Guided Raider

Build Summary

THIS GUIDE IS CURRENTLY OUTDATED. If you're looking for the old guide, please see the page for deprecated 3.5 builds - this page will be revised during 3.6 updates.

This build uses Frost Blades, a Melee attack that gives a large bonus to your melee range. It also shoots Projectiles out from the target it hits, dealing further damage behind them. This build hits incredibly quickly in the endgame, as many as 10 or more times per second with the right items and links. A fairly slow starter, but a strong and well-rounded endgame build capable of handling almost all content efficiently, with the option to play defensively by attacking from range against dangerous enemies.

This build uses a mix of Melee Attacks and Projectile Attacks in game mechanics terms, but it's better thought of as a short-range ranged build.

Raider is one of the Ranger Ascendancy subclasses. When you create your character, you'll create a Ranger; you choose to be a Raider later on.

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/x8n31tXc

Main Skill Basics

Frost Blades

Frost Blades is a Melee Attack in terms of its basic mechanics. However, Frost Blades adds a large bonus to your normal melee range, meaning that it can be used from a moderate range. On impact, it also produces projectiles that target enemies behind the target, allowing it an even longer secondary range.

Frost Blades deals damage in two parts. Both parts are Attacks, and use your weapon's damage as a base, with damage-type-specific modifiers applied appropriately. For example, if your weapon were to deal Lightning damage, then Increased Lightning Damage would affect that part of the hit. In this case, we'll be converting 100% of our Physical damage into Cold damage, so Physical and Cold-damage modifiers are what we'll be after. (Remember, converted damage benefits from modifiers to both the original and new damage types.)

The first part, to the primary target, is a Melee Attack with greatly increased range. As a result, the damage to the primary target is affected by Melee and Attack damage. Despite its increased range, it is not a Projectile, and is not affected by modifiers to them. The in-game damage tooltip shows the damage of the primary hit. The initial hit produces projectiles that target enemies behind the primary target.

The second part, to secondary targets hit by its projectiles, is a Projectile Attack. As a result, the damage to secondary targets is affected by Projectile and Attack damage. Despite the fact that it is not a melee attack, the damage is still dealt with your weapon (which necessarily must be a melee weapon or you wouldn't be able to use Frost Blades in the first place), so bonuses to melee weapons still affect this portion. The secondary projectiles are normal projectiles despite their somewhat weird source, and can Pierce, Fork, Chain, etc. just as any other projectile can.

The attack speed is determined by the melee portion of the attack, and as a result Frost Blades' damage is affected by modifiers to Melee Attack Speed, but not to modifiers to Projectile Attack Speed.

Act 1

This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 1" section of the guide.

Early Act 1

You won't start with your Frost Blades gem, and you'll need to make do with the Burning Arrow you're given to start. Try to find a melee weapon or two as you go through the first area, since Frost Blades won't be usable with your starting bow.

From Enemy at the Gate, you can pick up your Frost Blades gem. The Pierce Support you started with will work just fine for now, but we'll replace it soon. Pierce affects the secondary projectiles (but not the primary hit, which is not a Projectile) from your Frost Blades, allowing them to pass through an enemy after damaging it.

With your first few passive points, work your way towards the following tree.

Once you finish Mercy Mission, pick up Onslaught Support. Note that Volley Support doesn't work with Frost Blades, since our projectiles are produced as secondary effects and Volley only works with primary projectiles.

We don't care about any of the gems from Breaking Some Eggs.

Once you enter the Prison (The Caged Brute), you can pick up Added Cold Damage Support. While you're wearing bad gear, this will remain your best option for a damage support through the endgame.

Brutus (The Caged Brute) is a good chance to practice your ability to control the intensity of fights. If you can stay alive easily, get up in his face and lay in to him - but if you find yourself outmatched, back off and use your extra range to your advantage. You can even hit a skeleton close to you to produce projectiles to strike him far away.

Once you've defeated Brutus, you'll be offered Whirling Blades, the main Movement skill available to this build. We'll discuss Movement skills much later, but you can pick it up now if you so choose.

Late Act 1

As you go, you'll want to look for a few specific sorts of item:

  • 3- and 4-linked items with green and red sockets, although you won't be able to make use of a red socket until midway through Act 2.
  • For now you can use whatever weapon type gives you the best base damage; Frost Blades can be used with any weapon type and with both 1h and 2h weapons. Later on we'll transition to focusing on Claws, but we don't have any Claw-specific bonuses yet. We'll also eventually want weapons that emphasize Physical damage, but we also won't care about that until we reach Claw-specific modifiers in the mid-game.
  • Gear with Life and Resistances. Evasion gear will be the easiest to use, but right now just focus on life/resistances.
  • Jewellery with added damage. For now, we don't care what type; in the lategame we'll want mostly added Physical damage.

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).

Once you enter the Cavern of Wrath (The Siren's Cadence), Nessa will offer some gems, none of which are anything we care about (although you can try out, say, Lightning Strike for a while if you want some variety).

Merveil herself (The Siren's Cadence) is another good chance to practice your control with Frost Blades and your decision making between melee attacks and bouncing secondary shots from range.

By the way, if your damage feels really low right now - well, you're not imagining it. As mentioned at the beginning, this build starts pretty slow; it'll pick up in a few acts and never look back.

Act 2

This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 2" section of the guide.

Early Act 2

For the Deal with the Bandits quest, we will kill all three bandits. Although the bonuses from Kraityn would be nice, this build needs the points for its long trips across the tree to pick up enough Life to stay alive.

From Intruders in Black, pick up Herald of Ice. We'll use this throughout our playthrough: it adds a substantial amount of bonus cold damage to your attacks, and causes frozen enemies you kill to explode. Because Frost Blades has a limited number of secondary Projectiles, having an area effect with no target limit can be very helpful against giant packs of weak monsters.

From Sharp and Cruel, pick up Elemental Damage with Attacks. By this time, we're converting all of our damage to Elemental between Frost Blades and our passive choices, so this is effectively just a multiplier on all the damage we do. You'll always want to support Frost Blades with it from here on out, so keep an eye out for those red-green links. Your best links at this point are Frost Blades - Elemental Damage with Attacks - Added Cold Damage, with the fourth slot occupied by something like Onslaught Support for speed or Pierce for trash clear.

Late Act 2

If you've picked up some of the Claw specific passives, now is the time to start transitioning over to using mostly Claws with Physical damage, as opposed to just whatever the highest damage weapon you have available is.

This build uses damage conversion to convert all of its Physical damage into Cold, which is why we're both picking up increased Physical and increased Elemental damage. In accordance with the usual rules for damage conversion, damage converted from Physical to Cold (that is, almost all of our damage) benefits from both.

Act 3

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. None of the offered Curses are really what you want yet, but you can take Projectile Weakness for now. Later on, you'll want Frostbite as your main offensive curse, but you won't be able to get that until later in the act.

Late Act 3

Sever the Right Hand offers Charged Dash, an interesting secondary movement skill worth hanging on to. It's not great for quick jumps, like getting out of a boss' hit, but the ability to teleport a long distance will be valuable in the upcoming Labyrinth in order to avoid traps. I'd recommend picking this up and experimenting with it for the moment; if you find you don't use it it can be phased out.

A Fixture of Fate rewards a number of useful gems that you can take advantage of depending on the situation and your available sockets. It also unlocks all the vendor-sold gems from all the quests you've done so far, even those from other classes.

Fortify Support is a huge defensive boost, but is best attached to a Movement or other utility skill than to your main attack - slap it on your Whirling Blades. Frostbite should replace your current Curse, if you're using one. Elemental Focus is a very strong damage support for your Frost Blades at the cost of preventing you from Freezing or Chilling enemies - we'll use it, but not until the very late game, so slap it in a socket in the corner for now.

Act 4

This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 4" section of the guide.

Early Act 4

At this point you're going to want to really start mastering a Movement skill if you haven't already. You can pick up Whirling Blades, Charged Dash, or both (and I would recommend both). The upcoming Labyrinth will be quite unpleasant if you haven't learned to handle movement skills properly.

We don't care about any of the skills from Breaking the Seal.

From The Eternal Nightmare, pick up Multistrike. Your Frost Blades link setup should be Frost Blades - Multistrike - Elemental Damage with Attacks - Added Cold Damage at this point.

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, adjusting how much damage or life you pursue as you feel your damage or survivability is in need of more help. There are some important considerations in this tree - see the full build section for details - but you'll be able to make those adjustments easily enough later if you want.

The Labyrinth is likely to be pretty rough your first time through. Right now your damage is still ramping up, and Izaro's smashes are large enough to hit you if you try to keep at a moderate range. However, Izaro is also your favorite thing: a boss that conveniently spawns monsters that allow you to chip away at him from a distance! Don't be afraid to bounce your Frost Blades off a random skeleton to hit him without exposing yourself to danger.

Once you've completed the Labyrinth, grab Way of the Poacher and watch your damage jump. Frenzy Charges are a large damage gain and will keep themselves up passively anytime you're in combat from here on out - they're a big part of why Raider works so well as a generic Ascendancy for raw damage.

Late Act 4

There's not much build-specific information to be had in late Act 4 for this build. The bosses there mostly don't spawn extra mobs, although you'll still be able to abuse your ranged-secondary tactics on Malachai if you're careful.

Act 5

This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 5" section of the guide.

From Death to Purity, pick up Fight for Survival, which boosts Frost Blades. It'll need to go in one of the sockets in the Dexterity section of the tree - this build includes two such sockets on the tree.

It is optional, but highly recommended, to buy another one of these Jewels from another player as soon as possible, and to get the appropriate sockets within a few levels if you haven't already done so. They are an extremely large damage boost, and end up being some 10% More damage all by themselves against single targets.

For some bonus clear speed, complete The King's Feast, which rewards a Poacher's Aim Jewel that adds an extra Pierce to your projectiles. You can take an extra Jewel Socket and toss this in for now to add significantly to your trash-clearing power.

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 Avatar of the Slaughter, which makes your Frenzy Charges even more powerful than they already are. At this point it's also worth grabbing the +1 Maximum Frenzy Charges nodes on the tree if you haven't already done so.

Epilogue & Maps

Once you complete your third Labyrinth, sometime early into Maps, you have the option of picking either of the two paths remaining on your Ascendancy tree. You can go for Quartz Infusion and later Avatar of the Veil, which let you walk through enemies, provide extra defenses and make you immune to Elemental Ailments. Or you can pick up Rapid Assault and later Avatar of the Chase for even more raw damage. In this build I've taken the second for raw damage output and speed, but the other path is perfectly defensible if you prefer a safer option.

Like most builds that deal damage themselves and don't have explicit defenses against it, this build is very scared of reflect maps - specifically, Monsters Reflect X% of Elemental Damage. You're best off avoiding these entirely if you can, you've got a decent chance at just killing yourself anytime you try to attack. If you must do such a map, do it slowly and carefully.

Once you complete your final Labyrinth, late in the endgame, pick up the last passive in the Ascendancy path you chose - either Avatar of the Veil, if you took Quartz Infusion; or Avatar of the Chase, if you took Rapid Assault.

The Full Build

Main Skill Links

Frost Blades - Elemental Damage with Attacks - Multistrike - Added Cold Damage. In a 5- or 6-link, add Elemental Focus for raw boss damage or Ruthless if you want to maintain the option to Chill and Freeze trash mobs. Elemental Focus also works as a filler in a blue socket, if you have an inconveniently-colored 5- or 6-link for whatever reason. Cold Penetration is an option against strong bosses, especially if you're not using Frostbite as your curse, but isn't as strong against trash. Added Cold Damage is only best early on; once you've geared up it will begin to fall off and Elemental Focus, Ruthless, or Cold Penetration should take its place.

Utility Links

(Beyond the standard ones listed as part of the Act 4 Guide)

Hatred and Herald of Ice are cheap damage boosts. Neither should be linked to anything, since we don't want to increase their mana reservation and don't really care about anything beyond their passive buffs that much. Optionally, Herald of Ice can be used in a Curse on Hit setup to apply curses if you're not using Elemental Focus in your main link (if you are, Herald of Ice will never directly hit and thus will never apply the curse).

Whirling Blades - Faster Attacks - Fortify is fast enough to let you dodge boss attacks, with the added bonus of applying the Fortify buff to you for extra survivability. On bosses, you'll usually want to try to keep Fortify active by dashing through them or their minions.

Curses

Frostbite is the best general-purpose offensive Curse. Against bosses you'll gain slightly more single-target melee damage from Punishment, but against a boss difficult enough to bother switching you're likely using your ranged strategies anyway (in which case Frostbite is still better). Enfeeble is the easy defensive choice. All of these should be applied through a Cast When Damage Taken setup, although the Curse on Hit setup with Herald of Ice described above is a side option. If you're using Elemental Focus, you can drop Herald of Ice and run one of your curses with a Blasphemy Support for convenience.

Gearing

Your weapons should be the highest Physical damage Claws you can get. You have large bonuses to Physical Damage on your tree, so Elemental Claws won't really do for this build. Special mention goes to Touch of Anguish, a Unique claw that is exceptionally strong in this build - if you are going to buy one item, buy that.

Your armour should be the usual Life-and-Resistances affair desired by most Life builds. Prioritize capping your resistances first, then stack as much life as you can get. Pieces with really good resistances can free up slots for Uniques, which is pretty valuable for this build (which is able to make use of many special Uniques).

On rings and amulets, look for Added Physical Damage and Elemental Damage with Attacks in addition to Life and Resistances. Belts can't get added physical, but they're eligible for large Elemental Damage with Attacks rolls that you'll want to go for.

Notable Unique items include:

  • Touch of Anguish (a claw that causes your projectiles to Chain to extra targets when you have full Frenzy Charges - if you buy one item for this build, make it this one)
  • Darkray Vectors (boots that grant substantial bonuses around Frenzy Charges)

Full Passive Tree

Click here for an interactive version.

There are some alternative options on this tree that depend enough on playstyle or gear to be worth mentioning here:

  • Point Blank, at the bottom of the tree, dramatically improves the power of your secondary projectiles on targets close to your primary target, at the cost of heavily penalizing your damage when your secondary targets are far from your primaries. I think, as a rule, I'd recommend picking up this node, but by the time it's even a question, you'll probably know well enough how much you like to abuse the projectile portion of Frost Blades.
  • Piercing Shots, on the right side of the tree near the Claw nodes, is an option if you're not using Touch of Anguish and really want improvements to your trash-clearing power against large packs. You won't want to use it with Touch of Anguish, however, since Pierce is prioritized over Chain and Piercing Shots will therefore often lose you potential Chains.