Welcome to Fight Club: Path of Exile Duelist 101


Looking for a Path of Exile class that is swift yet strong and melee-oriented? Then perhaps there’s no better fit for you than the Duelist. The road this class travels is not easy, but it’s definitely worth taking. To help you out with that, here is a simple guide for this brand of a warrior.

All About Attributes

While this may seem like a foregone conclusion, the Duelist shouldn’t come close to the Intelligence side of the passive skill tree. The game is all about giving players freedom, and it’s also not surprising that there are viable Int Duelist builds out there. However, Intelligence and many other related bonuses to it such as energy shield, mana, and mana regen are simply not useful at this point. Just focus on the Strength and the Dex side in the meantime. Heck, it might also be your focus in the endgame, as most Duelist Ascendancies are still melee builds through and through.

Speaking of Strength and Dexterity, it’s important to keep these two healthy. Strength increases the damage you deal as well as your life, while dexterity increases your accuracy and evasion. While it may seem like strength gives more benefits, dexterity matters too, so don’t neglect it. The latter will most likely be lower by a little, and that’s okay. At the same time, having dexterity that is as high as strength is not a bad deal, as evasion is a pretty good defensive stat anyway.

Being a class with a focus on these two attributes allows it to have a rather wide access to skills gems. Make full use of it. Imagine, having Flicker Strike, Cleave, and Viper Strike all in the same Path of Exile build. It’s not synergistic so we’re not saying that you use it – unless you can make it work, then by all means. Rather, we’re simply trying to illustrate that you have a wider skill set available to you compared to other classes. So, spend POE Currency on the PoE items you need – they’re worth it.


As a melee warrior, the Duelist can make good use of a wide variety of weapons. In fact, there are various Ascendancy builds that use axes or mace. But for budding Duelists, swords are the safest choice, as its passive skill tree is geared towards it. Those that feel like the sword is for them can continue using the weapon until the endgame.

There are three kinds of swords: one-handed swords, thrusting one-handed swords, and two-handed swords. The advantage of one-handed swords is that you can either wield two to deal lots of damage, or use a shield to lessen the damage you take. Same goes with the thrusting one-handed swords. The difference, however, is in their implicit modifiers. Regular one-handed swords give out increased accuracy, while thrusting one-handed swords give global critical strike multiplier.

On the other hand, the advantage of two-handed swords would be the huge damage it deals despite being just one weapon, and you get six links. At the end of the day, it’s up to you which of them suits your play style and PoE build best, and whether you will farm or go to POE trade to get them.

On How to Ascend

Eventually, you’ll have to choose which Ascendancy class you’ll go with. While it’s not something you should be thinking too hard about when you’ve just begun, you should start giving it a more serious think later on. The Gladiator is a balance of speed, damage-dealing, and protection. Slayer is the most offense-oriented of the three, with many of its PoE builds being all about taking down bosses.

Last but definitely not least would be the Guardian, which, strangely enough, is focused on buffing party members. This puts the Ascendancy class in a rather strange position. Duelists have no skills that make it a more potent summoner, so no point in trying to make this one into a one-man army.

As a Guardian, your best bet is to party up. This means if you are a soloist, you shouldn’t touch this one.

Life Leech and Critical Hit

As a closer, two things: you need to have life leech, and that you can make good use of “on critical hit” passive skills and gems. The former is important because you won’t have as many defenses as other melee classes, so healing up by attacking is a great way to compensate for that. Meanwhile, due to your high attack speed, you can make good use of “on critical hit” passive skills and gems. Go wild with them – you can.

That’s pretty much it for our Duelist guide. Hopefully, we managed to convince you to take it up. If you do, we hope that you have fun with this unique class.