks when combined with Ancestral Call
Lesser Poison Lesser Poison Support - helps you reach 100% Chance to Poison on lower levels - as you progress and get the Passives that does it, you can replace this Gem
Utility Gems
Herald of Agony Herald of Agony - increases your Chance to Poison and Poison damage. It's best to socket it in Embalmer Gloves as you get them at level 50
Herald of Purity Herald of Purity - grants extra Physical Damage to Attacks
Summon Lightning Golem Summon Lightning Golem - grants increased Attack and Cast Speed
Whirling Blades Whirling Blades - Movement Skill used in this build


We recommend killing all the Bandits for two additional Passive Points

Leveling Skill Trees:

33 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Poisonous Fangs 2) Herbalism 3) Claws of the Pride 4) Thick Skin 5) Fatal Toxins

60 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Blood Drinker 2) Fangs of the Viper 3) Trickery 4) Soul Rake 5) Acrobatics

Recommended leveling items:

BlackheartBlackheart - one of the best leveling Rings for this build. You use two of those for insane DPS bonuses
Adds 1 to 4 Physical Damage to Attacks
5% increased Physical Damage
Adds 1 to 3 Chaos Damage to Attacks
+(20-30) to maximum Life
(2-4) Life Regenerated per second
10% chance to Cause Monsters to Flee
Last ResortLast Resort - low-level Unique Claw which has very solid DPS and grants insane bonuses when you get to Low-Life
+3 Life gained for each Enemy hit by Attacks
25% increased Attack Speed when on Low Life
(80-100)% increased Physical Damage
Adds 2 to 10 Physical Damage
100% increased Claw Physical Damage when on Low Life
100% increased Accuracy Rating when on Low Life

Mortem MorsuMortem Morsu - extremely powerful Claw which will do wonders until level 50s 

+20 Life gained for each Enemy hit by Attacks
(75-100)% increased Physical Damage
20% increased Attack Speed
25% increased Critical Strike Chance
+40% to Global Critical Strike Multiplier
(10-20)% of Physical Damage Converted to Chaos Damage
60% chance to Poison on Hit
25% reduced Enemy Stun Threshold with this Weapon

FoxshadeFoxshade - grants very high bonus Movement Speed and high added Physical Damage to Attacks

Adds 5 to 12 Physical Damage to Attacks
+(20-30) to Dexterity
+500 to Evasion Rating while on Full Life
(50-70)% increased Evasion Rating
10% increased Movement Speed

GoldrimGoldrim - the best leveling Helmet in Path of Exile. Can be used from level 1 all the way to lower Tier Maps

+(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:

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

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Nature's Reprisal
  2. Master Toxicist
  3. Nature's Adrenaline
  4. Nature's Boon


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 Garukhan +5% chance to Evade Attacks if you've taken a Savage Hit recently


5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Viper Strike
Viper Strike Viper Strike - primary Attack Skill in this build
Ancestral Call Ancestral Call Support - makes supported attacks Hit two additional nearby enemies allowing you to apply more Poisons with each Hit
Melee Splash Melee Splash Support - each Hit (including the ones caused by Ancestral Call) deals additional splash damage to nearby enemies
Deadly Ailments Support Deadly Ailments Support - increases the Damage you deal with Ailments
Added Chaos Damage Added Chaos Support - adds high bonus Chaos Damage to your Attacks
Vile Toxins Support Vile Toxins Support - increases the damage with Hits for every stack of Poison the enemy has and the damage with Poisons inflicted by supported skills
Optional(single-target) Support Gems:
Melee Physical Damage Melee Physical Damage Support - increases Physical Damage you deal with Hits and also the Poison Damage inflicted by supported skills
Multistrike Multistrike Support - makes supported attacks repeat twice with greatly increased speed
[DPS] Herald of Agony
(preferably in The Embalmer Gloves)
Herald of Agony Herald of Agony - increases your damage with Poison and when you inflict Poison, Agony Crawler Minion is summoned to aid you which deals very solid extra DPS
Minion Damage Support Minion Damage Support - increases the damage your Agony Crawler deals
Pierce Support Pierce Support - increases the damage of your Agony Crawler's projectiles and causes them to pierce their targets
Maim Support Maim Support - your Agony Crawler will Maim enemies - increasing Physical Damage they take and slowing them down
[MOBILITY] Whirling Blades
Whirling Blades Whirling Blades - one of the fastest Movement Skills in PoE which we plan to use in this build
Faster Attacks Faster Attacks Support - increases the speed of Whirling Blades
Fortify Support Fortify Support - grants a solid defensive buff on Hits with supported skills
Blood Magic Blood Magic Support - makes supported skills cost Life instead of Mana
[UTILITY] Vaal Double Strike
Vaal Double Strike Vaal Double Strike - we use this Gem for the Vaal skill it provides which will summon two copies of your weapons which will continuously attack your target with greatly increased Attack Speed. It's used to quickly apply maximum Withered stacks on Bosses for extra burst DPS
Withering Touch Withering Touch - grants extra Chaos Damage and applies Withered debuff on Hit, increasing Chaos Damage taken by affected enemies
Faster Attacks Faster Attacks Support
Increased Duration Increased Duration Support
[UTILITY] Vaal Blight
Vaal Blight Vaal Blight - Vaal Spell which increases Chaos Damage taken by affected enemies. Do not force yourself to have it upgraded to the maximum level
[UTILITY] Ancestral Protector
Ancestral Protector Ancestral Protector - summons a Totem which increases your Attack Speed. Mainly used against Bosses
[UTILITY] Lightning Golem
Cast when Damage Taken Cast when Damage Taken Support - automatically resummons your Golem when you take a certain amount of damage
Summon Lightning Golem Summon Lightning Golem - increases your Attack and Cast Speed
[UTILITY] Arctic Armour
(only if using The Perfect Form)
Arctic Armour Arctic Armour - reduces Fire and Physical Damage taken by you when stationary. Also slows the Action Speed of enemies that hit you. Great addition against end-game Bosses 

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5. Gear Setup

Below you will find all the recommended gear for this build. This build has insane potential even though all the items listed below are common and easy to obtain. We encourage you to experiment with your equipment and try this build out with Delve-crafted Claws with 60% Chance for Poison to deal 100% increased damage or Essence Crafted Rings. 

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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. Damage over Time
  4. Physical/Chaos Damage
  5. Attack Speed
  6. Evasion Rating
Starkonja's Head(Helmet) Starkonja's Head - one of the best Helmets for this build. It grants terrific defensive utility and high Attack Speed bonus
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(Helmet) Rare Helmet - preferably Evasion-based. A rare Helmet is always a solid option for the leveling phase. Just get the highest possible defensive stats here
Min. requirements:
80 maximum Life
25% Fire Resistance
25% Lightning Resistance
25% Cold Resistance
Helmet enchantment:
30% increased Viper Strike Duration
40% increased Viper Strike Damage
Belly of the Beast(Body Armour) Belly of the Beast - a very solid choice which grants very high bonus Life. It can be also used during the leveling phase since it has a level requirement of 46 
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
Perfect Form(Body Armour) The Perfect Form - our top recommendation for the chest slot. It allows us to use Arctic Armour without the Mana Reservation cost, which makes fights like Guardians/Shaper much more smooth
(30-50)% increased Evasion Rating
+(50-80) to maximum Life
-30% to Cold Resistance
(5-10)% increased Dexterity
Arctic Armour has 100% reduced Mana Reservation
Evasion Rating is increased by Uncapped Cold Resistance
Phase Acrobatics
Wasp's Nest(Weapon) Wasp's Nest - cheap and insanely powerful. Rare alternatives that could be considered an upgrade to those, will cost at least several Exalted Orbs each
+40 Life gained for each Enemy hit by Attacks
(150-170)% increased Physical Damage
(20-25)% increased Attack Speed
(20-25)% increased Critical Strike Chance
+(330-350) to Accuracy Rating
20% chance to Poison on Hit
Attacks with this Weapon deal 80-120 added Chaos Damage against
Enemies affected by at least 5 Poisons
Gemini Claw(Weapon) Rare Gemini Claw - Delve-crafted ones with 60% Chance for Poison to inflict 100% more damage are the best in the slot but at the same time they can be very expensive
Min. requirements:
200 Physical DPS
20% Attack Speed
60% chance for Poisons inflicted with this Weapon to deal 100% more Damage
Optional affixes:
Poison Duration
Added Chaos Damage
Rare Boots(Boots) Rare Boots - with high defensive stats, Life, and Movement Speed bonus
Min. requirements:
75 maximum Life
30% increased Movement Speed
35% Fire Resistance
35% Cold Resistance
35% Lightning Resistance
Boot enchantment:
16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you've Killed Recently
Leather Belt(Belt) Rare Belt 
Min. requirements:
90 maximum Life
35 Strength
25% Lightning Resistance
25% Cold Resistance
Optional affixes:
Increased Physical Damage (Rustic Sash)
Rare Amulet(Amulet) Rare Amulet
Min. requirements:
70 maximum Life
40 maximum Mana
45 Intelligence
45 Strength
Optional affixes:
Accuracy Rating
added Physical Damage to Attacks
Rare RingsRare Rings(Ring) Rare Rings - focus on high Life and All Elemental Resistances Bonuses. You may also need to pick 30+ Intelligence on one of the Rings
Min. requirements:
70 maximum Life
90% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Added Physical Damage to Attacks
Embalmer(Gloves) The Embalmer - amazing pair of Gloves which grants cheap 5-links for your Herald of Agony setup
Socketed Gems are Supported by Level 20 Vile Toxins
Adds (13-17) to (23-29) Chaos Damage
+(50-70) to maximum Life
+(17-29)% to Chaos Resistance
(20-25)% increased Poison Duration
Growing Agony(Jewels) Growing Agony - grants theoretically limitless DPS bonus which is based on the number of Poisons on your target
(8-12)% increased Damage over Time
With at least 40 Dexterity in Radius, Viper Strike deals 2% increased Damage with Hits and Poison for each Poison on the Enemy
With at least 40 Dexterity in Radius, Viper Strike has a 10% chance per Poison on Enemy to grant Unholy Might for 4 seconds on Hit
Cobalt Jewel(Jewels) Rare Jewels - these should provide extra Life and damage bonuses
Recommended affixes:
increased maximum Life
increased Chaos Damage/Damage over Time
Optional affixes:
increased Global Accuracy Rating
Coralito's Signature(Jewels) Coralito's Signature - mandatory Flask for this build. It allows you to stack a lot more Poisons (if any enemy could actually live to see that) and Poison Damage
Your Critical Strike Chance is Lucky
Take 30 Chaos Damage per Second during Flask effect
25% chance to Poison on Hit during Flask effect
Your Critical Strikes do not deal extra Damage during Flask effect
(50-75)% increased Duration of Poisons you inflict during Flask effect
Grants Perfect Agony during Flask effect
Witchfire Brew(Flask) Witchfire Brew - grants increased Damage over Time and Despair Aura which is the only way to apply Curse in our recommended setup
100% increased Evasion Rating
Creates a Smoke Cloud on Use
50% increased Charges used
(25-40)% increased Damage Over Time during Flask Effect
Grants Level 21 Despair Curse Aura during Flask Effect
Atziri's Promise(Flask) Atziri's Promise - grants very high bonus DPS and extra 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
Other suggested Flasks:
  1. Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Staunching (immunity to Bleeding)
  2. Ample Silver Flask of Heat (increased Movement Speed)
Coralito's SignatureWitchfire BrewAtziri's PromiseDivine Life FlaskSilver Flask

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

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