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Vortex/Creeping Frost Cold DoT Elementalist Build

Vortex/Creeping Frost Cold DoT Elementalist Build

Insanely powerful Cold Damage over Time build for an Elementalist

Vortex/Creeping Frost
Cold DoT Elementalist build

Updated for Patch 3.22

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Guide notes
September 9, 2022
-build created
Build overview



Boss DPS:



Using Damage over Time has some notable advantages over dealing damage via Hits - it cannot be Avoided, Dodged, Evaded, Blocked, or mitigated by Armour. The downside is that you cannot penetrate Elemental Resistances with Elemental Damage over Time, and that's why Elementalist's powerful Exposure from Mastermind of Discord, Frostbite, Hextouch, Bonechill, and Scorch from Legacy of Fury can elevate this build in terms of damage, as despite the lack of Penetration, your enemies have their Resistances always reduced by over 100%, and will take increased Elemental Damage too. You don't need any Cast Speed or Critical Strike mods so it's cheap to assemble. It has no issues with Mana due to Eldritch Battery and ES Leech. This maneuver also creates an opportunity to implement the Power of Purpose Keystone for extra Armour and one extra temporary Aura via Divine Blessing Support.

For damaging Skills, we've selected not one but three different Spells that work in a similar manner. They all inflict an initial Hit to then continue dealing Cold Damage over Time which scales with Spell Damage, as it's not always guaranteed. It allows you to benefit from modifiers to generic Spell Damage as well as Damage over Time multipliers. These Skills are Vortex, Cold Snap, and Creeping Frost. It has great damage - over ten million DPS, but is quite tanky too. It has an above-average Life Pool, Armour, Evasion, 100% Spell Suppression Chance, and Primal Aegis to mitigate Elemental Damage. It's also easy to gain Suppression and Chaos Resistance from gear as it uses a lot of Rare Items.

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1. Gameplay

Use Vortex as soon as it's off-cooldown. It will kill all the small enemies you encounter. In need of more damage, use Cold Snap and Creeping Frost. During boss fights, apply Curses with one press of a button - these Curses are Elemental Weakness and Frostbite. Also, you can afford to have one temporary Aura - Hatred in our case. Other Auras are Determination, Malevolence, Grace, and Defiance Banner.

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • above-average defenses thanks to Life Pool, Evasion, Armour, Block Chance, and Suppression
  • Shaper/Uber Elder viable - it has high enough damage and survivability
  • Cold DoT builds are great League Starters due to their price
  • Vortex has a short melee-like range


3. Leveling tips

Use our Witch Leveling Guide using Cold DoT in PoE. It's perfect here as you will continue to use Cold DoT Spells indefinitely.


We recommend killing all Bandits for two additional Passive Points

Leveling Skill Trees:

40 Points Skill Tree
Allocate Runebinder Keystone, Passives granting Cold Damage, Brand utility nodes, and Maximum Life

70 Points Skill Tree
Get even more Maximum Life, Elemental Damage, and Reservation Efficiency


4. Final Skill Tree, Ascendancy Points, and Pantheon

Final Skill Tree:

110 Points Final Skill Tree (does not include Cluster nor Unique Jewels)
118 Points Path of Building (PoB) link

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Mastermind of Discord
  2. Heart of Destruction
  3. Shaper of Storms
  4. Bastion of Elements


Major God: Soul of The Brine King: 1% You cannot be Stunned if you've been Stunned or Blocked a Stunning Hit in the past 2 seconds

Minor God: Soul of Abberath: 60% less Duration of Ignite on You


5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Vortex/Creeping Frost setup
Vortex Vortex - It's an instant Skill that deals quite a lot of Damage initially, and the continues to deal Cold DoT that scales up with your Spell Damage.
Creeping Frost Creeping Frost - Creates a Chilled Ground that deals Cold Damage over Time, but also deals damage on impact. It's very similar to Vortex and will benefit from the same modifiers.
Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support - DoT cannot strike Critically, so not being able to benefit from them is not hindering at all. In turn, it grants more damage.
Elemental Focus Support Elemental Focus Support - You're unable to Chill, Shock, and Ignite, but you deal more Damage instead. you can still use Cold Snap to apply these Ailments. 
Empower Support Empower Support - Increases Gem Level of Vortex and Creeping Frost.
Swift Affliction Support Swift Affliction Support - Skills have reduced Duration, but deal more Damage over Time.
[DPS] Cold Snap Snap
Vaal Cold Snap Vaal Cold Snap - Yet another Cold Spell that deals Cold Damage and Cold DoT which scales up with Spell Damage. Select the Vaal version, and use it against tough enemies.
Cruelty Cruelty Support - Grants more Damage and more Damage over Time for the linked Skill.
Bonechill Support Bonechill Support - Enemies Chilled by Cold Snap will take increased Cold Damage, based on how Chilled they are.
Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
[UTILITY] Curses setup
Frostbite Frostbite - Reduces the Cold Resistance of your opponent.
Elemental Weakness Elemental Weakness - Reduces all types of Elemental Resistances.
Punishment Punishment - Enemies below half of their Life Pool will take much more damage from all sources. Be sure your Curse Limit is 3 if you want to use it.
Arcanist Brand Arcanist Brand - It casts all the inked to it Spells so that you don't have to press three buttons, but one.
[UTILITY] Aura setup
Malevolence Malevolence - An Aura that causes nearby enemies to take increased Damage over Time, and increases your Skill Effect Duration.
Determination Determination - Adds and increases Armour to mitigate Physical Damage.
Grace Grace - Adds and increases Evasion for a chance to avoid damage from Attacks.
Defiance Banner Defiance Banner - Increases Evasion and Armour. Nearby enemies have reduced Crit Chance.
[MOBILITY] Movement setup
Frost Blink Frostblink - Use it to travel faster and dodge attacks.
Leap Slam Leap Slam  - Use it when Frostblink is on Cooldown.
molten shell Molten Shell - Set it up as your movement key. It will periodically protect you from incoming hit damage for some time.
[UTILITY] Divine Blessing Aura setup
Hatred Hatred - It simply grants more Cold Damage.
Divine Blessing Divine Blessing Support - Hatred will be a temporary Aura, and despite its high Mana Cost, you can afford it via Eldritch Battery and some ES from items.
Inspiration Inspiration Support - Lowers Mana/ES cost of Hatred.


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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 Affliction requires a fair amount of it. The build is very simple and it deals mainly Cold Damage over Time. The most effective way to scale up the damage is with the Gem level. Cap your Chaos Resistance at 75% and Spell Suppression at 100%. Combined with a moderate Life Pool, Block Chance, Evasion, and Armour it will be enough to map comfortably.

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. Maximum Life
  2. Elemental Resistances
  3. Gem Level of Cold Skills
  4. Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
  5. Spell Damage/Cold Damage
  6. Spell Suppression Chance
  7. Chaos Resistance
  8. Attributes
 Eye of Malice(Helmet) Eye of Malice - It is the best Helmet with its abundance of Resistances and two types of Exposure on Hit. Due to Curses and the powerful effect of Exposure, you will ignore a lot of Resistances already, which will then be further lowered by this Helmet.
(400-500)% increased Evasion and Energy Shield
+(20-40)% to Fire Resistance
+(20-40)% to Cold Resistance
25% chance to inflict Cold Exposure on Hit
25% chance to inflict Fire Exposure on Hit
Nearby Enemies have 50% increased Fire and Cold Resistances
Helmet enchantments:
Vortex has increased Cooldown Recovery Speed
Rare Sceptre(Weapon) Rare Sceptre or Wand - Equip a weapon with a lot of Spell Damage, DoT Multiplier, and an extra level or two to your Cold Skills. A good one can be expensive.
Min. requirements:
50% Increased Spell/Cold Damage
20% Cold/Elemental Damage over Time Multiplier
+1 to Level of all Cold Spell Skill Gems
Optional affixes:
+1 to level of all Spell Skill Gems
Damage over time Multiplier
Spell Damage
Shield(Shield) Rare Shield - Get a Shield that would increase the level of all Cold Spell Skills, one with a lot of Maximum Life, Resistances, and Attributes if needed.
Min. requirements:
+70 to maximum Life
+1 to Level of all Cold Spell Skill Gems
Optional affixes:
Chance to Block Spell Damage
Spell Suppression Chance
Body Armour(Body Armour) Rare Body Armour - It should be a transitional Armour before you can afford Skin of the Lords. Get the most basic defenses like Life, Resistances, Suppression, and increased effect of Auras for Eldritch mods.
Min. requirements:
+90 to maximum Life
90% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Spell Suppression Chance
#% increased effect of Non-Curse Auras from your Skills
Skin of the Lords(Body Armour) Skin of the Lords - The best Armour for this build. Be mindful, that you will need the right colors and a Keystone that doesn't brick your build.
Item has no level requirement and Energy Shield (Hidden)
Sockets cannot be modified
+2 to Level of Socketed Gems
100% increased Global Defences
You can only Socket Corrupted Gems in this item
Item has 6 Sockets and is fully linked (Hidden)
<Random Keystone>
Gloves(Gloves) Legacy of Fury - Basic Gloves will be enough. A lot of Maximum Life, Resistances, and Spell Suppression are the most important. Try to gain some beneficial Eldritch mods too.
Min. requirements:
+70 to Maximum Life
+70% to Total Elemental Resistances
Chance to Unnerve enemies for 4 Seconds on Hit
Optional affixes:
Spell Suppression Chance
Chaos Resistance
Legacy of Fury(Boots) Legacy of Fury - The must-have for any Elemental DoT build. The effect of Scorch reduces Elemental Resistances, and the explosions will magnify your clear speed.
(200-300)% increased Armour and Evasion
30% increased Movement Speed
Nearby Enemies are Scorched
(30-50)% increased Effect of Scorch
(30-40)% chance when you Kill a Scorched Enemy to Burn Each surrounding
Enemy for 4 seconds, dealing 8% of the Killed Enemy's Life as Fire Damage per second
Belt(Belt) Rare Belt - Again, Maximum Life and Resistances are the most important stats on a Belt. Flask modifiers, Energy Shield, Strength, and Chaos Resistances can be good additions.
Min. requirements:
+80 to Maximum Life
+80% to Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
#% increased maximum Life
Energy Shield
Chaos Resistance
Amulet(Amulet) Rare Amulet - Maximum Life, Resistances, DoT Multiplier, and an extra level or two for your Cold Skill Gems are modifiers that you need on an Amulet.
Min. requirements:
+60 to maximum Life
60% Total Elemental Resistances
+1 to Level of all Cold Skill Gems
Optional affixes:
+#% to Damage over Time Multiplier
+1 to Level of all Skill Gems
Recommended Anointments:
Divine Judgement
Ash, Frost and Storm
Mark of the Shaper(Ring) Mark of the Shaper - You can use it if your other Ring is influenced by Shaper or Elder. It adds and increases your Damage, grants some Life, ES, and Summons Anomaly on kill for even more DoT.
(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 - Maximum Life, Resistances, and Attributes will be the most important here. Try to gain some extra Chaos Resistance and DoT Multiplier as well.
Min. requirements:
+60 to Maximum Life
+80% to Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Chaos Resistance
+#% to Damage over Time Multiplier
Cobalt Jewel(Jewels) Rare Jewels - After your Attributes and Resistances are sorted out, aim for increased Maximum Life with some DoT/Cold Spell Damage modifiers.
Recommended affixes:
increased Maximum Life
increased Spell/Cold/DoT Damage
increased Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
Forbidden FlameForbidden Flesh(Jewels) Forbidden Flame & Flesh - Occultist has some great notables you can use in this Build. Void Beacon, Frigid Wake, Unholy Authority, and Profane Bloom are some of the best ones.
Allocates <Random Ascendancy Notable> if you have the matching modifiers on Forbidden Flesh
Allocates <Random Ascendancy Notable> if you have the matching modifiers on Forbidden Flame
Watcher's Eye(Jewels) Watcher's Eye - You're using Grace, Determination, Malevolence, and Hatred linked to the Divine Blessing. Grace and Determination offer defensive options, while Hatred and Malevolence are offensively oriented. Remember that you cannot Penetrate Resistances with DoT.
(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 - We've used one large cluster jewel. Aim for three of the notables from this list and no more than 8 passives in total.
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
Suggested Flasks:
  1. Life Flask with Bleed Immunity
  2. Quartz Flask with Curse or Shock immunity
  3. Granite Flask with increased Armour
  4. Jade Flask with increased Evasion
  5. Silver or Quicksilver Flask with increased Movement Speed
Quartz FlaskGranite FlaskSilver FlaskJade FlaskLife Flask

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