In Path of Exile: Affliction, as you venture through Viridian Wildwood, you can find a new Unique Shield: Flawed Refuge.
This new item seems to be overlooked by many. This guide aims to break down the usefulness of this new unique item versus existing mechanics to mitigate the impact of upcoming penetrating hits.
So let’s see what this new Unique Shield does: it adds Armor and Evasion. This is a very poor base type, so it doesn’t have much effect even after increasing it. And there are a lot of extra attack block opportunities here too.
Then we have two big modifiers on this shield. You take 100% elemental damage from hits that block and 40% elemental damage from hits that take physical damage. Both statistics immediately exist in the game in other forms.
What we have access to in the game is dedicated to transferring physical damage to another damage type, such as Lightning Coil, which is very popular now. It converts 50% of physical damage taken on hit as lightning damage.
But this modifier on this Flawed Refuge Shield is to transfer 40% of all elemental damage you take into physical damage, with Fire, Cold, Lightning damage coming from hits.
So the reason there isn’t a lot of discussion about this shield is mainly because it’s quite niche meta. The focus now is on shifting as much physical damage as possible into other damage types so you can mitigate the damage through resistance. But that doesn’t mean there’s no use for Flawed Refuge.
So let’s first look at a basic example of Flawed Refuge.
Let’s say a character has 75% elemental resistance and 20,000 points of armor. It takes 3,000 lightning damage without a shield, which is mitigated by 75% resistance.
However, when equipped with a shield, it will take 750 lightning damage, 40% of which is treated as physical damage. Therefore, 1,800 points of damage are considered lightning damage and 1,200 points of damage are considered physical damage.
It can mitigate lightning damage by reducing resistance to 450, and armor can mitigate physical damage. In this case, it reduced physical damage by 77%, bringing it down to 276 for a total of 726 damage taken.
So you can see that the damage taken is very similar in both calculations, but in this case, Flawed Refuge setting is slightly more effective at mitigating the damage taken.
How about more damage? Let’s say the character takes 10,000 lightning damage. Without a shield, lightning damage is mitigated purely by 75% resistance.
Taking 2,500 points of spiritual damage when equipped with a shield, 6,000 of which are treated as lightning. Resisted by 75% of resistance, bringing it down to 1,500 damage. The remaining 4,000 points of damage are treated as physical damage.
In this case, armor provides much less relief. Because it does more damage, the armor reduces physical damage by 50%, bringing this down to 2,000 for a total of 3,500 damage taken.
You can see that due to the nature of the armor application, Flawed Refuge setup is much weaker when taking larger hits.
There is one very important thing to note here, however, and that is the type of damage taken after the mitigation occurred in the second example. The unshielded setup takes 2,500 lightning damage, while Flawed Refuge setup ends up taking 1,500 lightning damage and 2,000 physical damage. This is important for damage type properties.
Let’s talk about Non-Damaging Ailments first. These Ailments are based on damage taken from specific elements.
The severity of Non-Damaging Ailments is measured based on the amount of damage taken relative to Ailment Threshold of a specific type.
So if we take the previous example. Assuming 10,000 points of lightning damage are a critical hit, this means it has the inherent property of causing shock.
In this example, Flawed Refuge setting reduced lightning damage by 40% compared to the normal setting after mitigation. Although it takes overall more damage, the portion of damage taken as physical damage does not cause shock by default. As such, Flawed Refuge setups may suffer from weaker shocks, so this isn’t limited to Non-Damaging Ailments either.
So now let’s talk about Elemental Penetration. I believe this will be the main use case parameter for this shield damage type, another property related to that specific damage type.
Let’s look at another example. A character with 80% elemental resistance and 25,000 armor with 3 Endurance Charges. The character takes about 13,000 points of cold damage and has 25% Cold Penetration without a shield, with damage mitigated purely by resistance. In this case, penetration provided 55% relief.
A character equipped with a shield takes 5,850 points of cold damage. 7,800 points of damage are treated as cold damage, which is mitigated by resistance reduced to 3,510. Then the remaining 40% is considered physical damage. Combined, this will provide a 61% physical damage reduction, bringing this down to 2,028 for a total of 5,538 damage.
Flawed Refuge setting in this example does less damage. Because it avoids Cold Penetration which takes 40% damage. And it’s also worth noting here that characters may also take weaker cold damage due to taking much less cold damage.
Note that Overwhelm has a damage type attribute related to physical damage, allowing damage to bypass a specified amount of physical damage reduction.
For example, in Expedition, you can explode a wreckage, causing all monsters to overwhelm 100% physical damage reduction. But if you’re using this shield normally, you probably don’t want to do that.
Next, let’s talk about some synergies you can take advantage of with a Flawed Refuge.
Starting with the most obvious one, that’s Divine Flesh. You can get this Keystone from Glorious Vanity Timeless Jewel, and it causes 50% of all elemental damage to be treated as chaos damage.
When used with Flawed Refuge, a total of 90% of elemental hit damage will be diverted to other damage types. This combination of mechanisms is therefore powerful in mitigating the effects of elemental penetration.
Keep in mind that you still need to limit elemental resistances, as 50% of elemental damage will still be calculated as normal over time.
If you have enough POE Currency budget, you can also add Doppelganger Guise to this synergy to make it even more powerful. This is a unique Body Armor dropped from Uber Maven. This reduces physical and chaos damage by 40%, and combines perfectly with Divine Flesh and Flawed Refuge.
In this case, no matter what type of original damage you took, just using modifiers will mitigate most of the damage.
Then there’s Fourth Vow, another unique Body Armour. It applies full armor calculations to chaos damage taken on hit and when combined with Divine Flesh. This one is powerful at negating the effects of large amounts of elemental damage.
However, when combined with Flawed Refuge, it creates an interesting setup. You’ll be motivated to stack a lot of armor to mitigate all incoming damage types from hits.
Remember that armor is applied to each damage type individually, which is why split damage types are very effective for the application of armor to mitigate damage.
As such, Flawed Refuge has some synergy with Juggernaut’s Unbreakable Notable and its natural ability to mitigate physical damage through armor stacking and Endurance Charge generation.
In this case, Juggernaut will transfer a portion of elemental damage into physical damage. This will allow him to provide more mitigating late resistance against the resulting smaller hits.
Damaging Ailments work differently than Non-Damaging Ailments. Damaging Ailments are Poison, Bleed and Ignite, whose application is based on the damage of the original attack rather than the damage taken.
Therefore, transferring damage to another type has no effect on whether the hit causes Damaging Ailment or the severity of Damaging Ailment caused.
For example, there’s a chance that Ignite’s fire damage hits will still deal Ignite based on the full fire damage of the hit, even if you have Flawed Refuge equipped.
Meanwhile, this also means that the transferred physical damage you take using Flawed Refuge will never cause Poison or Bleed to you by default, even though you also have a chance to suffer from these diseases due to vulnerability and so on.
Damage From Blocked Hits
Finally, let’s talk briefly about this modifier on the shield: You take 100% elemental damage from blocked hits. Be very careful here as these modifiers will stack and end up making you take more damage than your initial attack.
For example, if you use this shield for Glancing Blows, which causes you to take 65% of the damage from blocked hits, you’ll end up taking 165% of the elemental damage from blocked hits. That’s 65% more damage than if you didn’t block it here, so be aware of that.
That’s it for this guide. I hope you all enjoyed Affliction League and I’ll see you in the next one.
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