Path Of Exile Starter Build for Heist 3.12 – Chaos DoT Trickster

Path Of Exile Starter Build for Heist 3.12 – Chaos DoT Trickster

Last updated on September 24th, 2020

In preparation for a new league coming with the Heist expansion, we decided to put few starter builds for any player wanting to get into the league, and start with maximum efficiency. The goal of a league starter build is not to be the best at anything, but rather create the cheapest build to start with. In a new league you will begin with no currency, no hard-to-get uniques, nor have to deal with any complex mechanics. These builds are made in a way that are easy to create, simple to scale damage, and fast to level up.

Path Of Exile Starter Build for Heist – Chaos DoT Trickster

We aim to reach endgame as quickly as possible, and start making currency by doing high level content before most other people, even if you are casual player. We choose builds that’s best suited for Heist League playstyle, to be able to enjoy new content as much as you like.

Essence Drain/Contagion/Soulrend Trickster Build, with Spellslinger

Grinding Gear Games is nerfing Spellslinger in 3.12 Heist League, by increasing its cooldown, and its mana reservation. This might be bad for skills that require rapid casting so many times. However, Damage Over Time spells are least affected, and will be fine as a league starter. It doesn’t matter if you proc your spell every quarter of a second or half second, if your debuff lasts for more than 4 seconds!

While Assassin is best suited for Cast on Critical (CoC) builds, Trickster on the other hand is more fitting for Damage Over Time (DoT) spells. More specifically the Heal Over Time granted by Essence Drain, which is a strong defensive mechanic on its own. That’s why we Trickster is the best choice.

This Path of Exile Build uses Frenzy as a main attack, to generate Frenzy charges and attack quickly, without stopping for long, before moving onto the next mob. It triggers two skills with Spellslinger: Essence Drain, a DoT spell that does high damage, spreads with Contagion, and heals players for a portion of the damage done. The other is Soulrend, a projectile spell with homing effect that deals damage over time as long as it touches enemies, and then for small duration afterwards. Then we Hand-cast the third spell Contagion manually which is an area of effect spell, that spreads to other nearby enemies upon enemy death.

Chaos DoT Trickster Build: Gems and Links

Below you will find good combinations of Links and Gems that make the Build function for each Skill you’ll be using. I’ve organized them by Skill so that you can see the progression you might take with each in order to achieve an optimal setup.

You can Level with Blight from the start, and keep adding more skills and support gems as you obtain them.


Blight is the first Chaos damage over time skill you get in Act One, and is a channeling skill. Gather monsters, use it for a couple of seconds, then move away. They will die shortly after. In later levels, you only use it after applying all other spells to tough out Rare or Unique enemies, to bring them down faster. You can link with Infused Channeling support to get a global chaos damage after channeling.

  • 2 Links (2B): Blight-Infused Channeling
  • 3 Links (3B): Blight-Infused Channeling –Faster Casting
  • 4 Links (With Spreading Rot jewel) (2B2R) Blight –Faster Casting –Spell Totem –Multiple totems


We use Contagion only for its functionality, not damage. It spreads to other enemies upon target death, and cause Essence Drain to spread with it. Contagion is much smoother with increased area of effect modifiers in general, so we go with this. It will also be harder to trigger Contagion with Spellslinger after the 3.12 Heist patch, due to the increased mana reservation. So I decided to go with Hand-Casting Contagion with huge AOE, to allow huge spread over large parts of the maps without spamming it.

  • 3 Links (Hand Cast) (3B): Contagion-Increased Area of effect –Intensify

Essence Drain

Essense Drain is one of the two main sources of our damage, which can be scaled in multiple ways, like projectile damage, damage over time, and spell damage. It allows linking a wide variety of support gems to the gem. The skill is so strong, it can carry you through an entire campaign on four links alone, and through maps on five links, with moderate gear. It also has a long duration so it doesn’t need any investment in attack/cast speed.

The only thing you will need to worry about is mana reservation of Spellslinger, as full six link on Essence Drain will reserve 63% of your mana on its own, which means you don’t have enough room for other spells to be linked with Spellslinger. You will be limited to four links if you want to have more supports on Soulrend.

  • 3 Links (3B): Essence Drain –Spellslinger –Controlled Destruction
  • 4 Links (4B): Essence Drain –Spellslinger –Controlled Destruction-Efficacy
  • 5 Links (5B): Essence Drain –Spellslinger –Controlled Destruction-Efficacy –Swift Affliction
  • 6 Links (6B): Essence Drain –Spellslinger –Controlled Destruction –Efficacy –Swift Affliction –Void Manipulation


Soulrend is another damage over time skill which stacks with Essence Drain. It shoots a projectile that keeps doing damage as long as it touches enemies, and then some. So in addition to scaling the same way as Essence Drain, it benefits from increasing area of effect, and duration modifiers. You can’t have both Soulrend and Essence Drain at six links, probably not even five without huge investment. So stick with either one you like, or balance them at 4:4 or 5:3 , or even 6:2, until you invest in Reduced mana reservation to push them both to do more damage.

  • 2 Links (2B): Soulrend –Spellslinger
  • 3 Links (3B): Soulrend –Spellslinger –Efficacy
  • 4 Links (4B): Soulrend –Spellslinger –Efficacy-Controlled Destruction

Flame dash

We use Flame Dash as a movement spell, and it’s an easy way to gain Arcane Surge buff, so we only need these two links.

  • 2 Links (2B): Flame dash – Arcane Surge


We use Steelskin linked with Cast When Damage Taken Support to increase survivability.

  • 3 Links (1B2R): Steelskin – Cast When Damage Taken – Increased Duration

Despair & Frenzy

Despair is a curse that can be either Hand Cast for better debuff and monster explosions upon death, or to auto cast with Hextouch. You can cause curses to spread upon enemy death with Asphyxia’s Wrath quiver, if you decided to go with Bow and Quiver as a weapon.

Hand Cast option
  • 3 Links (3B): Despair – Impending Doom –Spell Cascade
Auto Curse option
  • 3 Links (1G2B): Frenzy –Despair – Hextouch

Skill Tree Progression / Path of Building / Ascendancy / Bandits

In this section we’ll take a look at where you will need to place points into your Skill Tree to make this Build function, as well as in what order works best for maximum efficiency. Let’s begin with where to place points throughout the First Chapter.

First Labyrinth (43 points)

When placing points we start from the Shadow area, going through physical and chaos damage small nodes, reaching for “Coordination”, then up to grab “Blood Siphon” and “Trickery”. We then go right from “Coordination” to get “Entropy” and “Fangs of the Viper”, then up to get “Resourcefulness”, “lethal Assault”, “Coldhearted Calculation”, and finally we get the “Growth and Decay” wheel.

From here, we move west to get more spell damage and AOE nodes, taking few Intelligence nodes, to reach for “Arcane expanse” wheel, and take it. Then we get “Wandsilnger” wheel, and go down through area of effect nodes, then grab “Deep Wisdom , “Heart and Soul”, and finish with “Arcanist’s Dominion”.

Second Labyrinth (63 points)

We should get more life for survivability here, so we get “Melding” Wheel, “Blood drinker” Notable and adjacent nodes, and “Written In Blood” Wheel. From here we climb north to get the super powerful “Atrophy” arm of the chaos wheel in the top-right corner of the tree.

Third Labyrinth (Level 69 with 92 points)

Keep going south from “Fangs of the Viper”, to get the two keystones, “Acrobatic” and “Phase Acrobatic”, and the life/evasion wheel “Revenge of the Hunted”. Then “Method of the Madeness” Wheel west of it.

Afterwards, we get back to top of the tree, path to “Cruel Preparation” , and then finish with the “Corruption” wheel

Final Labyrinth (Level 90 with 113 points)

We aim to get Reduced Mana reservation in the endgame, so we go all the way towards the “Sovereignty” wheel, and also take “Purity of Flesh” wheel next to it. Then get “Charisma” wheel under “Method of Madness”, and go further south from “Acrobatic” to get “Herbalism” wheel, and get two points in “Survivalist” for more evasion and maximum cold resistance.

Path of Building

If you need exact specifics of the build, you can copy and import this link in the offline tool “Path of Building” to see the entire character build. Or Open the POE Planner link for an online character planner.

Link of 3.11 build:

POE Planner Link (For direct view from mobile):

Ascendancy and Bandits

Trickster has a very strong synergy with damage over time, and life recovery from Essence Drain, so it’s best to start with “Patient Reaper”, then build up your Ghost Shrouds by taking “Ghost Dance” and “Escape Artist” next. For the final point in our Ascendancy, we get to use “Prolonged Pain” for massive damage increase, and skill duration.

For Bandits we kill them all for two passive points.

Chaos DoT Trickster Build: Gear

Below you will find some recommendations for weapons, armor and accessories you can get to better utilize the build to good efficiency early in the league.


For League starter builds with very limited budget, you don’t need to plan around expensive and hard to get items. Your aim is to grab the easiest to get weapons to make this build function, and go from there. That’s why I planned the build with generic stats, not related to any specific weapon. So you can use Dual Wands, Wand and Shield, Bow and Quiver, or simply a staff. What only matters is getting three or four good mods on your weapon to speed up your clear, and save your currency for other builds you plan on doing next. Or getting more important items to challenge higher end content as early as you can in the first few days of league, because that’s the most profitable.

The good mods we seek for our Trickster weapon is as follows: Chaos Damage Over Time Multiplier, which gives the most damage among all weapon mods. Then either Spell damage, Chaos damage, and generic damage over time. If you are using two handed weapon (Bow/Staff), you could get +1 or +2 level to socketed gems modifier and place your main damage spell in it, or +1 to Level of all Chaos Spell Skill Gems on one-handed weapons.

Armor and Accessories

Before we go into starting a new character in the Heist league, you need to notice that we build our defenses around life, evasion, dodge, and life recovery. Then some Energy shield to benefit from the Ghost shrouds provided by our Trickster Ascendancy. So we seek Armor with base evasion, especially on Chest pieces, then we can use hybrid Energy shield/Evasion on most items, and pure Energy Shield on Helmet.

That said, you will not be too picky about Armor while leveling in the first day or two in the league. We will prioritize items with the right socket colors to fit our skills first, and we will seek the highest possible movement speed boots we can get, that’s what a starter build needs through the campaign.

Later in league, when we make enough currency to buy good items, we can get very powerful Shaper Helmets with negative chaos resistances to all nearby enemies, or Honourhome for increased level of socketed gems. We can get Amulets with +1 levels to all chaos or Intelligence gems to maximize our damage. Then for the Boots we should get Three-step Assault and use together with Silver and Quartz Flasks to get massive dodge and evasion bonus. The rest of the Armor can be rare items with generic stats that benefit us such as Resistances, Life, and Evasion.

As always, Rings are the easiest slots to gain resistances. Stygian Belts are the best choice to get Life on belt itself and socketed Jewel.


Use a Quicksilver Flask from start to finish, preferably with Increased movement speed during Flask effect, or increased duration. Then pair it with Quartz Flask for dodge and Phasing, and Silver Flask for Onslaught. Then pick a life Flask with instant or semi instant effect, to recover quickly when you get an unlucky hit that leaves your life in towards the low end. For the final slot, use either mana or Hybrid Flask, to be extra safe during boss fights.


Typically for all evade and dodge builds, your Major Pantheon will be Soul of Lunaris, which provides great evasion, dodge, and physical damage reduction.

For Minor Pantheon you have two options: Soul of Garukhan so you get movement speed and more evade chance, or Soul of Shakari so you get almost complete poison immunity, as dodge chance doesn’t help against DoTs.

Final Tips

As this build mainly focuses on Heist league start, we can hardly recommend going out of the way to get expensive unique items or specifically crafted rares. However, if you know how to farm your currency and gain steady income, you can push this build beyond the limits, it can be one of the top builds in any league. Specially in Heist, where you rely on hit and run tactics to escape the facility, and don’t get swarmed by guards.

CI version of Chaos Over Time Trickster

One way this build can be pushed, is going Pure Energy Shield with Chaos Inoculation Keystone in endgame. This makes you immune to chaos damage, but have only 1 life, and rely entirely on Energy Shield for survival. In that case, you need to have huge Energy shield bonus on every single item, and replace all life nodes in the tree with Energy Shield nodes. Also remove Acrobatic (which reduces Energy Shield), and use the points to reach for “Glancing Blows” Keystone to pump your Block chance. Use Crystal Belt and a Shield with good block and Energy Shield, and get Rumi Concoction Flask for even more block chance.

Some characters from top of leaderboard with pure ES builds

Low Life Version of Chaos Over Time Trickster

Another way to push the build even further, is getting Shavronne’s Wrappings chest piece which is almost the same as Chaos Inoculation, but doesn’t remove life. This allows you to reserve all your mana, and then some of your Life, as well to always be on low life. Utilize the Keystone Pain Attunement for even more damage. This build is very flexible and can be adjusted easily, resulting in a build that can be used in more than one way.

If you found this build useful and want to check out more of our Path of Exile content, be sure to read/watch our Path of Exile: Harvest Expansion Overview to find out more about the previous league, and our Path of Exile: Heist Expansion Overview for the upcoming expansion. Or if you are interested in our guides, check our Path of Exile Builds.


A Thirty years old Arab hardcore PC gamer, I'm from Egypt, and I've been gaming on PC for 15 years (since 2003). I have also been writing fiction in Arabic long before that, and before High School. English writing came later, in form of Fan fiction, forums Role Playing, and sometimes making guides for games. I joined Fextralife by Jan 2018, to share my views and ideas on the hobbit we all enjoy and love, Gaming. Favorite genres: RPG, Action, Third Person, Isometric, Hack&Slash, and adventure. Occasionally I'd dip in MMOs, Simulation, or Strategy. Never a First Person Shooter though.

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