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Ball Lightning Hybrid DoT / Crit Runemaster Build Guide

Posted by Aersdri on May 23, 2024
Last updated on May 23, 2024



The build does 20M dps on a dummy (see video) and this is not a clickbait.

The idea is the following:

  1. Fundamental Criterion gives huge multiplicative bonus to Runic Invocation (RI), based on the color of the second rune used in RI (and also a small bonus based on the color of the first rune). That's gives us the initiative to massively stack Dexterity use a Runic Invocation that has Gon (Lightning) rune as a 2nd rune.
  2. Reowyn's Fortress gives flat spell damage to RI, based on either your Armor, Ward or Dodge whichever is minimal of the 3. But Dexterity gives extra Dodge — and we're stacking Dex anyways! And also this is a Staff, so we get even more damage for Runic Invocation, using Gon rune as a 1st rune, while wielding Staff, thanks to another bonus from Fundamental Criterion.
  3. These two factors combined provide a huge flat spell damage bonus and "MORE" multipliers for Runic Invocation (which is Ball Lightning in our case — a medium-sized AoE that hits 7 targets every 0.4 seconds)
  4. Then there's Brand of Deception Runemaster exclusive DoT, triggered by any lightning skill with mana cost >=15, stacks 1 time, And Ball Lightning reapplies it on each tick. The damage scales multiplicatively with SuffixChance to Shock on Hit (from Order's Imposition node). And additionally it receives all MORE multipliers from the skill that applied it. Including from own skill tree and from gear (Fundamental Criterion in our case). With 100 Dexterity and a Staff that constitutes a total bonus of approximately 440% (just from gear alone, not counting Shock and other modifiers).

I initially planned this build to be DoT only (Brand of Deception applicator, essentially), but it turns out, that with modifiers like that normal hits do huge damage as well. Essentially the build does a hybrid damage, where ~40% (9M per second on dummy) comes from hits and 60% (~11-12M per second) comes from DoT. Technically. It's possible to completely ignore one and focus on the other (e.g. making it a full-crit build), but I like this version more.

Pros & Cons


Absolutely insane amounts of damage, both single target and AoE (see Mechanics section). That's not an exaggeration. T4 Julra dies in less than 4 (FOUR) seconds.

Approximately 30% of damage comes from hits/crits from Runic Invocation, while another 70% of damage comes from Brand of Deception,which is a 1 stack DoT — which means that the damage doesn't need a ramp-up (as in case with ailment dots, such as Ignite or Poison.

Very good mobility via Flame Rush (which also applies Brand of Deception by the way) and with PrefixExperimental Traversal Cooldown Recovery on Potion Use you can reset the cooldown very quick. You can zoom through maps, while killing the trash mobs that you zoom through.

Pretty solid survivability against hits (which constitute the majority of the damage in Last Epoch), thanks to high Dodge rating. The build does 300 Corruption monos and T4 Dungeons without any problems (see videos). I didn't push it further than 300, because I'm a lazy ass, but I don't see it having much trouble pushing to 1000 as is, without any gear improvement. (Pushing further than that with current gear might be problematic though)

CHEAP: Despite not being beginner-friendly, the build is very cheap, at least by MG standards. Since it's very different from the standard Runemaster Meta, even the incredibly powerful 3LP Fundamental Criterion and 4LP Reowyn's Fortress are less than 20 Mil, while T6+T7 exalteds are as low as 3 Mil. The entire setup did cost me less than 200 Mil, and none of the individual items worth more than 25 Mil.


The build survivability heavily relies on Dodge and Armor. It can not scale HUGE amounts of Ward (3-4k is essentially the cap). Therefore, it is rather squishy vs various Spell Dots (such as Lagon's cold breath, or Emperor of Corpses' necrotic whirlwind), because DoTs completely ignore Dodge, largely ignore Armor (unless you stack PrefixExperimental Armour applies to Damage over Time) and sometimes even ignore Ward. Usually it can be easily avoided by using Flame Rush though, but some encounters might be pretty difficult (e.g. The Mountain Beneath).

The build is not particularly easy to afford for Circle of Fortune players due to rather hard requirement of high LP Uniques, such as Fundamental Criterion. Technically not impossible, of course, but I'd imagine it would be VERY hard to farm on your own. One of the main points why is this build is possible at all — is because none of the items are Meta, and therefore they are SUPER cheap on MG.

Gameplay / Mechanics

For trash

Ball Lightning is effectively a single target skill, since its AoE is way too small. We need something else to clear trash. That's where Interlude comes into play. This Runic Invocation node automatically casts a 2-rune invocation whenever you directly cast 2 or 3-rune Invocations. In our case this is Sea of Sparks. It doesn't do that much damage, but it effectively covers an entire screen (since it hits almost all the mobs that are nearby). And it also applies Brand of Deception (since the skill costs 35 mana), and it also receives the bonuses from Fundamental Criterion and Reowyn's Fortress.

So, the plan is to zoom around with Flame Rush (while periodically popping potions to refresh the cooldown), spam 3-Gon rune Runic Invocation. Then whatever the Ball Lightning and Sea of Sparks didn't kill will be dead from Brand of Deception very soon.

For bosses

Apart from the core mechanics listed in the Overview, Runic Invocation damage is further boosted by its own skill tree (such as Unbridled Ruin and Runic Energy). Then all the skills from Runic Invocation are also DUPLICATED by Copied Scrolls. Then it's boosted by other Skills and Passives, such as Aspirant's Arrival or Decree of the Decree of the Burning Wind. And then it's boosted EVEN MORE by Vaion's Chariot multiplicative bonus for Movement skills (since our Runic Invocation is now a Movement skill, thanks to Stride to Safety node).

Therefore, the plan here is to cast Frost Wall, wait for ~7 seconds, while stacking Gon runes with Runebolt, cast Runic Invocation. The Ball Lightning lasts for 4.4 seconds if the target is not dead by then just repeat.



Stat Priorities


The main priorities are (in descending order):


  1. PrefixDexteritytop 1 damage scaling stat.
  2. PrefixIntelligencetop 4 damage scaling stat, but it also provides other cool stuff, such as ward retention, extra crit chance (Calculated Destruction), extra cooldown recovery (Ancient Inscriptions), and even elem penetration (Elemental Lore)
  3. PrefixElemental Damage Over Timetop 3 damage stat, has excellent scaling. If you can afford a T7 on the staff — absolutely do it.
  4. PrefixCritical Strike Multiplier — this is technically not necessary, but does't hurt to have SOME (e.g. on Amulet). Because 40% of the damage still comes from hits/crits
  5. PrefixCast Speed — Cast Speed is technically not really needed, because your main source of damage is Ball of Lightning, which does certain number of hits per specific time and DoT, which also does a fixed damage over time. Neither of those scale with Cast Speed, obviously. But the gameplay is just infinitely more pleasant, if you have at least +100%, I can guarantee it.
  6. PrefixWard gained per Rune consumed with Runic Invocation — lowest priority prefix, nice to have to help your ward gen (and it actually generate A LOT), but you don't really have a place for it, since it takes place of INT or DEX.


  1. SuffixChance to Shock on Hit — top 2 damage scaling stat for Brand of Deception It is a suffix and thus it doesn't compete with other dps stats. And it's super cheap, because nobody cares about suffixes. Also, keep in mind that Order's Imposition only cares about THIS particular stat. Stuff like "shock on lightning skills" and other similar effects won't cut it. Only GLOBAL shock chance works.
  2. SuffixDodge Rating — needed to scale the flat damage from Reowyn's Fortress — if you can, always prioritize it before flat Dodge rating.
  3. SuffixDodge Rating / SuffixArmour — same as previous one, but less effective.
  4. SuffixChance to Shred Armour on Hit + SuffixChance to apply Frailty on Hit — you don't need much, but you absolutely need to have at leas SOME.

As you can guess, my armor is far from having the perfect affixes (for example, I'd rather prefer INT on chest, instead of flat Dodge). Additionally, many Uniques and exalted bases can also be replaced to something else.

Therefore, along with the items that I currently use I tried to provide some alternatives.


Boneclamor Barbute

Vilatria's Storm Crown — if you can't afford 2 LP Barbute, the Crown is an awesome alternative

Apex of Thought — another excellent substitute for Barbute. 2 LP is basically free at MG (while 3 LP costs about the same as 2 LP Barbute). You lose some stats, but get a Lightning Shred in return and about the same or even more ward regen.


Crusader Gauntlets

Eternal Gauntlets — these are preferred over Crusader's, if you don't need resistance, thanks to high armor and unique implicit.

Swaddling of the Erased — endgame option


For LP:



SuffixDodge Rating

SuffixDodge Rating



Stormcarved Testament — best damage option, thanks to high global shock chance and lightning pen (2LP cost is astronomical though)

Box of Hydrae — very good alternative to Testament, as it's basically free for 3LP, and can substitute a lot of missing stats, such as SuffixChance to apply Frailty on Hit, for example. And it offers some extra Ward Gen

Twisted Heart of Uhkeiros — 1LP is actually cheaper than Testament, but since you can't afford a lot of HP it doesn't do much on its own.

Scrying Eye — budget

Rune Quill — budget

Ring 1

Ivory Ring

Opal Ring

Red Ring of Atlaria — if you can afford resistances elsewhere, this is, obviously, a superior choice

Ring 2


Red Ring of Atlaria

The Invoker's Static Touch — excellent budget alternative to Oce and RR. Offers ward generation that the build severely needs. Although keep in mind that for the purpose of Brand of Deception sccaling, the "Shock on Spell Hit" bonus doesn't work. Only global Shock chance does.

For LP:




Bone Amulet

Oracle Amulet — preferred over Bone, thanks to incredibly valuable implicit


I listed only the mandatory idols and affixes here. The rest are up to you. I personally like to have SuffixChance to gain Lightning Aegis when hit as an extra layer of defense, and PrefixWard gained per Rune consumed with Runic Invocation as some extra ward generator (which are rather hard to come by in this build).


The stat blessings (such as Armor or Crit Avoidance) are mandatory, sorry. Some blessings might allow some variations and room for experiment (e.g. Shock Chance from Lagon can be replaced with Lightning Res Shred, or flat Dodge from the can be replaced for Crit Multi) — but I leave these experiments to the reader.

Reign of Dragons
Spirits of Fire
Fall of the Outcasts
The Stolen Lance
Blood, Frost, and Death
Fall of the Empire
The Last Ruin

Build Variants



The build can, obviously, be improved by getting more LP on items, but the price is steep. For example, 2 LP Stormcarved Testament starts from 150 Mil, which is something that I personally can't be arsed to farm...

On the other hand, a much more realistic opportunity to improve the build comes from Weaver's items. For example, you can replace Gloves and Belt slots fairly safely, if you find a good-rolled Swaddling of the Erased and Communion of the Erased. And with the help of the MG rank 10 (you can buy all Legendary items) there's a good chance you'll find what you need — just look for the affixes that you need (while leaving the "Weaver potential" > 0)

Another option: explore the Crit-based version of the build (e.g. less accent on the PrefixElemental Damage Over Time gear and more on PrefixCritical Strike Multiplier and PrefixLightning Damage)

Loot Filter


I use my own MG filter. It's not particularly strict, but at least you most likely won't miss very expensive stuff (such as idols, for example).




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