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Wintertide Brand Low-Life Occultist Build

Wintertide Brand Low-Life Occultist Build

One of the best Cold DoT Builds in the game currently

Wintertide Brand
Low-Life Occultist Build

Updated for Patch 3.17

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Guide notes
February 12, 2022
-Build created
February 14, 2022
-Added gameplay video
Build overview
Tags: [MINION] [ELEMENTAL] [LIFE] [STARTER]

Budget: 

Defenses: 

Boss DPS:

AoE:

 

Wintertide Brand is a Brand Spell that deals with very high Cold Damage over Time, and when it comes to this type of damage, it's safe to assume that Occultist is going to be one of the best possible Ascendencies for it. This is currently the most powerful Cold DoT build that offers very high damage from several sources that can stack and are further boosted by three powerful Curses that you can easily apply with Bane Spell. This is a Low-Life build that utilizes Shavronne's Wrappings, which allows you to use additional Auras by reserving your Life instead. This build uses as many as 5 or even 6 Auras with greatly increased effect, granting both defensive and offensive bonuses. Since you can use Determination and easily reach around 30k Armour Rating, you can benefit from various Item and Skill synergies to boost your defenses. This includes:

  1. By using a Shield, Tempest Shield buff, and Glancing Blows, you will have approximately 70% Chance to Block Attacks and Spells each
  2. With Aegis Aurora equipped, you will instantly recover approx. 400-600 Energy Shield whenever you block, which makes it an insanely tanky character
  3. The new Divine Shield Passive will allow you to regenerate Energy Shield and insane speed thanks to high Physical Damage mitigation

Overall, it's a very well-rounded end-game Cold DoT build that has it all. Your abilities don't offer the best AoE but combined with Profane Bloom, you won't be able to complain about your clear speed either. The only downside is a limited number of Sockets that can make it tricky to allocate all the Gems you can use, so you may have to skip Vitality if you don't have an appropriate Unset Ring equipped. 

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

 

1. Gameplay

This is a very straightforward build where you basically blink into packs of monsters and cast your Brand/Vortex/Frost Bomb. Most enemies will be dead by the time you want to apply your Curses, so keep them up against Unique Enemies and Bosses. You are extremely tanky, and on top of that, the cooldown of Frostblink will be refreshed if you hit more enemies, so it's actually advised to teleport right into packs to progress faster. You can also allocate Brand Recall under your left mouse button, so that it's basically cast whenever off cooldown, increasing the duration of your active Brands and reducing the number of skills you will be required to recast constantly. For the most part, you will rely on Wintertide Brand, Vortex, and Frostblink, as their cast animation will not slow you down that much. The beforementioned Bane is used to apply your linked Curses,  so you should always apply them vs. Bosses and Unique enemies. The recommended Curses are Frostbite, Elemental Weakness, and Punishment - all will boost your DPS. Replacing any of the Cruses with more defensive ones like Temporal Chains or Enfeeble will have diminished effects as they will reduce the rate at which your Aegis Aurora triggers, so we wouldn't recommend swapping those. 


This video was recorded on a level 95 Occultist on Standard with gear listed in the PoB file below. 


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2. Build's PROS & CONS

PROS
  • one of the highest DPS for a Cold DOT build
  • amazing self-sustain
  • smooth playstyle 
  • amazing defenses thanks to high ES, Armour, and Aegis Aurora's insane recovery
  • all content viable
CONS
  • can get very expensive
  • can't reach sick DPS levels when compared to other types of builds

 

3. Leveling tips

We recommend leveling up as a regular Caster build, preferably using Freezing Pulse and Frost Bomb. You could also use Wintertide Brand, but without all the Passives that aren't available early on, it will be a bit underperforming - not to mention picking them later will reduce the DPS of Freezing Pulse/Frost Bomb, which will be actually better early on. You can also use Vortex as another source of Cold DPS, because it will stack with Frost Bomb, and with three separate sources of damage, you will progress quickly. It's recommended to switch to Energy Shield whenever you have most of the gear ready - preferably Shavronne's Wrappings and Aegis Aurora at the very least. Generally, like most Low-Life/ES builds, it's not most suitable for a League Starter, so it's best to have another character (or build) that you used to accumulate all the gear needed for this one. 

As always, b you will find some basic leveling setup and several extremely useful Unique Items. We tried to keep the leveling Passives Tree as close to the final ones' as possible, but that's hardly ever going to be the optimal routher, so we leave it up for you to decide. 

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Freezing Pulse setup
Freezing Pulse Freezing Pulse - your main DPS skill during the leveling phase. It offers good clear speed with its' insane Projectile Speed and solid damage
Added Cold Damage Support Added Cold Damage Support - adds a good amount of pure Cold Damage to linked Spells which works great for the high effectiveness of added damage you find on Spells
Faster Casting Support Faster Casting Support - boosts the Cast Speed of your Freezing Pulse. Later on can be replaced with Spell Echo for more DPS
Lesser Projectiles Support Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support - increased the number of Freezing Pulse's projectiles, but slightly reduces their damage
Frost Bomb setup
Frost Bomb Frost Bomb - a Cold/AoE Spell that applies powerful Cold Exposure to enemies, reducing their Cold Resistance. It also deals solid damage with its' ticks so you can add some Support Gems to add extra damage to your build
Elemental Focus Elemental Focus Support - increases Elemental Damage of linked skills significantly
Added Cold Damage Support Added Cold Damage Support
Vortex setup
Vortex Vortex - another Cold/AoE Spell that is cast instantly under your character. It can deal some extra Damage over Time which stacks with the ground effect of Frost Bomb
Bonechill Support Bonechill Support - chill applied via Vortex will increase Cold Damage taken by all enemies affected by it
Elemental Focus Elemental Focus Support
Utility Gems
Frostbite Frostbite - a Curse that reduces the Cold Resistance of your opponents and makes them more vulnerable to Freeze
Flame Dash Flame Dash - used to dash from one place to another. One of the best Mobility Skills for spellcasters
Herald of Ice Herald of Ice - adds Cold Damage to your Skills and causes AoE explosions when you kill Frozen enemies to better clearing
Clarity Clarity - a very useful Aura that increases your Mana Regeneration Rate which will allow you to spam all your Spells on lower levels

Bandits:

KIlling all three Bandits for two Passive Skill Points is the only viable option here

Leveling Skill Trees:

35 Points Skill Tree
Our recommended route is mainly based on boosting your Cold Damage which will apply to both the Freezing Pulse and Cold DoT effects you can use for extra damage during the campaign. This will be a non-crit variant, as DoT effects can't really Critically Hit in Path of Exile. The priorities here are: 1) Heart and Soul 2) Frost Walker 3) Breath of Rime/Heart of Ice 4) Elemental Overload 5) Mental Rapidity

63 Points Skill Tree
Go for Amplify, Light of Divinity, Holy Dominion, and Divine Judgement - sadly, most of those Passives will be refunded later. Without them leveling up can get pretty painful though

 

Recommended leveling items:

Le Heup of AllLe Heup of All - this Ring provides a lot of Elemental Resistances, increases your Damage and Attributes. Using one with high Dexterity should be enough for all the gear and Gem requirements
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
GoldrimGoldrim - one of the best leveling Helmets in Path of Exile which is available at level 1 and grants simply tons of Resistances bonuses
+(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)
Tabula RasaTabula Rasa - Grants you a 6-link with all-white sockets, and it's available at level 1. One of the most iconic Items in Path of Exile that's just perfect for leveling
Item has no level requirement and Energy Shield (Hidden)
Item has 6 White Sockets and is fully linked (Hidden)
Shade of SolarisShade of Solaris - while it's a low-level Item, it can get pretty expensive, but you will find no better weapon to boost your Spell Damage at this point
(11-15)% increased Spell Damage
(40-60)% increased Physical Damage
Adds 1 to (35-45) Lightning Damage
(15-25)% increased Mana Regeneration Rate
+1 to Maximum Power Charges
(25-35)% chance to gain a Power Charge on Kill


4. Final Skill Tree, Ascendancy Points, and Pantheon

Final Skill Tree:

102 Points Final Skill Tree (doesn't include Cluster Jewels nor Thread of Hope)
118 Points Path of Building(PoB) link

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

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

Pantheon:

Major God: Soul of Arakaali 5% reduced Damage taken from Damage Over Time; 10% chance to Avoid Lightning Damage from Hits, or The Brine King with Freeze immunity

Minor God: Soul of Abberath 5% reduced Fire Damage taken while moving; Unaffected by Burning Ground

 

5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Wintertide Brand setup
Wintertide Brand Wintertide Brand - your primary source of damage in this build that deals solid Cold Damage over Tie to its' target. It builds stacks over its duration and deals increased damage with each. The stacks remain on the Brand after detaching so it's important to use Brand Recall in this build to refresh their duration
Controlled Destruction Controlled Destruction Support - grants high Spell Damage multiplier which applies to the DoT part of this skill as well. Luckily, the reduced Crit. Chance is negligible for this build
Inspiration Support Inspiration Support - increases Elemental Damage and reduces the Mana Cost of linked Skills
Elemental Focus Elemental Focus Support - offers massive Elemental Damage boost at the cost of your Brand being unable to inflict Chill - which is again, negligible here
Efficacy Support Efficacy Support - boots the Damage over Time and Spell Damage of linked Spells. It's mandatory also for the increased Skill Effect Duration which makes it easier to use only Brands with maximum stacks
Empower Empower Support - a level 4 Empower will offer the highest DPS bonus to Wintertide Brand here, but if you don't have access to it, you use HypothermiaHypothermia instead
[UTILITY] Vortex setup
Vortex Vortex - your secondary source of DPS but also a very valuable Utility Spell. It's cast instantly making it very convenient to use, and it will trigger Bonechill to boost your overall DPS
Bonechill Support Bonechill Support -  increases Cold Damage taken by enemies affected by the linked Spell's Chill effect
Awakened Swift Affliction Support Awakened Swift Affliction Support - grants very powerful Damage over Time multiplier
Controlled Destruction Support Controlled Destruction Support
[UTILITY] Frostblink and Frost Bomb
Frostblink Frostblink - the recommended Movement Spell for this build. You could replace it with Flame Dash if you prefer, it doesn't really matter that much
Frost Bomb Frost Bomb - applies Cold Exposure to enemies in radius, greatly boosting all your Cold Damage. You can use a low-level Frost Bomb to limit its' Mana Cost if needed
Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support - spending Mana on linked Spells will grant you the Arcane Surge buff which increases your Spell Damage, Cast Speed, and Mana Regen. Keep this Gem at level 5 so that its' triggered with each Frostblink cast
[UTILITY] Malevolence
Flame Dash Malevolence - one of the core Auras for all DoT Builds including this one. It boosts your DoT Multiplier and opens up various options on Watcher's Eye Jewel
Arrogance Support Arrogance Support - in this particular build you will be using plenty of Auras, and this particular one needs to reserve your Life instead of Mana, which is achieved via this Support Gem
[UTILITY] Curse setup
Bane Bane - an AoE Spell that will be used to apply all your three Curses simultaneously with one cast. Make sure to use it against Bosses to maximize your DPS against them
Frostbite Frostbite - this Curse will reduce the Cold Resistance of affected enemies
Elemental Weakness Elemental Weakness - a very similar Curse to Frostbite which applies to all Elemental Damage types with slightly lesser effect
Punishment Punishment - this Curse will grant a high damage bonus against enemies below 50% Life, and also Debilitate them, reducing their damage by 10%
[UTILITY] Auras
(no links are required)
Clarity Clarity - increases your Mana Regeneration Rate. A very important Aura as you will be using a bunch of different Spells with relatively high Mana Cost. You can link it together with Malevolence and Arrogance if possible
Determination Determination - boosts your Armour Rating which is one of the core defensive mechanics in this build. It's a must-have if you want this entire setup to work
Vitality Vitality - you might need an extra Socket on an Unset Ring to use it, but if possible (and your Mana Pools allows) you should do that for additional Life Regeneration
Tempest Shield Tempest Shield - not exactly an Aura, but Reserves your Mana for passive effects for your character. With Tempest Shield and Glancing Blows, you should reach nearly 70% Chance to Block Spells
Discipline Discipline - grants very high bonus Energy Shield making it a core Aura for pretty much all ES/CI/Low-Life builds
[UTILITY] Brand Recall
Brand Recall Brand Recall - a mandatory utility skill that will allow you to instantly recall your Brands to your location and refresh their duration. This works well with Wintertide Brand as they can retain their stacks that way. Allocate it under your left mouse button so that its' recast nearly automatically


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5. Gear Setup

This build doesn't exactly offer much flexibility when it comes to your equipment. You are forced to get Shavronne's Wrappings and Aegis Aurora to get it going. In order to stay alive, you will also need to get a reasonable amount of Maximum Energy Shield on your gear to reach at least 6k of this resource to play comfortably. All that should be done while trying to get Cold Damage over Time Multiplier/Cold Spell Damage bonuses on all the gear possible. This build should be very tanky with just the Passives and Skills you are using, so the main concern will be your DPS.  

 

Stat priorities on items:

  1. Maximum Energy Shield
  2. Elemental Resistances
  3. Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
  4. Level of All Spell/Cold Skill Gems
  5. Cold Spell Damage or Elemental Damage increase
  6. Increased Reservation Efficiency
  7. Increased Effect of non-Curse Auras
  8. Cast Speed
Rare Helmet(Helmet) Rare Helmet - focus on high maximum Energy Shield and reduction to Cold Resistance of nearby enemies. If you can get the Hypothermia Gem here, socket your Vortex in the Helmet
Min. requirements:
150 Maximum Energy Shield
Nearby Enemies have -#% to Cold Resistance
Optional affixes:
Effect of Cold Ailments
Socketed Gems are Supported by level # Hypothermia
Elemental Resistances
Attributes
Crown of the Inward Eye(Helmet) Crown of the Inward Eye - this Helmet offers high bonus Damage from your Maximum Life, ES, and Mana. It also boosts all those stats and has a decent base Armour
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
Rime Gaze(Helmet) Rime Gaze - another very interesting Helmet option where you can get extra Gem for your Vortex and also a global increase to Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
Socketed Gems are Supported by Level 20 Concentrated Effect
+(16-22)% to Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
30% increased Cold Damage
(180-200)% increased Energy Shield
50% reduced Energy Shield Recharge Rate
+(40-60) to maximum Mana
Helmet enchantments:
Wintertide Brand has +4 to maximum Stages
Wand(Weapon) Rare Wand - basically boost your Cold/DoT Multiplier and possibly the level of your Cold Spell Gems (up to two can be achieved on a single weapon)
Min. requirements:
25% Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
+1 to Level of All Cold Spell Skill Gems
Optional affixes:
Damage over Time Multiplier
Increased Damage over Time
Increased Cold Spell Damage
Cast Speed
Aegis Aurora(Weapon) Aegis Aurora - a mandatory Shield that offers insane (and instant) Energy Shield recovery based on your Armour. With high Block Chance, there is simply no replacement for it in this build
(300-400)% increased Armour and Energy Shield
+10% to all Elemental Resistances
+5% to maximum Cold Resistance
+6% Chance to Block
Replenishes Energy Shield by 2% of Armour when you Block
(10-20)% increased Elemental Damage with Attack Skills
Shavronne's Wrappings(Body Armour) Shavronne's Wrappings - a must-have Body Armour that allows you to utilize the Low-Life status in Path of Exile. It lets you use additional Auras while preventing you from instantly dying to Chaos Damage
(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
Boots(Boots) Rare Boots - used mainly for defensive stats like Energy Shield, Resistances, and obviously some Movement Speed which is always mandatory on Boots
Min. requirements:
100 Maximum Energy Shield
25% Increased Movement Speed
60% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Chance to gain Onslaught for 4 seconds on Kill
Attributes
Boot enchantment:
Regenerate 2% of Life per second if you were Hit Recently
18% reduced Mana Cost of Skills if you've been Hit Recently
Rare Gloves(Gloves) Rare Gloves - just like Boots, this should provide extra defensive Utility and possibly Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
Min. requirements:
100 Maximum Energy Shield
15% Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
80% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Spell Damage
Attributes
Crystal Belt(Belt) Rare Belt - Belts can offer tons of defensive stats, mainly Energy Shield. It's best to pick a Crystal Belt or Stygian Vise with its extra Abyss Socket which can grant the highest possible bonuses
Min. requirements:
100 Maximum Energy Shield
100% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Increased Cold/Elemental Damage
Flask Effect Duration
Armour Rating
Attributes
Bated Breath(Belt) Bated Breath - an inexpensive alternative to a Rare Belt with a lot of Maximum Energy Shield and extra Global Damage boost
+(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
Presence of Chayula(Amulet) Presence of Chayula - the best in slot Amulet for Low-Life builds. It grants you a lot of extra Energy Shield and Stun immunity, which is simply irreplaceable
+(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
Recommended Anointments:
Infused
Disciple of the Slaughter
Unset Ring(Ring) Rare Rings - just aim to get defensive Stats here like Energy Shield and missing Attributes (preferably 50 Strength and Dexterity each) . You can use an Elder Ring if you want to use Mark of the Shaper, or Unset Ring if you can (and want) to use an extra Aura
Min. requirements:
45 Maximum Energy Shield
50 Dexterity
50 Strength
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Mark of the Shaper(Ring) Mark of the Shaper - one of the best Rings for this build if your other Ring is an Elder Item. It grants a massive Spell Damage bonus and a lot of Energy Shield too
(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
Hypnotic Eye Jewel(Jewel) Abyss Jewels - you will be able to use one of these if you have Stygian Vise equipped. Just aim for Energy Shield and a chance to Hinder on Spell hits
Recommended affixes:
Maximum Energy Shield
Chance to Hinder enemies on Spell hits
Optional affixes:
Chance to gain Phasing on Kill
Increased Damage if you've killed recently
Cobalt Jewel(Jewel) Rare Jewels - Rare Jewels should have Cold Damage over Time multiplier and Energy Shield. Also, extra Attributes/Resistances can come in handy here

Recommended affixes:
Maximum Energy Shield
Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
Optional affixes:
Increased Spell Damage
Increased Damage over Time
Missing Attributes or Resistances

Thread of Hope(Jewel) Thread of Hope - without a "Large Ring" Thread of Hope you will be unable to comfortably allocate Divine Shield and Glancing Blows, and both are the fundaments of your defensive playstyle here
Only affects Passives in Large Ring
Passives in Radius can be Allocated without being connected to your tree
-(20-10)% to all Elemental Resistances
Watcher's Eye(Jewel) Watcher's Eye - there are few Aura mods to choose from, especially the ones mentioned here as recommended. It's an expensive item and completely optional
(4-6)% increased maximum Energy Shield
(4-6)% increased maximum Life
(4-6)% increased maximum Mana
<Two or Three random aura modifiers>
Recommended Aura modifiers:
+(18-22)% to Damage over Time Multiplier while affected by Malevolence
Gain (6-10)% of Maximum Mana as Extra Maximum Energy Shield while affected by Clarity
Large Cluster Jewel(Jewel) Large Cluster Jewels - because of how Passives are allocated in this build, using Cluster Jewels to boost your Cold DoT is the best option
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 Prismatic Heart
1 Added Passive Skill is Widespread Destruction
Medium Cluster Jewel(Jewel) Medium Cluster Jewels - you should be able to use one or two Medium Cluster Jewels depending on your character level. Again, these are meant to boost your DPS 
Recommended affixes:
1 Added Passive Skill is Brush with Death
1 Added Passive Skill is Deep Chill
1 Added Passive Skill is Exposure Therapy
Small Cluster Jewel(Jewel) Small Cluster Jewel - getting one with Enduring Composure will allow you to easily generate Endurance Charges and boost your defenses further
Recommended affixes:
1 Added Passive Skill is Enduring Composure

Suggested Flasks:

  1. Basalt Flask with bleeding immunity/removal
  2. Granite Flask with a suffix to further boost Armour Rating
  3. Quartz Flask with random ailment removal/immunity
  4. Sulphur Flask with random ailment removal/immunity
  5. Quicksilver Flask for extra mobility or Enduring Mana Flask if you have mana-related issues
Basalt FlaskGranite FlaskQuartz FlaskSulphur FlaskQuicksilver Flask


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If you have any other build requests please leave that in the comments below. We are always open to suggestions and constructive feedback.

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