This is an outdated guide, kept for historical purposes and to allow people who started using it to continue to do so if they so choose.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 throws traps loaded with Freezing Pulse, which fires a fast-moving piercing wave of Cold damage that deals less damage the further it travels. Traps allow you to stay back out of the action while still getting the benefit of Freezing Pulse's high up-front damage. Later in the game, you'll be able to throw several traps at once, each of which will fire several pulses. Not recommended for the epileptics among you, but for the rest of you it's an extremely efficient trash-clearing build with acceptable boss damage (particularly if the boss has delays where you can set up a nest of traps).
This build is a ranged Spell build that deals damage via Traps.
Saboteur is one of the Shadow Ascendancy subclasses. When you create your character, you'll select a Shadow, you'll choose to be a Saboteur 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/rGg6wYZ8
Main Skill Basics
Freezing Pulse fires a Projectile wave in a straight line that deals high upfront Cold damage that decreases the further the wave moves.
The damage drop-off is based on the time, not the distance, the projectile has traveled. The projectile automatically pierces all targets and is not consumed when it hits one. Like most Projectile Spells, the projectile travels for a set time, not a set distance, so increases to Projectile Speed increase its effective range. Also like most Projectile skills, only one projectile per cast can damage any particular enemy (it cannot "shotgun").
Freezing Pulse is a Cold Projectile Spell, and benefits from bonuses to Cold, Elemental, Spell, and Projectile damage (in this build, where we'll load it on to a Trap, it will also benefit from Trap Damage). It is not an Area effect and does not benefit from Area damage or Increased Area of Effect. Because the damage drop-off is based on the time, not the distance, the projectile has traveled, increases to Projectile Speed effectively increase the damage to distant targets as well as the skill's range.
Because Freezing Pulse always Pierces, it cannot Chain or Fork despite the fact that it is a Projectile (because Piercing is prioritized over those effects).
Any Spell or ranged Attack can be loaded on to a Trap with the use of the Trap Support gem.
Trap skills throw a Trap on the ground that is triggered when an enemy comes close (or when its duration expires). It will use the attached skill when triggered, targeting the enemy that tripped it if there was one.
Traps use your skills, and deal damage according to your stats. In addition, damage dealt by a Trap gains the Trap damage tag, and benefit from increases to Trap Damage (even if the skill wouldn't benefit from Trap Damage by default).
The rate at which you throw Traps is not affected by Attack or Cast Speed. Instead, it's affected by a special stat called Trap Throwing Speed.
If you throw multiple traps in one go, the casts from each of those traps are still considered separate, meaning that each of them can damage an enemy independently (unlike the projectiles from any one cast, of which only one can deal damage to any given enemy).
Traps can be destroyed, although enemies cannot target them directly. Area-of-Effect damage can destroy them with any hit, although in this build your Traps will be invulnerable for 5 seconds after being placed (long enough to nearly always trigger).
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 1" section of the guide.
Early Act 1
From Enemy at the Gate, pick up your Freezing Pulse. We can't set it up as a Trap just yet, that will come later in the act, but it will work just fine self-cast for now.
With your first few passive points, work your way towards the following tree:
Once you finish Mercy Mission, you can pick up Volley Support, which is exceptional for early Freezing Pulse levelling. It adds extra projectiles and causes them to all move parallel to one another, giving you impressive area coverage. You'll want to use this until Act 5.
From Breaking Some Eggs, you can pick up Bear Trap. Bear Trap only hits a single target, but because it applies a bonus to Trap damage against that target, it'll help you to kill bosses.
Once you enter the Prison (The Caged Brute), you can pick up both Trap Support and Multiple Traps Support from Nessa. At this point, your ideal 4-link is Freezing Pulse, Trap, Multiple Traps, and Volley, which will provide you heavy area coverage.
Brutus (The Caged Brute) should not be as difficult with this build as he is with many others, because you can so easily keep your distance. The big thing here is to keep mobile, since he uses a number of abilities that will hurt if you sit still.
Once you've defeated Brutus, you can pick up Siphoning Trap, a utility ability used to keep up your Life and Mana. You won't need this throughout the game, but keeping it around for now isn't a terrible idea.
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 green sockets (but at least 1 blue for Freezing Pulse). All-green items can be used for utility setups with Bear Trap.
- Wands with large boosts to Spell or Cold Damage. A Sceptre will work fine as well, although you're not going to have enough Strength to use these throughout the story.
- Gear with Life and Resistances. Evasion and Energy Shield gear is most likely to have the socket colors you want.
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. You can play with other Trap skills if you want, but none of these are relevant to our core build.
Because our traps fire a wide wave in the direction of the enemy that triggered them, your goal is to lay traps in front of (not in the middle of) a pack so that, when triggered, the waves fire into the pack and not randomly in various directions.
Against bosses, set up nests of traps during their introductions - most bosses take a moment to become active, and a pre-set pile of traps can do tremendous damage as they do.
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 2" section of the guide.
Early Act 2
If you haven't found a good Spell or Cold Damage weapon, consider using the +1 to Socketed Cold Gems Wand vendor recipe listed in the main guide. Ideally, you'll do this with a blue-green-green linked wand, since all your desired supports are green and Freezing Pulse itself is blue.
For the Deal with the Bandits quest, we kill all the bandits. Optionally, you can choose to help Alira, which will make levelling somewhat easier (since it gives some free resistance and gives some free mana regeneration to make sure you don't run out if you manage to not have any mana-related bonuses on your equipment).
We don't care about any of the gems from Intruders in Black.
From Sharp and Cruel, you can pick up Trap and Mine Damage Support, which you can swap in in place of Volley Support against bosses.
Late Act 2
This build picks up a lot of its Life nodes late, and you'll probably feel pretty fragile at this point. That's an unavoidable aspect of this build's leveling process, so play safe from a long distance. You'll often be able to comfortably clear packs well off your screen.
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. Ignore the ones offered by the quest - you'll want to buy Projectile Weakness from Clarissa as your offensive Curse. If you want a defensive option, grab Enfeeble instead.
Late Act 3
Sever the Right Hand offers Lightning Spire Trap, but we'll probably want to stick with Bear Trap for our cooldown-based Trap against bosses.
A Fixture of Fate rewards Cold Penetration Support, which you'll want to use instead of Volley against bosses. You'll also now be able to buy most vendor gems from Siosa in the Library.
This section is meant to accompany the main "Act 4" section of the guide.
Early Act 4
If you can work your way in to using a good caster sceptre and shield, Shield Charge is your best bet. Otherwise you may be stuck using Lightning Warp or Flame Dash. Trap builds don't pick up any Attack or Cast speed to speak of, so you're a bit slower to move than most builds. Use your range and hit-and-run capabilities to make up for it.
We don't care about any of the gems from Breaking the Seal.
Once you're offered rewards from The Eternal Nightmare, you'll be able to purchase Cluster Traps Support. This is significantly better than Multiple Traps, and should replace it.
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. You may want to travel for the Life nodes early - this build does some heavy damage and clears trash efficiently, but is very easy to kill until it reaches the defensive nodes on the left side of the tree.
The Labyrinth is a Trap character's dream zone: Izaro takes a very long time to become active, allowing you to lay a gigantic pile of traps at his feet to instantly do a tremendous amount of damage.
Once you've completed the Labyrinth, pick up Pyromaniac on your Saboteur ascendancy passive tree. Traps cannot grant you Life in any other way, so it's important to have some regeneration to stay alive in longer fights. This is a lot of healing, and should sustain you through most content if you aren't doing anything wildly reckless.
Late Act 4
Play it safe against the late Act 4 bosses, and practice using your newfound Life Regeneration to stay alive against their heavy damage output.
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 to pick up First Snow, which makes your Freezing Pulse fire two extra projectiles. You will want to socket this as soon as possible, and once you do so you can replace Volley Support with a damage support like Cold Penetration. You can use two of these Jewels, so picking up a second one from another player is a good idea as soon as you're able to use it (it should only cost you an Orb of Alchemy).
This is where this build throwing 4 traps at a time, each of which shoots 5 projectiles, gets a little bit seizure-y.
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 Perfect Crime for free bonus damage. The "Chance for Traps to Trigger an additional time" portion of this passive means that a trap can remain even after firing once and be triggered again momentarily once it re-arms.
Epilogue & Maps
Once you complete your third Labyrinth, sometime early into Maps, pick up Chain Reaction. This won't add a ton of extra damage for trash, but most trash packs should be barely a speed-bump to you at this point anyway. The reduced cooldown on cooldown-based traps, however, greatly improves your boss damage by allowing you to keep Bear Trap's bonus damage active.
One of the benefits of a Trap build is that you don't have to be afraid of "Monsters Reflect X% of Elemental Damage" mods, because you aren't dealing the damage. Trap builds are famously safe and this one is no exception.
Once you complete your final Labyrinth, late in the endgame, choose between Explosives Expert (a moderate damage gain) and Born in the Shadows (which cuts monsters' chance to hit dramatically, providing a good defensive benefit against Attacks for both you and your party).
The Full Build
Main Skill Links
Freezing Pulse - Trap - Cluster Traps - Cold Penetration. In a 5- or 6-link, add Added Cold Damage and Controlled Destruction. Note that Controlled Destruction is Decreased Critical Strike Chance, not Less, and it therefore does not prevent you from critting (as new players sometimes assume). In the early game, Volley is nice, but once you've got your First Snow jewels you'll already be firing a bunch of projectiles.
Bear Trap - Trap and Mine Damage - (two others). The choice of supports here varies a lot depending on Attributes available from your gear. The ideal damage for Bear Trap itself is from Brutality + Increased Critical Strikes, but Brutality requires more Strength than this build gets. You can also use Increased Duration (also a Strength gem) to improve the uptime of Bear Trap's extra-damage-from-traps debuff. Strictly speaking, Bear Trap does more boss damage than Freezing Pulse, but if you're concerned about killing any other enemies, or about slowing enemies further, it's used more for its utility effect than for its damage (and you'll be using Freezing Pulse between its cooldowns anyway).
(Beyond the standard ones listed as part of the Act 4 Guide)
Siphoning Trap - Increased Duration can be used for extra health gain during boss fights.
Projectile Weakness is by far the best offensive curse, and Enfeeble is by far the best defensive curse. These can be applied through a Cast When Damage Taken setup. You can also run them as auras through Blasphemy Support, but as you're trying to keep your distance and use your Mana as an auxiliary health pool, this isn't really a great idea.
On weapons, look for large bonuses to Spell Damage, Critical Strike Chance with Spells, Global Criticial Strike Multiplier, or Cold Damage. Trap Damage is fine too, but almost never present on normal rare-quality items.
Projectile Speed, which comes mostly from a few specific Uniques, is a valuable stat to this build, increasing your range and damage substantially.
For defense, this build seeks the standard Life/Resists combination typical of a generic Life-based build. Resist cap is the first priority, then as much Life as you can get. Ideally you'll use Evasion gear, although you may have to use an Evasion/Energy Shield piece to get the socket colors you'd like. Since this build uses Mind over Matter, additional Mana also matters to your survivability, and you do not want to reserve any of your Mana.
Optional Unique items include:
- Deerstalker (boots that give a Trap Support link for free to anything in them, making them effectively 5-linked for free)
- Winds of Change (gloves that add a ton of Projectile Speed)
- Sire of Shards (a staff that makes your projectiles fire in a nova and adds several extras. This isn't really that good in absolute terms, but it's a blast to play and isn't expensive to buy.)
- Tinkerskin (a chestpiece that gives a ton of Trap-related bonuses)