Duelist skill tree builds range anywhere from a tanky two-handed beast to an elemental bow ranger. They are in fact one of the least played classes in Path of Exile but there’s no real reason for it: since PoE has such a modular passive skill tree you can easily build your character to fit your play style.
Most duelists however choose either bow builds, or melee builds with dual wield or one-handed weapon and shield. Of course as with all other classes there isn’t a best choice and it’s entirely up to you how to build your character. Fun fact is that Duelists make better archers than the Ranger class due to easier access to some defensive skill points, so it’s no surprise many players choose this class over Rangers. Below you can take a look at some of the most popular Duelist passive skill tree builds which should help guide you in the right direction.
Lightning Arrow Archer
This is a fairly standard ranged build based around Lightning Arrow, a must-have skill gem that most rangers use. Besides providing plenty of DPS it also has just enough defensive skill points to help you survive almost anything. The build can also be easily modified depending on your current equipment or wishes, so you can choose to take a few more defensive points and increase your Evasion if necessary.
- Forum topic
- Passive skill tree build: 10 points, 20 points, 30 points, 40 points, 50 points, 60 points, 70 points, 80 points, 90 points, 100 points
For ranged duelists focused on bows you can take a look at our build choices for other classes and simply adapt them for Duelists with a few points.
Lightning Strike Build (With 7 Auras!)
Very fun build focused on taking down monsters with Lightning Strike as your main damage tool. Since it has such a long range it’s often much safer to use than Sweep or Cleave, in addition to maintaining 3 shock stacks on all enemies continuously. It’s fairly easy to play and flexible on equipment, but the end-game gear can be costly: you will need a 6-linked item to make the most out of this build.
Considering you’ll be using seven different auras (Anger, Wrath, Grace, Hatred, Haste, Determination, Purity) this is probably the ultimate group supporting build.
- Forum topic
- Gameplay video: level 68 Reef map, level 69 Shore map
- Skill tree build progression: level 20, level 35, level 52, level 70, level 80
2-Handed Lightning Strike Build
This is a very tanky build with significant damage output (10k+) based around Lightning Strike and a two-handed weapon. With proper gear your resistances should be maxed and your health pool over 5000 (obviously the numbers depending on your equipment). Kaom’s Heart (1000 HP chest) is almost a must-have with this build, as is a 6-linked weapon, so take into account that it may cost you a significant amount of Exalted Orbs to build this properly.
This build also used 4 different auras (Determination, Hatred, Anger and Clarity), and uses Dual Strike as a single-target main attack. It’s also possible to adapt it to work with dual-wielding if you prefer.
1H+Shield Lightning Cyclone Build Guide
This build uses a 1-handed weapon and shield along with Cyclone as its main AoE skill and Double Strike for single target DPS. It has a good mix of damage and survivability with maxed resistances and over 50% block, enabling you to spin your way through packs of monsters, apply shock stacks and easily take them all down.
The build isn’t cheap and will take quite an effort to obtain, but it’s not nearly as expensive as some other builds out there.
- Forum topic
- Skill tree build: level 30, level 54, level 70, level 90
- Gameplay footage (Temple map, also includes authors commentary on the build)
Tanky High DPS Cleave Duelist
Another build that uses 7 auras to support your damage output and survivability, but this one is based on using Cleave as your main damaging ability. Since it boasts up to 20k DPS and armor you’ll easily be able to clear maps by yourself. You can also (choose to) get Unwavering Stance, Inner Force, Iron Reflexes and Resolute Technique passive nodes which are all extremely useful.
Like all melee builds it requires decent equipment but nothing extremely expensive. Considering how easy it is to farm with this you shouldn’t have any problems getting good gear.
Dual Wield Physical Cleave Build
Elemental damage my be superior, but that doesn’t mean physical can’t be good as well. This is a fairly simple build with a lower amount of damage nodes and mostly focused on survivability. You don’t need any specific gear to make this work well, and you just need to aim for defensive stats. The only great items you need are two high-DPS weapons; of course a 6-linked chest is always going to increase your DPS but it isn’t mandatory early on.
Glacial Hammer Build
Glacial Hammer isn’t a widely used skill gem on a Duelist, but this build can work well if you want to invest the time and currency into it. It uses Melee Splash and Multistrike support gems for Glacial Hammer making your attacks extremely fast and able to hit multiple enemies, as well as shatter them once they hit a third of their life.
- Forum topic
- Passive skill tree build: 20 points, 40 points, 60 points, 70 points, 80 points, 90 points
Dual Wield Dual Strike/Cleave Physical Build
This is the build I’m using myself after several unsuccessful attempts to have fun playing rangers, witches, tanks and whatnot. It features high damage with even higher durability and is extremely gear independent. Great for beginners or anyone else who want a dual-wielding powerhouse without spending any currency whatsoever to make it viable.
The builds listed above are just some of the most popular ones that players are using, therefore if you need a basic guideline on how to build your Duelist it should give you a good idea on which skill gems and passive skill tree nodes to use. As always I recommend you to adapt everything to your own preferences, so if you don’t need insane DPS don’t be afraid to take a few +life nodes or some other skill points. Also Duelists and most of these builds can work well with multiple abilities such as Cleave or Lightning Strike so you should be able to adapt the build to your play style.
Be sure to comment on the builds and tell us your experiences below.