THIS GUIDE IS CURRENTLY OUTDATED.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 Molten Strike, which causes projectiles to pop out of the struck target and hit nearby enemies. Large enemies can be hit by multiple projectiles, and it can clear nearby enemies for free. This build is designed with one purpose in mind: going toe to toe with bosses for as long as it takes. It's durable and sustainable and immediately kills any monster, including bosses, below 20% of their maximum Life. A mediocre trash-clearing build that will move slowly through the main story, but no other build listed here can eat hits from bosses like this one.
This is a Melee Attack build that uses two-handed axes.
Slayer is one of the Duelist Ascendancy subclasses. When you create your character, you will make a Duelist; you'll choose to be a Slayer 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/wPgi9iBJ
Main Skill Basics
Molten Strike is a Melee Attack that strikes a single target, then emits a spread of three additional Projectiles that land nearby to deal additional damage.
Molten Strikes 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.
The first part, to the primary target, is a Melee Attack. As a result, the damage to the primary target is affected by Melee and Attack damage. The in-game damage tooltip shows the damage of the primary hit.
The second part, inflicted by the secondary projectiles as they land, is a Projectile Area Attack. It is not a Melee attack and is therefore not affected by Melee modifiers, but it uses your weapon (which is necessarily a melee weapon to be able to use Molten Strike at all) and therefore does benefit to modifiers to "damage with melee weapons". It also benefits from Projectile and Area modifiers. These Projectiles target the ground, rather than traveling in a direction, and therefore cannot Pierce, Fork, or Chain, but extra-projectiles modifiers will apply as normal.
Attack speed is determined by the melee hit (which produces the projectiles as a secondary effect). As a result, modifiers to Melee Attack Speed will affect Molten Strike, and modifiers to Projectile Attack Speed will not.
Modifiers to Area of Effect both increase the spread of the projectiles and the area in which they inflict damage. You might expect these effects would cancel out, causing the projectiles to deal the same amount of damage to targets in a larger area. But because enemies have a size of their own, increasing the area of effect slightly reduces the damage done to any particular point (and decreasing the area of effect slightly increases damage done to any particular point).
If Molten Strike is linked with Ancestral Call - a support that causes a single-target melee attack to strike up to three targets - it will emit its projectiles from every target struck or, if it was targeted at the ground, from the targeted ground location and up to two nearby enemies.
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 1" section of the guide.
Early Act 1
From Enemy at the Gate, you can pick up (and immediately start using) your Molten Strike gem. Molten Strike converts most of your Physical damage to Fire, meaning that the Chance to Bleed Support that you may have picked up in the first zone will not do much - we'll replace it soon enough.
With your first few passive points, work your way towards the following tree:
Once you finish Mercy Mission, pick up Ancestral Call Support. We'll use this throughout the game. On trash packs, it's a cheap way to triple the number of Molten Strike projectiles you produce, but its real power - surprisingly, is on bosses. This is so essential to the build that I'm putting it in bold: by ground-targeting your Molten Strike (hold Shift and press the attack button), you can strike the ground and nearby enemies, allowing you to produce two sets of projectiles even if only one enemy is nearby. This is by far the best technique to maximize your single-target damage and should always be used against bosses.
From Breaking Some Eggs, pick up Ancestral Protector. Not only does this add some extra damage against single targets, it also increases your Attack Speed greatly while it's active. You'll want to try to keep this up against bosses. You can also grab War Banner, a useful utility skill - cast it once to start carrying a banner that racks up a count of your kills, and cast it again to place the banner for powerful effects based on kills made while carrying it.
Once you enter the Prison (The Caged Brute), you can pick up Added Fire Damage Support. This is a good addition to the links for both your Molten Strike and Ancestral Protector, and you'll use it in your endgame setup.
Once you defeat Brutus (The Caged Brute), you can pick up Leap Slam, the main movement skill available for this two-handed build. We'll discuss movement skills later on in the guide, but you can start using it now if you like.
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 red sockets. Occasional green sockets are okay for now and can be filled with things like Onslaught Support, but red is ideal.
- The highest Physical damage two-handed weapon you can find. Added Elemental damage on weapons is okay for now, but it will become less valuable the further we go. The build as given uses Axes, but you don't have to worry about this yet (and you can easily adapt the build to use other weapon types).
- Gear with Life and Resistances. Gear with Armour is most likely to have the red sockets you want.
- Jewellery with Life, Resistances, Added Damage to Attacks, or Increased Elemental Damage with Attacks.
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 them are of any interest to you, however, even as temporary effects.
Most of the time this build is pretty straightforward to play - the most important thing is to remember to ground-attack near bosses. This can nearly double your DPS when properly done.
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 the bandits. Helping Oak is optional if you really, really want to focus on fighting Physical bosses in the endgame, but for the most part I try to keep these builds capable of doing different types of content.
From Intruders in Black, pick up Herald of Ash. We won't really care about its secondary effect, which almost never does much of interest, we just want the extra Physical damage added as Fire.
From Sharp and Cruel, pick up Elemental Damage with Attacks, which will be a permanent part of your Molten Strike link (almost all of the damage we do is Elemental). At this point we have our main 4-link of Molten Strike - Ancestral Call - Added Fire - Elemental Damage with Attacks, which won't change for the remainder of the main storyline.
(You may be tempted to use Melee Physical Damage Support, which will increase your damage a lot if you're looking only at your tooltip. However, because the projectiles produced by your hits are the bulk of your damage, and those projectiles do not deal Melee Damage, this support is a bad choice for a Molten Strike build and should never be used for this one.)
Late Act 2
If you haven't already picked up the Point Blank Keystone Passive at the right side of the bottom of your passive tree, you should do so before you go much further. It's one of the strongest damage boosts you can get in this build, since your Molten Strike projectiles, by their very nature, never travel very far (and so it's effectively just a straight 50% More Damage).
You might be noticing at this point that we're scaling both Physical and Elemental damage. The reason for this is that most of our damage is either Converted or Added based on our Physical damage. In accordance with the normal rules of damage conversion, this damage benefits from bonuses both to Physical and to Elemental damage.
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. Strictly speaking, Flammability is the strongest of these, but your build does not have the Intelligence to use a leveled-up version of it. If you want to use a stronger, leveled-up curse, your best offensive options are Projectile Weakness (which will require a small amount of extra Dexterity on your equipment or tree) or Punishment (which works fine without additional stats). Enfeeble is the defensive Curse option, but also has stat-requirement issues.
You can also pick up Hatred, an aura that you'll want to use for the rest of the game, from Clarissa at this point.
Late Act 3
Sever the Right Hand offers nothing we care about.
A Fixture of Fate rewards nothing of any interest in itself, but now that you have access to almost all the vendor-available gems, you may want to consider setting up some of the utility links listed in the full build guide at the bottom of this page.
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 4" section of the guide.
Early Act 4
The main movement skill for this build is Leap Slam, which should be linked to Faster Attacks along with utility effects of your choice (like Curse on Hit or Fortify).
We don't care about any of the gems from Breaking the Seal.
From The Eternal Nightmare, pick up a Multistrike. Start leveling this now; you'll eventually use it as part of your main Molten Strike link much later on in the game.
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.
The Labyrinth will test your ability to use ground-targeted Molten Strikes to do damage without getting hit back. Izaro hits like a truck, but his hitbox is large enough that it shouldn't be too difficult to land some of your Molten Strike projectiles on him as he moves around. Leap Slam can help you avoid some of the traps in the Labyrinth by jumping across gaps.
Once you've completed the Labyrinth, pick up Headsman. It's actually not that great in itself - but it's the gateway to Bane of Legends, which is half the reason to play a Slayer at all. For now, it brings some solid bonuses if you've killed enemies Recently (within the last 4 seconds), so it's important to practice spreading out your kills on small monsters during boss fights to keep this buff up as much as possible.
Late Act 4
There's nothing in particular to note for this build in the second half of Act 4.
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'll want Wildfire, which adds 2 more Projectiles to your Molten Strike. It has to go in a socket in the Strength section of the tree to give its full effect; the Jewel Socket included in this build will do. This jewel is now limited to one copy, so there's no need to buy a second one.
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 Bane of Legends. This effect makes any monster that is left at less than 20% Life by your hits instantly die, including bosses, meaning that it effectively makes you do 25% More damage all the time. This is of particular value in later Labyrinths, because Izaro starts his third (and hardest) round at low Life.
Epilogue & Maps
Once you complete your third Labyrinth, sometime early into Maps, go for Endless Hunger. Note that your Bane of Legends instant-kill does not count as Overkill if it triggers (since it can only trigger if you didn't kill the target). Again, this node is kind of weak - but it's the gateway to Brutal Fervor, which is extremely powerful.
By this time you've probably picked up Resolute Technique on your Passive tree. Since this prevents you from dealing Critical Strikes, any Crit-related mods are useless to you from here on out.
Like most builds that deal damage directly, this build is most afraid of damage reflection in maps - specifically, Monsters Reflect X% of Elemental Damage. Running these maps is difficult at best and should be done with great caution. You don't have to worry about Physical reflect, since one of your Slayer passives makes you immune to it.
Once you complete your final Labyrinth, late in the endgame, pick up Brutal Fervor. Normally, your Leech effects vanish once you reach full Life, but now they'll persist, meaning you'll begin to heal the moment you take damage. This plays a big part in the build's high survivability.
The Full Build
Main Skill Links
Molten Strike - Ancestral Call - Elemental Damage with Attacks - Added Fire Damage. In a 5- or 6-link, you have a few options. If you can get a lot of Intelligence on your equipment and blue sockets, Concentrated Effect (on bosses) or Increased Area of Effect (on trash) are strong. Otherwise, go for Multistrike and Physical Projectile Attack Damage or Maim.
Ancestral Protector - Melee Physical Damage - Added Fire Damage - Ruthless, both to do damage for itself and to grant you Ancestral Protector's free attack speed buff.
(Beyond the standard ones listed as part of the Act 4 Guide)
Leap Slam - Faster Attacks leaves two supports open. You can either use two utility effects here (such as Fortify - Blind) or you can apply curses easily by linking Curse on Hit + [Curse of choice]
Hatred and Herald of Ash should be run in the background, unlinked.
Flammability is usually the best offensive curse at level 1, although in situations where you're particularly emphasizing your primary melee hit or your secondary projectile hits, Punishment and Projectile Weakness can occasionally be better. If you're using higher level curses through a Curse on Hit setup, Projectile Weakness is usually better unless you have the Intelligence to level Flammability. Enfeeble is the defensive choice.
In your weapon slot, you're looking for the highest Physical damage axe you can get. There's not really anything else you can ask out of a weapon in this build aside from Uniques with special effects, some of which can be very good with Molten Strike.
For armour, you'll be wearing Armour-based equipment. You cannot Evade attacks (since you have the Unwavering Stance Keystone Passive), but as your Evasion is converted entirely into Armour, you can still use Evasion gear if you like. Stat-wise, you're looking for the usual life and resistances - focus on Resistances to cap first, then Life, and only then on amount of Armour or Evasion granted.
On jewellery, look for Life, Resistances, Added Physical Damage, and Elemental Damage with Attacks.
This build also benefits a lot from having a "% Increased Armour During Flask Effect" mod on one of its utility flasks. It already has pretty high armour, but this can push it up even more to help eat hits from bosses. If you're using Evasion gear, use a similar Evasion-boosting flask - even though it's converted to Armour as part of this build, any converted Evasion still benefits from Increased Evasion (as is usually the case for conversions in POE in general).
Notable uniques include:
- Ngamahu's Flame (an axe that is the natural endpoint of this build; it triggers projectiles similar to those produced by your Molten Strike when you hit)
- Xoph's Heart (an amulet that can apply Covered in Ash to enemies, increasing their fire damage taken by 20% - because this is a modifier on them, not you, this is effectively 20% More damage!). This is an expensive item, but very powerful.