Hey exiles, welcome to another Path of Exile guide. This time with a Cracking Lance inquisitor. This build has been my league starter for the heist league. Many people have been quite skeptical about these skills viability or even preached against it after testing it for 10 minutes. I'm here to tell you it's, in fact, a pretty awesome spell. You can read this article written by mmogah.com or watch Navandis Gaming's original video to learn more about this build.
The build's main skill, Crackling Lance, has been compared continuously to either arc or divine ire, and while they're all lightning bass spells, the similarities pretty much stopped there. Crackling Lance is a standalone spell with its unique play style, and it's neither the better or worse arc, just an entirely different skill. By default, it casts a single lightning bolt that hits all the targets in a wide cone-shaped area. If anything, it resembles a tectonic slam more than anything else. Every time you cast a spell, it gains one intensity stack indicated by this buff icon. Each intensity stack narrows down the area of the lightning bolt and, at the same time, greatly increases its damage. By default, the max number of intensity stacks is 3, but it goes up to 4 after picking up a significant passive from the tree. Once the spell reaches its max stack, the lightning bolt will transform into a laser beam that deals 3 to 4 times more damage. However, when moving or using a skill such as flame dash, you'll start losing intensity stacks. At this point, you've probably already figured out that this dual form of the skill helps the build be equally effective at clearing large packs of mobs on low-intensity stacks and fighting bosses when you're at max intensity. Juggling between these modes is the key to success for this build, and the more you play and practice it, the better results you'll have. It's quite rare to have a spell's efficiency scale directly with a player's mechanical skills. For example, while mapping, I cast the spell once and moved at least a bit before casting it again. Keeping the number of stacks at two or three provides a great balance of damage and area of effect perfect for killing large packs of mobs.
On top of that, once you get an impulse as broken heart the best and slowed body armor for this build, you'll be able to easily clear an entire screen even while shooting the narrow laser beam. This is thanks to this unique item's ability, which causes shocked enemies to explode and deal lightning damage in an area around them. Even when you shoot through the middle of a pack, it should clear it entirely once the first mobs die. Against bosses, knowledge of the arena and different fight phases will help you decide how much you can stand still spamming your nuke and when it's time to move to sacrifice a few intensity stacks. The builder is also investing heavily in car speed, allowing you to regain intensity stacks more quickly after you've lost them when repositioning. Several elements will help you stand your ground and survive through the fights. Frost shield will soak up incoming damage as well as chill enemies while half of your ascendancy is dedicated to improving your defenses while standing still. There are a few more utility tools in your arsenal, but I'll talk more about these in the passives gems and gearing section, respectively.
The ascendancy class of choice for this build is an extremely strong yet lesser-known inquisitor. It is a critical strike spellcaster archetype with great defenses and utility and overall very well balanced ascendancy.
Your first points go into a sanctuary. This passive will create patches of consecrated ground while you're stationary, granting your life in the mana region. This synergizes well with Crackling Lance playstyle, which requires you to be stationary quite often. On top of that, enemies that stand on the consecrated ground created by you will take 10% more damage. Apart from this passive, the build also uses Zelda 3 aura, which can create consecrated ground beneath rare or unique enemies you hit, thus ensuring that the sanctuary's damage bonus is constantly active.
After completing the crew labyrinth, follow up with Pio's path, a passive which doubles down on the consecrated ground mechanic. With it, while standing on consecrated ground, you'll have increased cast speed immunity to elemental ailments such as shock or freeze. You'll regenerate 200 energy shields per second. on top of that, all the effects from the consecrated ground, including the bonuses provided by your ascendancy passives, will linger for 4 seconds after you start moving. Otherwise, put you get all these even if you move around but stop at least once every 4 seconds. With crackling lance playstyle, this will happen consistently, so you can pretty much consider these as permanent bonuses.
Third, in line is righteous providence, a pure DPS passive. First, you gain a huge crit strike chance bonus against targets with no elemental ailments on them. Once a target has an elemental ailment affecting it, you have increased the critical strike multiplier against that monster. Critical strikes are guaranteed to apply elemental ailments, and with a big boost to your crit chance, your first hit with Crackling Lance will almost guarantee your target will be shocked. And not only do you get the extra damage from the shock itself but also the crit strike multiplier bonus from righteous providence. Again yet another passive that synergizes perfectly with your main skill.
Finally, with your last ascendancy points, take augury of penitence, a simple two-in-one offensive, and defensive passive. Nearby targets will take significantly more elemental damage while dealing less of it to yourself. Not spectacular but a decent addition to the build.
for the major god, soul of frontages. It provides quite a few bonuses to evasion and a chance to dodge as well as physical damage reduction and movement speed. While none of these is game-breaking, nor will they transform your character into a tanking god, it never hurts to add a bit more defense to a build at practically no cost. Another decent option would be the soul of varakali to help mitigate damage over time and boost your life and energy shield recovery rates. Dots are probably the bill's biggest weakness so getting some defense against them is always welcome. As for the minor god soul of tokohama is likely your best choice. You gain physical damage reduction, and life regen every second you're stationary. As you'll stand still a fair amount while casting Crackling Lance, these bonuses will help you stand your ground for longer.
Gems and Links
1. As usual, I'll start with the main skill crackling lance in its supports. If possible, try to get a level 21 crackling lance through corruption as this kill gains a large amount of additional damage from extra levels. Support gems are listed in order of their importance. So if you can only get a 5 link, then drop the last gem I've listed.
First, one intensity support should come as no surprise if you watch the build overview section. While this gem doesn't add extra intensity stacks, and your maximum will still be 4, it does provide a huge amount of damage for each stack.
Then you have spell echo, which repeats your Crackling Lance each time you cast it and greatly increases your cast speed as well. However, the extra cast from this support gem will not build up intensity stacks, so you still need to cast it 4 times to get to max manually. Still, the massive cast bonus will help you get there much faster.
The third support is concentrated effect, a simple gem. It massively increases your damage while reducing your area of effect. While that might seem like a big downside in practice, you can barely notice any difference. The extra DPS, however, is up.
Next is lightning penetration support, which, as the name implies, will penetrate enemies' lightning resistance greatly increasing your damage output. This is especially true against targets that have high resistances, such as bosses.
The last gem in this setup is energy league support. This will allow Crackling Lance to leech energy shield and boost your damage while doing that. When using the devouring diadem helmet, you obtain the eldritch battery keystone, which causes your abilities first to spend energy shield before mana. Each time you cast Crackling Lance, you consume some energy shield and simultaneously start leeching it back, triggering the gems bonus.
2. Next, we have a storm brand setup whose purpose is to trigger various effects that buff your main skill. This spell creates a brand that attaches to a target and continuously casts lightning bolts in a small area around it. If the target dies while the brand is still active, it will jump to another enemy.
You then link it to power charge on critical innervate and onslaught support gems. When stormbrand deals, a critical strike kills a target or hits a rare enemy or a boss you get power charges additional global lightning damage and the onslaught buff, which boosts your car speed and movement speed. And while the damage dealt with store brand is irrelevant, it is more than capable of killing white mobs, so make sure you always drop one or two brands on most monster packs to get all the buffs.
3. Then there's another utility setup, this time with a few extra active skills.
First, you have frost shielding, a spell that creates damage absorbing dome while draining around 800 energy shields in about 1 second. Apart from preventing a big chunk of damage dealt by outside enemies, it also chills them and increases your effective spell creatures by a huge amount.
The second gem in this setup is the sigil of power, a somewhat similar skill. It creates a giant circular rune on the ground, adding some flat liking damage to your spells. The sigils buff would normally become stronger when spending mana while inside the circle. However, you're using an energy shield to cast your spells. As such, the sigil will always have just the initial stage. Still, it costs you almost nothing to get a fair amount of extra DPS. Both frost shield and sigil of power require you to stand in their radius to gain the buffs they provide. While this would be an issue for many builds with Crackling Lance, you're standing still anyway.
You then add flame dash your builds mobility skill and link all three to a second wind. This support gem lowers the cooldown of all three abilities while also adding an extra charge to each allowing you to use them one more time while on cooldown.
4. Next up, you have an aura setup wrath increasing your lightning damage zealotry boosting your critical strike chance and creating consecrated ground when hit a rare or unique enemy and finally flesh and stone. This aura has two stances blood and sand, but you're strictly interested in sand stains. You gain absolutely nothing from blood stance, so don't ever use it in death mode for this build.
In sand stance, you'll blind nearby enemies having their chance to hit you and will also take less damage from distant enemies. The only way you can fit all three auras is if you are using a devouring diadem helmet, so until you get one, temporarily drop flesh and stone.
Finally, steel skin is a guard skill that creates a damage absorption shield soaking up about 2 200 damage. I use this skill by binding it to my left mouse button, replacing the default move action. As I keep the button pressed, it moves my character as usual and casts still skin on cooldown.
Lastly, there are two different custom damage taken setups. These trigger gems will cast any linked active spells after you take a certain amount of damage. Higher casting damage taken gem will cast a higher length gem, but it would also require more damage to be triggered.
Pros and Cons
+ Excellent league starter
+ Great clear speed
+ Impactful gear progression
+ Solid defenses
+ Scales with player's skills
- Peculiar playstyle
- Vulnerable while casting
- Lower DPS in Dynamic fights