What are maps?
Maps act as Path of Exile’s end-game content. They serve as items which can be placed into a map device (and then consumed) to generate an instance. This map instance contains monsters and a unique boss at the end of each map. Maps have varying difficulty ranging from tier 1 maps (level 68 mobs) to tier 16 maps (level 83 mobs).
Maps are similar to other items in Path of Exile in that they have varying rarities and affixes. A map can be normal/magic/rare/unique. Magic maps have one or two affixes (A prefix and a suffix) and rare maps can have up to 6 affixes under normal circumstances (up to 3 prefixes and 3 suffixes). A map affix or mod acts to make the map instance more difficult while increasing the rarity and quantity of items in the zone. For example the Hexproof prefix mod makes monsters immune to curses while giving the player 16% increased item quantity (IIQ) and 8% increased item rarity (IIR).
Players cannot use maps until they have access to the Templar Laboratory, which can be accessed in the Epilogue after Act 10. They can later also be used in hideouts, if the player has a personal map device, offered by Zana.
Maps can be obtained from a drop pool that starts populating at around Level 65. When you get to Act 9, you’ll start seeing random Tier 1 Maps dropping more often. Pick up these maps and drop them into a Tab in your Stash. It helps if you have a set of custom Premium Tabs that you can sort into sets of Map Tiers. I sort mine into T1-T3, T4-T6 and so on. Color coding your Tabs can also help with organization.
NOTE: Use a decent item filter that highlights maps when dropped and plays a specific sound on drop, it makes finding maps in loot drops so much easier.
One of the things to keep in mind about map drop chance is that your drop pool is populated above Tier 1 with maps that you have completed. You’ll have a reduced chance to pick up maps that you haven’t previously completed. You can however game this mechanic to avoid maps that you don’t want to run.
For example, if you’re running a build weak to Elemental Reflect, you should probably avoid the Tier 9 Promenade Map as it’s boss does a lot of that with Lightning Tendrils. So try completing other Maps to populate your pool.
This is where looking at the Atlas becomes important for planning out what maps you want to run or not. The way map drops work can be manipulated further with Shaping. The normal drop mechanic for maps relies on a percentage chance of the map being run dropping higher tier maps that are connected to it on the Atlas.
Bear in mind that simply killing the boss on a map counts as a completion, even on a white version of that map. It’s just that it doesn’t grant the Atlas bonus. This means you should avoid killing bosses on maps connected to the maps you don’t want to run.
Shaped maps, however, are still connected to maps 5 tiers below them, same as they were before you shaped them. You can’t run a shaped map and find an undesirable map that you deliberately excluded from your drop pool. This is the power of shaping.
With the 2.4 expansion GGG introduced the Atlas as a new way of progressing through the map system. The Atlas visualizes all maps, helping you understand which maps drop in each area. To open the Atlas simply press g on your keyboard. Your Atlas is shared between all your characters in that specific league.
The connections on the Atlas display which maps can be drop when running a particular map. When you complete a map (kill the unique bosses) it can then be dropped in other maps not connected via the Atlas. Each map also comes with a bonus objective – completing the bonus objective of the magic awards you with a 1% cumulative chance for map drops to be upgraded by one tier.
Note you can still engage in the map system without ever opening the Atlas, however it is unadvisable due to the potential benefits that manipulating your Atlas can provide.
Crafting in the Atlas relies on Cartographer’s Sextants. These limited use items can be applied to a map on the Atlas to grant those maps temporary bonuses. There are three types of sextant for each group of five map tiers. An Apprentice Cartographer’s Sextant can only be applied on a map up to Map Tier 5. A Journeyman Cartographer’s Sextant can only be applied on a map up to Map Tier 10. A Master Cartographer’s Sextant can be applied on any map.
Carefully planning out your map progression through the Atlas along with careful use of currency while crafting maps is key to success in POEs endgame. But there’s another element you must be aware of.
Shaping is a special mechanic that allows the player to use Shaper’s Orbs to upgrade the base tier of a map. These Orbs upgrade all spawns from your drop pool of the upgraded Map by 5 tiers. So a Tier 1 Map can become a Tier 6 “Shaped” version of that map.
Most player shape their maps according to two factors. Either how linear the map layout is, or how dense the mob packs are. Higher density means more potential for XP and loot, a linear layout makes running a map much quicker overall. And efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to mapping.
Commonly Shaped Maps
Tier 1 – Jungle valley (very linear and an easy boss make this the best T1)
Tier 2 – Oasis(density) / Beach(linear)
Tier 3 – Arid lake(density) / Channel(linear)
Tier 4 – Graveyard(density) / Acid lakes(linear)
Tier 5 – Primordial Pool / Dunes(density) / Mesa(linear)
Tier 6 – Canyon / Spider Forest(density) / Race Course(linear)
Tier 7 – Mud Geyser(linear+dark) / Ashen Woods(density) / Arachnid Tomb Map(linear)
Tier 8 (2) – Tropical Island, Bog(density) / Atoll(low density but linear)
Tier 9 (3) – Promenade, Reef(density), Crypt
Tier 10 (3) – Courtyard(density), Underground River(linear), Colonnade(linear)/Port(linear)
Affixes are the various mods that can spawn on an item. The same principle applies to map, just with their own set of affixes. Each map can have a set number of Prefixes and Suffixes determined by it’s rarity or corruption.
Certain Affixes can be quite dangerous due to the type of enemies on the map, or due to mods like damage reflection percentage. Click the wiki links above to see the list of mods and bear them in mind when crafting maps.
Crafting or “Rolling” Maps
The vast majority of maps you get from drops will normal “White” maps. The common exception to this is that bosses often drop Magic or Rare varieties. Although depending on your desired drop pool, you may be avoiding certain bosses so you can’t always count on that source for a map pool.
This means that you’ll need a methodology for crafting the maps you want to run. Some casual player forgo careful Atlas planning and simply run all but the most dangerous Reflect maps for their build. This is an OK approach as long as you keep in mind that it’s always best to not spend more currency on a map than you’re likely to get from completing it. So you don;t want to use Alchemy Orbs on low tiers for example.
Below you can find a decent general crafting strategy that you can modify at your leisure. Please do pay attention to the weaknesses of your build and the limitations of your gear when getting into the higher tiers of maps. A basic build like a Cyclone Slayer won’t be able to handle the damage past Tier 12 or do without very good gear and Jewel setups. Expect to spend quite a bit of currency on gearing for your characters.
- Up to tier 5 You should be able to sustain a map pool running only magic maps. To roll a magic map first use an Orb of Transmutation. If there is only a single mod use an Orb of Augmentation to add another. If the pair of mods is dangerous or they impact the clearing ability too much consider using an Orb of Alteration to reroll the mods. The maps up to tier 5 are not worth very much so be conservative when using Orbs of Alteration (no more than 2-3 per map).
- From tier 6 you will want to use an Orb of Alchemy on white maps. This can lead to some dangerous mod combinations which may not be runnable by your character. For tier 6-9 I will only very rarely use a Chaos Orb to reroll the mods as it is a waste of currency. Either I will leave the map in the stash to run by another character at a later time, try to sell it. Although if you’re a more casual player like me who only rolls a couple of characters per league, it might be best to just list all your unused maps for sale. Use POE.Trade or POE.Ninja to price out your maps first though.
- Tier 12 is when I start chiselling every map if I have the currency. It’s also advisable to use Orbs of Scouring and Chisels on unidentified maps, as you can increase the quality then reroll the map. Remember only ever chisel white maps as it takes only four chisels to yield the maximum quality for the map. If the map mods are dangerous I will use Chaos Orbs to try get safer mods.
- After tier 15 I will begin to use Chaos Orbs to ensure I maximise the IIQ and pack size of the map. You should be looking for 90+ IIQ or 70+ IIQ with increased pack size/magic monsters/rare monsters.