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Guide to sustaining Tier 16 end-game maps in Path of Exile

Path of Exile Incursion League
This guide assumes a base level understanding of loot and gameplay mechanics in Path of Exile. Refer to our new player guide to POE and our basic end-game mapping guide for more details on those systems if you need them.

A lot of Path of Exile players enjoy the game itself, but tend to hate the RNG elements with loot drops. A particular annoyance for a lot of people, even hardcore players, is the difficulty experienced with sustaining end-game maps, especially beyond T10. Well, we’re here to help make your time in Wraeclast much easier exile, with a guide that teaches you the basics of sustaining end-game maps in Path of Exile.

The math is more complex than this, but the RNG boils it all down to one rule, as long as your map drops per run are averaging two or more maps per every one of your chosen tier being run, sustain is guaranteed.

Understanding Map Drops

Map drops in Path of Exile work on a tiered pool system. Every enemy in a map has a certain chance to drop a map. Go by these rules below to know what your chances are.

  • White monsters have a chance to drop a map up to the tier of the current map.
  • Blue/yellow mobs have a chance to drop a map up to +1 tier above the current map tier.
  • Map bosses have a chance to drop a map up to +2 tier above the current map tier.
  • Uniques, Rogue Exiles and other circumstantial bosses outside the main map boss do not have increased map drop chances.

Map tier drops are also affected by two other primary factors, both relating to Atlas completion.

If a mob drops a map, its tier is rolled against the completion percentage of your Atlas, a higher than 100% Atlas completion guarantees a +1 drop. The other affect the Atlas has lies in the way Atlas paths work. If POE detects that no maps have been completed on the tier(s) connected to the current map, the drop will degrade to the next tier until it hits a tier where a map has been completed. The game will then select a map from that tier, giving a preference to completed maps.

With all this in mind, it’s possible to prep your Atlas to guarantee map drops of a specific tier when farming high-end maps, assuming the proper groundwork is done. Let’s talk about that prep work.

Atlas Preparation

There’s a bit of work you have to do before you can actually start farming maps though. Your first step is to scour all other maps aside from the one(s) your farming copies for. The map drop pool in POE is populated with a higher weight attached to maps you’ve completed, then with maps connected to the one being run, so clearing map completion from the Atlas becomes vital.

This guide will assume you’re farming T16 maps for Elder runs, so modify the techniques to fit your situation.

For maps T15 and below, you want to prepare your atlas by ensuring that the map(s) you want to run is the only one of its tier and its next level up. If you were running Shaped Underground Seas, you’d scour all other T11 and T12 maps. This ensures that all of the T11 and T12 maps that drop in Shaped Underground Sea are also Shaped Underground Sea.

To maximize T16 Elder map returns, at least starting out, you should also choose a T15 map(s) to shape, and scour the natural T15 maps. This way, all of the T16 returns from your T15 maps will be the Elder map of your choice. I chose to shape Belfry and Pier. You can recomplete your T15 maps once you have a large enough supply for T16s to sustain themselves, but I like selling the Shaped Belfry and Pier maps in bulk.

It works like this:

  • Scour all of the maps you’re not running or don’t want to drop. (Cartographer’s Seals are what you need for this)
  • Shape your chosen T10 map to bump it to T15, thus meaning all future drops of that map have a chance of dropping that map again.

Rolling and Sorting Your Maps

You might not think this is important, but knowing which maps your build can handle and doing the extra legwork on sorting and modifying them can be very profitable over the long-term.

The reason you want to start with a decently sized map pool is so you can optimally run your good sextant mods. Sort your maps more or less within the following categories; there might be some overlap, in which case you can use your preference and judgment in choosing what to run:

  • Maps with Nemesis Rares (% more Rare Monsters)
  • Maps with Bloodline Mods (% more Magic Monsters)
  • Maps with Beyond (Slaying Enemies close together can attract monsters from Beyond)
  • Miscellaneous 8 Mod Corrupted Maps
  • Miscellaneous Unidentified Maps
  • Miscellaneous 30+% Pack Size Uncorrupted Maps
  • Miscellaneous 25-29% Pack Size Maps
  • Bricks
  • Dangerous Maps (sell the ones you can’t run)

Currency and Usage

There’s one inescapable aspect of farming maps, and that’s the necessity of needing currency to modify your maps to their best-possible returns. There are a variety of currency items you need a large supply of if you’re going to sustain a large end-game map pool, especially at T16.

These are what you’ll need a constant supply of. Budget permitting, buy in bulk, as it makes mapping feel really bad if you have to keep buying materials every few maps. You also want a whole stash tab dedicated to the map of your choice for organizational purposes. Quad Tabs are really helpful for sorting bulk maps if you have them. The dedicated Map tabs are good for bulk storage, but really annoying for sorting.

Chisels, Alchs, Chaos and Sextants are by far the most important as these are your tools for maximizing map modifiers. Vaals are important, but not vital to completing the process, you’l just get much better returns assuming you can handle the risk of bricked maps or deadly mod combos.

Here’s the basic process for preparing maps after you’ve chosen a map to run and prepared your Atlas:

  • Chisel your maps to 20% Quality
  • Alch/Chaos spam maps to get 25% Increased Pack Size mods or higher
  • Set aside any maps with >30% Pack Size for Vaaling

Using Sextants is one of the crucial parts of this process that separates hardcore from casual. Sorting your mods according to the best Sextant mods and pairing them together for the best chance at map drops is crucial to success and profit when it comes to T16 map farming.

Vaal Maps for Max Profit

After getting your prepared maps sorted, it’s time to drop a Vaal on them. Vaal Orbs modify items in POE in unexpected ways, and the same applies to Maps. There are four primary outcomes when Vaaling a Map, and three of them can be useful, depending on the individual outcome.

No Change: The map is Corrupted, thus it can’t be changed further, but it also didn’t change any of the mods or values already applied to the map. This is the worst outcome aside from completely bricking the map.

8 Mods: Far and away the best outcome, exempting Reflect mods, Curses or other dangerous rolls that may make the map unusable for your character. It’s very important to know exactly what your build can handle so that you can tell the difference between a good or bad 8 mod Map.

Unidentified: These maps could have very dangerous mods that you won’t know about until you actually enter them and check the mods. The trade-off is that as long as the map isn’t ID’d, it grants 30% Increased Item Quantity to all drops in the map. You do run the risk of wasting the map if you decide to proc it only to find out that it has a mod you can’t handle.

Brick: These maps that don’t fall into the other categories above, but have no useful mods that increase Item or Monster density or rarity, and are thus no better than a basic Rare map with equivalent Quality. Dangerous mods like Reflect, Curses or other modifiers that cripple your build are also considered bricked. Sell these in almost every case. The only time you wouldn’t sell them is if you have a character that can run them and want to save it. For the sake of efficiency though, skip these 99% of the time.

Sort your maps more or less within the following categories; there might be some overlap, in which case you can use your preference and judgment in choosing what to run:

  • Maps with Nemesis Rares (% more Rare Monsters)
  • Maps with Bloodline Mods (% more Magic Monsters)
  • Maps with Beyond (Slaying Enemies close together can attract monsters from Beyond)
  • Miscellaneous 8 Mod Corrupted Maps
  • Miscellaneous Unidentified Maps
  • Miscellaneous 30+% Pack Size Uncorrupted Maps
  • Miscellaneous 25-29% Pack Size Maps
  • Bricks
  • Dangerous Maps

Sextants and Blocking

Sextants are able to add additional modifiers, and some of these modifiers are extremely powerful. You can check below for a list of some of the modifiers you should be on the lookout for. In general, getting more mobs is the goal, with a priority for Rare and Magic Monsters.

Red Sextants are the best for maximizing returns, but can be very expensive. That being said, you should  your Sextants to “block” certain mods from dropping on other rolls.

Let’s use Underground Sea Maps as an example. This is normally a T6, but with your T10 Elder Orb, it can be bumped into a T16. This map will then be a T16 flanked by one White and two Yellow Maps. These Sextants are cheaper than Reds, so it’s advisable to use as many lower-tier Sextants to save on Currency. Use your cheaper Sextants first, re-rolling them until you get a good mod, again like extra mobs or currency. Then you may want to use your next tier, or Yellow Sextants to “block” certain mods from rolling with Reds. So let less-desirable mods exist on your two Yellows, that way the Red will skip those mods when rolling. Finally, Roll your Reds until you get a good mod.

So how do you choose a map? Generally you want a map that’s on the border of your Elder blob that can easily be maintained by flipping it between Elder and Shaper influence. This is why Elder Underground Seas are so good. The location makes for cheaper Sextant use, and it’s easy to keep an Elder blob going in that corner of the map.

Determining What Maps to Run

This part of the map farming process is very circumstantial, and dependent on both your build and the Sextants you have available. To help make the process of map selection easier, use the following list to judge which map mods pair best with which Sextant mods. Run these pairs first. This isn’t a full list by any means, but the vast majority of Sextant mods can be run on most maps.

When Chaos spamming maps before doing your other Atlas prep, the first thing you should pay attention to is Item Quantity and Pack Size. >70% Quantity and >25% Pack Size are good baselines.

No Change/Any 8 Mod:

Areas contain Zana
Strongboxes in Areas are Corrupted
Areas contain an extra Strongbox
Strongboxes in Areas are at least Rare Rarity
Unique Bosses of Corrupted Maps drop an additional Vaal Item
Found Items have a 5% chance to drop Corrupted in Areas
Strongbox Monsters have 500% increased Item Quantity
Strongbox Monsters are Enraged
Areas contain an extra Strongbox
Areas contain an additional Breach
Areas can contain Breaches
Areas can contain Abysses
Areas contain an additional Abyss


Magic Maps contain additional Magic Monsters
Rare Maps contain additional Rare Monsters
Normal Maps contain additional Normal Monsters
Players cannot take Reflected Damage (Super useful)
Areas contain additional Packs with Mirrored Rare Monsters

Unidentified Maps:

30% increased Quantity of Items found in Unidentified Maps
Found Items drop Identified in Identified Maps
15% increased Pack Size in Unidentified Maps


Nemesis Monsters drop 3 additional Currency Items – Save any Nemesis maps for this mod, it can be EXTREMELY PROFITABLE.
Unique Monsters drop Corrupted Items – Double Beyond or Elder-influenced maps are great for this mod.

Other Tricks

Maximizing Item Quantity is a huge aspect that many players gloss over when it comes to mapping in POE. You need as many drops as possible to keep Maps flowing into your stash, so here are some tricks to keep drops coming.

  • Sacrifice Fragments (Dusk, Dawn, Noon, Midnight) add 5% Quantity for each unique Fragment in the map slots with a map. Easy 15% boost
  • Certain Prophecies add more mobs, all with drop potential. Hungering Swarm, Plague of Frogs, and Plague of Rats are all useful for this. Bear in mind that some Prophecies only work on Indoor/Outdoor Maps. Plague of Rats would be used for Elder Underground Sea for example.
  • Running Shaped T15 Maps has the potential to drop T16s of your choice, assuming you went through the trouble of Scouring all other T16s from your Atlas. Scouring all the T15s also bumps the drop chance of your Shaped T15s.


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