challenge mode guide poe

Challenge of Elders Guide (Week 3)

As you undoubtedly already know, this week’s Challenge of Elders may be one of the most challenging yet, with a deadly combination of Trickle and Exposure limiting both our abilities and our health regen. Extra points for melee kills.

prison of elders challenge guide


Gear Recommendations

The following suggestions are equally valid for all Guardians, no matter what subclass you’re going to use.

First off, Armor: For a Helmet, unless you’re using an Exotic of some kind, I recommend finding one with Infusion, which replenishes health on Orb pickup. Better Already won’t do much as an alternative unfortunately, due to Exposure heavily penalizing your regeneration. Finally, Invigoration wouldn’t be terrible either, granting you extra Melee energy from Orbs – I would definitely favor Infusion first, though!

On your Arms, look for the Glutton perk to gain Melee energy for each enemy near you when you get a kill (this is only found on Raid arms so far as I know). Snap Discharge (increased melee attack speed) would also be helpful to land more punches in less time.

Legendary chest armor can’t do much for you in this challenge, aside from boosting your Strength and letting you carry extra  Auto Rifle ammo for your Monte Carlo. Strength is the main thing since recharge is already so much slower. Also, make sure you have the right Armor boost for your subclass type if possible! Likewise, leg armor doesn’t make much difference, aside from stats, so just focus on maxing out your Strength.

Your remaining gear slots are all about the stats – just max Strength and you’ll be fine.

Weapon recommendations are easy this week – if you somehow haven’t already guessed it (or didn’t read the paragraphs above), this will be the week of Monte Carlo! Dealing any damage with the gun speeds up your melee recharge, so the important thing here is to remember not to sabotage yourself by grabbing kills with it. It’s not worth the point loss when you can just as easily tag enemies in the feet for Assist points and then point it at the boss to slowly wear it down while constantly recharging your melee ability.


Dominate with Any Subclass

Now we’re going to break down and rank the best options for each Class and Subclass – you can have success with any Subclass, but some are clearly superior to others.


#1 – Striker
Melee (Discharge), Overload, Shoulder Charge
Perks Transfusion, (Juggernaut), Flashbang
Exotics An Insurmountable Skullfort,

Peregrine Greaves

Stat Ranks Int 1 Dis 5 Str 5

So there are two clear paths here – you’ll want to choose the one that suits your playstyle.

Option 1, the Tank Approach: You want Overload for your Melee and Juggernaut in your final column, along with An Insurmountable Skullfort and I suppose take Headstrong instead of Transfusion (since the perk can’t stack with the exotic). Your strategy here will be a methodical one, a series of evasive runs to avoid enemy fire and get your shield up following by Stormfist punches as they are available. Using Monte Carlo on the boss will be important since you’re not using Shoulder Charge.

Option 2, the Guerilla Approach: Run Discharge for occasional assists, or Overload if you want the extra punches, but your main trick here is endless Shoulder Charges. Add in Transfusion for a bit of healing, and throw on your Peregrine Greaves to pile on the pain. If you do run Discharge, remember to shoot the boss and majors with Monte Carlo a bit to keep it charged so you can punch groups of adds all at once. This is the way I would go, personally.

Stat-wise, you’ll notice I’m recommending skipping over your super. Two reasons for that: (1) It doesn’t help your score, and (2) maxing out your Discipline means you can throw the occasional flashbang at Wizards and other annoying majors to blind them, giving you time to punch them uninterrupted.

This is probably your best choice, thanks to great Melee options and Healing from every melee kill.

#2 – Defender
Melee Gift of Light
Perks Blessing of Light, Relentless, Untouchable
Exotics No Backup Plans
Stat Ranks Int 5 Dis 1 Str 5

A team of Defenders might actually come out pretty well, with Orb Generation charging supers up despite Trickle (and hopefully healing you if you’re wearing an Infusion helmet). The Defender super is one of the more helpful ones here, with Blessing being the perfect counter to Exposure, and the Orbs it drops always helpful.

Gift of Light on your melee helps you drop Orbs with every minor alien you squish, and Relentless both protects you and gives you more time to rain Orbs down on your friends. Then, No Backup Plans keeps that overshield going even longer, assuming you haven’t taken too much damage, allowing you to continue the Orb creation for up to 25 seconds. Avoid taking heavy fire while you’re doing this, and your team will have Orbs for days!

In between Orb runs, put some fire on the boss and majors with Monte Carlo to get your next Disintegrate lined up.

This is a surprisingly solid choice, despite not having a built-in method of Melee regen, and a great support subclass as always.

#3 – Sunbreaker
Melee Stoke the Forge
Perks Fleetfire, Simmering Flames, (Cauterize?), Suncharge
Exotics An Insurmountable Skullfort
Stat Ranks Int 5 Dis 1 Str 5

Your goal is to charge up your Super as fast as possible and then never ever use it. Stoke the Forge vastly reduces your base Melee recharge time, and also immediately recharges it on a killing blow. Simmering Flames helps during downtime, netting you double time recharge speed which will be a big help. I would tentatively advise against Cauterize as it provides only the tiniest bit of regen due to Exposure’s heavy penalty on Regeneration.

That said, if you find that Stoke the Forge is keeping your melee full at all times, a tiny bit of health regen is better than none. Lastly, if you do decide against Simmering Flames, you have no reason at all not to activate your super and Suncharge through every enemy in your path. It counts as a melee for other purposes, so it should give you credit here as well. It’s also a Super Kill and creates Orbs of Light, scoring you extra points on every melee.

Finally, for our exotic I have to think that Insurmountable Skullfort is the way to go. A second melee charge for Stoke the Forge to fill up should keep you raining fiery death on the regular. The lack of Infusion is unfortunate, but most people won’t be making a lot of orbs with Trickle on anyway. Despite being #3 for Titans, this is still a solid subclass for the Challenge.



#1 – Sunsinger
Melee Brimstone (Flame Shield)
Perks Song of Flame, Sunburst
Exotics Apotheosis Veil, (Heart of the Praxic Fire)
Stat Ranks Int 5 Dis 1 Str 5

Song of Flame shines again, and Radiance is easily the best super for this challenge – if only Trickle weren’t in effect it would be truly dominant. That said, this is still a solid class to pick and has a powerful and unique set of abilities in Brimstone and Sunburst. Now you might be asking, why not Flame Shield? Aren’t Brimstone explosion kills counterproductive?

So here’s why: First off, Flame Shield is a great ability and I can’t fault anyone for choosing it. The Overshield is amazing and with Monte Carlo to recharge your melee you can get it rolling fairly often – that’s a safe way to run this and better if you’re planning to solo the Challenge. However, it does recharge more slowly than the other Scorch abilities do and that hurts even more with Trickle.

Now, Brimstone balances out score-wise because of Sunburst, which generates an Orb of Light for each Scorch kill – and kills from Brimstone’s explosion count toward that! In addition to the points, this also gives your fireteam more super energy and more healing or melee energy as well, keeping everyone in the fight and making you a great team player even before you bring out Song of Flame!

Now as for the exotic slot, almost everyone immediately thought of Claws of Ahamkara, but the truth is that Trickle makes a second melee slot much harder to build up, and that’s especially true for the Sunsinger which has no special abilities that recharge melees on their own. My advise is to run either Apotheosis Veil (immediate health, melee, and grenade regen on activating your super) or Heart of the Praxic Fire (further decreases cooldowns on all abilities while Radiance is active). The Veil in particular is handy when you’re getting weak and every little bit of health helps!

#2 – Voidwalker
Melee Surge
Perks Angry Magic, and don’t use Bloom
Exotics The Ram
Stat Ranks Int ? Dis ? Str 5

The Ram is all you really need here for Voidwalker to be an amazing class for this challenge. Triggering Life Steal on every hit – even when your melee ability isn’t charged – means that you can throw on Surge for extra movement speed and just sprint around the map punching as fast as you can. It’s also absolutely worthwhile to make sure you have Snap Discharge on your arms so you can steal life as fast as possible.

Now Angry Magic might seem like an odd mention, but I bring it up because it does give you a slight Armor boost making it the best choice in that column. The only other point to make here is that Bloom sounds cool but is completely counter-productive here since it doesn’t count for melee kills.

Overall an easy choice with no real complications or thought required – just punch everything as fast as you can.

#3 – Stormcaller
Melee Rising Storm
Perks Feedback, (Transcendance)
Exotics Claws of Ahamkara
Stat Ranks Int 5 Dis 1 Str 5

Finally, Claws of Ahamkara actually make total sense here, where Feedback can fill up your melee charges completely in short order, especially against melee-heavy enemies like the Taken and the Hive. Rising Storm is fantastic as well, charging your super and your melee on each ability use. Finally, when your super is charged and your health is low, you can hide, switch out your stats, and pop a Transcendance Stormtrance for full healing. Then just throw your lightning at the boss or the wall and get back into the fight!

This subclass is rated #3 for Warlocks only because it takes more work to achieve the high survivability that the other two subclasses have.



#1 – Gunslinger
Melee Knife Juggler
Perks Gambler’s Dagger, Scavenger
Exotics Khepri’s Sting
Stat Ranks Int 5 Dis 1 Str 5

Gunslinger has been waiting for this day to come – the day when it truly stands out in PVE for one of the first times. Throwing Knife is such a powerful ability here because it lets you collect melee kills without being in melee range, something only Nightstalkers can compete with.

Knife Juggler gives you an immediate recharge on precision kills which, by the way, also net you extra points that other melees can’t get. Gambler’s Dagger is the best perk in its column for this Challenge and partly makes Sealed Ahamkara Grasps redundant here for that reason. Scavenger of course recharges your melee as you collect ammo making it an obvious pick as well.

Khepri’s Sting is my firm recommendation to you for your exotic slot here. Invisibility, x4 Melee damage, and lingering damage on melees while invisible as well (the kills from the lingering damage do count for melee kills, in case you were wondering).

#2 – Nightstalker
Melee Envenomed
Perks Lockdown, Shade Step
Exotics Sealed Ahamkara Grasps
Stat Ranks Int 5 Dis 1 Str 5

This is a pretty straightforward setup – AoE Melee damage + an extra charge + Monte Carlo for constant recharge and you’ll be raining death on the Prison. Shade Step gets you out of the line of fire, and Lockdown just makes your AoE work that much better, and when you do get your super up it’s all gravy.

This is a simple and powerful build that will have you spending a lot of time tagging enemies for Assists and shooting the boss in between dropping AoE melee kills at range.

#3 – Bladedancer
Melee Fast Twitch
Perks Hungering Blade
Exotics Sealed Ahamkara Grasps
Stat Ranks Int 5 Dis 1 Str 5

Another very straightforward setup for a class with one of the better supers for this challenge. Fast Twitch gets your melee charged faster and Sealed Grasps lets you store up two of them. Hungering Blade gives you a bit of health back when you land a kill with your melee or super, so make sure you tag your enemies a bit with Monte Carlo before going for the kill.

But you’ll be really happy when you activate your Arc Blade and watch those Super and Melee Kill bonuses stack! All in all a great subclass for this challenge – but I feel like I’ve had to say that on most of them. The main weakness here is that, unlike the other Hunter classes, you have to get up close and personal, which is why I’ve rated it lower than it probably deserves.


So there you have it – our best advice for crushing skulls in this week’s Challenge of the Elders! Are you using an alternative build? Do you think we missed a key connection? Which Subclass do you think is best? Let us know in the comments!