The launch of War for the Atlas, the newest expansion to Path of Exile, brought with it a lot of new abilities and an equally large number of changes to existing builds. In this guide, we’re going to discuss the mechanics of one of my favorite builds, the Arc Witch, and how it adapts to the changes in Version 3.1.
The Witch in PoE is similar to caster classes in other RPGs. An Arc Witch, in particular, makes use of a particular spell called – you guessed it – Arc. Arc, as the name suggests, is a lightning-based skill that features the ability to chain from one enemy to another. The number of enemies that Arc can chain to is dependent upon a particular character’s gem and enchantment configuration, but in any event it can’t chain more than 11 times per cast.
As you can imagine, when each cast of your skill is bouncing around and hitting up to 11 different enemies, the DPS can add up rather quickly. Remember that the DPS reflected in the tooltip is not telling you the whole story (as is often the case with most tooltip DPS, on most abilities, in most games). The tooltip DPS is for each individual enemy hit, so you would need to multiply the tooltip number by however many enemies you are hitting at once with the ability in order to get a more accurate read on your DPS.
Shock is a lightning-based status ailment. Shock increases an enemies damage taken by up to 50% for an amount of time based on the amount of lightning damage dealt by the player. The Arc skill provides an inherent 10% chance to shock any enemies hit by it. In order to bolster this amount, use the right combination of enchantments and other PoE items.
The Arc Witch does not need to be an extremely crit-heavy build. Instead, just carry enough crit to result in fairly regular Elemental Overload procs. Elemental Overload gives the player a 40% increase to damage dealt on the condition that you’ve landed a critical hit in the last eight seconds. Therefore, all you need is enough crit chance to land at least one crit every eight seconds and you’d have pretty much constant Elemental Overload.
The Best Defense, is a Good… Defense
No matter how good your build is, you won’t get very far in PoE if you’re too easy to kill. Therefore, you need to make sure your character has plenty of defense. This is no less true of the Arc Witch. Block is a good way to boost your defense, as it provides up to a 75% chance to completely eliminate spells and attacks.
Good sources of Block are the Ascendancy Skill, Bone Offering, as well as other passive abilities and gear. An important caveat of Block is that it does not mitigate damage over time or other secondary damaging effects.
Everyone Loves Their MoM
A good way to compensate for Block’s inability to mitigate damage over time is running the Keystone, Mind over Matter. MoM is popular in a lot of builds in 3.3, for good reason. MoM takes 30% of incoming damage from any source, and redirects it to the mana pool, instead. In other words, 30% of the life you would’ve lost, becomes lost mana. As long as you can keep your mana pool topped off with sufficient regeneration, you will improve your sustainability considerably.
Playing the Arc Witch
The Arc Witch isn’t a passive build. You have to be constantly on the move, and on your toes. You also have to be able to keep track of the timing of a lot of different skills, buffs, and other items. If you are not on top of your cooldowns, you won’t be getting the most out of this build’s rotation.
Once you have your rotation down, the Arc Witch is extremely simple to play. Simply approach a pack of trash mobs, spam Arc until they’re dead, then proceed to the next pack, and rinse and repeat. It’s recommended to use Flame Dash on occasion to get an Arcane Surge proc, and use Orb of Storms in the middle of a group of mobs to get your Elemental Overload proc.
Although Arc’s chaining property makes for some great DPS on trash mobs, don’t expect to melt bosses quite as quickly with an Arc Witch. Also, although you can do a fair bit of tanking with this build, be aware of obvious, one-shot kills from bosses. In general, if you can avoid it – avoid it. To tackle bosses, try using Bone Offering if you have it, drop an Orb of Storms to get your Elemental Overload, then burn the boss with Ball Lightning as fast as you’re able while keeping an eye out for one-shots.
The Arc Witch provides a nice mix of steady trash mob DPS and survivability that makes for good clear times and easy leveling. It also doesn’t require a lot of PoE currency to outfit the build, so it makes it that much better for beginners. As long as you’re careful in how you approach boss fights, the Arc Witch is a solid build that you’ll have a lot of fun playing.