Content of the article: "The Journey to Depth 65,535 – BlinkDelve"
After quite some time, with the new Endless Delve event having just been announced, I am finally releasing footage of a few build’s I played on the way to the current delve cap of 65,535.
Before I go into details of the various builds I played, I want to put a disclaimer that these builds are no longer functioning as a result of the various nerfs GGG has implemented. In addition to that, many of these builds were not theory crafted by myself and were made as a result of some of the brightest minds in the current poe scene.
Delve League – 3.4.0
Around 2 years ago during August of 2018, Delve league had been announced. This gave players an opportunity to test their characters in ways which had not previously been available in the game. Being an avid ladder player in other arpg’s, this presented the perfect opportunity for someone like me to try and test what could be done.
The first build that came to mind was the very popular Zerphi’s Last Breath Volatile Dead build. Paired with a bunch of other layered defences including the use of Purities and an insane regen pool, this was the build I had settled on. However as we all know, defences in delve fall of quite quickly and before I knew it, I was corpse rushing every other node at depth 700 without a way to progress.
Within a few weeks of the league being released, players had found ways to essentially become immune through what we like to call a “clever use of game mechanics”. During this time players were still able to hit 100% maximum resistance which essentially made you immune when converting all physical damage taken as elemental and speccing into CI. The build of choice was Molten Strike, however, at the time before we had cluster jewels and all the new fancy tools, given so much was spent on achieving immunity, the build essentially had Zdps. I remember spending a good 45 minutes trying to take down an Aul at depth 700. Did I make you proud Quin?
It was shortly after this, that groups were beginning to find use out of a niche item called the Blood of Corruption which enabled the use of the Gluttony of Elements skill. For those who aren’t aware, this is a temporary aura which causes any elemental damage you take to heal you instead. It was at this time, the use of statsticks were very popular and the Shaper t1 mod still gave you 40% physical damage as extra. As a result the skill of choice was blade vortex which scaled extremely well. This also set a precedent for future builds which relied on a similar mechanic.
I ended this league at depth 3473, which placed me at Rank 5, but it already gave me a taste of what could be achieved.
Betrayal League – 3.5.0
With a sense of purpose going into this league, I was set on getting a better rank than I had in the previous Delve league. However as we know, GGG hates the concept of immunity and the nerf hammer was quickly brought out and the 2 previous mechanics were nerfed to the ground. Maximum resistances were capped at 90%, flasks were changed from giving maximum resistances to less damage taken and the flesh and spirit gloves no longer granted the vaal souls needed to charge your gluttony of elements before the start of the node. With this in mind, I grouped up with my mana guardian/aurabot and played what was one of the strongest builds at the time being Molten Strike Howa Occultist. We progressed to around depth 1.7k but even with 90% maximum resistances and 35k ES, you would still occasionally get 1 shot out of nowhere. Things were becoming very difficult and sulphite was extremely expensive at the time as well.
Not too long afterwards, another streamer by the name of TbXie figured out that you didn’t necessarily need to be immune right from the start of the node. All that mattered was that you just didn’t get hit until you gathered enough souls to become immune. At this time, phase run paired with Aspect of the Cat gave you 100% invisibility, which when paired with self curse temp chains was enough time to let you gather enough souls to eventually pop the gluttony of elements. Paired with the soul catcher flask, you could essentially have anywhere between 3 to 5 uses of the aura and you were able to complete nodes which took under 5 minutes.
One of the highlights during this league was when I crafted 7 of the exact same soul reduction shaper rapiers within the same day since 3 of my other friends also wanted to also try the build.
Around midway through the league, I managed to hit the first Solo depth 6k and was pretty content with that. I did want to go further at the time, however there was an extremely frustrating problem. GGG didn’t anticipate this and every time you would try to complete an azurite node or pick up an azurite pile on the way, you would instantly crash and be kicked out of the game. The game simply could not calculate how much it was meant to allocate you.
With all the azurite roadblocks in the way, I pushed delve to the side and went about completing the league challenges. However, another player was slowly creeping up on me and there was every chance he would eventually overtake me. With that in mind, I went back to the delve grind, rerouting every time an azurite node would show up. You can imagine how common azurite nodes are, and there were times where I would have to go back up 100-200 depths just to find another route just to be blocked by more azurite nodes. I can really only remember 2 separate days where I did not manage to go down a single depth because of the amount of roadblocks, but my perseverance pushed through and we ended the league at Rank 1 at depth 7020. Looking back, having to avoid the most common type of delve node for 1000+ depths was and probably will be the most insane thing I do in poe.
Synthesis League – 3.6.0
Having achieved what I set out to do in the previous league. I decided to take a bit of a backseat and just explore what the new league had to offer. I did do a bit of delving, albeit not as much as previous leagues. A lot of it was done in a 4 man group consisting of 2 gc miner’s, 1 mana guardian and 1 aurabot with Vaal Discipline rotations throughout the group keeping us all alive bar a 1 shot. I should also mention the reason why we were not using gluttony of elements was because it got killed once more. In patch 3.6.0 Gluttony of elements now grant curse immunity while active, meaning that you could no longer extend its duration. But as they said, “this is technically a buff”. Really GGG?
Legion League – 3.7.0
Legion league was more of the most successful leagues in recent history. Essentially an updated version of the very popular breach league. It wasn’t very difficult to learn, but It was extremely rewarding. Hit a pylon, kill mobs, collect loot. Easy right?
People were spinning around for hours with screenwide cyclone’s and this was the first iteration of GGG’s loot system which provided rewards from all previous league content. I played for the longest time, however after 2 months of spinning around endlessly, it was enough. I just wanted to delve again. However, I had already done the initial delve grind 3 times now during Delve, Betrayal and Synthesis. It felt pointless just to do it all over again and this was when I decided to continue my progress in standard. Now, I know that the vast majority of players could not care what happens in standard, and 2 or 3 years ago, I very much thought the same. However poe has now progressed to a point where the amount of content we have is so rich I would argue that if you’re not spending your time waiting for a npc to open a door, you might as well be playing standard.
So with that in mind, I decided to continue my progress from betrayal league and see how far I could push. I knew at the time that Vaal Immortal Call existed and some players were already using this method to delve. I gathered what gear I could and made my own iteration of it.
The concept behind this build was that you had 3-4 charges of Vaal IC ready and extended its duration through the use of endurance charges. With 6 endurance charges and linked with increased duration, you were able to have a base duration of 12 seconds on Vaal IC which was further amplified through the use of self curse temp chains.
It certainly wasn’t the best, and definitely not the fastest, but this was a marathon, not a sprint. Below is some footage of a tank of 65k of sulphite with my scuffed version of Vaal IC.
I invested a few mirrors worth of gear and pushed from around depth 7k to 13k within the last 3 weeks of legion league. Following my trend of luck of having my previous 3 builds nerfed, this was no exception and by the end of the league GGG decided to kill this build as well.
One interesting factor was throughout this 3 week push, my character’s name never appeared on the leaderboard and as a result I went relatively unnoticed during this grind. I’m not too sure why this was, but it was probably because the character wasn’t created in the standard league and was made 3 leagues prior during Delve league. It was only after legion league had ended, did my character finally show up.
Blight League – 3.8.0
With the death of Vaal IC, it was back to the drawing board. I wanted to push further, but the character I had spent multiple mirrors on was dead. The ZHP meta had been developed with Tornado shot and Scourge Arrow being the most popular builds for deep delving. However, I wasn’t a big fan of the ZHP meta but a bigger contributing factor was that I was even less confident in my skill to pull this off. So together with Impaired, we went about making another immune build. I should let you know by now that Impaired has been the creator for many deep delving builds, including the very first iteration of the Gluttony of Elements build and the more popular Howa Occultist back in synthesis league. So when it came to making a solo immune delving build, there was no one else other than him better suited for this project.
The basic concept behind this build was to utilise reduced damaged taken so it would stack up to 100% through the use of the pathfinder ascendency, crystal skin, wise oak, stacking a lot of fortify effect and the Unshattered Will shield. Furthermore there were legacy reduced damage implicit synthesised body armours which made hitting the 100% cap a lot easier. I should also mention that this was only 100% reduced damage against hits and any degens would instantly kill you.
The very first iteration of this build we tried to do through stormburst. The reasoning being that it had to be a channeling skill to make use of the Unshattered Will shield and the damage on storm burst was pretty good. However we ran into a problem being that it required you to be stationary and in delve there are small spiders which can hit you and cause a degen. I wasted around 1 mirror on crafting a reduced damage storm burst chest and we had to go back to the drawing board.
The skill of choice we ended up going with was none other than cyclone. It turns out that with enough knockback you can actually never be hit in delve past 6k even as melee since there aren’t any hasted mobs. I’ll save you the details on the entire crafting process to make this gear, but in a single day I deleted 10 eternal orbs from the game on my chest piece knowing that within 6-8 weeks that this build would probably also be dead.
Spoiler Alert: The build died.
This was most definitely the slowest of all the deep delving builds I played. It had around 30m dps, but the knockback which was what was saving me from death was at the same time also detrimental since I would knock all the mobs out of the way into the darkness. I only gained around 10k depths this league and ended the league at around 23k. Below is a short video showcasing the build.
Metamorph League – 3.9.0
Following the same trend of nerfs. The reduced damage build also died when the Unshattered Will shield got changed from reduced damage to less damage. I was back to a point where I had no build to push with, but I couldn’t let the journey end here. So once again with Impaired we tried to theorycraft another build. This time with Vaal impurities. On an interesting note, Vaal impurities had already been changed once prior back in betrayal league where it used to give 25% reduced damage taken and 5% aura effect per gem level. It now gave 25% less damage taken and only 4% aura effect. However if you were able to achieve 100% less damage taken with all 3 purities, convert your physical damage taken as elemental, and be CI, you would once again be immune. The good thing about this build was that this was also immune to degens which were a huge issue on the cyclone reduced damage build since there were many time-lost essence’s you would not be able to do.
One interesting piece of information I found out during playing the cyclone build was that the timelost essences are character bound. What this means is that if you happen to have multiple characters which can run the node you can just swap characters until you find an easier essence. This obviously isn’t practical in a temporary trade league, however in Standard I had 5 different pathfinders meaning I could just swap gear between them until I found an essence I could do.
Initially Impaired and I struggled to find enough aura effect on the build to achieve the required amount to hit the less damage required, however a good friend of mine Eskord was also playing this build and was doing it with the use of the Supreme Ego keystone. This was at a time when we still did not have access to cluster jewels and it was relatively hard to find enough aura effect. It was with the help of Eskord that I finally managed to get the Vaal Impurity build up and running. This build managed to survive 3 leagues until it’s death at the end of Harvest league, with a few minor changes, the main one being the change to temporal chains requiring you to get 175% curse effect with the use of solstice rather than the 45% curse effect that was previously required. Below is a video showcasing this build.
Harvest League – 3.11.0
I started harvest league at around depth 58k. Neither I nor anybody had any idea that delve was capped at 65,535, and with this I was relatively set on trying to achieve the 100k depth goal. A good friend of mine Kooms and I had talked about the idea of delving together as a duo and given I had been delving for 2 years completely solo, I thought it would be a good idea to try something new. Storm brand duo delving was relatively popular and we decided that I would be the support. One thing to note here is that we are both on opposite sides of the world. He was living in Europe, whilst I was living in Australia. We both had to compensate with playing on California servers as it was a middle ground and 200+ ping was still playable. It took some time to get used to, especially delve bosses such as Aul as there was no way we could do the “Aul dance” on 200 ping. We developed a method we like to call orbiting, otherwise known as the headless chicken technique and hope to just not get hit. This provided for some much needed entertainment and we were blasting 500+ depths per day with a good pace to hit the goal of 100k by the end of the league.
As you all know by, delve got capped by a 16 bit server which is shown in the video below for those who haven’t seen it yet.
For those who are interested, this has now been officially capped and creates an error upon clicking the node.
For those who made it this far, I hope you enjoyed reading and learnt something about deep delving. By no means am I the best delver. There are plenty more people who are more accomplished than I am, I just happened to be lucky enough to find something that works and have good enough friends help me achieve my goal.
I’d like to thank all the people who helped me theorycraft the builds, to GGG who made this amazing game and to many of you who spammed “deeper daddy” every 50 depths.
Good luck to everyone in the endless delve race!
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