Path of Exile 3.18 Sentinel Starter Build Compendium

A detailed compendium of numerous Path of Exile 3.18 Sentinel League Starter builds.

The time has arrived! We have a new league, and for the first time since I can remember, there’s really no changes to skills in any way that will impact the meta builds from the previous league, so what worked in 3.17 should continue to work just as well in 3.18.

The top 5 builds last league from each category combined (Trade, HC, SSF, etc.) were: Explosive Arrow, Skeletons (Mages), Seismic/Exsanguinate Traps, Poisonous Concoction, and Spectral Helix.

Before we begin, for those who want to review them, the patch notes for 3.18 can be found here.

The new Sentinel league features a mechanic that we haven’t quite seen before, so it’s hard to tell how much it will impact the overall gaming experience. The trailer can be watched here.

Most players would agree the biggest update in 3.17 was the addition of the Atlas Tree. Numerous enhancements and changes have been made to it in 3.18, allowing for additional new endgame planning and goal definition. BigDucks put out a great video covering these changes and his recommendations.

Here’s another great video by BigDucks covering the recommended Sentinel configuration for maximum currency drops. I can confirm this setup works great!

This overview covers guides not only tested and created by myself, but also presented by the community.

Before we begin, Path of Building (Community) is a very important tool to have when following a build guide since many of them share PoB links. Additionally, make sure you have a good loot filter. I personally recommend NeverSink’s Loot Filter.

I also want to share this great website which has numerous top tier starter builds with links to complete build guides on the GGG POE Forums:

Qualifying the Builds

Here are the key requirements I use for qualifying these builds:

  1. SSF/Starter (no equipment) friendly.
  2. Ease of leveling.
  3. Balance of map clear & bossing.
  4. All (or nearly all) content capable with self-found gear.
  5. Survival (as HC-viable as possible).

Unlike previous recent leagues, most builds that performed well in 3.16 will continue to perform well (and in some cases, even better) in 3.17.

Sentinel 3.18 Starter Build List

Some of the PoB build links may be from 3.17. I will try to update them as soon as the 3.18 PoB is released, but they should convert to 3.18 without any issues.

Here are my recommend top starter builds for the upcoming Path of Exile 3.18 Sentinel League.

Explosive Arrow Hierophant & Champion

I started last league as a Explosive Arrow Hierophant and was not disappointed. While I wasn’t able to play as much over the release weekend as I would have liked, I was steamrolling through yellow maps (almost to Reds) by Sunday, had a 6L and even found a Dead Reckoning jewel; all in SSF. Note I’ve updated the PoB link below with the latest build. I switched over to EA right after I got the 4L setup from the Library. EA Hierophant is probably one of the best league starts I’ve ever had, and the character is easily handling all of the bosses. I definitely recommend this build for anyone who is coming into the league a bit late or is looking for another build to try. This was the best build I played in 3.17, and I’ll be playing it again as my league starter in 3.18.

The choice between Hierophant or Champion all depends on your preferred play style and end-game goals. Hierophant is much easier to level, only requires 3 labs to reach its full potential, and has great best balance of DPS and tanking. However if you want to play HC and have the best survival, Champion is the optional choice.

Here is the link to my EA Hierophant PoB for 3.18, which has leveling trees and notes to easily help the player through the leveling process:

For those who want a video covering the tanky Champion version, here’s a great guide from Zizaran!

Additional note for those who love Totem builds. Tatinatiel is considered one of the best Totem players in all of Path of Exile. I can vouch for his skill and excellent builds. Note he put together a compendium of Totem builds for 3.17 including Flameblast, Storm Burst and Ball Lightning. I recommend keeping an eye on the below document as he’s sure to enhance it when the league start begins. Next to EA, it’s my opinion Ball Lightning Totems are one of the best HCSSF options for 3.18. Tati has put together a complete PoB with leveling trees and notes at the link below.

Detonate Dead Necromancer

This is one of the top builds in the game, especially for HCSSF, capable of doing all content. It can be quite satisfying to destroy the entire screen with contagious fire, and bosses melt beautifully. The only drawback is the two-step process of casting and exploding, which can become a bit tedious after awhile. Ds_lily published a 3.18 Detonate Dead Necromancer guide.

Physical Trap Saboteur

Once again, traps are going to rock this league, and it was the #3 build from 3.17. It’s capable of doing all content, and is Trade, HC, and SSF friendly. Here’s a complete guide from Big Ducks that’s perfect for 3.18.

Righteous Fire Inquisitor

This is one of the most relaxing all-content builds out there, plus it’s just enjoyable to play, and is capable of all content. It’s my second favorite build for 3.17. Pohx published a 3.18 Righteous Fire Inquisitor guide.

Minion Army & Skeleton Mage Necromancer

Minion builds always shine with each league, and Skeleton Mages decimated 3.17 as the #2 build across the board. However for those playing SSF, it can take a long time to find the necessary Dead Reckoning Jewel. The good news is Physical Skeletons will easily get you into Red maps, and once you get a Vaal Skeletons gem, you will melt any and all bosses.

Von Vikton created a complete guide that includes both the Physical version prior to transitioning to the Skeleton Mage version.

Poison Concoction Pathfinder

Another top performer from 3.17 in all play styles, this build not only melts your enemies, it also has great balance between speed mapping and end-game bossing. ZiggyD makes a great guide for this build.

Bane Occultist

Bane Occultist performed exceptionally in 3.17 as a league starter, and continues to be a fun and all-content viable build for 3.18. Subtractem makes the best guide for this build, and I highly recommend it!

Vortex Occultist

It’s my opinion this is one of the best builds in the game; it’s tanky, freezes everything, fun, and can do all content in HCSSF. That, and it was buffed in 3.17! I’ve played this build numerous times and it’s one of my favorites; as such, it’s one of my top recommendations for 3.18. Here’s a copy of my personal PoB for 3.18 that contains both trees and notes detailing how to efficiently level this build:

Below is a Vortex Occultist Build Guide video made by themehmetbozlak.

Spectral Helix Deadeye

Another top build in 3.17 was Spectral Helix. While most played Raider in Trade, for those who want HC/SSF, Deadeye was the preferred choice.

Below is a Trinity Deadeye Spectral Helix League Start Build made by KobeBlackMamba.

Spark Inquisitor

This build performed very well in 3.17, and in my opinion is one of the most fun self-cast builds to play. It’s also surprisingly SSF capable and for experienced players, HC viable. Below is a link to Goratha’s Spark Inquisitor league starter guide!

Shield Crush Gladiator

If you want to play Melee, I recommend Shield Crush, which was one of the first builds to make level 100 in HCSSF. Here is a copy of my PoB for 3.18 that has leveling trees and notes for those who want to give it a shot:

For those who want a much more detailed guide, I recommend this one by OMFGaTaco:

Toxic Rain Champion

Toxic Rain has been one of the best generic starters in the game for years, and there are numerous variations players can choose.

TR Champion was the #1 build in 3.16. The damage reached 4-8M DPS, it was tanky as all getgo, could do all content, and dominated HC/SSF. While Toxic Rain did receive a slight 16% or so nerf in 3.17, it will still performed very well, and secured the #8 level 100 slot in HCSSF.

Zizaran made a video based on Lightee’s build for 3.16, which will work just fine in 3.17.

Cyclone Slayer

No compendium would be complete without a “spin to win” build! Here’s a complete guide for a Cyclone Slayer by Navandis.

Storm Brand Occultist

Storm Brands are a ton of fun and great for league starting, and performed very well in 3.17. This complete Storm Brand Occultist guide by Velnya is a great league starter:

Carrion Golem Necromancer

For those who are not playing SSF, Carrion Golem builds are always solid, and they will continue to shine. Below is Von Vikton’s Carrion Golem League Starter Build Guide.

Popcorn SRS Necromancer

Summon Raging Spirits has been one of my favorite “fun factor” builds in Poe, and it’s a lot of fun to revisit every few leagues; it’s also one of the easiest league starters out there. It’s just not as “robust” as other builds for HCSSF and end-game content without serious investment, but it can easily take players to red maps and is great for farming gear. Kay made a Popcorn SRS guide for 3.18, linked below.


There’s no question there are many additional great league starter builds, but I wanted to present a list based on personal experience, and the top performers from the previous league. It’s great we already know how these builds will perform. This allows players to focus on end-game Atlas Tree progression and the new Sentinel league mechanic with a build that’s already proven to be viable.

I hope this list helps the PoE community; here’s to the continued success of Path of Exile, the new Sentinel league, and the fantastic job Grinding Gear Games has done!

  1. It’s very solid; I tried Poison last league, and it performed well – if I recall, it was just a bit rough to get into in SSF.

  2. Glad you’re still coming out with these guides! Are you only playing PoE these days? I find as I grow older and responsibilities become greater than I keep coming back to games like this, as nothing else can really hold my attention. Also going to try out the league starter that you’ve recommended (EA hiero), but I am addicted to playing as a necromancer, ugh. Haha.


  3. Hey Mark – thanks! Yup, I still play every new league. Necro is a ton of fun, no question – you could try Popcorn SRS for a change if you want to league start as a Necro – that’ll perform perfectly fine, and it’s a nice change from the typical skeleton/mage build. But definitely can’t go wrong with EA Hiero; if you haven’t played it before, I think you’ll really enjoy it. Happy Hunting in the new league!

  4. Kind of interesting there has been no skill changes this league though I’m a bit torn between doing EA Hiero again or going for something new like Shield Crush or Spark. Much pondering to be done, thanks as always for the guides!

  5. Hey David, thanks for doing this league after league.

    I play SSFSC and I have a soft spot for the scion, sadly I don’t see many builds using her besides the usual aurabot.

    Would you happen to know any scion builds that are viable as league starters in SSF? I’ve tried googling around but most of the stuff I find is mostly trade league oriented as it needs cheap uniques that even tho they might be 1c, can be annoying to get in SSF.

    Thank you!

  6. All 3 are a lot of fun; it really comes down to play style. EA Hiero is just so balanced, it’s hard to choose anything else, but then again Detonate Dead Necromancer steamrolls with no real gear requirements – that might be an alternative consideration. But if you want to go melee, Shield Crush always works well. Good luck!

  7. Well with Nemesis mods being integrated into all rare and magic mobs now, the game has become ultra-rippy for HC. Sadly, Scion is the one class I’ve never really embraced. I don’t even think I’ve played Scion in the past year. Apologies, but I can’t make any good recommendations.
    One thing I like about SSF is I can choose a solid league starter, and based on drops, it changes/opens the door on other builds I can do.
    Good luck, and stay safe! VERY rippy league so far!

  8. Actually, I didn’t find it as bad as so many others did. My first char (a Hiero EA build) didn’t die the first time until 85. I’ve played around with a few other builds, but have been distracted with V Rising, which I am working on a review for… πŸ™‚

  9. Hi, have to ask, as usual before the league start, do you work on 3.19 starter builds list? Thanks!

  10. Hey! I don’t plan on doing starters for this league; not enough has really changed in my opinion, plus I probably won’t even be playing at launch. I’ll probably do a compendium a week or so after launch so we can see what the most popular builds are. As far as I’m aware, the meta won’t be too different from 3.18. We’ll see!

  11. Hey David.

    I was here “refreshing” my browser waiting for your 3.19 list haha.

    I haven’t really read the patch notes, but I read some comments about a few nerfs here and minor buffs there.
    I’m glad to know that starting builds from 3.18 are still a safe bet.

    I started last league with RF inquisitor and didn’t regret it.
    This league is time to either repeat, or try a totem build (EA or Tatiantel’s spell totems).

    Would mind telling me which would be your choice?
    Ive read EA single target got nerfed

  12. I have same problem as usual, can’t really play multiple builds and struggling to pick the one πŸ™‚ Your list and feedback is always accurate and never let me down. Even tough I play SC I like SSFHC builds and both EA and Seismic trap are nerfed a bit. I see Ziz is starting lightning conduit (new skill). Maybe Poison Concoction or Spectral Helix is way to go – don’t know if I like the gameplay πŸ˜‰

  13. A bit late starting this league but I might finally give Shield Crush a go or maybe go for the good old Vortex Occultist.

    Do you think Pohx’s RF Inquisitor would still work SSF this league?

  14. Hey Silentfox! I know Vortex Occultist is still just as solid as ever. I found Shield Crush to be more Niche than not – but fun if you like the play style. I’m not aware of any nerfs to RF, so that’s probably solid as well. Surprisingly, SRS is one of the top builds in HCSSF so far this league as well!

  15. I only ask about the RF inquisitor as I haven’t seen Pohx’s site mention much about SSF. Also, nice to know SRS is becoming a thing again, always remember having fun with that long ago. πŸ™‚

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