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Wintertide Brand Trickster CI/DoT Build

Wintertide Brand Trickster CI/DoT Build

A powerful Cold DoT Build based on the newly added Wintertide Brand

Wintertide Brand
Trickster CI/DoT Build

Updated for Patch 3.11

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Estimated budget: mediocre
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Guide notes
July 24, 2020
-Build created
July 25, 2020
-Added gameplay video


Wintertide Brand is one of the newest Brand Spells introduced in Patch 3.11 which deals very high Cold Damage over Time, making it the only Cold-based Brand in the game. It offers a very unique and interesting playstyle, which combined with Trickster Ascendancy gives this build immense speed and fantastic Map farming capabilities. It also offers relatively decent single-target damage, so you shouldn't have any issues taking down most of the Bosses, though there are certainly more suited builds for that purpose. This build, on top of amazing clear speed, offers very high durability. You should have approximately 8,000 Energy Shield with Chaos Inoculation, high chance to Evade, Dodge, and your Chance to Block Spells and Attacks will be capped at 75%/74%. Even if Blocked Hits will reduce the damage only by 50% because of Glancing Blows Passive, you are very unlikely to die to standard enemies. 

If you are looking to try out Wintertide Brand, this is one of the most optimal setups that doesn't require any excessive investments in gear needed. It's a great way to get introduced in the world of Cold Damage over Time type of builds which have been quite popular lately thanks to the introduction of various Sources of Cold DoT Multipliers.

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1. Gameplay

Brands are a very unique type of Spell Skills which create a magical Brand that will attach to a nearby enemy and periodically deal damage. Wintertide Brand is even more unique because it deals Damage over Time based on the number of Stages that build up as the brand is attached to an enemy. This build was made to make it as simple as possible, as most Spells will be triggered automatically for you. Brand Recall is one of such Spells which is used to recall detached Brands to your actual location and increase their duration so that they don't expire. In the end, you are going to travel with Flame Dash, cast Wintertide Brand if you don't have the maximum active, and Storm Brand/Vortex to deal extra damage and apply powerful debuffs and Curses. You basically have only three Skills to use which can be cast in pretty much any order whenever you approach a new pack of monsters, and everything else will be done for you. 

At the same time, this build offers fantastic defenses based on several core mechanics. You get around 8,000 Maximum Energy Shield, high Evasion and Dodge, and Block Chance is capped. Combined with Ghost Shrouds that reduce your damage taken, and instantly recover approximately 800 Energy Shield whenever you are Hit (4% of your Maximum Evasion is recovered when you lose a Ghost Shroud stack), this build will not let you go down against regular enemies, ever. 

0:08 Tier 16 Promenade
0:32 Tier 15 Ramparts
0:45 Tier 16 Thicket
1:04 Tier 15 Tower
1:41 Tier 14 City Square with Baran Stronghold

This video was recorded on a level 94 Trickster on Standard League with around 8,000 Maximum Energy Shield, approx. 600k Wintertide Brand's DoT at 20 Stages. The total budget was approximately 10 Exalted Orbs

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2. Build's PROS & CONS

  • high DoT which offers good clear speed and decent single-target DPS
  • multilayer defenses which make this build extremely tanky
  • reasonable budget
  • great mobility
  • very unique playstyle based on Damage over Time Brands
  • requires no specific Uniques
  • Mana Management can get tricky
  • mediocre single-target DPS against end-game Bosses


3. Leveling tips

It's recommended to level up as a standard Life character, and respeccing at around level 70 when you have most of the gear ready. You can use a lot of different Spells for the leveling part, but we recommend sticking to Wintertide Brand so that you can learn how to use the skill properly (if you jump into it at a higher level you may find the result unsatisfactory). After all, Brands offer high DPS and good clear speed. You should stick to Life/Resistances gear, and get some extra Cold Damage or Spell Damage bonuses, as you won't be able to get Cold DoT Multipliers on lower levels, and both Cold and Spell Damage apply to your main Spells Damage over Time effects.

Suggested leveling Gem setups:

Wintertide Brand setup
Wintertide Brand Wintertide Brand - primary Spell used in this build. It attaches to enemies dealing high Cold Damage over Time around them. It's best to level up with it as well to learn how to handle it, when to recast it, and so on
Elemental Damage Support Elemental Focus Support - increases Elemental Damage greatly
Controlled Destruction Controlled Destruction Support - increases Spell Damage at the cost of reduced Crit. Chance which is irrelevant for DOT 
Efficacy Efficacy Support - increases both Spell Damage and Damage over Time making it a core Support Gem in this build
Vortex setup
Vortex Vortex - it's another core Spells in this build which is cast instantly in your current position making it very convenient to use
Bonechill Support Bonechill Support - increases the effect of Chill and Cold DoT taken by enemies chilled with Vortex
Arcane Surge Arcane Surge Support - grants you a buff that increases your Spell Damage, Cast Speed, and Mana Regeneration Rate. Do not upgrade this Gem too much so that it's threshold matches Vortex's Mana Cost
Efficacy Efficacy Support
Utility Gems
Frost Bomb Frost Bomb - Frost Bomb increases the damage you deal to enemies in its radius and deals a moderate amount of additional Cold Damage
Frostbite Frostbite - the best Curse for this build which reduces Cold Resistance of affected enemies
Malevolence Malevolence - the main Aura used in this build which increases your DoT greatly
Flame Dash Flame Dash - recommended mobility Spell


We recommend killing all the Bandits for two additional Passive Points

Leveling Skill Trees:

31 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Trickery 2) Entropy 3) Growth and Decay 4) Runesmith 5) Snowforged

61 Points Skill Tree
Priorities: 1) Arcanist's Dominion 2) Cruel Preparation 3) Breath of Rime 4) Heart of Ice

Level 70+ Skill Tree (when you are about to respec to Energy Shield)
Priorities: 1) Elemental Overload 2) Purity of Flesh 3) Runebinder 4) Arcane Guarding

Level 70+ Skill Tree (after you respec to Energy Shield) - this Tree does not include 6 Passives that you should take via Thread of Hope hence it has 6 more points available

Recommended leveling items:

Spine of the First ClaimantSpine of the First Claimant - the best leveling Weapon for this build which will work just fine until low Tier Maps
14% increased Elemental Damage
(100-140)% increased Physical Damage
40% increased Damage with Hits against Frozen Enemies
(30-50)% increased Cold Damage
(5-10)% increased Attack Speed
(4-8)% increased Cast Speed
5% chance to Freeze
+(25-35)% to Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
PraxisPraxis - amazing Ring for leveling as Spell Caster. Will help you spam your Spells by increasing your Mana and reducing Mana Cost of Spells by a lot
+(20-30) to maximum Mana
+(30-60) to maximum Mana
Regenerate (3-6) Mana per second
-(8-4) to Total Mana Cost of Skills
8% of Damage taken gained as Mana over 4 seconds when Hit
Victario's FlightVictario's Flight - another great leveling Item, which not only increases your Movement Speed but also grants an additional Mana Recovery mechanic
+15 to Dexterity
+15 to Intelligence
(100-150)% increased Evasion Rating
15% increased Movement Speed
(5-10)% of Damage taken gained as Mana over 4 seconds when Hit
10% increased Movement Speed for you and nearby Allies
Le Heup of AllLe Heup of All - perfect choice for the whole leveling process, it's recommended to use it on both ring slots
(10-30)% increased Damage
+(10-30) to all Attributes
(10-30)% increased Rarity of Items found
+(10-30)% to all Elemental Resistances
GoldrimGoldrim - the best and the most popular leveling Helmet in Path of Exile which grants very high Elemental Resistances
+(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:

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

Ascendancy points:

Preferably in that order:

  1. Patient Reaper
  2. Ghost Dance
  3. Prolonged Pain
  4. Escape Artist


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 Gruthkul 1% additional Physical Damage Reduction for each Hit you've taken Recently up to a maximum of 5%


5. Final Gems links

[DPS] Wintertide Brand setup
Wintertide Brand Wintertide Brand - your primary source of DPS and core Spell used in this build. It's a Brand Spell, which makes it attach to enemies and deal high Cold Damage over Time as it gains additional stages
Elemental Focus Elemental Focus Support - greatly increases Elemental Damage dealt by Supported Spells
Controlled Destruction Controlled Destruction Support - increases Spell Damage greatly at the cost of reduced Crit. Chance
Hypothermia Hypothermia Support - increase Damage you deal to Chilled enemies, and most of them will be by Vortex
Efficacy Support Efficacy Support - increases Spell Damage and DoT which both apply to Winterbrand's damage
Swift Affliction Support Swift Affliction Support - increases the Damage over Time from Supported Spells greatly
[DPS] Vortex setup
(Socketed in Rime Gaze)
Vortex Vortex - your secondary DPS Spell, which on top of dealing decent AoE damage grants you Arcane Surge buff and increases your Cold Damage over Time
Efficacy Support Efficacy Support
Bonechill Support Bonechill Support - increases Vortex's effect of Chill and increases all Cold Damage over Time enemies affected by it take
Arcane Surge Support Arcane Surge Support - grants strong buff which increases your Spell Damage, Cast Speed, and Mana Regeneration Rate. Just make sure to match the Gems level so that it's triggered every time you cast Vortex (usually the Gem should be at level 10)
[UTILTIY] Orb of Storms/Curse setup
Frostbite Frostbite - main Curse, which reduces enemies' Cold Resistance. Will be applied automatically by Orb of Storm Hits
Curse on Hit Curse on Hit Support - makes Orb of Storms apply your linked Curse. You can use Awakened Curse on Hit Support and apply Temporal Chains as well for massive slow
Orb of Storms Orb of Storms - used to apply linked Curse(s) and proc Elemental Equilibrium
Temporal Chains Temporal Chains - a great defensive Curse which can be applied if you have obtained Awakened Curse on Hit or Crafted the extra Curse on your Body Armour
Malevolence Malevolence - increases your Damage over Time greatly and opens up an additional way to gain DoT Multiplier via Watcher's Eye Jewel
Discipline Discipline - increases your maximum Energy Shield, making it one of the most important Auras for this build
[UTILITY] Flame Dash
Flame Dash Flame Dash - recommended Mobility Skill for this build. Since you don't really have any extra sockets left, we don't support it with anything, which still makes it quite convenient Skill to travel with
[UTILITY] Immortal Call/Tempest Shield
Cast when Damage Taken Support Cast when Damage Taken Support - will auto-cast linked Spells after you take a certain amount of damage. Use this Gem on level 1 for most frequent casts
Tempest Shield Tempest Shield - increases your Block Chance. Keep this Gem on level 7 or lower so that it's triggered automatically by CWDT Support Gem
Immortal Call Immortal Call - grants a brief Elemental and Physical Damage reduction making it one of the most popular Guard Spell. Keep this Gem at level 1
Increased Duration Support Increased Duration Support
[UTILITY] Spells triggered by your Wand
Arcane Cloak Frost Bomb - reduces Cold Resistance of enemies in its' radius making it a must-have Utility Spell for Cold/Spell builds
Ball Lightning Ball Lightning - used to help you with applying Elemental Equilibrium
Brand Recall Brand Recall - used to recall Brands to your current location and extend their duration. It makes this build much smoother to play if this is triggered automatically by your Wand

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5. Gear Setup

Below you will find the recommended equipment for this build. Most of the Items are Rare with the exception of Rime Gaze which can also be easily replaced by a Rare Helmet. Overall this build offers very good flexibility in terms of equipment, and thanks to its very high defenses you can experiment with various Uniques and variations. However, we do not include such in the following guide. 

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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. Cold/Spell Damage
  5. Cast Speed
Rare Helmet(Helmet) Rare Helmet - a very reasonable option which offers very high defensive Utility, and you can try getting Delve crafted one which will reduce the Cold Resistance of nearby enemies for extra DPS
Min. requirements:
200 Energy Shield
75% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Nearby enemies have -#% Cold Resistance
Rime Gaze(Helmet) Rime Gaze - our top recommendation for the Helmet slot. It grants very high bonus damage and has a decent Energy Shield. At the same time, it's very cheap even with nearly perfect rolls
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
Helmet enchantments:
Wintertide Brand has +4 to maximum Stages
Wintertide Brand deals 40% increased Damage
Rare Wand(Weapon) Rare Wand - the best option. You can easily craft or obtain a basic Wand with just Cold Damage Multiplier and "Trigger Socketed Spell..." affix with nearly 0 cost
Min. requirements:
20% Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
40% Spell Damage
Trigger Socketed Spell when you use a Skill
Optional affixes:
+1 to Level of All Spell Skill Gems
+1 to Level of All Cold Spell Skill Gems
Rare Shield(Shield) Rare Shield - aim for the highest possible Energy Shield here and extra Spell Damage bonus
Min. requirements:
250 Energy Shield
60% Spell Damage
Optional affixes:
increased Cast Speed
Elemental Resistances
+1 to Level of all Cold Spell Skill Gems
Sadist Garb(Body Armour) Rare Body Armour - all-around best Armour for this build. Aim for the highest Evasion Rating and Energy Shield - a piece without extra Resistances/Dodge or second Curse shouldn't cost a fortune
Min. requirements:
1400 Evasion Rating
300 Energy Shield
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Chance to Dodge Attacks
You can apply an additional Curse
Amulet(Amulet) Rare Amulet - aim for Cold DoT Multiplier and Energy Shield
Min. requirements:
20% Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
20% Increased Maximum Energy Shield
Optional affixes:
Attributes (Strenght/Dexterity)
Elemental Resistances
Spell Damage
+1 to Level of All Intelligence Gems
Recommended Anointments:
Command of Steel
Rare Ring(Ring) Rare Rings - pick any base you want (Opal for DPS, Moonstone for Energy Shield, or Two-Stone for the highest possible Resistances)
Min. requirements:
40 Energy Shield
75% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Cold/Spell Damage
Rare boots(Boots) Rare Boots - get the highest maximum Energy Shield and Movement Speed bonuses you can afford
Min. requirements:
150 Energy Shield
25% increased Movement Speed
Optional affixes:
Chance to gain Elusive on Critical Strike
Elemental Resistances
Boot enchantment:
16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you've Killed Recently
10% Chance to Dodge Attack Hits if you've taken a Critical Strike Recently
Rare Belt(Belt) Rare Belt - preferably Crystal Belt for the highest possible Energy Shield or Sytigan Vise for the additional Abyss Socket
Min. requirements:
90 Energy Shield
90% Total Elemental Resistances
Optional affixes:
Abyss Socket
Increased Damage/Elemental/Cold Damage
Gloves(Gloves) Rare Gloves - the best would be to get a pair with 100+ Energy Shield, Cold Damage Multiplier, and Chance to Unnerve enemies on Hit,  or if you can't afford such pair, just aim for higher defensive bonuses
Min. requirements:
100 Energy Shield
Chance to Unnerve enemies on Hit
14% Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
Optional affixes:
Elemental Resistances
Large Cluster Jewel(Jewel) Large Cluster Jewel - we recommend using one Cluster Jewel for additional Spell Damage and Spell Block Chance as it gives you new options to increase your Cold DoT Multiplier and cap the Spell Block Chance at 75%
Recommended affixes:
1 Added Passive Skill is Conjured Wall
1 Added Passive Skill is Mage Hunter
1 Added Passive Skill is Thaumophage
2 Added Passive Skills are Jewel Sockets
Medium Cluster Jewel(Jewel) Medium Cluster Jewel - you can use up to two Medium Cluster Jewels in this build. It's best to pick ones that increase Cold DoT Multiplier for the highest possible DPS bonuses
Recommended affixes:
1 Added Passive Skill is a Jewel Socket
1 Added Passive Skill is Deep Chill
1 Added Passive Skill is Exposure Therapy
Cobalt Jewel(Jewel) Rare Jewels - simply get extra Energy Shield and DPS bonuses
Recommended affixes:
Maximum Energy Shield
Cold Damage over Time Multiplier
Optional affixes:
Spell Damage/Area Damage/Damage over Time
Small Cluster Jewel(Jewel) Small Cluster Jewel - if you don't have enough Passives to fill up Medium Cluster Jewels, you can use the small ones for extra Energy Shield
Recommended Passives:
Energy from Naught
Watcher's Eye(Jewel) Watcher's Eye - it's a great pick for this build which grants very high bonus Damage when you are 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>
Recommended modifier:
+(18-22)% to Damage over Time Multiplier while affected by Malevolence

Thread of Hope(Jewel) Thread of Hope - a mandatory Jewel for this build. You need to get one with Large Ring modifier, which will allow you to pick up 6 important Passives for this build without having them connected to your Tree

Only affects Passives in <size> Ring
Passives in Radius can be Allocated without being connected to your tree
-(20-10)% to all Elemental Resistances
Passives allocated:
Breath of Rime
Heart of Ice
Utmost Intellect
Arcane Focus
Practical Application
Suggested Rare Flasks:
  1. Alchemist's Sulphur Flask of Heat (Freeze immunity)
  2. Ample Quartz Flask of Warding (Curse immunity)
  3. Experimenter's Stibnite Flask of Reflexes (increased Evasion Rating)
  4. Experimenter's Jade Flask of Adrenaline (Increased Movement Speed)
  5. Experimenter's Quicksilver Flask of Staunching (Bleed immunity)
Sulphur FlaskQuartz FlaskStibnite FlaskJade FlaskQuicksilver Flask

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