In this guide, we will revisit one of Path of Exile’s most iconic skills: Ark Lightning. And because POE 3.23 Affliction League has arrived, we have decided to try the Archmage variant again, since our previous iteration already had lots of mana and people kept requesting to see how it would work with Archmage.
The result was that with this variant, we are able to one shot every single boss in the game except the Uber Pinnacles. This one does feel like good old Archmage minus the Mana Regeneration that it had.
And we also use Unleash Support and buy POE Currency. This means that we have impressive 40 million burst damage that resets every few seconds. And while you get less overall damage compared to previous iterations, the play style of Unleash allows you to keep moving while building up seals, which retains some of your damage while dodging deadly boss hits.
First, let’s start with the ascendency of this build – Hierophant.
Many players have been wondering about the Elementalist version. And to be honest, the major difference between Hierophant and Elementalist is that Hierophant offers more defense, while Elementalist offers a little more damage.
This, however, changed when GGG moved Arcane Surge more spell damage multiplier into the Hierophant Arcane Blessing ascendency node. It now gives us 20% more spell damage, which scales with Arcane Surge effect.
This is a game changer, as Hierophant is now both tankier and deals more damage compared to Elementalist, making it the perfect ascendency for this build.
For ascendency nodes, you can pick Conviction of Power, which is arguably one of Path of Exile’s best nodes. This one increases both our Maximum Power and Endurance Charges count by 1, and sets our minimum for both to 4. Not only does this give us a head start while leveling, as most ascendancies have no access to charges at the start of the game, but it also allows us to play as a power charge stacker, which we are doing in this build.
The next one is Divine Guidance. This node grants us increased mana and 10% of damage taken from mana before Life. It also makes modifiers to maximum mana apply to damage at 30% of their values.
Finally, you can pick Illuminated Devotion. This is the least useful node in this ascendency. It gives us some Life Leech with spell damage. This isn’t that big of a deal because of the Agnostic keystone we used. It also reduces the effect of non-damaging elements on us by 50%. And when combined with our pantheons, this one makes us completely immune to chill and shock.
Next, let’s take a look at our passive tree.
Our passive tree focuses on mana, mana regeneration, power charges, spell damage, spell crit chance and crit multi, lightning damage, lightning penetration, and life.
Next, we have two Large Cluster Jewel setups. The first one adds the following caster notables: Seal Mender and Sap Psyche.
Our second jewel adds the following lightning notables: Scintillating Idea and Widespread Destruction.
Next, for Mastery choices, we have:
- Increases and reductions to Maximum Mana apply to Shock Effect at 30% of their values (Lightning Mastery)
- +15% to Maximum Shock Effect (Lightning Mastery)
- Skills supported by Unleash have +1 to their maximum number of Seals (Caster Mastery)
- 3% increased Damage per Power, Frenzy, or Endurance Charge we have (Charge Mastery)
- +25% to Critical Strike Multiplier against Unique Enemies (Critical Mastery)
Now, let’s go over our POE Items.
First, as a power charge stacking spellcaster, we got to use a pair of 2 Void Batteries. These are hands down best in slot and even beat mirror tier ones in terms of damage.
Next, we have Crown of the Inward Eye unique helm, ideally with +1 to maximum Power Charge corruption. This is also a best in slot if you can get the corruption with it.
If you can’t, however, and know 1 or 2 things about crafting, then consider combining Warlord and Crusader influences via Awakener’s Orb for both increased maximum mana and +1 to maximum power charge prefixes. It’s still going to be worse than this helmet, but at least you get to have some resistances on your suffixes.
Next, we have the mandatory item for any Mana Stacker and that is Cloak of Defiance. This chest grants us lots of mana and allocates Mind Over Matter keystone for us, saving around four passive points. But most importantly, it grants us that much needed 1% Max Mana Regeneration a second.
And to go alongside it, we have a Atziri’s Foible, another mandatory item for any Mana Stacker. Since we utilize mana for both defensive and offensive purposes, this amulet ends up being best in slot with its massive bonuses to mana and Mana Regeneration. This amulet is also cheap, costing only a few Chaos Orbs after the first day of the league.
Anyway, don’t forget to anoint your amulet with Disciple of the Unyielding for that fifth permanent endurance charge and 40% increased damage.
Our next item is a rare belt (Corruption Leash) with Increased Mana Recovery Rate redeemer mod. This is mandatory, increasing Mana Recovery applies to all sources of recovered mana. You want to get this on your belt at any cost and it should be perfectly rolled and catalytic up to 14%. Alongside this, we are looking for mana, life and resistances.
Next, for our gloves, we have self-crafted Elder influenced gloves (Victory Grip) with mana, life, resistances and crit chance with increased elemental damage syndicate mod. You can either unveil this or manually craft it yourself to save some Divine Orbs.
I crafted this by spamming Essences of Greed on an energy shield based gloves with fractured Tier 1 resistance until I had Tier 1 mana. After that, I locked the prefixes, slam the item with Veiled Chaos Orb to get the crit chance with elemental damage veiled mod and then crafted more resistances. Just make sure to get both lightning exposure and chance to unnerve enemies on hitting Eldritch Implicits as they are lots of damage for this build.
Now, for our rings, we have a synthesized ring (Gale Finger) with increased spell damage per power charge implicits. We spammed Essence of Scorn on it for crit multi until we hit Mana Regeneration alongside it. Then, we locked the suffixes while having an empty suffix and used Reforge Caster Harvest Craft on it for guaranteed cast speed. After that, we exalt spam the prefixes for either mana or life and then crafted the other mod ourselves. It’s pretty easy to craft something like this and you are going to need 2 of it as this ring is actually better than a +1 power charge ring.
Last but not least, we have a pair of boots (Anarchy Tread) with moving speed, life, mana, resistances and a Tier 1 dexterity roll. It doesn’t have to be on your boots, but you will need to have it rolled somewhere for gem requirements.
Now, let’s quickly go over our gems.
For our main 6-Link, we have Vaal Arc, Archmage, Awakened Unleash, Power Charge On Critical, Awakened Lightning Penetration and Increased Critical Damage.
Next, we have a 4-Link damage support setup. It contains Wrath, Eternal Blessing, Righteous Fire and Empower.
Next, we have another 4-Link damage support setup. This one contains Conductivity, Arcane Cloak, level 20 Arcane Surge and Increased Duration.
Finally, we have the 4-Link movement scale setup. We have Lightning Warp, Faster Casting, Less Duration and Swift Affliction.
Your remaining sockets might be used for leveling gems, as this spell doesn’t really need many sockets.
Next, let’s talk about jewels.
First, for our Watcher’s Eye, we only need ‘damage penetrates 15% Lightning Resistance while affected by Wrath’, which is simple and cheap.
Next, we have 1 Militant Faith jewel that must mention High Templar Dominus. This jewel will convert all neary keystones into Inner Conviction. Inner Conviction grants us 3% more spell damage per power charge.
It should be noted that this jewel might end up rerolling some of the key notables within its range. If that happens, don’t panic, just buy a different one.
Next, we have 1 Healthy Mind unique jewel. We place it in this socket to convert all nearby life nodes into pure mana.
Finally, we have 1 Sublime Vision jewel that causes all lightning damage we inflict to sap enemies while affected by Wrath. Sablime reduces enemies’ damage output by up to 20%, which is another powerful defensive layer that we have in this build. This jewel also increases the Wrath aura effect by 40%, which by itself makes this jewel best in slot damage-wise.
Any remaining jewel socket you have left should be filled with a normal rare jewel like Damnation Lens. We are looking for mana and as many damage modifiers as possible, preferably crit multi.
Bandits & Pantheons
As for bandits quest, we are going to help Alira as usual.
As for pantheons, we got the Soul of the Brine King for its freeze immunity and the Soul of Garukhan for its shock effect reduction.