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Lightning Blast Mage Build - Beginner leveling & End-game build

Hey everyone this is Thyworm with a new build for Last Epoch, the Lightning Mage. This video is aimed at beginners looking for a great levelling AND end game build. If you are enjoying Last Epoch content, consider subscribing. Let’s start with the build philosophy.

[build philosophy]

My main inspiration here is Enki’s arc witch from Path of Exile, an excellent Beginner’s Guide to get into that game. It’s fast, it’s versatile and it’s ideal for beginners. I hope to do the same here, for Last Epoch, with detailed descriptions on skill choices, play style, passives and gear. It’s excellent for new players.

There is one caveat with this build, however, or at least with its main skill, Lightning Blast. Some people, including myself, have crashes of the game client because of Lightning Blast. That’s an inconvenience, but really nothing more than that, in my opinion. Not everyone has these issues, and it’s not consistent either. Sometimes I crashed 3 times in an hour, sometimes I didn’t crash all day. It’s something the devs are looking into, but at the moment of writing this, it’s not fixed.

So, what’s this build really about?

It’s mostly a very simple build, suited towards newcomers. It has only one damage skill that’s very safe, because it can be used from long distances and does good damage. The other skills have a clear purpose as well and they will help you understand some of the core concepts in the game, while levelling and destroying enemies at the same time.

There are no special gear requirements. The builds uses no uniques. Everyone can craft the items needed. Even without optimized gear, damage output and defenses are high.

Let me touch on 2 more things here:

I would encourage you, apart from following a build guide, to also experiment yourself with builds. It’s an excellent way to get a better understanding of the game, if that’s what you’re looking for. And Last Epoch isn’t very complicated, while offering depth at the same time. If you’re not interested in that, just keep looking at guides and play the game that way. There’s nothing wrong with it and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Because this is targeted at beginners, this isn’t the most optimal Lightning Blast Build you can make and I’m aware of that. My builds are however not always about what’s the best damage and defense, but sometimes cover other themes, like a specific skill such as Tempest Strike, or a build specific to a certain type of player, like this build.

This guide will provide a very smooth first character, or first mage, both during the campaign and in end game. I’m level 77 now, we’re making arena runs wave 100 with ease. Monoliths are a breeze. Damage is high, with hardly any investment in gear.

Let’s look at the passives.


There are only a few stats that we need for this build. For defense, we use ward, which means we want ward generation and ward retention. Ward generation ensures you get ward in the first place, ward retention ensures you keep ward for longer. Ward is an energy shield that decays over time, the more ward you have. Ward retention slows that decay, so we have more ward for a longer time. You can get flat ward retention numbers, but intelligence provides 4% ward retention per point as well.

In terms of damage, you can hover over skills on the skill bar and press ALT. You’ll see how different stats impact these skills. Lightning Blast gets 4% increased damage per point of intelligence. You see the synergy? Intelligence provides both offense and defense. It’s a great stat to invest into.

We’re looking for flat damage and scaling damage. Flat damage basically is the base damage number, while scaling damage are % increases of that base damage number. This concept works for most stats in the game, because crit chance, crit damage and protections all work in a similar way.

Speaking of crit chance, we also invest in crit chance and base crit, to increase our damage significantly.

With this in mind, let’s look at the passives.

We take 8/8 arcanist, because we like intelligence. 2/8 elementalist, for scaling our flat elemental damage, which is mostly lightning damage. 1/10 reactive ward, because it is required to get 5/5 warden. Warden provides ward retention, it’s an extremely good passive, and 50% ward retention is a lot. Take 5/5 Flurry, because cast speed increases damage and finally, 4/10 knowledge of destruction, increasing crit chance and crit damage. I have 5 points in there now, as I’m investing points here, now that I’m level 77. Don’t put more points than 20 in your base class however, when leveling.

All other points go into sorcerer. Take 8/8 Calculated Destruction, for a lot of increased spell crit chance. 2/8 Brainstorm, for extra spell damage. Take 5/5 Arcane Momentum, for cast speed after you’ve cast a spell, which is always, so this is just a permanent 25% increased cast speed. 10/10 wisdom, because 10 intelligence is a no-brainer. 8/8 ceraunomancer, for lightning damage and shock chance. Shock chance lowers enemy resistances to elemental damage. The ceraunomancer nodes are picked up around level 70 however, because you want other nodes first. Nodes like Crackling Precision, for example, 8/8, for more crit chance multipliers and it’s follow up, arcane obliteration, 5/5, for spell crit multiplier, which basically makes your crits do 50% more damage.

Arcane insight is a truly fantastic node for our build. It gives 10 intelligence, which is amazing and provides a buff, insight. With how fast we’re casting Lightning Blast, this buff is always active, granting 20% increased elemental damage and 20% ward retention, which is extremely valuable.

In the top of the tree we find flat spell damage in the form of adaptive spell damage. It’s adaptive, because it adapts to the skill, so adaptive spell damage when using lightning blast, becomes flat lightning damage. And flat lightning damage is extremely good, because it adds to the flat base lightning damage numbers, that all other multipliers are scaling off of, especially on gear. 5/5 spellslinger is really good. 5/5 archmage as well. It’s not that easy to have less than 200 mana, as you get an additional point of mana each time you level, but that’s fine. Just the 5 flat spell damage is good enough, we don’t need it tripled for this build guide.

[skill specialization]

We have 5 skills, each with a very specific purpose, which I will explain before we dive into the skill nodes of each skill. Of course, we’re starting with Lightning Blast, the bread and butter of this build.

Lightning Blast is our only damage skill. We want it to be versatile and do massive damage. That’s all. So first you take 4/4 arcing power, which turns the skill into chain lightning, ideal for killing groups. Also take surging influence, making the chains cover greater distance and thus killing more enemies. Super useful node.

Then, increase the damage of the skill. Take 5/5 Frontloaded, for a massive damage boost.

We can multicast Lightning Blast, up to 4 times even. Take 4/4 Overcharge, increasing double cast chance and crit multiplier. And then take Hypercharge, which provides a quadruple cast. Because our cast speed is so high, this happens all the time.

We take 3/3 Storm razor, which increased the base crit chance of this skill by 3%. Normally the crit chance is 5%, and now with this node, it is 8%. Finally, take Lightning Attunement, which offers both protections and offense. Lightning Aegis as a buff gives 50% increased lightning damage and also 25% less damage taken, which is pretty huge.

The second skill you specialize into, will be flame ward, because it reduces incoming damage by 30% and it generates a bunch of ward. Like I mentioned, ward is our main form of defense, which explains our choices in this tree. We’re taking all the ward we can get, so start top right, with 5/5 stalwart defense, then 4/4 concentrated shielding, 1 point in fortification, 3/3 fuel the flames and finally invigorate. What this entire setup does it this:

It removes the flame retaliation from flame ward

It provides a shitload of ward, at the expense of the duration of flame ward

It changes the skill from providing burst ward, into gradually increasing ward, ultimately giving us much more ward overall. The reason is, that ward decays faster, the higher the ward numbers. By spreading out the ward generation, we have less decay, we can use the available ward much more efficiently.

Now that you have a neat little ward generator, let’s increase it a bit more with 2/5 dilation, just to get to 4/4 Energize, for even more ward generation.

You should autocast this spell, so you always generate ward. You can use numlock to do this. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just google this, because it’s a trick for many games and it’s a huge quality of life feature.

Our third skill is teleport, which functions as an escape tool. You want to get out of tricky situations and this skill is perfect for that. As a nice side effect, it generates ward and it increases our damage.

Take 5/5 ether barrier, for ward generation. Take 3/3 out of body. Losing health is fine, we have ward anyway, and this gives us twice the ward for the health consumed. Good deal. 5/5 Stable bubble, because ward retention is very important. Take out of mind too, because we end up having a lot of intelligence, so this node is worth it. Take 5/5 Elemental Affinity, providing 50% elemental damage after using the skill. Finally, take Unstable arrival, increasing your chances of survival if you accidentally teleport into a group of enemies. At least with this node, they will be knocked back and won’t instantly hit you. I would advise however to escape to a place where there are no enemies, preferably.

Our fourth skill is Arcane Ascendance, which acts as a temporary DPS boost. The way this skill works is that it locks you in place, gives you big buffs to damage output, and then stops working, freeing you and going on a pretty long cooldown.

It takes a little while to get the hang of this, but we’ll talk about playstyle soon.

Normally, Arcane Ascendence is a very expensive skill to use, immediately draining you of mana. We’re going to fix that. Take 3/3 Power Sprint, just to get to Acuity, which makes the skill free to use, for only 4 spells, and it now adds a cooldown to the skill. We can improve on this by 3/3 cunning, increasing the spells we can cast, but also increasing the cooldown.

What we’ve essentially done is removing a big part of the mana drain, while decreasing how long we can use the buffed-up effects. And that is totally fine, because you can’t use Arcane Ascendance for that long anyway, even if you’d want to. You either run out of mana, or you get surrounded by enemies and get killed. So taking these nodes isn’t a downside really.

We continue with 4/5 Rebuff, for extra ward. And then we travel west, towards 5/5 Higher Plane, increasing the spell damage the skill generates. Take one point in Superconductor, which means you’re starting to cast Lightning Blasts every second Arcane Ascendance is active, which is cool because this uses the skill tree of Lightning Blast. And finally, 3/3 Closed Circuit, increasing the frequency we cast Lightning Blast.

Needless to say, when activating this, you start casting a lot of very fast, very powerful lightning blasts all over the screen, obliterating all but the strongest enemies, which is very satisfying to do, if executed properly. If you mess this skill up, you basically die. But it’s a good way to learn, I found.

Our Last Skill is a crowd control skill. It’s black hole. It pulls enemies in and deals high damage.

We don’t care about the damage; we care about the crowd control effects. Take 3/3 stability, increasing the black hole duration. And 3/3 Endless Maw, for more duration. Take the Scattered node, creating an additional Black Hole. It completely messes up the graphics and physics in the game, because enemies can’t decide anymore which black hole they want to get devoured by, resulting in some pretty hilarious scenes. But that’s not important, what it important is that the enemies don’t reach us. Which is why you want 5/5 intensity, increased the radius of black hole pulling enemies in from further, and 5/5 Massive, increasing the pull area. Finally, we take 1/5 Umbral Core, just to get to Cascade fracture, which gives a 20% chance on black hole expiry to create another black hole. We get black holes for days here, all over the place, it’s quite beautiful and a total physics mess, but that’s totally fine.


Gear is very straightforward. You want intelligence, flat ward generation, adaptive spell damage, crit and you want to be glancing blow capped. What you don’t want is anything else, honestly, particularly protections and armor. Protections and Armor are useless in a high ward build, which you can see by activating flame ward, while you look at my character sheet.

Right now, my armor mitigates 46% of incoming physical damage. Watch what happens as I activate Flame Ward, basically giving me 2500 ward or so. Mitigation drops to 22%. It’s less than half of what it used to be. And this is just casting flame ward once. Normally, you have it on autocast, you use other skills generating ward, it’s not uncommon to be at 4k ward in the arena, rendering armor and protections useless and only mitigating 10-15% of damage, which is not worth it. Instead, get more ward.

Glancing blow is a different story. Glancing blow is just flat reduction of damage. Always get 100% glancing blow, because it reduces all incoming damage by 50%, no matter how much effective health or ward or armor or protections you have. Glancing Blow is a must-have for any build, and you can achieve it by crafting.

Dodge is nice as well, as an additional defensive layer. I don’t have much of it yet, because my gear is far from optimized. But I’m also trying to make a point here, because you don’t need optimized gear to make this build work.

The idols are interesting and, like in most builds, idols offer a good opportunity for variety. I went very offensive with my idols, focusing on lightning damage, crit and a bit of ward generation. If you want more defenses, get idols with ward retention on it. Those are really good.

Because ward is important, you definitely want a catalyst in your off-hand. These things go up to 40 ward generated per second, which is huge. That means don’t equip a shield. And don’t take a staff either. Yes, a staff has more adaptive spell damage, but defense is important, especially in end game. You can level with a staff all you want, be my guest, but once you start doing monoliths and arena, drop it for a ward generating Aegis.

The only ring that’s not rare is a set item. This is a super common drop, it’s great for our build, because 13 flat lightning damage is hard to find, but if you don’t have this ring, just craft another intelligence-based ring.

If I would upgrade my gear, I’d be equipping the Boneclamor Barbute for more ward, the Exsanguinous, for more ward, a better aegis, for more ward, and optimize gear by getting rid of the useless affixes. Increased armor on my chest for example is crap. Cold protection on my wand as well. I would replace those with dodge affixes. But those are minor details, and not important. Just focus on the basics first.


I made an entire video on how I levelled this character, so I’m going to refer you to that.

Finally, the play style during end game

[play style]

Here’s the build in action.

There is a certain order in which you do things.

You want to keep your distance to the enemies. Use teleport to keep escaping from dangerous packs. If you’re safe, spam lightning blast again.

When facing bosses and tough enemies, use the black hole. You want to teleport away first. Then cast the black hole to keep them trapped in place. Then active Arcane Ascendance, buffing your damage a lot, and then spam Lightning Blast. This combo absolutely melts anyone inside the black hole. You deal massive amounts of damage this way. Rinse and Repeat when necessary.

Apart from that, the build is pretty self-explanatory. Make sure to autocast flame ward. Make sure to practice social distancing from enemies. Make sure to control the battlefield using supermassive black holes. You’re going to be fine.

I hope you have fun with the build and that the guide was useful. Thanks for watching and making it to the end. See you all soon! Bye bye.


Huh no replies well let me be the first then. Thx very much for doing this. I am trying this one out as I’ve long wanted to make a build with Lightning blast. Having a lot of fun so far :smile:

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Nice guide and well written. Keep on going :smile:

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Sadly the crashing issue is more than an inconvenience at endgame. Losing progress in the monolith is not a great deal of fun. I really like the build, just don’t know how long I can tolerate the crashes.

Nice guide, was looking at what i could do with a lightening mage, and hit a brick wall, this is very useful.


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well you can either shelf it for a bit, or convert the lightning to cold damage. That apparently solved the crashes.

Yeah thanks. Got lots of classes to play so I’ll put it away for a bit as you suggest. Maybe they’ll have found something by the time the next patch drops. In any event it’s a great build and you’ve done a fine job with the explanation so thanks again.

@Thyworm, just a follow on from my earlier post, respecced my sorc mage i made a complete mess with, and followed your guide, and it plays really well, died a couple of times, more a L2P issue rather than anything to do with the build.

As i type just got the stack crash :pensive:

Thanks again for a great build and guide.

Hi, thank you for sharing this build. I make some toons before, and now i ll follow this guide for make my first mage.

guys I just start playing but something wrong here.Its not look like as youtube. Do I need to download some patch manually or some mods? If so how?

patch hapened so tree is differend now

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patch overhauled everything. I will revisit these builds, but it will take some time

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Any ETA status on when we could see an updated build for this one for 0.7.8?

Thanks for all your hard work on doing these for the community.

this will be the next build revisited actually, so within a week. I’ve already begun writing the script

Great @Thyworm.

I am looking forward to it!

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Thot I might let you guys know: Redid the passive trees, switched back to lightning from cold :smiley: can do dps just fine. The ward loss is pretty serious however.

as i started to play this game after a few month of not doing it. my sorcerer got a “free skill reset”
i found your mage build and wanted to give it a try… (nevermind of the fact that patch 0.7.8 made some changes…)
by the time you explain the passive points in the mage tree, my math skills seem to have left me…
when i count your invested points in that tree, i count to 26. but the tree itself only counts 20 ?

Yes, the base class tree doesn’t count up above 20.

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I also updated the guide!
here’s the new version: