Essence Drain Contagion Hierophant Templar Build Guide - Path of Exile 3.24

28.03.2024 - 15:59:53
Game Guides , Path of Exile , POE build guides

Essence Drain Contagion Hierophant Templar Build Guide - Path of Exile 3.24

  1. Build introduction
  2. Build Mechanics
  3. Ascendancy, Pantheon and Bandits
  4. Gems
  5. Leveling + Passive Skill tree
  6. Items
  7. FAQ

Build introduction

Essence Drain (ED) and Contagion provides a solid character capable of good solid speed alongside the ability to defeat all bosses in the game, including Sirus, Shaper, and Uber Elder.

  • All content viable
  • Easy leveling
  • Instant Legion clears
  • End-game scaling through gearing viable through ~2-5ex increments
  • Reasonably tanky
  • Can manually dodge whilst still doing damage
  • No flask piano'ing
  • No regen maps
    • Doable, but we usually rely a lot on mana regeneration; need to take out Arcane Cloak for these maps
  • -max res maps
    • Again, doable - but we don't have any sources of +max. res., so these can be rippier at higher map tiers
End-Game Stats.
  • ~9300 eHP (effective HP via Life/Mana through MoM mechanic)
  • ~2500 Arcane Cloak damage reduction from hits
  • 2.6k Energy Shield
  • 34% Block Chance
  • 20% Spell Block Change
  • 50% Movement Speed (before flasks)
  • 1.1million DoT (before flasks)

The clear speed is accomplished through it's large Area of Effect combined with Contagion's ability to spread your Essence Drain damage across packs, reaching monsters up to two screens away.The boss DPS, whilst sitting at only 1 million damage per second, is very powerful due to it's extended up-time as our Essence Drain skill ticks for ~5 seconds - meaning we're still dealing DoT whilst we're not actively casting and are kiting.

In terms of defenses, we opt for a layered approach by stacking Life and Mana (as we are a MoM build, thus our mana pool acts as an extension to our lifepool at a certain percentage), but also pick up some additional Energy Shield, as well as Block and Dodge chance.

Through this, our MoM ED/Contagion build represents not only a solid league starter, but also something that can be carried to end-game with the right gearing; meaning you'll spend more time mapping and making currency, and less time leveling and gearing a second character.

This build has some relatively complicated mechanics to new starters, but is otherwise very easy to actually play - only requiring the player to:

  • Cast Contagion
  • Cast Essence Drain
  • Use a movement skill (ideally Flame Dash)
  • (Optionally) - Use a damage support (Blight) for difficult bosses

And not requiring the player to:

  • Maintain flask up-time
  • Run a separate a bossing skill and clearing skill
  • 'Hot-swap' gems for bossing

A player can reasonably expect to clear early red maps with a 5L and less than 5ex investment, where-as a further 10ex investment can carry a player easily through end-game content.

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Build Mechanics

Depending on your projectile speed, it may prove better to cast Essence Drain, then cast Contagion to 'infect' the mobs whilst the ED bolt is still travelling, or the reverse if your ED will likely hit before you get your Contagion off (requiring you to recast ED to get the Contagion 'spread'). Use Blight and Vaal Blight totems for stronger bosses.

Ascendancy, Pantheon and Bandits

This build requires Ascending to a Hierophant to be able to pick up Divine Guidance, allowing us to hit a 50% effective MoM setup. We then aim to pick up Sanctuary of Thought and Illuminated Devotion for more AoE.

For your final ascendancy points, you can pick up Arcane Blessing to make you immune to Elemental Ailments, i.e. chill, ignite, etc., which is a large quality of life bonus. Alternatively, you may pick up Conviction of Power, which gives us reduced Elemental Damage taken when fighting bosses, as we'll be casting many spell totems at once for our Blight skill.

The 2 passive points for not siding with any bandit is usually the better option, as we can pick up a lot of quality of life on the tree, but you can go with another bandit if you feel you need the resistance, dodge, or movement speed more.


Armour - 6LNotes
B - Essence DrainED scales really well with gem levels, so prioritise a L21 gem over 23% quality.
B - Controlled DestructionReplace with Awakened Controlled Destruction as an end-game upgrade.
B - EfficacyN/A
G - Swift AfflictionReplace with Awakened Swift Affliction as an end-game upgrade.
G - Void ManipulationReplace with Awakened Void Manipulation as an end-game upgrade.
R - EmpowerAs ED scales very well with gem levels, prioritise a L4 Empower for a huge damage boost. This may be replaced with Less Duration (at the expense of boss DPS up-time) or Iron Will if you have a 6L, but cannot yet afford at least a L2 Empower.
Helmet - 4LNotes
B - ContagionN/A
B - Increased Area of Effect 
B - IntensifyGives us increased AoE for the first cast.
B - Arcane SurgeIn a 4 second window, we're unlikely to cast Contagion more than 4 times, so cap this out around level 12 - otherwise the mana cost is unlikely to be reached to get the bonus from this gem.
Boots or Gloves - 4LNotes
R - Cast when Damage Taken (CWDT)Keep at L2 to proc. more regularly for higher curse up-time.
B - Ball LightningKeep at L5 to ensure CwDT can proc. this skill. We don't want the damage from it, we're using it to spread the Despair curse.
B - Curse on HitAs a support, this can be L20 or 21.
B - DespairAs CwDT is not directly casting this, run at L20 or greater.
Boots or Gloves - 4LNotes
R - Cast when Damage Taken (CWDT)Keep at L13 to proc. more regularly for higher up-time.
B - Arcane CloakKeep at L16 so it can be supported by CwDT. This spends 60% of our mana to give us the equivalent amount as a 75% effective layer of protection from hits before they're taken from our ES, Life, and Mana. Noting that MoM only has 50% of damage taken from our Mana, this increases our Mana's protective value effectively by 25% from hits - but additionally, as we have so much Mana regeneration, it'll usually fill up quickly meaning this is leveraged as another defensive layer on-top.
B - Tempest ShieldKeep at L16 so it can be supported by CwDT. +3% extra spell / attack block chance, plus periodic lightning damage to trigger any on-hit effects we might have on our jewels, etc.
R - Increased DurationIncrease the duration of our Tempest Shield (though it is also refreshed on block) and our Arcane Cloak, so it can provide it's defensive layer for longer (or until it's depleted by damage).
Wand or Shield - 3LNotes
R - Cast when Damage Taken (CWDT)Keep at L18 to proc. more less regularly than our others - but when we take larger hits.
G - Withering StepKeep at L19 so it can be supported by CwDT. Provides us with Elusive for another defensive layer, as well as Phasing so we can pass through enemies if we're getting hit hard or trapped in a pack. Also marginally increases our damage through the Withered effect.
B - Flame DashLevel it over the CwDT threshold so we can manually cast it to move around and clear ledges and gaps.
Wand or Shield - 3LNotes
B - Vaal BlightDamage boost and slows enemies.
R - Spell TotemSaves us from casting it, meaning we can spend more time kiting.
R - Multiple TotemsAllows Withered stacks (via Spreading Rot) to build much faster, due to more casts.
Essence Worm - 1LNotes
B - MalevolenceDamage boost.
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Leveling + Passive Skill tree

You can level with this build with ease, without the need to respec.

Pick up damage or defensive options depending on what you need more of at the time.

To save points, prioritise the notables (e.g. get Arcane Guarding through Shield Spell Damage, Block Recovery, and Energy Shieldrather than throughShield Spell Damage and Spell Block;Growth and DecaythroughLife Regeneration instead of Damage Over Time, etc.). You can get these nodes instead later, as you level closer to 100.

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Item SlotUnique ItemCore Stats
HelmetN/ACrafted rare helmet with:
  • Nearby Enemies have -9% to Chaos Resistance
  • Life / Mana
  • +1 to Level of Socketed AoE Gems (to scale Contagion)
AmuletN/ACrafted rare amulet with:
  • Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier
  • Method to the Madness (Allocated)
  • +1 to Level of all Chaos Skill Gems
  • +1 to Level of all Intelligence Skill Gems (end-game)
Body ArmourCloak of Defiance
  • Look for solid Evasion and Energy Shield, and Maximum Mana rolls
  • Double corrupt via temple for end-game rolls, incl. various +1 to different gems, +% maximum life, +% maximum all res., etc.
GlovesN/AFill out resistances and other defenses here.
BootsN/AFill out resistances and other defenses here, but try to get at least 30% movement speed, some dodge, and a good enhancement where-ever possible.
BeltN/AFill out resistances and other defenses here, but aim for a Stygian base so you can fit on more life and some quality of life mods (e.g. phasing, more block, etc.).
Ring 1.Essence WormRequired to permit us to not reserve any Mana, to keep it available for MoM.
Ring 2.N/AFill out resistances and other defenses here.
WeaponN/ACrafted rare wand with:
  • Chaos Damage over Time Multiplier
  • +1 to Level of all Chaos Spell Skill Gems
  • Any other useful mods, e.g. chaos damage %
ShieldN/ACrafted rare shield with:
  • +1 to Level of all Chaos Spell Skill Gems
  • Strong life, block, and resistance rolls
Switch WeaponObliteration Wands OR Sinvicta's MettleRun dual Obliteration Wands for fun explosions on low tier maps, or use Sinvicta's Mettle, kill a monster, then swap back to your main setup to benefit from the Rampage effect.
FlasksN/AYour preference; though ideally at least one Quicksilver and health flask. Pick up defensive mods based on your other gear, e.g. if you don't have a 'Corrupted Blood cannot be inflicted on you' jewel, then ensure one of your flasks has that roll.
JewelSpreading RotMakes your Blight slow down enemies.
JewelTranscendent MindProvides a solid damage boost.
JewelClear MindProvides a solid damage boost.
JewelN/ACluster Jewels that provide damage or defensive bonuses, based on what you need more.
JewelWatcher's Eye (End-Game)Damage over Time Multi. while affected by Malevolence provides a large damage boost, but is expensive - even more so if you aim to get a second viable mod.
JewelElegant Hubris w/ Supreme EgoElegant Hubris can provide a number of useful bonuses:
  • 50% more effect of non-curse auras from your skills
  • 80% increased Spell Damage
  • 80% increased Critical Strike Chance
  • +40% increased Critical Strike Multiplier
  • 15% increased Aura Effect
  • 15% increased Cast Speed
  • 30% increased Maximum Mana
Mine provides the first two. There are a few places on the tree that are viable to place it, use what works the best for your jewel - or buy more and experiment.


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