TLDR: Any tips for breaking that plateau of build theory crafting to get competitive builds? Trying to not rely on things that will consume the build identity, like how archmage makes basically any build relying on it into another meta mana stacker needing Cloak. Am I thinking about this all wrong? Are there really just some things that will never be useful or interesting upon digging deep?
Been getting frustrated trying to make builds on my own. I've got a decent amount of experience I think, not a new or casual player, earned some mirrors crafting, with 3k hours logged the last year, though maybe 25% were afk. I'm also not a veteran, having started in 3.10. I average about 3-4 builds per league mostly following build guides. I live on the top and right side of the tree, since I'm not really interested in melee. It's funny how I can know passives by name on one side and none of the others in the "red" slice of the tree. Game knowledge wise I'd estimate I would score a 85%+ on a PoE University final exam. A PoE sophomore in the literal meaning.
My potentially naive view on builds is that there are way more good builds than poeninja represents. I also know that its really hard to make a completely new build, but reasonable to maybe rework something old with something new. So none of my builds are completely new, but usually some of my ideas founded on work from predecessors. My goal always is to come up with something Week 1 budget (<10ex) that is at least B tier and a mechanically average player (i.e. myself) can do all content in 6 portals.
Only 1 of my builds has been able to do that ( Wintertide Brand Occultist). My only other successful build was a Blackflame Hexblast Occultist which could do everything but A8 bc I'm just not great at that fight. Every idea since (about 5+) has been a flop. At the end I either find I am lacking defense, gem slots, too many buttons to manage, relies on expensive or tired things that make most all builds better just to function (6L, +2 amulet, mOar AuRaS, archmage, golems, all cluster jewels, level 100 etc), etc.
My process has been to pick something interesting to build around, figure out which Ascendancy is a good fit, determine how to scale damage (conversion, mana, debuffs, aps or cps, auras), determine defenses, mobility, see if I can get charges some how, use PoB to suggest next nodes/uniques/clusters, assume that by level 90 the build should be fully functional and any levels over that are bonus. I admittedly don't know the unique items enough and when those might just tip the build from broke to broken.
As an example, right now I am interested in the new Cruelty support. It seems overlooked with the potential to give up front hit damage and then up to 50% more DoT. I can't seem to find a competitive use case.
If you made it this far sorry for rambling, hopefully I got my point across. Thank you and stay sane exile.
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