A T400+ viable meme build based on the Coldhearted Lich set, nothing more, nothing less.
Sometimes, builds are designed to be good. Sometimes, builds are designed to be fun. And sometimes… builds are designed to be silly.
And this build was designed to be ass. Born out of a meme that somehow got pushed into viability thanks to the absurd power of artifacts, this is a build which technically existed before the DLC, but playing it was one of the worst experiences you could ever put yourself through. But things have changed; if you want to send a chill down the spines of enemies in the T400 range with the power of spreading diseases, this build is just the thing for you.
Introducing: the Superspreader Lich.
2. Theorycrafting, part I – Build Mechanics & Set Choices
The main idea is to use a combination of 3 skills to generate damage:
Outbreak makes monsters deal 15% of their HP as damage on death, in a small radius. Simple enough; for now, we should keep in mind that Outbreak gives us a way to scale damage with monster HP.
Plague Bearer summons companions with X amount of health. The use effect detonates a Plague Bearer to cast the Plague skill at the location of its death, at the cost of one soul. Importantly, this gives us a reliable kill trigger on our companions, the Plague part is irrelevant by comparison.
This mastery perks lets Zombies and Plague Bearers trigger Outbreak on death and therefore ties it all together. We can now deal damage based on our companion’s health pool.
So far for the main concept. Now where do we go from here?
For starters, we can expand on this concept by using 2 more skills that synergise well with our already existing setup:
This skill has a chance to spawn a spirit whenever an enemy is hit by a frost spell, up to an amount of 15 spirits at the same time. When doing so, those spirits’ damage is based on the triggering skill.
This normally wouldn’t fit into our build at all, except for the fact that the next skill exists.
I’d like to point out that the wording on this skill might be misleading. Outbreak and Spirit of Torment do not activate at the same time; Outbreak has to hit something for Infected Spirits to take effect. The following examples should give you a grasp on how this interaction works:
Example 1: You kill a single enemy with nothing else around. While Outbreak will trigger, it will not hit anything and will therefore not spawn any spirits.
Example 2: You kill a single enemy with 5 other enemies around. Outbreak will trigger and hit 5 targets, therefore spawning up to 5 spirits at once.
Example 3: You kill 5 enemies at once with nothing else around. Here, you will run into the same problem as in example 1. You still get up to 5 triggers of Outbreak, but with nothing there to get hit, Infected Spirits will not activate.
Instead of dealing damage once with Outbreak whenever we detonate a Plague Bearer, Infected Spirits and Spirit of Torment now provide a large source of extra damage on top of adding a DoT of sorts.
Long story short, the main idea of this build is to proc Spirit of Torment and have it deal damage based on companion health. This makes the Coldhearted Lich set an excellent choice for this build. With 2 of its pieces equipped, Spirit of Torment deals more damage and now attacks in a damage radius, rather than being single-target. Adding a third piece lets spirits merge; the new spirit deals damage equal to all the ones that it merged with. For the most part, this gets around the 15-spirit-limitation on Spirit of Torment, which enables infinite damage stacking. Therefore, it is very important to use at least 3 of the Lich’s set pieces. The 4-piece bonus has potential, but it requires rapid soul generation which this build cannot facilitate. As such, we will go with 3 set pieces.
Furthermore, we should not discard the idea of using the Summoner’s Garb set. The bonus for using 2 pieces is a sizeable boost to companion health, and really, that’s all we need. I will expand on item choices in the equipment section, but for now, we should at least consider this an option.
Now, you might be wondering why this build has never been talked about… truth be told, it was never any good. Companion health does scale with monster damage, so Plague Bearers get more HP the higher you go up in tiers, but their base HP was too low for the build to clear even Mythic XV reliably. But one day, everything changed.
February 25th, 2022: The release of the Ancient Beasts DLC.
3. Theorycrafting, part II – The Ancient Beasts DLC
This build in particular benefits greatly from 2 of the star artifacts which, if used together, take this build from not being able to clear Mythic XV all the way up to T400 and above. I will talk some more about artifacts in the designated section, but I didn’t want to put of talking about these two in particular, as they are far too important:
This item single-handedly carries the build. As previously mentioned, the biggest issue has always been the low base health stat of the Plague Bearers, and Life Bond does a lot to alleviate that issue.
Since the use effect of Plague Bearer counts towards companion deaths, this artifact makes it possible to spam it indefinitely. Eternal Servitude also removes all costs from our companion skill, meaning Plague Bearer no longer requires sacrificing a soul to be cast.
This fixes the other issues that the build would always run into; even if the Plague Bearers had a larger health pool, the skill cooldown only allowed for a slow damage ramp, and rapid soul generation was always an issue. Life Bond may have pushed this build far beyond Mythic XV, but it’s thanks to Eternal Servitude that it can get all the way to T400. While this item may not be strictly necessary for the build to function, it would be foolish to take a shot at endgame progression without it.
Now that we know how to get the build going, let’s remind ourselves of which stats we need to look out for.
4. Important Stats
This one’s a given. Outbreak and Spirit of Torment – both of which scale with companion health – are the only damage options that the finalised build will use. That being the case, this stat is obviously very important.
As mentioned above, character health gets transferred to companions thanks to the Life Bond artifact. Therefore, we should be looking to maximise our HP.
I haven’t mentioned this in the theorycrafting sections yet, so I will quickly address it here: The most efficient way of stacking health is to use a combination of the Elementium armor (which increases all your resistances by 60% of your highest resistance stat) and the Heartstone accessory (which sets all resistances to 0, but in exchange takes 60% of your total resistances and adds that value as a percentage bonus to your health). In short, stacking resistances are another way to indirectly enlargen our health pool.
Eternal Servitude removes the cooldown on Plague Bearer. As such, increasing attack speed means increasing the rate at which Spirit of Torment will be triggered.
Gems will affect resistances, attack speed and companion health, all of which are important. Therefore, it only makes sense to make gem strength another one of our top priorities.
This stat affects the life span of our spirits. Initially, Spirit of Torment would only last for 3 seconds. Since that’s not very long, there’s something to be said about stacking effect duration and bumping up that number.
Other than that, there’s not much to look out for. Reach is nice to increase the range on Outbreak, but not required. Cooldown reduction is unnecessary when Plague Bearer, the only skill that we’ll actively use, already has effectively no cooldown. Also, Outbreak and Spirit of Torment neither deal direct damage, nor are they able to crit. Overpower and critical hit chance as well as critical hit damage are therefore useless. Ironically, companion damage is also pointless, so the 6 stats listed above are all we need to pay attention to.
With all that in mind, let’s finally look at the equipment.
Weyrick’s Crown is the go-to item for stat boosts and stacking gem strength. This build is no Exception to that rule.
Infected Spirits states that Outbreak may trigger Spirit of Torment, keyword being “may”. Crown of Innate Probability is necessary to bump Spirit of Torment’s proc chance up to 100% and therefore ensuring that Infected Spirits always works.
Summoner’s Charm is one of the two set pieces that we need to get the Summoner’s Garb set’s 250% bonus to companion health.
I briefly touched on Heartstone earlier. It turns resistances into more HP, and in combination with the Elementium rune on our armor has excellent health stacking synergies.
The Master’s Command set doubles Plague Bearer’s health. Seeing how this build doesn’t benefit from any of the stats that would affect the actual damage output, Unwavering Loyalty is an easy pick.
Companion health scales with monster damage, not monster health. The discrepancy between Plague Bearer’s and the enemies’ HP therefore gets bigger with each tier. Shattered Spirits is a nice QoL improvement in that regard, as it allows us to scale with monster health, provided that we kill a single pack of enemies first. Contrary to Infected Spirits, this rune actually does spawn spirits on the enemy that triggered Corpse Shatter, rather than the enemies hit by it. At times, this can make it easier to keep our big spirit alive.
The first of 3 pieces needed to obtain the necessary bonuses from the Coldhearted Lich set.
There is no rune on this item, because for the life of me I could not figure out a single rune that would complement the build. Usually, companion builds would go with Bloodscent or Jon’s Book of Souls; Jon’s is out of the questions because we have no soul synergies, and Bloodscent faces the same issue as the companion damage stat where it doesn’t affect the damage of Outbreak or Spirit of Torment at all. So, rather than wasting crafting materials, I decided not to put a rune on the offhand.
The second of 3 pieces needed to obtain the necessary bonuses from the Coldhearted Lich set.
Like I said in the accessory segment, I chose to use Elementium for health-stacking purposes.
The final of 3 pieces needed to obatin the necessary bonuses from the Coldhearted Lich set. The Interrupt enchantment is a remnant from an old version of the build; to my knowledge, companions cannot trigger Interrupt, so feel free to swap it out. The only sensible replacement would be Enrage (which can be triggered via Life Reap), but even then there’s not much of a difference.
Seeing how Crown of Innate Probability, Heartstone and Elementium already took up 3 GR slots, I decided to use Greatness so I can use the Battle Boots rune as well.
Life Reap is a skill that I picked as a just-in-case. The Life Reaping rune removes the cooldown on it and makes it a good healing option when you find yourself in a tough spot. Other than that, the only reason I picked this was because of the lack of decent weapon rune options. If spending 50 crowns on this feels like a waste to you, feel free to skip it.
Summoner’s Footwear is the second set piece that we need to get the Summoner’s Garb set’s 250% bonus to companion health.
Because of Plague Bearer, we can only get 72% damage reduction out of Ritual of Banes, which makes Battle Boots a nice addition to try and get as close to the 90% cap as possible. Once again, I’d like to point out that this build doesn’t benefit from companion damage, so there’s no point in using Advancing Army over anything else.
Unbreakable Bond goes with Unwavering Loyalty.
Gem strength boosts pretty much all of our relevant stats, so Kingsrock was another easy choice to make. Much like the Interrupt enchantment on the weapon, Stun is a remnant from an older version. Feel free to replace it with something more fitting, like Evasion.
There’s instances where I had to choose between gem strength, frost resistance and companion health, since there are only 2 minor enchantment slots on most items. Gem strength is easily the best out of those 3 enchants, but the choice between frost resistance and companion health may not be so obvious. As you can see, I ended up always picking frost resistance; that’s because I determined in testing that frost resistance was more beneficial than companion health. With that cleared up, let’s move on to the skill & mastery setup.
6. Skill & Mastery Point Allocations
- Plague Bearer and the Summoner passive skill are both maxed out for companion health purposes.
- Outbreak is maxed out for damage purposes; the proc chance doesn’t really matter, as the Carriers mastery perk ensure that Plague Bearer triggers Outbreak on death.
- Infected Spirits provides synergy with Spirit of Torment; 34 points are required to access this skill, so everything else is only there because I needed to dump skills points into the Corruptor tree. Even Horde is not necessary, as Plague Bearer’s use effect will simply spawn another sompanion at the Warlock’s location if there are none alive.
- The first use of Plague Bearer’s active effect requires us to sacrifice a soul, therefore Soul Thief is a very important skill to pick up. Due to Crown of Innate Probability, one point is enough.
- Spirit of Torment as our main source of damage is obviously maxed out.
- Corpse Shatter is maxed out for QoL purposes and its synergy with Spirit of Torment via the Shattered Spirits rune. Both of these skills are only available after 24 points have been spent, so all the other allocations are used as fillers.
- Demon Heart adds to our health pool, and Demon Skin helps in getting ever closer to the damage reduction cap. Other than that, there’s nothing useful here.
- Undeath and Shadow Armor both help in our health stacking endeavors and are therefore maxed out.
- As mentioned in an earlier section, Life Reap is a great just-in-case option, therefore I put some skill points into it.
- Ritual of Banes is the main source of damage reduction, which makes it the build’s most important skill next to Plague Bearer. This should be maxed out, no questions asked.
- I decided to put my remaining 5 points into Screaming Skull. It doesn’t need to be this exactly, as long as you pick anything on the reaper tree. The first node provides a flat health bonus, so this is where any of your excess points should go.
- I already talked about Carriers in great detail; this is a must-take build enabler.
- Outbreak’s damage is locked at 15% of Plague Bearer’s health, meaning it doesn’t scale with poison damage. That being the case, there is no point in picking up the Poison Affinity perk, so Ritual Affinity can be used instead.
- Death’s Gift is not necessary, but it’s nice to have against bosses if you end up pushing with this build.
- Putting 33 Points into the Damage and Mana parks might seems weird, but honestly, there’s nothing better. We need to put 65 points into each of the 3 class masteries to unlock the very important Grand Summoner perk though, so I decided to just spec into Damage and Mana.
- All excess points should go towards the Health perk. Everything else should be self explanatory.
- Plague Bearer is used as our main attack skill.
- 4 random bane spells are used for Ritual of Banes.
- Life Reap gets assigned an easily accessible key so that it can be used on demand.
- RMB for Soul Warp, SPC for Lightning Wyrms.
As you can see, I spent all of my 100 skill points. Along with all the other star artifacts, the DLC also introduced Megan’s Spark – an artifact that increases all of your minor stats by 1% for each unspent skill point. This affects stats like minor resistances, effect duration, gem strength, companion health and many others, which should give you and idea of the power that this item holds. It is incredibly strong, to the extent that you should always question how many skill points your build really needs to function and whether you can effectively use this item.
But here, not using Megan’s Spark can be easily justified. As a star artifact, it has to compete for its slot with both Life Bond and Eternal Servitude. Seeing how this build simply cannot work without Life Bond, which would leave replacing Eternal Servitude as the only option. However, that would pose several problems.
First of all, the build heavily relies on Infected Spirits, Spirit of Torment and Ritual of Banes. That alone is 76 skill points that you would absolutely have to spend, which already makes using Megan’s Spark much less attractive.
Second of all, at 305% attack speed the build in its current form has a 10-frame attack animation. With Eternal Servitude removing the cooldown on Plague Bearer, this translates to a cooldown of 10 frames, or roughly 0,17 seconds. Even if Megan’s Spark made it possible to max out cooldown reduction at 90%, that would leave us with a cooldown of 0,3 seconds. Further reducing the cooldown would mean making compromises elsewhere; either way, the build would get less efficient at spawn-spamming spirits while also stacking all its relevant stats.
Third of all, without the cost removal from Eternal Servitude, we would need to find a reliable source of soul generation to have the resources necessary for continuously using the Plague Bearer skill. Firelord’s Amulet lets the player collect souls when fire skills are cast, but requires the Hell Caller passive skill to do so. Putting Megan’s Spark aside, the build has nowhere near enough skill points left to even get Hell Caller alongside everything else, so that’s out of the question. The only alternative would be using Hellstone Amulet, which grants a 20% chance of collecting a soul on hit. However, that effect has a 0,5 second cooldown and as such cannot keep up with the speed at which Plague Bearer would be cast. With both Firelord’s Amulet and Hellstone Amulet out of the picture, it becomes impossible to maintain enough souls to efficiently run this build.
In conclusion, Life Bond and Eternal Servitude are both far superior options to Megan’s Spark. While we’re on the topic, let’s also take a look at the other artifacts.
Both of these provide some nice QoL improvements. Nothing else to it.
Increasing Ritual of Banes’ rank by 1 is very helpful with regards to damage reduction.
Due to a lack of better options, I picked Companion’s calling, just to increase Plague Bearer’s health pool by a little bit.
Since I already talked about both of these artifacts in great detail, there’s not much else to say at this point. By now, it should be obvious why I picked these.
And that concludes the build.