[3.21] Essence Drain Contagion Shadow Trickster Guide

17/08/2022 14:27:30
Game Guides , Path of Exile , POE build guides

[3.21] Essence Drain Contagion Shadow Trickster Guide

[3.21] Welcome to the Budget, League Start friendly Essence Drain Contagion guide!

Table of contents:

> Basics

> Mechanics

> Playstyle

> Class, Tree, Pantheon, Masteries

> Equipment

> Flasks

> Skill Gems


Essence Drain is probably the most well-known damage over time skill in all of PoE. It has long been championed as the go-to early leveling, no gear required build for any player. Many players, such as Zizaran have started with it in multiple leagues or gauntlets (special, way more difficult events) and succeeded with it due to the sheer amount of utility provided.



https://pastebin.com/WUGbk181 to use in Path of Building

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Essence Drain is a simple skill that shoots out a projectile, which inflicts a chaos damage over time debuff on hit. While at least one enemy is under its effect, we regenerate (not leech! remember) 0,5% of its damage every second. This might seem bad for a clear skill, since it only hits one projectile that doesn’t even chain or pierce - but that’s where Contagion comes into play. This is a supplementary skill for ED, which inflicts yet another DoT on our enemies, this time in an area. When an enemy dies while affected by Contagion, it spreads to all nearby enemies carrying the Essence Drain debuff alongside it. Since most damage over time effects do not stack, having only these two might not be enough for really strong enemies, which is why we use Blight (a stackable, channeled skill). Remember that gem levels are the best way to scale the damage of DoT skills.

Damage over Time skills, unless stated otherwise, cannot:
- Stack

- Penetrate resistances

- Leech

- Stun


Pros and Cons


+ No specific gear required

+ Fast clear

+ Tanky


- Needs investment to do super endgame content


Mechanics Used


· Wither - This debuff applies 6% increased chaos damage taken to units per stack, up to 15 (90% increased chaos damage taken). Each of the Withered stacks has a duration of 2 seconds, which doesn’t refresh when applying a new one. 

· Recharge - This is Energy Shield’s ‘default’ way of recovery. After not taking damage for 2 seconds, you will start rapidly regaining ES until you take damage again - which is its biggest problem, since we really want to benefit from it. This is why we’re going to take the Wicked Ward keystone, which makes recharge uninterruptible if it began in the last 4 seconds. It comes with a penalty of 40% less energy shield recharge, which we offset by picking up passives on the tree that increase the recharge rate. After calculating all of those modifiers, we end up with about 36% ES recharge per second, which starts after about 1.7 seconds of not taking damage.

· Glancing Blows - Since we want to avoid one-shots as often as possible, we take this keystone, which doubles our chance to block both spells and attacks, while also making our blocks lower the damage taken by 35% instead of the full 100%. It may stupid to use that, but we prefer much more consistent, weaker, multi-layered defences rather than stronger, inconsistent ones.

Useful Links and Path of Building


Path of Building: A powerful tool for planning/sharing builds. To have all info from this build compressed into one simple character sheet, use this link in the 'import' section.




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 Playstyle and Leveling




For early leveling, you can use the Contagion + Blight skills, eventually switching into Contagion + Essence drain (which you get around the time you finish act 1, before Merveil) and Bane in Act 3. Don’t pick up Chaos Inoculation until you have at least 4.000 Energy Shield.

For the early game, you should link Essence Drain to Pierce, as that will make it more consistent for us to clear packs. 



The core gameplay loop of this skill is to throw Contagion onto the enemy and then fire Essence Drain towards those same enemies to then see a chaining plague of chaos damage, which absolutely obliterates entire screens worth of mobs.


For bosses, we don’t really care about Contagion, as its damage is negligible. Instead, we want to focus on applying Essence Drain (with its 5+ second duration) and then burst the enemy down with Blight. 

Map Mods


Watch out for the Less Recovery of Life and Energy Shield mod, as it screws us over.


 Class, Tree, Pantheon


Passive Points

· Tree for level 100


The main version of the build



Import this link to Path of Building.