POE Attack Skills
Path of Exile groups the abilities that you use into several categories. The four major ones are Attack, Spell, Minion, and Aura, although there are many other sub-tags. These main four tags are fairly self-explanatory for which type of ability that they support, but we’ll cover the distinction nonetheless. We’ll also cover the best PoE Attack Skills, and why you would want to use them.
What is an Attack Skill in POE?
In its simplest form, an attack skill is one that comes from the weapon you are holding. Every attack skill requires that you use a specific weapon–or your fists–in order to use the skill. Each skill might have several weapons that it can use, but it will specify, and you must use at least one of the specified weapons. This is because the weapon itself will be used for the attack. For example, bow skills are all attack skills, because you actually shoot the arrow out. If you stab someone with a dagger, it’s an attack skill.
This differs from spells because spell skills are cast from the player himself. They may gain bonuses from the weapon you are using, but the skill itself is cast from the player, not the weapon. And while spell skills scale off of the gem level primarily, attack skills primarily scale off of the weapon’s damage. This means that while spells are much easier to level up with, attacks will have the highest potential damage, with mirror-tier gear.
Which are the best PoE Attack Skills?
Because attack skills cover all weapon-based attacks, there are two subsets of attack skills: melee and ranged.
Currently, melee attack skills aren’t in a particularly good place. There are a few that can be made to work, but there’s only one that is in any sense of the word ‘meta’, and even it was nerfed quite hard this league. You’ve probably already guessed from that description alone, but the best melee skill is currently Cyclone. Last league, it was extremely dominant, so much so that they gave it several nerfs to start off this league. It is still a strong skill but is now used far more frequently alongside other skills such as Herald of Agony or Cast on Crit.
Ranged attacks have a much wider range of viability, and are far stronger. Scourge Arrow is incredibly powerful and requires very little investment to be a top tier skill. Ice Shot, Lightning Arrow, Rain of Arrows, and Toxic Rain are all very viable skills as well, although many of them are paired with Barrage due to their lacking in single-target damage. However, the most popular attack skill, ranged or melee, is Tornado Shot. It is a skill that has been near the top of the played skills in every league for the past several years. This is because it is a swift skill that allows you to scale high damage numbers since it hits so frequently. It takes a lot of investment to make it feel strong, but if you can get it there, you’ll be a veritable monster! For perspective, Tornado Shot is what the deepest delvers currently use, since it has the potential to dish out so much damage from a safe distance. Mappers also make use of it because they can move so quickly, and use Windripper for more quantity of items found.
Why use Attacks?
Path of Exile is currently going through waves of buffs, and it’s often easiest to simply follow what has been buffed that league. Currently, that is, minion builds and mine builds. Attacks have been nerfed in many instances without a lot of buffs this league, so they aren’t heavily in the meta. However, there are definitely upsides to playing them.
One of the huge upsides of playing attack builds this league is that since they aren’t meta, the gear for them is extremely cheap! A Kaom’s Heart, for example, is now worth less than half the price than it was during the last league. Creating a formidable build for a small amount of money is quite easy when you’re playing off-meta skills.
Ironically, another huge advantage is that when you are incredibly rich, attack builds are the best because they use weapons. Being able to afford a weapon worth dozens of exalts, or even a mirror, means that you’ll be ridiculously strong with attack builds!
Also, attack skill-based builds have the potential to go extremely fast, allowing for the best map clearers. This is because the attack is based on your weapon, which allows you to scale attack speed and attack very quickly. Attacking fast and moving fast means that you clear fast!
Lastly, in regards to melee builds, attack builds are very easy to stack survivability on. If you check, you’ll notice that the number of attack skill-based builds in hardcore is far higher than softcore, for the very simple reason that they have much higher health pools and resistances through armour and other small bonuses. This is particularly true as of Legion league, which added Molten Shell, Steelskin, and the Soul of Steel node on the tree, which are all much more accessible to melee attack skill builds. They also have more consistent leech, and make use of ascendancies allowing for more defensive styles, such as Slayer, Juggernaut, Champion, and Gladiator. This is probably the biggest benefit to playing an attack skill-based build if you’re playing hardcore, are going for 100, or if you simply hate dying; it’s also very beneficial for delve.
PoE Attack Skills are a fundamental part of the game. At the moment, they are a bit on the weaker side, but there are still many solid reasons to play your favourite attack skills. They are tanky, can be very fast, and their damage scales infinitely if you have the money. They are also unpopular at the moment, so buy up some of that cheap gear and practice for when they get the big-boy buffs and become meta once more!