Grinding Gear Games, the developer and publisher of Path of Exile, has released their new Harvest expansion, which launched on June 19. The new update comes with the Harvest Challenge League, alongside many changes and re-balances to skills and passive trees. There’s also a big buff for two-handed weapons, Slam skills, and Warcries, which are the three main mechanics we plan to take advantage of in this starter build Ice Crash WarZerker.
Ice Crash WarZerker – Path of Exile Starter Build
Melee is not advised for starter builds in general, nor attack builds, because of the fact that getting the best weapons (crafted/uniques) can be very challenging or next to impossible. However an Ice Crash Berserker build is a solid exception, due to the fact that Debeon’s Dirge exists. It’s a very common drop, an underutilized item, and very cheap to be used in every single league, and all league long. Being the best in slot for this build, means that we can gain the most power potential very early in the league. We can also start farming for higher level content and earn good money as fast as possible. With 3.11 rebalances, the added damage modifier on Ice Crash benefits even more from Debeon’s Dirge now more than ever.
Berserker is generally a good class to scale damage with minimum investment, and keeps scaling at endgame, making it a really good offensive build.
Ice Crash WarZerker Build Pros & Cons
- Very fast build, you mostly don’t need movement skills to move between enemy packs.
- Weapon is very cheap
- Decent AOE
- 7k life with Kaom Heart
- Good life regeneration from Enduring Cry
- Low attribute requirement
- Huge life leech (If you take Pain Reaver)
- Vulnerable to elemental reflect.
- Needs investment in defense to avoid one-shot mechanics
- Takes 10% more damage (If you take Aspect of Carnage)
- Require investment in accuracy
- Blight and Legion content are challenging.
How Ice Crash Works
Ice Crash is not a complex skill, it’s a Melee skill which slams the ground, creates an area of ice that hits the enemies three times, dealing less damage with the second and third hit. It has huge Effectiveness of Added Damage (up to 280% at gem level 20), which works as a multiplier for damage, and that’s why Debeon’s Dirge is a very strong weapon for the build. It has the biggest flat “added cold damage” on any weapon, so it scales damage dramatically. It also converts 100% of the physical damage to Cold, which offers an alternative way to scale damage through flat “added physical damage” where possible.
Using a two-handed weapon is relatively slow, but with the many hits we gain from Ice crash hits, it’s easy to deal enough critical strikes to maintain Elemental overload. You can also make use of the new “Exert” mechanic for slam skills.
How Warcries Work
Warcries by default are active skills that provide situational benefits to players, they have a cast time, cooldown, mana cost, and works great against larger groups of enemies rather than single target. These small problems can be solved with investment in Warcries. The reworked “War Bringer” in Berserker ascendancy gives huge damage buffs, allowing us to save points in the passive skill tree and use them for Warcry nodes. We end up with a couple extra buttons to press and hold while playing, that gives you so many benefits.
With the new “Seismic Cry” introduced in 3.11 Harvest Expansion, we get more damage and a better chance to stun enemies for the next 4 attacks. If we lower cooldown of Warcry to almost 2 seconds, and keep our attack speed around 2 attacks per second, then we will have 100% uptime for Exert attacks, which have even bigger multipliers from Berseker tree.
We don’t have to keep cooldowns and attack speed exactly at 2 seconds, as Path of Exile involves a lot of movement between packs and away from boss AOEs. Remember we always consume rage when it goes higher than 25, so without Multistrike we will be much slower. We solve this by using Ice Bite or Rage support instead.
We can also link Warcries with a second wind, for faster cooldown, and one extra use per cooldown, which can make all the difference.
Using the typical Enduring cry can be used for Endurance charges, damage reduction, and burst life regeneration when needed. We can make warcries instant and alternate between them, or keep cooldown times separate and spam both of them.
Skill Tree Progression / Path of Building / Ascendancy / Bandits
Path of Building:
Copy and import this link in offline tool “Path of Building” to see the entire character build. With detailed skill trees for leveling, all possible gem supports, and you can switch between starter gear and endgame setup.
First Lab (40 points)
We go through melee Physical damage nodes, towards “Born to Fight”, Then make sure to get “Heart of Warrior” before going north to get “Deep Breaths” Wheel, then “Sanctity”, “Discipline and Training”, “Retribution”, and finally Elemental Overload.
Finally we go south to get the “Admonisher” wheel, and also grab “Holy Dominion” and “Divine Fervour” near the Templar area.
Second Lab (70 points)
We go deeper into the Duelist section, taking the entire wheel for “Harvester of Foes”, then grabbing “Master of the Arena”, “Bravery” and “Art of the Gladiator”.
In the Templar section we grab “Devotion” as well as the adjacent life nodes, and head east to get the jewel socket, and “Constitution”
Finally, we build up our accuracy and attributes by getting “Versatility”, “Precision”, and the “Eagle Eye” wheel.
Third Lab (95 points)
By now we have reached maps, or almost there. We must finalize our base build by finishing the “Constitution” wheel for survivability. From there we go more into the Duelist section, to get “Golem’s Blood” , “Hatchet Master”, Life and mana leech, and then onto the “Fangs of Frost” wheel.
Final Lab Option A (Level 90 endgame with 113 points and no Cluster jewels)
We will build up more life from taking “Thick Skin” as well as the “Bloodless” wheel, and followed by the “Quick Recovery” wheel. Adding another jewel socket is always a good idea, in addition to “Soul of steel” for more defense. Getting to “Natural Authority” and “Call to Arms” is an easy path for damage increase from Warcries
Final Lab Option B (Level 94 endgame with 117 points and Three Cluster jewels)
You need to acquire these three cluster jewels to build up your skill tree:
- Elemental Large Cluster jewel with 8 passive skills, and the following nodes:
- Corrosive Elements (Removes the need to use Wave of Conviction or Frost Bomb entirely)
- Disorienting Display (Blind enemies for free 50% chance to evade attacks)
- Vengeful Commander
- One Jewel socket
- Warcry Medium Cluster Jewel with 4 passive skills, and the following nodes:
- Haunting Shout
- Cry Wolf
- Jewel socket
- Life Small Cluster Jewel with 3 passive skills, and the following node:
These will take anywhere from 17 passive skills up to 20 if jewels are not rolled with the minimum passive skills. You also need to anoint “Divine Judgment” to save four traveling nodes.
You have two options:
Cautious offensive build:
- War Bringer
- Crave the Slaughter
- Rite of Ruin
- Pain Reaver
Pure offensive build:
- War Bringer
- Crave the Slaughter
- Rite of Ruin
- Aspect of Carnage
Detailed Leveling Skills
- Start game with Marauder character. Use Heavy Strike to Kill Hillock
- Get Ground Slam at level 2 after Enemy at the Gate.
- Use it instead of Heavy Strike.
- Get Onslaught Support at level 3 after Mercy Mission.
- Link it to Ground Slam
- Buy Dash from Nessa at level 4 after Breaking Some Eggs.
- This will be your main movement skill. Don’t use Leap Slam in this build.
- Buy Blood and Sand from Nessa at level 4 after Breaking Some Eggs
- Buying Steelskin from Nessa at level 4 after Breaking Some Eggs is also good
- Buy Enduring Cry after The Caged Brute
- Always use on Cooldown.
- Get Precision at level 12 after The Caged Brute.
- Keep it at level one.
- Buy Added Fire Damage Support from Nessa at level 12 after The Caged Brute.
- Link to Ground Slam/Earthshatter
- (Optional) Get Earthshatter from Nessa at level 12 after The Siren’s Cadence
- Use as main skill instead of ground Slam, if you prefer. Since we are using warcries anyways, it will have the synergy
- Get Herald of Ice at level 16 after Intruders in Black
- Buy Seismic Cry from Yeena at level 16 after Intruders in Black
- Get Elemental Damage with Attacks Support at level 18 after Sharp and Cruel
- Level on swap weapon for now, then link with Ice Crash when you get at level 28
- Buy Hatred from Clarissa after Lost in Love
- Get Ice Crash at level 28 after Sever the Right Hand
- Use as main skill from now on.
- Get Fortify Support from Siosa at Library after A Fixture of Fate.
- Use with Leap Slam for now. Link to Ice Crash to replace Ice Bite at endgame.
- Buy Hypothermia support from Siosa at Library after A Fixture of Fate.
- Put in your swap weapons to level up. Link with Ice crash only at 6th Link.
- Buy Ice Bite Support from Siosa at Library after A Fixture of Fate.
- Link with Ice Crash
- Buying Added Cold Damage Support from Siosa at Library after A Fixture of Fate is an option.
- Put in your swap weapons to level up. Or use it instead of Ice Bite for more damage, less attack and movement speed.
- Buy Frostbite from Siosa at Library after A Fixture of Fate.
- Pre-cast it before jumping on packs or tough rare and unique enemies.
- Alternatively, use with Storm Brand + Curse on hit + Cast when damage taken, to auto curse.
- Buy Increased Duration Support from Siosa at Library after A Fixture of Fate.
- Link with Steelskin, and Frostbite, or Wave of conviction.
- You can also link with your Warcries if you have free links.
- Buy Pulverise Support from Siosa at Library after A Fixture of Fate.
- Use as 4th link for Ice Crash.
- Second Wind Support from Siosa at Library after A Fixture of Fate.
- Link to your warcries if you need shorter cooldown, and link to Dash for more uptime.
- Get Multistrike Support at level 32 after The Eternal Nightmare.
- Link with Ice Crash (only if you don’t use Seismic Cry)
- Cast when Damage Taken Support is a must for any build. Buy from Petarus and Vanja after The Eternal Nightmare
- Also get Fist of War Support after The Eternal Nightmare.
- Use at endgame instead of Pulverize.
- Frost Bomb + Bonechill Support + Spell Cascade Support can be used on bosses if you need extra damage.
- Buy during Act 6 after Fallen from Grace from Lilly Roth.
- Frostbite + Spell Cascade Support is also an option for self casting curse, though we already have many bottoms to press.
- Use Wave of Conviction on setup with Cast When damage taken support gem, instead of manually casting Frost Bomb. (
- It apply same debuff as Frost bomb and it doesn’t stack, so us one or the other.
- Remove both if you get “Corrosive Elements” on a large cluster jewel, as it works the same.
- Get Summon Lightning Golem (during Act 4 after Breaking the Seal from Petarus and Vanja) You can use it in a Malachai’s Artifice ring to trigger Elemental Equilibrium for massive cold penetration. Always better than cold penetration support gem.
- Vaal Ancestral Warchief can be used for more damage buff against bosses.
Gem Links Summary
Ground Slam/Earthshatter 3 Links (2R1G): Ground Slam-Added Fire Damage-Onslaught
Ground Slam/Earthshatter 4 Links (3R1G): Ground Slam-Elemental Damage with Attacks-Added Fire Damage-Added Cold Damage
Without Seismic Cry:
4 Links Ice Crash (3R1G): Ice Crash-Elemental Damage with Attacks-Multistrike-Ice Bite
5 Links Ice Crash (4R1G): Ice Crash-Elemental Damage with Attacks-Multistrike-Pulverize-Ice Bite
6 Links Ice Crash -a (5R1G): Ice Crash-Elemental Damage with Attacks-Fortify-Multistrike-Pulverize-Hypothermia
6 Links Ice Crash-b (5R1G): Ice Crash-Elemental Damage with Attacks-Fortify-Multistrike-Fist of War(NEW)-Hypothermia
With Seismic Cry:
Seismic Cry exert attacks don’t work with Multistrike, so we keep Ice Bite instead, for 12% attack speed, 12% more damage, and nice flat added damage.
4 Links Ice Crash (3R1G): Ice Crash-Elemental Damage with Attacks-Ice Bite-Pulverize
5 Links Ice Crash (3R2G): Ice Crash-Elemental Damage with Attacks-Pulverize-Ice Bite-Hypothermia
6 Links Ice Crash -a (4R2G): Ice Crash-Elemental Damage with Attacks-Fortify-Pulverize-Ice Bite-Hypothermia
6 Links Ice Crash-b (4R2G): Ice Crash-Elemental Damage with Attacks-Fortify-Fist of War(NEW)-Ice Bite-Hypothermia
Dash 2 Links (2G): Dash-Second wind
Dash 4 Links (2R2G): Dash-Second wind-Enduring cry-Seismic Cry
CWDT 4 Links (3R1B): Cast when damage taken-Steelskin-Frostbite-Increased Duration
Early Leveling Gear
Below you will find some recommendations for weapons, armor and accessories needed for early leveling.
- Don’t rush to buy Tabula Rasa, instead, save to buy 6 Links Debeon’s Dirge as soon as possible. It will be cheap at day 2 of league.
- Use the highest damage weapon you can find up to level 66 when you can finally use Debeon’s Dirge
- If your damage is not enough in early levels, it’s time to upgrade your weapon. Weapons with flat Added cold damage is preferable
- The typical unique armour that help any build level up faster are: Goldrim (For resistances) – Wanderlust (For movement speed, mana regeneration, and freeze immunity)
- Look out for items with these socket color combination: 2Red–1Green , and 3Red–1Green. It’d very important for your main skill in early levels
- Try to get gloves with flat “Added Cold damage” if possible, it will increase your damage noticeably.
- Hrimsorrow is perfect Unique gloves or its fated version, Hrimburn
- Use your rare Armour pieces to get maximum resistances, and proper socket colors for your skills.
- Le Heup of All ring is a generic leveling item, with generic damage increase, resistances, and all attributes.
- Prismweave belt is good damage boost item for elemental builds in general.
- Alternatively, Belt of the Deceiver is all-around good Belt, with good defense and offense.
- Tasalio’s Sign ring is a great source for damage and freeze chance (to help with Ice Bite’s Frenzy regeneration). Buy and use it if you have extra currency.
- Dream Fragments can be easy source of freeze and chill immunity, and huge mana regeneration. At the cost of having no damage and small defense bonus.
- Rare rings on other hand is good to cap your resistances, you can easily get +120% total resistances from a ring that cost only 1 Chaos. You can also get flat added cold, and accuracy on rings.
Below you will find some recommendations for weapons, armor and accessories that will be required for endgame content.
6L Debeon’s Dirge (5R1G) with one of the useful corruptions:
(Increased attack speed/socketed gems are supported by inspiration/socketed gems are supported by Fortify/socketed gems are supported by Onslaught)
- Kaom Heart is best for survivability. You can get the build functional without the extra sockets from chest piece, so don’t hesitate to utilize Kaom Heart.
- Belly of the Beast have much less life, but can give you 5 or 6 extra sockets to use for even more secondary skills, or big second Cast when damage taken setup.
- Rare strength-based chest can get more life than Belly of the beast, and you can get one of the good influence affixes on it if you are willing to spend more currency on Crafting. Like:
- Nearby enemies are blinded (Redeemer)
- % chance to gain frenzy charge on hit (Redeemer)
- Enemies you kill explodes, dealing % of their maximum life as physical damage (Crusader)
- You can apply additional curse (Hunter)
- Rare Shaper Helmet with the affix “Nearby Enemies have -9% to Cold Resistance” is best. You can Also get “Reduce mana reserved” on it. Then Life and resistances
- Rare Spiked Gloves with Incursion modifier “49% increased Damage with Hits against Chilled Enemies”, “accuracy” and if you can get added cold damage on top of it, you get really high dps gloves.
- Typical movement speed boots with resistances and life.
- The Pandemonius Jade Amulet is BiS (Best In slot) damage wise, but provides very little defense. Get it if you have the currency, and over-capped resistances.
- Yoke of Suffering Onyx Amulet is all-around good choice for resistances and damage. It also allows your heavy cold hits to shock, which is another damage increase, and open up other shock interactions. You can also buy it anointed with “Divine Judgment” for reasonable price after a week or two in the league. Don’t forget to add some fire damage to your attacks to ignite enemies, and benefit more from this amulet. Poison and bleed is easy to add if you want to go a little further, but you need more jewel sockets.
- The Taming Prismatic Ring goes well with Yoke of Suffering, to increase damage per ailment inflicted. One of best damage rings for Ice builds in the entire game, decent to all resistances. But it’s just too expensive to get in early-mid league. Consider it a chase Unique.
- Malachai’s Artifice Unset Ring with a constant Lightening damage source (Like Golem of Lightening), can provide 40-50% more damage on its own through Elemental Equilibrium. The downside is negative elemental resistances for two types, which you need to compensate for through other gear slots.
- Circle of Fear Sapphire Ring is alternative choice, which is very versatile. It can be used to reduce mana reserved (If you want to fit another buff/herald), or plainly increase damage. Prices will vary depends on how much accessible Synthesis content is in each league.
- Perseverance Vanguard Belt Easiest way to gain Onslaught, and allow you to use Granite Flask and Jade Flask to increase damage as well as defense.
- If you have other source of gaining Onslaught, then a well crafted Stygian Vise with good Abyssal Jewel would be superior to Perseverance
For Uber Lab Enchant:
Pick one of the following:
- Blood and Sand has 40% buff effect
- 40% increased Ice Crash damage
- Herald of Ice has 30% reduced mana reservation.
- With the reduced reservation, you can Link Herald of Ice with Ice Bite and Culling Strike to generate frenzy charges sometimes. Or Onslaught support if you don’t have ways to get Onslaught
- Atziri’s promise
- The Wise Oak
- Granite Flask
- Silver Flask (If you don’t use Perseverance)
- Life Flask of Staunching
Soul of Arakaali – good to double the recovery from Enduring warcry
You have two options:
Soul of Gruthkul – solid physical damage reduction
Soul of Shakari – to get almost poison immunity and save some chaos resistance affixes on gear.
Hardcore/SSF (Solo Self Found) Viable or not
Berserker is not advised generally for Hardcore, it takes more damage from all sources, and are more vulnerable to one-shot mechanics. The only defense Ascendancy has is Life leech from Pain Reaver. But the build can be tweaked, with perfect defensive stats on gear, you might get it to work. I’d not recommend it, unless you are very experienced with Hardcore.
SSF (Or Solo Self Found) will be really tough, because you can’t farm the required weapon for the build to work. It’s not viable without it.
For the Rich Guys
If you don’t have a budget and willing to spend whatever is takes to make this build work you can find the list of items needed below.
- +700 dps Two handed Axe with +2 levels to socketed gems
- Awakened Support gems
- Dual Curses, or triple curses setup.
- Bottled Faith Flask
- Megalomaniac cluster jewel, with any three powerful nodes of your choice.
- Voices cluster jewel, with smallest number of small passive nodes, and three medium cluster jewels.
- General’s Cry on 6 Links chest with another Ice Crash setup.