Beginners Guide to Path of Exile

Path of Exile is a very in-depth game with a steep learning curve and beginners often get confused with many of the game’s mechanics and systems. The purpose of this page is to provide commonly asked questions about the game and their answers, to provide tips for new players, and explain commonly-asked questions about the game’s mechanics.

Path of Exile logoContents:

1. Tips for New Players

List of Acronyms/Glossary

  • Adds – Enemies that spawn during a boss encounter
  • AoE – Area Of Effect
  • BM – Blood Magic
  • B/O – Buy Out
  • CI – Chaos Inoculation
  • C/O – Current Offer
  • DOT – Damage Over Time
  • DPS – Damage Per Second
  • EA – Explosive Arrow
  • EB – Eldritch Battery
  • EK – Ethereal Knives
  • ES – Energy Shield
  • Eva – Evasion
  • GCP – Gemcutter’s Prism
  • GS – Ground Slam
  • GM – Game Moderator – GMs can affect the game to resolve issues; synonymous with administrator
  • GMP – Greater Multiple Projectiles
  • IIQ – Increased Item Quantity
  • IIR – Increased Item Rarity
  • IR – Iron Reflexes
  • LA – Lightning Arrow
  • LMP – Lesser Multiple Projectiles
  • LS – Lightning Strike
  • Mob – “Mobile”, from old MUD games, but it means “Monster”
  • Ninja – A player who takes drops that aren’t theirs (hard to determine in this game because of the loot timers)
  • OBO – Or Best Offer
  • Reroll – To make a new character or randomize the attributes/stats on an item (depending on context)
  • RoE – Radius of Effect
  • RT – Resolute Technique
  • Toon – A character
  • TP – Town portal
  • WP – WayPoint
  • WTB – Want To Buy
  • WTS – Want To Sell
  • WTT – Want To Trade

General Tips

  • There are three acts and three difficulty types (normal, cruel, and merciless). Completing all three acts on one difficulty advances your character to the next difficulty. Each increase in difficulty and act makes the game noticeably more difficult. In Cruel your resistances are reduced by 20% and in Merciless your resistances are reduced by 60%. Note that this includes Chaos Resistance.
  • If you die in hardcore your character will be moved to the regular (softcore) league and you can continue playing them there.
  • AOE skills are very important for farming and killing large groups of mobs. (Almost) Every build should have an AOE skill worked in somewhere.
  • You can use any gem as any class, so long as you meet the stat requirements.
  • There are some reasons to not level up a skill gem – the mana cost of the upgraded skill may be prohibitive or you may not have the stats required to use the upgraded skill gem. If you don’t want to level up your gem, you can right click on the notification that it is ready to level up to hide it. You may later level the gem from your inventory screen.
  • Two of the same type of support gem do not stack when linked together. However, you may link any number of different support gems.
  • Dual wielding grants +10% more attack speed and a +15% block chance.
  • There is a minimap. You can turn it on from the UI options menu. You can also turn on “items always visible” and “hold alt to pick up items” from here.
  • To highlight items on the ground, hold down the ALT key. Alternatively, you can toggle the option of highlighting items on ground by pressing the Z key.
  • There are no full respecs in this game. You can get respec points from quests and orbs of regret to “unspend” passive points, but in doing this you cannot break any dependencies. It is often better just to roll a new character if you need to make large changes.
  • Instances reset between 8-15 minutes. Don’t loiter in town if you have a portal open, as it will disappear when the instance is reset.
  • Control + Clicking on the entrance to an area allows you to reset an instance as you enter it.
  • To link an item in chat hold control + alt and then click the item.

Build Tips

  • When making new builds plan for about 80-85 skill points. You will reach this point around the time you complete Act III on Merciless and begin endgame content. No need to get all crazy with a 120 point build. By the time you have 80-85 points you’ll have a much better understanding of where the skill points should be going. Also, this keeps your head from exploding.
  • Path of Exile can be unforgiving for those who neglect defenses (like elemental resistances). Sure you could make a full glass cannon build. But, would I advise that? Absolutely not.
  • As a rule of thumb, try to get at least +100% life or energy shield from your passive skill tree into your build (To clarify, that is cumulative from +8%, etc., nodes. There are no gigantic +100% nodes.).
  • You need elemental resistances. An easy way to build up resists is through rings. It’s a good idea to carry around different sets of resist rings and swap them out depending on the mobs you encounter.
  • Keystones are major, large passives that lie on the outside of the passive skill web. They have the ability to completely change the way a character plays, and builds are usually planned around which keystones will be taken.
  • Don’t know how to build your character? Check out the official path of exile forums and /r/pathofexilebuilds for ideas.

Vendor and Economy

  • Control + Click quickly moves items between your inventory and a vendor/your stash.
  • Shift + Click allows you to split stacks of items.
  • Eternal Orbs, Exalted Orbs, Divine Orbs, Gem Cutters Prisms, and Chaos Orbs are the most valuable currencies. Your best bet is to hoard everything until you get a good understanding of values in this game.
  • Pick up: all currency items, quality skill gems (hover over the gem, if it has a quality bonus, no matter how small, pick it up), unique items, items with three color links (a red, blue, and green socket linked together), superior-quality flasks, and any item with 5 or 6 links.
  • White items can be insanely valuable. This is because some of the best items in the game can be crafted from a white item using the aforementioned currencies. Example: Find a white weapon with good sockets. Increase its quality by +20% using Blacksmith’s Whetstones, then use an Orb of Alchemy on the item to make it a rare with +20% quality!
  • Superior items (items with bonus quality) can be hoarded and sold for Blacksmith Whetstones, Armorer Scraps and Glassblower Baubles. Any item with 20% quality can be vendored for a whetstone/scrap/bauble, and any combination of weapons/armor/flasks totaling 40% quality can be vendored for a whetstone/scrap/bauble, respectively
  • Items with at least one of each color socket, all linked together, can be vendored for a Chromatic Orb.
  • If you don’t have any resistance rings but really need some, you can vendor a skill gem and iron ring to get a resistance ring. Red skill gems give fire resistance rings, Blue skill gems give cold resistance rings, and Green skill gems give lightning resistance rings.
  • You can vendor Orbs of Transmutation for four Scrolls of Wisdom each.
  • Vendoring white items yields Scrolls of Wisdom, vendoring unidentified magical and rare items yields Transmutation Shards, and vendoring identified magical and rare items yields Alteration Shards.

Gameplay Tips

  • Look out for Puncture. This is a skill enemies use that does five times more damage while you are moving. You are effected by puncture if you’re leaving a giant trail of blood behind you, and you HP is dropping like a rock.
  • Look out for Viper Strike. This is a skill enemies use that does chaos damage over time to you, and it stacks. Four stacks can kill you very quickly. Run away and wait for the stacks to dissipate if your flasks and lifesteal can’t keep up with your HP loss.
  • You don’t have to have an aura on your skill bar to keep it up. It only turns off if you enter town, you remove the gem, or you manually turn it off.
  • Weapons/shields equipped in your secondary weapon/shield set (you can swap between two sets) can be used to level up skill gems, though you can’t cast them when those weapons aren’t equipped. You can swap between primary and secondary weapon sets with the “x” key, or from your inventory menu.

2. Game Mechanics

Difficulty Levels

  • There are three difficulty levels: Normal, Cruel, and Merciless. You must complete Normal difficulty before you can move to Cruel, and you must complete Cruel before you can move to Merciless. The higher difficulties have death penalties, causing you to lose experience when you die. They are 0% for Normal (no penalty), 7.5% for Cruel and 15% for Merciless difficulty. This is a percentage of the experience needed to gain the next level, not your total experience.
  • Losing experience in this way cannot cause you to drop down a level. For instance if you have 11% progress to your next level and die in merciless difficulty, your progress will be reset to 0%. There are also penalties to resistances in higher difficulty levels. In Cruel difficulty, there is a -20% penalty to player resistances, and this increases to -60% in Merciless.


  • Skills currently come in two main varieties: spells, and attack skills. Any skill that uses your weapon damage counts as an attack skill, and everything else counts as a spell.
  • Attack skills are dependent on your weapon, and so are affected by attack speed, accuracy, etc.. Bonus damage from rings and other gear is applied when using an attack skill.
  • Spells do not draw their damage from your weapon in any way. They are affected by % cast speed, %fire/cold/lightning damage, %spell damage, and critical strikes. Integer damage bonuses on gear are not added to spells.
  • Traps are very similar to spells, but are not affected by cast speed or spell damage mods. They are affected by % trap laying speed, and relevant damage mods. Integer damage bonuses on gear are not added to trap damage.
  • The only exception to this is Town Portal, which is not affected by attack speed, cast speed, or anything else.


  • Support gems only affects skills where it makes sense. For instance, skills that do not already do damage (such as Temporal Chains) will not benefit from Added Cold Damage. Skills that do not already have an area of effect will not benefit from Increased Area of Effect, etc.
  • Gems get experience equal to 10% of the experience you earn.
  • The number of gems you have equipped has no effect on the rate of XP gain. So having less gems equipped does not cause them to gain XP faster than if you had many gems equipped.
  • Gems are not affected by the experience penalty when facing enemies below your level.
  • Gems do not lose experience when you die.
  • Gems can grant auras which need to be cast outside of town. Once cast, the mana pool is reduced by a certain amount for the aura and this shows up as “Mana Reserved”. This amount can be modified by items.
  • When a gem is ready to level up, it shows up on the right side of the screen with a plus sign. Next to the plus sign are the new attributes of the gem. Before leveling the gem, mana pool of the player should be taken into consideration.


  • Flasks come in four main varieties: life flasks, mana flasks, hybrid flasks, and utility flasks.
  • Life, Mana, and Hybrid flasks – These flasks cause you to regenerate life and/or mana when used. The amount recovered is shown on the flask as Life Recovery and Mana Recovery. The time it takes to recover the full amount is shown on the flask as Recovery Time. If you reach your maximum life and/or mana amount before the end of the recovery time, the flask effect will end prematurely. For example: You are at 100/300 life, and 150/200 mana. You use a hybrid flask that has 400 Life Recovery, 200 Mana Recovery, and Recovery Time of 8 seconds. After 2 seconds, you will be at 200/300 life, and 200/200 mana, and the mana recovery effects ends. The life recovery continues, and at 4 seconds, you have reached maximum life, and the life recovery effect also ends. *Flasks can have magic modifiers that provide bonuses while the flask effect is active, for example increased movement speed or resistances. These bonuses end when the life/mana recovery effect ends. *When multiple flasks are used at the same time, the effects are queued. The effect with the highest regeneration rate is always applied first. For example: You have two flasks, one that gives 500 life recovery over 10 seconds and has a 20% increased movement speed modifier, and a second that gives 500 life recovery of 5 seconds with no additional modifiers. You use the first flask and gain the movement speed while recovering life. After one second, you use the second flask. At this point the remaining 9 seconds from the first flask is queued, and the second flask begins its effect. Once the second flask has expired, the first flask resumes its effect for the remaining duration.
  • Utility Flasks – These flasks give a temporary bonus for a set duration. Unlike the other flasks, the effects are not queued, each effect has its own timer that can overlap with other effects. The default effects of the flasks will not stack. For example: You have a magic Granite Flask with +25% movement speed, and a regular Granite Flask, both giving +4000 armour for 4 seconds. You drink the first flask, and one second later you drink the second second flask. The result will be that for the first four seconds you will have +4000 armour and +25% movement speed. At the four second mark the first flask ends, but the second flask still has 1 second left. So you will have +4000 armour (but not the movement speed) for another 1 second.
  • Flask Charges – Drinking a flask consumes flask charges. Each flask shows how many charges are used per drink in its description, and each flask has a maximum number of charges it can hold. Whenever you or one of your minions kills an enemy, all of your flasks gain charges.
  • By default regular monsters grant 1 charge each, magic (blue) monsters grant 3.5 charges each, and rare (yellow) monsters grant 6 charges each. So killing a rare monster causes all of your flasks to gain 6 charges.


The main difference between the classes is their stating location on the passive skill tree. Classes also start with different amounts of attributes at level 1:

  • Marauder: 30 STR, 14 DEX, 14 INT
  • Ranger: 14 STR, 30 DEX, 14 INT
  • Witch: 14 STR, 14 DEX, 30 INT
  • Duelist: 22 STR, 22 DEX, 14 INT
  • Templar: 22 STR, 14 DEX, 22 INT
  • Shadow: 14 STR, 22 DEX, 22 INT

Scion is the class added at the game’s release and starts in the middle of the passive skill tree.


All classes begin with the same base life, mana, and evasion, and gain the same amount per level. These are still affected by the classes’ base stats. For example, a Marauder will start with 50+(30/2) = 65 life.

  • 50 life, +6 per level
  • 40 mana, +4 per level
  • 50 evasion, +3 per level (including level 1)

Attributes are required to equip gear and skills. The three attributes also grant some passive bonuses:

  • Strength grants +0.5 life and +0.2% melee physical damage per point
  • Dexterity grants +2 accuracy and +0.2% evasion per point
  • Intelligence grants +0.5 mana and +0.2% energy shield per point

Therefore the +10 attribute passive skills effectively grant:

  • +10 Strength: +5 life, +2% melee physical damage
  • +10 Dexterity: +20 accuracy, +2% evasion
  • +10 Intelligence: +5 mana, +2% energy shield

Life and mana regeneration – All classes have a base mana regeneration rate of 105% of their maximum mana per minute. For example, a character with 100 maximum mana will regenerate 105 mana per minute, or 1.75 mana per second.

  • “Increased Mana regeneration rate” modifiers modify the base rate. For example, 20% Increased Mana regeneration rate would result in 105 * 1.2 = 126% per minute.
  • Characters do not begin with any life regeneration, but it is available from gear and passive skills.
  • The rate at which you gain life from life leech is 20% of maximum life per second. If you have 1000 maximum life, and leech 600 life with a single attack, it will take three seconds for that life to be applied to your current life. You always get the full amount of life leeched, although it may take time to be applied – if you leech a large amount of life during a battle, you may find that the life gain continues long after the battle is over. Similar to flasks, the life gain from leech will end if you reach maximum life.
  • The same is true for mana leech, although the rate is 12.5% of maximum mana per second.


Charges are glowing orbs that represent temporary buffs with different benefits:

  • Endurance Charge (strength) – +5% Physical Damage reduction & +5% additional Elemental Resistances per Charge
  • Frenzy Charge (dexterity) – +5% increased Attack Speed & +5% increased Cast Speed per Charge
  • Power Charge (intelligence) – 50% increased Critical Strike Chance per Charge

Charges are accumulated by the use of certain skills and equipment, and last a short duration—nine seconds by default. Gaining a charge resets the duration of all accumulated charges. Each type of charge grants different bonuses. A charge bonus increases proportional to the number of accumulated charges of that type. By default, characters can have a maximum of three charges of each type active. This limit can be raised by certain passives and equipment.

Additional vs. Increased vs. More

When you are reading the Tool Tip of a node, pay attention to the percentages and the word that comes directly after it. It will determine how that percentage modifies your current stat. In short:

  • Additional – adds directly to the base value.
  • Increased/Decreased – an additive multiplicative increase in percentage.
  • More/Less – a multiplicative increase in percentage.

What this means is that additive increases add directly to your current percentage. Whereas multiplicative increases, increase your current percentage multiplied by that amount.

There are two types of multiplicative modifiers. There are your increases, which are added together, then multiplied, and then there are your mores, which are all multiplied separately. For example, let’s give a character a bunch of additional damage effects from weapons:

a1, a2, a3, ... , aj.

He/She also has a bunch of passives that give you % increased damage. We will call these percentages:

i1, i2, i3, ... , ik.

You also have a few gems/items/etc that give you a certain % more damage. We’ll call these:

m1, m2, m3, ... , ml. 

They all multiply together in the following way:

(Base damage + a1 + a2 + a3 + ... + aj) * (1 + i1 + i2 + i3 + ... + ik) * (1 + m1) * (1 + m2) * (1 + m3) * ... * (1 + ml).

So there is additional, which is added directly to the base value, there is increased, which is an additive multiplier, and then there is more, which is just a regular multiplier.


There are a wide variety of defenses in the game, and it is important that you learn what they are and how they work if you want to survive. They are:

  • Life
  • Energy Shield
  • Armor
  • Evasion
  • Block
  • Elemental Resistances
  • Chaos Resistance
  • Dodge

Life – Run out of this and you die. Your character begins at level 1 with 50 base health, and gains 4 health for each level thereafter and 1 health for every two strength you have. Your other defenses mitigate the impact enemy attacks have on your life pool. More is better, unless you focus on…

Energy Shield – ES works similarly to life, only you don’t get any bonus ES per level, you get it from gear. You cannot replenish it through flasks, and instead it regenerates itself after a short period during which you are not hit. Every 5 points of intelligence increase your maximum ES pool by 1%. Characters that choose to focus this exclusively end up taking the Chaos Inoculation keystone. Some notes: Chaos damage goes directly through ES to your health pool (which is why Chaos Inoculation is so useful), and having any ES at all confers a 50% chance to resist being stunned.

Armor – Armor provides damage reduction from physical attacks. It reduces incoming physical damage by a percentage according to the following formula:

Reduction = Armor / (Armor + 12 * Damage)

So, attacks that do more damage penetrate your armor better. It is capped at a 90% reduction. Armor is excellent for tanking large groups of weak mobs, but is somewhat lackluster against enemies that hit very hard.

Evasion – This is your chance to simply avoid being hit by physical attacks. It rolls against your attacker’s accuracy like so:

Evasion Chance = 1 - Attacker's Accuracy / ( Attacker's Accuracy + ( Defender's Evasion / 4 ) ^( 0.8 ) )

Evasion also reduces the odds that you will be hit by a critical attack, since your opponent must succeed on a second attack roll as a critical-hit check. Technically, PoE doesn’t use an RNG to determine when you do/don’t get hit with Eva, but they have a weird system in place that gives the same results as an RNG with a little more reliability for the end-user (this is buried somewhere in the Mechanics Thread, I’ll find it later). High Eva is great, but focusing only on Eva can be very dangerous as you will be 1-shot by more powerful enemies later in the game. It is capped at a 90% chance to evade.

Block – If you have a shield or are dual wielding, you will block a certain percentage of incoming enemy physical attacks. Against all physical attacks, if the attack hits you get to roll against your block chance. If you succeed, the attack is mitigated. If the attack would have stunned you had it hit, you go through a 350 millisecond block animation, otherwise the damage is just mitigated with no effects. Block chance is capped at 75%.

Elemental Resistances – Comes in three flavors – Fire, Cold and Lightning. Up until now, there has been no mention of spells. Spells (usually) do elemental damage, hit automatically, and generally can’t be blocked or dodged. However, their damage is reduced by whatever percentage your resistances are. If you have 50% resistance to that element, then you take half damage from that attack. Elemental resistances are capped at 75% without certain skills.

Chaos Resistance – Works like elemental resistances, except it’s much harder to get. Chaos damage always does DOT and bypasses ES. Chaos Inoculation provides immunity to Chaos damage.

Dodge – A special defense that only characters with the Acrobatics keystone can get. It provides an additional chance to negate attacks and even spells. It is calculated independently of Eva.

3. Links and Other Resources

Source: Reddit


If you have any resources of your own to add to our list post them in the comments below.

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