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Viper Strike Transcendence Pathfinder Build

Viper Strike Transcendence Pathfinder Build

Very tanky Pathfinder Build that utilizes very unique defensive mechanics and offers high sustainable DPS

 Viper Strike
Transcendence Pathfinder build

Updated for Patch 3.14

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Guide notes
June 9, 2021
-Build created
July 21, 2021
-Added gameplay video


Viper Strike is currently the most popular Chaos Melee Attack in Path of Exile - assuming it's acceptable to use the term "popular" in regard to any Poison Attack build currently... Viper Strike offers high Added Chaos Damage, 60% Chance to Poison on Hit, and has double the base Poison duration, allowing you to greatly scale damage against Bosses. By utilizing Pathfinder Ascendancy to spread Poison on enemy death, it also offers reasonable clear speed and nearly 100% Flask uptime. 

Judging by the damage-dealing abilities, this is a typical Melee/Poison build and has nothing fancy in it, however, what makes this build special are its' defensive mechanics, which make it one of the tankiest Ranger builds out there.  This build benefits from several powerful synergies that make it one of the tankiest Ranger builds out there. The defenses rely on:

  1. Transcendence Passive which reduces your maximum Resistances, but causes Armor to apply to Elemental Damage instead;
  2. Iron Rexles Passive which turns your Evasion into Armour Rating. Combined with Granite/Jade Flasks that both will now apply to Armour Rating, and Pathfinder's increased effectiveness of Flasks puts your Armour at approximately 30k;
  3. The Perfect Form Unique Body Armour that further increases your Evasion (converted to Armour) based on maximum uncapped Cold Resistance. It also allows you to use Arctic Armour without paying its' Mana Reservation Cost;
  4. Very high Chance to Block Attacks to prevent Physical Damage taken from Hits (which now would not get reduced by the Armour you have);
  5. Very high Chance to Dodge Spells, and extra Chance to Dodge Attacks from Elusive, Phase Acrobatics Passive, and Quartz Flask;
  6. Nearly instantaneous Life/Mana Recovery from Leech and Gemini Claw(s);
  7. Fortify Buff applied by Whirling Blades on Hit for additional damage reduction;
  8. Aspect of the Crab for up to 20% Physical Damage Reduction.

You can also check our other Path of Exile builds at Odealo's Crafty Guides - Full List


1. Gameplay

This is a typical Melee build that thanks to its tankiness allow you to jump in the middle of monster packs and kill them with a few Attacks thanks to the very high Poison DoT. This is a very durable build because of the aforementioned mechanics utilized, which will allow you to face-tank the majority of Bosses in the game. Thanks to Viper Strike's doubled base duration, it's also one of the best Skills in terms of stacking Poison on Bosses. Taking down Sirius, Cortex, Uber Elder is possible without excessive investments in gear. You are also going to cast Ancestral Protectors for high Attack Speed bonuses and extra Wither charges they can generate with Withering Touch Support. By using Multiple Totems Support you will be able to use up to three Totems to stack Withered quicker. Other than that we recommend using the Withering Step on your left mouse button for the Elusive buff and applying extra Withered stacks to enemies. By putting in it there on your Skill bar, It will be triggered basically whenever off cooldown, and it seems to provide a much smoother playstyle when compared to Wither Spell Totems (not to mention, they would collide with your Ancestor Totems) if allocated like that.

This video was recorded on a level 91 Pathfinder in Patch 3.14 using two non-fully crafted Claws, leaving a lot of space for improvements. We are hoping to have it updated during Patch 3.15 because of all the changes and actual buff to the base Poison Damage. We are just hoping the new increased Mana Cost of skills won't render this particular setup a bit clunky

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • extremely tanky thanks to powerful synergies between Items and Passives
  • very high sustainable DPS
  • the reasonable clear speed with Tribal Fury or the corresponding Glove affix
  • all content viable
  • non-meta playstyle
  • can do most Map mods
  • requires a number of specific Items and Uniques to maintain the defenses capabilities of this build


3. Leveling tips

Leveling up with Poison/Ranger is easy. You have access to most of the Poison Multiplier and Claw Damage nodes right at the start. With Chaos Attacks and their high added Chaos Damage, you can easily level up without having to constantly upgrade your Weapons. However, it's not the best idea to level up using Viper Strike - simply because it has limited range and without extra Gems/Items it will only hit a limited number of targets. It's best to level up with Cobra Lash - it's a Projectile/Poison Attack that offers the extra Chain which will help you progress through the campaign at a much faster rate. You can socket your Viper Strike on your Weapon Swap to level up the Gem while you play, and respect later on when you have most of the gear ready. Below you will find the recommended Skill setups for lower levels, as well as, several extremely useful Uniques.

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Cobra Lash setup
Cobra Lash Cobra Lash - an amazing leveling Chaos/Poison Skill that offers extra Chain, increasing your clear speed by a lot
Lesser Multiple Projectiles Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support - increases the number of your Cobra Lash's projectiles
Lesser Poison Support Lesser Poison Support - adds extra Chaos Damage to Attacks and increases your Chance to Poison on Hit
Void Manipulation Support Void Manipulation Support - increases Chaos Damage dealt with by supported skills
Vicious Projectiles Support Vicious Projectiles Support - increases Caustic Arrow's Damage over Time
Utility Gems
Herald of Agony Herald of Agony - Herald Skill which increases your Chance to Poison and Poison Damage
Malevolence Malevolence - the best Aura for this build which greatly increases your Damage over Time
Whirling Blades Whirling Blades - the recommended Movement Skill for this build that boosts your mobility and doesn't share cooldowns with Withered Step
Withering Step Withering Step - grants you the Elusive buff and applies Withered to enemies, increasing Chaos Damage they take
Despair Despair - the best Curse for this build. Later on, it's applied by Witchfire Brew, but during the campaign, you may want to cast the Curse manually against Bosses for extra damage


We recommend killing all the Bandits for two additional Passive Points

Leveling Skill Trees:

31 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Finesse 2) Poisonous Fangs 3) Toxic Strike 4) Herbalism 5) Swift Venoms

64 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Fatal Toxins 2) Thick Skin 3) Blood Drinker 4) Entropy 5) Trickery

Recommended leveling items:

Le Heup of AllLe Heup of All - one of the best leveling Rings for this build. At least one of these is recommended so that you don't have to worry about Attributes and Resistances
Adds 1 to 4 Physical Damage to Attacks
+(10-30) to all Attributes
(10-30)% increased Damage
(10-30)% increased Rarity of Items found
+(10-30)% to all Elemental Resistances
Mortem MorsuMortem Morsu - a very powerful Unique Claw that is available early on in the campaign. It has high base DPS and 
+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
25% reduced Enemy Stun Threshold with this Weapon
60% chance to Poison on Hit
Ornament of the EastOrnament of the East - fixes your Accuracy issues entirely and provides extremely high base DPS for its level
+44 Life gained for each Enemy hit by Attacks
+1 to Level of Socketed Dexterity Gems
Socketed Gems are Supported by Level 10 Faster Attacks
(160-180)% increased Physical Damage
(10-15)% increased Attack Speed
25% increased Stun and Block Recovery
Hits can't be Evaded

GoldrimGoldrim - the best leveling Helmet in Path of Exile that grants a TON of All Elemental Resistances and you can use it up until 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)

Karui WardKarui Ward - great leveling Amulet for any character that deals damage with Projectiles - and if you are leveling up with Cobra Lash, you will be

+(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:

117 Points Final Skill Tree (Doesn't include Passives from Thread of Hope)
117 Points Path of Building(PoB) link

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

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


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 Attack Hits if you've taken a Savage Hit Recently


5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Viper Strike
Viper Strike Viper Strike - the primary Attack in this build. It's one of the best choices if you are looking to take down end-game Bosses because of its double base Poison duration and solid base DPS
Added Chaos Damage Support Added Chaos Damage Support - adds flat Chaos Damage to linked Skills. You just like the following Gems, it has an Awakened variant
Multistrike Multistrike Support - causes linked Attacks to repeat themselves in quick succession two additional times with increased damage
Deadly Ailments Support Deadly Ailments Support - increases the Damage from Ailments inflicted by Supported Skills. It has an Awakened variant
Unbound Ailments Support Unbound Ailments Support - increases the Damage from Ailments inflicted by Supported Skills. It has an Awakened variant
Melee Physical Damage Support Melee Physical Damage Support - it doesn't affect your base damage much, but it also boosts your DoT with Poison, making it one of the best Support Gems for this setup
[UTILITY] Ancestor Totems
Ancestral Protector Ancestral Protector - summons up to three Ancestor Totems that boost your Attack Speed and apply Withered to enemies
Multiple Totems Support Multiple Totems Support - allows you to summon more Totems from linked Spells, and by using several Totems they will apply their debuff quicker to enemies
Withering Touch Support Withering Touch Support - will make your Ancestral Protector Totems apply Withered on Hits, increasing Chaos Damage taken by affected enemies
Lifetap Support Lifetap Support - if you have the extra free Socket you can link the Totems to Lifestap so that they don't cost you any Mana
[UTILITY] Whirling Blades
Whirling Blades Whirling Blades - the recommended Movement Skill for this build. It lets you progress faster through areas and apply Fortify buff. It's also the most convenient to use because it doesn't share its cooldown with Withering Step
Fortify Support Fortify Support - melee Hits with Whirling Blades will grant you the Fortify buff which reduces all damage taken by your character
Faster Attacks Support Faster Attack Support - increase the speed of your Whirling Blades Attack
Lifetap Support Lifetap Support - again, used solely to remove the Mana Cost
Malevolence Malevolence - the best DPS Aura for DoT builds which greatly increases your damage output and opens up various options on Watcher's Eye Jewel
Precision Precision - grants extra Accuracy and Crit. Chance. Depending on your Mana pool you should be able to use a level 1-5 Precision Gem
Herald of Agony Herald of Agony - increases your Chance to Poison enemies, and the damage you deal with it
Enlighten Support Enlighten Support - reduces Mana Reservation Cost of linked skills. It's best to use a level 3 or higher Enlighten, whereas a level 1 Gem grants nothing
[UTILITY] Arctic Armour
Arctic Armour Arctic Armour - reduces your Physical and Fire Damage while stationary, and also slows down attackers. The Chill/Slow effect can be further increased by Support Gems, and thanks to the Perfect Form, it will not Reserve and extra Mana 
Unbound Ailments Support Unbound Ailments Support - increases the effectiveness of Chill caused by Arctic Armour. If you can afford it, you can also use an Awakened Gem here
Elemental Proliferation Elemental Proliferation Support - will make the Chill inflicted by Arctic Armour to spread to nearby enemies
[UTILITY] Withering Step/Blood Rage
Withering Step Withering Step - a mandatory Guard Spell for this build which grants you the Elusive buff and applies extra Withered stacks to nearby enemies
Blood Rage Blood Rage - increases your Attack Speed and makes you generate Frenzy Charges on kills, increasing your damage even further
Enhance Support Enhance Support - increase the Blood Rage's bonus Attack Speed and the effectiveness of Elusive buff granted by Withering Step

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5. Gear Setup

Below you will find the recommended equipment for this build. While technically it's possible to play a standard Viper Strike Pathfinder without any Uniques used, our recommended setup utilizes several specific defensive mechanics, and the following section will focus on it entirely. You can replace any of the Items with random Life/Resistances/Chaos Attack Damage affixes, but if so, it's highly advised not to use Passives like Transcendence or Iron Reflexes which may have a completely opposite result.  

Using this opportunity, we would like to invite you to check our POE Currency market where you can buy cheap Orbs including Exalted Orbs, Chaos Orbs, and more, from other players using real money. 


Stat priorities on items:

  1. Life
  2. Elemental Resistances
  3. Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier with Poison
  4. Poison Damage/Duration
  5. Accuracy Rating
Rare Helmet(Helmet) Rare Helmet - the best possible option for this build. You can get high defensive stats here, extra Accuracy, and possible an affix the reduces the Chaos Resistance of nearby enemies
Min. requirements:
90 Maximum Life
400 Accuracy Rating
80% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Nearby enemies have -#% to Chaos Resistance
increased Stun and Block Recovery
Helmet enchantment:
30% increased Viper Strike Duration
40% increased Viper Strike Damage
The Perfect Form(Body Armour) The Perfect Form - one of the core Items in this build which a lot of defensive mechanics used rely on. It allows you to use Arctic Armour without paying its Mana Reservation Cost, and increase your Evasion, and as result, Armour Rating
(5-10)% increased Dexterity
(30-50)% increased Evasion Rating
+(50-80) to maximum Life
-30% to Cold Resistance
Arctic Armour has 100% reduced Mana Reservation
Evasion Rating is increased by Uncapped Cold Resistance
Phase Acrobatics
Gemini Claw(Weapon) Rare Claws - preferably Gemini Claws for insane Life/Mana Recovery, or Malign Fangs for extra Chaos Damage. You basically want Elder bases with increased Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier from Poison Applied, and extra Chaos Damage Added. You need to dual-wield those Weapons
Min. requirements:
+45% to Damage over Time Multiplier for Poison inflicted with this Weapon
Adds 6# to 1## Chaos Damage
1.6 Attacks per Second
Optional affixes:
Damage over Time Multiplier
Damage with Poison
Boots(Boots) Rare Boots - basically for extra Movement Speed and defensive stats. You could also look for Tailwind if you can afford such a pair
Min. requirements:
30% Movement Speed
60 Maximum Life
60% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
You have Tailwind if you have dealt a Critical Strike Recently
Chance to Dodge Spells
Atziri's Step(Boots) Atziri's Step - a solid and inexpensive pair that grants extra Spell Dodge chance and solid Life and Movement speed bonuses
180% increased Evasion Rating
+(55-75) to maximum Life
30% increased Movement Speed
(14-16)% chance to Dodge Spell Hits
Boot enchantment:
16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you've Killed Recently
8% chance to Dodge Spell Hits if you've taken Spell Damage Recently
Stygian Vise(Belt) Rare Belt - preferably a Stygian Vise for an extra Abyssal Socket and high defensive stats
Min. requirements:
90 Maximum Life
80% Total Elemental Resistances
40 Strength
Optional affixes:
Maximum Life%
Increased Damage/Chaos Damage
Rare Amulet(Amulet) Rare Amulet - you are looking for a LIfe/Chaos DoT Multi Amulet. There are plenty of other stats you can find here, so just look for stuff that you are missing 
Min. requirements:
50 Maximum LIfe
16% Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier
40 Intelligence
Optional affixes:
Accuracy Rating
Recommended Anointments:
Tribal Fury (if you don't have the Gloves with +1 target)
Growth and Decay (if you have the Gloves)
Two Stone Ring(Ring) Rare Rings - aim to fix all your Resistances and Attributes needs here, as well as provide extra Life
Min. requirements:
60 maximum Life
90% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Non-Channelling Skills have -# to Total Mana Cost
Accuracy Rating
Circle of Nostalgia(Ring) Circle of Nostalgia - grants additional bonuses when you are affected by the Herald of Agony. Preferably look for increased Chaos Resistance and Herald's buff effect on this Ring
<One to three random Synthesis implicit modifiers>
+(10-20) to all Attributes
Adds (15-20) to (21-30) Chaos Damage
+(17-23)% to Chaos Resistance
<Two Random Herald of Agony modifiers>
Rare Gloves(Gloves) Rare Gloves - +1 to extra targets from Strike Skills is the most important affix here. Other than that just get extra Life, Resistances, and possibly Chaos DoT multiplier (and all combined make it a VERY expensive Item)
Min. requirements:
50 Maximum Life
Strike Skills target 1 additional nearby Enemy
Optional affixes:
Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier
Elemental Resistances
Abyss Jewel(Jewels) Abyssal Jewels - you are most likely going to use a Stygian Vise, so you will be able to use an extra Abyss Jewel. It's best to look for one with bonus Life and a chance to gain Onslaught buff on kill
Min. requirements:
30 Maximum Life
5% chance to gain Onslaught for 4 seconds on Kill
Optional affixes:
Evasion Rating
Damage if you've Killed Recently
Cobalt Jewel(Jewels) Rare Jewels - on regular Jewels you want extra Life and Chaos DoT Multiplier. You can also get some Resistances and Attributes here as well 
Min. requirements:
6% Maximum Life
+3% to Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Militant Faith(Jewels) Militant Faith - requires in order to convert Point Blank into Transcendence Passive. If it gives you something else you can get another Jewel or simply reroll it with a Divine Orb
Carved to glorify (2000-10000) new faithful converted by High Templar (Avarius-Dominus-Maxarius)
Passives in radius are Conquered by the Templars
<two random mods of devotion>
Watcher's Eye(Jewels) Watcher's Eye - one of the best Jewels in the game, which is used by the majority of builds that use any Aura. You want Watcher's Eye with Malevolence modifiers - preferably Damage over Time Multiplier on it
(4-6)% increased maximum Energy Shield
(4-6)% increased maximum Life
(4-6)% increased maximum Mana
<Two or Three random aura modifiers>
Thread of Hope(Jewels) Thread of Hope - allows you to allocate Passive in a specific Ring without having to connect them to your Tree. Pick the Jewel with a  Very Large Ring on it and allocate Heart of Oak, Revenge of the Haunted, and Swift Venomes by socketing it right above Herbalism
Only affects Passives in <size> Ring
Passives in Radius can be Allocated without being connected to your tree
-(20-10)% to all Elemental Resistances
Lion's Roar(Jewels) Lion's Roar - grants increased Melee Damage and Armour Rating which is one of the core defensive stats used in this build
+3000 to Armour
Adds Knockback to Melee Attacks during Flask effect
Knocks Back Enemies in an Area when you use a Flask
75% chance to cause Enemies to Flee on use
(20-25)% more Melee Physical Damage during effect
Witchfire Brew(Flask) Witchfire Brew - grants increased Damage over Time and Curses nearby enemies with Despair which is the only way for you to apply a Curse in this 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
Other suggested Flasks:
  1. Bubbling Divine Life Flask of Staunching (immunity to Bleeding)
  2. Experimenter's Jade Flask of Warding (Curse immunity)
  3. Experimenter's Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline (Increased Mobility)
Lion's RoarWitchfire BrewDivine Life FlaskJade FlaskQuicksilver Flask

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