Guided Chieftain

Build Summary

This is an outdated guide, kept for historical purposes and to allow people who started using it to continue to do so if they so choose. If you're new, do not use this guide!

Guide Last Updated December 2018 (Betrayal League, Patch 3.5)

This build uses Infernal Blow, which causes enemies you kill to explode for Fire damage based on their maximum life (and further scaled by your increases to Fire damage). Like most Chieftain builds, this one works by converting all of its Physical damage to Fire. Particularly strong versus packs of mixed amounts of health, since smaller enemies exploding can take down larger enemies and cause a chain reaction.

This build is a Melee attacker.

Chieftain is one of the Marauder Ascendancy subclasses. When you create your character, you'll create a Marauder; you'll choose to be a Chieftain 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:

Main Skill Basics

Infernal Blow strikes a target, converting some of your Physical damage to Fire. It applies two different debuffs, one 'charged' debuff that stacks and one 'uncharged' one that does not. The remainder of the mechanics are pretty technical, but the short version is this: stuff you hit with it a bunch, or hit with it and then kill, will blow up.

The charged debuff is applied only to enemies directly hit by the strike itself. It detonates upon the monster's death or upon hitting 6 stacks, dealing 2/3 of the damage of the hits that applied the stacks in an area around the affected monster for each detonated stack. The debuffed enemy themselves also takes this damage, unlike many explosion effects. Upon death, the charged debuff will also cause the monster to explode as described in the next paragraph.

The uncharged debuff is applied to any enemy damaged by the hit (for example, enemies struck by the splash damage of Melee Splash Support) that was not hit by the primary strike. The uncharged debuff causes the monster to detonate if killed (even if killed by effects other than Infernal Blow itself), dealing a percentage of its maximum Life to nearby monsters.

Infernal Strike is an Attack, and uses your weapon's damage as a base, with type-specific damage modifiers affecting the types of damage present on your weapon (for example, Increased Lightning Damage would increase any Lightning damage present on your weapon). It's also a Melee Attack, and benefits from Melee and Attack modifiers. Despite Infernal Blow having the "AoE" gem tag, the main hit of Infernal Blow does not scale with Area Damage in and of itself.

The explosions caused by the charged debuff deal a percentage of the applying Attack hits. As a result, they effectively scale with the same Attack modifiers as the main hits do. They deal Area damage, and are therefore affected by Area Damage modifiers.

The explosions caused by the uncharged debuff, which deal a percentage of the monster's maximum life, are Secondary Damage and are not affected by modifiers to Attack or Spell damage. They are, however, the result of an Attack Skill, and therefore do benefit from Elemental Damage with Attack Skills modifiers. They are also an Area effect and benefit from Area Damage modifiers accordingly.

Both explosions deal pure Fire damage, and are affected by modifiers to generic Fire damage.

To summarize: the primary target stacks up an explosion based on your hits, which scales with Attack damage (and with your weapon damage). Secondary targets explode only when killed, and that explosion does not deal Attack damage (it deals Fire, Area, Secondary damage).

Act 1

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

Early Act 1

You won't get Infernal Blow until the end of Act 1, and will have to make do with other skills for now.

From Enemy at the Gate, pick up Ground Slam, which will carry you through Act 1. The Ruthless Support you may have picked up in the first area will work just fine as a support gem for it. Other attacks are options if you find one you like; see Nessa in town for the available selection.

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

Once you finish Mercy Mission, you'll be offered a few support gems. Onslaught Support is the best of them for now - if you're using Ground Slam temporarily, note that you cannot use Ancestral Call (which can only support single-target melee attacks).

From Breaking Some Eggs, pick up Ancestral Protector. Not only does this totem do some decent damage in its own right, it also provides you a large bonus to your Attack Speed while it's active. You'll use it on bosses throughout the game.

Once you enter the Prison (The Caged Brute), you can pick up Added Fire Damage Support, which will be a good support for Ground Slam for now. You should also buy, and start levelling, a Combustion Support, which we'll link to Infernal Blow later.

Brutus (The Caged Brute) shouldn't be too too difficult. Ground Slam deals extra damage when you're close to him, so if you can't avoid being hit either way you're best off getting in his face and knocking him around.

Once you've defeated Brutus, you can pick up Leap Slam, this build's main Movement skill. We'll discuss movement skills much later 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 primarily red sockets.
  • One-handed weapons, ideally maces, with high Physical damage. Later on, we'll transition to using Sceptres specifically, but for now the Intelligence requirements might be a bit hefty.
  • Gear with Life and Resistances. Gear with Armour is most likely to have the red sockets you want.
  • Jewellery with Life, Resistances, and "Adds X Physical Damage to 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 finally offer you your Infernal Blow. You should pick up a Melee Splash Support to use with it except against major bosses that don't summon additional enemies; Infernal Blow's synergy with this support is absolutely insane and is the main reason to use the skill at all.

Against packs, Infernal Strike is pretty simple to use: get up in their face, smack one enemy a few times (splashing your uncharged debuff to other enemies in the process), then watch the chain-reaction of explosions destroy the entire pack. On bosses, the biggest thing you can do to up your damage is to try to only kill smaller enemies right next to the boss, so that you benefit from the substantial damage of your triggered explosions.

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 kill all the bandits. This is an easy choice - the other options don't benefit the uncharged explosions we're relying on for efficient clear.

From Intruders in Black, pick up Herald of Ash. This adds a percentage of your Physical damage as Fire, which is why we use it. It also causes any enemies you kill to also apply a burn to nearby targets based on how much you overkilled them by, but this burn doesn't benefit from any of our Fire damage mods and is therefore only a minor damage gain. (Normally a Burn would benefit from Fire damage, but Herald of Ash specifically overrides this normal behavior to benefit only from Damage over Time boosts.)

From Sharp and Cruel, pick up Elemental Damage with Attacks Support and link it to your Infernal Blow. You'll always want to use this - not only does it benefit your actual hit, it also benefits your explosions (because, while not Attack damage in their own right, they are damage from an Attack Skill). Your main 4-link at this point should look like Infernal Blow - Ruthless - Ele Dmg With Attacks - Melee Splash, although you can swap out Melee Splash for Added Fire Damage on bosses if you really can't detonate enemies next to them.

Late Act 2

By now you may have picked up the Resolute Technique Keystone Passive. If you have - or once you do - you won't be able to Critically Strike, so any bonuses that relate to Critical Strikes are/will be useless to you.

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. Flammability is by far the best offensive choice of these. You'll also be able to pick up Anger, an aura which you should start using now and will use throughout the game.

Late Act 3

Sever the Right Hand offers nothing we care about.

A Fixture of Fate rewards Fortify Support, a good choice to link to your movement skills in order to keep the substantial damage-reduction buff up during boss fights.

You now have access to most of the vendor-specific gems. You should consider picking up Charged Dash, an alternative movement skill to the Leap Slam you may have been using since back in Act 1. Leap Slap gets you out of the way more quickly, but Charged Dash allows you to teleport directly past a dangerous area.

Act 4

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

Early Act 4

Your available movement skills are Leap Slam and Charged Dash. Both are useful in their own ways, and they're worth using together: Leap Slam gets you quickly out of the way of an incoming attack, while Charged Dash lets you bypass hazards on the ground. It's a good idea to use both for now and see if you can make use of them. Charged Dash is of particular value in the upcoming Labyrinth.

We don't care about anything from Breaking the Seal.

From The Eternal Nightmare, pick up Immolate Support and Multistrike Support and start leveling them. You won't use these until you have a 5- or 6-link, but Immolate needs to be leveled up before use anyhow, so you may as well start now.

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 is a chance to practice what you've learned so far. Charged Dash will help you avoid traps scattered throughout the zone. Izaro himself can be damaged by detonating his summoned skeletons next to him, although you'll want to carefully land a few hits on Izaro himself when you're able.

Once you've completed the Labyrinth, pick up Ngamahu, Flame's Advance as your first Chieftain passive. You're now converting all your Physical damage into Fire, and it is at this point that you should swap to using this build's main 4-link setup: Infernal Blow - Elemental Damage With Attacks - Combustion - Melee Splash.

Note that although we're converting all our damage into Fire, we're still using Physical Damage nodes on the tree. The reason we can do this is what, in accordance with the normal rules of damage conversion, damage converted from Physical to Fire benefits from modifiers to both.

Late Act 4

There's nothing of note for this build in late Act 4.

Act 5

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. This build doesn't need any of these jewels, so you can either not take the reward (and come back for it later when you want to try another build) or you can take one to sell to another player for an Orb of Alchemy or so.

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 Hinekora, Death's Fury. This is a large damage gain (the "Covered in Ash" effect is essentially 20% More Fire Damage against bosses), and it gives you Leech to help stay alive.

Epilogue & Maps

Once you complete your third Labyrinth, sometime early into Maps, pick up Tawhoa, Forest's Strength. This is a solid defensive utility that gives you a slight boost to damage, but also makes your Immortal Call last much longer (since it generates Endurance Charges that Immortal Call can consume) and gives some extra regeneration when your charges are staying up.

The main map mod of note is "Monsters Reflect X% of Elemental Damage". Although your damage is pure Elemental, the damage from the on-death explosions you cause cannot be reflected. So it's conceivable that you could work your way through these maps (with, say, the Pantheon power to reduce reflected damage and a purchased Sibyl's Lament ring). It is still, however, very dangerous and should be avoided when possible.

Once you complete your final Labyrinth, late in the endgame, you have two options for your last Chieftain passive. Arohongui, Moon's Presence is a nice raw numbers boost if you can keep a totem alive on whatever boss you're trying to do - but you won't have a totem outside of bosses anyway and keeping one up against rough bosses is a pain. Ramako, Sun's Light is the other option, providing some nice defensive utility.

The Full Build

Main Skill Links

Infernal Blow - Elemental Damage with Attacks - Combustion - Melee Splash. In a 5- or 6-link, add in Multistrike and Immolate supports. You can swap out Melee Splash for Melee Physical Damage (or for Multistrike if you're still using a 4-link) on bosses that don't summon additional enemies to explode.

Utility Links

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

Ancestral Protector - Elemental Damage with Attacks - Elemental Focus - Immolate is a nice damage boost on bosses, dealing almost as much raw dps as you do on a single target and boosting your attack speed to boot. Note that the combination of Elemental Focus and Immolate means your totem will rely on you to apply some of your own burns (which you do by attacking).

Leap Slam - Fortify - Faster Attacks for movement and easy uptime on the damage-reducing Fortify buff.

Herald of Ash and Anger, unlinked.


Flammability is the clear offensive choice, and Enfeeble is the clear defensive one.


Your weapons should be the highest Physical damage Maces you can find. Note that Sceptres are Maces, mechanically speaking, and will usually be better than the pure-strength Maces for this build. Large % Increased Fire Damage bonuses are also valuable, but high Physical damage is a higher priority.

Your armour should emphasize Resistances (to cap), Life, and Armour amount, in that order. You'll mostly be using Armour equipment, although in the late game you can use Armour/Energy Shield mixes for more convenient socket colors if need be.

Your jewellery can be a mix of Resistances, Life, Added Physical Damage, Attack Speed, and Elemental Damage with Attacks. Note that Critical Strike related modifiers are worthless to you, as you cannot Critically Strike.

Notable Uniques include:

  • Doryani's Catalyst (a Sceptre that deals good damage and gives a large boost to Fire damage)
  • Ngamahu Tiki (a neck with a huge Increased Fire Damage modifier)

Full Passive Tree

Note that the extra Dexterity and Intelligence nodes can be dropped if you have enough of those Attributes from your gear to use Multistrike and Elemental Focus.

Click here for an interactive version.