With a passive skill tree of 1,300-plus skills, it’s easy to go “down the rabbit hole” in Path of Exile. Builds that have lightning arrows, gaseous cyclones, and energy barriers dominate the forums and guides. In this isometric action RPG, has good old-fashioned hack ‘n’ slash been replaced for good? Go ahead and ask that question to any of the experts who have beaten the game with the Duelist and get ready to hear a chorus of laughter.
The Duelist is a favorite of the veterans and he’s somebody capable of pulling off huge area of effect damage numbers and holding his own on the front lines. Spellcasters love to believe they’ve got the market cornered on taking care of large groups of enemies or crippling particularly threatening targets, but even they have to look up to the Duelist in this regard. He’s tough to play early, but with some tips from the pros, the Duelist is one to inspire mass quantities of late-game jealousy.
10 Stay Away From The Intelligence Tree
Although the game encourages lots of experimentation, the Duelist starts with the lowest intelligence score, and trying to fix that problem takes too much work. Don’t be angry, though, there are plenty of better things to be upset about, like the harvesting nerf.
By sticking with dexterity and strength, the Duelist will be in his element and doing the most damage. There are some niche builds to try out for those with the curiosity to explore, but it sacrifices what makes this character so good.
9 Live By The Sword
Get ahold of a sword. Learn to trade for it if that’s what it takes. When looking at game inventory guides, flip to the swords section and do not turn the page. The Duelist has loads of accessible sword buffs and should take advantage of them.
These aren’t paltry buffs either. Deft Blade and Blade of Cunning each increase sword damage by 22%. In between those skills, there are others that will add on damage, attack speed, and parrying ability. These are generously placed skills and it’s unwise to pass them up.
8 Balance Strength And Dexterity
Despite having been released years ago, Path of Exile is still one of the few looter games going strong in 2021. This doesn’t happen by accident. A lot of thought has been poured into the game and balancing the Duelist class was certainly on the mind of the developers.
It’s important to bolster both strength and dexterity equally. Those with too much strength will hit hard but miss a lot of the time. Those with too much dexterity will hit often but do very little damage. Duelists should send at least one bridge into each of the strength and dexterity passive skills areas.
7 Tinker With The Skill Gems
While the skills and weapons for most Duelists will be a bit more rigid, players will really get to flash their imagination with the skill gems. Several of them mix well with the class and there isn’t a consensus on favorites.
Most gamers playing isometric action RPGs while waiting for Diablo 2: Resurrected will be able to predict what a class will do. The Duelist shatters this expectation. He could be blinking all over with Flicker Strike, poisoning enemies with Viper Strike, or wiping out minion with Cleave. Or even all three of these in the same build.
6 Guardian Is Either The Worst Or The Best
It sounds like a very hot and indecisive take to say that any skillset is either the worst or the best in the game, but in the case of the Guardian Ascendancy, this is absolutely true. It makes ranking it among the other Ascendandies a very tough task.
This entire Ascendancy buffs companions in the party. Because the Duelist doesn’t usually have minions, this means that this will only work for other party members. Solo players shouldn’t consider it. Group players shouldn’t consider anything else.
5 The Dominance Of Life Leech
Beginners need early guidance to keep from being overwhelmed. Helpful experts will always make sure to include information about Ascendancy classes upfront. And they’d be doing a disservice by not at least mentioning the Slayer.
There are several Life Leech skills that are in this tree and that makes a big difference for the Duelist. Aside from parrying attacks, the Duelist doesn’t have a lot of natural defenses. Stealing life, especially with the damage numbers this class is capable of, goes a long way.
4 Buy From The Vendors
Being one of the weakest classes at the start of the game, advice from top-tier players can sometimes ring hollow. While they are pushing through the toughest acts of the game or pulling off the perfect heist, they forget what Duelists in their infancy are going through.
Other classes can rely on random drops and play the game like a normal looter. The Duelist will likely need some help for the first few acts. By swallowing a touch of pride to buy gear and gems early on, it drastically increases the odds of surviving to see that coveted late-game content.
3 On Critical Hit Advantages
Rookies are justifiably told to steer clear of “on critical hit” spells and passives. Pros have mastered these but it takes a lot of time to get used to inconsistent abilities going off at unpredictable times. The Duelist breaks this rule.
Thanks to a very high attack speed, spells that trigger on critical hits will go off with regularity. So while other classes are discarding these gems, Duelists should pick them up. It amounts to free extra damage after getting enough attack speed going.
2 Max Out Spell Resistance
It isn’t worth sacrificing passive skills or gems for, but around Act 5, Duelists will start to feel the heat from enemy spells. As a melee character, these are largely unavoidable attacks. Life steal can help a little, but the blows will be crushing well before Act 10.
Use gear that has magic resistance tied to it. Don’t feel the need to throw out all of the great Duelist gear, the stat itself hits maximum level at 75% resistance. Once that threshold is met, players should be free to invest fully in damage.
1 Keep An Eye On Impale
The original “best” build for the Duelist involved the move Impale, which could annihilate the biggest and baddest enemy with a single juiced-up strike. The move, and its corresponding Ascendancy, the Champion, were both nerfed.
The build is still a great one against single targets, but there has been significant community pressure to restore this fan-favorite build. As a Duelist, keep an eye out for any changes and read the patch notes. Because even a slight boost will bring this build back to glory.