I’ve only recently started racing, and at a very slow pace so my tips are fairly limited. Especially for Descent Champions, I only did it twice so far so I’m not sure if there are any particular tricks to it compared to other races (other than knowing which items to pick up that are immediately available to you).
Here’s some general advice on racing I picked up. Not all applies to Descent Champions or Endless Ledge, but I hope you’ll find some of it useful.
- Try to get early health regen. Easiest way is to buy a white Coral Amulet from Nessa in the first camp; it costs 1 Orb of Transmutation, but you may not find one until Ledge if you’re unlucky. Also buy a Coral ring, it will help prevent stuns from Rhoas in Mud Flats (and overall survivability).
- Check the other vendor in the same time for boots with bonus movement speed, they can speed up leveling a lot early on.
- Always stay on the move. Whether killing monsters, or equipping or identifying items you should always try to move forward to the next monster pack, area or objective.
- Learn zone layouts. Even though zones are generated (somewhat) randomly every time, they do follow a certain pattern. You will usually see 3-4 or less layouts repeating all the time, which you can learn by simply continuously creating an instance of the same area over and over again in a non-race league.
— in Coast you’ll usually want to follow the wall to the far right side
— Mud Flats glyphs are connected via small “rivers”, and the three glyphs are generally in a triangular pattern
— Lower Submerged Passage doesn’t really have a particular layout (as far as I know), the entrance to Upper and the Cave can be in either direction.
— exit to Ledge in Upper Submerged Passage is either far northeast or northwest — opposite of where you started. It’s never in the southern part of the zone.
- Don’t skip magic (blue) monsters. They give you the most experience and are worth killing almost every time. Rare (yellow) or Unique monsters on the other hand are generally best skipped, they usually take too long to kill considering the rewards.
- Only kill large monster packs. If you come across one or two monsters it’s best to simply skip them. Try to find larger packs with 4-5 monsters at least and use your AoE abilities to clear them, in the end you’ll spend the same time killing 10 monsters as you would 2. Don’t backtrack to finish off any leftover monsters, always keep moving forward.
- Learn when to back to town. You don’t need to pick up quest rewards or talk to NPCs every time something pops up, you can save valuable time by simply continuing ahead.
- Don’t reset instances and farm. It’s generally not worth it in short-term races and you will fall behind if you do it. Instead move to the next area even if you’re behind in levels: at least you’ll be getting bonus experience and make up for it fast.
- Learn quest rewards. Not very important, but Tidal Island side quest with the Medicine Chest for example rewards a Quicksilver Flask, it can be hugely beneficial to have it. Also particular skill gems are more useful than others — see Path of Exile Wiki for gem rewards to see when you should back and pick up gems.
- Plan your character build. For 1 hour races it doesn’t really make sense to plan a build with 50 skill points, but do make sure to plan beforehand. You don’t want to waste any time thinking where to put a skillpoint, just decide on it before the race starts and spend as little time as you possibly can to allocate points. A tip you may find useful is to hold CTRL while left-clicking on a skill point, you won’t see a confirmation message and points will get instantly allocated.
- Use a decent build. This race season I’ve only been leveling with a Spectral Throw Scion. It’s fast and has great AoE damage, and you can just pick up an early 2-handed weapon and pretty much one-shot white packs. You can also cast ST and keep moving, when the “weapon” comes back to you you’ll finish off the remaining mobs. Takes just a few races to get used to it, I’d really recommend it if you’re new. I believe Ice Nova and Ground Slam builds are fairly popular now as well, but I haven’t tried either of those. Try to keep using the same build over and over again in multiple races, it will save you time in the long run.
Hopefully some of this is useful for you. You usually get better and better every time you run these races, so don’t sweat it at first and set some realistic goals. I for one only want the Andvarius this season, it takes measly 135 points to get it. Simply participating in one race a day and not dying is enough to get it. Unless you’re extremely serious about racing don’t count on getting any of the most expensive rewards like Ming’s Heart or Void Battery — even the best of racers will likely have trouble getting those. Do races to have fun and get better at the game. With time I’m sure you’ll improve.