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League start builds for Path Of Exile Kalandra league and patch 3.19

Take on the Lake Of Kalandra with these 3.19 league start builds

Looking for a Kalandra league start build in Path Of Exile? Patch 3.19 is upon us, and with it the new Lake Of Kalandra expansion and Kalandra league for Path Of Exile. Each new league brings new content, a fresh trade economy, and a progression reset. The vast majority of players start fresh with every league launch rather than playing in the evergreen Standard league. If you want to get in on the fun, you’ll need a plan for your new character. That’s no easy task in Path Of Exile, so we’re here to help you get the ball rolling on your league starter build.

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The best league starter builds for Path Of Exile Kalandra League (3.19)

How to pick a league starter build in Path Of Exile

Before deciding on a build, consider your goals for the new league. Are you a veteran looking to farm uber pinnacle bosses? Look for proven builds with significant scaling like Lightning Strike. Do you prefer blasting hoards of monsters and flying through maps? You will love Poisonous Concoction. Are you a hardcore player who needs to prioritize defense? Inquisitor, Champion, and Trickster builds reign supreme.

Additionally, make sure to account for the cost of any required Unique items. Many Uniques are dirt-cheap, but some are exorbitantly expensive in trade leagues. For example, many Shield Crush builds lean on the Prismatic Eclipse Unique sword for attack speed. This is an extremely common item that you can easily find or trade for on day one of the league. On the other hand, a build that requires an Inpulsa's Broken Heart to clear maps will probably struggle to acquire the currency needed to buy one in the first place.

Finally, make sure you pick something that you will enjoy. Every player is different and enjoys different play styles. I tend to gravitate towards melee builds even when the archetype is struggling because I just enjoy them. There’s a build out there for everyone, and the vast majority of players should be more concerned with finding the best build for them rather than the best build period.

With that, here are some suggestions using player data and passive tree heatmaps from the first week of Sentinel league, obtained from poe.ninja’s excellent repository of ladder data. Patch 3.19 introduced major nerfs to old staples like Seismic Trap and Detonate Dead, so the Lake Of Kalandra meta is sure to look quite different. The builds below have had proven success as league starters over the past several leagues and have moved up the tier list thanks to nerfs to the old top builds.

A heatmap of Lightning Strike build passive trees in Path Of Exile

Lightning Strike Raider/Champion/Berserker/Trickster - best overall league starter

Lightning Strike has been a solid skill for about a year and really established itself as a top choice during 2021’s Scourge league. The skill has everything you want from a melee attack, which is to say it really functions more like a ranged attack and blows up entire screens of mobs before they ever come near you. However, it has some mechanical quirks you need to take advantage of to really make it shine.

  • Required Uniques: none
  • Helpful Uniques: Crystalized Omniscience, Atziri’s Step, Darkray Vectors, Mark of the Elder, Farrul's Fur, Perseverance (for Champion)
  • Raider Ascendancies: Way of the Poacher, Avatar of the Slaughter, Quartz Infusion, Avatar of the Veil
  • Berserker Ascendancies: Aspect of Carnage, War Bringer, Flawless Savagery, Blitz
  • Champion Ascendancies: Unstoppable Hero, Fortitude, Inspirational, First to Strike Last to Fall
  • Trickster Ascendancies: Polymath, One Step Ahead, Escape Artist, Soul Drinker
  • Target gear stats: Life, Spell Suppression, Evasion/Armour, Resists, Strike Skills Target 2 Additional Enemies, Critical Strike Chance/Multiplier, Elemental Damage, Attack Speed

Lightning Strike has two components; the melee hit, and the three projectiles it fires. A single Lightning Strike attack can only hit an enemy with one of these. So, if you hit a target with the melee strike, the projectiles will pass through them without doing damage. However, you can hit an opponent with both by taking advantage of “Strike Skills target 1 (or 2) additional enemy.” You will get this stat from the Ancestral Call Support gem or the passive tree while leveling before picking it up from gear later.

The “Strike Skills target an additional enemy” attribute causes ancestral spirits to appear and strike nearby enemies with a melee hit. If you have this stat and position yourself just outside of melee range of a single enemy or aim your attack slightly to one side of them, a spirit will appear and hit them with Lightning Strike’s melee hit. This is considered a separate instance of Lightning Strike, meaning the projectiles fired by your instance of Lightning Strike can also damage the target. This trick allows you to hit a boss twice per attack. If you’re playing Lightning Strike and finding your single-target damage lacking, this is a likely culprit. Failing to take advantage of this mechanic reduces your damage by more than half.

Once you have a feel for this trick, Lightning Strike is a dream to play and has clear upgrade paths through Path Of Exile’s entire endgame. The skill easily stacks crit multiplier through Nightblade Support and eventually gets massive amounts of elemental penetration from Trinity Support and Crystalized Omniscience. Nerfs to Crystalized Omniscience and the Brittle ailment do hurt Lightning Strike’s absolute top-end damage somewhat, but it will still have more than enough to tackle all content.

As for the ascendancy choice, Raider will be the easiest to get going with its easy access to Spell Suppression and Elemental Exposure. The Champion version of this build took a big hit from nerfs to Reservation Efficiency and Defiance Banner but still has the best overall defenses. Berserker still has the highest damage ceiling but its reliance on temporary buffs like Berserk and Intimidating Cry means you have to press a ton of buttons, which isn’t for everyone. There are also ideas floating around for variations of this build using the reworked Trickster ascendancy which should fare well, but there is no existing data for these since the rework is brand new.

A heatmap of Poisonous Concoction build skill trees in Path Of Exile

Poisonous Concoction Occultist/Pathfinder - fastest map-clear league starter

Poisonous Concoction has been perhaps the fastest early-league mapper since its introduction, and that remains true in Lake of Kalandra. The skill’s lack of weapon requirement and unique ability to “shotgun” enemies (hit them with multiple projectiles from a single attack, something most skills cannot do) make it incredibly easy to stack up poison damage with no investment. Poisonous Concoction characters can practically clear low-tier maps without equipping any gear at all. The Occultist ascendancy’s Profane Bloom explosions and Pathfinder’s Master Toxicist proliferation make clearing a breeze.

  • Required Uniques: none
  • Helpful Uniques: Atziri’s Step, Embalmers, Queen of the Forest, The Covenant
  • Occultist Ascendancies: Profane Bloom, Malediction, Void Beacon, Withering Presence
  • Pathfinder Ascendancies: Master Toxicist, Nature's Reprisal, Nature's Adrenaline, Master Surgeon
  • Target gear stats: Life, Spell Suppression, Evasion/Armour, Resists, Attack Speed, Accuracy, Damage Over Time Multiplier, +1 to level of Chaos skill gems

The downside of Poisonous Concoction is that its single target damage just isn’t very good in the late endgame. You will have no trouble with the campaign or early map bosses, but the pinnacle Atlas bosses can be a struggle. If you do want to farm bosses without rolling a new character, consider starting as an Occultist and re-speccing into poison Bladfall-Blade Blast. That tried-and-true combo still has solid single-target damage, especially with the reworked Ming’s Heart and Obliteration uniques.

A heatmap of Spark build passive trees in Path Of Exile

Spark Inquisitor - tankiest league starter

Inquisitor was quietly one of the strongest ascendancy classes in Path Of Exile for almost a year before exploding in popularity over the last few leagues. The Pious Path ascendancy node is one of the strongest defensive mechanics in the game, while Righteous Providence and Inevitable Judgement generate loads of crit chance and elemental penetration for relatively minimal investment. The class is also one of few that really uses block effectively but can still opt for spell suppression in many cases. There are a ton of builds that work well on Inquisitor, including the ever-popular Righeous Fire, but Spark makes for a more straightforward starter build.

  • Required Uniques: none
  • Helpful Uniques: Nebulis, Aegis Aurora, Glorious Vanity (Doryani), Replica Soul Tether, Atziri’s Step, Thunderfist (before 6-link), Lightning Coil
  • Ascendancies: Sanctuary, Pious Path, Righteous Providence, Inevitable Judgement
  • Target gear stats: Life, Spell Suppression, Armor, Energy Shield, Evasion (if targeting Spell Suppression), Block/Spell Block (if not targeting Spell Supression), Lightning Damage, Spell Damage, +1 to level of Lighting Skill Gems, Cast Speed, Projectile Speed, Skill Effect Duration, Pierce,

Spark generates multiple lightning projectiles that can bounce off of walls and change directions at random. With a bit of cast speed, you can fill your screen with Sparks that bounce into your target, hitting many times in rapid succession. The skill naturally scales well with Inquistor’s inherent crit and penetration and even benefits from quality-of-life stats like projectile speed and skill effect duration.

The downside of Spark is that it relies on those wall bounces for maximum DPS. You shouldn't have trouble clearing maps, but your damage is going to feel a lot higher in a small, enclosed boss arena like The Maven’s Crucible than in a large, open one like Sirus' domain. Even in a worst-case scenario wide open space though, Spark does enough damage to get by. Plus, you can easily respec a Spark tree into some extra shock effect if the new Lightning Conduit and Galvanic Field skills live up to the hype.

Honorable mentions

The above builds above are reliable, surefire starters for a variety of content. They are comfortably my top three recommendations because of their low entry requirements, proven success, and straightforward leveling. There are more potential league starters than one could possibly fit into a single guide, but there are a few other builds I’d like to mention. These builds are strong starters but have various barriers that make them harder to recommend to new players.

Righteous Fire Inquisitor

Righteous Fire Inquisitor is a really solid mapping build and one of the tankiest builds in Path Of Exile. It also boasts an incredibly smooth playstyle; just turn on Righteous Fire and run to the boss. However, it falls outside of my top three for two reasons.

Firstly, it just never gets truly great single-target damage. The build is so durable that you can just win boss fights through attrition, but it is never going to excel as a boss killer. Secondly, Righteous Fire constantly drains your health. Inquisitor can negate that easily, but I’d still never tell a newer player to run a build that inflicts self-damage. If you know what you’re doing, Righteous Fire is fantastic. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s non-functional.

Ice/Explosive Trap Saboteur

Seismic Trap took a heavy nerf in patch 3.19 but traps as an archetype remain strong. Traps allow you to frontload boss damage by stacking traps during their intro animations and stay mobile in maps by tossing a trap and then running before you take a hit. The reworked Sunblast unique also looks like a big damage boost on paper, though it may prove clunky in practice.

With Seismic Trap nerfed, Ice Trap and Explosive Trap look like the most likely heirs to the trap skill throne. Explosive Trap should have a higher damage ceiling and can take advantage of physical damage conversion shenanigans. Ice Trap will likely be more consistent though, and certainly smoother for leveling.

Rage Vortex Berserker

Rage Vortex is another mechanically sound melee skill. While Rage Vortex lacks some of the range of Lightning Strike, the lingering vortex it leaves makes this one of the few melee skills in Path Of Exile that continues to deal damage while you move. You can let a Rage Vortex rip and then move around without losing DPS uptime. Rage Vortex pretty much requires the Berserker ascendancy, and you will need to know how to craft or trade for a solid axe before the damage really starts to ramp up. Once it does though, watch out.

Hopefully now you've got a solid idea for your Kalandra league start build! All of these build concepts can serve as a powerful base for characters that are strong early and scale well into harder content. If you haven't yet figured out your endgame plans, check out our guide to the new Atlas passive tree for some ideas. For new players in need of some leveling help, we've got guides to Path Of Exile skill point locations, Trials of Ascendancy, and helpful vendor recipes for the campaign.

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Charlie Biggerstaff avatar

Charlie Biggerstaff


Charlie Biggerstaff is a freelance contributor to Rock Paper Shotgun, with other bylines on Upcomer. He has a great deal of experience with shooters of all kinds, including Escape From Tarkov, Warzone, Apex Legends, and more. He's also been known to get stuck into an Action RPG or two in his time.