With the advent of patch 1.5, we’ve all likely had to get creative. This mini-guide is one such attempt to put a new spin on an old concept, building on the new strengths of Summoners.
Still, obligatory disclaimers.
Disclaimer: As 2038 progresses, much of the info in these guides is very likely to, or even bound to, not apply in the future.
Disclaimer #2: This build is an endgame build; it may be harder to level with it in mind, and it’s very skill-intensive and gear-dependent.
Let’s begin by emphasizing the second disclaimer. This build is very gear-intensive, and very point-intensive. As such, endgame players will likely need to slowly switch to it, instead of build with it in mind… Unless the market offers said gear early. So, what gear will it need?
2x Harlequin Ablaze, each with +2/3 Swarm
By far the most useful foci for this build. They offer power points, +minion damage, poison strength, and Swarm. As an added bonus, they come with fire damage which allows one to ignite, and being Glyphs they offer extra splash radius.
Galactic Conquests can be used as a substitute, since they also provide power points and Swarm, as well as spectral damage for phase and some extra +radius.
2/4x Remnants of Grregas, with +3 to Demon(s) of choice
These are this build’s cast sets, and the reason why the “multi-demon” component is possible. A single set can suffice, if both Remnants come with +3 to both (or all 3) Demons of choice. Otherwise, what one needs are 2 sets, each with a total of +6 to a specific Demon.
A set of The Master’s Hand may be used as a substitute here, but it’s not ideal. The reason for this is twofold:
Master’s Hand sets can’t be used as general cast sets or main sets (discussed below) so they can only mostly serve as Demon cast sets. For Demons, they offer a total of +8 skillpoints to Demons (+2 Carnagor, +2 Warper, +2 Summoning Circle, +2 Spellstorm), assuming a Carnagor/Warper build. This benefit can extend to +10 if one also uses Meatshield with the cast set, and +12 if one also uses the Witch Doctor. An ideal set of Remnants offers +18 skillpoints to Demons (+6 Carnagor, +6 Warper, +6 Summoning Circle) for Carnagor/Warper builds, or +24 for triple Demon builds – while also providing up to +6 Reaper for the full Demon roster. At the same time, Remnants have roughly equal +minion damage, and can also offer up to 6 slots for +minion stats of choice.
Master’s Hands cannot be used as a main set, because the build needs foci to cast Swarm, Elemental Drain, and possibly other secondary skills. As such, their +2 to all skills loses value, since it can’t be a main set and can’t be used as a cast set for Elementals – and using it as one for other skills is quite inconvenient.
Any foci with +3 Elemental Drain
This can be any piece whatsoever, although you may target specific Uniques like Keel Brand for some extra help. We only need it to max Ele Drain for points.
These boots outshined Night Striders for me. These new shoes were made for damage, and can hold a second +minion damage augment. On top of that we get ignite over phase, and some handy power regen for Swarm/Nova spam.
Grace’s Lucky Garb, with a +minion damage augment
This new torso let the build continue to focus on the poison component, by providing +3 to Master of Venom. It also comes with handy pp%, unique +minion hp (which can be augmented again) for the Carnagor, and lower feeds than Heart of Darkness.
Harrowing Truce, forged and with a +minion damage augment
The final new item for this build, these legs come with a massive hpb that can match that of Legion Guards. While they lose the minion stat, their Mind Power userate buffs this build’s Curses, and facilitates Swarm spam.
The challenging part with this piece is that +minion damage values are lower due to its level, so you’ll need to forge it, then attempt to augment.
Hexer’s Shroud, with either Brom’s Curse or Elemental Drain and +1 to all skills
This piece is what provides the “curse” component of this build. It is absolutely irreplaceable, as it offers +shield penetration from a helmet slot, allowing sfx to proc through shields. It also provides a point in a random Curse skill, WILL, a higher +minion damage value, and the invaluable +100% curse duration.
The Keel Brand, as well as rings with +curse duration can be used instead… But the build is already very gear-dependent, and Hexer’s Shroud provides a convenient solution as well as great value for the slot.
Lastly, it can be used without a +1 to all skills augment as long as one has a ring that provides this property instead. However, the ring slot can be used more effectively, OR one may wish to use both for an invaluable +2.
Night Striders: these fantastic boots used to be this build’s choice, and are still a viable alternative to Nadja’s. They come with Blink, reducing the total cost of hard skillpoints. As bonuses, they come with +movement speed, a higher +minion armor value, and +phase attack strength which can be used with…
Heart of Darkness: this torso comes with a great +WILL bonus, as well as +spectral damage. This may seem secondary, but the build does use sfx, and with this gear combination it can sometimes proc phase without a need to invest in it.
Norak’s Anorak: power regen, massive WILL, and uniquely high +minion armor.
Legion Guards: a higher +minion health value, +hp/armor.
Hellion Hasp: a higher +minion damage value, +STR for feeds, thorns for Dark Lord.
Balbi’s Ring: a random skill that can be a useful curse or Swarm, some sfx defenses, +3% CC for critical builds. Beware, however, as it also has a power regeneration penalty.
Tuskull: high inherent poison strength, +spectral damage and +phase, +hp, up to +2 Brom’s Curse. This can be used as an active set, but it is generally inferior to Harlequins and offers a lower total +skill benefit (+4 Brom’s vs +6 Swarm).
Black Angel: with +movement speed and +Blink, a set of those can be used as a runner set. Their +STA can scale off DF’s hp bonus for some extra safety.
Having discussed essential gear, let’s move on to the new skills - updated for 1.5.6. Reminder, this takes the following gear for granted:
2x Harlequin Ablaze with +6 Swarm
2/4x Remnants of Grregas with a total of +6 Carnagor, +6 Warper, and anywhere from +2 to +6 Summoning Circle
Hexer’s Shroud (whose Curse skill is not counted here) with +1 to all skills, OR a ring with +1 to all skills
Grace’s Lucky Garb
Any foci with +3 Elemental Drain
Now, let’s analyze these seemingly odd choices.
1(+1) Elemental Nova, 1(+1) Master of the Elements
Nova is a useful AoE skill, both for basic PvE and for applying sfx, but is now kept at lv1 because Swarm rocks hard enough. Master is used to decrease Elemental costs, and the 1-point investment benefits from the +1 AS.
You may even skip this entirely if you wish, but Nova is still a powerful spell - just not one I feel warrants the points anymore.
4(+1) Fire, 2 Spectral, 4(+1) Toxic, 4(+1) Storm Elementals
This is the basic Elemental investment that will provide bodies on the field, sfx and Brom’s synergy, as well as fuel Nova. Specifically:
Fires make use of the starting skillpoint, and provide ignite which is generally useful.
Toxics provide a field for Brom’s synergy, as well as poison which is useful against some bosses.
The lone Spectral provides a basic splash attack for PvE, as well as a chance to phase bosses.
Storms provide more damage, as well as an answer to flying enemies.
One can use Forces instead of Storms for the extra tankiness and stun, or both if one has the points (and skillbar space). Should one find even more points, maxing the lone Spectral can make it phase more reliably - but the Warper is quite dependable on that front on its own.
1 Master of the Flame, Arcane, and Lightning
These aren’t in the planner yet, so I’ve saved the points to reflect them. For this build, we’re only pinching those for the +AS benefit. MoL is particularly noteworthy here, as a single point gives all our Eles shield penetration.
If you can spare the points, maxing MotA can also help tremendously by buffing both ignite and poison… but I can’t find the points without more gear complications.
6(+3+1) Master of Venom
This one, however, deserves to be maxed as it works with our poison component. Grace’s and +AS lets us max it for poison sfx.
1 Attunement, 2 Blood Link
Attunement is now a prereq for this tree, but also gives us handy WILL and Demon damage which AS boosts. Blood Link remains a reliable heal for one’s Demon’s, and 2 points make it heal more and unlock…
1 Summoning Circle
1 point lets Circle benefit from +1 AS, and ensures there’s at least 1 hard point in the skill to prevent cast set issues.
The main tanker Demon, the Carnagor needs no introduction. 3 points suffice to max it through a cast set (3+3+3+1).
The skill that lets Carnagor function, we used to max it. Now, 1 point may make things harder for our trusted tank, but we really need the points. Plus Summoning Circle also gives passive regen now, which is a slight help.
The damage-dealer and phaser Demon, this glass cannon on bat legs is notoriously effective. 3 points suffice to max it through a cast set (3+3+3+1).
2 Afterlife, 2 Drain Life
These two are requirements for the rest of the tree. Of course, one can use them actively as well.
6(+1) Brom’s Curse
As if this skill wasn’t already useful enough, by providing massive healing and synergizing with Toxics/Swarm, it now also has an sfx defense debuff synergy with Elemental Drain.
Maxed for increased healing, duration, and max targets.
1(+1) Elemental Drain
Finally, Elemental Drain provides an invaluable sfx defense debuff for the hardest bosses that all parties will appreciate. Furthermore, when maxed it also provides a -15% sfx reduction to Brom’s, and the two effects stack.
1 Darkform, 1 Dark Lord
Darkform allows one to use 2 foci and provides a +hp bonus. Dark Lord allows thorns to spawn Shadows; with +1 AS it will allow up to 4 Shadows, whose damage and poison strength are a welcome bonus.
If one can find the points, maxing both or either can also be helpful; maxing DF will boost survivability and increase the Shadows’ spawn chance, while maxing DL will allow for more, and stronger, Shadows.
We don’t get this through Night Striders anymore, so 1 hard point gives us the added safety back.
1 point in the Reaper will allow it to stay around after being summoned with a cast set, and Remnants happen to provide up to +6 to it for +duration. You may also use Megatrons to max it.
Remember, you may now only get this option if you’ve taken Summoning Circle. If you have skipped it, this is no longer a 1-point option.
1+ Dark Offering
This skill now provides another means of applying AoE sfx, and can make use of +sfx mods and inherent foci sfx strengths. However, maxing it for reliability and maxing DL for +sfx is extremely point-intensive…
2+ Venom Armor
If one wishes to get Swarm through hard points or max it, VA is already in the way. It also provides a handy armor bonus, so it’s a useful buff overall.
Harlequins provide this, but in this way it only maxes out at 7. One can consider maxing it for +poison strength, but it will take an extra 7 points (2 VS, 2 VA, 3 Swarm) to do so.
3(+7) Witch Doctor
Finally, a perfect Remnants cast set may allow this build to use all 3 main Demons. The WD needs nothing else to function, and it can provide party-wide heals. Furthermore, it’s no longer bound to <8 targets, so it can fit into any build regardless of minion count.
This is arguably the most valuable addition to consider.
With skills out of the way, let’s briefly touch on the expertise this build can benefit from.
Enhanced Willpower: now a % power bonus, this expertise is massively useful to any build with a high minion count.
Enhanced Stamina: now a % hp bonus, this one offers a welcome boost to survivability.
Toughness: an armor bonus for added survivability.
Tranquility: a flat power regeneration bonus, this benefits this surprisingly power-hungry build.
Affliction: a % sfx bonus, this lets the build poison (or apply other sfx of choice) more reliably.
Other expertise options include:
Enhanced Strength: now a melee attack speed bonus, this can help those who attack with DF spawn Shadows more quickly.
Surgical Precision: a CC bonus for CC builds.
Leadership: some extra minion damage, albeit low.
Fortune: a Luck bonus for Luck setups.
Arcane Resolve: an sfx defense bonus that benefits Elemental Drain’s own sfx defense bonus.
Having discussed skills, and having already touched on the concept of the build, let’s move on to gear. With required gear already covered, this section will outline generally useful choices and explain their use.
Harlequins Ablaze are this build’s main foci. Their bonuses allow Swarm to poison reliably, and they also help with buffing and maintaining minions. Mod choices for these include:
Poison attack strength. This build intends to poison, and Swarm multilpies the value of such mods.
Ignite/phase attack strength. HAs come with +fire damage, and Heart of Darkness comes with +spectral damage. The build does focus on sfx, so both are viable options.
Added spectral damage. If one doesn’t use Heart of Darkness, and doesn’t get some spectral damage from elsewhere, using a relic for it allows Night Striders’ +phase property to have some use.
Increased splash radius. Being Glyphs, HAs already come with +radius. However, if one needs more, this is a welcome addition.
Personal stats. If one cannot cover feeds, or needs the benefits of any personal stat, this is a viable, if a bit tricky, option.
Minion stats. All 3 minion stats can now come from relics, so this is a viable way to meet the demands of a specific encounter.
Critical Chance Multiplier (CCM) of choice. Both Cabalists have many CC sources; Ferals’ and focus items’ inherent bonuses, augments, base CC relics, the Shadow dye kit, and Surgical Precision. Thus, one can try to use CCM to build towards CC for more raw damage - however, this build doesn’t take that route.
Remnants of Grregas are this build’s cast sets. Their massive +skill benefits allow this build to swap among Demons of choice, and their +minion damage buffs the Warper and the Reaper. Mod choices for these include:
Minion hp/armor. Cast sets for the Carnagor and/or the WD have no use for +minion damage, but those can help them survive to fulfill their roles. A Warper cast set may also find some use for them.
Minion damage. The Warper and the Reaper benefit from this. It is noteworthy that some content may be too challenging for the Warper to survive, and his damage may not suffice. In these cases, survivability may actually be preferrable.
Having discussed Unique armor choices above, this section will focus on stat priorities.
#1 Personal stats.
Primary stats help cover feeds. Furthermore, this build uses DF, so it benefits from all 4 stats.
WILL is the primary stat to boost, for a larger power pool and power regeneration.
STA is likely the second most important stat to boost, since it’s a main feed stat, it boosts survivability, and DF’s hp multiplier benefits from it. Furthermore, both DL and Brom’s scale off of one’s max hp pool.
ACC and STR are both secondary; ACC boosts attack speed and movement speed in DF, while STR boosts DF autoattack and DO damage. ACC can also boost CDB for crit builds, but this build doesn’t focus on CC or DF.
#2 Minion stats.
All Summoners benefit from these, regardless of build. Dominating Mythic armor pieces are fantastic for this role, as they provide all 3 minion stats.
Armor and hp are likely the primary minion stats to look for. They allow all your minions to survive, and the Carnagor appreciates them dearly.
Damage is also useful for Elementals, the Warper, and the Reaper. This is by no means a stat to ignore, but this build focuses on sfx more than on raw damage. Furthermore, Hellion Hasp and both HAs and Remnants already provide some, before considering mods, augments, rings, the Leadership expertise, and the Wasp dye kit, so it’s relatively secondary on armor.
#3 Movement speed.
This property mainly comes from boots. Nadja’s and Night Striders already provide some, and they both allow it to be augmented on them again. Mobility is universally useful.
This property allows DL to spawn Shadows, without the player needing to attack in DF. Hellion Hasp already provides this, and it’s likely worth the slot.
Why not sfx on Mythic armor?
This is a reasonable question, and it did come up before. This build can indeed multiply poison strength, and it does focus on sfx. However, +sfx strength values offer less value than either personal stats or minion stats. Furthermore, this build uses some Unique pieces, which in turn doesn’t allow one to fully focus on poison or other sfx on their entire armor set.
This build can benefit from a few different ring options. The 3 most notable are:
A legendary +1 to all skills ring: The absolute best ceiling raiser for this build, this can allow it to expand and/or buff secondary skills, or reduce gear dependency.
Fulcrum’s Masterwork Scale: This ring provides personal armor and TAV, as well as %hp which benefits from STA investments. It also provides +minion hp and armor, which are both very useful.
Talox’s Masterwork Soulband: This ring mainly provides a % bonus to all sfx, which may be needed for more reliable sfx procs. As welcome bonuses, it also provides +movement speed for mobility, as well as decent +range for safer Elemental Drain casts against such bosses as Imhotep and Dessy.
Secondary options to consider include:
Dreadnaught’s Masterwork Band: This one provides +AA, as well as some sfx defenses for more defensive builds.
Squadro’s Masterwork Crystal: This one provides added elemental damage of all elemental types, allowing for more sfx options. However, mods can cover this role.
Dark Master: This ring provides both CC and CDB, and is thus very useful for CC builds.
Legendary rings with +curse duration: This build can use +curse duration, but Hexer’s Shroud should suffice for this.
Enhanced (and above) Fulcrum’s Scale with +minion damage: The Unique version of this ring doesn’t provide +minion damage, but lower grades do. Thus, builds that focus on it can benefit from such rings.
Finally, this build can also benefit from a few different dye kits.
Main options include:
Scorched: +16% to all sfx strengths is absolutely invaluable for this build.
Wasp: +35% minion damage can be very useful for most content.
Secondary options include:
Black Knight: +AA can help with feeds and provide stat bonuses. However, using this dye kit to cover feeds will make switching to other dyes difficult.
Heroic: +melee attack speed can help DL spawn Shadows more quickly.
Jade: +20% movement speed can easily make for a runner dye to complement a runner set like BAs.
Shadow: a 10% generic CCM can be very useful for CC builds.
Feasibility Modulator: an extra +10% splash radius can enlarge Swarm.
Pulsating Chronometer: an extra +9% hp bonus can provide some added survivability, and also boost DL and Brom’s.
Cold Steel: an extra armor source for survivability.
Finally, let’s answer this fundamental question. This build intends to provide the following:
Decent all-round performance for most basic PvE content through a high minion count and decent survivability.
A focus on sfx through gear, Elementals, and Nova, along with sfx reduction debuffs, for harder content.
A focus on poison through gear and Swarm for specific content that needs it.
A fully capable tank for most content through the Carnagor.
A dedicated phaser through the Warper.
Party support through a high minion count, Brom’s Curse, and Elemental Drain, with the option of also providing the WD for party heals.
To manage all of the above at once, this build resorts to Remnants for cast sets. This choice provides versatility, allowing the player to use different Demons depending on the encounter at hand; for example, a Dawn of the Dead party may need a Carnagor or WD to more safely reach Imhotep, but may find more value in the Warper phasing him once the party reaches the end.
To ensure at least decent performance in basic PvE, it maintains a high minion count with decent +minion damage and taps into DF, Nova, and Swarm. At the same time, it focuses on Brom’s Curse for survivability.
Finally, as it focuses on poison for harder content, it uses Swarm as part of the main rotation, and maxes Elemental Drain for maximum sfx defense reduction and (stackable) synergy with Brom’s. Hexer’s Shroud provides +curse duration to ease the rotation between curses and other skills, reducing the total power cost in the process.
I hope you found this longer-than-a-miniguide informative or otherwise useful. Any and all feedback will be most appreciated.
Potential additions and gameplay videos to follow