Dear exiles, welcome to Navandis Gaming's Path of Exile build guide! The new Cyclone Champion Build is better than the previous version both offensively and defensively while still incredibly easy to play and highly efficient on low budgets.
A great league starter, it performs well with makeshift gear and cheap uniques all the way to mid-tier maps, without investing more than a few Chaos Orbs for each piece. It also scales well with better gear, so the more PoE Currency you're willing to spend, the better it performs. This makes it ideal for a long-term build that you can pimp out over the course of an entire league or in Standard mode.
As usual, the guide is still divided into seven main sections: Build Overview, Passive Tree and Leveling, Ascendancy, Pantheon, Gems and Links, Gear Flasks and Jewels, and finally, "Pros & Cons".
The build revolves around Cyclone, a channeling skill which deals weapon damage in a large area around your character for as long as you keep the button pressed. You can move around while spinning, allowing you to reposition, get out of harmful stuff lying on the ground or dodge incoming attacks, all while continuing to deal damage to enemies. This means you'll have very little DPS downtime in any fight, and the same goes for leeching back life. As you keep channeling, Cyclone gains additional stages, up to 6 at gem level 20, each of them increasing the size of its area of effect. Apart from this mechanic, your melee strike range also dictates how large this area will end up being. While there are many ways to use Cyclone, this particular build focuses on two-handed swords and physical damage. You won't be dealing with any elemental or chaos damage, so that that gearing will be straight forward. It's also a critical strike type of build, and with decent equipment, you'll end up with over 70% crit. Chance. Topping everything off is the powerful Impale mechanic, a huge DPS boost for physical damage builds. On every target hit with an attack, you'll create one Impale stack, up to a maximum of 7 with the Champion ascendancy. Each Impale stack stores 10% of the physical damage dealt with that hit and is afterward released with subsequent hits. You can think of it as a DOT that ticks only when you hit that monster after it was applied. I know this is a rather confusing mechanic, so I won't bore you with all the math behind it and the exact interactions. I will, however, say that it's a huge DPS boost against any enemy that takes more than 2 or 3 hits to die, so it's especially efficient against bosses.
On top of that, the build uses Haemophilia gloves that cause bleeding enemies to explode and deal with physical damage in an area around them, greatly increasing your map clearing efficiency. As for defenses, you'll rely on endurance charges, permanent Fortify buff, huge amounts of armour, a great deal of life leeching, and even positive chaos resistance. While it sounds like a lot to take in, don't worry, as always, I'll talk about all these in much greater detail in the passives, gems, and gearing sections, respectively.
In the next section, I'll cover the Ascendancy class, which improves every aspect of this build. As you've likely figured out from the title, the Ascendancy of choice for this build is the versatile Champion. It has a perfect balance of offense and defense, without any major weaknesses.
The first points go into "Conqueror", a passive that is not spectacular on its own but sets the stage for the following one. It grants a 100% chance to taunt on hit while greatly reducing incoming damage and providing a solid chunk of life regen.
After completing Cruel labyrinth, follow up with "Worthy Foe" - taunted enemies take significantly more damage and, most importantly, cannot evade your attacks. This practically translates into a 100% chance to hit without having to invest anything into accuracy. It saves a huge amount of passives and gear affixes, which can instead be used for other pure DPS mods. And by the way, you don't necessarily need to hit enemies to taunt them: Enduring Cry will also taunt all nearby enemies, and it has quite a large area of effect as well.
Third in line is "Master of Metal", a passive which focuses on impaling: you get a 20% increased chance to impale on hit, two extra impale stacks on each enemy as well as increased physical damage for each impales stack. It's a huge damage increase and one of the main reasons for picking Champion as the ascendancy class.
Finally, with your last ascendancy points, take "Unstoppable Hero", an amazing passive with a lot of useful benefits. They all revolve around having the "Fortify" buff active, which is also why you'll be using Fortify Support in the main skill setup. With this passive and Fortify buff UP, you get a whole bunch of extra damage, attack speed, armour and evasion, and, most importantly, stun immunity.
At the end of the game, stuns are a major death cause, especially for melee builds, so having complete immunity to it will greatly boost your survivability.
Generally speaking, Pantheon's choices are situational, and there isn't a "best" pair that will outperform all others in any situation. However, certain options complement specific builds quite well in a wide range of scenarios. For this particular case, here are my recommendations: For the major god, Soul of Arakaali: damage over time is a weak spot for this build so getting some defenses against that is always a good idea. On top of that, it reduces shocks' duration and effectiveness, one of the most dangerous ailments out there. Any additional way to shave off the extra damage you receive is more than welcome. As for the minor god, the optimal choice is likely Soul of Gruthkul: since you're operating in melee range and taunting everything around you, you'll receive a significant amount of hits. Reducing enemies' attack speed as well as incoming physical damage will give you some more breathing room.
Gems and Links
1. As usual, I'll start with the main skill, Cyclone, and its support gems. If possible, try to get a level 21 Cyclone through corruption as it then gains one extra stage, increasing both its area of effect and damage.
First in line is "Impale" support – this will increase your chance to impale enemies and buff the damage done through this mechanic. As I mentioned in the Build Overview section, Impale adds an insane amount of damage against any target that survives more than 2 or 3 hits.
Next, you have "Brutality," which adds an insane amount of purely physical damage, pretty much the highest a support gem can provide. However, it also prevents you from dealing with any elemental or chaos damage with Cyclone. As the build is focusing strictly on phys damage, this downside is negligible. It's a benefit as you'll technically become immune to reflected elemental damage.
The next gem is "Fortify" support - while it's not the greatest damage support out there, it will guarantee an almost permanent uptime for the "Fortify" buff. This, in turn, significantly reduces the damage you take from hits. It also enables the "Unstoppable Hero" ascendancy passive, so it's pretty much a must-have in this build. Then there's "Infused Channeling," and as you probably suspect, this too boosts your physical damage. But on top of that, a short time after channeling Cyclone, you'll receive the "Infusion" buff, which lasts 6 seconds and further boosts your physical damage. While channeling, you also get a very strong physical damage reduction buff, greatly improving your defenses.
And the last gem in this setup is "Pulverise" - apart from more physical damage, it also increases Cyclone's area of effect, making it far more efficient for map clearing. Again, not the best DPS gem out here, but makes up for it in usefulness.
2. Since this build uses a two-handed sword. You potentially get the benefit of a 2nd 6-link setup. Now, not all 6 gems need to be linked, and if you can only afford a 5-link, that's fine. It's more of a min-maxing thing, so don't go out of your way to link the last gem as well.
First, you have "Pride," an aura that increases physical damage taken by your enemies the longer they stay inside its radius. Then there's "Blood and Sand" along with its twin aura "Flesh and Stone". These auras have two modes or stances, Blood and Sand, and you can toggle between them by simply pressing the skill button again. A sand stance is a defensive option, while Blood focuses more on dealing with extra damage. I rarely use sand stance as the build is already tanky enough, and killing stuff faster is a defensive layer.
You then link these with "Maim" support, which might seem like a strange choice here. However, in the blood stance, the "Flesh and Stone" aura will maim nearby enemies, and this support gem says, "enemies maimed by supported skills take % increased physical damage". While it does increase the mana reservation cost, it also greatly buffs your DPS.
5th gem in this setup is "Enlighten" support of at least level 2, but ideally, level 3 or 4, to reduce the mana reservation cost of your auras. The more auras you'll link with this support, the greater its benefit.
Finally, the last gem in this setup is "Dread Banner", increasing your chance to impale with attacks as well as impale damage while at the same time reducing your enemies' accuracy. While you could plant the banner in the ground to temporarily boost its effectiveness, the damage increase is marginal, so that I wouldn't bother with that. Just use it as a regular aura and let it do its thing.
3. Up next, you have an "Ancestral Warchief" setup.
This skill summons a totem that attacks nearby enemies, but more importantly, increases your melee damage while standing near it. As the totem is stuck in place, it's only meant to be used in fixed combat scenarios where you need any extra damage you can get: boss fights, delve nodes, legion encounters, etc. Since the Warchief also deals physical damage, it's linked with "Brutality", "Impale," and "Culling Strike". The first two gems increase its overall DPS, while the last support makes it, so any hit from your totem will instantly kill targets at or below 10% life. And yes, that applies to bosses as well, and your totem can instantly kill Sirus or Shaper if they're under 10% life.
4. Next setup is your utility toolbox:
First is "Dash", the build's mobility skill. There's nothing much to say about it, apart from the fact that it's really quick, it is not impacted by slow effects, and can bypass obstacles. This makes it ideal not only as a travel skill but also as a defensive tool for dodging big incoming damage and getting out of nasty ground effects. You then have "Molten Shell", a guard skill that creates a damage absorption shield based on your armour. It will soak up anywhere between 2000 and 5000 damage when you have all the extra armour from your ascendancy passives and granite flask.
The next gem is "Enduring Cry", a warcry that generates endurance charges, boosts your defenses, and provides a huge life regen burst. Both "Molten Shell" and "Enduring Cry" are instant, so they can be cast while you're cycloning.
Finally, link all these with "Second Wind" - this really useful support will lower the cooldown of all 3 active skills and provide an additional charge to Dash.
5. The last gems setup is a "Cast when Damage Taken" one – this trigger gem will cast any linked active skills after you take a certain amount of damage.
A higher "Cast when Damage Taken" gem will be able to cast higher-level linked gems, but it would also require a lot more damage to be triggered. For this particular build, I suggest keeping the trigger gem at level 5 to trigger more often.
Then, add a level 8 "Assassin's Mark" gem. This curse will increase both the critical strike chance and damage against marked targets and has a chance to generate a Power Charge on kill. In turn, power charges further increase your overall critical strike chance.
The third gem in this setup, Blood Rage, doesn't even have to be linked with the other gems. It provides a buff that greatly increases your attack speed and gives you a 25% chance to gain a Frenzy Charge on kill. Frenzy charges will further increase your attack speed and damage. While it does apply a damage over time debuff on yourself, it's completely offset by your life leech and life regen.
And the last gem is completely optional. You can go with an Ice Golem for some extra DPS, a Stone Golem for additional life regen, or a level 1 Precision aura if your mana pool allows it.
Pros and Cons
+ Very Mobile, fast-paced
+ Excellent clear speed
+ Very easy to play
+ Extremely fun
+ Scales with player’s skills
+ Impactful gear progression
- Melee build
- Spinning all day long
- Can’t run all map mods