Path of Exile Best Witch Ascendancy - What To Pick?

Path of Exile Best Witch Ascendancy
The witch has three roads to choose from, each as ridiculed and dark as the last. Which will you pick, exile, to exact your revenge?

Got a good build idea, but you aren't sure what ascendancy best suits your needs? Hopefully, this will help. 

Hello, Exiles.

After deciding what skill to play, and picking your class accordingly, it comes time to decide what ascendancy works best for your build. This decision can, at times, be a little tricky, but typically each ascendancy is tailored to play best with particular skill gems.

Ascendancies can be thought of as class specializations, and allow you to better acclimate yourself to a specific type of damage or defense by offering additional skill nodes and notables to choose from. The three choices for the Witch are Necromancer, Elementalist, and Occultist. 

The Necromancer is your go-to ascendancy for all of your minion raising and summoning needs. Got some dead bodies around that you want to make into your own personal army? Necromancer. Feel like summoning some spectres? Necromancer. This ascendancy is support oriented, so it’s possible to play as a supporting character for another player, but the ascendancy's main purpose is to provide offensive and defensive boosts to your minions. The notables give bonuses to yourself and your allies, whereas the smaller skill nodes are almost exclusively for minion defense and damage, with some small boosts to mana or cast speed for the player.

The Elementalist ascendancy specializes in the three primary elements of Path of Exile; fire, cold, and lightning. If your goal is to become a master of the elements, and maybe command some golems along the way, then this is the choice for you. It is an extremely offensive ascendancy and offers very little in the way of defense. You know what they say, a good offense is the best defense. Just be sure to get some defenses elsewhere through your tree and gear, and really work on those dodging skills. 

The Occultist focuses on damage over time, and is also the master of curses. If you’re going poison/chaos or chill (cold over time) as your damage source, then this is the ascendancy you want to take. For curses, you can use an extra one compared to other ascendancies, as well as gain extra effects for those you choose, and more importantly, curse the hexproof. This ascendancy has great offensive and defensive capabilities, and thus provides well-rounded options. One of the nodes even encourages minion usage, if you felt like taking one or two along for the ride. 

It is difficult to say without a doubt what ascendancy is the best, as each will be the best depending on your play-style and what skill gem you decide to use as your primary damaging ability. Though, there are a few factors to consider when deciding, such as versatility, number of skill gems available for that particular ascendancy, how often it is played, the number of notables you can choose from, etc. With all of that in mind, here is my order for the best Witch ascendancy. 

3. Occultist

The Occultist, master of curses and slow death. No one wishes to cross her path, but all who do die a slow death, inhibited by the hexes of her staff. 

In third place, we have the Occultist. This class is perhaps the most balanced in terms of offering a variety of skills to choose from and being versatile in its skill nodes. Overshadowed by the other two ascendancies in terms of the number of popular builds to play, the Occultist still has much to offer. For any chill or chaos oriented build, the Occultist is your go-to specialization, as it offers very advantageous boosts to damage over time. Curses are also a must-try in Path of Exile, as you can get some great damage buffs and enemy debuffs that work together to keep you alive and adventuring.

Occultist is Good For:

  • Damage over time builds
  • Energy shield builds; there is a notable that provides lots of regen alongside smaller nodes that provide flat increases
  • Curses; extra damage based on your curse, extra effect of your curse, tons of good curse boosts
  • Great survivability; energy shield and curses make for a great combination
  • Flexibility, as you have the option to take energy shield or stick with life, to do cold or chaos damage over time, to use offensive or defensive curses. 
  • Clear speed and boss fights; the damage will be comparable for both

Pick Occultist If… 

  • you enjoy using effects as a source of damage and defense (curses)
  • you are interested in either a chaos or chill build
  • you want time to learn some of the mechanics of various enemies, as damage over time lets you cast your damage source, slowly killing enemies and allowing you to focus on dodging
  • you want a safe build to experience endgame content
  • you want a variety of build options; while damage over time is the most popular, due to the defensive capabilities of the ascendancy, there are plenty of other builds that can viably fall under Occultist 

2. Elementalist

Scorned by the fire once before in her life, the Elementalist chooses to harness the very powers that previously victimized her, and in return use them to exact her own revenge.  

Following closely behind the first-place pick is the Elementalist. The Elementalist has access to a wide variety of skill gems, as it covers lightning, fire, and cold damage types. This makes it the most versatile in terms of build options, and you can even take physical damage skills and turn the damage source into elemental; there are just a lot of options. Be careful though, as the ascendancy is a glass cannon, offering almost nothing in terms of defensive boosts. Choose this class and become a wielder of the elements, commanding even ancient golems to assist you, as you traverse the complicated regions of Path of Exile. 

Elementalist is Good For:

  • High amounts of damage output
  • Builds which use golems as a source of damage or survivability; the ascendancy lets you take extras and gives them bonuses
  • Any lightning skill that is caster based
  • Any fire skill that is caster based
  • Any cold skill that is caster based
  • A fair number of physical damage builds that use conversion or heralds to provide elemental damage
  • Satisfying elemental effects; freeze (enemies will shatter), ignite (enemies will burn and possibly explode, dealing a bit of damage over time), and shock (enemies will take extra damage)
  • Great clear without sacrificing single-target damage for boss fights

Pick Elementalist If… 

  • you enjoy dealing damage that is based around the elements
  • you are interested in a variety of skills to choose from
  • you are comfortable with having low life and defense in exchange for high damage 
  • you want fast-paced gameplay with good clear 
  • you enjoy builds that are based on critical hits, as elemental effects most commonly occur during a crit
  • you like builds that are based on life or more standard defenses; the other ascendancies typically tend towards an energy shield build, but the Elementalist can do any, as there are no defensive stat boosts in the ascendancy tree

1. Necromancer

Those who once feared the Witch knew nothing of what she would become. Taking her anger and learning the darkest of witchcraft, she now demands the undead heed her call. 

Say hello to the master of the undead, because Necromancer is the number one Path of Exile Witch ascendancy. Of the player base, somewhere around 30% play Necromancer and choose it above not only the other Witch ascendancies, but all other classes and their ascendancies. It offers great defensive and offensive options to choose from, meeting all player standards for survivability and progression. Though the ascendancy can be taken with skills that aren’t minion-oriented, such as support builds or Cremation/Ignite, more often than not you will use a minion skill such as Summon Zombie, Spectre, or Skeleton. In terms of specialization, this is the most specialized you can get, as you will truly become an unstoppable force with the undead at your beck and call. 

Necromancer is Good For:

  • Damage; general boosts, plus the tree offers +2 to the level of minion gems, meaning you can go above the maximum level typically allowed (i.e. a maximum gem leveled to 20 will act as a level 22)
  • Top tier defense; tons of block chance, energy shield regeneration, health, elemental resistances, and your minions often tank enemy aggro
  • Any and all minion builds; mix-and-match, pick one, whatever you would like
  • Supporting another player, since Necromancer provides buffs to allies
  • Any skill reliant on corpses, such as Volatile Dead
  • New players who may not be familiar with tougher to play mechanics, as minions are pretty straightforward

Pick Necromancer If… 

  • you are newer to the game and want easier, more beginner-friendly builds to start out with 
  • you are at the start of a league, are a new player, or just have a lack of currency; gearing necromancer builds is simple, affordable, and gear is easy to find or craft
  • you want to become virtually unkillable; seriously, the build is that hard to kill
  • you are trying to learn the mechanics of boss fights; minions will do the work for you, allowing for a great opportunity to learn the ins and outs 
  • you enjoy more of a hands-off experience, as once you summon you don’t need to do much until a minion dies and needs replacing
  • you want non-intensive gameplay that is more relaxing than most other ascendancies and their related build options
  • you enjoy a small amount of micro gameplay since sometimes you will need to recall minions for healing, or coax them a little in the right direction

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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
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