SMK's Fire Minion Build Tips & Tricks (+ Planner / Loot Filter)

After discussing Fire Minion Necromancer quite a bit here on the forum, I realized that a lot of people might not realize what’s out there to try and to do with this build. If you’ve been struggling to make it work or have just run out of ideas about how to make this fun for yourself, hopefully this post will inspire you a little bit.

Let the barbeque begin. :fire:


  1. Essential Items
  2. Nice-To-Have Items
  3. Abilities
  4. Passives
  5. Build Variations / Ideas
  6. Other Thoughts

Essential Items

Here’s what I consider to be must-have’s if you’re trying to have fun with Fire Minions. Some of these are exalted items, so you will eventually just put that same buff on an item with Legendary Potential, but I assume in this guide you don’t have those and won’t see them drop any time soon, since they’re very-lategame items.

  1. Exalted Item With Bone Golem Buff

It goes without saying that this is an extremely desirable buff. Considering you can have up to three of those badboys out at a time (more on that later) and that they keep agro off of you more than any other pet, keeping them alive is key. This buff makes that infinitely easier. You should obviously bring any of these types of skill-specific buffs when you can get them, but this one is especially helpful.

  1. Arboreal Circuit

This is a great item for the same reasons. In addition to helping to keep you alive with giving you that Illusory Tree chance, it’s an item that is easy to find. It drops off a specific hidden boss very early on in the game. In fact, I’ve seen it drop off the first boss in the game on other characters. If you happen to have two of them, not a bad idea to wear both until you find Ribbons of Blood, then swap one out for it.

  1. Ribbons of Blood

This item is really the linchpin in keeping your minions alive lategame. Once you get this, lots of possibilities open up. It doesn’t hurt that it also makes it easier for you to stay alive. Even if it doesn’t have minion fire damage on it, this is still an extremely useful item.

  1. Sinathia’s Dying Breath + Sinathia’s Ressurection

You might have to wait awhile to see these, but once you do, they fill massive gaps in your stats. You can take a lot of idols you were using for resistances off and start focusing on damage. It helps that this also makes your minions critical immune and much tougher against things like bosses and AOE damage.

  1. Grand Idols (3x1)

These are your best friends for damage. You can get them in this flavor, which will make your Wraiths poison harder if that’s the route you choose to go. But they can also drop with other useful buffs like reduced Transplant cooldown, which is always nice to have. You can also find them with physical minion damage for the second effect, though I’ve never seen one. Might be a more rare drop.

  1. Isadora’s Tomb Binding

At first glance, this set item seems unglamorous, but don’t be fooled: The increased cast speed and % armor bonus, on top of 280-ish base armor, makes this a must-have for any earlygame Necromancer. I still run this on mine. The durability you gain from this not-that-rare set item will keep you alive and make resummoning your minions when forced to much less dangerous.

  1. Damned Souls With Increased Minion Damage Buff

This item starts showing up later on in the campaign or Monolith, but even as a regular rare item can have extremely good stats for Fire Minion builds if you roll the implicit high enough, as you can see here. I still run this item because the minion fire damage buff is so much nicer than other buffs I have available. This would be even better if it dropped as an Exalted with the purple buff on minion damage or another specific minion + minion damage affix.

  1. Logi’s Hunger

This is definitely a desirable lategame item, for all self-explanatory reasons. Later on when you start using Dragonflame Edict, more of its stats will come into play, though not to any dramatic effect. However, it’s a perfectly righteous item on its own.

Nice-To-Have Items

In addition to the core items above, there’s a lot of less important items that are useful earlygame before you get the ones above. Additionally, any fun or helpful items here can change the way you play your build. Here are a few of my favorites.

  1. Dragoneflame Edict

This item is one of the most fun and badass items for a Fire Minion build. The interesting thing about this is that it gives you more to do, because of the dragonflame nova chance. This works especially well with Volatile Zombie, even if you aren’t using it specialized, as we’ll see later. You’re giving up a lot of durability here, but it could be ideal super-lategame when all you’re worried about is getting more damage on top of your maxed out Legendary Potential items.

Notice also that this will give Death Knights a chance to ignite, which starts to widen the gap between them and Pyromancers even further.

  1. Boneclamor Barbute

If you don’t yet have a helmet with helpful stats as in section one, subbing this one in isn’t a bad option. This is a lot of durability and the item itself isn’t that uncommon for a unique. There are certain bosses this can definitely help you stay alive against.

  1. Exalted Item With Minion Health Regen Buff

Say you haven’t gotten any good items with buffs for one of your other slots: This is a very helpful one in general. It’s not a must since it becomes irrelevant later on. However, this can help you keep your minions alive, if you haven’t managed to stack up enough armor and healing buffs to keep them alive consistently yet.

  1. Oak Sceptre With Minion Physical Damage Buff

Early on, this can be a very helpful item to have and is fairly easy to find. You can roll the stats high enough that it makes it much easier to level up until you can get better items like Reach of the Grave.

  1. Reach of the Grave

This is a great item to keep an eye out for early on, especially if you’re running Skeleton Archers. This will help you out quite a bit on the way to higher levels, so it’s worth mentioning.

  1. Boulderfists

This another one of those not-that-unusual unique items that can be really helpful earlygame. Don’t let the melee stats dissuade you: If you’re just playing through the campaign or starting Monolith, this can be a big defensive boost for an otherwise flimsy Acolyte, until you find gloves with higher stat contribution.

  1. Pebble’s Collar

Any and all of the Pebble’s Set is fine and will serve until you find other items. This one in particular happens to be pretty common and as a relic, can fill a void in your gear until Damned Souls start dropping. I ran with this one a long time myself because other better options weren’t appearing yet.

  1. Aaron’s Will

This one is a little complex. But don’t worry; I’ll have an entire section later under builds devoted to how and why I use this thing. I enjoy using it but your mileage may vary.


This is where I’ll start getting into what abilities and nodes you’ll want to use:

  1. Bone Golem (Pyre Golem)

This is, without a doubt, the main thing keeping you alive in this build. Since Abomination doesn’t deal fire damage, we mostly won’t use him for Fire Minions, which means the main thing pulling threat and keeping stuff off of you is this ability.

Here’s an example of how I run mine:

Early on, you may want more points in Bladed Fists or Amalgam of Sentinels, which you would probably pull from a few of the fire damage nodes in the top right. If you’re only running one golem, Fragments of the Fallen might also be a good choice.

But in either case, don’t skimp on Amalgam of Primalists, Hunger or Tower of Bones. These help keep your other minions alive and enemy agro off of you.

  1. Archer Skeletons with Fire Arrow

This is a high damage output ability but the annoyance of resummoning them becomes tedious. I still have the ability slotted for Aaron’s Will purposes. Here’s how I build mine, regardless:

I don’t use Dread Phalanx generally but it’s probably a good idea to have. If I ran Archer Skeletons more, this is probably something I would consider using. However, it doesn’t synergize well with Immortal, so that’s something to consider. It does however with Multishot, which is another good option that I probably underutilize. Definitely bring the passive Effigies for this one.

  1. Flame Wraiths

Using this ability is fairly annoying because you need a 5% chance to happen where you manage to summon both of your permanent wraiths as Flame Wraiths. However, once you manage to, they rarely die so you don’t have to do it again very often. This is how I set up having two permanent Flame Wraiths:

There’s nothing here I would really run differently earlygame, except maybe to put a few more points in Haunting instead of later nodes in order to help Wraiths stay alive. However, Grave Reality is great for this by itself at endgame.

  1. Death Knights

Pyromancer is also acceptable for Skeletal Mages, but Death Knight attack speed and melee fire damage totally outstrips them in terms of overall damage. Pyromancer is convenient and probably a better choice against certain bosses, but I haven’t had any issues running Death Knight against everything. Pyromancer and Death Knight both die about the same amount of time earlygame also, since both end up in AOE damage and both depend on the same mechanism of criting to get their health back in order to stay alive. Here’s how I run mine:

There’s not a lot to play around with here, except that if you go Pyromancer instead, you definitely want to drop points on Putrid Essence, Flame Rot and one or two into Splintered Dominion. These are all helpful against various encounters, and ignite becomes much more important to that spec.

The one thing I would say here for Death Knights though, is do not skimp on Flaming Attacks.

  1. Transplant

While sometimes not as helpful playing online, Transplant is still pretty much essential for Acolyte in terms of staying alive. It’s no different with Fire Minions. This is the standard setup I use a lot:

The one thing you can play with on builds later is using one point from any particular node to drop into Simulacrum. This will allow you to summon Blood Skeletons which can die and bestow Mark for Death debuffs on major enemies and bosses and replenish your Skeletal Vanguards, via a few points in Mark of Punishment and Dark Retribution. If you’re not running Volatile Zombie to fill this purpose for whatever reason, this might be a good decision.

While kiting, you can drop Transplant with Thanatophobia in the middle of a group of approaching enemies or just throw out Transplant to get Bone Armor and lower the amount of damage you’re about to take. Both tactics help. Don’t forget to actually use your Transplant. You can make good use of it even when it’s not yet a life-or-death situation.

  1. Volatile Zombie

This might be my favorite ability but I’m not running it as a specialization right now, so this is what my Volatile Zombie page looks like currently:

However, if I did have it specialized as in the past, I would use Flammable Vitae, both points of Ravenous as well as Vital Ward, max out Forceful Commander, drop at least two points in Daunting Blast and then balance points between Grave Attunement and Fervor.

The interesting thing about this is that even without specialization, Volatile Zombie can still stun, deal a little damage and proc both Mark of Punishment and Dark Retribution, which means if you’re running Skeletons for extra golems with Aaron’s Will, you can slot it instead and still use it. I’ll describe that more later.

  1. Infernal Shade / Dread Shade

These are abilities you won’t see me using here because in my estimation, they don’t really do enough to fit into this build. You could probably use Infernal Shade specialized instead of Volatile Zombie or Flame Wraiths, if you really wanted to, but I don’t see any compelling reason that you should over either of those two abilities. I would mainly use this when you’re bored to death of either of those.

For Dread Shade, I’ve discovered it’s impossible as of right now to aim at face plates in order to put it on the correct target consistently. But even if you could, it just doesn’t give enough back to make up for not having a different minion slotted here. I’m sure someone somewhere has a very specific build for this ability, but I’m not sure it really fits into Fire Minions.


I’ll start by showing you how I have my passives set up currently, and then go into describing a few I think might get ignored / passed over that are really good for Fire Minions so you can consider giving them a shot.

The main idea here really is to have as much fire / elemental damage as possible. I also put points in Mortal Tether to the point at which I notice my minions not dying nearly as often. Eight points seems to work well for this. I also pick up Apocrypha in Lich just because the mana regen is very helpful when spamming abilities like Volatile Zombie.

Consider the following passives:

  1. Effigies

There are a lot of merits to this passive. It can help keep you alive, which is basically the only get-out-of-jail move for Acolyte. But the increased bow and fire damage is bonkers. If you’re running a Fire Minions build, there’s basically no reason not to take this.

  1. Moonlight Pyre

This might seem like an easy one to pass over, but consider that if you’re running Death Knights, they’re going to benefit from both buffs. The amount they tear into things only gets more insane with this buff and you have the points to spend on it by the end of the game.

It might actually be better overall to dump those extra points into something like Heresy when you have high lategame stats and your minions crit constantly, but consider that half of Moonlight Pyre’s damage is going to get multiplied by your minion fire damage stat, which will run somewhere inbetween 800% and 1000% towards the end of Monolith. That bonus damage probably far outstrips the bonus you can get early to mid game on a crit.

  1. Aegisfall

It’s easy to forget that armor applies to both physical and elemental damage, therefore reducing it is a good idea. This passive becomes a good final resting place for your points when you have nowhere else to dump them for this reason. It’s also nice to make your Vanguards more useful with this by allowing some more of their physical damage in.

  1. Soul Aegis

This might not be extremely helpful early on but by endgame it’s a significant buff. Be sure not to forget this is here, in the base Acolyte tree.

  1. River of Bones

You might be tempted to pass this one up but consider that Death Knights and Wraiths both have nodes that increase their base critical hit chance. This makes River of Bones much more useful, as it partially contributes to them becoming self-sustaining and not needing to be resummoned constantly.

Build Variations / Ideas

By now I’m sure you’re dying for a few basic ideas for builds. I’m only going to provide a few, and try to include the variations in the actual ability line-up. However, there are a couple that might be a little more complex than that.

  1. Pyre Golem + Skeleton Archers with Flame Arrow


  • Bone Golem (Pyre Golem, Twinned or Standard)
  • Skeletons (Archers only, Fire Arrow)
  • Skeletal Mages (Pyromancers or Death Knights)
  • Your Choice: Flame Wraiths, Volatile Zombie or Infernal Shade
  • Transplant

Planner: Link
Loot Filter: Link

This is bog standard as it gets. The damage output is high but resummoning Archers gets annoying. Use Immortal to try to reduce this a little. You can also take Empty the Graves to make this a little less tedious if you wish.

  1. Pyre Golem + Aaron’s Will


  • Bone Golem (Pyre Golem)
  • Skeletons
  • Skeletal Mages (Pyromancers or Death Knights)
  • Your Choice: Flame Wraiths, Volatile Zombie or Infernal Shade
  • Transplant
  • Plus: Volatile Zombie (Unspecialized) (See note below.)

Planner: Link
Loot Filter: Link

Here’s where things get interesting: Put a point into the passive Unbound Necromancy and take all of the extra skeleton nodes in Skeletons, and suddenly you can have 3 full-sized Pyre Golems without using Twinned Golem. They’re very good at stunning and agroing everything on the screen. You also get more health back from all of them attacking thanks to their Hunger node. While this is a damage hit versus Skeleton Archers, it is completely safe, bordering on mindless.

If you’re passionate about Dragonflame Edict and Volatile Zombies, feel free to despecialize Skeletons and just use two golems thanks to Aaron’s Will. This will still keep you fairly safe while also giving you the benefits of specializing Volatile Zombie, which are mainly more damage and more ward, which can help against certain bosses. It also has a crazy clear rate if all you want to do is burn down Echo’s in Monolith.

Note: There’s a trick here I mentioned before where if you put points into the passives Mark of Punishment and Dark Retribution, then use Volatile Zombies on your bar instead of Skeletons, even if it’s not specialized it will still trigger both effects. This is effectively a 6 ability build, for that reason.

This happens to be the build I currently run because I’m pretty comfortable with it. It feels good while grinding Empowered Timelines and lets you focus on dodging spire attacks and other AOE’s instead of focusing on the enemies as much.

  1. Pyre Golem + Abomination


  • Bone Golem (Pyre Golem, Twinned or Standard)
  • Assemble Abomination
  • Skeletal Mages (Pyromancers or Death Knights)
  • Your Choice: Flame Wraiths, Volatile Zombie or Infernal Shade
  • Transplant

Planner: Link
Loot Filter: Link

This is not a great build by any means, but what it is, is fun. Use Age of Undeath to keep your Abomination from decaying and at least 4 points in Consume to keep it alive, as well as Meat Grinder so it does more than no damage. A few points in Repugnant Presence helps it juggle agro. Shattered Limbs is currently bugged with Age of Undeath, otherwise I would recommend that also. Check this in future patches.

If you bring Dragonflame Edict to this build, you just sit back and ram Volatile Zombie while your juggernauts agro everything on the screen constantly. It’s a lot of chaos and makes for a good time. Throw on Aaron’s Will and/or Twinned Golem here also, since you’re not depending on your golems as much for damage anymore by that point.

Resummoning your Abomination will also allow you to get your Vanguards back when they eventually die, due to Fractured End being in the node path for Consume.

Other Thoughts

One of the more annoying things about running Fire Minions is that you need at least one oversized minion like Bone Golem to protect you. And that would be fine except that these minions have a bad property of not being able to occupy the same space as certain bosses. One of the most notable of these is the final boss of Reign of Dragons in Monolith. This is very annoying and is likely not the only boss that suffers from this. I noticed the Age of Winter final boss can be moved also, though I haven’t noticed it really being an issue. Heaven help you if one of the key dungeon bosses I haven’t seen yet also has this problem.

Also to be considered is that you’ll have to give up a lot of these bonuses to down the empowered version of the boss of The Last Ruin in Monolith. In this version of the boss there are movement based considerations which means you’ll need upwards 60-70% bonus move speed to run around the room and stay safe. It might be less than that in the future playing online because some of the rubberbanding with Transplant will be fixed by then, but you still will need significant move speed to be where you need to be in the amount of time you need to be there. This build doesn’t really help you do that.

Another thing to keep in mind the entire time you’re playing one of these builds is that major enemies are going to focus on minions randomly a lot of the time. In the clutter of both them and your minions on the screen, you won’t be perfectly able to tell which direction they’re facing for when they start an AOE attack you need to dodge. In fact, this can be happening while they’re off screen and you can’t see it at all. Most of the time it’s in your best interests to hide around a corner and order your minions forward or to run around in a giant circle kiting anything that might have agro on you to reduce the probability that a long distance or AOE attack is being lined up on you. You have to do this a lot and it does get tedious, but there’s really no avoiding it.

I have proposed in other posts and will again here that it might be a good idea if Eleventh Hour added an indicator arrow to tell you which direction major enemies are facing that even still shows up when they’re off screen, to help take some of the guess work out of this. (Giving you the option to back the camera out slightly more, or making it where enemies won’t charge a big attack to throw at you until you’ve seen them on screen might also help, but that could be exploitable to a certain extent.)

The game opens up for this build a little bit after you start clearing Monolith. Be sure to look for bonus armor or critical avoidance and bonus minion all resist blessings, in Reign of Dragons and Age of Winter after you defeat the bosses. This will help you revise your build after you get those. You get slightly stronger versions from finishing them on Empowered, so don’t forget to do that as well.

All in all, these builds are a ton of fun to play so I hope you have as much fun playing them as I had explaining them here. Maybe this will help inspire some even better builds you can think of.

Thanks and happy hunting,

Edits: Spelling / Grammar. Also added planners and loot filters, at request.

  1. Pyre Golem + Aaron’s Will

plz plannner and loot filter :pray:

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Sure, I can do that. I will take a look at some other guides people have made and see what all they usually include. Might have to wait a day or two, I am very sleep deprived right now, haha.

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Did it already - That was easier than I thought it was going to be. Just got those added. (See links in OP.) Hope that helps!


The build planner for Aaron’s will is showing Volitile Zombies assigned to M2. Skills being used shows Summon Skeleton, is this an error?

It is not - Aaron’s Will causes you not to be able to summon skeletons, so having the ability slotted is useless. You can technically take any other ability you want in this slot since you still gain the effect of having skeletons spec’d, I.E. the additional golem summon limit. In my experience, Volatile Zombie is the best one to bring because it continues to benefit from Dark Retribution and Mark of Punishment even without specialization.

One issue with the permanent flame wraiths I was having is that every time you change zones, they resummon, and with only 22% base, I basically never got my flame wraiths back. I decided to switch to stationary flame wraiths to keep the game more interesting and sacrificed some idol space to get a high roll flame wraiths idol in there to get ~80% chance to summon flame wraiths and it’s working well so far.

My build is ward based, and using gear in my planner, stable ward is 6104 and I’m using a shield that gives nearly 50% chance to take 40% less damage, so it seems fairly tanky. Resistances aren’t quite up to par, but some HP could be sacrificed to get those sorted.

I’m only 71, having just made the character yesterday, so I’m sure some things will change, but I think I have a good plan. So far level 90 timelines are a breeze.

IMO Reach of the Grave is by far the best weapon, especially since it can allow a shield (tanky) or catalyst (dps) to be equipped. It’s also very common and easy to get LP on.

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Interesting! I’ll have to try those out. I guess in the case of certain bosses, resummoning them wouldn’t be that big of an issue. I hadn’t looked at it that closely.

The one ability I have tried stationary is Volatile Zombie. There was a time when I didn’t run Bone Golem, for whatever reason, and it was useful. If you’re ever running a straight fire damage build, that ability is great for tearing up stuff that you’re kiting.

I just now realize I never posted a picture of my team, so here they are. Just some fiery boys, y’all.


nice guide
farming the armour but
how many unique armour node did you do to have aarron’s armour in monotith ?

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Hey, I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

I wish I remembered - I do know I’ve played two characters to 100 now and I’ve seen two copies now. That’s probably a total of 20-something hours playing Blood, Frost and Death. It’s marked as “very rare” in the item database, so my guess is it’s probably a 5% drop or thereabouts. I’d guess at least 20 nodes before it shows up.

Wish I could help more. :frowning:

It has a 75% reroll chance so 75% of the time if it chooses that particular uniques it won’t drop.

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That’s interesting; Do you know how to look up those chances? I didn’t see them on the item database.

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It’s shown in the last column “Reroll chance” here:

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can someone explain the reroll chance ?

i have a certain % to have a unique and then i have 75% to not have that unique ?

what would be the raw average % to have the aaron’s armour ?


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When the game drops an item it (broadly) does the following, though I’m only going to do it as if it were a unique it chose:

  • rolls for rarity (unique, set, exalted, etc)
  • if it rolls for a unique it decides which one (it may roll for which slot before this but it doesn’t really matter)
  • it re-rolls for the unique, if the unique it chose before has a 75% reroll chance then it has to roll “better” than that. Hence uniques with a higher reroll % are harder to get.
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