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Path of Exile Guide: Ground Stomp Melee Marauder Build

Basics

In Wartune, Ground Slam is considered by many to be the staple melee attack. Which might be another way of saying that it is the one melee skill that is viable at every gear level, character level and skill level. Used in conjunction with a great single target attack like Glacial Hammer or Heavy Strike, in conjunction with Enduring cry, you provide mob gathering and control for large packs, and very good Rare mob and Boss mob damage and control. Using Blood Magic in the passive tree, stacking life, armor and endurance charges provides you with great survivability to go with your incredible Area of Effect damage.

Build Strength

  • Early game and End game very durable
  • Naturally high life, armor and endurance charges
  • Incredible Area of Effect potential, with the ability to permanently stun mobs (discussed in Build and Tactics)
  • Best and simplest melee to play
  • Going Iron Reflexes allows a huge flexibility in the gear you can wear.

Build Weaknesses

  • Using your single target attack, though high DPS, puts you in considerable risk. For example on Vaal with his overhead smash.
  • Mid game can be very weak.
  • With the amount of control via Stuns and general mob aggro control end game, it is easy to become complacent and get into a bad situation.
  • Some of the worst nodes for effectiveness per point spent are +Phys% damage passives, yet you need a substantial amount to reach a threshold to stun all but bosses.
  • If you run a more permanent stun build, you trade survivability for the ability to stun everything.

Normal

Normal with a marauder is always the same, regardless of the eventual skill and spec you intend to go, you pick up a mace and ground slam your way to victory. How appropriate then that your chosen way of life is to ground slam in maps, this is as good as time as any to work on your ground slam kiting ability. Your spec wants to look something like this by the time you are level 27, which is the level to use a Brass maul or a Geofri's Baptism if you are lucky. After you fleshed out a bit more of the Templar tree, with the option for Amplify, you should make you way down to blood magic. Be very, very careful at he end of Act 3 because the mobs in Lunaris Temple put up Vulnerability on your character (like the Crabs in Coves), which looks like a pair of red head phones hovering over your character. As tanky as you think you are, or even might be, this one curse can kill you before you know it. If you do not have a flask that removes curses play cautiously.
Some objectives of normal:

  • High health on gear
  • MS boots
  • Work on the ground slam "micro". This means your ability to effectively kite and ground slam right after the animation is complete.

Cruel

Cruel is where you will begin to notice that mobs hit you much like the latter half of Act 3, but that your regen and life on hit or life leech begins to really compensate for it. Personally my objective for Cruel is to level in cruel ledge from 33 until 40. At 40 I would then go and do flooded depths and get the skill point. Your build should look something roughly like this with Blood Magic at that point. From this point progress as you feel comfortable, while trying to get your hands on a 4L armor\weapon (focus on armor since having a good weapon whatever the sockets is best). If you can manage to get a 4L, and chrome 1 green also try to trade for faster attacks. At this point you would use Ground Slam, Faster Attacks, Added Melee Physical and Life Leech or Life on Hit. You get Faster Attacks from the Hailrake quest in merciless, so do not be afraid to pay some currency for the gem since you can always trade yours later, and it is extremely helpful for all of Cruel to have Faster Attacks.

At the end of Normal act 3 and beginning of Cruel is when I start to curse when I have a free gem slot. I personally prefer Vulnerability (tougher to use as it requires Intellect), but Warlords Mark is just as good and can at times be an all around better curse. You also want to start running Grace along with your damage aura, either Anger or Wrath.

At this point I would farm fellshrine until level 47. Western is generally faster farming, but there you will notice your -20 to Chaos resistance and the chance to die is high. Feel free to try both and see what you suits you, most of the farming you do depends on your general comfort level and what you prefer. I would personally do Vaal at level 48, having gotten the skill points from Western and Shipyard Cave, with your spec looking like this. The reason I think you want to hit 48 is you get that last 12% node above Golem's Blood, which can be the difference between a desync on Vaal overhead smash death and living through it. If you have to make a choice between higher health, and resists, you want to go with health for the Vaal fight. Ideally you have 60 or more to all resists, but if you have a choice between gloves with 60 life or gloves with 20 lightning resist which leaves you at 50 Lightning but 1700 health, the health will be more beneficial and allow you to live through his attacks while keeping Enduring Cry stacks at max.

One major choice is whether to take the skill point in Cruel or to take the 12% added physical damage from Oak. If this is your first time playing Ground Slam, I recommend taking the 12% phys from helping Oak. Personally as I've come to understand the game more, I prefer to have more flexibility in my builds by having the skill point.
Objectives of Cruel:

  • Obtain a 4L armor
  • work on improving your obvious gear deficits (rings with no life, etc)
  • Decide which curse you prefer

Merciless

In Merciless you should have a very good grasp on the character and what it is capable of. At this point you should see what I suggest here, and be able to understand why I said what I said and decide for yourself how you want to progress. I personally view every single one of my characters as my baby, and I don't like to send my baby out to die when I could have just farmed X zone a little more to prevent that death. With that said, I generally farm Ledge to 59, Fellshrine to 64, City of Sarn to 69 and Docks to 73-75. My spec at 59 with flooded depths completed looks like this. At any point in Merciless feel free to pick up Elemental Adaptation, the +5% to your maximum elemental resists node.

I would take the endurance charge from Oak as my bandit reward, and be sure to pick up the +1 Endurance charge talent and the .2% life regen per charge talent near the marauder start. This gives you 5 charges and 5% of your total life in regen (Golem's and Troll's Blood 3.0%, Templar 1.0% and Endurance Charges 1.0%). Killing Vaal in Merciless is easiest in a party, do not leap slam at any point on this encounter as you can be slammed at any time from the moment you jump until you land (effectively you are standing still). Be sure to keep Vaal cursed with Warlord's Mark (though always defer to party members who use Temporal Chains or Enfeeble, or use these if you find them).

Merciless Objectives:

  • Begin the long arduous quest of obtaining a 5L.
  • Try to find good deals on Maces. For example maces that have 15% Increased attack speed but only have 70% Increased Physical Damage can still be very effective weapons until you find better.
  • Work on capping all of your resists.

Maps

I would do low level maps until 78 or so, with a build that looks like this. From this point you want to fill out Inner Force, fill out some quality of life nodes (like Armor Master if you use those), decide if you want a 6th endurance node with the increased duration talent as well. Your strongest value in maps in a party is that you can effectively protect casters from mobs running at them with Ground slam and you can Knock back (Heavy Strike) or Freeze (Glacial Hammer) rares for more control. Preemptively using a Granite flask on Magic packs and rare mobs is a very good habit to get into. The main difference between Ground Slam and other builds is that your life does not get any easier at level 90 compared to level 70. You have the same amount of control over large packs of normal and blue mobs at 70 as you will have at 90. You need to always be on your toes, and be ready to handle what the map throws at you because it is the pack that cannot be stunned, or a pack of Lesser Multiple projectile hasted archers that will kill you if you aren't prepared.

Gems

Weapon

  • Ground Slam
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Quality
  • Melee Physical Damage
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Quality
  • Faster Attacks
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Quality
  • Life Leech
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Quality
  • Added Fire Damage
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Quality
  • Stun
  • Level 20
  • Quality
  • Concentrated Effect
  • Level 20
  • Quality
  • Increased Area of Effect
  • Level 20
  • Quality

Chest

  • Heavy Strike
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Quality
  • Faster Attacks
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Quality
  • Added Fire Damage
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Quality
  • Melee Physical Damage
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Quality
  • Life Leech
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Quality
  • Stun
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Quality
  • Glacial Hammer
  • Level 20
  • Quality

Helm

You can cast your auras and then remove Reduced Mana Cost and replace it with leap slam as the auras stay as cast until you log or remove them.

  • Wrath
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Anger
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Grace
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Reduced Mana
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Leap Slam
  • Level 20

Gloves

  • Bear Trap
  • Level 16
  • Primary
  • Quality
  • Culling Strike
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Quality
  • Added Fire Damage
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Leap Slam
  • Level 20
  • Primary

Boots

  • Faster Casting
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Enduring Cry
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Vulnerability
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Temporal Chains
  • Level 20
  • Primary
  • Warlord's Mark
  • Level 20
  • Primary

Weapon Swap

In your weapon swap level which ever curse you aren't using, any gems you might want to eventually try, glacial for heavy strike etc.

Gems Not Available From Quests

One strength of this build is that every gem you need you eventually get with the exception of concentrated effect.

  • Concentrated Effect
  • Level 20
  • Primary

Endgame Items

Prefix Slot Suffix
  • x% increased Physical Damage (Local)
  • Adds x-y Physical Damage (Local)


Piledriver 40% increased Stun Duration on enemies
  • x% increased Attack Speed (Local)
  • x% increased Enemy Stun Threshold
  • +x to Strength
  • +x Life gained for each enemy hit by your Attacks
  • x% increased Physical Damage (Local)
  • Adds x-y Physical Damage (Local)


Karui Maul 20% increased Stun Duration on enemies
  • x% increased Attack Speed (Local)
  • x% increased Enemy Stun Threshold
  • +x to Strength
  • +x Life gained for each enemy hit by your Attacks
  • +x to maximum Life
  • x% increased Armour (Local)
  • +x to Armour (Local)


Astral Plate +8-12% to all Elemental Resistances
  • +x% to Chaos Resistance
  • +x% to Cold Resistance
  • +x% to Fire Resistance
  • +x% to Lightning Resistance
  • +x to Strength
  • +x to maximum Life


Annihilator Casque
  • +x% to Chaos Resistance
  • +x% to Cold Resistance
  • +x% to Fire Resistance
  • +x% to Lightning Resistance
  • +x to Strength
  • +x to maximum Life
  • x% increased Armour (Local)
  • Adds x-y Physical Damage
  • Adds x minimum Lightning Damage


Titan Gauntlets
  • x% increased Attack Speed
  • +x% to Chaos Resistance
  • +x to Dexterity
  • +x% to Cold Resistance
  • +x% to Fire Resistance
  • +x% to Lightning Resistance
  • +x to Strength
  • x% increased Movement Speed
  • +x to maximum Life
  • x% increased Armour (Local)


Titan Greaves
  • +x% to Chaos Resistance
  • +x% to Cold Resistance
  • +x% to Fire Resistance
  • +x% to Lightning Resistance
  • +x to Strength
  • +x to maximum Life
  • x% of Physical Damage from Attacks Leeched back as Life
  • x% increased Armour
  • Adds x-y Physical Damage


Onyx Amulet +10-20 to all Attributes
  • +x% to Chaos Resistance
  • +x% to all Elemental Resistances
  • +x% to Cold Resistance
  • +x% to Fire Resistance
  • +x% to Lightning Resistance
  • +x to maximum Life
  • x% increased Elemental Damage with Weapons
  • x% of Physical Attack Damage Leeched back as Life


Prismatic Ring +8-12% to all Elemental Resistances
  • +x% to Chaos Resistance
  • +x% to all Elemental Resistances
  • x% increased Attack Speed
  • +x% to Cold Resistance
  • +x% to Fire Resistance
  • +x% to Lightning Resistance
  • +x to maximum Life
  • x additional Armour
  • x% increased Flask Life recovery rate


Leather Belt +25-40 to maximum Life
  • +x% to Chaos Resistance
  • +x% to Cold Resistance
  • +x% to Fire Resistance
  • +x% to Lightning Resistance
  • x% increased Enemy Stun Threshold
  • +x to Strength
  • Instant Recovery (Local)


Hallowed Life Flask
  • Dispels Frozen and Chilled (Local)
  • x% reduced Recovery Speed (Local)
  • x% increased Amount Recovered (Local)


Hallowed Life Flask
  • x% increased Movement Speed during flask effect (Local)
  • x% increased Armour during flask effect (Local)
  • x% increased Charge Recovery (Local)


Quicksilver Flask
  • x% increased Movement Speed during flask effect (Local)
  • +x Extra Charges (Local)


Granite Flask
  • x% increased Armour during flask effect (Local)
  • x% increased Charge Recovery (Local)


Granite Flask
  • Immunity to Curses during flask effect. Removes Curses on use (Local)

Items For Leveling

Uniques

Geofri's Baptism Unique Brass Maul (Level 27). If you acquire one you make your life until level 50 much easier. You would be hard pressed to find a better mace with a level 51 base.

General Items

You want items with +Life, Resists and armor wherever you can find them. Of any of these stats, the first to be sacrificed should be armor. Don't be picky about the gear when you level, if you find an armor\energy shield hybrid helm with 70 life and other useful mods, it likely will serve you well until well into Merciless. Understanding that you want to use currency to roll items occasionally while leveling, while trying to trade for good items to get you to end game will be the most effective use of your time and currency.

General Play

In general your tactic is to keep your enduring cry at max stacks, try your best to not ever be touched by the mobs as you for all intents and purposes a ranged type of melee, and to stun them all to death. You want to be especially cognizant of mobs that have LMP or GMP since they can "shotgun" you and hit you with all their projectiles if you're close to them in melee range.

End game issues with melee

We have several weaknesses currently compared to a ranged or caster spec, but the two most notable for me are how tough it can be to target mobs with the current spell particle effects flying all over the screen and the fact that generally to do damage we need to be much closer on average compared to ranged classes. This means that our margin for error is significantly smaller. You can compensate for this by using Increased Area of Effect, and getting the area of effect passives in the Templar and Witch sections of the tree.

Alternate Spec

One spec that is a bit more complicated than the normal Ground Slam build is a build that tries to permanently stun everything, including bosses. Now that the Stun formula is subject to Diminishing Returns, the requirements to get to the point where you can permanently stun is incredibly high, hard to achieve, and will be difficult to play given that you sacrifice so much of your survivability to do it.
Gear Requirements:

  • You must have a belt with 15% reduced enemy stun threshold.
  • You need a weapon with a huge damage roll, Marohi Erqi for example, or an incredibly good rare maul with reduced stun threshold.
  • You require at a minimum a 5L so you can socket the stun gem into Ground Slam.
  • You won't be running Blood magic because you need the damage aura Hatred to achieve the damage per hit to reach a point where you have a chance to stun.
  • You need life leech and mana leech on your rings and amulets because you need the gem slot in your main links for a damage gem and not life leech.

The Stun reduction formula is :

To calculate whether a stun occurs :

stun_chance = 200 * damage / defender_effective_max_life

When calculating Stun with Stun Threshold Reduction of over 75%, the Stun Threshold Reduction is treated as being:

75 + ( Stun Threshold Reduction - 75) * 25 / ( Stun Threshold Reduction -50 )

This means that you need to do a significant amount of damage now to have a chance to stun bosses, and use the vulnerability curse as well to increase your chance. Should you achieve all of these goals, 15% reduction on mace and belt, a 5L, a mace with 475+ top end and IAS or a Marohi Erqi, you can give this a shot. How well it works depends on the formula, and the estimation of the bosses' health pool.

Difficult Map Mods

There are many map mods that are difficult for melee, and some that are specifically tough for Ground Slam. Foremost among them is anything that reduces your resists, and extra damage done by the mobs. Specific to Ground Slam is Cannot be Stunned, Physical Reflect. By the point you're doing maps you should have a very good understanding of what makes this class tick, and the rest is self explanatory. My general policy is that if I think the map sounds bad, it is bad and I won't do it. Why risk your character for what is likely 3 bad rare items.

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