Last Updated: June 2019, Patch 3.7.1, Legion League
(This build requires significant modification to work in Patch 3.8. Many Minion passive clusters have moved, and the Guardian ascendancy has been reworked.)
Unlike the other builds, this one has to wait a little longer - mid Act 2 - to get its first main skill, but I'm breaking my normal rule of making skills available in Act 1 because this is by far the strongest newbie Minion build available.
This build focuses on minions, but it has to get up close and personal to summon them. It uses Herald of Purity and Dominating Blow, two skills that cause your hits to summon powerful Sentinel minions to fight for you. Dominating Blow can even copy modifiers from Magic and Rare enemy monsters, allowing you to benefit from effects that are normally monster-only. For example, a rare monster might come with an "Allies Deal Substantial Extra Physical Damage" aura; creating a Sentinel from them would preserve this modifier to apply to you and your minions.
This build has astronomical damage potential if you can go into boss fights with good Rare Sentinels from Dominating Blow active, and is still quite high damage output even if you can't. This comes at the cost of mediocre clear speed, a lack of active Life recovery for you, and the need to get up close in fights. Your personal damage will fall off by the late-game, but you'll still be engaging enemies from the front lines rather than playing a more passive minion-master.
Note that this build's Passive Tree is not a generic Minion core and is not easily adapted to use with other Minions. For example, a Zombie, Skeleton, or Spectre summoner would need to pick up Passive nodes that ignored by this build to improve their maximum counts of those minions.
This is a Minion-based build that has to engage with melee attacks for full effect.
Guardian is one of the Templar Ascendancy subclasses. When you create your character, you'll create a Templar; you'll choose to be a Guardian 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/BeFZZB36
Main Skill Basics
Herald of Purity
Like all Herald skills, Herald of Purity has two effects. One is a passive buff on you; the other is a triggered effect.
Herald of Purity's passive effect grants you flat Added Physical Damage to your Spells and Attacks. This added damage is a stat on you, not damage done by the Herald itself, and therefore does not count as the Herald hitting. As a result, it won't trigger any special effects; it's just free passive damage.
Herald of Purity's triggered effect triggers when you kill an enemy (and has a chance to trigger when you hit a Rare or Unique enemy). It summons a Sentinel of Purity minion or, if you already have the maximum of 4 Sentinels of Purity, refreshes the duration and Life of one of them. Sentinels of Purity are Minions and obey the normal Minion mechanics, meaning that they benefit from Minion stats on you and from Support Gems linked to Herald of Purity, but not from your other stats. See the Mechanics Reference on minions for more details.
Note that despite Herald of Purity having the Spell gem tag, no part of the skill benefits from increases to Spell damage in any way (although its added-damage effect may add damage to a skill that does benefit from it, and thus its effect might be indirectly amplified).
Dominating Blow is a Melee Strike Attack that 'marks' the struck target for a short period of time. If the target dies within that period, it will summon a Sentinel of Dominance. Like other Strikes, Dominating Blow hits other enemies near the target in the path of your weapon's swing.
The actual hit of Dominating Blow is a standard Melee Attack, using your weapon's damage as a base and applying appropriate modifiers. In this build, we don't care about the actual damage of Dominating Blow, at least not in the late game.
What we do care about are the Sentinels of Dominance. Sentinels of Dominance are temporary minions that last a moderate duration after being summoned. If the enemy that died to summon them was a Magic or Rare enemy (blue or yellow name), the resulting Sentinel of Dominance will gain their monster affixes. For example, if you kill a Rare enemy had "Allies Deal Extra Physical Damage" as a modifier, the resulting Sentinel of Dominance will have this modifier to buff you and your other minions. Dominating Blow can hit Unique enemies, but can't apply its mark to them. Instead, it has a 10% chance to spawn a Normal rarity Sentinel of Dominance, meaning the skill still works well enough on bosses.
Sentinels of Dominance are Minions and obey the normal Minion mechanics, meaning that they benefit from Minion stats on you and from Support Gems linked to Dominating Blow, but not from your other stats. See the Mechanics Reference on minions for more details.
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 1" section of the guide.
Early Act 1
You'll start with a club and a basic attack, and will have to clear the first zone with them to start.
From Enemy at the Gate, pick up Smite, then purchase a Raise Zombie gem from Nessa. Smite will be your primary attack until you get Dominating Blow in Act 3 - it hits an enemy and gives you an aura that grants your allies bonus Lightning damage.
Throughout this guide, we'll come across secondary Minion options like Raise Zombie. This guide as a whole assumes you're relying mostly on the main skills obtained in the mid-game, but it has enough Minion bonuses that using other Minions is a perfectly fine choice.
With your first few passive points, work your way towards the following tree.
Once you finish Mercy Mission, pick up Ruthless Support for your Zombies and Summon Phantasm on Kill for your Smite.
From Breaking Some Eggs, pick up Summon Holy Relic. The Relic is a useful utility minion that you'll use throughout the game. It'll hover close to you and trigger a nova when you land an attack; the nova deals damage to enemies and grants you and your minions Life Regeneration. The nova is a Spell, and the Summon Holy Relic gem can be supported by Spell support gems to add some extra damage (although you're unlikely to have so many links this early in the game).
You can also pick up Frostblink at this point for quicker movement.
Once you enter the Prison (The Caged Brute), you can pick up Added Fire Damage for your Smite, Holy Relic, and Zombies if you have additional links available.
Brutus (The Caged Brute) shouldn't be too difficult with the Life Regeneration from your Holy Relics.
Once you've defeated Brutus, you can pick up Leap Slam, which is eventually going to be your Movement skill of choice. (Although
Late Act 1
As you go, look for the following gear:
- 3- and 4-linked items with red and blue sockets. Most of your skills need a mix, which is most easily found on Armour/Energy Shield mixed-defenses armour.
- A weapon with high damage. You want the highest raw total damage; physical or elemental doesn't matter. The damage of your weapon will become less significant over time, but for now your own damage output is still important.
- Armour with Life and Resistances.
- Jewellery with Added Damage to Attacks. For the next few acts, your damage output will be significant, so this matters for now. Later on, your minions' damage will so outstrip yours that you won't worry about it.
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). Make sure to grab the Minion wheel at the left hand side of the tree early on, since it boosts your damage substantially by allowing Minion damage modifiers to affect you as well.
Once you enter the Cavern of Wrath (The Siren's Cadence), Nessa will offer some gems, none of which are of much interest to you.
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 kill all the bandits. No alternative here; none of them provide bonuses significant to a minion build.
From Intruders in Black, you can pick up your first core skill: Herald of Purity. Head back to Act 1 and buy Added Fire Damage, Minion Damage, and (if you have a 4-link) an extra Summon Phantasm on Kill to link to Herald of Purity. Sentinels of Purity are incredibly strong at this stage of the game and should wipe the floor with most of Act 2 without much effort on your part.
You probably don't have the links at this point to link up all of the skills we've seen so far. Prioritize Herald of Purity and your own Smite over other minions in terms of budgeting your available links.
Sharp and Cruel rewards access to a huge range of Support gems. We only care about one, and even then it's unlikely you've got the links to spare: Controlled Destruction is a mild damage boost for your Holy Relic's nova.
Late Act 2
There's nothing in particular to note for the second half of Act 2.
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 gain access to a variety of Auras and Curses. Punishment is by far your most powerful offensive Curse, Enfeeble is your best defensive option. You can't pick up Hatred, your aura of choice, yet, but you wouldn't be able to use it right now anyway. You'll need a few Reduced Mana Reserved nodes from the passive tree in order to make it work.
Late Act 3
Sever the Right Hand rewards us with our other core skill, Dominating Blow. Link it with Melee Physical Damage (Act 2, from Clarissa), Minion Damage (Act 1, Nessa), and Melee Splash (Act 1, Nessa). From here on it should replace Smite as your primary attack skill, though you can use Smite occasionally just to keep its aura effect active for a little bonus damage if you really want to. You also get access to Consecrated Path at this point, which is another movement option for getting into melee range.
At this point you should consider dumping your Raise Zombie for a Raise Spectre gem. This build doesn't focus on Spectres as a primary damage source, leaving you with two options. You can either use them for some bonus auxiliary damage or - and this would be my recommendation - you can pick up Spectres that have some useful utility effect. Good options are things like Act 2's Frenzy-charge-granting gorillas or enemies that apply useful Curses. You can get higher-level versions of Spectres by bringing them into a higher-level zone and using the Desecrate skill to create corpses. This guide will assume you're not bothering with this, but it's an option if you want to squeeze more out of the build.
A Fixture of Fate unlocks all the vendor-sold gems available up to this point, even those not originally available to Templars. You can pick up Hatred here, and it's a convenient one-stop shop for all the Support gems you could want. You should start using Hatred as soon as you can handle its mana reservation.
At this point, you should have your main links fully set up:
- Dominating Blow - Melee Physical - Minion Damage - Melee Splash is your Dom Blow link. If you want better AoE clear, replace Melee Physical with an Ancestral Call.
- Herald of Purity - Minion Damage - Summon Phantasm - Added Fire is your Herald link. Although slightly better damage is possible with other links, the Mana reservation of Herald of Purity is an issue for this build, so we want to choose Support gems with small mana multipliers.
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 4" section of the guide.
Early Act 4
You have a bunch of movement skill options. Consecrated Path or Chain Hook can get you into melee range; Leap Slam and Dash give you quick movement options for dodging attacks.
From Breaking the Seal, you can add yet another member to your minion army if you so choose, this time in the form of a Golem. You have a couple of options here. Stone Golem gives you some Life Regeneration, Flame Golem is the most directly damaging option, and Lightning Golem grants a bonus Lightning Damage aura to nearby allies (including your other minions). If you have the stats to use him, Lightning Golem is probably your best bet.
Pick up Spell Echo from The Eternal Nightmare and link it to your Holy Relic, which should now have its complete 4-link (Holy Relic - Spell Echo - Controlled Destruction - Minion Damage). This quest also unlocks Cast When Damage Taken, meaning that you have the opportunity to set up some of the utility links discussed in the main guide and in the 'Full Build' section of this page.
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. Necromantic Aegis is a late-game pickup and should only be gotten once you have a shield worth giving to your minions - you can find a variant Passive Tree without it at the bottom of this guide.
The Labyrinth should be a cakewalk for you as long as you avoid Izaro's charged-up attacks. Minion builds tend to delete big bosses and Izaro is no exception to this rule.
Once you've completed the Labyrinth, you'll be able to pick up your first Ascendancy passive. Start with Radiant Crusade, which is a huge boost to your damage and a pre-requisite for the extremely powerful Unwavering Crusade. (The 'Increased Buff Effect' line refers to the Physical Damage granted to you by Herald of Purity.)
Late Act 4
Late Act 4 is mostly a boss rush, and again, minion builds tend to crush bosses.
At this point you may want to consider how you're gearing your character - see the 'Full Build' section below. Your own damage is starting to fall off relative to your minions, and there are a number of interesting options available to you.
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. None of these are directly relevant to our build, so you can either save this reward for later (in case you want to try a different build) or sell one of the jewels to another player for an Orb of Alchemy or so. If you want to use other minions - particularly Zombies - in addition to Sentinels, you can check for a Jewel associated with them as an option.
Part II (Acts 6-10)
Once you complete your second Labyrinth, around the end of Act 7 or the beginning of Act 8, you'll gain access to a second Ascendancy passive. Pick up Unwavering Crusade, which further empowers your Sentinel minions. Crusade Slam is a bonus skill granted to all your Sentinels (both of Dominance and of Purity); it deals heavy area damage on a moderate cooldown.
Epilogue & Maps
Once you complete your third Labyrinth, sometime early into Maps, you'll get a third Ascendancy choice. Your choice here depends on how you're playing. If you're playing with other players, consider picking up Harmony of Purpose, which allows you to grant them free Charges, or Bastion of Hope, which lets you stop them from being stunned. If you're playing solo, go for Time of Need, which adds to your Life regeneration for sustainability against bossses.
The only map mod you'll need to worry about is "Monster Skills Chain +X Times", which will make your minions much less effective at absorbing incoming hits for you. You can still do these maps, just expect to take a lot more damage than normal if the map is projectile-heavy. Physical damage reflect is dangerous for your minions, but you can resummon any that die quickly enough that it shouldn't be a huge issue.
Once you complete your final Labyrinth, late in the endgame, you can pick up one last Ascendancy passive. If partying, pick up whichever of Harmony of Purpose or Bastion of Hope you didn't get before. If solo, grab Bastion of Hope for some extra survivability.
The Full Build
Main Skill Links
Dominating Blow - Melee Physical Damage - Minion Damage - Melee Splash. In a 5- or 6-link, add in Ruthless and Multistrike.
Herald of Purity - Minion Damage - Summon Phantasm on Kill - Added Fire Damage. If you're using a 6-link and have gained additional Reduced Mana Reserved, you can 6-link it with Maim and Minion Speed. Other supports would add more damage to the Herald of Purity Sentinels themselves, but we want some that work with the Phantasms, too. Note that you will need to either stop using Hated or get other forms of reduced reservation for this to work.
(Beyond the standard ones listed as part of the Act 4 Guide)
Summon Holy Relic - Spell Echo - Minion Damage - Controlled Destruction. You don't have to use damage supports if you're short on sockets or want to use alternative skills in your available links; your Relic is a relatively minor part of your damage.
Various Minions - there's nothing stopping you from using additional minions, though you may start to run out of sockets. Vaal Summon Skeletons is a nice burst-damage cooldown, Spectres can apply various useful utility effects, Golems are survivable and can be supported with things like Blind or Culling Strike for convenience, and so on.
Leap Slam/Chain Hook - Faster Attacks - Fortify is your main movement link. You can use Whirling Blades instead if you aren't using a weapon compatible with Leap Slam. In either case, also add in an unlinked Dash for quick dodges.
Punishment is your best offensive curse; Enfeeble is the best defensive option.
Your weapon and shield slot have some interesting choices attached to them, and your Passive Tree for the endgame depends on your choice between a 1h/shield setup and a dual wield/2h setup.
Since in the endgame your actual melee hits count for very little, you don't care about outright damage on your weapon. You can use one that gives Minion-based benefits like Chober Chaber or its upgraded version Chober Cairn for more damage, a very fast weapon like Brightbeak for lightning-fast movement, or just a weapon with a lot of nice defensive stats. If you plan to use Necromantic Aegis (see below), you'll need to use just one one-handed weapon along with a shield.
Necromantic Aegis gives your minions a copy of your shield, which means your choice of shield gives you lots of options for supporting them. Victario's Charity, which causes them to grant each other Frenzy Charges for a gigantic damage boost, is the easy pick here. If you're going to buy one Unique item, this should absolutely be it - the only reason it isn't included in the build directly is that I write these builds assuming no access to trading. If you're not trading and aren't able to acquire a Victario's on your own, many other Unique shields can provide powerful bonuses. Sentari's Answer, for example, can apply extra Curses that ignore the normal curse limit.
The rest of your gear can be a mix of Life, Resistances, and minion-based bonuses. Mixed Armour/Energy Shield gear is the most likely to have the socket colors you're looking for.
Until you have access to 5- and 6-links, a +2 to Socketed Minion Gems helm can be incredibly useful. This affix can roll on most helms starting from the midgame.
There are a ton of notable Unique items in addition to the ones mentioned above. Some of them include:
- Geofri's Legacy (a helm that lets you summon an extra Holy Relic for more nova damage)
- The Scourge (a claw that adds huge Minion Damage bonuses)
Full Passive Tree
With Necromantic Aegis: