Path of Exile Deep Delving Guide

by mo_rs

  1. Preliminary Info
    1. I will be assuming that you’ve more or less picked a build, and that the build you’ve picked is at least somewhat capable of off screening nodes. At the time of writing (3.11), the current delve meta for deeper depths revolves around delivering your damage without being in line of sight. My personal build recommendation would be for Ice Shot Mines, as it is the strongest solo delve build at the moment, and has a very smooth gear scaling curve.
    2. I will be assuming that you’ve done your homework and watched CAJOOS Pathing Guides. Pathing is probably the single thing that separates excellent delvers from everyone else. If you can always know where the cart will go, you will become a much better delver nearly instantaneously. It’s that important.
    3. You have some level of awareness as to how difficult and grindy delve is. Oftentimes, delvers are asked what they can do to survive with 100 ES. The answer is always “don’t get hit”. Though often received as a joke, this is the truth. You have to be ready to manually dodge EVERYTHING, as ANYTHING will one shot you. On top of this, the push to 6K depth is the most difficult finite grind in Path of Exile. Even the very fastest players require roughly 2 weeks to push to 6K, while playing 16 hours a day.
  2. Introduction

If you’ve opted to learn delving, chances are that you’ve seen how much money can be made, or you’re interested in challenging yourself by tackling the hardest content that the game has to offer. 

  1. Why ZHP?
    1. At a certain point, you simply don’t have the damage required to progress, or the ability to mitigate incoming damage. If you were to focus on the mitigation aspect, you would completely lack damage on any nodes where killing is required. So, we go to ZHP. CI protects us from Chaos Degens, and Aberath pantheon protects us from burning ground. The rest comes down to avoidance mechanics and manual dodging. ZHP is the only way to go deep other than immunity.
  2. The significance of 6K Depth
    1. At 6000 Depth, delve stops scaling entirely. This can be seen through PoEDB’s Delve scaling chart. In addition to this, mods stop spawning. As such, the delve community has more or less decided that 6000 Depth equates to “beating” delve.
  3. Sustaining Sulphite
    1. Most of your sulphite is sustained through scarabs, and you will often just open maps, grab nodes of sulphite, and leave. This is sustainable due to the high profit margins from rare fossils and azurite once you reach reasonable depths (roughly 1500). Alternatively, you can do rotas in global 840, though I personally can’t recommend this for anyone going deep, as you lose overall time efficiency.
      1. Additionally, when you’re grabbing sulphite out of hundreds of maps a day, it becomes efficient to level a Pathfinder to roughly the mid 70s, and create a speed run sulphite character.
        1. Sulphite Runner POB: 
  4. Motivations
    1. In either case, I’ll try to go over the economics of a delve push, as well as how to break down the complex problems into digestible pieces.
      1. Economics
        1. While delving can be fantastic money, the economics of a delve push at the start of the league can be tricky to manage. The general wisdom is that you want to play some tanky build until about 800, while saving enough money that you can transition to a ZHP build + burn currency until about 1300. At 1300, you will start to sustain fossils. The single most important thing to dramatically boost your spending power during a league start delve push, is LEARN TO DO AUL. Ideally, you should learn to do Auls on ZHP the league before you plan to push. At the start of the league, an absolutely terrible Uprising (Purities are my go-to example) can go for 3-4 exalts. Compare this to later in the league where the same amulets become worthless. Learning to do Auls on both your tanky build and your ZHP build will drastically improve your ability to fund yourself. This can also allow for earlier transitions. Anecdotally, in 3.10, I transitioned at 550 and funded my entire push to 1300 with a single Malevolence Uprising. During that push, I made a mirror in Aul amulets and used them to fund my chain quiver. Having a chain quiver at 1500 depth, as well as being able to sustain in the first week or two of the league solely by delve is exceptionally powerful. Additionally, having a transitional build, such as Herald of Agony Raider, in the same class as your ZHP build (HoA Raider would transition to Scourge Arrow or Ice Shot Mines), is VERY efficient. You will be able to level and push at the same time, all while saving money for your eventual transition to ZHP. One of the pitfalls of this strategy is that if you transition too early, you won’t be able to do maps anymore. As such, try to have more money than you think you need to hit the magic number of 1300 depth. I’ll be covering how to generate more value from delve in-depth later, but the basics boil down to managing your push economics well, and learning to do Auls.
      2. Challenge
        1. Addressing the challenging aspects of delve has two major facets. First, is build choices. While damage can help solve problems in delve, there are certain quality of life options that are irreplaceable. It is important to be aware of when it’s okay to sacrifice damage for more quality of life.The most notable current example is the ability to knock enemies back. Knockback can knock rares into darkness, effectively killing them, as they become inactive. It can also pin scary enemies to walls and allow you to delete them. Additionally, there is mistake insurance mechanics, such as blind, dodge, and chill or freeze. Each of these has value in helping you recover from mistakes easier. While I cannot address all of these separately, and many of these choices fall to subjective preferences.
  5. Mechanics
    1. Line of Sight
      1. Understanding what obstacles are capable of breaking line of sight will go an exceptionally long way in helping understand what viable hiding spots exist on nodes. This is easily identifiable through terrain. It is important to note that this method of identification will not always identify all pieces of terrain that break Line of Sight, but if a piece of terrain meets this criteria it will always break line of sight. 
        1. This image, courtesy of Moth (, shows a hiding spot for Azurite 3, in Petrified Forest. The way to tell that this spot breaks line of sight, is by seeing that the top of the terrain south of him is completely black. This method can be used to determine any terrain which breaks Line of Sight. If a mob is on the other side of any terrain with a solid black top, it breaks line of sight (credit for explanation of this method to PSR2). 
        2. For a larger collection of hiding spots, Mothra’s discord ( has detailed spots for most major nodes in every biome. However, this will allow you to learn to improvise finding a spot, which is an invaluable skill to hone over time.
    2. Pathing
      1. While I briefly mentioned CAJOOS Pathing Guide, there are a few more nuances to learning how to path efficiently. The most common mistake people make is assuming that it’s necessary to kill everything on the path to the node.
        1. How much should I kill?
          1. You should only ever kill the minimum amount required to maintain your flasks. To this end, it’s also important to understand that any source of “increased Flask Charges Gained” reduces the amount that you need to kill while on path. Make sure you use a quartz flask, or some other means of phasing, as well as that you have sufficiently high movement speed (Roughly 160% is the cutoff). The phasing flask will allow you to pass through mobs you’re not killing, and the high movement speed will allow you to move faster than mobs can realistically register you. If you find yourself full clearing on the way to the node, you’re being inefficient. Also, while it’s possible to maintain a high success rate while killing everything on path, it cuts down on how quickly you can push, as you’re simply spending more time to complete a given node than someone who is pathing efficiently. This can add up over the course of a day or a week or a league of delving, and can put you in a position of either having to grind harder to keep up, or simply be behind, and make less currency as a result. 
          2. An Example of conservative killing on path
            1. From my own YouTube channel: Pathing at 4700
              1. Note, while I may not be perfectly maintaining my flasks or killing only as needed, I am leaving a lot of mobs alive.
    3. Knockback
      1. While knockback is not strictly necessary in delve, it is, in my opinion, the most powerful piece of utility available to a delve build. If we think of each delve node as a game board, then we can understand knockback as a means of moving pieces other than yourself. This makes it an EXTREMELY potent tool, as without it, you are only able to move yourself on the game board. The most obvious application of this powerful repositioning is on Molten Cavity nodes. 
        1. Storm Brand Example
        2. Ice Shot Mines Example
          1. As you can see, knockback is capable of making an otherwise difficult node entirely trivial.
    4. Flares
      1. Flares are exceptionally important as a delver. They are your life line when you’re off screening. While some spots don’t require the use of flares, most will. Most of the time, when you’re completing a node, it will be important to throw flares at your feet to avoid darkness damage. Because darkness does a minimum flat amount of damage, followed by an increasing percentage damage, you can buy yourself more time to flare your feet by investing into Flat ES Regen Jewels. While these are not strictly necessary, they are a huge Quality of Life improvement. Finally, as your cart radius gets lower on your approach down to 6K, you will need to use your flares more and more intelligently to set up on nodes. As such, it is important to continue to upgrade them (upgrade prioritization will be covered later on in-depth). 
    5. Dynamite
      1. Dynamite is the single most underutilized tool in all of delve. Many people don’t understand how powerful it is. The basics of dynamite are as follows:
        1. Dynamite has 3 upgrade-able qualities: Radius, Maximum, and Damage. Due to how cheap these upgrades are in comparison to how much value they contribute, any excess azurite that you have available should be funnelled into maxing out dynamite ASAP. The stun mechanic of dynamite can save entire nodes, burn entire phases of delve bosses, and allow you to save situations that are otherwise irredeemable. It is that powerful. Additionally, at full upgrade, the percentage damage of dynamite is so potent that it is capable of trivializing the second 50% of Architect AND Aul at extremely deep depths. Not only this, but on Lich, it is capable of ENTIRELY SKIPPING the Purple Phase. If at any point you run into a difficult situation during delve and you need to bail yourself out, dynamite should be the first tool that you consider.
  6. Specific Nodes
    1. Fossil Nodes
      1. While I cannot reasonably go over all nodes and their potential rewards in a reasonable amount of time, it is important to be aware of the value that certain nodes have. While fossil prices fluctuate between and within leagues, it’s important to be aware of the names of the 6 rare fossil nodes, as they are always at least semi-valuable, and are typically your main source of consistent income. The methods shown here are reproducible means of clearing the nodes (with the exception of Crystal Spire, as I don’t have a better clip for when you can’t fully burn the Spire)
        1. Fungal Caverns = Haunted Tomb = Tangled Fossil
        2. Magma Fissure = Molten Cavity = Faceted Fossil
        3. Frozen Hollow = Time-Lost Cavern = Glyphic Fossil
        4. Abyssal Depths = Crystal Spire = Hollow Fossil
        5. Sulphur Vents = Humid Fissure = Fractured Fossil
        6. Petrified Forest = Stonewood Hollow = Bloodstained Fossil
    2. Other Valuable Nodes
      1. On your way down, simply push as quickly as you can, only pathing out of your way to get to Auls early (as Uprisings are always valuable early on in a league, due to their build enabling nature). Be aware of fossil prices once you hit around 1300 depth and figure out a rule of thumb for how far you’re willing to path for fossils. Some people path 2, 3, 4, or even 5 nodes away. This is personal preference, just go for as many fossils as you feel like while still pushing your way down. At about 2000, you’re at a comfortable farming depth, and can side delve if you want, or you can continue to push for better fossil density. From here on, every 500 depth is a good milestone for stopping and farming, if you don’t want to continue pushing. At around 3500, it’s worth starting to target Primeval Cities, as they can contain Azurite Boxes. These can give multiple exalts worth of Azurite if you’re able to find a box labelled as “Prehistoric Ore.” At 4500, it becomes worthwhile to target Azurite Fissures, as they give multiple exalts worth of Azurite per node on completion. Beyond this, simply target whatever you want to make money, and focus on whatever depth goal or money goal you’ve set for yourself.
    3. Boss Nodes
      1. Generally, Auls are worth doing until Immunity Duos start offering carry services. Following this, don’t bother unless you want to do an Aul for fun, or are being blocked by one.
      2. If the Map that Architect drops is valuable, it is worth doing him. Otherwise, he is not a valuable node and should be skipped.
      3. Kurgal’s drops are almost always worthless and he should be skipped except for personal pride in killing a deep Lich, or a challenge completion.
      4. Examples of each boss in full, with no speed mods, at around 5000 Depth:
        1. Aul
        2. Architect
        3. Lich
      5. These bosses are more or less down to practice once you’re aware of the methods for killing them. 
  7. Personal Advice
    1. While there is a lot of powerful technical information that can be useful during a delve push, there are also things that don’t fall into that category which I’ve found to be anecdotally useful. 
      1. Watch and Learn
        1. Watching people who are more experienced than you, and understanding why they make certain choices, can go a long way in understanding how to become a better delver. To this end, I would recommend watching the delve streams of any of the following:
          1. (Streams every weekend)
          3. (Korean Stream)
          4. (Streams very rarely)
          5. (Unique play style, not always the best idea to replicate; sometimes streams duo)
          6. (Portuguese/Eng stream)
          8. If you think I missed someone who should be on this list, let me know and I’ll add them. I’ve added contact info at the bottom of this document.
      2. Tilt
        1. While this mostly boils down to understanding how you respond to tilt, it is often wise to take a break and let yourself cool off. Delving can be extremely frustrating. I’ve sent countless DMs to friends complaining about bullshit deaths, unculled rares and bosses, missed fossils, lag, disconnects, you name it. Take a break. At the end of the day, it’s a game. If you’re not enjoying yourself, take a few hours, days, or weeks. Come back to it when you want to. I promise you that your push will feel a million times better once you de-tilt or take a break.
      3. Pace
        1. Pacing yourself is important. Set realistic depth goals per day, week, month, or league, and try to reach them. The more you plan, the better off you’ll be. A good starting pace is about 100 depth a day. A good fast pace for normal people is about 250 depth a day. An extremely fast pace is about 500 depth a day. Pick whatever depth goal suits your style, and try to stick to it. If you’re short of your daily goal, make up for it later if you can. Delve is a long grind, so it’s more important to be consistent than to have massive bursts of grinding followed by complete and utter burnout.
  8. Closing Remarks
    1. Discord Handle
      1. Mo#0002
      2. If you wanna suggest a change or think I missed something, ping me on discord or join /global 6000 and we can talk about it!
    2. Shoutouts
      1. Big thanks to Mothra, PSR2, ABVT, Mhoo, Minkyu, Jin, Zimax, Nangmyun, and Cloudy for helping me figure all this shit out and being general bros when it comes to delving.
      2. Also a HUGE thank you to Varga, Plushies, Amigo, and RubyRed for providing me with this platform in TFT to help people get more involved in learning how to delve
    3. Discords to Join
      1. – The Forbidden Trove, #1 Discord for any high level PoE discussion, as well as buying and selling services :)
      2. – Mothra’s Stream Discord, lots of resources and a bunch of cool folks to talk delve with :)

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