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Vortex Cold Snap ES/CI Occultist build - Odealo's Crafty Guide

Vortex Cold Snap ES/CI Occultist build - Odealo's Crafty Guide

Very powerful spellcaster build based on Cold Damage over Time Spells and Chaos Inoculation

Vortex/Cold Snap
Low Life
Cold Damage Over Time Occultist build

Updated for Patch 3.16

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Estimated budget: mediocre
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Guide notes
June 2, 2021
-Updated for Patch 3.14
-Gem setups adjusted
-Gear section improved
-Skill Tree revised
-Adapted to Low-Life
June 11, 2021
-Added gameplay video for Patch 3.14
December 1, 2021
-Updated for Patch 3.16

 

Great Damage and Area of Cold DoT combined with an enormous amount of Energy Shield thanks to Occultist Ascendancy makes this build perfect for killing all the Bosses in the game, including Shaper and Uber Elder. Regeneration and a massive pool of Energy Shield make this build one of the tankiest in the game as well. It is not recommended to use Chaos Inoculation despite this build being ES-based. Chaos Inoculation turns your Maximum Health to 1 while granting you complete immunity to Chaos Damage. Instead, it is a better idea to use Prism Guardian and enjoy a few more Auras while wearing Shavronne's Wrappings to be protected from Chaos Damage. This greatly increases this build's DPS while maintaining around the same defenses. If you are looking for a way to easily level up this character and build up wealth, that's basically based on similar Gems and Items, you can check our Creeping Frost/Vortex Occultist Starter build.

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

 

1. Gameplay

Our main skill for both clearing maps and bosses is Vortex. It is an instant cast skill, which means that we can cast it while running, without interrupting movement. The second most important skill is Cold Snap/Vaal Cold Snap, which is great to use against rare monsters and Bosses for more damage and for Maps clearing because it provides us with Frenzy Charges, which increases both Cast and Movement Speed. It will also apply Bonechill, which increases all our Cold Damage over Time and Chill Effect.


This video was recorded on a level 93 Occultist on Standard. While the DPS was top notch we had to use several Rares without Energy Shield - even though we had less than 7k, you could easily push it close to 10k in the following setup for even more defenses on your character (assuming you need those)


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2. Build's PROS & CONS

PROS
  • insane Defenses thanks to possibly over 10k Energy Shield
  • Shaper/Uber Elder viable
  • can clear all content in the game
  • good clear speed
  • relatively safe due to inherent for Cold Damage ailments such has Chill
CONS
  • Vortex is cast under your feet, so it's more of a Melee range skill
  • requires specific Unique Items to be played as "Low-Life"

 

3. Leveling tips

For leveling, you are going to use Freezing Pulse, before you can switch Vortex at level 28. During leveling, it's recommended to use Life Gear, before you switch to full Energy Shield because it's easier to regenerate with Life Flasks. If you have enough gear with Energy Shield to make your play comfortable, you can do the switch at any time.

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Freezing Pulse setup
Freezing Pulse Freezing Pulse - one of the first available spells in PoE
Added Cold Damage Support Added Cold Damage Support - adds a lot of Cold Damage 
Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support - boosts the number of supported skills' projectiles
Vortex setup
Vortex Vortex - this will be your main skill throughout the game. Use it from level 28
Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support - grants a lot of Spell Damage at the cost of Critical Strike Chance
Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support - a great boost to Elemental Damage
Efficacy Support Efficacy Support - will boost your Cold Damage, Damage over Time and Vortex duration
Utility Gems
Flame Dash Flame Dash - your main Movement Skill
Enfeeble Enfeeble - perfect Curse for our build, reducing Cursed enemies' damage and chance to hit. Preferably linked to Blasphemy so it acts as Aura
Discipline Discipline - grants additional Energy Shield

Bandits:

We recommend killing all Bandits for two additional Passive Points

Leveling Skill Trees:

32 Points Skill Tree
Allocate Passives granting Cold Damage and Maximum Life

68 Points Skill Tree
Get Mana Reservation Efficiency, Life, and Cold Damage; you're now ready to easily switch into ES in the near future

Recommended leveling items:

GoldrimGoldrim - one of the best leveling helmets in Path of Exile, will fix your Elemental Resistances during leveling
+(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)
 
Doedre's TenureDoedre's Tenure - powerful leveling gloves, providing a lot of Energy Shield and Spell Damage
(50-60)% increased Spell Damage
+20 to Intelligence
15% reduced Cast Speed
+32 to maximum Energy Shield
 
Le Heup of AllLe Heup of All - these Rings provide everything - Attributes, Damage, and Resistances. Perfect choice for the entire leveling process
(10-30)% increased Damage
+(10-30) to all Attributes
(10-30)% increased Rarity of Items found
+(10-30)% to all Elemental Resistances
LifesprigLifesprig - great leveling Wand, which provides both Spell Damage and Cast Speed. It's recommended to socket your Spells in them as the increased Level of Socketed Gems is a huge damage boost. It's recommended to dual-wield them
(8-12)% increased Spell Damage
+1 to Level of Socketed Spell Gems
(20-28)% increased Spell Damage
(5-8)% increased Cast Speed
+(15-20) to maximum Life
+(15-20) to maximum Mana
Regenerate (6-8) Life over 1 second when you Cast a Spell
 

 

4. Final Skill Tree, Ascendancy Points, and Pantheon

Final Skill Tree:

99 Points Final Skill Tree (does not include Cluster Jewels nor Thread of Hope)
122 Points Path of Building(PoB) link

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Void Beacon
  2. Frigid Wake
  3. Malediction
  4. Profane Bloom

Pantheon:

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 Abberath 60% less Duration of Ignite on You

 

5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Vortex
Vortex Vortex - your primary skill for both clear speed and boss fights. It's an instant cast Spell that can be used while moving or casting other Spells
Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support - grants a lot of Spell Damage at the cost of Critical Strike Chance
Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support - a great boost to Elemental Damage
Empower Support Empower Support - Vortex's damage grows immensely when its Gem Level is being increased
Swift Affliction Support Swift Affliction Support - increases Damage over Time
Hypothermia Support Hypothermia Support - grants high bonus Damage against Chilled enemies
[DPS] Vaal Cold Snap
(socketed in Rime Gaze)
Vaal Cold Snap Vaal Cold Snap - another Cold DoT Spell which offers an insane Damage boost against Bosses. It also allows you to generate Frenzy Charges when killing enemies in its radius
Efficacy Support Efficacy Support - more Damage over Time
Bonechill Support Bonechill Support - increases Effect of Chill and Cold Damage over Time
Hypothermia Support Hypothermia Support - even more Cold Damage over Time, and increased Chill Effect
[UTILITY] Blasphemous Curses setup
Frostbite Frostbite - the best Curse for this build which significantly increases your DPS. In this build, we recommend using it as an Aura around you via using Blasphemy Support
Elemental Weakness Elemental Weakness - your second best Curse, as Occultist you'll be able to inflict an additional one and it will be also used as an Aura
Blasphemy Support Blasphemy Support - use to convert your Curses into Auras - your other Auras will be socketed in the Prism Guardian and will Reserve Life
Enlighten Support Enlighten Support - Less mana Reservation. Your other Mana Reserving Aura is Clarity and Discipline, both socketed in a different setup.
[UTILITY] Flame Dash setup
Flame Dash Flame Dash - Movement ability with the most sustainable and reliable cooldown recovery pattern
Second Wind Second Wind Support  - increases Flame Dash's cooldown recovery speed and adds an extra Charge to it
Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support  - after casting Flame Dash it will grant Arcane Surge buff, which increases Spell Damage. Keep the Gem at level 6
Clarity Clarity - you can use a level 1 Clarity if you have a Watcher's Eye Jewel which can add approx. 400 flat Energy Shield from Clarity Aura modifier (more in the recommended item section below)
[UTILITY] Frost Bomb + Tempest Shield + Orb of Storms setup
Use this setup in a weapon with crafted property "Trigger a Socketed Spell when You Use a Skill" or cast manually
Frost Bomb

Frost Bomb - applies Cold Exposure to targets, reducing their Cold Resistance and effectively, increases your DPS

Tempest Shield Tempest Shield - a lightning-based Spell that boosts your Chance to Block, but also hits enemies with Lightning and triggers Elemental Equilibrium
Punishment Punishment - your third-best Aura that you can use when your Curse Limit is three, it makes you deal more damage to enemies low on Life
[UTILITY] Auras
Use this setup in your Prism Guardian's sockets so that you can be on Low Life
Malevolence Malevolence - increases your Damage over Time and Skill Effect Duration. It's the core Aura for most DoT builds that also opens up powerful Aura modifiers on Watcher's Eye
Zealotry Zealotry - more Spell Damage and more Critical Strike Chance for Spells. The second part is irrelevant, but the Spell Damage bonus applies to your Vortex and Cold Snap DoT effect as well, alternatively you can swap it for DeterminationDetermination for more Armour
Hatered Hatred - Aura that increases your Cold Damage. Just another powerful Aura that directly boosts your Cold DPS

[UTILITY] Aura

Discipline Discipline - Discipline can be put in the Blasphemous Curse setup instead of Enlighten Support, Flame Dash setup instead of Second Wind Support, or in a Ring if you have one with a socket. You need to fit it somewhere.


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5. Gear Setup

This Vortex build is not an expensive build and can be played on a moderate budget, however, end-game Cold DoT Multiplier gear can get pretty pricy. Below you will find all the recommended gear for the Low-Life setup. In terms of Attributes seek Strength if you're using Determination, and Dexterity since Swift Alliction requires a fair amount of it. If you would like to have the end-game items also added here please let us know in the comments below.

The recommended items from our list will:

  1. Help you cap your Elemental Resistances 
  2. Give you enough DPS and Life to start mapping successfully

Stat priorities on items:

  1. Energy Shield
  2. Elemental Resistances
  3. Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
  4. Spell Damage/Cold Damage
Rare Helmet(Helmet) Rare Helmet - this is one of the best choices, it grants both Resistances and a lot of Energy Shield
Min. requirements:
300 Energy Shield
35% to Fire Resistance
35% to Lightning Resistance
Optional affixes:
Nearby Enemies have -9% to Cold Resistance
Rime Gaze(Helmet) Rime Gaze - the best option when it comes to raw DPS, it offers an additional link for your Cold Snap
Socketed Gems are Supported by Level 20 Concentrated Effect
30% increased Cold Damage
(180-200)% increased Energy Shield
50% reduced Energy Shield Recharge Rate
+(40-60) to maximum Mana
+(16-22)% to Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
Crown of the Inward Eye(Helmet) Crown of the Inward Eye - another good Helmet you can pick, this one increases your Defenses and Damage, it's comparable to Rime Gaze
333% increased Armour and Energy Shield
(9-21)% increased maximum Life, Mana and Global Energy Shield
Transfiguration of Soul
Transfiguration of Body
Transfiguration of Mind
Helmet enchantments:
Vortex has increased Cooldown Recovery Speed
Rare Sceptre(Weapon) Rare Sceptre or Wand - with the right affixes this is definitely the best weapon for this build
Min. requirements:
Trigger a Socketed Spell when you Use a Skill
50% Increased Spell/Cold Damage
20% Cold (or generic) Damage over Time Multiplier
Optional affixes:
Cast Speed
+1 to level of all Cold Spell Skill Gems
+1 to level of all Skill Gems
Prism Guardian(Shield) Prism Guardian - Use this shield so that you can easily reserve Life instead of Mana on Skills of your choice. It allows you to be Low Life and use more Auras so it'd be hard to find any better Shield.
+12% to all Elemental Resistances
+2 to Level of Socketed Aura Gems
Socketed Gems Cost and Reserve Life instead of Mana
Socketed Gems have 25% reduced Reservation
+(20-30) to Dexterity
+25% to all Elemental Resistances
Shavronne's Wrappings(Body Armour) Shavronne's Wrappings - Use this Body Armour to protect yourself from Choas Damage that would otherwise instantly kill you, a mandatory item
(3-10)% increased Spell Damage
(100-150)% increased Energy Shield
10% faster start of Energy Shield Recharge
+(30-40)% to Lightning Resistance
Reflects 1 to 250 Lightning Damage to Melee Attackers
Chaos Damage does not bypass Energy Shield
Presence of Chayula(Amulet) Presence of Chayula - turns a portion of your Maximum Life (which you don't need anyway) into ES, grants more Chaas Resistance - a type of defense that is really important and grants you Stun immunity
+(10-16) to all Attributes
30% increased Rarity of Items found
+60% to Chaos Resistance
Cannot be Stunned
20% of Maximum Life Converted to Energy Shield
Mark of the Shaper(Ring) Mark of the Shaper - Volatile Anomaly will automatically trigger on kill and will deal Cold Damage Over Time, it also increases your damage by a lot so it's definitely an item worth getting
(15-25)% increased Elemental Damage
20% chance to Trigger Level 20 Summon Volatile Anomaly on Kill
Adds (13-18) to (50-56) Lightning Damage to Spells
(6-10)% increased maximum Energy Shield
(6-10)% increased maximum Life
(60-80)% increased Spell Damage if your other Ring is an Elder Item
Cannot be Stunned by Spells if your other Ring is a Shaper Item
Rare Ring(Ring) Rare Ring - Your Ring has to be Elder-influenced, not because of specific mods you can get but because it will activate the Spell Damage bonus from your other ring - Mark of the Shaper. Aim to get some Energy Shield and cap your Resistances. Getting some Attributes here may also be useful
Min. requirements:
40 Maximum Energy Shield
100% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Attributes
Increased Energy Shield
Rare boots(Boots) Rare Energy Shield Boots - get a pair with the highest maximum Energy Shield and Movement Speed bonuses you can afford. Consider having Aspect of the Spider here, it really helps with Bosses.
Min. requirements:
150 Energy Shield
20% increased Movement Speed
29% Fire Resistance
29% Lightning Resistance
29% Cold Resistance
Optional affixes:
Grants Level 20 Aspect of the Spider Skill
Boots enchantment:
16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you've Killed Recently
Crystal Belt(Belt) Rare Crystal Belt - look for general defensive stats such as Maximum ES and Resistances of all kind
Min. requirements:
100 Maximum Energy Shield
22% Fire Resistance
22% Lightning Resistance
22% Cold Resistance
Optional affixes:
Increased Energy Shield from Body Armour
Strength
Bated Breath(Belt) Bated Breath - a great and budget option until you'll be able to afford some better Belt
+(9-20) to maximum Energy Shield
+(15-25) to Intelligence
10% increased Damage
+(20-30) to maximum Energy Shield
20% increased maximum Energy Shield
50% increased Energy Shield Recharge Rate
Gloves(Gloves) Rare Energy Shield Gloves - as much Energy Shield as possible and additional Dexterity for attribute requirements
Min. requirements:
150 Energy Shield
40 Dexterity
29% Lightning resistance
29% Cold resistance
Optional affixes:
Crafted Strength
Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
Increased Energy Shield
Cobalt Jewel(Jewels) Rare Jewels 
Recommended affixes:
increased Maximum Energy Shield
increased Spell/Cold/DoT Damage
Optional affixes:
increased Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
Thread of Hope(Jewels) Thread of Hope - put this Jewel next to the Instability Notable, with a Large Ring it allows you to allocate Light Eater, Breath of Rime, Heart of Ice, Utmost Intellect, Snowforged, and Arcane Focus.
Only affects Passives in Large Ring
Passives in Radius can be Allocated without being connected to your tree
-(20-10)% to all Elemental Resistances
Energy From Within(Jewels) Energy From Within - gives you more ES at the cost of your Life, which is a great deal, use it in the socket next to Melding and allocate this cluster
(3-6)% increased maximum Energy Shield
Increases and Reductions to Life in Radius are Transformed to apply to Energy Shield
Watcher's Eye(Jewels) Watcher's Eye - With the number of Auras you have you can easily score some of the most useful Watcher's Eyes, however the best - if not necessary - mod to have is the one that increases your Damage Over Time while affected by Malevolence
(4-6)% increased maximum Energy Shield
(4-6)% increased maximum Life
(4-6)% increased maximum Mana
<Two or Three random aura modifiers>
Large Cluster Jewel(Jewels) Large Cluster Jewel - Use Cold Damage base and focus on getting mentioned Notables. This build uses two Large Cluster Jewels.
Recommended affixes:
1 Added Passive Skill is Cold-Blooded Killer
1 Added Passive Skill is Deep Chill
1 Added Passive Skill is Disorienting Display
1 Added Passive Skill is Widespread Destruction
1 Added Passive Skill is Corrosive Elements
1 Added Passive Skill is Blanketed Snow
1 Added Passive Skill is Blast-Freeze
medium cluster jewel(Jewels) Medium Cluster Jewel - there are two bases on which you can look for the Notables you need - Cold Damage over Time and Aura Effect
Recommended affixes for Cold Damage over Time Jewel:
1 Added Passive Skill is Chilling Presence
1 Added Passive Skill is Vile Reinvigoration
1 Added Passive Skill is Cold-Blooded Killer
1 Added Passive Skill is Deep Chill
Recommended affixes for Aura Effect Jewel:
1 Added Passive Skill is First Among Equals
1 Added Passive Skill is Replenishing Presence

Rumi's Concoction(Flask) Rumi's Concoction - Increases Damage over Time for both Cold Snap and Vortex. It also grants us the second Curse which increases Damage over Time taken by enemies

+3000 to Armour
+(14-20)% Chance to Block Attack Damage during Flask effect
+(6-10)% Chance to Block Spell Damage during Flask effect
Suggested Flasks:
  1. Ample Sulphur Flask of Dousing (immunity to Ignite)
  2. Ample Silver Flask of Staunching (immunity to Bleeding)
  3. Experimenter's Basalt Flask of Warding (Curse Immunity)
  4. Experimenter's Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline (increased Movement Speed)
Rumi's ConcoctionSulphur FlaskSilver FlaskBasalt FlaskQuicksilver Flask


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