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My Ruthless Starter Build for Path of Exile 3.22 - Slam Duelist

Sep 05, 2023

Many people think that Ruthless requires overpowered or meme builds and this simply isn’t true. With this class, you set the best defense possible, using the Marauder and Duelist area of the passive tree. That alone gives you a strong and solid defense.

It may not be flashy and it doesn’t need a flowchart to explain how the build works.

In fact, simplicity is its strength. It’s so simple that you could even use this build as a Marauder or Scion if you’d prefer their ascendancies as long as you stick to the same general passive tree build.

I’m using it as a Slayer Duelist and I call this class the Slam Warrior.

My Ruthless Starter Build for Path of Exile 3.22 - Slam Duelist

About the Build

The build concept is that you’re a melee fighter, using a one-handed weapon and a shield, wearing plate, and you focus on dealing as much physical damage as possible. You’re going to use one single target attack, heavy strike for taking down large targets, and another slam for clearing waves of enemies.

When you get to the endgame, you should specialize in a weapon type. But you can use most melee weapon classes during the campaign, which makes it much easier to level.

Overall, the build is very tanky and has a high damage potential, but therein lies the greatest weakness of the build.

If you want to do good damage with this build, you must first find a good weapon with high physical damage. But the premise is that you must have enough POE Currency. When you do, your damage feels amazing and you bash monsters into the ground with ease. But if you struggle to get a decent weapon, your damage can fall off quickly.

That being said, I only have this come up a couple of times during the campaign. And now that I’m mapping with Slammy, his damage is just fine. I’m only concerned about getting his health and armor squared at this point.

One of the greatest strengths to this class is that it gets to bend one of my personal rules for Ruthless mode. Generally, it’s never a good idea to plan a character that has to find specific drops, especially support gems.

In ruthless, you could go to an entire league without finding a specific support gem. But for Slammy, he benefits from virtually any support gem in the game that relates in any way to melee attacks or physical damage, like Rage and Impale. Even non-physical things, like Added Fire Damage, the Hatred aura, or Herald of Ash, would greatly increase your damage potential.

You normally can’t plan a character that needs to find drops. But Slammy’s plan is to be so flexible that he can use pretty much anything he finds. This greatly extends the potential for his character. But more importantly, it injects life into the loot drops starting at level 1. Since you aren’t even considering support gems, when they do drop, it’s purely an added bonus and a giant rush of Adrenaline.

How to Acquire Skill Gems?

If you want to create a Slam Duelist, you’ll have to start with creating a farm Marauder.

Just kill Hillock and take ground slam. Congratulations, you now have your attack skill gems. You’re already done.

The only quest rewards that matter from here on your Duelist are taking Ancestral Protector when you finish breaking some eggs. And after killing Brutus, he will give you the choice of either Vitality or Enduring Cry. But you actually want both.

Take Vitality first and then use one of your Uncarved Gemstones to get Enduring Cry. This will not only give you access to Endurance Charges, but it will also function as a battle heal.

Passive Tree

Leveling the passive tree exists in 3 phases.

Phase 1 is obtaining Unwavering Stance and then Resolute Technique. You’re going to level just enough of the Duelist starting area to get Art of the Gladiator, which really gives you 10% increased movement speed. Then, head right for Unwavering Stance. Then, go all the way up through the Marauder area to get Resolute Technique. Once you have Resolute Technique and Unwavering Stance, you can begin developing the full build.

Phase 2 is developing the area between Marauder and Duelist. You cheat your pathing at the very start of this build. But now, you have to fix it and fill in the correct pathing. Fortunately, there is zero pressure from here on out. It doesn’t matter if you fix your pathing at level 45 or at level 70. Once you get to the point where you can fill in this path down through Golem’s Blood and refund these two points that you spent at the beginning, you can move on to finishing the build.

Phase 3 is simply filling the build with all of the convenient defensive and damage nodes. Survivability is typically the struggle. So, you’ll want to take all of the solid life and armor clusters that you can. Make sure to also take the +50 maximum Life Mastery as well as the Armour Mastery, which makes you take 30% reduced extra damage from Critical Strikes.

When you move into endgame, take the Armour and Evasion Mastery, which gives you immunity to bleed since you're going to be wearing plate armor. Then, develop up to the Devotion cluster and now your defense is finished and from here you can focus on your offense.

You'll first want to get the Command of Steel and Aggressive Bastion clusters, which will give you a damage increase regardless of the weapon type you're using.

However, this is where you'll want to choose to specialize in either maces or axes.

If you choose to specialize in masses, make sure to take Mace Mastery, which causes all of your hits to crush enemies and lower their physical damage reduction. Specialize in axes gives you access to the Rage mechanic without needing the support gem. Both are valid choices, so it's up to you.

You also have access to these two cluster Jewel sockets in case you find something even better.

POE 3.22 Slam Duelist Build two Cluster Jewel sockets you have access to


For your ascendancies, take Brutal Fervor first. It gives you access to a modest amount of leech very early. But more importantly, once you get the leech cluster in the build, it will allow you to stay right up close in combat while your leech damage immediately rushes you back to full health.

Secondly, take Bane of Legends for a nice increase against bosses and Rogue exiles.

And third, take Headsmen, which effectively equates to a 25% more DPS buff.

If and when you get your fourth ascendancy, take Impact. You can take Endless Hunger. But in my opinion, the additional leech is not necessary, so I just prefer to use the 15% more damage of Impact.


Ruthless may feel overwhelming and complicated, but with this build, you can bash right through it.

There is nothing as satisfying as clubbing a boss in the head over and over, bashing them directly into the wall until they just collapse. With this build, you personally can bring the ruthlessness to Ruthless mode.


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