I’ve shared this build with a number of new players as a great beginner build. You get the primary DPS very early on, and it consistently scales throughout the game. Keep in mind, everything I have below is based on my HC character. Feel free to adjust for SC (drop some ward retention for dmg for example). Good thing is there are no mandatory uniques. Think of this guide as more of an outline as opposed to hard and fast instructions.
Skills (in order of specialization)
- Lightning Blast - Go to Focal blast first, just picking up prereqs to there. After that, start pathing to more damage while chilled/frozen, also just picking up prereqs. If you don’t have any shock chance on gear/passives, put 1 point in shock chance node while leveling. After that, go to quad cast node. Finally, last 2 points go into the extra chains if you’ve cast lightning blast recently. I have lightning aegis on cast because I’m using lightning aegis idols, if you don’t have those, you can put the last point into crit chance or shock chance.
- Flame Ward - Path to double ward, but ward gained over time first. After that, cast when stunned is a nice safety QoL, but don’t use it if you just autocast flame ward. Pick up other ward nodes, and then finish off by splitting any points left between duration and damage reduction. Warmth (mana regen) is useful if you have mana sustain issues. Maxing the ward for missing HP node is very good on exsang HP stack builds (better than the 40 ward nodes). Personally, I only put 3 points in the -duration/50 ward node as a prereq, so I have an increased uptime on the damage reduction. Maxing ward nodes and ignoring damage reduction/duration is better early on when you have less ward generation, later on, when you can hit 5k ward without flame ward, damage reduction is better (exsang + potion conversion).
- Snap Freeze - Freeze duration first, then cd/mana efficiency. Finish up with range, and chilled ground on cast. You can use the -cd/-freeze duration node if you want, although 2 points is optimal in there. It’s more mana intensive but has slightly more freeze uptime.
- Arcane Ascendance (last two can be either order) - I just respec’d but the last 4 points would go into CD. Either go for 5 mana on ranged kill or 300 ward first. Whichever you don’t get first, grab the other after. Grab lightning blast while using arcane ascedance. Last two points, I put into haste, but you can use that for lightning blast cooldown, or extra casts in arcane ascendance. Important thing here is to make sure you can sustain the extra mana cost from this ability, so don’t get too many casts (8 max IMO, 12 is going to be too many most of the time, and you’re going to cancel before you finish casting all of them)
- Teleport: global cooldown reduction first always. I go for %ward retention, but stun immunity is also good. Ward gen nodes aren’t great anymore, I’m only using because I have ~90 int. For SC, very viable to take % ele dmg for some of the ward retention/ward gen. Mirrors can be decent early on, but they die very quickly when you get to 50+ monolith or wave 100+ arena.
Mage: split points between scholar and intelligence nodes. Last 6 go into ward retention to unlock sorceror. After spending ~55 points in mage, you can come back for crit chance/crit multi here.
Sorceror: Grab all intelligence, crit, and cast speed on the tree. For me, final points are going into lightning dmg/shock chance and shock effectiveness. Spell damage can be used, but the damage difference is minimal compared to int (10 points in int passive is 40%, 10 points in spell dmg is 70%, given you have ~600% increased dmg at least, that’s like a 4% difference in total DPS for 40 ward retention).
I’m not going to list specific items, but instead important affixes. As previously mentioned, there are no mandatory uniques to make this work, although there are some good options.
Personally, I’d advise using wand + crit chance catalyst. Staff is viable for SC (giving up in the int in HC isn’t a good idea). Brass Amulet and Noble Gloves are excellent for cast speed make sure to go for high rolls on both bases. Jewelled circlet should always be used (mana roll more important than spell damage usually, and 30+ mana, 20+ spell damage is a good base). I like Silver, Copper, or Jade rings for MS, stun or dodge. Sapphire is decent too if you need to hit 200/300 mana breakpoints.
Rough stats to aim for
Rather than post specific items, here are my recommendations on stats to aim for ~lvl 80. These are rough stats, of course more is generally better, as long as you aren’t sacrificing other stats.
- Glancing Blow - 100% always, usually I can get to this mark ~lvl 55 on SSF chars.
- Critical strike avoidance - 100% always, usually I can get there ~lvl 65 on SSF chars (try to avoid crit modifiers on lvl 20+ monolith without 100%)
- Ward Retention-400% with teleport/arcane insight buffs - reduces ward drain to 8% of current ward, good starting point. More is always better though. Generally implies at like 70 int or so, which is a solid damage buff.
- Cast Speed - 160%+ without arcane ascendance up. 40% on the tree should always be taken, noble gloves and brass amulet give another 25%, which would hit this mark without anything else. Cast speed on weapon and/or gloves can be used if you can sustain mana
- Mana - 230+ (300 if you’re using lightning damage with 300 mana idols) - 200 is enough to trigger the bonus adaptive spell damage, but I’ve found I need a little more than that to sustain arcane ascendance + LB spam on bosses.
- Char sheet spell critical strike chance- 40% - keep in mind this doesn’t include the 2% base on lightning blast, or the 80% critical strike chance for lightning skills, real value is ~20% higher than char sheet depending on gear.
- Char sheet critical strike multiplier - 250%+ - keep in mind this doesn’t include the 90% you get from LB tree and spell critical strike multi on sorc tree.
- Increased lightning spell damage - ~300% with lightning aegis, but not arcane ascedance sum of global damage, lightning damage and spell damage. With the recommended intelligence values, this would be 600% increased damage (and 750% with arcane ascednance up)
- Dodge - 750+ if you’re going dodge, should be ~50% dodge chance, which is pretty respectable.
- Increased Stun Chance - pretty good actually, lightning blast should basically always be passing the 10% hp threshold required to stun, so it’s a viable weapon suffix if you have chill/shock chance from other sources (never drop mana regen for this)
- Shock Effectiveness - Can be useful if you go for an offensive build with invoker’s static touch + stormtide (~200% shock chance with those 2), Late game, shock chance * shock effect should be ~ 15 at a minimum to see a useful increase (e.g. 750% shock effectiveness and 200% shock chance)
- Spell mana cost/spell dmg hybrid - Mandatory on wand
- Cooldown Reduction - mandatory on helm
- Set Glancing Blow - easiest way to get 100% glancing blow.
- Intelligence - grab this almost everywhere in HC, in SC you can replace with %spell damage
- Spell Crit Strike Chance - Very good as weapon prefix,
- Crit Multi - calculate your crit chance/crit multi. If you have >60% crit chance, this mod usually beats spell critical strike chance for total dps.
- Cast Speed - viable option on gloves and possibly weapon. Important thing here is to balance cast speed with mana sustain. Overall, I’d aim for 170%-200% cast speed without arcane ascendance up (40% from tree, 30% from gloves, 30% from weapon)
- Potion converted to ward/potion find chance - good defensive layer, if you have 100% potion converted to ward (very good with exsang), make sure to at least have 1 potion find prefix on gear.
- %Dodge - if you’re using dodge, this is very good on body armor
- Set Dodge - very good jewelry prefixes if you can cap glancing blow with this, can get to ~60% dodge with this and 1 % dodge prefix somewhere else.
- Dodge on potion use - T5 of this can give up to 800 dodge, meaning you don’t need any other flat dodge. Synergizes well with 100% potion hp converted to ward and potion find chance.
- Spell damage - personally, I’m not a huge fan of this, where possible I’d prefer an int prefix for slightly less damage but much more survivability.
- Critical Strike Avoidance - always get 100% in this by ~monolith 30 in HC. Also mandatory for long arena runs
- Movement speed - mandatory on boots
- Mana Regeneration - basically mandatory on weapon, go for t2 to start on weapon (gives 2 mana per second without any other sources). Don’t bother upgrading until you can get t5 (gives 3 mana per second with decent roll)
- Chill/Shock on Hit - you need this somewhere on gear, about 20-30% of each is plenty to trigger the more damage, given your high cast rate.
- Dodge - best defensive stat with ward
- Glancing Blow - prefixes are more important than suffixes in this build, flat glancing blow can be good as you’ll probably have extra suffixes unless going exsang.
- Mana - you need at least 200 mana for sorc passive, 300 if you’re using idols with max damage.
- Increased Stun Chance (make sure not to get the melee one) - sounds weird, but focal blast lightning blast hits for so much, you can get pretty consistent stuns with this. Would only recommend if you can get ~30% chill and shock chance without a weapon mod.
Here are some of the best idol affixes to look for, roughly ranked from best to worst. I would generally recommend avoiding “when hit” passives because ideally you won’t be hit much when playing this build (36% speed reduction from 3 chill stacks, and another 60% from slow on arcane ascendance).
- Ward Retention - still great for safety, diminishing returns, so I’d stop going for this after ~500% ward retention
- Cast Speed/Lightning Dmg during Lightning Aegis - even with 5% chance of lightning aegis on cast, it’s up most of the time. These provide some of the largest boosts
- Lightning Damage (doubled when over 300 mana) - good if you can get 300 mana, largest % increase on the tree.
- Ward gained on flame ward cast - this ward is added to the base ward of flame ward (increased by both the 30% and doubled from the skill nodes, aka 2.6x)
- Shock/Chill on hit - great way to get your shock/chill chance. 1x2 medium idol can give 20%, which is enough for the build.
- Potion Health Converted to Ward - good defensive stat, very good with exsanguinous.
- Flat spell damage - adds damage, not a great DPS boost, but gets better late game when you have more % increased damage on tree (making % increased idols less effective)
- Lightning damage - unconditional mod is decent, given lightning aegis can be basically up 100% of the time, and 300 mana is pretty achievable, it’s worse than the other % increase options.
- % or flat mana - useful if you’re trying to reach 200/300 mana breakpoints.
- Critical strike chance (for lightning spells) - can be good if you have a lot of crit multi on gear, outshadowed by lots of the other DPS options though.
- Dodge rating - okay if you’re using dodge. Values are pretty low, so it’s overshadowed by other defensive options
List of some usable uniques, none are mandatory. These are ones I’d consider using in the end game. There are plenty of useful leveling uniques (e.g. isadora’s) that I won’t mention here.
- Stormtide - great DPS boost and high base speed. If you’re using these with a decent roll 400%+, avoid shock effectiveness on tree.
- Invoker’s Static Touch - solid DPS option, gives a lot of shock chance as well, synergizing well with shock effectiveness.
- Exsanguinous - Classic ward body armor, works well with health stacking and potion converted to ward
- Chains of Uleros - 100% potion HP to ward, synergizes well with exsanguinous.
Spam or autocast flame ward to always generate ward. Use arcane ascendance frequently, with either 4 or 8 casts, it won’t take too much mana, and generates very respectable ward. As with most sorcs, try to stay outside of melee range. Doubly important when lightning blast is up for the mana on kill. Spam lightning blast at everything, teleporting away from danger. Try to keep the teleport ward buff up at all times (just need 1 cast every 7 seconds, aka 2 CD durations). Keep in mind teleport uses up an arcane ascendance charge but can be used to reposition while keeping the buff up.