Explosive Arrow Totems

BalorMage’s Explosive Arrow Totems Heirophant


This is a more advanced build than the other builds currently on this website. If this is only your first or second league playing PoE and you are not overly experienced, I would not suggest starting with this build (but make sure to take a look at the other guides available). It involves respeccing and changing playstyles during the levelling process – but is otherwise fantastic for slightly more experienced players. If you’re a seasoned player and just want the POB link, you can find it below, but you’ll want to make sure you understand how the build works first; it isn’t your run-of-the-mill totem build.

This build is capable of all content, including all bosses with minimal investment, and is able to clear T16 maps on nothing more than a Tabula Rasa and around 10c worth of other unique items. All maps mods can be run (with room to swap flasks around for no regen etc).

It is fast, tanky, and thoroughly enjoyable to play. Further investment will allow it to push deep into the end game for a total cost of 10 to 20 exalts. See the advanced section at the end for details on how to push the build further.

How does it work?

Explosive Arrow is a projectile attack skill, with an interesting mechanic. Every time a mob is hit it will leave a fuse behind with a 1 second cooldown (do NOT get quality on EA unless it’s a divergent version). Multiple hits will stack the fuses together, and when either 1 second expires or 20 fuses are reached, a large explosion occurs (the radius of this explosion increases per fuse, maxing out once 12 fuses are reached). This build focuses around causing these explosions as many times per second as possible, by utilizing 8 totems and stacking as many arrows as we can. Totems go Brrrrt!

Important: Any sort of projectile modification can potentially ruin the damage output. This is because EA will only leave a fuse in the last mob hit, and not every mob. Therefore sources of Chain, Fork, Pierce, and Split are all BAD and should NOT be used whatsoever.

Important: This build uses Elemental Equilibrium and you must be incredibly careful to NOT have added Fire Damage to attacks on any pieces of gear. We do, however, want added cold or lighting damage somewhere. This will apply to the arrows (which do barely any damage) and will make the target weak to fire – perfect for the explosion damage. The explosion will then flip the enemy to being resistant to fire… right until the next arrow hits, an instant later.

Important: We will be levelling this build as Spells until such time that we can acquire all the gems needed at level 28. Attempting to level this as totems until that point will likely feel quite horrible.

How do you play it?

This build will require a little adjustment to get used to. Despite appearances, especially with the 1 second fuse, this build is actually a fast mapper. You need to adopt a ‘cool guys don’t look at explosions’ mindset and just trust that the totems are killing behind you. 3-4 totems per room/pack is more then enough. A good loot filter (click here for Balor’s filters) will let you know whenever something good has dropped via sound; otherwise you can continue zooming through the maps. As for bosses, well, see for yourself


Some quick snippets of Balor running this build for the first time:

  • In an Awakening level 6 Atlas, with a 4-link Tabula Rasa setup at level 65: Click here
  • Same character, same level, in a T7 and still in a 4-link : Click here
  • T11, same setup, to push the build to its limit on a league start setup: Click here
  • Sirus 6 fight, in the end game gear at lvl 94 (with a little bit of gear removed because it was supposed to be Sirus8.) Oops.
  • Catarina Fight in end game gear but without chainbreaker (due to the 3.14 nerf). She didnt stand a chance.


v1.01 – 15/04/2021

  • 3.14 Tree finalized to make room for flesh and stone mana reserve increasing, -mana cost crafting change, and the loss of chainbreaker.

v1.0 – 14/04/2021

  • Guide created

Path of Building

Don’t have Path of Building? You need it.

Pastebin Import: POB Link

Passive Tree, Ascendancy & Pantheon

Level 90 Tree

Link to tree (Use POB instead though)


  • Normal Lab: Pursuit of Faith
  • Cruel Lab: Conviction of Power
  • Merciless Lab: Ritual of Awakening
  • Eternal Lab: Divine Guidance
  • (Uber lab is very optional here)


Major – Soul of the Brine King

Minor – Soul of Shakari

Gem Setup

Main Skill:

Explosive Arrow – Levelling and early end game

Explosive ArrowBallista Totem SupportBarrage Support Elemental Damage with AttacksCombustion Support

with any of these as a 6th link:

Hypothermia | Fire Penetration | Point Blank | Damage on Full Life

Explosive Arrow (crafted End Game bow)

Explosive ArrowBallista Totem SupportBarrage Support Elemental Damage with AttacksCombustion SupportEmpower

4 Link: Frenzy and curse

FrenzyGreater Multiple ProjectilesFlammabilityHextouch Support

Other skill gems (any link):

Precision | Skitterbots | Cast when Damage Taken (lvl 4) + Molten Shell (lvl 12)


Dash + Second Wind

Other (Optional)

Flesh and Stone

Gear, Flasks and Jewels


This build uses a lot of cheap uniques all the way to its final form, providing a very smooth gearing progression. Each can be purchased as you see fit, as each will bring a noticeable change to the build as you equip them.

There is a steep dexterity requirement and you may need to take the 30 dex nodes on the tree that the pathing will pass depending on gear.

Essential Shopping List:

Your first priority should be a Quill Rain which does not need to be linked.

Skirmish Quiver (point blank or additional arrow corruption is a win)

Rain of Splinters jewel

Refer to the POB for remaining gear.

End game will eventually require a switch to a crafted 6L bow which will be the hardest item to obtain. A guide on crafting a basic version can be found at the bottom of this guide.


  • Seething/Bubbling Divine Life Flask
  • Alchemist’s Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline (This is for speedy speed)
  • Quartz Flask of Warding/Heat/Dousing
  • Granite Flask of Warding/Heat/Dousing
  • Enduring Mana Flask (Levelling only)

On these flasks, we will need to roll some affixes when we reach maps. It doesn’t matter which of the last three flasks has which affix, as long as all three affixes are covered. 
-Staunching, for bleed
-Warding, for curses
-Heat, for freeze

This combination will mean you cannot bleed, be frozen, or be cursed while your flasks are active. This is very helpful and strong, especially with certain map modifiers.

*Note* The Quicksilver Flask could also have any of these suffixes initially if you are okay moving through maps a little more slowly. This is just the ideal setup; what’s really important is you have the Enduring mana, Staunching, Heat, and Warding on utility flasks by the time you enter maps – in that order


Primary jewel stats:

  • Corrupting Blood Immunity
  • Mana cost of skills

Secondary jewel stats:

  • Life
  • Attack speed
  • Attack speed with bows
  • Attack and Cast Speed


Got GemSourceQuest
Freezing PulseNessaOpening The Gates
OnslaughtRewardMercy Mission
Arcane SurgeNessa Mercy Mission
Holy Flame TotemReward Breaking some Eggs
DashNessa Breaking some Eggs
Molten ShellNessaBreaking some Eggs
Combustion SupportReward Caged Brute
Added Lightning DamageNessaCaged Brute
Flame DashRewardCaged Brute Part 2
Storm BrandRewardSiren’s Cadence

As mentioned previously, we will be levelling this build as spells until such time that we can complete the library quest and reach level 28. This guide will use Storm Brand from level 12 with Freezing Pulse before that, combined with Orb of Storms and Frost Bomb. Other options such as Flamewall and Holy Flame Totem can also be used to further boost damage if you have the sockets for it

Don’t forget to check Tarkleigh for movement speed boots each time you level up and return to town, and keep an eye out for 3-links (both as loot and in Nessa’s inventory).

Ideally by the end of Act 1 you will want the following setup:

Storm Brand + Added Lightning Damage Support + Onslaught Support

Flame Dash + Arcane Surge Support (Lvl 1)


Dash | Precision (Just level these gems for now – and only if you have the currency to spare)

Plus any or all of the below:

Orb of Storms + Added Lighting Damage Support

Frost Bomb + Added Lighting Damage Support

Holy Flame Totem + Combustion + Summon Phantasm Support

Flame Wall + Efficacy Support

Skill tree at the end of Act 1
Wave of ConvictionRewardIntruders in black
Herald of thunderYeenaIntruders in black
Ele Dmg with AttacksRewardSharp and Cruel
Faster CastingYeenaSharp and Cruel

During Act 2 we will be killing all bandits for the 2 passive points. Skills won’t change much, just an updated link for Storm Brand and a couple of rewards to be picked up.

  • Storm Brand Onslaught SupportFaster Casting Support
  • Herald of Thunder
Skill tree at the end of Act 2
FlammabilityRewardLost in Love

Act 3 is a time to start keeping an eye out for 4-links, and we’re going to need a bow and quiver soon. We try to not use the bow itself for the main skill, so we can replace it with any unique bow (ideally a Quill Rain) that we acquire without also having to link it. We’re looking for a RED RED GREEN BLUE to begin with, but will switch to RED GREEN GREEN RED OR RED GREEN GREEN BLUE later on, so nabbing one of these is good too.

The bow needs to be the fastest firing bow you can get your hands on (1.4 attacks per second or better).

Notable gems to acquire from the quests are Flammability with the rest of your gems to be acquired from the library or from Act 6

If you acquire enough links to do so, you can add a Concentrated Effect Support to your Storm Brand setup (purchased from Act 2)

Important: You will need to complete the library quest or wait until Act 6 before you can switch to EA. Ensure the gems are levelling as soon as you can, especially Ballista Totem Support so the totems don’t die

Skill tree at the end of Act 3

Complete your Normal Labyrinth and ascend to Heirophant, grabbing the Pursuit of Faith notable before moving on.

Sometime during Act 4 you should be able to acquire all the gear and have the gems required to switch over to EA. This will require 2 respec points to swap over to ancestral bond and divine fervor on the tree and a visit to the library to pick up any missing gems.

Explosive ArrowBallista Totem Support Elemental Damage with Attacks SupportCombustion Support to begin with

swapping Barrage Support in once you reach level 38. Combustion Support would be the best one to drop for the time being

Your Frenzy generation and curse on hit setup can go on at the same time:

FrenzyGreater Multiple Projectiles SupportFlammability Hextouch Support

Next stop.. Maps! (no seriously you’re ready to basically zoom as fast as you want from here on in)

Skill tree at the end of Act 4

From here on out, not much changes. Full speed ahead, just grabbing links and improving gear as things drop.

Skill tree at the end of Act 5

After you complete the quest ‘Fallen from Grace’ , Lily Roth sells all skill gems (apart from the few drop only gems).

Make sure you have all the end game gems required and level them as appropriate.

Skill tree at the end of Act 6

Nothing changes in act 7. Keep an eye out for linked gear with the right colours if you are missing any.

Skill tree at the end of Act 7

Nothing changes here. Again, aim to pick up any left over socket links that you’re missing and start looking out for decent life/res gear as we move closer to maps.

Complete the Cruel Labyrinth at some point during this act, and choose the Conviction of Power ascendancy node.

Skill tree at the end of Act 8

Again, no changes at this point. If you have managed to find a 5-link chest by this point, then add in any of the support gems you have the colour for: Combustion Support, Fire Penetration Support, Point Blank Support, or Damage on Full Life Support (this last one requires you to not be getting hit).

Skill tree at the end of Act 9

This is our last chance to fix up resistances, so keep an eye out for more gear – particularly jewellery. Important stats are:

  • a higher movement speed roll on boots
  • elemental resistances
  • life
Skill tree at the end of Act 10

Complete your Merciless Labyrinth and choose the Ritual of Awakening nodes before killing Kitava.

Make sure to check and fix your resistances, then proceed to maps and the end game story line! Refer to the POB for End Game tree progression into clusters etc.


Divergent EA changes the quality to reduce the 1 second timer to 0.6 seconds. This vastly improves the clear speed delay and should be high on your list of upgrades.

Bottled Faith, Torrents Reclamation belt are great upgrades to the build. Headhunter is usable but of limited value.

Bow crafting: Fracture +projectile bow suffix (ilvl 86 for +2 but +1 proj also works fine) and then roll +1 socketed gems via your own preferred method (essences, fossils etc). Meta craft ‘cannot roll attack’ with full suffixes should guarantee the roll for adding prefix via beast . The only required crafting mod is the +Level of socketed support gems. Multi-Modding the bow is for if you are feeling particularly adventurous.