Arc Trap Saboteur
Build Last Updated: June 2019, Patch 3.7.0, Legion League
(This build is playable with minimal modification in Patch 3.8.)
This build is a generic Trap-based build that can be used with almost any spell of your choice. For the purposes of this guide, however, we'll focus on using Arc traps for trash clear and Lightning Spire Trap for bosses.
Traps allow you to load a ranged Attack or Spell onto a throwable object. Once the trap lands on the ground, it arms after a brief delay and will trigger the next time an enemy comes near it, firing whatever skill is loaded onto it at the triggering enemy. This build loads Arc onto the traps; Arc fires a bolt of lightning that chains from one target to another to take out large numbers of enemies. Later on, you'll be able to throw multiple traps at once to rapidly clear areas. Against bosses, this build uses Lightning Spire Trap, which spawns a stationary spire that repeatedly zaps nearby enemies for high amounts of damage.
This build offers very high clear speed, high damage even without much gear, and huge bursts against bosses that take time to become active. It isn't very durable, however, and it won't take volleys from enemy ranged attackers well.
This build is a ranged Spell build that deals damage via Traps.
Saboteur is one of the Shadow Ascendancy subclasses. When you create your character, you'll select a Shadow, you'll choose to be a Saboteur later.
If you want to explore this build's stats, links, and Passive Tree interactively, head over to the Links page and download Path of Building. Then, in Path of Building, select Import/Export Build -> Import from Pastebin, and enter this link: https://pastebin.com/dzQQDeGm
Main Skill Basics
Arc fires a bolt of lightning at a targeted enemy. Once it strikes that enemy, it will Chain to another nearby enemy, then Chain to another enemy near that enemy, and so on. Each time it Chains, it will also zap another nearby enemy, but that zap won't further Chain. For example, if you hit enemy A with Arc, it might bounce to enemy B and zap enemy C, then bounce from enemy B onto enemy D and zap enemy E (but won't further Chain from enemies C or E). Arc also deals More damage for each remaining Chain, so the first enemies hit take much more damage than later ones.
(Arc also gains bonuses related to Shock, but we won't be applying Shock with it. If you want to learn more about it, however, you can check the Mechanics Reference page on Ailments.)
Although it is able to Chain, Arc is not strictly speaking a Projectile, and it does not deal Projectile damage (nor is it capable of Piercing or Forking like true projectiles are). Also unlike true Projectiles, Arc can strike the same target more than once, although it is difficult to get it to do so - it must bounce through two intermediate targets before it can return to one already struck. In other words, if there are only two targets, Arc will hit enemy A and Chain to enemy B, then dissipate. But if there are three or more, Arc will hit enemy A, Chain to enemy B, Chain to enemy C, then Chain back to enemy A.
Arc deals Lightning Spell damage, and benefits from modifiers to those types. Since we're loading it onto a Trap, it will also benefit from Trap damage.
Later in the game, you'll gain access to an upgraded version, Vaal Arc. Vaal Arc deals more damage, Chains more times, can Chain off of secondary targets, and grants you a buff that makes your Arc do significantly more damage.
Lightning Spire Trap
Lightning Spire Trap throws a trap that, when triggered, creates a spire that repeatedly strikes nearby locations with lightning. The spire is invulnerable and lasts for a brief duration before dissipating, zapping the ground several times before doing so. Lightning Spire Trap has a cooldown, so you can't use it over and over; you can save up up to three uses of it that then refresh one by one as its cooldown ticks down.
The lightning spire strikes three nearby locations at random within a fixed radius. Enemies can be hit more than once where the areas overlap. Increased Area of Effect will increase the size of the strikes, but not the area in which they're distributed, so it results in more overlapping strikes. Increases to Cast Speed (not Trap Throwing Speed!) affect how often the strikes occur, and increases to Skill Effect Duration can make the spire last longer.
Lightning Spire Trap deals Spell, Lightning, Trap, Area damage and benefits from modifiers to those damage types. It also benefits from Increased Area of Effect and Cast Speed, as noted above. Increases to Trap Throwing Speed will allow you to place the Traps more quickly, and increases to Cooldown Recovery will make it recharge more quickly.
Any Spell or ranged Attack can be loaded on to a Trap with the use of the Trap Support gem.
Trap skills throw a Trap on the ground that is triggered when an enemy comes close (or when its duration expires). It will use the attached skill when triggered, targeting the enemy that tripped it if there was one.
Traps use your skills, and deal damage according to your stats. In addition, damage dealt by a Trap gains the Trap damage tag, and benefit from increases to Trap Damage (even if the skill wouldn't benefit from Trap Damage by default).
The rate at which you throw Traps is not affected by Attack or Cast Speed. Instead, it's affected by a special stat called Trap Throwing Speed.
If you throw multiple traps in one go, the casts from each of those traps are still considered separate, meaning that each of them can damage an enemy independently (even if the traps are firing Projectiles, which are normally limited to one hit per cast).
Traps can be destroyed, although enemies cannot target them directly. Area-of-Effect damage can destroy them with any hit, although in this build your Traps will be invulnerable for 5 seconds after being placed (long enough to nearly always trigger).
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 1" section of the guide.
Early Act 1
You won't start with your Arc gem, so you'll need to make other skills work for Act 1. The first you'll get access to is Explosive Trap, available from Enemy at the Gate.
With your first few passive points, work your way towards the following tree:
None of the gems from Mercy Mission are relevant to you.
From Breaking Some Eggs, you can pick up Bear Trap. Bear Trap only hits a single target, but because it applies a bonus to Trap damage against that target, it'll help you to kill bosses. You can also pick up a Dash gem to move more quickly through the main storyline.
Once you enter the Prison (The Caged Brute), you can pick up Trap Support and Multiple Traps Support from Nessa. You don't have Arc yet, but you can play around with linking these skills to another Spell gem of your choice if you want (or just continue to use Explosive Trap).
Brutus (The Caged Brute) should not be as difficult with this build as he is with many others, because you can so easily keep your distance. The big thing here is to keep mobile, since he uses a number of abilities that will hurt if you sit still.
Once you've defeated Brutus, you can pick up Siphoning Trap, a utility ability used to keep up your Life and Mana. You can, if you like, use this in the late-game for some extra damage and healing, or play around with it for now until you get your Arc.
Late Act 1
As you go, you'll want to look for a few specific sorts of item:
- 3- and 4-linked items with mostly green sockets (but at least 1 blue for Arc). All-green items can be used for utility setups with Bear Trap.
- Wands or Sceptres with large boosts to Spell or Lightning Damage.
- Gear with Life and Resistances. Evasion and Energy Shield gear is most likely to have the socket colors you want. Later on, Energy Shield will have some value to you, but for now you don't need to worry about the actual Energy Shield values on your equipment.
As you continue to gain more Passive Skill Points, work your way towards the following tree. You'll have enough points for all the Passives shown here sometime around Act 3 or 4, at which point you can move on to the full Passive Tree (listed in the "Full Build" section of this guide below). I'd suggest aiming for the Life nodes early and picking up damage only as you need it.
Once you enter the Cavern of Wrath (The Siren's Cadence), Nessa will offer your main Arc gem. Link it with Trap Support and Multiple Traps.
Against trash, throw traps well ahead of you and keep your distance. Charging into a room can get you dogpiled and killed before your traps can trigger. Against bosses, set up nests of traps during their introductions - most bosses take a moment to become active, and a pre-set pile of traps can do tremendous damage as they do.
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 2" section of the guide.
Early Act 2
If you haven't found a good Spell or Lightning Damage weapon, consider using the +1 to Socketed Lightning Gems Wand vendor recipe listed in the main guide. Ideally, you'll do this with a blue-green-green linked wand, since all your desired supports are green and Arc itself is blue.
For the Deal with the Bandits quest, we help Alira. This build gets some crit-based bonuses, and the extra mana regeneration and resistances make leveling much smoother.
We don't care about any of the gems from Intruders in Black.
From Sharp and Cruel, you can pick up Trap and Mine Damage Support or Elemental Focus, or both (one is green and one is blue, which can offer some flexibility around socket colors).
Once you find a 4-link, you'll want to link Arc - Trap Support - Multiple Traps - Elemental Focus / Trap and Mine Damage.
Late Act 2
This build picks up a lot of its Life nodes late, and you'll probably feel pretty fragile at this point. That's an unavoidable aspect of this build's leveling process, so play safe from a long distance. You'll often be able to comfortably clear packs well off your screen.
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 3" section of the guide.
Early Act 3
Once you've completed Lost in Love, you'll be rewarded with a choice of a few Curses. For offense, pick up Conductivity. If you want a defensive option, grab Enfeeble instead.
Late Act 3
Sever the Right Hand offers Lightning Spire Trap, your second primary skill. Link it with Trap and Mine Damage, Added Lightning Damage, and Controlled Destruction for now.
A Fixture of Fate rewards Lightning Penetration Support, which you'll want to use instead of Controlled Destruction on your Lightning Spire Trap (so that it's now linked as Lightning Spire - Trap and Mine Damage - Added Lightning - Lightning Penetration). You'll also now be able to buy most vendor gems from Siosa in the Library, so you can pick up any you've missed, try out other Spells on your traps, or pick up defensive or utility skills.
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 4" section of the guide.
Early Act 4
For Movement, you'll want to stick with Dash or Frostblink. Dash is more spammable in the open field, but Frostblink deals damage and gets a reduction to its cooldown if used near enemies.
We don't care about any of the gems from Breaking the Seal.
Once you're offered rewards from The Eternal Nightmare, you'll be able to purchase Cluster Traps Support. This is better than Multiple Traps, and should replace it in your Arc link.
By this point you've probably completed the Passive Tree shown above. Here's the full tree, which you should work towards from here on out. Again, you may want to travel for the Life nodes early - this build does some heavy damage and clears trash efficiently, but is very easy to kill until it reaches the defensive nodes on the left side of the tree. Pick up Eldritch Battery (near the top) after you get Mind Over Matter (center left); this will allow your Life to work as normal and your Energy Shield to still absorb some damage, which works very well with a common endgame Unique item that we'll recommend later on.
The Labyrinth is a Trap character's dream zone: Izaro takes a very long time to become active, allowing you to lay a gigantic pile of traps at his feet to instantly do a tremendous amount of damage. You may not even need to disable his bonus effects, depending on how high your damage is. Set up three Lightning Spire Traps, then load up on your Arc Traps up to your trap limit.
Once you've completed the Labyrinth, pick up Pyromaniac on your Saboteur ascendancy passive tree. Traps cannot grant you Life in any other way, so it's important to have some regeneration to stay alive in longer fights. This is a lot of healing, and should sustain you through most content if you aren't doing anything wildly reckless.
Late Act 4
Play it safe against the late Act 4 bosses, and practice using your newfound Life Regeneration to stay alive against their heavy damage output.
Consider purchasing a Vaal Arc gem if you haven't gotten one by this point; it's an extremely powerful burst cooldown.
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 5" section of the guide.
The only major build-specific note for Act 5 is the choice of Unique Jewel from Death to Purity. You don't need any of these Jewels, so you can either get one to sell or not pick up a reward yet so that you can get one for your next character instead.
Part II (Acts 6-10)
Once you complete your second Labyrinth, around the end of Act 7 or the beginning of Act 8, pick up Perfect Crime for free bonus damage. The "Chance for Traps to Trigger an additional time" portion of this passive means that a trap can remain even after firing once and be triggered again momentarily once it re-arms, effectively doubling its damage.
Epilogue & Maps
Once you complete your third Labyrinth, sometime early into Maps, pick up Chain Reaction. This won't add a ton of extra damage for trash, but most trash packs should be barely a speed-bump to you at this point anyway. The reduced cooldown on cooldown-based traps, however, greatly improves your boss damage by allowing you to use more Lightning Spire Traps.
One of the benefits of a Trap build is that you don't have to be afraid of "Monsters Reflect X% of Elemental Damage" mods, because you aren't dealing the damage. Trap builds are famously safe and this one is no exception.
Once you complete your final Labyrinth, late in the endgame, choose between Explosives Expert (a moderate damage gain) and Born in the Shadows (which cuts monsters' chance to hit dramatically, providing a good defensive benefit against Attacks for both you and your party). Explosives Expert is recommended.
The Full Build
Main Skill Links
[Vaal] Arc - Trap - Cluster Traps - Elemental Focus. In a 5- or 6-link, add Lightning Penetration and Added Lightning Damage or Controlled Destruction (which is better depends on the details of your gear). Note that Controlled Destruction is Decreased Critical Strike Chance, not Less, and it therefore does not prevent you from critting (as new players sometimes assume).
Lightning Spire Trap - Lightning Penetration - Trap and Mine Damage - Added Lightning Damage. In a 5- or 6-link, add in Controlled Destruction and Increased Area of Effect.
(Beyond the standard ones listed as part of the Act 4 Guide)
Siphoning Trap - Increased Duration can be used for extra health gain during boss fights.
Bear Trap against bosses to improve the damage of your other Traps.
Conductivity is by far the best offensive curse, and Enfeeble is by far the best defensive curse. These can be applied through a Cast When Damage Taken setup. You can also run them as auras through Blasphemy Support, but as you're trying to keep your distance and use your Mana as an auxiliary health pool, this comes at a cost.
On weapons, look for large bonuses to Spell Damage, Critical Strike Chance with Spells, Global Criticial Strike Multiplier, or Lightning Damage. Trap Damage is fine too, but almost never present on normal rare-quality items.
For defense, this build seeks the standard Life/Resists combination typical of a generic Life-based build. Resist cap is the first priority, then as much Life as you can get. Since this build uses Mind over Matter, additional Mana also matters to your survivability, and you do not want to reserve any of your Mana if you don't have to. In the endgame, your Energy Shield also adds to this pool, so Energy Shield adds some effective survivability against burst damage later on.
Optional Unique items include:
- Deerstalker (boots that give a Trap Support link for free to anything in them, making them effectively 5-linked for free)
- Tinkerskin (a chestpiece that gives a ton of Trap-related bonuses, most notably recovery of both Life and Energy Shield when it triggers, both of which you can take advantage of with this build.)