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Path of Exile Solo Self Found (SSF) Guide

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”raised” width=”” height=”” background_color=”#e4ffe0″ border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd”]This guide stands solid for the 2.6 patch notes. You can also view the results of a survey that shows the first builds players are planning for the Legacy League.[/dropshadowbox]


Path of Exile has become one of the leading ARPGs by growing at a steady rate with each new league, the most recent Breach league bringing in a record number of players. Due to the scope, challenge and difficulty of in-game trading, many players are beginning to embrace Solo Self Found (SSF), a gameplay style where a player never trades or groups with other people, only using the items they find. While SSF is currently only enforced through choice, GGG recently announced they are adding a SSF mode to the game with the next league release, which means new challenges and achievements for those who are willing to go it alone.

Due to the scale and complexity of PoE, SSF is much more challenging than it sounds. Players cannot buy items to balance their resists, acquire key uniques for specific builds, and are solely reliant on their use of crafting resources paired with luck and how they play the game.

The first thing a player embracing SSF must do is realize they will probably never be able to pursue the majority of end-game builds that require specific unique items. Want to play Pentagolem? Not going to happen. Want to pursue that awesome ES build that requires a 6L Shavronnes? Good luck with that. Not only will you probably never see the gems key to the Pentagolem build, a player will probably never see Shavronnes, let alone be able to 6L it. On the flip side, if a player does get lucky and a very rare unique serving as the cornerstone of a custom build drops, a new character and experience can be pursued.

The good news is all play as SSF builds some aspect of progress. Whether it’s currency, uniques or the Atlas. Progress is constantly made, often when it feels like there is none. That’s the nature of PoE, and it’s important SSF players remember this.

This overview and guide talks about how to plan, play, and build while playing SSF during a league.

Planning for SSF

PoE is such an extensive and complex game that while one can just jump in without any planning, for the long-term, it doesn’t work very well. Following a build guide is always good for new and even experienced players as very few are capable of building viable end-game builds (that can explore the entire atlas and get all the way to and defeat Shaper). And with SSF we have the added complexity of not being able to trade to acquire key unique items that make all the difference in a build.

Before one begins to play PoE as SSF, there are a few things that I consider to be absolutely required. First, the Currency, Essence and Divination Stash Tabs are a must. I also recommend purchasing the Premium Stash Tab Bundle and a normal Stash Tab Bundle. This gives 12 tabs outside of the currency, divination and essence tabs (plus the default 4). That should be enough to really get started, but SSF takes a LOT of storage space since you must save items for alternative builds. A SSF player quickly finds entire tabs filled with nothing but boots or gloves; that that doesn’t even begin to cover the volume of unique items one finds (which are excellent for the 5-unique prophecy trade-in). Storage is king with SSF.

A top notch Loot Filter is also very important. My personal preference is NeverSink’s.

Starting Builds

There are 10 builds I personally recommend a player considers when starting to play SSF. Each of these builds works very well without any uniques, have excellent scaling based on progression, and should be able to carry the player to T10 maps and beyond. I have played each of these builds except the trapper build, which was referred to me by another veteran PoE player. Note I have linked the particular build I recommend for each one below, but there are variations available on the Path of Exile Build Browser.

  1. In my opinion, Flameblast Totem (also known as Pizzasticks or Pizzablast) is the best league starter, annihilating enemies and burning them to a cinder. The reason this wins over the #2 slot is because it doesn’t have the proximity  limitation of Warchief Totems, meaning your flameblast totems will continue to cast and kill long after you’ve run away. It also works beautifully with just 4 links, and doesn’t require any custom crafted gear. Note there are 3 ascendancy builds one can follow for Flameblast Totems. The most traditional is the Witch build (the link provided above), which is the most balanced with Elementalist. The Templar variation offers hirophant (4 totems but less damage) and Inquisitor (the most damage, but requires high-end crafted daggers, which can be difficult in SSF). As such, I recommend the Witch Elementalist build first and the Inquisitor second (for those who want to take it all the way).
  2. Warchief Totem is my second choice. It’s powerful, easy to scale (just craft 2H axes), has great survivability (swap out Concentrated Effect for AoE when doing Izauro, etc), and is fun. And when you find or craft a high DPS 2H axe, it’s simply magical.
  3. Earthquake (Champion) is my third recommendation. It’s fun and very powerful, and like the Warchief Totem, all the player needs to focus on is rolling a great 2H axe. Items are interchangeable with Warchief Totem and the Earthquake build. The reason a player may want to choose EQ over WCT is because they like to bounce around and jump in the middle of the action more often. EQ is also able to do cold breaches much easier than WCT since the anti-freeze buff doesn’t apply to totems.
  4. Essence Drain (ED) & Contagion is also an excellent first build since the damage is mainly based on the skill gem level. The only issue is ED usually runs into a brick wall around T10 without certain uniques. But when you clear the screen with a single hit and watch your enemies melt all around you, it feels like the perfect golf swing.
  5. Summon Raging Spirit (SRS) is also a great build that scales well, but there can be issues with targeting in zerg breaches.
  6. Flametotem is another favorite that is also very high DPS (especially for single target) and can also be very tanky.
  7. Nearly all Cyclone builds (which don’t require a specific unique to function, such as Ngamahu’s) are also quite viable, but there’s a few that shine, also allowing for item interchangeability with #1 and #2.
  8. Firestorm is also an excellent crowd pleaser, allowing for great farming of Dried Lake and certain maps.
  9. Animate Weapon is another very fun build. The only issue is it requires the Chaos Damage support gem to really shine, but once you get your army of weapons up, it melts bosses crazy fast and has great survivability
  10. This Tri-Element Crit Trapper Build is also good for SSF, and offers a completely different style of play from the above builds.

Each player has their own style and preference in builds; as you progress in SSF and find specific uniques, you’ll potentially unlock new builds – but those listed above will work great; not just for starting out, but also for progressing through the Atlas and unlocking Achievements/Challenges.

Playing SSF

First, the general consensus is Magic Find is not worth it in SSF. Focus instead on clear speed.

Save all of your Prophecies until Merciless! The most valuable are: From the Void (Voidheart ring), Jeweler’s Touch (5L), Fated Connections (6L), and Trash to Treasure (upgrade to Unique). Remember, if you get one of these prophecies and don’t plan on using it immediately, SEAL IT so you don’t accidentally forget about it and use it on the wrong item!

Divination Card farming can be rewarding depending on the build and the item one is looking for. One card that any build can benefit from is Humility, 9 of which give Tabula Rasa. Humility drops in the Aqueduct, Channel and Waterways Maps. If you are looking for a specific unique, be sure to check out the Divination Card Wiki Page and do a search for your item to see if it’s obtainable through the cards. You can then determine where the best place to farm the cards is. There are currently 179 cards in the game.

Here is an excellent guide on Efficient Currency Farming, which is very important for those wanting to take SSF to end-game.

Crafting is the most important aspect of SSF, and essences can make all the difference (and even be necessary if one is pursuing Delirium). For those of you who are new to PoE, I recommend reading the Crafting Wiki so you can learn the basics. I’m going to outline some of the key techniques of crafting playing as SSF, but first want to give thanks to noneskii on Reddit for laying the framework for the below overview.

  1. Before you start crafting be sure to use and reference PoeAffix to make sure your rolls will be at the proper tier and in the proper range.
  2. Alt-Regal Crafting: Good for melee weapons (Vaal Axe, Ambusher, Harbinger Bow, Vaal Rapier, Jewelled Foil) and caster weapons (Imbued Wand, Opal Wand, Platinum Kris), Profane Wand and Opal Sceptre). Also good for Jewelry (Steel rings, Opal Rings, Crystal Belts, Resistance Rings, Attribute Amulets, Marble Amulets, Diamonds Rings). Basically you Transmute a white item, then start rolling it with Orbs of Alteration and Augmentation; and if you get a great combo, you use a Regal Orb on it. Be patient though; I had a level 73 Vaal Axe and it took me more than 400 orbs of Alteration before I received the Cruel mod (140%+ physical damage) – and then when I Augmented and used a Regal, the additional mods were throw away — but I still used it, and it made a huge difference for my 2H EQ Axe build and Warchief totem builds. While I recommend using the above for gear that is at least item level 73, the technique works at any level. This is why it’s critical to pick up and sell every yellow item you see – a SSF player must build up their stash of alts, etc.
  3. Chaos Spam: Best used on ES gear (Vaal Regula, Hubris Circlet, Titanium Spirit Shield) and other gear with a small pool of mods (armor and belts). Use Chaos until you hit at least two tier 1 or one tier 1 and one tier 2, or two tier two. Resistances are a bonus. Goals are 350 ES on Helmets/Shields, and 650 ES on Body Armor and 150ES on boots/gloves.
  4. Multi-Modding: You need level 8 Eleron to do this (and at least 2 exalts). This allows you to add the “Can have multiple crafted mods” on your item (it’s a suffix). Multi-modding allows you to fill all remaining affixes (up to 3 prefixes and 3 suffixes) with master mods. This is most useful on weapons with one or two top tier prefixes and not more than one suffix. Hybrid mods on the base item are highly sought after because you can’t craft them through a master. Using multi-mod is also very useful for Eleron’s reduced cost of mana skill augments.
  5. Exalt Slamming: Only slam items with no more than 4 mods. You can block an undesireable mod by crafting a cheap master mod on the item, just make sure the mod you’re aiming for is attainable. Another technique is to use other master mods such as “cannot roll caster mods” (which can be useful for rolling daggers with a focus on crit/damage).
  6. Master Meta-Crafting: This is probably the most advanced crafting in the game and it costs several exalts just to try. Generally only used on items with 3 high tier desirable prefixes and at least 1 free suffix. One must have Haku at level 8 to craft “prefixes cannot be changed” and then scour the item, which will only remove the suffixes. Then you slam and repeat or multimod and say it’s done. But this is as expensive as can be and probably done by a good 0.1% of PoE players.
  7. Vaaling Items: Best done on cheap but decent uniques that have the possibility of hitting decent corrupted implicits, but can also be done on rares. This includes:
    Pass on Rings (no good augments) and Helmets (enchants are better).
    Quivers: Adds an additional arrow (Drillneck, Rearguard, Signal Fire).
    Amulets: +1 curse, +1 frenzy, movement speed, +1 max res (Eye of Chayula, Halcyon, Ngamahu Tiki, Anvil, Bloodgrip, Eye of innocence; the rest are too expensive or worthless).
    Belts: +1 endurance charge, increased skill effect duration, increased area of skills (Doryani’s belt, Sunblast, Headhunter). Would consider rare belts with good mods but crappy implicits.
    Body Armor: +1 all gems, +1 max res, 95% mana multiplier (Every single Tabula Rasa you find, and 6L Shavronne’s Wrappings).
    Boots: +1 gems, +1 frenzy charge (Atziri’s Step, Bones of Ullr, Skyforth, Darkray Vectors, The Blood Dance, Death’s Door, Voidwalker).
    Gloves: +1 gems, curse on hit (Empire’s Grip, Veruso’s Battering Rams, Atziri’s Acuity, Maligaro’s Virtuosity, Asenath’s Gentle touch, Voidbringer, Wyrmsign, Repentance, Shaper’s Touch, Facebreaker, Snakebite, Shadows and Dust).
    Shields: +1 gems (Prism Guardian).
    1H Weapons: +weapon range, culling strike (Soul Taker, Hand of Wisdom and Action, Mjolner, Prismatic Eclipse, Scaeva, Hyaon’s Fury, Varunastra, Dreamfeather, Razor of the Seventh sun).
    2H Weapons: Culling strike, +weapon range, +1 arrow (6L bows, 6L Atziri’s Disfavour). Can also do all bows just to get +1 arrow (even for non-end game).
  8. Chancing Items: If you are looking for a specific unique for your build, always chance the base item. For example, the Essence Drain build uses The Consuming Dark Fiend Dagger. Luckily this is a fairly common drop (in the grand scale of things) but tons of white Fiend Daggers drop as well. If you are running the ED build, chance every Fiend Dagger you find.

Many players wonder when they should start running Maps vs. the Dried Lake. The general consensus is running Dried Lake prior to level 75 is better due to mob density and vaal spawns (especially for a build like Essence Drain where you can run and pull your drain along with you, clearing multiple screens with a single shot). Plus you can rush Voll and get unique drops. Dried Lake is also very open where quite a few maps are not. The mobs in Dried Lake also never change so one can optimize for running them. Given the importance of securing Vaal Skill Gems (such as Haste and Lightning Trap), Dried Lake is just “better” for SSF establishing runs prior to 75 (especially with a new character).

Linking and Socketing items is critical for end-game. If you get your master high enough, it costs 1500 fusings to 6L an item. The statistical chance of getting a 6L is roughly 0.05% (estimated) or 970 orbs of fusing on average. Remember to always make sure an item you are linking or socketing is at 20% quality! Another factor is color combination. The best tool you can use to determine if you should just spam Chromatics is the Vorici Chromatic Calculator.

Vendors are going to be your prime source for many crafting orbs, especially fusings, which cost 4 Jeweller’s Orbs from the Act 2 Vendor (Yeena). Being able to glance at your stash and see how many fusings your stack of 600 alts (for example) can be important when you’re ready to try and 5-6L an item. Here’s a quick reference to bring costs in perspective. Of course it’s possible to get a 5L or 6L with just 100 fusings, the below values are based on the “average”, showing the time and effort consideration for playing SSF and obtaining a 5L or 6L through crafting.

1 fusing                4 Jewelers, 8 Alt, 32 Aug, 128 Tran
150 fus (5L)     600 Jewelers, 1200 Alt, 4800 Aug, 19200 Tran
980 fus (6L)  3880 Jewelers, 7840 Alt

Also remember once your masters reach level 6, they will offer bulk discounts and deals on converting orbs. For example, Eleron will provide 20 Jeweller Orbs for 32 Alterations (vs. 40).

Remember to explore! SSF is not about power leveling, it’s about building. You want to find every master and vaal side area you can!

When it comes to Masters, your first goal should be to level all of them whenever you encounter them. People ask which ones they should start out with first in their hideout. I recommend Haku (armor) and Eleron (jewelry). Also add Navali as soon as you encounter her. Once your lead master reaches level 5, create a hideout with them so you can invite 4 masters (to do dailies). After Haku and Eleron I recommend adding Tora and Vagan. Once you get their benches and are able to replace one after leveling, add Vorici to get the Artisan’s Bench (which you’ll need later on for sockets, links, coloring, etc.). When I start running maps, dismiss whatever master you just leveled (and has little to no experience loss) to make room for Zana when you find her. Always check Eleron for his mana reduction jewelery and Vagan for weapons where hits cannot be evaded! When you see these, buy them and save them in your stash for other characters!

Don’t forget to use the /claim_crafting_benches command in order to get benches for masters who aren’t in your hideout yet!

Explore every Vaal Area you can to acquire those highly sought after Vaal gems such as Haste, Lightning Trap, etc. Collecting fragments is also good since once you start running maps you can throw them into the map machine to try and get other Vaal gems or a Sacrifice at Midnight.

It’s important to remember the Drop only skill gems in the game: Added Chaos Damage, Detonate Mines, Empower, Enhance, Enlighten and Portal. Always pick these up.

Also remember to pick up every quality skill gem you find and stash it. You can trade these in later on for Gemcutter Prisms!

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”raised” width=”” height=”” background_color=”#e4ffe0″ border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd”]Siosa (the Library) now sells all other skill gems once you’ve completed his quest, so there’s no need to stash all those other skill gems (as defined below)![/dropshadowbox]

It’s also important to remember key skill gems that are only available as reward/vendor to certain classes, such as Poison or Blood Magic. For these gems, I highly recommend purchasing them from the vendor (at level 1) and storing them in your stash for future use. If you want to do a reference check to prepare for a build that requires gems not offered through that particular classes quest rewards, do a search on the PoE Wiki Quest Rewards page to see which class gets it and when.

When a SSF player begins mapping, the #1 goal is to find Zana and get her in your hideout. The second goal is to manage your map pool. One thing I’ve noticed in SSF is I have a ton more alchs than I would when not playing SSF (probably because I go out of my way to acquire as much currency as possible), so I often alch low level (T3-T6) maps when I’m starting out just to get the quantity. It makes a solid difference when building the pool. When you start overflowing with low level maps, sell 3 of them to a vendor to get the next tier. Generally you only want to chisel the highest level maps you have, often saving your chisels and waiting until T6 or greater. Remember to use the Chisel Recipe whenever you can!

While the Labyrinth is critical for ascendancy points, when playing SSF it can be a source of items, currency and leveling. Depending on how “lab friendly” your build is, running the Merciless lab can be beneficial up to 75 and even higher, especially if you are attempting to roll specific enchantments on your gear. The reality is less than 1% of all player ever run the Uber lab, so while I can say Uber Lab is one of the best “item and currency” makers in the game (especially if you want exalts) the simple fact is most SSF players will never set foot in it.

I recommend a player pick up every yellow you see to sell them for alts. Also pick up every tri-colored item you see and sell them for Chromes.

It’s easy to remember how many environmental objects are in the game. Make sure you turn over every stone and if you have a quick-executing area attack, make sure you break groups of barrels (or other destructibles). I’ve had exalts and uniques drop this way!

Rolling Strongboxes is only important for a few: Alchemy (+6 or more items), Diviners (quantity) and Cartographers (In 66-70 maps do + chest level to get higher maps. in 71+ alch is recommended). While I used to roll all the other boxes, I don’t anymore because it takes time and they are so numerous I find the mods rarely help. The only exception could be where you’re in a L80 map and want to get L83 items to drop; you can then roll your strongbox to be +3 or higher on the item level. But getting a rogue exile, unique, magic monsters, and other mods can often be beneficial – ultimately it’s up to you.

Don’t forget to equip a second set of 1H items you can use to level up gems on the side, such as Empower or any gems you are going to use once you go 5L or 6L.

I highly recommend keeping any Jewels that are a good combination of core mods used by most builds (e.g. Area of Effect, Physical Damage). Chaos Damage is also a good one, and it’s also good to have a few jewels that focus on % health and resists just in case one of your builds is deficient in either and needs a temporary boost. When it comes to Resists it’s also important to alch those two-stone rings!

You’ll want to hoard some items in SSF for other builds. This includes Jewels (AoE, Physical Damage, Chaos Damage, DoT, Increased Damage, Max Life + Resists), Uniques (for the 5-trade in prophecy), Jewelry (Tri-res gear pref 100%+ combined), 350+ DPS weapons (axes, bows, swords, etc.) and high spell damage wands (combined 60%+), etc. Leveling uniques are also important as you begin to create other builds.

There are numerous Unique items that are recommended for leveling. Once again, Noneskii from Reddit deserves credit for another fantastic post which served as the foundation for the below list.

  1. Helmets
    Goldrim: Perfect right from the start.
    Geoffri’s Crest: At level 53, if you need/want it. You can just use Goldrim until you transition into your end-game gear.
  2. Body Armor
    Tabula Rasa: For obvious reasons. However, you do not need a Tabula until end of Normal simply because you won’t have gems to put in there. So I usually just use prerolled 4L chest pieces until then.
    Bramblejack: Can be equipped right from the get go and that added phys damage is nice for maximum faceroll on attack builds.
    Wall of Brambles: If at level 30 you feel like you don’t need tabula yet, this thing enables half-asleep leveling mode.
    Briskwarp -> Ashrend -> Foxshade -> Tabula is my typical setup for leveling EVA based characters.
    Belly of the Beast: I only suggest transitioning in it if you have at least a 5L, 6L if you have orbs falling out your ass. You can equip it at level 46 and it with Goldrim will keep your resistances capped for a long time.
  3. Gloves
    Ondar’s Clasp: Can be equipped at level 5 and grant’s insane bonus for attack builds. If you use twink gear, these gloves will increase your faceroll ability even more.
    Lochtonial Caress: It’s a worse version of Ondar’s. However, depending on your playstyle, it might suit you more.
    Facebreakers: For easy and gg leveling as a melee, especially in the Shield charge meta.
    Maligaro’s Virtuosity: Can be equipped at level 21 and are insane for leveling any crit build.
    Slitherpinch: Often overlooked gloves, but they are great for attack builds. Can be equipped at level 27 and provides life/mana leech, attack speed and a good chunk of dex.
    Winds of Change: Great for projectile, especially spell, builds. Usable at level 47.
  4. Boots
    Wanderlust: Just get this. MS, Freeze immunity.
    Deerstalker: Essentially a free 5L at level 22 for trap builds. Use only if you can’t get a tabula. Otherwise get better boots.
    Lioneye’s Paws: Provides a lot of Str and Dex, 20% MS, some added fire damage and bonuses for those “oh, shit” moments when you fall with your face into keyboard.
    Wake of Destruction: Provides massive faceroll boost. However, they have no MS. If you have alternative means to move, use them. Otherwise get something that won’t make you feel like a snail.
  5. Shields
    Crest of Perandus: Nice bonuses all around, can use really early.
    The Deep One’s Hide -> The Great Old One’s Ward: for all those meta facebreaker builds.
  6. Quivers
    Hyrri’s Bite: Attack speed, AoE, Attribute points. Useable at level 10.
    Blackgleam -> The Signal Fire: Insane for elemental bow builds, regular one’s too. Might not be the best choice with Storm cloud.
    Drillneck: Just get pierce gem and pierce cluster by level 36 and it’s GG EZ game from then on.
  7. Amulets
    Araku Tiki: Nice life and fire resistance.
    Karui Ward: MS is the main bonus here.
    The Ignomon: GG for any attack builds.
    Karui Charge: Usable at level 24. Now grants attack speed as well.
    Ngamahu Tiki: BiS for leveling on any kind of fire builds.
  8. Rings
    Blackheart: For attack builds, use from the get-go.
    Le Heup of All: One of the best leveling items in the game, use 2 of them. All resistances, all attributes, damage and some rarity sprinkled on top. You can get 76% all resistances with these 2 rings and Goldrim.
    Voidheart: 2 free links, yay! Use for cosmic levels of faceroll.
  9. Belts
    Meginord’s Girdle: A very good choice for phys attack builds. Plus life, stength, some cold res and flask life recovery. Good stuff all around.
    Wurm’s Molt: Has some life/mana leech, some int, str, life and cold res. IMO pretty interchangeable with meginord’s.
    Prismweave: BiS leveling for Elemental attack builds. All resistances, WED, Added flat elemental damage.
  10. Caster weapons
    Lifesprig: One of the best caster leveling weapons. Use 2 of them. Or 1 + shield.
    Abberath’s Horn: I feel that this is better than lifesprig for fire spell builds. Even more so when you equip a tabula/move your main skill from lifesprig to somewhere else.
    Ashcaller: I haven’t tried this one yet, but it looks like it could be pretty good for flame totem leveling, especially if you use searing bond along it.
    Axiom Perpetuum: Yes. Get 2 of those. Equip at level 10 for GG. At one point though some other uniques/good rares will overcome it in terms of damage output, you’ll just have to experiment yourself.
    Fencoil: Can be used for some firestorm trap shenanigans. Plus has life/mana increase, which is nice. I still think 2 wands/scepters is better.
    Realm Ender: Another one I haven’t used yet. But +3 staff with up to 50% increased ele damage at level 40 sohould be good, right? RIGHT? Also – please someone try it out with ele hit. Like, seriously. +4 levels, flat ele, increased ele. I can sense ele hit meta coming.
    Another note: If you are using a scepter, you could use an Aurumvorax in your off hand for Even more resistances. Seriously – Goldrim + Aurumvorax + 2 Heup’s = up to 116% all res.
  11. Melee Weapons
    I recommend leveling using 2h melee weapons because they do more damage. Also avoid taking weapon type specific skill nodes in the tree. Preferably maces and axes because earthquake. But until level 28 when you get EQ you can use swords with sweep/cleave/whatever.
    Redbeak X2 -> The Goddes Bound -> Other Weapons. Just Yes. Do it.
    Aurumvorax: A stat stick. Make sure you use an attack that can’t use swords (I can’t remember if there are any) or only uses main hand. Can be used for spell casters and summoners.
    Limbsplit/Shiversting -> Wideswing/Hrimnor’s Hymn -> Geoffri’s Babtism/Reaper’s Pursuit -> The Cauterizer/The Blood Reaper/Hrymnor’s Dirge -> Marohi Erqi/Kaom’s Primacy: Easy and smooth leveling. The first weapon in each pair is the better choice.
  12. Bows
    Ele bows: Silverbranch -> Storm Cloud -> The Tempest/Doomfletch’s prism. The choice depends on how you wan’t to scale your damage. Tempest scales with flat ele (preferably lightning) damage while Doomfletch scales with physical damage.
    Phys bows: Silverbranch -> Storm Cloud -> Roth’s Reach -> Death’s Harp -> Silverbough -> Death’s Opus -> Infractem (maybe, gotta use Thief’s torment ring with it)

When playing SSF, taking the extra stat nodes (e.g. +30 strength) can allow your character to use gear and skill setups with high stat requirements. Never hesitate to take those nodes; you can refund them later!

For those of you who want to get to end-game as soon as possible, here’s a good discussion on reddit about speed leveling.

Remeber to check vendors and masters every level; they can carry 5-6 link items!

Challenges with SSF

The first thing a SSF player needs to realize is they will probably never find the uniques they want for highly specialized builds (PoE has nearly 700 unique items). As such, one must be open to working with “whatever drops”. As mentioned in the introduction, if you want to play something like the Pentagolem build, it’s not going to happen in SSF. Need the Poison skill? You’ll probably need to create a Shadow to get it. Need Chaos Damage? It has to drop, and you could get it with your first character, or not see a single one in 100+ hours of gameplay.

Another frustrating thing is crafting is very expensive at end-game, often completely depleting your resources. You can find a 6-socket L73 Vaal Axe and be excited to get that 140%+ physical damage roll, but 600 alts later, it isn’t nearly as fun or exciting when you realize you have to go back to farming currency to try and roll it again in a few days.

All builds run into a brick wall without the right gear. Whether it’s due to lack of uniques, jewels, DPS or armor. This brick wall can prevent lab runs, boss completions and getting stuck in the atlas. Be prepared for this. If a brick wall is hit, one of the best things you can do is create another character. PoE was built for this. Embrace it.

Additionally, when it comes to SSF, the Labyrinth can be a royal PITA depending on the build. Be prepared to get frustrated trying to obtain your Ascendancy points.

Benefits of SSF

SSF is really about building, planning and exploring all on your own without any outside influence. Creating multiple characters/builds, raising your master levels, exploring the atlas, gathering uniques and crafting currency. While you can do all of these things while trading, it does have a huge impact to work only with what you’ve got. This causes players to be more thoughtful about their decisions in the game. Rolling that 2H axe and getting 390DPS may be your stopping point because you only have 300 alts left, whereas if you were actively trading, you could get a 450DPS axe with a few chaos. It’s a very different world, and while players would embrace this play style on their own in the past, with the new announcement and upcoming league, players can now pursue SSF achievements and challenges.


PoE is a very difficult and complex game. SSF is not easy, especially for those that want to work through the end-game, run Uber bosses and kill the Shaper. It takes time, patience, planning and often multiple characters over a period of weeks or even months in SSF to achieve what one could in a few days or week through trading. But it’s fulfilling. I’ve played PoE with trading since day one, but recently, I decided to create a new account and play SSF. It changed a lot for me, but ultimately was very rewarding as I worked my way through the Atlas with multiple characters and builds.

Ultimately I found the experience to be rewarding and look forward to the Achievements and Challenges offered to SSF players in the next league. I hope other players find the information in this guide helpful.

Happy hunting!

  1. Animate Weapon doesn’t require Added Chaos. Chaos Animate Weapon is just one animate build. The other notable animate weapon variant can easily be done self found and will do just as well in maps.

  2. Correct; I just found the best Animate Weapon to be the one with Chaos/Poison damage. If you would like to propose an alternative build, feel free to post the link here!

  3. I’d advise picking up blue rings to ID, since tier 1 life is very low item level (item level 44).
    A magic two stone ring with life (prefix) and another resist (suffix) is already pretty good, and you can save multiple rings for emergency to balance your resists in case you need to swap a piece of gear.
    Also you can save potentially save a lot of alts, it doesnt take much for rings to be a good or useable
    It’s kinda obvious for the more experienced but I tought I’d share this for the new players.

  4. One thing I would suggest is to take advantage of more vendor recipes.

    A magic/rare Rustic Sash + Blacksmith’s Whetstone and a weapon yields that weapon with 40-69% physical damage. The rarity and item level of the belt determines the magnitude of the roll. It’s a guaranteed weapon upgrade if you need it, no need for alt spam.

    The Prismatic Ring recipe. 3 Two-Stone Rings of each type yields one Prismatic Ring. Two-Stone Rings are good targets for alchs and essences because if they’re no good, you can vendor three for another chance for a decent ring.

    The pseudo-chaos recipe. 5 rares of the same base vendors for a rare of the same base, with the item level of the lowest item level of the components. So you can use 5 alchs or essences on 5 bases, and then turn those into a 6th item.

    Speaking of vendors, check every vendor in every difficulty every time you level up. You’ll find chromatic items, maybe even 6 socket items. Do the master dailies every day. They sell not only chromatic items, but also quality gems and uniques.

  5. There must be extra benefit/reward, if we go to play SSF in the next league from GGG.
    Because you can not get help, trade, you will be alone, if you do well alone and if you finish challange, it must be extra reward.

  6. “All builds run into a brick wall without the right gear. Whether it’s due to lack of uniques, jewels, DPS or armor. This brick wall can prevent lab runs, boss completions and getting stuck in the atlas.”

    I think what we will see a lot – besides the satisfaction of playing with stuff you only “worked” for yourself and not having to deal with the most annoying part of the game – is also the pushing and smashing of these brick walls that seem so often written in stone. Builds will be much less efficient and clearspeed meta will not mean as much as in the standard game, but I’m pretty sure with the crappy gear they find people will make things possible that no one who goes the usual route of buying everything they “need” would think possible.

  7. Actually it´s the other way around – you´ll want to craft Rings, Amus and Belts with Chaos and ES gear with Alts and Regals. My reasoning behind this is that on ES gear you mostly care about 2/3 Mods (the ES ones) where on the other hand you´ll welcome any good combination of mods on jewelery. Example: imagine you chaos craft a tripple res jewlery with no Life/ES compared to getting the same result on a Vaal Regalia. Anyways props for the effort made on this guys and a good league start. =)

  8. Great write-up, one thing I’d add is to make sure you pick a class that can obtain all of the “higher-level” gems your build needs. Leveling another class to Act 3 Cruel for some support gem your main class can’t get is a hassle, even if you’re an uber-fast racing machine.

    Also, “pizza sticks” is Ancestral Warchief totem, not Flameblast.

  9. Appreciate the time and effort you have put into this guide, I’m currently following the Flameblast Totem guide with minor gear tweaks and already in the mid 80’s in under 4 days(!)

    Would you consider making a separate guide or updating this one with the release of 3.0 soon?

  10. Thanks for the feedback! I’ll be writing a new review shortly after the release of 3.0 along with recommended builds. I might even upgrade the SSF guide to be specific for 3.0. We’ll have to see.

  11. Hey man
    was wondering if you will update this for 3.0 when we get the patch notes? 🙂

  12. just read your comment to the above post. sorry.
    Looking forward to the update man, you did a great work on this one 🙂

  13. > pick up every yellow you see to sell them for alts

    Does that mean using a portal scroll when you are full, it is worth time/currency?

    Thanks for the guide, I am presently doing a flameblast totem SSF and having lots of fun learning POE at the same time.

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