Together they scheme, Jousis and CardiaDarkhill, and devise one of the strangest builds to ever grace the shores of Wraeclast.
How Does This Build Work?
At the dark heart of this build is Tainted Pact. Behold this mod: “Taking Chaos Damage over Time heals you instead while Leeching Life.” Jousis saw this and was inspired.
For the build to work, we must always be Leeching Life, and always taking Chaos Damage over time. With everything set up, we can reach millions of Life recovered per second. No hit smaller than our entire Life pool can hurt us.
So how do we build this infernal engine? To achieve 100% Life Leech uptime, we use this flask suffix - “15% of Damage Taken from Hits Is Leeched as Life During Effect”. It ensures that we Leech some Life whenever we take damage from hits.
Now we just have to make sure we’re getting hit constantly, and the simplest way to do that is to hit ourselves. Naturally.
By using a quality Heartbound Loop, we take 420 physical damage when a minion dies. This counts as a hit, and it will be Leeched using the flask. We need a setup in which we can constantly summon skeletons and have them expire, triggering our ring hit.
Without going into too much detail, an infinite self-damage loop is possible with enough reduced skill effect duration. If you’d like the details of the calculations, be sure to check out Jousis’ forum guide.
The only problem now is that our Leech will expire when we reach full Life, leaving us vulnerable. Jousis has solved this challenge by using Mahuxotl’s Machination. This shield allocates a number of keystones useful for the build.
Here’s the relevant stuff: Immortal Ambition prevents our Life Leech stopping when we reach full Life. Divine Flesh converts half the elemental damage we take to chaos - this includes damage over time. You might remember chaos damage over time heals us, making this node very handy. We’ll come back to this shield, but for now we have solved infinite Life Leech.
Using these three POE Items - Dabbler’s Ruby Flask of the Order, Mahuxotl’s Machination Steel Kite Shield & Heartbound Loop Moonstone Ring, we now have 100% uptime on Tainted Pact’s key modifier.
In the words of Jousis: Infinite healing doesn’t matter if we can get one-shot.
This is the complete list of the defensive layers this build has to offer, not including our own Life Leech engineering.
We won’t go into all of these, but they’re necessary if we want the semi-invincibility we’re striving for.
Let’s talk resists. Our stacked shield is also granting Everlasting Sacrifice. This keystone gives us +5% to all max resists whenever we reach maximum Energy Shield, for four seconds.
To maintain this buff, we somehow have to find a way to hit max shield frequently. To do this, we pick up the Ghost Dance keystone. Every two seconds, this gives us something called Ghost Shroud. And when we’re hit (and remember, we’re hitting ourselves constantly), we lose the Ghost Shroud and instantly recover shield equal to 3% of our Evasion Rating.
It’s too fast to observe on the Life orb UI, but the moment we fill our shield, Everlasting Sacrifice activates, removing our energy shield and granting us the 5% resistances buff. We now get to keep that buff on us indefinitely for the price of one passive point.
Jousis has combined the Divine Flesh keystone from our shield with the Tempered by War keystone. Together, this means we’re not taking any Cold or Lightning damage at all, as it’s all being converted: half to Chaos and half to Fire damage. We can therefore leave those other resists in the negative.
And thanks to the permanent Everlasting Sacrifice buff and other bonuses, we have 88% maximum Fire Resist. To hit that maximum, we’re using a juiced Ruby Flask. All-in-all, this means we don’t need any elemental resists on our gear.
Our Chaos resist is a different story. Thanks to our amulet, the more Chaos resists we have, the less life recovery we get. Therefore, it’s important to manage our level of Chaos resist, so we have the right amount of recovery at the right time.
To do this, we’re using the Golden Rule unique jewel. This reflects poisons we inflict back onto ourselves. For every poison on us, we get 1% Chaos resist. This means that out of combat, when we haven’t inflicted any poisons. We have low Chaos resist and can recover life easily. But in combat, we have large stacks of poison, which caps our resistance.
To aid our recovery out of combat (and protect us from our own self-damage loop), we use Righteous Fire. Remember that half our elemental damage is being converted to chaos damage, and our amulet heals from Chaos over time. So as long as our Elemental resistance is higher than our Chaos resistance, all sources of Elemental Damage over Time will heal us.
Righteous Fire, which would usually be burning us up, is dealing chaos damage over time and is instead recovering our life. In the same vein, we’re using the spicy Annihilation’s Approach boots. These deal 10,000 Fire Damage per second to the wearer, which after some math is healing us for 4400 Life per second instead.
With both of these effects together, we’re getting around 100% Life recovered per second, all the time.
So what happens when we get into combat and start stacking those poisons on ourselves? Jousis explains that thanks to the way monster life scaling works in Path of Exile, our poisons are dealing tens of thousands of damage per second. When reflected back to us, you might see where I’m going - that’s tens of thousands of healing per second. From a single poison stack.
Even with max Chaos resist, when we hit our maximum 100 poison stacks, that’s something like 35 million Life recovered per second. Of course, once we’re recovering our life pool in an instant, the numbers beyond that become irrelevant.
So, we’re almost invincible. How do we deal damage?
Forbidden Rite is a skill that lobs an explody Chaos projectile, and extra projectiles that automatically target enemies. When supported with more projectiles, the explosion area damage can overlap. It is scaled by our Life and ES numbers, but spends a big percentage of them whenever it is cast, making it a very strong skill with a nasty downside.
But remember how we’re healing to max life every tick? When using this skill, we instantly recover any life we lose from casting it.
Jousis is even using the Sacrifice Support gem, which spends even more life to deal even more chaos damage.
For our leech loop, it’s clearly important that we should be inflicting poisons. For this, Jousis is using Cospri’s Will. Every mod on this chest is useful, but most importantly, it allows us to always poison when hitting cursed enemies.
To curse everything, Jousis is using multiple Cast on Damage Taken setups, which are constantly being triggered thanks to our self-damage loop.
Regarding the constant spell spam - Bladefall, among others - these aren’t for damage, but instead for allowing us to inflict those poisons and apply wither stacks from our Pathfinder Ascendancy for even more Chaos damage. Otherwise, we’re investing in our damage through our gems, tree, and weapon.
This build is a powerful example of how mechanics can be flipped upside-down, with self-damage, self-poison, self-leech, and negative resists. It’s a creative monstrosity, and while it’s not going to be the optimal choice for most players, it’s the optimal choice in my heart.