Path of Exile

Some helpful tips for doing scuffed/non-meta builds (SSF,SC)

1 – Having a Build identity

Important Because the ‘good meta skills’ are generically powerful – they usually can bounce between t16s, blast some bosses, do some league content, do some other bosses, easy peasy. Your build will not have that luxury.

It is NOT a build goal. For example killing Sirus 9 and Uber Elder – that is a build goal (I like many people are not goal driven, and don’t enjoy such a narrow criteria with a clear finish-line).

Build identity rather is usually more vague, but can be specific goals too. Some examples – the second sentence for each encapsulates the key points…:

  • A bosser – I want to be able to do a bunch of endgame bosses with this build
  • Solid mapper – I want to map a bunch smoothly and quickly
  • Soft Delver – I want to delve to around 1000 and see how it goes
  • Skill build – I just want to play X skill doing whatever
  • Tanky mapper – I just want to not die in t16 maps
  • Generic all-rounder – I just want to do a mix of everything without too much hassle
  • Atlas clearer – I want to 153/153 maps and watchstones, then I'll see where I'm at
  • Legion farmer – I want to clear most of monoliths and do timeless fights well

For example if youre really after a tanky mapper, its ok to drop a bunch of damage and not mind the zdps.

I find unless I have a firm build identity, I’m likely to spiral into reroll-itis (often likely with builds with scuffed elements to them).So if you want to invest more into your builds I highly recommend.

Key point: Identify at least 1 key build identity that you want to do, and plan towards that role.


2 – Constraints, balance & Honesty

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Important because the build will be tested by an external outside judge (the game) – your feelings about it will not make it better. You may love firestorm and want it to succeed, but the game will test your build and can hit you back hard.

You ‘need’ to

  • Be honest about what you’re OK with. (i.e how shit can your build be to still play it enjoyably)
  • If you’re playing a skill for fun, and not having fun – well whats up with that sir?.
  • Some people like certain things, dps thresholds, power thresholds – you may just need to acknowledge it and accept it

Another important thing to consider is how the game is balanced. Skills like BB/BF and toxic rain are fucking broken compared to your flameblast or whatever. OK – cool – accept it – and move on. You’ve made your choices, you know what you did, that’s how the game is. There’s a weird fucky space where you can blame the developers and yourself for being messed up around balance – it’s a tricky space to walk. Be honest about the skill you’re doing, its strengths, its weaknesses, and try make peace with it and enjoy the ride.

Key point: Reflect on your preconceptions VS reality of playing it. You will learn a lot about yourself, and large discrepancies probably means you need to be a lot more honest with yourself.


3 – Comparisons

Important because at some point, you will open up a stream, and see another play blasting higher content than you are doing, 3x faster than you are doing it.

  • A) its going to happen, so get used to it now
  • B) Its going to make your build feel like shit, if you are that type of person
  • C) If you are that type of person, either switch to a good skill OR don’t watch streams for as long as you can

Key point: Be extremely careful watching streams and content.


4 – Multiple characters

As with specialisation, having multiple characters enables you to see a lot of content (and access more rewards). For in Ritual I had a specialised mapper, and a specialised bosser. For the most part the mapper could not boss, and the bosser could do a t16 in like 8+ minutes.

Multiple chars lowers the gear ceiling by a LOT, for some builds. Because otherwise having your mapper handle some tough bosses would require a massive respect or massive gear upgrade, usually unrealistic within a reasonable timeframe.

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Other specialisations – speed farmer (heist was a good league for this), MF/low content farmer (maybe div cards or just a style to change the piece), delver or deep delver. And of course just gives some variety and difference to your play sessions.

Key point: multiple characters allows you to specialise and interact with more content, despite having characters who are not well-rounded.


5 – Gem swaps + gear swaps

So most players turn their noses up at this. But the benefit is huge

  • I recommend sticking to one gem swap only (not full 6 link swap or anything). For example inc. AOE to conc effect, or Ancestral call to melee phys
    • After doing that level, see if it was something you hated, or didn’t mind.
  • Gear swapping is taking it to this next level, with same justification. Some common ones are shields like Saffels , belts like HH, explodey chest vs single target. For SSF its probably pretty unlikely this will apply.
    • A weapon/glove swap rampage is good though. Another one is a swap to generate charges

Key point: A small bit of effort gives a ton benefit in these areas.


6 – Two button builds

Many off-meta stuff suffer from zdps. Incorporating more buttons is one of the simplest ways to crank your damage up, at the cost of ease of play. If that’s a tradeoff you’re willing to make, well, you know what to do.

Wave of conviction, frostbomb, Hydrosphere, selfcast curses/marks. Vaal skills, guard skills, wither totems, etc.

But also those secondary 4 links – for example doing the Arctic Breath AND Vortex instead of just one. Or Scorching ray and flamewall, or ballista totems and bow skills, etc.

Key idea: More effort = more reward generally


7 – Learning orientated play

So in ritual I bricked my first ~3 maven fights. I knew I was not ready for them, also went in blind for the experience. In contrast, its common for trade league players to not know fights… They tend to fear failure in terms of currency which makes sense. But also the trade approach (which then bleeds into other modes) is to get so much damage that you phase the boss instantly, and then have no idea what the boss actually does.

In contrast, learning the fight, means you can do it earlier IN THE FUTURE, with worse gear, without the ‘corrupting blood jewel that you need’, with some things going wrong, without the chaos res and so on.

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The cost of this is a risk of failure – which you ‘need’ to embrace.

For the moment? Youre probably going to brick some fights and content. Later down the line? You’re going to have some poggers moments and not have boss frag sets rotting in standard

Key ideas: Learn difficult content makes it easier, faster and more accessible


8 – Segregate your XP farming

Softcore levelling is rough for some builds. A common misconception is of how difficult the content is that people reach high levels with… Generally the reality is that players pussy the fuck out for XP. Theyre not doing giga juicy maps, they’re running white t14s, pure chayulas, white Heist contracts, with aura bots, etc (generally, theres exceptions obviously). Highly consider doing some of this content if XP and that content interests you.

You should always know are you playing for XP, or not for XP? If yes, you skip that boss, you roll over that map, you don’t do that content right now. This is also where another build is helpful (for example my ritual mapper got 100, and my bosser sat at 97/0% forever).

The general consensus is that most builds soft-cap their power at around 92 – that like 95% of their power. But remember that investing a few days of safe farm to get that 95/6/7, and maybe a week or 3 for that 98/99/100 if you choose to will give you a lot of breathing room

Key point: Consider deliberate XP farming, maybe requiring a mindshift If coming from SC trade

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