Path of Exile has had a huge range of interesting spells in the past to choose from, but with major changes every league, some go forgotten, and become less used over time. One of these glorious spells of the past was Dark Pact, but it has decreased in popularity in the past couple of years. Even though there were no direct buffs to the Dark Pact spell itself, there were several small buffs to everything that serves the unique playstyle for Dark Pact over the last few patches.
In this Dark Pact On Skeleton Wander Build Guide, we explore every way possible to automate the casting of Dark Pact, with wand attacks. We repeat small damage as many times as possible, for achieving maximum major damage. We will go through Gear choices, all Gem sockets, and the smart passive tree for maximum efficacy.
Dark Pact On Skeleton Wander – Path Of Exile Build [3.11]
I wanted to call this build originally “Cast on Blinking” as a metaphor for the multiple casts of spells we do per second. In a blink of an eye your screen is full of Dark Pact casts, minions, explosions, and chain reactions, all at once. Instead I called it Dark Pact on Skeleton Wander as it utilizes skeletons and wands in Path of Exile.
Assassin is a must for Cast on Critical builds, especially with The Poet’s Pen, which is our main source for critical strike chance, and for damage its power charges. So we take all three power charge nodes on the tree, in addition to the extra one from Ascendancy, and the three base charges. Making a total of 7 power charges without any investment in gear. You can corrupt your Helmet for another charge, which will scale all critical chance, critical multiplier, damage, and mana recovery.
Kinetic Blast is our attack of choice, simply because of its AOE. Also, because you can miss enemies and still proc explosions, these will hit foes, do critical hits, and cast Dark Pact nevertheless. It also benefits best from Chain, which we will need for our Dark Pact damage.
You should play this Build if you like tons of big explosions, you like auto-summoning minions from a safe distance, and you like doing this with the click of a single button. You should also play this Build if you like completing T15 maps with less than 4k life, you want a Cast on Critical Build that’s not a Cyclone and you want to go fast (and I mean really fast).
Dark Pact Cast on Crit Wander Pros & Cons
- Has very satisfying explosions.
- Entirely automated, you don’t need to hand cast any spells. This means you can use one attack and everything proc.
- Hits so many times per second, and can benefit from all life gained on hit sources (attacks and spells)
- Constantly summoning Skeletons with High life. So they work as a meat shield.
- Light on CPU & GPU, compared to other explosion based builds.
- Damage comes in two steps, so lag spikes ruins the flow of the build. Life gained on hit is affected by lag as well.
- You will damage yourself sometimes. (when there are no skeletons in range).
- Harder to reach 100% critical strike chance and 100% accuracy.
- Degeneration and damage over time is dangerous.
Build Concept & Function
To clearly explain how this build works, I will break down its core concepts which includes how Dark Pact, The Poet’s Pen, Cast on Critical and Spellslinger all work. To put it plainly, by its own, Dark Pact
is a clunky spell that requires pre-summoning skeletons, or sacrificing your own life to cast. This is intended, however, and is the overall drawback for such immense power, that is provided by this spell. It’s a chaos skill that once cast, goes through a series of checks, and changes behavior depending on these checks which are as follows:
Are there any skeletons
- Yes: Cast on Skeletons.
- No: Cast on Player.
How much life does the player have?
- 1 Life: Does nothing special.
- More than 1 life: It removes 8% of the player’s maximum life, deals that much as extra damage, and adds 77% more damage multiplier.
Do you have only one skeleton?
- Yes: It removes 8% of skeleton maximum life, and deals that much as extra damage.
- No, I have more: It removes 8% of skeleton maximum life, deals that much as extra damage and chains to additional two skeletons, and does the same damage.
You can already see the different ways this single spell can be built, but for this guide, we only cast Dark Pact
on skeletons. We will use a Chain support gem to increase the chain target by two more. So each cast makes Dark Pact proc 5 times, effectively gaining 400% more in damage multiplier. Then we can invest in Minion Life to increase the damage output of every single Dark Pact. To avoid a clunky build, we will automate both the casting of skeletons, and the cast of Dark Pact. Which takes us to the actual mechanics of the build and how this all works:
How does Cast on Critical work? How can Kinetic Blast fit in this build?
You can use an Attack Skill, and link that with a cast on Critical Strikes support, and link them with a spell. Once this is done can you use your Attack Skill, and every time your attacks perform a critical hit, you will proc the linked spell. So if you do more than one critical per second, you proc your spell more than once per second, making your attack speed, and critical chance an effective way to increase your spell damage.
The default cooldown of Cast on Critical is 0.15 seconds, allowing effectively 6.06 procs per second. In order to achieve this, we need to increase Accuracy to gain 100% hit chance, so every attack hits, and therefor has a chance to Crit. Then after Accuracy we need to increase Critical Strike Chance, and Attack Speed to proc as close as possible to 6 times per second, for maximum damage.
Our attack, Kinetic Blast
has two damage components, initial projectile, and explosions with a delay. So even if we don’t hit 6 attacks per second, we can still deal critical hits from combining primary and secondary hits. This is more likely to happen with a Chain support gem, because a single attack can hit up to three targets, and do 4 explosions, 3 additional times. You can now see just how many hits we emit with one attack to make this work.
In a best case scenario you can proc Dark Pact 30 times per second (6 procs * 5 chains). And in the worst case, you will never overlap critical strikes from the same attack. The following is how you calculate your rough DPS:
Total number of hits = (Accuracy * effective critical strike chance * Attacks per second * 5)
Damage per second = (Total number of hits * average hit damage)
In reality, you do an average between maximum hits, and minimum hits. Please note that our Cast on Critical damage is only one portion of this build’s total damage, your other sources combined will do almost the same damage as our Cast on Critical setup. So for example, if your average hit reaches 50k damage, and you hit 25 times, you will gain a total damage of 1.25 million Cast on Critical DPS. You will end up doing roughly double that number when you combine every other source of damage.
How does The Poet’s Pen work?
The Poet’s Pen is even more simple than Cast on Critical. You attack once with The Poet’s Pen wand, and and the gems socketed in this particular wand proc. It alternates between spells in your main hand and off hand. So we put skeletons in one wand, and another Dark Pact on the other. This will keep summoning skeletons, and proc an additional 3 Dark Pact spells at half of our Attack Speed.
Note this doesn’t need our attacks to Hit or Critically Hit. You just attack in any direction, or empty space and your spells socketed in your wands will proc. This has a 0.15 second Cooldown, or an effective 6.06 procs per second.
How does the Spellslinger work?
reserves mana to proc linked spells every time you attack, with a 0.429 second cooldown, or an effective 2.33 procs per second. Be aware that going over this attack rate can make some of your spells miss the cast, because every second attack you will find spells on cooldown, so it doesn’t proc but instead waits until the third attack. Therefore, if you plan to go over 2.33 attacks per second, try to reach almost double that number to not lose damage from the missed proc.
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 your first 40 points or so.
First Labyrinth (44 points)
When placing points it’s best to start from the Shadow area, going through physical and chaos damage small nodes, reaching for “Coordination”. Then go up to “Blood Siphon”, then right to “Assassination”, and “Coldhearted Calculation”. Then spend two points for “Lethal Assault”, four more points to get “Blood Drinker”, and go south to grab “Acrobatic” and “Phase Acrobatic” key nodes.
From “Coldhearted Calculation” take three intelligence nodes towards the “Arcane expanse” wheel, spending another three points to get there. Spend four more points towards “Wandslinger” wheel, and take it. That’s a total of 44 points spent.
Second Labyrinth (78 points)
After placing your initial 44 points, you’ll travel a lot, and go all the way towards the Templar starting area. By now, we have many Dark Pact Procs, so we will take most of the “% Minion life” nodes available to increase its damage. Take one point left, then go down for the “Lord of the Dead”, “Minion Life”, and “Deep Wisdom”. Afterwards, go left through “Heart and Soul”, and “Arcanist Dominion”. Then, continue towards “Retribution”, “Discipline and Training” and then stop here.
From the Intelligence point before “Retribution”, we go up and left through “Minion Life”, and “Minion Attack Speed Nodes”, making sure to get “Sacrifice” and “Spiritual Command”. This will make it so Minion Attack Speed affects your attacks as well, which is perfect. Keep going past the Dexterity small node and get the entire wheel around “Purity Of Flesh”.
Go down two points, to reach the next minion wheel, and the shortest way towards “Righteous Army” and then “Spiritual Aid”. All minion damage sources increase your own damage, and you get some accuracy, minion life, and life regeneration on the way. That sums up our second phase, with a total of 78 points.
Third Labyrinth (99 points)
From here you will need to build up some life, and maximum power charges. To get life you’ll want to take the following: “Written In Blood”, “Cruel Preparation”, “Devotion”, and “Quick Recovery”. You can refund “Quick Recovery” later and get the jewel socket, but for now take it. For Power Charges you want to take “Overcharge”, “Instability”, and “Infused” for merely 6 points. Also get “Spell Damage per Power Charge” next to “Instability”. This should put you at 99 points.
Final Labyrinth (Level 90 with 113 points)
As we reach Maps, we need to push our critical strike chance and critical strike multiplier as much as possible. For maximum Dark Pact casts per second, we need something close to 100% critical chance on Kinetic Blast, which is an Attack. That’s why we look for generic “Critical Strike Chance” before “Spell Critical Strike Chance”.
The best way we can get some generic critical strike chance is to use the “Discipline of The Forbidden” Wheel, which grants us 56% critical strike chance, 35% critical strike multiplier, 56% mana regeneration, and 56% increased damage with a mere 7 power charges (we already gained this from the passive tree and Ascendancy). If we push gear for more maximum power charges, then we will get even more generic stats from these passive nodes, which is very, very good.
To get to “Discipline of The Forbidden” you have to:
- Place four points on the outer path between “Cruel Preparation” and “Arcane Potency”, connecting them.
- Refund “Quick Recovery” wheel
- Refund 4 points between “Arcanist Dominion” and “Sacrifice” Wheel.
- Add “Discipline of The Forbidden” entire arm of the wheel (additional 4 points)
Next, we will get more critical modifier from the “Heartseeker” wheel, “Arcane Potency” wheel, and “Throatseeker” wheel. Once we have a good clear speed, we can either refund “Arcane Expanse” , or shave one of these critical wheels to get “No Witnesses” for more movement speed, and dodge chance.
If you are not keen on maxing critical strike chance, you can anoint “Heartseeker” from Casia, and refund the rest of the wheel, then use these points to get “Prodigal Perfection” for nice spell damage and maximum mana increase. This way you get more damage and unreserved mana which you can use to put more links into your Dark Pact/Spellslinger setup.
Path of Building
Copy and import this link in the offline tool “Path of Building” to see the entire character build:
Link of 3.11 build: https://pastebin.com/imV1vU3L
POE Planner Link (For direct view from mobile): www.poeurl.com/cXJo
- Unstable Infusion
- Deadly Infusion
Poison setup with Fenumus set:
- Unstable Infusion
- Deadly Infusion
- Noxious Strike
Skill Gems and Links
Here are some advisable skill gems and links:
Early Levels (Before lvl 34)
You can level using any chaos spell you prefer, however I prefer using dual The Poet’s Pen
wands from the start for consistency. So we will be using both attacks and spell setups.
You can alternate between attacking with Kinetic Bolt
and Frenzy, to keep both Power and Frenzy charges up. Then we proc all chaos spells we can fit in our sockets.
-Power Charge On Critical-Increased Critical Strikes
-Power Charge On Critical-Increased Critical Strikes-Frenzy
Contagion 3L (On The Poet’s Pen) (2B1G): Contagion
Essence Drain 3L (On The Poet’s Pen) (2B1G): Essence Drain
-Concentrated Effect-Void Manipulation
Later Levels (Act 4 Onward)
From here our build will take shape, and our skills will start to look more the like endgame version of the build. We can now replace Kinetic Bolt
with Kinetic Blast, which has better clearing and proccing potential. We get can also now put three Dark Pact spells in our setup. It’s highly recommended that you get six linked body armour as soon as possible to fit all these gems. But if you don’t have this yet, you can start with 5 links.
You can also add as many links to Spellslinger as much as your mana can handle:
Kinetic Blast 5L (3B2G):Kinetic Blast
Kinetic Blast 6L (3B3G):Kinetic Blast
Dark Pact 3L (On The Poet’s Pen) (2B1G) : Dark Pact
-Concentrated Effect-Void Manipulation
Summon Skeletons 3L (On The Poet’s Pen) (2B1R): Vaal Summon Skeletons
(A) Spellslinger 2L (2B) (Minimum mana reservation and links): Spellslinger
(B) Spellslinger 3L (2B1G) (Onslaught): Spellslinger
(C) Spellslinger 3L (3B) (Auto Curse): Spellslinger
-Dark Pact-Assassin’s Mark/despair
(D) Spellslinger 4L (3B1G) (Maximum damage): Spellslinger
-Dark Pact-Concentrated Effect-Void Manipulation
Vaal Blight 1L (1B): Vaal Blight
Vaal Blight 3L (With Spreading Rot jewel equipped) (1B2R): Vaal Blight
-Spell Totem-Multiple totems
(Thus, you will cast Vaal Blight directly, and Blight with totems. Both will inflict wither stacks)
Frenzy 2L (1B1G): Frenzy
- (Attacking with Frenzy will generate frenzy charges, and also keep proccing the skeletons, plus two of our three Dark Pact spells, so we don’t suffer damage lose)
Early Leveling Gear
Below you will find some recommendations for weapons, armor and accessories needed for early leveling.
- If you don’t make this build as your first character in league, make sure to get two of The Poet’s Pen wands before starting. Use them from level 12 and never look back.
Below you will find some recommendations for weapons, armor and accessories that will be required for endgame content.
- Two of The Poet’s Pen.
- Keep using the ones you leveled up with until you can get corrupted ones with “(14-18)% increased Critical Strike Chance”. This is the best single modifier to get your critical strike chance higher.
- Don’t worry about buying the right socket colors with the corrupted wands. You can change sockets colors with the crafting bench even on corrupted items.
- Crafted body Armour is best suited for this build. Try Fossil crafting on level +84 Shaper influenced Body Armour. Aim to get two of these three modifiers:
- Minions have (20–30)% increased maximum Life (Delve Suffix)
- Spells have +(1.1–1.5)% to Critical Strike Chance (Shaper suffix)
- +1 to Level of Socketed Active Skill Gems (Shaper Prefix)
- You can also craft with “Deafening Essence of Fear” on any level +82 Body Armour.
- This gives you an easy “Minions have (27–30)% increased maximum Life” modifier, which is equals to average 8-10% more damage.
- Try a few times with a few Essences until you get some good life, resistances, and/or empty modifiers
- You can further improve the Armour with Harvest craft. Like adding critical modifier on Shaper influenced.
- You can bench craft %increased Maximum life, or % chance to Dodge Spell Hits.
- If you want Unique Body Armour, you can use either Cherrubim’s Maleficence for good damage and life. Or Carcass Jack.
- Both will be very easy to get right socket colors.
- Crafted Two Toned Boots, with maximum movement speed, life, and resistances.
- Or crafted Shaper boots with “% increased Cooldown Recovery Speed”
- Or crafted Redeemer boots with both % chance to Dodge Attack Hits/% chance to Dodge spell Hits
- You can keep Hinekora’s Sight Amulet in endgame.
- Get one with additional curse corruption, % All elemental resistances, or Zealotry has (15-20)% increased Aura Effect.
- Zerphi’s Heart is a strong all offense item. Soul eater will raise your attack speed greatly. And you suddenly can shock, ignite, and chill at same time.
- Impresence (with Despair preserve no mana) is the more expensive choice to turn your curse into aura. But we are tight on links, so it’s a hard choice.
- Finally, Aul’s Uprising (With Zealotry Aura modifier) saves us 50% mana reserved, it’s is sweet addition with some critical chance, life, and attributes. It allow us to get additional aura, like Vitality, Haste, or put your curse/s on Spellslinger, all depending on your preferences.
- On the other hand, a crafted Hunter Amulet with +1 to Level of all Chaos Skill Gems/+1 to Level of all Intelligence Skill Gems can be superior.
Uber Lab Enchant
A great source to improve your character is getting enchantments on each of your three slots:
If you use a rare Helmet, you can easily get the desired enchantment. However, if you aim to get good corruption, you can skip the helmet enchantment.
- Dark Pact deals 40% increased damage
- 24% increased Dark Pact Area of Effect
- 30% increased Despair Curse Effect
- Zealotry has 15% reduced Mana Reservation
- Kinetic Blast has a 75% chance for an additional explosion
This one is important to help you gain more damage or overall better defense. So pick up one of these options:
- 16% increased Attack and Cast Speed if you’ve Killed Recently.
- 8% chance to Dodge Spell Hits if you’ve taken Spell Damage Recently.
Make sure to get bleed immunity, and ignite immunity from Flasks’ suffixes. Because all our evasion and dodge doesn’t help against damage over time, plus ground effects, in addition to freeze/chill immunity.
One of the best prefixes to have on your flasks is “Surgeon’s” which gives you a chance to gain flask charge when you deal critical strike. So, you can refill your flask easily even on a single target.
Soul of Lunaris: Provides great evasion, dodge, and physical damage reduction.
You have two options:
Soul of Garukhan: So you get movement speed and more evade chance.
Soul of Shakari: So you get almost poison immunity, as dodge chance doesn’t help against DoTs.
Hardcore/SSF (Solo Self Found) Viable or not
Solo Self Found (SSF) is not an option. This build needs both: good currency, and very specific unique items to start functioning.
On the other hand, Hardcore is very doable. Instead of Spellslinger Dark Pact, you can use Zombies linked with meat shield for an additional layer of protection. Use and/or Spellslinger Summon Holy relic.
For the Rich Guys
If you don’t have a budget, and willing to spend whatever is takes to take this build to new heights, you will find these items below a great assistance:
Finally you may still have some questions about this build which I’ve taken the liberty to explain some of common ones that I’d expect you may have and will hopefully shed some clarity on how the build works.
Q: Is Gloomfang
good for this build?
A: No, it’s very bad. You lose life when both attacks and skills hit an enemy. We hit enemies tens and tens of times per second.
Q: If I can’t use Gloomfang, how I can get the additional chain?
A: Use the expensive “Awakened Chain support”, that’s your only option. Note that “Snakepit” doesn’t work because Dark Pact is not a projectile.
Q: Why do we not need 100% critical strike chance? Why don’t we need 6 Attack per second?
A: Because each Kinetic Blast attack does hit enemies multiple times, from projectile, from chaining, and from overlapping explosions. It compensates for both slower APS, and less Crit chance. Also, not all our damage comes from Cast on Critical, spells socketed in The Poet’s Pen and Spellslinger proc without critical hits. So just get close to 100% critical chance with a Diamond Flask, and close to 4.66 APS with Onslaught.
Q: What’s the best way to get Frenzy charges?
A: “Frenzy” gem on one link, or two link with “Faster attacks”. You will build three charges in less than one second, and you only need to refresh it with a single attack every 6 or 7 seconds.
Q: Why Kinetic Blast, and not Frenzy as main attack? Isn’t “Frenzy” faster?
A: Kinetic Blast’s initial attack doesn’t even need to hit enemies to trigger explosions. It will always explode and hit enemies with the outer part of it reaching a maximum distance, or it will hit an obstacle (e.g: Walls). It can hit multiple times.
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 latest update. Or if you are interested in our guides, check our Ice Crash WarZerker build, and Infernal Cold Assassin build.
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