Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Playing Path of Exile

Like every other game Path of Exile has its intricacies, perhaps even more than other games in fact. Even after months of playing the game and leveling several characters and classes there’s still a ton of stuff I need to learn. I still remember how some “basics” were extremely confusing for me when I started playing PoE so I decided to make a list of things I think new players might find useful to know. It’s by no means a comprehensive list but I still hope you find it helpful.

1. Follow a skill tree build

The first thing you should do when you make your first character (or preferably just before) is to find a good skill tree build and follow it. I know we all want more damage but in Path of Exile building a glass-cannon character simply doesn’t work in endgame. A majority of your points usually need to be in defensive talents, because simply put a dead character isn’t dealing any damage.

If you’re confused with picking a class you can take this as a basis:

  • If you want to play a ranged caster mage pick a Witch
  • If you want a ranged archer pick a Marauder or Duelist
  • If you want a tank pick a Marauder or Templar
  • If you want melee DPS pick a Marauder, Templar or Duelist
  • If you want a melee caster pick a Shadow
  • If you want a dual-wielding melee beast pick a Duelist

Also worth noting is that having good weapons will increase your DPS more than having a majority of damaging skill points in your passive tree, so once again, focus on building defense via the skill tree. Additionally having 3 or more support gems linked to your main damaging ability will immensely increase your DPS.

2. Don’t throw away skill gems with +Quality

They are valuable and can be traded to other players, or even vendors in bulk for very valuable currency items called Gemcutter’s Prism. Most gems with less than +12% quality are best to simply sell to vendors (in bulk for Prism, not single!). The recipe works the same way as other +quality items: sell gems with a combined quality of 40% and you’ll get a Prism. Anything over 12% quality should be either used by you or traded to other players.

3. Don’t spend currency on low-level items

And by low-level I mean anything below 60. I know it’s tempting to turn those “useless” white items into rare (yellow) ones when you’re level 30 or 40 but you will out-level them very quickly. Orbs of Alchemy and Chaos Orbs are much better used for high-end items so save them, you will need every single one.

Blacksmith’s Whetstone and Armorer’s Scraps on the other hand are fairly easy to come by and if you find a decent piece of gear you will use for awhile feel free to improve its stats, but don’t go overboard. Just remember you’ll replace those items pretty quickly.

4. If you don’t know the value of an item, don’t trade it

I still don’t know the value of a lot of items and sometimes it’s hard to determine it, but if you think something is really good don’t just sell it for an Alchemy Orb. A good example is the aforementioned +Quality gems: high-level characters often prey on lowbies in Normal difficulty and try to buy out their gems for Alchemy Orbs. If a gem is 6% quality or less you can trade it away for an Alchemy Orb, but anything above that is more valuable (look above at tip #2).

Once you hit the endgame knowing the value of items becomes even more important. Check out some of the trading sites like or and search for an item with similar stats to yours to get an idea of how much it could be worth.

5. Pick up all orbs

I must admit I haven’t made this mistake myself (I still pick up most Wisdom scrolls even though they are pretty much useless), but don’t skip picking up any orbs that drop for you. All of them can be traded for higher valued currency items and once you figure out what their value is you’ll start probably need as many as you can get your hands on. In fact even Wisdom Scrolls can be traded, but if you’re building a high MF character you might even need to buy them off of other players.

Even common currency items such as Orbs of Alteration and Chromatic Orbs are worth picking up. Once you get your hands on a 6-linked item you might end up spending hundreds of Chromatic Orbs to get the socket colors you want. Even lower-value orbs like Chance can be used much more efficiently at endgame so don’t skip picking them up.

Another thing I’d like to say is that you should never use Divine or Exalted orbs before endgame. They are extremely valuable and hard to come by and best used on the highest quality gear, or even traded for decent items.

6. Pick up items with linked 3-color sockets

If you see an item drop that has 3 LINKED gem sockets of different colors pick it up and sell it to a vendor for a Chromatic Orb. Even though Chromatics are fairly easy to come by chances are you will need a lot of them, and of course you can trade them for something more useful if you have extra. If you don’t pick them up, you won’t have any extra.

Once you approach level 50 or so and start grinding Merciless be sure to re-read this loot guide and remember all items you need to pick up. Never forget to pick up items with 6 sockets (even white ones), and you better click like a madman when you see one with 5 or 6 linked sockets. They are extremely valuable.

7. Grind experience in groups

You get more items, more experience and you’ll kill monsters quicker. Path of Exile was built for playing in groups so take advantage of it. If you need advice on where to grind experience read my leveling guide. If you’re having trouble picking up your own loot in groups and hate ninjas just find a group with Permanent loot allocation, or create your own.

Grinding in groups is also helpful when you’re undergeared or underleveled for a particular area so just hit up that Social panel if you’re having trouble.

8. Be prepared to spend money

Although it’s admittedly not a very helpful tip, I’d just like to point out that you will need to spend a few bucks on this game after awhile. You can’t buy items or anything like that, but you will need stash tabs. If you intend on leveling multiple characters you will run out of inventory space in your stash fairly quickly so be prepared to spend about $20. I know a couple of people who loathe spending money on online games and this is a deal breaker for them, which I honestly think is sad, but to each its own.

I currently have about 80 stash tabs — it’s way, way above what an average player will ever need but I’m a hoarder. 20 stash tabs should be more than enough for an average player, but fortunately it’s not overly expensive.

9. Not all areas have waypoints

Before you search the same area three times looking for a waypoint, you might want to take a look at my list of zones which have waypoints, it might just save you some unnecessary searching. In most cases you don’t even need to bother finding waypoints (in Normal and Cruel difficulties) as you’ll simply progress further quite fast and won’t really have a use or need for them later on. Just remember to always try and get to a waypoint before you finish playing as it’s the only way to save progress.

For the completionists out there who always want to fully clear an area before moving on, remember to use the /remaining command in chat. It will show you how many monsters are left in a particular area before you move on to the next. Also you can type /help for a full list of slash commands.

10. Trade low-value currencies with a vendor

Vendors are more than just bots where you dump your trash. They can actually exchange (some) currencies for you so you don’t have to bother spamming the trade channel if you’re missing a few Fusings. You can take a look at the table below for some of the trading ratios:

Sell: You get: Note
Jeweller’s Orb x3 Chromatic x1 Not worth it unless you desperately need one or two Chromatics.
Augmentation Orb x4 Alteration x1 Worth it when you end up with tons of Augmentations after awhile.
Alteration Orb x2 Jeweller’s Orb x1 Same value.
Orb of Fusing x1 Orb of Chance x1 Not worth it as 1 Fusing is worth 4 Chance Orbs.
Jeweller’s Orb x4 Orb of Fusing x1 Market value.
Orb of Regret x1 Orb of Alchemy x1 Player trade value is around 3.5 Alchemy for 1 Regret.
Orb of Chance x4 Orb of Scouring x1 Market value.
Orb of Scouring x2 Orb of Regret x1 Market value.

This is actually one of the basic ways how low and mid value orb prices are determined on the market. If a vendor exchanges 2 Orbs of Scouring for 1 Orb of Regret it’s a reasonable assumption players won’t exchange them for a different ratio, unless someone is trying to take advantage of your lack of knowledge about the pricing system.

As you may notice some trades are definitely not worth doing at vendors since you can trade with players with a better ratio, but if (or rather when) you find yourself with hundreds of Alterations rather than bothering with finding a player to trade with for something more valuable you can exchange them at vendors for Jeweller’s or Orb of Fusing: they are also more sought after and thus easier to find players to trade with, not to mention you might need them yourself as well.

You can take a look at my other post for the currency values to get a better understanding of them, but do note that the in-game prices among players vary often and can be either higher or lower, so it’s more of a guideline than a rule.

11. Check vendors for items

Chromatic Orb from Hargan
One Chromatic Orb won’t make you rich, but it’s still a good trade.

Vendors sometimes sell items that can be sold back for Chromatic Orbs (see tip #6) for a measly Orb of Augmentation which has a much lower value. Even though a Chromatic isn’t a very valuable orb, it’s still a good trade. Also pay attention to items with 6 sockets and as previously mentioned more importantly 5 and 6 linked sockets, as you can trade them to other players for a whole lot more than they cost. Do note that vendors sell these rarely, but if you check it every once in awhile you may come across one.

Other resources:

  • – really helpful and organized general information about the game
  • Item mods spreadsheet – probably better for more experienced players, you don’t need to pay attention to this until endgame
  • Accuracy and Evasion table – how much hit percentage you have with a certain amount of Accuracy (quick tip: consider Resolute Technique passive node and you’ll never miss)
  • Currency values – current trade ratios for various forms of currency in Path of Exile
  • Official forums – you might want to take a look at it from time to time, there’s often useful information you can find or even ask other players
  • PoExplorer – if you ever want to buy an item this is the place. Also useful for determining prices in case you want to sell something.
  • ExaltingPoE – when adding additional stats to an item with Exalted Orb this helps you figure out what mods you can get

If you have any of your own tips or resources, by all means you’re welcome to share them in the comments below.

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10 Thoughts to “Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Playing Path of Exile

  1. Vince

    Thanks a lot for a great guide. I haven’t played the game myself due to busy works lately but hopefully will start soon.

  2. Great guide. I’m grinding through Normal now with my unarmed marauder (facebreakers ftw).

    Keep up the good work!

  3. tinygod

    This is so helpful. I’ve been playing for a while an kinda knew most of this. But good god, to have a reference all on one page is beyond useful.

    Thank you, I can finally stop looking at the 13 notepads on my desktop, lol.

  4. Strype

    Wow! This is very helpful guide for new players, aside from one thing…

    “Any gems with less than +12% quality are best to simply sell to vendors (in bulk for Prism, not single!).”

    That’s probably some of the worst information possible, and fits no where in a guide as useful as this. The value of a gem is entirely based on the demand for that gem, and many 0% gems can go for a Chaos or more. Chain is a good example, being drop only and very high in demand. Your guide says to vendor it, when you could easily get 2 Chaos for it. I’d remove that part, but aside from that, your guide could be incredibly helpful to new players.

  5. You’re right. Chain is worth 1 Chaos so regardless of quality on it you can sell it for more than you’d get by selling to vendors. Same goes for Multistrike (2-3 Chaos) and Cast When Damage Taken (10 Chaos). But I think those are pretty much the only gems that consistently sell for a Chaos Orb or more.

    I changed the wording from “Any gems” to “Most gems” — I’ll write an article about the value of different gems in the next few days which should clarify it further.

  6. Schyler

    What about a ranger? Is that not a class worth playing?

  7. It is. Rangers did get some changes in their skill tree after this post was published so they do have a more decent starting points now.

  8. sdx

    In the beginning you said something about picking a class and the biased starting areas of those.

    “If you want a ranged archer pick a Marauder or Duelist”

    I think you should edit this to RANGER. You didn’t mention this class there at all!

    Also shadow only for melee caster? Did you live under a rock before and while writing this guide?
    Shadow has easy access to Dagger and Claw Notes. so melee in general, not specifically caster, is pretty viable there.

    I know this post is from 2013, but even back then it was that way.

  9. I know this post is from 2013, but even back then it was that way

    Skill tree was quite different 2 years ago, and I have not updated the post since. Nobody ever played rangers back then, and Blood Magic & Vaal Pact were on almost every ranger build so most archers were Marauders.

    Additionally, the Witch tree was not in the best shape either, and dual totems were the go-to-build for them. Shadow nodes were usually much better for builds like Freezing Pulse due to the availability of crit chance.

  10. Pistolio

    I just started as a witch summoner, this is a very helpful guide, thank you.

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