Guided Gladiator

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This is an outdated guide, kept for historical purposes and to allow people who started using it to continue to do so if they so choose.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 Lacerate, which shoots damaging waves a substantial distance ahead of you, allowing you to hit enemies with your weapons without getting too close. It also applies Bleed effects for extra damage, and will eventually cause Bleeding enemies to explode when killed, making for rapid pack clearing. Highly efficient and safe in the open field, although its damage leaves something to be desired on bosses that don't summon extra monsters to explode.

This build uses Melee Attacks, mechanically speaking, but can attack from moderate range.

Gladiator is one of the Duelist Ascendancy classes. When you create your character, you'll create a Duelist; you choose to be a Gladiator 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:

Main Skill Basics


Lacerate swings your weapons, shooting waves of damage a moderate range in the selected direction. Each wave deals damage, and both can deal damage to a single enemy where their areas overlap. It can only be used with Axes and Swords.

Lacerate is an Attack, and therefore its base damage comes from your weapon. Any damage type specific modifiers apply depending on the damage present on your weapon. For example, if you have Increased Lightning Damage and your weapon deals Lightning damage, the Lightning portion of your weapon's damage will be increased.

In addition to type-specific modifiers on your weapon's damage, Lacerate's damage benefits from Attack, Melee, and Area damage. Lacerate is not a Projectile, and does not benefit from Projectile damage. Increases to Area of Effect will increase the area covered by each slash, and increases to Attack Speed will increase the rate at which you slash.

Despite attacking from significant range, Lacerate is a Melee attack throughout and is performed with Melee weapons, so it's affected by all relevant Melee modifiers (and not by any Projectile modifiers).

Act 1

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

Early Act 1

You won't get access to Lacerate until late in Act 1. For now, you can use whatever Attack skills suit you, starting with the Double Strike you start next to.

From Enemy at the Gate, pick up Cleave, which will hold you over as an area attack until you get Lacerate later on. You can use both Cleave and Double Strike for now if you want, alternating between them depending on whether you're fighting multiple targets.

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

Once you finish Mercy Mission, you'll gain access to a handful of Support gems. Assuming you're using Double Strike and Cleave as mentioned above, Ruthless and Onslaught Support will do for now. If you chose different attacks, you may want to experiment with other support gems (Molten Strike, for example, works well with Ancestral Call Support).

From Breaking Some Eggs, pick up Ancestral Protector. This totem deals some moderate damage of its own, but the big benefit it provides is a large boost to your Attack Speed while it's active. You'll want to use this against bosses throughout the game.

Once you enter the Prison (The Caged Brute), you can pick up Maim Support. You can start using it now if you like; it will be part of our main Lacerate setup later.

Brutus (The Caged Brute) should be of middling difficulty. You don't have your main skill yet, but the ones you have should suffice to kill him without too too many deaths.

Once you've defeated Brutus, you can pick up Leap Slam, which will be our main Movement skill. We'll cover movement skills much later in the guide, but you can start using this 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 red sockets. You may be able to fill one blue or green here and there as you go, but in general red sockets will be preferable for this build.
  • High physical damage Axes or Swords, ideally 1-handed.
  • 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" modifiers.

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 you your Lacerate gem. You can start using it now - it's best supported by Added Fire Damage, Ruthless, and Maim for now.

Now that you have Lacerate, you have the option for a more tactical approach, keeping at range against bosses or dangerous packs and slicing them from a distance. This is going to be important later on tough melee bosses, so it's a good idea to start practicing now. If you have to get up in melee range, you can do so, but always remember the option is there if you find yourself taking heavy damage.

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 help Oak. The global physical damage bonus he gives us will apply to the explosions we trigger later as well as to our attacks, and this build doesn't need to make any excessively long trips across the passive tree.

From Intruders in Black, pick up Herald of Ash. We don't care about its secondary Burn effect, but it adds a percentage of our Physical damage as Fire, which is enough of a damage boost to use this throughout the game from here on out.

From Sharp and Cruel, pick up Melee Physical Damage Support. This goes with Maim and Ruthless in your Lacerate's links, completing the main link you'll use for Lacerate for the rest of the game. It's worth continuing to level Added Fire Damage, which you can use in a 6-link in the very late game.

Late Act 2

Nothing of note in late Act 2 for this build.

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. Punishment is by far the best offensive Curse you can choose both now and for the rest of the game. Enfeeble is the main defensive curse. You can also pick up Hatred, the best damage aura for this build, at this point. You should continue to run Hatred throughout the game.

Late Act 3

Sever the Right Hand offers 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. Both are useful in their own ways, and I'd recommend picking up Charged Dash to see if you make use of it.

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, although for now there's not much you need that wasn't already available to you.

Act 4

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

Early Act 4

This build's options for movement skills are Leap Slam and Charged Dash. Both are valid options with their own niches, and your best bet is to just use both, swapping between them as appropriate to the situation. Leap Slam will get you out of incoming attacks more quickly, but Charged Dash gives you finer control and the ability to avoid walking through traps, useful in the upcoming Labyrinth.

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

From The Eternal Nightmare, you can pick up Increased Area of Effect Support, which is an optional choice for Lacerate in blue sockets. Multistrike is a strong damage support, but is outpaced by the three other supports we're already using and only finds a place in the build once we have a 5-link item. (Note that neither Projectile support affects Lacerate, which is not a Projectile skill.)

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 great opportunity to practice using Charged Dash and Lacerate to their fullest. Charged Dash will allow you to jump past dangerous trap setups without exposing yourself to danger, and Lacerate allows you to take shots at Izaro from a decent range (although watch out - depending on what weapons he has on the day you do the Labyrinth, Izaro might have a Lacerate-like attack of his own!).

Once you've completed the Labyrinth, pick up Blood in the Eyes. This isn't a very strong effect in itself, but it's the gateway to the bleed explosions we'll want to start setting off later in the build.

Late Act 4

Late Act 4 bosses are another good chance for Lacerate practice, as most of them are quite dangerous when you're up close.

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 them, so you can either ignore this quest (and come back to pick up a jewel for a different build you want to try later) or pick up one of the jewels 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 Gratuitous Violence on your Gladiator passive tree. Any bleeding enemy you kill will now explode for considerable damage in an area around it, and you should see a major jump in your clear speed at that point unless you're already cutting through things like butter.

Epilogue & Maps

Once you complete your third Labyrinth, sometime early into Maps, pick up Outmatch and Outlast for a straight and substantial boost to both your damage and survivability.

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 themselves, this one does not like Maps with reflected damage. Most of your damage is physical, so Monsters Reflect X% of Physical Damage is the one you want to worry about, although the fact that your damage is somewhat split means these maps can be survivable - make sure you take the Pantheon power that reduces reflected damage and, ideally, go shopping for a Sibyl's Lament ring.

Once you complete your final Labyrinth, late in the endgame, you'll have no choice but to take Painforged. Painforged is a pretty generic defensive boost for this build, but once you have it, you may want to consider using some of the counterattack skills - Riposte and Vengeance, specifically - as they can provide a cheap source of extra damage when up close.

The Full Build

Main Skill Links

Lacerate - Melee Physical Damage - Maim - Ruthless. In a 5-link, add in Multistrike. In a 6-link, either use Chance to Bleed (generic damage) or swap between Increased Area of Effect and Concentrated Effect between trash and bosses. Note that the latter option, in addition to requiring some switching, also requires a lot of extra Intelligence from your equipment or passive tree. Once your gear improves, Chance to Bleed will fall behind Added Fire Damage, which should be used instead.

Utility Links

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

Ancestral Protector - Melee Physical Damage - Bloodlust - Ruthless. This is a major damage boost because of the ability to use Bloodlust, which makes your totem actually hit almost as hard as you do as long as you can keep it alive.

Hatred and Herald of Ash, both unsupported.

Vengeance/Riposte can be used either to apply utility effects by linking them to Curse on Hit, Blind, or similar effects, or can provide a bonus source of damage when close to bosses by using Melee Physical Damage, Ruthless, and Bloodlust.

Leap Slam - Fortify - Faster Attacks is the go-to movement setup, both to get out of the way of attacks and to keep your Fortify buff up so that ones that hit are less likely to kill you.


Punishment is the clear offensive choice and Enfeeble is the clear defensive one. You can apply them through the normal utility setups or via your Counterattack skills.


Your weapons should be the highest Physical damage axes you can get your hands on.

Your armour should be mostly Armour items. You particularly want your chestpiece to be pure Armour, both because Astral Plate (the best armour base) comes with a bunch of free resistances and because it'll have the red sockets you need. Note that Evasion itself is entirely useless to you, as you cannot Evade attacks (you're using the Unwavering Stance Keystone Passive) Look for resistances first until capped, then for life, and finally for bonuses to Armour or Evasion. If you find Evasion gear you really want to use, pick up Iron Reflexes at the bottom of the tree.

Your jewellery can be pretty defensive, as this build doesn't benefit as much from damage on jewellery as a lot of builds do. Added damage or Increased Elemental Damage with Attacks mods are still perfectly fine, but not mandatory, and Life and Resistances remain a major priority. Note that critical strike modifiers are entirely useless to you, as you are unable to crit (you're using the Resolute Technique Keystone Passive).

Notable Unique items include:

  • Haemophilia (gloves that cause bleeding enemies to explode even more than they already do, adding to your clearing power)
  • Gruthkul's Pelt (a chestpiece that prevents you from using spells - including your Curses and Heralds - but gives a huge modifier to Physical damage that is well worth it)

Full Passive Tree

Click here for an interactive version.