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There are many support skills for cold-based attacks using a bow, such as Ice Shot or Frost Blade - how should I choose between them, what are the factors to consider one over the other? The 3 I'm specifically trying to understand are:

Cold Penetration - 140% mana; %age resist penetration

Ice Bite - 130% mana; Frenzy charges, added cold damage

Hypothermia - 120% mana; needs chilled enemies

How do I choose one over the other? Or, are they actually worth using together (and taking up 2-3 slots)?

Some specific scenarios:

  • Ice Shot + LMP + Faster Projectiles Support with 1 empty socket : which one to choose?

  • same as above, but 3 empty sockets : choose all of them, or put in Elemental Damage with Attacks support & some other gem along with one of the choices?

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    Cold pen is always a good choice. A level 20 gem has 37% penetration which at worst means 37% more damage to enemies with no resist, or 148% more damage against enemies with 75% resist. – VanBuzzKill Jun 4 '18 at 0:22
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    A skill can be supported by up to 5 support gems and easily 3, I don't see why not trying these 3 gems together? Ice Bite and Hypothermia also seems compatible since Ice Bite grants frenzy for killing frozen and Hypothermia can freeze chilled enemies. Plus Cold pen will make it work even against resistant targets. – Ben Ong Jun 4 '18 at 6:09
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    If you need to choose either one of 3 of these gems, it will be important to also mention the other support gems involved. Combination of support gems may change their effectiveness. – Ben Ong Jun 4 '18 at 6:11
  • It's also going to helpful to mention what kind of build you are interested in using with this set up. Certain builds are helped more with specific support gems than others. – FoxMcCloud Jun 6 '18 at 18:44
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There is no single correct answer when it comes to picking supports and choices depend on playstyle and what you're currently attempting (typically boss farming vs. map clearing) as well as other gear choices. For example, if you can get frenzy charges without ice bite, you might want to take something in its place.

Cold penetration works but because only 60% of the skills damage is converted to cold it already loses some effectiveness (I didn't think about this part when posting my comment). However, you can get full benefit by taking the "Winter Spirit" cluster in the tree near the ranger starting spot. This will give the other 40% conversion to reach 100% cold. This also allows for a weapon elemental damage support (35-54% more damage compared to faster proj supports 20-29% more).

Ice Bite helps the most if you are just doing general map clearing as you will continually gain frenzy charges which give movement/attack speed to get around faster as well as increasing damage. The flat added cold damage per frenzy matches the damage from an added cold damage support at around 7 frenzy charges. Even if you have less than 7 it still has the additional benefit of granting frenzy charges (in turn granting speed and 4% more damage each) and freeze chance.

Hypothermia is interesting because its damage works in both scenarios (assuming Ice shot as main skill) because of the chilled ground it creates on hit. Since it has less single target damage and doesn't grant frenzy charges it is not as good as a first option as the others and I honestly wouldn't take it at all considering other options available.

Other suggestions would be added cold damage, physical projectile attack damage, greater multiple projectiles (replacing lesser multiple).

  • Thanks for the good explanation on what factors affect the choices. Re. GMP vs LMP, scenario was just an example. I won't be taking Winter Bite as my aim is to have phys damage focus, possibly going for Tornado/Barrage and then use elem conversion skills for variety (with a small investment in Primeval Force cluster) – Alok Jun 7 '18 at 0:28

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