[Top 5] Path of Exile Best Shadow Builds

Path of Exile Best Shadow Builds
The Shadow hunts through the night to assassinate his target

Wondering what to play right now among the vast number of builds in Path of Exile? Hopefully, this can help. 

Hello, exiles. On the chopping block today is the Shadow.

This is a tricky list, as the Shadow has many highly viable builds to play, and all have fairly comparable damage and survivability. The class in general tends to deal high amounts of damage, clearing zones and bosses both quickly and effectively.

Because of these strengths, the Shadow is extremely popular, resulting in many different build options among skill gem choices and within a singular skill. Nevertheless, here are my top five. 

5. Power Syphon Assassin (Alternatively Kinetic Blast)

The Shadow casts energy bursts which siphon power from enemies they damage, providing him with even greater strength. 

Power Siphon is an attack ability that typically uses wands as your primary weapon and power charges as the primary source of damage. The current meta uses intelligence stacking since it results in the best survivability and damage output. Power Siphon specializes in quick clear throughout the leveling process, though single-target damage can sometimes be a challenge without the right gear and support links. 

The build can easily deal DPS by the millions, but this will be relatively expensive; it is quite taxing to craft or find gear with good defensive, offensive, and attribute stats. The expensive nature of Power Siphon Assassin has earned it a reputation in the community for being a “luxury build,” but if you have the cash to blow, it will be more than worth your time and money.

What's Good About This Build:

  • Huge amounts of damage potential without sacrificing survivability
  • Fast clear and fast movement will get you through endgame maps quickly and with low risk
  • Power Siphon utilizes power charges, which means you will deal critical strikes for good burst, and if you have elemental damage you will deal elemental effects (the shatters and explosions are very satisfying)
  • Power Siphon comes equipped with Culling Strike built-in, which gives increased damage and will instantly obliterate any enemy with 10% or less life 
  • You can exchange Power Siphon with Kinetic Blast, or use it alongside Kinetic Blast, giving it some flexibility  based on playstyle 

Pure Power Siphon gameplay and build guide. 

Power Siphon and Kinetic Blast hybrid gameplay and build guide. 

4. Miner

The Shadow places his mines on the ground and patiently waits for his enemy to fall into his trap, detonating the mines to do massive amounts of elemental damage. 

The Shadow is your go-to class for mines, and is exclusively played for them; no other class has a skill tree or ascendancy to contend with Saboteur. Mines have been in the top Path of Exile builds for a long time running, and as of now, there are two primary mine builds, Glacial Cascade and Ball Lightning. Neither is really better than the other, it’s just about playstyle, gear, and at the end of the day, whether you prefer lightning or cold damage. 

Miners are incredibly safe to play, as you typically deal your damage from a distance and, if something does happen to get close, you have built-in defenses through the Saboteur ascendancy. You toss your mines on the ground, re-activate or wait for activation, and regardless of whether you are clearing general mobs or fighting bosses, you will do tons of damage. 

What's Good About This Build:

  • Beginner-friendly; just be careful of dodging, as you will have to momentarily stand still while placing and activating your mines
  • Budget-friendly; great budget and min-max options
  • No reflect damage taken, so viable for all content
  • High damage, both clear and single-target
  • Can use energy shield or life, depending on your personal preference 

Ball Lightning Miner gameplay and build guide. 

Glacial Cascade Miner gameplay and build guide. 

3. Toxic Rain Trickster

Raining arrows from above, the Shadow poisons his enemies and maniacally awaits their death so that he can collect his prize. 

Toxic Rain is a relatively new contender in the grand scheme of Path of Exile’s history, and it rose to power very quickly. The build is perfect for the Shadow and Trickster, as the class and ascendancy focus very heavily on poison, chaos, and damage over time. The ability is straight forward; a bow-based attack skill which unleashes toxic arrows from the sky above enemies. 

While Toxic Rain is your primary skill and will deal plenty of on-hit damage and damage over time, some builds take Caustic Arrow for the added chaos cloud it creates. Typically, you will draw defenses from life and evasion, meaning your individual ability to dodge will be important. You will also want to stay away from any modifications that reduce your chances to dodge and/or evade. 

What's Good About This Build:

  • DOT combined with Mirage Archer gives you an option to let the enemy health drain over time while you focus on dodging game mechanics
  • Shadow is geared towards DOT and chaos/poison, so you will be able to stack high amounts of damage
  • Great clear and single-target 
  • All content viable, just know your limits for map modifications
  • Flexible gear options in terms of both cost and usable stats

Toxic Rain Trickster gameplay and build guide. 

2. Bladefall/Blade Blast Assassin

Calling blades from the sky, the Shadow surrounds his enemy with blade after blade until, finally, exploding them and bringing his enemies to their knees. 

Bladefall/Blade Blast Assassin benefits greatly from the high damage output typical of the Assassin ascendancy. The build can total in the tens of millions of DPS fairly easily, and will still maintain its survivability; of course, for maximum DPS you will need to break the bank. 

Bladefall is a physical damage spell and utilizes power charges for critical strike chance and damage. Once your blades fall from the sky using Bladefall, they will remain on the ground for you to detonate using Blade Blast. Combined with the ability to overlap the AOE from each of the blades detonated, the high critical hit output allows for great burst, making this build a favorite for many Path of Exile players. 

What's Good About This Build:

  • Single-target and clear damage are equally good
  • All content viable, except for anything with physical reflect; you can and will one-shot yourself, so make sure to keep a keen eye on those map mods 
  • The build can be done with energy shield, energy shield-life hybrid, or life-evasion, per your preference
  • Honestly has great defense to damage ratio, possibly the best in the game
  • Extremely high-paced gameplay 

Bladefall/Blade Blast Assassin gameplay and build guide. 

1. Essence Drain Trickster

The Shadow drains the very being of his enemies, condemning them to a slow and painful death and collecting the treasures from their corpses. 

Essence Drain Trickster is a highly played build with so many build variations out there that they might even warrant their own list. The Shadow naturally has high proficiency for chaos builds, and when combined with Trickster only becomes more potent. The Trickster ascendancy has an absurd amount of defensive capabilities to coincide with the damage it offers, making it easily one of the best options for survivability on the Shadow; you can get energy shield/life on kill, added regen if you killed recently, increased movement speed, increased dodge chance, cannot be stunned, and much more. If you want to complete endgame content or push your own boundaries as a player, this is a great build for you. 

What's Good About This Build:

  • Heavily defensive, allowing for focus on dodging mechanics and making all-content viable
  • While lacking damage compared to some of the other builds on this list, ED offers easy-going, laidback gameplay, with a high reward to risk ratio
  • Extremely affordable, with plenty of min-max options
  • The pure number of build variations available makes finding one to fit your preferences and playstyle very easy; there are high defense options, higher damage options, you name it, it’s out there
  • Beginner-friendly

Essence Drain Trickster gameplay and build guide. 

You May Also Be Interested In:

More on this topic:
Born and raised in the mountains, I have dedicated my life to story-telling of vast and wide realms. I live to enjoy the worlds of others, through role-playing and video games.
Gamer Since: 2005
Favorite Genre: PVP
Top 3 Favorite Games:League of Legends, Dragon Age II, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
This article makes me feel:

More Top Stories