Path of Exile Witch Cold Crit Build Guide

Path of Exile Witch Cold Crit Build Guide by shibloble

Before we begin: This build is not by any means “perfect”. However, I wish to see it head in that direction. There seems to be a ton of threads/posts in regards to Cold Crit witches. Hopefully this thread will help at least one person.
If you have questions/changes you wish to be answered/seen please refer to the bottom of this post.


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Common Questions:

What is a cold Crit Witch?

-A cold crit witch is a witch that specializes in the “ice” element. They attempt to lock down oppenents by trying to permanently freeze them in place.

Why should I play a Cold Crit Witch?

-You play a cold crit witch when you want to be able to “control” your enemies by imparing their movement capabilities. The thought process behind a Cold Crit Witch is “You can’t kill me if you can’t attack/catch me!”

Are Cold Crit Witches Strong?

-This question is quite difficult to answer. In terms of straight damage output, they are not as strong as a lightning based witch. In terms of control and survivablity, maybe. It depends on the player, if you don’t like to kite, then no. If you can kite, and know when to use spells, this build is extremely strong.

Should I play a Cold Crit Witch solo?

-You can if you want, be warned that until slightly higher levels (30-40) you will not have much in terms of damage. However, if you can survive Act 1 Normal (Cold resist heaven), it is pretty much “smooth” sailing until merciless.(other than vaal)

I want to face roll, can this build face roll enemies?

-PoE is not a game that you can face roll. Enemies will one shot you regardless of how beastly you are. Take Kripparian, he was the number one player in HC, had a godly build with godly items. He died due to a corpse explosion at full health.

What does CI mean?

-CI is short hand for the passive Chaos Inoculation.

Chaos damage? Whats that?

-Chaos damage is any form of damage that hits through Energy Shield. This is one of the more common forms of death in higher difficulties. And yes, poison is chaos damage.

I heard frozen enemies don’t drop loot when they shatter, is this true?

It was at one point, but only to crabs (As freezing them and killing them in their first form skipped their second form. Their first form had no drop table, only their second)
GGG patched it before OB released.

Why take throatseeker?

It is all in the wording of the node. The node says “% critical muliplier”.
Not “% crit chance”. Throatseeker raises the damage on a crit, not how often a crit will happen.

What rewards from dealing with the bandit quest should I take?

Normal – Take what ever reward you want. 40 mana will help with keeping up auras. 40 health will help with survival (ONLY TAKE IF GOING NON-CI). 8% resistance is nice for the rest of the playthrough. I would recommend health or resistances (mana only helps out early)

You may take the passive if you need to, but it is not as effective overall.

Regardless of what reward you take from normal, they all help you out. Don’t feel like you screwed yourself if you took the wrong reward.

Cruel – Take the Passive Node. Since you shouldn’t stack cast speed, the 4% cast speed from cruel will not be worth it. In fact, if you were to put this point into a crit chance/damage node, it would increase your dps more then taking a cast speed node, without the (very small) strain on your mana pool.

Merciless – Take the Passive Node. The power charge only helps if you are going to use power siphon. Which you shouldn’t so you won’t.

Does Chaos Inoculation (CI) work with Pain Attunement (PA)?

“PA-30% more damage when low on life”
Sadly it does not. Somewhere deep in the forums (if I am not mistaken) GGG posted somewhere that “low on life” means when you have 30% life remaining or lower. With CI it is NOT POSSIBLE to ever reach 30% life when your life pool is 1 out of 1, it is either 100% or 0%

Should I take bloodthirst?

If you ask yourself or someone else this question, then NO. If you have even a slight doubt of its usefulness then it most likely WILL hinder your build.

Why are you against Body and Soul?

ES is a far better defense against burst damage, which is what you will be hit with the most as a witch. If you take sustained damage all the time, your
a)not playing the build correctly (tanking)
b)Being “greedy”. You NEED to move after a few hits, the safest is one attack, then move.

It is also worth noting that armor is nice when getting hit by SMALL enemies. Lets say you have 5000 armor (granite flask, body and soul and some extra) and get hit for 500 damage, the 5000 armor will block 300 damage so 60% (this is an example and not exact). Then let’s say a boss hits your for 3k, that 5000 armor will NOT block 60%, rather something like 10%. Armor has diminishing returns.

The extra armor is only worthwhile against weaker mobs (white), with this build you shouldn’t be getting hit often by them anyways.

When do I take CI?

Multiple factors play into the answer to this question, there is no “set” answer, but I will try to give a basic guideline
Take CI when:
a)you have roughly 2-2.5k ES
b)you have a decent amount of movement speed and/or crit chance (in order to kite/run)
c)If chaos damage is killing you constantly

It is also worth noting that you CAN and most likely WILL take a point into it near the end of cruel. Don’t feel the need to keep it if you take it. One respec point doesn’t cost too much, so remove CI if it is hurting you more then helping.

Why is there no item section?

Since this build is covering multiple different builds, and eventually even more, it is difficult to make an “items” page. The reason being that every build needs different stats on items, as it stands now, a simple “good” stats section will have to do.

Note that I WILL be making an item section WHEN and IF I get the time.

You said earlier that X was good and Y was bad, now it’s changed. What gives?

I am a human, being so I am entitled to my own opinion, and said opinion can change.
Which it most likely has, based off of my own experience and/or facts presented by another source.

What stats should I get on items?

I can’t help you without your build and current items, even then it’s hard to say. A number of factors come into play here, which is why the item section has not been added.

A general rule of thumb that CAN be used for items is
-Based off of your build, what am I lacking?
-Aim to get the “lacking” stats on items.

To CI or not to CI…

One of, if not the most common (and annoying) arguemeents that presists on in the forums is whether or not CI is worth while. With the nerf the CI the skill became a battle ground between whether or not it is usable/viable or useless/garbage.

The nerf:

CI’s tool tip used to read roughly “Your maximum life becomes one. You are immune to chaos damage. +50% maximum energy shield”
Now CI’s tool tip reads “Your maximum life becomes one, you are immune to chaos damage”

To CI:
-Do not need maximum health/life regen on items.
-Can focus on Energy Shield as a main def
-immune to chaos damage
-potential to have extra passive points left over to spend in other areas (don’t need health nodes)
-Do not need health flasks (extra flask slots)
-Relies completely on ES
-Gear dependent
-High energy shield needed
-Cannot use health flasks
-No way to regen energy shields in battle (unless using ghost weaver/zealots oath)

To Not CI:
-Two forms of def (health and energy shield)
-Not as gear dependent
-Can use health flasks
-Energy sheild is not needed as heavily
-Can regen health without need of other skills
-Need to get health on gear (items become harder to get “ideal” stats on)
-Need to get both health and energy shield items (more stats needed on items)
-Need to get Chaos resistance, otherwise chaos damage is extremely deadly.
-Need health and energy shield nodes (potentially use more passives)
-Need health flasks (less flask slots)

It is up to you to decide on using CI or not

The Build:

Most of the cold builds that are floating around the forums are based off of a “core” cold build with their own “unique” spins. Here is the “basic” core build, I would recommend to creating your own.

Don’t base a build off of 111 points, try to go got 80-90 (ideally). If you “must” use all the points, figure out your own “core path”. These nodes will take priority over the rest.

I have NEVER made a build/The passive tree looks scary! and I want to try to make one.

Don’t fear, simply scroll down and look at the “basic builds” in the section you want (CI/Non-CI). Follow those builds, and when you are confident enough, mess around with them. They are designed PURPOSELY to be slightly flawed.
It’s a way to get new players to get their feet wet with making a build!

Double Checking your Build

These are some of the basic things you should look for when making your build:

Survivability: are there enough energyshield/health nodes for your choosen build (CI/Non-CI) so you don’t get one shotted by every mob? (You will be re-checking this every single stage of the game)

Damage: Criticals are your main form of damage. Do you have enough critical chance to be reliable in terms of freezing? Do you have enough crit damage/spell damage/elemental damage that your attacks actually do something?

Mana: Do you have enough mana/mana regen to run all your spells, or do you rely on mana flasks?

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Would you play with someone else who was doing as good/poorly as you are?

I’m lazy, can’t you just post some builds that I can copy?
I can, and I will. These builds may work for one person, but might not work for you.

CI builds

A “basic” CI builds

High survivability CI build using Body and Soul (Courtesy of kuromahou)

Hybrid (Health/ES) builds

A “basic” hybrid build

High survivability hybrid build (Courtesy of LACHIS) – Uses Body and Soul

Notable Passive Nodes:

When making a build, you should aim to get a few of these nodes. These are nodes are extremely helpful.

Witch Tree:

-Frost Walker
-Heart of Ice
-Throat Seeker
-Doom Caster
-Unnatural Calm
-Hex Master
-Whispers of Doom
-Inner Force
-40% mana regen node

Templar Tree:

-Celestial Walker
-Arcane Potency
-40% mana regen node
-7% reduced mana cost node

Shadow Tree:

-Mental Acuity
-Spell Power
-Nullification (near assassination node)


Passives that I am against:

Body and Soul – The 20% ES is AMAZING, but in most cases it is too far out of your main path to be worth it. For the 5 passives that it takes to get to it (giving a total of 28% ES), I can use those 5 to get 32% ES by going for the nodes in the centre of the tree. Don’t fool yourself about the 20% armor increase, it will not help you too much, unless you are plan on relying heavily on granite flasks. Like Bloodthirst only take them if you already pass by them, do not go out of your way for these.

Passives that can go either way:

Bloodthirst (and surronding nodes) – Bloodthirst are good nodes if you can take them without giving up too many passives. If you are heading towards the shadow tree, taking the nearby bloodthirst is almost always a good idea. The bloodthirst in the NW section of the tree is the exact opposite. In most cases the NW bloodthirst node is HORRIBLE. The amount of points put into that one node ends up hurting your build more then helping, the ONLY time I would consider taking it is IF I have extra points AFTER my build is done.

(In regards the the bloodthirst node near the shadow tree, sometimes you need to leave it alone for a while.)

The only reason you should leave this node behind is if you are starved on passive points. Sometimes it is better for you to take a shorter path now, and respec into the bloodthirst path at a later date.

When not to take bloodthirst – starved for points

When given a build that resembles the build above and your goal is to get Freeze in the shadow tree, you will ignore bloodthirst.

Looking at the middle build, taking bloodthirst requires 47 points in total, ending up at freeze.

While taking the bottom builds path ends with 44 points, allowing 3 to be used else where, such as into the crit nodes in the middle of the tree.
Some may argue “But taking bloodthirst gives you a total of 60% and only costs 3 more nodes! While skipping bloodthirst and using them in crit nodes only gives you 45%.

While this is true, on the way to freeze we also picked up a 30% crit node, mental acuity.
Another thing to note, if you skip blood thirst you can choose to drop 1-2 passives into the crit nodes near the middle of the tree. Using the remaining passives to go towards another part of the tree, where if you go bloodthirst your NEED to invest all three points in order to even make it worth while.

Note: Sometimes it is good to get bloodthirst near Shadow tree for extra crit chance for the time being, it may be wise to respec later if this the case. (A double respec, what a twist!)

Note: Unless you have a reason to be up by elemental equilibrium, DO NOT take that bloodthirst node, it is NOT WORTH IT!

When TO get it = have the points for it/respec’d/decided to go this way from the start

When given such a build where you DO NOT wish to take the middle of the tree, taking this path is ideal. It allows you to invest 2 points for 60% crit chance, not hindering your path at all.

In regards to the bloodthirst node near minion instablilty/elemental equilibrium. The only time I find it even reasonable to consider is if you are playing a partial summoner build. Even then, only take it if its on your way to minion instability.

Ghost Reaver – This skill should be gotten only if CI is taken. In most cases simply being able to kite/run is the best way to get ES back, however there are times where it is not possible and ghost reaver could save you. You need to ask yourself
a)Am I willing to spend the nodes to get to it?
b)Am I willing to spend more for gear with life leech?

If you answer yes to both, consider ghost reaver as a passive node that you may want to make part of your “core path”

Throat Seeker – This passive is a very, very nice passive, IF and ONLY IF it is gotten near the end of the build. Rushing this node hurts more then anything, when I first started I made this mistake as well. The extra crit damage given by said node and the nodes leading up to it causes you to LOSE dps compared to taking other crit CHANCE nodes.


Skill Gems:

Skills/Spells/support gems are needed for every single build. Who cares if you spec into ice if you only have fire spells?


Offensive Skills:

Freezing Pulse – This will be your “spammable” spell. You can use this spell for EVERYTHING. This skill is essentially the “core” to any Cold Crit Witch build.

Ice Spear – Another spell that you can “spam” if you wish, but it takes longer to cast. The main use of this spell is for single target damage against slower enemies that you can kite with ease or to attack an afar target hiding behind other enemies. (Such as necromancers/rangers)

Frostbite – Throw this up when ever you can. Provides you with extra damage, chance to freeze and a way past some cold resistance

Other Notable Skills:

Lightning Warp – This spell will save your life, it is not needed, by highly recommended. Get trapped in a corner? Warp behind the enemies. Need to kite in a small hallway? Warp past them and kite the opposite direction over and over.
The faster your movement speed, the faster Lighnting Warp will teleport you. In a jam, pop your best quicksilver flasks to escape.

Cold Snap – For some strong ranged damage. Can be used for single target or small groups. Cannot be spammed.

Frost Nova – Until you get lightning warp, run this skill. It is a “last resort” type of skill. Spam if your cornered and hope to get a crit.
Spell from another elemental tree – I recommend fire as you start out with it and deals decent damage. You would use this when an enemy resists cold and you can not do anything to it. These spells are more useful before you can get a cold penetration gem or frostbite gem, even afterwards there are still some rare cases where it can help.


Clarity – Clarity is a must have for any build that uses mana heavily. Only level it when you NEED mana regen. If you level it recklessly it will hurt your witch more then helping her.

Disicpline – Extra ES is nice, since your taking ES % nodes and items, the ES given is far higher then what the gem will state.

Other notable auras:

Purity – Elemental resistances are nice, I would recommend this as long as you can spare the mana. Level this AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. The mana cost will NOT raise but the % of resistances WILL.

Grace – Some people like it, I am not a big fan of it myself. But hey, if you have extra mana, why not throw it in? The more def the better.

Haste – Add’s movement speed and cast speed. Nice to have, but not recommended until higher levels when you can support the aura and the cast speed that it gives.

Support gems:

This is the hardest topic to cover in terms of skills. Everybody perfers their own support gems. I would recommend playing around with them and trying to find a combination that suits you.

Some notable support gems are:

Bolded Skills are used more often

-Added Cold Damage

Used on any offensive skill

Added Lightning Damage

Used on any offensive skill

Since you will be getting crits, added lightning damage will shock the enemy, adding more damage

Cold Penetration

Used on any COLD offensive skill

Mostly used when players don’t run frostbite and/or have an extra socket

-Faster Casting

Used on freezing pulse most often

CAN be used on ice spear.

Faster Projectiles

Used on freezing pulse, until a higher quality freezing pulse is gotten

This is a must on freezing pulse (can be replaced by crit chance support if needed)


Used on any offensive projectile skill

Use it only if you have an extra slot and no other gem


Increased Critical Damage

Used on any offensive skill MOST COMMON ON ICE SPEAR

Crit damage is < crit chance in most cases, the only exception is ice spear (or when you have a high amount of crit chance from gear/passives)

-Increased Critical Strikes

Used on any offensive skill OTHER THAN ICE SPEAR

This gem is worthless on ice spear, as ice spear already has an increased 600% chance to crit when it changes, only use this gem on ice spear if it’s the only support you have

-Mana Leech

Used on MAIN offensive skill

Lesser Multiple Projectiles (LMP)/Greater Multiple Projectiles (GMP)

Used on Ice Spear or Freezing Pulse

This gem is a must have on freezing pulse or ice spear. It is up to you to decide what skill you think it works better on. (have on both if you can support it)

In regards to LMP/GMP: Use LMP to level GMP, using a level 1 GMP will make the game horribly frustrating. Simply throw the GMP gem into an unused and unlinked socket to level it. YOU DON’T NEED TO USE A SKILL TO LEVEL IT, BUT YOU NEED TO HAVE IT IN A SOCKET ON AN ITEM THAT YOU ARE USING.

-Sometimes the LMP does more damage then the GMP, it’s up to you to decide.




Every character uses flasks, and in most guides are over looked. Flasks can make your “good” character become a “great” character. Flasks are EXTREMELY flexible, these are the “basic” flask set ups.

CI witches
-2 or 3 quicksilver flasks
-1 or 2 granite flasks
-0 or 1 mana flask

Non-CI witches
-1 or 2 quicksilver flasks
-1 or 2 granite flasks
-0 or 1 mana flask
-1 or 2 health flasks

properties on flasks (and what flask they are “best” on)
-Increased movement speed (quicksilver)
-Removed chilled/frozen (quicksilver)
-Stop burning (granite)
-Immune to curses (quicksilver or granite)
-Increased recovery effect (mana/health)
-Instant recovery (health)
-Restore charges (3 if possible) on critical hits (all)

Dual Wands vs Wand & Shield

The only time you should dual wand is if you come across a second wand that is VERY nice, that you can use to replace your shield. HOWEVER, in most cases the shield is more useful, as it can roll everything a wand can with ES as well.

Wand vs Daggers

Wands can roll the same stats as daggers and vice versa. A perfect dagger could, and probably will, out damage a perfect wand. However, there are more prefixes/suffixes that a dagger can roll then a wand could, making a perfect witch dagger far harder to get then a perfect wand.


This is the HARDEST topic of the whole “build”. There is no “right” items/stats to get. Items tend to be the “last resort” in terms of stats, anything your missing you aim to get on your items. Not enough damage? Get more crit chance/damage or spell damage. Not enough def? Get ES/health on items.

Stats that are always nice to have on items:
-Energy shield (more the marrier)
-Spell damage
-Critical damage/chance
-Maximum mana
-Mana regen
-Maximum health (non-CI)



Thats about it, if there is anything I should change/add, send me a message. If you have any questions post them below, I or (hopefully) someone else can answer. The more common questions will be thrown up into the Common Question section.
Looking for input from higher level Cold Crit Witchs that have compeleted merciless and witches who are playing HardCore

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1 Response

  1. autu says:

    There is great witch guide

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