[Top 5] Path of Exile Best Chaos Builds

Path of Exile Best Chaos Builds
Feeling chaotic? Harness the power of chaos at the tip of your fingers.

Chaos builds, though few in number, are among some of the most played builds in Path of Exile. 

Hello, exiles.

The king of damage over time, chaos builds have been around in Path of Exile for a long time running, with a couple holding seats among the top builds in the current league as well as previous leagues. Alongside the addition of new skill gems, chaos builds quickly rose to power, and for good reason.

Among the list of currently played builds, a handful offer good on-hit damage along with their damage over time ticks, as well as some solid defense. If you’re looking to end the league with some chaos, or perhaps start the next one off strong, here are some of the current top builds. 

5. Caustic Arrow

Your arrow collides with the enemy before you, exploding in a putrid caustic cloud that encases all within it in a thick bog of chaos-laden air. 

Caustic Arrow is a bow-based ability which, upon hitting enemies, will drop a caustic cloud that surrounds them and deals chaos damage over time. It is important to note that this skill deals only chaos damage, and will not be affected by poison-related modifiers. Caustic Arrow is an early reward for quest completion on the Ranger and can be acquired by most classes in the first act by purchasing it from Nessa. It is completely viable to pick the skill up early and level with it all the way to end game, rather than leveling with a different skill and switching out. The build can be played by multiple classes, though is often played by either the Ranger as Pathfinder/Raider or, more popularly, the Shadow as Trickster. 

Why Caustic Arrow is Great:

  • All content viable, particularly since it won’t be affected by either physical or elemental reflect
  • Very budget friendly; can clear all content affordably with even smoother min-max options
  • Provides good on hit damage and damage over time; plus your damage will go through energy shield, which a lot of endgame bosses have
  • The caustic cloud allows you to focus on dodging or learning mechanics without worrying about continually dealing damage
  • Beginner friendly and laid-back due to the ease of gearing, low budget, and simplicity of the skill 

Caustic Arrow gameplay and guide. 

4. Blade Vortex

The ethereal blades around you swirls. Laced with poison, it shreds through enemies, infecting them with a painful toxin that brings them to their knees. 

Blade Vortex channels ethereal blades (up to 10) around the caster, damaging all who come within their radius. You will need to recast the ability every few seconds to upkeep the maximum of 10 blades in order to maintain your highest level of damage There are multiple iterations of this build (elemental, phys, etc.) but for this list we are going to focus on the poison version, which will typically be played on the Shadow as Assassin. While currently overshadowed by other iterations, poison (chaos) Blade Vortex still does consistently high damage, clears zones and bosses quickly, and offers a fair amount of survivability. 

Why Blade Vortex is Great:

  • Very high damage potential for both single-target and AOE
  • Not too mechanically intensive aside from maintaining 10 blades and wither stacks for bosses
  • Can clear all content with low investment 
  • Gear is pretty easy to craft and min-maxing has lots of options
  • Good survivability from almost max dodge and spell dodge alongside high lifepool (considering the dodge chance); plus, Noxious Strike gives life regen per stack of poison effect, of which you will have lots of

Blade Vortex gameplay and guide. 

3. Strength Stacking Cyclone

You work your body to be as strong as it can in order to become a wielder of chaos. As you spin through your enemies, tearing apart their flesh, they quickly realize that it is not ordinary steel that slices through them as you easily shred through their defenses. 

Strength Stacking Cyclone is an extremely powerful build that has emerged due to the addition of the item Replica Alberon’s Warpath Soldier Boots. These boots allow you to deal 1-80 chaos damage per 50 strength, and with strength stacking you can easily get upwards of 2000 for insane amounts of base damage. Not only does strength stacking boost damage through Alberon’s, but also gives 2% increased melee damage per 10 strength and 5 maximum life per 10. When combined with either the Duelist as Slayer or Gladiator, or the Marauder as Juggernaut, you are looking at a build that deals insane damage while also maintaining significant defensive capabilities. Currently, the Juggernaut is the more popular of the three due to the ascendancy having a strength-based boost on one of the nodes (accuracy based on strength and attack speed based on accuracy), and greater defensive capabilities than Slayer and Gladiator without sacrificing much, if any, damage. 

Why Strength Stacking Cyclone is Great:

  • Flexible class and ascendancy choices as well as defensive vs. offensive focus (though will lean defensive on skill tree) 
  • Insane DPS for bossing and zone clearing
  • Very tanky with high amounts of armor, block chance, and cannot be stunned if you go Juggernaut
  • Quite fast, especially with Juggernaut (move speed cannot be reduced below base and gain 10%)
  • Sometimes the best defense is also offense, and this build will satisfyingly one-hit kill many bosses and, if it fails to one-shot, will still easily clear all content

Strenght Stacking Cyclone gameplay and guide. 

2. Toxic Rain 

A cascade of arrows falls on your enemies, giving life to spore pustules that explode and infect the ground with toxins while also attaching to enemies to prevent a quick escape. 

Toxic Rain narrowly beats out Strength Stacker due primarily to popularity; both are significant beasts in current gameplay. Typically, you will want to play as the Trickster Shadow ascendancy, though it is also common to play as the Pathfinder. Trickster in particular has a lot to offer in terms of both defensive and offensive capabilities and will make you a practically unstoppable force of zone clearing and boss killing. Toxic Rain is extremely straightforward; on cast you will shoot a rain of arrows from your bow that will fall to the ground leaving plant-like pustules which deal chaos damage over time to those standing in the affected region. 

Why Toxic Rain is Great:

  • Great end game clear speed for maps and bosses; all content viable
  • Similar to Caustic Arrow, you can let the ground effect do damage while you focus on dodging mechanics 
  • Gearing is easy and cost efficient with even better high-cost options for when/if you have the budget
  • Extremely simple to play, making it easy for players of all skill levels
  • Good defensive options for regen, dodge, block, etc. 

Toxic Rain gameplay and guide. 

1. Essence Drain

As projectiles leave your palm, they assail enemies. At first they laugh at your feeble attempts, but this is before they notice their life slowly draining away and have nothing left to do but to look on in horror.

Essence Drain is a highly played build currently, with many different variations available. While Essence Drain can be played as the Occultist Witch ascendancy, the Trickster tends to be favored due to the better capabilities of the ascendancy (though the Occultist seems to have a leg up in boss damage). Essence Drain launches a projectile in the direction of your cursor, placing a devastating chaos effect on enemies it touches that deals significant damage over time; this of course means that you will not be doing much damage on-hit from ED. The Trickster ascendancy offers superb bonuses to defensive stats, including energy shield/life on kill, added regen if you killed recently, increased move speed, increased dodge chance, cannot be stunned, and much more. To compensate for lower on-hit damage and somewhat less than ideal single-target damage, you will likely want to take another skill to compliment Essence Drain, such as Contagion or Blight. 

Why Essence Drain is Great: 

  • The skill itself offers incredible regen based on damage dealt which combines nicely with the defensive options from the Trickster ascendancy (or the Pathfinder’s flask capabilities if you so choose) for a tankier-than-most damage dealer
  • Like many other on this list, or perhaps even more so than the others, you can focus on dodging boss mechanics while dealing damage due to the significant focus on the DoT tick
  • You will easily clear through maps and still have a fine time fighting bosses, especially with the right gear or complementary skill 
  • All content viable; can literally tank almost all content and all hits in the game

Essence Drain gameplay and guide. 

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