Introduction to PoB
A Real PoB
As has been mentioned numerous times so far, Path of Building is an invaluable tool. Like Path of Exile as a whole, it's quite complex, and so it deserves a brief introduction to the new user. If you haven't downloaded it yet, head over to the Tools & Links page and do so now. Install and launch it, then click "new" to create a new build.
One golden rule before we continue: things listed in red text in Path of Building are things it is not currently coded to be able to incorporate into its calculations. For example, if hover text says "Replenishes Energy Shield by 2% of Armour when you Block" in red text, that means that this recovery is in no way accounted for in PoB's calculations, and must be reckoned with on your own.
Path of Exile is a complex game, and so by nature Path of Building is - and must be - a complex tool. Don't be intimidated by feature depth here! Most of these features don't apply to any given build, and a little experimentation will get you on your feet soon enough. The difficulty here is part of why I don't necessarily recommend homebrewing a build for your first playthrough.
On creating a new build, you'll see the following screen:
This is an empty build, with no skills selected, items equipped, or passives applied. Let's start by walking through the various windows you can access from the navigation bar at the top left:
- Import/Export Build lets you create a shareable link that other players can use to view your build, or lets you enter such a link to view someone else's build.
- Notes opens an unstructured text box that you can leave to-dos, ideas, or instructions in.
- Configuration opens a number of options for defining how to calculate a character's stats. For example, a character may have 20% Increased Attack Speed While Ignited. Sometimes they'll be Ignited, and sometimes they won't. On the configuration tab, you can find an "Are you Ignited?" checkbox. Some checkboxes won't display unless you have some relevant modifier that references them; others have effects by themselves and are always displayed.
- Tree is the current window, which displays and lets you edit a character's investment in the Passive Tree. This includes Ascendancy Passives.
- Skills lets you edit what Skill Gems your character is using and what Support Gems they're linked to.
- Items lets you view a list of all Unique items in the game and a list of prefabricated Rare items with representative stats for middling-quality endgame gear. You can use it to browse for items, then equip them in your planned build.
- And finally, Calcs opens a detailed window with a breakdown of how the values in the summary panel (just below it) are actually computed, by providing the step-by-step calculations used to arrive at them.
If you've chosen a build-maker from the previous sections, it's a good exercise to try to find and enable it in one of the windows above. Below, we go through each of these windows (except the entirely self-explanatory "Notes") in more individual detail.
You'll also find a stat summary pane on the left-hand side of the screen, which will display things like the damage of your skills, your Life total, and your Resistances. Since this character is empty, this panel doesn't have much in it yet. At the top of your screen, you'll find a panel to select your character's level, class, and Ascendancy subclass, along with a count of how many of your total Passive Point allotment you've used. (If you ever notice your character has way less Life than you'd expect, make sure you've set their level properly!)
At the bottom left, you'll find a button to check for the latest version of Path of Building and a Patreon to support its creator (go throw the guy a few bucks! he puts a lot of work into this!).
This is the simplest window to use, and it looks like this:
You can import characters directly from the game using the top panel. You'll need the user's account name (the one they use to log in) to find their characters, and you can then select any character on that account to import. Note that you must change your account settings on the pathofexile.com website for your characters to be publicly accessible.
The lower panel allows importing and exporting links. By default, these links are extremely long strings of text (difficult to paste into, say, a chat window), so Path of Building also offers the option to export a link to a Pastebin page that contains the relevant text. If you've been given a Pastebin link to import, you'll want to use the "Import from Pastebin" button at lower-right.
The Configuration panel allows you to set the conditions and current status of a character for the purposes of calculation. Many effects are conditional on things like having Power Charges or having killed an enemy Recently, and this panel allows you to tell Path of Building which such effects to consider.
For the most part, you're only going to need to worry about a few things.
One is the "is the enemy a Boss" dropdown, which I recommend not leaving on its default setting. Bosses' resistance to Curses and certain other effects can really screw over some builds, so it's important to know that from the start. For the purposes of the Guided Builds included with this guide, I set it to "standard boss", since a player staring down the Shaper (one of PoE's endgame bosses) is beyond this guide's scope anyway.
The other is that if you take effects that regularly generate Power, Frenzy, or Endurance charges, make sure you come to this tab and enable the "Do you use Power/Frenzy/Endurance Charges" box to make sure their effects are enabled. More generally, whenever you get a Passive or equip a Unique with a conditional effect you're confident you can keep up, make sure to enable it to benefit from its effect.
The Tree panel allows you to modify a character's Passive skills, including their Ascendancy subclass.
Your starting point on the Passive tree depends on your class, so it's important to select the correct one at the top of your screen. In the image above, we've selected a Scion, so we start at her region at the center of the tree. (You can't make a Scion immediately if you're on a new account, remember.)
In-game, your Ascendancy subclass appears on a small pop-out "tab" at your starting location on the tree. In Path of Building, they're scattered around the outer edges of the tree for convenience.
You can use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out, and left-click a passive to assign it. If that passive is not already connected to your tree, Path of Building will take the shortest (not necessarily the optimal) path to that passive. You can force Path of Building to use a different route by clicking passives one by one, or by holding [Shift] and tracing out the desired path before clicking on the final passive.
At the bottom of the page, you'll find a tool for saving, loading, and managing different passive tree options (here, shown as a dropdown labeled Default). You can also import or export trees through Path of Exile's official Passive tree on their website. The Search bar lets you search for passives matching a particular keyword - for example, searching for "with Two Handed Melee Weapons" produces the image at right.
Mousing over a Passive will display the effects of that passive, just as they would be in-game, but it will also display a detailed printout of how that passive will actually benefit your character in terms of DPS, Area of Effect, Maximum Life, and so on. For example, if I load up the Guided Gladiator currently featured as part of this guide and mouse over a passive not already included in its tree, I see the following:
This is quite a good node! 9% DPS for a single point is a lot for a fully developed build. But it takes me a lot of points to reach this node, and the more relevant factor is the gain per point (displayed in grey to the right). 2.8% DPS per point is not too bad, but it turned out better options were available for this build, so I didn't end up taking this node as part of it. Note that it also includes bonuses from the nodes along the way - for example, the +20 Dexterity comes from the two green 'road' nodes (with a + icon) on the way.
Finally, although you technically have 123 Passive Points available (121, if you choose to help one of the Bandits in Act 2), you're not likely to reach Level 100, so you'll want to plan a build with fewer points. I usually like a build to have its core pieces within the first 60-70 points, and plan around about 110 points for myself. The Guided Builds in this guide plan around 103 (or 101, for those that help a Bandit) points, which is not a bad guideline for a new player.
The Skills pane allows you to set and modify the Skill Gems socketed in your equipment.
Each "socket group" in the main list here is one collection of linked sockets in your equipment. In this case, Lacerate is the active skill, so it's listed in the main listing. Once I've selected the socket group, I can see all the gems in that group, including the Support Gems used to boost Lacerate's effects. You can create or delete socket groups with the buttons above the main listing, and rename them by clicking on them and typing a name in the "Label:" field at the top right.
By default, gems you add are Level 20 (the default maximum) and have 0% Quality. You can change these defaults with the options at the bottom left, but the defaults work just fine for endgame character planning.
Once you've selected a socket group, you can click one of the blank rows to add a new gem to the group.
By default, Path of Building selects the Support gem that will add the most damage to your main skill, but it's not especially smart about this. You can use it as a guideline, but it shouldn't be your only consideration. Note that even though Chance to Bleed is PoB's top DPS choice, I've gone with Fortify and Close Combat as options in the actual build (although these gems are disabled - see the checkboxes at the right hand side).
If you add a Curse skill or Aura, Path of Building will automatically assume its effect is active. For example, adding a Pride gem to the list will cause Pride's effect to be factored into damage calculation and its mana reservation to be deducted from my total mana pool. To disable this default behavior, you can select the skill's socket group in the main list, then uncheck the "Enable <Skill Name>" box listed just underneath the skill itself.
This also applies to some Vaal skills that provide some major benefit to your character.
Finally, you may want to socket gems into an item that provides some benefit to socketed gems. Once you've equipped that item in the Items window (covered below), you can select the relevant socket group and use the "socketed in" dropdown to assign it to be socketed in the appropriate item. If an item grants you a skill innately, that skill will be added directly to your skills window anytime the item is equipped.
No build would be complete without items, and this tab allows you to add, edit, or create items.
At the top left, you'll find the items currently equipped on your character, including those placed in Jewel sockets on the Passive Tree. At the top center is simply a list of items specific to that character. These can be alternatives you might want to experiment with later, suggestions for items another player might seek out, or items you want to craft further for experimentation.
Below these two windows, you'll find either one or two more (depending on your screen resolution). With two windows, as seen above, you'll find one window for every Unique item in the game and one for example Rare items that you can use to populate a build while planning. With one window, you'll find an additional dropdown to switch between these two options. The item windows can be filtered by slot, item type, or text-matching. You can drag an item from this window into the main item list or one of your equipment slots.
On the right hand side, you'll find buttons to craft items anew.
Clicking "Craft item" will first bring up a menu for the base item you're crafting. In this case, I've decided to craft a Claw-class weapon, using the Gemini Claw base. If I'd wanted to craft something else, I could have selected (say) Body Armour: Energy Shield as an item class and then picked the Vaal Regalia base item.
You can also select the Rarity of the new item by clicking at the top left.
Once a new Rare item is created, you'll be able to select its Affixes. You can select the main class of affix from one of the dropdown menus, like "#% Increased Physical Damage" or "Adds # to # Physical Damage". You can then drag the slider below it to change how much of that modifier is present; the smaller sub-bars represent tiers if that particular class of affixes, which become available as you find higher and higher-level items.
In general, you should not plan a build around having the best possible items. The claw pictured at left, for example, is ludicrously broken (and I'm pretty sure actually violates some of the ingame crafting rules, but I digress). I could make a very bad build with it and still see nice numbers in Path of Building without it ever being viable in-game.
For a good starter example, I'd suggest choosing three or four mid-tier affixes. These are items you can reasonably find early on, or buy cheaply from other players without trouble. The example items included in the Guided Builds are made this way.
Aside from affix selection, there are a few other options here that require more knowledge of PoE's mechanics to make sense of. The Normal/Shaper/Elder dropdown at the top controls whether the item can roll special Shaper or Elder affixes; the Corrupt button allows you to apply special Corrupt implicit modifiers.
Finally, below the craft item button you'll find a panel of 'shared items'. Dragging an item here will make it available to all of your builds, enabling you to only have to create special items once.
Last but not least comes the Calcs tab, where you can follow all of Path of Building's calculations step by step and see every modifier affecting a value. This can be useful for understanding unexpected behaviors (and in fact, I learned something about the game from this panel during the writing of this guide!). Again, this is a very intimidating window, but for the most part you'll be focusing on some specific part of it.
For example, let's say I wasn't sure why my attacks felt much slower using Lacerate than they felt with other Attack skills. I could check the "Attack/Cast Rate" box (at lower left) to find out what modifiers are affecting my Attack Speed. I see 88% Increased Attack Speed (okay, probably from my passives, I think), but minus 21% More Attack Speed? If I didn't know where this was coming from, I could mouse over that entry to get more detail:
Hmm, -40% More (that is, 40% Less) attack speed is listed here. The source is listed as my skill Lacerate - which turns out to have an innate Attack Speed penalty as part of the skill. Now I know why I'm attacking slowly!
In general, you use this tab for investigating or troubleshooting a build, to better understand why it behaves the way that it does. Path of Building can occasionally have bugs, but if you're new it's far more likely to be correct than you are, so you should ask a more experienced player to explain anything you can't figure out with this tab's assistance.
Like I said, Path of Building is a complex tool. Expect to spend some time getting comfortable with it - but if you want to make your own builds in Path of Exile, there's no better tool for it than PoB.
In the next few sections we'll see some of these items in action. We'll make frequent references to PoB as we go, since it's a good way to trace how effective your passive allocation and other build choices are.