Path of Exile 3.8 is upon us, and brings with it a new challenge and entirely new gameplay style. Say hello to tower defense in POE. The big mechanic this league involves the Blight, a toxic influence that is steadily corrupting monsters within the realms of Wraeclast and turning them into something else entirely. The tower defense part of it comes when you begin helping Sister Cassia battle back the evil influence.
And if you’re a true beginner, make sure to stop over and check out our other Blight coverage to be certain you’re prepared to take down the insidious Blight. Other Path of Exile 3.8 Guides:
- Blight League Starter Builds
- Blight Patch Notes Rundown
- Blight Skill Changes
- Map and Atlas Guide
- What Maps to Shape in Blight
- POE Blight Oils Guide
- Vendor Recipes Guide
- Loot Filter Guide
How to do Blight Encounters?
You will encounter Sister Cassia out in the wild, first appearing within Act 1. She will be standing by a giant pump mechanism, it’s up to you to defend it. The Pump will have a variety of tendrils spreading out from it, where these tendrils terminate, you will see portals. The first encounter has only two portals, but things will get a lot more complicated in later stages.
It’s a good idea to run along the tendril path and plan out where you want to place your towers ahead of time. You only have a limited number of resources to spend per run, so early tower placement is key. You do get more resources as the mobs go down, so keep an eye on that. Luckily, the tower icons light up to give you a clue that it’s time to place more.
The next step is figuring out where to place your towers. The placement of these towers is crucial, as is the type of tower you use. Early on, you can focus entirely on dropping Freezing towers right near each portal to slow down the tide of enemies. In later runs, you will need to use DPS and Status towers in conjunction with each other, focused on keeping enemies afflicted and under the radius of DPS towers, for as long as possible.
The enemies that spawn from the portals will deviate from the blight tendrils if you do, so be aware of that. Also, they will track towards the Pump unless you damage them first, so keep that in mind as well.
Once you’ve completed a run, go back to where you saw the portals, and look for Blight Cysts, these are the loot chests. They seem to operate just like the loot chests from Legion in terms of the markers they use, so that’s handy.
Blight and Towers
The Blight that gives the challenge league its name is spreading, and only the Exile can stop it. When you first enter Act 1, you’ll encounter Sister Cassia, who will introduce you to the Blight and a simplified version of the tower defense gameplay. The core idea is to use the “lanes” created by the spreading blight to control the flow of mobs, funneling them toward your array of towers.
The towers can be modified in a variety of ways, granting buffs to your own attacks or putting debuffs on enemies. Freezing, Shocking, Igniting and Slowing are all seen as potential avenues of attack here. And combining the debuffs with your primary DPS will be key to success. The big challenge here is identifying the proper weaknesses of Blighted mobs and exploiting them, as some mobs may be immune to certain status ailments. It’s likely that tougher maps will include multiple mob types across different lanes, so you may have to tweak your tower layout on the fly. Sometimes awkward tower placements on the tendrils will dictate which options you pick though.
Here’s some general tips:
- Back up DPS towers with slowing towers to maximize damage.
- The longest range DPS (Meteor Towers) should always be placed closest to the Pump, as they can help save you when you get overwhelmed by mob spawns.
- Keep speed buffs in the middle of long chains on the tendril path.
- Take advantage of path bends, these make monsters move slower and are a great place for AoE towers like the Shock Nova or Arc.
Each lane that spawns in a Blight encounter will have their own resistances, each lane has their own dedicated icon (look above the Pump Durability) each symbol denotes which damage type that lane will be resistant to. So if you see a fire symbol, the mobs in that lane with be fire type, and resistant to fire damage. One special thing to note is that purple minion markers in these slots mean that mobs in that lane will ignore minions and rush to Pump. Pay special attention to these elements and plan your towers accordingly.
Towers each have their own ranks, and as you progress into harder Blight encounters, expect to need to upgrade your towers multiple times. Check below for a breakdown of some of the towers you will encounter.
- Chilling Tower – All about slowing enemies. Can be upgraded to either a Glacial Cage and Freezebolt tower once it reaches rank IV, offering a choice between a status effect or damage boost. The Glacial Cage tower is usually the preferred high-end slowing tower as its massive AoE has a great chill effect.
- Empowering Tower – At rank four, you are offered a choice between Smothering or Imbuing towers. The Smothering tower weakens enemies, reducing DPS slightly, so pick it when dealing with a long Blight and drop it near the end of the tendril path to allow yourself more survivability. The Imbuing tower provides players with increased speed, and is crucial as a tower in key midpoints during Blight Maps.
- Fireball Tower – A simple yet effective tower that shoots fire. While it cannot solo a blight for you, it will offer a DPS boost that can’t be beat when dealing with large packs. Place these after a slowing tower of some kind for maximum damage. At rank four, you are offered a choice between a Meteor tower, and a Flamethrower tower. The Meteor tower has much longer range, while the Flamethrower has much better DPS. The Flamethrower is your goto DPS option for pure damage, but tower position is key.
- Seismic Tower – At rank four, you are offered a choice between the Temporal tower and Stone Gaze tower. The Temporal tower casts AoE slow effects that are some of the best overall slowing options if placed properly. The casting speed can be an issue in larger packs though, as some enemies may slip by before being slowed. The Stone Gaze Tower not only applies a slow, but also a minor DPS boost as well.
- Shock Nova Tower – Another great DPS option that provides a decent boost to damage, and can shock a decent number of monsters if placed in a bend in a path. At rank four, you are offered a choice between the Lightning Storm tower and Arc tower. The Lightning Storm tower has the biggest AoE, but pretty mediocre damage. The Arc version is a much shorter range variant, but with a high chance to shock enemies, making them take more damage.
- Summoning Tower – A minion tower which summons what I’ll call minor minions. At rank four, you are offered a choice between Sentinel and Scout towers. The Sentinel tower offers a single, very bulky minion, useful for blocking particularly dangerous enemies. Scout towers will summon ten flying minions These flying minions work similarly to Summon Raging Spirit, so don’t expect the same blocking effect as they focus on DPS.
For those of you more visually inclined when learning, POE streamer ZiggyD has a mechanics guide video available, check it out below.
If you manage to complete an encounter with the Blight, you’ll get a shower of loot, including the new Oils.
The oils are your main goal this league, and are most often obtained by completing a Blight encounter. Each oil has its own effect, and the effects differ further depending on what item they’re being applied to. Most of the rewards shown so far are unique Ring and Amulet enchantments, with each one offering unique notables as modified implicits to gear. These enchantments are determined by the type and number of oils placed in the enchanting device.
There have been a total of 12 oils introduced in Blight, each one with their own effects being applied to items. There should only be a set number of combinations though, as each oil combination can always result in the same modifier. So far, we’ve seen allocated Notables like Cleansed Thought, which doubles your chaos resistance, and Vengeant Cascade, which allows your projectiles to return to you from their final target, piercing all enemies on their way back.
One potentially very useful modifier in POE Blight is that oils applied to Rings apply buffs to your towers. Think of these like a specialized version of Breach Rings, that offer buffs like more effective slows or status ailments to Blight mobs. We haven’t seen much of this in action, but we will be updating this guide once the patch drops to list all of the oils and their modifiers.
And luckily for you, we have a full guide on dealing with Oils, complete with all the possible mod combinations from different Oils.
Once you complete the story and enter into maps, you’ll start to uncover maps covered in Blight influence. This has the added benefit of rewards tons of XP and plenty of Oil drops, but it’s a very safe bet that monsters in Blighted Maps will be much tougher. As a general rule, given that you want to clear mobs as fast as possible, avoid rolling too many mods on your maps that make them exponentially tougher.
These are the true endgame of POE 3.8, and don’t expect them to be easy either. Crowd control is very, very important, as you’re going to have tons of enemies coming at you. This means the Glacial Cage, Temporal, and Stone Gaze Towers will be your best friends. Though you really want to engage with this content as it’s the primary source for Oil drops in Blight League.
These maps have no native monsters, instead they’re packed with a ton of different Blights all packed together. But because these are maps, the mods you place on said maps have a huge impact. The long tendril paths are made all that much harder to clear the more durable you make mobs, so try to avoid stacking mods that make enemies have more life, damage or status resistance.
These maps can also be anointed, adding a variety of unique modifiers, including extra experience and increased loot drops.
Strategies for dealing with Blighted Maps
These areas are no joke, as the torrent of mobs coming out you can easily overwhelm many players, regardless of how experienced you are with POE. As a result, the added challenge of Blight Maps is something many players have to adjust to, and how you do that will depend on your approach to the rest of the league.
POE fans are finding that the availability of gear for off-meta builds has also forced them to tweak their approach to Blight encounters, especially in maps, as well. The Summoner-heavy meta for this league means that many players will be relaying on more indirect defenses in 3.8, and that has certainly had an impact.
For Summoner builds or any archetype with a wide range of damage application like a Trapper, there’s some options. I would personally recommend focusing on slowing towers, like placing Glacial Cage and Temporal towers on chokepoints to stem the tide of mobs. This can allow your mines, traps or minions to spread out and deal bits of damage all over the place, but you should always nuke the big packs first, thankfully the minion AI tweaks in 3.8 make this a lot easier.
Blight is just a totally different beat though, making the gung-ho DPS-heavy builds from Legion a little less viable. If you’re running a DPS build though, Blighted Maps are still viable, you just need to focus your tower strategy around that aspect of your play. Combining your heavy damage with tons of Meteor and Scout towers can allow you spread damage out over a wider area without losing potency. This will allow your primary attacks to clear out stragglers before they damage the Pump. You shouldn’t be relying on your towers to take down enemies on their own, simply using them to let your main skills mop them up.
Tools For Blight
Path of Building (Offline build planner for Path of Exile.): https://github.com/Openarl/PathOfBuilding
PoESkillTree (A Passive Skill Tree and Character Planner for Path of Exile): https://github.com/PoESkillTree/PoESkillTree
Currency & Trading:
PoE Trade Macro (Check item prices in game): https://github.com/PoE-TradeMacro/POE-TradeMacro
PoE Trade (Most popular Path of Exile shop indexer): http://poe.trade/
Mercury Trade (Easy trading, preset replies and popup of item offers): https://github.com/Exslims/MercuryTrade
PoE Level Buddy (Displays useful info while leveling): https://github.com/Pastillage/PoE_Level_Buddy
Poe Leveling Overlay (Shows possible layouts of an area to make leveling faster) https://github.com/Biggoron144/PoE-Leveling-Overlay
PoEAffix (Path of Exile item affixes): http://poeaffix.net/
FilterBlade (Customize NeverSink filter to your own liking): https://www.filterblade.xyz/