Path of Exile Tips and Tricks: Playing Your First Marauder [Tank Build]

Updated on December 22, 2016
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Introduction

Now that Path of Exile is in Open Beta, chances are that you are looking for guides for the best class of the game. Well, it is my humble opinion that there is no best class in Path of Exile thanks to the variety of builds that the passive skill tree offers for each class. This particular hub is aimed at beginners who have just started playing Path of Exile and want tips and tricks for playing the Marauder. I will walk you through the build that got me through the entirety of Act 1 without dying a single time.

So, scroll down and get to reading!

Overview

The Marauder is a hard-hitting class and the pure Strength character class of Path of Exile. The Marauder is built to both take and deal punishment; the ability to do both of those things determined by the specific path you take down the passive skill tree.

Life Or Melee Damage?

When your Marauder gets his first passive skill point on level-up, you will have to make a choice that will define your character for levels to come. Do you want to tank with your Marauder, or do you want to deal extra melee damage with your Marauder? Here's a table listing pros and cons for each over-arching choice.

 
Pros
Cons
Life
You can take considerably more punishment. You also get some life regeneration passives so that you're not a complete slave to Health Flasks. More breathing space for newer players.
Your potential DPS (damage per second) is hindered, since you're focusing on making yourself more resilient, which equals less passive points to invest in melee passives. If you're farming for items, you'll probably prefer to have a damage build.
 
 
 
Melee Damage
You can hit much harder with your weapon of choice. Who cares if you can't take a whole lot of punishment if you're inflicting a lot of pain every time you land a blow? Also, the Marauder's easy access to Strength passives allows you to mitigate some of the downsides of not taking a tankier build. More efficient build for more experienced players.
You're squishier than a tank build. Your access to health regeneration will be worse than if you focus on life.

It goes without saying that you can build a hybrid build, but this hub is going to talk about the first thirty levels (give or take) of the tank Marauder build.

See, if you have just started playing Path of Exile, I'd just like to say that it is pretty hardcore. Not in a "you will die in two hits" hardcore, but you can't allow yourself to be surrounded by mobs of monsters for a long period of time and hope to survive either. Building tanky allows you to survive said situations for a longer period of time.

In fact, I daresay that the tank Marauder build is one of the easiest builds to play for your first character. It reduces the risk of sudden death by enemy attack, and has natural life regeneration built in, so your reliance on health flasks is reduced. Once you get Blood Magic, you can fill your entire belt with Health Flasks and not have to worry about mana ever again.

So, here's another helpful table. This one will list the order in which I allocated my own passive skill points, up to the encounter with the Act 1 Boss (I was Level 17 when I finally defeated her).

Skill Allocations for Act 1

Point Number
Passive Skill Point Allocated To
1
Life
2
Life
3
Life Regeneration
4
Life
5
Life
6
Troll's Blood (1.5% maximum health regeneration
7
Armour
8
Armour
9
Armour Mastery (18% increased Armor and 2% increased movement speed)
10
Flask Life
11
Flask Life
12
Heart of the Gladiator (+30 maximum life, 20 Strength)
13
Strength
14
Diamond Skin (+15% to all resistances)
15
Strength
16
Strength
17
Strength
18
Strength

Link to the Passive Skill Allocations of my Marauder (up to Level 30)

Now that I have played more Path of Exile, I have passed the 30th level. Click on any part of this sentence to see what the passive skill tree looks like for me now.

So, where can you go from here?
Well, everyone has their own opinions and playstyles, but here's where I would like to go.

  • I am personally looking to get Armour Master, as well as the bonuses to armor and life regeneration located near the bottom of the skill tree. Afterward, I'll gauge my axe usage, and possibly start getting some extra physical damage (given that I have Blood Drinker, I always have at least 2% life steal; more physical damage means that I drain more which makes me tankier by proxy.)
  • If you care not about Evasion, you may consider getting Unwavering Stance. However, you lose one of the more important reasons to get Dexterity, and Dexterity is useful for just about any build thanks to the bonus accuracy, so I'm personally not going to get it.
  • If I veer off into Dexterity-land, I can eventually get another stack of Diamond Skin, so that's another viable choice for my next dozen or so passive skill points.

Tips and Tricks for the Tank Marauder

Here's a bulleted list of helpful tips and tricks that have helped me with playing a tank Marauder so far:

  • The first few active skill gems you get will not be essential for a Tank Marauder build.
  • The first active skill gem that you will see that is useful for a tank build is Molten Shell. In essence, the skill encases you with a molten shield that increases your armor for ten seconds. If you take more than a predetermined amount of damage within those ten seconds, then the shell explodes, dealing fire damage to all surrounding enemies. Extra armor and a minor crowd control component, what's not to like?
  • Near the end of the first act, you will get your first support gem. Definitely pick the gem that grants life on hit, as it helps you tank enemies for longer periods of time. I like to add the life on hit effect to my Heavy Strike gem, but your mileage may vary.
  • Since you're going to be heavily invested in Strength (more Strength equals more Life), the best type of weapons to use are axes. Swords tend to either be both Str/Dex or pure Dexterity in this game. I've seen plenty of maces, but a fair number of them are Str/Int. I think clubs are pure Strength, but I haven't seen too many of those in my playthrough.
  • You will want to use three health flasks and two mana flasks. Since mana isn't as big a concern as your health is, you can afford to use a Bubbling Mana Flask for one of your two mana flasks slots (Bubbling Flasks halve the recovery effect and time, but also remove the Frozen and Chilled debuffs).
  • It goes without saying, but don't hesitate to use your flasks if need be! Remember that enemies give charges towards refilling your flasks when you kill them.
  • Try not to get yourself surrounded by extremely hard monsters, such as Elites (yellow text named monsters) and Uniques (gold text named monsters). If in doubt, feel free to run away until your life regeneration passives do their thing!
  • Use a shield! This is non-negotiable! Leave the two-handed weapon shenanigans for those Marauders who decide to build their melee damage instead of their life and armor! Having a Shield grants you extra armor and a chance to block enemy attacks.
  • Consider building into Blood Magic as soon as possible. You can reach Blood Magic before level 30 if you don't deviate into side branches of the skill tree to much. What does Blood Magic do? Well, it zeroes out your mana and makes you use Life to use your skills. That sounds bad in theory but, in practice, you're a Tank Marauder! You're stacking life (and armor, never forget the armor, especially later on) bonuses with no regard for anything else! Getting Blood Magic lets you dedicate all five flask slots to life flasks and do away with all considerations of mana.
  • To beat the Act 1 boss, you will need some Cold Resistance. Diamond Skin starts you off, but I recommend having at least 40%. This is easily doable if you purchase, find, or otherwise acquire a Sapphire Ring (grants at least 20% Cold Resistance) as well as having the aforementioned passive skill.
  • During Act 2, you will eventually get the Enduring Cry gem. This is one of the first skills you can get in Path of Exile to grant Endurance Charges (each Endurance Charge grants 5% damage reduction from physical and magical types of damage; you can stack up to 3 Endurance Charges initially and can stack more if you invest in the appropriate passive skills). What this skill does is taunt enemies and grants Endurance Charges proportional to the amount of enemies you affect with the skill. While this skill is obviously better if you're playing with other people, the fact that it taunts will actually be quite useful even in a solo run. It will reduce the amount of chasing you have to do when facing ranged enemies.
  • Throughout Act 2, my skill staples were Enduring Cry, Heavy Strike, and Molten Shell. If you play your cards right, you should never die to most enemy formations. I start my engagements by using Molten Shell. I close in and use Enduring Cry to bring the enemies to me, and then I spam Heavy Strike.

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Conclusion

I hope that this guide of tips and tricks for the tank Marauder has helped you figure out how to play (one variant of) this class in Path of Exile. Feel free to talk about your preferred builds in the comments section, or just give alternate takes on how you can make a tanky Marauder.

Feedback on the long-term viability of this build from more experienced players is also appreciated. Of course, failing that, I'll eventually figure out if this build makes the grade or not. Rest assured that I'll let you all know in due time! ;)

Until the next time, take care and have fun! ;)

-Winterfate

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Noiche 

        5 years ago

        Great hub. For anyone starting out, or trying to tank for the first time, I'd definitely follow a majority of this. My few pointers to this are:

        1-The skill gems you get at the beginning aren't useless at all. You get Ground Slam, you're heaviest hitting melee AoE ability, and Leap Slam a little later, which is an amazing initiation/escape with medium damage.

        2-I don't recommend picking up Blood Magic too early. You need a good amount of life/regen to effectively supply the mana cost for your skills, and if you want to run any auras, this will be out of the question for a long time, if at all. Move down the passive tree and get the str node in front of Blood Magic, that way you can pick it up at any time, but definitely not early. It's much easier to use 1 mana flask and spam AoEs to refill it quickly or Heavy Strike on single targets. Another point to this is there's Blood Magic gems you can get instead of the skill, making only certain things use life, and giving you mana for your auras :)

        3-2hand is the best way to go throughout normal difficulty. Armor means very little this early on cause mob don't do crazy physical damage (except Kole in act 3). If you get max every resistance, or at least 60%, then you will take very little damage. Still build life/regen for the tanky side, but use a 2hand to effectly 1shot all white mobs and sometimes even champion/rares. Your shield will become more useful once you've gotten into cruel, but only on hard hitting single mobs or huge groups. Definitely still keep a strong 2hand as your off weapon to dispatch of things quickly if you're having 0 trouble wherever you're at.

        Once again, a solid guide to follow for a solid player and tank. I only change these things from experience. I play my marauder in hardcore, and use a 2hand still until much later on, and have absolutely no trouble staying alive. The difference in difficulty from normal-cruel-merciless is very large, so once you've beaten normal, definitely weigh your options and plan accordingly depending on your play style and build and how comfortable you are.

      • MountainManJake profile image

        MountainManJake 

        5 years ago from Seattle

        Path of Exile ended up being a boring game with the lack of an interesting story line. You just fight through endless hordes of creeps that pose no threat to you. While I enjoy the free to play approach, the gigantic skill tree and the gameplay, it leaves me asking for more. Good hub! Voted up!

      • fpmpuddle profile image

        Puddle 

        5 years ago from United States

        Nice job! I have used a Marauder build similar to this, and I have to say, Path of Exile has been a lot of fun so far! I look forward to getting further into Act 3 and trying out some new classes that I haven't played (basically every class except Marauder). Again, nice job on this guide.

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