Like every other class in Path of Exile there are countless ways you can build your Shadow character. Most people opt for melee DPS, but ranged damage dealing with a bow or even spell casting can be perfectly viable. If you really want to get the most out of your Shadow and maximize the effectiveness of every skill point I suggest you take a look at some of the skill tree builds I found and choose one that best fits your play style.
This build is designed for one thing only: blazing through the first 20 levels as quickly as possible. It comes from Bzmode, a player who won PoE’s second one-hour hardcore race finishing at an astonishing level 20 in just 60 minutes of playtime. He mostly uses Fire Trap and Poison Arrow as effective area-of-effect damage to quickly dispose of monsters.
Aimlessgun’s Cold Caster Guide
Cold Caster is a Shadow build which focuses on using Freezing Pulse and Ice Spear as the two main abilities. Freezing Pulse has some of the highest AoE DPS in the game if you are up close, and Ice Spear has great long range single target DPS and freeze-locks enemies like nothing else.
The cold caster is a good all around build with high single target and AoE DPS, with additional survivability thanks to constant freeze. They are equally efficient in solo play as well as groups, and even in PvP combat.
- Youtube video demonstrating the build in action
- Another video with a cold caster Shadow build
- Full build at level 82 (and alternate more defensive version)
- Author’s forum topic, including skill gems and support gems, preferred gear, and plenty of other tips
Ethereal Knives Low-HP High DPS Build
Dr. Bubbles’ Ethereal Knives Shadow build uses a combination of unique items and support gems to turn himself into a low-life killing machine. In order to better understand how and why this build works I suggest you visit this forum topic and read a bit more about it.
Hardcore Shadow Fire Trap Build
Shadow class based on Fire Trap is a fun and mobile build that enables you to run around and dodge monster attacks all the while your Fire and Bear Traps deal damage. The build focuses on damage, mobility and taking large groups of monsters at the same time, and works well in both solo and group play.
The build also has added survivability with Spell Totem: Summon Skeletons as well as taking a lot of bonus health nodes in the passive skill tree.
Low-Life/Pain Attunement Caster Shadow Build
Low-life builds aim to keep yourself at 35% of your maximum health at all times in order to benefit from the Pain Attunement node in the skill tree, which increases your spell damage by 30% while below 35% HP. Constantly staying on a third of your maximum health is actually quite easy: you simply use a Blood Magic support gem (your linked spell uses health as resource instead of mana) with an aura gem that reserves a percentage of your mana. Just make sure you appropriately level up your gems to get 65% mana reservation. For defense this build mainly relies on building a high Energy Shield.
This build can go in various paths depending on your preference: fire, ice, or lightning as elemental damage , and Ethereal Knives if you prefer physical damage. Ice is likely the safest due to constant freezing of your enemies, while Ethereal Knives deals the most damage.
- Forum topic with detailed explanation of the build, including equipment, gameplay tips, linked gem tips and more
- Ethereal Knives build: 44 Points, 64 Points, 88 Points, 100 Points, 111 Points
- Ice caster build: 46 Points, 64 Points, 88 Points, 100 Points, 111 Points
- Fire build: 43 Point, 68 Points, 89 Points, 108 Points
- Lightning tree build: 47 Points, 64 Points, 88 Points, 102 Points, 110 Points
Eldritch Battery Ethereal Knives Shadow Build
This build focuses on building the Shadow around an unconventional HP/Str build as opposed to the usual CI/Int/ES build, focusing on HP, HP regen and Armour as defense and using ES as a mana buffer instead of the traditional protection purpose. It also used Ethereal Knives as the main AoE skill with Bear Traps as the main single target DPS skills versus bosses and in PvP scenarios. Defensive skills include Frost Wall and the curse of choice is Projectile Weakness.
- Forum topic with detailed explanation of every aspect of this build
- Gameplay video #1 (level 69 Plateau map run)
- Gameplay video #2 (level 67 Dark Forest map run)
- Full skill tree build per level: 30 Points, 44 Points, 53 Points, 61 Points, 95 Points (level 84 late-game build)
Ashgod’s Physical Bow Build
This build takes advantage of most stats in the game, making it fairly gear dependant, however with good gear the damage scales extremely well. It’s also pretty versatile and you can adjust your build depending on your current equipment. It also has insanely high single target DPS with 7 Frenzy charges. There are a few downsides to this build as well: it’s weak for leveling until you pick up a few key points, it’s gear dependent, and due to the high damage monsters with reflect damage can be tougher to kill.
- Forum topic with author’s explanation of this build’s strengths and weaknesses, skill gem choices, equipment recommendations and more
- End-game passive skill tree build
- Gameplay video showing the build in action
Invalesco’s HP/ES Spark Shadow Battle Mage
This caster shadow build is optimized for fast leveling and safety. It’s based on Spark + Fork skill gems. Since Spark can bounce off of walls it’s extremely good in indoor dungeons. It’s also very easy to play thus great for beginner players.
- Forum topic including full passive builds, equipment, skill gems, gameplay tips and more
- Skill tree progression: 31 Points, 46 Points, 60 Points, 80 Points, 111 Points (completed build)
- Vaal run gameplay video – showing how to kill Vaal on Merciless difficulty
- Brutus kill video – shows how easily you can kill Brutus with this build
I hope these builds point you in the right direction. There are literally countless ways to build a character but these are just some that I found which appear to be effective. If you have another or even your own build you want to share with everyone feel free to contact me and I’ll add it here.