Path of Exile

Too much time, so I reworked Ascendancies (pt. 1)

Content of the article: "Too much time, so I reworked Ascendancies (pt. 1)"

First, Harvest is my favorite league but I’m finally slowing down on the grind. To make up for that, I’ve devoted too much time to thinking about my expansion wishlist and decided to write up what I want to see as changes to different ascendancy classes.

Disclaimer: this is simply done as an enjoyable end-of-league past time to replace the theory crafting that normally goes on in my brain while I’m desperately trying to procrastinate on work. I’m not set on any of these changes, or unhappy with the game. I simply believe some classes and notables have been forgotten over the past few years (for example, has anyone *ever* taken the occultist power charge node?), and want to fantasize about how to revamp them into the 2020s.

Methodology: I used poeninja for reference of what people thought was good, but I know that’s not entirely accurate since a berserker may have a harder time reaching those leader boards with aspect of carnage than a necro with bone offering. Regardless, I combined this information with my experience of playing my real primary game, path of building, to try to reform class notables according to class identity. Some, (Occultist, Raider…) I feel lack because of the lack of build diversity and unique mechanisms to build around. While the playstyle doesn’t have to be that diverse, each class should enable creative building solutions or synergies. What do you build around when you make a raider? Maybe you grab the frenzy charge boots, but beyond that not much. These are the types of issues I tried to address, as well as adding a few more viable options for each class.

Don’t hate me: this is for fun and to get some juice flowing.

Necromancer: Seems (almost too) good. Perhaps a slight nerf is warranted, but I’d rather see other classes gain power to compete with the versatility of the class. I feel Necromancer is very well designed, with solid archetypes to build around (mana/es regen, corpses, minions, block, etc). I wish guardian gave her more competition for best minion class, but that’s not this little witchy’s fault.

Elementalist: Rotating buffs are extremely lackluster, at least, without more impact and a stronger visual cue. My change: Shaper of Desolation: grants Elemental Conflux permanently. Pendulum of Destruction: Gain a (destruction) charge every second. When you have 3, your next non-travel elemental skill has 30% more elemental damage and 30% increased AoE, paired with a visual effect similar to Arcane Cloak so you can actually feel the buff. Paragon of Calamity should grant life leech, Elemental Aegis, and 25% damage reduction and increased life/es recovery for 1 second after Aegis is broken, and remove the conditional buffs. Mastermind of Discord: a decent node if pendulum of destruction isn’t so terrible. Perhaps it can allow for one free Herald skill instead of 25% less reservation to that a normal build can have a 4-link herald decently. I think the golem nodes are fine, and I’m not experienced enough with a golemancer to know better.

Occultist: Cold DoT seems fine for Occultist, but Trickster outclasses her for chaos in nearly every way. The curse nodes are good, but the rest of the class doesn’t synergize with anything other than Cold/Chaos DoT. Her identity seems: Cold, Chaos, Curse, ES, Crit. Vile Bastion: Decent, but should lead into a new ES notable since they removed Wicked Ward (Soul Barrier: gain 1% increased ES recovery rate and 1% ES regen for every 5% ES missing. You have 10% more damage while on full ES). Frigid Wake: instead of focusing solely on DoTs, this notable should grant enemies increased damage taken equal to your chill effect, similar to bonechill. Withering Presence: Same treatment, it should cause withered stacks to have an additional 2% increased Chaos damage taken instead of DoT Multi, allowing you to use it with dark pact or other chaos skills. Profane Bloom: Currently just explode and negate hexproof, which is good, but slightly lackluster. However, if Malediction is better, for instance, granting the non-chaos damage as chaos for each curse on an enemy when hit instead of after kill, it would be fine. Forbidden Power: I still have no idea why this node still exists from years ago since crit doesn’t synergize with anything else the occultist has, but I think it’s related to Alira being crit-themed and almost certainly being occultist. I think this node should branch off of Profane Bloom, and grant +1.00 base crit chance if you’ve cast a curse skill recently, and 50% increased crit chance per curse on the enemy. Hopefully, these changes refine her role as cold caster (now hit/crit based), curser (can work with any other archetype), and ES tank. These are hopefully now all options that compete with each other instead of you just going Occ for the DoT, or for super clear Pops.

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Assassin: #2 on poeninja after Necro, Assassin is currently a very strong class. While personally, I think the poison/power charge paths lack some flavor since you just pick the charges always unless you’re poison, they are strong and give the assassin strong versatility and identity. Currently, Ambush and Assassinate is the only node never picked, since it simply gives conditional damage. I do think the node is a close contender with Opportunistic, so adding a small defensive benefit, like, take 20% less damage from enemies on full life, may be enough to make it at least sometimes viable as a farming build.

Trickster: Trickster is in a deceptive spot. Despite being class #3 on Poe Ninja, 95-99% of Tricksters always take the same 4 ascendancy nodes (Ghost Dance, Patient Reaper, Escape Artist, and Prolonged Pain). This means Harness the Void, Swift Killer, and Weave the Arcane are seeing almost no use. The issue I see with Trickster is that they are only good for ES hybrid and DoT damage. Their flavor seems to want Mana and channeling conversion spells to work, but it is very lackluster. I’m not sure I want to work with Harness the Void without specifying that they should just fix non-chaos as chaos interactions, but I would simply add in chaos damage ignores resistances so that stacking % Ele as Chaos is a viable build for them without relying on top end Eternity Shroud nonsense. Swift Killer is strong as it allows for frenzy generation, but I would make the channeling give you both frenzy and power charges every second to help with consistency, and perhaps give a defensive mechanic while having infusion, like curse immunity or 30% chaos resistance. I think this node works well if Harness the Void become more viable as a build enabling notable. Weave the Arcane is supposed to support a mana playstyle with Patient Reaper, but it falls out of favor because mana is best for hit builds (archmange) on necro or heiro. I think The attempted synergy is interesting, but the inconsistency of the recovery rate on Patient Reaper versus bosses hurts the archetype more. Changing Patient Reaper to always have 50% or 70% increased recovery rate, and 50% increased global damage, would help Weave the Arcane be more viable. Furthermore, Weave the Arcane should open the door to attack-based MoM builds, which currently don’t exist. I would change Weave the Arcane to give: Caster bonuses from Arcane Surge also apply to Attacks, 15% change to gain arcane surge on hit and 6% reduced damage taken while not on Low Mana, on top of 20% increased maximum Mana and free travel skills. I would like some way to convert mana into damage, but can’t think of anything other than general “gain damage equal to % unreserved mana”, and that feels very lackluster.

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Saboteur: I’m not entirely familiar with traps and mines as a playstyle, so I do not feel I have much to properly add for this class. However, I’ve always wished there was another archetype included in this ascendancy since I don’t like the trap/mine and it’s the only class I’ve never once played. To this end, I suggest moving the trap and mine notables into the same 2 or 3 notables makes it on par with how other ascendancy archetypes are designed. Other than traps and mines, Sabo has blind as a potential archetype, but I don’t think this really fits more than 1 nodes worth of design space. The only other characteristic is AoE, but that’s also limited. This basically means the Sabo needs a new 2 or 3 nodes that completely define a new build, and it can really be anything. I suggest crit ignites with built in infernal cry style explodies to fit the theme, but there’s no point in creating a new archetype when I’m trying to point out how I want nodes to be fixed.

Deadeye: I personally believe that deadeye is, for the most part, fine, but bows are the problem and hopefully get reworked soon. I would change a few things however to shore up under-used notables. Powerful Precision should swap places with Endless Munitions, making the extra proj a 1 pointer. Powerful Precision should then get 40% increased crit chance and 8% crit multi for each remaining pierce instead of the flat 100% crit chance for pierced targets. Fast and Deadly: Changed to 10% increased attack *and cast speed*, as well as 25% increased cooldown recovery for movement skills, instead of only for mirror/blink arrow. Gains a new effect: excess accuracy over 100% is converted into critical strike chance. Far-Shot is a bit problematic, but while I’ve never heard of anyone playing a Far-shot archetype, I do respect the position of that mechanic. On the whole, however, I think the node should become a keystone on the tree from the same dex point that point blank comes from, and Deadeye should gain Fast and Deadly as the entry node to Richochet. If you wanted to replace the missing notable, I believe there is design space for DoT, since Burning Arrow and Puncture are sort of left dry, and Rupture already has DoT synergies.

Pathfinder: Pathfinder should probably not be changed until the flask-smash problems are fixed. I would like to say, however, that pathfinder suffers somewhat from the same problem as Sabo, but since flasks are used by every build, it’s not nearly as limiting.

Raider: Raider isn’t terrible, but suffers from not-the-best-at-anything-and-therefore-never-picked-itis. I like her. I really want to play her. But a different class is just always better. In my mind, Raider should be a top contender for melee elemental builds (and bows split with Deadeye). Why don’t people pick raider? She has no damage reduction to compensate for right-side-of-tree squishiness and offers no unique build styles. Her only defensive mechanic is “don’t get hit”, and this seriously negates her viability. Way of the Poacher/Avatar of the Slaughter is the most popular notable line, so I don’t think that one needs too much adjustment. However, Quartz Infusion and Rapid Assault are both very underwhelming compared to other ascendancy nodes (look at necro and assassin 1 pointers). Quartz Infusion should just give phasing instead of pseudo conditionally, and should provide 10% attack dodge and 10% spell dodge on it’s own (hopefully making it viable as a single point pick up for defenses). Avatar of the Veil: remove 10% spell dodge and enemies have 15% reduced accuracy. Keep ailment immunity and exposure, but also gain the ability to evade spells. Rapid Assault should just flat-out grant Onslaught, and should make Onslaught also grant 5% chance to evade and 20% increased attack damage. This is important, since stacking Onslaught effect can also now improve these effects, opening more tree planning and itemization. Avatar of the Chase: Gives 100% increased Onslaught effect, and loses its other evade and damage effects. Instead, Onslaught also grants 4% reduced damage taken from hits. Raider should receive one more notable, since it’s one of the only classes with only 6 (along with Jugg and Inquis). I believe branching another frenzy node off of Way of the Poacher would be good for diversity, since it would limit you from gaining the 2nd tier onslaught or phase nodes if you wanted to go full frenzy stack. Hunter’s Endurance: 2% more evasion per Frenzy Charge, losing 2% for each time you’ve attacked recently. 2% more elemental damage while at maximum frenzy charges for each time you’ve attacked recently (cap 30%).

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That's all for now; I'll do the other half later.

Let me know if there is anything you'd like to see in ascendancies going forward, or if there are any major problems with the way I went about changing them. Also, how's harvest? How's build planning (if you're still doing that sort of thing). Thanks for reading, and stay sane, exiles.


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