3.17 Explosive Arrow Ballista Elementalist Build Guide

Everything you need to know about this powerful build in PoE 3.17. PoE 3.17’s Explosive Arrow Ballista Elementalist is the latest flavour of the league build in the spotlight since a wave of elemental skill buffs were released a week ago. Many content creators have started endorsing this build as a very strong league start choice for players looking to farm Exalted Orbs. Crunching the numbers, it looks like this build has a lot of potential for excellent map clearing and bossing without much investment, meaning a high return on PoE Currency farming. It has a very unique playstyle, especially when utilizing ballista totems.

Pros and Cons


  • Easy gear options
  • High damage for low investment
  • Uptime damage from ballistas
  • Solid single target and map clear


  • Totem playstyle not for everyone
  • Lot of players may cause prices to increase
  • Mediocre recovery
  • Not self cast

Gem Links

Core Skill: Explosive Arrow, Ballista Totem, Burning Damage, Ignite Proliferation, Deadly Ailments and Elemental Damage with Attacks

Single Target: Flame Surge, Arcanist Brand and Increased Area of Effect

Aura: Precision, Determination, Grace and Defiance Banner


  • Vaal Clarity
  • Infernal Cry
  • Lightning Spire Trap – Combustion

Mobility: Dash

Guard Setup: Molten Shell – Cast When Damage Taken


Weapon: Storm Cloud unique longbow 

Off-hand: Any quiver base with Increased Fire Damage over Time Multiplier, Life, Elemental Damage with Attack Skills and Attack Speed. Any combination of these modifiers will be useful. 

Helm: Rare helmet with Life, Elemental Resistances and preferably Spell Damage Suppression

Body: Any Rare body with life, elemental resistances, and Armor/Evasion

Gloves: Rare gloves with Life, Attack Speed and Spell Suppression

Belt: Dyadian Dawn unique Heavy Belt

Boots: Atziri’s Step unique Slink Boots


  • Rare Jade amulet with Damage over Time Multiplier, Life, Cast Speed and flat Lightning Damage to Attacks
  • Death Rush unique Amethyst Ring and a Flammability on Hit rare Ring


  • Any Rare jewels with increased life, Attack Speed with Bows, and generic Attack Speed
  • Rain of Splinters rare Crimson Jewel


  • Panicked Eternal Life Flask of Staunching – Instant recovery on low life and Corrupted Blood/Bleeding immunity
  • Sinner’s Granite Flask of the Tortoise- Solid defensive flask
  • Chemist’s Silver Flask of Quickening – Onslaught
  • Chemist’s Quicksilver Flask of Adrenaline – Movement speed
  • Investigator’s Jade Flask of the Iron Skin – Evasion with increased armour


  1. Mastermind of Discord – Increased exposure on enemies
  2. Shaper of Flames – 25% more damage with Ignites
  3. Shaper of Storms – Shock effect
  4. Heart of Destruction – More single target damage


– Major God: Soul of The Brine King: Upgraded with Atoll Map prevents character from being Frozen.

– Minor God: Soul of Abberath: Unaffected by burning ground and gain movement speed on burning ground


While mapping, simply zoom around with quicksilver and place multiple ballista totems in each pack, picking up PoE currency as you go. Rather straightforward and easy to clear entire maps with ease. Any harder mobs, rares and uniques will require additional totems placed to ensure they are killed promptly.

In boss scenarios try to preload multiple totems before getting the boss’ attention. This will allow for your ballistas to shotgun larger enemies and quickly stack up to 20 fuses to unleash massive ignites.


Start your exile as a witch. After killing Hillock players will be able to obtain the Freezing Pulse skill gem from Tarkleigh in Lioneye’s Watch. Link this with Arcane Surge to continue through act 1. At level 4 we’ll swap out Freezing pulse for Purifying Flame and add Combustion support gem to the links at level 8. Pick up Holy Flame Totem and Flame Wall at level 8 to increase damage. 

In act 2 at level 16, players will be able to grab Herald of Purity and Herald of Ash for auras. Elemental Focus support gem will replace Combustion on Purifying Flame links. As we progress into act 3, we can pick up Flammability as our curse for bosses and as soon as we get Mana Reservation Mastery in our passive skill tree, we can also add Purity of Elements to our auras. 

At the end of act 3, the Library quest can be done to unlock the remaining gems: Explosive Arrow, Ballista Totem Support, Faster Attacks Support, and Elemental Damage with Attacks Support.  After completing the first Labyrinth, the build can finally transition into an Explosive Arrow Elementalist. This will require a fast bow and Two Point Arrow Quiver as a bow is needed to cast ballista totems. As we are in the witch quadrant of the skill tree, players will need to find dexterity-based Jade Amulets and/or nodes to effectively level their skill gems. At this point we need a four-link piece of armor that has two green sockets and two red sockets. This will hold Explosive Arrow with Faster Attacks Support, Ballista Totem Support and Elemental Damage with Attacks Support.

In act 4 we can pick up Ignite Proliferation Support to replace Elemental Damage with Attacks Support and a Lightning Golem skill gem. Now the build is set to complete the main game storyline. Look at our recommended gear above to be on the hunt for new pieces and if a 5 link is available add Deadly Ailments support gem.

After completing the campaign look to get the skill gem combinations we have recommended above and get the core gear sorted before attempting maps. Make sure all elemental resistances are capped and skill gems have been adequately levelled. This can be done by running Blood Aqueducts in act 9 to farm up experience. To acquire proper gems, players can take advantage of PoE Trade as well. 


Totems is a very interesting place style and if you either like it or can get over the fact that your character is not self-casting it will end up being a smooth experience all the way up to the hardest of challenges in the game. With the attention this build has garnered during this league and how seamlessly it is doing most content, I would not be surprised if it gets nerfed hard in the next league.